Europe and America, there's a growing feeling of hysteria
to respond to all the threats in the rhetorical speeches of the
Krushchev said we will bury you, I don't subscribe to this point
would be such an ignorant thing to do, if the Russians love their
can I save my little boy from Oppenheimer's deadly toy
is no monopoly of common sense on either side of the political
share the same biology; Regardless of ideology
me when I say to you, I hope the Russians love their children too
is no historical precedent to put words in the mouth of the
no such thing as a winnable war, it's a lie we don't believe
Reagan says we will protect you, I don't subscribe to this point
me when I say to you, I hope the Russians love their children too
share the same biology; Regardless of ideology
might save us me and you, is if the Russians love their children
by Sergei Prokofiev and Sting
A cold breeze caught Sam in mid-stride as
he stood outside in a driveway.
Reflexively, he stopped and grabbed the heavy brown jacket
he was wearing and made sure it was zipped up all the way.
Sticking his bare cold hands into his pockets, he took a
moment to look around.
The neighborhood was like any other one in
almost all looking the same with decent sized yards, it occurred
to Sam that he was in a development or a giant grid.
The street he was on seemed to go on a ways in both
directions with numerous places to turn onto other streets with
more similar houses.
Judging by the positioning of the sun in
the pale sky and the cold temperature, Sam guessed that it was
late November or early December.
Almost all of the trees were empty of leaves and piles of
them were scattered throughout the yards.
It just had that feel that the holidays were quickly
whole scene made Sam recall the Thanksgiving holiday of 1969. It was the last time the whole family had been together
before Tom had shipped off to Vietnam.
He had spent the time with his sister Katie, and his mother
and father too. The
taste of his mother’s award winning pies made him wonder how his
family was doing.
So caught up in his memories of his family,
Sam failed to realize immediately that someone was yelling for
him. Turning towards the street, a black Toyota pick-up truck was
sitting in the roadway, the cab and the rear area filled with
young male teenagers, two a piece.
“Yeah, you,” the one driving the truck yelled at the
leaper. The kid behind the wheel had average length black hair parted
down the middle and looked to be about seventeen.
Sam stood there and stared back as the
driver yelled again, “I’m talking to you, Commie!
You speak English?”
“What do you want?” Sam demanded.
“We want you to go back to your mother
Russia where you belong. No room in this country for
Communists!” a blonde male from the rear of the truck responded.
“Yeah,” a brown haired kid next to him
agreed, opening up a paper grocery bag, “and if the color fits,
Before Sam knew what was happening, he was
pelted by a half dozen tomatoes.
One had hit him in the side of the head, sending bits of
tomato oozing downward slowly, dripping onto the yard.
“Damn Reds! Leave our country!” the
driver yelled as the truck raced off down the street, the
occupants shouting, “U.S.A.!
Stunned, Sam could only stand there as the
remaining pieces of tomato slid off of him to the ground.
He looked around to see if anyone noticed what had just
happened to him. A
man in the next yard over had been standing in his driveway.
As he realized Sam was looking at him, the man quickly
glanced away and entered his house, acting as if Sam had not
existed at all.
Behind the leaper, the front door of the
house opened and a middle aged man in his forties stepped outside. “Gregory,” he called in a Russian accent.
Sam didn’t take long to realize that the
man was calling to him.
“Come inside,” the man ordered gruffly.
“It is time for supper.
Wash up and get to the table.”
The man closed the door behind him and entered the house.
The leaper turned and walked up to the
door. Looking into
the glass, he caught a reflection of a dark haired youth in his
late teens. It was hard to tell, but it appeared as if one of the kid’s
eyes had a black and blue mark around it.
Was the man who
called for him a child abuser? Sam wondered.
“Ohhh, boy,” sighed Sam just as a piece of tomato got
in his eye.
5th, 2006 – 11:43pm – Night before
An old beat-up white van made its way along
the desert highway before coming to a stop in the roadway.
This late at night, there was no traffic at all as the
occupants of the vehicle decided on how to make their next move. The road they were on stretched forever into the dark horizon
but signs of what appeared to be a secondary route perpendicular
to them traveled towards a series of mountainous terrain.
Flashes of light seemed to shimmer from that direction.
“Would you look at that, Jake?”
observed the man moving forward from the rear of the van.
He was in his late thirties, and sported a goatee with a
shaved head. Small
tattoos adorned his arms.
“What do you think that is?” asked the
driver, following the other man’s gaze, off toward the
mountains. Jake was
in his late forties with a trimmed moustache just turning gray and
neatly groomed hair.
“Some sort of electrical discharge
perhaps,” remarked the other man, straining to peer through the
windshield. “Perhaps it’s a lightning storm.”
“Looks more like a fireworks finale than
it does sheet lightning, Benjamin,” reasoned Jake.
“You should probably film this stuff.” He added,
indicating the rear of the van with a nod of his head.
Benjamin grunted and stooping low moved
back into the back of the van.
Rows of video monitors and video tape decks were mounted on
both sides of the van. Editing
equipment and a soundboard took up half of one area on the left
side. Benjamin looked
underneath the counter that housed the editor and found a pulsing
red light where his videocamera was recharging its battery.
Inserting a fresh cartridge of digital recording tape, he
disconnected the recharger and exited the van through the
Setting his feet apart to find proper
balance, Benjamin hoisted the camera onto his shoulder and hit the
record button. Looking
through the viewfinder revealed a breathtaking image of the
lightning coming from over the mountains.
“You’re getting this, right?” called
Jake. “You have the
lens cap off?”
“Don’t worry,” Benjamin answered back
with a toothy smile, “I’m getting all of this.”
Just a relatively short distance away,
Project Quantum Leap went on as usual.
Sam was to everyone’s knowledge still in-between leaps
and was expected to reappear on the timeline and Ziggy’s sensors
very soon. If anyone
were to think differently, it would seem as if a family was
getting ready for bed as most activity in the project was winding
down for the night.
Admiral Al Calavicci was already in bed,
dressed in his pajamas. His
wife, Beth, was already trying to fall asleep beside him despite
the fact that Al still had the TV on and was flipping through
channels. He wasn’t
quite ready for dreamland yet but he wanted to enjoy the fact that
no one was around to bother him and a good night’s sleep awaited
him for a change.
“I know why it is you can’t sleep,”
Beth spoke softly beside him.
Al paused from flipping through channels.
“Oh? You do,
“It’s General Hawkins,” Beth went on,
almost in a trance.
The Admiral scowled.
“What about Hawkins?
I actually have a night free from that yutz looking over my
shoulder and superceding my authority with his Presidential
mandate crap, and I plan to enjoy it.”
Beth shifted herself up from her pillow,
favoring her recently injured ankle.
“Dear, that is exactly my point.”
“Would you care to make some sense and
enlighten me on this?”
Al’s wife sighed.
“You can’t sleep because you’re keyed up due to the
fact that Hawkins isn’t here.”
A confused look came from her husband and she continued,
“Look, you complain when Hawkins is here dictating what you and
Sam have to do for his leaps, but at least you knew where he was
and what he was doing. Now,
he’s gone away for awhile to spend some time working on some
anti-terrorist project in Virginia.
With him not here, you can’t keep an eye on him and what
he is doing. You said
so yourself, you’re scared to death of what this other
experiment is that he’s building.
Scared of what’ll mean to Sam, to this project, and to
us. He’s all the
way across the country about to tamper with something he probably
has no concept of.”
A sly grin slowly spread across Al’s
face. “I guess you
know me better than I thought.”
Beth echoed his smile.
“I should know you after all these years together, but
don’t think I’m done. I
know you’re trying to change the subject before I hit on the
rest of what you’re thinking.”
“Am I that obvious?”
“You’ve been moody for weeks now,
ever since the leapees showed up here last month.
I know you’ve been doing your damnedest to hide it from
everyone else, but don’t try to fool me.
The minute Hawkins offered Sam’s brother and nephew jobs
at that new project of his, it has burned away at you because you
think Tom sold out his brother to be there instead of remaining
here. You never
offered Tom the chance to help out here since he left politics.
Whatever it is that made you dislike Tom is the reason why
he is in Virginia.”
“It’s not that I dislike the guy, Beth,
it’s just that…I don’t know.
He rubs me the wrong way sometimes is all.”
Beth raised an eyebrow at him. “Could it be that it is due to the fact that the brother of
your best friend is a lot like you in some ways when it comes to
leadership and you refuse to believe that?”
scoffed and continued clicking on the TV remote.
