Friday, May 18, 2018

The Great Platypus Hoax

Based on a story prompt from my friend Ruth Hougey Riggan...

"That can't be," said Dr. Braun, looking away from the video.

"I took the video myself," Tt. Janya Lorin met his eyes, then looked at the video again.

Dr. Braun touched a control and the screen froze, showing the face of his colleague Dr. Nuftin, smiling as she opened the cage and set a breeding pair of platypuses loose in the unpolluted wilderness of the Quaternary period. "Linda would never..."

"Linda?" asked Tt. Lorin. "Dr. Nuftin is well-known for her quirky sense of humor."

Dr. Braun squeezed his eyes shut, then chuckled. "So the platypus really *is* a hoax, as its European discoverers originally thought."

"Well... not a hoax, exactly. The species clearly exists. I've checked the logs on Dr. Nuftin's lab time as well as her timecore access, and I don't think she even engineered them. She appears to be taking members of the existing species, and carrying them back in time to make sure that the species will exist."

"What?" asked Dr. Braun, aghast. "But that's ridiculous! That have to come from somewhere. If they don't evolve on their own, but aren't engineered and taken back either, it could create all sorts of paradoxes. The potential effects on the timeline, on reality itself, are incalculable."

"We're aware of that," said Tt. Lorin. "That's precisely the sort of thing that Timeline Oversight was created to prevent."

"Well," said Dr. Braun, after a moment. "Dr. Nuftin should be in her office now. I suppose you'd like me to take you there?"

"Not necessary," answered Tt. Lorin. "We already have her in custody. Given the potential severity of this matter, we've had her in custody since before she began this project. This is just a courtesy visit, to inform you that we've arrested a senior member of your research staff."

"I... I see," Dr. Braun replied slowly. "Then you don't need anything from me?"

"That's all," confirmed Tt. Lorin. "I'm sorry it happened like this, but there's nothing else we can do. I hope the rest of your afternoon is more pleasant."

"Thank you," he said, and watched as she turned smartly and let herself back out of the cluttered confines of his office.

That was it for today, he decided. He wasn't going to get any work done after this. An evening sitting on the couch, watching murder mysteries while his pet jackalope Snuggles cuddled beside him, sounded like just the relief he needed.

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