I took out my badge and put my hands in the air, "Same side!"
The other cops arrested the killer and a man in a jacket with the letters T.P.A. (everyone else had vests labelled 'POLICE') removed something from his wrist. The man with the T.P.A. Jacket approached me. "Hello James, good to see you again."
"Um, have we met?"
"Well, I met you for what was just half an hour ago to me, but this would be the first time that you've met me."
"Care to explain what you mean by that? And what's going on with him?" I gestured to the killer that they were leading into one of the police... hovercrafts.
"Well, I am Agent Matthew Lam, from the Time Patrol Agency." He held up a badge.
"The Time Patrol Agency? What is this, some kind of a joke?"
"I assure you, this isn't a joke."
"So, you're saying that I time travelled? What was that, some kind of a time portal then?"
"Well, what year are you from? And the era?"
"2013, and, er... the Common Era?"
"Well, it's 1023 TTE, Time Travel Era. We made a new calendar with Year 1 being the year when time travel was invented. We're about...," Matthew paused for a second to calculate the numbers in his head, "four thousand, three hundred years after your time, give or take a few decades."
I stopped breathing for a little bit, trying to digest this information.
Seeing my shock, Matthew gestured to one of the hovercrafts, "Look, let's get you to the local agency office, and we can talk more on the way."
I followed him to the hovercraft and he opened the door for me, "This is my car. Did you guys have cars back then?"
I chuckled nervously, "Yeah, but they didn't fly."
Matthew raised an eyebrow, "Really? How did they get around then?"
"Um, they had wheels?"
"Hm, now that you mention it, I think I remember hearing something like that on a documentary on TV once."
We got into the car, and I noticed that there wasn't a steering wheel. With bated breath, I waited as Matthew pressed some buttons on the panel between us. After pressing the 'Confirm' button, Matthew leaned back, turned on some music, and the car started moving on its own.
I held on tight as the car found its way to the street and neatly inserted itself into the traffic. Traffic that was made up of four lanes horizontally... and three lanes vertically! We floating above a lane below us and gliding along with a lane over our heads!
It was a few more moments before I finally asked, "So..., cars drive themselves now?"
"What?" Matthew stared at my nervous face for a moment, "Oh, they didn't do that back then?"
"Well, they do now."
"Oh," I said, marvelling at this technology, "How does the car know where to go? How does it know where the other cars are? Where the pedestrians are?"
"Well, all the cars are hooked up to a network. There's a program that tracks the cars and it guides them to where they need to go. It takes care of everything."
"So nobody drives in the future?"
"Well, the average person doesn't even know how to, but certain people, like cops or paramedics, are trained to drive in emergency situations. There is an emergency override that we can use if we need to. It's actually illegal to drive unless if it's an emergency. If we do have to drive, it's recommended that we drive above all the traffic. We would still be hooked into the network, so the program would be able to guide traffic out of our way in those cases."
I gestured at the panel, "So how does it work?"
"You just type in the location, or you can search for it, and it'll take you to anywhere in the world."
"Anywhere in the world? Even in another country?"
"Yeah, why not?"
"Well, you know, different countries, different rules. Having to travel over the seas for some. And maybe some countries don't have the network?"
"Oh, these cars can travel over the seas just fine. As for different rules, the different governments of the past united to become one world government a long time ago. So with that, it was quite easy to have the network be available all over the globe."
"Wow..." Was all that I could say as I digested what Matthew just told me. The world united under one government? Flying self-driving cars? What a future.
The future..., that's right, I had jumped into a portal that was opened by that killer, which opened up another full can of questions, "So, what about that man that you just arrested? Who was he? How did you know he'd be there? What was that thing you took off his wrist? And what do you mean, you've met me before?"
"Woah, one question at a time."
"Alright, who was that man?"
"I think you witnessed him killing a politician right before you came to this time?"
"Right, he killed Edgar Brown."
"Well, we believe that by doing so, he's changed the timeline, which is why we're arresting him, for murder and for changing the timeline. We also believe that he's part of a terrorist group that's planning a large scale change of the timeline to suit their purposes. This," he held up the device he took off the killer's wrist, "is the device he used to time travel."
"Why don't you just go back in time and prevent him from killing?"
"Because that would cause another paradox."
"If he never killed, then why did we go back in time to stop him in the first place? No, enough paradoxes have been caused for today."
"Wait, there's already another one?"
"Yeah, if Edgar Brown was already dead, then why did he go back in time to kill him?"
I paused for a second, "Okay, this is making my head spin."
Matthew chuckled a little, "Yeah, it's a bit confusing. But it brings me to my next point, we knew that the perp would be there because the future you and I told me. That's why I've met you before, but you haven't met me yet."
"So..., in order to prevent another paradox, we're going to have to go back in time too?"
"Yep, now you're getting it."
"So, we're obviously not operating in a universe where the stable time loop applies, but we're going to try and make one anyways?"
"Yeah," Matthew paused for a bit at my comment, "The thing is, scientists haven't been able to figure out all the rules of time travel yet. We don't know what paradoxes will do, but it can't good, so we'll try to minimize the amount of paradoxes."
"We? You mean the Time Patrol Agency?"
"Yep, we monitor time travel and make sure that no one is using it for illegal purposes."
"So, then, what is time travel supposed to be used for?"
"Mostly for research, and it's a last resort for criminal investigations." Matthew looked up as we started slowing down. "Oh, here we are."