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Out Of Time

Rebecca Lodwick teaches mathematics and writes fiction, although not at the same time. She is currently co-writing a fantasy novel, a process which seems to mostly involve arguing about the internal consistency of magic systems.

There is no time. The last of it ran out a while ago. Or maybe it was longer. Or maybe it has not yet run out.
We traveled through time, of course. First, we could skip forward and get to the good parts. Moving in the usual direction, but faster. That was easy. But what we really wanted to do was to jump back and fix the bad parts. Much harder. All of our best minds were working for years. Or maybe it was days. Or maybe they have not yet started.
We figured out how to use spare time to jump back the wrong way. It was like passing a rope down a cliff to ourselves so we could climb back up. We took the time we had not yet used to fix the time that we had.
Some warned against our work. But they could not argue with our results. The wars and the plagues that we had known did not come to pass.
Still some were wary. You take from the well, but what will you do when it runs dry? We ignored them, as we had more to do. For every big fix a thousand unintended consequences kept us at work.
Then, one day, we could not find the time to jump back. There was no more slack in the rope. Soon after, or long before, we found that we could not skip forward either. We just moved in the usual direction, at the usual pace. When things went wrong, we could not go back to fix them nor could we go forward to avoid them.
Then one day, or hour, or year, we stopped moving. There was nowhere for us to move to. And now, or then, or here, we stay.
The End
This story was first published on Thursday, June 4th, 2020
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