Episode 1019

Guinea Pig

by: G. Carey 

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        Doctor Sam Beckett had leaped.

It was a process that had been done so many times before that his awareness of it had become a mental reflex reaction; on his way again, he knew, journeying along a string that took him to wherever… and whenever.  It was amazing to him that one thing, the realization of Leaping, always stood out in front of all the thoughts and images that flashed before him.

Of all the memories that he could remember, the sensation of Leaping out into the blue void was one he always looked forward to and embraced.  It made sense to the Leaper that the blue emptiness served as a cocoon, a womb that sustained him in an attempt to prepare him for what would lie ahead.

The Leaper knew that he would eventually arrive at his destination, someplace where he could leave the blue void and make a destiny of his own - a place he knew vaguely as “Home”.

Home! It wasn’t fair!’ Sam knew that he had been “Home” before in more than one sense of the word.  Dimly, his consciousness recalled a time he returned as his teenage self to the farm of his boyhood home in Elk Ridge, Indiana.  An instant later, his mind remembered being “Home” in Stallion’s Gate, New Mexico.  He recalled there being a woman waiting for him, but he couldn’t remember her name.  All he could picture was himself donning a Fermi suit and entering the Accelerator.

Accelerator!? Why the hell can I remember that and not the woman who haunts me every time I’m between Leaps?  And why do I instantly forget her the minute I leave the blue void?’

Doctor Beckett constantly dreamed of coming “Home” once again.  Even in that bodiless state, floating in the void, he could still piece together the small amount of thoughts contained in his swiss-cheesed mind.  I’ve saved enough lives haven’t I?  Changed enough history for the better?  Made the world a better place?’  Sam had his own life to lead without trying to live through the lives of others.  This Leaping business was growing tiresome and he wanted to put an end to it.  Although he had been lucky many times before, he still had to remind himself that eventually there would come a time when failure to successfully complete a Leap would result in permanent exile in the past.  Sam’s link to the present, Admiral Al Calavicci, would say that success had nothing to do with leaping.  Sam was starting to think otherwise.

What if God or Fate or Time gives up on me?  What if I am just a toy, something of amusement that has become boring and obsolete?’  But Sam knew that there was a key out there that would allow him to control his own destiny.  He needed to find it soon.  His chance to return “Home” seemed to be getting slimmer with each Leap.

Suddenly, a familiar sense of euphoria struck him full force.  It was time once again to emerge from the blue void.  Time to hope that once again he would be “Home” with his friends and family.

Somewhere in the back of his mind, Sam Beckett prayed…



It seemed like forever until Sam was able to figure out anything regarding his surroundings.  The first thing he realized was that he was lying in a small trench two feet deep.  His throat was immensely dry and his mouth was full of sand.  After a few poor attempts, he managed to spit some of it out.  Finally, with a certain degree of exertion, Sam brought himself to an upright position in the trench.

Heat and swirling wind hit him in a one-two attack.  The sand kicked up by the swirling breeze made it very hard to see.  Squinting his eyes against the sand and brilliant sun, Doctor Beckett barely managed to see what was all around him.  It didn’t take a genius like Dr. Beckett to realize he was in the middle of a desert.

This desert reminds me of a place that I’ve been to before, the Leaper thought to himself.  A base in the middle of a desert…in New…Mexico?  Yeah, that’s right!  A desert in New Mexico.  The place where Project Quantum Leap was located.  Am I “Home”?’

But Sam knew he wasn’t “Home”, not if he was outside in the desert.  His final Leap would be back inside the Waiting Room as himself at Project Quantum Leap Headquarters.  Besides, the sweaty clothes of old green military fatigues were not part of the uniform he had worn upon entering the Accelerator.  He wasn’t “Home” by a long shot, but he did feel terribly lonely.  With a lot of effort, Sam climbed out of the ditch, amazed by how tired he suddenly felt.

“Hello!” he screamed, knowing that he had made a mistake.  His dry throat was now worse than ever and his lungs ached as though he was gasping for air.

As if in answer, a gigantic loudspeaker, set some distance away shouted, “…Forty-five seconds…” The noise startled Sam and continued to do so as the voice echoed and finally died away.

Another noise startled Sam.  It was a familiar whooshing sound.  It could only mean one thing and it brought a sigh of relief from the Leaper.

“Sam!” a rasping voice addressed him frantically.  “Thank God we were able to lock on to you.  Sam, you gotta listen to me…”

“Al?” The Leaper’s voice cracked.  It was almost impossible to speak.  He turned in time to see his friend Al Calavicci, dressed in a bright teal suit, walk through the Imaging Chamber Door.  It closed behind Al with another whoosh.  Oddly enough, Sam noticed that the Door closed in an unusual way that seemed to shake Al up.

Sam could tell that his friend was in a hurry.  The Hologram had a look of horrific urgency on his face that made Sam’s skin crawl.  Maybe this would be a dangerous but fast Leap.

“Sam, I really don’t have time to explain.” The Admiral was talking in his military voice, barking orders to Sam like a new recruit.  The Leaper knew to trust his partner. Al continued, shielding his eyes from the image of the hot desert sun, “Ziggy says there is a ditch around here.  Get in it, NOW!!”

Sam nodded, suddenly overcome by a coughing fit.  The winds were starting to pick up now as Sam barely heard the loudspeaker shout again.

“…Thirty seconds…”

Putting his hands to his eyes to block out the gritty sand particles, Sam made his way to the ditch.  Al was pointing at the ditch and shouting.  The Admiral’s hand movements, especially the one holding the lit cigar, made Sam want to scream for Al to tell him what was going on.  Suddenly, Sam noticed something cylindrical off in the distance, standing upright behind Al.  The object seemed to stretch from the ground to the sky.  Quickly, a memory of an old history class lesson came to him -- images of soldiers sitting out in deserts waiting for explosions from a distance away to embrace them.  Soldiers that were part of experiments in nuclear weapons testing…and then it hit Sam what the object was…

Oh my God, it’s a bomb!!!’

“…Twenty seconds…”

Sam panicked, thinking of what his options were.  There was no time to plan an escape route.  The desert seemed to stretch around him for miles.  As tired as he was now feeling, running at top speed, the desert would surely claim him if the blast didn’t first.  One tiny thought pushed its way to the front of Sam’s mind: ‘Get in that ditch!!!’

Out of the corner of his eye, the Leaper saw Al race to where the Imaging Chamber Door should have been located.  After hurriedly tapping a few buttons on the handlink, Al cursed under his breath before yelling, “Edward!!! Open the Door!!!”  After a pause, yelled again, “What do you mean it’s jammed?! Open it!”  Another pause, then, “Then center me somewhere else away from here….Edward!”  Sam could hear the intense nervousness in his friend’s voice.

           “…Ten seconds…”

           Quickly, Al ran back to Sam.  “I can’t break off the visual link or leave the Imaging Chamber.”  With that, Al threw himself on the ground, or rather the floor of the Imaging Chamber, and buried his face in his arms.  Al wasn’t physically there, but because of the neural link with Sam inside the Imaging Chamber, he was forced to see and hear what Sam was about to experience, and Al didn’t want to be near what was about to happen.

        By reflex, Sam threw himself into the ditch and covered his face with his arms.  “OH, GOD!!!” he screamed just as the countdown reached its conclusion, resulting in a tremendous explosion, a searing red light, tremendous amounts of heat, and powerful gusts of wind.

        Sam didn’t notice that just as the blinding flash of the explosion occurred, the image of Al on the desert floor vanished.  The Leaper was too busy trying to hear himself over the noise of the hell that was enveloping him, and failing to hear his screams.





March 2004

Stallion’s Gate, New Mexico



   The helicopter flew in low over the dark desert terrain.  The searchlight mounted on the front of the aerial machine cut through the evening shroud that hid the ground below.  The pilot knew that the mountain was around somewhere.  Noticing a faint glow on the horizon, he banked the copter to the right.

   The pilot was very nervous about his cargo.  It wasn’t every day that a big-shot general grabbed an off-duty pilot and forced him into flying a midnight mission.  Whatever this was all about, the pilot knew that someone was in a big heap of trouble.

   The General strained his head forward in the passenger seat, trying to make out the glowing shape that loomed ahead.  Pointing to a string of lights that dotted the desert floor a few miles ahead, the General ordered the pilot to land there.  The pilot nodded his head in acknowledgment and began preparations for landing.



   It was bound to happen sooner or later, Edward St. John VI, the replacement head-programmer thought to himself.  He looked upward towards the glowing sphere of light inching closer in the sky.  He wished that Al was standing out here by the landing pad to get chewed out by General Hawkins.  The Admiral had a knack for holding his own against military bigwigs. 

