Thursday, August 03, 2006

"Great Times," Chapter 28

Copyright 2006, Terry F. Phillips Sr.
All rights reserved.

Chapter 28

When Ted awoke, he found the three of them were in another room. Connie and Eddie were still unconscious and his mind was very foggy, but the smell of cinnamon was going away.
Soon, Eddie stirred.
“We made it!” he said, forcing himself to sit up. “We’re here! Computers! Cable-TV. Satellite TV! Did you ever think you would make it back to 2147?”
At that, Ted shook his head. He must not be as alert as he thought he was.
Connie was starting to revive and Eddie was jumping up and down, so close, Ted thought he might step on one of them.
“What’s going on?” Ted asked. He wanted to sound authoritative, but that was difficult with the drugged feeling.
Eddie stopped jumping immediately.
“You surely haven’t forgotten the procedure, have you?” he asked. “I know it’s been a while since you made the jump, but it can’t be that long. You weren’t gone longer than I, were you?”
“Oh, Ted, what happened?” Connie asked, stirring, trying to stand.
“We’ve been drugged, that’s what is going on,” Ted said.
At that point, two men entered the room. They were dressed in silver coats with masks that hid their facial features. They had a hurried interview with Eddie and then the three of them stepped out of the room.
The three were dressed in apparel similar to the outerwear worn by the creatures who had crashed in New Mexico. Ted had to wonder if there was a connection.
“I don’t know if they can hear us or not,” Ted said to Connie. “But we have to talk. We must stay together. Obviously, this isn’t Eddie’s dressing room and I don’t even know what city we are in. So, be careful what you say and by all means, let’s stay together.”
A few minutes later, Eddie rejoined them. He seemed nervous, even nervous for high-strung Eddie.
“It seems we’ve made a mistake,” Eddie said. “Now, we’re trying to rectify it.”
Using his army training, Ted was quickly able to overpower the slightly-built Adams.
“Now, listen, you little shit,” he said. “I am about ready to twist your damn head off, so tell us what’s going on and tell us now.”
Then, he raised his voice.
“Listen to me,” Ted said to the beings he could not see but who may have been listening. “I know you can hear me. You can probably gas us again or do something to try to stop me, but I promise this. Eddie will be injured, before I go down.”
A voice quickly came from outside the room, though neither Ted or Connie saw any loudspeakers.
“Calm down, Mr. Lane,” the voice said. “Believe me, you are the last person in this building we can afford to harm.
“We know all about you and Miss Collins. We think it might be good to answer your questions. When you return, no one will believe you anyway, according to our historical records.”
Ted relaxed his grip on Eddie. He realized it might be a mistake, but Ted knew he was largely bluffing, anyway. If he killed Eddie in front of Connie, she would never forgive him. If their captors chose to stop Ted, they probably could without letting Eddie be seriously injured. He really had no choice but to believe them, for now.
The door slid open. It appeared to be a pocket door, such as Ted had seen on old houses. But he noticed no hand pushing the door.
Once again, the two figures dressed in silver entered the room. By their manner, they were quite solicitous.
“Are you all right, Miss Collins?” one asked. “Mr. Lane, would you and Miss Collins care to join us and we will answer your questions.”
“Why don’t you just let us go back to our hotel and we’ll forget the questions,” Ted said.
“I’m afraid your hotel has long been torn down,” the first figure said. “Years ago.” Forrest Smith waited for a reaction. Getting none, he smiled. “Please. Come.”
He turned and left the room first, indicating Ted and Connie were able to go or stay as they chose.
“The pair followed the two men, apparently medical people by the surgical masks and gowns they wore, into room with an oval table and chairs covered with a substance that looked like leather, but did not have the same texture.
“My name is Smith. Forrest Smith and this is Ralph Phillips, my associate.
“Would you like to ask your questions or should we anticipate what you want to know?”
Taking seats around the conference room table, the same table where a few days earlier, the historians had debated the 1947 anomaly. Sitting on plastic-upholstered chairs, for that is what they were, the five relaxed a bit.
“Go on,” Ted said. “What is this all about? Where are we?”
“Mr. Lane - do you mind if I call you Ted? All right, Ted, it is. Ted, the question you should be asking is not where are we, but ‘when are we?’
“Unfortunately, Eddie Adams mistook you for some of our people and you were drugged and brought into what is your future. The year is 2147.
“In anticipation of your next question, the answer is, you will be returned to 1947, but not immediately.
