by David Steffen
Ladies and gentleman of the jury, I don’t expect you to understand. The mountain of evidence that seems to support the prosecution’s case is daunting to say the least, but all of it is based on an adolescent understanding of the forces that move the universe. I must stress to you once again that Ambassador Gupta is alive and well.
Imagine if you were transported to the time of the Mayans with nothing but what you carry on you at this moment. The simplest of things would be unfathomable to them. Where you see a cheap convenience store lighter, they see a man holding fire in his hand. No amount of explanation would convince them that it is a simple tool and nothing more.
I’m afraid the same is true here. Your technological marvels are to me what a stone axe would be to you, laughably primitive.
I’m afraid I landed in the worst possible time period. In the here and now, time travel is a topic of much speculation, the source of many science fiction stories, which has only reinforced the myth that time travel is impossible. If I had arrived before the birth of science fiction, the concept would have been new and dangerous, but might have been accepted alongside the incorrect theories of the period.
In another fifty years, your technology might be capable of sensing the circuitry in my blood. To you, I appear to be just a man, but I am integrated with technology at a molecular level, my abilities rendered useless now by one of your electrical stun weapons.
I am crippled, hamstrung, in my current state, confined to this place and time like all the rest of you. I could once manipulate the fabric of reality with the power of my thoughts. Moving my body forward or backward along a timeline was simple, an exercise taught to trainees on their first day. Altering physical objects is more difficult, turning your ballistic weapons into children’s toys. If you know where to look, the human mind has trigger points and making people, unaltered organic people like yourselves, fall asleep is as easy as flipping a switch. But even I had my limits. I could only change what I could see, and what I didn’t see was the guard with the taser. Of all things, a taser! If he had shot me with a bullet, I could have closed the wound and incapacitated him before he could have pulled the trigger a second time. But the taser was able to disrupt my systems in a way I wouldn’t have thought possible. Moments before, I had moved the ambassador to my time, so my mission was successful if not ideal.
My testimony will do nothing to alter your path. You will convict me, and I will be executed. I say that without malice or regret. You mean well, and your pursuit of justice is admirable though misguided. Your grandchildren will understand. Some day I will be praised as a hero for what I did. And then one day, hundreds of years from now, I will be born, and trained to be what I am. My father will read this recorded testimony long before I am born, but he won’t tell me of the success of my mission. He will slap me on the back and he will grin. I will think his grin is encouragement, but inside he will be glowing with pride. He will know that I am the one who acted as the fulcrum to pivot the world, to bring the new age of peace and prosperity. Thank you, Father. That grin means everything. And I’m happy to know I didn’t let you down.
David Steffen writes fiction and code. He is the co-founder of the Submission Grinder, a web tool that helps writers find new markets, track their submission response times, and view response time statistics from other authors. He’s also the founder and editor of Diabolical Plots which has begun publishing its first year of original fiction. You can find his fiction at a variety of publications, including Escape Pod and Daily Science Fiction.
David Steffen’s thoughts about the story: “I wrote this story as part of a flash fiction writing exercise where I asked people on Facebook to give me brief prompts of five words or less to write stories from. This particular one was sparked by the one-word prompt ‘flagitious’ which means ‘marked by scandalous crime or vice’. I set out to write a story about someone whose face would be all over the media for apparently committing a heinous crime, but while also being a sympathetic character to the reader.”