Alison R Reed (also writing as Marianna Bell and Michael N Allison)

A Time Traveller's Visit to Walsall

"Well, I think we should visit 1086 and see why Walsall was missed out of the Domesday Book," stated Dhoshi with conviction.

"One year to compile the Domesday Book and only 15 minutes on the time machine.  No, the margin for error is too large," retorted her boss, Jhojo.  "We should try 2030 - Polylang evolved from multi-cultural Walsall.  We could learn a lot from that time especially as the language records were destroyed when the bomb that started the New Ice Age hit Wolverhampton in 2031."

"What about siting the machine in the area around St Matthew's Church around 1890 and getting a really good snapshot of life in the slums?"

"Well, that's a thought, Freder."  Jhojo rubbed his chin and pursed his tips before continuing, "but it will give us a biased idea of Walsall, won't it?"

"Yes, but there'll be a great view!"  Freder grinned into his communicator.

"Oh come on, it's only 511 feet above sea level!" scoffed Dhoshi.  "Now when I visited Everest last week..."

"It was covered in cloud - you couldn't see anything!" sneered Freder.

"That's beside the point!  My InfoPak says that Wasall was 'black by day and red by night' in 1890.  Smoke and fire; you won't see a thing either!" Dhoshi snapped back, "that's why it's called the Black Country." 

"Wrong!  The maps were marked in black to show the coal seams.  Anyway, the air was beginning to get cleaner then."

"And my IP says that the soil was black which is how the area got its name," retorted Jhojo.  "Enough bickering; we've got more important things to discuss.  The ice is receding over the middle lands of Britain so we have to decide what archaeology we should confirm.   The Federation of United Governments has given us 15 mins with the Time-Machine so we mustn't waste it.  It's a big responsibility because even with the solar energy converter, the carbon-emissions from the TM are horrendous.  We might need to plant more trees..."

Jhojo rocked back in his chair to glance at the Andes through the huge quadra-glazed windows of his Eco house.  He conferenced easily with Freder and Dhoshi by wrist-mounted communicators even though they were situated in Australia and Southern India respectively, both areas being free from ice and heavily populated.  Huge wall-mounted screens showed the progress of several Remote Survey Vehicles.

"Stop!  What's that?"  Dhoshi lunged forward to view her vidscreen more clearly.  

"On the spot analysis says it's concrete," replied Freder as he fiddled with the dials on his wrist band.

"20th century?" asked Dhoshi as she tilted her head to one side trying to make out the shape.

"Possibly."

"Part of a building perhaps?"

"Doubt it; too squat, too rounded."

"Let's use the TM to find out!"

"Dhoshi!  That would waste our resources!" chided Jhojo.

"But what else can we realistically accomplish in 15 mins?  There are so many things we don't know and even using the TM we can't solve anything in that time.  This will probably have as much validity as anything else we could suggest."

"I agree," chimed in Freder, unexpectedly.  Meanwhile the RSVs hummed and roamed over the 'find', broadcasting grainy images around the world.

"I'll get back to you," said Jhojo as he clicked off his communicator. 

 Continued on next page