The Salzburger Conundrum

Author: Hari Navarro, Staff Writer

The senator peels from her lover and she thinks of her impending speech and she thinks of her wife and her husband. Her bid to prevent the ISTC’s proposal to travel back in time and kill an infant Hitler will fail. She laments that she is weak, a paragon of righteousness who has foregone her loving partners and, instead, bedded this sublime young man at her side.

“You look sad”, he says.

“It’s nothing. Tomorrow, it’s weighing on me. It’s not just the Martian colonies I’m representing, it’s all of us”, she says and she again feels the tidal weight of her own importance.

Reaching from beneath the sheets, she pours herself another scotch. Her offer of the bottle neck to the young man is declined, and he smiles.

“Tell me again what you’re going to say”, he asks propping his head upon his hand, nestling into his pillow.

“All these centuries after his death and the mere mention of the man’s name turns tongues to black. Our science fact continues to be rifled from the hackneyed science fictions of old. This mission would save millions but it’ll offer, in their place, a conundrum. Of those he killed just how many potentially would have inspired and produced even greater evils? We cannot see past this little man and, for this, his name has outgrown even the grotesque nature of his actions. Killing him will kill his ghost, though many ghouls will step into its place. It is not the past we should be concerned with. You can’t correct it. It can be but altered. I haven’t even opened the financial resource file for this project, I image it too will be a grotesque read. I come from a place where cancers still eat at those who mine ore that is shipped to earth and used to fire the reactors that will power this folly into the past. I have lost before I have started”

“Tomorrow your speech will be powerful and impassioned. They will fold. The time travel program will be dismantled and its technologies refocused. You will win”

“I appreciate your faith”

“It is not faith. It is fact. I’m not from this time. I represent an Earth that just couldn’t go on with this man’s stain forever upon it. His echo gets louder with the years and it has been decided that you must be stopped”
She grabs for the tumbler beside the bed and it slips, shattering to the floor.

“I’d never be so uncouth as to taint such a mesmerizing malt. No, a far more direct infusion of the toxin this time was required”

She slumps from the bed, her limbs already shutting down as they contract into a fevered ball.

“Moments now, and he and you will be gone. Oh, and if you’re wondering why, we simply didn’t go back to Salzburger Vorstadt 15 and kill the monster child ourselves. Blame your grandson. He… well, he does a very bad thing. Two for the price of one, Senator. These journeys are far from cheap”

A man sits on a throne of granite and looks down across the heads that ripple the Appian amphitheatre, right arms raised and stabbing into fists of iron. He rubs at his beard and he rubs at the fat of his breast and he inhales a gust of the purest colourless air. Banners ripple and he smiles as he knows that only the purest of the pure are now left to gulp down the words that he makes.

“… and adulterated blood alone will sooth the churn of history”.


  1. mikebailey1979

    Great job! A really enjoyable read. I loved the twist.

    • Hari Navarro

      Thank you very much Mike. The encouragement that positive critique allows a writer can never be underestimated. Much appreciated.

  2. SimonJM

    Not often you get a twofer, good job with that! 🙂
    I enjoy reading about the principle of time meddling but my logical brain tilts at trying to work out what changes it would make 😉

    • Hari Navarro

      A twofer is far better than a nonefer, glad you engaged Simon. But, your logical brain will surely shrivel to a cinder considering all the what ifs… 🙂

  3. andreavolpe34

    Love it. I think i know how the toxin was administered

  4. wasteland66

    Very clever how you wove all the elements here. I am a sucker for alternative history. Really enjoyed.

    • Hari Navarro

      I really appreciate your comments and glad you enjoyed this one. Thank you.

  5. xdhz8

    Nice blending of time travel and alt history. Excellent title and closing image.

    • Hari Navarro

      Thanks David. I know it’s a well worn premise, but then I don’t think there is ever such thing in literature.

  6. Emma Brown

    Interesting take on one of my favorite sub genres. You really did It justice.

    • Hari Navarro

      Thank you, Emma. I’m a big fan of the whole time travel/ alt history thing as well, glad you enjoyed it.

      • Emma Brown

        I think I would have taken the risk and ended the evil little creature.

        • Hari Navarro

          I think so too. Like the great word mason Wade Wilson once said, when he found himself in a very similar situation…”Maximum effort”. 😉

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