“Laugh if you must, Albert,” Beth
intoned, “but I think you might be afraid that if Tom were given
a duty here, he would eventually replace you.”
The Admiral closed his eyes.
“I don’t feel worn out, and I refuse to go down that
road. Tom Beckett
would have to be a leaper before I worry about him replacing me,
and that won’t happen. Case
is closed. As for Hawkins, I highly doubt he’ll get that project of
his working. Even
with all those think tanks that the General claims he has working
on his own project, Quantum Leap was the result of a
once-in-a-generation brain. I seriously doubt Hawkins has the mental capacity for that
Shaking her head, Beth placed his head back
against her pillow and closed her eyes.
Al, meanwhile, finally settled on a program to watch before
getting some sleep. Although
the screen said ‘PREVIOUSLY PRERECORDED’, it didn’t stop the
Admiral from watching it.
“Hi, everyone, thanks for joining. I’m Larry King,” said the bespectacled man on the TV
screen. The sight of
Larry with a cigarette made Al want to get up and grab a cigar,
but he abstained for Beth’s sake as Larry went on,
“Tonight’s topic has much to do on the possible re-emergence
of quantum physicist Dr. Samuel Beckett.”
The remote fell out of Al’s hand and even
Beth bolted upright in the bed.
“What?!” they exclaimed together.
“With me tonight,” Larry King rambled
on, “is Dr. Milo Hasselein, chief scientific advisor to the
President of the United States.
Good evening,” he greeted his guest.
“Good evening,” replied Dr. Hasselein,
a clean shaven, well groomed man in his late forties. “It’s a
pleasure to be here.”
“Before we open the phone lines,” Larry
stated, “I want to take a minute to explain the reason for your
appearance on this evening’s program.
Viewers, about a month ago some of you may have noticed an
e-mail sent to you with the topic heading: EXPERIENCED LAPSES IN
TIME YOU CANNOT EXPLAIN? Some
people, as I have been told, went to a chatroom link related to
that e-mail where a transcript revealed that Dr. Sam Beckett, once
dubbed as the “Next Einstein” was alive and well and part of a
time travel experiment situated somewhere in New Mexico.
Some of you might recall that years ago Dr. Beckett
disappeared from the public eye without any clues as to his
we hope to set the public straight on this matter.
Dr. Hasselein, would you care to comment on this?”
Al and Beth stared at the TV set, jaws
dropped as Hasselein cleared his throat.
to begin? First of all, I can assure you that Dr. Beckett is alive and
well, and yes he is working on a project in New Mexico.”
“God, don’t let this nozzle confirm the
truth,” Al yelled at the screen.
“Is it fact then that Dr. Beckett is
conducting experiments on time travel?” asked Larry King.
“I can happily announce the answer to
that question,” responded Hasselein.
“No, no, no, noooo!” Al gripped the
bedsheets tight, if he could he would have ripped them in two.
“Dr. Beckett is indeed working in New
Mexico,” continued Hasselein, “but it is not a time travel
Al had no idea that a large exhale escaped
“In fact,” said Hasselein, “he is
working on a project for NASA.
Has been for the last decade or so.
I am here tonight to dispel all rumors concerning the fact
that Dr. Beckett is part of a time travel experiment that went
haywire. There is no
such experiment. It
is scientifically impossible for there to be one in existence.
All I can add is that Dr. Beckett has been slaving away in
the mountains of New Mexico as part of a top level think tank to
develop technology for possible future manned flights to Mars and
“So you are saying,” Larry King
interjected with a long puff of his cigarette, “is that Dr.
Beckett is part of a group determined to make the works of Arthur
C. Clarke a reality instead of fiction?”
“Correct,” Hasselein nodded.
“He has been locked away so long due in part to his
tenacity at being a perfectionist.
He has refused to respond to friends and family over the
years because he hopes to complete the project and bring the level
of space exploration into the 21st Century as most
people have always imagined it would be.
So please, I have been asked by the President to urge the
good citizens of the United States not to interfere with this
project. People have
gotten the wrong ideas and I hope to correct this matter.”
“Thank you, Dr. Hasselein, I think it’s
time we opened the phones.”
Al turned off the TV set.
“Amazing how all this came to be because of J.T.
off his lamp, he leaned back and tried to get some sleep, but
found it impossible.
- November 20th, 1983
So far Sam had been able to guess correctly
about the current situation he was in.
The man that had yelled for him was the leapee’s father,
who had frowned unfavorably at the tomato stains on his clothes.
Speaking in both Russian and English, it was clear to Sam
that he was to wash up for dinner.
“What happened outside, Gregory?” the
man asked Sam.
“Some kids drove up and pelted me with
some tomatoes,” was all Sam could offer, not knowing anything
else to say. He cringed, expecting the man to strike him in anger, but to
Sam’s surprise, he sighed heavily and placed a hand on Sam’s
shoulder. “It will
not be easy for you, it would appear,” he surmised.
“It is bad enough to be a new student your senior year,
but to be one of Russian ancestry makes it worse.
Especially with all that is going on in the world right now
with politics, I do not think people will show tolerance for
us.” The man gazed
into Sam’s face. “I
see you display the injury to your eye.
Although your mother and I are disheartened that you not
reveal the name of your attacker, we are proud that you stood up
for yourself and have not tried to hide your bruise.
We may live here in this country as Americans, and we will
honor the laws and customs of this country, but the Russian
heritage will never fully be watered out of our blood.
I stand here, proud to be an American, but I will never
cower in fear from the Russian I truly am.”
A loud clang came from the kitchen.
“Now, mother is nearly ready to serve us.
Change your clothes and wash up.”
Nodding, Sam stumbled off in the hopes of
finding his bedroom in the ranch house.
It appeared that he was an only child, and his room was
down at the end of the hallway from the kitchen.
All the rooms he passed were filled with moving boxes and
his host’s room was no different.
Searching through some boxes, he found a blue pullover
shirt and a pair of blue jeans.
After changing, he took the tomato stained clothes across
the hall to the bathroom where he placed them in a small tub he
filled with water.
As the leaper turned on the faucet and
grabbed a bar of soap, the Imaging Chamber door whooshed open
“Oh, jeez, Sam.
Why the hell do we always talk in the john?”
Sam held up his hand.
“Not my fault. I
didn’t suggest we talk in here. You just happened to time it
wrong, is all.”
“Speaking of time, Sam,” remarked Al as
he looked at his handlink, “your clock and my clock are exactly
in sync. It’s
4:53pm where you are and at the project.
What are the odds on that?”
“Probably better odds than you getting
around to tell me why I’m here,” muttered Sam as he grabbed a
towel and dried off his hands.
“That hurts, pal,” Al said with a hurt
look on his face. “For
once, I am happy to report you are in no immediate danger.
Relax and take a breather.”
Sam gave him the stare.
“All right. Geez Louise, Sam.” Al fiddled with the handlink, hitting it a few times until it
I wish Dom would get back from town so he can fix this
“Handlink problems, again?” Sam teased
Of course it happens right after Dom takes some personal
time and goes into town to shop for clothes,” the Admiral
stopped short. “Why
the hell am I telling you? Like
you care anyway.” Al
gave the handlink another good whack.
“Let’s see. It’s
November 20th, 1983 and you are in Wyomissing,
Pennsylvania, which is right outside the city of Reading.
Your name is Gregory Talosovich, a high school senior.
Your parents are John and Helena.
Ziggy says your, I mean, Gregory’s, father changed his
name from Ivan to sound more Americanized.
According to what Ziggy discovered, the parents defected
from Russia in the mid 1960’s and settled in the States shortly
after. Gregory was
born the following year. You’ve
probably noticed the moving boxes, they just moved in a few days
ago. John has been
bounced around from one warehouse or factory job after another
while Helena, a former nurse, has been working temp jobs.
Seems no one in the States seems to have a need for a
Russian defector with a degree in physics or another with medical
“Gregory’s father is a scientist?”
“Real good one apparently.
You gotta remember, Sam, the Cold War is still going on,
albeit not for much longer. While
not in the same league as the Cuban Missile Crisis, the thought of
nuclear war and destruction was a common fear at this point in
time. A Russian was
viewed as a Communist and an enemy of the U.S.
Most Americans where you are would probably wish Russia
wiped off the face of the Earth.”
Sam was appalled.
