The cartography, writing, and ramblings of one crazy winter lover who likes to blog about the fun and inconsequential.

Short Story: Today Me, Yesterday You

Here is a little short story I wrote a while back, trying to get a sci-fi story in under 1000 words. Probably not the best work I've ever done, but enjoyable, at least, and it was fun trying to get the challenge. The story is below for your viewing pleasure:

A man walked into a shop in the shady part of town where the men wore knives in their boots and guns in their coats. He looked around nervously in the little building, peering at the rows of equipment that buzzed, hummed, and whirred in soft melodies. He was tall, lanky, and wore a black eye on his face that was in the same shape as his tattered clothes. “Hello?” he called in a sharp downtown accent that swallowed his r's. “Is anybody there?”

Out of the back of the shop came two round men with thick mustachios and tanned arms that spoke of a life of hard work. They grinned at the man and dusted off their coveralls before extending their hands, one at a time.

“Welcome to Mike and Otto's Quantum Mechanic Shop: we'll fix your problems yesterday,” the bigger of the two said with a twinkle in his eye. “I'm Mike, and my red-faced partner here is Otto. What can we do you for?”

The worn out man in his worn out clothes held up a newspaper clipping in a shaking hand. “I saw your ad in the paper,” he said. “You two... really can travel back in time? Make all my problems disappear?”

“Sure can,” declared Otto, his arms crossed in front of his chest. “But it depends on the nature of the problem. We don't do natural disasters, world events, or acts of god. Limit's three days, after all.”

The man whimpered. “No, no, it wasn't any of that. The mob, well, I owe them money, you see. I thought I lost them when I hopped a mag train here, but they found me a couple days ago and roughed me up good. Took just about everything I own, and gave me a shiner for my troubles.”

Otto and Mike nodded together in pity for the poor man, then looked at each other. “Sure, we can fix that,” Mike said, “but it'll cost you. Did they leave you enough for our fee?”

“Oh, yes, of course,” said the man, reaching into a pocket in his worn pants. He pulled out a fistful of cash and put it on the table in front of them. “Five thousand, just like the ad said. I had to sell my ring and my car for it, but that won't matter, will it?”

Mike and Otto shared a knowing look with each other. The two men both approached their customer and put their hands on his shoulders. Otto, speaking in a soothing voice, promised, “Of course not. All we have to do is take yesterday's lotto numbers back two days, get you, and take them to be cashed in. You'll be a millionaire overnight! You just have to promise to come back and pay us today, only this time more than our five thousand. Understand?”

The man nodded readily. The beeping and whooshing of the machines around the shop was soothing to him now, and he loosed his grip on the money and ad. “Sure thing.” He produced a manila card from a pocket in his pants and took a pen offered by Otto. “Jerry Herman, Forty-two High Street,” he repeated as he wrote them on the card. He handed the card to Mike, who took it with a grin.

“There you go, Jerry,” Otto said, “now move along so my partner and I can get right down to business. Before you know it, you'll be a millionaire and this all will just be a bad dream.”

Jerry, in his excitement, left with a rush without looking back. As soon as he had gone, Mike moved to the back of the store and began tinkering with a large machine that resembled an orange without its peel. Otto, meanwhile, gathered up a duffel bag of supplies, and met Mike at the machine when it was ready. The pair stepped inside as the machine buzzed, beeped, and whirred until, in a bright flash of light, it disappeared.

When the flash ended, they were a good ten feet away from the machine as it had been two days before, with their past selves still at home.

Mike was the first to step out, and dropped their bag of supplies on the ground. With boisterous laugh, he pulled out a ski mask and crow bar from within. “I just love customers who don't know a thing about causality,” he declared, slashing the air in front of him.

“I can't argue with that,” Otto agreed, shrugging on a heavy coat, mask, and aluminum baseball bat.

“Who'd he say jumped him again? The mob?”

His partner laughed. “Yeah, that's right. Think we'll make a couple of good mobsters?” He struck a fearsome pose, which sent the two of them laughing.

“Oh, we will alright,” Otto said, inspecting Jerry's address one more time. “With luck, we'll have just enough time to sell everything we grab off of poor Mr. Herman before we meet him back here in a couple of days.”

The two clinked their weapons together and, as one, strode out of their shop on their way to a very unsuspecting Mr. Herman, who would soon be willing to do anything to change what would have already happened.


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