Back to the Past

Steven C. Levi
4 min readFeb 26, 2020


It was so unbelievably easy. He just pulled his packet of letters from inside his scratch pad and slipped them into the historical document divider being careful to put the forged letters, dated January through March of 1876, into the file individually and chronologically. It wouldn’t do to have the letters discovered as fakes just because they were out of sequence. He had gone through too much to be nabbed by a simple sorting error. He had used original letters from the 1870s from which he had bled the ink out so he could reuse it. Reconfigure it, so to speak, just as he was going to reconfigure the antique ink. He had chuckled at the prospect of taking worthless letters of the 1870s and reconfiguring the ancient ink to reconfigure history to reconfigure the future because the future is based on the past and he had reconfigured the past.

Then he carefully checked to make sure he didn’t leave a strand of his long black hair in the file.

On the way out of the archives he was searched, just like everyone else. The white woman at the steel door apologized as she flicked through his scratch pad looking for any paperwork he may have forgotten to re-file. Then he stepped through the scanner that verified that he didn’t have any of historical documents hidden in his clothing. But the archive only checked for documents going out; not any coming in.

Outside the rain was pounding the brick sidewalk. It had been sprinkling an hour earlier and he was surprised at the sudden intensity of the storm. He dashed for half a block and then cut across a parking lot into an alley and then mounted a hotel’s emergency exit. The door at the top of the stairs creaked open as he slipped inside. Down the hall and into his room, he was dialing long distance before his door swung shut.

He was the last one to come on conference.

“Did you place the Custer papers?” There was a note of apprehension in the deep voice on the line.

“Absolutely. The archives will be indexing those papers by the end of the month. It won’t be long before someone discovers that Custer had a secret treaty with Crazy Horse and then double-crossed the Sioux.”

“Good!” The deep voice was congratulatory. “All our brothers and sisters have done well. Within the next year there will be a clamor to rewrite the history texts.”

“Not to mention all the Indian treaties,” stated an excited, male voice on the conference call. “I predict that quite a few lawyers are going to be looking over the Seminole War documentation a l-i-t-t-l-e more closely.”

“I most certainly will,” stated a tinny woman’s voice, broken by distance and microwave transmission, “and let’s not forget the Northwest Treaty and the Treaty of Easton. There are going to be court cases well into the next . . .”

The deep voice popped back on the line. “Unfortunately, there is a problem. It was only brought to my attention an hour ago and at that time you were all on your way into the archives.”

“Is it a serious problem?” The tinny voice cut in.

“Perhaps. You are all aware of the fiber spectrograph that dates paper?”

“Well, sure,” said an unheard-before voice. “But we solved that problem by using paper and ink from the era so they would pass spectrograph scrutiny.”

“Oh, we’re not the problem,” stated the deep voice. “While examining the George Washington Papers at the National Archives last week, the spectrograph revealed that half the documents in the files were fakes, undoubtedly placed there independently by a number of individuals over two centuries.”

“What’s the problem?”

“Nothing yet,” stated the deep voice apprehensively. “But with so many documents being declared forgeries there is no way of knowing what history will reveal after the forgeries are removed.”

“You mean someone has been changing history?” The tinny voice was bitingly sarcastic.

“No,” replied the deep voice. “They have been changing the future. A lot of somebodies have been doing over the past century what we did today. How does that affect us? I don’t know. All I do know is that the future depends on the past and with the discovery of so many forgeries no one knows what that past is presently.”

“So what you’re saying is that we will have to go back to the past to change the future again.” The tinny voice was irritated.

“Einsteinian, isn’t it? History coming full circle to the beginning only to find it’s not the beginning at all.” There was a brief pause and the deep voice concluded. “But we’re going to have to wait for the past to be revealed before we can reconfigure the future.”

[Steven Levi’s books can be found at and on Kindle.]