“That’s a terrible mindset, Al.”
The observer shook his head.
“Don’t point at me, Sam, I happen to come from Russian
bloodlines as well as Italian.
My mother and my Uncle Stawpah were Russian.”
Before Sam could ask another question,
there was a loud knock at the door.
“Gregory,” John yelled, “what is the delay?
Dinner is on the table.”
Sheepishly, Sam opened the door and walked
into the hallway. John
was standing there waiting, a look of disapproval on his face.
“I could not hear too well, but it disturbs me when you
are having a conversation with yourself.
This is happening far too frequently of late.”
Sam looked over at Al as they headed for
the kitchen. The Admiral slammed the handlink against his palm.
“Ziggy found some medical files from their previous
Gregory had a few visits about possible schizophrenia.
The kid obviously talked to himself often.”
Arriving at the kitchen, Sam found his
host’s parents had already seated.
Before them was a large plate loaded with salad and pieces
of cold cuts and sausage. Another
plate was filled with steaming rice with a lid over it to keep it
from getting cool, and next to that was a large soup bowl.
As Sam found his way into his chair, Helena
took a ladle and poured a large portion of soup into his bowl.
It was steaming broth loaded with meat and vegetables.
The leaper’s mouth watered at the smell of the delicious
Al’s lips formed an ‘O’.
“Why is it you get good food on your leaps, and I get
whatever the cafeteria dredges up?
That looks like borscht, kinda like vegetable soup.
Looks like the main course is an Americanized version of a
Just as Sam finished serving himself a
portion of the main dish and went to take a bite with his fork,
John came over with a basket filled with bread.
“Russian style bread!
Ah, Sam, if that tastes half as good as it looks, I might
consider going into the Accelerator to switch places with you.”
Trying to hide a smile, Sam’s fork was
almost in his mouth when John scolded him in Russian.
Confused, the leaper failed to understand what was being
“Um, Sam,” Al cut in, “he’s yelling
at you to put the fork down.
This family says grace before a meal.”
Sheepishly, Sam lowered the fork and like
John and Helena, brought his hands together and bowed his head.
Silence passed until it became an awkward silence.
Looking up, he discovered the other two were staring at
“Think it’s your turn for the blessing
tonight, Sam,” Al observed.
“I know,” Sam countered through
“Well if you know, Gregory, then start
with the blessing already,” a clearly not amused John said.
“Dear Lord,” began Sam.
“Gregory, although we are Americans.
You know we try to maintain balance with our Russian
heritage as well. You
will say the grace as you have always said it, in Russian.”
eyes nearly bugged out of his skull.
He had only spoken Russian clearly once before, but that
was when he was mind-merged with Lee Harvey Oswald.
Before Sam could say anything, Al jumped in to his
worry, Sam. Repeat
after me slowly and you’ll do fine.”
After each phrase, Sam repeated them meticulously.
As he finished, John and Helena gave an amen and began to
eat their meals. Reaching for a pitcher of iced tea, Sam noticed the Imaging
Chamber door open.
“This food is too
much for me,” Al explained.
“Look, all you need to know is that you are here for
Gregory. Nothing is
gonna happen tonight, so eat up.
I’ll be back later.”
Just as Al disappeared through the door, he popped his
head back in. “By
the way, save room for dessert.
Russians love chocolate after their meals.”
With a whoosh, the door closed shut.
Project Quantum Leap
Stallion’s Gate, New
MONDAY, February 6th,
2006 – 8:58pm
Dom Lofton, the head programmer for Project Quantum Leap,
approached his car with an armload of shopping bags.
He had spent all day in Albuquerque doing some serious
clothes shopping, and he was finally glad it was time to head
back. Unlocking his
car, he began to place his bags inside the back of his vehicle.
The suits he had bought were placed in long bags on
hangers, and in order to make room for everything, he had to put
the rear seats down so he could utilize the whole trunk area.
Stretching into the rear door he pushed the bags through
until he felt them hit against the back of the trunk.
sir,” a voice yelled in his direction.
Looking over, Dom
spotted a white van parked a few spots down from him.
“What can I do for you?”
I need directions for Wolfsberg,” the man with the
neatly groomed moustache said.
Dom pointed down the
road. “Take a
left out of the parking lot and take the first exit for the
highway. Follow it
down for a few miles and then you’ll see the exit.
Can’t miss it.”
Jake shook Dom’s
hand. “Thank you
for your assistance, sir.”
sir.” Dom walked
back to his car, shut the rear door and started up his engine,
not knowing a stowaway had crawled through into the trunk,
crammed amongst the bags of suits, holding onto his videocamera.
Moving back to the
rear of the van, Jake continued with his work.
With a few taps of a button, he resumed editing the
footage shot the night before of the sheet lightning.
“Almost ready for airtime,” he grinned as he looked
over at the laptop on the counter next to him. On the monitor was a web page with the title: ‘The Real
Project Quantum Leap’.
- November 20th, 1983
Sam watched in horror as city after city
became consumed by nuclear fire.
The flames spread out in all directions as buildings were
torn apart and destroyed. People
screamed in horror as they were either consumed whole by the
raging heat or disintegrated in a flash burst of light.
Just as quickly, the onslaught ended.
Numb by what he had witnessed, Sam could only sit there,
his face expressionless.
“Now that’s what I call a reality
check,” drawled Al.
Sam looked over to see Al near the sofa he
was sitting in. John
and Helena were down the hall in their bedroom getting ready for
bed, having to go to work earlier than Sam had to get up to go to
school. “How long
have you been here?”
“Long enough to see the destruction of
mankind,” answered the observer.
“I remember this movie, Sam.
It’s called The Day After. Television’s
attempt to open up peoples’ eyes to the horrors of nuclear
“I don’t remember this movie at all.”
“Of course you don’t, Sam.
Your nose was buried in a book somewhere most likely.
I read somewhere that the guy who directed this sent a copy
to Reagan and Russia with a note saying, ‘Let’s not do this
“Amazing how much paranoia and hysteria
existed in 1983,” remarked Sam.
Al looked at his blinking handlink. “It seems that paranoia and hysteria would explain why you
are here. Apparently,
tomorrow, Gregory will be murdered sometime during the school day. Couple of ignorant goons at the high school are gonna goad
Gregory into a fight, and things get heated, then he gets killed.
Stabbed by a switchblade knife.”
“Is there a way I can get out of going to
The Admiral shook his hand.
“Not likely. Ziggy
says with this scenario, that the ones responsible will find
another chance to do it. There’s
no way of avoiding this.”
Sam shut the TV off.
“I guess I’d better get some sleep.”
“Not a bad idea, Sam.
I’ll catch up with you tomorrow.
February 6th, 2006 – 9:35pm
Making record time, Dom turned up the dirt
road that after a while, led to the sheet lightning ahead.
Traveling around a turn, he pulled up to the gates that
blocked his path. The
road had led right up to a mountainside and continued through it
beyond the gates in a tunneled out corridor.
Next to the gates was a guard station booth with armed
“ID please,” a guard demanded.
Fumbling for his project badge, Dom finally
flashed it to the guard. “By
now, you guys should know who I am.”
“Can’t take too many chances, sir. After the breach of security last month, we can’t be too
guard nodded to the booth and the gates opened.
With a wave, Dom drove into the tunnel
under the mountain. Lights
were placed on both sides to help him see.
As they passed him by, Dom couldn’t help but reflect on
the crisis with the leapees.
Ever since last month, the government sent a crew to
barricade the back way to the helicopter landing pad, sealing off
that route. The only
way in and out of there now was by aircraft.
The government no longer apparently trusted radar security
to monitor the roads leading to the pad.
Shortly, Dom found another gate at the
other end of the tunnel. Another
set of gates barred his way in and once more, he had to present
his badge before being admitted.
After clearing that gate, Dom drove the car to an
underground parking area.
Reaching into the back seat area, he
dragged all the packages out.
For some reason, it took a little extra pull to get the
ones half crammed into the trunk area.
Stumbling about from carrying it all with both hands, he
made it to the elevator that led to the lower levels.
Next to the elevator was yet another booth.
“ID please,” a guard demanded.
Cursing, Dom dropped everything to get his
badge out of his pocket. Satisfied,
the guard signaled for the elevator and helped Dom pick up
everything. When the door opened. The head programmer somehow managed to
lug everything into the elevator and with great effort, freed a
finger to press the button that would take him to his living
Moments later, he stepped out of the
elevator. The hallway
was quiet. It seemed
that everyone had decided to turn in early.
