Henry Janeway was an ancestor of Kathryn Janeway and the proprietor of the Alexandria Books bookstore, which was owned by his family for generations, in Portage Creek, Indiana. He was a stubborn man who preferred oatmeal cookies because he was allergic to chocolate. In the year 2000 he was visited by Shannon O'Donnel, whose car broke down close to his store after hitting a car from behind.
He was drinking his coffee on the first floor of his store when O'Donnell walked in. She asked if she might wait in his store for the tow truck to arrive. Her car broke down and she found it too cold to wait outside. Although Jason, his son, joked that she didn't look like a corporate hitman, Henry invited her to stay, he found that Zeus watched over travelers and that they should do the same, and offered her a cup of coffee. She noticed the fliers he wanted to distribute to protest the building of the Millennium Gate.
Henry found the Millennium Gate to be a glorified shopping mall, a monstrosity, and didn't believe that it was the first self-sustained civic environment as the people who would build it claimed. As far as he was concerned it was nothing but propaganda. All his neighbors had already sold their businesses and he was proud that he was the only one who still resisted the Millennium Gate Project. He compared himself to Rome withstanding the barbarians.
Shannon offered to help Henry distribute the fliers via her computer if he hired her; he didn't have one himself because he did not believe in them. Henry told her he wasn't looking for hired help. When she thanked him for the coffee, she once more asked Henry if he could hire her. She would not ask much pay, just enough to fix her car. When Jason pleaded with his father again, Henry agreed to hire her.
Henry was a great admirer of the classical age because the greatest literature works were produced at that time and he wouldn't have minded being born there. He would enjoy the lack of electricity, no cars or telephones and found the shorter lifespan an advantage, it would make life even more worth living. He would only regret the lack of cold beer. When he took Shannon to a bar that evening he also told her that a Texas company who wanted to build the Millennium Gate offered them a price twenty percent above market price if they sold their properties. The only catch was that everyone had to sell, without exception and because he resisted his friends turned against him. If he was born in Roman times he would probably have been thrown to the lions. Henry asked her what her plans were for the next millennium eve and found her the 'life of the party' when she told him she planned to be asleep and she complained she had to listen to all the stories that 2001 was the real millennium instead of 2000 and that nobody realized that it was just a number on a calendar. A grinning Henry replied that he did sell a lot of doomsday books. Their conversation was interrupted by several lorries who drove by the bar. When Henry watched them go by he felt uneasy.
The next day he ran into Gerald Moss, the Millennium Gate spokesman, who was being interviewed by Marci Collins of 3 Action News when Moss told her that Henry was the only one who still opposed the building of the Gate. Henry told the reporter that they could not bulldoze the town away because it was their past and heritage. He found that it was the future of the people behind the Millennium Gate and not that of the local residents. When he overheard that Moss considered moving the building site from Portage Creek to another city, Henry thought he only had to stand firm until New Year's Eve. When Jason told him he had to go to school with the children of the people who didn't agree with Henry he replied that his school would be torn down. He even questioned his son's loyalty when he said they would build new and better schools.
Back in the bookstore, he had a romantic dinner with Shannon. They fantasized it took place in Paris by dining with an open book about that city. He himself never left Indiana; he considered his books his travel companions, they took him everywhere he wanted to go. Shannon found him peculiar, deep inside his books and shutting out the world. Henry thought the same about her, exploring the Mid-west in a station wagon like an alien form outer space. She told him she would leave if her car was fixed, Henry asked her to stay on the account that she promised Jason to show him some tricks on her computer. His offers, one of them a stroll along the boulevard of St. Germaine, made it difficult for Shannon to say goodbye.
Henry had to shop in Bloomington because local stores boycotted him. His refusal to sell was the main news topic that day. When he came back around noon he found Jason and Shannon in the book store. He got into an argument about the purpose of the Millennium Gate and its potential, helping scientists to learn more about Earth's environment among other things. When Shannon told him he was living in the past and afraid of change he accused her of sleeping with the enemy, meaning Moss. Henry was told she was offered a job on the Millennium Gate project as a consulting engineer but he wanted her stay. Shannon told him that she did not wanted to stay in Portage Creek, despite his kindness to her. When Henry helped her pack her belongings, Jason was angry with him because he let Shannon leave.
Three hours before midnight, Henry still refused to speak with Millennium Gate representatives and to leave his bookstore.
A short time before midnight Shannon visited Henry in his store. When she told him it was time to go, they got into an argument. She accused him of hiding in the past with no eye for the future and that he wasn't thinking about the future of his son and Portage Creek. When Henry asked why she returned, she told him it was on the account of her chocolate chip cookies. They didn't taste the same without him. Henry heard that she would like to stay with him and Jason but she got a second chance, Moss offered her a job on the Millennium Gate project, and did not want to get stuck in the past and his bookstore, she offered him the choice to get stuck in the present together. But if he would like her to stay in the bookstore she was prepared to return Moss' job offer. Henry told her that he could re-open his bookstore in the Millennium Gate. When he asked her if she would ever leave again she told him it would be the both of them taking that trip.
When they both left the bookstore at 11:59, Henry turned the closed sign on. The crowd outside applauded, relieved that the building of the Millennium Gate could begin.