The Berlin bit was easy. Through the ash and ruins of a once great city, Charlene, 16 year old polymathic sex fiend, pursued Peter September, MP for Hangley South. Her eyes, predictably, fell mainly upon his arse, which seemed hardly to move as he dodged the last gunfire of the Third Reich.
The Russians were upon the city, and the few remaining defending forces were demoralised, dispirited and drunk. Peter dispatched them without major incident, and with extreme prejudice.
"Can't be too careful with these Hun," he shouted over the sound of a collapsing building. Any Russian troops he came across, he murdered as well, just to be on the safe side.
Something should have grown from this, Peter thought, looking around at the crumbing city. The psychogeographic decentralisation the survivors experienced was meant to open up new ways of thought – new literatures, new sciences. Instead, Germany in the 21st century was another boringly functional liberal democracy. What a pointless war.
They were nearing Hitler's bunker. Charlene was armed with an M16; just about a passable weapon by the time the century ended, more than enough to turn WWII-era soldiers into paint. She savoured the double tap of the machine gun like it was an approaching orgasm. A perfect little Bond villainess, pissing in the Nazi death dream.
"Charlene!" he called from across the road. "Mind on the job!"
"Blow job!" she giggled, as the M203 grenade launcher slung underneath her gun blew a crater in a rabble of Wermacht. Daft child. He'd hold her to that.
Inside the bunker, things became more difficult. He couldn't harm any of the remaining German high command, for fear of disrupting chronological equilibrium. The corridors were tight and left little room for manoeuvre, and their footsteps had a tendency to echo on the metal floor.
"Get stuffed, Goebbels," Peter said, backhanding the propaganda minister to the ground. After suffering through too many 1940s German government-commissioned films, he felt he owed it to himself. Crimes against taste were crimes he could not abide.
Finally, there was the Fuhrer, sitting at his desk. He was a little the worse for wear, but it was no Der Untergang scene. He glanced up wearily at his two guests, somewhat surprised by their dress, which in Peter's case was a chalk white suit, and in Charlene's a Balenciaga haute coutre evening dress. They had been designed by the top brass to stimulate the 'fader effect' in the frontal lobes of anyone who saw them, causing the brain to process the anachronistic visual information as neural background noise. They hadn't been working so far.
"Chancellor Adolf Hitler, I presume," Charlene said in pitch perfect German (with an Austrian lilt, just to show off).
"You are not Russian scum?" Hitler said.
"English," Peter replied. "Mr Hitler, we need your help."
"I don't understand," Hitler said, drooping his head again. "We were meant to be supermen. I don't understand how we can lose."
"You may not have to," Peter told him. Then, looking around, "where's Eva?"
"Just taken her poison pill. I was going to take mine, but then I decided I'd have a sit down and think about everything."
"We got here just in time," Charlene said.
Shouting from somewhere in the bunker. Peter nodded to her and she went out into the corridor to stand guard. Then he walked around the desk and put his arm around the once-terrifying figure of authority, who had begun to sob openly.
"Mr Hitler, we haven't much time. My associate and I are from the future, the 21st century to be precise. Our superscience has ascertained that you are, in fact, the ubermensch in several respects. You are a strategically inept, morally bankrupt, obscenely incompetent halototic teetotaller with a perfectly awful critical appreciation of Nietzsche and who idolises Benito Mussolini, real life's answer to Porky Pig. You are, as close as can be imagined, the worst human being in living memory."
"In my defence," Hitler replied, "I have been drinking today."
"The teetotaller comment is, in that case, respectfully withdrawn."
"But, if everything else is true, then how can I help you?"
"This is not the only 'you.' This is only you living within a specific three-dimensional location in the multiverse. If you'll allow me, I can use the termination of this facet of yourself to locate its binary opposite."
"It's all a bit above my head," Hitler replied.
"Let me put it this way: do you want to win the war?"
"Yes," he replied, a tear rolling down his cheek. "More than anything."
"Good. Where is your cyanide capsule?"
Hitler pawed around in his uniform before finding it. With a shaking hand, he passed it to Peter. The Fuhrer was, as Peter had anticipated, desperate enough to trust them. Peter called Charlene in.
"It's the Soviets," Charlene announced. "They've arrived."
Peter reached into the inside pocket of his blazer and pulled out the temporal displacement unit.
