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Time Heals Most Wounds · Original Minific ·
Organised by RogerDodger
Word limit 400–750
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Cows Are a Constant
"You know how they say that time heals all wounds, right? Well, that's wrong. Time can't heal everything even with a bit of help from our side, but most things it can. Fact is, time plus medicine can perform almost miracles. The problem is we control only one factor of this equation."

"Fascinating, George. I'm sure there is a point to all this, but, if you allow me to be direct, why are we in a barn and why is that cow looking at me like there's nothing she wants more than to gut me?"

George, bless his soul, stopped waving around his hands and looked around. Then he stared at me like I was an idiot and said, "Well, because of time."

George was a genius. This facet of his being had never brought anything good to the world or, more importantly, to me. It also meant that I never met another person with such a record of idiotic, dangerous or expensive ideas. I hoped I would be in time to stop this latest flight of fancy, whatever it was. "A cow wants to disembowel me because of time?"

"What? Oh, no no, that's because she's Betsy. Betsy has a horrible temper, but she's a great milk producer. We are here because of time. Come with me."

I followed him through the barn being careful to avoid Betsy. George opened a large trapdoor and walked down a set of stairs. Wonderful, underground lab, those never ended with us sitting in a pub with a a pint of beer and a steak.

I sighed and descended into what would probably be an afternoon of screaming, fire and pitchfork wielding peasants. I never understood where those came from, but George seemed to have the uncanny ability to conjure them.

As I entered the room I became certain troubles were coming. There was a lot of machinery, the walls were full of diagrams and formulas, George was smiling.

He opened his arms and said, "Ta-da!"

That was my cue to say something clever, something that would defuse this. "It's... nice?"

His shoulder slumped a bit. "This is the future of medicine. With this we will be able to control the missing part of the equation."

"You built a time machine?"

He scoffed. I found that to be a tad offensive. considering his past record my question wasn't that stupid. "Don't be ridiculous, you can't build a time machine. No, we distill time here."

I had nothing.

"Once we have distilled time it will be easy to use just the right amounts of it. And we can store it for emergencies."

I felt a familiar headache incoming. "George, you can't distill time."

"I can and I will. Like Reimann demonstrated time is a byproduct of quantum entanglement, which means we can gather it and distill it."

"I'm reasonably sure it doesn't work that way."

"And you would be wrong. Once it was demonstrated that it is a byproduct collecting it was only an engineering problem." He smiled condescendingly. "Look, I understand your skepticism, but this time I have a solid scientific foundation to back me up." He indicted a desk in a corner full with papers.

I decided that if there was a chance to stop this by pointing out some inconsistency it was worth a shot. I began to browse through the contents. Physical Review, Journal of Physics, Book of Thoth, Annuals of...

"George, why is there a book from Crowley on your desk?"

"Well, because I need it."

"Lovecraft's Collected Works, Farmer's Almanac, and is that a printout of the Time Cube? What are you trying to do here?"


I tried to say something, then I thought about some other retort, finally I accepted my defeat. There was no reasonable way out of this. I had to distract him and then find something to hit him with and a nice hospital that would take him in. "Timecheese?"

"Yes, from Timecows. You see, cows are a constant through human history. We didn't domesticate them, they simply appeared. There is this guy that documented everything. It also explains lactose intolerance."

I nodded while I slowly crept to an old fire extinguisher. "It certainly does."

Today I can freely admit that I was wrong. I, and our Timecheese based society, can only be grateful to George and his genius. And to Betsy and her timely intervention. By the way, the rebuilding of my intestines was also the first practical application of Timecheese.
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#1 · 1
· · >>horizon >>Orbiting_kettle
The story has engaging, very well-done first person narrative and dialogue. My personal highlight is how the scene is set in the beginning:
"Fascinating, George. I'm sure there is a point to all this, but, if you allow me to be direct, why are we in a barn and why is that cow looking at me like there's nothing she wants more than to gut me?"

The premise is of course a little silly but within reason, and I like the worldbuilding.

The conflict between the narrator and George builds up nicely. The only weak point I see is the ending, which sort of breaks the style to basically tell the reader, "and this is how it ends." The author presumably struggled with the limited narration time there (haha), but that doesn't change the fact that it makes the ending feel slightly awkward. But it's still a brilliant story.
#2 · 2
· · >>FrontSevens >>Orbiting_kettle
This story could use a dose of commas.

Aside from prose/editing problems, (I know the pain of the time crunch) I found this engaging and interesting for the most part. The banter was clever, and the arc was smooth. The ending was odd and a bit weak, to my eye, with that non-sequitur smash cut. It would be easy to dismiss that as an artifact of the word-limit, but... unfortunately, I can only judge the stories as they're written.

Overall, nice work.

Oh, one prosaic nitpick:

I followed him through the barn being careful to avoid Betsy. George opened a large trapdoor and walked down a set of stairs. Wonderful, underground lab, those never ended with us sitting in a pub with a a pint of beer and a steak.

