Episode 1117

Eternal Shadows: The Dawning

by: M. J. Cogburn 


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Project Quantum Leap

Stallion’s Gate, New Mexico


Admiral Albert Calavicci still couldn’t believe the audacity of Jonathon Thomas Beckett.  The way that young man had plastered the truth over the Internet about the classified government funded project still ruffled his feathers.  Everything the boy had done, every word, every single word placed in that chat had led up to a point and it was beginning to poke him squarely in the nose.


Sitting down at his desk, Al turned on his computer as he sipped at the steaming cup of coffee in his right hand.  Leaning back in his chair, he waited for the computer to warm up then he peered at his desktop for a long moment before he asked, “Ziggy?”


“Yes, Admiral?” the parallel-hybrid computer purred back.


“Would you display the spam message that started all of this nonsense, as well as the transcript of that chat that was held?”


Without an audible response, two documents faded in on Admiral Calavicci’s screen.  Transferring his coffee cup to his left hand, he placed his mouse on the email.  He read it again, this time aloud:  “Experienced lapses in time you can’t explain?”  He paused, sighed, and then continued to read the rest of the message aloud.


“Have you had moments of your life pass by without any memories of it?  Have changes in your life occurred without you understanding why?  Have you ever felt like you had an out of time experience?  Have you had persistent dreams of being inside a blue room, constantly monitored by people you have never met?  If you can answer yes to any of these questions, you are invited to attend a live chat Sunday night (Jan. 15th) at 8PM EST.  At this time, all members will describe their experiences to the best of their abilities and we shall all pull together what we have learned to figure out why this event has occurred to a select number of us.  Is it a form of alien abduction, or is it something else beyond imagination?  It is my hope that some of you will help fill in the gaps of our memories.


“This message has been sent to various e-mail addresses all over the country in the hopes of finding others like myself that have shared a unique experience.  Most of you reading this will probably disregard this message as a joke, but if a small percentage find that a chord has been struck then this message has done it’s job.  The website address for Sunday’s chat is at the bottom of the e-mail.  In the meantime, a message board is currently up and running for those who wish to talk beforehand.”


Al set his coffee cup down, and then he rubbed his face hard.  J. T. had given them factual explicit answers and all it did was get an assembly of people parked outside of the project’s perimeter asking – no – demanding to see Dr. Beckett.


Al used his mouse to minimize the email and looked at the transcript dated January 15, 2006.  He read through all of it very thoroughly then shook his head and closed his eyes. 


“Admiral, are you okay?”


“Yes, Ziggy.  I’m fine.  Fine as I can be for someone still on a damn string.”  Al knew that he was still under the scrutinizing gaze of General Hawkins and that didn’t set well with him, either.   Shaking his head to try to rid himself of the anger that quickly set in with just the thought of the patronizing, egotistical bastard, Al peered up at the ceiling hoping for some divine aid.  Sighing, he glanced back at the computer screen.  “Has Sam leaped yet?” Al asked.


“No, Admiral, he has not.  As soon as he does… you’ll be the first to know.”



After being whisked away from his last leap, Doctor Samuel Beckett needed to escape.  It seemed that every leap was getting tougher and hard-hitting.  He remembered the exchange he had with an enigmatic bartender some time ago, being told that he was the one leaping himself in Time, but he just couldn’t make himself believe that - not after what he had learned that day.


The leaps had become tougher… much tougher for him, not only mentally but physically as well.  He remembered righting a wrong for Al and knew, deep in his heart, that it was the right thing to do.  He just wished that he were home. 


Even as he felt weightless in the void that held him over an immeasurable abyss, Sam was not aware of any part of his body.  It was as if he was in a dream; a realm where he could see everything from a universal scale, but not see anything at all.  It was then that he heard the voice that occasionally talked to him.


“Rest, Dr. Beckett.”


“I want to go home,” he said softly.


“Not yet.  Close your eyes and rest.  The road ahead is… bumpy and long.  Rest.  You will be home soon enough.”


If he could feel his head, Sam would have bowed it slightly, but still the words came softly, “Oh boy.”





Hope Springs, Virginia

February 10, 2006


Paige Ilene Arlyss sighed as she walked from her cherry-red Volkswagen GTO to her house.  She couldn’t believe the day she was having.  At ten o’clock in the morning, her boyfriend, Darryl McDaniel dumped her for no apparent reason and then walked away.  Because her mindset was extremely bewildered from the ordeal with her now -- ex-boyfriend, she was sure that she failed the Physics test over Chapter Eight.  It was then at lunch that she found out that Darryl had already asked Phoebe Daniels to be his girlfriend.  By the time she got to the door of her house, she’d had enough for the day and she just wanted to snuggle up to the two things that didn’t judge her:  her Siamese kitten, Schrodinger, and her computer.


Opening the door, she heard her mother in the kitchen singing a country-western song that was playing on the radio. She sniffed at the air and smiled appreciatively.  Her mother was making fudge.  Perfect comfort food after such a miserable day,’ Paige thought to herself.  “Hi mom,” Paige said as she paused in the doorway of the kitchen.


A tall brunette with emerald eyes turned with a smile as she looked at her daughter.  “Hi honey.  Did you have a good day at school?”


“If you call getting dumped, finding that your ex-boyfriend already has another girlfriend by lunch, and failing a Physics examination a good day… sure,” Paige said with a scowl as she plopped her backpack on one of the dining room chairs.


“Oh honey!”


Paige shrugged her shoulders and let a smile ease her anguish.  “It’s okay, mom.”


Dianne Michelle Lane turned to her daughter after dipping a spoon into the second bowl of fudge she had been making.  “Comfort licks,” she said warmly as she handed Paige the spoon.  “As soon as it’s done, I’ll let you have some fudge, okay?”


Paige grinned at her mother.  “Thanks mom,” then gave the spoon a lick and hummed. 


“Anything for you, honey,” Dianne said as she watched her only child pick up her backpack and head back to her bedroom; then went back to humming the song on the radio.


