Newsfeed - October 22, 2218
The Shenandoah Hadron Collider
This article is the fourth edition of the Prime News System (PNS) newsfeed, taking you behind the scenes with key personnel who run our national time-travel system. Without these talented people, our continued existence here in 2218 would be in serious jeopardy.
We have been interviewing Dr. Sigrid Olsen, the chief scientist at the Shenandoah Hadron Collider (SHC) in White Sulphur Springs, West Virginia, the night that time travel was discovered. In this segment, we have John Cassidy, who was the chief of security at the SHC at the moment time travel was discovered.
He has brought a visual documentary that was assembled from live video taken that day.
PNS Dateline: October 22, 2218
PNS: Chief Cassidy, thank you for returning to continue this series. The feedback from our audience has been overwhelmingly positive because people want to know all about how the life-saving technology of time travel came about.
Cassidy: It’s been difficult for all of us to keep this amazing story secret. I’m glad we’re able to continue sharing how time travel was discovered.
PNS: Will you set up what we will see today?
Cassidy: The second video left off at the point where I had ordered a team to be in place in the forest at sunrise to meet the people who had mysteriously appeared in Sector G24. This next segment begins at sunrise.
PNS: Let’s get right to the video.
The screen dissolved to a clear blue sky, just as the earliest sunstreams were breaking through the high canopy of the Shenandoah Forest. A gentle breeze guided the leaves in a slow dance. Whippoorwills called. A hawk shrieked.
Down through the dancing autumn colors of red, yellow, and orange, the view passed below the leaves and revealed eight security team members who’ve surrounded the family. They were lightly armored in sleek, black one-piece outfits that looked like scuba wetsuits. Their heads were covered in bowl-like helmets, like the early astronauts wore, but tinted in gold. Each member was armed with a stun gun, which was light, silver, and had a glowing, blue light panel on the side. They were all well hidden behind grand, old-growth trees.
The screen image slipped through the trees and revealed the family, still huddled tightly on a bed of colorful fall leaves and pine boughs. All but the man was fast asleep as dawn was breaking.
The zooming view moved in on Chief Cassidy, leader of the armored team, who whispered to a member of the team, “Do you have that sacrificial drone ready to go?”
“Yes, Chief. And he hasn’t reloaded that weapon, so there’s just one shot left. The drone is hovering nearby, just out of sound range so the family can’t hear it. I’m ready when you are, sir.”
Cassidy raised three fingers, then silently counted down three, two, one, then he dropped his fist like a semaphore.
The drone pilot twiddled the joysticks and the sacrificial drone zoomed down through the canopy, then hovered low, directly over the family. Cassidy watched the drone operator’s screen on which he saw the man leap to his feet, heft his shotgun to his shoulder, then blast the drone to pieces. As he tried to reload, another drone dropped below the canopy and radiated a stream of light—the same blue hue as the panel on the hand-held stun guys—that engulfed the man for three seconds.
The man collapsed to the ground. His face was blank, showing no sign of pain. His eyes darted back and forth in confusion. His head was on a swivel, but otherwise, he was paralyzed. The other four family members rushed to huddle together tightly around him. The family was totally disoriented and shaking in abject fright at the sight of the man of the family paralyzed on the ground.
The girls held their dad tight, while their mother cradled his head and surveyed the forest above and around them. Suddenly she shrieked and pointed to a wheeled robot driving toward them. The whole family stared, paralyzed with fear, and all ten eyeballs locked onto the robot as it drove in, snatched the shotgun and scurried with it back into the woods.
The security force remained hidden in the woods. The distraught family saw nothing but the buzzing drone hovering overhead just below the beautiful fall leaves.
The father’s right leg twitched and his wife exhaled a deep breath. He moved both of his legs. Then his arms. He rubbed his legs and shook them. He shook his arms. His wife rubbed his arms and then kissed him on the cheek. Tears of joy streamed down her ashen face at the sight of her husband moving again. He stood up and shook himself. His family huddled tightly around him, the girls hugged his thighs like they’d never let go.
The family was shivering, poorly dressed, shoeless, and could now do nothing more than stare, mouths agape, at the buzzing drone that hung above them.
Outside of the family’s view, Chief Cassidy removed his helmet and surveyed his team. He handed his helmet and weapon to another team member, then scanned the eyes behind the helmeted team members. Without a word, the team leader, Liz Swanson, removed her helmet and handed her helmet and weapon to another team member. Cassidy smiled and nodded to Liz, then tilted his head toward the family.
Cassidy and Liz softly crunched the leaves as they emerged from behind a large tree and moved slowly toward the family. As the two black-suited figures came into view, the family’s faces looked as though hell itself was walking toward them.
Twenty paces short of reaching the family, Chief Cassidy raised his hand to signal Liz to stop with him. He scanned the area to see if they were walking into a trap, but he saw nothing except the family and colorful falling leaves that were loosed by a fresh buffet of wind.
Cassidy took two more steps, smiled at the shivering family and politely said, “Good morning, sir. My name is John Cassidy. I’m wondering if you’d introduce me to your family.”
With his voice cracking, but standing tall and looking directly at Cassidy, the man said, “Brett Corbin.” Cassidy smiled, nodded, and then removed his armored gloves. With his hands now bare, he laid his gloves on the leaves. Liz followed his lead.