Stepping into his quarters, he immediately dropped
everything onto his bed.
“Welcome back,” Ziggy purred.
“Thanks, Ziggy,” Dom returned the
“As soon as possible, you are to report
to General Hawkins’ office.”
The head programmer raised an eyebrow.
“Is anything wrong?”
“Not that I could tell, but then again I
am not a psychiatrist.”
Dom nodded and went back out to the
elevator and took it to the office level.
At the end of the hall was General Hawkins’ office,
formerly Gooshie’s and then Dom’s.
The head programmer wondered what could be so important
this late at night. Nervously,
he knocked on the door, which immediately opened to reveal the
General sitting behind his desk.
Various computers that tied him in to Ziggy, the project,
and to Washington D.C. surrounded him.
Taking a puff on a cigar, Hawkins looked up
to see Dom enter. “Please
be seated,” he instructed.
Confused, Dom did as he was told. He sat there in silence as Hawkins typed a few commands into
one of his computers. Finally,
the General turned his attention back to the programmer.
“I suppose you are wondering why I’ve called you
Nodding, Dom fidgeted in his chair. “Yes.”
Hawkins leaned forward and clasped his
hands together. “I
cannot tell you too much at this point.
All I can say is that I am about to launch a project of
extreme importance and I need your help.”
Dom sat up in his chair, his curiosity
help,” he stammered.
“You are the head programmer which makes
you the candidate I need. When
it comes to your job, would you say you are as familiar with the
system here as the person who originated the post was?”
“If you mean Gooshie, General, then yes I
think I am. Over the
past few months I have poured over all of his notes and in doing
so I believe I am just as competent.”
A small smile crept on
Hawkins’ face. “Good
to hear. I will have
need to call on your programming abilities, especially in the
field of parallel hybrid computers.”
“Parallel hybrid computers?
That would mean Ziggy.”
The General nodded at Dominic’s
classification of what the parallel hybrid computer could do.
“In order for my new project to work, it has become clear
that I need a system of Ziggy’s caliber to make it operate.”
“You need me to create a system like
Ziggy for you?”
“Not quite,” Hawkins responded. “I need Ziggy.”
Eyes wide open, Dom shot to his feet.
“You can’t have her, sir.
She is tied in too directly to this project.
Removing her will end it, and trap Dr. Beckett in time.
Arrest me, or do what you will, but I will not disconnect
Ziggy and hand her over to you.”
“Sit down!” Hawkins bellowed.
“I did not say anything about taking Ziggy away from here
just yet. I said I
need Ziggy to run my project.
I need you to create a copy for me.”
“Create a copy?
It’s not like I just save a file, put it on disc, and let
you install it. There
are so many algorithms and subroutines.
Hawkins slammed his fist on the desk.
“It’s not impossible.
You just admitted that you are at the same level as
Gushman. You will
find a way. I want a
working replica of Ziggy as fast as you can get it to me, one
without the Streisand ego preferably.”
Dom folded his arms.
“What makes you think I’ll do this to help you?”
Anger began to bubble at the general’s
forehead. “Working at this project makes me think this way.
This project has fallen under Presidential authority, so in
turn working here makes you an employee of the United States
government. Making a
copy for me is a direct order.”
“I still refuse.
Besides, Ziggy will not allow this.
She’ll tell Admiral Calavicci at the first chance she
“You forget, Mr. Lofton.”
Hawkins pointed to one of his computers. “You designed this for me as a direct link to Ziggy.”
“Only to monitor and communicate, nothing
“And so you did, Mr. Lofton.
But I went beyond your work.
Last month when those people that Dr. Beckett had once
leaped into arrived, I had a team of computer technicians with me
to analyze the computer that young David Watkins put together.
With the help of those technicians and the unwitting help
of Mr. Watkins, I am now able to launch commands and directives
directly into Ziggy that she is forced to comply with.
If anyone asks Ziggy about this, she will of course deny
“You’ve programmed her to lie,”
“To suit my purposes, yes.
By the way, do not make any attempts to disconnect my
system. Removing it
will cause a system breakdown and destroy Ziggy.
Dr. Beckett will remain trapped in time.
So help me with my project or I pull the plug.”
“You sick bastard.”
“It’s your choice,
Before Dom could answer, heavy banging came
from the other side of the wall.
Pushing a button on his desk, Hawkins opened the door, and
a guard rushed into the room.
is it, soldier?”
The guard saluted.
“Sir, we just caught an intruder trying to infiltrate the
Hawkins stood up in alarm.
“Apparently, the individual was trying to
crawl out of a vehicle. He
was caught carrying only a videocamera.”
“None that we could find, sir.”
“What about the car, soldier.
Who’s was it?”
“Sir, the car license plate showed it is
registered to a Dominic Lofton.”
“Any other signs of others trying to
We ran a perimeter sweep.
Just the one guy. Should
we hold him until he can be taken away for incarceration?”
“Yes,” Hawkins decided.
“You are dismissed.”
As the guard turned and left, Hawkins faced a much shaken
Dom. “Your car.
You allowed someone to get past two checkpoints and almost
entered this project.”
“I had no idea,” asserted Dom, his face
“Enough of this.
You realize what might happen if you become linked to that
intruder? You will be
relieved of your duties here and face maximum time in a federal
prison. Your life as
you know it will be over. The
courts will have physical evidence like the video security cameras
showing that man coming out of your car.
Unless…” The General’s voice trailed off.
what?” Dom was afraid where this was going.
“Unless you help me.
I understand that part of your salary goes towards your
relatives in the D.C. area to help them make ends meet.
Be a pity if that money was cut off because you were part
of a conspiracy.”
Dom’s shoulders slumped. “Fine. I’ll
do as you’ve ordered. Just
don’t tell anyone I’m doing this, please.
What I am about to do will violate a large amount of trust
this project has given me.”
“Not to worry, Mr. Lofton.
My lips are sealed. As
are Ziggy’s. As
long as no one tells Admiral Calavicci or anyone else employed
here about your association with my project, no one will ever
know. I don’t think
the Admiral would support what I am doing either.”
On the highway that ran through the desert
outside of Project Quantum Leap, Jake sat in the white van.
He had just pulled off the road to check on Benjamin’s
progress. Taking a
seat in the back of the van, Jake switched on the computer that
had been downloading the feed from his partner’s videocamera.
The image was somewhat disorienting as the camera kept
spinning while Benjamin tried to sneak out of Dom’s car.
Shortly after, the image straightened out as Benjamin was
apparently on his feet, crouched low to the ground.
Then, the camera panned around the parking lot, finally
stopping on a guard station.
A second later, the occupants of the station looked in the
camera’s direction and quickly ran towards Benjamin.
Disgusted at losing his partner, Jake
started up the van and drove off into the night.
- November 21st, 1983
Yawning, Sam made his way to the kitchen.
Dressed in blue jeans and a polo shirt, he sat down and
found a bowl of oatmeal waiting for him to make. The
packet had been poured into the bowl and a measuring cup sat on
the table nearby. Going
to the sink, Sam filled it with hot water and poured it into the
As he stirred the spoon, he noticed how
jittery he was. Although
long finished with school, Sam seemed to be experiencing first day
jitters. Eating in
silence, he noticed how quiet the house was with John and Helena
already off to work.
Finishing the oatmeal, he rinsed the bowl
and left it in the sink. Grabbing
his backpack, which luckily Gregory already packed with school
supplies, Sam made his way to the front door.
On the floor was a key.
Picking it up, he exited the house and locked it up.
At the end of the
driveway, Al was standing there waiting unaffected by the chilly
morning air, dressed in an electric silver suit with teal shirt
and silver tie. “Hiya
Sammy boy. Nothing like the first day of school. Looking good, feeling good, seeing how developed the girls
have gotten over the summer, although in the cold weather you’ll
have to use your high IQ imagination…”
“Al!” admonished Sam as he walked up to
the holographic image of his best friend.
“Oh, that’s right,” Al quipped,
“you went to school to learn.”
He started walking towards the street corner. “Your bus stop is down here.”
Sam followed after his friend. “Speaking of learning, how did you know all that Russian at
the dinner table last night?”
“Like I said, Sam, my mother and uncle
“But you didn’t know either of them
I only remember a few words from them.
I learned most of my Russian from Pavel.”
Sam looked at the observer.
