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Another Fool Proof System For Beating Roulette
"What's this?" queried Tommy Baker.
Danny Baker looked at the weird contraption held by his younger brother. He didn't recognize it at first but then comprehension set in. "That's one of them old-style memory recorders. They don't make those anymore. Huh!"
Tommy Baker rested his elbows on the packed cartons they were going through in the attic. He glared at the contraption unearthed amongst the clutter. "So, how's it work?"
"Well, you enter the info you want to remember which I believe was recorded on a safedisk. Let me examine that? Yeah, here it is. Old tech! Anyway, the safedisk would keep the info and then you would transfer it to your memory at your leisure."
"They taught you that in school?"
"I don't remember where I learned that. Tommy, you really should have finished!"
"I know. But I'm not meant for smart stuff. I might join the space marines or sumtin'. I wish I wasn't so, so dumb!"
"I'm sure you'll find something you're good at. I learned about memory recorders from Dad when I was younger. Before he passed away."
"I don't remember Dad too much. You were lucky. You got to have good memories of him."
"Yeah, Tommy, you were like two years old. But I was twelve. I had to live with the sorrow of seeing him go. You didn't have to deal with that. Anyway, If I remember correctly, this was probably Grandfather's memory recorder. You were named after him. He was Tommy Baker, too. He left it here before going to the casino. My dad was nervous about me trying something stupid like grandfather and gave me the whole sermon story. He used this to memorise all the winning numbers for one evening of roulette, I guess at a particular table and casino, and then time slipped back to play."
Tommy looked confused. "So, he had all the numbers in his head before they happened after he time slipped?"
"Yeah, exactly. Well, something like that."
"Did it work?"
"No, dummy. Did we inherit any family fortune? Grandfather died the night he timeslipped. He was robbed and murdered before he ever made it to the casino. Never got to place a single bet. Of course they didn't know about Gale's law back then. But anyway, it got Grandfather killed, and dad was always upset his whole life about it."
"Huh. They caught the guy who did it?"
"You mean who killed grandfather? Yeah, some dumb, punk coward. He committed suicide a few days after the incident. Never went to trial. No confession. No name. No I.D. Dad always wondered who the mystery man was."
Tommy took the memory recorder back and fiddled with the "on" switch. Nothing happened. "Guess its broke!"
"What do you expect? It must've been up here for seventy years. And even if it did work, the battery's would probably be dead."
"Oh, yeah. Batteries. I'm so, so dumb."
Tommy Baker lounged in his room that night, turning the memory recorder over and over with his fingers. It was so small. Opening up the back panel, he saw it took very tiny "TTT" batteries. Those were still common enough.
He snatched the holo-flat remote control and sure enough a fresh pair of triple "t" batteries were inside. Flicking them out, he replaced the seventy year old pair in the memory recorder and was pleasantly shocked when the unit blinked red and gold. The switch must have been in the "on" position.
It took another half-hour to do research on the ultranet to discover how to use the archaic machinery. But nonetheless, Tommy figured it out and ultimately had uploaded all of the data from the memory recorder onto his cerebrum. It was all there, as fresh as memories that had occurred just yesterday and with all the metadata he needed as well. He knew the casino, date and time, table and location where all the spins occurred on that fateful day seventy years ago.
Tommy felt jubilant. But his spirits quickly simmered down when he realised how so, so dumb he was. What good would this info really do him? These were for spins that had occurred ages ago.
Breakfast for the brothers was quiet. While Tommy munched, he glared at his smarter, older sibling with apprehension. Finally, "Hey, um. Danny? You wouldn't know how much a Time Slipper costs, do you?"
Danny almost choked on his caff-coff, swallowing a huge chunk of gran with it. "What the fuck do you need a time slipper for? Don't tell me you're planning something like grandfather?"
"Look, you wouldn't want grandfather to have died for nothing, right? Well, I, kind of, you know, uploaded all the winning numbers from that memory recorder. I got it working, you know. And now I know all the spins for that evening, I might as well go back and capitulate."
Danny looked with dismay and horror at his brother. "Capitulate? You mean capitalize?"
"Yeah, you know what I mean."
"Look, even if I knew how much they cost, time slippers are illegal contraband. They were seventy years ago, they still are today. And besides, Gale's law! You forgot?"
"I never really learned that."
