MATTIE'S SECRET

MATTIE'S SECRET

A Story by Jynter
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Amusing Sci Fi short

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MATTIE'S SECRET

 

Brinkman led the way like usual with the big muzzle of that cannon lasar prodding the air inside the tunnel. "Door," he hissed, his deep voice no more than a husky breath.

Light hair tails whipping around her blue helmet, Ariel skittered in front and lithely dropped to a crouch. Her green uniform looked gray in the dim light. She swung her blaster up and aimed at the black door set into the wall.

"Get your gear down," I growled into the radio. None of them had their visors in place and I was worried about hidden demolitions. We'd gotten into the complex and this far without any trouble and it was all looking too easy. I was very worried about traps.

The last member of the team was Tim Long, the 24th century's answer to Sir Lancelot. His cocky voice rang out, "Stand back. I'll take care of this."

My elbow caught Long square on the breastplate and he stopped in midstride. "Hold position, Long."

"I'll open it," protested the wiry private.

There was a boom and a flash as Brinkman thumbed the trigger on his gun. The metal door caved in and disappeared. "It's open," said Brinkman. Ariel snickered as she slithered through the dark opening.

"People," I snarled. "This guy we're after is a serious malcontent. And he's an expert in temporal mechnics. You know what that means."

Long's voice was a gasp, "Chrono bombs."

"That's right. The bombs that can pop right into the present from nowhere. So, take it nice and easy."

Brinkman was through the opening and I followed. Brinkman said, "I don't think we got much to worry about Mattie. We been in here an hour. Where is this mad scientist?"

Ariel laughed. "Maybe you brought us to the wrong asteroid, Matilda."

"Can everyone please address me by rank," I complained mildly. It helps them remember that I give the orders if they stick to the military decorum a little.

"Yes sir, Captain Mattie," Ariel said. I saw a sloppy salute and glared inside my helmet. She ran ahead through the dark hallway and I glared worse.

"Leutenant," I yelled. "Ariel."

Brinkman said, "Don't get so wired. There's nobody here. Captain."

My voice was terse and disgusted, "Intelignece disagrees, Brinkamn. Did you even read the report? Dr. Eric Stoltz built this underground complex and we've registered third level chromatic distoration from this asteroid. Make no mistake. He's here and he's very dangerous."

We were moving slowly through the hallway we'd entered, with Long at my side. He said, "Third level? That can't be right."

Long's rifle was pointing down, somewhere in the vicinity of my foot. I said, "Third level. Which means he may have spatial as well as temporal transport capabilities. So keep that pointed in the right direction and stay alert." I yanked the barrel of his gun up.

"I think this is it." Ariel's voice, excited. I saw her standing next to an open doorway. "Someone's in there," she said.

"Freeze, people," I ordered, grabbing Brinkman's shoulder.

Long started, "Do you want me to-?"

"And shut up," I cut him off. There was someone moving around in that lighted room. If it was Stoltz, then this was absolutely a trap. I did not want anybody doing anything until I had a chance to figure it out.

There were footsteps inside the room and then a smiling man with wavy brown hair stepped into view. Dr. Eric Stoltz, I recognized him from his picture. "The Time Cops," he said in a funny voice. "Come in. You're late!" A manical laugh rang out as he moved away from the doorway.

My gloved fingers tapped a button on the helmet and my visor flipped up. I muscled past Brinkman and shoved the barrel of my rifle into the room, saying in a loud voice, "Dr. Stoltz, you are under arrest. I hereby place you in custody of the Temporal Police."

"Oh, come on." Stoltz laughed from inside the room. "There's no need for that."

I jerked my head back and told Long, "You keep your eyes in back of us." Then to Brinkman, "You stay here. I say to come in, you come in shooting that thing."

Ariel asked, "I'm with you?"

"Right," I nodded. She was smarter and quicker and if this was some trap, I was counting on her to spot it. I trusted her. I trusted Ariel so much I let her go in first.

We split at the doorway, her going left and me right. Stoltz was poised over some lab bench, fiddling with a thin silver wrench. He heard us come in and said, "This is the refractor mechanism. It will give you an accurate record of the altered history." He was talking about that flat black screen he was tinkering with. "After I'm gone it will automatically turn on. I believe you carry a similiar device that will serve as conformation. A chronoscope?"

I had one of the chronoscopes clipped to my belt. It provided data regarding any alternate history interferance. I said, "You're planning a trip into the past?"

Stoltz swept a hand at the gray cabinet behind him. The door was open and I could see all the tubing and gizmos in there. I recognized the telltale green glow from a quantum actualizer and knew what this was. A time machine. Stoltz already had it built.

"I can't let you use that," I growled, pointing my rifle at him.

"Please put that away. I know what I am doing. Now, after I'm gone, I need you to dispose of the time machine." His voice was strangely cheery.

"It's our job to prevent any temporal interferance and you know that, Dr. Stoltz."

"In this book-" Stoltz tapped a hand on a thin brown volumne next to his refractor. "Is a record of all my research. I have calculated precisely the effect of one single act which will alter our history. You see, this is not an arbitrary attempt. I know exactly what the effects of my interferance will be, to the present day."

I was not impressed with his claim. "I've heard that plenty of times before. Every one of you time criminals thinks he found the formula to predict time change."

Ariel was standing next to the work banch and she opened the brown book.

"I have," Stoltz said. "You will see" He edged backward.

"Step away from the time machine," I ordered.

Ariel sounded confused, "You know, Mattie. He may have something here."

