“Have you achieved your mission?”
“Um. Not yet, no.”
“Is there a problem, Agent Z?”
“Have you at least located the target?”
“Yes; I’m looking at him right now.”
“And he’s alone?”
“Yes. He’s playing in his room.”
“Then why the delay? Agent Z, the longer you linger in that time zone, the more likelihood there is that things will go wrong. You must shoot the child and return to base.”
“But he’s just a boy! A sweet, innocent boy, playing with toy soldiers on a rug. “
“This is no time for sentiment, Agent Z.”
“I have a boy back home just like him. Or I could do. In my future. I don’t know when I am anymore.”
“If you do not kill this child, countless millions of lives will be lost. You do know who he grows up to become, don’t you?”
“That child – that sweet, innocent boy, as you call him – turns out to be the most ruthless mass murderer this galaxy has ever seen. Whole planets – systems even! – wiped out on his say so, at the mercy of his whims. He must not be allowed to live.”
“I have searched the history banks again and again and I can find no mention of such a man.”
“That’s because you shoot him! You stop it all from happening. It’s inevitable. You must pull the trigger and zap him to oblivion.”
“But – how can you know? How can you be sure?”
“We cannot take the chance. Kill the boy now.”
“My time’s up. I’m zoning out.”
But Agent Z was back at base, several centuries in the future.
The boy looked up from his miniature armies. A new toy had appeared on the floor. He hadn’t noticed it before. Perhaps his parents were spoiling him again. They so wanted him to be a good boy.
He picked up the ray gun and zapped his soldiers into vapour.
He wondered what effect it would have on his annoying parents.