ISHI AND SNOID
Dreamed 1993/8/4 by Chris Wayan
Call me Ishi. You won't have heard of my tribe; we're supposed to be extinct. We find a low profile is safer. My relatives will kill me if I give hints, so I'm sticking with just "Ishi", that's practically John Running Doe here in California.
So anyway, I'm walking down a busy street when I spot a man I know, a dark craggy-faced funny-looking little guy, who's from the same Northern California tribe I'm from. I'll call this guy "Mr. Snoid", since he always drives this tiny electric car, like a golf cart, zooming among the pedestrians like R. Crumb's crazy little cartoon character Mr. Snoid.
I haven't seen old Snoid in years, why it's been... what, fifty? A hundred? Now, wait a minute! And then I realize it HAS been a century--the other direction. Ahead, not back. See, Snoid's a time traveler. And so am I. Our tribe invented time travel, but kept it to ourselves. No telling what damage you whites would do with it (and you Asians would just make money). Sorry, but you know it's true. You'd pollute the timescape--or clearcut time completely.
All of us travelers have been discreet--till now. But Snoid's a real trickster, and time travel is no place for jokes. He scares me. But we can't just take his toys away--he's the guy who discovered how to do it.
He admits to me "I blew it, I wrote the secret down in a notebook. I gotta go, gotta get to another time zone. Be a friend and pick up that book for me, will you?" And Snoid is gone.
I'm angry at the man, but I do it. Dangerous to the balance, not to.
I track his book to the house of a rich white woman.
I knock. I'm not Snoid, to play games. She lets me in, soon as she sees me. She knows, I can see that.
She admits it. "As soon as I read this, I knew people could do a lot of damage with time machines. The secret mustn't be spread around casually. I got some offers--I could easily get millions for it. But I turned them all down. No one's threatened me yet, but if they do, I'll destroy it rather than let it fall into dishonest hands." She seems decent enough, but bored and maybe a little lonely. Now she's getting attention, drama.
What she doesn't realize is how many powerful men have found out she has the secret. She was so easy to find because every crook and cop in the state is sniffing around her. She sits by an open window and reads, and telephoto lenses record blurred, foreshortened pages in the hope of reconstructing the secret. And if someone does break in, they could just shoot her before she has a chance to destroy the book. She has no idea what's skulking out there. I'm afraid she's gonna die.
Like the men who threaten her, I've been an underworld figure myself--traveling in time, I've often needed fake ID and such. Plus, I know how the FBI treats our people. So it goes against all my instincts... but I grit my teeth and call the FBI, and leave them a tip about the guys after the book.
Because she won't believe me about the danger. And if I don't call in the Feds, she's gonna get murdered.
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