Tuesday, July 18, 2017

A Short Story (Part 4)

The Adventure
Tom had estimated it would take him about six-weeks to gather supplies and prepare for his great adventure, it took him almost twice as long, but in his opinion it was time well spent.  Not only did he gather material he could use, worked on his conditioning, and studied the culture of the time, but he programmed his sleep-learning modules to learn about horses, camping, wild animals, and the native cultures and their languages.  Finally, he was ready to make the trip, or should we say trips?  For Tom had decided he needed to transport with him his supplies and his small time-machine/watch could only handle Tom and about 35 kilograms of stuff at a time.  As he laid out his supplies he realized he would need to make three jumps to carry all his things back.  Some would be used for barter, some for survival. 
Tom was a methodical planner.  So, he laid out his goods to make sure they were equally divided, just in case something happened while he was making the trips.  Even though each trip would be an instant, and all three of his arrivals would be within a minute or two of the previous one.  The one rule in time travel Tom was convinced was critical was he could never be in the exact same space-time twice.  This was called “the double-occupancy” problem.  He didn’t want to consider the consequences of such a mistake, but figured all of them would be bad.
Finally, with a big, deep, breath Tom gathered up the first load, mostly food stuff and clothing, set his watch (which was now a pocket watch), and launched himself back to the St. Louis town of 1790.  His research had identified a suitable landing spot just north of the area, where there was a sufficient isolation and shelter to secure his belongings, yet close enough to town to walk in and find the final items he would need, like a horse or two.
In the twinkling of eye, he was transported to North, 38o 51.73908’, and West 90o17.0742, 0530(local), June 5th 1790.  The location he chose was just south of the big bend in the Missouri River, well north of the center of what was the center of the old St. Louis city.
Once on the ground in 1790, Tom looked around as the sun peeked over the eastern horizon.  He could feel the humidity in the air, as he watched the lightning flashes on the distant horizon.  From his experience in recent travels, as well as his study of the weather he knew this was going to be a day of thunderstorms.  He also realized he needed to find some higher ground to secure his stuff in the event of a really heavy rain.  He could see a small hill just to his east so grabbing his load he headed over to it.  He was in luck, for as he reached the crest he found a number of large boulders that provided a convenient hiding place for is bundle.  Programming in these new coordinates he leapt home and back two more times to finish bringing all his stuff to this place.  He made sure to keep separation between his journeys in time and space by altering his arrival times by a good five-minutes after each departure time.  By 0700 he had all his stuff secured and set off towards where he saw smoke rising to the south.
As Tom walked, he was struck by the smells of the land.  The freshness of the air, the smell of the damp grasses, reaching waist high, and the occasional signs of man.  Tom walked until noon, and the smoke rising to the south seemed no closer than it had when he began.  How far had he come?  How much farther must he go?  He reached for his navigational computer to help answer these questions, but something was wrong it said it could not determine his position.  “Oh great” thought Tom, but then a thought came to the front of his mind.  A thought that should have come long ago.  When did we develop electronic stars we could use to guide our way?  When he realized, the device was at least 200 years out of date he tucked it away as useless weight. 
He stopped to rest, eat something, and drink some water, as he pondered what to do next?  After about a half hour he set off again towards the south, as the sky darkened and became threatening.  Soon the afternoon rains would start, and Tom hoped to be somewhere less open then this grassland when that happened.  As luck would have it he stumbled across a small camp with about six men busy doing something with bodies of some beaver.  They had built simple shelters covered with a white canvas and appeared to be engaged in simple conversation.  Tom activated the embedded translator chip all 23rd Century humans had, and entered the camp.  The men dropped their tool, grabbed their rifles and leveled them at Tom.  The first man barked “Qui es to?” Tom stretched out his hands and replied in English, “I am a traveler,” which his translator changed to “Je – suis – un – voyager.”
This did little to relax these new strangers so Tom decided to show them he was not armed.  The men began an excited discussion about this insane man and what could he possibly want.  Tom stood patiently while the men looked him over.  He really had little choice since the muskets they had leveled at him looked fairly lethal.  Eventually, the six decided this idiot who was walking around without any protection was probably fairly harmless and they invited him to sit and have a drink or two.
Sitting on a log, near the small camp fire, Tom was offered a ceramic jug, whose contents smelled quite powerful.  Tom raised the jug, took a small sip and almost passed out from the gagging that followed.  His new companions found this hilarious as they snatched the jug from him, and took long pulls of drink from it.  Tom asked them what it was they were drinking and all he got back was “the stuff of life.”  When it was again his turn he took another drink, prepared this time as the liquid burned his throat on the way down and settled roughly into his stomach.  With two drinks Tom was already feeling the effects.  He began to worry that if he passed out these men would strip him of the things he was carrying so he decided to stop the drinking until he could figure out their true intent.
Soon, the men set the jug down as they began to pepper Tom with questions.  “Where are you from?”  “How did you get here?” “What do you want?”  Tom smiled as they all flowed together in the warmth of the day and the drink.  Slowly he began to answer them with the story he had made up, hoping his answers would sound reasonable.

No comments:

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...