[story concerns nazism and Germany 1939.]
Four years, Ato Yusuka spent teaching herself German. The first year would have been sufficient, but she wanted to be flawless. She kept a computer program with randomised conversation tidbits on her phone (which she expertly hid, no-one would suspect she still had it) to keep her language fresh while she infiltrated the monks of Fujifuji.
She should’ve known it went a bit too easily, of course. But she didn’t, because she only faked the wisdom they said she needed. She was, at her heart, impatient and childish. They saw that, especially Gajo, but they didn’t say anything, and she progressed in her ranks exactly according to her plan. Nominally, at least.
She held the shotgun behind her back in the belly of the mountain, trying to appear relaxed. She thought it was working. “Good evening, Gajo-san,” she said. She kept her motions exactly as they should be, bowed for the exact correct amount of seconds, and everything. He greeted her effortlessly. “Is everything the way it should be?” she asked, keeping the conversation strictly formal.
“It is always as it should be, everything is aligned perfectly, my child. Did you come here to witness the wonders of the world?”
In a way, yes. “Indeed I did.”
He smiled at her and walked out of the belly, she turned like a turret to keep the shotgun out of his eyesight. When she’d made sure he was gone, she hurried over to the other side of the room with unmonkly steps – another second could not be wasted. She got into the machine the monks had safekept for eternities, a remnant of a lost civilisation, possibly an alien one. She could scarcely imagine what had felled the ancients, but then again – perhaps they had just moved on, transcended.
Yusuka was not interested in transcendence. She set the timer with the carefully etched Japanese numbers to 1939 and she placed the marker on Berlin. The next hour she spent strapping herself to the seat and applying the little needles to behind her ears and in her neck. She had to be completely relaxed to do it, and she’d learned to fake that well enough for the machine not to kill her. Off she went, focusing on the date and the place.
Adolf Hitler looked at his watch. It was a very nice watch. He forgot who gave it to him. Someone nice.
He’d been holding the gun to Ato Kimoji’s head for three minutes now, and he’d finally learnt how to block out the duct-taped man’s sobbing from his hearing, when that bloody machine appeared again. Big and white and ugly and metallic, surely it would leave marks upon his parquet. He sighed. A very angry Japanese woman stepped out of it and shouted something in perfect German.
“Ato Yusuka, is it? Am I pronouncing that right?” Hitler asked.
“What? How do you know my name?” She aimed her shotgun at him but he indicated the man he was pointing his gun to and she hesitated.
“Oh, Gott ist auf meiner Seite, Yusuka. This man is your grandfather. Or, you know, he will be, provided I don’t kill him, erasing you from history. If you shoot me, I will have time to kill him, making it impossible for you to kill me in the first place, ipso facto you won’t shoot me. Now, it won’t harm me at all to kill this man, so you should consider it a kindness when I ask you to put down your shotgun and stand over there.” He nodded to the side.
She seemed to do some mental arithmetic, and it seemed difficult. Hitler rolled his eyes. “How do I know that’s actually my grandfather?” Yusuka asked. To this, the man called Kimoji whimpered.
“Oh, sure, go on, try it.”
She trembled, but she didn’t try it. Instead she cringed, put down her weapon, and went to stand in the corner. Hitler walked around his desk, took the shotgun, and stepped into the machine. “I’ll be back in just a few moments, I just have to warn myself of your arrival, you nimwit.”
And he was gone from 1939, once again, if only momentarily. He sighed. He couldn’t talk to anyone about this, but he just didn’t know how he was going to keep everything up when he had to do this song and dance every other week. It was just so exhausting. And it was getting more frequent, too.