"Geez, I know you didn't finish school but they must have taught you something? Gales law, named after the scientist who formulated the theory and did all the major testing, Martin Gale. He postulated that no one could ever change the past because the past was locked and any person who ever traveled back in time had already done so. Furthermore, any person who tried to change the past would be stopped before he could achieve his goals because the past, as his law postulates, is locked."
"But ain't that theory? How could you ever prove that?"
"They did prove it with a series of over one hundred tests. First, Martin Gale created events that were very minor, but traceable, like parking a car on a particular street corner and leaving it there for one month. Something that if he did change the past, wouldn't have any foreseeable detrimental effect, you know, a Butterfly effect.
"Then, he sent auto-bots back with time slippers. They were programmed to go and move the car after it had been parked for only two days. Now, since they had been parked for over a month, the auto-bot would be changing the past by moving them early. Of course, would anyone in the changed future know this? The answer is yes, because the auto-bots had recordings of the future they came from. Even though the car was moved by the auto-bot after two days, there were visual holo-records in the retrieved auto-bot that showed the car had been there for a whole month in the original future/past. In essence, the past had been changed even if no one could remember it.
"Anyway, the auto-bots were tracked with GPS and located and the tapes played back to see if what had been in the past was different from the current present."
"And what happened? Were they different?"
"Of course not. The past was never altered. Something always prohibited the auto-bot from moving the car. And it was always something that had already happened. Just the scientists didn't know about it. So, for instance, one auto-bot was smashed by a car, another was stolen, one malfunctioned and was found by GPS exactly where it had stalled. Whatever it was that occurred, the scientists looked it up in the local papers and sure enough, there would be an article about a car crashing into an auto-bot or local thieves being arrested with a stolen autobot in their possession. They just didn't realize it was their's until after they had retrieved it. You get the picture.
"Hence, Gale's law. The past is locked and cannot be changed, any person who has travelled into the past has already done so and any change attempted to known history will be prohibited by the very events that have already occurred to the person attempting the change."
"I wish I wasn't so, so dumb!"
"Yeah, well, just put this out of your mind and you won't go out of your mind."
Tommy couldn't see the face of the man seated across from him, his visage altered by a virtuascarf. Lots of hoods preferred them because they operated just like a traditional hood or scarf that covered the face when doing crime, however, unlike the real deal, virtuascarves only "projected" an impenetrable covering. A victim, in the throes of fear and violence could not snatch off suddenly a virtuascarf, the result of such an attempted action being to pass through the projected image. It also gave a false sense of where the persons face began and ended, another plus for would be rapists and other criminals. For example, the size of your nose could be programmed so it appeared larger under the projection making identification more difficult as well as self defense. One might swing at a hoods face only to discover they had misjudged their knuckles connecting, the persons actual face a few centimeters further back than projected.
Tommy had met this particular contact before as he'd had to do business with him on more than one occasion. This time, the mystery man shoved forward a smallish wristwatch across to him - a time slipper. "You got the knot?"
Tommy nodded and reached into his inside jacket pockets. He hated having to betray his contacts trust but there was not much choice for him. Instead of a bankroll of cash, out came a blastgun. The eyes barely visible behind the virtuascarf irised although that was probably a trick of the projected illusion. "You scarfing me?"
An involuntary smile played across Tommy's face at the irony of his contacts choice of phrase. Scarfing was the current phraseology for being robbed, ripped off. As in a hoods scarf being ripped off his face exposing him. "NO! Trust me, I am not scarfing you."
"Well, you got a motherfucking heatgun shoved in my face. You better know what you getting yourself into."
"Look, I can't afford the time slipper...today. I need it to obtain the money so I'm just borrowing it and I'll meet you here in three days with the cash for it. Promise. As if I'm taking your hydrocar for a harmless joyride."
The man glared for an interminable number of secs. Then, he laughed but it was not a jolly one. "I kill people who take my hydrocars for joyrides. You better be here in three days. And with triple the knot. And the time slipper! I want it returned."
Tommy nodded. "Then what the fuck am I paying for?"
"For forgiveness for sticking a piece of heat in my face. For a rental on something you've stolen from me. For your life if you value it. Consider it interest. Anything else, and you'll have committed suicide. You suicidal?"
"Not yet. If that's what it takes to make it right, then it won't be a problem."
That evening, Tommy warily ate his meal across from his older brother. Danny was giving some small talk about his day at the office which went unregistered on his cerebrum and finally, he interrupted, "I need a hundred bucks. You can front me it?"
