Another Look at My Past HTML version

Chapter 20
The army under General Armstrong rode in the wide open spaces. It was a fine day in the Bad Lands. No
greenery, no water except what they carried, lots of dust. It did not get any better than that.
Frank was riding in a very loose formation with his usual companions. He realized that he still needed to get
to know people better. For instance, there was Stupider riding just a few feet from him. Time to find out his
“Hey! I never got your name.”
Stupider looked over blankly. “Huh? Who's that?”
“Frank Mills. Two weeks out of Basic.”
“O h. My name is Bartimaeus.”
“Bartimaeus. I'll remember that.”
“Want to know why they call me Bartimaeus?”
Riding a horse is not the best way to have an extended conversation. But he was trying to get to know
“So why do they call you Bartimaeus?”
“Because I can't see anything at all.”
Then blind Bartimaeus turned his face toward the far horizon. Suddenly he looked very startled and
“Enemy sighted!!! Thataway!!!” The blind man pointed behind and to his right at what he had seen.
Word spread quickly. Frank heard the trombone signa l to turn the army one quarter turn to the right. That
took a while. Frank was feeling a little confused, but he concentrated on obeying his immediate orders.
Before long the line of mounted men was heading directly toward the hssswwx.
Smythe noticed Frank's confusion. He pulled his horse close to Frank's and said “Bartimaeus can't see
anything unless it's at least two miles away.”
Now everybody could see the enemy. Anticipation was building. Frank was beginning to feel like a veteran
himself. This would be his second battle. Would he ever get used to seeing the hssswwx up close?
Smythe caught his eye. “A line of men, a mile from end to end. The hssswwx line is every bit as long.
When the two come together you can hear the crash for miles.” Smythe grinned in huge anticipation.
Frank looked at the hssswwx line. They were getting closer fast. And they were not in a line, they seemed to
be in three groups.
Smythe was no longer in earshot. So Frank turned to Bartimaeus. “Are they all bunched together, not in a
line like we are?”
“How would I know? I can't see that close.”
First O f Those Who Fight was pleased. His army was staying in the three edkars, just like he taught them.
He was not with any of the edkars, but was with a small group behind all of them. It had not been his
original intention to keep himself out of harm's way, but it was a nice side effect. Now to see if this system