Zero.

I snapped my eyes open, and they roamed, taking in the surroundings.

The backlight of my stopwatch lit green with a beep as it started counting time in finite intervals. The universe as i knew it didn't exist up until the moment i set the timepiece going. Everything around me - from the lady in the opposite seat, to the train i was in, to the station i just left, to myself - had just popped into existence 10 seconds ago. From nothing, into something. Just like that. I felt strangely new. A heightened sense of awareness. At the back of my mind a little voice kept reminding me that the world had always been, but i was consciously fighting that voice, trying to make myself fully believe i was brand new.

3 minutes.

I was getting bored. Couldn't shut the voice up, but it was getting softer. The more I looked around, the more thought I gave to the whole situation, the more I sunk into character.

5 minutes.

Pretty comfortable by now. The voice was no more than the tiniest comforting whisper. I soaked up my surroundings. everything seemed unreal. I gazed at the buildings through the windows, drifting past like animated pictures in a frame. they seemed devoid of life, props in an elegant, elaborate set. I glanced around the cabin, looking through new eyes at people. people who'd never always been. They seemed so... unaware. Detached from the fact that everything was going to end in a mere 15 minutes.

12 minutes.

Started feeling sleepy, though something made me unable to doze. Might have been the apprehension of losing those valuable minutes of existence. Train roared into another station, people got on, people got off. Life going on, without a true beginning, though with a certain end. 8 minutes later, in fact. Spotted a Prudential ad for investing in one's future. The irony was unbearable.

15 minutes.

Everything started to fade away. Noises muffled, motion blurred, sped up, much like forwarding through the boring bits in a 20 minute film. I cautiously tried to recall where i'd been before i came into existence. I could not. Tried to picture the faces of people I knew, places I'd been to, read parts of my mind which contained facts, figures and memories irrelevant to the experiment. Blank.

17 minutes 34 seconds.

Mind still a blank. The universe would fade out of existence in 2 minutes and 26 seconds. I looked around. Everyone still unconcerned.

17 minutes 36 seconds.

I freaked.

17 minutes 37 seconds.

Sheer terror subsided, soothed by the nagging whisper in the backroom of conciousness that this was all pretend. Still, apprehension.

18 minutes 30 seconds.

1 and a half minutes left. Surprisingly calm. I sat back and stared through the window, marvelling at the intricacies of the facade that some higher being, in all its omnipotence, chose to create.

19 minutes and 47 seconds.

Any time now...

19 minutes and 52 seconds.

I held my breath, and closed my eyes, trying to imagine what it'd be like to just pop out of existence. Would conciousness remain? Floating in a bodyless limbo? Or would i simply drop off into long eternal rest? Would the cycle repeat in a few million years, this.... 20 minutes of existence? How then, would one measure a few million years if time didn't exist? Would it exist? With no one to measure it, how long would one second be?

20 minutes and 2 seconds.

Lost memories flooded back, loosed from an intangible dam. Suddenly i could recall where I'd been and what I'd done hours ago. People I used to know but who didn't exist for 20 minutes suddenly existed again. Overwhelming sense of familiarity, deja vu.

The world was real again, but I felt no relief.

Maybe, just maybe, a part of me was dissapointed nothing happened.

20 minutes and 3 seconds.

I snapped my eyes open, and they roamed, taking in the surroundings.

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