In 2010 DARPA secretly completed a time machine. It if worked the time machine would allow us to prevent disasters: 9-11, nuclear spills, and, of course, Hitler. The time machine was an untested prototype and may have trapped us for eternity in the void, but Marc and I didn’t care. We were going to save the world. Shadowy CIA agents winked at us as they suggested we wait several years until the time machine was tested and free of bugs.
Marc and I had been given simple instructions: Find Hitler, infiltrate his inner circle, and kill him. There was one catch: If the death didn’t come from his inner circle it might start World War II, but a World War II in a different reality where the Axis may win.
Marc and I had trained for a year, learning all there is to know about Nazi politics, the German language, economics, psychology, and the life and influences of Hitler and his closest advisors. Delving so deeply into Hitler’s brain made me made me nauseous, but I stuck it out because every day I studied was one day closer to preventing the Holocaust. Knowing that it would soon be over helped me during my darkest hour, when I couldn’t eat or sleep, suffering as Hitler’s haunting oratory repeated in my head destroyed every quiet moment.
Finally, our last day of studying came. We read Hitler’s journal that afternoon to end our studies on a funny note. The next morning we would leave for 1938 to finish the deed. Marc and I went to Taco Bell for dinner, possibly our last modern meal. A doctor gave us Xanax for the stress and some Valium to help us sleep that final night. The next morning we would be in 1938 Berlin.
Worries about the time machine were misplaced. Quickly and painlessly, Marc and I found ourselves in Berlin. Hitler was to address the nation that night so Marc and I arrived early and fought off some fanatics to get seats in the crowded meeting hall. The hall smelled like pork.
After weathering Hitler’s hateful rhetoric for nearly an hour, the rally mercifully ended. Marc and I lucked out and were able to grab the attention of a security guard. I tasted bile in my throat as I heard Marc praise Hitler’s tantrum. I wished to be anywhere but there. Marc’s speech had impressed the security guard and soon we were somewhere else: The security guard escorted us to a private gathering of senior Nazi leaders. Angry men with thick accents wasted no time laying out their plot to take over the world by exterminating anyone not of the Aryan race. Now Marc and I understood why the hall smelled like pork: these guys were full of bologna!
After a who’s who of 20th century villains finished speaking, Hitler himself addressed the group. I was nervous as he stared right at me, but I suddenly found myself in a better place. I was swimming in a calm Caribbean Sea, serenaded by mermaids; I was weightlessly flying through the azure sky, passing moons and stars as I went; I was a single brushstroke in a Monet masterpiece. Then I realized where I really was: Lost in Hitler’s gorgeous blue eyes. My heart was torn. I wasn’t terribly fond of his speech, but I knew I would follow that horrible man to the ends of the Earth.
Before security guards could catch me, I grabbed Hitler by the hand and told him about my time traveling plot to kill him. Men adorned in swastika armbands tackled me and were about to shoot me before Hitler ordered them to stop.
“You have a time machine?” he asked me.
“Yes, and I can prove it! Your favorite flowers are white roses.”
A shocked look overtook Hitler’s face. White roses reminded him of his father, something nobody knew about until Allied forces found his journal in 1945. Also found in his journal: he snuck into the theater twice to watch Snow White and the Seven Dwarves.
“Let’s get out of here!” I yelled, and Hitler and I ran hand in hand. Marc chased us, but Hitler’s knowledge of the Berlin streets got us safely through a maze of dark alleys.
“Take me to the time machine,” Hitler told me.
“Where are we going?” I asked Hitler.
“Set the machine for Frankfurt, January 2nd, 1903.”
“Why?” I asked.
Hitler looked me in the eyes and I felt my heart melt. I don’t remember what he said, but seconds later we were in 1930 Frankfurt.
“Dad!” Adolph Hitler yelled, “Don’t go to the cafe tomorrow!”
“Who are you and what are you talking about?” Mr. Hitler responded.
“I’m your son, from the future. You will die of a stroke if you go to the cafe in the morning.”
“You sound crazy. Why should I believe you’re my son?” Mr. Hitler asked Hitler. Hitler then whispered something in Mr. Hitler’s ear and they shared a warm hug.
Hitler and Mr. Hitler spent the rest of the evening reflecting on life, love, and family. Hitler opened up to his father and expressed the deep shame he had felt after being cut from his school’s track team, a shame which consumed his every waking moment.
“Why do you feel this shame?” Mr. Hitler asked. “Most were cut from the team. You and I got to see each other every day because you were cut.”
