CHAPTER 07: REVERSAL | PROJECT CHRONOS

I landed in 1938, but it wasn’t as smooth as expected. The machine had a rough landing, and it crashed into a tree. I was lucky enough to escape unhurt. The damage that Peter and his guards dealt to the machine was now becoming clear. It didn’t land at the intended location either. Instead of landing at the core of Anzinger Forst, it landed on the edges of the jungle. But the fact that it landed somewhere around 10 in the morning instead of 3 clearly spooked me out. Luckily no one spotted the landing, or at least that’s what I believed. I had roughly around an hour to stop my former self from assassinating Hitler which is too less considering the distance between Anzinger and Munich. I cover the machine with camouflage sheets, hide my face with a scarf and instantly leave to find a taxi. Ten minutes later I find one.

“Please take me to Munich. As fast as possible. This is an emergency.”, I tell the driver.

“Attending Hitler’s event right?”

“Yes.”

“I was on my way to see the same. But I’m not sure if we will reach on time. There’d be a lot of traffic due to the parade.”

“I don’t care. I need to reach the place as fast as you can. Okay?”, I yell at him to which he gives me a confused stare.

I’ve to do something.

“I know I’m not supposed to say this, but I’m from Hitler’s intelligence team, and there’s a very high threat to his life right now. I have to reach there somehow and stop the attack before it’s too late. Do you understand?”

He sped up the car without further question.

I mentally prepare and revise my plan. I’ve to be ahead of Peter and his moves. I knew he has skipped the event, or else I’d shoot him instead, eliminating the time aberration which caused all this mess. I still couldn’t believe what transpired a while ago at my house in 1970. I regret the decision of changing the timeline, but now I’m here to reverse it, to stop myself and foil Peter’s plans.

I reach Munich, and before I could ask the driver to go to the farthest accessible road instead of just stopping at the junction, he did it himself. I notice an SS party sticker near his steering and realise that he is a Nazi Party supporter himself. Now I knew why he didn’t care about the speed limits while we left Anzinger.

He stops the car at Jachenauer Street, which is about 830 metres from the Höglwörther – Gottfried Street intersection where Maurice and an earlier version of me took their positions – both with a common motive.

“Vehicles are prohibited from this point onwards, Sir. You’ve to go by foot from here.”

I thank him and start running towards the destination. It’s 11:10 already.

800 metres. 13 minutes to go.

I pick up my pace and cross the street. My back still hurt from the chair Peter crashed against my back, but I’ve to ignore the pain for the time being. Humanity is at stake, and I can’t falter at this stage.

But after running for 600 metres, I eventually get out of breath and take a pit stop at Höglwörther – Konrad Celtis Straße intersection. I could see a battalion of horses at a distance, the sound of trumpets filling the air, the soldiers slowly marching towards my direction. A horde of cars follows the troop. This is it.

230 metres. 5 minutes to go.

I cross the road and run through the compound. The crowd worsened the situation. After some struggle, I manage to spot the apartment where I hid earlier. I spot him peeping through the window towards the direction of the oncoming parade. It felt weird and confusing at the same time. How’d he react? I take off the scarf from my face as I enter the building. I tiptoe to the first floor and look at my wristwatch.

1 minute to go.

I barge into the room.

“Augustin! Stop!”

The next second he points the pistol towards me.

“How!”, he gasps.

The sound of trumpets become more clear as we could see Hitler passing by in front of us.

“Don’t do it, Augustin. I’m from the future. I know what happens next. But you won’t believe it.”

“I don’t get you future Augustin! Why are you here?”, he panicked as he looked behind to check on Hitler. He definitely missed the moment, and the crowd down had already noticed Maurice with his pistol. They start to beat him black and blue.

“I’m here to let you know that assassinating Hitler results in major implications in the future. You think the world will become a better place to live in? Well, it becomes a living hell instead.”, I put out a condensed version in front of him.

“Is it? But how? This was so going according to the plan.”

You’ve no idea you’re just a pawn in someone’s plan August.

“Sorry, but I can’t reveal more. Interacting with your former self will only result in more complications. But you’ve to trust me here Augustin. For yourself. For this planet.”

He notices the conviction and pain in my voice and agrees eventually, leaving the room.

I sigh in relief. My mission here is complete. I’ve turned back things to normal. I’ve foiled Peter’s evil plan.

In the end, good always triumphs over evil.

I sit on the bed, as I feel all the time lag set in. This is the third timeline now which is identical to the first one – the original one wherein Hitler remains the dictator until his death in 1945. The only minor change being Maurice Bavaud will die earlier than expected.

I have a look at my bruised arm, the cuts starting to heal. My nose was almost back to normal. But the back needed rest. As I lock the door and lie on the bed, the painful concussions make a comeback.

A tearful Isabelle sitting beside me.

The guard knocking me down, asking me to bow.