This feels, to me, like a piece of narrative smashed into a piece of reflection or abstract thought. I think, with this sort of thing, putting the third sentence in italics to set it off as a thought would read better, or changing it from something indefinite ('those never ended') to something more definite ('these never end') would read better.
#3 · 1
· · >>Orbiting_kettle
Pleasantly Surprising.

Evidently Silly in nature, yet having a deep thought hidden- these types are rare, usually you can't get 'funny' and 'meaningful' together in one story, but let this be an anomaly.

...It does get the reader's mind thinking, even though some of it may seem like nonsense, each has a place in the story, no matter how weird or odd. Well done.

Definitely a good read.
#4 ·
· · >>Orbiting_kettle
This story took a while to get going, but I ended up enjoying it quite a bit.

The ending is a bit weak, but I thought it was sufficient. I was a bit confused about one detail though. I'm pretty sure you're implying that Betsy finally got to gut the narrator, which stopped him from knocking out George. But you said that they walked down stairs into an underground lab, so Betsy shouldn't have been able to get to him.

My only other advice is that I think the beginning needs more of the weird humor that shows up once George starts describing his invention.
#5 ·
· · >>Orbiting_kettle
Hmm... I don't think I'll be able to join the chorus on this one.

Agreed with >>Not_A_Hat on the commas.

I'm a fan of the silly and the ridiculous, but I feel like the dialogue jumps around just a bit too much for me to be able to follow. Sure, George is realistically a genius who's sort of following strange lines of logic, so it's probably realistic for him to talk a bit sporadically. I do appreciate the straight man, too, whatever the narrator's name is, for being a good relatable & sane character that shares some of the thoughts the reader might have about George.

I think the issue might be that 1) I'm not inclined to technobabble, really, and 2) I feel like I'm not given enough time (words) to digest what's happening. Perhaps that's the point, and the reader is supposed to not be able to follow George, and understand why the narrator would knock him out. But it's still hard for me personally to follow and I'm left a bit bewildered by the end (for instance, I don't get what's the significance of the tangent about the books).

I mean, the humour was good, the banter was enjoyable, I like the narrative being adequately descriptive and infused with the narrator's personality... But I couldn't quite enjoy it fully.
#6 ·
· · >>Orbiting_kettle
I wanted to like this... I really did. The title, and the humor at the start are all the sort of thing I like in irreverent stories. The problem for me was that it just didn't hold together as a story. It felt like a lot of references and non-sequiturs lined up with a vague theme connecting them. I do think this could be reworked into something a bit longer and really shine, but it just doesn't work for me in its current state.
#7 ·
· · >>Orbiting_kettle
I have... questions.

How on earth does a cow give one the stink-eye? I cannot possibly imagine that.

How did Betsy manage to get out of her stall and silently climb down a flight of stairs that were not described as being nearly wide enough to handle a cow, and how did she know that George was threatened in the first place? This could be fixed by Appeal to Cowness, but you didn't do that in the story.


#8 ·
· · >>Orbiting_kettle
What >>Leo said; that tacked-on ending is disappointing but the rest has a nice blend of silliness and intriguing high concept. Also, you get bonus Horizon points for "time cheese," for entirely personal reasons related to my magic work that would take way too long to explain.

The rating here is less an "edit it" than a "finish it."

Tier: Almost There
#9 · 4
Well, time for a small post-mortem. Let me begin with thanking all the people the read and reviewed my story. It was, as always, a pleasure to get feedback from you.

Now on to this silly little piece.

I wrote it in about an hour when I was struck by inspiration while preparing an asparagus risotto (which will be my new muse for the time being (Talia has been quite lazy lately and will be assigned to answering business mails for a while).I submitted it with 4 minutes to spare before the deadline, so many of the problems you noted, and which I could see too with a bit of hindsight, came from that. On the other hand that is exactly the spirit of the write-off, so I'm not complaining or anything.

This story was inspired by a paper about how time may be a byproduct of some quantum process. I didn't obviously understand it really, but neither did the characters so we are fine.

The framing device should have been a speech delivered by the narrator a couple of decades after the facts, at some gala or similar celebration. It didn't work. I had to cut too much and with too little time, and the ending suffered under it. I will have to learn that for the next time and dedicate more attention on how I close a story.

I missed the chance to specify that the underground lab wasn't exactly a secure facility and more haphazardly put together machinery in cellar. I hinted at it in the first draft but axed it because of the wordcount. I see now how that could be confusing. Also, Betsy was simply evil, there was no desire to protect George and only a strong urge to hurt the narrator.

I thought I stayed light on the technobabble, but it seems I was wrong. Also, knocking George out is the natural reaction when you meet someone that takes the Timecube seriously and is surrounded by heavy machinery. I suspect the problem is that that was a reference to a bit of nowadays obscure internet culture of the last millennium.

Thanks again to everyone else for the time and the comments.