Walking into her bedroom, Paige tossed her backpack onto her bed.  Going to her desk, she bumped the mouse of her computer slightly then watched, as her monitor seemed to come to life.  Animatronics of a kitten clawing at an envelope at the corner of the screen told her that she had new e-mail.  After sitting down, she opened her e-mail program.  What she found wasn’t surprising.  Paige found another e-mail from the ever playful, every annoying, but always-kindhearted Shepherd Jameson.


Paige leaned back in her chair slightly as she read and licked at the spoon.



I heard about what happened with Darryl.  He’s a hypocritical ass.  You should go out with someone like me. *Hehe* I know… I know… go fly a kite noodle head, right?


Anyway… have you thought about the Valentines Day Dance – The Enchantment Under The Sea?  Isn’t that name just hokey or what?  Well… I know that I’m not the hunkiest guy around, but if you’d like… we could go together.  Wow… I’m corny… asking a girl out on the computer instead of face-to-face.  But then again, you know me….


Oh yeah, I forgot to ask you – have you thought about what or who sent that e-mail / pop-up virus to you?  Have you traced it?  The main reason why I asked about it is because if you can get rid of them as easily as you do … and you know how computer literate I am… with all those floozies out there… I just don’t want the little rinky-dink computer I have go blutzeroo, if you know what I mean.


Well, sugar lips talk at ya later.  Call me if you need to talk.





“The dance?”  Paige rolled her eyes but a grin spread across her features as she thought about the dance that the school was going to hold.  Darryl had asked her to go with him.  A frown immediately found its way onto her face.  “We’ll talk later about that Shep,” she said softly as she continued to read. “I’m not in the mood for a dance at the moment.”  As she read about Shepherd’s computer skills, she smirked.    “You are a long way from being any kind of computer literate person.  However, that virus…”


Paige minimized her e-mail program then opened yet another to look at the virus she had received recently.  It was harmless; or at least it seemed to be.  It had no malicious intent to shut down programming; nor did it have a code to reformat the computer.  It wasn’t a worm capable of replicating itself and eating the memory of her CPU either.  It didn’t even look as if it was capable of transmitting itself across networks or bypassing security systems.  Even as Paige studied it, she knew that just the aspect of it sitting on her computer was enough to pique her curiosity.


She rapped her fingernails thoughtfully on the desk as she finished up the rest of the fudge on the spoon.  She stared at the virus application software for a long moment then turned in her chair to look at the picture of her father, Ira Milam Arlyss, on the wall.  She had only known him for four years of her life, yet her mother told her often enough that she was more like her father every day. Paige looked into his eyes.  “So, what do you say, dad?  Do I crack it?  Or no?”  A slow smile spread on her face before she answered back, “You’re right, dad.  They shouldn’t have sent it if they didn’t want me to crack it.”


Turning back to her CPU, Paige flipped open yet another operating software program and began; her fingers flying over the keyboard; her mind seemingly to run even faster than her fingers.  She was sure glad that she had the weekend ahead of her.



“Doctor Beckett?” the voice called through the abyss echoing softly as it disturbed his rest. 


Even though Doctor Beckett still could not feel his body, he intently opened his eyes. “Yes?” his voice was weak and weary.


“It’s time, Doctor Beckett.”


“Time?” He was trying to get his bearings from being woken from his much-needed rest and relaxation.


“Time to put right what once was wrong,” the voice reverberated back at him.  “Don’t worry Doctor Beckett.  You’ll know all you need to know.”


Before the green-eyed physicist could reply, he leaped.





Hope Springs, Virginia

February 10, 2006


As reality began to materialize around him, he found himself lying back on a bed, listening to music, which he assumed was on the airwaves.  Sam swallowed as his stomach made its presence known with a growl.  He forced the idea of food away and tried to concentrate on where and who he was.


He rubbed at his eyes as he sat up on the bed.  With just a glance around the room, he knew that he had leaped into a teenage boy.  He didn’t know how many girls had posters up that displayed several bikini-clad super models around their room.


Shaking his head, Sam stood up and felt his back pocket.  He was relieved when he found a wallet.  Pulling it out, he looked at the driver’s license.  It belonged to Shepherd Allen Jameson, born January 16, 1988, living at 2613 Maple Avenue, Hope Springs, Virginia.


Sam frowned as he looked at the teen’s driver’s license.  The green eyed, black haired, tan faced kid staring back at him made him question why he had leaped into Shepherd Jameson as he heard the telephone ring.


It immediately stopped, letting him know that there was another person in the house with him; moments later he heard a bellowed call from somewhere else in the house. “Shepherd!  Phone!”


Reaching over to the phone beside the bed, he picked it up and answered indifferently, “It’s your dime.”  Sam blinked and shook his head wondering why he couldn’t have just said hello as he heard the click as whoever had answered the phone hung the extension up.


“Oh Shep, you won’t believe this!” the voice on the other end of the line was a female and her voice was bubbling with enthusiasm.


“Uhm… ok… what… wait… who is this?” Sam stumbled.


“It’s Paige.  I can’t believe this.  I’ve never stumbled across anything like this.  I mean, I knew that they existed, but…” Paige began to ramble.


“Paige?” Sam asked hastily with a grin.


“Yeah?” she said excitedly.


“Take a deep breath.  Slow down.”  Sam heard her take in a slow deep breath, then let it back out.  “Now, tell me what you found.”


“Well, you know how you asked about that e-mail – pop-up virus that I received?”


“Yeah,” Sam said knowing that she was trying to base things on Shepherd’s prior knowledge even though he personally had no clue about the virus she was talking about.


“Well, I found more out about it; not only from the net, but from the program itself.”


Sam frowned.  “What’d you find?”


“Ok.  Number one, about only fifty or so people got this so-called virus.  This one message board I go to... to check out computer viruses and colds was talking about this virus that they have named Inconspicuous.  However, it was number two that’s got me all hyped up.  You ready?”


