THE TIME IDIOT
(2011) - a novel by A.R.Yngve - Sample Chapters
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Steve Nafuth brought Prescott back to the vast storage bunker, and into a small office with a window overlooking the main entrance. The aircraft Prescott had seen earlier rolled out through the open gate, and the enormous sliding doors slowly rolled shut behind it.
Inside the office, Moh and General Stockwell were waiting for them. Everyone got a chair to sit on, plus coffee and snacks. Nafuth offered cigarettes; Prescott politely declined, but Moh took one and lit it. So did Nafuth and Stockwell. Soon the office was filled with thick tobacco smoke.
"Haven't you guys heard?" Prescott said, trying to lighten the tense mood. He coughed. "Smoking causes lung cancer."
"And fallout from the Soviet-Chinese War does too," said Steve. He turned his chair around and leaned forward on its back, facing Moh.
Moh's cigarette bobbed up and down between his lips.
"Now... Doctor Moh... where, when, how and most importantly why did you tell this man about your top-secret research in time travel?"
"You've got to believe me, I've never seen this man before."
Moh's beardless face was slick with sweat, and his white shirt had big armpit stains. Steve quoted what Prescott had told him in the jail. Moh listened with great concentration, stubbed out his cigarette in an ashtray and lit up another.
"So what he's saying is that in a timeline where he was President, I built him a time machine, he went back in time, and altered history to make this world come into being?" Moh blinked nervously. "I find that extremely hard to believe. I doubt there is a Prescott Walker. Maybe the Russians sent him over as a saboteur."
Nafuth said: "Our boys have located two known Prescott Walkers. One lives in the British part of the Soviet Union, where he was born, and has no party position or influence. The other Prescott Walker is a bank clerk in Petaluma. Neither of them has anything to do with this man or Morgan Walker's family." Nafuth produced newspaper clippings with photos of the Walker clan.
"Hey, that's my Dad!" said Prescott and pointed at one of the photographs. "He looks just the same! But who's this woman he's married to? That's not Mom!"
Moh studied the photos and then Prescott's face. He frowned. "I admit there's a distinct likeness between Morgan Walker and this man. If the elder Walker had fathered Prescott with some other woman..."
"Don't you talk that way about my parents," Prescott told him.
"Doctor Moh, how far have you come in your research?" asked the general.
"Not that far. The Soviets are way ahead of us. They captured some of the world's best theoretical physicists and engineers when they took Germany and Denmark. Geniuses like Dirac, Einstein, Bohr, Schroedinger, Hawking, Rubia... we haven't got one brain of their caliber. If our labs could've hired people like them, we might've had practical time travel today. I've come as far as establishing weak evidence for a second time dimension, and that's it..."
"Don't you have a time pod here on the base?" Prescott asked. "You built one before... I mean, before I went back in time here... damn, this is complicated."
"Our boys are examining the items we found on Prescott," said Steve Nafuth, "and they don't look like Commie designs at all. Too slick, too brittle. If they were Soviet or Chinese, why is one of them labeled 'Motorola' in English letters? And what the hell is an 'I-Pod' from 'Apple'? Amazing as it sounds, I'm prepared to take Prescott seriously. We can't afford to ignore such an amazing opportunity. Even if we do, the Reds might succeed... and we're history. We should boost Moh's research budget and let him work with Prescott. With time travel, we could alter the past so that Stalin never came to power."
There was a pause as Nafuth let his words sink into the minds of the others. Prescott held his breath, and it seemed to him the world had stopped moving: he had a brand-new insight.
Of course, he thought. I didn't look at the big picture! I took out Hitler, but I forgot to stop Stalin. Only when Stalin is gone, the world is set straight for good. Well, that's easy!
"Let me do it," he said; the others fell silent and gave him shocked glares. "I've already got the time pod, only I know how it works. I took out Hitler... now I want to finish the job. Give me a proper weapon and I'll erase Stalin and his goons from history, before they took over Russia."
"Hitler who?" asked Moh.
The general swallowed and said - with a hint of caution: "You know, it's not such a bad idea. It might actually work."
"Wait a minute," said Steve Nafuth, "should we leave such an important task to a civilian?"
"In my time, I was elected President of the United States... twice!" said Prescott and his posture stiffened. "I was Commander of our defenses and led our forces in the War on Terror! I'm not just any idiot."
"What's the 'War on Terror?'" asked General Stockwell.
"Something I stopped by changing the past. It was horrible. Arabs attacked our country, blew up skyscrapers, blew a hole in the Pentagon, damn near blew up the White House and Capitol Hill too."
His conviction appeared to impress the general, the colonel and the scientist. They realized, Prescott thought, that he was one of them: the chosen few who were born to lead.
But he still didn't entirely trust them; they might try to take the time pod away from him. He had to play his cards close to the vest.
"Give me back my stuff and I'll show you the time pod. The time pod is controlled through the, uh, iPod. And only I know how it works! It's booby-trapped!"
Stockwell cleared his throat. "Let's say, hypothetically, that we let you take Stalin out of history... and you fail. Then what?"
Nervously, Prescott said: "Hey, it's a time machine! It has unlimited power! I can always go back and fix things! Don't you see? We can't lose!"
"What do you need to take out Stalin?" asked Stockwell. "He died in 1962, and even then he had his own personal army guarding him at all times. Getting to him won't be easy."
Steve Nafuth grew eager and moved restlessly about the small office. "So you get to him early, when he was a young thug... way back when Russia was poor and backward under the last Czar. That'd be easy. Just give Prescott a few grenades or a rocket launcher. And just to be safe, take out Beria and the other goons too."
Moh made an anguished face. "I just realized. After Stalin is removed from history, will we still exist here? You're talking about altering the early last century. The creation of the Soviet Union altered the lives of millions. All those Russians and Eastern Europeans who fled to America after 1917... some of them founded Hollywood. I've got Jewish grandparents living here, whose parents came from Poland. If they hadn't escaped Stalin, would I still have been born?"
"Leave that question to the philosophers," said Nafuth. And he added: "My ancestors and my parents were American Indians, so I'm not too worried. And as for lives sacrificed... removing Stalin would save the millions of Jews who died in his labor camps and purges."
He patted Moh on the shoulder. "If we can make this happen your family will get bigger, not smaller."
Prescott felt he was in the right company. "Let's roll," he said.
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