"Listen to her," Stoltz urged. "I know what I'm doing."

Brinkman snarled from the hall, "You want me in there?"

"Shut up, Brink," I snapped.

"Just look at the record when I'm gone," Stoltz said. "You'll see I'm telling the truth."

My disgust was obvious. "You're going nowhere. And even if you escape, we'll just follow you and undo any time change you make. So, just give it up, Stoltz."

"Look at the refractor mechinism," he shouted as he leapt for the time machine.

I could have wasted him easilly. I should have, according to regulations. But I don't enjoy killing and I balked. It meant we were going to have to follow him into time and fix things, but I guess that was my choice. We'd been here before and we would just have to do the job.

Brinkman stormed into the room, demanding, "You let him get away?"

Long strode toward the time machine, "I'll go after him."

I said, "Long, get back to your post. Brinkman, you stay in this room and gaurd that machine. Ariel and I will have to go find that goofball because, yes, I let him get away."

"Mattie, look at this." Ariel held up that book. "He balanced the Boseman equations. No one's ever been able to do that before."

Brinkman was staring at that screen, that refractor of Stoltz's. It had turned on and there was some picture now. Brinkman said, "There he is."

I narrowed my eyes at the screen. I saw Stoltz standing in a crowd, at a parade. He'd transpoted himself through space as well as time, to Earth. An open car went by and Stoltz fired a pistol and pushed a thin man forward, who stumbled. Stoltz disappeared into the crowd. "He just shot that man in the car." People surrounded the man Stoltz had pushed . They grabbed hold of him. "Stoltz made it look like that man shot him."

Brinkamn twisted a knob near the screen. The picture changed. The date below the screen was 1917 and the World War had started already. I said to Ariel, "Your genious just started the World War ten years early. I think we better check his math."

"No," Ariel said as she flipped through the book. "It's all in here. There will be two world wars. Two attempts by Germany to take over Eruope. But in this history they are beaten both times. And-And there's no nuclear war in the 1950's."

"What?" I was irritated with all this. Stoltz was a nut and we had to go back there and change things back. I adjusted that knob on the refractor, to 1953. I stared in shock. I moved another knob and changed the geography. I studied different places on earth in the 1950's. I gasped. What Stoltz had done was change history and now there had been no nuclear war.

My fingers trembled as I removed my chronoscope from my belt. That device of Stoltz's could be a fake. I examined the history of the 1950's, then the 1960's, recorded in the chronoscope. It was all changed. There had been no nuclear war. Europe was still there and the western half of America had never become a nuclear wasteland.

Ariel had moved Stoltz's refractor forward. "Look!"

She was in the late 1900's. I adjusted the chronoscopes knobs and followed suit. My mouth fell open in shock. There had been no plague. No food wars. I kept moving forward through time, watching the tiny screen on the chronoscope incredulously. All through the subsequent record, attrocities like the Lunar Disaster had been averted. There was no mention of a dictator named Andrews or the slave camps on Alpha Centari Two.

Ariel gripped my arm. "He really did it."

Brinkman shrugged. "Looks like it. Too bad we have to go change it back."

"We can't, Brink," I blurted. I didn't care what the rulebook said. Stoltz had saved mankind from untold misery. I couldn't undo that.

"Captain," Long said from the doorway. "What choice do we have? It's our job to stop him from altering time."

Ariel's face was drawn. She disagreed with Long, "Mattie, we can't go back and stop him now. All those people he saved."

Brinkman said with a yawn. "Let's just do this thing, whatever, and get back to the ship."

"Long," I said. "He stopped the plagues. There is no record of the Kesma Plague at all. The Earth today is clean."

Long sputtered, "You-You mean that?"

I began unharnessing my gear. I dumped weapons and belts on the floor around me. "Brinkman, Long, you both go back to the ship. We'll finish this."

Brinkman started for the door. "It's your call," he said. "But I say we just destroy that time machine and call it a day. Stoltz is a hero, I say."

"It's my call," I echoed. "Take care, Bobby. You too, Long."

"What are you going to do," Long answered as he began following Brinkman away.

"The right thing," I said with a smile. I went to the time machine.

Ariel looked at my gear strewn over the floor. "You are going back? Mattie, why? Look at all the good Stoltz has done."

I took the brown book from Ariel's hand, explaining, "I'm about to break regulations and leave things as they are. But I need your help. I don't want anyone else poking around in the past so you have to destroy the time machine after I go through."

"All right. But, where are you going?"

"I'm done playing Time Cop. I think Stoltz has done more good than I could do in a lifetime," I said blithely. "I've always been interested in the early 21st century." I set the time a machine for Los Angeles, 2010. "And without the fallout and the plagues I think I'm going to enjoy it." I told Ariel goodbye and hit the switch.

I am very happy to report that I was right. The 21st century is a marvolous time period, thanks to Eric Stoltz. He started the first world war which ultimately led to a cold war instead of the devastating nuclear alternative in my timeline. There was no race for biological weapons between China and the US in the 1990's and the Kesma Plague was never created. This is a beautiful brand new world for me.

I own a shop near the pier in Santa Monica now. Don't ask me how I got into selling curios and rugs, but it's called Mattie's Secret. It's just a small place. But I usually have a plate of my special Titan Treats sitting on the counter. It's my secret recipe and I'll know you'll enjoy them because they are just out of this world. Come on by and visit sometime.

© 2011 Jynter


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Added on March 8, 2011
Last Updated on March 8, 2011

Author

Jynter
Jynter

U.S. Virgin Islands



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