“Like most of you I was inclined to say the war was caused by fish.”
However, after a close examination of the evidence, Cadman Michaels — who held doctorates in theoretical physics and history, but who called himself an Alternate Historian — could say now with some confidence that the roots of World War III could be found in three things: beer, ice hockey and something called Tim Horton’s coffee.
He could say this with some confidence. And he did.
“My extensive work in multi-universal alternate histories, made possible by my invention, the Moorcock Inter-Dimensional Time Inversion Tunneller (patent pending), shows the cause of the war was actually much earlier in history, well before the breakup of Canada. I intend to outline this series of events in this presentation.”
There were grumbles from the learned audience at the annual History of WWIII Conference, held in sunny and (relatively) radiation-free Blenheim, NZ. The MIDTIT was controversial technology, but several papers had proved its efficacy at determining historical turning points.
“I’d have to say it stems from an incident in 1972, during the so-called Summit Series, an ice hockey match played between Canadian NHL players and the Russian Red Army team. Prior to the sixth game, played at the Luzhniki Palace of Sports in Moscow, Russian officials “lost” a shipment of beer the Canadian team had been expecting. Few other historians have noted how grumpy this made the Canadian players, and in particular, Bobby Clarke. ”
The audience stared at Michaels blankly.
“Clarke was the player who slashed Valeri Kharlamov’s ankle, fracturing it; this took him out of the next game, and made him ineffective for the final game.”
“Wait, that’s not true!” someone from the audience shouted.
“Exactly,” someone else said, Michaels thought it was Hans Gruber, Professor of Pre-Radiation Sports at the University of New Heidelberg, in Perth Australia. “Kharmalov played brilliantly in the remaining games, which is how the Russian team took the series four games to three, with one tie.”
“Ah,” Michaels smiled. “You are right of course. I’ve been telling you about the alternate history. Now, the other surprise I have for you is actual images of this alternate history, taken by a recording device that can utilize the inter-dimensional tunnel created by the MIDTIT.”
He played several minutes of grainy, black and white video, showing the events he described, including the Canadian victory in game eight.
“My apologies for the quality of the video, but for some reason, I can only capture video and stills from sources broadcast during the time period the MIDTIT is examining.”
This produced fewer grumbles, but a higher level of chatter in the room.
“I agree. It is fascinating, yes? In this alternate history, the Canadians win the Summit Series, and really, this enables the country to keep from falling apart, unlike our own timeline. We have always thought the Canadian experiment failed because it was a historical necessity. Really, when you look at the absurd country, there was very little to hold it together, given the regional differences, an active separatist movement in Quebec, Western alienation, and the pressure from the United States. But imagine if Canada wins the Summit Series …”
Terry McDonaldson, who was born in Winnipeg, Manitoba, when it was part of the defunct country called Canada, and who actually played “ice hockey” as it was called in New Auszealand, could be heard muttering, “beauty, eh?” Continue reading