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Ret Con Man

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Excerpt From RetConMan


“Let’s do it. I want to kill Hitler.”

My hand, which had been reaching for a paper cup of gourmet coffee on the counter, paused inches away from its destination. I looked up at the breathless red-haired fellow who had just spoken, and then blinked a few times, replaying his wildly unpredictable statement in my memory, trying to wrap my mind around it.

“I seem to be missing some context,” I finally told Filby, a fellow coffee connoisseur who frequented the same gourmet establishment as me, and frequently initiated unsolicited conversation with me. I didn’t mind; Filby had a keen mind, and what’s more, he always remembered how I took my coffee. “Back up a little. Start with a simple greeting. For example: Good morning, Filby!” 

Filby grinned widely and passed me the heavy cream and a squeeze bottle of authentic Vermont maple syrup. “Hey, buddy!” he said, still in a voice that was unexpectedly energetic. “I’ve been thinking about our last conversation. In fact, I can hardly think of anything else. I want to try it!”

I rolled my eyes. “Context, Filby. I can’t be expected to remember every passing conversation between us.”

Filby looked hurt. “Well, I expected you to remember our conversation from yesterday.”

That was a reasonable expectation, I suppose. The problem was, we hadn’t had any conversation yesterday. I had spent the day at home, watching a series of movies about a DeLorean that had been marathoning on the SyFy channel. “Sorry, Filby; are you sure you aren’t confusing me with someone else? I didn’t speak with you yesterday.”

Now Filby looked confused, and maybe a little disappointed. “But… you did. We had a great conversation. About time travel.”

I bit my lip. “Maybe you should forget the time travel, Filby. I can’t imagine any scenario where I offered to take you on a time travel adventure. That’s just asking for plot holes.”

He looked crestfallen. “So was this all one of your tricks?” he asked.

“I could only wish,” I answered. “It sounds like a convincing one. But if it is, I managed to trick myself—and that’s no small trick.”

“Speaking of small tricks,” a stranger behind a newspaper spoke out, “Congratulations—you’ve been tricked by the smallest trickster you know.”


Oh no.

Sparrow lowered the newspaper and flashed us a smug grin. “Hey guys! I’m Sparrow, and I’m from the future.”