Keeping Time

Being the keepers of time is no trivial task, but the National Institute of Standards, comprised of charlatans and confidence men, has managed to fleece the population. The NIS predates the Illuminati and has mostly flown under the radar of the conspiracy theorists. They paid off a bona fide programmer to design a website befitting such an esteemed organization. If you visit the NIS on the web, you’ll find a clear navigational hierarchy, muted fonts, and abundant educational resources. When questioned about their timekeeping, representatives of the NIS will peddle you a story about atomic clocks and bouncing bits of caesium. This isn’t pseudoscience; it’s passable, but relayed with nary a shred of understanding. The official NIS guide for dealing with such inbound inquiries was cobbled together from Wikipedia articles and information slyly extracted from real experts in the field. The NIS takes no visitors at its headquarters, claiming national security concerns. Nobody is much inclined to argue, as they enjoy the childish science lessons. I reveal the following information to you knowing that the NIS grunts won’t be combing this journal for mentions of their disgraceful organization. The NIS does not keep time by any respectable scientific standard. Their office is a building in suburban Chicago whose most prominent feature is a central pit, like an indoor quarry, that houses one hundred rusted-out hulking semis. There’s no pattern to the way the trucks are arranged, though the conspiracy theorists will attempt to ascribe some larger significance to it if they ever get ahold of this knowledge. The trucks groan in time with, well, true time, and this is what serves as the foundation of our modern world. Every last slow Indiglo burn, every last tick in the countdown to blastoff, every last precious moment spent waiting in gravity—is owed to a bunch of dead trucks. Some things are just made to be broken.


Rachel Hyman lives in Chicago and edits Banango Lit and Banango Street. Her work has been published/is forthcoming in Pangur Ban Party, Red Lightbulbs, and HOUSEFIRE. She went to poetry camp when she was 13. Find her HERE.