Archive | August 2017

Almost Angels, Chapter 12

August 20th, 2516. Denver, Colorado.

Fall is in the air. I can smell it. The carefree days of summer are drawing to an end, well, at least for the present.
It is wonderful to live in a time that you can visit other seasons when desired. Yes, there are restrictions. The rank and file can’t be allowed to tear through time and wreck the future. But it can be done.
I am sitting in the park at the State Capitol, looking at statues of the state’s founders and heroes of the past. A thought occurred to me. I enjoy looking at these symbols of days gone by. I wonder, do others? A quick scan through the archives and a particular date in history pops up. August 12, 2017. A year short of 500 years ago. As I read, history unfolds before me. It says in a controversy over a statue, three people were killed and 15 wounded. I must find out. I headed for the Record Archives on Larimer Street.

An hour later I stand at the Intersection of 4th and Water Street in Charlottesville, Virginia. I keep well to myself, listening to the yelling and cursing of people. It is an unnerving place. It lacks the discipline and order of a wartime battlefield. It is more hideous in that respect. I wait for some time, knowing full well the event that was to occur at this spot.

Finally, I hear the roar of a 20th century automobile engine, then a metal rending crash and the two cars facing me across the street shoot out into the street. I then see a grey sports model sitting against the back of the second car. People have been knocked asunder, one man head over heels flying. Then the grey car accelerates backward, and a man who had jumped on the back beating it with a stick is caught between it and a parked vehicle. How tragic! No one could look on this without seeing it done with murder and mayhem in mind. I now want to see how this will affect the future.

My next stop is the Washington Mall, one year later. I find a comfortable place and set to do my favorite thing – people watching. I strive to determine the personality and the character of the citizenry as they walk among the reminders of the United States Founding Fathers. Fathers are telling children, “Oh, that is Abraham Lincoln, he was born in a log cabin” or “That is George Washington, he could not tell a lie.” As I watched, a young man in his late fourties came and sat near me. He was dressed like a man who spent his time outdoors. He was lean and physically fit.

He looked at me and said, “Afternoon, it is a warm one today.”

I answered, “It is indeed. Do you come here often?”

“Yes, I come here every year on this date.”

“Really? You like our country’s capitol that much?”

He leaned back and laughed, then became serious. “No. You see, on this date in 1968 my father was killed in Viet Nam. He had gotten a pass and my mother met him in Hawaii. And I was a result of that meeting. She came home, and he went back. Two days later he was dead. I come here every year on his birthday to touch his name on the Wall at the Viet Nam Memorial, and thank him for being who he was.”

For a moment I could feel emotion welling in my breast. It touched me.

“Thank you for sharing that with me. I am sorry for your loss, but I am impressed by your character. He would be proud of you, I think.”

“I hope he is. I worry that the memorial will continue to stand. There are people out there who want it torn down, because it was a very unpopular war.”

“Do you think this is a continuation of what happened a year ago in Virginia?”

“I think it is. I don’t understand why though. Well, maybe I do. But it is still just so difficult to understand why things can’t be left alone.”

“You think maybe there might be great-grand children who look up at those statues and remember stories handed down of the personal lives of those men.”

“Yes, I think so. I think it a slippery slope. You know, even now, I will talk to someone about my father, and either I get a “I don’t know anything about Viet Nam” or “Those soldiers were murderers and baby killers.” I seriously have to contain myself over that last one. No one is perfect, and that goes for those men on those old statues as well.”

“Do you think things have improved over last year?” I asked.

“Maybe, in some ways, but generally no, I don’t. We still have the Right pulling this way, and the Left going the other. I really wish I had some hope it will get better.”

“Look, my name is Jamie. It is a pleasure meeting you. What is your name?”

“Oh, excuse me. Bradley Douglas, just call me Brad.”
He reached to shake my hand but I pulled back. He looked puzzled.

“Brad, before you do that, I have something to tell you. It may be hard to believe, and may shock you, but I can prove it.”

“Alright” he looked warily at me.
“I am from the future, from the 26th century. And I can tell you most assuredly it will get better. Not before it gets worse, but in the end the country survives and prospers. Here, now try to shake my hand.”

I held out my hand and he reached for it. And of course his hand passed through mine. He looked shocked.

“You aren’t kidding, are you! What are you that I can’t touch you? Do people like you not have bodies?”

I laughed. “Yes, we most certainly have bodies. But right now I am a projection, a hologram, if you wish. People of your day have viruses and bacteria that we have no immunity to. So we project ourselves.”

He laughed. “Oh, that is marvelous! Tell me more! What is it like then?”

We sat and talked for an hour or more, until the sun started setting. The rays flowed over the capitol building and lit up the lofty spire that is the Washington Memorial.

Brad sighed, “There were even people who wanted to strike against that, because Washington had slaves.”

