Short Stories 366:213 — “Ignition,” by John M. Floyd

coverWith this story, Crime Travel returns from its darker duet of stories to something a bit more hopeful, and as a reader, I was glad to go there. That’s not to say “Ignition” doesn’t have a few harrowing moments or some dark turns, but more that ultimately, we’re on Eddie’s side from the get-go, and he manages to turns a series of odds-stacked-against-him in the right direction (at least, a little).

Eddie works at an institute about to unveil a time machine, and the day before it’s about to be announced to the world, one of the other men who works there (and is higher up on the food chain than Eddie is likely to ever be) asks him to lunch and proceeds to offer up a plan to use the time machine to travel back in time and steal a cash delivery that went awry in the past and was destroyed. When Eddie demurs, the other man resorts to blackmail, and Eddie is left involuntarily involved with a time heist.

The twists of this one are really well done, playing with time travel in a very specific way that I enjoyed and found plausible (and all the more enjoyable for the somewhat karmic payoff that is delivered through said time travel fallout). The story is told while Eddie is being debriefed by the company so the reader knows he gets caught in some way, but as Eddie spins the story for the interviewer, it’s impossible not to root for the guy. He didn’t this; he just wanted to keep his job and do his work. That tiny slice, the blackmail, is entirely enough to paint him in the role of someone we care about, which makes the ending pack just that little bit much more satisfaction in the delivery.

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