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Fiction. © Copyright 2000, Jim Loy
Charles N. Buckingham had devised the perfect crime. He had decided to murder someone who he did not know, for no reason other than to commit a perfect crime. Therefore, it would be difficult to connect him with the crime. And motive would be difficult to deduce.
In this century, time machines were readily available. And it was natural to use a time machine to further confuse any police pursuit. But committing a crime with the use of a time machine would involve the elite Time Police. Well, if you were going to commit a perfect crime, you might as well match wits with the best. You could hardly call a crime perfect if only the Keystone Cops had jurisdiction.
Charles reasoned that a perfect murder would be one that did not look like murder. Or at least, it would not look like murder by a twenty-third century time traveler. He started planning a murder back in time, back in pre-history, in the twentieth century, or even earlier.
Certain effects of time travel attract the attention of the Time Police. Leaving a twenty-third century weapon at the scene of the crime could cause waves in the time fields. Killing the ancestor of some important person would certainly be detected. Well, that was a puzzle for Charles. At any given time, just who is the ancestor of some future important person? The logical solution to that was to murder a person whose ancestors died out after only a few generations. And the general identity of his victim became obvious to him. He would murder a Neanderthal, a "cave man."
Charles wondered just where and when did Neanderthals live. And he couldn't just shoot a Neanderthal with a brain scrambler. He needed a typical Neanderthal weapon. And so, he visited the local museum. There he saw a mean looking club and a mean looking flint knife. He considered stealing these. But he decided to make his own weapons. He did not want to get caught stealing a papier-mache club. He also read that the remains of Neanderthals were first discovered in the Neander Valley, and that they died out about 40,000 BC. He would aim his machine to within a thousand years of that time, and see who he could find.
Charles made a club out of maple, about the size and shape of a rough baseball bat. After several failed attempts, he chipped a flint knife and wrapped a leather strap around the handle end. He decided to take his brain scrambler, just in case he got into trouble.
Charles settled into his time machine, set the computer for the Neader Valley in 39,500 BC, and pushed the start button. And he stepped out into a forest. He heard birds, and the wind in the trees, and the occasional buzzing of insects. It was a warm day in the fall. He saw no Neanderthals of course. He would have to search out one of them. Perhaps he would have to search earlier in time.
Charles stealthily stepped down what appeared to be a path, holding his club in one hand, and his knife in the other hand. His brain scrambler was hidden in his pants pocket. He kept looking in all directions. He came to a stream. And there it was in the mud, a large humanlike footprint, easily eight inches wide at its widest dimension. Farther down the path, he came face to face with his Neanderthal, a short, ugly, hairy man-like creature. The "man" crouched with his legs spread. He stared at Charles with an expression of curiosity.
Charles took a step forward, and the Neanderthal took a step back, apparently ready to run away. Charles wondered how he could get close enough to kill the "man?" Charles set his club and knife down on the ground and straightened up. He held up his open hands and said, "Peace. Friend." And he added under his breath, "You ugly bastard."
The Neanderthal said something unintelligible. He continued to watch Charles warily.
Charles slowly pulled the brain scrambler out of his pocket. And the Neanderthal stepped into the trees and disappeared. Charles muttered a curse. He picked up his club and knife and followed the Neanderthal into the trees. He saw no sign of which way the "man" had gone. Then he saw, a few feet away, a smashed flower. Charles bent down to examine the flower. The Neanderthal had obviously stepped on it. Charles was feeling sorry for the Neanderthal and the inferior Neanderthal brain, when a Neanderthal fist struck him on the back of his head. Charles fell on his face. The Neanderthal picked up Charles' club and beat Charles to death with it. The Neanderthal examined Charles' knife, and contemptuously threw it away. He found Charles' brain scrambler, and studied it, not realizing how dangerous it was.
The Time Police later picked up Charles' body, and his time machine. They were not in time, however, to stop the Neanderthal from using Charles' brain scrambler to kill a large number of other Neanderthals in and around the valley. An investigation determined that this killing spree was a major factor in the extinction of the Neanderthal race in this area. Like all other Time Police reports, this one remains Top Secret.
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