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I’ve arrived, Professor. I can hardly believe I’m here. It’s amazing. I faxed in undetected behind the forest ridge just like they said I would. I presented my papers to the commanding officer of the 22 New York Volunteer Infantry and he inserted me in as a new transfer. It’s better than I ever imagined. You should see it, the columns of soldiers, the supply trains, it’s all here. Today we’re camping on a large grove. I’ve been talking with some of the other soldiers and they tell me that we’ll me moving out tomorrow. Can you believe it? I’m actually here, talking with real live soldiers from the Civil War. I’ve always dreamed of this day. I’m going to end transmission now. I’ll V-mail you tomorrow and let you know how it’s going. You’re right, Professor. You can’t really appreciate history until you’ve seen it first-hand. This is Barry Lewis, signing off.


Good evening, Professor. We’ve been marching all day. My feet are killing me. I had thought that I was conditioned for this trip, but now I’m not so sure. I can safely say that people from this area were much stouter than people from our own. But that’s kind of why I’m here, right? This has got to be the most amazing experience of my life. Seeing these people’s lack of technology makes me appreciate my own time that much more. We really do have it better than any other people in history. Like this V-mail, for example. With the cerebral uplink chip, I don’t even have to type this message. I just have to think it and you get the message the second I mentally upload it. Amazing. This sure beats the old way where people actually had to write messages on paper and send them through the regular mail. How slow. Okay. I’ll stop rambling. I’m just so excited. I’m going to log off now. I’ll send you another message later.


It’s been a tough day, Professor. While at camp, I noticed that a lot of the other men are sick. They tell me that there’s an outbreak of cholera and whooping cough going around. You should hear their coughing. I couldn’t help but feel sorry for them. The invisible safety-grid is keeping me from contracting any of their germs, which kind of makes me feel bad, considering the fact that none of these other people have it so easy. Earlier today, I saw a line outside the surgeon’s tent. A boy about my age was standing in that line looking like death warmed over. When it came his turn to go in, the surgeon simply looked him over, examined his throat, and declared him fit for duty. The poor kid simply walked away, having not been given so much as an aspirin. The sad thing is, if he were able to come back home with me, one of our doctors could probably fix him up with one duroscan and retinax injection. It doesn’t seem fair. But I guess that’s the point of this whole trip, to see first-hand the reality of history. When I think about it, that same kid has been dead for over three hundred years. His life has already been lived, and I’m just a witness to it. I’ll have to remember that. I’ll sign off now. I need to let the unit recharge. Later.


I don’t have much time to neuro-scan a message today. We’re on the move again. I keep hearing grumblings about a fight coming. We’re somewhere south of Sharpsburg. I’ll text you later.


I saw my first skirmish today, Professor. I don’t know how to describe it. We were marching along a narrow path when we were attacked. Two men around me went down. I’ve done a lot of reading on warfare, but what I heard coming from those men cannot be described in any book I’ve ever read. I knew that witnessing a fight wasn’t going to be pretty, but I didn’t know it would be like this. The screams of agony from those men were sickening. If it weren’t for my safety-grid, I would have been shot down too. It’s a sobering thought. After we repelled the advance, both men were evacuated to the medic. One died. The other lost his leg. I wish you could respond to these messages. When I fax-back, I’m going to have a talk with the CEO of RE-TRIP and tell him that they need to get cracking on some form of two way communication for these kinds of time trips. It’s weird, but I feel sort of alone here, almost like you’re not listening. Time to recharge.


There was another fight today. Worse than yesterday. I’m very tired. My safety-grid took a beating. I had to lie on the ground for most of it and pretend I wasn’t being hit. It’s hard to keep up the act when Minie balls are flying all around you. I hope nobody in my unit is getting suspicious. I need to sleep. Good night.


I think something’s wrong, Professor. When I woke up this morning, my safety-grid meter was sputtering. It took a shelling yesterday, but it’s supposed to be able to absorb anything. Isn’t it? Do me a favor. Call RE-TRIP and ask one of their techs if this sort of thing is normal. Thanks.


Professor, did you call RE-TRIP? God, I hope so. I’m starting to think that something might be seriously wrong with the safety-grid. Yesterday, the meter was sputtering a little. Now it’s starting to glow red. Make sure they know about it. God, I wish you could answer me. More people in my unit are sick. We’re advancing tomorrow. I’m sure I’m just being paranoid, but make sure those RE-TRIP guys know what’s going on. If you could talk to me, you’d probably tell me that everything was fine, that this sort of thing happened to you during your own thesis research trip. I’ll stop complaining. It just makes me feel better knowing that you’re listening. I won’t forget it, Professor. Well, time to recharge the unit again. See ya.


Professor, I’m in trouble! The safety-grid has crashed! It had a total power failure! I’m exposed to the elements now. I’m sending you this transmission while we’re marching. I didn’t have time until right now. I’m really scared. My fax-back isn’t scheduled for another week and a half. You have to go RE-TRIP and get them to do an emergency fax-back. I know that I have to be alone before they’ll do it, so make sure they’re monitoring me. I’m going to try to break away tonight. Gotta go.


Professor, I couldn’t get away. I’m in camp right – cough – now. They’ve had problems – cough – with deserters so they’ve posted extra guards. I don’t feel so good. I think I might be catching their – cough - diseases. Please, Professor. Hurry. You have to get them to order a – cough – fax-back. I’m waiting.


Professor! They’re shooting at me! Help! My safety-grid won’t work! Get them to do a fax-back! I don’t care about the prime directive! I don’t care if someone sees me disappear! They’re going to shoot me! I’m going to die! Help!


Professor, why won’t they get me out of here? Can’t they – cough – see I’m in trouble? Are you even getting these messages? Listen. I’m going to leave tonight, guards or no guards. As soon as I’m – cough – alone, you get them to fax me the hell out of here. I’ve had enough. I want to go home. I’m counting on you. Get them to fax me out tonight.


Professor, I’m in the woods. I’m – cough - alone. Now would be a good time. Where are you? Are you there? I said that I’m alone. Tell them that it won’t contaminate the timeline. No one will see me leave. Get them to – cough – do it! Wait a minute. Oh, no. Someone’s coming. I’ve been spotted! Is that why they won’t fax me back? Because I’ll be seen? Tell them to do it anyway. Hurry. They’re coming at me. It’s the guards! They think I’m – cough – deserting! One of them is swinging his rifle at my head!


I know you’re there, Professor. I know you can read these transmissions. They’ve convened a court martial. I’ve been found guilty of desertion. I’m standing in front of a firing squad. But I understand RE-TRIP’S policy now. They couldn’t issue an emergency fax-back while I was in the company of people from this time. Even with the danger of – cough – disease and even with the battle raging around me, there was a chance that I would survive here long enough to meet my assigned fax-back time. Since that chance existed, they couldn’t risk pulling me out and having natives to this timeline witness my – cough – disappearance. But now that I’m in front of the firing squad with no chance of survival, I’m sure that they’ll amend their policy and pull me out. I’m not afraid. Even as the sergeant is shouting “Ready,” I know that the guys at RE-TRIP will do the right thing. “Aim,” I can’t wait to get back. I’m sure we’ll have a lot to talk abo…..

  • George Ebey is the author of Broken Clock; Dimensions: Tales of Suspense; The Red Bag and Widowfield. He is a graduate of The University of Akron with a bachelor's degree in History, as well as from Kent State University with a bachelor's degree in Criminal Justice and a minor in writing. George is a contributing editor to the International Thriller Writer's webzine, the Big Thrill. He lives with his wife, Gail, in Northeast Ohio.

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