“Sure, what?”


“It’s taken me all weekend, but… I’ve found something complex.  I’ve found a hidden program in this virus!”


“You’re hacking into it?” Sam asked a bit amazed.  Sam had heard of people who had gained unauthorized access to computer systems for the purpose of stealing and corrupting the data they found.  It was because of those individuals that he had put so many security applications and protocols on the parallel hybrid computer.  “That’s illegal,” he said into the receiver as the Imaging Chamber door opened a few feet before him. 


Admiral Albert Calavicci stepped out of the Imaging Chamber door dressed in a comparatively easy on the eye outfit.  He wore black khakis, a dark blue buttoned up shirt and a black tie.  He waved at Sam as he held up the handlink to get the data Sam would need for the leap.  “What’s illegal?”


Paige sighed on her end of the phone.  “Not really.  I’m not out there trying to steal anything from anyone.  I just want to see what this hidden program does.  That’s all.  And if they didn’t want it to happen, then they shouldn’t have sent it to me.  Just listen, Shepherd.  There are hidden programs in everything.  Most hidden programs are in your computer for a reason – you know so that you will not accidentally corrupt them or delete them.    Well, you can do the same thing in any manmade file.  It makes it invisible to the simple-minded people who don’t have the knack of reading or writing programs.  Well, these hidden programs can be accessed by passwords. They call the programs hard-parameter programs.  They have one way in and one way out.  It’s absolute.  You with me so far?”




“Well, this one like I said is more elaborate.  This one has soft parameters.  Now remember, hard means… unless you have the password, you won’t get in.  Soft parameters mean that in order to gain access; you have to contribute to the program.  In other words, you share your knowledge with the program.  You feed the data every step of the way.  So, if you don’t feed it the right data, your entrance is rejected.”


“Sam, what’s illegal?” Al asked as he looked at his friend who was still on the phone.  Sam raised his index finger asking for a moment.  Al nodded.


“Okay, so you can’t guess your way in.  Good.”  Sam then put his hand over the receiver then said softly to Al, “Computer hacking.”


“Ahhh… Crackers… lovely beings on the planet,” Al supplied.


“Right,” Paige said still thrilled even though a thought of not getting in bugged her.  “The designer was no dummy.  You know what, Shep?”

“What?” Sam asked a bit hesitantly.


“I’m gonna break this one.  I’m gonna do it.  I’m…”


Paige broke her sentence when she heard someone pick up an extension.  “Paige?  I’m sorry to break into your conversation honey, but I need to use the phone.  I need to talk to your stepfather.”


“Okay mom,” Paige said plainly.  “Talk to you later, Shep.  I’ll let you know what I find.”


“Okay,” Sam said with a frown.  “Bye Paige.”  Hanging up the phone, he looked up at Al a bit expectantly.  “So, what’s going on, Al?  Why did I leap in as Shepherd Allen Jameson?”


“Oh good.  You’ve already started to piece the puzzle,” Al began.


“If you haven’t seen it already, Al, I’m in a colossal puzzle and all I’ve found is the corner piece!  Give me something.  Why am I here?”


“Gees, Sam.  You’re testy.  Have you had your Wheaties this morning?” Al tried to decrease his friend’s mood but from the gaze that Sam shot at him for his efforts, Al knew that Sam wasn’t going to lighten up much more.  “All right.  All right.  You already know who you are.  You have leaped into…”


“Hope Springs, Virginia.”


Al looked up from the handlink as he waved his hand in the air whimsically.  “Seems to me you have more than one piece of the puzzle, Sam.”


Sam grimaced as he rolled his eyes.  “Do you have anything on Shepherd?”


Al smacked the side of the handlink as the words hung for a moment.  “Well, uh, no.  As far as Ziggy can see, there hasn’t been anything that happens to Shepherd or his family.”  Al paused then faced the scowl on the leaper.  Even as Al took a step toward Sam, Al asked, “Who was on the phone?  Maybe that’s why you’re here.”


“That was Paige.  Paige what – I don’t know.  She didn’t give her last name.”


“That’s enough for Ziggy to get a good rundown on the people of Hope Springs, Virginia.  That shouldn’t take too long.”  Al entered the data into the handlink then looked approvingly at the posters on the wall.  “Thank God for women, huh, Sam?”


“That’s degrading,” Sam supplied protectively but his eyes drifted over to one of the posters and he blushed as his gaze lingered.


The bleep of the handlink brought Al’s eyes back to the link in his hand.  “Aha!  Paige Ilene Arlyss was whom you were talking to on the phone.  She’s seventeen, the same age as you… er… Shepherd is and oh… she’s a computer whiz.  And well…”


“And…?” Sam queried back as he narrowed his eyes.


Al cleared his throat and pulled up the Imaging Chamber door as the handlink let out another definitive beep that Al had recently come to know as more trouble coming his way.  “I’ve got something that I need to check on.  I’ll be back.”




“I’ll be back,” Al assured him, and stepped back into Project Quantum Leap.




Project Quantum Leap

Stallion’s Gate, New Mexico


Al couldn’t believe what he had read on the handlink and rushed back to see just why Ziggy was spewing gobbledygook.  “What’s the meaning of this?” Al demanded as he waved the handlink in the air.  “Ziggy, tell me what’s going on!  Why can’t we give Sam any data on this leap?”


“I can not give data that I have not received yet, Admiral.”




“Just that.  I can not predict the future.”


“Dominic, did you give her some new program that mimics L.S.D. or something?”


A comical look came over Dominic’s face but quickly faded as Ziggy’s next words floored them all.


“Dr. Beckett has leaped into Hope Springs, Virginia into the aura of Shepherd Jameson on February 10, 2006.  The only reason why I can not give any data is because it’s currently happening.”


“Oh my God,” Al said with a shocked expression on his face.  “Okay, then, Ziggy – give me your best guess.”


“I could deduce that Dr. Beckett is there for Paige Ilene Arlyss, but I can not say for certain why he would be there.”