"We're going to use the resultant Thanotic energy to propel ourselves five-dimensionally, Mr Hitler," Peter explained. "Charlene, grab on tight."
"Right-o," she said, taking a handful of buttock.
Peter pushed the capsule into Hitler's mouth, raised the Fuhrer's hand and forced him to shoot himself with his revolver. At that very second he pushed the relevant switch on the temporal displacement unit.
"Heil Hitler," Charlene saluted at the dictator's bloody corpse.
The office around them shimmered like fluid before dissolving. Then, it was like being on a roller-coaster moving incredibly fast in a direction it was impossible to point to. A few 'seconds,' as much as the term could be understood considering the circumstances, later, and Peter and Charlene found themselves in a very different office, a large, bright, cheerful room filled with shelf after shelf of literature.
"Who are you? What are you doing in here?" a German voice said. They whirled around to see a man who was transparently Hitler, except well-fed and healthy, with a faintly welcoming expression. On his bicep was a swastika armband, except the swastika was white and ran backwards over a green circle, the multiversal symbol of harmony.
"Thank Odin," Peter said. "Mr Hitler, my name is the Right Honourable Peter September of Her Majesty's Government. This is Charlene de la Cruz. We come in peace."
"What do you want?" Hitler demanded.
"We're from the future," Charlene said. "Not your future, but an alternate one."
"That's right," Peter concurred. "If my transdimensional navigation abilities are intact, you, Adolf Hitler, are a strategically brilliant, morally superior, superbly competent drunkard whose critical appreciation of Nietzsche is almost unmatched, you've never even heard of Benito Mussolini, and you're currently in the process of winning the war against the allies. Oh, and you have lovely breath, peppermint probably."
"What war?" Hitler asked, bewildered.
"Of course," Peter said, slapping his own forehead. "In this continuum you decided Germany should be non-expansionist. You never invaded Poland and so Chamberlain never declared war."
"Invade Poland!?" Hitler said. "Why would I invade Poland?"
"To get at the Jews, mainly," Charlene said, betraying her historical failings. Peter made a mental note.
"I have nothing against the Jews. My father was part Jewish, for god's sake. I've set up Semitic sanctuaries all over the place. Have you never heard of Auschwitz?"
"This is brill," Charlene said. "I like him a lot."
"You are time travellers," Hitler mused. "We've long suspected the existence of alternate dimensions. I'm currently working on a paper on the matter with my good friend Albert. But time travel is meant to be impossible!"
"Not only is it possible," Peter answered, "it's inevitable. If you think about it, you're travelling in time right this second, just in a slow limited fashion, and in one direction."
"Albert?" Charlene whispered aside to Peter as Hitler sat at his desk, allowing the revelation to wash over him.
"Einstein. If in our continuum Hitler is a fucking idiot, in this world he's a genius of the highest order. That's why we're here. Mr Hitler," he said aloud, "We'd like to take you with us, back to the 21st century. Our science, indeed our whole civilisation, has hit something of an impasse. We believe you might be able to help us."
"I don't know, Mr September," Hitler sighed. "I'm very happy here, in 1945. I have many friends, and a whole harem to think of. Not to mention my other responsibilities. What will happen to this world if I'm not here? Germany is the only thing standing in the way of Gandhi's insane plans for planetary domination. He intends to create a worldwide paedophile state..."
"You don't have to worry about that, mein herr. When you've helped us, we'll bring you back here to this very temporal locale. It will be as if you never left."
"Hmm..." Hitler got up and walked pensively to his bookcase. He stroked the spine of a particular volume, as if it was a beloved pet. Charlene caught that it was something by J. Verne.
"All right," the Fuhrer said at last. "I'll do it. I, Adolf Hitler, will save the world."
"Excellent!" Peter said, rushing forward to shake his hand. Charlene jumped and giggled with excitement, clapping her hands together. Hitler shot her a hungry glance and a wink that made her wet.
"Now, how do we get to your future?" Hitler asked.
"Aye, there's the rub" Peter said. "As I said, our science has only advanced so far. We're able to move backwards and sideways in time, but not forwards or diagonally. We'll have to take the long route. I'm gambling you're familiar with Eastern practices of extreme meditation?"
"Of course," Hitler said. "I'm actually recognised as a Bodhisattva in some places in Tibet."
