Toms Story (continued)
One trip a week is what Tom had settled on. He would be gone for a week, but in the present he would only be gone for a few seconds. He decided these trips would begin with recent history and slowly work its way back to the 18th century as he built up his knowledge of the culture, as well as his fortune to fund the trip.
His first shopping trip had him heading to where his adventure would begin, only about 400 years later. He went to his closet to pick out some simple clothing that would have been middle of the road fashionable in that time, reviewed his language requirements, and set 2190, and the coordinates for downtown St. Louis into the time machine, took a deep breath, and in an instant, he was transported to that place. He had chosen a park, in the very early morning, hours as his landing spot. With any luck, no one would see him touch down.
Perhaps we should talk about the time machine itself for just a moment, for it truly was a thing of beauty. Tom found with the technical advances of his time, the power and weight requirements could be scaled down to look like one of those old-fashioned wrist clocks that were just now coming back into style after being passé for over a hundred years. So, he figured he would not stand out too terribly with it on in his time period, and perhaps as far back as the early 1900s. Any earlier and Tom figured he would have to find another way to disguise it. The fact he was wearing one in the twenty-second century could be chalked up as a family heirloom with personal meaning and he would be viewed as eccentric. To initiate a trip, he opened the face to activate the brain link, thought of an exact time and place, initiated a transmit and launch code, and in a flash, was where he wanted to be. To return home, all he needed to do was repeat the process with a home command and he was back to where he started, in present day time he would be gone for about 5 seconds.
The purpose of this first trip was to shop for local knowledge of the St. Louis area. Tom chose 2190 because the global facial recognition grid was still in its infancy and he thought he could fool it while staying off the historical grid. He intended to delve into the crumbling paper copies of the city’s records as if he were an academic looking for the first key to the city. Along the way, he figured he might be able to pick up something that would be of some value three hundred years earlier.
At precisely 2311 hours’ local time, Tom opened his watch, activated the brain link and thought of 0530 hours (local) August 22nd 2190, for North 38.628383, West 90.185201. He then thought through his launch code and go command. In less than a blink of an eye he was there. With this jump, only his second, Tom found he arrived just a bit disoriented and was forced to sit down for just a moment or two, but within a couple of minutes he was on his feet and walking to the nearest people mover stop. After a tiring walk of 10 minutes he found the stop, called for a hover car with a bootleg communication chip, and settled in for the minute or so wait until it arrived.
And arrive it did. A non-descript box with four seats, adorned with the latest in integrated advertising, Tom had only to say where he wanted to go. There was no charge, for the corporation that owned St. Louis would cover the cost as part of their business expense, and it would be written off as so much was these days. Tom realized it was still too early for the city historical museum so he chose to see the markers for the original city location. He thought this would be important for when he came back four-hundred years earlier. It took about 1o minutes to find the spot, and another tiring walk up to the mound where the marker stood, awaiting Tom’s arrival.
As he approached – a holographic scene awaited him, and his newly discovered, semi-transparent, guide welcomed his arrival, asking Tom what he would like to discover? Tom suggested first scenes of the city in the early twenty-second century, assuming that was the most popular request. As the scene played out Tom worked on a plan to walk his way back to the 1700’s.
St. Louis in 2100 was a bustling city, with its citizens adjusting well to the world government, and the new 40-hour work month. It had just finished the bidding process for who would be the cities corporate sponsor, and what social benefits that corporation would provide. Of course, with its long history associated with various brewing companies the residents were shocked when a small trillion-dollar start-up won the bid with a promise of full employment, great social programs, universal health care, and free memberships in the gaming syndicate they owned. So, thought Tom, this is how St Louis came to be known as gambling capital of the world, displacing those historical centers like Macau, China, Las Vegas, America and Monte Carlo, Europe.
Choosing to step back in 50-year increments he discovered that St. Louis had been a moderately sized city with a vibrancy that impressed many of its visitors. It had, of course, the big beer brewing company owned by the Europeans, as well as something called the St. Louis Cardinals who played a game called baseyball. As best Tom could figure out it was a game begun by the natives who tossed rocks at each other, but it grew into a game where the rock was replaced by a ball made in South America that would be hit by a wooden club made somewhere else in America. It was supposed to be the most popular game of its time, for the video kept calling it “America’s Game.” Eventually, Tom learned the city began life as an outpost for the French fur trappers and traders, who would sell European goods to the natives in exchange for coats from dead animals like beaver, deer, antelope and buffalo. Tom made a mental note to research what these animals were and how one was supposed to catch them, and take their coats off.
Enthralled with the monuments presentation Tom soon came to realize he was getting just a bit thirsty and hungry. It was time to find a good restaurant, so he hiked back to the people mover station, summoned a ride and asked for a restaurant where he might have breakfast. Off they went for about 200 yards where it stopped in front of the Brake for Breakfast All You Can Eat Breakfast Emporium. Stepping down, Tom was transported inside by the moving walkway.
Once inside he was overwhelmed by the various smells coming from the aroma machines. He settled on a traditional wonton and oatmeal curry, along with an electrolyte infused smoothie as his breakfast. Sat down and began to observe the people coming and going about their daily routine. Glancing up at the time on the wall Tom noted it was now 1000 hrs (local) and perhaps he should be heading over to the city’s historical society after he finished.