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Ever since I can remember, there has been a small number floating in the corner of my vision. At first, I didn't even realize it was a number, and not just a circle, until the "zero" ticked up to "one". The day it happened, I had spilled a glass of orange juice all over my mother's computer, destroying it and making her late for work. The number changed about forty-five minutes later. That night, we got the news that the neighbor who my mother usually carpooled to work with had gotten into a terrible accident, due to the breaks malfunctioning. 

Of course I tried to tell other people about the number. The ophthalmologist found nothing wrong with my eyes. The psychiatrist had said that it was probably a hallucination, but if it was not causing me psychological distress, I could simply ignore it. And ignore it I did, until the number began to change once again.

In hindsight, the most probable trigger for this event was the charity drive. It was one of those events where everyone votes for their favorite charity and a large pool of donated money goes towards the winner. The vote had been close, with a single vote sufficient to make tiebreaker. I had voted for a cancer research charity that my friend was volunteering for, edging out an organization which distributed vaccines. 

I didn't suspect the charity drive at the time. All I knew was that suddenly, my number were falling below zero. By the end of the year, it settled around negative twelve, occasionally flickering up or down every few months. My psychiatrist reiterated his advice to try to ignore the numbers.

I was taking my morning stroll around the corner, thoroughly ignoring my psychiatrist's advice and obsessing about the numbers, when I was knocked over by a tall man who was careening around the corner. Without even stopping to apologize, the man turned into an alley and disappeared. 

Moments later, a second stranger arrived hot on his trail. He appeared to be dressed in his pajamas. "Excuse me!" The pajama man gasped, out of breath. "Where did that man go?" Too startled to respond, I wordlessly glanced in the direction of the alley, and pajama-man ran in pursuit. Wincing a little, I picked myself up and began brushing the dirt off my leggings. I almost didn't notice when my number suddenly went up from minus-twelve to positive three.

"Hey, wait!" I began chasing after the two men, despite my better judgement. I found them at the end of the alley, wrestling over a cellular phone. The tall man slammed his pursuer into the wall, grabbed the phone out of his dazed hands, and ran off. A few seconds later, my number switched back to minus-twelve. 

"Why are you following me?" Pajama man was already picking himself off the ground and walking towards me. His blue plaid pajamas were stained purple where he had been bleeding. I began stepping back, ready to flee. 

"I see numbers in the corner of my vision. My number changed from minus-twelve to three after you bumped into me" I said, telling the absurd truth for lack of a coherent lie. "But it reverted when that man got away. I thought chasing you down might bring answers. Why are you chasing that man? Why are you in your pajamas?"

Pajama man stopped walking towards me, his eyes going wide. "The man I was chasing just killed 15 people. I was trying to stop him by taking away his cell phone, which he used to trigger an explosion. I am in my pajamas because I am trapped in a time loop, the loop begins when I'm in bed and there isn't time to change, every second counts."

 I rolled my eyes. "Look, I know my story is crazy. You don't need to make fun of me."


"Hey, wait!" I began chasing after the two men, despite my better judgement. I found them at the end of the alley, wrestling over a cellular phone. Suddenly, the pajama man released the phone. The tall man took it and ran off. I was about to chase after him when the Pajama man spoke.

"Ever since you can remember, there has been a number in your vision. It just jumped from minus-twelve to three. In a few seconds, it's going to jump back to minus twelve. We really need to talk."


The sun had barely risen when my doorbell rang. I opened my phone to check the time. It was 3 AM. I went back to sleep. 

When I awoke and tried to leave the house, I found a man wearing plaid pajamas in the doorway. He handed me a slightly damp, folded up sheet of paper. "Hi Yemi. Sorry it's wet," he said apologetically. "I need to stuff it in my mouth or it won't go through the loop".

I dropped the paper in disgust. "Why do you know my name? Get away from my apartment, or I'm calling the police."


The sun had barely risen when my doorbell rang. I opened my phone to check the time. It was 3 AM, and I had a message. "Your current number is minus-twelve. I have answers for you, as well as questions. Please wake up and open the door". 

The man who stood in the doorway wore plaid pajamas. He handed me a soggy, folded up sheet of paper. It wasn't raining or anything. "What is this? Why is it so damp?" I asked. He shrugged, and I unfolded the paper. 

It was in my handwriting, with my signature at the bottom. The first section began: 

Dear Yemi

Umut is a time looper. This note is written by you, from a previous loop. This morning, you dreamed there were mushrooms growing in your skin. Yesterday, you picked up a funny rock shaped which you privately thought had the exact shape of Prof. Souza's nose. Below, you will find a table detailing all of the highest gaining trades you can make today.

A few hours and several thousand dollars later, I was frightened and willing to listen to what Umut had to say.


