ON QUANTUM LEAP
Finding himself being taken in by a family of
farmers, Sam at first is frustrated when Al and Ziggy can’t tell him why
he has leaped into Martin Adler, a drifter from Indiana who ended up in
South Carolina. However, when
the overbearing man in charge of the farm, Tom, heads out on an errand, Sam
finally discovers what his mission is:
to identify the corpse buried in the Mulhills’ barn…
June 7, 1960
Mulhill farm near Carlisle, South Carolina
After over an hour of working in the field,
pulling more weeds and preparing the crop to be sprayed, Paddy happened to
look up and see Tom’s truck pull into the laneway.
“Tom’s back,” he called out, and Mick said that he would go
meet him. Sam watched as the portly farmer walked back toward the house,
thinking this alone time with Paddy might be useful.
Now that Mick had left to go meet Tom, Sam
felt another wave of nausea come over him; Tom was back and no doubt Mick
would tell him about their guest looking around the property. The
sheriff still hadn’t arrived, and now Sam would certainly be in deep
trouble with Tom. His only
option was to take a chance and confide in Paddy. This
was assuming, of course, that he didn’t have anything to do with the death
of the person in the barn. Sam
didn’t know that for sure, but what he was about ninety-nine percent sure
of was that Tom was involved. It
was either face Tom alone or possibly with an ally.
The time-traveling scientist cleared his
throat after pulling a weed. “Look,
Paddy… I need to tell you something.” The
farmer looked up, noting the concern on the other man’s face. Sam
knew there wasn’t a lot of time before Tom inevitably came to confront
him. “You know… earlier, in
“Yeah,” he replied. “You
was real spooked by Midnight.”
“No…” Sam began, cautiously. “It
“Then what in tarnation was it?” Paddy
questioned with some frustration, not understanding.
“I… in that barn… there was a body
buried in Midnight’s stall. I—I
don’t know who it is, but I think Tom might.” There,
Sam had said it. All he could
do now was see how Paddy was going to react to this news, if he believed it
“You musta been seein’ things, Marty. There ain’t no body buried in the barn,” Paddy told him,
confused about what he had heard.
tell you, I saw…” Sam began, but Paddy interrupted him, angered at his
“You saw nothin’, Marty!” the farmer
yelled, noticing that Mick and Tom were coming within earshot. “Now
shuddup, or Tom’s gonna have ya out on yer ass.”
“Oh, boy,” Sam muttered quietly.
Purchasing the pesticide was easy enough since
there really was little choice. The
farming store offered only two brands, each claiming they would control just
about any crop pest that farmers were bound to encounter. Besides,
Tom didn’t have time to contemplate that kind of thing. If it was labeled to kill critters, that was good enough for
him. After leaving the
warehouse, Tom headed back to his family’s farm at top speed, mulling over
what to do. He knew that he
needed Paddy and Mick on his side, possibly to help in apprehending Marty. Somehow, Tom had to make their guest out to be the bad guy,
not only against himself, but his brothers too.
The farmer was thinking about the situation so
much that he almost drove past the farm and had to slam on the brakes to not
miss the lane. Driving in, he
stuck the gun back in his pocket to hide it from his brothers and, more
importantly, the drifter.
Mick came upon the truck and greeted Tom,
though he felt nervous. He had
enjoyed his overbearing brother being gone but had to accept the reality
that he was back, and hoped that Tom would forgive the earlier hostilities. “Hey,
Boss,” Mick said as he approached Tom. “How’d
it go in Carlisle? Want some
help unloadin’ the pesticide?”
Tom thought that Mick looked a little
distraught as he walked up and asked to help unload. The
elder Mulhill knew that he had to be gracious with his brothers today if he
was going to have to use them against Marty. “That’d
be great, Mick. Thanks,” Tom
answered, putting a pleasant expression on his face. He
knew that the anger must be hidden until the right moment.
Once Mick and Tom unloaded the two crates of
pesticide canisters, Tom asked Mick to get the sprayer while he moved the
truck to the garage. Upon
Tom’s return, Mick had the sprayer trailing the tractor as he exited the
grain barn. When Mick dismounted the tractor, Tom looked him in the eye. “Did
you notice Marty acting… suspicious while I was gone?” Tom questioned,
narrowing his eyes a bit when he paused. He
figured that the other two brothers were getting annoyed with the
visitor’s presence just as much as he was. The
Mulhills had usually kept to themselves, except for interacting with their
adjacent neighbors and folks in Carlisle. Somehow,
Tom knew he had to make their visitor out to be the enemy.
