Author: David Barber

“This is a rare photograph of Christ, taken before time tourism was banned,” said the Director of the Temporal Institute.

The Senator stopped to examine it, and his entourage jostled and bumped awkwardly behind him.

A picture-lined corridor led to the gallery overlooking the wormhole, and though each picture was an actual snapshot of some historical event, the Director knew the Senator’s particular interests.

In the distance, the Sea of Galilee gleams like a sun-struck windshield, as sightseers stream down from the Sermon on the Mount. Slightly out of focus, they all wear tunics and sandals, making it difficult to tell if any of them are locals.

“The vote in the Senate to ban it was close. You must have been under a lot of pressure, but you stood by your principles and helped make the difference.”

The Director paused to see the effect of this blatant flattery.

The Senator nodded absently. He was studying the photograph. It had been enlarged to the limits of resolution and, unaccountably, was in black and white.

He pointed. “So, that is…”

The burly man slapping Christ on the back like a trainer congratulating his boy on a good fight, or a miracle well done, is Peter.

“Difficult to believe time tourism was permitted for so long,” the Director continued. He found it distasteful being a salesman, an actual unpleasant taste in his mouth.

“Opponents of the Bill maintained that since anachronisms like the camera taking this picture weren’t a problem, the ban wasn’t necessary.”

The features of Christ are hidden by the raised arm of someone striding into shot just as the shutter clicks. Only Judas, his mouth a perfect O of alarm, has seen the blade.

“But the ban was to stop rogue time travellers interfering with pivotal moments in history. Manpower and resources are poured into that.”

“Though the Institute doesn’t benefit,” he added.

One of the Senator’s aids murmured to the Director about their tight schedule.

“If we could move along to the viewing gallery now,” said the Director smoothly.

The demonstration was near the limit of current wormhole technology. Hopefully, the Senator would be impressed by men costumed in bronze armour and plumed helmets returning with film of the skirmishing round Troy.

Hopefully. The energy costs were punitive, but it would all be worthwhile if the Senator’s oversight committee approved next year’s budget.

The Senator seemed reluctant to move on.

“Assassinations,” he said. “I hear you call them celebricides.”

“Well, informally, yes. Trying to assassinate an important historical figure was usually how lone actors attempted to change the present.”

“I recall a best seller about a time tourist who planned to foil the assassination of Julius Caesar in the Forum.”

Like many patricians, the Senator claimed to be a descendant of Caesar.

“The world would be a very different place if he’d succeeded,” he mused. “Though of course, we’d never know.”

The Senator had been a military commander and still wore his authority like a uniform. The Director found himself being lectured to by an amateur.

“Well, foiling that assassination could certainly change the time-line,” he acknowledged. “In fact, Christ was a frequent target for religious cults attempting to rewrite history.”

He ushered the Senator into the gallery and let the eerie glow of Cherenkov radiation from the wormhole speak for itself.

“Though none of them ever managed to prevent his assassination,” the Director added. “For which we owe eternal thanks to Jove, and of course the Roman Temporal Guard.”