both the future and the past are unwritten

Friday Flash is four years old this month! I only started participating 7 October 2011, and I've only written most weeks, not all of them. Still, I've managed to post 65 stories. That's a lot better than what my output was before.

In honour of Friday Flash's anniversary blog hop, here's a story that works out to be exactly 400 words long.

Mongolia, 2412

The woman scanned the codes on his device's screen.

"That's some undertaking."

He smiled. "It's worthwhile."

She stepped back. "You're cleared. Go ahead. Remember you'll be fetched next leap year, journey time. Be alone; it avoids fuss."

He stepped into the machine.

"Hey!" she said. "You can't bring a satchel! I thought you were going to put it in storage."

"I'm authorised." He held out his device, showing her the special gold barcode.

She scanned again and raised her eyebrows when the scanner beeped approval. "All right. Keep inside the ring."

Cuba, 1956

He knew what bars and cafés to frequent, even which restaurant for certain dates. But he had no introductions.

Afternoon, the right bar and the right time for once. A motorcycle roared by, muffler nonexistent. He jumped, spilling his drink. In his time petrol engines were only in museums, and never run.

"Not used to cities?" the Champion said to him. To him!

"Before I came here, I was in Mongolia." That much was true.

"I've spent time in China. That's a Boston accent, yes?"

"Well, Massachusetts."

The reserve melted away faster than the ice floating in his daiquiri.

Cuba, 1960

Four years later. They'd socialised at least twice a week. Usually more.

He presented himself as a writer, a journalist. Mostly true.

He gave the Champion pills from the future to heal his liver, restore his strength. It saddened him the Champion didn't ask their provenance, or worry they were poison instead.

28 February, they met for dinner. The plates cleared, the rest of the household elsewhere, he showed the Champion the device, told him the rest of the truth. He showed how the device held every word the Champion had written, even words only on paper in his study that night.

"You're CIA." Said through a scowl.

"No! I tell the truth. Come to my flat tomorrow afternoon. Watch me disappear. Please believe me. You have to live, to write."

"We'll see."

Mongolia, 2412

"Good journey? You've lost thirty seconds of present time."

"Wonderful journey." He checked his device. "Let's see..."

He grinned, held the device up. "Look. He didn't shoot himself. He lived to be 103 and wrote until the end. The Champion's eyes saw three centuries."

She checked his screen. "Well sure. He's our best." Pause. "Shoot himself?"

He clasped the device to his chest. "I have so much to read."