Mick just shrugged at the query. “Well,
I ain’t actually seen nothin’, but Paddy checked on ’im earlier an’
he’d apparently gone t’ the barn t’ check on Midnight. Guess she was makin’ some noise. She spooked ’im some, and Pat said Marty’s hands were
shakin’. Then I guess he went
in to finish them dishes and made some iced tea for us. Otherwise,
we’ve just been in the fields keepin’ an eye on him. He was askin’ about Hank though… think he can tell we’re
anxious to have him back.”
Mick hoped that his mentioning Hank didn’t
anger his brother. He tried to
be as casual about it as he could. Tom
looked thoughtful and didn’t reprimand his younger brother, so Mick
continued. “Anyway, that’s about it. Then
you came home. Marty’s been
pretty helpful an’ all, but I still wonder when he’s gonna move on.”
Tom was thinking about what he just heard and
how it confirmed his suspicions. Marty
had been snooping around and must have found Hank’s body behind
Midnight’s stall. Damn
it! Tom cursed silently in his mind.
Instead of showing his aggravation, he decided to play off of
Mick’s thought. “Yeah, I
think we might wanna tell ’im to hit the road.
Y’ know he called Billy an’ told ’im we been abusin’ our
animals?” Tom lied. “That’s
why I’s askin’ if ’e was actin’ suspicious. He
musta called the sheriff’s office while pretendin’ t’ do the
Mick’s eyes widened, and Tom could see a
flash of anger in his expression. “How
dare he say that?! ’Specially
after all we done for ’im?” he replied loudly, obviously upset at what
he was just told. Tom managed
to keep a straight, honest face, showing a little anger, not too much—just
enough to let Mick know that he was ticked off as well.
“Now, Mick, calm down. What
we gotta do is tell Paddy what Marty’s gone and done, trying to sully our
reputation. No damage done. I
told Billy we’d put up a drifter an’ maybe I’d misjudged him, so Bill
just wrote Marty off as a loon. While
you and Paddy are out sprayin’, I’ll send our ‘guest’ on his way.”
After telling Mick the plan,
the younger brother nodded in agreement, obviously believing Tom’s lies
fully. “Don’t let nothin’
show, though, and don’t tell Paddy nothin’ until I’ve taken Marty
inside to say goodbye. If he is
crazy, we don’t wanna alarm him.”
Mick could still barely believe it after all
they had done, being hospitable to a complete stranger. It
made him have a new respect for Tom though. His
older brother seemed to be a bit suspicious all day about the drifter, and
yet he and Paddy really didn’t do anything but welcome him. The
plan sounded fine to Mick, considering he felt this “Marty” had already
overstayed his welcome.
Tom and Mick made their way back to the field,
finding Sam and Paddy in what looked like a heated discussion. Neither
Sam nor Paddy said anything more as the two older brothers approached, the
third Mulhill getting up from his crouched position and Sam looking in pure
shock when he saw Tom. “Paddy,
I want you an’ Mick t’ start sprayin’ the fields.
I’m gonna go in an’ make some calls to the neighbors to warn
’em about their crops possibly gettin’ infested too,” Tom announced.
“Sure thing, Boss,” Paddy responded. “What about Marty? He
can’t be out here pullin’ weeds if we’re a-sprayin’.”
“If y’ don’t mind, Marty, I’d like to
have a quick chat with ya,” Tom said calmly. From
the look that Mick gave Tom, Paddy could tell that something was up,
thinking their guest might just be hiking it down the highway in a few
Sam was beginning to wish that he had shown
Paddy the body when he had the chance earlier, when the farmer caught him in
the barn. There were a lot of
things Sam would have done on this leap, if only he had not figured them out
too late. Doctor Beckett felt a
rush of anger coming over him. He
felt completely abandoned by Al and everyone at the Project.
