May 26th 2519, my birthday. I have had friends popping in all day with their best wishes. Now the afternoon sun is dropping behind the Rocky Mountains, as I recline in anti-grav lounger in my garden overlooking the great plains, stretching out to the east.
A slow moving air barge moves slowly up the front range at about 300 feet above ground. It is noiseless. Already, below it, the darkening landscape is broken only by the lights from drone-taxis, bringing home the tech-workers from Denver. The sun reflects off the cargo containers filled with necessities to provide the great city sustenance for a few more hours. There will be others to follow.
It set me to thinking though (what a Gemini does best, or at least most). It is so easy now with the anti-grav technology to move our goods where needed. Back through the centuries, it was mans greatest challenge. They either had to provide with their needs by making it themselves, or growing it themselves, or they had to have it brought to them.
In the early days of America where I had visited a number of times, I had noticed the ships on the docks, unloading goods from wherever they had sailed. Then the endless lines of carts and wagons, pulled by countless horses, mules and oxen. You would have had to have been there to have realized the stench from that energy source. I had watched the wagon trains behind the armies in both the Revolution and the Civil War. I witnessed and recorded General Bragg’s train as he retreated from Perryville, Kentucky in October of 1862. I couldn’t believe my eyes, it was 50 miles long! The first wagons, had bivouacked three nights before the last wagons started. Amazing… how inefficient. Then came the river boats and then the trains over the years. Now we put them on a deck the size of a city block, catalog the locations of items, and float them wherever we need them. And they are unloaded robotically and dispersed by drones to their end address.
Tomorrow, when I return to work, I will document more on this subject. But for now, Misha has just stepped from her shower and my mind is suddenly else where.
Monday the 27th I stepped from my drone taxi in front of the Archive Center on Larimer Street. I looked up toward the top of the tall tower to glimpse the blue sky before I entered. Who knows what the weather would be like where I was going.
After briefing and morning checks, I told my chief what I had in mind. He thought it a good idea, and upon my return we would perhaps refine the editing and cataloging.
My first stop was Jerusalem 32 A.D. The great Roman Empire was occupying this desert world. How would they move their supplies, and what would they export to that world and what would they import to it? I dressed in a worn woolen robe, tied with a course belt. No one seemed to take notice of me on the crowded streets. Up ahead on a hill stood the Temple. I had to stop. There were no known paintings of it. I had to marvel at its splendor. Not large when compared to modern edifices, but majestic I think was the word. But what I wanted to see was market items, convoys of whatever kind. I walked to a corner of a broad street and turned left, when suddenly a Roman soldier stepped in front of me and said something that I totally did not understand. I speak neither Latin or Yiddish and had forgotten to turn on my translator. He made to grab me, and I stepped back, smiled and skipped an hour forward. Of course he was gone, and thoroughly confused, I’m sure. I found the market and walked slowly through, looking at the hundreds of items, many of which I was surprised to see. I recorded everything, including the smells. A new technology had just been developed that allowed us to do that. It was quite nice to be able to capture the smells of the past, in most cases, not all.
After leaving the market I decided to travel to the seacoast at Caesarea Maritima, a seacoast city built by Herod. Just as I turned to the west a group of men were approaching me, talking amongst themselves. I watched them. They were so animated in their conversations. They were talking with their hands, gesturing, walking backwards, gathered about the one young man who appeared to be either their leader or at least the center of their attentions. He was a bit taller than the others, well built, probably did hard labor to develop his shoulders and upper torso. He was dark complexioned, curly hair, a beard. As we came abreast of each other he stopped and looked intently at me. He seemed to study me, I could almost feel him in my head. Then he smiled, a warm smile, seemingly full of mirth, almost as if he knew me. He bowed slightly, turned and continued on his journey. I turned and watched him go. I knew instinctively who he was. I turned back to the west.
The road to Caesarea was to the northwest. I knew from my research it was about 75 miles. Too far for anyone to walk, a good two day ride by horse back, maybe a week with loaded pack animals and carts. Still, I wanted to see as much of it as possible. The only way to do that was too scroll through time. In other words, fast forward myself. I had never done this before, but the effect was extraordinary. I traveled at about 20 times a human’s normal rate of walk, excluding nighttime as I knew no one would be moving. At this rate I would be virtually invisible, and simply create a breeze in passing. I stopped from time to time to take note of convoys. It seemed everything going to Jerusalem was military. But large convoys were observed making their way to the port. Jars of wine, olive oil, oil lamps of clay, slaves and riches too numerous to mention. I spent a night of the local time in the desert. I didn’t sleep much but I was blown away by the night sky. In a world with little artificial light, the magnificence of the heavens was astounding. I made the trip in two days. I watched the ships being loaded. I confess I would not have wanted to journey out on the sea in one of those little tubs. Brave men, those 1st century seamen. The evidence of trade was there.
Now to skip ahead. Where to next?
Henderson, Kentucky, May 1819. A Steamboat lies along the shore of the Ohio River. It one of the first. As I stand watching, a crew of men run to the water, board the boat and quickly cast off into the river and head down stream. Shortly some more run to the river’s edge and look downstream, toward the already disappeared steamboat. It was John James Audubon. He had sold the boat, but was paid with worthless paper money. The buyer absconded with it anyway. The story is much longer, perhaps someone else can tell it in the future.
That was the early start to river-boating. Interestingly enough, when they loaded the boat to go back up river it didn’t have the power it needed to pull a load up stream.
I hung out on the river for several years, skipping through time, watching the American west spread down the rivers and cities spring up all up and down the Mississippi. Then, in 1862, the big steamboats took up the task of transporting the troops during the Civil War. Some of them were armored and became gunboats and fought fierce battles. But that is much too long a subject for this narrative.
Then the railroads took up the loads along with the boats, and the American west came alive. It seemed so quaint in comparison with my present day high tech logistics, with our interplanetary shipping techniques. Yet everything must have a beginning. Each thing a birth, a coming forth from need, oft-times accompanied by pain. Then the struggles of the first steps, then finally to run and take large bounds. When I logged back into my center, I had a good story, I thought. I wondered about that young man back in Judea. Could he have seen all this in my mind when we met? Is that why the smile? I will always wonder.
My life. My life has taken a complete change. You ask why? Well, up until a few months ago, I lived in the present. I worked mostly service jobs. In the 26th century service jobs make up about 95% of the job market. Technology, a great deal of it robot technology, has completely dominated manufacturing, mining, agriculture, travel, logistics, and other occupations that for centuries took a large part of population to accomplish.
For several centuries, once this trend started to develop, it created mass havoc in society. Politics fumed and fussed and blamed and excused themselves as to what the opposite party was doing to the employment lines. When, in truth, it was neither’s and both’s fault. It was just the bi-product of progress. Another view of human evolution.
Then, a couple of centuries into this ‘progress’, caste systems evolved. The lesser educated and the financially deprived were put onto a dole. It didn’t take long for that to cause a world of problems. In my opinion, it was what caused the political system that had governed America and, somewhat, the rest of the nations on the planet to fail. Some had seen it coming for a few decades, and kept trying to warn us. But the past dies hard, and change comes even harder. There had, for almost all of written history, been two forces that sought to lead the world. One was the Conservative, and the other the Liberal, and they were labeled many different things throughout history. But essentially, they were the forces of government. They came from basically the people who rose to power, and from the way they were wired mentally. I won’t place good or bad labels on either. So many things effect DNA in humans. Not only the hereditary DNA that is passed through generations, but the effects of environment and the learning trauma that each of us experience from infancy to adulthood and beyond. All these things help to shape that conservative wiring or that liberal wiring.
