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History's Greatest Monster
by Max Wren

Science Fiction has taught me two very important life lessons. The first is that women with green skin and blonde hair are really hot. The second is that it is a bad idea to go back in time and kill Hitler. Sure, your intentions are good, stopping the Holocaust and evil in general, but there would be unexpected repercussions that could even be worse. Perhaps it would pave the way for some Super-Hitler who would succeed in completely destroying the human race. Perhaps your parents (and thus you) would never be born. Perhaps it would prevent the cold war from ever happening, which would prevent the space race, and ultimately stop Tang from ever being invented. So as horrible as the Nazi's reign was, we have to chalk it up to fate and accept that it was inevitable if we want to live in the world that exists now.

Lately though, I've been wondering what would happen if I went back in time and just punched Hitler in the nuts. What if I could find some isolated moment in his life and get one quick punch in? How much of a difference could that make? What possible sort of repercussions could that have? I can even visualize it. Hitler is in his bunker. He's realized he lost the war. He's about to commit suicide. There's a blinding flash of white light. I appear in a Mylar jumpsuit with appropriately futuristic sunglasses.

"Hey mo-fo!"

"Wer Sie sind?!?"

BAM!

"Ow! Meine Nüsse!"

And then I disappear just as quickly in another blinding flash of light. Hitler blows his brains out, the war is over, and the future remains intact.

Why would I want to do this? Well, because it's Hitler, of course. At least, that's the easily justifiable answer. There's more to it than that. Don't get me wrong. I'm not a sadist, and I've never hurt anyone in my life. I'd probably consider myself a pacifist although I like to avoid labels. I just generally don't see the point in violence. But, sometimes I wonder what it would be like to be in a fight, what it would be like to hurt someone, from a purely existential perspective. These experiences are untapped emotions in me, an unknown. Of course I could start a bar fight or jump someone in a dark alley, but that would affect a completely innocent person's life. It might be a little effect or it might be a big one, but it'd make them a different person, and would probably make the world a worse place on some level. I would also almost certainly get my ass kicked and my teeth kicked in. That's one set of unrealized emotions I have no desire to realize.

But it would be different with Hitler. First of all, if anyone deserves an entirely arbitrary pounding in the nuts, it's Hitler. Secondly, even if it did change his life could it make him any more cruel or evil? Could it make him any worse? Of course not. He might piss blood for a day or two, but he'd still be Hitler.

What if I really liked it? What if I got a rush that was better and more exciting than anything I'd ever felt before? I'd be compelled to do it again. I'd be compelled to identify another moment in Hitler's life where he was isolated and alone so that I could pop in and punch him in the nuts. And then I'd probably be compelled to do it again and again. My friends would notice a strange glow about be. They'd know that something was different, that for some unknown reason I was happy for the first time in a while. I'd try to keep the reasons a secret. Did I have a new girl? No. Was I back on drugs? No. So what was it? Why can't I just be happy? But eventually I'd be drunk at a bar one night and wouldn't be able to contain myself anymore. "I've been going back in time and punching Hitler in the nuts. It's an amazingly life-reaffirming experience."

Before I'd know it, there would be a total sausage party at my house. My friends would take turns using my time machine and punching Hitler in the nuts. High fives all around.

"Dude! That totally rocked!"

"The look on his face!"

"Punk-ass Hitler motherfucker!"

And finally someone would realize that I could make a lot of money selling tickets to this rather unique service. It would be the ultimate amusement park ride. At first I would be against the idea, but time machines probably wouldn't be cheap. So I'd need some way pay off the electric bill I'd run up with my new habit.

Certain safeguards would have to be put into place before I could open my miniature amusement park to the public. I would be able to trust my friends to play by the rules, but not complete strangers. There would always be the chance that someone would think that it would be best to stop Hitler or just wanted to gain worldwide notoriety for finishing Hitler off without realizing what the consequences would be. I would have to run a background check to make sure no Chuck Norris', Jean-Claude Van Damme's, or anyone else who could kill a man with one strategically planted blow could get the opportunity to do so. I would also need a series of metal and synthetics detectors to ensure that no one was sneaking a knife or gun or even a poison needle back in time. I would need to monitor the three to five seconds each person got to make sure they didn't try anything fishy. If they did, I would have to yank them immediately to the present and blacklist them from the ride.