   Standing in the evening desert air, the head-programmer recalled the events that led to this moment.  Sinjin, as everyone seemed to be calling St. John these days, had won the honor of greeting the General by default.  When news of the General’s arrival had spread throughout the Project, everyone reacted quickly.  Dr. Beeks, the Project psychologist, suddenly had to go see who the new Visitor was in the Waiting Room.  Al, the logical choice, chose that moment to make contact with Dr. Beckett and entered the Imaging Chamber.  Tina Martinez-O’Farrell, a quirky but intelligent Quantum Leap technician ran off to do her nails.  Sam’s wife, Donna Elesee-Beckett, and his daughter Sammy Jo Fuller were at a Senate committee meeting in Washington D.C, fighting the military’s orders concerning the Project.  All of the military personnel went scurrying to do various cleaning and straightening chores.

   A bit frightened and angered by his friends’ betrayal, Sinjin finally resolved himself to the task of playing host for the General.  He’d rather spend eternity getting rejected by Al, but there was little choice in the matter.  Sighing, Sinjin prepared for the slaughter and was about to leave the Control Room to go outside when a female disembodied voice simply stated, “Sinjin, there is a problem.”

   “What seems to be the problem, Ziggy?” the head-programmer replied, looking at the giant blue sphere of swirling light and energy that hung from the Control Room ceiling.

   “Admiral Calavicci is experiencing technical difficulties.”

   “What kind of technical difficulties?”

   The swirling energy inside the sphere seemed to pause briefly.  Of late, Ziggy was experiencing a HAL-9000 complex.  To self-aware computers, it was the fear of being disconnected.  Ziggy seemed to pull herself together after a few seconds. “I have the Admiral on speaker now.”

   “…Edward…” Sinjin winced at hearing Al’s voice over the static.  He was quite comfortable with everyone calling him Sinjin, everyone but Al.  The Admiral seemed to take a non-conformist stance and would only call him Edward, as if to keep things professional and distant.  The head programmer knew it was awkward to have a crush on a married man, and was starting to believe that Al must be catching on to his feelings. After more static and hissing, Sinjin made out the words, “…Edward…open…Door..”

   Sinjin ran over to the multi-colored console that regulated the Accelerator.  “Ziggy, I’ve got a red light on the Imaging Chamber Door controls.”

   “No need for redundancy, Sinjin, I believe that is what I have been communicating to you.”

   The head-programmer didn’t have time to argue with an egotistical computer, especially when its superiority complex kicked in.  With a deep stressful breath, he pushed a button on the console.  “Admiral, we are experiencing a malfunction.  The Imaging Chamber Door is jammed.”

   There was more static on Al’s end and then, “…Jammed…mean the damn Door is jammed…?”

   Frantically, Sinjin hit a few more buttons on the console.  Ignoring the comment from Ziggy about the attempt being a waste of time, he shouted, “Admiral, the override is not working.”

   He winced again as heard a faint, “Edward…” and then all was silent.

   “I apologize for the inconvenience but contact has been broken off.”

   “It’s not your fault, Ziggy.”  The Quantum Leap technician was surprised that the computer was displaying this type of emotion.  An apology from Ziggy was like him having a day where no women wasted their time trying to hit on him.  He shook his head in confusion. 

   “It is entirely my fault, Sinjin.  I was afraid to admit it before now but I think there was a power drain just a few moments ago.  I tried to compensate by taking power from the lower levels were Dr. Beckett’s abandoned laboratories are located.”

   Sinjin nodded.  As Head-Programmer, he was very aware of the power problems of late.  Things were getting very hectic around the Project and the arrival of the military made it worse.

   The sound of heavy breathing reached his ears and he turned around to see Tina burst into the room, holding up her newly polished nails.  Sinjin was surprised that she didn’t swallow her gum the way she ran in.

   “I got your message in my room, Ziggy,” Tina panted, “What happened to Al?”

   Again, the energy in the sphere paused as Ziggy seemed uncomfortable with the question.  “The Admiral has become trapped in the Imaging Chamber.”

   “Trapped? How?”

   Another pause of the sphere.  Ziggy’s condition was getting worse, Tina knew, but she pushed it aside for the moment.  “It is because of the conditions of the Leap.” The computer replied.

   “Conditions? What conditions?”

   “Power is being drained from me daily, making it impossible to maintain all functions of the Project with a hundred percent efficiency.  The only word in my database that describes what I am feeling is senility.  And just now because of Dr. Beckett’s current location and events, the circuitry link between the Imaging Chamber and myself has been reconfigured,”

   Tina and Sinjin exchanged looks.  Taking care of Ziggy and the Accelerator were their chief duties.  To have problems with one duty was enough to warrant a double work shift.  Having both duties in trouble meant a catastrophic crisis. 

   “What do you mean reconfigured?” inquired Sinjin.

   “A decision had to be made.  Although they are both currently safe, Doctor Beckett and Admiral Calavicci were both near ground zero of an atomic blast...”

   “So you sealed off the Imaging Chamber?” the Head-Programmer interjected.

   “That is correct.  I read the atomic blast as a possible collapse of the Radium Accelerator Rings surrounding the Imaging Chamber.”

   To Tina, it was déjà vu all over again.  There was a Leap years back when Sam and Al were involved in an accident with a bolt of lightning.  Ziggy had misread the lightning strike, sealing off the Imaging Chamber and trapping the two men inside.  The accident also had caused a role reversal sending Al as a Leaper back to 1945 and allowing Sam to return to Quantum Leap as the Observer.  Sam had devised a way for Al to send a message to Ziggy in the future with the code to override the Imaging Chamber Door.  But Tina wondered how the code would get to Ziggy this time.  When Dr. Beckett was at the Project last, he changed the code before entering the Accelerator for the second time to save Al in the past.  No one was told the new code.

   “It is a simple mistake to correct.” the computer continued, “All I need is the code.”

   This time the wince came to Tina’s face.  “Ziggy, Dr. Beckett changed the code.”

   “That presents a problem then.” Without skipping a beat, Ziggy simply stated, “I might add that the General’s helicopter will be landing in ten point four minutes.”

   Tina walked over to the console, “Sinjin, go ahead and meet with the General.  I’m gonna try to get Al free of the Imaging Chamber.”

   The Head-Programmer nodded, a bit intrigued at Tina’s efforts to rescue Al.  In another time and place, he would have thought it funny that he and Tina were vying for the attentions of a married man.  Especially, the other day when Beth had accused Al of flirting at a restaurant in town.  Al had denied it all, saying that his hand accidentally brushed against the other woman’s.  Shaking his head, Sinjin made his way to the elevator that would take him to the landing pad.

   With a start, he awoke from his recollection of recent events and took a step back from the landing platform.  He was so caught up in replaying the last hour in his mind that he almost didn’t notice the helicopter starting its landing cycle.  There was so much sand kicking around that he had to squint to watch the helicopter come to a stop on the pad and settle down.

   Despite the cool desert breeze, sweat rolled down his face.  How was he going to deal with General Hawkins? Every member of the Project was disobeying a direct order by being here.  The government appeared most likely to bring them up on federal charges, ruining their careers.  Most important of all, one man would be forever trapped in time by himself.

    After what seemed like an eternity, a figure emerged from the passenger side door of the helicopter.  With long powerful strides, he approached the Quantum Leap technician that stood waiting for him.  “Who are you? Where the hell is Admiral Calavicci?” asked General Hawkins, a career military man in his mid sixties, with gray hair and a thick gray moustache.  The lines on his face and the decorations on his uniform let everyone know he had been through hell and back during his years of service.   He was a tough fighter, one who never lost a battle.

   Sinjin squirmed under the direct questioning of the General.  “I am Edward St. John.  Admiral Calavicci sends his regrets, but unfortunately, he is unable to meet with you at this moment in time.”

   The General’s eyes became smoldering slits.  “We will discuss this inside. Move.”

   The effect of the General on Sinjin was like mind-control.  Without thinking, the technician blurted, “Yes, Sir, we’ll go inside.”  Sinjin cursed himself as the words came out.  Swallowing uneasily, as if his mouth contained cotton, he nodded his head towards the entrance that lead to the elevator.  So much for stalling, he thought, as he lead the General past the armed sentries guarding the entrance.  After the long elevator ride down, they arrived at the main floor of the Project complex.  A cadet was standing by with heavy jackets for Sinjin and the General.  The look the cadet gave made it clear that something else had happened while Sinjin was outside at the landing pad.

   The General wasn’t fooled either. “Where the hell is the heat in this place?”

   “Power drain has resulted in heat systems failure, Sir!” The cadet barked to his superior officer as the group walked down the barely lit corridor.

  “And what the hell caused the power drain, cadet?”

   “Don’t know, Sir!”

   “You should know the answer to that…sir.” Sinjin was amazed at himself for standing up to the big brass like that.

   “Watch your tongue, mister,” the General shot back, “You are dealing with a United States Four-Star General.  Your British ass is floating on deep water as it is, so don’t give me any crap.”

   They stopped in front of a metal door that led to Al’s office.  The automatic door sensor was apparently inoperative as Sinjin found out, walking into the door.  With a low painful groan, he reached into his suit pocket and produced a skeleton key.  After manually unlocking the door, he motioned for the General to enter the room after him.  Sinjin then shut the door and turned to face Hawkins, leaving the cadet outside to guard the room.  The General had already taken a seat behind the desk at the end of the small, windowless, and messy room.  With a look of embarrassment, Sinjin realized that Al would of course not keep his office neat and tidy.  The piece of woman’s lingerie, Beth’s no doubt, and the bottle of Southern Comfort on the bookshelf behind the desk were the more dominant signs of what had transpired in the office in the last day or so.  Al had taken a liking to the alcohol when news of the military’s order to shut down and reassign members of the Project had been announced four weeks ago. 