“Brad, since you come here every year I am going to visit you from time to time, you can bring me up to date with the yearly events. And I will tell you about the future.”

“Jamie, this is a lot to process. But yes, I would like it very much.”

So that is what I did. Of course, I didn’t wait through those years, I simply skipped time. But every year I met him was something new. He would take the glimpses into the future and go and educate himself in new ways. His mind expanded, he grasped the new concepts. He started writing. First just articles, then books. He took his family history – his father’s heritage – and he elaborated on it. On my 10th year return, it was an older man that greeted me. I had not found him in the last two years. He was excited to see me.

“Jamie, I have something to show you.” He pulled the ID lanyard from around his neck, and held it up to for me to see. Beside the picture was the name – Senator Bradley Douglas.

“Oh! Congratulations Senator Douglas!” I smiled at him.

“Oh, you still call me Brad. But I have someone for you to meet.”

“Oh, really?”

“I hope you don’t mind…” He beckoned to a young lady, probably in her early forties. She smiled and started toward us. Her red hair fell down on each side, framing her face and falling to her shoulders. She wore a green dress, more like a business suit, but well tailored to fit her figure. She had smiling green eyes. They focused on me as she approached.

“Megan, this Jamie. Jamie, my wife Megan.”

“How do you do Megan? I am sure Brad has told you that I can’t shake hands with you. But nevertheless, I am pleased to meet you.”

“Yes, he did. I am surprised, you look very young. I confess, I did not know what to expect. Actually, I was ready to have him committed the first time he spoke of you. Would you please extend your hand anyway?“

I did and she reached forward and her hand passed through mine. There was a slight gasp.

“Jamie, Megan works in the National Archives. I thought perhaps it would be nice if you two met. You both obviously have a love for history.”

“Yes, Megan, we will have to talk at some point as to what my mission is and some of the experiences I have had. But for now, Brad, tell me, what have I missed?”

“Well, if you remember, we had that brief war with North Korea. It has taken years, but the people of that poor country have risen from the military regime to a type of democracy that seems to be working. Once the embargos were released, their resources were in demand. They were and are a hardworking people. We are still having problems with the Islamic radicals, but the moderate people of that culture have taken it upon themselves and will ultimately win. The pendulum swings, as you have told me many times. Our own government is a good example of that. It seems difficult as always to find leadership that doesn’t cater to its own agenda. Can you give me any tips on that? You have told me what your government is like, but not how we get there. By the way, how much older are you now than when I first met you 10 years ago?”

I smiled. “Only a few days. But your question of how the government gets there, I cannot answer that question for you without some permission. Maybe next time. It seems you have much to work on anyway.”

We sought out a table and chairs nearby. In somewhat exclusion, I showed them bits and pieces of the lifestyles in the 26th century. We watched social media discussions of the era ten years ago, and decided that most of the people on it were not emotionally or psychologically mature enough to use something that powerful. We would watch people debate. Many of them would latch onto an idea, either their own or someone else’s, and continually to elaborate on it. Mostly to just make someone else think they are smart, to boost their own ego. Seldom they would they ever try to see another side, even though that person might be more experienced or more familiar with the subject. Funny part is, those same people would never have said the things are called others the names they called them in person. Brad said it reminded him of the letters his dad had wrote to his mom, telling of how the VC would lie in wait in the dark in ambush. We had a good laugh about that. Social media, being a jungle, where mean spirited people could ambush others without having to show their own face.

Life didn’t change a lot over those next years, people didn’t evolve much. Evolution is a slow process, and it only enables survivors, and those willing to adapt. I saw Brad and Megan over their years. I couldn’t help them much. But I think just knowing it would eventually work out when people lost their infantile natures, when they lost that disabling trait of the ‘Me’ generation, and became a ‘We’ generation, it had to become less self, and more selfless.

One day, about 15 years later their time, I walked to the Mall and saw Megan sitting alone on the steps near the Capitol Building. When she looked up at me I knew. She didn’t have to speak.

“Come, Megan, let’s go.” Soon we were walking down along that slab of granite that was faced with over 58,000 names. We walked to the panel that bore the name of Brad’s father. Megan looked up and reached and traced the letters with her long slender fingers. At that moment a ray of sunshine broke through, and lit that section of panel. We looked at each other, and tears came to both our eyes. Yes, Brad had found his dad, and he just let us know. I said good bye to Megan that day. I wished, for the first time, I could have physically hugged her. But it is what it is.

I had lost a friend, and I would have miss him. And no, I wasn’t going to cheat and skip around through time. It just wouldn’t be same. And life goes on. I am not sure I would have done well living in the early half of the 21st Century.

There is a factual error, purposely inserted in this story,
Find it!

Hint—— “Had it happened this way, it would have been something new under the Sun.

Advertisements

Almost Angels, Chapter 11

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.

Almost Angels – Chapter 10

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.