Part One: Killing Hitler

      by William Dean Hamilton / Humor / Actions & Adventure / Science Fiction

while. I have always wanted a velociraptor.”
Martin said, “What?”
Lucien said, “My robots are clumsy, they don’t stand a fighting chance if we actually get into a war, besides which, if we don’t get into a war, I won’t be able to get any research money. The only reason I have some now is because the stupid Nazis are taking over the educational system and are willing to put large sums of money into any possible weapon, even unproven ones, but when they see my robot, they won’t invest any more money, and I will be out of a job. Let me go back in time, I could capture a velociraptor and then I could change the world.”
Martin said, “You see, that is just the sort of thing that my uncle warned me about. What if you change things so much that I don’t even exist, then your time machine wouldn’t exist. We would create a paradox, I can’t allow it.”
Lucien said, “Then at least let me go into the past, so that I can warn myself that I just don’t have good enough technology yet to be able to make a good robot, I can tell myself to work on tanks instead.”
Martin said, “Well, OK I don’t see what that could hurt. By the way, I am a little surprised to see a black professor in this time, it is commonplace in my time, but I haven’t thought of Germany to be progressive in the thirties.”
Lucien said, “You are telling me, I applied everywhere all over Europe. Honestly I think they messed the paperwork up and were too afraid to admit it, they blamed it on something called affirmative action, but no one really knew what it was.”
Martin said, “We have affirmative action.”
Lucien said, “What is it?”
Martin said, “It's when minorities get hired even though they are less qualified than other applicants so that they can meet racial quotas.”
Lucien yelled, “Less qualified, less qualified.”
Martin said, “Don’t yell at me, I’m just the messenger.”
Lucien said, “I know, I’m sorry, but if they really think I’m less qualified that is so insulting.”
Martin said, “You did say that your robot program was a waste of money, perhaps that’s why.”
Lucien said, “After I had worked on them for a few years, I knew the technology was nowhere near where it needed to be to make killer robots. But the principal is sound; it’s just that the technology isn’t advanced enough.”
Martin said, “Well, you know affirmative action has always been part of having a certain number of minorities, so perhaps it is just that you were the most qualified black person.”
Lucien said, “Now you’re just trying to make me feel better.”
Martin smiled awkwardly, “Did it work?”
Lucien laughed, “Yes, I guess it did.”
Munich Germany
March 14, 1933
Hardware store
Lucien walked into the hardware store, the small store walls were literally filled with tools, glass containers of nails, sheets of sandpapers, and wire.
The old man behind the counter wore an apron and a green hat, he said, “Hi Lucien, what can I get for you?”
Lucien said, “I need a converter for something that runs on American electricity, 115 volt 15 AMP A/C.”
The old man rummaged through a drawer and pulled out a device perhaps three inches wide and four inches long, “Here you go, do you want me to put it on your account.”
“Please,” Lucien said, “And thank you,” then he took the package and left the store.
When he left the store, he noticed a man wearing a trench coat and reading a newspaper. Out of the corner of his eye, he saw the man stare at him, but every time that he looked over at him, the man ducked his head into the newspaper. Lucien thought, this guy thinks he’s in a spy novel or something, and walked down the street, through rows of houses which were well tended too, but obviously not the houses of rich people. Grass was mowed, weeds pulled, but some of the fences needed paint, some broken windows were boarded up, and one, which was not fully broken, hung in its place, nothing missing, but cracks emanated from the shape of a ball, the whole thing looking like a strong wind would make the whole thing crash.
Lucien turned around, the man was still behind him and by the time he looked back the man looked like he was reading the paper, except it was upside down. Lucien turned back around and was glad to see his apartment, a four-story brick building, a large plaque in the front read “The Willows” although he never remembered ever seeing a willow around here. He walked towards home, feeling a little anxious about the walk with the odd man following him.
When he got to the apartment, he put his hand on the door and looked behind him, the man was there, he held a badge in front of Lucien’s face and yelled, “Police.”