Al nodded at the parallel-hybrid computer’s words.  “All right, then, give me everything you’ve got on Paige Arlyss.  Perhaps some logical sense will prevail here.”  Al glanced around the room as people scattered.


For several long moments, Al paced the room, his mind going ninety to nothing.  His right hand came up to rub at his stubbly chin and he pursed his lips in wonder.  “Is there…” Al paused for a moment then glanced up at the blue sparkling orb of lightning above him.  “Is there any way that the retrieval program could work since he’s in the present?  What are the odds on that Ziggy?”


“If Doctor Beckett hadn’t used the other accelerator in Dr. Garner’s lab, there could be a high probability.”


“What is it now?  Should we try?”


“Using the retrieval program as it is, now, Admiral, there is only a twenty percent chance of it working correctly without harming the doctor.”


“Damn.  Okay, Ziggy, let’s get this ball going.  Give me all you can and we…”


“Oh my…” Ziggy’s sensors warmed in the orb above Al as her voice rose in surprise.


“What?”  Al asked.


“Paige Ilene Arlyss is the daughter of Dianne Michelle and Ira Milam Arlyss.  Ira Arlyss died in an automobile accident in 1994.  Though the police found that his brakes had been meddled with, they could not find any evidence to pin Dianne Arlyss with the murder of her husband.  Mrs. Arlyss even hired a hypnotist and went under Sodium Pentothal to convince everyone involved that she did not have anything to do with her husband’s demise.  Dianne Arlyss then married Isaac Dennis Lane, five years later.”


For a long moment, Al frowned wondering how the information had anything to really do with the leap.  It didn’t seem to mean anything.  As the frown furrowed his brow, he was surprised at what he heard next.


“Oh my,” Ziggy said again, her voice pitching even more curiously, causing everyone in Central Control to stop and look up at the spherical orb that shimmered methodically. 


“What is it, Ziggy?” Al asked warily.


“Isaac Lane has recently signed a contract with General Hawkins.  He is currently working with him in an anti-terrorist project called Project Liberty.”


Al looked up at the parallel-hybrid computer, inwardly rolled his eyes and took in a deep breath as he tried to push down the anger that wanted to overtake him.  That monkey butt,’ he thought to himself as he glanced at the Imaging Chamber door.  He’s working on an anti-terrorist project?  Hell, he’s a terror himself.’


Al looked up at the electrifying blue orb above him and shook his head.  Something about what Ziggy had said was eating at him and it didn’t have anything to do with General Hawkins.  Licking his lips, he tilted his head slightly then asked, “Ziggy, what’s with the ‘Oh my’ responses this evening.  Is there a problem?”


“I do not know, Admiral Calavicci. I shall run a diagnostic and see if there is a problem.  Thank you for pointing it out.”


Al frowned; questioning what exactly was going on.  Now, the ego-bound computer was being terribly polite about running a diagnostic.  Something again was up and he knew it.  “Your welcome, Zig.  Listen, just check it out and let Dominic know what’s going on.”  Shaking his head, Al then looked over at Dominic.  “Get the link back up.  I’ve got to talk with Sam.”


“You can’t, Admiral Calavicci,” the computer purred back to the Admiral.


“And why not?”


“Dr. Beckett has leaped.”


“He leaped!?  What the…” Al’s questioning quickly faded as he turned, his head angling up at the sphere once again.





Hope Springs, Virginia

February 11, 2006


Paige looked at the screen as she leaned back in her chair.  She wasn’t any further along than she had been when she called Shep.  “Augh,” she rumbled lowly in her throat as she tilted her head up to the ceiling hoping for divine assistance.


The thing that was stumping her was the question from the virus itself that was on the screen:


Who has many experiences in their travels and

yet takes time for the prosperity of others?


She tried various answers just that sparked off the top of her head: Captain James T. Kirk and Spock of Star Trek; Thomas Magnum of Magnum PI; Michael Knight of Knight Rider; and Angus MacGyver in MacGyver; any of the team in Stargate SG1; the new handsome Captain Jonathan Archer from the new Star Trek: Enterprise, then went to more real life individuals; the Pope; Mother Theresa; police officers; investigators; policemen and women; lawyers; priests; teachers; and as her shoulders sagged, she thought of the hero next door who moved in from Alabama and rescued her dog from being hit by a car over a month ago. 


“Great.  This is going to take forever.  Dammit,” she mumbled, then in frustration, she got up from her desk and walked away from it.  She had been sitting staring at the screen for so long that her butt was beginning to hurt and she felt as if her brain was going to start to melt from the strain of thinking.


As she walked into the kitchen in search for something to drink and a snack, she went to the pantry and glanced around.  Nothing caught her eye.  “Isn’t that the case?” she whispered. “When you’re somewhat hungry, you never find exactly what you are searching for.”  It was in that moment that she slumped her shoulders and her hand came up to her head in an abrupt epiphany.  “You moron!” she exclaimed as she shut the pantry and opened the refrigerator to get a drink. 


She rushed back to her room with the cola in her hands and quickly opened her Internet browser.  She typed in the whole phrase into the Yahoo search engine and, crossing her fingers, pressed the enter key.


Forty-three thousand, four hundred results came back on her screen and she began with the first one, reading through each title that came up.  It was better than sitting there wracking her brain as she tried to think of the answer.


As Paige scrolled through the pages the titles seemed far-fetched and completely random in nature.  Some of them that popped up in the search engine were titled:


Scrappleface: Rumsfeld’s Sorry for ‘Axis of Weasel Remark’


Useful Tools


Chronology of the History of Slavery 1619 to 1789


The Nature of Time in Economics


Wisdom of Time


A Brief of History of Time: Revisited


Chapter 1: The Law of Time and Chaos


Time: Albert Einstein – Nobel Prize in Physics 1921


It was after she had scrolled through a few thousand entries, she propped her head in her hands as she read through the titles.  Two hours later, she came across an interesting post from a message board.  As she read it, she was unaware that she was reading parts of it aloud.


