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Another Look at My Past


Chapter 8
“Line up!! Be quiet!! You, did you memorize your cover story? Speak up!!”
Horace Wilson was not sure how to react. In front of him was Tracy Stevens. Normally Tracy was a cute
little archivist at the University of Altgeld. Today she was dressed in olive green and was doing her best to
get in Horace's face.
“Yes, ma'm I have.” Said Horace in his unassuming way. I have read the whole thing.” Horace was quiet
and unassuming by nature and today was no exception.
“What is she doing? I mean in her own mind.” asked Frank of his lifelong friend Nelson.
Nelson kept his voice low. “Remember, they are trying to make this like basic training in the Altgeld
Defense Forces. That is the reason for the olive green outfits. That is why Tracy was trying to stick her pert
little nose in Horace's face.”
She was short and Horace was tall, so it was not working as well as it did in the movies. Fighting t he urge to
jump up so she could look him in the eye, she grabbed the papers from his hand.
“Now, Mister 'I have read my cover story', let's see how good you do. Where are you from?”
“I am from a little place called Elm Branch, as is Frank here. My Dad runs a general store there, and my
Aunt Cora is the postmaster.” Said Horace in him slow and deliberate way. He was a slow and deliberate
man.
“Alright, country boy, where exactly is this Elm Branch? You had better know, don't you think?”
Horace Wilson dropped out of character just a fraction. “Elm Branch is nearly a third of the way around
Altgeld from the frontier where you are going to insert us. I can just say it is up in Superior Altgeld.”
Tracy was looking for a way to get Horace rattled, but she was not finding it. “And what will you do when
some country bumpkin says 'Hey, I'm from Superior Altgeld and I shore never heard tell of no place like that.'
?”
Horace now dropped all the way out of character. “Tracy, there is a place called Elm Branch. Is meaning
right now and I am from there. There is objective documentation that it was already settled in late Heroic
times, right after The Turmoil. What is more, family tradition tells me that Elm Branch was settled from the
time of the Dispersal, when people were first spreading out from Landington. That would be early Heroic
times. So in late Heroic times there was an Elm Branch, up in Superior Altgeld.”
Tracy now realized that she was not going to get Horace flustered any more than she was going to stop
Timmy from laughing at her. He was lying on the ground in hysterics, unable to do anything more than point
at poor Tracy.
Time to try something else. “Ok, all you blowflys, gather round. We are going to have a quick lesson in
Altgeld history. For that we have none other than Professor Edgar Lively, the Grand O ld Man of Altgeld
historical studies.”
Professor Edgar Lively slowly shuffled to the front of the group. Since the time travelers were already sitting
on the ground, no one made them stand up. Professor Lively looked around for a moment and then he began
to speak.
“This is a refresher course in Altgeld history, for those of you who were busy looking at the girls the first
time you had this.”
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