So how do you get unbiased leadership? Well, it is simply using a method of selecting those legislators by grade level, instead of common election. Bright minds that want to work in that field are taken from the top levels of students. Select your leaders much like one would select a secretary of the army – one who is knowledgeable of the military. Do it by vetted knowledge and proven ability. No one person having absolute power. A governing body of 13, of equal power, each with checks and balances.
But they must be vetted for the way they lean, most of all. Rather like the Supreme Court of the United States should have been. Except they gave the right of choice by whatever side was in power. That sure sounds like a good idea doesn’t it? Someone didn’t understand balance. You put a spinning wheel on an axle that is true and center. Then you spin it and there is no sound, no vibration. Yet if you were to set that axle just a fraction of an inch off center, the whole things rattles and vibrates and makes a great degree of noise. And if spun at much speed, will fly apart and destroy things around it. A simple example of physics. No one thinks to follow that same path in our governing body.
Ok. So, on this train of thought, I decided to select history episodes to test my thinking. First on my lists was Rome. That mighty Empire based on 7 hills in Italy. Through it’s history it was able to advance civilization by many great leaps. Yet, finally, it leaped itself into decay. What went wrong? It had a royal leader, and a Senate. Should that not create a balance? It should have. But no, the rich held all the power. And the royal, became a God.
I zipped through time. Nothing even came close during the Dark Ages. I found some of the semi primitive tribal societies came close in many ways. Yet they had not evolved to the point of advancing their technology, thereby limiting themselves in advancement. So many things, so many variables.
The older Oriental systems, mostly based on exalted royal families with advisers, served as dynasties simply because they were alright for the period of time in which they existed. So we see a pattern.
The people wanted a supreme leader, someone they could look up to. Someone they could praise, if they had good fortune, or blame if their life came to naught. But they also thought it would be a good idea if those leaders had counselors. So they would choose them. But here again, the only ones usually chosen were the rich. Because in many cases, they were the only ones that had the time and resources to hold those positions. The poor person was to busy feeding his face, or keeping shelter over his head.
Power corrupts. You give many people a tiny bit of power, and right away they will search for a way to increase that power, and expand its territory. You must take away the ‘power over’ and stimulate ‘power together’ or ‘power with’.
As I searched the centuries of kingdoms and nations and empires, I realized many of the governments were replicas of their religions. When they allowed their religion too far into their government, they soon failed.
Then, near the end of the 18th century, the United States of America broke off from its parent monarchy. They proceeded to try a democratic society, maybe a democratic republic. This would be fun to watch. Here is a coastal shelf of people that have lived, within much of their lifespan, under a monarch somewhere. Now they had freedom.
Now, remember, no one has ever had a freedom before. No one knows how to drive it. Just imagine if you had never had one. So you work real hard and you go down to the freedom dealer and you buy you a brand new one with stars and stripes, and blue all the way across one side, and it is so cool. And you close the deal, and they hand you the keys to a brand new freedom. What do you do now? Well, you go sit in the driver’s seat and crap, how do you start it? There is no ‘King’ button to get it going. And all those levers to switch – labeled treasury, and law enforcement, and military, and trade, and labor for the masses, so they can feed themselves. And there is no handbook.
Well, that is what those Americans had to deal with. They found that that glue of those states that held it all together, well, that stuff wasn’t worth crap. The slightest bit of heat and stress and the states started splitting. The cost of that is written in their history in Bold Tall type, covered with blood. They found right away that their Conservatives and Liberals had separate camps, and stood strong against the other side. By being allowed to live in separate camps, they never were able to learn to live with each other, to eat each other’s food, wear each other’s boots, to see the other side of the thing. This became a pattern for them. Oh, it worked all right most of the time. The pendulum swings to the left and to the right.
Remember that pendulum is at it’s strongest in the midst of it’s swing. When it is reaching it’s peak either way, it becomes slower, and weaker, then starts picking up speed and strength as it starts the other way. Another lesson in physics. Another lesson learned. The power is in the center.
At the beginning of the 21st century they suffered some experiments in governing the nation. It took a while, but they got it straight again. Then, about 30 years later, fell off the wagon again.
Most figured that is was the couple of decades that children were reared with no discipline, and no rules. Others said that they had become too fixated on themselves. Every 30 years or so some of the generations won’t rise up to accept the responsibility, and growth becomes retrograde. Probably just the span of time of the swing of the pendulum.
The truth of the present can always be found in the past, and the secret of the future can always be guided from both the past and the present together.
It took us another two, maybe three hundred years to be able to see this, but we did. We saw that we need to govern the length of the swing of the pendulum. We came to know that to do this was to limit the power of the liberal-conservative influence. It is still there, it will always be, for it is humanity itself. Only the robot sees no black or white (although many of our artificial intelligences do have that talent now, they evolved as we did).
It is comforting to see how far we have come. It is life changing in itself to be able to travel through the ages, and see how the mentality of mankind has changed. It has taken over my life, as it has for many others, who have been called ‘Almost Angels’. We have been able to see the creation of man up to our time.
We talk about it at work sometimes, after spending hours in another day. What will be next? Where are we headed now?
Well, this is where I leave you for today. Misha has a dinner planed for us on the Mediterranean coast in Spain in a small fishing village. I am supposed to meet her there in 5 minutes.
In the last chapter of my Journal I outlined a recording trip to the dawn of history. It was an important trip, not because of what was recorded, but new facts were brought to light about time travel. As a result, for a time we are required to keep our travels to a 700 year maximum. I was a bit bummed, to quote an old expression. I was a bit more interested in old history.
So I found myself thinking about where to go next trip. I was watching a news show while sitting in the garden watching a viper slinking on a bird on a limb. How morbid you say. They were both holograms, computer programs. So don’t get upset about it.
Anyway, a picture of a handsome man with a smiling face and a white shock of hair was shown. He was talking, about what I couldn’t tell, as there was no audio. He was dressed very casual, and was laughing with a reporter. The micro phone said Channel 2, but the call letters, identified it as Houston, TX. What would he be doing in Houston? You see this was the 42nd President of the United States, Bill Clinton. I found the date that this report was aired – Nov 1st 1997. On further search, I found this to be about 5 days from the Oct 27th stock market crash. I also remembered this was in the period of time that he would have been having intimate moments with a staffer, an intern. Was she with him? He looked to be very relaxed for a man with all pressure of the world on his shoulders. What had he done that day? Ok, we are off to find out!
Next morning at work, after checking in, I ran a search on Bill Clinton’s vitals for 8:45 AM Houston, TX area, Nov. 1st 1997. When the computer locked on, I was surprised to find he was not in Houston at all, but at a set of co-ordinates about 50 miles northwest of Houston proper. Why? What was there?
I set my computer at the place where he was, costumed myself properly and pushed enter.
OMG, I am standing before castle gates! A man dressed as a king is speaking from a parapet above our heads. Knights in armor are sitting on horses near by. I quickly looked around. Did I hit the wrong era? What was this? But no, there were people dressed much as I was; only part of the crowd was dressed like the King and others.