Peter crashing the vase on my arm.

Hannah panning down Peter.

These concussions were getting out of hand, and it’s high time I take some medicines.

Otherwise, I’m sure this condition will deteriorate. But I was in dire need of a nap after all the drama which unfolded in the last few hours. I have a look at the happenings from the window. The Gestapo had already come and arrested Maurice. The parade came to a halt, and the event was eventually cancelled. The crowd started to thin out, most of them still in shock that they were witness to one of an event which would surely go down in history books as a famous one. I slump in the bed, and before I could think of anything else, I fall asleep.

I wake up at 2 pm, feeling refreshed and better than before. I leave the room in search of a medical shop. I direly needed some painkillers to ignore my back pain and analgesics to stop the concussions. After roaming for a while, I find one and buy the necessities. The only odd thing was that the man at the counter stared at me for a while as if trying to read my face. I cover my face and take a cab back to Anzinger without further delay. I was calm and cheerful all along the 75-minute journey, happy about the fact that I had managed to save the world from the clutches of an even more significant threat than Hitler. Once I reach Anzinger, I start my uphill trek and reach the machine within five minutes flat. I take off the camouflage sheets and look around for any signs of people. No one. I enter the machine and set the date to when I left 1970.

Raymond would be surprised when I get back for sure.

I crosscheck the coordinates and the date with the one in my personal handbook and press the ‘GO’ button.

No response.

I restart the engine and try again but to no effect. My heartbeat increases rapidly as I get out of the machine and check the connections. They seem to be alright. The glass cover had taken most of the damage, the cracks on them telling a story in itself. I check the base which had been severely damaged after the crash landing a few hours ago. The damage was visible, but it was not so severe that the machine won’t start. That’s when I see it. One of Peter’s bullets had penetrated the glass capsule and damaged the emergency reserve engine. But it shouldn’t matter if the secondary engine is no longer functional. I sure do have the primary engine. I check it, and that’s when the truth hit me hard. Chronos has maxed out its capacity, and I can’t do anything to revive it with the technology from this time.

It was all meant for one trip to the back and forth max. Refuel, repair, analyse at the lab and then another trip back and forth to the future. This was the test plan. The fact that Chronos wasn’t a complete product yet didn’t strike me all this while. This explains why it lost control and landed in the wrong place and time today. I felt heartbroken and hopeless at the same time. I couldn’t just accept that I’m stuck in a wrong time. Helpless.

I curse my luck as I sit down on the ground, reclining against Chronos in gloom. I’ve no idea what to do next. I had already done what was supposed to be done in this era. But this is how nature punished me for taking things into my hands. But one thing is sure to be done. I’ve to make sure that Chronos isn’t noticed by anyone from this time period. Otherwise, I’ll let loose another bundle of mess by introducing the concept of time travel at the wrong time period. I have no other option but to dismantle Chronos. Six years of efforts and research all down the drain.

I get inside Chronos for one last time and feel pity for what I’m about to do. One by one I pull out the connections, first from the controls and then the engine. Next, I take out the time dampener which reminded me of the day I first met Peter. The root of all evil. The time and date indicators were next in line, and I take out my anger on it, breaking it in half. I take out the emergency box which was the only useful remaining thing right now. It had a few clothes from this time period, some food items, my essential toolbox and some of my research papers. I put them in the tiny sac bag I had brought along. The wormhole finder had incurred enough damage due to the crash, and it didn’t take me much of an effort from my side to break it down. I distance myself a few feet away from the machine and take out the lighter from the toolbox. I light it and throw it towards the engine. The next second it reacted with the chemicals and resulted in a minor blast. Chronos was on fire, and I couldn’t see it see it any longer. Controlling my tears, I start my downhill trek.

I had to calm myself down and think of how to survive this storm, and what better than a cup of caffeine to chill down my nerves. I go to Cafe Schwaiger, the very cafe where I went last time I had come to 1938. As usual, I order a regular cappuccino and look around, observing people. The Maurice Bavaud incident at today’s parade was the hot topic of discussion. As the waiter served my order, he suddenly stood still as if he has seen a ghost.

“You! You! I found him! Yes! I found him!”, he shouts in joy, tumbling down the cups in sheer excitement.

The crowd looked towards us, and they too stood up in shock.

“I found out the man who saved Hitler’s life!”

I sit still, dumbfounded at what I just heard.

“Oh yes, it’s him! Have a look.”, one of them pointed out to me before looking at a pamphlet in his hand.

“Congrats man!”, they start congratulating the waiter.

I knew this isn’t alright. I make a run towards the exit of the cafe but in vain. The crowd made it impossible to escape.

“Where are you going oh nobleman? Here. Have a seat!”, the waiter came after me.

“Can anyone tell me what’s going on?”, I manage to squeak.

