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19

The tear-streaked and lipstick-smeared Judy kept her hand on Wally’s arm, stifled a sob with her other hand as she looked down at Earhart’s cold form once more, then released Wally to run across the room and join the others waiting to escort her. Wally looked after her longingly before steeling himself and looking back at his lead captor. “What do you think you’re doing?”

Halstead smiled for only a moment. “Showing up to one of these holiday office parties. Someone had to represent the ‘military intelligence.’ Why not your project’s Pentagon liaison?”

Wally flushed. “You bugged us.”

“Don’t worry. Your conversations, Bayer, are pretty damn boring. I just learned what I needed to learn: when you and the others come and go. And, what a fortunate surprise, a Christmas party on the night of the seventeenth. I guess you could say it’s turned into a going-away party for those of us who would like to use the Box.”

Wally’s flush was now of anger. “If you’ve been listening, then you know it hasn’t been tested on humans and you also must know you can’t come back—”

“We’re aware of all of that, Bayer,” Halstead interjected. “The men you see with me have all accepted the fact that they are taking a tremendous risk and that they are saying goodbye to the twenty-first century, to their wives, children, friends, and homes.” There was a slight pause, a distant look, then another brief smile as he adjusted the pack strapped over his parka. “At least those who have those things.”

Wally opened his spread palms in the direction of the dozen M-16s trained on him. “Fine. What year do you want to go to?”

“Nineteen Eighteen. November Eleventh is the date.”

“What time?” Wally asked with a trace of pride.

Alternity, Chapter I:

1/ 2/ 3/ 4/ 5/ 6/ 7/ 8/ 9/ 10/ 11/ 12/ 13/ 14/ 15/ 16/ 17/ 18/ 19/ 20/ 21/ 22/ 23

Jump to Chapter II

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