Is Beijing in for a chronological meltdown,
ask scientists rigorously
by Henrietta Wang
Experts have long been of the opinion that there is something funny going on in the brain and head of the average Beijing ren. But a recent surprise discovery has led to a shock revelation in the immediate past. Researchers at the Donald Roeser Institute For Heavily Applied Temporal Physics (DRIFHATP) investigating time particle waveforms in the North China Plain area have discovered that Beijingers do, in fact, experience time differently to Joe Public in Chicago, The Man on the Clapham Omnibus in London, or Juan Average in Caracas.
"You know how for no apparent reason, nearly everyone on the Beijing subway is always in a desperate hurry to get on or off the trains even when there is no shortage of space and the train won't leave them behind, usually to the point of elbowing others out of the way? And then how despite this, immediately upon emerging into the daylight outside the station, they all suddenly slow to a maddening crawl? Or how they inexplicably jump up out of their seats on the plane when it lands, despite there being a good ten minutes until they even get to the gate? We think this behaviour, previously only attributable to madness or possibly something in the water, is actually down to warped channels in the time centres of their brains." So speaks Dr Hildinka Frou, one of the four co-authors of DRIFHATP's shocking report, available in hardback from Methuen Books in December.
The culprits, says Dr Frou, are rogue time particles called timeons. Timeons in their natural, productive state are a positive thing, massaging the flow of time in oppositely polarised pairs, oscillating around like a bibulous uncle at a wedding reception. However, there is a danger when too many timeon pairs settle into a stable spin cycle (so-called "idle" timeons) and cause damage to an inactive human brain. The stabilised timeons multiply, causing the afflicted individual to further and further lose touch with the passage of time, until they reach such a state as to find sitting on a plastic stool by a road with their stomach exposed an acceptable way to spend entire days.
The peril doesn't stop there. Once the stable timeons exceed the capacity of the host brain, they start to leak out like invisible frozen peas being thrown out of a sponge. When this happens they can and do spread to other individuals. Normally the risk of this occurring is exceedingly rare. However, in Beijing an unusually large number of people undertake no gainful employment whatsoever. This had led one of the more excitable science people on the DRIFHATP team to pronounce the city "on the verge of a localised timepocalypse".
Experts fear that a large scale build-up of idle timeons in certain areas could lead to a catastrophic chain reaction as individual timeon ripples reinforce one another, effectively bringing time to a standstill in the affected area. Haidian district, with its high concentration of foreign students, is particularly at risk.
The last such "Carcosa Effect" brought on by excess timeons settling into a stable spin cycle occurred in 1972 in New Zealand. Despite the best efforts of research chronotolists, Wellington remains affected to this day.