At about that time the King shouted, “And welcome to the Texas Renaissance Festival, and have a merry day!”
And the gates opened, and we began to enter. I looked all around me for the President, but he was nowhere. I checked for his coordinates again. He was supposed to be right there where that tall man is….ah, there he is. A group of people all garbed as 16th century folk. He is wearing a wig, and God I would never have recognized him. He looks a bit more somber this morning, eyes seem tired. What will this day bring?
After passing through the gates, I must say that I was amazed.
A welcoming crowd of musicians, jugglers, fairies, and other folk that didn’t seem to have a place anywhere in history were gathered. And the entertainment began. We went more or less straight forward from gate, perusing the shops situated in the mostly two story buildings that seemed to border the little city. I allowed the entourage their space, didn’t want a secret service man to get suspicious of a character that hung too close. I wished that my girl Misha might have been with me. We had spent countless hours together looking at all kinds of art at galleries and shows. And here before me was abundance, so varied that it was almost overwhelming. Copper roses and water fountains made of the same material adorned one small Shoppe, the jewelry beside it artistically formed for hair pieces in another. I had to keep my mind on my business.
As Mr. Clinton headed for the Queen’s Pantry, I pushed my way though the growing crowd to be near him. Oh my, and I can’t eat the food. Pastries, sweet rolls, small sausages, wrapped in a roll and baked, called kolatches. An egg concoction, labeled Scottish Eggs. And more, much, much more! This was just not fair!
The President walked away with both hands full of delicacies. For a moment, I was angry at him. Naw, probably just jealous. We walked a ways, looking at the treasures in the shops. The President was losing his stressed look. I found him laughing and talking as we proceeded. We approached a stage on our right just as a person dressed in rags stepped out, carrying a small skeleton in his arms. The skeleton, dressed in 16 century clothing, greeted his audience.
“Hey, audience! I’m Bob! This my friend Smuj!” pointing to the hooded figure carrying him. That got presidential approval.
As his monologue continued, he set up his rules for audience participation. He then called a helper from the crowd, a pretty brunette with an admirable cleavage. Bob extended his hand for the young lady to touch, all the while leering at her breasts. Finally, “Oh, I totally forgot about all of you were here…”
The crowd erupted in applause.
The tall cowboy type with the President leaned in to him,
“Hey, Bill, she looks like that cute girl you were hugging at the fundraiser about a year ago. Who was that?”
The President’s head jerked around. He looked a bit shocked.
“Oh, she is a White House intern, don’t remember her name.”
“Yeah, sure, that was really good hug for someone you don’t know.” He punched the president’s shoulder in a manly gesture.
We continued out tour as the performance ended, walking and talking.
His friend asked, “Do you think this Wall Street thing is serious?”
“No, it is nothing important in itself. It is just more dangerous by its looks, it reflects bad.”
“That is good to know.”
Pony rides and hat shoppes and, oh yes, the chain mail booth. The President was quite interested in the chain mail, and purchased a few pieces that were handed off to someone to carry. He was invited back for the noon fashion show on the balcony. Still, I was amazed no one had seemed to recognize him. Maybe no one cared. Maybe everyone here was here to escape reality. Yes, that could be it. We made a turn somewhere just as we were nearing the back borders of the village.
We came upon some men dressed in ragged dirty robes with mud in their faces, standing on a stage quoting Shakespeare. Suddenly, one of them dived off the stage into a huge pile of sloppy mud and then the other followed him. The crowd roared with laughter. I drifted away from the entourage, giving them space for a while.
I was caught up in the ancient framework of what appeared to be an old church. To one side of it was a rose garden. Other gardens were nearby, including a water garden that was a spectacle in itself. When I glanced back my group was moving away. They turned toward what looked like an old sailing ship that had been beached. But under its deck were beverages and beers and wines and all kinds of food. I caught my entourage there, and worked my way into the throng looking at the menus longingly, and listening.
The President turned to his friend and said, “I love my job, I love being a force for future growth. I know all my ideas can’t come to fruition, but if I can get at least one side of Congress, either Senate or House, we can do some really great things.”
“And if you don’t, what happens?”
“I fear a dark time approaching. The right-wing is headed into a bad place, and it isn’t just politics. It is deeper. There is a force behind them. It has a touch of the Spanish Inquisition.“ he laughed, but not an amused laugh. His brow furrowed, “They are out to get me. Look at the Paula Jones thing, and look at what they did to Hillary about the health care. It is almost as if it is a crusade. I know that history swings back and forth like a pendulum, but I just hope the constitution doesn’t get knocked off it base. Righteous Indignation is a terrible sword.”
“My friend, you are here to have fun. Here, take your drink and let’s follow this road.”
We headed out down a road with shops on our left. We crossed a dry stream bed and walked into a forested area, lined with games and more food. Towards the back we could see elephants and camels, with people riding on them.
Mr. Clinton said “I would love to do that, but the Secret Service would pitch a serious bitch if I tried!”
More food shops, some more games, a maze. Some young hippy looking guy letting people throw ripe tomatoes at him. We headed back the way we had come into this ‘Sherwood Forest’ region.
On the way out we passed a shop of women having their hair braided. President Clinton remarked “Chelsea would have loved that.”
Next door was a shop with incense and tall bottles with scented oils. Mr. Clinton headed right for it. He walked around it, smelling the different scents. He picked a couple and purchased them, with a couple of little perfume vials filled with his scents. He pulled several sticks of incense and put them in a bag, remarking “My wife is going to love this!”
As we walked on up the slight rise getting back into the circle of the village, aloud cheer erupted on the other side of a grassy burm to the right. Everyone walked up and there in a field were knights on horseback, jousting. Of course, no one would leave until that finished. The announcers said more battles would be held and duel to the death at 5:30.
Over the hill we went and into another row of shops. They blurred one’s vision with the endless array of shops. Clothing, medieval weaponry, arts, crafts of various types too numerous to mention. More shows, and musical groups, and dancers of all kinds from Irish girls to sultry dark-haired belly dancers weaving their mysterious magic. It was here the President turned slightly to his friend.
“Don’t tell anyone about this. There is a young woman who is pursuing me. I am flattered, she is very attractive, and is very forward in her pursuit of my affections. I pray that she will just lose interest. I tell you this so that if something happens, at least someone will know that I was not forcing my attentions on her.”
“You don’t need that, Sir.”
“No, I don’t. I don’t know why this stuff happens to me.”
As the afternoon waned, a cloud passed over and the air became chilled. The entourage found seating in an arbor. I walked on past them, and passed around and sat next to a tree not far away, where I could listen.
The President sat quiet for a while, watching the crowd. Others in the group were engaged in various conversations. He spoke suddenly, almost as if he was reminding himself, rather than addressing anyone in particular.
“It is a wonderful thing, to have distractions such as this to take one’s mind off the daily stresses of living and working. And it is a self supporting venture. I can see how the whole thing can be quite lucrative. It is a great mixer; of groups of ages, of ethnic groups, and all seem to enjoy it equally. I have seen Muslim people, Oriental people, Hispanic – all absorbed in playing in a theater of the past. The shopkeepers not only have to sell their goods, which most seem to make themselves, but they have to be roll-players at the same time. They must study history to know of which they speak as well as how to speak. They are a talented group, I am very happy that I have been able to witness this. Tell me, with people of this caliber, and a country with freedoms to assemble and conduct events like this, how could we have anything but a great future? Thank you, my friend, for inviting me. I will confess, I was skeptical when you called me. But now I see. Thank you again.”
