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Not Worth the Price of a Matinee Ticket!

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James Turner never thought being part of an internet comedy group would mean using a door to the past to stop his past self from seeing a movie before it was released. Yet, here he was. His past self insisted that seeing the movie would be a good idea, but James closed the door in his past self’s face. Endgame was the most important movie of the year. It still wasn’t creating-seven-clones-of-himself important.

Now all he had to do was watch the movie. His time clones might have spoiled all the good parts. The secret tech couldn't actually be chicken wings, right?

He’d barely stepped out the door when a yellow rectangle appeared in the air. It seemed to glow. A troupe of serious-looking people in black armour marched out of the rectangle - apparently it was a door. Each one was holding some sort of stick-like weapon. The end of each stick glowed. James didn’t want to know what would happen if he touched one.

The woman who led the group turned to James. “On behalf of the Time Variance Authority, I hereby arrest you for crimes against the Sacred Timeline.”

James held up his hands. He wasn’t going to question what the Sacred Timeline was. If these people knew he’d travelled through time, they could be very dangerous. As the woman who arrested him pulled him through the door, the Moonbase was filled with light.

“What was that?” Fear gripped him.

“A reset charge. We’re pruning this branch from the Sacred Timeline. All the other versions of you are gone now.”

James couldn’t believe it. “And my friends?”

“They are okay. They stayed on the timeline.”

James followed every instruction. He let them process him. He signed the papers showing every word he spoke, and went through the scanner checking him for robotic parts. The process was official and efficient. When the people running this place asked him to take a ticket, he did.

A warm southern voice greeted him while he was waiting in line. This place was filled with wooden panels and warm light. It should have been comforting. Being charged with time crimes was anything but comforting.

At last, they called his number. He walked forward. Several armoured people lead him into a room. James stared at the judge who would be charging him. She looked at the stack of papers on her desk. The people in armour pointed him to the stand.

The woman looked at him with a stern expression. With her hair pulled back into a ponytail, she reminded James of a property inspector.

“James Turner, you have been charged with crimes against the Sacred Timeline. How do you plead?” The judge spoke with unsettling clarity.

“Guilty, obviously.”

The judge stared for a moment.

“I used the Door to the Dinosaur Past to go into the future with the intent of seeing the movie Avengers: Endgame . Some other versions of me did see it. I told me-from-the-past not to come through the door,” James stated.

The judge nodded, collecting her thoughts. “That’s very responsible of you.”

“Thank you.” James smiled.

The judge called somebody to the room. To James’s surprise, an animated clock appeared in the air. The clock spoke with the same voice that had told him what the TVA was. The judge asked her to look through their database to find something about a door to the past.

“Or the future!” James added. “The door either goes to the Dinosaur Past or one day in the future. I have no idea why.”

That clock pulled a file out of nowhere. “Ah, yes! We’ve been missin’ a prototype Time Door. That might be what y’all are thinkin’ of.”

“How did they get access to the door?” The judge wrote some notes.

James cleared his throat. “I don’t know. It looks like the door we bought for Friday Nights . That’s a comedy show we do about Magic.”

“Magic doesn’t work at the TVA.”

“I mean Magic: the Gathering .” They were silent. “It’s a card game. There’s no actual magic involved.”

The judge crossed her arms. “Well, it doesn’t seem like you’re going to cause any other problems. I’ll let you return to your timeline. We’re going to want your Time Door back. Was there anybody else who interacted with the door?”

“Yes. Ben.”

“I’ll need full names.”

“Ben Ulmer went to the Dinosaur Past. Graham Stark - no relation to any other famous Starks - put the notes on it. That’s it.” James breathed easier now. “Paul might have a time-based experiment going on, but he will stop if you ask nicely.”

“Good. Hunter B-15, would you escort Mr. Turner back to his proper time?”

The TVA returned him to the Moonbase’s front hall. He sighed as he looked around the familiar office. Even the coffee cups stacked on the coffee table were welcoming. He wanted to go back to work. Write a sketch, film a video, maybe check in one of his coworkers. The hunter who was leading him wouldn’t let him leave. An agent would need to investigate.

TVA Hunters gathered the entire crew into the Friend Zone for interviews. They went quickly. Apparently, this time-monitoring agency didn’t care about the lives of the members of a comedy troupe. The agent took notes. In the end, he tapped his pen against his notebook, satisfied. He asked the hunters to take the Door to the Dinosaur Past away.

After they left, an awkward silence hung around the room. James smiled at his friends, very glad that he wasn’t in Time Jail. This had been a strange day.

“We shouldn’t mess with time again.” James said after a while.

Paul stood. “Want to help me destroy some files? They want me to get rid of all my notes related to the Chronopult and the Timebuchet.”

“Isn’t Beej normally your assistant?”

“Yeah, but he’s filming Mail Time . After the whole thing with the Time Capsule, he’s safer there. The only harmful things our fans send us are spiders and coffee.”