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You are looking at a time machine.
There would be no point in explaining why such a thing exists, except that a person made it; how such a thing is possible, except that it is; or, and possibly most pressingly, who on earth would seek to make such a thing, except that she is the protagonist of this story.
“Finally finally finally finally finally!” said the scientist, whose many eccentricities included talking to herself; she always firmly believed that if something doesn’t hurt anybody, why not do it? Talking to herself helped her organize her thoughts, made her feel good, and probably burned calories. If nothing else, it was a habit, and a habit she saw no point in breaking.
“After decades of work—millennia of human dreams and innovation—this is the result!”
Her mind whirred like a mess of parallel cogs, spinning simultaneously along dozens of paths in such a way that an onlooker could not possibly take them all in at once.
“What if,” she thought, “I went back and killed myself? Would the grandfather paradox hold true? Would the universe split? Would I survive?
“What if I went to a place and time that I had already visited? Could I meet myself? Would anything bad happen?
“What if I let two people do it at once? Would it work? Oh, I only regret that there are such infinite potentialities, and only one of me!”
As the gears spun more and more, one idea began to stand apart from the rest:
“What if,” she said, “I went back, just a few minutes, and stole the machine from myself?”
The words hung heavy, as if tangible—and, more importantly, as if she could take them back in a moment if—
“It worked!” The scientist turned to see a familiar-looking woman standing in the doorway. In her hands, and equally familiar silver box which, after a single confused moment, was swiftly joined with another.
In a moment, she was gone, leaving behind neither a trace nor a hair nor a time machine.
“Amazing,” said the scientist. “I just need to rebuild, reinvent it…” The gears in her mind were whirring, the possibilities racing through every level of consciousness; she had only just begun to consider the implications when all of a sudden the story ended.



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