“Have you ever felt like you had an out of time experience?” Paige paused then uttered painfully, “Ohh brother.”  Yet she continued to read, “Is it a form of alien abduction, or is it something else beyond imagination?”  Paige frowned but curiosity won out and she then went ahead and read the chatroom discussion that was held on January 15, 2006.  By the time she finished reading it, she hummed.  “Wild. Some people and their affection with time travel just really…”


She stopped in the middle of her rambling thought and for a moment sat back and thought about the implied and detailed meanings in the chat she had read.  Minimizing the Internet browser, she looked back at the question and the cursor waiting for her answer.  She typed in a name on the keyboard -- her answer being one man’s name:  Sam Beckett.  Balling her fists, she hesitated, then finally pressed the enter button.


The computer screen went utterly black, faded to a sparkling blue-white hue, and then suddenly it turned a brilliant blood red then went black once more.  In the middle of her screen it said:


Identify yourself.


Paige wasn’t quite sure about identifying herself to the program for fear of retribution, but she plunged ahead and entered only her first name.  Without pause another question popped up:


Why are you interested in Sam Beckett?


Paige bit at her bottom lip as she typed in:  I am interested in Sam Beckett to find out why he has assisted so many people in his travels.


It was then that her computer seemed to have a personality of its own as it split the one virus program she had been working on into two.  She blinked at the screen, mesmerized.  Her screen was divided in half from top to bottom.  At the top of the screen, there was a request.  At the bottom there was a question.


She decided to try out the top first.  It began asking her questions about Sam Beckett – questions that had some of the answers from the chat that she had read then others… others were more unambiguous and she couldn’t respond to them.  When she couldn’t respond to it anymore, the program replied with ‘Nicely done,’ then went blank. 


The bottom however began to spew out questions that were odd.  When the program asked, ‘Do gray cats have claws?’ Paige answered ‘yes’.  Immediately another question scrolled itself across the screen:  How wide is the Mississippi River?  When she put in the answer that she had to look up, the monitor then scrolled another:  How many seeds are in a watermelon?


Although the questions bewildered her and had nothing to do with the program itself, she understood what the programmer of the software had done.  He had made the virus a heavily coded program –for his or her own reasons.


Paige knew she was close but even as she pulled away from the computer once again, she knew she was a good step away from being able to get into the program itself.  She just needed more information about this Beckett person.  Someone had to know answers.  She just needed to dig deeper.





Stallions Gate, New Mexico

Project Quantum Leap

February 11, 2006


Al was pacing like an expectant father.  He couldn’t believe that Sam had leaped and he also didn’t understand why Ziggy couldn’t find him.  He hadn’t done anything, had he?  Al’s mind raced.  Even if Sam had done something, there was no history to base anything on.  Being in the present was not helping matters one bit.  “Have you found him yet, Ziggy?”


“I’m refining my search right now, Admiral,” Ziggy replied promptly.  A moment later as Al had passed by the mainframe of the hybrid computer, Ziggy purred, “I have a lock.”


“Oh, thank God!” Al exclaimed.  “Let’s get that door opened so that I can talk to Sam and find out what’s going on!”





Hope Springs, Virginia

February 11, 2006


Sam blinked his eyes and shook his head slightly to try to regain his senses about him.  He didn’t understand why he had leaped already and he blinked as he realized that he remembered his previous leap.


He quickly looked about him to find out that he was in an office, sitting behind a computer.  Looking carefully at the computer screen, Sam wondered if he had leaped into Paige Arlyss.  Seeing data spewed across the screen, he sighed as he glanced down at his attire to see that he was wearing a police uniform.  Swallowing, he checked his badge to read:  Officer McPhearson.  “Oh boy,” Sam simpered.  The name seemed familiar to him, but he quickly dismissed it and glanced back at the computer before him to decipher what was on it.


He heard someone clear his or her throat and he turned to see an older gentleman who was leaning against the doorframe; a warm smile on his face.  “Lorraine?  Why don’t you come with your old man and we’ll go get some dinner?”


The man’s face seemed familiar to Sam and as he blinked, Sam remembered him from a previous leap.


“Hi Sheriff,” Sam had responded while nodding his head towards the little girl.


“Almost don’t recognize her, do ya, Brad?” the sheriff smiled.  “My little Lorraine is growing up quick.”


The young girl shuffled, clearly embarrassed by the attention, causing Sam to smile.


“Almost reminds me,” the sheriff went on, “have you considered my suggestion of applying to the police academy?  Since you quit your job at the prison and all, I figure you could get certified and work for me.”


“I’ll think about it,” was all Sam could say.


“Good.”  The sheriff started to lead the girl forward.  “Well, I gotta run.  Promised Lorraine she would spend her allowance at the music store.  Wants to buy something called Wham!  Lord knows what the hell that is.”


Sam grinned at the man and shook his head.  “Okay, Dad.  Let me save this document then, we can go.  Okay?”


It was in that moment that the phone rang.  Sam immediately leaned over and picked it up and answered, “Officer Lorraine McPhearson speaking.  May I help you?”


“Officer McPhearson, it’s good to hear your voice.  Sergeant Bennings, here.  Listen, Lorraine, I’m going to be coming into Hope Springs for a few days. I want to check out a few things that I had heard about through the grape vine.  Will that be a problem?”


“I don’t see why it should, Sergeant,” Sam replied respectfully.


“Ohhh formal, aren’t we?” he asked.  “You know after thirty years of knowing each other, Lorraine, at least you could call me by my name.”


Sam smiled at the man he was talking to on the phone.  “Can’t help it, sir.  It’s one of those things that was drilled into me.”


“Well, when I get there, I expect you to call me Brad.  Understood?”


“Is that an order?” Sam countered.


“Yes, Officer McPhearson, that is an order.”


“Yes, sir… er… Brad.”