   The stacks of paper scattered on the floor made it obvious that the desk had recently been cleared off in a hurry.  Al must have really apologized to Beth about the restaurant incident, thought Sinjin, feeling himself blush at the thought of that.  “Sir, I apologize for the me…”

   “Sit down.” The General ordered, pointing to an overturned chair lying on the floor, knocked over from the night before.  It became obvious to Sinjin as he moved the chair that the General was going to say his piece no matter what condition the room was in.  As he sat down, Hawkins was lighting up a cigar and staring at a framed photograph on the wall next to him.  It was a picture of two men standing in front of a chalkboard covered in equations.

   “Admiral Calavicci, I presume,” said the General, pointing at the picture.  “However, I can’t place the taller man in the picture.”

   Sinjin looked at the picture of the two men smiling.  That photo was a constant reminder to Al that he had to do what he could to bring his friend home.  The Admiral knew that Sam had succeeded in a second chance to reunite him with his wife Beth.  Al valued Dr. Beckett’s friendship more than anyone else’s and owed Sam a great debt.  “That’s Doctor Beckett, sir.”

   General Hawkins exhaled a large cloud of smoke.  “Oh, yes.  Doctor Samuel Beckett, the brilliant scientist who invented a time machine with Good ‘Ole Uncle Sam’s money.”

   Coughing from the smoke, the technician sputtered, “Doctor Beckett is brilliant, and he did invent a time machine…sort of.  It’s just going through some technical difficulties, that’s all.”

   The General took a long drag from his cigar.  “Let’s knock off the bullshit, shall we? I will ask you some questions and I expect some damn good answers.  Where is Admiral Calavicci hiding?”

   “Admiral Calavicci is here, sir.  As I said, he is unable to see you at present.”

   “What do you mean he can’t see me?”

   “The Admiral is stuck inside the Imaging Chamber.”

   Hawkins knocked some ashes into an ashtray on the bookshelf behind him.  “Imaging Chamber? What the hell is that?”

   “The Imaging Chamber is where Admiral Calavicci can maintain contact with Doctor Beckett.  Without contact with our time, the Doctor cannot obtain any information about where he is or what he’s destined to change.”

   “Ah, yes. The God Theory.  I read about it in an old report the Admiral filed.  But how is it he is stuck in this Imaging Chamber?”
   “Because you cut back our power!” the technician blurted out.  “When the power supply got low we had to divert energy from non-important sections of the Project.  This also meant tapping into life support functions such as heat.”  Sinjin reminded the General about the heavy jackets they were still wearing.  “A good portion of this Project is sealed off and considered a safety hazard for health reasons.”

   A shade of red formed on the General’s forehead. “Let’s get this straight, mister.  The power cutoff was not done with malice.  It is a casualty of current military and economic situations.  The United States Government cannot spare funding for this project as long as we are engaged with operations in Iraq and dealing with Bin Laden.  Don’t forget, President Bush wants to rekindle the space program as well.  That means all Level 1 Top Secret Experiments not dealing with weapons research have to be scrapped.  I personally issued a notice over four weeks ago, explaining the situation.  The notice stated that Project Quantum Leap was to be completely shut down within one month, all materials were to be destroyed, and all personnel reassigned.”

   I hear you, General.  You’re gonna leave a man trapped in the past by himself, you heartless Bastard,’ St. John thought heatedly.  “We need more time, an extension or something.” 

   Hawkins face was sheer granite.  “You had a month to retrieve Doctor Beckett, and you didn’t do it.  Therefore, this Project has been officially declared a failure.”

   Those words slapped Sinjin hard across the face.  “Sir, if you do this, you will leave a brave man back there alone.”  Although Sinjin didn’t know it, Al had used those same exact words years before to a D.C. committee that wanted to stop the Project.

   “Quite frankly, Mr. St. John, I don’t understand all of this…Leaping business.  In my opinion, it was his fault for using himself as a guinea pig in the first place.”

   Sinjin was very close to losing his anger.  He had to fight to maintain control.  “If you won’t give us an extension, how about a temporary power gain?  The cut in power is what sealed the Admiral in the Imaging Chamber and is also preventing Doctor Beckett from coming home.”

   Hawkins took another long puff from his cigar.  “The government has no power to spare at present,” he said flatly.

   Sinjin slammed his fist hard into the desk, surprising the General.  “Dammit, Sir, you have the authority to override most of the decisions concerning power and funding allocation.  You can simply ask for it yourself.”

   “I would, Mr. St. John, if I felt the Project works.  I don’t believe that it does.”

   “Sir, we have files that prove that it works.  Doctor Beckett has saved many lives and changed many historical events.”

   “Such as?”

   “Such as…uh…saving the life of Jackie Kennedy Onassis, John F. Kennedy’s wife.”

   “I know who she was.  But saved her life?  She was never hurt in the assassination of J.F.K. back in ’63.”

   “That’s where you are wrong, Sir.  In the original history, Jackie was killed as well.”

   The General didn’t buy it, but was becoming slightly amused.  “How was she…saved?” 

   “Doctor Beckett had Leaped into Lee Harvey Oswald…”

   The Lee Harvey Oswald?!”

   Sinjin grew impatient.  “Yes.  In the original history, Oswald shot and killed both President Kennedy and the First lady.  Doctor Beckett had Leaped into Oswald and he supposed to prevent Jackie’s death.  Before he could do so, Oswald’s mind reconnected which in turn Leaped Sam out of Oswald and sent him to the nearest person who could accomplish the mission, a secret service agent who was near the motorcade.  Sam was then able to save the First Lady.”

   “Oswald’s mind reconnected?  What the hell kinda talk is that?  Your little fantasy still doesn’t prove that Beckett changed history.  Why doesn’t anybody outside of the Project remember that Jackie was originally assassinated?”

   “The proof is locked up inside Ziggy.”


   “The parallel-hybrid computer that runs this Project.  Didn’t you bother to do some background research before you came out here, General?”

   Now it was Hawkins turn to squirm.  “No, I, er, didn’t have time.”

   “If you did have time, you would have known that Ziggy is the big link between us and Doctor Beckett.  Ziggy observes time and records it into memory.”

   “How the hell can a computer observe and record time?”

   “I could show you what Ziggy has recorded but I am quite afraid that now it is impossible to show you.”

   “Why is it impossible?”

   “With low power reserves, Ziggy is very slowly losing memory.  No one here dares try to tamper with the system anymore than what is deemed necessary for fear of erasing more memory files.”

   “A very convenient excuse,” the General said with a snort, rising from his chair to tower over Sinjin.  “Listen to me well.  By now, you must realize that I don’t give a damn about this Project.  Through personal experiences, I have found that these top-secret experiment bases are a waste of time and resources.  As soon as Calavicci is available, I want him to report to me immediately.  I am giving this Project thirty-two hours to get its crap in gear.  At the end of that time, computer specialists will be present to dismantle the computer.  Afterwards, I will begin the supervision of evacuating this place and determine who will be brought up on charges of insubordination.”  Hawkins checked his watch.  “I suggest you use the time remaining to find solid evidence to convince me that this experiment actually works.  I will agree to halt the dismantling process if you have uncontestable proof, but don’t waste my time either.”

   Sinjin stood up to face the General. “Mark my words, General, this Project will not be dismantled until long after Doctor Beckett is home.”

   Hawkins headed for the door.  “I am tired from the flight and would like to see my quarters, assuming it is not an iceberg.  Tomorrow, I will inspect this installation from top to bottom to see what kind of nonsense all of those billions and billions of dollars went into.  I want Calavicci to show me personally…before this place becomes history of making it.” Laughing, the General opened the door and ordered the cadet on guard to show him to his room. 

   Sinjin stood in the doorway and watched them go towards the elevator.  Wherever you are, Al and Doctor Beckett, I hope it is better than the hell awaiting you here!’ 





Thursday, April 2nd, 1959

New Mexico

Secret U.S. Military Base


   The noise was deafening.

   No matter which way he turned, he could not escape the loud ringing sensation in his ears.  The darkness he was engulfed in made it impossible to find an escape from the madness.  After a while, the darkness shifted to a swirl of colors but the roaring sound persisted.  The myriad scheme of colors started to eventually take on shapes and movements. 

   He could feel himself floating, a sense of non-existence, as he made his way along a familiar corridor, one he knew he had traveled down many times before.  Familiar people passed by him, ignoring him as though he wasn’t there at all.  There were tears rolling down some of the faces of people that at one time or another he knew the names of. 

   Following the crowd of people, they came upon a door that whooshed open and proceeded inward.  Right behind them, he noticed the people were forming a circle upon something that was lying motionless on a reflective table. 

   Something propelled him to enter further into the room.  This chamber looked familiar as well. 