“You saved the Fuhrer from Maurice Bavaud. Right?”, he flashed the pamphlet in front of me. The flyer had a rough sketch of me. Almost accurate.

“Yes.”, was the only response I could manage. I knew lying won’t help now.

“He appreciates your efforts..I’m sorry but what’s your name?”

“Edmund Hoffman.”, I blurt out the last German name I remember.

“So Edmund. Hitler was so happy with you that he wanted to meet you and has announced a prize of 1000 Deutsche Mark to whoever finds you. These sketches were distributed among the local public by his officials and policemen so we can identify you.”

Now I know why the man at the medical counter looked at me so closely this afternoon.

I knew I have no way out of this now. What a way to worsen things up. Soon the Nazi officials came to the spot and asked me to go with them, and I had to oblige. The waiter joined in, excited as a nine-year-old kid who is about to get his favourite candy from the shop.

I was treated with utmost respect by the officials. Courteous. Polite. They have to. After all, I saved their dear Fuhrer’s life.

Hitler’s security was beefed up after the incident, and it was decided that staying in Munich would be dangerous. So he decided to go back to his private home – The Berghof at Obersalzberg which is a mountainside retreat situated above the market town of Berchtesgaden in Bavaria, near the Germany-Austria border. The place was a good 120 km away from Anzinger, and we knew it’d take us around 2 hours to reach the destination. In these 2 hours I have to create a backstory to Edmund Hoffman – my current alias, think about the probable questions the dictator would ask me and the answers to them. The most challenging part would be to control my anger when I meet him. But my mind was still focussed on meeting Peter. I’m sure he’d be present near the Fuhrer all the time. It’d be interesting to meet him in this era.

We reach his residence around 8 at night. The peripheral areas of the mansion were heavily guarded. As I get out of the car, I felt the temperature dip so badly I started to shiver. Perks of having a castle on top of the hill. The guard at the door notices this and instantly brings me an overcoat to warm me up.

“These men will guide you to the Fuhrer.”, the driver stood up and pointed to a person at the entrance of the apartment.

“The Fuhrer is a bit busy right now, and he’ll meet you soon. If you’re interested, I can show you the place around until the meet.”

“Sure.”

The entrance hall was filled with a display of cactus plants in majolica pots. A dining room was panelled with a visibly expensive cembra pine. The library contained books on history, painting, architecture and music. A great hall was furnished with costly Teutonic furniture, a giant globe and an expansive red marble fireplace mantel. Behind one wall was a projection booth for evening screenings of films. A sprawling picture window could be lowered into the wall to give a sweeping, open-air view of the snow-capped mountains in Hitler’s native Austria.

In short, I was mesmerised by the place. He has very well made sure the place he lives feels like heaven. Not sure he felt the same about the nations he ruled, looking at the way things shaped up eventually.

I was still in the central hall, still admiring the place when one of his guards came up.

“It’s time. Follow me.”

I do as instructed and follow him to his study room on the second floor. The guard indicates me to go inside. As I enter the room, I see him. Adolf Hitler. The greatest dictator of all time. Never ever in my life, I ever thought of meeting him, and if I did, it’d be for assassinating him for revenge. The fact that I even shot him in an alternate timeline gave goosebumps. He sat on his majestic chair, reading a copy of the day’s newspaper. The wall behind him was covered with the world map, green markers placed on each nation he has conquered till now. The red markers placed on US, USSR and France caught my attention. The adjacent wall had a board pinned with various articles and photos which he has carefully cut out from newspapers. The table in front of him was a mess. It had a few books – ‘Robinson Crusoe’ by Daniel Defoe, ‘The Last of the Mohicans’ by James Fenimore Cooper and ‘On War’ by General Carl von Clausewitz scattered along with some rough sketches, a leather covered diary, some old newspapers, a couple of military files and a paperweight. I could see the telephone switchboard section at the far corner of the room.

“Come, have a seat.”, he smiled.

I go ahead and sit on the wooden chair in front of him.

“What’s your name?”

“Edmund Hoffman.”

“I don’t know how I should thank you for saving my life, Mr Hoffman.”

“No mention Sir. I just did what I was supposed to do Sir.”

“How did you come to know that he was going to attack me, Mr Hoffman?”

“I’m born and brought up at Freiburg, and currently I live at Aubing, Munich. I’m an SS party supporter, so I attend the event every year and never missed it since its inception. Everything was normal until I spotted someone hiding behind a tree, a few yards away from the yard. I kept an eye on him and was shocked when he took out a pistol. He looked at it for a split second murmuring something to himself and then walked calmly towards the crowd. It was not tough to understand what his motives are. I knew that it was the moment for me to act and not just think. I went near him and managed to take the crowd into confidence. I asked them to keep an eye on him, and as soon as he took out the pistol, he was nabbed by the crowd.”

“I heard you even said that you are a member of my security team.”, he guffawed.

