"How's the placement? Does it go anywhere, do anything?" I responded.
"Not quite," he scratched absentmindedly at his goatee, "The placement is spot on. I can get you there to within two seconds and a foot and a half of target. The only drawback is we can only go backwards. The future isn't solidified and isn't a viable target. The past is whole and concrete. Easy to pinpoint. The snag is..." and here he paused to light his twice a year cigarette, "I can give you a fifteen minute window. Twenty, tops." he exhaled a plume of smoke and looked very satisfied with himself.
The truth of the matter being, he had every right to congratulate himself on something that man had only dreamed about since Jules Verne bothered to put pencil to paper. Eion tapped the little bit of ash that had collected at the end of his cigarette into the kitchen sink. "One other thing," he paused, "there is a weight limit. 266. That's it. That is as much as the system can hold. One ounce more and the whole thing gets shredded in the conversion with no chance of retrieval. So," he filled his smug look with a swig of the first beer of the day, "where do you want to go?"
For lack of anything better, I hung onto the the backpack straps tight. The swirling light was so bright that I had to close my eyes, but even that wasn't enough to keep it from blinding me with it's brilliance. I felt solid ground beneath my feet but I blinked and stared for a few minutes before the room came into focus. "fifteen minutes," I kept reminding myself.
As my eyes came into focus, I could make out a large desk and a tall, angular man behind it. "I've come to speak to Mr. Lincoln," was all I could blurt out.
"You have, sir?" came back in a soft country voice, tinged with a hint of surprise.
"I have come very far to bring you gifts," I began. It was a very stupid thing to say but I was still reeling from the transport. My eyes were still blinded but I managed to shuck my backpack and feel for its contents.
"First, I bring you books. Shelby Foote's edition of the civil war and Ken Wilber's The Brief History of Everything. There is also a paperback of The History of Knowledge by Dave somebody. You will find these useful in the days to come. There is also The History Of The Gun by the National Rifle Association. Please use it sparingly. We don't want any more dead than this country can possibly bare."
As my eyes adjusted to the sunlight streaming in from behind him through the windows, I noticed his face cloud with confusion as I laid each book on his desk. "Oh, and two more things. Here is a five-year supply of Welbutrin. You face some dark days ahead as a President and a father. These will help you through the tough times where no whiskey ever could. Also, I've brought some gummi bears and starburst candies for the children. There is also a brass bust of you that I thought Mrs. Lincoln might enjoy."
We stood there staring at each other for a full minute before the silence was broken. "I don't-" he began.
"There isn't time for more than this. Just rest assured that every president after you will seek to be as wise, as compassionate, and as noble as you-" and then the bright light cut in. I sat in the kitchen of our trailer for a full twenty minutes before I could see the beer Eion offered.
"Well," he said with a knowing smile, "how'd it go?"
"We're still one country aren't we?" I asked.