Visiting Mr. Lincoln Pt. 1
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Politics and Activism

Visiting Mr. Lincoln Pt. 1

Explaining 2016 to our hero

Visiting Mr. Lincoln Pt. 1

(2016 has been a little complicated to say the least. The news blares constantly about our upcoming election, yet more unnecessary and unjust shootings, and various pundits describing how we’re going to be screwed or saved in the next few months. Sometimes it’s hard to think of a time when everything was worse for just about everybody. I wrote this story to try and compare what’s happening today to a time when people were looking for closure and unity. No better time came to mind than just after the Civil War, and no better person came to mind to represent this than President Lincoln. This story takes place on April 12, 1865, the day after Lincoln announced he was going to present his plans for Reconstruction and two days before his assassination. I would be neglectful if I forgot to mention one attendee of this speech, John Wilkes Booth, decided to make his mark on history after hearing Pres. Lincoln.)

President Lincoln woke up feeling much the same as he had the night before, worn, weary, and unusually hopeful. Not 3 days before, he received news from Gen. Ulysses S. Grant that the Army of Northern Virginia, led by Gen. Robert E. Lee, had surrendered at a hamlet known as Appomattox Courthouse. 4 years to the day after the first shots were fired at Fort Sumter, the Confederacy has been defeated with the exception of scattered raiders yet unable to accept defeat, and the majority of the nation was ready to heal and come together.

Careful not to wake Mary Todd just yet, Lincoln slid off the side of his bed and put on the clothes his wife had lain on his chair the night before. As had been his custom for the last few years, he made his way to the communications room that had been set up in the White House to check in with Gen. Butler in Louisiana and with Gen. Grant on how the disbanding of the Army of Northern Virginia was going. As he was finishing reciting his first telegraph of the day his personal secretary, John Hay, suddenly burst into the room, “Mr. Lincoln! Mr. Lincoln! You’re not going to believe this but there is the most peculiar stranger in the Oval asking to meet you.”

Lincoln finished his telegram and turned to Hay with the hint of a grin and a chuckle, “Why did you let a stranger into my office if he was so peculiar?”

“You’ll find this is no joke Mr. President, and as for that, he….it appeared that he let himself in sir.” Hay stammered.

“If he let himself in, he can let himself wait until I am finished here.” Lincoln said, turning back to the telegraph key.

“Mr. President it appears that I should have been more literal in my wording. I walked into the Oval to deliver your letters, and as I was on my way out, he appeared out of thin air and stood before me as I stand before you now.” Hays explained.

“That is preposterous! No earthly being can accomplish that, and I am convinced that the Second Coming did not start off while I was away. But I will go see this stranger, and ask him why he has appeared in my office.” Lincoln claimed resignedly. He sighed as he put down the telegraph he had been about to send Gen. Butler and headed for the Oval Office.

When he opened the door, Hays’ earlier statement had been proven right; this was the most peculiar stranger he had seen since his days in Illinois. The man standing in the middle of the room was ambling about, calmly speaking into a small device in his right hand, and was dressed in worker’s dungarees, Native moccasins, and a collarless cotton shirt with a portrait of Lincoln imprinted on the front. The Lincoln in this portrait though was wearing heavily tinted glasses with the inscription, “Haters Gonna Hate!” below the image. When Lincoln and Hays entered the room, the stranger stopped talking and spun around, revealing a large orange box on the side of the man’s dungarees.

The stranger put his device away in his pocket and rushed to the president with is hand outstretched waiting for a handshake, “Oh my God I can’t believe it’s you! My professor’s never gonna believe that the transpositioner worked for so long and that I actually got to talk to you!”

Surprised by the stranger’s enthusiasm and firm yet tingling grip, Lincoln was taken aback but was able to say, “Well hello to you too sir, my secretary has just told me of your, erhm, appearance in my office and I had to see this for myself. Just how exactly did you manage that? Also, for the purpose of no longer being strangers, could I get a sense of who you are?”

With seemingly no care for the state of the country and Lincoln’s temperament, the stranger started laughing. Not managing to stop soon enough, he chuckled while he told Lincoln who he was. “I’m sorry I gave you such a runaround, my name is Charles Gibson from UCLA, I’m a history student.”

“UCLA? Frankly I’ve never heard of any country deserving of such an acronym.” Lincoln replied.

“Oh, UCLA’s not a country. It stands for the University of California-Los Angeles.”

“My word -- California? Since when did they establish a university over there? I was not aware that California held enough people to warrant a university as the state’s only been in the Union about 15 years, I never expected it to grow so fast.”

“Well this all ties into how I got here Mr. President. I didn’t want to give you or your secretary here a heart attack so here it goes; the thing is, when I’m from, California is one of the largest states in the country and has a considerable number of universities, some of which are the best in the world.”

“I suppose it is natural for the largest state to have such universities. But what does a student of history want from me?...” He paused to collect himself, “I couldn’t help but notice how you phrased that; when you’re from. When exactly are you from?” Lincoln asked in disbelief.

Charles did not disappoint. His laugh disappeared, “Mr. President, I’m from 2016. 151 years from now.” he said, his gaze unwaveringly matching Pres. Lincoln.

The president let out a small chuckle, but couldn’t shake the feeling that Charles was telling him the truth. Sizing up this caricature of the future, he said, “There’s…really nothing I think I could do to convince myself that what you say is true, but from what my secretary tells me of your arrival here, to discount you would be absurd. How could I affirm that you are actually a visitor from 2016 and not just the Ghost of Christmas Future here to whisk me away to spoil the nation’s festivities?”

