Author : Beck Dacus

Running down the hall to Solo’s dressing room, I could hear the security guards behind me. It didn’t matter; I only needed a second with Solo, and then I would be a legend in my neighborhood. I scanned the names on all the doors until I found his, then burst in, closing the door behind me and leaning against it.

“Solo, can I have an autograph–”

Just as I looked at him, I saw him throw a tarp over some big machine in the corner, turning and shouting, “What the hell!? I was sure I locked that door! Get out!”

“What is that thing?” I said, pointing to the mysterious object. When Solo didn’t answer, I shoved a chair under the doorknob and walked over to it. Solo stretched out his hand, blocking my passage.

The doorknob jiggled. A guard said, “If you don’t open this door in ten seconds, I’m breaking it down!”

“Don’t you dare, Robbins!” Solo hollered. “I had that imported from Iceland!” As he moved toward the door to remove the chair, I sprinted toward the object. I whipped off the tarp and found a strange, bulky machine underneath, with something written on the side. Before Solo shoved me away, I read the words “Chronospatial Shunt: Backtrackers Ltd.” I’d remembered enough of my latin prefixes in school to understand what was going on.

“No way. You’re… a time traveler?”

He started to deny it, then just sighed. “Damn. I thought you’d all be too stupid to figure it out. Oh well.”

“Oh God. Please don’t tell me you stole all of your songs. Please!”

“Why the hell else would I time travel?” he replied. “Some people choose the stock market. Some people choose industry. For me, the music business was the perfect thing to time scam.”

I turned away and leaned on his makeup table. “How many of you are there?”

He laughed. “How many billionaires do you know? The problem with you people is that you never crunch the numbers. When people get insanely rich, you just take it as a given and get on with your lives. You never consider the statistical likelihood of this many moneymakers living concurrently. Turns out, that likelihood goes way up when you allow for time travelers that steal people’s ideas. Honestly, what are the odds that Lady Gaga would get so many chart toppers? That Ray Kurzweil would make so many accurate predictions? That Elon Musk could start so many winning enterprises, and manage them so wisely?”

“You mean those people were all time thieves, like you?”

“The word we use is ‘Backtrackers.’ And yes. You know who else? Warren Buffet. George R. R. Martin. Stephen King. And– wait for it– Albert Einstein.”

“Wait, why are you telling me all this? Doesn’t this compromise your operation, giving a lowly savage all the details?”

Solo smiled. “Not if you dispose of him.” To the security guard in the hallway, he called, “Robbins, I changed my mind. Break it down.”

A second later, a burly man flew through the door, sprinted at me, and put my hands behind my back.

“No!” I cried. “He’s lying to you! He’s from the future, and he stole songs from an alternate universe–”

“Get rid of him,” Solo said over me. “And don’t be afraid to be less… orthodox with this one.” He strolled back into his dressing room as I was dragged down the corridor, screaming for them to believe me. In the alley behind the concert hall, they became screams for mercy.

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