The Earth in parallel
universe 675/A10 appears to have developed in an
identical fashion to our own, until 1762,
David concluded, scanning the reports from agents
who had recently returned. Development then
slowed to the extent that even now, in 2011,
theyve not even invented powered flight.
We dont know,
David replied. Thats why I want you
to go there, through the portal.
The portal will take
me to Earth 675/A10, I noted, but it
wont take me back in time.
Youll have to
study the relevant history from the records they
kept, instructed David. Good luck.
I wandered though the
London streets of 2011 on Earth 675/A10, though
they were nothing like the London streets with
which I was familiar. Crude, horse-drawn carts
travelled along cobbled roads. The scene was
consistent with the 19th century on the Earth
that I knew.
I needed a plan to track
down the event that had all but halted progress
in the mid eighteenth century of this parallel
world. However, transportation through the portal
always made me hungry, so I decided to start by
tracking down lunch. This was not a difficult
task as it seemed to me that almost every other
building was some form of well patronised eating
Good afternoon, sir,
said a serving wench as I sat down in a small ale
house. Can I get you some food and beer?
Ill just have a
cheese sandwich, please, I answered.
We have the finest
cheese, good sir, she replied, but
what, pray, is a sandwich?
I looked at her with
surprise. Well, its what you get if
you put the cheese between two slices of bread,
Why would anyone do
such a thing? She looked puzzled.
It makes the food
quick and easy to eat, and you dont get
your hands greasy, I explained.
She thought for several
moments, then gasped. Why, kind sir,
thats brilliant! she cried in
astonishment. 'It's genius of the most inspired
She rushed excitedly to
speak with a man I presumed to be the owner. He
thoughtfully considered her words. He then
reached for a loaf, cut two slices and laid one
upon a platter. A thick segment of cheese was
placed atop this slice. Hands now shaking, he
finally positioned the second slice of bread upon
the cheese to complete the dish. He then raised
it to his mouth and prepared to take a bite.
I had been so captivated by
this scene that I had neglected to notice the
silence that had descended upon the ale house as
all the other patrons viewed this unique creative
act in stunned and speechless amazement. As the
owner bit into the bread-cheese-bread combination,
those assembled cheered and spontaneously broke
into rapturous applause.
The serving wenches were
soon swamped with orders for this new dish.
Thank you so much Mr,
, said the owner to me as I left
the ale house.
said. Swan Morrison.
Thank you so much, Mr
Morrison, he continued. This is an
outstanding breakthrough for lunchtime cuisine.
A thought suddenly occurred
to me, and I hurried along the road towards the
central library. As I went, I noted people
running from one food establishment to the next.
I could tell by their enthusiastic and animated
gestures that they were relaying the news of the
new way to eat lunch.
I withdrew a reference book
from the library shelves and looked up the entry
for John Montagu, 4th Earl of Sandwich:
Although the Earl
disliked being interrupted from card gambling, he
had such an excellent cook that he always paused
his games to indulge in extended luncheons.
So that was the
explanation, I said to David when back in
his office. The sandwich had never been
invented, and so people took hugely longer over
lunch. That meant they didnt put in the
working hours needed to develop science and the
arts to the extent that we have. I guess progress
might speed up now, I speculated with some
embarrassment, since I accidently let slip
the secret of the sandwich.
I expect it will,
he sighed, reflecting on the Prime Directive of
non-intervention in parallel-world cultures, 'since
you achieved the most spectacular breach of the
Prime Directive in the history of our department
by revealing the technology of the sandwich,'
he paused and sighed again, 'or the morrison
as they now call it on Earth 675/A10.