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|Charlie MacDuff and the Test of Time|
by I. MacPenn
"What do we do now?" asked George.
Charlie remembered the time machine and started to open it up, but George stopped him and said, "No, we can't use it without Alice. Let's go out the window."
George opened the bedroom window and carefully slid out onto a small ledge that ran along the entire side of the building. Charlie followed him. When Charlie tried to shut the window behind him, he noticed that the couple had just entered the bedroom. The window was stuck, so Charlie couldn't close it.
They slowly moved along the ledge towards the only obvious way down, a large, untrimmed tree near the corner of the house. George made his way off the ledge and down the tree, and Charlie soon followed.
They snuck around to where Alice was anxiously waiting for them. "They were practically running back here," Alice said, "and boy, were they upset. I was just standing at their front door ringing the bell and they didn't even say anything to me - they just went in and totally ignored me."
"Let's go home. That was way too close," said George. "Yes," added Charlie, "and we shouldn't separate next time - we almost used the time machine without you." Alice was not at all pleased when she heard that.
They walked to a dark, hidden part of the alley, and Charlie typed in the date. He said, "Hold on, you two," and the now-familiar mist appeared. They materialized next to a very surprised dog, who momentarily froze, then started howling at them.
Alice, George and Charlie quickly walked towards their homes, avoiding the dark house they had just visited. They were tired, scared, curious, and hungry.
When Charlie got home, his mother was just starting dinner. She said, "You just missed a phone call. A reporter at the Gazette called twice asking for you. She's writing a big article about some local paleontologist. It's going to be in this evening's paper. Her son Jake is in your class, and he told her about a fossil that you and Alice found on a field trip today. She wanted to mention your fossil at the end of the article. I hadn't even heard about this fossil - and I had to hear it from the mother of another kid in your class. He must actually talk to his mother. Well, anyway, the reporter wanted to ask you about your fossil. She already talked to your teacher and to the paleontologist. Her deadline for getting the article in was 4:00 today. She called back again just before her deadline, but she couldn't find either you or Alice, and she couldn't wait any longer - so she talked to me instead. I told her how you loved dinosaurs so much and how you collect them and how you have dinosaur posters all over the walls in your room. I also told her how you've been so lucky lately, first finding that strange, triangular computer and now the fossil too. I can't wait to see the article."
Charlie just sighed. He was mortified that his mother had told the reporter about his model dinosaurs and his posters. He knew that the other kids would laugh when they read that.
Charlie was incredibly hungry - and tired. He rested in his room until dinner, thinking about the mysterious coded notebook he had found.
After dinner, the evening paper arrived, and he read the article on the paleontologist Cordelia Harrison. The very last paragraph mentioned Charlie and Alice, and the fossil teeth they had found. Charlie was very relieved to find that there was no mention of his model dinosaurs or his posters.
But the article did mention his good luck at finding both the dinosaur fossil and a strange, triangular computer recently.
Charlie realized that this could mean big trouble.
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