Thursday, May 3, 2007

Contact, Funding

June 29, 2007

Dearest Mr. Wilberforce,

I write to inform you that we have been successful in making initial contact with the people of the future. Mr. Williams has met a young woman who we all believe will be a valuable source of information, though obviously a certain amount of circumspection is to be expected on his part. Her name is said to be Tammy, and she is approximately eighteen years of age. Little else is known at this time, though Mr. Williams says she has spoken, tantalizingly, of a "cell phone," which we assume is a device for listening to one's corpuscles, perhaps under a microscope. Mr. Williams says that he told Tammy he did not possess a "cell phone;" she then told him that she would "be seeing [him] around." Theories vary on what this exchange might denote.

I have not personally been able to observe "Tammy;" Mr. Williams, in his laconic way, reports that she wears trousers, has brown hair, and her flesh is frequently bare. While we all expected that fashions would have changed by this time, the group found this news quite curious, and badgered the poor man for many hours about what degree of flesh-baring was entailed. The news about the trousers is intriguing, however, and is suggestive of, perhaps, Sapphic tendencies in the women of the future.

We have also relocated our base camp yet again since my last report, as Professor King has fallen ill and needed to be nearer a source of fresh water. We have still been unable to locate any horses or servants, and in fact Mr. Ashby was quite severely assaulted when he attempted to ask a slave about his provenance, leading us to discontinue this line of inquiry until we have heard more about the outcome of the War. Ashby's bones were set by Dr. Benegelow, and we press onward, but with the Professor being ill and Mr. Ashby without full mobility, progress is difficult. We are presently based in a large, mainly windowless, structure at the edge of town, which appears to be abandoned. Many of the surfaces inside are labeled with the words "Cub Foods," which the group regards as thoroughly puzzling. It is thought that persons of the future might keep bears as pets, though why they would need such a large building to store feed for such animals (and why they would, having constructed such a space, subsequently leave it empty) remains a mystery. Or perhaps "cubs" refers to some other animal, perhaps foxes. In any case, there are neither cubs nor foods inside, yet it is sheltered from the elements and more or less comfortable.

The time machine has been left in the abandoned barn where we first moved it; we will need transportation, and likely additional men, in order to bring it any further. For the time being, we are making do by sending Mr. Williams on foot to deliver messages, which is why there has been such a long lapse in communication: the time and resources delivery of a message requires have become rather more dear to us than previously.

Mr. Williams hopes to convince Tammy to obtain some supplies for us, if she can be made to understand the kinds of items we require. Food is a high priority (it is believed that Mr. Ashby's food, which he was in fact procuring from the garbage of the city, is responsible for the Professor's illness), as well as money. As you seem to have ignored my previous intimation, I would like to inquire more directly as to whether it would be of too much difficulty for you or one of your agents to set up a savings account in our name in or near Iowa City. Certainly by this time, enough money might have appreciated from even the most miniscule initial deposit to enable us to obtain many necessities under our own power, provided that we knew to withdraw the money from the correct bank. We shall begin conducting inquiries at the local banks immediately.

Hopes are high for this "Tammy" as a source of information. We must certainly appear quite strange to her, but if she has already been willing to speak to Mr. Williams, then there is hope of further conversation. Unfortunately, we do not know how to speak to her again, not knowing her family name or place of residence. Mr. Williams believes that she will turn up again near where he made contact with her before, but he is perhaps a bit too taken by her feminine charms to be an objective judge of the situation.

Yours,

Benjamin

Friday, April 27, 2007

Food and Shelter

Thursday, May 3, 2007

Dearest Mr. Wilberforce,

Our plans have already required some adjustments, though the company is in good health and spirits remain high. Shelter in the form of a decayed and presumably abandoned barn has been obtained, and the time machine retrieved and brought to our camp. We are mostly without heat or light, as use of our lamps or the ignition of a fire would almost certainly attract unwanted attention; consequently, we are forced to retire almost as soon as the sun does, and earlier still if the sky is clouded.

Professor King reported, upon his return to base camp, that the nearby city identifies itself as Iowa City, Iowa, meaning that the site of our arrival was approximately ten miles south-southeast of the city.

The terrain is crossed by numerous broad pathways built of a dark-colored stone, on which pass large buggy-like objects. Professor King believes that he has seen the silhouettes of people inside these objects, which have windows on all sides; I, with my slightly older and weaker eyes, am less certain. There is occasionally a more recognizeable buggy being pulled by horses, though these are quite uncommon.