“Oh, is that Brad Bennings?” the older McPhearson asked.  Sam nodded as he glanced over at Lorraine’s father.  “Let me talk to him, please.”


“Brad, Dad wants to talk with you.  Hold on.”


As Sam handed the phone over to the man, he heard the Imaging Chamber door open to the right of him and saw Al come out of the door looking concerned.  Before he had a chance to say hello, Al was already questioning him.


“You leaped!  We don’t know what you changed.  What did you do after I left you?”


Sam stepped around the doorframe to get a little privacy from the conversation on the telephone and looked at his holographic pal.  “I didn’t do anything, Al.  Nothing.”


“If you didn’t do anything, then why did you leap?” Al questioned back to him.


“I don’t know, but, look, Al.  I’ve leaped into Lorraine McPhearson.  Remember her?  She was the little girl who was being held at the Memorial Day Festival when I leaped into Brad Bennings.  It seems that things aren’t done here in Hope Springs, yet.”


“What?” Al asked.  “You’re still in Hope Springs?”

“Yes,” Sam said pleasantly surprised.  “So why did I leap into Lorraine?”


“Hell if I know,” Al said as he held up the handlink.


“I remember her.  She was so scared that day she was held captive,” Sam said as his eyes shifted to the right as he thought about that day on the stage.


“She vowed that she would never again be helpless to defend herself or others,” Al said simply.  “Makes sense that she became a cop.”


Sam looked at Al pensively.  “Al, what’s going on? Why doesn’t Ziggy have any data for me?”


Al brought his hand up to his face and pinched the bridge of his nose.  Everything that he had just heard from Ziggy had only given him an instant headache and Sam’s concerned tone of his questions only aggravated it more.


“Look, Sam,” Al said as he brought his hand down and let his arm swing loosely at his side.  “You remember…” Al began then paused and sighed, as he knew that the likelihood of Sam remembering what he had told him about General Hawkins was very low.  “General Hawkins came to the project under presidential orders to take over when your nephew, J. T. went online and told everything that he knew to the people there about Project Quantum Leap.”  There was a dawning look on Sam’s face and Sam shook his finger somewhat knowingly at Al.  “You remember?”


“I… I remember vaguely.”


“Well, that man’s audacity makes me think that he had balls of brass,” Al said heatedly.


Sam tilted his head quizzically at Al’s words.  “What’s happened, Al?”


“From what Ziggy just told me, General Hawkins has opened another project.”


“What?”  Sam asked in disbelief.


Al nodded his head appropriately at Sam’s shocked response.  “You heard me.”  Al pocketed the handlink then threw his hands up in the air and let them flop back down to his sides.  “I’m not quite sure what to make of it.  Ziggy said that it dealt with anti-terrorism.  What a riot -- a maniac dealing with the maniacs!  Talk about redundant.” 


Sam began to pace again for a moment as Al raved.  “Did Ziggy say what the project would entail?  Will it affect us at all?”


Al frowned and screwed up his mouth.  “Well, that’s the problem, Sam.  We don’t know.”


“What do you mean ‘we don’t know’?”  Sam’s brow wrinkled with a frown.


“What I mean is exactly that.”  Al paused then finally met Sam’s eyes.   Wishing that he had a cigar, Al licked his lips, paused for a brief moment, and then said, “Sam, you’re in the present.  We can’t tell you what’s happened because it hasn’t happened yet.”


Sam blinked amazed at Al’s words as he leaned back against the desk.   He was home.  The whole ordeal of trying to get back to his own time had finally been accomplished, however, he wasn’t himself.  Sam brought his hand up to his face, rubbing his right cheek before looking expectantly at Al.


At that moment, the handlink rang out in Al’s pocket.  He fished it out and looked down at it, then hit the button to activate Ziggy’s hologram.   “What’s up, Ziggy?”


Ziggy turned her attention to Sam.  “I have been monitoring your conversation with Admiral Calavicci.  I must substantiate what the Admiral has told you, Doctor Beckett.  Present time is in flux because the present is still in motion as opposed to the past in which all scenarios have played out; therefore, present data cannot be interpolated.”


Sam nodded his head at Ziggy’s words, knowing that what she said was true.  “I know, Ziggy. I know.” 


Sam looked up at the handlink in time to see Ziggy’s holographic image falter before she frowned.  “I apologize, Doctor.  I shall take your leave.” 


Sam frowned at the holographic image of the parallel-hybrid computer as she bowed her head then disappeared.  “Take your leave?” Sam questioned, as he looked up at Al to see him pop the side of the handlink with his hand then shrug and stick the handlink back in his pocket.


Al saw the look that Sam gave him and grinned.  “Ziggy seems to be having some… uh… problems at the moment.  It seems that her highness is having politeness issues.”


“Politeness issues?”  Sam asked with a slight grin.


“Hey, we’re used to the uppity ego, not Mary Poppins, okay?” 


“Well, I guess that’s the one thing that seems to be the same problem in both areas.”




“Paige,” Sam said then saw the look on the observer’s face.  “She’s working on her computer trying to hack into a virus. Remember?”


“You know, Sam, I was thinking about that earlier. Some Crackers aren’t very careful and they get caught.”


“Crackers?” Sam asked. 


“Yeah,” Al said as he bobbed up on his toes.  “Computer hackers prefer to be called Crackers because they ‘crack’ the code and the name also gets rid of the criminal connotation of their actions being illegal.  But I was thinking that maybe you should go over to her house and see exactly what she’s doing.  She shouldn’t be messing around with those things anyway.”


Al brought his hands up to his head and massaged at his temples with his eyes closed; his head beginning to pound. 


“You know, Al, I don’t…”


When Al didn’t hear Sam’s voice for a moment, Al opened his eyes and dropped his hands to his side as he saw the blue walls of the Imaging Chamber around him.  “Ziggy?”


“Yes Admiral?”


“Get the lock back.  I was talking to Sam.”


“I cannot, Admiral.  Dr. Beckett has leaped.”


