A time traveler arrives at his hotel room. His name is Mr. Valentine, and he’s wearing a long trench coat, a brimmed hat, and carrying a sturdy suitcase. Upon entering his room, he closes the door behind him and takes a brief look around at the amenities. To his immediate left is a bathroom, his right a closet, and ahead of him lies his bedroom, bed against the left wall and television along the right. Directly ahead of him is the entrance to a balcony that overlooks a nightlit city.

Mr. Valentine approaches his bed and finds the remote lying next to the TV. He flips the TV on, which is airing a broadcast about local cuisine, and rests his suitcase atop the bed, shrugging off his trench coat and hat and placing those on the bed too. He is now wearing a black dress suit with a dark violet shirt inside, his left pant leg beset by a belt whose buckle bears the Time Traveler’s Association badge. He opens up his suitcase and begins rummaging around, removing a fresh shirt, a tie, and a gray dress suit for later use. He examines the suitcase carefully and decides he needs nothing else—not the gun, the magazines, the wallets full of fake IDs, the envelopes containing informations on his clients, nothing. He checks his phone to make sure of the time. That is when he hears an odd sound coming from his bedhead.

Dropping his phone on the bed, he slinks over to the left wall of his room and pauses, looking around for the source of the noise. The sound comes again; he identifies its origin as the other side of the wall. He presses his ear against the wall, listens. The wall is thick and muffles any audio coming from his neighbor’s room, but he manages to distinguish a pair of voices bickering loudly. He considers the sounds for a while, then gives up on them, turning back to his suitcase. Realizing he has finished removing his clothes from the suitcase, he strips out of his dress suit and heads to the bathroom for a shower.

Mr. Valentine is enjoying a hot shower when he hears another noise, this one louder, sharper, and much more alarming—like something just shattered in the neighboring room. He turns off his shower and listens intently. A brief moment later, a woman shrieks.

Mr. Valentine shrugs on his bathrobes and hurries over to the neighboring room. Listening in through the door first, he knocks tentatively. “Hello?” He hears what sounds like the partition to a balcony sliding back, then silence. It’s clear to him that something criminal is going on here, so he shoulders open the door and enters the room.

Mr. Valentine now stands before the scene of a crime. In front of him: a woman, dead, coated in her own blood, the pearls and diamonds glittering across her person now joined by another accessory—the knife in her chest. Beyond that: the entrance to another balcony, its sliding door listed wide and a haunting breeze disturbing the curtains.

He wanders around the room for a moment, cautiously, collecting any details while trying not to tamper with the scene. It seems the sounds he’d heard had been those of two roommates engaged in an altercation, and one of the roommates, the likely suspect, had now fled through the balcony. Fled, or hidden. Mr. Valentine, who doesn’t cross the threshold, isn’t eager to find out which.

He takes a deep breath. He knows what he must do. Positioning himself at the entrance to the room, he begins to rewind time. An invisible field extends around him, encompassing this room and the one he’d just left, and the murder unravels in reverse.

The man who fled to the balcony strides tentatively out of his hiding place and approaches Valentine with eyes glowing with horror. The woman writhes, coming back to life, and the man plucks the knife out of her. Blood seeps back into her chest; he stabs her again as if trying to undo that, but fails and removes the knife again. The woman returns to her feet, holds the man’s arms at bay as they try to stab her a third time. Valentine watches the rest of it with his arms folded across his chest.

Meanwhile, in Mr. Valentine’s room, a ghost appears.

It dons Mr. Valentine’s discarded dress suit, then leans against the left wall of the room, listening to make certain Mr. Valentine is too preoccupied to sense its presence. It spins around, studies the room, looking for any jewels with which it could engage in mischief. Only the bed betrays Mr. Valentine’s transgressions. The ghost decides that is enough.

The ghost strides over and collects Mr. Valentine’s phone. This is a nice phone. It pockets it. It then swings around to his suitcase, examines the contents, and starts packing Mr. Valentine’s dress attire, deciding to take it all. The ghost puts on Mr. Valentine’s fancy trench coat, which fits so perfectly it doesn’t even need to adjust the collars, as well as his brimmed hat, which all but leaps off the bed to unite with the ghost’s head. It then collects the suitcase, turns off the TV, and heads out the door with backward strides, inspecting the room to make certain it missed nothing.

The ghost is locking the door when Mr. Valentine emerges from next door, now finished with reversing the crime scene as well as changing the hands holding a certain knife. The ghost pauses, sensing Mr. Valentine’s keen stare upon the side of its face. Startled, it hops out of his clothes and flees the scene, causing the trench coat, the brimmed hat, the dress suit with the fancy phone in its pocket, the suitcase, everything, to crumple lifelessly to the ground. Glancing around for whomever just pulled the prank, Mr. Valentine collects his things and returns to his room, blissfully unaware of his own talents.


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