by Stanley Lieber


"Sorry. I have to take this."

TAB3 was holding the thing, staring straight into its bright reflective surface. Something like a miniature explosion, or perhaps a 1980s television in the context of a dark room. He’d stopped responding, and Maude waited for what seemed like time better spent suffering through a full episode of M.A.S.K.

"Sorry. I have to go."

TAB3 turned on the heels of his lavendar combat boots and returned to wherever it was he’d come from, the day before. Tilted forward, head down, bulleting in a straight line along the narrow track of the sidewalk, he continued plumb off of the property. With his bedroll tucked under his arm, muttering into the palm of his hand, he seemed almost at home.

Maude let the screen door slam.

But she didn’t lock the deadbolt.


TAB3 had been tasked with a milk run running milk between 4086 (centuries after his death) and 1986 (just before he was born). Okay, he figured, there probably wasn’t much danger of running into anyone he knew.

Somehow he’d allowed himself to get roped into this, shilling his dad’s junk product through time and space at a moment’s notice. He wasn’t even (really) authorized to access this technology, it was just that his father had never met a rule or a regulation he respected. And who knew how all of this would affect the baby.

Accelerating smoothly, he transgressed the boundaries of the gray desktop background.