   “I can’t believe it happened this way,” he heard a woman’s grief-stricken voice cry above the roar, which now lessened to the sound of a constant waterfall.  “I knew he would return,” the woman sobbed, “but not this way.”

  Floating over the crowd of gatherers, he looked within the circle to see what all the attention was about.  A body in white garments lay still on the counter, which now seemed more like a bed.  Bending over the body, blocking his view to its identity, was a man in a shiny gold suit, holding a cigar. 

  “Move!” the unseen presence shouted, but no one heard him.  The man with the cigar briefly turned his head as if in response, but shook his head seeing nothing there.

  The woman who spoke earlier stood up and shook her fist at the ceiling and screamed, “Why did you send him there? Why?”

   The presence expected God to answer but instead heard a female voice out of nowhere intone; “There was a 99.3 percent chance that the Doctor would find the means necessary to return home.”

   “But he’s dead!” the woman shrieked.  “My husband is dead.  You psychotic computer, I oughta spend the rest of my life taking you apart, circuit by circuit, until you’re nothing but a pile of scrap metal.”  The woman’s body was wracked by a fit of sobbing.  The man with the cigar rushed over to comfort her, and by doing so, revealed to the presence the identity of the dead body.

   Sam Beckett saw his corpse.

   How can this be? How can I be home and also be dead? This is a big mistake…’

   Then Sam remembered.  He was out in the desert just seconds before an atomic blast detonation.  The man with the cigar had arrived and told him to get down.  He had survived being near ground zero of an atomic explosion and ended up here. 

   Suddenly, the face on the corpse started changing.  Within seconds, it became a mish-mash of different faces, male and female, young and old.  People he had vaguely recalled seeing in mirrored reflections many times before.  As if on puppet strings, the body clumsily jumped up and landed on its feet, the faces still changing.  Amazingly, no one else in the room seemed to notice this occurrence.

   Pointing a finger at Sam, the body eerily walked towards him.  In a voice that sounded like a hundred different people at the same time, it yelled, “Why did you have to tamper with other people’s lives?”  The face reverted back to looking like Sam’s.  “Look at all the misery you have caused.”  The body’s hands reached outward.  Sam could feel them tighten around his neck, choking him until he let loose one big…

   Sam Beckett screamed.

   With a start, he found himself lying on a cot in a tiny cubicle.  It was hard to make out anything.  The room was tiny and there was no window or clock.  It did however contain a small desk with a lamp, a small mirror, a legal pad, and a pencil.  Next to the lamp was a small tray with a toothbrush and toothpaste.  On the other side of the room was a small closet with some gray sweat suits, a tiny dresser, and a hamper.

   In an effort to clear his head, Sam managed to sit up on the cot.  What a weird dream.  Living other people’s lives.  But what was I doing lying dead in that odd place with my wife hanging crying over me?  That’s the odd part, I don’t recall having a wife or being married.’

   Pain in his left arm shot through him, making him forget about the weird dream he had just awoken from.  It felt like it had been jabbed with quite a few needles.

   Stretching, he got off the cot and stood on the floor, immediately wishing he had stayed where he was.  The floor was cold to the touch.  Looking down, his bare feet were touching a metal floor.  Another draft hit him in the backside, and he realized he was wearing a hospital gown.

   An all too familiar voice cackled from behind him, “Oh, jeez, Sam, I hope you have underwear on under that thing…” After a beat, the voice continued with an embarrassed, “…oh, you don’t...”

   Turning around, Sam saw Al walk through the cot towards him, smoking a cigar.  For some reason, the hologram’s hair was more rumpled than usual and the teal suit looked in bad need of ironing.  As if a light switch was thrown, all the memory that his swiss-cheesed brain would allow flooded back to Sam.  He was a Leaper, trapped in another person’s life.

  “Al?  I…” Al placed a finger to his mouth, cautioning Sam to keep quiet and cutting him off mid-sentence.  Sam followed Al’s glance upward and instinctively realized that there was a big black and white camera mounted on the wall just above a metal door to monitor him.  Sam gave a good tug on the door, but it was locked from the outside.

  The Observer motioned for Sam to sit on the cot, “They’ve got the room bugged, Sam.”

   Grabbing the mirror, legal pad and pencil, Sam eased himself back on the cot, modestly trying to keep the gown from exposing him to Al or the camera.  Sam wasn’t sure what to make of himself as he looked into the mirror.  He appeared to look much older than he seemed, as if something was aging him faster than possible.  His eyes were brown and appeared to be sunken inward.  A few bags were also evident under them.  Here and there across the face and arms were small growths.  Sam guessed this guy wasn’t in the best of health, noticing that the guy also suffered form extreme hair loss.  Without thinking, he started trying to fix his hair to cover up the clumps that had fallen out.

   Al didn’t seem to notice as he keyed the handlink for information from Ziggy.  “You had me scared to death, Sam,” Al said as he waited for the response on the handlink.  “When the bomb exploded, everything around me winked out, and I found myself alone in the Imaging Chamber.  I only just re-established a link with you just a few seconds ago.  I thought you were dead.”

   Those last words reminded Sam of his nightmare.  He wrote on the legal pad: I JUST WOKE UP A FEW MINUTES AGO.  NOW THAT MY MIND RECOVERED FROM THE SHOCK OF THE BLAST, WE MUST HAVE RECONNECTED THE LINK.

    Al nodded in agreement.  Sam continued to write: WHO HAS THIS ROOM BUGGED? ARE YOU STILL TRAPPED IN THE CHAMBER?

   The handlink squealed.  Al smacked it a few times and then said, “I’ve got only a small bit of information for you, Sam.  Ziggy is a little behind on gathering the data on this Leap.”

   Sam glared at him and then scribbled: WHY THE DELAY? WHAT’S GOING ON?

   A pained expression came over Al’s face.  “Just here me out, Sam, before you get mad.”

   The Leaper took his pencil and jabbed the legal pad at his last question.  Shortly after, a spasm of coughing overcame him and he covered his mouth.  Al wasn’t sure, but he thought he saw blood on Sam’s hand.

   “Sam, are you feeling ok?”

   “Oh, boy,” Sam said, taking in a deep breath.  “Do I feel woozy and tired.”

   “I’m not surprised at all, Sam.  You went through hell.”  The handlink beeped again.  “Ziggy’s got a small report for you.   It’s Thursday, April 2nd, 1959, and you have leaped into one Char…Char…” The Observer smacked the handlink again.  “Charles O’Donnell.  Everyone calls you Ohdee.  Age is thirty-eight.  No known occupation is given.” He hesitated on the next piece of news.  “Uh, Sam, Ziggy’s not sure on the next part here, I think we should give her more time to…”

   Sam gave him the “no more secrets” look and Al caved.  “OK, Sam, but you’re not gonna like it.  Ohdee is terminally ill, that much we got from Dr. Beeks talking to him in the Waiting Room.  Beeks also found out from this guy that he has Lung Cancer and is expected to last only one more year.  According to Ziggy, his date of death is unknown since this facility you are currently a prisoner in appears to be very top secret and classified.  It appears that Ohdee has volunteered to help the U.S. conduct weapons tests since he is terminal.  Beeks said he wants to do what he can to beat those commie Russians.”

   A chill came over Sam.  I leaped into a terminally ill man.  What if he dies in the Waiting Room?  Will I Leap or be stuck here in the past.  The people at this facility will know something is going on if Ohdee in 1959 suddenly shows no signs of cancer.  How could God or Fate or Time do this to me?’

   WHAT IS THIS PLACE?  Sam wrote on the legal pad. 

   “I don’t know, Sam, but it must be something as classified as Project Quantum Leap.  I’ve told you all I know.” Al lied.  “Ziggy still hasn’t figured out why you are here yet.”


   This was the moment Al was dreading.  The last piece of information Al was reluctant to give. 

   “I can’t ask Ziggy,” was all he could say.

   “Why not?” Sam asked through clenched teeth.

   There was nowhere to go.  Al couldn’t just open the Door and bolt out.   He felt trapped.

   Just as Al was about to answer, the metal door opened from the outside and two men entered, dressed in medical attire.  One man was middle-aged and starting to gray at the temples.  The other looked to be in his thirties, clean-shaven with dark hair.

   “You were right, Doctor,” said the middle-aged man, “Our patient appears to be awake.”  Turning to Sam, he said, “How are you feeling Ohdee?”

   Awkwardly, Sam replied, “OK, but a bit tired.”

   “Understandable.  You went through a very important test of my experiment.  The results of your experiences will aid me in my research.” Looking at the younger doctor, the middle-aged man exclaimed, “Where are my manners, Ohdee?  This gentleman standing next to me is Doctor Braden, he has just recently signed on to the project from Great Britain.  His early research on sub-atomic particles is incredible.  Dr. Braden, you have already met Ohdee.”

