“No, you can’t, it’s against the law!” I struggle against the fairies dragging me along, big burly ones too.
“Yes we can sweetheart,” the female one says in a sickly sweet voice. “Article 23 of the new constitution never specifies the use of children in time travel.”
I continue struggling, new constitution be damned. Fairies and their stupid loopholes.
Eventually they drag me through another sparkling clean hallway that smells like listerine and into a spacious, equally white, room.
“Good afternoon elf.” He smirks, then waves a piece of paper in my face. “You’ll notice I took care to get a guarantee that this operation wouldn’t be disturbed. But just in case that gold disappears a little too quickly,” he shrugs, “no one will be able to find it.”
I’m still struggling. “I didn’t do anything wrong!”
“You’re right, you were just in the wrong place at the wrong time. This way please.” He gestures to the boxy structure beside him and the fairies drag me closer.
I catch a whiff of a metallic smell and see his name tag: Dr. Schultz.
That same metallic smell radiates from the structure. I know what it is: fairy magic.
“Ready?” Dr. Schultz asks.
“No!” I yell. “Why would you send some kid back? It’s not like I started this stupid war!”
“Not unless you do your job right.”
He just smiles. “Good luck!”
The fairies shove me inside the structure and close the door loudly.
I look around. The walls shimmer and the metallic smell is so powerful I gag and cover my mouth and nose.
Then the noise starts:
Whir whir POP, whir whir POP.
I’ve never actually been in one, but I’ve heard all about these. They’re technically illegal but if those fairies have figured out a loophole to use a teenager in a science experiment, they’ve found a loophole for this.
Those stars-forsaken fairies have used their magic to build a time machine.
I’m in big trouble.
Whir whir POP, whir whir POP.
Dr. Schultz is waiting exactly where I left him. He grins at me. “You did it.”
“You know it took me years to figure out what you meant,” I say.
“I knew you would eventually.” He tilts his head to the side. “So you know why the war had to be fought?”
“It didn’t have to be fought,” I growl. “You set me up.”
“Ah, but I was meant to,” he says, the grin growing larger. “Once I had decided I would create this, I couldn’t stop it.”
“You always could have stopped it. And you didn’t have to send the first kid you found to do your dirty work for you.”
“But I did. I couldn’t just send myself. I had to remain here with the machine.”
I stare at him for a beat. “You were a lot less calculating back then.”
“I’m sure I was.” He stares at the machine behind me for several seconds before saying, “It really is perfect isn’t it?”
“It’s nice to know the ego didn’t go away.” I step out of the cursed machine and begin to walk out of the room. “I trust you won’t get fairies to drag me out as well?”
“I don’t think I’ll need to, will I?”
I shake my head without looking back. Halfway down the hall an explosion rattles the building. I can’t help the laugh that escapes me as I run the rest of the way to the door of the lab and look out, knowing what I’ll see.
Because of course I should’ve known.
No one can change the past, not if they were a part of it all along.