He was in his laboratory trying to fix the glitch in the chrono-computer of his project: a time machine. “There is the problem of the time-paradox-neutralizer,” he told himself. “I need to find the right frequency in the time warp-drive.” Tired after three days of non-stop laboratory work, he went home. He was about to open the door, when he heard a soft moan. Intrigued, he slowly turned the doorknob, peeped, and nearly had a heart attack at what he saw; his best friend was passionately kissing his wife.
Blood rushed into his head. His first instinct was to run back to the laboratory, get his gun, and then shoot his best friend. But the logical and the calculating part of his brain stopped him. Slowly, he left house, went back to his laboratory, and poured out all his anger to his work. He went home to his wife every now and then pretending that everything was normal. “It was my fault. I was so busy that I forgot about her. I will win her back when I am finished with this project,” he said to himself.
Three months later. He finally solved the glitch in the chrono-computer. “Pastoroni’s theory of time-converse-inverse was correct. The is-was-before-after paradox will not affect the chrono-probability!” he shouted at his engineers and technicians, who had no idea of what he was talking and shouting about. He was so elated that he rushed back to his house (obviously forgetting what his wife has done because of the excitement) to tell his wife of his success.
He was turning the doorknob when he heard a familiar moan. Stunned, he slowly opened the door, peeped inside, and saw his best friend, now naked, on the couch and on top of his wife. This time, there was no flash of rage, just the cold feeling of hate. He went back to his deserted laboratory got his gun and went inside the time machine. “ I will not go to prison for killing that worthless piece of dung!” he calmly told himself. “ I will use my time machine, go back to back to the past, my college days, then shoot that snake Jake, and then return to the present.” He thought. “And no detectives or FBIs will be able to figure what happened--the perfect murder.”
1985 April 30, 12 noon, twenty years ago, Jake is practicing football. He walked in front of Jake and shot him point blank in the face. He was still smiling when he alighted from the time machine. He returned the gun to his drawers, wiped the splattering of blood from his clothes, and rushed back to his house. “Jake won’t exist now. I made sure of that twenty years ago,” he laughed to himself. He was about to open the door when he heard that moan again. He peeped inside, was more annoyed than angry, when he found the same exact situation as before. This time his anger was replaced by perplexity. “What went wrong?” he asked himself. “Maybe the incident is too small to affect the time.”
1985 July 5, 3pm during the university’s the school’s championship game. He walked into the middle of the arena took out his pistol, shot Jake in the face, then shot the coach, and then shot the entire football team. He went back to the present and found his wife and best friend in the same exact situation as before. Now, he was really angry and really, really perplexed. “Maybe the personalities are too insignificant to affect the flux of time.”
Fuming mad, he went back to July 5, 1985, shot Jake. He then popped up in the White House and shot the President. Then he materialized in the UN Head quarters shot the Secretary General. This time he made sure that the time flow would change for he also massacred the entire UN delegates. He was tired when he returned to the present. “This time traveling and killing business is exhausting,” he said. He slowly went back to his house; sure that everything has changed. He was about to turn the doorknob when he heard that moan again. This time he was so enraged that he ran back to his laboratory, reloaded the gun, ran back to his house, went through the door, pointed the gun in Jake’s temple and fired. He was surprised, after the smoke cleared that Jake was still alive, still pumping. Puzzled, he sat down on the sofa. He caught a glimpse of the door and saw that it was locked from the inside. He looked at Jake and his wife when the realization came to him that he went through the door and that he was invisible to them. He began to recollect and reflect on all the things he did, and his mind tried its best to figure what went wrong. “I altered events in past, then why is it that the present reality did not change?”
“You did altered time and you did change reality,” a voice said. “But the thing is, you altered your own time and you changed your own reality,” the voice added. “You see, time is like an instant noodles intertwined yet individual. We all experience time in our own different ways, and we all see reality in our own different perspective. So when you altered time and reality you altered your own time and reality. And now your time and your reality exist outside their reality; severed from the soup of interrelated experiences. You are now a ghost my dear friend.” He stood up looked at where the voice was coming from, and was not surprised to see Albert Einstein talking to him.
* Adapted frump a short story I read ten-fifteen years ago titled ‘The man who killed Mohammed” I forgot the name of the author and the title of the anthology.