   “Of course,” said Doctor Braden, in a British accent.  “You were unconscious at the time, Ohdee.  I was the one who administered your painkiller injections and took your blood samples after primary decontamination of course.  I am just so honored to be assisting Doctor Hudson with his experiments.  Imagine one day, the balance of power will shift to the United States and all of its allies like Great Britain when their armies can inflict a weapon like a Perfect Clean Hydrogen Bomb upon warring nations like Russia and North Korea to be able to destroy their armies without exposing anyone to harmful radiation.”

   Al looked at Sam in shock.  What kind of House Of Horrors did Sam end up in?’

   “Now that you are awake, Ohdee,” Doctor Hudson said, taking out a gray sweat suit.  “We need to do some follow-up tests on you, and possibly run you through decontamination again, just to be safe.  Put the sweats on please, and we will wait for you outside.”  The two doctors exited the room and shut the door.   By the time Al had turned towards Sam, he had already gotten his sweat suit on.

   “Al,” Sam whispered, “Why the hell am I here? I don’t like this.”

   “Neither do I, Sam.  This talk about a bomb weapon makes me wanna hurl chunks.  We’ll discuss this later.  Those leeches are waiting for you outside.”  As Sam walked to the metal door, Al couldn’t help but make an observation.  “You look like you’re wearing a Fermi suit in that get-up, Sam.

   Both doctors saw Sam leave his room and motioned for him to sit in a wheelchair.  Doctor Braden then pushed Sam down the hall as they followed Doctor Hudson to his laboratory.  As they rounded a corner, they passed another older doctor with short spiked, pepper colored hair and a goatee.  “Hello, doctors,” greeted the newcomer.

   “Afternoon, Doctor Garner.  Any progress today?”

   “None, I’m afraid,” said Garner.  “There is a piece of the puzzle that still eludes me.  I’m getting closer every day but I am just short of it and I can’t figure out where I’ve gone wrong.” With a frustrated sigh, he looked down at Sam in the wheelchair.  “How are you today, Ohdee?  Looks like you survived your ordeal with Hudson’s bomb test.”

   “I’m ok, tired I suppose.” Sam croaked in a sleepy voice.

   “Could be the cancer acting up.  If you will all excuse me, I’m gonna go frustrate myself some more.”  Garner continued past them down the hall as they resumed their trip.  A few moments later, they entered a doorway marked: Radiology Department.  Hudson opened the door as Braden guided Sam’s wheelchair into the room.  It looked like a reception room with tables and chairs. 

    Doctor Braden walked to another door at the far end of the room and entered the room behind it.  Hudson starting to follow him, turned to Sam and said, “Stay put, Ohdee, Doctor Braden and I need to get a few tests set up for you.  We’ll be back in a few minutes and then we’ll put you through decontamination again and then the tests.”  Hudson entered the other room as well and closed the door.  Al looked around the room, checking for security devices.

   “OK, Sam, we can talk.  There are no cameras in this part of the room.”

   “Al, are you sure you can’t get out of the Imaging Chamber?”

   “Very sure.  I need the code to tell Ziggy to override the Door, and she keeps telling me you have the code.”

   “I have the code?  How can I be responsible for the code when I have a swiss-cheese memory?”

    Al scratched his head.  “All I know Sam is that Ziggy says you have it.”

    “That’s just great.” Sam said, with a look of dejection on his face.  “I need you to get out of here and talk to Beeks.”

   “Beeks? What for?”

   “I need her to run a test on Ohdee in the Waiting Room.  I need to know if he has traces of cancer in him.”

   “What will these tests confirm, Sam?” asked Al, already suspecting what Sam’s next words would be.

   “Al, I don’t think the cancer Leaped with Ohdee.  I think it stayed with me.  I must have it.”

    “Don’t say that, Sam!  You don’t have cancer.”  But deep down, Al knew his friend was probably right.  The tiredness, the blood on Sam’s hands from all the coughing. it was adding up.  “It’s hopeless, Sam,” Al was giving in to despair.  “Even if I got the code to Ziggy, it wouldn’t matter.”

   “That’s not like you to just give up, Al.”  Sam looked at the handlink in Al’s hand.  A few moments ago it was glowing, now it was dark and silent.  “What aren’t you telling me?”

   “It’s the government, Sam.  Those nozzles have decided they can’t fund the Project anymore and are ready to pull the plug.  Slowly, they are cutting off our power supply.  I doubt there is enough juice left to open the Imaging Chamber Door.”

   Sam shook his head in dismay.  The same government that originally forced him to test his experiment was now going to murder it.  “I’m sure you did all you could, Al.”

   “I don’t know.  With the power drain, we had to make adjustments.  Divert power from other areas of the Project.  No matter what we have tried, we can’t stop the inevitable.”

   Sam noticed the hologram pause as if the next thing he was about to say was the last line to a grand finale.  There was a sadness in Al’s voice that Sam never heard before.  For the first time in Admiral Calavicci’s life, he had hit an insurmountable wall and the game was over.  Somehow, Sam knew that his world was about to be changed forever.

   “Sam,” Al barely choked out the next few words as the doctors returned for Sam in the wheelchair. “Ziggy is dying.”






Thursday, April 2nd, 1959

New Mexico

Secret U.S. Military Base


   The next few hours were brutal both mentally and physically for Sam.  Both doctors were constantly checking his blood pressure, pulse, and temperature.  In between all that, Sam was put through a series of machines that monitored him for any signs of radiation poisoning.  When that was complete, more blood samples were taken.  It took all of Sam’s will to get through it all, his mind was still racing from the last words he heard from Al.  Ziggy was dying?’  Sam couldn’t even ask the hologram for an explanation.  Al was still in the Imaging Chamber somewhere behind one of the walls of the testing room.  All Sam could do was suffer in the wheelchair, wanting answers but finding no outlet for his questions.

   Finally, Doctor Hudson approached Sam.  “You’ll be pleased to know we have finished examining you.  Some test results remain inconclusive because of your illness, however, we were able to ascertain that there were detectable levels of radiation in you from the fallout.”

   Sam could only stare back at the doctor, not sure what he should say.

   “In short terminology,” Hudson continued, “my attempts to create a Clean Hydrogen Bomb are close but not yet successful.  It was fortunate for you that we kept you as far away from ground zero of the blast as we could.  Any closer and the amount of radiation absorbed by you would have sped up the cancer cells in your body.  Even after two decontamination sessions, you still exhibit trace amounts of tolerable radiation.  Based on how far away from the bomb you were, there still needs to be less radioactive fallout, which puts me in the same dilemma as Doctor Garner.  I am so close but yet not close enough to present my findings.” 

   Behind Hudson, the door opened and Doctor Braden entered.

   Hudson called him over.  “Doctor Braden, we are now finished with Ohdee for today.  I think after what he has been through, he can spend some time in the social lounge down the hall from his room.  They just fixed the radio receiver, I think, so he can have some music to listen to.”

   Without comment, Braden took the handles of the wheelchair and took Sam back to the corridor where his room was.  At the end of the hall, where Doctor Garner had headed off towards earlier, was a medium sized room, filled with chairs, sofas, and a coffee table.  A soda machine and coffee maker were on one side of the room and the other side had a small cabinet that housed a radio. 

   Braden walked over to the cabinet and turned on the radio.  “I guess you can tune the dial around until you find something acceptable to your tastes.  Personally, I cannot get into all this American rock and roll.  My only regret in leaving England was that I left my phonographs behind.  Your American artists have already infiltrated all the British radio stations, driving out all of my favorite musicians.  All day long, I would hear Buddy Holly, Bobby Darin, the Platters, and your Elvis Presley.  Someday, I hope British musicians come over here and monopolize your airwaves, it would only be fitting.”

   “A British invasion you mean?”

   Braden smiled down at Sam.  “A British invasion indeed.  Perhaps the sixties will be known as the decade that Britain strikes back with a music revolution.  I think my country will win this time.”

   Chuckling, Doctor Braden left the room.  Groaning from fatigue, Sam eased out of the wheelchair and fiddled with the dial.  The reception was surprisingly clear considering how far they were probably underground.  Being out in the middle of nowhere, the military installation probably had audio signal boosters to increase the reception.  Finally, Sam settled on a station that seemed to come in very crisp, the first few recognizable notes of Buddy Holly’s “Oh, Boy” starting to play.

   Tired and sore, Sam eased back into the wheelchair.  His symptoms were getting worse as he found he was becoming more dependent on his mode of transportation.  Letting the music soothe him, he leaned back and let the music remind him of happier times, and not the difficult dilemma he was now facing.

   “Over the last few years, I’ve learned to hate this song.  Bad memories,” said the Quantum Leap Observer, standing in the doorway.   “The hallway is clear, Sam.  We can talk.”

   “Al! Where have you been? Right after you tell me about Ziggy, you completely disappeared.”

   “Well, Sam, I figured you needed your dignity will all those medical tests.  The size of the needles those quacks were using didn’t make me feel like watching.”

   “Is there an update on Ziggy’s condition?”

   The handlink in Al’s grip was showing slight signs of life again.  “Ziggy’s condition comes and goes.  I think she’s fighting the power drain and finding more alternative sources.  If she taps into every available system and uses up all the energy, we won’t be able to have any more conversations.  I still don’t know what you’re here to do.”

