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The Time Saving Agency By Christina Engela Characters: 11436

Updated: 2018-06-29 12:02

The Time Saving Agency

Imagine if you will:

At the highly secretive, largely independent, inter-dimensional and (inevitably) clandestine organization called the Time Saving Agency, there is a saying that goes: 'You can't break an omelet without first making eggs'. While this may appear to be a rather flippant little idiom, there is – as is usually the case, far more to it than meets the eye.

For starters, that's a rather simple principle of Time Travel right there – and according to the pioneers of time travel, it's one of the foundation stones of the Theory behind it. It's something of a paradox – a mind-boggling annotation in the ever-puzzling and ever growing Anals of History. (Some readers may still be thinking that should be 'Annals' – however, the author of this work cannot be blamed for what you may think.)

This point may be somewhat reminiscent of the age-old 'what came first, the chicken or the egg?' riddle – in fact, at first sight the two concepts might even seem to be the same, but no, not really. Once you start digging a little deeper, you would realize that in order for the hypothetical omelet to exist or be made (or indeed, be broken), there have to be some suitable eggs lying around first. Indubitably, this also suggests that something has to get laid fist – presumably the – um, egg.

While both these statements refer to eggs, the main difference between these two rather irking statements is this: omelets do not come from chickens – it is eggs which come from chickens. Omelets on the other hand, are an entirely Human invention. Humans being here, the 'middle man' as it were.

The explanation behind this rather perplexing conundrum is that while we may not know which came first, chicken or egg – we do know the omelet came after, and regardless of what eggs there are, unless you have an unusually accident prone chicken, they will not turn into omelets by themselves. In other words, there may be eggs and chickens to lay them – but without people to make omelets, there will be no omelets. Or in fact, any need for omelets.

Nobody seems to know which came first; egg or chicken – except of course for agents of the Time Saving Agency – who can find out anything about, well – anything. The only trouble is, they aren't talking – however, you can take it from me – they know. The answer to these and other puzzles are kept safe and secure behind fire-walls and thick security doors secured with, er – time-locks, where one could possibly find answers to many other troubling questions, and not all of them necessarily relating to chickens.

Agents of the TSA, who police time-travel and prevent outside forces from mucking up the works and changing History, have to be very careful. One dropped egg and whoops, no omelet. In essence, to stretch the metaphor, this point links to yet another which is best illustrated by yet another idiom in use at the TSA: 'A nine in time saves stitches'. This much understated principle is what generally underlies the entire purpose of the TSA: To save Time.

While all of this may seem overly philosophical, and even far more theoretical than practical, it all comes down to this: Each day shapes the days that follow.

Everything that makes up a day, every event that takes place everywhere – all adds up. Everything, no matter how seemingly insignificant, plays a part. Sometimes the meaning of every little thing – each individual component of a day – is made clear only by their absence. Like a man and an apple.

Imagine, for instance, a bright summer day somewhere in England. The grass was green, the sky blue. Birds chirped in the trees. It was a really nice day. A funny looking little man sat snoozing under a tree in an orchard. High up in the branches of the tree, a blurry shape seemed to shimmer slightly before solidifying into a male figure that silently mouthed the words: 'Oh, f**k!' before grabbing onto a branch and hanging on. The figure leaning against the trunk snored, blissfully unaware of the struggling figure above. His name was Newton, Isaac Newton. Not quite 'Sir' yet. The man in the tree? His name was Scrooby, Johnathan Scrooby.

You see, certain things happen at a certain time in a certain way, which in a sense, is what it's all about. If certain specific things didn't, then everything would be completely different – for instance, the Russians could've invented the A-bomb first – and blown up America and Germany (and probably everybody else too). Alexandre Dumas could have written 'The Three Picadors' and died a poor, unknown writer. As another example, one time, after leaving the Navy, JFK could've became a well-known used car salesman and Baptist faith-healer instead of entering politics, putting a serious wrinkle in the Kennedy dynastic plan, much to the annoyance of the family matriarch.

Although a little noisy at first, in a bizarre twist of fate, electronic music became popular in France in the 1890's before fizzling out in favor of Swing music – which somehow made an early appearance in the 1900's. In another alternative timeline, the Beatles never existed and England invented popcorn and hamburgers in the 1840's. Damn, that's what almost happened last time again, thought Scrooby tensely, while maneuvering himself onto a stronger looking branch. Details, everything was about the details. Sometimes there was almost too much detail to keep up with.

