As he stepped onto the transit pad, Jarvak Khelda wondered, not for the first time, if this vacation was such a wise choice. Everyone he worked with, everyone with the means to do so had already done it. He was just experiencing pre-transit jitters.
Granted, there was some risk involved but it was minimal. At least the agent who had booked his trip maintained so. Khelda had no reason to believe otherwise. It HAD to be safe or the Central Government wouldn't allow it, right? As a dutiful Citizen should, Khelda trusted the Government implicitly. To do otherwise was foolish.
Temporal Vacation Services (TVS) had full Governmental clearance to offer Time Trips. He had read their brochures and promotional literature extensively before deciding on taking his first Trip. TVS guaranteed an authentic, unique, paradox-free experience.
Paradox had been elminated as a concern within a year or two after the science of temporal travel had been perfected. TVS researchers had proceeded with caution and foresight. They had chosen the destinations and eras with a clear eye to potential problems. Their careful probes almso entirely revolutionized man's understanding of the true nature of time.
Khelda, as had nearly every person on the planet, had been glued to his vidscreen for the TVS research press conferences. It was very technical stuff and Khelda would have been lying if he didn't admit that most of it was WAY over his head. The scientists had done their best to "dumb it down" but it was still some pretty complex stuff.
When all was said and done, it was a fairly basic thing though. Time, TVS asserted, was essentially immutable and self-repairing. Except in a handful of VERY specific circumstances, it simply was not possible for the actions of a single individual to have any measurable negative effects. Thus, the Trips they offered were entirely vetted to be non-paradoxical.
All that really meant was that a one-on-one encounter with a notable figure of the past was STRCTLY prohibited. However, attending a Roman gladiatorial games or sitting in the stands for a classical concert by Bach was perfectly safe. One participant more or less at an event with such a wide attendance had no potential for a temporal mishap. That seemed to put everyone at ease on the paradox issues.
Khelda, like most first-time Trippers had been thoroughly overwhelmed by the number of temporal offerings available. The only thing he had decided on for sure was that he did NOT want some boring, stodgy destination. He hungered for excitement, for an exceptional vacation. Given what this was costing, he owed himself
He had finally settled on a Trip to the mid-18th century. The booking agent confirmed it was a seldom-selected venue. That had sealed the decision in Khelda's mind. It was bound to be something pretty special!
He hadn't done more than skim the first few paragraphs of the thick orientation packet she gave him. There didn't seem any need to. First off, he WANTED the fun of experiencing the past on the fly. It would ruin the whole thing if there were no surprises awaiting him.
Secondly, TVS would handle the tedious bits. At the moment of transit he would be hypno-implanted with absolutely everything he needed to know and know how to do to fit seamlessly into his chosen event. That was good enough for him.
So, he stood on the pad and waited for the final equipment checks before transit. He was certain a lot of his trepidation had to do with his unusual garb. It was very disconcerting to be clad, head-to-toe, in entirely organic clothing. To be wearing nothing synthetic seemed scandalous.
The tunic and trousers he wore were of something called "wool". His shirt, socks and undergarments were fashioned of "homespun cotten". He was terribly amused to discover that his footwear and several other items were actually made from the hides of...animals. Scandalous indeed!
The most bizarre accoutrement was slung over Khelda's shoulder. If he had understood the staff properly it was called a "Brown Bess musket". What an odd name for a thing! Khelda was led to believe that it was intended to be a weapon of some sort. A weapon? Seriously?? It seemed to be inordinately heavy, cumbersome and terribly crude for anyone to carry about. He doubted very seriously that he would find any conceivable reason to use the silly thing. Khelda was quite convinced it must be some incongruous sort of ceremonial or decorative accessory rather than serving any actual purpose.
After all, how much need for a weapon could there be in a place with such a quaint name as Antietam, Maryland?? With a scintillating shimmer of light, Jarvak Khelda began his first, and most certainly last, expedition through Temporal Vacation Services.