"There are no days in life so memorable as those which vibrate to some stroke of the imagination."
~Ralph Waldo Emerson
The letter reproduced below was found in an old desk that was located in storage at the Smithsonian Institute. The letter was discovered by accident when one of the storage facility maintenance staff was in the process of placing poisoned rodent bait throughout the facility. He had removed one of the lower desk drawers when he found the letter, apparently misplaced behind the drawer and forgotten for many years. The original owner of the desk has never been determined. It is unknown as to whether the desk was donated to the institute or purchased for staff use many years ago. Unfortunately, the first page of the letter is missing, so the addresses and date are also not known. The most unusual aspect of this discovery is the fact that although evidence of residence by several families of mice within the desk, the letter had never suffered rodent damage....
How did it all begin?
It was a dark and stormy night. Actually, it was high noon. Of the nicest Saturday of the year. Well, that particular year, anyway.
We were in the old shed out back working on a new circuit for our shortwave radio when it started.....
"I think so, Will."
By the way, that's Orbille, my brother, and I'm Willver. We're the Coconolte Brothers. The first ones. Not the ones responsible for the big blackout. That's still up the line somewhere, I mean, somewhen. About thirty years after our radio experiment.
"Ok, tweak the controls a little and try to pull in Hawaii."
Orb began tuning the radio receiver and then began adjusting our combination amplifier/detector circuit. Suddenly, clear as a bell, we heard:
"Yesterday, December seventh, nineteen-forty-one, a date that will live..." followed by the typical hissing and whistling static heard on all home built radios.
"What the hell was that, Orb?" I asked.
"Sounded like whatsisname, our new president."
"Well, if it is, his calendar's all screwed up. And he wouldn't be in Hawaii, would he?"
"I'll try again. Would you check the outside antenna?"
So, like a big, dumb, helpful idiot, I stepped over and opened the door... and thought I had lost my mind.
"Uh, Orb, what time is it?"
"Twelve-fifteen- why, did your watch stop? Again?"
"What do you mean 'When'?"
"AM or PM?"
"Will, are you okay? It's twelve-fifteen in the afternoon on just about the nicest Saturday I can remember. And, as I recall, it was your idea to spend it in here on this stubborn radio instead of at our weather station outside of town. I still want to check that rain gauge. You know it leaks and needs-"
"It hasn't rained in two weeks and I think this is more important."
"What, this damned receiver we cobbled together is more important than-"
"No, Orb, not the radio, this," I said as I stepped outside.
Orb switched off the power from the radio and combo detector, then turned from the bench to see what I was talking about. "What in hell are you muttering about-" he began to ask and immediately stopped speaking when he looked out the door. "Why is it dark out already?"
"I wish I knew, Orb. I want to know why the moon is full and in the wrong place for this time of month."
About this time, the light breeze blew an old newspaper in around my shins. It was yellow with water stains and wrinkles, and looked to be about a hundred years old. As I started to crumple it up, the large black headline caught my eye:
JAPS ATTACK PEARL HARBOR!
"What?! When?! Why?!" Orb asked as he jerked his eyes away from the moon and the paper from my hands. He smoothed out the wrinkles and a disgusted look replaced the astonishment on his face. "You dummy! This is a fake paper! Look at the date- it says December seventh, nineteen-forty-one. Nineteen-forty-one, for crying out loud. That's eight years from now."
After looking at the paper more closely, I did feel foolish. "But it looks so old."
"Maybe someone had it printed for a play or a joke or something."
"Didn't we hear that guy on the radio say something about December seventh?" I asked.
"Coincidence. Maybe this paper is part of his script. Let's get back to work."
We had stepped back inside and closed the door because of the wind. Not only had it blown in this spooky newspaper, but it had brought in a chill with it.
The remnant of paper had diverted our attention from the sudden darkness. Orb had returned to the bench and began to fiddle with the radio again after switching everything on.
"Will, let's try it again. I'm going to try tuning the combo back the other way."
"Orb, try for something east of the Mississippi this time, will you? I don't want to think about Hawaii or the Japanese for awhile."
"Ok, but did you check the antenna?"
"No, I didn't. I forgot all about it after I saw that paper," I said as I walked back to the door and opened it.