As we headed back in the direction of the front gate, we passed an open air pub with happy drinkers and much shouting and laughter from inside. In passing the pub, two young ladies flounced their way in front of the President.
One turned to him and said “Aww, me lord, ye are a tall one! Could I see ye hands, m’lord?” She took his hand and turning to her friend, “Lass, look here! See th’ size of his thumb and look! M’lord is a very well endowed man! Do ye tarry long in the kingdom, me lord?” She rubbed her shoulder against the President, her cleavage in his perfect view, and purred. “We would like to get better acquainted with ye, but wait…” She suddenly stared at his face. “Ye look very familiar, m’lord. I know that face, I do.” About that time the President’s friend stepped in. “John, we don’t have time, our wives are waiting.” He dragged the President away. I followed close behind and finally passed them in time to hear the President say, with a smile, “Sometimes being President has its disadvantages.”
As we passed on toward the gate, I watched him. He seemed almost sad the he was leaving this Magic Kingdom in the East Texas woods. But as he passed out through the gate, he looked back and smiled, and clapped his friend on the back. I saw the words “Thank you” as he mouthed them.
I was impressed with several things from my day. First of all, I learned that to stand in a position as a President does, is not all fun and games. You take a human being and turn him into an icon. Then you forget that icon is human, with all the frailties and weaknesses that embodies. Leaders should be examined closely, and investigated to see if they have that core that will hold them to their task. Many feel called, but few can be chosen.
Secondly, I learned today that you can have magic without technology. I will enjoy showing Misha this recording.
It is was a short vacation, using the 20th century form for a period of not having to tend to your vocation. We call it ‘Leave’. I found, though, that I had become a bit addicted to my job. I was anxious to return to my duties. Misha had to return to hers 3 measured days before I did. I say 3 measured days because time needs to have a standardized measure. I spent most of my leave on a very young planet, two solar systems away from Earths solar system. It had become a favorite of Misha and myself. It had no predators, no noxious insects, two-thirds the gravity as Earth, and an almost constant temperature of 78 degrees Fahrenheit. We had purchased a beach front property, put up an open air shelter and hung an immense hammock in it. Two weeks there swimming, laying in the sun, and watching the marvelous sky at night was, well, heavenly. Oh yeah, it was clothing optional also.
But back at our apartment in Evergreen, Colorado, life had resumed. All my travel, all the experience with humanity in it’s many moods and levels, had set me to thinking. How about early man? Man from the dawn of our evolution? Well, maybe not dawn, but shortly after sun up. When man had gathered into tribes, and was about ready to start exploring the earth. Yeah, has anyone recorded it yet? I would ask.
Next morning, when I knew my supervisor was on duty, I buzzed his communicator.
“Good morning, History Recording. Donald Starr, how can I help?”
“Morning Don, it’s Jamie. I have a question.”
“Ok Jamie, shoot.”
“Has anyone gone back to, say, 200,000 years ago to the beginning of man and recorded that history?”
“No, not yet. Why?”
“Well, I am curious. Could I?”
“Hmmm. I am not sure. It is not as much a priority as later times. Archeology has covered most of man’s progression. Why would you want to? There is no history of language, we couldn’t do translators for you. I am not real sure how much good it could do. Still, I will ask our superiors and see what they think. Let’s see, you are due back day after tomorrow, right? I should know by then, okay?”
“Okay Don. You are a super boss, you know.”
“Yeah, well, flattery will not get you any more time off.”
“I hope to hell not. I am about stir crazy now, ready to come back to work.”
“Ok Jamie. See you day after tomorrow.”
I went down town that morning and went back to the Archives. I found a nice couch, put on the headset and adjusted the sensors to my head. I turned the time back to a million years in our history, and closed my eyes. I tapped the enter button and waited. Slowly, pictures and an audio log began to unfold in my brain. Research from the past centuries, of exploration, mostly in Africa. South Africa, in fact. The firstscenes, ape-like creatures, climbing in the trees and eating fruit. Plant life, some insects and small creatures, also staying mostly in the trees. Then, as time spun crazily on, I could see climates change, and severe weather changes. Environmental events that greatly effected the food chain.
Then I saw, these these ape-men start to come down from the trees to search for other foods. It must have been difficult, because then they were vulnerable to the great land predators. Evolution was slow.
Sometime between 800,000 and 200,000 years back it became obvious that their brains were developing at a huge rate. Suddenly it was apparent that something had changed this race of creatures. They were walking upright, making tools, and a primitive language evidently developed. Now they were Homo-Erectus, almost man.
I spent the next two days on that couch, plugged into all that our world knew of that world. I was impressed when Homo Sapien came on the scene. It was then I noticed that some societies on the planet had not changed that much, while others had sprinted ahead on the evolutionary trail. Why?
I reported back to work on Monday, February 12th 2519. It was snowing as I stepped down from an air taxi at headquarters, just outside of Denver in the foothills. The world had changed from 200,000 years ago. I wanted to know why.
The office was busy as I enter. Several greeted me as I headed to Don’s Office. A rap on the door, then “Enter!”
“Good morning, Boss.”
“Morning Jamie. Well, talk about being at the right time and place. I mentioned your request. They said they were interested, and it has been a topic of discussion for some time. When I mentioned you they scanned you, and found you had spent two days at the Archives, absorbing all the material available on the period. Well, they were convinced. You got it. You are the first to go beyond recorded history.”
“Wow, thanks! That’s great! I made some observations that have raised some serious questions. I sure others have had the same questions, but maybe I might find some of the answers. When can I leave?”
“As soon as you are briefed. This is uncharted territory. There may be some limitations, certainly, because of how far back. Extra, extra care to not have any tears at all. It could seriously effect all time. It is quite dangerous for us all.”
“I understand. I will be very careful.”
The briefing lasted over an hour. My trip would be limited to 6 hours. At the end of that, I would be pulled back. I would start at about 750,000 years. I should not shift over 10,000 years at a time, and I should always shift back to point of entry time, then go forward again in steps of 10,000 each. I should make sure that any of the inhabitants that see me, are not put in danger at the time. I hoped I could remember. Of course, being able to do Hologram mode made it much safer, especially not knowing what bacteria or viruses might lurk there. But it limited my projection. I could only project my hologram as far as I could see it. Oh well.
I stepped into my capsule just after 1 p.m. I set the controls for a locale that I had researched where some fragments of early man had been found, and for just before dawn on a prehistoric day. I hit ‘enter’.
My eyes focused slowly in the darkness. I listened carefully for sounds around me, not knowing what to expect. The eastern sky was coming light, the hills around me began to take shape. Much of the flora and fauna seemed strange. Down below me something moved in the shadows. I couldn’t see what. I leaned back on the great boulder behind me and closed my eyes I maybe dozed for 20 minutes. Stupid, stupid mistake! I checked my computer. I wasn’t at 750,000, but only at 400,000! What had gone wrong? I scanned the immediate area. Over to the left about a dozen images lit up. They were all prone, and quiet. Then two more, walking around them. The ground in the center of them had a heat image, just a glow. One of the images walked to it and did something. It then grew suddenly brighter. A fire. A cooking fire, or campfire, of course. I had to get closer. I hologrammed about a hundred yards to a large rock that would separate me from their view. I climbed the rock until I could see. There, in the little clearing, a dozen or… no, there were 15 adults, and a young child, maybe 12. 10 of them appeared to be males, 5 females; the young child , a girl. They had put something on the fire, some kind of meat it appeared. And a container of sorts, clay perhaps. Hard to tell. As I watched they ate.
