People always talked about killing Hitler. "If you could go back in time and kill Hitler, would you?" The answer, resoundingly, was "Hellz yeah." Until now, however, the question had been entirely hypothetical. Fredersen was the first person with the opportunity to actually do it, but Fredersen had bigger plans. He also had no intention of setting foot in that machine himself. He had once sent half an avocado twenty minutes into the future just to test it. He didn't know why it had re-emerged as a plasticine walrus, but he sure as hell wasn't going to stick his head in to find out.
"Robot!" He clapped his hands to summon the device. It was a cheap one. He had little money, and if this worked he would have less still. None, in fact: nobody would. It would be worth it, though.
The robot wheeled towards him. "Please enter command." Its voice synthesiser was truly terrible: like nails on a blackboard, if the blackboard had laryngitis and was trying to sing Carmen.
"Your job," he spoke dramatically, for the benefit of the lone television camera he had set up to capture the moment, "is to erase evil from history!" The real command he tapped into the robot's keypad: "Enter the machine and destroy all money." Money was the root of all evil, they said, and they were right. Fredersen had done his research. All crimes, even those that seemed violent and unplanned on the surface, had their ultimate cause in financial gain. Anyone who thought differently simply didn't appreciate the sheer scale and brilliance of his plan.
The robot rolled into the machine, emitting a small puff of sherbet and lice as it passed into the temporal disassociation field. Fredersen made a mental note to replace the plasma reticulation filter: he'd pick one up from the corner shop later in the afternoon. Despite this hiccup, however, the robot's journey went smoothly. It vanished in a sparkly haze. To the camera, it would appear as though it simply reappeared a few seconds later, but Fredersen knew the truth. Its voyage had covered hundredsno, thousandsof years. There was no telling how many stops it had made throughout history.
Frederson stuck his hands in his pockets and his face fell. He felt change, and so he had changed nothing. He took a penny out and squinted at it. Definitely still money.
"Heap of junk!" He slapped the robot on the side of its plastic head. "You haven't done anything!"
"Incorrect," the robot droned. "Task has been completed as specified. Claude is dead. Humankind has been freed from the corrupting influence of impressionist art."
Frederson scrolled back through the robot's memory to check. "Money, you idiot! That was supposed to say 'money!' What have you done?" His rage becoming unbearable, he hurled his clipboard into the time machine, causing it to turn up thirty seconds earlier as a startled egret. Fredersen knew money was the root of all evil, but at that particular moment he couldn't help but wish that he'd spent just a little more of it and got a robot with spellcheck.