Author : Adam Zabell

The Einsteins aren’t allowed to pilot the ships because they’ve all got some manic desire to fix the universe. Save Gandhi, kill Hitler, vote in Florida or Minnesota or Puerto Rico, stuff like that. There’s even one who wants to kill Lincoln. For the greater good, she says, which confuses me. But then, there’s a reason I’m a Pilot.

My dossier calls me “a creative but unoriginal thinker.” Plus, I take orders well. And I’m one of the favored pilots because I don’t mind the nightmares you get after skipping out of your place in time. For all their smarts, the Einsteins still can’t explain the nightmares. Hell, they can hardly explain how a ship stays in sync with the local geography. “The universe likes keeping her atoms where she left them,” is about the best I’ve heard when I manage to get them talking. Which isn’t often; the Socrateases don’t like us mixing.

The truth of the matter is that everybody has a Fix, even the Pilots. Why else would anybody volunteer for the Service? They know I read golden age sci-fi and they think my Fix is interstellar travel, so they won’t assign me to anything after 2500CE. I’ll never get to see Alpha Centauri, but that’s okay. Long as I keep my nose clean, they won’t dig deeper into my psyche, and it’s easy to be patient when you sail the timeline.

For six years I made sure that I stuck to script from injection to ejection, and that impeccable record means my handlers have gotten lazy. It also means I’ve gotten the flashiest of pre-space assignments: counter-assassination duty for Stalin. I spend a lot of time in the early-mid 1900CE, concentrating on the US and CCCP.

My contraband stays under the 200 gram tolerance and I stay unseen, or at least anonymous. Sure, my Fix doesn’t always work. I guess the authors who get my presents are at least as worried about paradox as the Socrateases who debate the missions. A lot of my trips to New York and Michigan during the 1930s don’t seem to have any effect. But I just left the 1975 serial “A Martian Named Smith” in 1958 Colorado. Checking my dossier, it says they won’t assign me to anything after 2200CE.


Discuss the Future: The 365 Tomorrows Forums
The 365 Tomorrows Free Podcast: Voices of Tomorrow
This is your future: Submit your stories to 365 Tomorrows