Episode 1114

The Enemy

by: Greg Carey 


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“In Europe and America, there's a growing feeling of hysteria

Conditioned to respond to all the threats in the rhetorical speeches of the Soviets

Mr. Krushchev said we will bury you, I don't subscribe to this point of view

It would be such an ignorant thing to do, if the Russians love their children too

How can I save my little boy from Oppenheimer's deadly toy

There is no monopoly of common sense on either side of the political fence

We share the same biology; Regardless of ideology

Believe me when I say to you, I hope the Russians love their children too

There is no historical precedent to put words in the mouth of the president

There's no such thing as a winnable war, it's a lie we don't believe anymore

Mr. Reagan says we will protect you, I don't subscribe to this point of view

Believe me when I say to you, I hope the Russians love their children too

We share the same biology; Regardless of ideology

What might save us me and you, is if the Russians love their children too”

- Russians

Written 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 suburbia.  Houses 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 approaching.  The 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, wear it!”

     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.!  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.




Project Quantum Leap

Stallion’s Gate, NM

February 5th, 2006 – 11:43pm – Night before Sam’s leap-in


     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 passenger side.

     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, huh?”

     “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?”

     Al 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 distinction.”

     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 whereabouts.  Tonight 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.  “Certainly.  Where 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 project.”

     Al had no idea that a large exhale escaped his lips.

     “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 perhaps beyond.”

     “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. Beckett.”  Switching off his lamp, he leaned back and tried to get some sleep, but found it impossible.



Wyomissing, PA

SUNDAY - 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 behind him.

     “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 squawked.  "Damn.  I wish Dom would get back from town so he can fix this thing.”

     “Handlink problems, again?” Sam teased his friend.

     “Yeah.  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 skills.”

     “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 doctor.  Apparently, 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 food.

     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 Russian dinner.”

     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 said.

     “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 him.

     “Think it’s your turn for the blessing tonight, Sam,” Al observed.

     “I know,” Sam countered through clenched teeth.

     “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.”
     Sam’s 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 rescue.  “Don’t 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 Mexico

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.

     “Excuse me, 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’m lost.  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.”

     “You’re welcome, 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’.




Wyomissing, PA

SUNDAY - 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 war.”

     “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 for real’.”

     “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 school?”

     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.


Project Quantum Leap

Stallion’s Gate, NM

MONDAY, 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 sentries within.

     “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 cautious.”  The 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 quarters.

     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 greeting.

     “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 here?”

     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 aroused.  “M-my 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.  It’s impossible!”

      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 gets.”

     “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 else.”

     “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 this.”

     “You’ve programmed her to lie,” accused Dom.

     “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, Mr. Lofton.”

     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.

     “What is it, soldier?”

     The guard saluted.  “Sir, we just caught an intruder trying to infiltrate the project.”

     Hawkins stood up in alarm.  “Explain.”

     “Apparently, the individual was trying to crawl out of a vehicle.  He was caught carrying only a videocamera.”

     “No weapons?”

     “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 infiltrate?”

     “None.  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 pale.

     “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.

     “Unless 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.



Wyomissing, PA

MONDAY - 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 oatmeal.

     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 were Russian.”

     “But you didn’t know either of them that well.”

     “True.  I only remember a few words from them.  I learned most of my Russian from Pavel.”

     Sam looked at the observer.  “Pavel?”

     “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 ways.”

     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 front!”

     “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 back.”

     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 schedule.”

     Sighing, Sam picked up his bookbag and entered the gym lobby, following the signs that pointed to the office.





     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 body.”

     “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. 

Open 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 instructed.  Sam 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 inquired.

     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 standpoint.   It 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 U.S.”

     “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 citizen.”

     “Good answer, Sam,” an amused Al commended his friend.  “I don’t think your buddies in the back cared for it much though.”

     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 time.”

     “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 his seat.

     “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 it.

     “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 else.”

     Sighing, Sam looked at the schedule for his next class.



     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 balls.

     “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 afterwards,  congratulating 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 grabbed it.

     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!” taunted Eric.

     “You too chicken to throw at me?” Sam called back.

     “Sam, what the hell are you doing?” Al demanded.  “You’re 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 him.

     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 him.

     “If he catches it, you’re out!” warned Al.

     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.

Stunned, 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.

     “Excellent 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 other tables.

     Sam shook his head.  “How can anyone live like this?  It’s like the kid has a contagious disease or something.”

     “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.  “Dammit.  I 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 friends.  “Right 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 someone.”