All Ziggy could tell him was that his leaping in resulted in
Paddy’s death in addition to the person already dead in the barn. It was going on two o’clock in the afternoon now, and Sam
hadn’t accomplished a thing other than to gain the mistrust of these
farmers… and find a murder victim that may or may not ever be investigated
Now Tom wanted to talk to him; Mick couldn’t
have told him about the body because only Paddy knew about that, so as far
as Tom knew, Sam was just snooping around the property. The
leaper was confident that he could come up with some excuse for it. He
had gotten out of bigger scrapes than this.
Nodding at Tom, Sam replied, “Sure, no
problem,” and then followed the older Mulhill brother to the house as Mick
and Paddy prepared for the spraying.
“You two finish up the weed pullin’ and
then start sprayin’,” Tom instructed, nodding to Mick as he and Sam left
the two younger brothers in the field. Sam
and Tom walked side-by-side toward the house, neither of them saying a word
as they went. Tom noticed that
Sam’s breathing sounded a little heavy, as if he was nervous.
Good, he’s scared o’ me!
the farmer thought.
Indeed, Sam was really feeling nervous as they
walked back toward the house. Ever
since he found the body and knew what the farmer was capable of, Sam’s
fear had grown. Opening the
door to the kitchen, Tom let Sam enter first, allowing the door to slam
itself shut behind him. Without
warning, Tom pulled out his gun and stuck it in Sam’s back. “Now
listen here, Marty. I hear
you’ve been snoopin’ where you ain’t s’posed to be, botherin’ my
animals. Midnight is a
beautiful horse, but timid by no means.”
Sam froze in his spot, the cold barrel of the
gun nudging his spine. “Don’t
worry, I ain’t gonna kill ya. I
just need y’ outta the way and to stop makin’ trouble at my
farm.” Before the leaper
could react, Tom raised the gun and used the butt of it to strike Sam on the
neck. Doctor Beckett fell to
the floor in a slump.
Tom put the gun back in his pocket, and, using
some twine from the utility drawer, he bound Sam’s ankles and wrists
together with his hands behind his back. Then
the farmer took a dishtowel and put the bulk into the leaper’s mouth,
leaving enough to tie a knot behind Sam’s head. Tom
also grabbed a roll of masking tape, slipping it into his other pocket after
wrapping a few strips around Sam’s hands, feet, and head.
Putting the scientist over his shoulder, Tom
Mulhill carefully descended the steps to the basement. After
placing his hostage in an old oak chair, Tom used up most of the remaining
tape to bind Sam to the chair.
Sam groaned a couple of times and his eyes
fluttered a bit as he began to regain consciousness. “Oh,
good, you’re awake. I hope
you’ll enjoy the rest of your time here at the Mulhill farm, Marty. You’re
goin’ to be stayin’ for a while. Make
yourself at home, huh?”
Not realizing that he was gagged, Sam began to
speak but could only manage a few muffled sounds. Then
he tried getting up, making Tom recognize that Sam might be able to hop his
way toward something to make noise later, alerting Paddy or Mick.
“Might as well get comfortable,” Tom said
with a snicker, kicking the chair over sideways and sending Sam tumbling to
the floor. Laughing to himself, Tom went back up the stairs and closed
the cellar door behind him, locking it and putting the small key to the door
in his pocket.
Sam heard the locking of the door and the
entire cellar went as black as pitch, blinding him from seeing anything. All he knew was that he was in bigger trouble than he had
anticipated. Tom had bound him
so tightly that he was sure that the circulation was cut off to his hands
and feet, and the towel was making him gag. The leaper shifted around as much as he could muster, but to
no avail. He had to find a way
out of this. If only there was
a way to alert someone.
Becoming aware that he was getting himself
worked up, the time-traveler calmed down for a bit.
He was sweating and getting nowhere. Think,
Sam, he thought to himself. Use
your brain… But somehow,
he was so drained and tired that he just couldn’t think. At that moment, Doctor Sam Beckett had no idea what he was
going to do.
June 7, 1960
Mulhill farm near Carlisle, South Carolina
“Welp,” Mick said to Paddy, “we might as
well get the rest o’ these weeds up. I
got the canisters all ready t’ go.”
Paddy nodded, although he looked rather disturbed about something.
