Serializations of the Hitherby Dragons novels

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Temporal Administration

Temporal Administration

It had proved disturbingly difficult to arrange for a paradox; eventually Professor Sutedja simply accepted that her younger self would attend the Lethal Magnet School for Wayward Youth and her older self would act as a Professor of Temporal Administration there and nothing could really be done. She tested some lottery numbers to check for a butterfly effect, found the results satisfactory, and ceased to worry about the details thereafter, allowing the School’s visitors from the 20th and earlier 21st century to take care of themselves.

The time travelers from the future were a different matter.

“It’s not something you can avoid,” she explains to a student. Jared. “If you want to build time machines.”

“You avoided it!” he protests.

“My case was a little weird,” she says. It was, in fact. She’d bought a cursed staff at a con. “If you’re going to actually build time machines, and learn to travel to the past and the future, this is what happens.”

Jared looks at the window for a while. He stares at the mysterious visitor. After a while, he fills out the paperwork.

“It’s you, then?”


“It’s all right to want it to not be you,” she says. “If you want to schedule a dummy. We can do that. We can bring in someone to pretend to be you. It’s easier to send paperwork than people back through time, you know, and we’ll gladly cover the actor’s costs from a sports page.”

He goes back to the window. He looks through it a while.

“He’s screaming,” he says.

“You can take his stuff,” she says. “I bet that it’s cool. There’s probably a message. I bet it’s important. But please remember. You don’t have to. You can wait. You can ask for an actor. That’s fine.”

“Do they ever . . . stop? Screaming?”

They’re all so very young. It’s ridiculous. All the kids, before they actually grow up in the future and start sending back warnings, are so terribly, risibly young.

“Yeah,” she says. “Yes, of course. Give him time.”



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