Despite sucking deeply for each breath, Brett introduced his family, “This is Lydia, my wife.”
Lydia stood firm as Brett continued, “And my daughters, Julie and Chelsea. And my son, he’s Jeffrey.”
Chief Cassidy whispered an aside to Liz, then she stepped toward the family, which was too frozen with fear to recoil from her approach. Liz then said, “Julie, do you know what day it is today?”
Julie’s voice squeaked twice with no coherent syllables, then she found her breath and said, “June 20.”
Liz smiled at Jule, “Thank you. And how old are you?”
“Thank you, sweetie. And what year were you born?”
Brett stepped in front of his family and they huddled behind him. “Who are you people? And what’s been happening to us? Did you make our cabin go away? How did all these trees grow?”
Chief Cassidy’s stance stiffens, “Mr. Corbin, I’ll be asking the questions. And we need some good answers from you. The most important one is, how did you get onto our property?”
“Your property? This is my property! It’s been in the Corbin family for three generations before us. Which means, mister, you’re standing in Corbin Holler. So, don’t ask me how I got on your property!”
“Who are you working with? Who put you here?”
“Working with? Put us here? Mister, you’re all trespassing on Corbin property and you all need to leave right now.”
“Sir, you don’t even have a place to live. It was cold last night. And it will be even colder tonight. Do you really want us to leave you here?”
“Corbins have lived in this holler for four generations. We cleared this land with our own hands. We used the wood to build our cabin.”
Brett’s head swiveled as he surveyed the trees, each of which refuted his statement. His breath quickened as his eyes darted between large oak trees and the crumbled foundation on which his cabin once stood.
He slapped a large oak next to him and continued, “And there’s plenty of wood here now so we can do it again. The Weakleys in the next holler will take us in until we clear this land again and rebuild. Just give me back my shotgun that contraption took and leave us be.”
“Sir, I cannot leave you here. I will not return your weapon. This is secure U. S. government property and . . . “
Brett cuts him off, “Oh, oh, oh, so you’re a revenuer.”
He steps closer to Cassidy, stiffens and continues, “Corbins ain’t never made hootch, gov’ment man. We ain’t got no still. Never have.”
“Mr. Corbin, you’re all in danger here and you have to come with us.”
“We ain’t a-goin’ nowhere with no G-man.”
Chief Cassidy waved toward the trees with a beckoning motion. His team of black-clad, helmeted agents stepped into the clearing, eyes hidden behind their shimmering gold glass helmets, their silver stun guns trained on the family.
“Sir, we can paralyze all of you with our stun guns and take you in. But we think you’re not out to harm any of us. If I have that right, if you mean us no harm, then please come with us peacefully. We will not harm you.”
“Not harm us! You already have! We’ve been out here for four nights as our cabin fell down around us and rotted away. And all these trees grew up in our clearing.”
“I’m sorry about your cabin, but we had nothing to do with that.”
Cassidy surveyed the forest and continued, “And I can’t explain the trees because they’ve been here far longer than any of us. But one thing I do know is that you have to come with us. And no one here will harm you.”
He motioned to the whole team to remove their helmets. They all tucked their helmets under their arms. He made a big, goofy grin in their direction and motioned toward them and at his own goofy, grinning face.
They all made big, goofy grins.
Liz smiled, too, and said, “See, do they look dangerous? No, they don’t. And you really do have to come with us.”
Brett began walking briskly toward the agents, but Liz stepped in front of him, moving closer to Lydia. Locking eyes with her, she said, “Ma’am, when was the last time your kids ate? When was the last time they were warm?”
Brett froze in his tracks and scanned his family. “Except for some blueberries we picked, we ain’t a-eaten good in three days. And we’ve been mightily cold at night.”
Lydia looked at Brett, shrugged and said, “The children could use a good meal, Papa. We all could. And I’m so cold. It’s a long walk to Weakley Holler and . . . ” pointing to the dirty, bare feet on her children, “we don’t even have shoes.”
Lydia turned to Cassidy and asked, “You’ll feed my children? You’ll take us someplace safe and warm?”
Liz stepped closer to Lydia and said, “Yes, ma’am. We’ll take good care of all of you. You have my word. Good food. Warm clothes. Shoes. Warm beds. Warm. Total warmth.”
━━ ━━━━━━━ ━━
Two security vans streamed into the landscaped promenade in front of the white columned facade of The Greenbrier. Cassidy was front and center in the lead van; there was no driver. The motorcade stopped under the grand portico and Cassidy stepped out.
Cassidy walked back to the second van as the sliding door automatically opened. Steps glided out from beneath the door and Lydia Corbin climbed out. She was no longer stunned. Now she wore a giddy, joyful smile. She reached back into the van, grabbed Brett’s arm and yanked him out. “Gadzooks, Papa, they’ve done taken us to The Greenbrier!”
THE WORLD’S FIRST TIME TRAVELERS ARRIVE
Chief Cassidy brought the world’s first time travelers, the Corbin family, to the main entrance, behind those portals that cover the driveway.
PNS: In the next segment, we will continue the video from the point at which Chief Cassidy took the Corbin family inside The Greenbrier.