Friday, November 13, 2015

Day 12 - Judgement Day

Judgement day had finally arrived.

The calculations had initially taken months and, in the end, he’d resorted to setting up a botnet in order to siphon away processing time from the University’s computer network. He knew that it was only a stopgap measure, that his clumsy work would be discovered soon, but by then it would be too late for anyone to do anything about it.

Obtaining some of the parts had proven difficult; these were not the sort of things you could go into a local Radioshack and pick up off the shelf. The more exotic materials he’d found ways to buy illicitly; he had found it quite remarkable what you could pick up on the darknet if you had enough bitcoins; while he’d used his research project as a cover for the less questionable materials.

He was thankful that the oversight at the University was so minimal; as long as he was bringing in enough funding – which, thanks to an entirely mythical project he’d cooked up for DARPA, was not a problem for him – then they left him to his own devices and didn’t interfere. Equally, the research assistants he’d hired had all been carefully isolated from each other and their work compartmentalised so that they would have no way of understanding what it was that they were working on. The results were that he was the only person who understood the full scope of the project.

Which, he thought, as he looked at the array that now crackled with a sheen of rippling blue plasma was probably a good thing. He had a feeling that if anyone were to find out that he, Dr. Alan Goldberg, had constructed the world’s first working time machine then he would have had to deal with a huge amount of interest from pretty much everyone. But, it was still a secret and, if all went as planned today, then it would remain forever a secret.

He’d first stumbled across the equation a decade earlier; an equation that led him to the belief that time travel was not only possible but feasible. And while his initial instinct was to publicise his work, he stopped himself from emailing the abstract to his colleagues at the last moment. Partly it was because he realised that this was an idea that could change everything and he wasn’t sure he wanted to be responsible for that leaking out into the world. But, the real reason he kept it to himself was because he had a plan for what he could do with it.

The development process was long and tiresome; to begin with he had to put together smaller research projects and then inflate their cost in order to secure funding. But that only went so far. By the time that he’d cleared the theoretical stage and had moved onto the construction of a working prototype, it was clear that he needed more money. A lot more money.

Developing a device that would help a gang of criminals bring down a Las Vegas casino was the beginning. It paid for the prototype’s construction and began his spiral into an increasingly dark place.

The prototype worked. It was a small scale version, capable of sending inorganic material back in time no more than five days, but it worked. On the first day that he’d finished its construction and built a test area, a blue lego brick appeared in the middle of the test plate. A blue lego brick that he had only just decided would be the first test object to be sent in five days’ time. Five days later he sent it.

But the costs began to mount from this point and so Dr. Goldberg had been forced to engage in more and more dubious deals in order to ensure that he kept his funding stream active. While juggling real research projects, he had also helped a Mexican drug cartel to decipher military communications and had provided a certain Asian country, opposed to American interference within their affairs, with an encryption code that would enable them to hijack control of the latest stealth drones. Both had proven to be lucrative deals and both had drawn the attention of the FBI. He justified his actions by thinking about what he was trying to do, what he hoped to accomplish, the lives – millions of lives – that were at stake.

World War II had changed the shape of the world forever and, at the heart of the destruction and the chaos, had been the Nazi Party. And at the head of the Nazi party had stood one man. If he could use his device to go back in time, to kill that one man before any of this happened, then perhaps the world would turn out to be a considerably better and more peaceful place. For such a noble goal, Dr. Goldberg was prepared to do whatever was necessary.

The device was fully spooled up and he ignored the banging on the door. He figured that the FBI had caught up to him, or perhaps it was one of his clients who’d decided to eliminate any trail of evidence. It didn’t matter. By the time that they broke down the security door it would be far too late and he would be gone, and if succeeded then this reality would never have existed.

He took a deep breath and picked up the gun from the counter. It was an antique, like the clothes that he was now dressed in, but he couldn’t afford to take something with him that would reveal his existence as a time traveller. He’d spent long months practising with it, even though he’d previously abhorred guns, and was confident in his aim even if he only had one shot.

He checked the dial one last time. He was travelling back to the winter of 1918, before the Nazi Party had existed, and intended to kill the snake by cutting off its head. One chance to change the future. One chance to change everything, for the better.

He stepped into the machine and waited as it counted down from three seconds.

He gripped the pistol tightly.

Two seconds.

He focused. The calculations to ensure he appeared in exactly the right place at exactly the right time had been extraordinarily complicated but he was confident in them.

One second.

The machine flared bright blue, crackling loudly, and the power grid for several kilometres around the University campus blacked out.

As the wave of blue enveloped him and he faded out of this time, he smiled. Today was a good day to kill Karl Heinz Gruber. 

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