Author : JTHeyman

My cell door opened, revealing a woman dressed all in grey. I was dead. With an ordinary interrogator/judge, I would have had a chance. Not with one of the Grey Ladies.

“United States Time Court Interrogation/Trial 66017002,” she said in a voice that was about as close to mechanical as a human could get. Her optical implants scanned me on every frequency from deep infrared up to x-ray. Her audio receptors would catch every decibel. Scans were transmitted to medical computers for instant analysis. Lying was not an option.

In that flat voice, the Grey Lady said, “First charge: one count, unlawful use of timeslip equipment. Plea?”

“Guilty,” I said. That was just a misdemeanor.

“Sentence: one year, stasis.”

I nodded. A year in stasis was easy. Unfortunately….

“Second charge: one count, disruption of timeline. Plea?”

That one, on the other hand, carried a death sentence. “Guilty,” I admitted sadly.

“Felony or misdemeanor?”

I was confused. Since when was screwing with the timeline a misdemeanor? “I … don’t understand.”

“Pursuant to Temporal Law 2051-C-9, disruption of timeline is a felony if resultant temporal shockwave would reset current timespace without intervention. Amendment 507 specifies that if disruption results in an action that is consistent with recorded history, said offense is reduced to misdemeanor, penalties appropriate to reduced charge. Felony or misdemeanor?”

“I don’t know,” I said, suddenly realizing that if the law had changed, I might get out of this alive.

“Testify: events of recent timeline incursion.”

“It was a standard job,” I said. “Timeslip into the past. Grab something ordinary that no one would miss. Timeslip out again. No one gets hurt.”

“Testify: nature of disruption.”

“It was like this. My clients,” I began.

“The Association for the Re-Creation of Chivalry,” the Grey Lady interjected. “ARCC. Continue.”

“ARCC. Right. You see, these guys in ARCC said they were going to re-create a jousting tournament. They paid me to go back and get something authentic to give the participants a thrill. They said no one would miss a cask of genuine medieval horseshoe nails. Anyway, I found the nails and gave a bushel of oranges to the guy who had them. They were seedless oranges,” I added quickly. “There’s no way he could have planted them.”

“Timespace coordinates?”

“Um … eleventh century, France, somewhere on the northern coast.”

The Grey Lady paused, accessing the relevant historical data. “Analysis complete. Second charge: one count, disruption of timeline, misdemeanor. Sentence: five years, stasis.”

I breathed a sigh of relief but I couldn’t stop myself from asking, “Uh, by the way … how could a couple of nails disrupt the timeline?”

The Grey Lady looked at me and then said, “The displaced cask of nails was intended for the cavalry of William of Normandy. Historical records confirm: unable to field his full cavalry, he was defeated at the Hastings, England, 1066. Interrogation/Trial 66017002 complete. The Time Court of His Imperial Majesty Harold XXVI is adjourned.”

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