And in the streets the children screamed,
the lovers cried, and the poets dreamed.
But not a word was spoken;
the church bells all were broken.
And the three men I admire most:
the father, son, and the Holy Ghost,
they caught the last train for the coast
the day the music died.
– Don McLean (American Pie)
Rick went over his usual pre-mission routine. He started with reading – that is, memorizing – the 1959 mission specifications. Three young rock ‘n roll musicians, Clear Lake, Iowa, improperly deiced plane, etc. Then he programmed the computer for clothing for the time period. His haircut was good – this was before mop tops and mullets. He knew there was a possibility that some slight detail would be overlooked. A Quartermaster definitely would come in handy, but until one was hired, he was on his own.
He put the unfamiliar clothes on – a woolen pea coat, dark blue canvas slacks, beat-up brown penny loafers and a long-sleeve white button-down shirt – no tie. Underneath it all were a short-sleeved white tee shirt devoid of any decoration, briefs and white socks. He looked like a slightly better than average dressed guy. With few crow’s feet, he also looked younger than his forty years, and grabbed a bit of gel to smooth that out. Good, he could pass for thirty, possibly even twenty-eight or so. Any younger, and he’d have no authority. Any older, and the musicians would never accept him.
But, overall, it didn’t feel right. So costumed, he walked over to Carmen’s office, “Yes?” she answered after he’d hit her door chime.
“I don’t think this is right,” he said.
“Huh,” Kevin said. He was sitting at a chair and fiddling with a PADD, “You’re going to Iowa in early February. It’ll be cold.”
“Exactly,” Rick agreed, “The coat doesn’t do a lot.”
Carmen checked her PADD, “I suppose we do need a Quartermaster. The coat isn’t even right. It’s what you’d wear on the docks, if you were a sailor. And this is Clear Lake, Iowa – except for the lake itself, there’s not a dock for miles.”
Rick tapped his left ear once, “Crystal?” he asked, “What are good late 1950s coats and jackets for a man? For uh, mid-winter – you got any thoughts?”
There was a pause, “Really?” he said back, “Okay, Daniels out.”
“And?” Kevin asked.
“Leather,” Rick responded, “She also said I should use something called Vitalis in my hair.”
“All right,” Carmen said, “Leather, eh?”
“I didn’t know that interested you, Carmen.”
“You don’t know the half of it, Richard.”
“I, uh, let’s just say I think we should hire her,” Rick pointed out, “This is just gonna keep happening.”
“Maybe,” Carmen allowed. Could she be trusted? Crystal Sherwood had the least amount of formal education of all of the candidates. The job would be a major step up for her – maybe she would be very loyal, wanting to keep it, rather than endlessly, for the rest of her days, cutting hair and doing nails.
“You got a plan for ’59?” Kevin asked.
“Nothing is set in stone,” Rick stated, “Get in, get them on the plane, even if I have to stun and drag them on, make sure the plane goes down, and then out I go.”
“Remember, this is Pre-Warp,” Carmen said, “So nothing fancy. And, uh, your subjects are all male. I trust you’ll maintain your focus?”
“Aw, Carmen, you’re gonna ruin my fun.”
“Just get them on the plane.”
The Perfectionists’ meeting began as soon as the last caller joined.
“All right,” said the leader, and it was not possible to tell whether that person was male or female, old or young, or where they were from, due to the vocal scrambling and masking going on, “Right about now, they should have figured that today’s shaping up to be rather interesting at the Temporal Integrity Commission.”
“To say the least,” Replied another.
“Have we got parameters in place?” asked a third.
“Yes,” Replied the leader, “Pre-Warp but not before the start of the actual Space Age. Sputnik goes up in,” there was a pause as, perhaps, a PADD was consulted, “1957, in early October. First contact with the Vulcans occurs in 2063, in early April.”
“That’s not a lot of room to maneuver,” Complained a fourth voice.
“Not necessarily,” Answered the leader, “It’s over a century. We start with a very civilized society, then it breaks down into some chaos. There’s plenty of pariotria to go around. And we can affect the ensuant centuries as well, of course, “
“Why not go to before the beginning of the Space Age?” asked another, “We could shorten World War II and save a few million lives.”
“These are the parameters,” said the leader, perhaps a tad sharply, “No one will worship any of our operatives as gods, and some technology is available if needed, in case of emergency.”
“Plus, as we get closer and closer to the third millennium, and then cross into it, there’s more and more of a sense of personal isolation. People, quite simply, don’t want to become involved. So they might see one or two irregularities, shrug, and move on,” The voice paused, “as opposed to pitching in. A sense of community is definitely lacking, the later we get during the prescribed time period.”
“I still say it’s too risky,” Complained a voice, it was possibly one of those that had spoken earlier. But it was difficult to tell.
“We’ve got to break some eggs in order to make this omelet,” said the leader.
“But are these the right eggs?” asked yet another voice, with a hint of exasperation that came through, despite the elaborate vocal masking that was going on.
“I was chosen as this movement’s leader. You need to trust me.”
The line was silent for a moment, “I still say this is a strange test,” said a voice.
“Objections are duly noted,” Stated the leader, “It was chosen for the confusion it has the potential to engender. The Temporal Integrity Commission will not be able to grasp our motivations.”
“At least, not immediately.”
And they were singing,
"Bye-Bye, Miss American Pie."
Drove my Chevy to the levee,
But the levee was dry.
And them good old boys were drinkin’ whiskey and rye
singin’, "This’ll be the day that I die.
"This’ll be the day that I die."
– Don McLean (American Pie)