   Sam seemed to turn his back on Al.  “Why would I have leaped into a dying man with no information? This makes no sense.  I don’t think I’m here to save Ohdee; he’s too far gone.  It has to be one of the doctors.  But who, and why?”

   “Guess it comes down to which one?”

   “I’m guessing its Doctor Garner.  I’ve heard of him before.  Doctor Alexander Garner.   When I was little, Al, I used to read his books on Quantum Physics.  He had great theories but could never prove that they worked.  Many scientists ostracized him in the late sixties, but his concepts inspired me and I was able to expand on them to create Quantum Leap.”

   “Gee, that’s great, Sam.  You’ve leaped here to meet the grandfather of Quantum Leap before you die, that’s swell.”  Exhaling, Al added, “Sorry, Sam, I shouldn’t have said that.”

   “Then tell me what I’m really here to do then, Al.”  Anger crept into Sam’s voice.  “You haven’t told me anything beyond who I am and my medical condition.”

   “Would you rather follow your hunch or wait for facts, Sam.”

   “I’m not sure.  Either I am here to help Doctor Garner, or stop Hudson’s project.  Maybe it has to do with something else completely different.  Doctor Braden?  I just don’t know.”

   “Can’t be Hudson’s project.  As scary as it sounds, a Perfect Clean Hydrogen Bomb or even a basic Clean Hydrogen Bomb was never successfully made.  What I can remember, the United States government tried to invent an atomic bomb that had all the destructive force but safe levels of radioactive fallout.  A Perfect bomb would contain no fallout.  No one has done it.”

   Sam started to speak, but a coughing seizure took over.  Once again, Al thought he saw blood when Sam took his hand away from his mouth.  The Observer was finding it increasingly difficult to watch his friend suffer and be able to do nothing.

   “One thing is for sure, Sam.  The longer I stay in the Imaging Chamber, tying up energy with the neural link, Ziggy will be useless.  You’re positive you can’t remember that code.”

   Sam took a few haggard breaths.  “I have no idea what it is.  If I did design a code, I would have made it impossible for someone else to figure out.  It would have been something only my photographic memory would know.”

   Al closed his eyes.  “And now that memory is full of holes.  Come on, Sam, think!  We’re both running out of time.  If I failed to say it earlier, I only have so much air in here before I suffocate, and I am pretty sure there’s only a few hours left. Think!”

   Sam tried to concentrate on triggering a memory that would remind him of the code, but a fit of coughing overtook him again.  Waiting for his body to clear of the pain it induced, he suddenly became aware that a new song was playing on the radio.  Suddenly, it hit him.  “Al! The name of the song on the radio.   The code is the title of the song. I don’t know why but everything in my being tells me it is.   Get it to Ziggy before we run out of time.”

   Quickly, Al typed in the song title just as the handlink showed signs of power.  “That was very sneaky of you, Sam.” The hologram hit the enter button on the handlink and the Imaging Chamber Door rose up almost halfway with a short whoosh.  Immediately, the sound of fresh air could be heard entering into the Chamber. "You didn’t make the code impossible.  You made it personal.”  Ducking low, the Observer headed for the exit.  “I hope this isn’t goodbye, Sam.  I’m gonna do everything I can to find out why you’re here.  Hang in there, buddy.”

   “Al, quit wasting power. Go!”

   With a glance at his friend that he hoped wasn’t a final one, Al Calavicci ducked under the Door and ran down the ramp to the Control Room, leaving Sam to contemplate why some guy named Ritchie Valens singing about a girl named “Donna” meant a lot to him.



   The door awkwardly closed behind Al as he jogged to the Control console. 

   “Welcome back, Admiral,” Sinjin said, a look that seemed to be more than relief stretched across his face.

   “Thanks, Edward.”  Al was oblivious to the look of hurt that crossed the head-programmer’s face.

   “Oh, Al.  I knew you’d make it out alive.”  Tina rushed forward and gave him a fierce hug.  It took him longer than he wanted to break free of the embrace.  Turning, the Admiral saw his wife Beth standing on the other side of the room, holding a medical kit.  The Observer couldn’t read her face to see if she was upset by Tina’s show of affection. 

   “I have something that will make you feel better.”  Beth pulled out a hypodermic needle.  “It’ll help you calm down after what you’ve been through.”

   Uneasy, Al replied, “I’d rather not mess with needles right now.”

   “Doctors orders.  Either roll up your sleeve or you’ll get it someplace else, darling.”

   Just then, General Hawkins bounded into the room.  “Admiral Calavicci, about time.  Your staff just informed me that you are free to discuss with me what this Project is all about and why I shouldn’t terminate it right here and now.  Your office, in five minutes.  Wear a heavy jacket.”

   Al watched Hawkins go, feeling his blood pressure rise.  “Terrific.  Does anyone know if the General has made a visit to the Waiting Room yet?”

   “As far as I know, Admiral, Doctor Beeks has kept him out.”

   “Thanks, Edward.  It is a priority that he stays out of there.  Seeing Sam act like a loony bin patient is really gonna hurt our chances of pulling this out.  Tina and Edward, keep feeding as much power as you can into Ziggy.  We need to find out why Sam is back in 1959.”  He turned to go but remembered his wife’s order.  With a glance over at Edward, Al rolled up his sleeve and extended his arm.  “I think I’ll take it here.  Keep the dosage light.”



   Sam had nodded off shortly after Al’s liberation from the Imaging Chamber.  But sleep didn’t come easily to him.  Over and over, he kept reliving the bomb detonation and the horrific events afterwards.  Eventually, it became too much and he woke up startled to see Doctor Garner staring at him with a look of concern.

   “You ok, Ohdee?”

   “Same as usual.”  Sam yawned.  “I keep reliving the detonation in my mind.  I’m not getting much sleep.”

   “Sorry to hear that.  Hope I’m not intruding, I usually come in here when I’m stymied by my research.”

   Sam pointed to a chair.  “Pull up a chair.  The doctor is in.”

   Laughing, Garner settled into a rocking chair.  “Thanks.  Good to see you’ve got a sense of humor about things.  Humor reminds us of much more memorable times.”  The doctor winced.  “I’m sorry, that probably seemed rude in light of your medical condition.  It’s hard to talk to you, I must admit.  Sometimes, it’s like walking on eggshells.  I sometimes forget what you are going through.”

   “It’s ok.  They say, Time waits for no man, but I think I’m the exception to the rule.”

   The rocking chair stopped.  “You do, huh?”

   “What little faith I have left is still trying to tell me that everything will work out.  I’ll be gone from here, off to a better place.  God won’t abandon me here.”

   “You believe strongly in religion.  That’s admirable.”

   “Sometimes I feel I don’t have a choice.  Life always seemed to bounce me around from place to place, but I always had a way of moving on to the next challenge.  Now, a part of me feels like I am out of options.  I’m out of time.”  Sam laughed.  “Time…I’ve spent all of my life devoted to time, and this is what it all comes down to.”

   Sam failed to notice Garner’s quizzical expression.  “You seem pretty pre-occupied with Time, Ohdee.”

   The Leaper held back his words.  Whether it was fatigue from his illness, or the despair of everything happening to him, Sam wanted to break down and confess everything about his identity and reason for being in 1959. 

   “In a way, I am running out of time too,” Garner went on.  “My project is running out of funding, and unless I can figure out why my experiment is not working, all the time I spent will have been wasted.  I’ll be laughed out of the scientific community.”  

   Stress was eating away at the Doctor’s face.  Sam noticed that Garner appeared to look older than the last time he saw him.  “Perhaps I can help, Doctor Garner.”

   “I highly doubt you can, Ohdee.  You told me once before that you never passed 10th Grade.  Unless your IQ suddenly sprouted wings and soared, you’d need an understanding of Quantum Physics.”

   “Quantum Physics?”

   “There, you see.  You can’t help me.  No one can.  My equations just don’t seem to hold true.  Not even Doctor Hudson with his knowledge of the subject can offer me any solutions.  If I don’t figure it all out by next week, my project is cancelled.   I do appreciate your offer though, Ohdee, but it is hopeless.”

   “Maybe not.  I believe this meeting was not by chance.  It’s not coincidence that you here now explaining to me your problems.  I think I’m here to help you.”

   “Ohdee, please don’t try to patronize me.  I really don’t need this right now.”

   “I’m sorry.”  Sam reached over and turned off the radio.  “I’m feeling tired, now.  Can you take me to my room now?”

   Garner climbed out of the rocker.  “Sure.  No problem.  I need to get back to my office anyway.”  The doctor pushed Sam’s wheelchair down the hall to his sleeping quarters.  After opening the door, he guided Sam up to the cot. 

   Sam eased over on to the cot and grabbed the legal pad and pencil.  “Doctor Garner, can you wait a second?  I need to have a message delivered.”

   “Make it quick, Ohdee.  I have to get back.”

   “Sure.”  Taking a deep breath, Sam knew what he had to do next.  He half-waited for Al to reappear to tell him what he was about to do was wrong.  His conscience told him it was wrong, but his instincts told him to proceed.  As fast as his hand could move, Sam scribbled quickly on the legal pad.  Positive that his photographic memory had not failed him this time, he gave the legal pad to Garner.