“Oh yes, I had no other option but to say so. I felt people won’t believe me otherwise.”, I smile coyly.

“The accused has been caught and was interrogated thoroughly. His name is Maurice Bavaud, a Swiss theology student. He accepted that he was here to assassinate me, saying I was a threat to humanity. So sad he doesn’t know I’m the only one who can save it.”, he laughed.

Even Peter McClenaghan felt the same.

“So true!”, I join in his laughter.

“He will be executed in a few days. No worries.”

“I’d suggest torturing him for a few years in a substandard jail before executing him with a guillotine. He should feel the pain and feel guilty for taking such a stupid step. He isn’t worthy of an instant death right now.”, I decide to manipulate him and revert his decision so that it matches with the original timeline wherein Bavaud was killed in 1941 and not 1938. I know that this is an entirely new timeline and although it seems similar to mine, there’ll be minor aberrations here and there. But by erasing or eliminating these aberrations, there’d be no difference between this timeline and mine. This is my sole aim right now.

“Nice idea! I’ll tell my officers to do this instead.”, he was pleased with my suggestion.

“Thank you, Sir. He deserves to suffer.”

“What is your occupation by the way?”

“I’m a small-time struggling scientist. I have so many ideas, but sadly, I don’t have the finance or manpower to accomplish them.”

“Do not feel bad that you are struggling right now. Struggle is the father of all things. It is not by the principles of humanity that man lives or is able to preserve himself above the animal world, but solely by means of the most brutal struggle.”

“Very well said, Sir. Also when I get some time, I write. Writing makes me forget all the struggles in my professional life.”

“And I love reading! My library gives a message in itself about my reading. Words build bridges into unexplored regions.”

“I’ve heard you can complete any book inside 4 hours and then quote the book down to its page number. Is this true?”

“Oh yes! It is very well true.”, he smiled, seemingly very proud of this ability of his.

“Where’s your family, Mr Hoffman?”

“I have no one, Sir. My parents perished in World War I when the French bombed Freiburg on the 4th of December 1914 when I was just about to complete my college education. I lived with my uncle for a while who managed to pay my University fees. But he stopped supporting me when he realised I want to be a scientist. He was of the opinion that I must find a stable job instead which will pay me well. But I wanted to follow my passion. Some heated arguments later he asked me to leave his house, and I cordially did the same. I started off by doing odd day jobs in the beginning so that I can support my research activities. A few jobs here and there to sustain me and my passion. I moved to Aubing this year where I live at my friend’s house. He helped me get into his office wherein I get decent pay. Nights and weekends are spent on research and experiments. I believe that all these efforts will bear fruit one day, and I’ll invent something groundbreaking and awe-worthy.”

“You’ve reached so far Mr Hoffman, fighting a lonely battle. You must be proud of yourself.”

“I am, Sir.”, I smile as he bought my backstory.

Thank you, Peter. You are an inspiration for creating believable backstories with no loopholes.

“Can I ask you something, Fuhrer?”

“Anything for you, Mr Hoffman.”

“Can I know where’s Alfred Carstens? I expected him to be here with you. Once he joined you, I came to know about his prowess in the field of science and technology. He is a big inspiration to me.”, I come to the point, buttering it well with layers of praise.

“It’s sad, but Alfred isn’t here currently as we speak. He skipped the parade saying he was feeling unwell. When I returned, I found a note from him which stated that he has left for an Asian country because he has finally got information about some technology which will prove vital in the upcoming wars. He went all alone and didn’t even specify which country he is travelling to, stressing on the fact that this entire thing has to kept discreet. But I feel he is just too excited and wants to gift me a surprise. He too wasn’t much of a famous scientist when he joined my research team. But he is so talented that in these two years, he has lifted himself from just being a scientist to my personal advisor. His knack for predicting and getting the probability of an event occurring was so impressive. He surely is an asset, and I’m myself a fan of his skills. But I neither have any idea of where he is currently nor when he’ll return.”

“I hope he returns soon. I really do.”, I clench my teeth in anger and smile at the same time.

“Coming back to the point, it was so brave of you Mr Hoffman. I appreciate your efforts. And I’m lucky to have an able secretary on my side whose idea made sure that we get you here.”

“I didn’t get you, Sir.”

“Martin? You can come in.”

In came a man in his late thirties and I instantly realise who he is. He is Martin Bormann whose death is still a mystery from my time. Apparently, people say he committed suicide while he was fleeing away from the Soviet Army, a few days after Hitler committed the same. But no one could find out where he is buried and confirm the fact that it is actually Bormann. Conspiracy theorists say that Bormann was still on the run, surviving in the post World War era, waiting for an opportunity to seek revenge from the USSR Army.

