Copyright 2016 Mario V. Farina
Shakespir Edition, License Notes
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Mario V. Farina
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For many years the fact that time travel was possible was held as a top secret by the United States Government. Officials in the various administrations feared that the widespread use of traveling in time might be detrimental to the nation. Early experiments on a small scale had proved that history could be altered.
I had been an astronaut. You’d recognize my name if I wrote it here. In April, 2015 I was approached by an emissary of the President and asked to meet with the Secretary of the Interior. In this meeting, I learned about time travel for the first time and was asked if I’d be willing to participate in a more elaborate test than had ever been attempted. I agreed to do it.
I was told that an experiment had been planned to determine the effect that a change to the past might have on people’s lives. I was asked to go back to the Black Hills mining town of Deadwood, Dakota Territory. The date was to be August 1, 1876 and I was to see to it that Wild Bill Hickok was not killed by Broken Nose Jack McCall on the following day. This would tell us what would be the effect of this change in history. I was cautioned to limit what I did during the actual mission. Anything more might have severe repercussions in the flow of American history. I understood this and was awed that the President had entrusted this momentous undertaking to me.
I can’t go into the actual mechanism of how my mission was begun. All I can say is that I soon found myself at the Longhorn Hotel in Deadwood, Dakota Territory, on the evening of August 1, 1876. I was sitting, gun in hand, facing the door of the chintzy room in which Wild Bill lived. The gun in my hand was pointed right at the door!
It opened and Wild Bill walked in. When he saw me, he made a sudden motion toward his gun belt but immediately thought better of it and paused. We stared at each other. He was about five-ten, slim, wearing the wide brimmed black hat that he is so often pictured in. His hair was long, bushy, and well kempt as was his long thin mustache. He was dressed in well-worn leather garb. By contrast, I was wearing an ordinary blue business suit complete with red-striped tie and shiny black shoes. He scowled with a puzzled expression. “What’s this all about, mister?” he finally growled. I motioned to an empty chair and he sat obediently but I knew his mind was racing, planning how to turn the tables.
“Wild Bill,” I said, “I’m from the future. I know you don’t understand this but trust me, I’ve come to save your life. Hear me out. Don’t attempt anything or you may die even sooner than history has decreed for you.”
Grudgingly, Wild Bill seemed to accept this and settled down to listen. I talked for half an hour explaining the flow of time, events that would take place in the future, inventions to be made, and more. From time to time, he’d seem impatient for the bottom line, but he waited until I got there.
At one point, he perked up his ears when I told him that in 2015, my year in history, he had earned great notoriety as a gunfighter. In 1861, he had skillfully shot three men who had been trying to kill him. The story of this fight had been sensationally reported in Harper’s New Monthly Magazine. His reputation had grown even more after a string of impressive gunfights.
I continued with, “History has recorded that a man named Jack McCall will shoot you dead tomorrow, Wild Bill, as you’re playing poker at Nuttal and Mann’s!” He shuddered as if struck by a bullet. “You won’t be sitting as you usually do with your back to the wall,” I continued. “Charles Rich will be in the seat you want, and he’ll refuse to change with you. You need to seize that seat before he gets it. That way, Jack won’t be able to get the drop on you. Understand?” He nodded. He knew Jack McCall from a time their paths had crossed in the past. I could tell Wild Bill was beginning to trust me but I didn’t relax my vigilance. Wild Bill was not a nice guy and could not be trusted by anyone under any circumstances.
“Watch for a hand in which you have two black aces and two black eights,” I said. “At this time, you’ll have mere seconds to live unless you act before Jack does!”
“How do you know all this?” Wild Bill demanded. “
Your exploits, the ones that are true and the ones that are false, went down in history after you were killed,” I responded. “The way you died and the hand you were holding made you famous. If you do as I say, you won’t die tomorrow!”
He smiled. “I’m glad I’ll be remembered,” he commented.
“Good luck, Wild Bill,” I said warmly. Initiating a secret procedure, I returned to my computer room in microseconds. I hastily started the computer on my desk and searched Google for “Wild Bill Hickok.” I wanted to see if history had changed. There was only one hit. Befuddled as to why this should be, I opened the site Google had found. The article located there was brief. It read:
Unusual Grave Site Found: A grave marked by faded black paint on rotting wooden planks in Deadwood, South Dakota reads, “Here lies James Butler Hickok, Born May 27, 1837. Died May 29, 1937. Lived a long time. Kilt a few men. Dint amount to much. People used to call him Wild Bill.
In 2015, I was sent back to 1837 to prevent Wild Bill Hickok from being killed. History tells us that this happened when Jack McCall got the drop on him and shot him in the back of the head. Wild Bill usually sat with his back to the wall but on this date he had his back to the door. I was able to instruct Wild Bill how to keep from getting killed. To this date I don't know if Wild Bill appreciated what I did. The story tells why I say this.