Beaming into the thick of a tree without becoming a lifelong tree hugger was a tricky business. A precision job. Scrooby's job at the Time Saving Agency was a tough one. Billions of lives depended on him not screwing up. Literally billions and billions. Once, he'd screwed up in only a ver

y small way and people wore those little yellow smiley faces on t-shirts for decades afterwards – and that was just a small screw up. He sighed. Here he sat, in the branches of an apple tree in an apple tree orchard – and without a single apple in sight. Below him, Isaac was waiting to get bonked on the noggin with an apple so that he could fulfill history by toddling off to invent gravity and shape scientific and mathematical principles for generations to come. Only one problem – no apples.

Some wise-ass bastard (the Agency preferred to call them Time Terrorists) had slipped back in time and infected the local trees with a short-lived disease which wiped out the entire crop of apples for this year. Enter the Time Saving Agency – and him. He felt the lump in his pocket and removed it while clinging to the branch with his other hand and knees. It was a bright shiny yellow apple. Not exactly what grew around these parts (or in these times either) – but an apple nonetheless. At any rate, it was the best he could come up with at short notice. Aiming carefully, he let it go and waited. Bonk, went the apple. It only occurred to Newton much later to wonder where the hell that bloody apple had come from in the first place.

So it was that Agent Scrooby rematerialized on the time-jump platform at the TSA headquarters, satisfied with the thought of another job well done – and that he had just saved the continuum from more funny t-shirts.

"Did it work?" He asked expectantly.

"Gravity's still here." Said the voice of someone being a smart-ass from behind a console across the room. "And we're all still speaking English."

"Nice job, Jimmy." He complimented his operator at the controls of the Time Jump Motivator – or if you will, time machine. "You're still the ace!"

"Thanks, J." Jim Rusche smiled back. "At least you didn't fall out of the tree this time. Ha-ha."

"Ha-ha. It's lucky we were able to do it over again or the American War of Independence would've happened in Mexico." He said, un-strapping the tracking module from his belt.

"Yeah, and the time the USA became a province of Canada, eh?"

"Oh yes – I remember that one. A real tragedy that was." He sighed, remembering the time before that when Napoleon finally managed to dig his famed tunnel across the English Channel and invaded London. They all ended up speaking French for a while. Sorting that out had been… well, challenging. Mon dieu. Thank the gods for the Buffer. It protected them from unforeseen time events, or UTE's (in other words, screw-ups) and gave them the chance to go back and Try Again Later. In this line of work, people who made the same mistake twice were the lucky ones who didn't kill themselves doing it the first time. He'd had enough for one day.

The TSA liked having fresh agents on the job. Fresh agents with a clear mind and steady hand. Time travel wasn't for the faint of heart. The pay was good though, but as Scrooby had decided long ago, that even if he didn't get paid for it, the thrill alone was payment enough. Then again, the TSA realized they couldn't afford to have disgruntled employees with too much time on their hands and the power of the gods at their fingertips, so the pay was very, very good. Debriefing was routine. And how he hated routine! His supervisor was a senior agent called Guy Krummeck, a rather drab character who liked his shiny silver suits almost as much as he liked to go over every little detail at least three times. Minimum. This time everything went right, so it went quick. Twenty minutes later, tired, he clocked out and went home to his small apartment. Tomorrow, after all, was another day again.

* * *

It was neither dark nor light here, and yet somehow at the same time it was both. There was no air, but there was a very definite chill of terror and despair in whatever passed for it. The eerie absence of sound was deafening. It was said that idle hands were the Devil's instruments. The Limbo Practicale had many idle hands. Idle minds too. Bodies were adrift in the confines of the chrono-spacial anomaly that was the Limbo Practicale, bodies that were for all intents and purposes, not dead at all.

Frantic souls lingered in their own private little Hells, living and re-living the same horrible nightmares ad-infinitum. After only a short while, most people's sanity would start unraveling just to pass the time. If anything were able to observe, they could be seen to twitch occasionally.

The only hope for any variety would be when they experienced the same time-loop from another angle or dimension entirely or perhaps upside down and purple. Dense smothering silence cocooned the inmates, as though it were slowly draining the sound out of them. Yet on another level, detectable only by the psyche, there was the inaudibly feint sound of slow, backward screams. And mindless gibbering.

If they had been fully conscious, those imprisoned here would be wide-eyed and screaming. Seeing your own life from the inside repeatedly was supposed to be something like watching re-runs, again. Or re-runs of someone else's home movies. Most people, as has been noted before, would be certifiably mad after just a few days in the Limbo Practicale. It was a prison for the mind, body and soul, where perpetrators of Time Crime would, well, do time. Like, forever.

There is one man of particular interest to us in this little bubble of Hell. Like the others, he was drifting silent, still – unconscious in the depths of this plane. But against all known odds, Brad Xyl was smiling. He had just been through his life again, backwards, and was relishing the trail of destruction and chaos he had left ahead of him.

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