Mick just ignored it, figuring he and Tom would fill Paddy in on
Marty later. Paddy and Mick
continued on with the pulling, and within a few minutes, they saw Tom coming
back without the houseguest.
Tom placed the remaining tape back in the
utility drawer before going back outside, seeing Paddy and Mick still out in
the field. “All right, boys,
let’s get ready for this spray!” he shouted upon his approach.
“Hey, Boss. So,
is the drifter on his way then?” Mick asked innocently.
Tom noticed that Paddy had a strange look on
his face, but figured his younger brother was just tired of working. To Mick’s question, he replied, “Yep, he’s headed down
the road toward Carlisle. I
gave ’im directions to the nearest motel. Figure
’e can beg ’is way inta some money. Had
half a mind to call Billy to pick ’im up, callin’ us animal-beaters
Seeing the look of surprise on Paddy’s face,
Tom told him the same story that he had told Mick. Paddy’s
expression changed to the same that Mick had as well, but there appeared to
be a lingering doubt in his eyes.
“Now that Marty’s on his way, let’s
finish up with these weeds here.” Mick
and Paddy nodded in agreement, and the three men got to work.
Two hours passed before Tom was satisfied with
their work. “I’m gonna go
call the neighbors now. You two
get the sprayer goin’, okay?” stated Tom, feeling like it was the
hundredth time he had told them this same demand. After
all, it was their livelihood on the line, and if the cutworms destroyed the
crop, things would not look so good for the Mulhill family this year. Tom
would be the one who would be blamed by the townsfolk. Even if his brothers had not done the correct fieldwork, it
was Tom who was in charge now, and the one in charge was always the first
one scrutinized. It was more
important now than ever for Mick and Paddy to listen to him and obey him; he
not only would lose money, but also his reputation if the corn was inedible.
Mick wanted to protest Tom’s continuous
pressure to begin the treatment right away. It
seemed that they should be spending some time really studying the label so
they knew how to properly apply the pesticide.
If something went wrong, the crops could be ruined or someone could
get hurt, and then they would be far worse off than they were now.
However, Mick figured that he had better keep quiet after the
outburst earlier and to take a more democratic approach by just following
his brother’s orders. Still,
he wished they didn’t have to do this now. It
was already going on five o’clock—which seemed a little late to begin a
project like this—and his stomach was getting hungry, especially after a
tiring day with finding the pests, pulling weeds, and dealing with the
drifter. Mick knew better than
to go against anything that Tom said at that point, so after they stood up,
he told Paddy to unload the first canister and hose and then they would get
started. As the three brothers
started walking toward the house, Mick heard his stomach growl and decided
that he would not be able to do his best without having some food to look
forward to after the work was done. Cautiously,
he suggested his need for food to Tom, hoping his brother would be
“Boss,” he said, nodding at the fields,
“I figure this here could take us a good three hours.
When you call them neighbors, would you also consida callin’ Minnie
in Carlisle to deliver us some of those homemade vittles she makes at the
Café? Shure could use it after we’re done.”
Mick’s mention of food reminded Tom that he
had not eaten in a while either, not since Marty’s “Hamburger Helper,”
and all of the day’s activities had built up an appetite.
“Shure sounds like a good idea to me,” the eldest brother
replied. “I’ll call up Minnie first and then get ahold o’ John
an’ the others.”
The three of them walked back toward the
farmhouse, and Tom first helped them with loading up the canister. Mick
started up the tractor, and Paddy said, “Hey, Mick, we goin’ to church
“What’re you talkin’ ’bout, Pat?”
declared Mick with a chuckle, feeling a joke coming on.
“Well, y’ know what they say:
‘let us spray’!”
All three Mulhill brothers laughed at the play
on words. Once they were on the
way, Mick maneuvering the tractor and Paddy operating the sprayer, Tom
headed into the barn to check up on Midnight.
She whinnied when she saw the man enter the barn, an uneasy look in
her eyes. The farmer took a
glance at the ground beneath her and saw that Marty had been digging around.
“Easy, big girl,” he soothed, and gently opened the gate
to take a closer look at the ground. Inspecting
toward the back where he had hidden Hank, Tom could see one of the fingers
slightly protruding from the ground. Getting
up, Tom grabbed a shovel and took some dirt from the pigsty, enough to cover
the area in Midnight’s stall fully.