“Pavel was the janitor at this orphanage
I grew up in. Great
man. Always quick
with a smart-ass remark. Taught me quite a few words in Russian I can’t repeat, it
would fry Ziggy’s circuits if I did.
He made sure my focus stayed on girls.
Come to think of it, he was almost like my father in some
The pair made it to the corner where a few
kids had already gathered. The
dirty looks they were giving Sam almost made his flesh crawl.
“Guess the secret’s out that they’re
sharing a bus stop with a Russian,” Al remarked disgustedly as
the bus pulled up.
Reluctantly, Sam hoisted the backpack on
his shoulder and walked up the steps into the bus.
As he made it to the front of the aisle, a student behind
him shoved Sam into the first available seat by the door, which
happened to be empty. The
other students who got on the bus looked at him coldly as they
made their way to the back of the bus.
Looking straight ahead, Sam tried not to feel the gaze of
all the other students burn right through him.
Once everyone was seated, the door closed and the bus was
on its way.
Al stood in the aisle completely still
despite the bumpy ride of the bus while Sam stared out of the
window, trying to avoid the glares he knew he was receiving.
Without warning, a wadded up piece of paper hit Sam in the
back of the head and fell to the seat next to him.
Looking around, he turned to see Al pointing to the back
left corner of the bus. “I’ve
never been one to be a schoolyard snitch but I think it was those
kids in the back, Sam.”
The leaper turned around in his seat and
started to sit on his knees to look to the back of the bus when
the woman driver yelled, “Sit down in your seat and face the
“But…” Sam started to explain.
“I don’t want to hear it,” the driver
cut him off.
Dejected, Sam did as he was told. Reaching next to him, he picked up the piece of paper and
unfolded it. In large
blue ink, it said: “COMMIE GO HOME!”
Al read it along with Sam and shook his head in disbelief. “Older kids can be really immature and cruel,” stated Al.
“It’s gonna be a long road for Gregory when he comes
The rest of the ride continued uneventful
as the bus pulled up to the front of Wilson High School.
Sam left the bus and found himself under a large overhang
with the sidewalk leading to the entrance to the gym lobby.
Just as he started to walk towards it, he was shoved
roughly from behind and fell to the sidewalk, scraping his knee,
and putting a small rip in his jeans.
Looking up, he saw the driver of the pick-up truck that was
responsible for yesterday’s tomato attack standing over him.
“Don’t think of ever nuking the United
States of America like you did last night, Commie,” the kid
warned Sam, kicking the leaper’s bookbag across the sidewalk.
“Hope I didn’t ruin your caviar lunch.”
Laughing, the kid walked off.
“What a nozzle,” Al said.
“This is almost as bad as a race riot.”
“This is the same thing on a different
level,” Sam got back on his feet, dusting himself off.
“Hatred towards something perceived to be strangely
different due to ignorance.”
“Not to mention propaganda,” reasoned
the hologram. “This
kid’s only acting the way he was raised by his parents, the
media, or his overall environment.
He obviously watched last night’s movie on TV.
I would say it is safe to assume there will be more of the
same kind of expression that you just received.”
“Terrific,” muttered Sam, half to
Al’s comment and the other half to the group of students
watching him carrying on an invisible conversation.
“School’s gonna start soon, Sam. You’ll need to go to the office and pick up your class
Sighing, Sam picked up his bookbag and
entered the gym lobby, following the signs that pointed to the
A flustered and out of breath Sam entered
the classroom of his first period class.
The bell had rung a few minutes earlier and neither Sam nor
Al were able to find the right wing of the school to find Room
512, which was on an upper level and a few flights of stairs.
The teacher and all the students stared at Sam as they
waited for him to explain himself.
Sheepishly, he handed a slip from the office to the
teacher, a woman in her mid-forties, who then mulled over it.
Opening a side closet, she reached in to pull a textbook
off the shelf and handed it to Sam.
“Attention class,” she announced. “Today we will be having a new student join us.
Please take the time at some point to introduce yourself to
Gregory…” she paused. “Tala...Talosovich.
Is that right?” As
Sam nodded, she continued, “Russian right?”
“Yes, ma’am,” Sam confirmed.
“Very well, then.
I’m Mrs. McCrady, your new history teacher.
Take an empty seat near the back, please.”
Nervously aware of all the eyes on him, Sam
made his way to an empty seat three rows from the back along the
wall. As he seated himself, he was suddenly aware of the people
sitting in the back. The
same ones in the pick-up and specifically the one kid who had
pushed him down just minutes ago.
Each of them would have burned holes through Sam with their
eyes if they could.
“Geez, Sam, these guys are out for
blood,” Al noticed as he found a chair of his own that he kept
in the Imaging Chamber and sat down in it.
“OK, teacher, fill me in on the history of the human
“Al,” Sam hissed under his breath.
“Now, class,” Mrs McCrady sat on the
front of her desk, “it seems as if Mr. Talosovich was sent here
at just the right time.
your books to Page 136, Chapter 11.
Today we begin learning about the Cuban Missile Crisis.
Especially after most of you watched that movie last night,
it seems like perfect timing to learn more about events that
involve our country and Russia.
Get your notebooks out, too, please.”
The class groaned as they did as they were
reached into his bookbag and pulled out a Trapper Keeper with a
Paper-Mate erasable pen attached to it.
Owing to his responsible to provide for his host, Sam
decided to give Gregory damn good notes.
“Can anyone tell me what was going
through the minds of Americans during this time?” Mrs McCrary
Near the front, a blonde haired girl raised
her hand and answered, “Fear and hysteria?”
“Right,” nodded the teacher.
“America was in a state of panic.
The Russians had the ability to position their nuclear
weapons very close to American soil and quite possibly launch a
first strike assault before the U.S. could respond back.
Russia very clearly had a strong advantage from a strategic
almost could have turned into World War III.
Yes? You wish to add something?” she asked.
All eyes turned to look at the new kid.
Sam cleared his throat and answered, “Not everyone saw it
as the end of the world. Some
people believed that the Russians would never risk firing at the
“Naw, instead they send you here years
later to infiltrate our way of life and corrupt it,” the kid who
pushed Sam earlier chimed in.
“Eric, we will have known of that talk in
here,” Mrs. McCrady warned her student.
“That goes for the rest of your group.
Steve, Mark, Chris, you hear me back there?”
The four kids who were in the pick-up the
day before all nodded and stayed silent.
“These kids must really like Mrs. McCrady
as a teacher, Sam,” said Al.
The teacher turned back to Sam. “As you were saying, Gregory?”
“I was merely trying to point out that
some people believed the Russians would not want to risk a
retaliatory strike so it was just positioning for world power.
Some Americans thought this was a way to seek profit, like
selling bomb shelters for instance and preying on people who
bought into the fear and hysteria.
In fact, it may have also caused paranoia as well.
People being mistaken for Communists and being falsely
accused in a McCarthyism type environment, trying to find signs of
Communism in this country unjustly.”
“Well spoken, Gregory,” Mrs McCrady
beamed, with a twinkle in her eyes as she looked at the
troublesome bunch in the back she had just scolded.
“A person living in this country who is an American
citizen has the privilege to enjoy the rights of being a
“Good answer, Sam,” an amused Al
commended his friend. “I
don’t think your buddies in the back cared for it much
The rest of the class went by without
incident, the last ten minutes was devoted for reading over the
assigned material. As
Steve, the blonde haired one of the gang, walked by Sam to use the
restroom, he gave the leaper a strong nudge which shoved him back
into his seat. As Sam
at one point walked to the trash can to dispose of some gum
someone had left on his chair, Mrs. McCrady motioned for him to
join her by the door away from the class.
“I hope the rest of your day goes smoothly.
I know a lot of students here give new kids a hard time.”
“Especially since I’m a Russian new
kid. Even though I
was born in this country, that’s all I’ll be known as.
No one will want to see past the truth in that.”
Sam looked a bit perplexed as the words came out.
“Sam, Ziggy says you’re having a
mind-merge episode again,” Al said, checking his handlink.
Just as fast as it hit, the feeling of his
mind being pushed aside subsided and Sam felt like himself again.
“Don’t worry,” countered the teacher.
“To me, you are a student just like everybody else.
I’ll do what I can during class
to make the other students less afraid or hateful towards
you. U.S. History
during the sixties is a good time for me to show these other kids
how prejudice and intolerance wrongly shaped that period of
“I like her, Sam.”
