Rule Number Three

“Do I have to remind you about the fucking rules of time travel?” Josie said.

“I don’t need you to tell me how to do my job,” Sigmund answered.

“Then, what is this?” Josie held up a clear bag. Inside was a knife with wood handle, decorated with painted daisies. It was stained crimson with fresh blood. She felt she recognized it, but couldn’t quite place it.

“What’s rule number one?” she asked, shaking the bag at Sigmund. He turned his face away.

“Don’t touch anything,” Sigmund said.

“This knife isn’t part of our time. What’s rule number two?” she shouted. Josie could see specs of blood on his lab coat. She noticed his name tag was missing.

“Don’t leave anything behind,” Sigmund said.

“Where’s you name tag, Sigmund?” Josie scowled, her ire nearly burning a hole into Sigmund. The countless times she had ridiculed him on being a dunce, a mockery and a failure as a Time Scientist were finally proving themselves to be true.

“And rule three? The most important rule? Tell me,” Josie said.

Sigmund looked at his feet. He had trailed blood out of the Chronasomer time machine. He looked back up at Josie, his dark eyes empty.

“Don’t change the past,” he said.

Josie threw the knife down and slapped him across the face, furious.

“So, what have you done?! Tell me, what have you done?!” she was panting, panicked and angry at his blunder. Their whole universe could be in danger.

Sigmund looked up at her, and for the first time smiled. Josie’s blood ran cold.

“I killed someone,” he said. “Someone you know, Josie.”

She felt herself becoming short of breath. He was insane. Did he do this just to become lead?

“Where did you get the knife?…I know this knife,” Josie said.

Sigmund grinned, his eye alight with a dark knowledge.

“Who? Who did you kill, Sigmund?” Josie asked.

“Isn’t it obvious? Look,” he said, pointing at her hands.

Josie looked down and screamed. Her hands were fading away.

“Who?” she whispered, eyes stinging with tears. She knew that knife. She painted it for her fourth birthday. A special knife for her special cake.

Sigmund looked delighted. He knew Josie had finally recognized the knife from her childhood home.

“You,” he said.

And then Josie blinked out of existence.


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