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The Hero of Your Own Story

Anthony W. Eichenlaub's short stories have appeared in numerous publications, including Little Blue Marble, On-Spec Magazine, and the anthologies A Community of Magic Pens and A Punk Rock Future. His longer works include the Old Code series about an elderly hacker using his skills to protect his granddaughters and the Colony of Edge series about irresponsible science on a planetary colony far from Earth. In his spare time he enjoys landscaping, woodworking, and extremely short hikes in the snow. His work can be found at anthonyeichenlaub.com.

They say that every person is a hero of their own story, and that is how we know all this multiverse crap is your fault.
Look. We know you had the best intentions, but best intentions are what pave the road to hell. Particularly, the road we refer to is the one that leads downtown to where the dodos are infinitely replicating themselves after figuring out how to use your abandoned time portals. We don't think they'll ever be extinct again.
They're causing some serious problems with traffic.
We took a poll, and all of us here agreed that they would either have lunch with Jesus or kill Hitler as their first action with a functioning time machine, but you picked the dodo thing and that's fine. They say you get what you give, and you gave dodos.
So, I guess there's that.
Ghandi once said that you should be the change you want to see in the world, and by the skull motif on your time-traveling power armor we see that you have taken this to heart. Are you even from this universe? Your fashion choices are really pushing some boundaries.
That which does not kill us only makes us stronger, which is why we're here to thank you for giving strength to the remaining human population. Who could have guessed that the return of the dinosaurs would cause such problems? Your time portals are not big enough for any of the really exciting monsters.
Seeing a tyrannosaurus rex would have been fantastic, but those little velociraptors you summoned can tear the neck out of a hedge fund investor in three seconds flat. As a solution to the dodo-related traffic problems, this was clever. We commend you for really thinking outside the box on that one.
Unfortunately, velociraptors are terrified of dodos.
They say you should always be yourself, and, as you can see, that's more true for us than for most. It's not our fault that we're all you. Those portals you left open throughout the multiverse made it inevitable that your own doubt--your own self-loathing would be your defeat. We're here to undo everything you've done. If you try to stop us, we have a dozen suits of time-traveling power armor. You'll notice that not a single one of them uses a skull motif.
Yes, I see that one of them is unicorn-themed. I think we all know why, and I think we're all a little jealous.
Oh. Oh, hey. Don't cry.
Look, I know things have gotten a little out of control, but it's never too late to be what you want to be. You can turn this around. Be something better. You could join us.
Truthfully, we could really use your help. One universe over there's a version of us who's way worse. They tried that portal looping thing to get infinite energy, and let me tell you it is not going well. The European crater is growing, so we should probably get over there and stop it pretty soon.
They say that when one door closes another opens, and that's what makes all this multiverse crap so hard to clean up.
But we do our best, and remember, we learn more from failure than we ever did from success.
The End
This story was first published on Monday, May 23rd, 2022


Author Comments

Whenever I go back to read this story, the part that sticks out to me is the line about how it's never too late to be what you want to be. I've recently experienced a career change, and so every time I go back and read this piece I think of the years I spent in the old career and the work ahead of me on the new one. Sure, things got a little out of hand, but now it's time to be who I want to be and summon some dodos. Maybe a velociraptor or two.

- Anthony W. Eichenlaub
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