The original, 3-page short story version of

"Stop the Flow of Time"

Copyright © 1983 by Roger M. Wilcox. All rights reserved.
(writing on this story began 14-March-1983)

The original draft was written on an electric typewriter. All spellings, punctuation, capitalizations, poor imitations of Douglas Adams' humor, etc. are as in the original.

You have been warned.

There was no doubt that the USS Marble was under attack. Hondapp, the chief engineer and head janitor of this widely known and little respected starship, could easily see the little green fuzzy balls striking the outer hull of the ship through the twenty feet of plate glass armor. They were in trouble.

Outside, across hundreds of yards of nothingness, a large enemy ship continued to launch its corrosive, fuzzy little green balls at the Marble, which by now looked to be encrusted in mold. The sickeningly purple captain of the enemy ship snickered as he foresaw the fall of another ship from that pansy "Federation of Nice Star Systems." He and his whole lymph-sucking race hated the Feds with a passion.

The USS Marble got its name from its design. Years ago, on a stupid little Class-M Terrestrial known as Terra (probably short for Terra-ble), a great big load of marbles - small glass toys used to attack small schoolchildren in small circles - was discovered to have been stashed away by some rich tycoon named, "Stinky." His tomb uncovered, the heads of the Nice Federation had a big problem of what to do with fifty thousand pounds of little glass balls with blue ink-streaks running through them.

One engineer who was rumored to have been drinking and fooling around with a group of janitors - our own Hondapp - came up with an idea so incredibly moronic that it was put immediately to use. The idea called for a swall warship to be plated not in the usual layers of titanium-iron-carbon-chromium armor but instead to be covered with the glass at every point except over its propulsion systems. The ship was immediately constructed (actually it was just an old warship that no one had bothered to use and had been put out to pasture), the marbles melted down and the mold cast to create the most transparent starship in existence: the USS Marble.

These facts never surfaced in Hondapp's mind as he wondered how the zybisko they were going to get out of this one.

"How the zybisko are we going to get out of this one?" asked Handapp.

"Draged if I know," replied Captain Yu Qalled.

"Have you tried the expando-screen generators?"

"Yes, I have."

"Have you tried running them in reverse?"

"Yes, I have."

"Have you tried running them sideways?"


"I didn't think so. How about —"

"Naah, already tried that." Telepathy was a good tool to have in this business.

"Well, then have you tried every single button on your instrument panel?"

"Well, I think so. Let me see." The Captain gazed in both directions down forty feet of buttons, dials, levers, knobs, and switching elements that came straight out of 1930's science fiction movies. A big red button caught his eye.

"Ow!" he yelled.

"What's the matter?" asked Hondapp.

"Can't you see? A big red button just cought my eye! I can't pry it loose! Rrrrrggg ... Grrrrmmphhh ... Ah, got it! Hmmm ... there's a label I don't remember seeing in the instruction manual: 'Stop the Flow of Time.' I wonder what it does ..."

The Engineer was suddenly siezed by a blast of precognition. He fought it, pushed it out of his mind, mentally threw water on himself, decided to let the message in anyway because any attempts to stop it would be futile, and watched with disinterest. A few nanoseconds later, he grasped its meaning.

"NO!!!!" he shouted. "DON'T PUSH THAT BUTTON!!!"

The captain pushed that button.

And suddenly, time stood still.

Nothing moved.




Not even the USS Marble or its contents.

The universe stood still. I mean really stood still! Absolute zero doesn't come close to what I'm hinting at here! Multiply that by the speed of a dead snail, and you'll get a fair approximation to what I want you to grasp, but its still a long way off.

Then slowly, inexorably, the universe came into motion again from a new beginning.

Fifteen billion years later, a group of ethereal thinkers finally figured out what in blazes the USS marble was for, how it worked, and what some idiot must have done in the past. Inevitably, one of them wondered what the drage that big red button was for....

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