Alternity, Page 2
“No, no need to worry about O’Brien. It will all be solved soon enough.”
The cadet gave a blank look at this cryptic response, then walked out of the now-empty classroom after saluting his professor once more. Halstead returned the salute crisply, then stared out a newly-cleared window at the darkness gathering early, near the nadir of the seasons. After a few moments of staring out the window, he turned the projector back on and stared at the map before him.
Halstead looked with a start from the map to the dean and his superior, who marched up the low steps of the classroom with slow, steady paces. “Afternoon, Colonel.”
Colonel Lewis smiled at his subordinate’s repetition of his own greeting, stopped in the center of the floor, then turned to stare himself, at the dark stains spread across the northern and central Europe of mid-century. “I can see you ended right on schedule.”
“I ended on schedule—I had to skim a few topics, like the Battle of the Bulge.” Halstead was fidgeting with the same pen he had used throughout the semester to point out spots of interest on his maps.
Lewis moved closer to both projector and professor. “Yes, well, that leads me to what I came here to talk to you about.” The dean looked into the light filtering in, then renewed his smile. “Now, Colonel, I noticed a while back that your time is coming.”
Halstead’s pen clattered against the tiled floor. “You did?”
“Of course.” Lewis now stood directly in front of the projector, allowing his form to block the artificial light. “May I be frank?”
“Of course.” Halstead gripped the edges of his machine.
Alternity, Chapter I: