An old man, the author of many books on the history of the California missions, tells the story of how he has been able to come up with such detailed descriptions of life from 150 years earlier. He tells of a day many years back when he came across a loose brick in a dark corner of the San Fernando mission. He moved the brick and found an ancient bronze lamp behind it. The lamp was green with age, but still filled with oil. Touching his cigarette lighter to the wick, he lights the lamp.
Thunder. Darkness. The ancient adobe bricks look newer. A Spanish soldier, who says he owns the lamp, explains that the year is 1799. He explains how the lamp allows time travel. Think of a time, light the lamp, and you're there.
There's an inscription on the bronze lamp, in latin. It translates to: "The past many times; the future but once." The owner of the lamp can use it to go to the past as many times as he wants... but may make only one trip to the future. Manford, the man who found it behind the brick in the San Fernando mission, hasn't yet had the courage to make his one trip to the future. He wonders what's there, and if perhaps there's some knowledge he could bring back from the future to help our present world...
"Manford, why are you so afraid of the future?"
- Catherine Sprague Hunter, M.D.