Fourth-Dimensional Shit, Tyrone
Joanna brushed past me without a single hey, tumbled on the sofa, and politely requested that I shoot her.
Oh, brother, I roll my eyes. “Whatever’s the matter this time, Joanna?”
“You wouldn’t believe it,” she promises. Considering how unusual our jobs are, I probably won’t. But I try her anyway.
“Okay, so you remember when I told you a while back that I was getting close to cracking the code to time travel?”
How odd of her. “Uh, don’t you mean fourth-dimensional -”
“Fourth-dimensional shit, Tyrone, it’s fucking time travel. The university can hide it under whatever scientific jargon they want, it’s fucking time travel.”
Well, someone’s moody. “Sorry. Yes, I remember … You were picking up on Dr. Handler’s research, right?”
“Yeah, you remember it right. Well, I gotta tell ya, Tyrone … I did it.”
“Really, now? You don’t sound proud, you don’t sound pleased.”
“I did it! I swear, I did it! Today, at 6:59 and 7 seconds, I unlocked the key to time travel! I finally figured out how to harness it, control it, ensure that anything put through it doesn’t get its atoms ripped apart, everything!”
For one second she seemed to be smiling under the pillow her face was stuffed in. Then the atmosphere sank into an almost tangible awkwardness again. I didn’t ask how it went wrong.
Joanna explained, “Then the weirdest thing happened. At 6:59 and 8 seconds, when I was just starting to realize that I did it, there was a big kaboom behind me. I turn around and see some chick with these wild, angry eyes and this ripped-up shirt and some crazy, neon, - fucking time jetpack or something, just made a big hole in the wall!”
“I’m sorry, did you say ‘time jetpack’?”
“Yes I said time jetpack. So she just busted into the lab, and she just started blowing everything up! With this little gun, looked like a toy - she just started shooting it and there were explosions all over the place!”
Interesting idea. I should propose it to the university. “Wait, why was she doing that?!”
“She didn’t say anything the whole time, but the first thing she did was blow up my equipment. Then she started shooting up everything else in the lab - she even exploded my papers, all my research, all the work … And then the damndest thing happened: she just disappeared.”
“You mean like she got away? With her jetpack?”
“No, I mean she was shooting and the next she just … vanished. Like, if you blinked and she wasn’t there anymore. That fast. And it wasn’t even 7:00 yet.”
“Hm … Think she might have traveled back?”
“I don’t think so, she didn’t push a button or anything. But I think maybe after she … goddammit, after she ruined everything, the future changed so she couldn’t travel back with her jetpack, and so she just … poofed.”
What the … “But then that means she couldn’t -”
“Don’t talk to me about the time paradox, I’ve been studying time for years and I know that this logically means she couldn’t time travel back because the time machine was destroyed because she traveled back and yadayadayada, but that’s what happened. She disappeared forever, my work is all gone because of someone who doesn’t exist anymore, and the university’s gonna have my ass when they find out.”
“Ooh … shit.”
“Yeah.” At last she peeks her eyes out of the pillow and stares at me. “Mind if I crash here for a little while?”
Like you have to ask?
She smiles, and this time I can see it.