A story written for day 1 of the A-to-Z challenge. A is for Albert Einstein, celebrated Nobel prize-winning physicist (for his explanation of the photoelectric effect), one of the founders of modern physics, and renowned hater of socks.
“Put down the brain and let’s talk.” Xav squinted at the thief, gamma pistol aimed squarely at his chest, body armor illuminated in bold blue to identify him as a law enforcement officer.
“No!” The masked thief took a step backwards, to the very edge of the 3108th story balcony. “Stay where you are! I’ll pitch this brain right over the railing!”
“Ok, citizen.” Xav lowered his pistol. Between the heavy traffic of the hover-expressway, and the twelve-kilometer plummet to ground level, the brain would never survive. He didn’t want the loss of Einstein’s brain on his head. “Can we discuss this calmly? Why did you do it?”
The thief’s eyes bulged. “He ruined everything!”
“Einstein? Citizen, you’re aware that Albert Einstein died two hundred years before you were born?”
“This is the brain that birthed the Theory of Relativity,” ranted the thief. “Have you ever read the speculative fiction from his time period? That was the Golden Age of Science Fiction. Amazing Stories. Astounding Tales. The great founding fathers of the genre wrote tall tales about atomic starships cruising the galaxy. Terrifying aliens. Grand adventure.”
Behind his protective facemask, Xav frowned. “So?”
“So look around, cop!” The brain flopped around in its preservative-filled bottle as the thief spread his arms wide. “No atomic spaceships. No superluminal etheric communications. No green-skinned alien women. But if I destroy the brain that created Relativity, then all the dreams of those pre-Einsteinian writers can come true.”
Xav shook his head. “Citizen,” he lectured. “Einstein didn’t make the rules; he discovered them. Why, blaming Einstein for the lack of FTL is like blaming Isaac Newton for the existence of gravity.”
The thief withdrew the brain from the ledge, holding it close to his body. “Yeah?”
“Of course! Destroying the brain won’t help anything.” As Xav took a tentative step forward, the thief did not withdraw, so the police officer joined him on the balcony. He looked the thief in his masked face. “Look at everything we gained from Relativity. E=mc^2. A deeper understanding of the universe. Without Einstein, there’d be no fusion reactors, no laser communications, no time travel, no GPS.”
With his free hand, the thief removed his black mask, revealing himself to be a youth of perhaps college-age. “You’re right,” he admitted. “Besides, Einstein’s brain was already stolen once, and dissected. What good did that do?”
In a quick motion, the thief hurled the bottled brain over his shoulder. To Xav’s horror, the bottle followed a ballistic arc through the air, until a passing hover-truck crashed into it. The bottle shattered, spilling formaldehyde across the windshield. The massive hover-truck loosed a massive honk of its air horn.
“Why did you do that?” Xav shouted, horrified as he watched the cubes of Einstein’s dissected brain tumble chaotically to the distant groud.
The thief shrugged. “What does it matter? We have time travel, remember? You can go back and stop me before I even steal the brain.”
“Oh, of course,” Xav nodded. “I guess you’re free to go.”
“I’d better hurry back to Tau Ceti, then!” The thief shook Xav’s hand. “My fraternity is throwing a barbecue this evening. Who needs FTL when you have time travel?”
Xav pulled out his tablet to make an official report on the brain theft that was soon to be never happened. If there was a lesson to be learned from this, Xav couldn’t figure it out.