“Help! Someone help me! Please!” I held my future self, her blood flowing through my fingers. It wasn’t supposed to be like this. This was just another adventure. No one dies during an adventure, at least not one of us.
She blinked, coughed, and turned her head to focus on me. “Hey,” she whispered, “I saved you this time.”

“What?” I turned to Bob and shouted, “Do something! Save her!” Bob stared at me, at us, looking like a befuddled old man and not an alien master of time.

“I can’t. This is out of my hands,” he said.

“Why? Why can’t you do anything?” The body I held jerked and became very still.

“You’ve made this loop several times already. When we started this mess, I needed you to be in two places at once. So, I sent a future you back to the start. The first time you, past you, died. You, future you, couldn’t accept that so you went back again and sacrificed yourself for your past self. Again you couldn’t accept your own death and went back again. And again. And again.”

“Why haven’t you stopped me?”

“I tried but you never want to listen to me.” He paused and stared at me. “But you’re listening now, aren’t you?”

“Is this how I’m going to die?” I asked looking at my dead body.”

“Of course not,” Bob scoffed.

“But don’t I have to go back to prevent a paradox?”

“Please, you looped back in time a few times and died. It’s not the end of the universe. Paradoxes don’t exist. Your little human mind can’t conceive of the actual structure of space and time that always exists at all points in time. Time travel is messy. It leaves behind odd traces and tracks through the loops. You are ouroboros. The snake that eats it’s own tail. Most people think the future is the head eating the tail of the past but the truth is the past eats the future. You don’t have to go back in time and do everything she did because she already did it.”

“Why did you let me try to save myself?”

“Because you have free will. Time is always happening at all points, from the beginning to the end, all of it is happening right now.”

“Do you remember me dying?”

“I see all of time. Of course, I remember you dying,” Bob said.

“Ten years from now, am I still with you?” I asked.

Bob looked through me to some point far away, “Yes.” He turned and spoke to his left, “Hush, I’m bridging two moments in time.”

“Ask me if should go back in time.”

“Yes, it’s your first loop. Should she keep looping?” Bob turned back to me, “You say no.”

“Why?” I asked.

“She’s asking why. … Ok, I’ll tell her. Because you lived. It’s a dead loop. The only way out is to let her go.”

“Tell her she’s a fat cow and I’ll see her in ten years to kick her ass.”

He smiled. “You’re a fat cow and she’s going to kick your ass in ten years. She’s laughing.” He closed his eyes and refocused on the present.

“Good. So, what do we do with her?” I gestured at the dead body.

“There are people who can take care of the body for us.”

“No, I want to do it. It’s the least I can do for her.”

“Ok, I’ll get the tarp and shovels,” he said walking off to the car.

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