“Let me get this straight. You are saying that the world ends everyday at 3:07 am PST because reality is constantly being rewritten by people going back in time to kill Hitler?”
“It isn’t always Hitler, but yeah.”
I shook my head with disbelief. Time travel. People going back to kill Hitler. But not always Hitler, so who else did they assassinate? And why was my best friend only telling me this now? Or why tell me at all?
“Brandon, I don’t understand. You need to explain this to me.”
My confession of confusion seemed to burden him. He looked up with weary eyes, “You have no idea how many times I have told you all this before.”
My eye twitched, and more questions arose.
“At some point in the future, time travel is invented, perfected, and then legislated. Someone with all their brilliance decided that we needed to purify history. Remove the bad, exalt the good. So they sent back what they called Time Scrubbers, different people to go back in time and remove the event and memory of the greatest atrocities of mankind. Some were chosen for their military expertise. I was chosen for a different reason.”
“Wait, you are a time traveller?’
“Yeah, I’m sorry I didn’t tell you sooner Reg. I’m from the future. I was born January 32, 2315.”
“There is no January 32,” I retorted in disbelief.
“Not now there isn’t. But there will be. A lot of things change in the future. But what actually matters now, is this. You need to remember.”
“Reg, you need to remember Hitler.”
“Alright, that’s enough.” I exploded out of my chair. It was one thing to sit and listen to my best friend feed me a bold faced lie, but for him to expect me to glorify Hitler in my mind was too much. “We are done, Brandon.”
I started up the stairs when a hand grabbed my shoulder.
“No. Listen to me. I’m not saying remember Hitler like you need to worship him or something like that. I need you to remember the things that he did. Remember the terrible things that humanity has done throughout the ages. From Cain the son of Adam to Ghangus Khan, Hitler to Republic of New America. I need you to remember how sick and broken the human race is.”
To live and dwell in the darkness of humanity make my stomach turn. Why would I ever want to do that? Why would Brandon be asking me to do that? And what did that have to do with the future?
“Brandon, that has to be the dumbest thing that I have ever heard of. Why would the future need me to do that? I may not agree with the idea of erasing the memory of all the bad stuff in history, but that would really highlight the good. Wouldn’t it? What’s wrong with that?”
Again, my words seem to bring him more burden. But these appeared to cut deeper, like I had poked a childhood scar that had never healed right.
“Do you know what erasing historical events does to the future?”
“Well,” I wondered. I had never given it an actual thought. “I imagine it would rewrite history? Change the course of history? Screw up the space time continuum or soemthing?”
“No. That’s what your movies and books tell you, but it something much simplier, but much more devestating.”
More and more bleakness, that was all Brandon was about today. It seemed so out of character for him. He was one of the happiest guys I had ever known. Always with a smile on his face, always enjoying himself, regardless of what we were doing. It could be a paintball match with the guys or playing bridge with my grandparents. For Brandon, it was all a joy to be had. Why was he being such a downer now?
“When Time Scrubbers travel back in time, they erase, not just the memory of an event, but the event itself. For example, if they were supposed to erase Joseph Stalin from history, they would have to find each individual that lived with a memory of him, any knowledge of who this person was and mind wipe that memory or knowledge.
“But that is only a part of it. Other Time Scrubbers go all the way back and actually kill Stalin. They make it so that the terrible things that he would have done do not actually happen.”
“But that’s great Brandon. Millions of people wouldn’t have died in World War II, or after that.”
“Yes, but it doesn’t work that way. Rather than the effects of Stalin being reversed, they happen anyways, for no apparent reason.”
“If we erased Stalin from everyone’s memory, erased him from history, he would not be responsible for the evil that he did, but the evil would happen regardless. The effects of Stalin are irreversible. The things that we do, what we cause to come to life, cannot be scrubbed away. They are forever woven into the time space continuum, as you called it.”
I slowly let myself down, finally finding a seat on the basement stairs. Oh, I thought. That is quite a bit different than the movies. My mind started to reel with all the possibilities of evil that could be eliminated, but was still struck with this pain; no matter who was scrubbed out of history, their evil prevailed. Their evil deeds still accomplished their goals. People would still be dead. Whole races annihilated. Men, women, and children would still be killed…but now, with no face to put to their misery.
My face must have turned a shade of white, as Brandon said,”You get it now, don’t you?”
“If the Scrubbers accomplish their goals, evil will appear to have run ramped for thousands of years. Unchecked. Unanswered. The concept of justice will not exist. Evil will be some unknown force has been destroying humanity for eons.”
“But isn’t that what evil is? A force, something that is pushing people do to..the not right thing?” This was out of my wheelhouse. A philosophical conversation here and there was fine with me, but this was getting crazy.
“In a simplified way, sure,” Brandon continued,” but now, in the future, it will appear to have no connection to humanity. Evil happens outside of us. Evil happens to us. But evil never coming form us or the action we take.
“Imagine that Reg. A world where we never do anything wrong. Nothing is bad. Nothing we do is wrong. Because we have created a society that believes that evil does not live in us, only that it is out there somewhere.”
My brain was starting to hurt. I couldn’t imagine something so crazy, something so ignorant. How could that be the future of humanity? How would we get there from here? Where were the world religions? Where were the crazies screaming “Repent, the end is nigh”?
Then I began to see. Brandon’s future wasn’t that far off. We needed to push things a little further, push our ideas to a new level of extreme, and we would be there.