Short Story #59: The Business As Usual by Mack Reynolds

Title:  The Business As Usual 

Author:  Mack Reynolds


Damon Knight - A Century of Science Fiction
A time traveler arrives in the future quite excited to be there and looks to talk to someone.  He encounters a pedestrian whom he tries to explain his situation.  The pedestrian listens but continues to interrupt to clarify things.  The traveler has only fifteen minutes before he goes back and the pedestrian explains to him that when he goes back, he will forget everything because of the way the timestream works.  He then tells the traveler that the only way to prove he went to the future would be to bring something back like his knife.  The traveler agrees but then the pedestrian haggles for something exchange.  Eventually, the traveller offers everything on his body in exchange for the knife and the pedestrian agrees.  Just as the traveler strips and takes hold of the knife, he dissolves but the knife just drops to the ground because physical goods can't be brought back to the past either.  The pedestrian picks up the knife and the clothes and heads home.  His wife asks about the clothes and he laughs that he found another time-traveling sucker.  He throws the clothes into closet filled with other clothes he has acquired from previous time travelers.  


A short but pithy story on time travel that leaves you smiling.  That pretty much sums up how the story operates.  It has actually given me my own idea for a short story which I can also appreciate.  

Short Story #59 out of 365
Rating: 3 (out of 5 stars)
Date Read:  2/25/2014
Source:  A Century of Science Fiction, edited by Damon Knight. 

For a full listing of all the short stories in this series, check out the category 365 Short Stories a year.

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