Author : Grady Hendrix
…and he suddenly wakes up with a start. The light was all wrong, a brief nap shouldnâ€™t have taken this â€“ 5:45! Oh, god. Oh, no. Why hadnâ€™t his alarm clock gone off? Eric squeezed his forehead in his hands and made a high-pitched sound: he had slept through his own wedding. This is the kind of thing that happens when you have a secret laboratory underneath your house and you muck about with time travel.
â€œIâ€™ll fix it,â€ he said out loud. â€œIâ€™ll fix it.â€
He leapt up and adjusted the time vest for just one more trip. He cinched the straps and hit the button and he was instantly unmoored in the Chronoverse, suddenly reduced to a unique set of free floating personality traits rushing backwards to…
Just a few hours ago! He looked at himself sleeping at his desk, head nestled in the crook of his elbow. Heâ€™d done it! He carefully set the alarm on his clock and got ready for his return trip. Is that what he looked like from behind? Well he certainly needed to shave the back of his neck more often. Then he was looking down the barrel of a gun. Several guns, in fact. Several guns being held by uniformed strangers.
â€œCome with us, Professor Tenser,â€ one of them said. â€œWeâ€™ll make this easy on you.â€
â€œWho are you people?â€
â€œCopyright Enforcement. You invented time travel, but we used your invention to travel back in time and invent it before you. Youâ€™re wearing a bootleg vest so weâ€™re going to have to kill you.â€
â€œYou canâ€™t kill me for a copyright violation.â€
â€œSure we can. Our lawyers went back and put it in the Constitution.â€
Eric panicked and slapped the button on his vest, flinging himself randomly into time. The Copyright Cops followed. Down the corridors of history they ran: Medieval, Mesozoic, Middle Reformation, Great Awakening. Hiding behind Thomas Becketâ€™s robes, crouching in a Catholic hiding hole, squatting behind the battlements of a castle. Eric was good at running but then he thought, â€œWhat if…?â€ and he set a different path.
Now waiting on the pink shores of a prehistoric sea, Coelacanths mating merrily in the deep, he sees a tiny fish, gills straining, taking its first crawl up onto land, chased by an angry trilobite. Eric had worked this problem out, spending almost a year in a looped millisecond so that no time at all had passed. He had pinpointed this little Rhipidistia as the earliest ancestor of the Copyright Cops who were on his tail. He smushed it with a rolled up magazine.
â€œThere,â€ he said. â€œNow to get back to my wedding.â€
Yanked into the present, heâ€™s back in his lab, exhausted after his chase through time, but exhilarated as well. He sits at his workbench to get ready for the wedding but first, just a little nap. He puts his head down on his arms, he falls soundly asleep…