Then, as they finished, I move slightly and one of the men stood up and sniffed the air. He pointed toward me. I had been discovered.
Ok, since I am a projection at this point, not to worry. They can’t harm me, so let them advance. I stepped away from the rock out-cropping. I had not particularly costumed myself in prehistoric garb. I was wearing a pair of trousers that were a rather washed grey color, and a lighter colored tunic of slightly the same color.
I held my right hand up, a bit higher than my head, palm forward. A common greeting, used in most time periods. I smiled.
The biggest male came forward. He walked around me, looking me all over. He was dressed, somewhat, in a breech clout affair of skin. His age was undefinable; a mature male. He had a short beard, curly black hair, very little body hair, a prominent nose, and his eyes, they were black and very deep. He showed no anger on his face. His movements were sure but cautious. He held a club of sorts. Not well carved, more like it was lightly fashioned from something he picked up. He came around front and peered up into my eyes. He could not have been much over 5 ft tall, maybe 125 lbs. He sniffed at me, and seemed puzzled. He chuffed a sound at me. I answered, “Hello, friend.” He stepped back, then sniffed again. He seemed puzzled that I had no odor. I would never be able to explain that. About then, some distance away, there was a terrible roar. Something like a big cat, maybe a lion, would make. He immediately forgot about me. The group became very animated, every one had sticks or stones. One picked up a flaming stick from the fire.
One of the women ran by me and picked up a bundle, that I had not noticed before, a skin of some kind wrapped around a…. a baby, for pete’s sake! She ran back past me. She looked very young, maybe no more than 13 or 14. She was nude except for the same breech clout type of dress, her breasts were small but prominent. She evidently was nursing.
I remembered my orders. Evidently they felt threatened by some great beast, so I would retreat. As I faded from sight they seemed thunderstruck, and fell down as if worshipping me. Time to go.
I regained my body, and set my timer for 10,000 years into the future.
I arrived on the bank of a river. Across from me was a city, a large one. Below it were fields, acres and acres of vegetables and grains. People riding full sized horses, wagons of products, boats on the river with sails. What is this? Something is not right, this is too far advanced. I looked at my settings. I had gone 200,000 years forward instead of 10,000. This was scaring me. Could I get back to my original setting? And could I get back to my time? Could they even snatch me back from my base? What had I gotten myself into?
“So, where are you from?”
The voice jarred me back to reality. I turned. Sitting on a rock, about 20 feet away, was a man, maybe my age, wearing a long white robe similar to the early man-dresses worn by Middle Eastern earth men of the late 20th century wore. He had a dark brown beard, long hair and a moustache. He had laughing eyes, and smile on his lips.
I had met many extra-terresitals, so I wasn’t taken aback.
“Well, I might ask you the same question. Where are you from?”
The stranger rose from his seat, stretched, dusted of the seat of his robe, and turned to face me.
“All right, me first. I am from here, and there, and everywhere. Both present and future, and even the past. I am a watcher.”
“A watcher, hmmm? I have heard that term. Very well. I am from the 26th century of this planet, and it is my mission to record history as it actually happens. My name is Jamie.”
“Happy to meet you, Jamie. That is a good plan. So, then, you are of the 26th century Earth. But I think there may be a problem.”
I nodded. “Well, there certainly is. This society is thousands of years ahead of itself in development. Something is terribly wrong.”
“Jamie, your society has studied parallel dimensions, have they not?”
“Well, Yes. I am not sure to what degree, as I am not trained in that field al all.”
“Well, it is time that your society brought themselves up to date. How far back have your people been going back in time, to this point?”
“Usually not more than a thousand years, almost always within the boundaries of recorded history. This was the first attempt to go back this far. It was my idea.”
He looked at me. His entire countenance was the most serene, intelligent, confident face, I had ever beheld. He smiled.
“Jamie, you may refer to me as Michael. First of all, I am sure you have heard the theory. And I am equally sure that your scientists know that time is not lateral. It isn’t a theory, but a fact. Yet your time travel experts are treating it as if it is. I am surprised with all the space travel and exploration you have experienced that no one has gotten misplaced before. Perhaps they have. It is true, you can probably travel up to a thousand years and not cross inter-dimensional lines, but much longer than that and it will be unavoidable.”
“Are you saying that I am misplaced somehow?”
“Yes, you have entered another dimension that runs somewhat along side your planets history. It is slightly ahead. We were worried about it from it’s earliest history. It will destroy itself within a relatively short period. Civilizations need time to progress. Yes, they will all have wars and spurts and pauses and setbacks, but those things bring balance to its growth and its evolution. We are watching it closely. We cannot control it, else it loses it own agency.”
“You said ‘we’. Are there others?”
Michael smiled, “Yes, many others.” His smile widened, “I’m sure you have met some at some point in your past, but didn’t know it.”
“I hate asking this, but are you gods?”
Michael laughed heartily, “There have been many who have termed us that. Mankind feels they need those, you understand. Something to worship, something to call upon for help, something to blame in times of distress.” He chuckled. ”Something to praise when life suddenly goes their way. But, no, we don’t see ourselves like that. We are just a race, a very old race, that have had time to evolve and refine ourselves. We seldom interfere with men. Mostly we just study them.”
“Michael, you have no idea how good that makes me feel. The idea that I would have to spend my eternity sitting around in a golden city praising someone, or something. Well, I just couldn’t believe it was so.”
He looked at me, “You are still in for some real surprises when you rid yourself of your body. Though pleasant surprises, I must say. Jamie, all I will say is, the Universes are limitless, period!”
“Well, Michael, how do I get back to my time?”
Well, you can’t at the moment. I will need help to prepare you. Go to that city there, they are peaceful people. At least for now. You can rest there, and I will prepare you a route of passage. It may take some time in this dimension, but little will pass in yours. No worry. I will come again. Bye for now Jamie.”
I looked across the river. Well, I hope this works out ok. I walked to the edge and waved. A boat man turned and headed to me. Shortly, I was walking up a beautifully paved road, through gardens that were unrivaled in beauty. I found lodging, it was a busy day today. I lay down on the soft bed and looked out at the river, and I closed my eyes.
I was jerked from a sound sleep as I entered my base. I set upright on my couch. Wow! I was home!
Don looked at me. “Jamie, this is really strange. But when you reappeared, for a moment we thought there was someone else with you. But it must have been a shadow.”
I laughed loudly. I looked at Don.
“Don, I have a story to tell you!”
I stood back from the group of men as they looked down on
the Mississippi River. The 13 men had stood in a circle, joined in prayer, for sometime now.
I had arrived sometime mid-morning, June 27, 1844, to the small city of Nauvoo, Illinois. Last evening a mob of 200 men with blackened faces had stormed the jail at nearby Carthage, Illinois. They were there to kill the leaders of the controversial ‘Mormon’ Church. They succeeded. The prophet of the church, one Joseph Smith, and his brother, Hyrum, fell in the early evening, having been struck by bullets from the assailant’s guns.
