With a grunt of annoyance, Devon closed the browser tab that had been displaying the rare Star Wars collectibles forum. He didn’t want to see any more fawning posts talking about damn Barry Connor’s “rare and amazing” collection.
And after tonight, he wouldn’t have to.
His anger fading, Devon turned to his experiment, a scoundrel’s half-smile playing at the corner of his mouth. He bent over the modified pool table, tightening each of the clamps that held his cue stick framework in place, careful to ensure that the laser sight remained fixed on the button at the far side. He followed the wires back to the panel of servers lining the wall of his bedroom, then back out to the optical platform — actually a modified flatbed scanner — where the hemispherical, cardboard form of Barry Connor’s Palitoy Death Star Play Set sat.
Chuckling to himself, he picked up the cue ball and put it carefully into place, directly in front of the robotic cue stick. He was practically giggling as he made his way to his desk, lifting his keyboard from amid a pile of role-playing guidebooks and empty 20-ounce Mello Yello bottles.
He turned to the pool table, raising his hand dramatically, and then brought it down solidly on the enter key, causing the cue stick to strike the cue ball at the most precise angle and velocity, sending it speeding towards the button which would activate the optical platform, sending the Palitoy Death Star Play Set back in time and two feet to the left.
There was a satisfying, crackling pop, which was nearly simultaneous with the firm tap of the cue stick smacking into the cue ball. An almost imperceptible moment later, the cue ball smacked into the side of the Palitoy Death Star Play Set, which had appeared on top of the pool table, between the cue stick and the button.
He laughed triumphantly, staring back and forth between the Palitoy Death Star Play Set on the pool table, and the slightly younger Palitoy Death Star Play Set still sitting on the optical platform. Both were in mint condition. His timing had been correct, and once the button had been pressed, the Play Set had traveled in time and space, just in time to prevent the button from ever having been pressed. He had found an exploit in the code of the universe. Time travel paradox duplication.
He picked up the Play Set from the pool table, turning it over in his hands. This cheap, cardboard piece of junk was the ONLY reason Barry Connor was getting any respect at all on the forums. Soon, eBay would be flooded with auctions of the rare toy, all in mint condition, all with ridiculously low Buy it Now prices.
Devon hummed happily to himself as he reset his machine. He would soon regain his status as the most well-respected collector on the boards. When everything was in place, he struck the enter key again.
Instead of a crackling pop, there was a fizzling snap. The cue ball struck the button, and then ricocheted off. Devon checked and rechecked every connection, and every measurement until finally, there was no escaping the conclusion. The exploit had been fixed. He stared at the duplicated Palitoy Death Star Play Set where he had set it in the corner. It was fading slowly away.
“God does exist,” he whispered softly to himself as the toy disappeared from reality, “and he loves Barry Connor more than me.”
David M. Chevalier is a writer, programmer, and improv performer. He lives in rural New Hampshire with his wife and two children.