Prompt: A Genie offers you one wish, and you modestly wish to have a very productive 2017. The genie misunderstands, and for the rest of your life, every 20:17 you become impossibly productive for just 60 seconds.
“Well, it was a nice day.” You kiss your sweetheart gently on the forehead and sigh as the last remaining seconds of 20:16 tick away. “See you at 8:18,” you say.
Then it happens. Every ounce of fatigue or hunger leaves your body. The face of your beloved is perfectly still, their expression exactly the same. The ticking of the clock on the wall has stopped. Once again, it’s 20:17.
You stretch your arms and walk to the table with the homework for the three doctorates you’re working on. The work is mentally stimulating and enjoyable, but it’s finished far too quickly. You check your pocket watch and see that not even one hundredth of a second has passed.
You knew it was too soon to be able to see any movement on the watch, but you can never quite help yourself from looking early on every 20:17. Time to move on.
You clean your home, do your budget, then go outside and fix a noise that your car was making earlier that afternoon. (Oh how you already miss afternoons.) Then you go back inside, boot up your computer (which magically speeds up to keep pace with you as long as you’re in contact with it) and check for any new orders.
You’ve set up a website for the small business you started called “Magic Elf Services.” People in your area can pay a modest fee on your site to have different tasks and odd jobs done by “The Magic Elf” at 8:17pm every day. It was a little slow to get started, but word has spread and these days you have a steady stream of clients.
The money that comes in from the business is nice, but you’re mostly grateful that it gives you a clear list of things to do. You print off your updated list of clients, step outside, and start making your way through the neighborhood with your to-do list.
There’s the apartments down your street where several neighbors have hired you to tidy up, do the dishes, and mop the floors. You do the windows too, just to see if they notice. There’s the large house across town that paid the “Magic Elf” to clean out the gutters. After the first dozen jobs are done, you manage to stop looking at your pocket watch.
As near as you’ve been able to determine in the past, 20:17 seems to last for approximately one normal year. But it’s not exact. For one thing, it’s hard to keep track of “time” when everything but you has crawled to an almost total standstill. For another thing, time seems to move differently depending on how “productive” your behavior is. One time you tried to spend all of 20:17 sitting at home in your pajamas, but that was getting you nowhere, so you eventually gave up and got busy. (Though you defiantly stayed in your pajamas the whole time.)
During 20:17 your body doesn’t get tired, hungry, sick, or injured. You’re essentially tireless and immortal for the duration of the “minute.” So sleeping or eating away your boredom has never really worked for you.
One of the houses on your list forgot to follow the instructions and leave a key for you to get in. At first you figure you’ll just send them an email telling them to pay more attention and that you’ll do the job tomorrow. Then you decide to go home, get your locksmith tools, and come back.
After finishing up all the jobs on your list, you go into several other homes and small businesses in the area, performing tasks you hope they’ll find helpful, and leaving a hand-painted business card at each one. (The business cards don’t contain your real name just in case somebody thinks “The Magic Elf” should be subject to breaking and entering laws.)
Speaking of laws, you head down to the local police station to pick up your case file. You’ve been in contact with a detective who’s been investigating corruption within their department, and your ability to investigate unseen and get in almost anywhere between the ticks of the clock has proven invaluable. You see that they’ve also added five missing person cases to your file this evening, which certainly raises your interest in the job.
You make your way through town gathering evidence, and start making your way to the outskirts of town. Since you happen to be out that way (and you’ve already solved three of the five missing person cases) you decide to swing by the stone castle you’re building and do some more work there.
The castle walls stand about 20 feet right now, but you know they’ll be much higher when you’re done. You’re far from any roads and pretty safely tucked away, so for now it’s your little secret. You’ve been excavating and moving all the rock yourself, which has been much easier than you first expected since your body doesn’t get tired or sore. You’ve also got a nice system of tunnels going underneath the castle, and you dig and build more of that network for a while.
All that time spent underground has left you feeling rather lonely, so you walk back home to see the face of your sweetheart. Their facial expression has moved ever so slightly since you last saw them, which is a comfort to you. Looking at them gets your imagination going and makes you dream up a story you’d like to tell, so you sit on your couch, plug in your laptop, and write a book.
After you finish editing the last chapter for the third time, you finally allow yourself to look at your pocket watch again. Three seconds have officially passed so far.
It’s gonna be a long 20:17.