The call sounded in the early hours of the morning, which was, for me, the late hours of last night. I would be in violation of Time Infraction TL: 16, Theft from an established timeline and Time Infraction TL: 7, assault on a Time Officer. I say I would be and not that I was because I hadn’t done it yet. The problem with policing time is that you’re always apologizing for things you won’t do for years. Apparently, a few years down the line, I’m supposed to have roughed up a rookie by the name of Simons for his Time Dilation Pod. The Bureau wasn’t looking to arrest me. Legally they couldn’t; both by Time Law and by the Laws of Physics. If I’m not there on that day to steal that T.D.P., the fabric of time would break or something like that. I’m not one of the eggheads that figure this stuff out, I just tag and bag when they tell me to.
They wanted meat the Bureau to set up a pysch-profile, so they’d be prepared when the day came that I was brought to justice and they want to fit me for a monitoring bracelet. It was a little prissy thing that most of the Bureau suspected was designed to humiliate more than to monitor. It flashed blue and green and red in rapid succession every time your offending self was in the same time stream as you. The guy that fitted it around my wrist tried to tell me that it was for my own safety, that if my offending self and I got confused for one another, I could get popped in the head or thrown in jail, but I got to believe that there was a better way of going about it.
“If I have this on, won’t he?” I asked the guy and spits out some spiel about how the bracelet is in a constant state of temporal flex and therefore wouldn’t be the same bracelet by then. And furthermore, he tells me, they’ve locked on to his bracelet in the future and are figuring out my capture date. He sounded so impressed with himself and all I wanted to do was smash his face in.
“You’re talking about my capture, you’re talking about the day I go to jail, or the day some over-eager rookie slits my head in two.” I think that, but I know not to say it. You start acting squirrelly; start taking it personally and the Bureau will call you a flight risk and take your Time Travel privileges away.
They don’t want two offenders running around, screwing with the timeline. So they let me go after that. I went on missions, wrangled violators, but always with that bracelet. It’d go off at random points and my body would stiffen. Another me was here and invisible eyes were on the both of us. I assumed they were watching me, though no one said they would be. My colleagues would clap me on the back and talk to me like I was already dead, saying things like, “Mack, I’ve met Simons. Would have punched him out too,” and “Mack, this kind of thing, it only happens to the best of us.” The fact of the matter is that I wanted to push in each and every one of their noses, drive a fist into, through their heads. I was tired of the apologetic looks and the words of comfort and the fact that it’s damn near impossible to be respected when your bracelet starts up with a rainbow dance across your wrist. I wasn’t taking it so I decided to sit out a couple weeks. That’s when it happened.
Everyday I was out, my wrist would light up. Day and night, just continuously going off. I had the boys at the Bureau check it to see if it was broken. They said it was fine, that the thing lighting up like it did just meant that my other self was showing an interest in this time stream. It’d go off, once, twice, as much as eight times a day. I got sick of it, so I took the thing off with some pliers and a knife. It wasn’t broken, I made sure of that. As much as I hated it, I knew it’d stop me from catching a bullet.
I left the bracelet on my coffee table and went to bed. In the middle of the night, I heard rustling and I got out my service pistol and crept out to meet my intruder. I was a joke at the Bureau, but that didn’t make me a joke with a heater in my hands. I burst out into my living room and I was drawing a gun on myself, my bracelet in my slightly older hands. The other me froze in his tracks, staring down the barrel of my gun. The thought occurred that I should shoot him, but then I thought about dying on the run, making a desperate play and I knew I didn’t want to go out like that.
“Drop it.” I told him, he didn’t. I cocked my gun and still he started walking toward the door. I kept my aim and he didn’t flinch.
“Drop it.” I growled. I thought I’d shake him up with a warning shot. I blasted the door frame as he reached for the door handle, it exploded in a shower of wood splinters. He stopped, but still didn’t seem afraid.
“Listen,” He said, sounding like he was talking to a kid, “I got to take this. Time says I get it back, by taking it from you.” I finally thought to look at his wrist, he didn’t have a monitoring bracelet on either.
“You took yours off, too. Told them those things were stupid.”
“No, you took mine off when you took yours off.” He said, brandishing his wrist.
“You’re me.” I asked, realizing the stupidity of the statement. He was me, the offender in the future was me. It was all me.
“I’m not him, I don’t know where he is. I’ve been on the run for months, because I can’t prove I’m me.”
“So the idiots at the Bureau assume you’re him. But if you don’t take that I won’t have to be on the run for months. That’s stupid, don’t you think?”
“Time Law TL: 1, Events must play out as they happen. I take this because it’s supposed to be taken.” He said, putting his hand on the door handle.
“Good luck.” He offered to me and then he was gone.
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