Danny stuttered, then looked curiously at Tommy. "Thats a lot of money. You know how long it takes to earn a hundred bucks? That's like a months worth of income."
"I know. You ain't got to tell me. But I kinda need it."
Danny wiped his chin. "What do you need it for?"
"Please, can I just have it? Trust? For once!"
"Alright." Danny hesitated a moment, then left the room, returning a moment later from wherever his private stash was kept. He handed over the hundred dollar bill. "Here's your Kennedy."
Tommy smiled at the young face of the former president on the hundred dollar bill. "You act like you never seen a Kennedy," snickered Danny.
"I haven't. I don't make the type of money you do. But I seen the older types." "Yeah, the old money had different people on the bills. But they changed those over shortly before you were born. What was the point of having a hundred when it was worth a penny? The old bills had Benjamin Franklin on them."
"Which president was he?"
Danny winced. "You really need to go back to school, Tommy."
"So how much is this worth, old money?"
"Half a mil, Two mil? I don't know. I was just a little too young to care when they switched over. Why?"
"I need to switch over."
Danny's face contorted with anger. "You are doing it? What I suspected! I never saw that watch on your arm before. It contains a time slipper?"
Tommy remained quiet a moment. "Look, Gale's law, right?"
"Huh? You're seriously invoking Gale's law?"
"Yeah. If I go back in time, that means I already did, right? And whatever I do, I already did it. So I have to go back in time. If I never went back in time, then this time slipper won't work, right? So, my winning at the casino is a minor event in the time stream. I probably didn't affect nuthin'. I have a theory. I was there on that evening. I played and won all night, using the numbers from my grandfathers memory recorder and he watched me at the table all night and never knew it. He wouldn't recognize me! So then I time slipped back here a millionaire. It's a good bit of justice for what my grandfather went through."
Danny bored through his tirade with a shocked and sharp gaze. "That's a smart theory you've postulated. I actually make sense out of it. But, I'm sure it's flawed somewhere."
"No, I know it ain't. I gotta go back. I already did. And won all that money."
Now, Danny smiled gleefully and Tommy recognized it as when he had some info that favored making him look dumb. "Money! You can't switch over to old money. They don't have any more. The Gov burned all the old bills. Some collectors have a few and the museum but not enough for your purposes."
"You think I don't know that?" smarted Tommy. "There is a place they got lots of old money! Back in the past!"
"So what do you need my Kennedy for?"
"Danny, now who's dumb? I need the Kennedy to trade in for the old money. Once I time slip back, I'll change over and hit the casino."
"DUMMY! fUCK UP! ONCE YOU PASS OFF THE NEW MONEY IN THE PAST, THEY'LL ARREST YOU ON THE SPOT FOR COUNTERFEIT BILLS. THEY DON'T EXIST YET! Not to mention the dates which will be for seventy years in the future!"
Tommy smacked his face with his own palms. "Oh. I am so, so dumb."
Pellets of rain akin to hail assaulted Tommy Baker. He cursed his brother for not mentioning what the weather had been seventy years earlier. He had not brought anything for the storm and the moment he had time-slipped the wind and rain had been his main proof of success. It had been a clear chill evening back in his future time.
He fingered his Blastgun like a comforting blanket. He had to...would use it a number of times before. He preferred more subtle methods but most people he spun were too nervous to fight back with a piece of heat shoved up their nose. Unlike the old style projectile weapons, nobody survived blastgun fire.
The location near the casino he had chosen for its out of the way darkness. Seventy years in the future, people would occasionally pass by and he needed a mark like that. Unconcerned since he knew all the winning numbers at tonights bout of roulette, he just needed some start up cash in the form of old bills. He defiantly faced the rain and sky, seeing the casino break the dark storm clouds with its art deco modern glitz and fiery reds, blue streaks and yellowish gold and green lighting. But surprisingly, the facade was slightly dilapidated, worn, which it had not been so many years later in his own time. They must have had a retrofit sometime in the future unless they had draped a hotel size Virtuascarf over the entire framework, projecting an always clean and sparkling structure to potential patrons.
He waited through the outpour impatiently mulling that perhaps no one would come traipsing in the rain. He saw potential marks leaving the casino but they quickly ran down the steps and into waiting cabs. It just was not a night to be awaiting for passersby to rob.
Eventually, he decided to make a go of it in the actual casino. He entered the front gateway to the building where a beefy security guard smiled decidedly down on him. "Hello," the guard motioned.
