HUMAN/SUPER Higher Learning 412

“It was worth it for the look on your face,” the older Frederica replied. “I’ve been looking forward to doing that for thirty years.”

“And I’m sure Future Me is looking forward to punching you next time she sees you,” Josephine said.

“Let’s find out,” Future Frederica said.

She made a series of gestures with her hand and a magical portal appeared in the parking lot. Past Frederica caught a whiff of stale, recirculated air as a woman stepped out. Her head was shaved and she’d added a few more facial piercings over the years, but this was definitely Josephine. She marched over to the older Frederica and punched her on the arm, hard. Past Frederica winced as if she could feel the impact across the decades.

“Ouch!” Future Frederica cried. “Jesus!”

“Oh, quit whining,” Future Josephine said. “You knew that would happen and you did it anyway.”

“Yeah, yeah,” Future Frederica said, rubbing her arm. “Now pay up.”

Future Josephine took out one of those clear plastic phones and swiped a finger across it. Future Frederica tapped a button on her own phone.

“What was that about?” Past Frederica asked.

“She bet me a hundred dollars that she could stop herself from hitting me,” her future self replied. “Turns out it’s not so easy to change the future when you’ve seen it with your own eyes.”

Future Josephine shrugged.

“I just figured if it was going to happen anyway, I might as well enjoy it.”

“I do hate to pass up the opportunity for gratuitous violence,” Past Josephine said.

Nearby, a hovercar landed in the parking lot and a sixty-something white man with long dark hair and a bushy salt-and-pepper beard stepped out. It took Frederica a moment to realize it was Kay. He took a few steps toward the restaurant and paused, glancing in her direction. He stared blankly at his sisters and their doppelgangers for a long moment, then shook his head.

“Nope,” he said, and kept on walking.