“Our technology requires us to drug your bodies or they would not survive the procedure. I’ll not go into the details of the procedure, for there is the danger you might be believed in 1947 and if you were, we would lose all control of the time travel procedure.
“I don’t blame you if you don’t believe me,” he said, noticing Connie’s frown and body language. “But you do well to learn all you can, because we can show you some marvelous things before you are returned. Things like television. The Internet, recording devices, advances in clothing, housing, transportation--”
“Suppose I do believe we really are in the -“ Ted interrupted and then thought a second - “the 22nd century. What is the deal with Eddie? Who is he? Some special agent? And what is the connection between you guys and the crash - or whatever it was - at Roswell, New Mexico?”
“Let me answer the second part first,” the second man said. “The Roswell incident was a great mystery for all of us until this week. Not just for your generation, but for decades after 1947.
“We think we understand what happened. We think we managed to uncover what had been covered up for years.”
“Covered up?” Ted asked. “By who?”
He had been trained as a soldier to implicitly trust his superiors and if these creatures were saying the United States government had lied to the American public. Well, he would not trust anyone who tried to say that!
Smith continued.
“For years, the government of the United States didn’t know,” he said. “The Roswell incident was masked by the beings whose ship crashed at the Brazel ranch in New Mexico.
“For years, everyone forgot about the incident and there was no record - no accusations - about it.
“We certainly didn’t know anything about Roswell until the accident occurred.”
“What accident?”
“That is our part of the story.”
The hosts went on to explain the history study project using time travel. All the data hadn’t been sorted out, but they did know that somehow their new process for time travel had broken the mass hypnotic effect began by the alien visitors. When the mass hypnosis was broken, history had shifted.
The Roswell newspaper reported the incident. The Roswell radio station reported the incident. The U.S. Air Force had said Marcel saw a weather balloon and five0 years later, more people than ever believed in the possibility of aliens in outer space.
“So, let me understand,” Ted said. “Two years after the end of World War II, an alien space ship - one from another world -- crashed on the Brazel ranch and the aliens managed to mask that fact.”
“Another solar system,” corrected Ralph.
“Right and right,” said Smith. “Another world and another solar system. And, then this year - in 2147, just a few days ago - our historians visited the Brazel ranch and managed somehow to break the mass hypnosis amnesia induced by the aliens -“
“Wait,” Connie said. “So, how did we get here?”
“Eddie’s the answer,” Ted said. “But how.”
“Eddie is one of our historians,” the second host said. “He has made various trips back in time to study the past. But, he was not pulled back until the instant you were visiting him in his dressing room. You came, too.”
They looked at Eddie.
"Oops," he said, then grinned.
"Oops?" Ted screamed. "Listen you little ---"
"Ted!" Connie yelled. "Remember, we are -- uh, guests -- here and NOW. And now happens to be when you and I are over 200 years old."
“But you look so well-preserved, Connie” Eddie said while passively succumbing to Ted’s grip on his clothing.
At the realization Connie was right, he sat back down.
"OK," Ted continued. "I'm fine.
"Listen, you guys are government,” Ted continued. “You hold all the cards. Just look up my war record, before you lock me up and throw away the key, OK?"
"Already done," Mr. Lane," the second being said, smiling. "We knew all about you before you came out of the anesthesia. You might say we know all about your PRESENT family, too.
"A month ago, we would probably have told you all about it. Maybe even introduced you to them. "
"Not now," Smith said. "Not since Roswell. We will be playing with fire just sending you back to 1947."
He paused to let that sink in. Then he smiled.
"But we will."
All was quiet for a moment as everyone seemed to be thinking through their next move. Then, Eddie spoke.
“Time travel. That’s the real reason why I couldn’t get it on with my girlfriend at the radio station-“ Eddie said.
“-She was way too old for you,” Connie said.
“Barbara was my grandmother and Mrs. Adams’ niece,” Eddie said. “Ever tried to be passionate with your grandmother?”
The five sat silently at the table, Ted and Connie trying to take it all in.
“It must have been one hell of an event when the induced amnesia was broken,” Ted said.
The government didn’t understand, so they first denied it,” Ralph said. “Then they said it was a weather balloon.
Eddie began weeping and the two men paused because of the grief they felt.
“Let me guess,” Ted said. “You were experimenting with a flying machine that would allow time travelers to study history in our time without being drugged and put through the procedure, as you call it. They lost control and crashed in the New Mexico desert. They died, too.