"You too," returned Tommy.
As Tommy went to open the inside glass doors for ingress to the casino, the guard bellowed, "You mind if I see your I.D.?"
Tommy stopped short. He wasn't concerned as he had turned twenty one several months ago, but he found it hilarious this guard would ask him if it was okay. He imagined it was not really a question but a polite request.
"Sure." Tommy handed over the square card.
The guard glared at it with alacrity. "I've never seen one looking like this before?"
"Yeah, well they just recently changed it. But it's real. I got it just a few months ago."
The guards demeanor changed, became acerbic. "You know, it's really insulting."
"Excuse me?" asked Tommy, unsure where the conversation was going. It was definitely a valid I.D.
"This card is bogus. You can go to jail...but I'm getting off in fifteen and I really don't feel like going through the motions, so I'm gonna do you this one solid. Take your stupid card back and get a better forger. He's really dumb."
"I don't understand. This is valid."
"HEY! DON'T MAKE ME REGRET THIS! Sure the card is valid. And you really were born forty nine years from now. I get it, it's an obvious joke. But I'm not laughing anymore, so I'm confiscating your card and I need you to get out, now."
Wow, how could he be so, so dumb, fretted Tommy.
He faced the winds and tortuous rain again, unsure what his next move should be and upset he had lost his card. Sure his identification was not good here, but now he would need to purchase a new one upon returning to his own time.
Perhaps this was Gale's law in action? Was he unable to enter, unable to play because of a stupid identification issue? But he was determined to make a go of it, his having come this far. He needed another entrance. Not all were manned round the clock with security guards, he thought with certainty. His bad that he had attempted to enter the front entrance.
He walked through the drenching onslaught until he came by the side entrance that deposited one into the casino hydrobus station.
Tommy surveyed the room filled with sad, dozing faces. No one was guarding this entrance but as he made his way inside, he caught a glimpse of the very same security guard that had challenged him coming down the hydrovator. Making a quick glance around, he saw an open elevator and rushed in, slamming on the casino floor button, the only one that would work without a security key.
The doors closed. He was in.
He moved to the back of the elevator instinctually. The door opened on the casino and an older gentleman entered, swiped his security card, pressing a high floor and then turned to smile at Tommy as the doors closed behind him. Something about Tommy's unkempt and bedraggled appearance, his skulkiness made the man fret. He turned, avoiding his gaze.
"Had a good evening?" questioned Tommy.
"Yes. I had a lot of fun," the man offered, a smile spreading as fear disappeared. Perfect, thought Tommy. He fingered the Blastgun in his pocket.
"Didn't win, though. Lost most of my stake cash. But still, a lot of fun. It happens, you know. Gambling!"
Tommy smiled outwardly while removing his fingers from the Blastgun. No money on this person. The elevator opened and the man turned. "Is this your floor?"
"No. I was just taking the ride. Trying to dry off before playing at the games."
The man looked a bit dubious but exited and the elevator door shut.
Two floors lower, the doors opened again. A hook-nosed man entered with a smile of largess. This was the one, thought Tommy to himself. Just a quick question to confirm.
"Heading to the tables?" he asked politely.
"Yep," replied the hook-nosed man. "Roulette is my game! I don't like slots. Or any other table game for that matter. Tonight is my night to win big at Roulette. What's your game?"
Tommy turned to face him. "Robbery!" He held a blastgun straight at him. "Hand over all the cash."
The man winced. "Stupid security here is pretty bad. First they had a robbery murder yesterday and now..."
A palpable moment. "It wasn't yesterday," the man mumbled in a slightly audible whisper.
He obviously hadn't thought Tommy had heard, but the meaning behind the statement confused Tommy for a brief second.
As the hook-nosed man made a sudden, concerted attempt to wrestle the blastgun from him, A million thoughts flooded through Tommy Bakers head including the meaning of the statement, "It wasn't yesterday," as the pink flash exploded outward murdering the first person Tommy had ever killed.
But three thoughts in particular stood out.
1) I just killed my grandfather.
2) I did it! I was finally right about something, smart! I needed to be here. The past is locked!
3) I wish I wasn't so, so smart!
Other Short Stories by Aaron Denenberg
- A Fool Proof System For Beating Roulette.
- Another Fool Proof System For Beating Roulette.
- A Newcomb Being's Paradox.
Books by Aaron Denenberg
Written by: Aaron Denenberg