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Books by Quantum Muse contributors and friends.
A Felony of Birds

by Harris Tobias
The Greer Agency

by Harris Tobias
Assisted

by Harris Tobias
Hold The Anchovies

by Harris Tobias
Alien Fruit

by Harris Tobias
Peaceful Intent--Stories of human/Alien Interaction

by Harris Tobias
CHRONON--Time Travel

by Harris Tobias
The Stang

by Harris Tobias


The Oldest Soldier

by Harris Tobias


     Harold Sampson was 101 years old when his draft notice arrived in the form of two uniformed young men. They rang the doorbell on Sampson’s apartment at Cosy Acres Retirement Home on an ordinary Thursday morning. Myrtle Fitzhugh, Harold’s 82 year old girlfriend, answered the door. The young men introduced themselves as private Howard Wilson and Staff Sergeant Wilmer Sax, US Army.

     “We’d like to speak to Mr. Sampson, is he in?”

     Myrtle nodded and asked loud enough for all of the 3rd floor to hear, “Is he under arrest?”

     “We’re not police officers, m’am,” said Sgt. Sax, a handsome black man in a crisp dress uniform. “We just need to talk with him.”

     Myrtle invited the gentlemen in and bellowed, “Harold, you have visitors,” in a voice that registered 5.0 on the Richter Scale. “He’ll be right with you, have a seat. Would you care for some decaf?”

     The soldiers refused Myrtle’s offer and sat uneasily on the plastic covered settee, their caps balanced on their knees.

     “Harold’s doing his workout,” Myrtle called from the kitchen. “He’s always working out.” Myrtle placed a plateful of freshly baked cookies on the coffee table. “Please, help yourselves,” she urged in typical grandmother fashion. “You should see his muscles.
     After a few uncomfortable minutes, private Wilson reached over for a cookie. “Have you known each other long?” he asked to make conversation.

     “Twelve years,” Myrtle answered. “We hooked up after my Sammy dropped dead on the sixteenth hole. When was that? Two thousand and eight I think.” She would have said more, but just then Harold Sampson strode into the room.

     Harold Sampson was indeed a marvelous specimen for a man his age. Tall and slim with clear eyes and a full head of silver hair he looked like a sixty year old elder statesman. “What’s this all about?” Harold addressed the young men who stood at attention in his living room.

     “Your country needs you, sir,” said Sgt. Sax.

     “Aren’t I a little old to be a soldier?” Harold gave a bright smile from his own healthy teeth.

     “Yes sir, ordinarily a man your age wouldn’t be of any use to us, begging your pardon, but these are not ordinary times and since the invention of temporal displacement, men your age and ability have become a national priority.

     “Oh? Why’s that?”

“It’s because of the void, sir. Have you heard about the void?”

“I read something about it. Something to do with how far back in time a man can go. Is that right?

“Yes sir. It seems you can’t go back any further than the length of time you’ve been alive. One second before the moment of conception and you’re a goner, lost in the void.”

“I see. So how exactly does this concern me? Wait, let me guess. Suddenly old people are important. That’s it isn’t it? The older we are the further back we can go.”

“That’s right, sir. You, personally, can go back a hundred and one years. That’s longer than anyone has gone before. Most men your age couldn’t stand the strain.  It will give us, or should I say, it will give our country an advantage in the race to the past.  A race America has to win. The nation that controls the past, controls the future.

“There aren’t many men your age that can withstand the stresses time travel places on the body. That and your background in intelligence make you our prime candidate,” added Pvt. Wilson.

“What the private is trying to say, colonel, is that your counrty needs you. Needs you more than ever.”

“Now there’s a happy thought.” Harold walked over to a cabinet and poured himself a drink. “Can I offer you fellows a shot of brandy?”

“No thank you,” the soldiers replied in unison.

“I’ll have one, Harold,” Myrtle hollered from the kitchen.

Harold brought Myrtle her drink and sipped his own while he thought about his long life. About the twenty five years he gave to the U.S. Army. Finally he said, “You know, I risked my life twice for Uncle Sam already. World War Two and Korea. You youngsters ever even hear of the Korean War? They call it the forgotten war these days, that’s how important it was. You look back in the history books and  Korea hardly gets a mention. At the time, to hear the politicians tell it, it was the most important thing in the world. We lost 50,000 men in that hair-brained adventure. Fifty Thousand! If you want my opinion, this time machine stuff sounds like another misguided, hair-brained military mis-adventure. How many young lives has the military already wasted on this silly arms race?”

“Oh no sir, this is nothing like that,” said the young sergeant. “If we don’t own the past, our enemies will.”

“So?” Harold raised an eyebrow. “We lost in Viet Nam and the world didn’t end.”

“But sir, you don’t appreciate the gravity of the situation,” sputtered Sgt. Sax.

“Probably not,” replied Harold taking a sip of his brandy, “probably not.”

“Swedish meatballs anyone?” Myrtle barged into the room holding a steaming platter in front of her. “Help yourselves.” She placed the platter on the coffee table in front of the two soldiers. “Specialty of the house,” she bellowed.

Sax and Wilson looked at each other and shrugged. Both men helped themselves.

 




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Books by Quantum Muse contributors and friends.
A Felony of Birds

by Harris Tobias
The Greer Agency

by Harris Tobias
Assisted

by Harris Tobias
Hold The Anchovies

by Harris Tobias
Alien Fruit

by Harris Tobias
Peaceful Intent--Stories of human/Alien Interaction

by Harris Tobias
CHRONON--Time Travel

by Harris Tobias
The Stang

by Harris Tobias


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