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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