It was a simple operation, great potential syndication rights from the education industry and probably more from documentary feeds. As he read the outline Lomax found himself wondering why this one hadn’t been done years ago. After months of using the Locus as an adjunct to the the legal system – separating the guilty from the innocent and searching out evidence for the courts; this one sounded ginteresting!
It had started simply enough. A young man, Mr Terry Sheinberg, had been moving boxes in his parent’s attic, prior to the house having a “Cape Cod” extension undertaken when, in an old trunk, he had found an old hard-cover notebook that had been written by his great grandfather while he was stationed at a French-Swiss border post during World War Two, some tone- hundred-and fifty years earlier. Mr Sheinberg was entranced. He was a history buff, with an especial interest in that period and genuine first-hand information on the subject, especially by a member of his own family was, for him, beyond price. If the simple existence of the document was not enough, what he could decipher of the faded meandering copperplate drove him to distraction. Not a rich man by any means he turned to his relatives for help and a week later was delivered to a remote landing pad in the South Australian desert and made his way into the client liaison office, in blockhouse #1 of Tr00 . It seemed a long way to travel to take part in a three way video link. But Sheinberg was wallowing in the adventure. Lomax understood the sense of keeping the communications as insular as possible, and Houng just wanted to go back to her office for inscrutable reasons of her own.
“It started in 1922 – my great grandfather, who was working as a draughtsman in Berlin after honourable service in France during the war. He was still suffering from what they called ‘shell-shock’ back then, and we know as ‘combat fatigue’ now. In any event he wrote that the mathematical quiet of a draughtsman’s office suited him well. However one day in May 1920 he was leaving a delicatessen with his lunch when he was accosted by a gang of right-wing thugs. They beat him senseless, spat on him and destroyed the shop, a respectable business that had been there for almost one hundred years. When he awoke it was to discover that they had pissed all over him”
Apparently Mr Sheinberg’s great grandfather wasn’t one to hold a grudge; instead he cuddled it to his breast and nursed it on a diet of pure vitriol. Before long in a flash of clarity the answer came to him. The thugs who had beaten and humiliated him were nothings. Rudderless pus-sacs directed by an evil man to his own profit. The solution was obvious! Take his revenge to the puppet-master. He resolved to kill Adolf Hitler!
Lomax’s team had a twelve hour window to devote to this project. To this end. Tr00 had allocated twenty gigawatts from the Braid fusion facility at Bilga. Higher than usual shift allowances; Staff medical team to provide and administer stimulants for rush job and longer than usual shift. The geo-beacon would be in place in fifty minutes, it was being flown in fro Berlin Templehoff. Cadogan would be down directly to finalise matters with Mr.Sheinberg. Click.
Lomax knew that Tim would be sitting up at his disgusting kitchen table drinking instant coffee and getting his grumbling up to speed. He’d already have one of his horrible rollie cigarettes going. Apparently he’d learnt to smoke in his sleep.
The control room was silent, quiet enough to hear the piped air arriving from the climate conditioners, to keep the electronics cool. Lomax, at his console beside Tim, found the smell of the other man to be oddly comforting by its very familiarity. Sweaty beard saturated with strong tobacco and marijuana smoke, dank woollen jumper, grubby jeans, Shalimar perfume, and huge warm armpit.
“Good lock, straight off; nice.” The rollie waggled sending tiny cylinders of ash down to scorch holes in the woollen jumper. “We can expect interference from the occasional passing asteroid and a… bigger blip when Mars interrupts us in about nine hours.”
That didn’t sound too bad, they’d have to be mostly finished by then anyway, probably. Lomax felt the tension settle in his neck and shoulders. He knew that his blood pressure had just increased markedly and cursed quietly to himself. Not that it would do any good, but once it all got underway. He’d be in his element and he’d forget about all that stuff.
The bierkeller was just about full when the Nazis arrived. A big bastard Lomax couldn’t identify by sight burst in the double doors in a good imitation of a towering rage, heading a rabble of assorted thugs and stooges who barged through the place before making a great show of setting up a heavy machine gun on one of the back tables where it could cover the crowd.
”The diary didn’t mention any of this” said Sheinberg over the Link from the client centre, on the surface and five kilometres off with great 360 degree views of tracklessdesert.
“spoze the history books would.” Tim mumbled flattening tobacco and marijuana into a cylinder between his palms. A cigarette paper flapped from his bottom lip as he spoke.
“Might be a good idea to get an interpreter here;” Lomax voiced the thought more to be social than in need of approval. ”I’ll see if Lisa is free.”
He liked her, She was an adult who could accept the occasional “adult concept” as a joke rather than as an unforgivable affront to her long-vanished virginity. Spoke about ten languages too, at last count. Who cared if she had bad breath? In fact, Lomax found it oddly erotic.
“She’s on her way down now” Tim squinted through his smoke.
For the most part the crowd in the bierkellar simply ignored the way the Group at the back of the hall were behaving. Lomax decided that, by this stage in the evening everyone present had already consumed at least one of the milk-bucket sized mugs of beer and was already so drunk that all they could do was either fall face forwards onto a table and pass out, or argue vehemently about politics. At the front of the room a man in lederhosen pounded the table in front of him so hard that his plate bounced and his cutlery danced. He howled the same thing repeatedly in German.
“He is saying Hindenberg is a cunt.” Lisas laconic voice came from behind them. She stood in the doorway of Lomax’s office, leaning on the doorframe sipping tea from her office cup. It was an antique china collectors piece, oddly shaped and well over a hundred years old. She’d tried explaining its provenance to him once but it had meant nothing to him. Something about a twentieth century viddy show, apparently. “He seems awfully emotional about it.”
In contrast Tim seemed quite disinterested.