"Wait, so you've had the power to loop, and your first thought was really that you were going to use it to fight crime?... No, you're right, I'm not saying we should abandon them, just that it shouldn't be the main priority. We can be sure to work in averting the attack and saving those 15 people into the final loop. But you definitely shouldn't be chasing after anyone in person..." 


It was in my handwriting, with my signature at the bottom. There was an earring punched into the corner of the sheet. It was identical to the pair on my nightstand. The first page was filled with information about the future, detailed instructions for making massive amounts of money, paragraphs of things only I could know and pictures of things only I had seen or imagined, allusions to thoughts which I was only now just about to think. Each new piece of evidence fell like a hammer, irrefutable, crushing my doubts before they even had a chance to form.

As I write this, I've spent one week with Umut. He has spent longer with me…us, in other loops. It's taken several loops to figure out how to get us to believe what is happening. Umut's body ages across the loops so we shouldn't waste further time. 

I looked up, feeling sick from shock as reality spun out of control. 


 Umut smiled and handed me a flash drive, which he promised would contain even more important, reality-destroying messages from the future. I almost fainted.  


Umut can reset the loop to 3am on the morning that we met at any arbitrary time. His body is sent back, and anything placed inside his body is sent back as well, which is how we have a note from a seeming future, and three identical earrings. If he gets hurt, he carries the injury back. We're not sure what happens if he dies, best not find out. 

Our own power, determined via experimentation across loops, is to count the number of lives that have been "saved" at a given moment. It doesn't seem to matter how many people are alive per se - we have tried to cause or avert births to test this. Our best guess is that the counter increments when someone who would have died, stays alive a little longer, and decrements if someone dies earlier than they would have. So if you extend someone's life by one year, the number will increment by one, for a single year, and then fall back down when they die. We're unsure what the reference frame is for comparison - perhaps it is some hypothetical world in which neither of us had these powers.

We've made no progress on the metaphysical implications of the fact that these powers exist and what that means about the universe. Umut will strongly suggest that we don't waste further time freaking out about that. I know from experience that he is right, but I also know from experience that we won’t listen.


You should reach one million dollars within two days. Please donate the specified amount to each organization on this list before continuing the rest of the loop, and fill in the corresponding data regarding the Number to the next loop.


The following methods are the fastest way to get key politicians and policy makers to believe in your power and follow your suggestions. See Table 11 for the effects of each advised course of action on the Number.


We ran the previous three loops for eight years, the longest ones so far. It turns out almost everything we worked on during previous loops was dwarfed by the effect of a pandemic, which we discovered in loop 35 and were able to avert in loop 37.

Since the loop was so long, we also want to salvage some of the technological progress that occurred. Please send the following files to the following email addresses, immediately at the start of the loop. 


I glanced over at Umut. He was well into his fifties, and I felt as if he looked at me with the fond eyes of one of those relatives who knew you as a child, back when you were too young to properly remember them. Apparently, we had been around the same age, back in the loop when we first met. There couldn't be that much time left. Our best guess was that when Umut died, it would be the last loop. We would have to make sure to get everything exactly right, that time.

We had collected a great deal of data, all of my selves in the past loops. It had only taken a few short loops to figure out the best interventions to donate the billions that we earned through foresight-driven investments. It had taken longer loops to identify some reasonably good policy changes. And all of that, in the end, turned out to be a rounding error next to the pandemic, which we had never seen coming, not until we invested in longer loops, loops that bit decades out of Umut's remaining time.

I wondered if my past selves had made a mistake, in burning through so much of our time in short loops. The pandemic had been unprecedented. Who was to say that if we had invested in a 30 or 40 year loop, we wouldn't have discovered something even bigger lurking in the future? A nuclear war? Or perhaps something totally unforeseen, some novel threat or novel opportunity the likes of which even science fiction hasn't imagined? But it would've been risky to find out, we might have spent all our time on only two loops. And we might easily have clumsily fumbled our execution of those loops, lacking experience in how utilize a time loop well. After all, despite our foresight, it had taken us more than one loop to successfully avert the pandemic. There had been advantages to doing it the way we had done. We learned a lot about the way the world works, with our shorter loops. Even though I've only experienced the loop once, the documents I've received have been extensive. It almost feels as though we have built up a certain expertise in how to steer the world's course. When that final loop comes, I will have done my part to help my successor be ready.

I handed Umut the key artifacts - piece of paper, the earring, the flash drive, as much as he could fit into his mouth. Part of me wondered, despite everything I had witnessed, if it would really happen - or if it was perhaps some cosmic, surreal joke. I closed my eyes and prepared to disappear. There was no reason to close my eyes before the loop reset really, but I felt that  -





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Hope you guys enjoy  my little doodle! This is my submission to the creative writing contest. I know it's pretty rough draft-ish and last-minute. If people seem to like the premise , I will polish it up more!

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