   “Who is the message for, Ohdee?”

   Knowing there was no turning back, Sam answered.  “It’s for you.”

   Garner looked down on the legal pad.  It was covered with mathematical equations.  The doctor’s eyes widened in disbelief.  “Impossible.  You aren’t smart enough to comprehend these linear equations.”

   Sam stared him in the eyes.  “Do you want my help or not?”



   The door to Garner’s office opened quickly.  As swift as safety was allowed, Sam’s wheelchair was ushered into the dark room.  Immediately, Garner shut and locked the door. 

   “If you’re as smart as you claim to be, Ohdee, then perhaps you can answer this riddle.”  Garner hit the light switch.  Sam found himself facing a chalkboard taking up the entire wall of the office.  It was covered in Quantum equations, some incomplete, while others had wrong conclusions.  Despite the errors on the board, Sam saw right through the equations and understood what Garner’s research entailed.

   “Oh, boy!”  Sam could only sit there, his mind flooded with excitement at this new development.

   “You can figure this out, Ohdee?”

   “Doctor Garner, you’re project…it’s a time travel experiment.  Isn’t it?”

   Garner let out a gasp of shock.  After a deep breath, he confirmed Sam’s hunch.  “Yes.  In theory, it is.  The blackboard is a puzzle with a few missing pieces.”

   Sam rose out of the wheelchair, feeling better than he had in hours.  “A piece of chalk, please.”

   Handing over the chalk, Garner watched as Sam filled in variables, erased whole sections of the blackboard, and re-configured multiple equations.  After a lengthy period of time, Sam collapsed into the wheelchair.  “I’m done.”

   Peering at the new blackboard, Garner studied the changes.  “This is incredible, Ohdee.  Your equations seem to be right.  I would never have thought of some of these radical ideas.  You’ve taken my theories beyond any leap of logic ever thought possible.  In my heart, I believe you have solved the riddle.”

   But Sam seemed to have trouble now, sharing in Garner’s joy.  He had just broken a major rule of Leaping.  One of his self-imposed rules.  Would he have to break anymore to Leap out?

   “Ohdee, I think you need to see something else.  It’s a surprise.  Trust me, you’ll love it.”  Garner opened the office door and led Sam out into the hallway.  As he fumbled for the key to lock the door, Hudson approached Doctor Garner.

   “Don’t lock up yet Alexander.  Did you get a chance to look at my project research notes from the other day?”

   “Yes, I did, George.  I jotted down some of my thoughts on your project on the last page.  It’s on my filing cabinet.”

   George Hudson quickly walked into the office to get his notes.  It didn’t take long to find his folder of notes lying on top of the filing cabinet.  As he turned to leave, he noticed that the blackboard had now changed.  Incomplete equations were now finished.  Hudson realized he was in the office a few seconds longer than he should have been.  Hurriedly, he exited the office, allowing Garner to lock up.

   Sam wondered what new surprise was in store for him, oblivious to the fact that damage to the space/time continuum had just occurred.   Walking the opposite way down the hall, Doctor Hudson replayed the new blackboard in his mind, for once thankful that he had a photographic memory and a Project that could use some new equations.




Thursday, April 2nd, 1959

New Mexico

Secret U.S. Military Base


   They stopped in front of a set of double doors.  On the way, Sam had passed a number of different offices and laboratories.  So many doctors, scientists, and lab assistants he had never seen or met, Sam started to wonder if maybe he was here to help one of these people.  He dismissed that thought from his mind as Garner produced a security key and unlocked the double doors.

   The corridor beyond was long and wide.  Eventually, they reached another door.  As Sam was being led inside this new room, he recognized that they were inside an observation booth.  Garner turned around and hit some switches on a breaker box behind them.  The sound of large lights powering up echoed through the large chamber on the other side of the booth window.

    Peering out, Sam realized the chamber stretched for a few hundred yards.  Most of it cluttered with energy conduits, power generators, wires, and pipes, many of which gave off crackling charges of electricity.  All of the electrical machinery all seemed to flow from the back of the chamber to another booth positioned about thirty yards away from the observation room.  The booth looked like it was cannibalized from an old television quiz show.  Between the game show and observation booths was a large console, covered with levers, buttons, switches, and power level indicators.  Everything about the set-up seemed familiar to Sam.

   “What do you think, Ohdee?  This is what all of my funding money went into.  This is what all of your equations will make-work.  I will do what no other person on the face of the Earth has ever achieved, what H.G. Wells could only write about in fantasy.  I will send someone through time.”

   It all made sense to Sam.  This is what he was here for: to make Doctor Garner’s experiment work.  Without Al or Ziggy to help him, it was up to the Leaper to find his way out on his own.

   Garner chuckled.  “Speechless, Ohdee?  I’m not surprised.  We are on the threshold of making history.  Imagine the possibilities.  What if we could send someone back to stop Hitler from invading Poland? Prevent the Titanic from hitting the iceberg?  We could change history for the better; make the world a better place, all thanks to my Time Displacer Unit.”

   “In other words, it accelerates sub-atomic particles?”

   “I guess you can call it an Accelerator,” mused Garner, “but I prefer Time Displacer Unit.”

   Sam sat there, admiring all the technology that made up this time machine.  Silently, he mulled over the next question he knew he had to ask.  “Doctor, is the machine ready to send a person through time yet?”

   “Not yet, I’m afraid.” Garner seemed to catch on.  “I’m sorry, Ohdee, but I can’t use you in this experiment.  Your illness disqualifies you.”

   “Please reconsider my request.” Sam plunged on, knowing it was time to break the rules and go for broke.  “This may be my only chance to get back.”

   Garner turned to look at him, “Get back? Get back to where?”

   Inner conflicts pulled Sam in all directions.  The cancer was spreading, he could tell.  For all he knew, Al and Ziggy were probably lost to him forever.  He closed his eyes, thinking of what to say next.



   Squinting into his microscope, Hudson gave out a gasp of astonishment.  He looked again.  There was no doubt that a problem existed with his guinea pig volunteer.  Doctor Braden, not sure what he would find, took a turn peering through the microscope.

   “This isn’t right at all,” confirmed the British doctor.

   Hudson ran his fingers through his hair.  “I’ve checked all the different samples we’ve kept on file since this whole experiment began.  Until the recent test out in the desert, Ohdee always had O blood.  But now, the last 2 samples of blood show type A.  How the hell can someone completely change blood types?  Doctor, I think we need to find Ohdee.”



   The man everyone thought was Ohdee looked up at Garner and let out a deep breath.  “It’s time I told you the truth.  I’m not Charles O’Donnell.   I may look and sound like him, but appearances can be deceiving.”

   “Ohdee, I think you must be exhausted. I’ll take you back to your room.”

   Sam grabbed Garner’s arm.  “No, you must believe me.  My name is Doctor Sam Beckett.  I am a traveler in time from the future.  Something went wrong with my experiment and I’ve been bouncing back and forth in time ever since.”

   “I’ll make sure you get a sedative.”

   “Dammit, Doctor, I don’t have much time for this.  I need your experiment to help me leave this place.  Are you familiar with a concept called the String Theory?”  Garner’s silence answered the question.  “The String Theory postulates,” continued Sam, “that all the days of your life are a string.  One end birth, the other end death.  In between are all the days of your life.  If you connect both ends of the string, then your life is a loop.  Ball up the string and all the days of your life touch…”

   “Meaning,” Garner interjected more excitedly than he realized, “all the days of your existence intersect each other and you can travel back and forth in your own lifetime.”

   “Exactly, Doctor.  I have spent years leaping back and forth on this string, taking the place of other people until I change an event.  The people I replace go to a Waiting Room at my project base in the future.  That’s where Ohdee is right now.  Think about it, doctor, could Ohdee come up with anything like this?  Is he that intelligent enough?”

   “No, he isn’t,” Garner said, shaking his head.  “Nothing rational could explain Ohdee finishing all of those equations on the chalkboard.  He has the IQ of a below average high school sophomore.”

   “Exactly, he couldn’t make your project work, and my existence hinges on it working.  I want to go home.”

   Just as Garner was about to inquire further, the phone in the hallway outside of the observation booth started to ring.  “Excuse me, I need to answer that.  If the phone in my office doesn’t pick-up, the receptionist transfers my calls back to here.  Stay here, I won’t be long.”  The Doctor stepped out of the room.

   Shortly after Sam was left alone by himself, the Door to the Imaging Chamber opened fully with a whoosh.

  “Sam,” Al called, stepping into the room.  “OK, Edward,” he yelled at the ceiling, “I’ve made contact.  Conserve the power.”  The Door closed shut.

   “Al, I never thought I’d see you again.  What happened?”

   “It took some very hard convincing,” Al said, lighting up a fresh cigar.  “I called in some favors, and along with some of my best cigars going to the General, he managed to give the Project an hour’s worth of power extension.”

   “Why do I feel there’s more to this part of the story, Al?”

