Flash Fiction: What Have I Done?

This week’s (second) flash fiction is brought to you courtesy of Chuck Wendig’s challenge on terribleminds. I rolled randomly and got “An accident occurs which may be no accident.” My first attempt started going somewhere but ultimately bored me. My second attempt was, I think, much better. Also potentially disturbing.



You’d think that time travel, when voluntary and properly prepared for, would make you feel more powerful.

There’s almost nothing further from the truth.

I dreamed of changing things. I dreamed that I would make something different happen this time around.

In Weimar Germany, a heavy boudoir fell from a particular window while it was being moved out of the building. It killed the pedestrian walking below, and within a week his death was largely forgotten. Nothing more than a morbid footnote in the occasional conversation.

World War Two happened again anyway. The Final Solution was enacted once more, and history marched onwards. Death and suffering seemed foreordained. Killing Hitler hadn’t helped.

I tried again.

If nothing else, time travel reinforces that old adage. If at first you don’t succeed…

Hitler died this time. Same boudoir. So did many of the leading anti-Semites of the age. I arranged for a series of terrible mishaps. I had practice, at this point. It was almost easy.

It mattered little. War came once more. Humanity fanned the flames of its own destruction, and found people to distrust and hate once again. Millions upon millions died.

I tried again.

I was more thorough this time. It was not simply the leaders, but the opinion makers who must be removed, silenced, expunged. I was very very thorough. My attempt was in vain.

I began to suspect that there was something more to this than I had first realized.

It took me several more tries, each more drastic than the last, to finally realize that I needed others to help me in my attempts. I began to spread my message, my words of encouragement, among those who would listen. We made headway, and yet each time it all came to nought.

It wasn’t until my followers found others working against me in secret that I recognized the truth. There was a conspiracy afoot to plunge the world into war. Somehow, it seemed, it always ended in blood and suffering. Every time the same story, every time another march of tragedy and horrors. I grew despondent.

For a time, I gave up.

As I sank into a restless fugue, I read once more about the history of violence and hate that gave birth to my own world. I remembered all those who had died, those who had tried alongside me to rescue our world from its fate so many different times before. My photos of them cluttered the cramped office I kept inside my machine. I had seen them all die, heard of their deaths and seen the bodies. And it was too much.

I could not simply let them tread onwards towards the doom that approached them all.

I tried again.

There are too many who must be removed for me to do this all on my own. I have formed my movement. They are loyal, they will follow me into the heart of hell itself to do what is right. I have begun my purges of the unacceptable from within our country, even our own ranks, and it moves according to plan. I will not tolerate their unalloyed hatred and warmongering.

But other nations now look at us askance. And I know that there are others amongst them who must also be removed. They rail against me in their papers, they argue that I am a monster even while their governments preach peace and prepare for war. I can see what they seek. And so I must prepare us for our self-defense.

We, peace lovers, must have room to breath and live, must not be crushed beneath the heels of the two-faced deceivers who wish to end this world in fire once more.

We must strike first if we are to have any chance to survive.

Oh, oh god, what have I done?


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