For the A to Z Challenge I generated a list of random words, and I will be writing a short story incorporating those words. Each day a little more of the story will be unveiled. You can read the full story, to date, here. Here we go:
“You just want me to say ‘Hi’ to that guy?”
Old Mark nodded.
“And what is that supposed to accomplish?”
“You don’t need to know. In fact, it’s much better for you to not know. Time travel is a tricky thing. The smallest changes in the past can have massive repercussions for the future.”
“Just speaking to a guy who isn’t going to remember me in five minutes is not going to change anything.”
“Who says he won’t remember?” Old Mark picked up his discarded straw wrapper and began to shred it into tiny pieces. Mark watched him, increasingly annoyed with the habit. He did it himself; shredding paper was a way to cope with his ADHD. He also played with pens, folded paper, and rapped out simple beats on tabletops. Busy hands made for a more attentive mind. As the white paper piled up, he realized how irritating his habits were.
“All you need to do is walk by, say ‘Hello,’ then move on. I’ll be out of your hair, and you can go back to whatever it is you were doing. It’s not like I’m asking you to hunt down Hitler.”
“You’re the time traveler. Why don’t you kill Hitler?”
“Not that you need to know, but I can only travel backwards within my own lifetime. And before you ask – smartass – I did try to stop 9/11, but it was too big. Too important.”
Mark thought of what he was being asked to do. It wasn’t anything too strenuous. He wasn’t being asked to stop a mass murder. Or was he? Was the guy, who was now seated alone in a booth in the back of the restaurant, intent on murder? Would he be one of those “quiet guys” who snapped and opened fire in a school? Maybe he just needed a little human contact. Maybe a nice hello from another person would make that difference. Mark was an Econ major, not Psych, and he had no idea how the human mind worked, or what drove men to target innocents. But maybe it was something this simple.
“Fine,” he said. “I’ll do it.”