We have not yet made contact with any of the future-residents, believing them to be still too alien to our way of thinking for meaningful conversation. The Professor was able to obtain a newspaper during his journey, which I include along with this letter, for whatever use you may make of it. It is primarily on the basis of said newspaper that we are able to confirm that English is still spoken (albeit a peculiar variety). However, we are unable to follow many of the stories well enough to form any solid hypotheses about our situation. Many stories are now being written about a "President Bush," who is perceived as failing, or is failing in fact, to prosecute a war successfully in a country, kingdom, or possibly region known as "Iraq" (sometimes "Baghdad"), which appears to be located in the deserts near Egypt. There is also a war in "Afghanistan," about which nothing can be determined because it is only referred to in passing.

However, most of the stories simply contain nothing we can understand. What, for example, would the "Rock and Roll Hall of Fame" refer to? We simply have no idea. Dr. Bengelow has been hand-copying the text of the newspaper's more transparent passages so that we can also have a copy to study while we send the original to you.

One wishes that our communication could be bidirectional, or at the very minimum that we could locate documents produced by you and your associates in 1860 which could illuminate our situation. Dr. Bengelow and Profesor King have argued repeatedly about the feasibility of such a plan, with the latter maintaining that we shall experience no change in our present regardless of what we send to the past, until such time as we utilize the machine again to move to a different time, that the very transformations of moving through time are what enable time to "catch up" to us. Dr. Bengelow maintains in the strongest possible language that we have already altered our present, yet are incapable of noticing it because it has, after all, been our past all along. The arguments, as I have said, are interminable and interfere with our activities in a number of ways.

For the most part, we have been unsuccessful in locating supplies. The previously mentioned "Dirty Face Creek" serves us as a source of water, but our food supplies are low, and, it being springtime yet, there are no crops in the fields to be gleaned. Mr. Ashby, who was unsuccessful at acquiring horses, has been rather more useful in obtaining food, though not all of it has proven edible. He will not admit it, but I believe that much of what he is bringing us is discarded material from garbage containers. We all look forward to having contemporary currency with which to purchase food, which is evidently very good: the people we have seen thus far seem to be well-fed.

Yours,

Benjamin

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Arrival

date unknown

Dearest Mr. Wilberforce,

The company has arrived safely, with its five members all in good health and suffering only minimal negative effects of the travel. Subsequently, I have appointed each of our company to specific tasks. Dr. Bengelow is to procure us food and lodging for the evening, while Mr. Williams locates us servants and other useful items we were unable to bring with us. Mr. Ashby I have assigned the task of finding horses, as I fear we will be required to make a journey of no short duration. Lastly, Professor King is charged with the duty of ascertaining the date, and determining what manner of civilization and culture this is.

Upon our arrival, we found ourselves in a freshly-plowed field which was seemingly not yet planted. The Professor estimates that the time of day was about 4 PM, though this is quite approximate owing to the cloud cover and rain which greeted us. The temperature was chilly, but tolerable. Mr. Williams and Mr. Ashby hid the time machine in a nearby barn, and covered it in hay so that it was quite impossible to see any part of the apparatus, though I fear it would not long stand inspection by anyone familiar with the building or its contents. This may explain the material which almost certainly will accompany this letter when it is delivered.

We set out on foot in a north-northwesterly direction, hoping to gather what information we could without drawing attention to ourselves prior to setting foot in the town itself (we were able to see a town in the distance, albeit one with only a single building, shaped rather like a mushroom), though in this I regret to say that we have mostly failed. Professor King believes us to be in one of the Southern territories, most likely Alabama or Mississippi; Mr. Williams claims that we are somewhere on the Western frontier, perhaps Missouri or Iowa. I have thus far held my own counsel but believe both gentlemen to be approximately correct; the terrain matches that of the Republic of Texas, as it was described to me, yet we shall see.

Mr. Williams wishes me to draw your attention to the peculiar noises of the future: there is a certain sound like waves crashing on a seashore, mostly to our west. We have not yet attempted to investigate this. There are also certain 'ripping' or 'scraping' sounds, of several seconds' duration, periodically, most of which have been accompanied by what appear to be tears in the sky itself. These tears show a whiteness behind them, which we take to be Heaven, though they close themselves back up again in short order and seem to do the sky no lasting damage. Our pious Mr. Williams proposes that the residents of the future Union are attempting to rend the sky in an effort to reach God Himself, and predicts that they will fail in this blasphemy.

Wherever we find ourselves, the language spoken here does seem to be primarily English: certain of the intersections of trails we have encountered have been marked with names such as "Naples Ave SW" and "Observatory Ave SW." There was also a "Dirty Face Creek." This much is encouraging.

Yours,

Benjamin

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