The Time Stopper (Mind Dimensions 0.5)

The Time Stopper (Mind Dimensions 0.5)

Dima Zales


I can stop time, but I can’t change anything.

I can access memories, but not far enough.

My name is Mira, and my life is about finding the Russian mobster who killed my family.

Chapter 1

“It’s so smoky in here; it’s like someone set off a bomb.”

As soon as I say the stupid line, I Split into the Mind Dimension, and time seems to stop.

Victor is squatting over his chair, about to sit down. If this was still the real world, his legs would hurt in a minute or so. As it is, he’s as aware of his muscles as a wax statue would be. Shkillet, a guy at the poker table, is frozen in mid-stare at my body—a position I often find men in. The other players are similarly stuck at what they were doing when I Split. The strangest thing in the room is probably the thick cigar smoke that’s no longer moving. It looks eerie, like frozen clouds on an alien world. I don’t smell the smoke now, which is a relief. I also don’t hear anything other than the sound of my high heels clicking on the floor as I walk around the room.

I look at these men, these dangerous men, and an inner voice tells me, “Mira, no sane woman would voluntarily be here. Not even to merely observe this poker game, let alone play with these savages.” It’s funny how this inner voice usually sounds like my mom.

“You’re dead, Mom,” I mentally reply to the inner voice. “And I’m here to find the fucker who killed you. Can’t we have an imaginary conversation without all this nagging?”

The inner voice sneers—but that’s me. Mom was too nice to sneer.

The Mind Dimension makes it safe for me to walk around the room and peek at my opponents’ cards without them being the wiser. When I’m in the Mind Dimension, everything stops in a single moment. No matter what I do here in this alternate world, when I get back to my real body—the body that’s still sitting at the table—I’ll still be in the same situation as I was before I Split: still being stared at by Shkillet, and still having just said that line about the bomb.

When I first learned I could Split, I was a little girl, and I thought my soul was leaving my body. But that was back when I believed in such things as souls, and God, and goodness—words that are meaningless to me now. Back in those days, I also believed in silly things, like the fact that there is a purpose to life.

I don’t any longer. Not since that day.

Since that day, I haven’t believed in anything but myself. And sometimes—a lot of times—not even that. That little girl who believed in souls would certainly think I’m a stranger if she met me today.

And maybe, she would think I’m a monster.

Of course, that day did not just dispel my childish illusions. It also taught me more practical things, such as how impotent I am while in the Mind Dimension. How truly powerless. No matter how much I want to, I can’t change anything in the real world. Like a ghost, I don’t affect the world of the living. Maybe that’s what I became that day—a ghost of my former self.

That day. Why does thinking about it always hurt the same way, no matter how much time passes? Why is it so vivid in my mind at a moment’s notice?

For that matter, why does trying not to think about something bring that very thing into focus?

My mind flashes to that day as though I’m Reading other people, but it’s as if I’m replaying my memories instead of someone else’s.

I see myself walking home from school, my backpack heavy on my shoulders. I relive the excitement of seeing my dad’s car in the driveway when I get home. He hasn’t driven away yet, I think joyously, so I’ll get a chance to say goodbye. That last line will be singed into my mind forever, but I don’t know it yet.

And then I see the car explode.

I see it go up in flames.

I hear the most horrible sound.

Then . . . silence.

I open my eyes.

The fire is standing still.

The explosion had scared me so much that I automatically Split into the Mind Dimension, as sometimes happens under extreme stress.

Now in the Mind Dimension, I’m standing next to my other, frozen-in-time, self. She looks as terrified as I feel. I know that if I touch the exposed flesh on her/my body, I will leave the Mind Dimension—and the explosion will continue its destruction.

Leaving would’ve been a cowardly choice, a choice I didn’t even think to make at the time. I would later regret that bravery—or rather, lack of imagination.

Instead of leaving the Mind Dimension, I run toward the car.

The flames are frozen. Unreal. As if they’re made of red and yellow silk.

The full horror of the situation hits me only when I see the expression on Mom’s face.

She looks white, or at least the parts of her face that aren’t burned do. Her blue eyes are wide open, her irises almost black from her dilated pupils.

I open the car door and try to pull her out. In her body’s rigid state, she’s like a human-sized doll. As I’m straining under her weight, I know that this is futile. I’ve never been able to change anything in the real world by what I’ve done in the Mind Dimension. Still, I’m hoping that today will be different. That Mom will be out of the car in the real world simply because it matters so much to me.

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