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.