   “We need to prove to the General that the Project works or we lose it forever.  On a previous Leap, we managed to allow you and Doctor Beeks to see each other simply through contact with me.  He’s agreed to come in shortly and evaluate everything.  We felt this was the best way to give him visual proof.  Now before we waste anymore time Sam, Ziggy was finally able to figure out why you’re here.”

   “About time.  The sooner I know, the sooner I want to get the hell outta here.   Did you ask Doctor Beeks to run her examination of Ohdee?”

   Reluctantly, Al nodded.  “Yeah, she did, Sam.  I was hoping you would forget to ask, but Ohdee is doing fine, living the good life, cancer-free.”  Trying to get his friend off the subject of his Leap-inherited illness, Al hit some buttons on the handlink, which seemed brighter than Sam had seen it in hours.  “OK, Sam, according to Ziggy, you are here to…”

    With a painful squeal, the handlink yelped at Al.  The Observer hit the handlink again and his eyes widened as new data was being scrolled to him.  “Sam, what the hell did you do? Ziggy’s screaming at me that history has changed drastically.  Apparently, there have been so many changes, that Ziggy is completely confused and won’t say much more.”

   It was hard for Sam to avoid Al’s gaze but he had to be honest.  “I helped Garner finish his Project.”

   Al blinked in disbelief. “You did what?  I hope to hell you didn’t tell him everything.”

   “I sort of did, Al.”

   “Garner knows who you are?  Aw, Sam, you’ve broken every major rule of Leaping that you self-imposed.  What exactly is this room designed for anyway?”

   “Like I said before, Garner is the grandfather of Quantum Leap, you’re looking at the Grandfather of the Accelerator.”

   Anger hit the Admiral. “What possessed you to do this, Sam?  You break every rule and then you give someone else your theories of time travel.  Probably gave him the String Theory, too.”  Al stormed around as he went on his tirade.  “Do you realize how much history will be changed because of this?”  The handlink beeped.  “Ziggy says if you fire up the Accelerator, the entire course of history on the planet will change.”  Another beep on the handlink.  “Holy shit, Sam.  You changed something else, didn’t you?  Ziggy now says that Hudson will invent the Perfect Clean Hydrogen Bomb in one year.  Modern warfare will change.  Ziggy says that after Russia is stopped during the Cuban Missile Crisis in a few years, the United States bombs Cuba.  After that, the U.S. bombs the hell outta major Vietnamese cities.   Ziggy is unable to confirm if anything happens to me or your brother Tom during our tours of duty.  She says it is highly probable that Tom and I become prisoners of war.  The Vietnamese government will then refuse to release prisoners and execute every one of them.  In response, the United States will launch a major offensive and obliterate Vietnam.  The number of P.O.W.’s returning home will barely be a statistic.  Unless you change everything back soon, Ziggy doubts that you and I will be having anymore conversations.  The only reason I haven’t winked out of existence yet is because there is still time for you to carry out your mission.”

   Dumb-founded, Sam’s mind reeled at the impact of what he had done.  The weight of the world seemed to rest on his shoulders at the realization that many people will now die because of his actions.  “Al, you have to understand.”

   “Understand what, Sam, that you acted out of fear and selfishness?”

   “That’s not fair.  I know you’re upset that everything I have done might end your life and the lives of other innocent people…”

   “Upset is an understatement, Sam.”

   “What would you have done if you were me.  I’ve leaped inside a ticking time bomb.  No idea on when the guy originally dies.  On top of that, I get no information from Ziggy or you about why I am here.  You tell me Ziggy is dying and the government wants to pull the plug.  There’s no way in hell, Al, no way, that I will remain stuck here in the past in a dying man because I was unable to Leap out.  This military installation has a device that doesn’t work, a device that has the potential to get me out of here, maybe even send me home.  I was able to fix it and possibly make it work, Al.  I had to take that chance, even if it meant revealing everything about Project Quantum Leap.  I never thought it would lead to all this.”  It became too much, and Sam buried his face in his hands.  Al couldn’t tell if he was crying or suppressing another coughing attack.

   Al was about to apologize to Sam, when the door opened and Garner returned, his face a beacon of light.  “Great news, Ohdee—I mean Sam.  I just got off the phone with the Pentagon.  After I convinced them that my Project appears to be ready, they agreed to send more funding my way to increase the ability to generate more power sources to coincide with your equations.  If all goes well, my Time Displacer Unit will be ready for human testing in eight months.”

    Sam’s face fell.  Eight months?  He doubted he would make it that long.’  “We can’t test it sooner, Doctor?” he said, ignoring Al’s protest. 

   “Sam, no!”

   Garner thought it over. “Perhaps with your help but I doubt Hudson and Braden will release you from their experiment.”

   As if on cue, the other two doctors entered the observation booth.

   “Excuse me, Doctor Garner, we need to re-examine Ohdee again.”  Hudson reached for Sam’s wheelchair.

   Al immediately got a bad vibe, “Sam, something isn’t right here.  I don’t trust these two.  Get out of here.”

   Sam tried to wheel himself towards the door, his legs too tired from the illness to get up and run.  Doctor Braden managed to stop him.  “Calm down, Ohdee, all we want to do is take another blood sample, quite painless actually.”

   “Why would these leeches need to track you down in a hurry for a blood sample?” Al asked.

   “Just a blood sample?” Sam asked, weak from his struggle.  He felt blood rush to his head, making him dizzy, and at that moment he put two and two together.  A look of fear washed over him, it was not missed by Garner, who took the handles of the wheelchair.

   “Tell you what doctors, Ohdee and I are just about finished here.  Give us a few minutes and we’ll meet you out in the hallway.”  Hudson and Braden nodded, and exited the observation booth.  After the door closed, Garner turned to Sam.  “What’s wrong?”

   “I think they figured out I am not Ohdee.  They must have compared my blood samples from earlier today with Ohdee’s earlier ones and discovered the blood types do not match.”  The Leaper could hear Al groan in dismay.  “Doctor Garner,” Sam continued, “you have to put me in the Accelerator.”

   “No matter how much I believe you, Sam, I cannot do that.  It is not ready.  The experiment might kill you.  The Displacer Unit can’t tolerate the new equations you came up with.”

   “I’m dead if I remain here as Ohdee.  If you Accelerate me, and I Leap out of here, the real Ohdee will return.  They’ll take his blood sample instead.  Ohdee won’t remember switching with me, and perhaps his confusion will convince them that the blood sample was a fluke, some sort of error on their part.”

   Gravely, Garner refused.  “No, Sam, I won’t be responsible for anything bad that might happen to you.  I’m sorry.  I need eight months before testing.”

   “I can’t wait eight months!”

   “I am truly sorry, Sam.  They’ll get their blood sample eventually.  There is no way we can avoid this until then.”  Garner took the handles of the wheelchair and pushed Sam out into the hallway where Hudson and Braden waited.

   “Garner, you son of a bitch!”  Al tried to push the doctor away from Sam but his fists went right through.  Immediately after, the Admiral whirled as the Imaging Chamber Door opened and General Hawkins stepped inside.

   “Good lord, let’s get this idiotic thing over with, Calavicci.  I can’t believe I am subjecting myself to this nonsense.  Mr. St, John said I am supposed to touch your sleeve to establish a visual link, whatever the hell that means.”

   With a cry of anguish, Sam tried to get out of the wheelchair, only to have Garner push him back down.  The Leaper finally relented, too tired to fight any further.  All he could do was turn his head and stare back at his best friend, a look of shame haunting Sam’s face, knowing that he had betrayed his friend’s future.

   The look tore through Al’s soul, as he could only stand by helpless as his friend was being led off to the wolves.  He extended his arm for the General to grab the sleeve of his uniform.  But Hawking would not get a chance to see what was going on inside the Imaging Chamber.  Before his fingers made contact with the sleeve, Sam Beckett leaped…





   He was back in the blue void again, dimly aware that he was relieved of his escape.  He couldn’t remember what he had gotten away from, but he knew it was a terrible ordeal.  His conscience was in agony; it wouldn’t give him a moment’s peace.  It was telling him that he had caused something catastrophic, and that he had left before he put something right that had gone terribly wrong.  Time had no meaning now, and he wasn’t sure how long he had been floating in the void, but he anxiously wanted to fix his mistake as soon as he could.

   Shortly, he got his wish.  The euphoria tugged at him again.  He was leaving.  The blue void dissolved once more, leaving Sam Beckett to figure out his surroundings.  He was lying on a cot in a small room.  Facing him against the wall was a desk with a lamp, some toiletries, a small mirror, and a legal pad with a pencil.  Sam knew this room, he had been here before.

   In agony, Sam resisted the urge to cough as he stood up out of the cot.  Looking down, he noticed he was wearing familiar gray sweats.  He stumbled over to the desk and picked up the mirror.

   Sam gasped in horror at what was staring back at him.  He was Ohdee again, but the face looked months older, his eyes more sunken inward with heavy bags under them, and it looked like more cancer growths were scattered across his face and arms. 

   The mirror dropped from his hands and smashed upon the floor.

   “Oh, nooo!!!”





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