It was a sad morning there at the thriving little city perched on the banks of the mother of rivers in America. The populace was in morning, and in shock. Confusion reigned. Their leader was dead.
My assignment was to watch the next few days and see how a new leader would be chosen.
It didn’t take long. Almost within hours, the remaining members of what was known to the Mormons as ‘The First Presidency’ claimed title to lead the church, and its integrated community. His name was Sidney Rigdon. In a meeting of the ‘Saints’, another rose to contest his right. His name was Brigham Young. Brigham stood at the head of Quorum of the 12 Apostles. Quoting a recent Revelation of Smith’s that stated that the 12 had an equal power or responsibility to the First Presidency, he stated that he had inherited that right of leadership. Some of the members said of that meeting that Brigham took on the appearance of Smith as he spoke. I did not witness that.
But what I did witness was a powerful, charismatic, and intelligent man that was about to take on a task that would leave a legacy that would last through the centuries. I wanted to see that, and record the history of it. Only small pockets of religion still remain in 2518. I entra-ported to old Salt Lake City the day before starting my assignment for a day of studying their archives. The Mormons are a record keeping people, although I am sure they would admit that they keep their own slant on their history.
But Brother Brigham, as he was often called, still stood tall in the birth of the west and the colonialization of the old American West.
I decided that I would introduce myself. I had been successful with Ben Franklin; no tears in time. I would try again.
I waited until I figured out Brigham’s schedule, watching him over several weeks of his life; a couple of hours of mine. Finally, I figured out what times of the day and when he went to the Temple to pray. I followed him to the Temple on a late fall day in 1845. Today would be the day. The situation in Nauvoo was deteriorating rapidly. The non-Mormon population of the surrounding area had become jealous of, and a bit more fearful of, the ‘Saints’. They hated that the Mormon’s said that their Church was the one and only Church recognized by God. You can kind of understand that, but the Mormon’s shouted it to the hilltops, and their opponents seethed.
I found Brigham in a private room in the upper stories of the Temple. I didn’t want him praying when I appeared. He was just taking off his coat when I appeared.
He looked at me and fell to his knees. He said “I am so blessed! Will you identify yourself?”
“Well, first of all, Mr. Young, I am not deity. So it is not necessary for you to kneel.”
“Then if thou be not deity, thou must be a follower of Lucifer, that Fallen Angel.”
“No, not that either, Sir. I am from the future, from the early 26th century.”
Brigham looked around him, looking at doors and windows. “What manner of nonsense is this, Sir? Be this a jest? If it is, thou hast no business in this holy building!”
“It is no joke, Sir. I wanted to be in a place when I exposed myself to you that we would not be discovered.”
“For what purpose do you appear to me?”
“For guidenance, if you so wish. And, if you wish, I can show you something of the future.”
“You resemble, quite accurately, Brother Joseph’s description of the Father and the Son and also the Prophet Moroni.”
“I assure you, I am not one of them.”
“Very well, then, what have you to show me?”
“Well, first of all, I well tell you that I can show you things, but cannot tell you how or where, or who will make them happen. Those things will change history, and cannot be done under any circumstances.”
“If you are from our future, Sir, then you must know our history.”
“What history there is, Sir. Your organization is only a few years old.”
“True. We are going to be forced from our beautiful city. Will we survive?”
“That I can show you. But I will show you your people a hundred and fifty years into their future.”
I flashed a hologram of the Great Salt City in Utah, circa about 2000 A.D. Brigham leaned forward, reaching his hand into the visual, staring intently. As it faded he said “What manner of deviltry is this? That land where that city lies, it looks like no place I have ever seen before. Yet you say that will be our people’s future. How?”
“I cannot tell you that. But if you lead your people and use good judgment, this is their future. I would encourage you to not tell of this or of me. This is only to give you hope. I will visit you again, with your permission, every few years. But I cannot stay long at a time. Will this help you Sir?”
“Yes. Ah, do you have a name? It gives me a bolster to my faith.”
“My friends call me Jamie, and you will need your faith and all your strength. You have bad times ahead of you but also many rewards, Brigham. I suggest that you study as you have never done before, and pick people to help you lead. Now, I must go. I will see you again.”
Something Brigham said stuck with me. He remarked that I had the appearance of the men that Joseph Smith saw in his vision in 1820 who he related were God and his son Jesus. It would be easy enough to check out. So I tried several times to dial in the exact time of the event. Its place is fixed, so that was easy. Finally, I was able to spot young Joseph on his way to the Sacred Grove. I followed at a distance. It went somewhat as the story has been told. But when the shining personages appeared I knew right away it was pure bunko. The two were travelers, from a bit earlier than myself. I recorded what I saw. Now, what to do? I felt I had to report it. I went back to my base and checked in. I went to my supervisor and told him what had happened.
“Wow, Jamie, this is world class tampering with time.”
“I know that. What do we do?”
“Well, I will take it up the ladder. But I believe it has gone too far to fix, it will probably have to stand. If it was anything other than religion then, well…..I don’t know.”
April 4, 1847. I stood to the side of a large crowd of a Mormon gathering at a place they had named Winter Quarters. Years later it would be called Omaha, Nebraska. Brigham, with others of the leadership, were speaking to their followers. As he spoke, Brigham whitened and stammered for only a moment when he caught sight of me. I listened quietly to his words. He spoke of the prayer he had offered, and the study he had put into their move. He said that a vision had been opened to him of their Zion to the West. And that tomorrow he and the lead party would set out on the journey.
I looked around. Whatever one must think of the Mormons, one must admire their creativity, their resolve, their knack for development. In just over a year, they had abandoned their city on the Mississippi, traveled across the state of Iowa, built homes of sorts, built a city full of various trades, amassed a huge herd of cattle, and stood ready at the doorway to the American West. I was a bit astonished as to what they had done with such a small primitive amount of technology.
Brigham finished speaking. I walked to a corral of cattle and oxen nearby and leaned over the top rail. It was just a minute later that Mormon leader joined me.
“Master Jamie, I presume.”
“Yes Sir. How are you, Mr. Young?”
“I am well, in both body and spirit. And stand on the brink of a great endeavor, I believe.”
“Yes you are. And, if you might be wondering, you are on course.”
“Bless you, young man. That means a lot to me. After our last short meeting, I studied in my mind the picture you showed me. I read of stories brought back from the great wilderness by the fur trappers and decided that it was most logical. From the picture you showed me, I knew it could not be anywhere to the East. The mountains were unlike any I had seen on this continent. I believe that this is the course to take, and if you are who you pretend to be, and agree, then I am at Peace. Thank you.”
I bid him goodbye and safe travels and set my coordinates for June 27th, 1847 for southwest Wyoming, or is now Wyoming. Then it belonged to Spain, then later to Utah. But that is another story. I camped just a bit away from Old Fort Bridger for two mornings for several hours each morning. I knew, or rather thought, that Brigham and his party should arrive on the 28th. And they did. I made myself into a trapper of sorts, and watched from a dark corner as Young and Jim Bridger met for the first time. It was evident that Bridger was contemptuous of Young, and when the Mormon leader mentioned settling the basin of the Great Salt Lake with a few thousand people, Bridger remarked it was insanity, and that he would pay a thousand dollars for the first bushel of corn that was harvested there.