“Bormann is my private secretary, and when I was so adamant on meeting my saviour, he pitched in this idea of creating a sketch from the people who were present at the site of the event, and then distributing pamphlets among the public so that they can identify you. A reward of 1000 Deutsche Mark was set on whoever finds and reports you first. And we managed to get you within seven hours of the event which is quite impressive.”

Why did you do this to me, Mr Bormann? Highly unnecessary.

“I had no idea that this blew up so big. I had decided to go back to Freiburg for a few days after the event, and when I took a pitstop at Anzinger for my evening dose of coffee, that’s when I realised how much this has blown up. Mr Bormann deserves all the praise for his efforts.”

“He surely does. He feels that since you saved my life, it’d be a good idea to induct you into my camp. And after meeting you, I too feel the same. You said you are a scientist by profession. Why don’t you join the R&D team? Your inputs will surely help the senior scientists who are helming various military projects right now.”

I look at Bormann who stood there, smiling like an idiot who has no idea how much he ruined my life. It felt as if Mother Nature is still behind me, belting out more punishments and pushing down more debacles on my path. Hitler looked at me and was waiting for my reply. I wanted to say a clear cut NO, but I don’t think he will like that decision of mine. He will feel as I disrespected him by turning down his offer. I weigh in the pros of joining his team, and something clicks my mind. The next moment I nod my head and agree to his proposal.


Two years later

June 03 1940

These two years were surely the toughest ones in my life. But the progress I made regarding the role was substantial enough. The interesting part is it felt as if I emulated the success of Alfred Carstens because the paths we took were so similar that the Fuhrer himself pointed it out a lot of times. Peter didn’t return from the Asian country he went to visit for some vital information. The Fuhrer missed his beloved advisor, and I made up for his absence by meeting him time to time and slipping in some info I knew from the history books so that he’d act on it and make it more identical to the original timeline.

It all started when I told him that no one cares about the Munich Agreement and we could easily invade Czechoslovakia. He too felt the same, and on 15th March 1939, Hitler invaded and occupied Czechoslovakia in contravention of the Munich Agreement. Next, I advised him to sign the Nazi-Soviet Pact with Stalin which agreed to divide Poland between the two countries. This neutralised the possibility that the USSR would come to Poland’s aid in case they are attacked. Hitler gave orders for the Poland invasion to begin on August 26, but on August 25 I ask him to delay the attack informing him that Britain had signed a new treaty with Poland, promising military support should it be attacked. I knew that this is the build-up for the second world war which would start in a few days. As much as I want to stop it from happening, I won’t since I’ve already been taught the hard way that some things are just meant to happen. There’s no point in avoiding them.

On August 30, the Fuhrer asked me about the situation. He undoubtedly wanted to attack and seize Poland, but he didn’t wish to make it so obvious. I give him an idea, and he praised me duly for my tactics. The next day,  Nazi S.S. troops wearing Polish uniforms staged a phoney invasion of Germany, damaging several minor installations on the German side of the border. They also left behind a handful of dead concentration camp prisoners in Polish uniforms to serve as further evidence of the supposed Polish invasion, which Nazi propagandists publicised as an unforgivable act of aggression. This gave him an opportunity for him to attack Poland on the pretext of defence.

At 4:45 a.m. on September 1, the invasion began. Nazi diplomats and propagandists scrambled to head off hostilities with the Western powers, but on September 2 Britain and France demanded that Germany withdraw by September 3 or face war. At 11 p.m. on September 3, the British ultimatum expired, and 15 minutes later British Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain went on national radio to solemnly announce that Britain was at war with Germany. Australia, New Zealand, and India followed suit shortly thereafter. At 5:00 p.m., France declared war on Germany.

The second world war was on. I remember some flashes from my original timeline wherein I hated Hitler, saying that he is the very reason why the world went into a state of chaos. The reason for so many casualties. And now, even though I was here and could’ve stopped it from happening, I didn’t do anything. Instead, I helped him out.

Time is such a strange concept at times.

The drama continued for a year wherein I helped him with more such inputs, making sure he followed the path of the original timeline. At times, he would go overboard and mention attacking the US and proving a point. I had to make sure he didn’t do so and asked him to wait for a few years before doing so.

“First we’ll conquer Europe and then sign a pact with USSR. Combining all these forces, we can then attack the US.”

He felt this as a grandiose plan which will make sure he is the greatest ruler of all time. Sad that he doesn’t know what was going to happen in 1945.

In a span of one month, i.e. April – May 1940, he invaded and occupied Denmark, Norway, Netherlands, Belgium, Luxembourg and France. Seeing France on the list saddened me a bit, but since it was supposed to happen, I kept silent. Now came the most difficult part for me.

All these years, the 3rd of June 1940 was a date which would make me sad. The Paris bombings claimed my parents which started the Augustin-Hitler hate saga. But as the date approached, I didn’t hear any word from the Fuhrer regarding this. So I decided to ask him.

