The Loop

We’d maybe only been on the planet an hour or so when Reg marched up to Trisha and I in the ruins.

He was grinning, which was always a bad sign.

“I’ve found a time machine.”

He seemed crestfallen when neither of us really seemed to react.

“That’s not really news, Reg.” I mumbled, my attention focused on trying to scan some ancient hieroglyphs.

“Are you kidding? It’s huge news!”

“No. It’s not. Remember when your future self popped up?”

Reg nodded, not really seeing where this was going.

I sighed. Clearly I was going to have to spoonfeed him this one. “He had a time machine, didn’t he?”

Another nod, another vacant expression.

Trisha rolled her eyes. “Come on, Reg. If he had it, you were going to find one at some point, weren’t you?”

Realisation dawned. “Oh right, yeah. But this is my time machine, not his. Anyway, check this out.”

He prodded a couple of buttons on the small, belt-buckle sized device worn around his waist and winked out of existence.

A couple of seconds later, Reg marched up to Trisha and I in the ruins.

He was grinning, which was always a bad sign.

“I’ve found a time machine.”

He seemed crestfallen when neither of us really seemed to react.

“We know,” we both fired at him in unison.

A momentary hint of concern flashed across his features. “Have I shown you what it can do?”

Trisha groaned. “Yes. Good God, only about four times now.”

“Oh ****. Have I?”

“Yes.” She went back to trying to collect dust and soil samples in the most dismissive way possible.

“Erm… It’s good, isn’t it?”

“Yes,” we both droned the word, sucking dry of any form of enthusiasm it once had.

We were tasked with sweeping the ruins as part of some vague planetary study guff. Ancient civilisation, all dead now, deserted ruins, ancient language and technology. The usual. It wasn’t much more than busy work really.

Truth be told, considering our less than optimal performance during a recent battle – which was apparently easily won without our full attention – I think the Captain sent the three of us down to the planet with half a mind to maroon us.

Trisha and I pressed on, deeper into the ruins, with Reg in tow. When I looked back he always seemed to be watching my feet intently. I tried not to read too much into it; he’d been acting really strange recently anyway.

The place was silent, besides the soft breeze. Vines and creepers took over the ancient stonework.

Besides me, Reg seemed to suddenly remember something and go to speak.

I froze when I felt a stone give way a little under my feet. I glanced down as I heard a rumbling.

A couple of seconds later, Reg marched up to Trisha and I. Trisha was on her knees inspecting the floor, urging me not to move my foot in case I sprung a trap.

Reg was grinning, which was always a bad sign.

“I’ve found a time machine.”

He seemed crestfallen when neither of us really seemed to react.

He cleared his throat. “Just wanted to say, don’t step on the -” He stopped when he noticed Trisha and I both glaring at him. “Never mind. Back in a tick.”

Trisha and I pressed on, deeper into the ruins, with Reg in tow.

“Have I told you how great my new time machine is?” He asked, as if he genuinely couldn’t remember how irritating he’d been with it so far today.

I looked over my shoulder at him and nodded, patronisingly slowly. “Yes, Reg. Please. Stop banging on about the time machine, yeah?”

He mumbled something about not being too early or too late this time. I ignored it.

The place was silent, besides the soft breeze. Wines and creepers took over the ancient stonework.

I froze when I felt a stone give way a little under my feet. I thought I heard Reg swear.

Trisha and I pressed on, deeper into the ruins, with Reg in tow.

A couple of seconds later, Reg marched up to Trisha and I from around the next corner. I thought he was behind us.

He was pointing at my feet and looking concerned, which was always a bad sign.

I grinned. “Let me guess – you  found a time machine.”

“Shut the **** up. Stop moving. Step on that stone and you’ll die.”

I froze when I felt a stone give way a little under my feet.

Reg swore.

A couple of seconds later, Reg marched up to Trisha and I from around the next corner. I thought he was behind us.

He screwed his face up and looked like he was resisting the urge to yell at us.

“Follow exactly where I tread. These ruins are actually a labyrinth. The whole place is booby-trapped and I’m getting ****ing sick of trying to loop back round through time constantly to get you two idiots through it.”

Trisha and I looked at each other. Then back at Reg. He looked tired and terrified. I hadn’t noticed until that moment. He’d seemed fine a few seconds ago.

“So you’re a big smart time traveller now, then?” I asked.

“Oh, for fu- Yes! Follow me.”

“Your fly is undone.”

Reg looked down at his trousers as Trisha and I set off in the other direction.

Besides the zipping noise, I could have sworn I heard Reg mumble something about not being appreciated. I deliberately ignored it. He’d been annoying us for hours now with his flashy new alien belt. It was the sort of thing that we should probably get sent off to the science lab for analysis before he played with it too much.

I dreaded the thought of what would happen if he ever got good at using it. At least it wasn’t as if he was getting too much practice with it before we could get it back to the ship.

I froze when I felt a stone give way a little under my feet.

Somewhere behind me, I heard Reg let out a frustrated yell.

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