“Due to crazy hyperinflation a loaf of bread now costs about one billion marks, and Germany has had to default on paying the fine imposed by the treaty of Versailles for supposedly starting World War One. In return the French and Belgian armies have seized the Ruhr – without a shot being fired. The Ruhr is the core of Germany’s industrial might – It’s all a big slap in the face for Germans who believe that they actually won the war – and didn’t start it either.” Lisa actually sounded rather emotional about it all. Outraged for something that had happened so long ago. Lomax looked over at her; she did seem to be clutching her tea mug handle rather tightly.
“Well fuck me.” That was Tim’s input.
“I’d rather not Tim, but thank you for asking – I’ll keep you in mind.”
Lomax looked over. Tim was blushing; shifts in his beard indicated that his Adam’s apple was bobbing. He was scrabbling in his smokables pouch. Lomax resolved to talk to Lisa later, and in the meantime to create his own refreshing cup of whatever-the-hell-it- was they put in the little bags.
When he got back to his station Hitler was arriving on the big screen surrounded by a squad of thugs with pale set faces who looked like they had the collective intelligence of a garden snail. There was no question who it was, the same prissy moustache, the same beady rat eyes; Lomax could not understand the attraction. He had puzzled over the bare bones of the story and had watched document viddies long ago but while he could accept the story, he had never understood it, now here was the creature himself in six K true colour seeming to follow the locus into the packed room down a trench in the crowd that had opened around him and his bully boys. Tim’s hand moved gently in the reader-zone, moving the locus by sub-metre increments at a range of one hundred million kilometres and two hundred years. Hitler’s lips were squeezed into a bloodless line. “He’s nervous – he’s scared shitless.” Lomax thought. The Locus backed over the long wooden table, passing through a lamp as if it wasn’t there, and, by some strange glitch in quantum physics, the Locus wasn’t. In one big step, without breaking stride Hitler was standing on the long bench. In another step he was standing in a puddle of slopped beer and disordered meals on the table. He shrieked, a long, high ululating howl of pure wordless venom and hatred. The noise in the big hall muted, then showed signs of restarting. Hitler produced a Walther PPK from his trench coat and fired it five times rapidly into the ceiling. He was immediately wreathed in gunsmoke and clouds of dust, a layer of plaster-dust covered his shoulders and oily hair like atrocious dandruff. No-one laughed. Conversation stopped in the room. Tim stopped his rotation around the subject. The Locus was now directly in front of Hitler and approximately at his knee level where he stood on the table. Hitler’s crazy eyes blazed down into the Locus, almost as if he could see it looking at him, which was impossible of course, but Lomax found himself suppressing a shiver at the thought, anyway. Hitler, now that he had everyone’s close attention started to shout. Within seconds he was the source of an unstoppable tsunami of German vitriol.
“The jewish communist Cunt Bankers who started the war to kill off the flower of German manhood and bleed our country as dry as a Kosher lamb! These vampires have not slaked their hunger for Aryan life-blood yet! Now they have stolen the Ruhr for their knob jockey glove-puppets the French and stolen it without a shot being fired! Why must the blameless victors pay reparations to the beaten anyway? Our ‘republic’ is a puppet of the Jewish-Marxist conspiracy of big banking who started the war for no other reason than to gain control of the vast agricultural wealth of Russia, and now the entire industrial might of our beloved fatherland!”
Lomax found himself marvelling that the man’s lung-capacity; he’d apparently said all that without breathing in.Tim split the Locus so that it was facing upwards towards Hitler as before but now had a secondary “eye” facing one-hundred-and-eighty degrees from the main. This wide -angle on the crowd showed Hitler’s words falling in fertile ears, there were smiles, snarls, shouts and shaken fists. In the front row the young great grandfather Sheinberg in his innocuous greatcoat, swastika armband and false name, and appeared to cheer with the rest of the room.
“He’s either totally mad, or the bravest man I’ve ever seen” Tim grumbled, “and he definitely isn’t mad.”
“No *he* isn’t, but Hitler is barking crazy, I mean I seen him yammering away before but he must feel safe here and he must tone it down if there’s press and newsreel cameras about, his language is much worse here! Obscene! He just said the Jews were an alien syphillis that had polluted the body of humanity since the beginning of time by the way and before that, that the Jewish cunt priests sold Jesus to the Romans in revenge for Jesus fucking up their moneylending business in the temple – I wish this guy would get on with it and shoot the crazy fucker.”
Lomax looked at the big screen which showed Hitler, purple in the face, throwing such a tantrum that Lomax found himself wondering whether the man wore nappies under his trousers for his big speeches.
“yo! Look at my great grandfather!” Sheinberg’s voice came over the link from the surface and Lomax’s eyes shifted to the reverse-angle screen. Sheinberg the elder was evidently a man under great stress, his face was pale, as sallow as piss-soaked paper, and was soaked in sweat. He held his pistol out of his pocket, at the end of his arm, parallel with his leg. His arm was so rigid with stress that it vibrated as fast as a plucked guitar string.
That was Tim. The locus looking up at Hitler showed his tantrum continuing. He was standing rigid, lit in the crazy dancing light of the room’s huge log fire and the light of the electric lamp on the table he was bouncing around on. His voice continued, the enraged squealing of a pig denied its swill. The shadows danced crazily across the wall and pillar behind him, across the dark beamed ceiling. As Lomax watched the shadows flexed, altered, became a pillar of dark that seemed so palpable that it appeared to occupy the space between Hitler and the rear wall, and as Lomax watched, the shadow flexed to form arms and the arms wrapped themselves around Hitler at the same time that two reflections, surely they were reflections, blinked into existence like red eyes that glowed with the baleful glare of the log fire.
Sheinberg the elder screamed, dropped the gun, which he had been aiming, arm extended, and collapsed in a limp heap. Blood glistened from his ears and nose.