Parable of the return

Having perfected the machine which allowed us to travel backwards
in time, we decided to visit the very origins of humankind, that
savanna where proto-hominids roamed, beginning their conquest of the
flora and fauna of the planet. We returned to a period before the
great dispersion, before the diasporic spread of humans fearful of

We brought clubs, knives, guns, explosives; we brought encapsulated
germs and plagues. Around eleven o'clock in the morning, we appeared
on the savanna. The hominids, tearing a sloth to pieces, were
everywhere. They carried clubs, hand axes, crude knives.

We knew the slaughter would kill us as well. We imagined the arrival
of other intelligent species who might know better, or who would also
send expeditions of destruction into their pasts. We were prepared for
death, an oddly retroactive form of suicide.

We began the slaughter; clubs and knives did not become us. We began
shooting and the hominids ran in all directions. We still survived.

We bombed their gathering places. We killed families indiscriminately.
We released smallpox, measles, plagues of all sorts. We machine-gunned
men, women, and children. We were harbingers of death. And yet we

We checked our demographies; we were at the center of the holocaust We
were the holocaust. We knew one or two might escape; we were prepared
for that. The future, our present, would be transformed. Hominids
would either go extinct or become a minor species with an ecological
niche in some savanna backwater.

We discovered this: We changed evolution utterly. We changed it
towards ourselves, the most violent of the futures of the hominids.
The ones that escaped would live to slaughter others. It was slaughter
that guided them all along. It was slaughter that created us. For
those that escaped, wounded, life would be constant fury. We had set
the script of revenge into motion. We produced ourselves.

We knew then that attempts to change the past only produced it. We
knew then that there was no escape; life itself would wane as plants
and animals hurtled towards extinction. Our return had created our
return; our return from the botched journey produced at best a botched
species. We had only ourselves to blame; our ancestors, each and every
one, were innocent, following the path we had set for them.

We knew then that we followed the same path, that we were determined
as well, produced by the circularity of our return. We were at the
birth of the wounded, the birth of indiscriminate slaughter. We were
at our own birth as well. We understood that there was nothing to do,
nothing to be done, that death was always in the doing, that violence
was mandated from our own beginnings. We knew then that we would die
soon, just as others died, fellow travelers back in time, fellow
architects of doom.

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