May 9th, 2006

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Saving Hitler (a dead short story I wrote today)

The post-it was lying on the desk, next to the activation switch.

The words "Don't do it" were clearly printed in the centre, the anonymous results of some random printer.

He didn't.

====

The note was lying on the desk, by the configuration unit.

Carefully written in neat handwriting were the words "Think about it - the consequences could be terrible.  Is this really what you want?"

She thought about it and decided that it really wasn't.

====

As she came into the room she instantly caught sight of the booklet, incongruously placed next to the portal.  Picking it up she flicked through a few pages and found a picture of her brother.  On the next page was a picture of her younger sister.  The next had a picture of her first lover, the next her first dog, the next a group photo from her school days.  Under each the single word "Gone".  Reaching the back of the booklet she found a page with no photo - nothing but the text "None of them will ever have existed".

She half dropped the book, half flung it from her and backed out of the room, tears streaming from her eyes.

====

As he walked past the display system towards the slightly glowing pad it popped into life.  Startled, he ducked away from it, eyes wide like a frightened rabbit and then stopped as the hated face flickered onto the screen, familiar newsreel unspooling for a moment before it was replaced by something less familiar.  News reports that never were, documentaries of things that never happened, reports from escalating wars each ending in a worse situation than the one before, cold wars merging back into hot ones as the world fell slowly apart.

And then finally, white text on a black background.

"It's more complex than you think"

He hesitated and then backed away, dispirited.
====

The rifle swung slightly over his shoulder as he quietly eased the door shut.  He stepped up onto the control podium and set the controls before walking towards the opalescent archway. 

He never saw the hand reach out of empty space, never heard the soft typing sound over the rising hum of the initiator coils, never knew that his destination was being changed, and more than likely never knew what hit him.

====

He dropped in to the rec-space on his way out of the office, same as usual.  Crashed down on the sofa and the look in his eyes killed the conversation before it left my throat.  I can spot a bad day at 50 paces and this one looked unpleasantly familiar.

"Had one that couldn't take a hint?"
"Yup."
"You get those sometimes.  Nothing to be done about it."
"I know."
"You try.  And then you try again.  And you keep looping back and trying different things.  But sometimes people just won't listen, and there's only so many of us out there.  You can't catch them all."
"I know."
"It's not your fault."
"I know."

He sighed and pulled himself upright and headed for the door, muttering as he walked away.

"I'll see you tomorrow."
"Take the day off."
"I'll see you.  Tomorrow."

And I can understand that.  You balance the ones you talk out of it against the ones you kill.  And when you have to make that choice there's nothing you look forward to more than the next one you can save from themselves.