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This can’t possibly be happening. Again? How many more times is it going to happen before it ends? Or is there even going to be an end to this?

I am sure that you are wondering what it is that I am talking about. Perhaps then I should start at the beginning. I am not known to tell my stories in a linear fashion always, so bear with me if I detract, diffract or even distract you from my story.

What I am not going to do is to give you my name. No impressions of me should enter the picture before your eyes you see. So for the duration of the story, you can just call me P. Again, gender is not going to be specified. Again, no preconceived notions. Perhaps I am male. Perhaps I am female. Perhaps I am neither. Perhaps I am both. You don’t know now. Will you have an answer to that question by the end? Perhaps.

Back to my story. You see I have no memory of how it is that I came to be in this spot. I know I am supposed to have some memory but I just don’t. All I can remember is that this has happened to me before. Not just once mind you. Not just twice. Not just thrice. In fact, I have lost count of the sheer number of times this has happened.

What is it?

What is in front of me of course. There seem to be two walls with a space in between. All around me though, there isn’t anything. Yet I know that my only means of escape is through the small gap between the two walls.

And therein lies the problem. I am fairly certain I have gone through the gap enough number of times, and yet there seems to be no way for me to get out of this loop.

Take the first time for instance. Obviously I was a lot more panicked than I am now (familiarity & resignation do that to you I suppose). I anticipated there to be something to impede my escape. In fact, I was so sure of it that it took me a very long time to first cover the distance to the gap (caution & slow speed are not something I am typically known for). Once past the gap, I turned as left as I could and rushed out happy and relieved at my freedom.

But it wasn’t to be.

Almost as soon as I reached what I thought to be a safe distance, I found myself back at the start. What made it weirder was that I had thought a significant amount of time had lapsed over the course of my journey, only to find that the time lapse was something that I had felt and was not real.

I proceeded once again, this time at a far greater speed than the first, for I was now sure that there wasn’t anything to impede me on my quest to freedom. This time though, I noticed and chose a second gap that I had previously overlooked in my panic. It was thus, not two walls with a small gap between them, but three walls that were separated by two small gaps.

And so I went, through the second gap and taking the rightmost path I possibly could without reducing my speed.

End result? You have two guesses

Back I found myself. Back at the start again and back at the same time again. Deciding that the time for carefully and tactfully choosing my escape route was now (or then, or whatever, depending on how you want to reckon this non-time), I took off again.

And again

And again

And again

At this point I had gotten quite tired of the whole ordeal. I began to randomly pick a gap and a direction for my escape. Except that it wasn’t an escape, but a reset back to the beginning.

I could not give up. I had to keep going, keep trying. In between all this, I ended up calculating the probabilities and possibilities of my escape. Of course, calculating the possibilities was a rather moot point. There are only two possibilities – yes or no. And since I definitely wanted the former, I was determined to make sure that the probability estimates for that gave me near certainty of my escape.

And it was after yet another unsuccessful attempt that I uttered those words that you read at the start of this story.

No, I cannot give up.

No, I will not give up.

Here goes another attempt!

But this time. This time something is different. You might expect me to say that I know that I will escape my situation this time. No, that isn’t it. I know that I won’t be escaping this time as well.

But this time. This time I notice things. Things that I am not sure are new, or had already existed or if they are product of my imagination. What I do know is that my observation of this phenomenon is new.

Something else suddenly makes sense as well. If I had had any doubts about the escape routes I had taken, they are now put to rest. Every single escape route that I had unsuccessfully taken seems to have been lit up by a spot. Not much mind you, but with just enough contrast to tell you that there is a difference in colour. And that it is not a figment of my imagination.

In a flash, it all makes sense to you. The spots, the gaps, the apparent stoppage of time. My name. It would all make sense to you now. As it did to me.

Here’s a hint. A big hint.

It is a single word.


Well, I will not keep you waiting for the answer, since my time has literally come.

Here it is.

Begins with I and ends with E.