"That must have been what broke the spell imposed by the aliens. Your people died in the same crash," Ted said. "Maybe your people appeared at the same time and in the same place as the alien ship."
"Yeah," Smith said somberly.
“Understand,” Eddie lisped. “We know these things happen. It’s part of scientific discovery. Like the Challenger or the Columbia-“
“Eddie!” shouted the first host.
“I just meant - oh, never mind.”
“We don’t feel we can share specifics of your future with you,” the first man said. “But we can show you some of the marvels of your future, if you are interested.”
“What about television?” Connie spoke for the first time. “This trip to California was all about television. It would be great if we could give Mr. Howard the edge.”
The two scientists looked confused.
“Howard is the man they work for - not one of the Three Stooges,” Eddie explained.
At that comment, everyone laughed, for the visitors from 1947 were as familiar with the Stooges as were their new acquaintances from 2147.
“Oh, yes. That Howard!” said the one. “I’m not sure it will do you any good, but we can tell you about TV, as we know it.
“On your trip you may learn about ‘Time for Beany.’ That was popular in California in your time, I believe. It was a puppet show that was watched by adults as well as children.
“But I think you mean something else. I think you probably want to know what direction Mr. Howard should develop his empire.
“Well, there is TV, color TV, cable TV, satellite TV, HDTV, stereo TV and probably other variations. Where shall we begin?”
Ted shook his head in wonder.
The scientists laughed.
“Confusing, right?” one asked. “That’s what happens when technology isn’t allowed to develop at its own pace. There is such a thing as the collective consciousness, you know.
“This person learns and bit and shares with that person who learns a bit and so forth. Eventually, human beings develop and do so in a civilized manner.”
“Speaking of which, that is precisely why we cannot show you everything you might want to see. What you take back will change the world - both yours and ours. We can only try to limit the change, to control its impact. I’m sure that within a year after you return to 1947, the impact of you being here will change your world and then have a boomerang effect our ours.
“It’s all the same world, but we have personal responsibility for bringing you here and hopefully, your changes will not adversely affect our world - do you see how it works?”
Connie and Ted nodded slightly. Both were uncomfortable with the idea of being in the presence of people who obviously were advanced - if they were people and if the things they were saying were true.
As the talk was obviously coming to an end, another figure, dressed much as those already in the room entered. He whispered something to the future man who was evidently in charge.
Startled, Smith looked around the table.
“Now, we are told that all did not die in the New Mexico crash,” he said. “There is evidence that at least one of the travelers lived for a few days.”
He turned to Eddie.
“Do you know what this means?”
Ted ignored the private conversation and spoke up.
“You know, Colonel, or doctor or General - whatever you are - I was in the Army during the war,” Ted said. “My guess is that your people will be transported to a remote spot as quickly as possible. I haven’t read much science fiction, but I suppose you want to avoid changing the future as much as possible. I don’t understand why you can’t just go back and see to it that the travelers never take off in their mechanical flying saucer, but that is your business -.”
“Actually, according to the folk lore of the 20th century, they were taken to Wright-Patterson Air Force Base in Ohio,” Phillips said.
“We can’t prevent them from taking off for the same reason we couldn’t prevent the mechanical failure that crashed their craft,” Smith said. “Perhaps we will one day be able to prevent it, but we haven’t the technology right now.”
“Yes, but my point is that you may be able to rescue the man who did not die in that crash,” Ted said, with his palms upturned on the desk. “Bring him back the same way you brought us here.”
“That might work,” Future man said. “But, we have a problem. Appearance. Your friend, Eddie, has already started to show the classic symptoms of repeated time travel - he is thin, balding with frail features. You would begin to look the same way, if you were to make repeated trips back and forth.”
Ted looked at Connie to see if she was paying attention.
“But, we don’t have those characteristics,” he said. “We could help you. How would one missing alien from a UFO affect history? History wouldn’t miss him.
“We were at the crash site. It is such a mad house that people won’t know if the count showed five or six or 10 missing aliens.”
The two future men looked at one another.
“Mr. Lane, I think we may be in a position that we must take you up on your offer.
Smith stood.
“We do have plenty of time, but the return trip won’t be pleasant for you,” he said. “Still--.”
He paused to think.
“Still, you must be returned anyway, and you need not make a return trip to our time period.
“I just hope this experience doesn’t affect the two of you too much. That’s why we have severely limited your experience to what is the world of your future.”