Tom found his way to the historical society where he learned more about the history of St. Louis than the holographic monument had provided. He also learned that spices like salt were valuable commodities in a time when it was not readily available in the food processors. He also learned that money, in the form of the omnipresent bank chip did not exist in 1790, and barter was the most common business transaction, followed by simple theft.
Soon, his week of research was up, and Tom activated the return home mode of his time machine. In a flash, he was home. As he scrambled for that old iPad he tried to place his notes into a usable sequence. Putting away his old clothing, Tom felt the pockets for his one new treasure. In the museum, he had found a sample of native beading and was able to use his time watch to pick that up in the middle of the night when the museum was closed.
And so, it went for the next six weeks or so, as Tom made his way back in time to prepare for that final great adventure. A bobble here, a small treasure there, something that might be useful on his journey was always a goal. At the same time, while he was in his own time Tom began to realize he would need to be in better condition if he were to survive in the wilderness of 400-years earlier, so he set about the task of exercising.
This raised some suspicion in his neighbors as they wondered about Tom’s mental wellbeing. After all, who in their right mind would set out to actually sweat in this day and age? Would this wild behavior actually impact the harmony of the city? Tom assured them he would ease off on this foolishness, as he found ways to mask the times he worked out by traveling to an earlier time to do it. There seemed to be some kind of fitness craze in the late twentieth century, and it was very easy to fit in there as an out-of-shape guy looking to lose a few pounds.
Born to a mustang on the Great Plains, Chester had lived his first year by his mother in the herd led by his father. It had been a free and easy time, except for the occasional wolf pack that would chase the herd until one of the older mares fell behind. The first winter had been hard when the snow covered the grass and there was little to eat, but the herd had moved to the shelter of a river valley were grass could still be found.
His life changed dramatically in the summer of his second year, when humans came into it, and he was captured by a tribe of the Dakota. For the next year he learned their customs, and allowed them to ride on his back. He found great excitement in the wild chase of Bison as the humans drove them, much as the wolves had driven his herd. He seemed to be joined with one particular human, but was still part of the bigger herd, led by a large stallion ridden by the strongest of the humans. And it came to be for the next ten years of his life. It became a comfortable life, as the humans took care to make sure there was food and water for him.
Then one day, when everything seemed so normal, strangers came into his herd and he was led away by men who smelled completely foreign. He was now on his own with these new humans with just a small herd to bond with, but they were always on the move, with little time to graze or socialize. He learned to carry the weight of a saddle, along with the increased weight of these new humans. He also learned not to bolt with the noise of their guns, but each time they fired them the flash and the band did startle him. Eventually they came to this encampment by the river, where the men gathered and became noisy. It was here that Charlie met Tom.