Hank's job at the Historical Preservation Agency is to send recorders back to President Lincoln's time to preserve the actual events of the signing of the Emancipation Proclamation. An unforeseen problem arises and within an instant he finds himself living in the Confederate States of America, Lincoln was convicted as a war criminal, and slavery existed for another fifty years. More personally distressing, in the new timeline Hank's wife dies as a child. He never meets her and their three children are never born. He travels to the past to right what went wrong, but is up for the task?
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âDid this mystery surge affect the timeline?â Hank asked.
âDoubtful. But something did change history. I compared the history database to the new timeline.â James pointed to the computer screen projected above his desk. âThis,â he suggested, referring to the top portion of the screen, âis our original history. The bottom chart is the new history.â
âTheyâre so different,â Hank noted.
Caleb leaned in and adjusted his glasses. âThese charts represent how many years?â
âI checked elections, dates, wars... any significant historical event and ran across two-thousand major differences within the first fifty years.â
âThese graphs show only fifty years of differences?â Santiagoâs eyes grew wide, and she stared at the group. âIâm married with two children.â Hank heard her voice cracking. âHow bad is this?â
âAfter the recorder went back, the first historical difference is the Emancipation Proclamation. The directive did not go into effect on Jan 1st, 1863, and the thirteenth amendment abolishing slavery remained unratified until the 1930s, which made it the twentieth amendment.â James stared grimly at the group. âSlavery remained legal until then. This caused many of the northern states to secede and join Canada.â
âOh my God.â Hank wrung his hands. His late wife had been African-American. Caleb was also African-American. âHow could the United States allow slavery to continue for so long.â
âNot the United States. We now live in the Confederate States of America. The South won and convicted Lincoln as a war criminal.â
Hank couldnât believe his ears. Lincoln was a personal hero of his. How could such a fate belong to him?
âThe American people loved Lincoln,â Aaron argued.
James shook his head. âNot everyone. His murder occurred a few weeks after his conviction.â
No way. Hank needed to take a seat. How could this have happened? The device they sent back was only a little recorder.
âWe need to isolate the event that caused the rift.â Caleb pointed at the timeline displayed on Jamesâs computer. âDid you pinpoint the catalyst?â
âIt proved difficult to track down, but Iâve isolated the one event. A murder occurred in the White House immediately after the recorder arrived in 1862.â
âNo one has ever been murdered in the White House,â Hank said.
âTrue. But this,â James said as his hands gestured around the room, âthis is now Preston Hall. This isnât the capitol.â
âWho was murdered?â Santiago asked.
âAn African-American maid. Her death is the start of all the changes.â
âOkay.â Caleb glanced around the room at all the equipment, then he took a deep breath and let it out slowly. âThereâs only one thing to do. Hank needs to go back in time and save her.â