Author : Ian Rennie
“Who the hell are you and what are you doing in my apartment?”
The man at the window didn’t turn to look at Lloyd’s outburst. When he spoke, his voice sounded bored.
“You know who I am, and if you have any sense, you know why I’m here.”
Finally he did turn. He pulled a card out of his pocket, and a hologram leapt out of it, a tiny three dimensional version of his face, with a stream of data running underneath it.
“Agent Moorcock, Chronology enforcement. Don’t bother introducing yourself. You’re Lloyd Fry, on placement from the archaeology department of the University of Charon, and you and I are the only people in this city from our century.”
Lloyd adopted the slightly guilty pose that comes naturally to anyone who has to deal with the police, as if running through in his mind what he could possibly have done wrong.
“Of course, how can I help you, officer?”
“Where is it?”
A chill ran through him. He tried as hard as he could not to let it show, and ended up overcompensating
“I’m not sure I follow you.”
“Mr Fry, please don’t cause any problems. Your university worked hard for your visa, and I’d hate to think they wasted all that work just because you panicked when you saw a badge. Where is the recorder?”
The game was up. Lloyd reached into his back pocket, noticing as he did that the agent tensed very slightly at this. He pulled out a silver stub roughly the size of his thumb and placed it on the table. The agent walked over to it.
“A motorola HS6290 hologram recorder, best in its class at the 2053 Consumer Electronics show, as I recall. Mind telling me why you thought you should bring one back to 1996?”
The agent cut him off before he could get himself in any deeper.
“Mr Fry, you are in pre-unity time. Any time period before 2018 is embargoed, and likely to remain so. When you received your visa, you agreed not to bring anything back with you apart from your body. Even there, your records state they removed your retinal HUD. What in god’s name made you think this little thing would be acceptable?”
“I didn’t think anyone would mind. I needed it to take recordings for my fieldwork, and…”
Lloyd slumped into a chair, feeling around three inches tall.
“And I wanted to get a hologram of the eiffel tower before it was wrecked by the earthquake. My mother asked me to.”
Agent Moorcock’s face softened slightly. He said nothing, the man before him knew what he had done.
“So,” said Lloyd after a while, “What happens to me now?”
“Nothing happens to you now.”
Lloyd’s face creased in confusion.
“What do you m-”
Agent Moorcock touched a control on his wrist and the room vanished. Instead, he was walking through a crowded travel lobby towards a tired figure standing in front of a desk.
“Mr Lloyd Fry?”
The man turned. it was the same face Moorcock had just seen, maybe six months younger.
“I’m afraid that your visa application didn’t pass vetting. Unfortunately we cannot permit you to complete your travel plans.”
Lloyd looked disappointed but resigned. Applications were rarely successful.
“Can I ask why?”
“I’m afraid that information is classified, sir. Oh, sir?”
Moorcock held something out to the man. It was, after all, for his mother.
“You dropped your recorder.”