“Stop,” I muttered while leaning my back onto the grey wall; the hood of my maroon jacket aided in covering the upper half of my face as my fingers pulled the crown of the old pocket watch hidden within my grip.
As if on cue, everything around me stopped.
Looking around, the birds stayed still midflight; their positions and bodies defied gravity. The people walking in front of me stopped with their expressions frozen in a silent laugh. The leaves and branches of the tall trees that swayed and danced with the wind became motionless.
Perfect. Just like always, I managed to stop the time.
Straightening my posture before walking towards the shop of milk in front of me, I raised the pocket watch on eye level and stared at the details on it.
Aside from the usual parts and chains of the common pocket watches, nothing seemed extraordinary on it except for the logo on the surface of the metal cover. It showcased a pair of swords both facing the opposite direction with their handles threatening to touch each other; in the middle was a skull with a crown placed on top of its bony head. On the upper part, formed in a semi circle, there were writings that I tried translating and researching but nothing ever showed up.
Imagine my shock when everything stopped after I fiddled with it right after picking it up almost a year ago.
I almost thought I was going crazy. Almost.
Walking inside the shop, I managed to see the most expensive milk on their menu and proceeded to grab the bottle. Why not, right? It wasn’t like I was a great citizen to start with.
Opening the cap and chugging the delicious milk, I continued on my tour for the day. I basked in the silence of my surroundings and closed my eyes to enjoy the peace. If you were to live in a city as busy as this, you would definitely find serenity as a huge blessing.
Then, I heard somebody whistling.
Jerking my eyes open and straining my ears to listen, I tried to find the direction of the sound. The moment I knew it came from my right, I silently moved towards the huge, brick wall of the building on my side to hide from whatever it was. I peeked to see the source of the noise when I saw an older man walking without a care in the world.
“I know you’re hiding behind that wall, kiddo,” the man said in a rather raspy voice. “Get out or I’ll make you.”
I remained silent; confusion crept on my being as if it was a venomous snake. I had never seen anybody moved around so freely the moment time became frozen. It was impossible. I was the only one supposed to be able to move because of this pocket watch and now—wait. Could it be?
“I said show yourself, boy. I know you are getting your underwear twisted and all because you saw the impossible happen but you need to come out. It’s not like I’m going to hurt you. Well, I would if you don’t move your ass.”
Biting my lower lip, I knew I needed to do as he say. I did have questions that I wanted answers to. Shuffling, I showed myself to the man whose sole presence made me shiver.
“W-what do you want?” I asked trying to look unaffected by him but failed miserably. Shit.
“You about to pee your pants, lad?”
“You wish,” my hazel eyes narrowed while my body tensed. “I suppose you own a watch as well… what do you want?”
“Nothing, really.” His hand reached for his moustache and combed it as a habit. “You do know the rules, no?”
A devilish grin stretched from ear to ear on his intimidating face; his clouded grey eyes showed a hint of malice. “Ah, I see. Your memories had started to vanish, just like the other players.”
“What do you mean players?” My brows furrowed while my foot stepped back. I didn’t like the vibe I was getting from this man and I could definitely sense my life was in danger.
“You see, Leo, we’re in a game.”
“Game? You’re not making any sense.”
“So does that old pocket watch you are holding at this moment. Tell you what, you are playing a game of life and death. There are only five of you remaining who are able to stop the time. The goal is to gather all the watches from the other owners. Once you do that, you get the prize–to become a god.”
He reached for a cigarette from his pocket, lighted it, and then smoked a bit before continuing. “You only have about 3 months before the end of the game.”
“Do you really expect me to believe that?”
“I don’t really care if you don’t; the owners were randomly chosen and there’s really nothing special about you. I just came here to check on you to see the progress. Let me ask you this, what is your oldest memory?”
“I don’t see the importance of that, but it was—”
I paused. I couldn’t remember anything from before this day and the fact that I picked up the pocket watch. Aside from that, I got nothing. Come to think of it… was my name really Leo?
“See? You can’t remember anything except for a few bits of information. You see, kiddo, every time you stop the time, your memories are consumed by it as the price. The longer the pause, the greater the memory taken. By the looks of it, you don’t have long before you become a lifeless vessel.”
“How do I retreive my memories?”
“Simple, you kill the remaining players and get their watches. Originally there were 12, now you only have four more to hunt. To be honest, it baffled me how you were able to even go this far and kill two players.”
“I k-killed people?”
He nodded; his brown hair swayed with the movement. “See those swords on the pocket watch? Those are the symbols that appear after you kill a player. Their watches disappear and the power is transferred to the one in your possession.”
Unbelievable. I couldn’t accept everything this guy was saying.
“How do you know all of this? Who are you?”
“Well,” he bowed before flashing yet another grin and then vanishing from thin air. Everything started to move again and time was frozen no more.
“I am who you call God.”