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The finger on the invisible hand

Skippy Travels in Time

Monday, October 16, 2006

The other day, I took my newly adopted daughter, Shin, to the Korean grocery store. Shin has really helped me to recover from my divorce, and I thought that it might be nice to her to be able to enjoy some of the flavors of home.

When we got to the store, Shin struck up quite the conversation with the old couple who owned the shop. She then told me that they wanted me to come to the back of the store. They gave me a cup of tea, and Shin translated the most fantastic story to me.

It seems the old couple had come into possession of an ancient Korean artifact, a cabinet that had originally belonged to King Sejong the Great. King Sejong was a man of learning and has been credited with promoting the Korean alphabet.

The cabinet was supposedly given to Sejong as a gift by a man of great learning. It was lacquered blue with gold leaf, and it had thought to be looted by Japanese occupiers around the year 1900. The old couple told me that it was rumored that the cabinet had the power to travel in time. Of course, I just thought this was a silly superstition, but they insisted I take a look inside the box.

When I stood up, I found that I was quite lightheaded. It must have been the heat of the room combined with the tea. I leaned over the box and felt a sharp pain in the back of my head and saw a bright light.

I awoke in pre-turn of the century Akron, Ohio. After some bad run-ins with the locals, I was able to trade my futuristic Dockers and FUBU jacket for period clothes and $20, a large sum at the time.

Using the money that I had, I obtained lodging and got a job with the Akron Beacon Journal under the name “Rudy Robinson”. After spending the year of 1891 with the Beacon Journal, and with the assets from some patents for typesetting, I was ready to take my trip to Korea.

I was enjoying my time in 1890’s Akron, but I knew from my Korean History minor that the Empress Myeongseong was due to be assassinated in less than five years. As the Panama Canal was not yet finished, I had to start my trip with via rail to San Fransisco.

While Korean tourism was not in fashion, mission building was in full swing. On the way to San Francisco, I mugged a Jesuit and took his clothes, establishing my credentials to teach at the Ryong-saun Seminary. It is a good thing I remembered my Latin. I had to do Mass several times, and I never got it right once. Fortunately, the other priests thought I was a drunkard.

The ship to Korea was a struggle, too much time in too close quarters while trying not to give away my status as a time traveler. Once, one of the sailors heard me singing “Straight out of Compton”, but I was able to explain that it was an obscure religious song.

Finding a way into the court of Empress Myeongseong was another story. However, I was eventually able to befriend a Russian officer named Sabatin. I took him into my confidence and explained my situation. In exchange for his help, I offered him information on the upcoming assassination and Japanese occupation. He didn’t believe me, but he did agree to get me access to the Empress's box when I gave him what was left of my money.

I went to the box and found myself being awakened by a police officer. My neighbors had reported me as being unconscious on my front lawn for 48 hours. I guess that time travel packs quite a wallop.

I went back to the Korean grocery store to find Shin, however they said that she had stepped into the box after me to try to save me. They also introduced me to their granddaughter, who was newly arrived in the United States. When I commented on how much their granddaughter looked like Shin, they called me a racist and threw me out.

James Skippenofsky, Skippy Does it All

Wow, it must be something to access the Empresses' box.
I was quite taken by the Empress’s box. I found it quite welcoming. Especially due to the silk curtains that decorated the inside. If I would have been able, I would have stayed in it longer. It was almost sad to see how far it has fallen into disrepair in modern times.
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