Holiday Hotspot :a story by: GF Willmetts

April 2, 2017 | By | Reply More

It was hardly likely to be unexpected that when time travel became possible that tourists lined up to take part. After all, look what happened to space travel when it became a tourist attraction. It also brought in needed funds to bring investment and a generation ship off to the stars. The template existed. It could hardly be ignored with time travel although only the rich and those who were paying for a once in a lifetime experience and wiping out their savings and a profit for us.

That didn’t mean there weren’t limitations. Crowded venues were best. A few extra people here and there weren’t likely to be noticed. Popular places were rock concerts, theatre to some extent and sports games. About the only cinema anyone wanted to see was the first of fourth, depending on how you looked at them, ‘Star Wars’ film premiere which explains the vast numbers filling the show’s seat. It did bring up a problem of fake tickets circulating but it was best never to materialise tourists in front of residents. If anything, that was part of recorded history. That’s when we knew we weren’t violating the past and actually becoming part of it. Cause and effect in whatever order wasn’t being violated. We were supposed to develop time travel only we didn’t know about it until now.

The historians scoured the books looking for other anomalies comparable to or better than fake tickets that would make sense with time travel and give us some guidance where we could safely go. After all, it has happened already and we knew nothing had changed. That made it possible to seeing significant events and that often including disasters. Hey, we’re not letting personal ethics enter into this, only not to violate where we can go. Public events had a lot of crowds so although we couldn’t have tourists right in the middle of the event, they could experience the emotions of the throng.

As I said, we didn’t do this without some due care. Where there was film available, we checked who was actually there and could confirm the journey as a firm booking. We could guarantee their safety although we didn’t know what would happen after them being caught on camera. We couldn’t allow lager louts or even those who wanted to change history. The police of that time had enough worries that way. That did happen a couple times but time has a habit of rectifying such things. We should have spotted L.H. Oswold, the spelling hadn’t clicked, but Jack Ruby sorted that out. Even so, there was a grey area as to just who killed Kennedy. Further investigation showed that things weren’t as they were shown.

Some events were actually easier because there weren’t any crowds and providing we stayed beyond the horizon, used hides or placed disguised eyes closer, they could get the feel of what was going on. The Apollo missions were especially popular and our most expensive because of the spacesuits needed.

The university historians got a special discount as they were so helpful but were more precise with what they wanted to investigate. There were some limitations. Anything before the dawn of the Electric Age was out. The scientists thought it was something to do with electrical flux or it might be because of stronger electromagnetic fields.

We didn’t start big. Small teams went into the past first, not contacting people but bringing back rock and soil samples to the present to prove by carbon dating that they had really travelled into the past. After that, people could be sent to explore the towns. Villages were a little too conspicuous for strangers. Then we moved into tourism to bring back our investment.

The company wasn’t put together just for experimental research, it needed to make money, hence the tourist trade. We were heavily in debt to the banks. There were people lining up. Wealthy people. Time couldn’t be delayed. Funny that. We should have taken more care.

For most people, it was a few hours in the past and then come back. We didn’t have much control on the comeback but it tended to happen automatically after the event ended and they weren’t supposed to be there anymore. As I said, the Apollo missions were our most adventurous and worked fine, even off planet. Everyone was reminded we couldn’t violate the past and bringing anything but memories or digital photos was out. Likewise, any toilet dispension had to be brought back so all mass was accountable.

Why should anything go wrong with something as simple as going to a rock concert? It took a physicist and a historian to combine their talents to realise why. For a particular event to continue, it would need all the time travellers in place. A check through what filmed events we had soon revealed our holiday quota wasn’t complete. Things weren’t in stasis, they were just waiting for everyone to be in place before they could continue. They wouldn’t even know they were frozen in time waiting for the curtain to come up. The allegory to a performance waiting for its audience didn’t elude us. Until that time, people would be stuck there. They wouldn’t even realise anything was wrong.

Fortunately, some of the smaller events like a science event could be filled easily and after the event, these people came back. Why would it be any different anywhere else? Except big crowds meant more time travellers attending. The original thought was we hadn’t sent enough people from our own time to any particular event. Indeed, when we scoured the people filmed to one event, we matched to people here and got them to jump the queue to fulfil the time demand. They watched the concert. Some dude called Springstein or something. Who cared? We got them back and they had absolutely no idea they were frozen there while we sorted things out for the concert to proceed.

Thing was, we had to go through the process again for each event we’d already sent people. We weren’t stupid. We took their money. After all, they would still see the event, we were doing our part of the job. We did tell them to ensure they walked past the filming cameras. It served two-fold. It could prove later they were there and they had it for their collections and ensured we had the footage to prove they were the right ones sent to this holiday hotspot. We were fulfilling time travel with benefits. So far so good. But…

There’s always a ‘but’ in this. We had far too many people in the past and not finding enough in our own time that should be there but weren’t yet. We used face recognition to find matches, prepared to offer discounts to get them into the past. There was some debate into sending people into the past to a different event but then to go to the problem ones and ensure everyone was photographed that we didn’t have on camera and come back with them or even leave the memory stick information transferred to a memory stick of that date in a bank deposit for us to pick up here just in case they didn’t come right back. As you can see, we didn’t plan on doing anything without a lot of thinking. Nothing happened. They were stuck in the problem.

We brought in more physicists to see if they could find any other solutions to the problem and they were stumped. Frankly, we were prepared to hear from anyone who might offer a good solution. We stopped short of going public. By this time we were a stockholder company and we couldn’t afford a crash or a lack of trust. Anyone who asked, we told them they were being allowed extra time in the past which wasn’t too far from the truth. One of the physicists suggested talking to the Science Fiction writers but we thought they wouldn’t know much about time travel since they got lost in alternative realities. A cleaner who shouldn’t have been there walking past a water fount conversation muttered that maybe the people missing hadn’t been born yet which gave us pause to ponder. These might come from a future time but the future hadn’t been formed for us yet.

Now that would be hard to prove. They might even be born, just not adult enough yet. Even so, that meant anything up to twenty years minimum waiting time. Unless they were born already, they would only come from people who hadn’t gone into the past yet. We would have to hope that when the travellers came back, they returned to our now and not the time they left. That would really mess things up.

We would have to keep searching until we made up all the numbers so the event could continue and return them…everyone home. How long would it take? Who knows? Time’s a bitch but we have plenty of it to wait for it to happen.




(g) GF Willmetts

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Category: Scifi, Short fiction

About the Author ()

Geoff Willmetts has been editor at SFCrowsnest for some 21 plus years now, showing a versatility and knowledge in not only Science Fiction, but also the sciences and arts, all of which has been displayed here through editorials, reviews, articles and stories. With the latter, he has been running a short story series under the title of ‘Psi-Kicks’ If you want to contribute to SFCrowsnest, read the guidelines and show him what you can do. If it isn’t usable, he spends as much time telling you what the problems is as he would with material he accepts. This is largely how he got called an Uncle, as in Dutch Uncle. He’s not actually Dutch but hails from the west country in the UK.

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