( You can read the first part here.)
One night I was working on TimeOP. In the backround I was playing tunes from di.fm. I receive this text message from a high school computer science professor. The text message was like “Are you still on Tuesday, the 16th of November 2010 ?”. The message didn’t make any sense, especially since I hadn’t talked to this guy in years (although we got along really well in high school). I was actually wondering how he got my number.
Then he sends, another message, this time blank, a few minutes apart.
I go out of the house for a midnight walk, to clear my head. Near a particularly creepy house, with broken windows and stained wall, there was a parked cars, doors open. Three somewhat menacing guys were starring over at me, without saying one word. I locked my eyes ahead and forced myself not to look back.
I stroll around the foggy streets for about 15 minutes. I see this two hobos chasing each other around on the other side of the road. I ignore them and I decide to come home.
When I return, the TimeOP Tracker pops up a message “You’ve been away for -10097 minutes”
Oh great. Another bug I had to fix tonight. So I started looking over the code until morning came, without being able to find any explanation for the negative time I’ve been away.
I feel asleep just after the sun rose, thinking about all the work I still had to do the next day/night.
The rest of the week went by with a few meetings with potential customers, brain-storming and midnight coding sessions with my co-founder. Next thing I know, it was Tuesday evening again, I was just releasing a new version of the tracker. di.fm online radio was playing, pretty much like every night.
But when a particular song came up, I just had this disturbing deja-vu feeling. My phone made a beeping SMS sound.
“Are you still on Tuesday, the 16th of November 2010 ?”
The blood froze in my loins as I remembered the night before, the week before.
I tried calling back, but my high school professor wouldn’t pick up. I re-tried desperately. All I got in return was an empty text message.
My phone, my watch, my computer and my Google Calender – they all showed the exact same date: 16.11.2010
I panicked, got out of the how.
The same car parked on the street corner. The same hobos chasing each other.
Only this time I wasn’t strolling. I was running. And I was calling back over and over again to the same number.
At some point, I gave up running. I gave up calling. I was just walking aimlessly in the city paralyzed by the late night cold.
My phone rang and I answered in hope I’d get some clarity on the issue.
There was a feminine voice on the other side: “Hey, I’m [name] from [company]. You presented TimeOP to me last week”. I had no idea why she was calling in the middle of the night.
“The tracker application you installed on my computer a few days ago just tells me I’ve been away for -10097 minutes. Do you have any idea what’s wrong?”.
I wasn’t alone in this. I had to ask.
“What’s the date today ?”
“The day. The date. What is it?”
She froze in silence for a few moments. Then she resumed.
“It’s Tuesday…. the 16th.”
“It happened to you too.”
“I don’t know. But we seem to be going back to reliving last week again.”
“Is this a joke?”
“You called me. The same thing happened here.”
While she was still attempting to rationalize the situation by being skeptical, the sunlight started to punch through the darkness.
“Look” I said “I think we’d rather do this in person. We could make more sense out of it.”
“Where do you live?”
“I mean… I what area?”
A robotic voice followed on the other side of the line.
“The number you have called is unavailable …”
I tried calling back, same thing, no answer.
In the street, which until then had been literally deserted, I saw a men, with a muffled up trench coat and a hat which looked like it had been doing some time travelling itself.
“Excuse me, sir. What date is it ?”
“What date, what data ?”
Obviously bother, he said “The 10th of November, of course”
And it is here I woke up.
The moral of the story is that working long hours, intensely focusing on one thing alone can lead to the most interesting combination of fear, imagination and Kafkaesque dreamscapes.
However, the oddest part is that when I woke up my feeling of relief didn’t come from the fact that I wasn’t stuck in an endless timeloop, but from staring at my laptop and seeing the message from the TimeOP Tracker:
“You’ve been away for 112 minutes. Could you tell TimeOP what you’ve been up to?”