Repeat. Cycle. Repeat.

Writing Prompt:  “As you stand in front of the sink washing a glass mug, you have the sudden urge to say a number. The number twenty-two leaves your lips, and for half a second you know why you’ve said it. This is the 22nd time you’ve remembered you are trapped in this loop. For half a second you remember.”


“Twenty Two.”

The words left my lips, involuntary, like someone else had said it or forced me to say it.

My ears seemed to react first. Not only did I hear my words, but I also heard the water that was still pouring from the tap. My fingers reacted next. They were wet and beginning to prune as I felt the glass mug in my hands. Then my eyes focused. I blinked a couple of times like I was trying to get the sleep out of my eyes.

I stared at my hands for a moment before shutting off the faucet. I turned away from the sink, still holding the mug in my hands.

I was standing in my kitchen.

No one else was here. I had lived alone in this apartment for some time. A pretty run down place that wasn’t big. But it was all I could afford. Plus I liked to call it a fixer-upper and cozy instead of dark and dingy.

“It has character,” My landlord told me the day I moved in.

I grinned a  bit before looking down at the mug I had in my hands.

“Twenty two,” The number floated around in my head, “Why did I say that?”

Twenty two was such a random number. It wasn’t my favorite number and it wasn’t a lucky number. It was just a number. Had I seen it somewhere? I didn’t think so. Twenty second street? Twenty two degrees? Channel Twenty Two? None of these seemed to make sense.

“Twenty two,” I said out loud again.

I took a sharp inhale and hands twitched. The glass mug in my hands fell to the ground and shattered into a bunch of little pieces.

“I’m back,” I said. “I’m back.”

I quickly looked around.

“Twenty two. This must be the twenty second time. I’m still in this cycle,” I said out loud.

I ran past the shattered mug and flung my door open. I looked both ways down the hallway and saw none of my neighbors in the hallway. I quickly made my ways down the stairs and I descended down the stairs.

As I ran, I passed some neighbors climbing up the stairs, but their faces were blurred. I barely noticed as I ran past. Eventually I made my way to the ground floor. I glanced around the lobby.

Nothing seemed out of the ordinary. Just a young gentleman standing in the lobby staring at his phone while a elderly woman checked her mail, both of their faces blurred.

“Where is it? Where is it?” I asked out loud as I looked around, trying to take it all in. “Not in the lobby. I checked all the other floors. Where could it be?”

Just out of the corner of my eye, I noticed a door near the back of the lobby.

Boiler room.

“Boiler room. Yeah that makes sense,” I said as I ran toward the door.

I grabbed the handle, but as I tried to turn it, it would not budge.

“No! No!”

I slammed my shoulder against the door, but held strong. I slammed my shoulder again and again and again. Each time the door held as my weight against the door did very little.

I went for a fifth time, but before I could make contact with the boiler room door. There was an explosion. I was standing so close to it, that my body basically evaporated as a large wave of heat and fire consumed me. The explosion took out the first couple of floors almost immediately as the floors above fell quickly and nearby buildings took damage.

Of course I just felt a split second of heat and pain before there was just blackness.

For a moment I felt nothing but eventually the eternal darkness around me gave way to a small pinprick of light.

I heard a voice enter my head.

“We are prepping you for cycle 23. You got a lot closer this time. It has been confirmed that the explosion was in the boiler room. You must find keys and get in there.”

I sighed.

“If you knew the explosion was in the boiler room, why didn’t you send me there first?” I asked.

“We did. But you have to learn for yourself. The information you learn in the memory sticks way better than the stuff we tell you out of the memory. That’s why each time it must relearn you are in the cycle,” The voice said. “Unfortunately this process has it’s limitations.”

“Is that why I have so little time each time?”

“Yes. This is the furthest we were able to recover your memory. Just a few seconds before the explosion. But I am sure you will be able to make it in time.”

“To disable the bomb?” I asked.

“If you’d like. You can try. But it is more important to figure out why the bomb goes off. The people are already dead. You are already dead. But if we can collect enough information, we can make sure things like this don’t happen again.”

“Is this really the best use of your resources?”

“Buddy, that’s way above my pay grade. I just run the simulation. Now we are ready to reset. Just let me know when you are ready?”

“What time is this?” I asked.

“Twenty three,” The voice replied.

“Twenty three,” I continued to repeat the number over and over again. “Twenty three. Twenty three. Twenty three.”

“Counting you in in 3……2…..1….”


“Twenty three,” I said.

The words left my lips, involuntary, like someone else had said it or forced me to say it.


Header Photo Credit to CYSGLYD on Flickr

Writing Prompt submitted to r/Writing Prompts by u/GreenCrunchyWater

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