“Select your pods to December the thirty-first nineteen-ninety-nine, we are going to find out what happened today in another time and place” History promoter Janseth told the class as she lit up the time-board with images from that very day.
“Today we are going to look at how just one date can strike fear and excitement in equal measure into the populations of long ago.” A picture of an airplane falling out of the sky filled the holo-screen as people rushed by the students screaming. As the plane came towards the class they too felt like screaming and some ducked out of the way as it headed to the ground amongst them. They knew it was only a dimens-hologram but like always it felt real enough as it filled the classroom.
Suddenly the image changed to crowds of people on the banks of the old Thames in London. They were dancing, singing and drinking alcohol as they too filled the classroom, almost real enough to touch as they partied around the students.
“HistPro Janseth?” one of the students called out above the noise of the revelers.
“Yes, Sabine?” came the reply.
“These people are all in the streets yet none of them is wearing a mask. I thought that the World Calamity had already started by this time.”
“Indeed it had, Sabine, well noted,” Janseth praised Sabine for her observation. “But the people of this time were too concerned with the financial aspects of their world to make enough difference to the environment. Their governments were greedy and dishonest. The Banks ruled the countries indirectly with their directors being like warlords from the pre-history years that we studied last week.”
“But, they must have known that they were harming the world, that they didn’t have much time left. Did they just breathe the toxic gasses of the pollutants and disease?” another student, Suang Po asked.
“Yes, Suang Po, they knew they were harming the world and some people tried to do something about it, but they were not enough. They all knew that pollutants filled the air, and that diseases could be airborne, but some like arismeria and Luther’s lung had not been discovered at this point.” Janseth continued, “Yes Nirbane, do you have a question?”
“Yes. How could they not have known about arismeria or Luther’s Lung. By the look of some of their faces it was already spreading:” Nirbane suggested.
“What you see on their faces is neither of these conditions There were many back then that had similar symptoms such as cancer that was cured over a hundred years ago, and AIDS that died out with the discovery of the ‘Milk vaccine’, which wasn’t named after the animal product but rather after a person who we will meet when we study the Diversity Module of Western History.”
“Diversity?” questioned Hannah, another student, “Like in difference?”
“Exactly, Hannah,” Janseth changed the images on the dimens-hologram as she started to explain, “Back in the twentieth and twenty-first centuries people were still diverse and multi-lingual. Many of the facets of our natures that we take for granted now were never dreamed of back then. The world Calamity had some good outcomes. For instance the language we now speak is a mixture of so many from back then that anyone from those days would be truly troubled in trying to understand us. They lived in separate countries and were fiercely protective of their countries and religions which caused many schisms across the world. Nowadays we have none of those divisions.”
“Hist-Pro?” another student asked
“Didn’t they eat flesh too?” Birlgaid asked
“That is true, even though they knew how bad it was for their bodies, and even though many of them knew of the intelligence of the animals they couldn’t help themselves. They told themselves that it was their right as the superior species to use the others as they wished. Their ideologies around animals were very confused. They revered some animals and refused to eat them, being horrified if other cultures did, yet they still ate others indiscriminately.”
“It sounds horrible,” Birlgaid made a face conveying her disgust.
“We are not here to judge, Birlgaid, but to learn from our shared pasts. Over the millenia there have been many changes and advancements, but our futures are still built on the pasts created by these people , our ancestors.” Janseth told the class. “I’ll answer any more questions when we return, but for now is everybody’s pod programmed and ready?”
The class gave a chorus of yeses.
“In that case we shall visit,” Janseth told them as she checked her monitor board and synchronised the pods linking them as one ready for the journey they were about to make.
“Once again I will reiterate that by being in a time outside ours we can have no effect on it. We are merely visitors, invisible and formless visitors. Our multipod will not exist to anyone but ourselves. Likewise the time we are about to visit can have no physical effect on us. We are always distinct from the other time and they from us. The journey is set at twenty minutes. after that time we will automatically return to our natural place here.”
The students had travelled back to other times before so were not worried about any of what Janseth had said. They had heard it many times in their interactive history lessons.
“So before I level the zones I remind you all of the questions we are visiting for. There are ten in your scheme wands. Remain alert and the answers will be yours.” Janseth pressed some buttons on her Promoter console and the classroom disappeared as the students found themselves in the midst of December the thirty-first nineteen-ninety-nine.
Their first stop was in an office where old-style computers were being programmed. Here the functionaries were talking worriedly about the millennium effect. They wore the usual uniform of workers of the time; plain cloth trousers and shirts with the strange piece of material around their necks everyone knew at the time as the tie. The one woman in the room was similarly dressed to the men, but without a tie. The computers were dinosaurs compared to what the children were used to, and nonetheless fascinating.
Within minutes they reappeared in another office where fiscal policies were being discussed. According to the pod-read out they were in the central bank of a major power. Here the New Year that was approaching was being discussed solely in relation to money. They were talking about gold, which was the super-valuer of the day. It was to be locked in nuclear blast proof rooms deep in the Earth. In case of a world war the gold would be safer than the people.
Minutes later they were in the middle of a group of youths in a vast desert. They were working to help the local populations and talking about the end of the world. Despite it being an important day of celebration these youngsters seemed to have completely different values to those the students had previously seen. Here there was hope. They were caring for their fellow human beings. Money was never mentioned, but the poverty of human nature was.
Their final stop was amidst one of the many New Year celebrations that took place across the globe at those times. During this stop the people the students observed appeared to be carefree and enjoying themselves. There didn’t seem to be any regular trains of conversation, except the arrival of the New Year and what it may hold. For the students this was the most overwhelming of their stops. The strength and multitude of smells, sounds and sights being particularly overpowering for their highly receptive bodies.
At last the walls to their classroom reappeared. As the students settled back into their own time there was a gentle hubbub of mental noise as they spoke of the things they had seen, heard and experienced.
“Quiet a moment everyone, that was nineteen-ninety-nine. A hugely noisy time I am sure you will all agree. At that time in human history the general population still spoke with their mouths, as you have just experienced. It would take the Calamity to change things. As I’m sure you are all now aware it was a time of huge differences, both within itself and between then and now. In a moment we will debrief on the experience but first of all I’d like you to complete the task in your scheme wands.”
Janseth took her place at the live-wall watching the scenes from the visit over again, whilst keeping her mind attuned to the students as they worked. Although the years separated her from those events so long ago she knew of a lasting connection, a connection she searched for every time she visited.