Nikki sniffled. Nikki snuffled. Her eyes watered and her head ached. A little French feather-duster maid had invaded her nasal cavity and now stood, stiletto heeled, on her sinuses: “Je suis allergies. Je suis comique.” “No Mademoiselle, pas comique. Pas très comique.”How could she concentrate on writing her mathematics dissertation (or anything else) with this allergy? How? All of the procrastination, all of the excuses, all of the stress, Nikki knew who to blame—Carla Columbia and those damnable cats next door.
Time for some fresh air.
Nikki entered the park, her sinuses cleared, and oh God oh God oh God, oh what a wonderful idea. If she were in the past, then what was going to be wasn’t what was, and what was, wasn’t what was going to be. It made perfect sense.
Nikki went home, sneezed, dusted off her anti-antimatter converter and sneezed again. She pushed a button. Nothing happened. Oh yeah, the damnable device needed a full charge and she hadn’t plugged it after the last time she had gone back to solve the unpleasantness involving defamation and Turkish prisons and such. That was alright. She was jumping into things. This time, she’d take her time. She would go purchase …provisions. Yes, that’s what she would call it, provisions. Tomorrow, she’d solve the Carla problem tomorrow.
Voila, tomorrow was there. Like some wonderful form of forward moving time travel, all she had to do was sleep. There was the anti-antimatter converter and, oh, can’t forget the provisions.
She pushed the button, and shwoopty-woop, there she was: thirty-one years, seventeen days and 452,543,345 microseconds in the past.
Almost too easy. Why hadn’t she thought of it earlier? God, she was so appallingly stupid sometimes. Stupid, stupid, stupid. Okay, she needed to focus. No cat allergy; no excuses, Nikki. What was she doing? Oh yeah, looking for the wedding party, and as soon as she found it, she’d put an end to those damnable cats, to Carla, to the whole shebang.
She had done the calculations. Here was the situation: Mr. and Mrs. Columbia had been waiting until their wedding night. It was so cute; it was so sweet; it was so… thirty-one years and seventeen days ago.
Nikki sat on a grimy public bench. Somehow the dirt in the past seemed dirtier. Was that possible? Anywho, what was she doing? Oh yeah, keeping an eye out for the happy couple. And there they were, parading to the reception in a garish motorcade, honking their horns, expecting such great things, such wonderful great things, such fireworks. But she had other plans (Oh yes, she did)—plans that came in an oblong box—plans wrapped in such pretty, pretty paper—plans scribbled on a tacky Hallmark card:
Dear Mr. and Mrs. Columbia,
Tonight’s fireworks have been canceled.
Infiltrating the reception had been easier than expected. Discounting one usher who had totally gawked out her cleavage (eww), there hadn’t been any obstacles in between her and the target. She had just sort of walked in, scanned the room… and bingo was his name-o. There sat Mr. Rico Columbia on a barstool, tie loosened and jacketless, stroking his little pot belly, waiting for a drink.
Time for action.
“Hello Rico, I’m Nikki, Martha’s second cousin, twice removed. She makes such a beautiful, beautiful bride, doesn’t she?” “Oh, you don’t remember me? Well, we met at that family thing in…” “Toledo, yeah, that’s it. Martha told me about the antics of you and your best man and, well, I brought you a gift.” “Yes, it’s Becherovka. Why don’t we call Chuck over here and mix us some drinks?”
Mr. Rico Columbia was on the floor, as drunk as a college student on free-beer St. Patrick’s Day. One, two, skip a few, ten. Out for the count. The hydraulic? Shut down. The fireworks? Canceled. The act of procreation? Delayed by one night, at least.
Okay, okay, perhaps a whole night had been a bit extravagant. An hour or even a second would have sufficed. Hell, jumping out from under the marital bed, yelling, “Boo!” at just the right moment would have probably been enough to mix up Mr. Columbia’s little swimmers. Then, when the Mr. and the Mrs. finally did the hanky-panky, the genetic dice would roll differently. The chances of Carla’s little swimmer winning the race to Mrs. Columbia’s fertile fruit were one in one-hundred-eighty million. Poof! Goodbye Carla!
Oh God oh God oh God, oh it had all worked so perfectly, so neat and tidy, and, she hadn’t killed anyone or committed a crime or sinned or done anything against any moral code. Her soul was squeaky clean. Super squeaky clean. Her little light? It still shined fine, thank you very much. Take that Terminator, you ultra-violent piece of scrap metal.
Now, back in the present, she smelled the sweet non-odor of clean air in her apartment. Ooh la la. No cats; au Revoir little French feather duster maid from hades, au Revoir. What extravagance! She could finally focus on her mathematics dissertation. But first, off to visit the new Carla, strictly out of scientific curiosity, of course.
Hello, what was this? The new Carla was a Carl. And, well, hello new Carl.
Double ooh la la. Why, yes, she did want to come in.
And, yes, she did want to pet his dog, Minotoba.
Takeout? Sure, that would be great.
Of course she would have a third glass of Shiraz.
And, my my, was this bed ever comfortable. Maybe she would stay the night. No worries. Now that all of her distractions were gone, she had plenty of time. She could work on her mathematics dissertation tomorrow.
Nathan Susnik is a biomedical researcher and medical writer. He lives in Hanover, Germany with his wife and family. You can find his other stories published in Gallery of Curiosities and Shoreline of Infinity and forthcoming from Grievous Angel, Urban Fantasist. Follow him on Twitter at @NathanSusnik.