Young retorted, “Give us a little time and you will see.”
Young and his troop were not in very good shape by this time. Bad food and the exertions of the journey had left its toll. In the days left, it would be one of the 12 who would see the Salt Lake first. His name was Parley Pratt.
Near the end of July, a quite ill Brigham finally entered the valley. I met with him a few days afterward. He was quite sober with me; he looked at me with a new curiosity. We had rode out into the country and stood on a rise looking at the Great Salt Lake. He stood for a moment, then turned and looked back at the towering Wasatch Range to the east, rising up like might sentinels, watchful of his persecutors from the east.
“Jamie, I am a humbled man. When first meeting you, I felt that I was in the same situation that Jesus found himself in while in the desert, being tempted by Lucifer. But you asked not of me, you never told me not what course to take, but only one of my choosing, giving me total agency unto myself. Even after meeting in Winter Quarters and our talk, then seeing you again at Bridger’s, I was still plagued by doubt, and cast about a wary eye for the serpents tongue. But when we drove down that mountain yonder, into this most sublime valley, and I gazed upon yon lofty peaks, I knew most assuredly that your words were true. I then set about making plans for a mighty kingdom to be based in this valley of the mountains. I have started work on a Temple to our God. We have laid out the plans for our city, and other outlying towns and villages. We are turning the sod and planting crops. I have sent parties out in exploration. Next year more of our flock will arrive, then each year we will grow. I embarked upon this venture mostly on faith, but now that it is proven. There is no stopping us.”
“Brigham, it is true, you will flourish. But never forget, there will be adversity, and a lot of it. Keep yourself prepared, and surround yourself with good leaders and strong people.”
I waved a farewell and vanished from his sight. He turned away, and fixed his vision on the setting sun, at my last sight.
I visited Brigham several times over the next few days, following him into the sundown of his life. I watched his huge families, his wives numbering near half a hundred, his countless children. Some of those wives were just to stabilize their families after husbands died or were killed serving the church. Many never saw his countenance in their private quarters.
He did deeds to keep his church alive that were not always done in the sunlight, some of them quite dark. He never faltered.
I listened in 1874 when he preached at a funeral of a friend about the mysteries of death, and his faith in his religion that would be his companion during that dark journey. I admired that, his strength of resolve I mean. And in a few years, unbeknown to him, he would make that journey. At the end of August 1877 he fell into great pain in his right side, and the poison of a ruptured appendix took his life. I was able to speak with him for a few moments before he passed. He asked me if I knew if Joseph’s vision was true, or did I appear to Joseph, with a friend. I told him I did not, and that his great faith had taken him through a great journey, let it be there to take him through that valley of death and to not worry himself.
It was only a short time later he was heard to cry out for his friend.
“Joseph, Joseph, Joseph…..” and the Lion was dead, to this world.
What ever contention arises in this world about Brigham and the Church that he guided one simply must look past the religion, and look at the people and admire their diversity, their hard work, their diligence. You must look at their creativity. Their love of beauty, their admiration of skill and talent. Some will say it is their religion that has given birth to that. I leave that to others to decide. They showed great prejudice for the black man, calling him a child of Cain, but they acknowledged him a man at least. Many southern slaveholders didn’t acknowledge that. He was, and they were, people of their time, no more no less. Those of us who would judge, if put to the same tasks, might fall quite short. Each thing happens in its own time, and most can never cross those boundaries. But those of us that do travel though time learn tolerance. We become aware of those differences, we respect those abilities, and develop great admiration for our citizens of the past.
I took a week off with Misha, and I spent most of my time trying to tell her what I was doing with my interactions, without compromising her security, I am not sure it ever became clear to her. Maybe that is for the best. I now see how a simple act of the past can affect millions of lives into the future. I will be so very watchful. Can you imagine what could have happened to the descendents of those people, called Mormons, if Joseph Smith had never had those visits? What might they be doing today?
Yes, we still celebrate that semi-heathen holiday of Christmas, in 2518.
We probably look at it a bit differently than they did in the 20th and 21st century, but hell, it is too much fun to not have Christmas! Even our children are too smart to believe in the fat old elf. They are too well informed, too aware, to believe in that nonsense. And yes, religion has almost become a strange ritual we read about. We still find tiny pools of civilization that fall back on those old myths. I suppose they are searching for something, although why, I have no clue. It has always been that way in the world though. People need a god, or something of that sort to hold onto, to protect them, to lean on because they have not enough confidence in themselves. So be it.
But anyway, I was studying my new assignment just after the Christmas holiday, a new thing for me. I had gotten into some trouble for not knowing my topic. It had settled me down. I was still a maverick (ancient term, had to look up its meaning), but now I would be an informed maverick.
My next assignment was to be a heroic character of the late 18th century, -one of the founding fathers of the old United States of America. His name was Benjamin Franklin. As I sat and read and watched old documentaries of this old man, a character slightly ahead of his time emerged, stepped out into the light and looked around. You know, I think I like this guy. I decided to step into his life about the same time of the year as I am not enjoying, but of the year 1732, the night before the first day of 1733, and three days after he had published the first edition of his celebrated Poor Richard’s Almanac.
I reported back to my duty station on the evening of the Dec 31st. It had been a bit of a lonely holiday. Misha had only been there a few days of it. Her mother was not well, and she kept flitting back from our place, near Vail, Colorado, to a small village in New Zealand every few hours. She finally just kissed me, said she was sorry, and left for a week. So it was okay to go back to work on New Years Eve. Wouldn’t have been much of a party anyway.
I set my time on my computer for the address given for Franklin’s shop, for 11 PM. I wanted just a short bit of time to take a look at what he was doing before I met him, so a bit of night-time scouting. It took me an hour to get into these ridiculous clothes of this period. It was easy to understand why everyone of this period seemed so cranky all the time. So I signaled the controller I was ready, and he just disappeared and the room with it. I don’t care how many times you do this, it is rather disconcerting. I had gotten to closing my eyes as I departed.
This time when I opened my eyes there was, about six feet in front of me, stood a stocky gentlemen, with long hair, looking quite shocked at my sudden arrival.
He spoke, “And who, or rather what are you, good Sir? And what are you doing in my place of business at this odd hour?”
OMG. What to do now? What is he doing here is a better question. But I can’t ask that, no. Well, hell, he was Benjamin Franklin, wasn’t he? One of the most unusual men of the century – brilliant writer, thinker, inventor. Ok, I am going to get into deep shit for this. This isn’t going to be a tear in the fabric of time, this is going to be a gigantic rip.
“Mr. Franklin, I presume?”
“Yes, I am Benjamin Franklin. And who are you, Sir?”
“Well, a name would be of no use to you, as I really do not exist in your time. I am a friend though, and I came here to meet you, personally.”
“Came from where?”
“Came from when, would be the better question. Because the where would be meaningless to you at this point.”
“What do you mean, came from when? I am not much for religion, per se. I do believe in God, but not much in spirits, or such the like.”
“Mr. Franklin, Sir, sit down there. Okay, Sir, I am from the year 2518 A.D.”
He smiled and his look at me said You are daft, but instead he politely said, “Of course you are. I was wondering what century you are from. I see fashion has not advanced to any great degree.”