Nodding discreetly at Al, Sam turned back
to the teacher. “I
may have an idea to bridge the gap a bit.”
After telling Mrs. McCrady what he thought, he returned to
“Class,” the teacher got everyone’s
attention, “I have an extra assignment for you.
As we get into the remainder of sixties history, it would
be a good idea to get to know what some of our ancestors did
during this time as a way of understanding world evens from a
different perspective. So
tonight, go home and find out what your parents and even your
grandparents did during the time of the Cuban Missile Crisis, and
give a little biographical information on them.
For example, I’d like to know names, birthplaces, where
they grew up, what were they doing during the Crisis.
Were they students? Did
they have occupations? What
were their thoughts and fears?
Doesn’t need to be an essay, just have your information
handy, and present it to the class tomorrow.”
The class as a whole groaned from having
this new assignment and since most of them had just seen Sam
talking to the teacher, many of them suspected him as the cause of
“What’s the point of all that, Sam?”
wondered Al aloud as the bell rang to signal the end of class.
“I think you made more people mad at you than anything
Sighing, Sam looked at the schedule for his
Dressed in red shorts and a white T-shirt,
Sam made his way out of the locker room.
He looked a bit of a mess with his left knee scraped up and
his one arm aching in pain as he held it with the other.
Sam found Al practicing mock hook shots as he stepped onto
the basketball court in the school gym.
Most of the students were already there waiting for class
to begin. Heading
over to Al, Sam noticed a long rack on wheels covered with dodge
“What’s with the arm, pal?” the
Admiral wanted to know.
“Got pushed into a locker,” Sam said,
wincing as he tried to stretch his arm.
“Did anyone see it happen?”
“Yeah,” Sam nodded, “the gym teacher
did, but he just looked away.”
Before Al could comment on it, a shrill
whistle came from the other side of the gym.
“All right, you wimps!” a big hulk of a man screamed.
“Dodge ball time! Time
to line-up for teams.”
“This guy must be Mr. DiMagliotti, the
gym teacher. Ziggy
says he’s ex-Marine. Don’t
piss him off.”
Sam got in line as the students counted off
by 2’s. As the new
teams began to take their places, the gym teacher moved a
partition wall to cut the gym floor in half.
“There is no out of bounds except for the bleachers on
the left side. No
running with the ball, throw it where you get it.
When you’re out, you will sit on the bleachers.
Everything else is in play, including off the walls.”
As the leaper headed to his side of the
court, four figures stood in his way.
“We’re gonna wipe your ass all over this gym just like
the U.S. kicked your Russian asses in ice hockey,” snarled Eric,
his buddies laughed in agreement.
“Mr. Miller, we’d like to play
today,” the gym coach bellowed at Eric.
Scowling, Eric turned to Sam before walking
away. “You’re a
dead man!” he threatened.
Al tapped some buttons on his handlink as
he stood in front of the bleachers.
“Ziggy doesn’t know if Gregory gets killed now or not,
so just keep on your toes.”
Nodding, Sam joined his team, who looked
less than thrilled to have him.
“Stay away from me,” one of them said.
“They’re gonna go after you first.”
DiMagliotti’s whistle blew, signaling the
start of the game as two dodge balls apiece were rolled to both
sides of the court. Sam
picked up one of them and no sooner had he done so then a dodge
ball came whistling at him. Holding his dodge ball tight, he deflected the shot off the
wall where a teammate then caught it and quickly had it sailing
down the court where it hit an opposing player.
“Great play,” Sam’s teammate said
him until he remembered who Sam was.
The teammate walked off embarrassed.
Looking over quick, Sam saw Steve sitting on the bleachers.
“Good move, Sam, you got rid of one of
those goons. Only
three of those nozzles left now.”
The game continued for a while as players
on both sides were eliminated from the game.
Before long, it came down to Sam and the teammate who had
congratulated him versus Eric and Mark on the other side.
Sam had one ball while the remaining three were on the
other side. Not
tempting fate like Steve had, Mark whipped his dodge ball at
Sam’s teammate, who tried to catch the ball but dropped it and
was out of the game. Sam
never even looked to see how it turned out, he had thrown his ball
the second after Mark had and drilled him right in the chest,
knocking him back. The
ball hung in the air and fell to the floor in front of Eric who
Eric checked the situation.
He had one ball with two more on the floor on his side.
The fourth ball was on Sam’s side but across the gym
floor. The Russian
would be picked off before he even made a run for it, Eric
thought. He had Sam
cornered and knew victory was in the air.
“Get ready, Sam, he’s gonna make his
move,” Al advised.
Sam stood as close to the wall as he could,
waiting for the throw. As
Eric released it with a loud grunt, the leaper leaped.
Reaching up, Sam caught hold of the chin-up bars attached
to the wall above him and pulled himself up.
Eric’s throw went way beneath him and bounced off the
back wall, rolling to a stop on Sam’s side.
“That’s illegal,” Eric griped.
“Nothing in the rules against using your
head,” the gym coach growled back.
“Play the game.”
Sam dropped down from the bars and looked
around. One ball was
in his back corner, worthless to him since it would require a long
throw to get Eric out and most likely would be caught, meaning
he’d lose the game. A
second ball was on the other side of his area where his teammate
had dropped it. Eric
had one in his hand ready to throw again and the fourth ball was
in the bully’s backfield area, which was useless to him.
“Make a run for the ball, Commie!”
“You too chicken to throw at me?” Sam
“Sam, what the hell are you doing?” Al
just gonna make Eric madder.
Ziggy says the odds of you getting into a fight after this
class go up drastically. Throw
the game and give Gregory some extra life.”
“Not a chance, Al.
I think if I can get this kid some respect, they might just
leave him alone.”
Looking at his buddies in the bleachers,
Eric felt the anger stir in him and knew he had to prove himself
and not be bested by the Russian kid.
Without thinking he whipped it hard.
Sam dove out of the way as it bounced off the back wall and
rolled to a stop just shy of the dividing line of the two zones.
Wincing in pain, Sam landed wrong on his shoulder.
Getting up he saw he had three dodge balls, one in the back
corner, one near where he was lying, and the third just a few feet
from the line.
Eric began to realize he made a mistake and
ran back to get the only dodge ball he had left to throw.
Slowly, he let the ball roll from his hand towards the
dividing line. Following
it, he waited for the ball to stop on his side of the line.
Picking it up, he saw Sam was crawling to the ball nearest
By now, the rest of the class was closely
watching the game. Everyone
was rooting against Sam, even his own teammates as they apparently
were all filled in on Gregory’s heritage.
Seeing his chance, Eric threw a scorcher
just as Sam picked up his ball.
In a crouch, the leaper deflected the throw which shot
straight back and bounced off the rear wall, then rolled
forward towards the line.
“Sam, he’s gonna get his ball back. Ziggy says if you throw it at him now, he’ll catch it.
She also says that now’s your chance to finish this if
you’re gonna do it.”
Eric’s ball was slowly rolling towards
him, and he was waiting for it to cross the line.
Wasting no time, Sam rolled the ball he was holding towards
the back wall and ran as fast as he could towards the one he still
had on his side. Sliding forward, he stopped Eric’s ball from crossing the
line with his legs. Before
Eric knew what hit him, Sam slammed him in the chest from a
sitting position with the other ball that was just on his side of
the line. It caromed
off of Eric’s chest and bounced off the wall coming back towards
“If he catches it, you’re out!”
Eric never got the chance.
As he waited to catch the ricochet, Sam hit him in the back
with the ball he had saved with his legs.
When Eric turned to see how he was hit, the other ball came
back at him and hit the floor in front of him.
Sam’s classmates could only sit there and shake their heads in
wonderment. A few of them actually cheered, forgetting the person those
cheers were for.
work, Mr. Talosovich,” the gym teacher grinned, clearly
impressed. “In all
my years of teaching, that was one of the best damn games of dodge
ball I have ever seen.”
Sam looked over to see Eric and his friends
head into the locker room to change, each of them giving Sam a
look of daggers in their eyes.
“I think you had better wait until I get
in there before you change,” Mr. DiMigliotti cautioned as he
went into the locker room.
“Well, Sam,” Al said as he walked up to
Sam. “I gotta
admit, that was incredible. With
all the dodge ball leagues popping up nowadays, you’d be a
natural. I think you
got a few people to respect you after that game.” The hologram checked his handlink. “Damn. Gregory’s
chances of getting killed in the fight go down but it still seems
likely something will happen to him.”
