Collapsing the Conundrum
Written by Ken Carman
The time traveler sat on his bed in his cell when they came to get him. Maflo, the head of the guard, had grown to like the time traveler and decided to try one more time…
“Look, I think I can still get them to stop the execution if you tell us why you did it..”
“I have nothing to say.”
They walked to the demolecularization chamber, he talked and the traveler mostly listened.
“If we hadn’t developed the ability to track those who interfere with the natural course of events by traveling through time we wouldn’t have caught you. In a way, I wish we hadn’t. I am going to miss our four dimensional chess games. Maybe some day the knight I could have used to get you into checkmate will show up. I’m sure you shifted it into the future, I just can’t figure out when.”
The traveler just smiled.
“I don’t understand. Why did you leave us that book so many years ago that claimed to tell the future, but was all wrong? Will you ever tell us? How many people died because of that prank? Most crimes no longer get the death penalty, but homicide on that scale… well, exceptions sometimes must be made.”
They positioned him in the chamber.
As he faded into simple molecules he said, “I have traveled and this finishes the final alteration. You ask me why? To collapse the conundrum…” and he was gone. In his place was something wrapped in a note: the knight.
“If I had written about what you should do, you would not have learned how to determine what was the right way. To really advance, one must learn how to pick the right path first. We have discovered that the best way to help any society, any individual, how to to get where they need to go is to tell them to do the opposite of what they should do. Once they learn about real consequences; not just imagined ones, they enter into the future determined to follow the right path, believing in themselves: inspired to use their minds to advance beyond extinction. Even if I had told you about this moments before my death and you had stopped the execution I may have changed your present and my past. Now that I am gone, you will understand. Centuries ago suicide bombers made you more cautious, more concerned with security. In an odd way, we are like them. Now that you know and you will find yourselves beginning an organization I was a member of: dedicated to collapsing the conundrum by sacrificing yourselves. Even now some of you will feel the calling to join this noble cause.”
“We wish you luck, and know you will have it.”
He folded the note gently.
Never had he felt so hopeful.
Never had he felt such gratitude.
And since he felt the calling…
Never had he felt so scared.
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