“Any plans for a further attack on France, Fuhrer?”

“I know there is still some resistance from their side, but we’ve already got their land. They’ll surrender soon. Not much to worry.”

I was confused. What does this mean? And I realised it after a few seconds of thought.

He doesn’t have any plan to bomb Paris in this timeline.

For a moment, I was happy that my parents and the city of Paris won’t be bombarded with bombs. But then I realised that it was meant to be bombed, and by not going that path, things won’t resemble the original timeline. These two years spent alongside Hitler was overcome by just this one motive for setting things right. Most of the significant decisions where I contributed were already in his mind. I just shaped them so that it happens accordingly or nearly identical to timeline 1. I expected the same to happen here, but sadly it wasn’t the case. With a heavy heart, I had to do the inevitable. I suggest him to bomb Paris.

“But why, Mr Hoffman?”

“This will not only put a full stop to the revolts against us, but also crush France and wreck its economy and military, reduce its population, and in short, cripple its morale as well as its ability to rally support for other occupied nations.”

He fell silent for a few seconds before responding with an affirmative.

“Can be done. The attacks will also serve as a reminder to our rivals that we are a force not to be messed with.”

“Yes, Sir.”

“You always remind me of Mr Carstens, Edmund. Your knack for taking the right decisions at the right time.”

“It’s always an honour to be compared with Mr Carstens, Sir.”

Don’t even remind me of that bastard.

“I appoint you at the helm of this operation, Mr Hoffman.”

I see you just made things even more difficult for me.

“Sure, Sir. I’ll begin right away.”

I bring along the air force commanders and tell them the plan. I give them the coordinates where the bombs must be dropped. They agree and felt the idea was great. I felt guilty about doing this, but I have to do it anyways.

And today is the day when my city will be bombed. Killing around 300 civilians, including my parents.

As the clock struck 12:45 PM, I order the first wave of 25 aircrafts to attack. This was a huge alteration to the present timeline. So much so that it resulted in the creation of a new one. The fourth timeline. The German aircrafts were greeted by the heaviest anti-aircraft barrage of the war, after which French fighter squadrons fought the invading craft above the clouds  I order the second wave to attack at 1:30 PM. By 4 PM, all the five waves of German aircraft had attacked and returned, tearing apart the city to shreds. In the process, six German planes were shot down. A total of 1,060 bombs fell on the Paris area, 83 of them landing in Paris itself. Around 300 people lost their lives, and I’m sure that stat included my parents.

I ask for a leave from the Fuhrer and leave for Paris the next day. The city was wrecked, and I experience all the terror I missed during my childhood. My ancestral home didn’t survive the blasts either. The house was heavily damaged, and I could imagine my parent’s last few moments. Shattered glass lay on the floor. The bed and other furniture had burnt off. I go to their room, and it was destroyed to such an extent that I couldn’t even recognise it. I notice a photograph of my family in one of the drawers which was lucky enough not to be turned into ashes. A typical family photo with smiling faces. I notice myself at the centre, flashing an awkward smile. The picture bought back a lot of old memories which I had almost forgotten. I had come back from Bordeaux to spend the vacation with them, and we were just out for shopping when Mom came up with this idea. I remember how much I was ridiculed by my Dad for my smile in this photo when we had gone to retrieve the photo. Happy times.

I couldn’t control myself as I fall on my knees and cry out my heart. All this baggage of reverting back things to normal resulted in me killing off my parents.

I’ve become my own enemy.

I sit there still, praying for their souls to rest in peace and that they’ll forgive me for what I did.

As I stand up to leave, I notice someone at the door.

Peter stood nonchalantly, looking at me with an evil smile planted on his face. As he realised that I’ve seen him, he started clapping slowly.

“Now who’s the villain Augustin? Who’s the villain?”, he laughed.

The next moment I run towards him and knock him down to the floor. I gift him back to back punches to his face and chest. He wasn’t prepared for so much anger outburst at once. But he was still laughing at me which was getting to my head with each passing second.

“Stop!”, I yell at him, choking his neck. He struggled to breathe and there ended his laughter. But he kicked me away with a lethal kick to my chest. I land a few metres away from him wrenching in pain.

“You can’t stop me, Augustin. Do you know why?”

I look at him, ready to hear his punch line.

“You are always one step behind me Augustin, no matter what.”

I didn’t have a response to that. I was still confused about his all of a sudden appearance, and he did sense it from my expressions.

“You might be confused right now. Why did this guy just pop out now all of a sudden, out of nowhere? Where was he all this while? I’ll answer all of them one by one. Like I did the last time.”

“Where should I start? Hmm, I’ll start with how I managed to trap you here, alongside Hitler.”

“What do you mean? You trapped me here? It’s all because of that idiot secretary – Martin Bormann.”

“Oh yes. That’s just the top side of the story, Augustin. You don’t know the entire plot yet.”