“Sir,” I felt strange calling a man about my own age sir, “Sir, I can see you don’t quite believe me. In order for our discourse to advance, you must.”
I stood up from the bench I had been sitting upon. “Here, Sir, shake my hand.”
I extended my hand to him and he immediately reached to grasp it. Instead, his hand passed through mine. I saw the look of realization pass through his face.
“What is your purpose here? Am I about to die?”
“No Sir, not for a good while. My purpose is simply to suggest direction for you. You will soon stand in very important places, and I think it wise to let you know this. Few have little time in life to prepare themselves for important work. I cannot do anything that changes history myself, that can have disastrous results on the future. I am probably going to get in trouble over this anyway, but, here goes.”
“What do you mean, you cannot do anything to change history? And when am I going to die, if you are privy to that?”
I laughed, “Sir, I am not going to tell you that. It really would not be good for you to know right now. I will tell you though, that you should continue simply as you are at the moment. Fame will follow you, but you can not let it change you. Be the same man that you are, and always trust your judgment.”
“What may I call you, Sir?”
I smiled. “My friends call me Jamie.”
Franklin shifted back in the chair he was sitting in and threw his leg over the padded arm and leaned back, a smirk crossed his lips.
“Well, Jamie, what can you tell me about us in, what did you say, 2518? What are we going to be then?”
“What would you like to know?”
“This country, America. What will it be like? Will we cross the mountains to the west?”
“Let me show you, Ben, if I may be so familiar.”
“Please do. You know my death date, I suppose that grants you leniency.“
I turned my ring sideways and pulled up a holographic map of the United States in the 21st Century. He gasped and leaned forward, his face almost white in the glow of the hologram.
“Please, please! Explain! What am I seeing? And how do you do this?”
“This is what we call a hologram. It is just a projection. The map is what the country you call America will be like 250 years from your time. You can see the boundaries of the states, and the cities. I, likewise, am a projection of this same nature. My basic job is to record history as it is happening, so that the future will have it archived. History has been written usually by the victors or the wealthy powerful elements. I usually never allow anyone to see me this well, or to know my purpose.”
Franklin pulled his leg almost absent mindedly back in front of him. He leaned forward, resting his elbows on his knees.
“Good God, my friend, this is so hard to absorb! Nor do I think I can for some time to come. But if what you say is true, then, Oh My! What a future! It is so exciting!”
“Yes, Sir, exciting. But know you this, it doesn’t happen without blood being spilt, lives being lost. The very fabric of the country’s existence being rent from end to end sometimes. It will experience adversity, contention from within but, if history remains true, will prevail. And you, Sir, will play a huge part in it.”
Out side I heard a cock crow, and then small street noises.
“Ben, this is all I have time for at the moment. With your permission, Sir, I will show up in your life from time to time. It may be two years, or 20. But you will see me again. Goodbye, Mr. Franklin, it has been my honor.” I touched my ring.
The next day I spent reading Ben Franklin’s history, knowing full well that what I was doing was playing with fire. Still, it was a worthy effort. I had not been discovered yet, so there was evidently no tears in time. At about 11 PM I set my computer for Mr. Franklin’s residence. I watched from outside for almost an hour, he was alone in his study/laboratory. Finally, I projected into his room.
“Oh My God, Man, can you not announce yourself? I shall die of heart failure!”
“Good evening, Mr. Franklin.” It was easier this time to address him thus, as he was a man in his late forties at present time.
“Ah, good evening Jamie. If my memory serves me well…”
“It does, Sir. I have been following in your progress. You have been a busy man. How is your health, Sir?”
“It seems, young man, that you would know that better than I. However, I am well, with some exception. I have suffered a bout with gout, but at present, it is at rest. But enough of that. I want to know more of what we are to accomplish as a country, I would like to see more of the future. What you showed me the first visit has cost me many hours of sleep. I have conversed with men who have been over the mountains, to the great river Ohio. I have read materials from the French and Spanish and their endeavors. How did we attain these lands? Was it war?”
“Ben, I can’t tell you how any of this happens, that would endanger time and history. But I came more prepared this time, to show you achievements that have been made. But first, are we alone? Is there any chance of discovery?”
“No, we are free this evening. My family is away.”
“Very well. First of all, this is what we use to light our homes and businesses.” I had glanced around and notice the room was lighted by four large candles sitting in a glass and metal lantern type devices. I showed him light bulbs of different types, then fixtures, and great spotlights that threw beams of light for great distances. I showed him scenes of homes where the room was as light as day itself. Then I showed him lasers. I explained they were all cousins to each other. I knew he had experimented with lightening, and had proved that lightening was electricity. I told him these were only a few things that were done with his new discovery.
He turned and looked at me for what seemed like half a minute. “Ah-ha! Electricity! I knew it! I knew it! This is most gratifying! I had no idea how important it would be. I felt that it meant something at the time, but this is….” his voice trailed off. Then he smiled and exclaimed, “But how? Oh, never mind, it will have to be invented in due course, right?”
I smiled and nodded. I proceeded to show him bits of history: early aircraft, automobiles, trains. Then some more modern technology. I spent about 3 hours that evening explaining the world that was to come, the world he would never see for himself. I finished about 2 in the morning, then we sat and visited. In was such an astute man, wise far beyond his years, he seemed almost naturally to see the proper course in almost every situation. I felt more secure in what I was doing. I made a promise to myself to never go beyond the limits of what was correct to tell him. At the close of the evening he automatically reached for my hand, then laughed when he couldn’t grasp it.
I went back over the next few days and visited him about every 10 or 15
years of his life. He was always overjoyed to see me and as responsibility was heaped on his shoulders, especially after the beginning of the birth pains of the Revolution, he would ask if he was acting in the best manner. Of course, I could not advise him.
After the treaty with Great Britain was signed, he came home from France. France had become his home, the people loved him. I visited him there on occasion. When he left it was almost as if the village outside of Paris was having a funeral for a favorite dignitary, he was so revered.
The last time I saw him was just before his death in 1790. Late one night I appeared to him, expecting to find him asleep. He wasn’t.
“Ah, Jamie, lad. I was just thinking of you.”
“How are you, Ben?”
“Ah, well. I am on my way out of this life, my young friend. I know this.
But I am well with it. I have had such a rich part of my life given to me, much of it in the glimpses you have given me. But I am ready to step through that curtain that separates us from life, and see what the next great adventure brings. My body has given out on me and I am in constant pain. It is time to give it up and I am willing. One of the worst parts is I can’t enjoy the ladies anymore. That is reason enough to die!” He laughed, then seemed to choke, and coughed into his handkerchief.
“Jamie, you don’t seem to have aged a day since the first time I saw you. Then we were about the same age. How long as it been in your life that you have spent with me?”
I smiled at him, “Ben, it has been only about a week.”
He smiled weakly, “What a marvelous thing.” There was a stirring in the next room. He lifted his head. “Thank you, Jamie, and goodbye. What you have given me bears no price. Remember me, please.”
“Mr. Franklin, the entire world will remember you and your efforts for centuries. Go rest now. It is for sure I will never forget you.”
There was a voice outside, “Mr. Franklin! Are you alright? I thought I heard voices.“
“Oh, yes, I am alright. You probably just heard an angel, coming to keep me company.”
As he faded from sight, and I returned to my own time, I did it with tears running down my cheeks. I had experienced greatness.