Octavius Weld lived in the Meantimes. He lived in the spaces between things, the moments between waking and sleeping when you forget your parents’ names and what color your eyes are. He had a job, too, just as you or I would, but his job was special. He managed the time filled with haze. He was close to the department of time wasted, but he specialized a little more than that. His moments were three o’clock in the morning whiling away your time in someone’s apartment, listening to your companion pluck out a tune on the guitar while you sip at a lukewarm beer.He accounted for those endless hours that felt like miniature eternities, those dragging minutes of boredom and numbness. He was an accountant of time, and he had his own glass office. He accounted for hundreds of files a day, combing through thousands upon thousands of tiny moments strung together in paper loops. They were all meaningless to him, just as meaningless as they were to the people who lived them. His medium, in short, was nonsense.
Octavius, being similar to most other accountants, did have a life outside of his job, but it was not as fulfilling as he could have hoped. He was not one to romanticize – indeed, when you work with volumes of the universe’s pocket lint, it is difficult to romanticize – but he could not help feeling that he needed something more. Often as he entered his office with the frosted glass panels he took a look outside his set of venetian blinds. Some days he could see a man in the apartment building across the street changing channels on his television. Some days he could see an old woman feeding the pigeons on her windowsill. All days he could see the same old brick, liver coloured and spattered with bird excrement. And he thought that there must be something more.
Sure, he had an on-and-off girlfriend, though they were more recently off than on, and he had a sister and father and pet cat, all named Leslie. Octavius even had a couple of dreams shoved into his back pocket, folded tissues of wishes untouched since his early twenties. Well, one day as he was watching that man watch television, it occurred to him that he was living the times that he accounted for. So who would account for him? Here he was whittling his own time to toothpicks, waiting for his life to begin or something interesting to happen. Nothing was going to. Not unless he changed the game.
When the going gets existential, the existential do something about it. So Octavius walked from his office with the frosted glass panes and quit his job. Across the street, in front of the elderly brick apartment complex, he reached into his pocket to take out one of his treasure maps to fulfilment. The little scrap of notebook paper told him to go into advertising. What? No. He hated advertising, the oily parfait of suggestion and emotional pulp. He did at one point express admiration for advertising, but it had been a long time since he consulted his dream slips. He tried another dream, this one telling him to leave the Meantimes. He had become more self-aware than usual, so he might as well. All right. That one it was, then.
So he moved to the Sometimes, where more things happened than not, and he found a job writing scripts for television dramas. This suited him better than he expected, and he began to relax a little, take stock of where he had travelled. It was certainly busier than the Meantimes, more focused too, instead of the emaciated drizzle of thinly-spread dawdling. He could do this. Well, he lived that way for a while, but then started to think that he had other places to be than either of the Times in which he had lived and worked.
Maybe the location was not the thing at fault. Maybe it was other people. No, he rarely saw other people since moving to the Sometimes, ironic because Rarity was the next township over. Maybe the problem was not other people, then. Maybe it was Octavius Weld. It must be. Who else could mess up his life so thoroughly? No one but the person who had the most control of it: Weld himself. This frustrated him, and he found himself increasingly annoyed at his mind for letting him sink so low without realizing it. He had no idea what to do to fix the problem that was him, so he chose to move again.
He moved outside the Times, far outside, which was something he had never considered before. If he was going to change location, he could at least do it in a way that would change his mindset and eventually himself. He had moved to Whatever. And here he carried out the rest of his life, which stalled occasionally in wasted moments and occasionally in sometimes. He even met with rarity and recently. But he never met never, or forever, or always. Not until he reached the end of his life, and realized that it did not go on for ever, or always, but never. No times involved. Just there, where he should have been since he had started to look.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Gabriel Holt is a young Canadian writer who likes to make up stories and eat cereal. He writes poems, articles, essays, flash fiction, even flashier fiction, and love letters. In his spare time he likes to watch terrible movies and make people uncomfortable with his knowledge of stupid things.