Another Look at My Past HTML version

Chapter 23
“Get up, you stupid apes. General Armstrong wants you out there right now!!”
Frank woke out of a dead sleep. At first he thought he had done something horrible and was is really big
trouble with General Armstrong. He had once written a paper about Armstrong's harsh discipline. He began
to rehearse how he would say that everybody else was doing it, and being new, he did not know it was
against the rules. Then he realized that he had not actually done anything, and that they all had been
summoned, not just him.
He was dressed, mounted, and ready faster than he would have thought possible. It saves time when you
don't wash your face or have breakfast. The other men in Frank's new unit were surly and cross, as was
Frank's horse. The nameless mount fit in quite well.
Then he rode up. General Armstrong. The quasi- legendary leader who cemented the human victory. Some
historians tried to say he could not be real, but was an archetype assembled from idealized attributes.
They all stiffened to attention as Armstrong approached. He needed a shave and he seemed preoccupied.
There was a smell of whiskey in the air that had not been there before. General Armstrong looked at the
group of men with bleary eyes.
“Captain Schultz, did we get a new man to replace Tyndall?”
“Yes sir. He came in yesterday.” Frank realized that it was Captain Schultz who had woke them so abruptly.
“Let's hope he does better than Tyndall.” With that General Armstrong turned his horse in a tight circle and
rode toward the center of the camp. Bob pointed Frank toward a place behind and to the left of the general.
So they were General Armstrong's bodyguard. Frank had mixed feelings about being here. He was uneasy
about being separated from the other time travelers. But being this c lose to General Armstrong could provide
a lot of original research material. Providing that he was actually allowed to hear anything. Being here in
the Heroic Age was nothing like watching a movie about it.
Back at the rock
Frank's friends had set up camp around the rock. Sergeant Pain must have felt the chill, because he had not
returned. They had been there a whole day, and the place was getting a lived- in look.
Nelson felt itchy. Mentally itchy, that is. He had come from an environment of instantaneous trans-cranial
news feeds to - this. The only source of information was the man next to you, and he didn't know anything
either. Nelson wanted to hear that the human leaders had a bold new strategy for dealing with the setback.
The others were uneasy too. For as long as anyone could remember, humans had been steadily making gains
against the hssswwx.
A rider entered the camp. He was maybe two hundred yards away from their place beside the flat rock.
Nelson called out “Somebody just came into camp. I wonder if he's heard anything.”
Bud looked up from whatever he was doing. “Try to flag him down and see what he knows.” It was the
custom that a man riding into camp would toss a few crumbs of information to anyone he encountered.
Nelson came to the edge of the path and waved at the rider. “Hey, what's new?”
The rider kept on going as if no one had spoken to him. Nelson was glad he was standing on the edge of the
path and not in the path. “Can't you hear? What do you think you're doing?”
Then they were watching the silent rider trot away from them. Timmy stood beside Nelson and shouted