Oh no. Not again!

“I skipped the parade because according to the plan I knew you’d come and assassinate Hitler and it did happen. But then you escaped from 1970 and came back here, saving Hitler, altering the timeline, spoiling the party. I got to know this, thanks to the TBD. I realised that something is not alright and you’ve somehow escaped the 1970 version of me. I had to think of something to counter you. Sadly, it coincided with the Time Cops catching up with me. There was so much timeline activity at once that it was bound to happen. I decided to go undercover for some time and let things settle a bit before re-emerging later. But not before giving you a blow for what you did. Your luck played spoilsport when Chronos maxed out, and it was confirmed you’d be stuck in this time. It’d be a privilege if I allowed you to just let you go undetected by the Fuhrer – your biggest enemy of all time. So I decided to spice it up a bit before I left. Hitler did want to see the person who saved his life, but he was not that adamant. He asked his close generals and party workers if they could do anything so that the saviour can be identified and brought to him. Sadly no one had any practical ideas. I passively mention the pamphlet idea to Martin Bormann, who didn’t personally like me as such. He felt that my entry as Hitler’s personal advisor bleaked his importance and the Fuhrer always preferred my words over his, and I very well knew about this. This was a chance for him to shine, so he just stole my idea and presented it to the dictator as if it was his. The Fuhrer was impressed nonetheless. What a play by Mr Bormann. He just did what I wanted, that too without my name being taken out. This served two purposes: first – I stood clear from altering anything by myself and second – this would be a nice surprise for you.”

Well played Peter. Very well played.

I stand up in a fit of anger, and before I could run up to him and deliver a punch, he asks me to stop.

“Come on man. You know you are never gonna win against me, whatever you do. So stop trying. Relax and hear me out. There’s one final surprise package for you Mr Bernard, and I’m sure you’ll like this one.”, he smiled.

I stop midway. I can’t believe that he has another surprise in store. What could it possibly be?

“You think that you’ve reset everything back to normal since this timeline resembles the original timeline and hence, you’ve foiled my plan? It’s sad you feel that way, Augustin. Who told you that the timeline you know of is the original timeline?”

“Elaborate.”

“I guess you must have mentioned it when you went back to 1970 and the 1970 version of me must be clever enough to just divert your attention from that topic so that you won’t alter the timeline back to the original one. But I can’t say for sure.”

“I don’t get you.”

“Do you remember the entire conversation, Mr Bernard?”

Surprisingly, I didn’t.

“I just remember some parts of it.”

“I’m pretty sure the alternate future version of me must have said this. Had he talked about you not completing Chronos due to the Government coming in between?”

I try to remember, and after some moments, it did hit me.

“That’s the original timeline, Mr Bernard. So basically we’re in the fifth timeline right now, and not the fourth one as you thought. In the original timeline, one of the main reasons why you were so slow with the machine was because you had no motivation. Your sense of revenge against Hitler was not up to the mark. This was because your parents didn’t die in the Paris bombings in that timeline. They were just heavily injured by the blasts. Barely alive – but still, not dead.”

“What?”, I couldn’t believe my ears.

“Yes. You heard it right. Your parents were alive in the original timeline. But their existence meant you won’t have that much of an intense hatred towards the dictator – which goes against my plan. The only way I could use you as a tool in my plan is by channelling that hate, and for that hate to be intense, your parents must be dead. So my first time travel to 1936 had two objectives, not one. First, as you know by now was to establish contact and build my relationship with the Fuhrer, so that once you assassinate him, I’d be the chosen one to continue his ascendancy. The second objective was to kill your parents, Mr Bernard.”

I couldn’t take it anymore. But before I could do anything, he came and landed a punch on my nose.

“I knew the Paris bombings was bound to happen. I just mentioned it to him, and he confirmed that he too was thinking about the same. I changed the coordinates and increased the concentration of bombings near your ancestral home so that your parents won’t make it alive. But that doesn’t matter now because you’ve killed off your own parents in this timeline, all the time believing that you’re just resetting things back to normal. What an amateur.”

He dragged me down to the floor and was about to kick my face, but then I was quick enough to roll and slide away. But my head began to hurt, thanks to the concussions which made a comeback at the wrong time.

Stopping Augustin from shooting Hitler.

Meeting the Fuhrer at his private home.

Asking him to bomb Paris.

Launching the first wave of German Aircrafts.

I shout in pain. Each time these concussions came back, the trauma it brought along with it was more painful. It had become unbearable as of late, and I had no idea why it happened.

“Ah! I see the concussions are back. Too painful right?”, he bent to have a closer look at me, writhing in pain.

