Setting It Right

When Tom perfected his time machine, the one thing that he knew for sure was that he was not going to journey into the past. The consequences of making even the smallest change to the past were incalculable. The past was out.

He packed his best hazmat suit (approved for use in all hot environments, including those highly irradiated), cranked up the circuits, and scooted ahead one decade. When he opened the airlock and peeked out, all he saw were smashed, pulverized, and charred ruins. He stepped out. Ruins, nothing but ruins, as far as the eye could see. The city, demolished; clearly the victim of a major nuclear event. Radiation levels were through the roof.

Back in his machine, Tom tried raising someone on his communications equipment. No radio or TV transmissions. Not a peep worldwide. The planet was electronically dead.

The planet also appeared to be biologically dead. No signs of life. Not a bird, not a blade of grass. Tom returned to the present a shaken man.

What to do? How to prevent this global holocaust? Jump forward a year and issue warnings? He laughed a hollow laugh at the futility of that idea. A nothing like him could do nothing to change the future, in the present or future.

He could save humanity only in the past. There was no other option.

Killing Einstein was the hardest. Tom hopped back to 1894 and strangled the teenager with a length of rope. He felt terrible for hours aftwards.

He bashed in Heisenberg’s brains and stabbed Schrodinger. He used different murder weapons to prevent some clever historian from putting two and two together, but of course that was nonsense, as none of his victims were over the age of twenty, and all were still complete unknowns.

His victims, and there were many more, were drawn from a list he made while consulting Wikipedia on the history of nuclear weapons.

Murder wasn’t so bad once he got used to it.

Tom steeled himself and jumped into the future once more. Emerging from his machine, all he saw, again, were smashed, pulverized, and charred ruins. This time, however, there was no radiation. Progress.

Tom realized that getting rid of nukes was not enough. Planes, tanks, and warships were also a problem. He returned to the present and to Wikipedia to learn about the invention of gasoline and diesel engines.

4 Responses

  1. Is Tom going back to snuff baby Steve Jobs, too?

  2. Let’s see. Didn’t we start in the stone age? Eventually, Tom is going to get us back to the beginning so we won’t be in the same place at the end?

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