The buzzing in Tock’s head faded, and he found himself outside in a forest at mid-day. “Toto, we’re not in the sewer, anymore”, he said to a nearby squirrel. The squirrel, whose name apparently was not 사설토토, didn’t answer. Before Tock could instinctively withdraw into his shell, the sound of voices arrested his attention. He craned his neck to see what was happening.
In a clearing, a scraggly group of men seemed to be arguing with one man who stood on a tree stump. Behind them stood the tattered remains of four or five tents that probably used to be white. Tock crawled closer to get a better look.We’re done for, I tell you. Hain’t no chance under heaven we’ll make it out of here. Let’s up and take to the forest, every man for himself!” This cry from the crowd drew a general response of cheers.
The man on the tree stump shook his head, sadly. “God’s truth, we’re in a bad spot,” he said. “We’ve got no proper food, medicine, or clean water. For six days we’ve had no contact with our commanders, and we can ill afford another encounter with the enemy such as we had yesterday.” At this, the crowd murmered fearfully. “But men! Take courage! According to my calculations, we may very well find General Grant’s forces nary a day’s walk from this spot. Alone, you may be captured. Together, we’ll salvage what’s left of our honor and make a stand. Who will follow me?”
Tock was now right under their noses, posing as just another creature of the forest. He watched anxiously as the men muttered amongst themselves. One of them spoke up. “I say let’s take until sundown to decide. Then in the morning, we either split up or carry on together, as Andrew proposes. What say ye’?” There was a chorus a “yeas”, and the men moved apart. Tock crawled to where Andrew now sprawled alone under a tree. Tock mustered all his courage, and dared to speak.
“Eh, excuse me, sir.” Andrew opened one eye and looked upward. Not seeing anyone, he closed it again. “Eh, down here. It’s me, the turtle.” Andrew turned his head cautiously, then drew in his breath.I’m having a bless’t vision, that’s what it is. Not enough sleep, probably.”No doubt, that’s the reason,” Tock answered sensibly. “But listen, I want to help you. Can you please tell me where we are, and when?”
Andrew smiled as though to himself. “Well, sure, if a turtle’s going to talk to me in a vision, no reason why I shouldn’t answer it. We’re in Virginia, near a place called Farmville. Yesterday around this time, we were nearly decimated by General Lee’s troups, who passed through here like a whirlwind. I and my men are all that’s left of our regiment, and we’ve lost contact with other Union forces.”
“Sir, listen to me. Don’t give up! If you can just make it to a place called Appomattox by tomorrow morning, you’ll be fine!”Hmmm, Appomattox… That’s a good forty-mile haul from here. But if we started now… I wonder what the hour is, already?”
Tock smiled in relief. Andrew would take his men to Appomattox in time for the historic moment of Lee’s surrender! He whipped out his laptop and reactivated the screen.
“It’s only 4:30 in the afternoon, sir. You’ve got plenty of time to…” Suddenly he noticed that Andrew was looking at the computer with a dazed expression in his eyes. His head nodded, and then he slumped over in a faint. Tock decided to take advantage of this temporary lapse in Andrew’s attention to make his getaway. Scrambling under a bush, he pulled out his laptop again and tried to activate the Trizoner clock faces. They were dead. In frustration, he selection the Change Skin function, and looked through the list of clock skins.
“Hmmm. Pizza with extra cheese. I could go for one of those right now!” Tock clicked Apply, and in an instant the now-familiar buzz began in his head. (He was starting to like it. “Better than coffee, actually.”) His surroundings began to fade. Now a well-seasoned skin traveller, Tock waited a few moments, and, as he expected, the buzzing stopped. But where was he? All was dark, and some rough material dangling from a low ceiling scratched the top of his head. Trying not to panic, Tock began to crawl. All he had to guide him was the faint sound of voices in the distance, and the tantalizing scent of a hot pizza, probably oozing with extra cheese…