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|Charlie MacDuff and the Test of Time|
by I. MacPenn
A swirl of mist surrounded Charlie, and suddenly he was back in his real room - the desk and chair were back, and so were his bed and bookcase.
Charlie immediately ran downstairs and found his parents in the family room. His sister was there, too. He told them about his new computer (for about the thousandth time) and how it had taken him back to the day he was born. They all looked at him strangely, and Kate blurted out, "You're crazy - you know that, don't you?" She was sarcastic, even for an eight-year-old. His mother said, "Charlie, we'll be having dinner in about an hour - have you done your homework yet?"
"I can prove it to you," said Charlie. He held out his time machine and Kate grabbed it. Charlie said, "Just type in a date, then press the red button." She typed January 1, 5000, and hit the red button. The computer screen read, "You must upgrade to Version 3.3 to visit the future." Kate said snidely, "This is a really great time machine you found." Charlie took his machine back and left the room. Kate was still laughing at him.
Charlie left the house and ran to his best friend's house. George Garcia lived a few houses down the street. Charlie and George had been good friends ever since George moved to the neighborhood, almost 5 years ago.
George was very smart and very practical - he always claimed that he could fix anything with a hammer, and most people believed him. He had dark brown hair and large, dark eyes; although he was shorter than average, he was strong and was very proud of it. George always wore whatever shirt or pants happened to be on the top of the drawer. It had never occurred to him to give any thought at all to his clothes; his mother bought them and he wore them at random.
Charlie told George about the birthday adventure he had just had with his new time machine, and how it could take you back in time, but not to the future. George believed him - sort of. He wanted to test it out, but they couldn't decide on a good time to try. George was intent on visiting the Knights of the Round Table. Charlie preferred the American Revolution.
Charlie quickly gave in, and George typed 516, the year Arthur was crowned King. Charlie then pressed the red button. They were suddenly outdoors, in a place very much like where they lived, but the houses and the road were gone, there were many more trees, and no people were around. There was no castle, no King Arthur, and no round table.
It looked suspiciously like Montana. The machine had done something, but what?
"I think we're still in Montana, but during the time of the Knights of the Round Table," suggested Charlie.
"Impressive, but useless," said George. "Now we just need a jet to take us to England - or we can just sit here for another 1500 years and wait for airplanes to be invented."
It was starting to get dark, and a wolf howled in the distance. The boys heard a rustling sound close to them - way too close to them. A giant grizzly bear appeared from the woods near where George's next door neighbor's house used to be (or would be in the future). It was about 50 feet away from Charlie and George. The bear stopped when it saw them, and looked in their direction. It slowly cocked its head to the side, sniffed the air, and started running towards them. The boys froze.
"Take us back, Charlie," George said nervously. Charlie quickly typed the date they came from on the time machine. Just as he was about to push the red button, the bear charged at them. They jumped to escape the bear's huge claws and teeth, and the time machine was thrown from Charlie's hands.
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Bears are flat-footed, omnivorous mammals.
Bears are flat-footed, omnivorous mammals.
Wolves are carnivores that live in packs and howl.
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