Four men cower in a courtyard. Their heads draped with a deep, black shroud framed by a gloriously blue sky. Their necks are chafed and raw from the thick rope that lightly chokes them. Their tunics are torn, revealing the olive skin of their backs.
The first man grumbles, “They said we’d save the king.”
His words are met with a sharp crack to the back. Blood spurts onto the floor as the whip is drawn away.
Another of the men sobs, “We had no idea what they were going to do. I swear.”
Again, the whip cracks and the man cries in pain.
Thirty-eight more times, the whip breaks through the air. Each time it leaves crimson streaks deeply etched into each of the men’s flesh.
Finally, one of them cries out, “They were angels. They came from heaven. They bore wings and rode on chariots. The wheels… They burned like the sun.”
The man throws his head toward the sky and exclaims, “It was the Lord’s work. Forgive us.”
It only takes the executioner a moment to reach the platform. His leather clad hand reaches deftly for the oaken handle as if he’d done it a thousand times before because he had.
The executioner announces in a terrifyingly deep voice, “For Treason, Treachery And Assassination Of Our King, These Four Are Sentenced To Be Hanged… Til Death!”
With a quick downward push of the handle, and a loud roaring of the crowd, the four men fall and the ropes go taught.
Two men sit in a room. They’re staring intently at a small device on a fold-out table. The older of the two sips quietly on the rim of his ceramic mug.
He says to the other, “I’ve pin pointed an exact temporal state solution.”
“When?” the younger responds.
“1152,” he snorts into his mug, splashing hot coffee up and out onto his face.
After choking a bit, he wipes the coffee splotches from his collar and adds, “It would seem that 1152 holds the key. It was then that this universe split into this abomination. That’s when it all started.”
“And you think this device can get us there to stop it? What are we stopping?”
“Frederick the First,” the first man says as he slides a small encyclopedia across the table.
The second man, while thumbing the pages, says, “So, if we stop this King Frederick from being assassinated..”
“… and we reset the universal branch by eliminating the catalyst event…”
“So, no more Volkisch Raids? No more Third Reich? It will mean the end of the Global Sozialismus.”
“Correct. It will never have begun, my friend.”
The second man stares deeply into his lap, the encyclopedia closed shut. He runs his hand through his hair and looks back to the device on the table, its brass knobs and crystal plates seeming to flex under the artificial glow of florescents above them.
Finally, the young man, asks, “Do we know what the universe is supposed to be like?”
“That’s not for us to wonder,” the older man says as he presses the large, green button on the face of the device. “We just no how it shouldn’t be.”
“Let’s do this.”
The two men, along with the room around them, vanish in a spiral of green and white energy.