“The time we spent together only made me realize your disappointment in me, your deep shame in raising a son who couldn’t measure up. This shame consumed me and turned to anger. I felt our time spent together was the wedge which drove us apart.” Hitler told Mr. Hitler.
“I was never disappointed in you,” Mr. Hitler said. “I cherished every moment we spent together and wouldn’t trade that for all of the track trophies in the world.” A tear rolled down Hitler’s cheek. Mr. Hitler handed Hitler a rosebud from his garden and told him,”Hold onto this and think of me when you see it. When it blooms it signals a fresh start for you, a life without anger.” Hitler tucked the rosebud in his jacket and didn’t say another word that night.
Mr. Hitler still died the next morning, but Hitler looked as if the weight of the world was lifted from his shoulders.
“I’ve accomplished what I came for. We can return to 1938 now,” Hitler told me.
Hitler wanted to return to “the present,” but I had other ideas.
I didn’t want end our time trip together yet so I fooled him and went to 2010 to tie up another loose end. I handed Hitler a razor and a fedora and told him that the locals hated Charlie Chaplin. Hitler shaved the mustache and we caught a cab into town.
After five minutes we arrived to a familiar house. “Adi, it’s Jason. Remember me? I brought a friend to see Jerusalem,” I called out as I saw an old friend across the courtyard.
“Jason! Come inside and bring your friend. I’ll put some tea on.”
“I didn’t know the A-rabs were so white,” Hitler whispered to me. I ignored him.
Hitler and I spent the next month hitchhiking across Israel, visiting holy sites and being fed by the kindness of strangers. He opened up to me day by day, revealing his fear of clowns and that he had built the Third Reich from the ground up to prove to his deceased father that he wasn’t a failure. After an amazing month full of making new friends and seeing new places, we returned to Adi’s house for a traditional dinner before going back to 1938.
“Want to know a secret?” I whispered to Hitler. His stunning eyes lit up as he nodded. “These people are white because they’re not Arabs, they’re Jews!”
“Jews have been feeding us and letting us stay with them this month? I have never seen such hospitality. And to think I once hated Jews! I feel like a real jackass.”
“Want to know why you feel like a jackass?” Adi asked Hitler as he nodded eagerly. “Because you are one!”
We all clapped and Hitler laughed so hard he spit out chunks of his matzah ball.
Hitler, Adi, and I talked deep into the night, sharing puns and stories. Hitler’s stories alternated between his love for his father and the deep pain he now felt for having said so many hateful things. Hitler promised that when we returned to 1938, he would dissolve the National Socialist party and then take a vow of silence and live the rest of his days in a monastery deep in the mountains. I realized that we were ready to go back.
That night, Hitler slept with a genuine smile. He showed me the rose from his father. It was blooming.
In the month since Hitler and I had left 1938 Germany, Marc had earned the trust of the Nazi party by revealing all the tactics and abilities of the Russian and British armies. I took it a step further than Marc: I had earned the trust of Hitler and his captivating eyes, then convinced him to dismantle the Third Reich and live the rest of his days as a monk. I had solved the evil of the Nazis without delving into the evil of killing.
“You wouldn’t believe what happened!” I yelled to Marc as Hitler and I stepped out of the time machine. Marc didn’t say a word, instead he pulled out his pistol and shot Hitler dead. As Hitler crumpled to the ground, his father’s rose fell out of his pocket; the perfect white became red with blood and was soon unrecognizable. “Well, that solves the problem too,” I sighed.
“We beat the Nazis! Great job setting him up, that was an easy shot,” Marc told me. “Let’s go get some Taco Bell.”
Marc and I returned to 2010 and told our commanders what had happened. We both received promotions and were rock stars within the intelligence community. I still feel a sense of awe when I read encyclopedias. Gone are all mentions of the Nazi Party, World War II, the Cold War, Pearl Harbor, and the bombing of Hiroshima. Marc and I had saved the world.
From time to time, I tell friends stories about a second great war and tales of a man with a silly mustache and a lust to rule the world. I enjoy the delicious irony of friends thinking I’m the crazy one.
I left the military after our adventure and now work in construction. I’ve learned that nothing is more refreshing than working with my hands and seeing every night that I’m one day closer to finished. Marc served five more years in the military, then retired and used his CIA connections to become a powerful senator.
Marc and I met at Taco Bell last week to catch up, as we do every year. When a man speaking Spanish cut in line ahead of us, Marc looked at me and declared “If I become President, we’ll never have to deal with Puerto Ricans again.” Marc couldn’t have sounded more detestable, but when he spoke I saw something beautiful in Marc’s brown eyes, something I had seen only once before.