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Time To Go
Time To Go
“What’ll it be?” The bartender wipes down the bar in front of me in a practiced, bored manner. I’m tempted to order a “nova”, a popular cocktail from my own era, just to see his reaction.
“Just a beer,” I say pointing to one of the half dozen taps on display.
“Any one in particular?” he asks.
Again I’m tempted to to ask for a “Zed”, a beer from my own time made with genetically modified hops. “The red one,” I say. The barkeep pulls the long red handle and fills a glass with the amber liquid. He places it on a coaster in front of me and asks, “You from out of town?”
I find this attempt at conversation amusing. If you only knew, I think to myself. I take a sip of beer. The beer is good and cold and reminds me of home. “Yep,” I say, “I’m here on business.” Which is true but not nearly the whole story. My business is to alter history and has resulted in my being stuck in this world 60 years in my past. Oh don’t get me wrong, it’s a fine world you have here it’s just not my world; it’s my grandfather’s time and everything is antique. My being stuck here is one of the risks I took when I volunteered for this mission. You don’t muck around with the past without consequences and boy did I muck around with it. God only knows what my own time is like now. I can only hope it’s close to what was predicted.
The reason I’m here in this time, in this town is for one specific reason. It’s to make sure what happened happened without any interference from the future. Let me explain. In my future, there’s a war going on. The war is a rebellion against the state. I’m with the rebels, we’re losing. This mission I’m on is a desperate attempt at changing the odds in our favor but, of course, like everything else about changing the past an accurate prediction is impossible.
Here is what we know. In 1988 Bogdan Plozenska was born. Bogdan is the father of our tyrannical leader, Janek Polzenska, “the Cossack”. In 2013, when Janek “the Cossack” was 6 years old, Bogdan was in a near fatal traffic accident in Warsaw, Poland. We know this because it is meticulously detailed account of the accident in the Cossack’s official autobiography. Here is the excerpt from that book:
Even though I was only six years old, my father held a special place in my life. His ambition and influence were just beginning to be felt. That is why it came as such a shock to hear how close I came to losing him that day. I’ll never forget the details, they are etched in my mind. Friday, November 7th, 2013 at 11:16 a.m. at the intersection of Miodowa and Smocza Streets in Warsaw my father was almost killed when the car he was driving was struck by a fuel truck. It was only by the grace of God that he was not killed in the fire and explosion. Whoever it was that pulled him from the wreckage has earned my undying gratitude.
My compatriots and I have poured over that text so often I have it memorized. Who exactly was this “good samaritan”? There’s no way of knowing from our perspective in the future. If it was a time traveller. If it was, then it was the Cossack or one of his agents who changed the past. It was our best guess that it was.
The state controls all access to the past. Time travel requires a massive investment in both the physical sciences and massive amounts of energy. Only a dictator on the scale of The Cossack would have the resources to see it built.
To send a man back in time requires as much energy as it takes to power a small city for a year. That is why the rebel force put all its efforts in capturing the time complex and sending me, back to that very moment of the accident. I was to see that there was no interference and that things took place as they were supposed to. If Bogdan died in that accident, Janek, the Cossack, would have been raised by his mother and have become a much different person. According to our calculations, we weren’t altering the past but rather restoring it, allowing history to proceed the way it should have.
Under the influence of his father, Janek grew up to be a ruthless leader rising to power first in Poland and then uniting all of Eastern Europe then seizing control of the EU and eventually most of the civilized world. He is or was both ruthless and brilliant crushing rivals and eliminating dissent. I say was because, with luck, he no longer is an historical figure. In fact, thanks to me, if he lives at all, he lives in obscurity. And if he did not rise to power, did not rule the world and make life hell for the majority of mankind, I have succeeded. Unfortunately, I have no way of knowing.
What I do know is, on the corner of Miodowa and Smocza Streets there was a terrible accident. A fuel truck ran a red light and plowed into several cars. The car, driven by Janek’s father was smashed and dragged across the road, the fuel truck overturning on top of it. Gasoline spilled over everything just looking for a spark. Out of nowhere a man came running to Bogdan’s car with a single minded intensity—to save him from a fiery death. I too came running. My objective was quite different.
I tackled the samaritan and, as we wrestled on the ground, the tank truck exploded with a thunderous roar. Bogdan and six others were incinerated. I never saw the good samaritan again though I am convinced he was from my own time.
So now I am trapped. I have time to wonder about what I have done and its effect on the future. Did I change the future or did I save it? Was my action tampering or restoring the time line? Was the good samaritan an agent from the future or merely a local hero? I’ll never know. From where I sit at this bar, in this time, the events that have proceeded into the future have changed the world I knew.
I can only hope that Janek the Cossack never came to power and that a time machine was never built. But I cannot know. I’ll never know for certain but those are the thoughts that sustain me. Was my sacrifice worth it? Only time will tell.
I signal the bartender for another beer. He goes through the timeless motions of pouring the foamy liquid into a glass. I raise my glass in a silent toast to the future. “What will be will be,” I mutter.
“How’s that?” he asks.
"Nothing,” I say. “I’m just thinking about the future.”
dandrew72 - Loved this story! If you'd ever like to collaborate I'd love to try and work on some projects with you.
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