Al rolled his eyes, slumped his shoulders in exhaustion and sighed before he exited the Imaging Chamber.  These mini leaps were driving him nuts.  How were they helping?  Or were they?  But no matter how much Sam’s leaps were beginning to drive him insane, Al knew that Sam had asked the right question and Al was irritated that he didn’t have the answer.


The moment that Al stepped back into the Control Center, he glanced at each one of the personnel in turn.  The idea of General Hawkins having a time travel project raised the hair on the back of his neck and he had no idea how it would affect Quantum Leap or the people involved.


Al walked through the Control Room and placed the handlink on Ziggy’s mainframe and glanced at Dominic, who averted his gaze elsewhere as he passed.  “I want to know exactly when we get another lock on Sam, Dom.  Use that epoch… epochtonsu… that thingy-ma-bob to watch his blood pressure.  I’ve got to go check on something.  If his pulse raises for any reason, I want to know about it, got me?”


“Yes sir,” Dom replied as he watched Al walk through the Control Room and head toward his office.


Dominic paused and placed his hand on his forehead as he glanced back down at the mainframe before him.  He hated it that he had basically sold his soul to General Hawkins.  But what else could he have done?  The man had him literally by the balls.  Even as he set Ziggy in looking for Dr. Beckett in Time, Don remembered the conversation he had had with General Hawkins not so long ago.


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.  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, his eyes suspiciously searched the General’s eyes.  ‘Why had he done that?’


“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,” Dominic said, his anger flashing in his eyes.


“It’s your choice, Mr. Lofton. Unless…”


“Unless what?” Dom was afraid where this was going.


“Unless you help me.  I understand that part of your salary goes to your relatives 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 and he knew he was caught in a web that he didn’t want to be a part of.  Shaking his head, he finally met the General’s condescending gaze.   “Fine.  I’ll do what you want.  I’ll write a version of the Ziggy program for you as you ordered.  Just don’t tell anyone I am doing this, please.”


“Not to worry, Mr. Lofton.  My lips are sealed.  As are Ziggy’s.  As long as no one tells Admiral Calavicci or anyone else associated here about your association with my project, no one will ever know.  I don’t think the Admiral would support what I am doing.”


“You’re damn right, he wouldn’t,” Dominic said aloud as he thumped the back of his hand on the mainframe.


“I have a lock,” Ziggy’s silky-smooth voice replied.


“Thank you, Ziggy,” Dom answered.  “Set the lock and don’t let go of it.”





Hope Springs, Virginia

February 12, 2006


Sam blinked and shook his head for a moment as he glanced around. He was in a kitchen and he found himself actually bent over peering into the refrigerator when he felt a hand slap his butt rather hard.  Letting out a yelp, he stood up and turned to see a lovely brunette with emerald eyes looking at him seductively.  Slinking up to him, the woman slid her arms around his neck and gave him a kiss that should have curled his toes.


“So, are we going to do some… role-playing tonight, Isaac?” she whispered as she moved to place a small kiss below his earlobe.


“Uhm… I… oh boy.”


“Oh boy?” she questioned as she leaned back to look up into his eyes before she kissed him on the mouth again, deeper this time.  “And all this time, I thought we were shooting for a girl.  You know, if you want a boy, we don’t have to try all those interesting positions anymore….”


Sam never even heard the Imaging Chamber door open and close but Al had heard enough of the woman’s last sentence to catch on and just from the look on her face he couldn’t help himself.  “Oh no, Sam!” Al interrupted the woman who seemed to be pouting somewhat.  “You can’t stop those interesting positions.  You just… can’t… because… well, look at those eyes….  You’ll upset her.”


“Uhm, honey, we’ll have to see about that role-playing.  I mean…”


“You brought work home again, didn’t you?” she asked before pulling away from him.


“Ahhh Sam, look at what you did!  You spoiled the mood!  You never spoil the mood!  I tell you if Beth was like that and I spoiled the mood, she’d whip me with a wet noodle.  Ooo… now… there’s something that we haven’t tried yet.”


Sam rolled his eyes at Al’s words but lightly grabbed onto the woman’s arm.  “Honey…”


“It’s okay, Isaac.  Tomorrow is really the best day anyway in my cycle.  So, you do what you need to do.  You may want to go up to talk to Paige.  She’s still working on that computer virus.  Remember, the one that she asked you to talk to your boss about?  Oh… what did he say?”


“To bring her up to the building to talk about it,” Sam automatically replied, then blinked at the immediate response. He was surprised at how quickly he had responded, but somewhere in the back of his mind, knew that that was the right answer to give.


“Wait… wait a minute.  Paige is your daughter?” Al questioned then quickly pulled up the handlink and ran the data through Ziggy’s processor.  “Sam!  You’ve leaped into Isaac Lane,” Al said a bit excitedly.  “You’ve leaped into the Head of Security at Hawkins new project.  We have access.  Just… don’t leap out.   Okay?  Keep it.  Don’t leap out,” Al began to chant.


“So, when are you going to take her to the site?”


Al quit chanting for a moment as he glanced down at the handlink.  “Oh… and her name is Dianne Lane.”


“Tomorrow, Dianne, but…” Sam said as he slid his arms around her body and lightly kissed the top of her nose, “if you’ll promise to keep the bed warm, I’ll be there as soon as I can tonight after I talk with Paige.”


Dianne’s smile brightened then faltered.  “I thought you had work to do…”


“It can wait.”


“Sam!  You dog!”


Dianne smiled as she perked up on her tiptoes and planted yet another kiss on her husband then caressed his cheek.  “You know, if you met me in the shower… I wouldn’t mind.”


A small smile crept up onto Sam’s face and he blinked at her as he felt Isaac Lane’s love for his wife fill him so completely.  “You know, I could talk to Paige afterwards….”


“Oh?” Dianne said as she licked her lips and lightly pulled on his arm.  “If you want to then, by all means….”


Sam began to let Dianne pull him after her and he licked his lips as he let his eyes roam over her body. 