Lucien stared at the man for a second, “Are you wearing a fake beard?”
The policeman said, “I’m the one asking questions here.”
Lucien cross his arms, “And?”
The policeman said, “And what?”
Lucien said, “If you are asking the questions, then what are they?”
The policeman said, “Yes, well, what were you doing at the hardware store?”
Lucien pulled the converter from his pocket, “I just bought this.”
The policeman said, “Did you pay for it?”
Lucien said, “Well no, I charged it, the owner is going to send me a bill at the end of the month.”
The policeman said, “Ah ha, that sounds a little like theft to me.”
Lucien asked, “Does it? How?”
The policeman said, “You are under arrest.”
Lucien said, “Great, this ruin my whole day.”
The policeman snapped the handcuffs on Lucien and took him away.
New York
July 30th, 2015
Burt stood among the rows of books with a sense of wonder, the books here all smelled new, the lights were bright, and nothing looked out of place. The aroma of coffee was also present, although he couldn’t make out the coffee shop from where they stood. A few customers glanced at books or wondered around, but it was Thursday, so there were no large crowds. Burt turned to Martin, “I feel like I need to improve my life, learn more so that I can be important.”
Martin said, “Is that why you drug me here. You can be important by helping me.”
Burt said, “Yeah, I can do that, but I will only be helping you for you, I won’t be changing humanity. I want to be able to learn enough so that humanity will be better off by my existing. I want future generations to know who I am.”
Martin said, “That’s another depressing thought, even though I have literally changed history, no one will ever know who I am., although I don’t think that I would want anyone to know anyways, I caused World War II and the Holocaust to happen.”
Burt said, “But you had no choice, you basically said that and Lindsey agreed. So far I also agree.”
Martin said, “I guess so. It’s one thing to know it in your head though, and another to know it in your heart.”
Burt said, “Yeah. I don’t know what to tell you about that. You always are joking though.”
Martin said, “That’s how I deal with stress.”
Burt said, “I like to blow up stuff when I feel stress. Too bad I can’t afford to blow up anything big. Could you imagine blowing up something like a casino like they do sometimes to put up a new one?”
Martin said, “Maybe you could get a job…”
Burt yelled, “Look at that book! This is the perfect one. ‘Building robots with Basic Materials for Dummies Volume 3, Weaponizing Your Robot.’ This is awesome. I could totally learn how to do really cool things with this book. You are such an inspiration to me, thank you.”
Martin held up his hand to make some sort of gesture as one would during a speech, but he could find no words to produce along with the gesture.
Munich Germany
March 14, 1933
Police station
Martin entered the police station; his guard friend stood by in his uniform and threw his hands up into the air, “Oh Martin, glad to see you. Do you have a trick for me today?”
Martin said, “No, I’m sorry friend.” He looked around; there was a black man in a cage next to Lindsey.”What’s going on there?”
The policeman said, “Oh, that’s a new thing we’re trying out, it’s called affirmative action, we got this book from the university, they said they were done with it.”
Martin said, “I don’t think that’s quite how affirmative action works.”
The policeman asked, “Really. When the sergeant looked at the book he realized it had been years since we had arrested a black man, we thought we had better do it to be fair.”
Martin said, “But there can’t be that many black people in Munich, can there?”
The policeman said, “Maybe a dozen, maybe two.”
Martin said, “That could just be a coincidence, what are the odds of any dozen people committing a crime. Usually, affirmative action is trying to protect minorities.”
The policeman said, “I see what you mean. I should tell the sarge, but he’s going to be real sore if I do. I think I should let the matter go anyways; they are probably going to let him out in a few hours. He didn’t really do anything wrong. He bought this converter to American voltage at the hardware store.”
Martin said, “You can just buy those at the hardware store.”
The policeman said, “Oh yeah. We’ve got a great hardware store here.”
Martin said, “There wouldn’t be any way that you could let me borrow that, could you?”
The policeman said, “Oh no, its evidence, it has to stay here.”
Martin asked, “Well, what if I bring my magic thing in here to recharge, it
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