Almost Angels, Chapter 8
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!”