“Any idea when?” asked Sam, wiping the
sweat off his forehead and gingerly moving his hurt shoulder.
“Ziggy predicts sometime in the next two hours, and she
says with your wounded shoulder, your chances of defending
yourself aren’t good,” Al reported glumly.
Third period went by all too quickly to
Sam. He had found
physics class a sheer delight, and at one point even engaged the
teacher into an almost heated discussion on whether or not a
finite universe could exist and whether or not Einstein’s
theories of time and motion could be applied to it. Al on the other hand, fell asleep on his chair and could care
less about it.
The next period was just as fun as Sam
found himself in Calculus. At
one point, he was asked to solve a problem on the board.
As he did so at an extremely fast pace, he also looked at
the problem next to that, and solved it just as quickly.
Before sitting down, he corrected a mistake with a third
problem that the teacher put on the board incorrectly.
Shocked, the math teacher mumbled a thanks to Sam.
Lunchtime came at the end of fourth period.
As the bell rang, the students picked up their books and
headed to the cafeteria. Sam
felt like a herded piece of cattle as he blindly followed along.
The line was not long and soon after, Sam carried his tray
covered with Shepherd’s Pie into the lunchroom.
Tables were everywhere, and almost all of
them were filled with students, eating and chatting about their
social lives or the tests they probably just failed.
Seeing an empty area in the back corner, Sam put his tray
down and began to eat. Students
walked by, looking for a place to sit.
Rather than sit with Sam, they squeezed themselves in to
Sam shook his head.
“How can anyone live like this?
It’s like the kid has a contagious disease or
“More like Commie cooties,” quipped Al,
staring at a brunette who walked past him.
“Al, she’s illegal,” chided Sam. “Besides, this isn’t funny.
I can’t change everyone here, and this kid is gonna come
back to a life of loneliness.
I can see now why the kid talks to himself.
He’s an only child and he has no friends.”
“Well, you’re doing something right,”
commented Al as his handlink beeped at him.
“The chances of something happening are slightly less but
still probable. Ziggy
says you’re sitting at a different table.
Originally, Gregory tried to sit at another table and the
fight stemmed from that.” The handlink whistled loudly as Al smacked it.
need Dom to fix this soon. Uh,
oh, Sam, Ziggy says the chances are spiking upward again and
whatever is gonna happen, it’s gonna be right now!”
A hand grabbed Sam by the shoulder and
pulled him out of his seat. Spinning,
Sam found himself facing Eric and his gang.
A click came from the bully’s hand as a switchblade
popped open. “I am so sick of you, Commie,” Eric spat.
“You people come into my country uninvited and try to
take over from within. I
won’t let that happen.” He
held up the blade.
“Whoa,” Steve said, shocked.
“Dude, what are you doing, man?”
“Gonna teach this Red a lesson,” Eric
replied, clearly unglued. “He
made me look bad in gym class and I wanna make him pay for that.
No Commie gets the better of me.”
“You said we were gonna rough him up a
little bit, that’s all,” stated Mark.
“We will,” Eric looked back at his
after we get him out of the lunchroom and outside the building.”
“Something not right with you, dude,”
Chris remarked. “We’re
seniors, for Christ’s sake.
I’m not gonna risk graduating out of here just to beat up
“Quit your whining,” snapped Eric,
forcing Sam to start walking forwards with his knife.
“Let’s go,” he ordered.
As they walked down the aisle, most of the
kids were oblivious to what was going on.
Believing Sam was moving too slow, Eric gave him a strong
shove. The impact
caused the leaper to collide with the back of another student who
was in the middle of eating.
The people at that table looked over in
alarm as the student Sam bumped began to turn red and began
“Oh my, god, he’s choking,” exclaimed
a girl at the table, clearly terrified as other students came to
the same realization.
In the confusion, Sam turned and kicked the
switchblade out of Eric’s hand. It flew across the room and
landed underneath a table. Without
hesitation, Sam pulled the choking kid away from the table and
began performing the Heimlich Maneuver, pressing up into the
student’s abdominal area. Each
pressurized push bringing pain to Sam’s shoulder.
Eric tried to pull Sam away from the
choking student, but Mark pulled him back.
“No, let him do this.”
With one good push, Sam managed to get the
student to cough up the piece of food, causing it to hit Eric in
the chest. As the
leaper was about to lower the student back to his seat, Al noticed
something was wrong. “Sam, he’s still not breathing right!”
As everyone watched, Sam had the
unconscious student lying on the floor.
Teachers had arrived at the scene to find Sam administering
CPR and then finally mouth to mouth resuscitation.
After a few attempts, the student coughed and began
breathing on his own.
Relieved, Al congratulated his friend.
“Good job, Sam.” His eyes focused on the student Sam saved.
“Hey, Sam, it’s the guy who was on your team in gym
class. The one that
dropped the ball on your team before you defeated Eric.”
“Are you ok?” Sam asked the kid.
“Yeah,” the student replied hoarsely.
“You saved my life.
I don’t know how to thank you.”
“Don’t worry about it,” Sam replied. “My mom is a nurse. I
learned a few things from her I guess.”
The student was helped up to his seat by
teachers. Color was
returning to his face as he held out his hand.
“My name is Jeff. Jeff
Sam took his hand, smiling.
Talosovich. Nice to
As Jeff made to his feet, almost everyone
in the lunchroom applauded him and Sam for his efforts.
Even Mark, Chris, and Steve clapped their hands.
Eric was nowhere to be seen, he had disappeared from the
“Looks like you made a friend, Sam. I think you’re gonna start seeing the Wall come down a bit.
Gregory’s definitely earned some respect after today.”
Moments later, Sam left the lunchroom and
headed down the hallway to get to his fifth period class.
Al kept in stride with him.
“Hey, kid, slow down.
I may be a hologram but I still get tired too you know.”
“Why am I still here?”
“Don’t get your honor roll in a bunch,
Einstein.” Al keyed
in a few commands on his handlink.
“Ziggy says you’ll find out tomorrow morning.”
“Hey, Sam, calm down.
Gregory lives to see another day, that’s good news,
“I guess,” Sam agreed glumly, gingerly
flexing his injured arm.
“Of course it is.
So you get to finish the day in school.
I could tell all morning you were enjoying it when it
wasn’t gym class related.”
“I gotta admit, Al, school’s a nice
place to visit, but I don’t want to relive it.”
Sam and Al found their way to Gregory’s fifth period
class and walked in. They
were early as no one was in the room yet.
“Which class is this, Sam?”
Sam looked at his schedule.
“Have you read the board yet,
“No, I…” the words failed on Sam’s
lips as he saw the blackboard which read: ‘Sex Education’.
The rest of the day went by without
incident, despite the torturous health education class.
Somehow Sam made it through, and gladly awaited the school
bus to take him home.
he stepped on board, he noticed all the seats were taken.
Sighing, he contemplated standing in the aisle when a voice
yelled, “Gregory. Over
Sam looked back a few seats and found Jeff
sitting there by himself. “You
can sit here.” The
leaper took his seat and smiled, remembering what it had felt like
when he was a black man named Jesse, being allowed to sit at a
counter for the first time without anyone confronting him.
“Looks like things are looking up,”
surmised Al. “Hey, Sam, Ziggy says you’re fine until tomorrow.
I’ll see you then.”
He popped open the Imaging Chamber door and was gone.
No one bothered Sam as the bus took him to
That evening found Sam having another
delicious version of an Americanized Russian meal.
Wishing he had taken more time to savor the meal, he
immediately forgave himself as a Russian chocolate cake was
brought in by Helena.
Swallowing a large piece of chocolate, John
turned to his son. “School
called me today and informed me of what you did.
Your mother and I want you to know how proud we are of you. If this school works out, looks like the fights will stop.
Still want to tell us who gave you that black eye from your
old school?” he asked.
“John!” Helena said sharply.
“All right, I will let it go.
I really hope that the students will stop trying to fight
with you. Perhaps
this event at your school today is a step forward.”
“I hope so,” Sam agreed, wiping crumbs
from his mouth.
“After dinner, take out the trash, and
then I want you to take care of your homework,” John reminded
“Sure,” Sam said, finishing his cake.
“I need your help tonight.
I have some questions to ask about you and mom, and my
grandparents for history class.”