Charles’ eyes flicked towards Hays before continuing around the room. Once he gathered his thoughts, his eyes returned to Lincoln. “To be honest I never thought much about Dickens, he was a hack writer who got paid by the word. Anyways, I can prove I’m not a ghost with this,” he patted the orange box attached to a belt on his waist, “This is a transpositioner, it takes advantage of a physics principle called ‘spooky action at a distance’ that more or less allows a particle or a person to exist in two places at once given enough energy. One of the physicists at the university came up with it during the summer and told my professor about it, and he gave me the job of testing it out.” His modest shrug after the last sentence belied the gravity of this invention.

Hays furiously exclaimed, “That cannot possibly be true! How could you presume to stand here and spin yarns to our beloved president you impious fibster!”

“Calm now, friend Hays, I do not believe Mr. Gibson so capable a liar, now if you would be so good as to fetch some refreshments for our guest.” Lincoln dismissed him with a wave. He turned back to Charles after Hays’ contemptuous retreat. “Without a doubt the study of the natural sciences would have yielded such an invention as this in 150 years. This all seems as fantastical as that Frenchman Verne’s From the Earth to the Moon. There cannot exist an explanation sufficient enough to describe the development of technology in that time, to be able to witness the brilliance of 2016 and the superiority of her people in person would be absolutely fascinating.” Lincoln said wonderstruck by the possibilities of daily life 150 years in the future.

After hearing this, Charles’ shoulders went limp like a wet noodle. With the beginnings of a smirk he said, “As much as I would love to take you to a taco truck before our flight to New York to talk to the United Nations and having dinner with President Obama, I’m afraid that’s not possible. Part of the transpositioner’s systems projects a field just above the surface of my skin and clothing, allowing me to exist both in your time and mine. Sadly, this meant I could only bring what fit in my pockets and makes a tingling sensation if I touch anything not from my time if you noticed that earlier.”

“One moment, I understand that it is nigh impossible for me to return to your time, but what in God’s green earth were those things you described? A United Nations? The two of us flying? President Obama? Taco Trucks? Truly you must live in a far different United States than I can comprehend, and I don’t believe I have had the pleasure of knowing the surname of Obama.” Lincoln remarked.

“That was merely a joke to show you how different 2016 is -- Mr. President you’re not gonna believe some of this, but I’ll clear the air a bit here. The United Nations is a global organization with delegations from almost every single country on the planet, which includes the African countries formed after their independence from different colonial powers, all of the South American republics and more. In about 40 years, a couple of bright kids from Ohio are going to design a machine capable of heavier than air flight and eventually the idea will evolve into a plane capable of holding hundreds of people at once and flying at hundreds of miles per hour. President Obama was elected in 2008 as the country’s first black president, and in 8 years he has significantly increased the standard of living in the United States for a majority of Americans. The two candidates running as his replacement are a former Senator and First Lady from the Democrats as well as a famous businessman and entertainer who’s known for inflammatory remarks from the Republicans. And lastly, taco trucks are like small mobile restaurants the about one and a half times the size of a carriage that specializes in a Mexican staple dish.”

Lincoln looked around for the closest chair and decided on the one behind his desk. He sat down and leaned his head over, cradling it in his hands trying to comprehend just how much would change in 150 years. “Mr. Gibson, you have accomplished what few men have. You’ve left me utterly speechless. For example, this upcoming election of yours you speak of perplexes me. The Democratic party would never consent to nominate a woman for the presidency, and how would my own party nominate an entrepreneur turned actor or entertainer or however to take on the responsibilities of the presidency of this country?”

A sudden knocking on the door interrupted Charles’ response as John Hays entered the room with a tray on which pitcher of water, a tumbler of whiskey, and a bowl of chipped ice called their home. “So Mr. Gibson, have you conjured up more nonsense for Mr. Lincoln?” Hays’ asked, setting the tray on the president’s desk.

“Actually John, I was just going to describe the 2016 election to your boss. You’d be happy to know the top two contenders are a business turned entertainer from the Republican ticket and a former Senator and First Lady from the Democrats.” Gibson replied deadpan. The seriousness of Gibson’s tone and its message made Hays do his best impression of a fish out of water.

Glancing back at Lincoln, Hays said, “Sir, this is insane. This man is attempting to hoodwink the both of us. Surely 150 years will not have changed so much!”

“You’re a little late to hear the best fib John, Mr. Gibson could have informed you himself that the President of the United States in 2016 is a Negro.” Lincoln said, “This man appeared before you out of thin air with knowledge from the future, and you’re saying that nominating a woman would not be possible in 150 years? You can’t be so naïve as that John, let Mr. Gibson here speak his piece.”

Gibson began, “Thank you Mr. President, so this election--”

“If I hear another word about how insane this future or this election is, I might actually have to be taken out like a lame horse.” Hays interrupted.

“Mr. Hays! Not another outburst from you or I shall have you removed from your position! There is no way that what Mr. Gibson is about to say is any more warped, insane, or fantastical than what he has already said.” Lincoln chastised.

Shaking his head, Gibson replied, “Actually Mr. President, it is.”

(To Be Continued)

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This article has not been reviewed by Odyssey HQ and solely reflects the ideas and opinions of the creator.
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