Read by Carrie Cohen
Having diligently followed the instructions in Chapters 5 and 6, you will now have more money than you know what to do with. One opportunity open to you is temporal tourism: how much better it is to stand shoulder to shoulder with thousands of other spectators and watch the brave gladiators fighting for life and glory, than to traipse around the ruins the Colosseum has become, guided by a man with neither the wit nor the imagination to describe the wonders that once happened there, your senses numb to the heat, the dust, and the excitement?
Be warned though; this is an inherently risky pastime. You may indeed feel like a God – mighty and powerful, driven by a righteousness born of your knowledge of what is about to unfold, but always remember, you are merely a flesh and blood mortal with a time machine and a disproportionate amount of money. These will not be enough to protect you if you are unduly careless.
It is not simply that some of the most interesting times and places are by their very nature, incredibly dangerous, be it Pompeii on the 24th August, Ad 79, or Agincourt on the 25th October, 1415. There is also the risk you inevitably run as a stranger, an outsider.
Preparation is key. Plan your visit in as much detail as you can. You will not, of course, find tourist guides to 13th century Burgundy, so you will need to make use of whatever historical records do exist. You will know by now how inaccurate these can be, so it is always safest to visit somewhen not too far distant from your own time. This will help you to fit in, but do not become complacent; the likelihood is that despite your best efforts, you will quickly be pegged as an outsider, whether it is the length of your collar that happens to be next year’s style, or a more obvious transgression in speech or deed. You will need to keep your wits about you, and plan a cover story to explain your eccentric clothes, accent, and manners.
Fortunately, your wealth – and man’s willingness to accept the unusual, once he thinks he understands it, will mean that these transgressions should not be too much of an obstacle. The rich are expected to be eccentric, and people will turn a blind eye if you tip handsomely. Except perhaps in France during the revolution. It is best to avoid this epoch altogether.
As you will no doubt be visiting times rich with historical incident, you may be tempted to take a souvenir of your visit. Please, please, please – don't! Events will still be unfolding around you, and pocketing that pistol in Sarajevo back in 1914 may have consequences which rebound down the ages. Remember Chapter 2, and try to keep your temporal footprint as light as possible – for your own safety!
I’m afraid to say that some artefacts have already been removed from their timelines. Do not use this as justification to go back slightly earlier, and lift the item yourself – each such act of vandalism steps inexorably closer to the critical event - closer to being part of the action, rather than merely an observer. There is a list of such artefacts in the Appendix, so if you do want to hold the rifle used on the grassy knoll, or touch the Holy Grail, you can save yourself the hardship of a long and difficult journey, and visit its current owner instead. By mutual consent laid down in the Atlantis Accord, all such collections are open to any bona-fide time-traveller, as proven by visiting two days before the impregnable defence systems were installed, under the agreement that no such collections are added to!
Photos are another matter. Other than the need to make sure your recording device doesn’t start a riot (so please, no flash!) any photographic or video evidence you return with will be most gratefully received by a number of History departments, no questions asked.
If you do decide to go down the tourist route – and for alternatives, please see Chapters 8 and 9, you will eventually, inevitably, bump into other time travelling tourists. Your discretion is advised. Screaming “Witch!” at the top of your voice as you excitedly point to your fellow traveller may seem amusing at the time, but the consequences – for both of you – can be dire. Equally, it is far too easy to spoil the authentic experience you and others are seeking, by failing to the sensitive to the time and place you are in. Keep your intrusions to the minimum – greet the time traveller with a simple nod, rather than an exuberant and anachronistic “Hello!”. If he or she wishes, they can then arrange the opportunity to swap tales of your exploits in more relaxed surroundings, at a later – or earlier – date.
But bear in mind that there are some historical events where the sheer numbers of temporal tourists now far outnumber those who were genuinely there. This inevitably leads to disappointment, and a feeling that the whole event is a sham, which it may very well become without care and discretion. Who can forget the influence of a flash-mob of travellers at Jesus’s sermon on the Mount, each bringing their own basket of bread and fish for fear that there would not be enough to go around?
All things considered, it is best to contact your local temporal embassy, to register your jaunt and to get the latest reports and advice about any dangers you may not have considered. But remember, if you do get into difficulty in the period you visit, you are, in the final analysis, very much on your own.
(c) LIam Hogan, 2012
Liam Hogan has had work published in Litro and StimulusRespond, and performed at Storytails (www.storytails.org), Science Showoff, Liars' League London and Liars' League Leeds. He's yet to crack Liars' League NYC, and there's probably a novel lurking around somewhere. There usually is.