“I know how painful it feels Augustin. I had almost gone mad when it first happened to me. The second time it was even more painful. But I was clever enough to analyse and understand the cause of this, unlike you who still believes these are just normal concussions. I deduced that these concussions are caused due to conflicting memories from other timelines. Most often, they occur when memories from the new timeline begin to settle down. Your memory is adjusted according to this timeline, and slowly you’ll forget the past timelines and all those memories. The fun part is you won’t even realise that your memory is constantly being overwritten. I’m sure you must have felt this pain once during your childhood, some days after the death of your parents. Oh, the kid version of you in this timeline will feel the same in some days.”

Thank you for explaining this.

“I was lucky enough that I wrote everything I did in my personal diary, so I never got lost in these memories. I eventually spent time on understanding this phenomenon in detail and even discovered a remedy to reduce the pain. You may continue with your analgesics, Mr Bernard.”, he guffawed.

I struggle to get up on my legs, and that’s when I see him extending his hands for support. I don’t accept his help. But he pulls me up by overcoat and slaps me back to the ground. I crouch on my knees until I reach the adjacent wall.

I’ve got all the answers now. It’s time to end the game.

Taking the support of the wall, I stand up, take out the pistol and aim towards him.

“You’re just an empty threat to a living paradox. There is no future. No past. Until I decide to put it back together.”

That’s when I see a bright flash of light behind Peter. The next second four people in crisp white uniforms barged into the room. Each one of them had a clock shaped locket around their neck.

“Finally, you losers have managed to catch up with me. It was a nice challenge, being on the run all the time, sneaking, hiding and blending in timelines so that you can’t catch me. But here you are. Impressive. But I feel you’re a bit late to the party.”

“Surrender your weapon, Augustin Bernard. This is an order.”, one of them spoke out, looking towards me.

But I didn’t budge. I stood still, my aim still on Peter.

“I’ve controlled your life for so long Augustin. How will you get along without me?”, he laughed.

The sound of gunshot fills the room the next second as Peter falls down on the floor, blood oozing out from his head.

Good riddance, Peter McClenaghan.

This took the four individuals who entered the room by surprise. One of them came towards me as the rest of them gathered around Peter’s corpse.

“Augustin Bernard. You shouldn’t have done that.”, she pointed towards the corpse. “I had to arrest you anyways. Please cooperate.”

“Who are you? And why should I cooperate?”

“We are the Time Cops, Mr Bernard. Our job is to manage and monitor time-related aberrations throughout the history of this planet. We are from the original timeline, and we are not affected by all these different timelines which you and Peter created during the course of time. We travel through the time-space continuum, and we can track all the changes you’ve made, all the things you’ve altered. Peter was too smart and was hideous in his activities which made it too tough to track and get a hand on him. At one point in time, we realised that you were just a pawn in Peter’s plan. And once you understood it, you eventually took the correct decision by taking efforts to rectify the new timeline. We almost caught him during the time when you saved Hitler from his assassination. But he escaped to a different time as soon as we cornered him. We kept on chasing him looking at his activity trail and finally, we were about to finally arrest him, but you decided to finish him off. You shouldn’t have done that Mr Bernard. He knew that if he got caught by us, the punishment that he’d get would be intolerable. He would’ve to rot in an inescapable cell the remainder of his life. He was smart enough to trigger you by the truth so that you’ll kill him and keep him away from our reach; and as expected, you fell right into his trap again Mr Bernard. In the end, he won.”

I felt numb on hearing that.

“If you think about it, you’ll realise that he was just a living paradox like you Mr Bernard. He hasn’t even been born in this timeline yet.”

I stay silent. But the insides of me were on fire.

I’ve been outplayed in style.

“You are regarded as the father of time travel in the original timeline, Mr Bernard. We respect you because if it weren’t for your efforts and years of research, time travel would’ve just remained as a fictional concept.”

“I have no other option but to surrender right?”

“Yes.”

“Fine. I surrender. But I want a favour from you before you turn me in.”


Two days later

05 June 1940

Paris

It was a cloudy day, but the chance of rain was slim. Dressed in black, my face covered with a mask, I enter the cemetery. I have no difficulty in spotting my relatives towards the eastern end of the graveyard, mourning the death of my parents. I go and join them silently. After the rituals were complete and the coffin was buried to the ground, the crowd slowly started to thin out; but the younger version of me still sat there, looking at the nameplate of my parents, sobbing uncontrollably. I go ahead and sit beside him.

“I know it hurts a lot, but never lose hope, boy. Stay strong. This is just the beginning. There are bigger storms to fight ahead. I heard that you are brilliant in your studies – one among the top. Keep it up. Pursue interest in the field of science and technology. You’re destined to succeed.”. I try to calm him down.

“Who are you?”, he looked towards me, his puzzled expressions demanding an answer.

I look at him sympathetically for one last time, before getting up and leaving the cemetery without any reply.

 

 

 

Fin

One thought on “CHAPTER 07: REVERSAL | PROJECT CHRONOS

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