Al’s retort made Sam blink and he glanced over at Al then back at Dianne.  “I better talk with Paige, first, ya know…”


Dianne smiled at her husband.  “You are such a good step-father, Isaac. Between that and the way that you love me… how could I go wrong?”  Caressing his face once more, she turned, grabbed her wine glass then headed up the stairs toward their bedroom.


“How could you, Sam?  I mean, I would, but you’re the Boy Scout!  How could you say that you were going to go up there and… and…”


Sam gave him a look that told Al that he didn’t know what he was talking about.


“You basically said that you’d join her up in the shower, Sam,” Al exclaimed exasperatedly.


Sam seemingly ignored the holographic image and started up the stairs.


“Sam!  Where are you going?”


“I’m going to talk to Paige.  Where did you… Al!  Get your mind out of the gutter!”  Al opened his mouth and floundered as Sam watched him.  “Are you going to follow me up there?”


Licking his lips, Al shrugged and started after Sam.


Standing in the doorframe of the room, Sam looked at the way the huge room was set up.  It had an office nook as well as a bed nook; and her room was a complete disaster.  It looked as if she had been tossing things around her room, leaving only enough floor space to pace back and forth in.


Al shook his head in dismay.  “Eww… what a mess.”


Pursing his lips, Sam said, “Ohh… look, you do have a floor.  I was starting to wonder.”


“Ohh ha ha, Dad!” Paige said sarcastically as she turned to him.  “For the past two days, I’ve been working on this virus and when I work like this so consistently, I tend to be a slob – you know that.  Sorry for the mess.  Just… push it to the side.”  Moving through the mess, Paige pulled up a chair to the desk beside her and motioned to it.  “Okay, have a seat and you can see what I’m researching now to help me out with this.”


“Research?  What are you researching?”


“Who,” she corrected.


“What?” Sam questioned as he watched the beveled screen saver on her computer monitor change from blue to green then yellow. 


“I’m researching someone… not something,” she said as she sat down at her desk and reached for her mouse.  “And you won’t believe this.  You won’t believe what this is all about.”


“What?” Sam asked as he leaned forward to look at the screen. 


“Time travel.”


Sam’s face paled as she turned toward her computer screen and she placed her hand on her mouse.  The screen faded to show a picture of himself on the cover of Time Magazine; the title reading: Sam Beckett: The Next Einstein.  Sam watched as she scrolled through a page seeing information listed about himself as she read parts of it aloud.


“This guy, Sam Beckett, no relation to the playwright, is one interesting character.  He’s a Quantum Physicist who has an impressive background.  I mean, listen to this:  at the age of two, he could read and could do advanced calculus in his head at age five.  He went to college at MIT, finished early, has a photographic memory, has earned six doctorates – some of them in Music, Medicine, Quantum Physics, Archaeology and Ancient Languages and get this-- he’s won the Nobel Prize and knows Martial Arts.” 


“Why is she researching you, Sam?”  Al asked as he peered at the site that she was looking at.


Sam shook his head slowly in response. He then pointed to the monitor and after licking at his dry lips, he said, “Why do you want to know about that guy?  What made you research him?”


“Oh… let me find it,” Paige said as she minimized the screen and pulled up another Internet browser page that showed a site that had a message.  The title was:  “Experienced lapses in time you can’t explain?”


Al shook his head and sighed.  “Oh dammit.  She was reading the chat that J. T. talked to everyone about.”


 “This site gave me some more answers to help me with the virus program.  This virus application has soft parameters.  See, Dad, look at this.” 


Minimizing all of the browsers, she clicked on one program that was running at the bottom of her screen.  “This is the program,” she said as she turned her head to Sam.  Excitement filled her eyes and she opened it.  The question once again appeared on her screen:


Who has many experiences in their travels and

yet takes time for the prosperity of others?


“For the longest time, I had no idea who to put down until I found that chat located on the net.  I inputted a name… Sam Beckett.  Watch what happens.”  She typed in the name and hit the enter key then looked at her father to see his jaw slack in awe.


The screen faded to black, faded to a blue-white sparkling hue then changed to a brilliant blood red before it faded to black once more with the writing in the midst of her screen:  


Identify yourself.


She identified herself quickly with this time just her nickname.


Why are you interested in Sam Beckett?


Paige said it as she typed it in this time:  “I am interested in Sam Beckett to find out why he has assisted so many people in his travels.”


Sam watched as the computer split the virus program in half; the screen divided; one part requesting information and the other a question. 


“See… this is where I get stumped.  I don’t know all the answers, but… oh… did you talk to your boss about this virus?”


“Ohh no,” Al said plainly.  “No… please, don’t tell me you talked to Hawkins about this program.  Please don’t tell me that Isaac did that.”


“I did,” Sam said softly.  “He wants to see you tomorrow.” 


“You can’t take her Sam.  You can’t take her.”


“He said that he was very interested in this… as I am,” Sam replied as he slipped out of control of what was being said yet again.


“I bet he is,” Al said quietly as he put his hand to his head.


“Do… do you think that I might have stumbled across something… special, Dad?  I mean… wow!  I can’t wait until tomorrow!”


Sam didn’t know what to say to her as she rambled on about the program, but when she slid her arms around his neck in an excited hug, Sam looked to Al for help.  Al didn’t seem to have any assistance and shrugged his shoulders with a shake of his head.


“Have… have you told anyone else about this?” Sam questioned in her hold.


Paige leaned back from him.  “Yes sir, I told Shepherd, but he doesn’t know much about computers.  He… he’s just a guy who wants to take me to the Enchantment Under The Sea Dance.” 


“Okay.  Let’s leave this alone until we know more about it,” he told her then glanced back at the computer screen as she came back into the circle of his arms.


While in her embrace, Sam turned his head toward the monitor to see the question up on the screen – a question that had been taunting him since he had talked with the enigmatic bartender:


Where would Sam Beckett most likely want to go?


To Be Continued…


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