Note: This is a story I wrote on 1st January 2011, inspired by the speed 2010 passed us by and also a comment on a friend's FB status update. Although it's been a year since then, the way 2011 sped by was no different, so I figured it's only fitting that I use it as the first post for the year. This story was first published in Selangor Times on 25 Feb 2011.
2011 sat nervously at the edge of her seat and fidgeted with her new sparkling white robe as the International Date Line shimmered in the silence of the arena. The only sound that was audible was the careful footsteps of 2010 as he made his way towards the end of his reign. He was noticed soon enough, though. As he took the bend, he was seen walking with a confident swagger, one arm raised high above carrying the Torch of Time, which most of the folk not involved directly with Time believed stay lit forever, and would only diminish at the sudden death of Time himself.
She caught his eye, smiled and gave a wave.
"Hey..." she said.
He nodded in reply and quickened his pace to a jog. In between concentrating on his jog and carrying the Torch of Time, he somehow managed to blow a kiss towards his old friend 2009 who blushed into such a delicious colour. In a different world, tomatoes turned envious.
He finally threw himself on the seat strategically placed at 2350 hours, and positioned the Torch of Time into its holder. The light flickered for a second, before it was quietly taken away to be cleaned and refuelled by two of Time's most important personal assistants.
Every year, as they cleaned the torch out while the fire sat sullenly in an old unused torch, they would joke about the silliness of mortals believing that Time himself would die one day. No doubt, the sun would swell up, turn into the red giant and incinerate a few planets while at it, including all those silly people who could never see the bigger picture no matter how much you shoved it at their faces. Nevertheless, Time would go on and on, and an entire new circle would begin. Every year as they discuss this, they keep their hopes up that the next circle will have far further intelligent beings who could at least understand that they were only one minuscule corner of one of the pieces along the second row of a thousand piece puzzle.
The silence was shattered by 2011.
"How was it?" she asked, breathlessly
"I sprinted!" 2010 laughed as he replied.
"Are you allowed to do that?" 2011 asked, shocked and intrigued simultaneously
2010's eyes lit up mischievously. He shrugged.
"Well, I think they hated me" he added as an afterthought.
In fact, some of them did, and part of it was because they felt that 2010 moved at such a speed that there was never enough time for them to accomplish what they set out to accomplish. He even received a few hate mails for all his effort as he kept up with current technology, reading people's blogs, twitter and that ever increasingly famous Facebook.
"Yeah, they did. Every now and then, I'd take a pause, and look over the shoulders of people who couldn't finish their work, or whose babies just refused to sleep at night, and morning would come too soon for them leaving them staggering like zombies going to battle. How very amusing," he added.
"Can I sprint too?" 2011 inquired, her eyes wide with wonderment.
"It’s your call, babe. I know 2008 and 2009 sprinted as well... so I decided to do some training, and broke their records" 2010 added.
"Isn’t a year comprised of 365 days, or 366 thanks to human manipulation?" she asked.
"It's all about how they perceive time. The more they say they need more time, the less they get. The mosquito doesn't feel a thing... she lays her eggs, they turn to larvae, then pupas. If she's Aedes aegypti, then I convey my sympathies, because humans always seem to remember to empty the vessels of water these days. But if it's a human person, with their perception of time, eight hours of work is never enough. Neither is six hours of sleep! They just get older and grumpier and even more disgruntled the faster they perceive time," he said
"We're waging a war against humans, then? I quite like them really, they and their quirks, ambitions, always trying to succeed" 2011 said
"Don't forget their greed, their need to be on top of everything, trampling over the lives of those they feel are beneath them, blatantly cutting down trees thousands of years old, hunting for sport. It's disgusting. But no... none of us were waging a war against the humans. Like I said, it's how they perceive time, and we're just using that to mess with them, because they are willing to be messed with" 2010 flashed 2011 a smile.
The Torch of Time was carried out again, clean and bright, the fire flickering brightly. In the background, the tick of the final minute of 2010 sounded louder than usual. The clock, a human invention, ironically signified the passage of time even in Time's arena due to how convenient it was. 2010 stood with the Torch of Time in his left hand on his side of the line as it glowed brighter than ever. 2011 stood on the other side of the line and held up her right hand, completely ready to accept her responsibility for a brand new year, filled with hopes and dreams and crazy people's resolutions.
The clock gave another tick in the silence of the arena, marking the arrival of 2011. The Torch of Time passed hands.
"Good Luck!" whispered 2010 as 2011 moved forward.
Far away, in another place, fireworks exploded in the air as champagne bubbles tickled the noses of people, street parties became much more exciting and people generally started wishing each other a Happy New Year.