by Thomas A. Mays
Ansel Matthews poured cream into his coffee and watched as entropy curled black and white to brown. He enjoyed tracking the delicate whorls of liquid as they folded in upon one another, but he would not remember this. It was too mundane an event to retain specifics. There was far too much to remember already.
And even more to forget.
He looked at his guest in the diner's booth and stirred his cup. "My gift is one of preternatural credulity. You tell me how things happened, and I'll believe you. I'll share your story with my equally unquestioning brethren around the globe, and together we remember your version of history. Soon, a tipping point is reached where belief becomes reality and the deed is done, your past is changed."
She narrowed her eyes. "That can't possibly be true." Representative Karen Reed was recognized by most as a practical and principled public servant, but she had sought Ansel out and sat down in his booth, not the reverse. Her protest was hollow.
He shrugged. "They pay you to debate. They pay me to accept. And I do all right."
"Prove it. Whose history have you changed?"
Ansel gave her a melancholy smile and sipped his coffee. Too sweet. Must have forgotten how many sugars I put in. "Our services wouldn't be worth much if you could pick out the changes. We accept your reality and eventually it becomes the reality all accept. Everyone assumes history is a fixed, true thing, but our own timelines-–past, present, and future--are defined by what we believe of the past. The public believes what its most committed members believe, whether they're experts or merely the nagging voices of certainty. I'll commit to whatever story you tell me."
Reed fidgeted in her seat, as if confirming its solidity. "But what about evidence to the contrary? Or eye-witnesses? Won't those screw up your 'version' of history?"