     “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 wheezing.

     “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 Patterson.”

     Sam took his hand, smiling.  “Gregory.  Gregory Talosovich.  Nice to meet you.”

     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 room.

     “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.”

     “Tomorrow morning?”

     “Hey, Sam, calm down.  Gregory lives to see another day, that’s good news, right?”

     “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.  “Health class.”

     “Have you read the board yet, Sherlock?”

     “No, I…” the words failed on Sam’s lips as he saw the blackboard which read: ‘Sex Education’.  “Ohhh, boy!”

     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.

As he stepped on board, he noticed all the seats were taken.  Sighing, he contemplated standing in the aisle when a voice yelled, “Gregory.  Over here.”

     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 Gregory’s house.

     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 him.

     “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,” smiled John.

     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 large letters.

Wyomissing, PA

TUESDAY - 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 at Al.

     “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 bus anymore.”

     “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 yesterday.”

     “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 grandparents.”

     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. McCrady said.

     “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 Eric.

     “What were they then?” demanded Mrs. McCrady.

     “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 automatic.”

     Al leaned over to Sam.  “I think there’s something about his grandparents he’s not telling.”

     “I think you’re right, Al.” Sam agreed.

     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?”

     “I was.”

     “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.

     Sam nodded.  “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 emotions.

     “Is this true?” the teacher walked up to Eric.

     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 was happening.

     “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.”

     “Perhaps.”  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 exchange program.”

     Sam looked at Al curiously as he really whacked the handlink hard.  “I take it there’s more?” Sam asked with a grin.

     “Yeah.”  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.





     Bright blinding blue-white light.
     This, he was used to.
     It meant he was leaping out.
     Sam relaxed into the familiar haze of the leaping process, letting it wash away all the strains and worries of the last few days, even though it normally meant that his mind erased not only the bad memories (and not always the bad memories) but most of those he’d like to hang on to as well. While the blue-white light lasted, he was at peace, and nothing could touch him. He had come to cherish these all too brief moments of total freedom. He thought of it as recharging his batteries, ready for the next challenge ahead.
     The blue-white haze that surrounded him gave way to purple: A bright vivid purple; and then gold and green joined the mix.
     His field of vision was swamped in a jumble of these vibrant colors.
     Sam blinked. Then he blinked again.
     The gold was more a sunshine cornfield yellow. The green was lush verdant grass; the purple rich and regal.
     The colors swirled and merged into each other as Sam fought to focus on the source of these assaults upon his optic nerves.
     He was not used to being bombarded with such strident stimuli.
     Sam felt overwhelmed by the input, and as his head swam, he found himself unsteady on his feet.
     Looking down, he soon realized why.
     A dainty pair of thin strapped golden sandals laced their way over his toes and around his ankles; the heels equally fine, and a good six inches high.
     The mere sight of them made Sam wobble on his chair.
     He was standing on a wooden chair, and for once he had no need to seek out a mirror to see whose aura he now bore. He was facing a full-length ornate shop mirror, reflecting the outfit that was being altered to better fit his new knock-out female form.  And what an outfit!
     “Hold still!” the woman on her knees at his feet admonished.
     It was not an easy command to obey.
     Sam stared in disbelief at the apparition before him. A tall, slender very attractive girl of somewhere around sixteen to eighteen, skin deeply tanned, or maybe the pale brown of a half-caste, he couldn’t be sure. He couldn’t see enough of it for the covering she bore.
     His body from neck to ankles was encased in a purple figure hugging, segmented carapace. Though bare at the shoulders, his arms were covered to well above the elbow in silky gloves, the same hue as the bodice. That, he could maybe have dealt with. The rest was another matter altogether. Enormous wire-framed tri-colored butterfly wings stretched behind him from the ground up to way above his shoulders. They felt to be held on at the top with a cloth padded wire framework that hooked over his collarbone and were inserted into some restraining ‘pockets’ at the back. They were further held firm by long broad sashes which came down over his shoulders, crossed over accentuating the young lady’s breasts, and then went around to be tied in a bow at the back. And to complete the illusion, a head-dress, also in purple, fitted tight around his skull, and then snaked up in two long wire tendrils to large gaudy bauble antennae that bobbed about with every slight move he made.
     This wasn’t an outfit, it was a costume. A huge, cumbersome, embarrassing -“what the hell have I leaped into now?”- butterfly costume!
     “Ohhhhhhhh boy!” he breathed, as his blushing cheeks added scarlet to the lurid color explosion.

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