Warning: a detailed plot synopsis (spoiler!) follows. Wally Bayer is a graduate student of physics at Adams College in upstate New York who, along with his professor Alan Earhart and several others, is working on a top-secret time travel project funded by the Pentagon. Lieutenant Colonel Adam Halstead, a military history instructor at nearby West Point and a liaison with the project team, attempts to hijack the “Box” (as the enormous chromium cube-shaped time machine is nicknamed) with the assistance of twelve recruits from an Idaho right-wing militia. Halstead’s men accidentally kill Earhart during their intrusion of the laboratory that houses the Box, then force all of his assistants but Bayer to flee for their lives as they prepare to travel to November 11, 1918. Bayer starts up the time machine, then, to avoid death at Halstead’s hands, leaps into the capsule that is dropped into a vertical tunnel containing an altered quantum state. Halstead leaps onto the outside of the capsule, and follows Bayer into the year 1918. Both men arrive in a subterranean lake beneath the laboratory site, and Halstead follows Bayer to the surface. Once again, Bayer escapes from Halstead, this time leaving him alone in the forest with a twisted ankle. Bayer comes across a horse-drawn wagon on a rutted road, and accepts a ride into the town of Monroe, New York from an odd stranger. Bayer is able to tell himself he is still in the year 2003 until he sees a Model T rumbling along a cross street as the wagon approaches the town. The bewildered visitor from the future manages to find a job on a dairy farm, and settles down to earn a living until he figures out what he will do next. Halstead, meanwhile, has traveled to chaotic postwar Germany via Denmark, and arrives in Berlin to visit the renowned plastic surgeon Jacques Joseph. Dr. Joseph, with the assistance of an anesthesiologist, gives Halstead a new face before both he and his assistant are brutally murdered by the patient. The still-bandaged Halstead, dressed in a Reichswehr corporal’s uniform, travels to the city of Pasewalk, where he begins the trailing of a man upon that man’s release from the local military hospital. Halstead and his quarry travel by train to Munich, where the former murders the latter by means of a lethal injection and drags the body across a pair of railroad tracks in the middle of the night. The defaced corpse of the victim is left for mutilation by an oncoming train, and Halstead reports to the barracks of the Sixteenth Bavarian Reserve Infantry Regiment as Corporal Adolf Hitler, complete with two iron crosses pinned to his chest. In January 1919, Halstead appears as Hitler at the first meeting of the newly-formed German Workers’ Party. Halstead rapidly takes over the fledgling organization and grows it with carefully prepared nationalistic rants and ingenious organizational methods. In order to gain even more power and prestige, Halstead involves his Ordnertruppe (as the S.A. was originally known) in the spring 1919 right-wing suppression of the short-lived Bavarian Communist regime. Wally has settled into farm life, meanwhile, and begins a flirtation with his employer’s eldest daughter that turns serious with the arrival of spring. Both of Sally Darcy's parents die in the 1919 flu epidemic, and Wally takes over the family farm when he marries the expectant Sally. Wally uses his foresight from the future and arranges a partnership with Frankie Yale of New York City, a mobster and one-time employer of Al Capone. Wally begins the illicit manufacture of gin on his upstate farm, and ships the liquid in milk trucks to New York for distribution by Yale. With the onset of Prohibition in early 1920, the profits start to accumulate, and Wally begins to invest in the stock market. Halstead has also been busy, having traveled to Egypt with Rudolf Hess in search of a collection of Coptic manuscripts that include the Gospel of Thomas, a long-lost
Bill Hammons was born in Germany during the early Seventies to a career US Army officer. He was raised in Odessa, Texas from the age of five, and graduated from Permian High School in 1993. He then moved to Manhattan to attend college, and graduated from New York University in 1997 with a degree in English and American literature. After a career in traditional book and magazine publishing (including seven years and seven days at Newsweek Magazine), he left the skyscrapers of Manhattan for the peaks and running trails of Colorado's Front Range. Alternity is his first published novel.