TIME IS NOT ALONE
Thomas Wm. Hamilton
Sequel to the Time For Patriots novel,
which can be found in the Writer Development Section
"We seem to have screwed up this election. The results leave us with the weakest influence on Congress since 1820." The Headmaster, as was traditional, chaired the meeting of the Trustees of North Shore Military Academy. They also were by that fact the de facto ruling body for descendents of those who had been accidentally time shifted back to 1770, now nearly a quarter of a millenium in the past.
"Just how bad is it?" The Commandant had little free time to watch election returns.
The Headmaster nodded to the Assistant Headmaster, who cleared his throat and said, "All but four of our Senate candidates lost primaries. The four were all incumbents, and two of them lost on election day, leaving us with just fifteen in the Senate. The only winners were Darryl Fenwood in Arkansas and Ted Chittenden in Vermont. The day we loose either of those two seats is really the end of the world. In the House we went from 76 members down to 21. State and province elections were equally bad."
The Headmaster resumed. "We have no good reason for all these losses. The economy is as strong as ever. No scandals afflicted our people. Internationally things are as calm as they ever get. Our overseas possessions and space colonies are doing fine. Anyone have any ideas?" She looked honestly perplexed.
Fred Larsen, a long term Senator who had avoided the wipe out by not being up for election, said, "Elections are largely decided by money. Maybe we just got a little too frugal?"
Paula Bavny, the Treasurer, shook her head. "I could give you a complete breakdown of what was spent, but in fact it was about one percent more than we spent in the election two years ago, and that included the Presidency."
Bob Colon had been pounding on a computer keyboard while the others were talking. Now he looked up. "We may have spent well, and maybe even wisely, but we were heavily outspent in all the races we lost. Fenwood, Chittenden, and the few House seats we held were about the only races where we were't outspent by four to one or better. At least that's what my computer search indicates."
This drew a lot of gasps and exclamations. Finally the Assistant Headmaster said, "Does your computer show where the money came from?"
"No, from what I'm finding, it looks as though someone has carefully obfuscated the source."
From the Commandant: "You think there is a single source?"
"Can't tell from this, but it seems logical."
Bavny said, "You know, this might relate to a report I got from one of our people in the Treasury Department. It seems they accidentally discovered an apparently counterfeit hundred dollar bill. The problem was that a microscopic examination could find no sign it wasn't legit."
"So what makes them think it's counterfeit?"
"All bills larger than twenties have several concealed threads that function as RFID, although the public, and even banks, aren't aware of it. This bill they found had the threads, but wasn't properly coded. They're trying to determine if maybe there was an error in printing."
The Headmaster said, "I propose we loan whatever aid we can to a Treasury investigation. If their problem doesn't relate to our concern, we can initiate our own study of the election problem. All agreed, please indicate."
New Zealand: "Good afternoon, sir. I am conducting an investigation for the Treasury Department. You are not in any way in trouble, but you might be able to aid us, if you could tell me where you obtained the hundred dollar bills you used for purchasing supplies for your printing business."
"That's easy enough. They came for my bank."
"And what bank might that be?"
"The Zealander's Bank of Commerce and Labor. The branch just down the street from here."
"My thanks, and your government's gratitude for your cooperation."
Cuba: "Buenas dias, senora. I have been sent by the Treasury Department of the government to request your help. Could you tell me where you received the hundred dollar bill which you donated to the Building Fund of the Cathedral?"
"I took the money from my bank."
"And which bank might that be?"
"Banco Cubana of Commerce and Labor."
"Muchas gracias, senora. Viaya con dios."
Hawaii: "As a representative of the Treasury Department, I regret having to bother you, but we need to ask, where did you get the hundred dollar bill you used to pay for supplies for the luau you gave last summer?"
"It came from my bank, Oahu Bank of Commerce and Labor."
"Thanks. I won't bother you any further."
Franklin: "A couple months ago, you paid for some dental work with a hundred dollar bill. The Treasury Department is trying to trace how such large bills circulate. Would you mind telling me where you got it?"
"From the Vancouver Bank of Commerce and Labor."
"Nice and simple. Thanks."
"I'm sure Treasury is noticing the same thing we are, all these banks are small, new within the past six years, and all have 'Commrce and Labor' in their names. And, all are located on islands in states that are remote." The Headmaster was again chairing the meeting.
Colon said, "If I remember our history, the first money our ancetors had after getting stuck in 1770 was a computer reproduction of downtime currency. Could all these banks be fronting for an invasion by time travellers from our future?"
Bavny replied, "I hope no one at Treasury is thinking that, but I'm sure every person in this room has the same thought."
The Headmaster said, "No, our contacts say that Treasury feels stymied for the moment. Their lawyers are saying that without better evidence of a crime they can't take serious legal action. Treasury is thinking about trying to infiltrate some employees into one or more of these banks. But we have never felt constrained to act. What would this body say to grabbing someone from on of these banks and doing some serious questioning?"
The Commandant cautioned, "Don't snatch a CEO or President. Too high profile. The news media might pick up on it. But what sort of person would be low enough profile to snatch but important enough to know what's going on?"
"As Treasurer here, I think I can assure you that a Deputy Chief Accountant or equivalent would fit the bill."
The Headmaster: "Is that proposed as an action item? Approvals? Thank you."
The room was totally dark except for one flood light aimed at the chair where a man sat, bound. A plastic tube snaked from the darkness to his arm, where it was taped, a needle entering his arm. From the darkness an androgynous voice asked, "What is your name?"
"Who are you people? Where am I?"
Sudden pain. The androgynous voice repeated its question.
Sudden pain. The androgynous voice said, "What is your real name?"
Pain. The androgynous voice asked again.
"How old are you?"
"What year were you born?"
Pain. The voice repeated the last question.
"Dammit, that's the truth."
"Where were you born?"
"In the city of Verdag Novi."
A pause, then "Where is that?"
"What is Dernali?"
The prisoner showed a slight sneer. "It's the planet you call Mercury."
Another pause. "There are two bases on Mercury, one near each pole. Both are American, and neither uses the name Verdag Novi. Are you fabulating to confuse us?"
"Your bases. Your timeline."
"So you admit now to being from the future?"
"The future? You believe in impossibilities like time travel? Fools."
"if not the future, then what?"
"Rot in hell."
Greater pain, prolonged. "Where do you claim to come from, if not the future?"
Gasps. "Alternate timeline. We infiltrate, and extract wealth and new products and ideas. You can't stop us. We control dozens of timelines now, in addition to ones with no human or other intelligent life. Any that threaten us get sterilized. Learning this from me shows what fools you are. It could be enough to get your entire timeline wiped of life."