I didn’t know what day it was. For sure, I had set the computer for 10 a.m. Friday, May 23, 1863, but one could tell it was later than that. I hadn’t been walking that long and I was losing light fast. The northeast Mississippi foothills along a little river. I started to step across the rusty colored branch to the flat rock when, damn, it moved! I saw the triangular head drawn back to strike. Quickly, totally by reflex, I swung my staff. My aim was deadly. He was dead.
It was at that moment I felt the bump. What the fuck? I had only killed a snake. The orders were to not kill or injure any creature big or small while on detached duty. Our jobs was simple – to correct history. From almost as far back as there was a record the dominant class wrote the history. It was written to benefit them. Facts were only part of the equation. Finally, after several wars and bad administrations, the councils decided that we would send back teams to observe history, and correct the errors. Then we would have sound guidelines for society. I mashed the little Cannon on my ring, and the 12” holographic image sprang up. The very attractive image of my fiancé, Misha, smiled back at me.
“Can I help you Gabe?”
“Yes,” I said, “A moment ago I was a bit forceful with a serpent. I am afraid it is destroyed. I got a bump. Can you bring it up and see what I affected? It was a rather large copperhead. You have my 20 and timestop, right?”
“Roger, OK. Give me a minute.”
I watched the pretty face, with all those delicious expressions. She shook her head, causing the long blonde waves to fall away from her face. “Here you go. Yep, that is a kinda serious tear. It will have to be repaired sometime in the near… my future, not yours. It seems he was to bite someone really important, changing the course of a battle here in this place, about two years into your future.”
“Well, maybe we can scab that, and get another serpent to do it.”
“Don’t worry about it for now, it will have to go to committee.”
“Yeah, just what I didn’t want to hear.”
“Gabe, we are finding out that almost everything in the past links with lots of other things, it doesn’t leave you much space for error. Anyway, that Union Uniform looks great on you. A really good look for you. When will you return?”
“Day after tomorrow, mid-afternoon. I have been craving Vietnamese food, wanna go out? Hmm, on second thought, after sitting here watching you, I think I would just as soon eat in. And you had better crawl back in my ring quickly, I hear voices.”
“Oooh, that sounds like fun! Luv ya babe, I’m gone gone!”
The two men were dressed like him, Union Army Infantrymen. I turned and said, “Hey, you men know the whereabouts of the 3rd Ohio?”
One of the men shook his head and said, “Nope, where ya coming from?”
I said, “Down river from Pittsburg Landing. Been on leave up at my Pa’s and Ma’s in Vincennes, Indiana.”
The other man said, “Probably down here closer to Corinth. You can walk with us.”
I thought, No, not gonna do that. He would wait for the right moment. And that moment appeared, as about 200 Union Cavalry came at a gallop out of the trees. The two men turned and were transfixed by the sight. I stepped back and touched the side of the ring with my left forefinger, and was immediately 20 miles south.
I stood looking down on the breastworks of the town of Corinth Mississippi. I smiled. Those two boys were probably still scratching there heads, wondering how I could have gotten away that fast. I wondered if I would ever see them again. So far, I had always been able to skip when no one was looking. That was the directive, but I knew plenty that had not, and history was full of those stories. Some had sworn they had seen angels, others swore sorcery or witchcraft. Totally depends on your perspective. The History Search was about 50 years old now. The first 5 years they had made so many tears that it took the next 5 years to scab them. But continued improvements and better training had decreased the tears at all levels. #1 Tears were almost unheard of now, #2’s less, and on down the line to his level 5 today. I had a good record, and I wanted to keep it that way. I watched as the Cavalry I had observed earlier make a charge on the Rebel forces. Lots of noise, lots of yelling, then they withdraw. Just a harassment, that’s all. One week from today, those Reb’s are going to abandon their fort, that is what I was there to observe.