I put aside the soldering iron and sat back to survey my work. It wasn’t the neatest job I’d ever seen, but then, I’d never been much of a modder. Oh, just like everyone else I’d modded a PlayStation to play import games, but that was almost twenty years ago now, and I hadn’t exactly done the neatest job back then, either.
The point was, it was finished and would probably work. If, of course, the website I’d ordered the mod chip from wasn’t a hoax. I’d been burned before with seemingly legitimate websites that turned out to be much shadier than they looked, most recently picking up an HDMI to VGA adapter which turned out to be (a) illegal and (b) almost completely non-functional.
I was pretty certain the mod chip I’d just installed in my new camera wasn’t illegal, because the tech was too new to be banned yet. I worried anyway, though I could no longer tell how much of that was due to legitimate concern and how much due to the inevitable jitters engendered by three days of high caffeine and low sleep.
Regardless, I put the back of the camera back on and screwed it into place. It was time. I turned the camera on. For a moment my heart froze in my throat, where it had decided to take up new residence, as the camera’s screen stayed black a little longer than I expected, but then it booted up normally. I selected the little icon of the clock in a crosshairs and carefully picked my date and location. Then I pointed the camera and took a deep breath.
“Are you really sure you want to do that?” asked a high-pitched voice like the tinkling of tiny bells.
I looked up and around. A soft pink ball of light was hovering outside my window, where the sound had come from. As I stared, it tapped against the window pane with a gentle tink.
I blinked a few times. It was still there. Tink!
I walked slowly over to the window and bent down to examine the pink thing more closely. As near as I could tell, it was just a fuzzy pink ball of light. Tink! Tink!
“Will you let me in?” the ball demanded. “It’s cold out here, and I think it’s starting to snow!”
For lack of any better ideas, I opened the window and the thing darted inside. It darted about the room a few times, then zipped up into the air in the middle of the room. I got the sense it was trying to orient itself.
Then: “Aha!” went the bells, and it floated over to my desk, where it settled down next to the camera. The light began to fade, to reveal a slender woman about five inches tall, with dark-chocolate skin, a pretty, triangular face, and a large (for her size) shock of pink hair. A pair of antennae protruded from high on her forehead, and four iridescent dragonfly-like wings from her back. She could not be anything but a fairy.
“Great, I’m hallucinating from lack of sleep,” I said.
“Quite possibly,” she answered, “but that’s not why I’m here. The Hallucination Fairy is a completely different division. I’m the Continuity Fairy.”
“…the what?” I might as well play along. It’s not like you can make hallucinations go away by ignoring them.
“The Continuity Fairy. Well, a Continuity Fairy, anyway.” She pulled a tiny little index card out of–well, out of nowhere I could see, actually–and read from it. “We have detected a probability nexus resulting in retrotemporal distortion originating from this location in approximately twenty minutes. As the Continuity Fairy, it is my responsibility to ensure that such distortions do not occur.” She smiled brightly and put the card away wherever it had come from. “So: don’t do it, okay?”
“Um,” I answered.
“Something the matter?” she asked.
“If you’re the Continuity Fairy, how come you needed to read that off a card? Haven’t you been doing this for millennia or something?”
She pouted. “If you must know, I’m on interoffice loan. I’m normally a Parking Fairy.”
“You know, I cause open spaces in crowded lots, that sort of thing.”
I pondered this a moment. “You must not be very good at your job.”
She put her fists on her hips and leaned forward. “It’s not my fault!” she tried to yell, though it came out as more of a squeak. “We’ve always been understaffed, and now with you, you… you mortals running around inventing Time Cameras and Time Tunnels and Time Machines, half of us have had to move over to assisting the Continuity Fairy! Poor thing is so overworked her antennae are drooping!”
I held up my hands to ward her off. “Sorry, sorry!” I sat back in my chair and studied her a moment.
“Well?” she asked.
“Well, will you promise not to go back in time and muck up all our paperwork?”
I sighed. “Sorry,” I said. “I have to.”