Once that was done, Tom also laid some fresh
hay in Midnight’s stable and gave her some oats to chew on. “Atta
girl, just calm down,” he cooed to her as she ate from the feedbag, softly
brushing her mane with his hand. “You
just keep this little secret between us, eh?”
If the drifter had told Paddy or Mick about
his discovery, Tom was confident that they wouldn’t be able to follow up
on it. There was enough soil
and hay there to deter them from digging too deep without causing a lot of
fuss with Midnight.
On his way back to the house, Tom saw Paddy
and Mick still driving out toward the other end of the corn field, just
about ready to start spraying. He
figured being the twits they were, they would believe his story to the
letter and think Marty was trying to get them in trouble by saying they were
being cruel to their livestock. The
farmer could only hope that neither of them would talk to Billy about it.
“I’ll have to keep those two away from town and the phone for a
while,” Tom reckoned aloud.
Approaching the desk where the telephone sat,
Tom saw the phonebook on the surface open to the page with the number for
the Carlisle sheriff’s office on it.
Closing the book, Tom put it back in a drawer and pulled out his
address book. First, he dialed the number for The Down-Home Café. “Howdy,
what can I do ya for?” came the voice of a jovial female after a couple of
“Hey, Minnie, this here’s Tom Mulhill. Ya think we could get three meals delivered out here? Whatever’s
your special today, sweetheart.”
“Oh, sure thing, Tommy. I’ll
have Joe Bob whip that up in a second. Laddy
could have it out to ya in, say, forty minutes?”
“Sounds great,” Tom replied, hanging up
June 7, 1960
Down-Home Café, Carlisle, South Carolina
It had been a pretty routine day for Sheriff
William “Billy” Boone. He
had broken up a couple fights in town and found a lost cat, but that was
about it. The only thing bothering him was the disturbing call he had
received from the Mulhill farm. He
trusted the Mulhills: they were
clean, honest folk, and had been around the area since before he had been
born. However, it didn’t seem
right for him not to at least follow up on that stranger’s claim. If there was a murder victim out there, the Mulhills probably
didn’t even know about it.
Billy was sitting in The Down-Home Café as
his shift had just ended. Minnie
brought him out her special of the day, which was meatloaf, fried potatoes,
and green beans. Billy thought
she was a mighty fine woman, and that son of hers, Joe Bob, was a mighty
“Thank you, darlin’,” the sheriff told
her as she set the plate before him.
“Anythin’ for you,” she winked.
Their pleasantries were interrupted by the
sound of Joe Bob hollering from the back.
“Hey, Ma, did the Mulhills say if they wanted extra tomatoes on
Minnie turned around and shook her head. “No, but I don’t think it much matters. Told Tommy it’d be there in forty minutes though, so get a
A thought came to Billy: he
wasn’t sure he could have peace of mind without at least stopping by the
farm to make sure everything was all right. “Are
those boys comin’ in to get their meals?” the sheriff asked.
The restauranteusse shook her head. “No, I’s gonna have our boy Laddy go deliver it.”
“No need,” he stated. “I’ll
finish my vittles an’ then take it out to ’em. Tom told me earlier he wanted me to help ’im out with
somethin’, so this might be a good opportunity. No
need for Laddy to make the extra trip all the way out there.”
“Well, that’s mighty kind of you, Sheriff
Boone,” Minnie said, smiling again. “You
just finish yer food, and a piece of my homemade apple pie is on the house
for yer makin’ this errand.”
“Much obliged,” Billy replied, tipping his
hat at her. He felt better now,
not really thinking that anything was amiss at the farm, but felt it was his
duty to at least check out such a report as murder. Tom
was normally easygoing, and he would help Billy straighten out this mess
before it got to be a rumor around town. That
would be the last thing Carlisle needed.
June 7, 1960
Mulhill farm near Carlisle, South Carolina
After calling their four closest neighbors,
Tom took a glance at the clock. Minnie
had said nearly thirty-five minutes prior that the food would be there in
forty. Pulling a beer out of the icebox, Tom went out to the front
porch and pulled up a lawn chair, waiting for Laddy to arrive with the food.
