A Matter of Time

Elizabeth, Elizabeth, and Elizabeth fell towards the mound of sand below them. It didn't look it was going to help soften the fall much. It would likely be better than landing on concrete or asphalt, or even solid ground, but this was still going to hurt like hell.

Elizabeth--sixteen-year-old Elizabeth--was just about to scrunch her eyes closed, in anticipation of violent impact and broken bones, when she noticed something odd.

The sand was rippling.

She frowned and squinted, trying to see more clearly, but there was no time left. The three of them fell through the sand--

Through the sand? How is that possible?

--and landed, rather softly as it turned out, in a compartment.

Elizabeth looked around. The place seemed vaguely familiar, but how...?

Twenty-six-year-old Elizabeth was looking around in much the same way. Only thirty-six-year-old Elizabeth seemed unfazed by the situation.

Suddenly, the familarity of the surroundings jelled in her head. They were in the tesseract, but it was different somehow. Elizabeth from 2029 must have made some modifications.

"Is this...?"

Elizabeth-2029 nodded. "Yes, we're in the chronotope."

Elizabeth shook her head. "The whatowhat?"

Elizabeth-2029 looked at her with a puzzled expression, then seemed to realize something. "Oh, right," she said. "You would have known it as the tesseract."

"Me, too," said Elizabeth-2019, raising her hand in the air.

"Well, as you can see," 2029 said, gesturing around the chamber, "I've made some modifications since your time... er... times."

Elizabeth looked at the panels and controls surrounding them. None of them made any sense to her. But they would, she realized. In about twenty years' time.

"Why did we make such a soft landing?" 2019 asked suddenly.

"Oh," 2029 said, "I opened that portal at the side of this chamber, so when we went through, we entered sideways. So, even though we were falling straight down out there, gravity changed when we came through, and we arced a bit before hitting the floor in here. Not the neatest landing, but better than the alternative."

"Wow," Elizabeth said. "A dimensional shift."

"A rudimentary one," 2029 replied, "but yes, that's what it was."

2029 cleared her throat and stood up. Wobbling a bit, she dusted herself off and moved towards the control panel nearest her. "We have to get moving," she said. "It won't be long before Jason and the rest of them figure out what I've done."

"Yes, but which Jason, and which rest of them?" 2019 asked.

2029 paused a moment. "Good point," she said. "Probably all of them."

"But how many is that?" Elizabeth asked, alarmed.

"Well, there's three of us," 2029 said, "which means three focal points in time. So, three sets of bad guys."

"God," Elizabeth sighed, "this is starting to make my head swim. And I'm a genius."

"Join the club," 2019 said. "Even I'm not as smart as she is."

2029 continued setting controls, moving from one panel to the next.

"What are we going to do?" Elizabeth asked.

"Well," 2029 said, "we have to end this. Permanently. So I'm going to take us back to 1992 and give Jason's mother an abortion."

"What?" Elizabeth and 2019 said, nearly in unison.

Elizabeth put her hand to her forehead. "We can't do that! That's... that's murder!"

2029 scowled at her. "Oh, you're not one of those, are you? Bloody conservative--"

"No, I'm not talking about that," Elizabeth said. "I'm talking about the fact that Jason is a living, breathing human being. I went to school with him. You married him, for God's sake. You're just going to wipe him out of existence? He's your husband!"

"Yeah. About that." 2029 leaned closer to Elizabeth. "Worst mistake I ever made." She turned back to her control panels. "Besides, you can't murder a man who never existed."

Elizabeth and 2019 looked at each other.

"We have to stop her," Elizabeth whispered.

"I heard that," 2029 said. "And you're too late." She dramatically whacked a large button. "We're on our way."

The chamber began to spin. Elizabeth held on and tried to focus on a single point to keep from becoming disoriented.

"1992, here we come."

The End

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