"Excellent. In that case, we need somewhere completely safe, where we won't be disturbed. Then you, Charlene and I will slip into hyper-samadhi, the supreme meditative state. This will slow our metabolism down to almost nil. In sixty-six years' time we'll awaken; a little hungry, a little more enlightened, but basically the same. At that point we can move sideways back to our continuum."
"Sounds feasible," Hitler said.
"Mein Fuhrer," Charlene interjected, "Do you know of anywhere where we won't be disturbed?"
"There are places nobody ever visits. The Qaaba, the Holy Stone of Mecca. Most of Tokyo's practically empty. But the nearest would be the McDonald's, an obscure, closed down restaurant not far from here."
"That'll be perfect," Peter said. "McDonald's corporate growth was lateral as well a spacial. It exists in most continuums."
They walked out onto the Berlin streets. At first Peter had been worried that they'd need an escort, but Hitler was so benignly loved by his people, it wasn't necessary. The Fuhrer was regarded by passers by with polite affection, Charlene and Peter not at all.
Peter was curious about this world, a planet Earth that never saw World War II. No death camps, no Eastern offensive, no Dresden bombing, no Hiroshima. He wondered about all the potential knock-on effects of this. Would they all be positive? Or was he correct that World War II had changed relatively little in the collective psyche of human beings, beyond externalising the already extant third Perinatal Matrix? He didn't have time to find out.
Inside the restaurant, beneath the giant golden arches, they sat in a circle in the lotus position. Peter began with some simple zen positioning before making use of pranayama to bring his breath's pace almost to a halt. The others practised their own methods, but the results were the same. In a few minutes, they were taking in breath once every sixty seconds, their heart beating at roughly the same time. The last conscious thing Peter did was to install a command in the backbrain that would cause him to stretch his limbs a few times a year to prevent them from rotting away without leaving his trance, but truthfully the meditative energies should have been enough to stave off entropy anyway.
They awoke in 2011, to the sound of screams and gunfire. Hitler's little square moustache had flowered into a huge beard that covered his entire body. Peter looked down and saw he was the same. Charlene, for her part, was experiencing some discomfort caused by her underarm hair, but otherwise had not visibly aged out of her adolescent state. Peter, a superaesthete, could taste her hormones.
"Everyone okay?" Peter croaked, a bit dehydrated.
"A little stiff," Hitler said, getting to his feet. "But otherwise, fine."
"What the hell is going on out there?" Charlene queried. Everyone was beset by curiosity. They moved tentatively as a group to the door, which Peter had remembered to board back up when they first arrived 66 years previously. They began to remove that boarding – Hitler, who was in excellent physical condition, did most of the work.
Outside, a nightmare had invaded the world. The screaming was children being dragged from their mothers on the streets of what had been Berlin, which was every bit as wrecked as it had been in Peter and Charlene's continuum in 1945. The shooting was celebratory bursts of gunfire from stormtroopers arranging their own public executions. All under the banner that carried a familiar face, a small bespectacled Indian man.
"Mein Gott!" Hitler exclaimed. "Berlin, it's ruined!"
"What's this the opposite of, then?" Charlene asked Peter casually.
"The dichotomous instances of this continuum in relation to ours probably petered out as soon as we took Hitler off the board. This is a logical extrapolation of a scenario where Hitler wasn't around to save his people. Amusing."
"It's Gandhi!" Hitler shouted. "That lunatic! I told you! His evil Raj will have enveloped the world by now!"
"Don't shout so loud, you'll draw their attention. We look ridiculous enough as it is with these beards. In any case, the good news is we don't have to kill anyone. I can use the enormous amount of Thanotic energy around here to move us back to our continuum."
"Kill anyone...?" Hitler began.
"Then, once you've helped us, we can send you back to your 1945 where you can prevent all this from happening."
"But look!" Hitler cried. "Look at the devastation! The meaningless cruelty of it all!"
"This is positive," Peter said, drawing the temporal displacement unit and trying to time it with the death of a nearby hanging victim. "Very, very positive. If the world is this fucked up without you, it means you're every bit as good as we hoped."
"War! He's installed perpetual war! To maintain fascism, forever!" Hitler wailed as Peter pushed the switch.
"Reminds me of someone we know," Charlene said, as the world bent and twisted and dissolved around them once more.