The Last of Time
by Ken Poyner
I clean the time machines. It is a brute labor job, but unionized, so the pay and benefits are not half bad. Particularly for someone with little education and, like me, a record holding a few early abrasions with the law. What can I say? I had an interesting youth.
Mostly the job is scratching stray seconds and the occasional minute out of the rigging, sucking up a misplaced nanosecond that somehow got into the cockpit. I have been told stories of people finding entire days wrapped around a stabilizer manifold, but I am not so sure that I believe it.
We gather everything up, take it in a containment shell through quarantine, get it sorted and stamped by the white-coat types there, then put it in the temporal re-adjuster. Through the temporal re-adjuster, with a physics the company has patented, some way it is put back in the time stream in its proper place.
I go on faith. I have never seen any changes in our present that would have come from a busted past. But it is rumored that, early on in the business, a whole week was lost. They had yet to figure out the temporal re-adjuster, and did not even then know that a time machine, with its aggressive multi-dimensional ether-folding thrift, could snag random instants and have them come back freeloading with the time riding client.
No one knows what was done with the week. It is all hush-hush even now.