You run off with the red-headed man to the magic shop to seek out the time machine…
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You clap the red-headed magic shop man on the shoulder and say, “To the time machine!” as you push off on your skateboard. A few minutes later, you’re looking over your shoulder impatiently as he fumbles with some keys for a secret side door.
“I’m late for the trial!” you think. “The officials of the Court Of Incredible Magic and their League Of Strange cronies could turn up at any moment and arrest me for whatever it is they think I’ve done and have not had a chance to defend myself against! I’ll be in jail for months this time! Although on the upside, it might make an interesting book…”
“Got it!” Magic-man shouts. “This way, Josef K!”
You both tumble in through the door and race over to a thing that looks like an Edwardian-era hot water system crossed with a Doctor Who prop. Magic Shop Man locks the door again behind you and starts fiddling with the dials.
“Where to?” he asks.
“The trial, of course,” you say.
“The trial? It’s a time machine, not a teleporter.”
You stare at him blankly for a few seconds. “What are you saying?”
“The machine can take you back or forward in time, but it can’t move you in space. If you go back five minutes, you’ll be wherever you were five minutes ago. If you go forward five minutes, you’ll end up wherever you’re going to be in five minutes. If we stand around explaining things for too long that’ll be right where we are now, only… not now.”
“What good is that, then?”
“You were running late! I thought you might be able to go back in time and get ready a bit earlier. I just hate it when I feel rushed.”
“But…” Different parts of your brain start to think different thoughts at the same time. One part is shouting at you to strangle the magic shop man. You might get more time in jail, but at least you’ll know what it’s for and it sort of feels worth it.
Another part says to take the man’s advice and use the machine to turn up at the corner sooner, so you’re not running late. But how can you be sure the car arrived much before you? Wizards are notorious for turning up at the last possible moment, having got overly absorbed in their beard grooming.
Anyway, there’s the guys at your house to consider – not to mention your mum. Plopping yourself down on the corner of Tulledon Lane and Thack street like some kind of inexplicably-sought-after sitting duck doesn’t sound fun.
Maybe you shouldn’t have got involved with this mess in the first place.
A relatively quiet part of your brain is trying to figure out whether the ability to travel forward in time implies predestination, rendering this whole idea of choices meaningless, when suddenly, there’s a thud on the door.
“Josef K? You can’t go away when you’re under arrest.”
“That’s how it seems,” you say. “And why am I under arrest?”
“That’s something we’re not allowed to tell you.”
“Oh for heaven’s sake!” You need to decide quickly. “How fast can you get this thing going?” you ask Magic Shop Man.
“In no time at all.”
“Then this is where – when – I want to go.”