When I looked out, I swear my eyes were ready to jump out and roll away. "Uh, Orb, I don't think I want to go out there again."
"Why not? Now what's wrong?"
Suddenly, a tube in the radio popped. Like a small explosion, complete with smoke and smell. Even better than in the movies.
"Damn!" Orb said as he switched off the radio and the combo detector. "That's it! I'm through for the day. First, you start acting like your brain is in a different time zone than your head, and now this. I think I'll have a cup of coffee, and then maybe go back to my notes on the weather equipment. Well, don't just stand there. Say something."
"Orb, why is it sunny again?"
"What?!" He leaped up and reached the door in one step, practically knocking me outside at the same time. "Have you gone completely off your trolley or are you- Great Scott!!" We both stood there, in the doorway, our eyes bugging out and our jaws hanging down near the floor.
The sun was shining again. The sky was blue. Birds were singing in the trees, and all was right with the world again. Outside, the world was calm. Inside out pointy little heads, confusion reigned.
"Will, I know you don't like practical jokes as a rule, but how did you pull this one off?"
"Me?" I asked, suddenly coming back to life. "I was just going to ask you the same thing."
"There must be an explanation. Let's examine the facts calmly.
Fact number one: We started at noon while the sun was shining.
Fact number two: At twelve-fifteen, by my watch; yours is questionable as to accuracy and reliability; the sky was dark and the moon was full.
Fact number three: Less than fifteen minutes later, again by my watch, the sun is shining and the sky is blue again.
Fact number four: I'm a little teapot and you must be the Mad Hatter. Have I left anything out?"
"What about that weird newspaper?" I asked.
"Inadmissible. All signs indicate it to be falsified data," Orb said without blinking.
"You forgot the part about the radio blowing up while the detector was hooked to it."
"Ah, yes. That's my favorite part. But only because I saw it happen. Maybe some loose electrons from the radio or detector have been floating around and turned our brains into mush," he said sarcastically.
"Cream of Wheat, Orb. I like Cream of Wheat better than mush."
"Ok, your brain is now Cream of Wheat. Mine is mush. With maple syrup and honey. You go stand by the door and watch the sky for minute while I turn on the detector again."
"I'm not going out there ever again!" I said half-heartedly.
"Ok, stay inside, just watch, will you?" Orb switched on the power to the combo amp/detector again. "After the tubes have warmed up, I'm going to adjust the control again."
"What are you expecting?" I asked with some trepidation.
"I don't know. Just tell me what happens."
"Hey, hey!" I exclaimed, "the sun is going down!"
"Like it always does?"
"No, in the east, and real fast!"
"Good. Now what's happening?"
"Orb, is this the part where I get scared and become a lump of jelly on the floor?" I asked quietly.
"Only if it's not apricot. You know how I feel about apricot jelly. Now, cut the dramatics and describe what's happening."
"The sun is rapidly approaching its zenith," I reported.
"Excellent. Let me know when it has reached its highest point."
"Now, Orb. Can I go hide under my bed for the rest of my life now?"
"Why? Can't you see what's occurred?" He seemed awfully serious about our hallucinations.
"Yes, Orb. I'm still in bed asleep, having the craziest dream I've ever had. And if I'm not asleep, I'm ready for the guys with the white coats."
Orbille finally made me understand what he was talking about, after I recovered from most of the shock. At first, I thought maybe we were both crazy, but I finally decided what the hell, maybe it will be interesting.
That was our beginning. We tossed the radio out back, started refining and tuning our detector circuit, bought a dozen clocks- I bought a new pocket watch- and put a sign on the door of the old shed- I mean, "Main Research Building," that read:
WELCOME TO TIME-ZONE LABS
TEMPORAL DISPLACEMENT RESEARCH
KEEP OUT!!Nobody ever believed our Hawaii story. Someday, they will. But we decided never to reveal any information about upcoming events. No matter what. And that has remained company policy ever since.
Well, I have to go now. Orb seems to be excited about something. Since he doesn't excite easily, I had better be prepared.
Yours in all times,
Willver J. Coconolte
P.S. About that investment you were thinking about. I'd stay away from it. I don't think it will ever amount to anything.