Hitler was having a piece of banana cake when Bob Ross walked in.
“And I just feel like no one *gets* me, you know?” The future Fuhrer was saying to one of his servants, as he sprayed whipped cream over the cake, distracted. “I mean, I know most artists are destined to be posthumous, but… I don’t know, I guess I want the fame and the fortune too, you know?”
“*Ja*, It is very hard, my master,” the man said, in a German accent but in English for no reason at all, just like foreign characters in the movies.
“Hey, Hitler,” Bob said, stepping in, confident. “May I?” he pulled a chair sat down without waiting for an answer.
“What is this!?”
“Listen, I’m Bob Ross and I’m from the future and I paint stuff.”
“Yes. Here’s the thing – I’m supposed to come here and teach you how to paint so you’ll be a good painter and not invade Poland and then the rest of Europe and cause the death of millions of people.”
“Holy shit, I do that!?” Hitler widened his eyes.
“Oh, yes. It’s awful. People still use your name as a reference to evil. There’s even an internet law based on how long it takes until someone compares a certain situation to Nazi Germany during an argument.”
“What’s the internet?”
“Never mind,” Bob leaned forward. “This is what we’re going to do – I’m going to teach you how to –”
“Excuse me,” Hitler’s servant said, in that same fake accent. “I’m afraid I must intervene here.”
“Well, Mr. Ross, have you considered the twist?”
“Yes. The fact that you’ll teach this man how to paint, he’ll grow to be a famous painter, not invade anything, and when you return to your home time you’ll find out that another man named, I don’t know, Hans, has taken over
Germany and did worse things than Adolf here could ever do.”
Ross frowned. “I don’t follow.”
“You don’t watch much Twilight Zone, do you?” The servant asked.
“How do you know about the Twilight Zone? This is 1910.”
“Never mind about that.” The servant leaned back. “My name is Hans, Ross. And I will take over Germany if you teach Adolf how to paint.”
“Why!? Why would you do that?”
“Why else would I be in the scene? Why would Hitler not be alone when you walked in? I have to serve some purpose for the plot, right? And let’s face it – go back in time and kill/talk/convince/teach Hitler is a trope we’ve seen before, and it always ends like this. In fact, most time traveling tropes tend to end with a silly variation of the butterfly effect we-made-things-even-worse twist. Let’s not make this prompt another example.”
Bob Ross scratched his head and thought about this. “Shit. Okay. I guess. But what do we do now?”
“Now we find a way to subvert time traveling tropes and present something fresh for the readers. And fast, because they’re getting impatient.”
“Why are they getting impatient? We’re still at 500 words!”
“Yes, but we’ve gone post-modern self-referential, characters-acknowledging-their-own-stories. That annoys some people.”
“It’s not really my fault, look at the prompt. Where do you go with time traveling Bob Ross and Hitler that’s not self-referential parody?”
“Now you’re blaming the OP for your shortcomings as a storyteller. Classy.”
“Not *my* shortcomings. I’m not the author.”
They both turn and stare at me for a second. I shrug.
“Anyway,” Hans said, resuming the conversation. “Do something different. Fast.”
“Huuuuuuh…. Fuck, I don’t know. Kiss Hitler!”
“Erotic Nazi Fanfic? No thanks.”
“Okay, then… you have cancer, and Hitler nurses you to health, but in the end we find out *Hitler* has cancer too, and –”
“I’m not taking part in The Fault in our Stars Feat. Adolf Hitler. It ain’t gonna happen.”
“Well, you gotta do something, and fast, because time is running out.”
“Hitler? Any suggestions?”
Adolf looked around. He got up and paced. “I don’t know. Can you just return to your present time and call it a day?”
“And then everything happens as it’s supposed to? That’s boring.”
“Yeah…” Hitler stopped. “I don’t know then. I really don’t know.”
Hans shook his head. “Okay, I got this.” He grabbed a little radio device from his pocket and spoke into it. “Send them in.”
Ross frowned. “Send who in?”
Static emerged from the radio for a second, then a voice answered: “Copy that.”
“Send who in?” Adolf repeated. “What’s happening?”
“Well,” Hans said, getting up. “If we’re in a Hitler and Bob Ross time traveling prompt and we can’t figure out a way to turn it into something fresh, we might as well embrace irony and self-mockery to the full extent of Writing Prompt’s classic tropes.”
“What do you mean?”
The door came open behind Ross. He turned back and watched as two teenagers walked in – a boy in round glasses and a scar on his forehead and a girl that looked a lot like Emma Watson.
“Hey Harry, hey Hermione. Sorry to drag you into yet another prompt. You got the time turner?”
“Yup,” Harry said, in a bored tone.
“Harry Potter fanfic? Really?” Ross shook his head. “For fuck’s sake.”
“If we’re gonna go down the rabbit’s hole, let’s do it proudly.”
Hermione started setting the time turner. Harry looked around, curious. Ross sighed.
“Fuck that, I’m out,” Hitler said, and then he jumped out the window, and then WW II didn’t happen, but the Statute of Secrecy *was* violated on account of the whole thing and muggles learned about magic and when Ross returned to his present day no one gave a shit about static paintings anymore, so he died a poor man, which I guess is irony or whatever, I don’t even care.