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Posted on Nov 30, 2007 in Front Page Features, TIAOW

The Incorrect Art of War [Episode 36] – A Slip (Or Two) In Time

By A J Summersgill and Jim H Moreno

(Awakening in the laboratory, the two men climb to their feet)

I can’t believe that just happened.

What? What just happened?

Excellency, I believe you just prompted what became known in history as the Boston Tea Party.

I did?

Yes, you did. Those men not-so-cleverly disguised as Narangassett Indians were the Sons of Liberty. And YOU just gave them the idea of throwing several tons of British tea overboard into Boston harbour.

Oh dear…

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Yes, oh dear, we have directly influenced history. We must never do this again…

Point taken, but stand there…we’re going to have another go at grabbing George Washington…

But…

(There is a flash of light and the men disappear from the laboratory)

* * *

(They awake lying in a damp grass field. The light is dim, for the sun has only just begun to rise in the distance. The scene is a rural one, with the first fingers of dawn only lightly touching the distant houses – there is a chill in the air and a layer of dew on the ground. They stand up and brush themselves down)

Yuk. We have to do something about this arriving face down in the mud business. Make a note General, I want us to bring chairs next time!

My Lord, I must strongly protest, we’ve just prompted a major historical event through our interfering, we have to turn back right now to stop ourselves from inadvertently altering history again!

(Doctor Sinister is not listening, he is staring at the terrified man stood by a low stone wall less than three metres from where they arrived. Clearly a farmer, he is, bizarrely, clutching a musket)

Hello, and who might you be? (The man yells in terror, dropping the musket and running off into the distance) Most peculiar.

Let me take a look at this… (General Menace bends down to retrieve the weapon) My Lord! This is amazing!

What is?

This! It’s a genuine Brown Bess musket! This is an antique! Well, probably not, it’s probably brand new, but…I mean…wow.

Fascinating I’m sure General, but be quiet won’t you, there’s good chap, I’m trying to work out where we are. Oh, here we go, 1775.

1775? Really? Wow, does it say where?

Alas no, I must see to that, all it will tell me is North America. The question is, has the war started yet and where might we find George Washington?

(General Menace is entranced by the musket) My Lord, take a look at this weapon, it’s beautiful, such craftsmanship. You know, I’ve always wanted to fire one of these…and this one is primed and all ready to go.

Then go ahead, there’s no-one else around.

Really? Should I?

What harm will it do?

(General Menace lifts the musket to his shoulder and takes aim into the distance, a big beaming smile on his face…) OK, here I go.

(The General fires…just as the light from a new day fully illuminates the field ahead of him. Two lines of men are suddenly revealed to have been facing each other in the darkness. One is a collection of men dressed in civilian clothing facing off a line of soldiers dressed in bright red uniforms. At the sound of the General’s shot, all hell breaks loose as both sides, fearing that the other was shooting at them, begins to open fire)

Oh….my….God.

What is it General? Hey look, this machine just started working, it’s April the 19th 1775 and we’re at a little place called Lexington.

(The General drops to the ground behind the wall) I know, I just figured that out.

You did? How?

Because I just started the Battle of Lexington. No-one knew who fired the first shot – “The shot heard around the world” they called it. Well, I know now – it was me.

Well, something to tell the grandchildren eh General?

My Lord, between us we’ve just sparked the American Revolution …

Hang on, don’t blame this on me, I just knocked some tea into a harbour, you’ve just fired a rifle at someone.

But you told me to!

Now now, this is no time for recriminations. Just answer me this, will we find George Washington here?

No my Lord, emphatically not.

Then it’s time to leave…

(Doctor Sinister hits the turquoise recall button and amidst the sound of shouting, horses and gunfire, they disappear in a flash of light)

* * *

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