“We will be happy to help you, son,”
Sam quickly gathered up the trash and took
it out back. Finding
the trash can, he picked up the lid and dumped everything in.
Then he carried the trash can around front to the curb,
trying not to let the pain in his arm bother him.
Making sure the lid was fastened on tight so as to not
attract wild animals, he made his way back to the front door.
Sam couldn’t tell, but it looked like a black pick-up
truck was parked down the road.
As he walked slowly towards it, a cop car patrolled down
the other side. The truck’s headlights came on and moved down
the road and turned the corner.
“Tomorrow morning, Ziggy?” mused Sam.
“Looks like round two with Eric is coming.”
He turned around and headed for the house.
A freshly painted image on the garage door made him stop in
his tracks. In red, dripping paint, the word ‘COMMIE’ was written in
- November 22nd, 1983
Again, Sam rode the bus without incident as
he sat with Jeff on the way to school.
Al had shown up on time with a cup of coffee in one hand
and the handlink in the other.
If he wasn’t a hologram, that coffee would’ve sloshed
all over everyone on board the vehicle.
“Morning, Sam,” Al yawned.
“Spent all night talking with Gregory.
Really neat kid.”
Sam tried to hear what Al was saying as
Jeff asked, “What are you doing the day after Thanksgiving?”
“Not sure yet,” Sam answered, looking
“Oh,” Jeff said.
“I was gonna have a small gathering at my house for my
birthday. If all goes
well, the old man will get me a car so I don’t have to use this
“Say yes, Sam,” Al instructed his
friend. “Part of
the reason you’re here is to make friends.
This will get the ball rolling.”
“Sure, I’d like to come.
Will any of your other friends mind my being there?”
“Doubt it,” responded Jeff.
“They were impressed with what you did for me
“These kids will find out soon enough
that Gregory is just the same as them.
Interested in cars, the opposite sex, sports, and all that.
Pretty soon they’ll forget that he is the enemy,” Al
added as the bus pulled up to the gym lobby entrance.
“See you later, Greg,” Jeff waved and
went off to his first class.
Sam made his way to homeroom and paused in
the doorway of his history class.
Inside, the students who were seated looked up at him.
Some of them gave him a nod of approval, and a few even
smiled at him. Sitting
down, he noticed one seat in the back was vacant.
Just as the bell rang, Mrs. McCrady marched
in and shut the classroom door.
“Hello, class,” she began, “we have a lot to get
through today. I hope
everyone remembered their assignment for today.”
The students got out their homework just as
the door opened and Eric stormed in.
Huffing, he sat down in his seat and stared hard at Sam.
“Well, Mr. Miller,” Mrs. McCrady got up
from her desk. “Since you were the last one in, you get to be
the first one to go. Please
come up front with your assignment.”
Irritated, Eric made his way to the front.
“OK, Eric, tell us a little about your
ancestors,” the teacher suggested, “starting with your
Nervously, Eric cleared his throat and read
off his paper. “My
paternal grandparents are Frederick and Anna Miller.”
“Where did they originate from?”
“They came from Germany, and immigrated
to this country in 1935 right after they were married.”
“Must have been tough for them,” Mrs.
“What do you mean?” Eric asked.
“Well, your grandparents came to this
country right before World War II broke out in full swing,”
reasoned the teacher. “They
must have had a difficult time of things when the Nazis tried to
take over the world. Any Germans in this country were probably looked down upon as
supporters of Hitler.”
“My grandparents were not Nazis!” cried
“What were they then?” demanded Mrs.
“They were American citizens.”
“What about your father? He is the son of
German immigrants. Does
that make him American too, or is he just another German?”
“He’s a citizen, too!”
“Because he was born in this country,
that’s why! It’s
Al leaned over to Sam.
“I think there’s something about his grandparents
he’s not telling.”
“I think you’re right, Al.” Sam
I know I am,” the hologram confirmed.
“Ziggy just dug up the goods.”
He flashed Sam the readout on the handlink.
The history teacher motioned for Sam to
stand up. “Class,
by Eric’s own admission, anyone born in this country is
automatically a citizen, correct?” The class nodded in unison.
“Good,” she continued.
“Gregory, your parents are Russian right?”
“My parents defected from Russia back in
the sixties,” Sam supplied.
“But you were born in the States?”
“By Eric’s logic, that would make you
an American citizen then. My
point people is that people who are citizens of this country
should not be prejudged based on their lineage.”
Mrs. McCrady sized up her class.
“Yesterday, I noticed some hostility towards Gregory
because he is of Russian descent.
As we have just proved in this classroom, this student is
to be treated with all the rights and privileges that any one of
us is entitled to. In
fact, it may surprise you to learn this, but my maternal
grandparents were of Russian descent.
So if you want to brand Gregory a Russian communist,
you’ll have to include me as well.”
A gasp came from the room just as Sam
raised his hand.
“You wish to add something to this,
Gregory?” the teacher asked.
“I don’t think Eric has told us everything about his
grandmother. I think he learned something while doing this assignment that
he is not sharing with us.”
“What, am I on trial here or
something?” Eric snapped, clearing losing control of his
“Is this true?” the teacher walked up
For a few seconds, the bully would not meet
Mrs. McCrady’s gaze. “Is
this true?” she repeated.
Eric’s face twitched as he finally
blurted out, “Yes, it’s true.
How would you feel if you just learned that your
grandmother was Russian? There,
are you happy? I am a
descendent of a Communist.”
Turning to Sam, he charged towards him, “Damn you!”
“Careful, Sam, I think you pushed his
buttons!” Al yelled.
Clearly, Sam could see that Eric was
unhinged. Taking a
step back, the quantum physicist brought up his good arm to block
Eric’s punch and fell backwards over a chair.
Screaming for her class to settle down, Mrs. McCrady ran to
the intercom to page the principal’s office.
Meanwhile, Sam waited for another punch or
at least a kick to the ribs, but nothing came.
Instead, he looked up to see Mark, Steve, and Chris holding
Eric in a lock.
“Let me go!” the bully screamed and
broke free of their grip. Staring
at Sam and then at the room, he shouted, “This country just lost
a war today. You’ll
regret letting this Communist live amongst us.
Soon there’ll be too many of them and then this country
will belong to them.” Enraged, Eric stormed out of the classroom.
Outside, the sound of a locker being punched followed by an
inhuman scream filled the hallway. Mrs. McCrady and the rest of the class rushed out to find
Eric grasping his broken hand in pain, lying on the hallway floor.
Other classes had now looked out their doors to see what
“So much pain,” Al said to Sam, who
remained at his seat. “So
much hatred. Guess we’ll never know why he felt that way.”
“Somewhere along the way he was raised
with an “Us Versus Them” mentality,” said Sam.
“Those negative feeling festered in his brain to the
point where he needed an outlet to release his anger.
Violence and hatred seemed the only way.”
Al checked his handlink.
“Looks like you did it, Sam.
Eric Miller is taken away for mental health treatment.
It seems he’ll be spending a long time with that.
Ziggy has no idea what will become of him after that,
though, a real shame. As
for Gregory, saving Jeff brought him some respect, and some new
friends. Mrs. McCrady’s admission to her ancestry might have helped
a little, too. Gregory
and Jeff hit it off and become best friends.
Jeff gets a car for his birthday and gives Gregory a ride
to school every day. They
both go to the same college, and eventually start an organization
to increase understanding of other people from different
countries. In fact,
they take local students to Russia every year as part of an
Sam looked at Al curiously as he really
whacked the handlink hard. “I
take it there’s more?” Sam asked with a grin.
Al gave the handlink one last smack.
“Ziggy has something on John and Helena.
This is interesting. Jeff’s
father is in the science department at the local Penn State
branch, and after meeting John through the kids’ friendship,
gets Gregory’s father a well-paying job in the science
department. After a
few years, John gets certified to teach.
As for Helena, she finally lands a job at Reading Hospital
sometime in ’87.”
By now, the class had returned to the room
and into their seats. “Looks
like Eric will be taken to the hospital.
If everyone is all right, it’s time we continued with
this. Where were
we?” Mrs. McCrady scratched her head.
“Oh, yes, class. We’ll now have a chance to hear about the Missile Crisis
from a different perspective.
Gregory come up to the front.
I think it’s your turn next.”
Sam looked back towards Al as he grabbed
the piece of paper with his assignment on it.
“It’s your turn,” agreed Al as Sam felt the familiar
tingle and leaped out.