I would also need to plan out the logistics of the visits. Of course, I would have to ensure that Hitler would be alone and out of the way enough that an attack wouldn't change history. That no one could hear him scream. I'd also need to make sure that two time traveler’s paths didn't cross in the past. There would be no telling what sort of effect that could have on the future. So as I sold more and more trips, I'd have to go further back into Hitler's life. At some point this would reach to a point before he became powerful in the Nazi party, before he joined the military, before got rejected by art schools, and to his childhood. Eventually I would exhaust all of the free moments in Hitler's life where a good punch in the nuts would be possible, and I'd have to close up shop.

So after all these considerations had taken place, I'd open up shop. It would be interesting for a while. Observing all these people living their three seconds of fame. Watching them struggle to come up with some action hero catch phrase in the moment of truth. I'm sure "I'm a Jew!" would be popular. But then I'd start to think about it too much. How could I avoid it? My entire existence from the time I woke up until the time I went to sleep would be consumed with thoughts of punching Hitler in the nuts. When could people punch him in the nuts? How much should I charge? How long should I stretch it out? Should I market best-of and too-hot-for-TV DVD's of the exceptional attacks? Or T-shirts with slogans like "My dad punched Hitler in the nuts and all I got was this lousy T-Shirt."

Eventually I would start to think about what Hitler's life would have been like. What it would have metamorphosised into. The sheer levels of paranoia and insanity he would experience. Knowing anytime he was alone he would be repeatedly punched in the nuts. Knowing he must keep this secret so people wouldn't think he was crazy. Hearing thousands of people yelling "I'm a Jew!" and popping him in the nuts. His genitals would become a gnarled mess over time, which would make any sort of intimate or sexual relationship impossible. The pent up anxiety and frustration would be unbearable. I would almost feel sorry for him.

And then a strange thought might occur to me. What if instead of having syphilis insanity Hitler was actually driven insane by me? What if my business had driven Hitler insane and caused him to do the horrible things he did? But would that even be possible? After all I didn't hatch my plan until after Hitler was a monster. But then again how could I talk about the past or the present or the future? If time travel was possible then perhaps the future had already happened, perhaps my future was already someone else's past. Maybe time didn't flow like a river. Even theoretical physicists have the rather simplistic definition of time. Time is a function of the size of the universe. As the universe expands, time is moving forward. This works well for calculations but still doesn't really explain time as we experience it.

Perhaps all of time is already there in some way that we as humans perceive as moving forward. Perhaps it's all already been laid out and we're just working our way through it. If that was the case, I could have created some sort of interdependent time loop where the past was intertwined with the future where neither set of events could have occurred without the other. Hitler's rise to power would have only occurred because I started punching him in the nuts, and I would have only started punching him in the nuts because of his rise to power. And although the future had already happened (or at least already existed), it didn't strip me of my free will. It's a difficult concept to grasp, but not entirely unreasonable.

If that were true, then the Holocaust wouldn't be the result of a madman from the 20th century, but the result of a madman from the 21st century. The realization would be devastating, but I would have to keep on going. I would have to keep on allowing people to go back in time and punch Hitler in the nuts. Why? The same reason I would feel that I couldn't go back in time and kill Hitler. Because the timeline I existed in, the world I lived and breathed in, my life and the lives of those around me would have to be preserved at all costs. Even if it meant that I had turned Hitler into the madman that we all know and despise.

And then maybe in the distant future, the 22nd or 23rd centuries, when time travel would be more understood, studied, and appreciated, someone would write a story. A story about the consequences of going back in time and physically abusing or killing one of history's greatest monsters: Max Wren.


Max Wren works for the Chemicals subdivision of the Chemicals division of a Fortune 500 Company. This is his first time appearing in print. God only knows why he chose us.

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