Closing his eyes, Tom slowly sipped on his
beer. Five minutes later, on time as always, he could hear a
vehicle coming down the road. When
he opened his peepers, however, the farmer nearly soiled himself when he saw
Billy’s cruiser coming into the lane.
Taking the bottle of brew with him, a nervous
Tom Mulhill got up from his seat and approached the vehicle. “Hey,
Billy, what’re you doin’ out here? You
deliverin’ for Minnie now?” he joked, giving the sheriff a friendly
smile. Tom and Billy were
childhood friends, but if he started snooping around the farm or talked to
Paddy or Mick, Tom figured that he would be in serious trouble.
Billy smiled. “Actually,
I am today. I was just in the
Café and overheard Minnie take yer order, so I thought I’d drop by and
give it to ya.”
Tom expressed his thanks as he took the sack
containing the meatloaf, even though that point in time had to have been the
worst possible opportunity for courtesy on his behalf. Billy
detected just the slightest bit of tenseness in the farmer’s demeanor.
“I also thought I ain’t doing a thorough
job by not at least checkin’ up on what that fella said on the phone
earlier. Now, I know you, Tom, and I know you’ve always been
cooperative, but y’ do understand I can’t take the chance of a possible
murder lightly. I’m sure
you’d want to know if someone was buried on your property just as much as
Tom nodded slowly and, with false honesty,
said, “Yeah, o’ course. I
ain’t want nothin’ hinky goin’ on ’round here neither, Billy.”
“Now it won’t take long, I’d just like
to look at the grounds a bit, check the barn where the fella said he saw the
body, and talk to you and your brothers. Also
could have a word with the drifter if he’s still around.”
The sheriff looked at him, expecting Tom to be
more than willing to comply with the request.
“Sure thing, Billy. I
dunno if you’ll get to chat much with the boys; they’re out on the field
sprayin’ the corn for the cutworm. As
for that drifter, after he been callin’ in crazy calls to you, I sent him
on his merry way.”
Sheriff Boone was a bit bothered by the fact
that the drifter was no longer around, making him wish that he had indeed
responded to his call earlier. “Too
bad ’bout that, Tom. I was
hopin’ to talk to ’im before he left. I’m
concerned ’bout who he might tell this story to.
’Twouldn’t be good to have such rumors ’round town. I’m
’fraid it’d get us in a fine mess, so that’s one reason I wanted to
nip this biznis in the bud before it gets outta hand.”
Tom nodded to his reasoning, although he still
seemed a bit nervous. Billy
figured hearing about a possible murder on his property would rile anyone
up. “Yeah, that’s a good
point there, Billy. I sent him
down the highway toward Carlisle, but hopefully he won’t bother nobody
After a single nod at Tom’s statement, the
sheriff continued. “As for
yer brothers, I have time to wait ’til after they’re done sprayin’. Why
don’t I just go have a look about the barn for now? That’s a good place to start.”
“Sure, let’s go on over to the barn,”
the farmer replied, trying to be as cooperative as possible.
Clutching the beer bottle in his hand, Tom looked over at Billy. He gestured toward the bottle and said lightheartedly,
“I’d offer ya one, but I know yer on duty here, both as a sheriff and a
delivery boy.” He got a laugh
out of the police officer anyway. Tom
Mulhill figured that, with any luck, if he could act like his regular self,
Billy wouldn’t be too thorough with his search.
“Well, good, Tom. And
yeah, I could use a brew right now, but as you said, I’m on duty.” Billy looked down at Tom’s one hand, which was grasping the
paper bag tightly, almost looking like he could rip the top off, while his
other held the beer bottle.
“Ya know, I’m bein’ rude. Here
I delivered your dinner and it’s gettin’ cold. Why don’t you call those boys in for a break so you can have
your eats, and I’ll just chat with them first?
Then I’ll have a look ’round the barn while you finish up yer
dinner.” The sheriff smiled
at his friend cordially, not wanting to have to have him warm up the meals
in the oven again. Even if this
was police business, it could be conducted in a tactful, neighborly way.
“Nah, they just got started out there…
it’ll be a good three hours, so I was just gonna keep these vittles here
warm in the oven for a while,” Tom explained to Billy who nodded, knowing
how farm life was. The two men
entered the kitchen with Tom intent on delaying things as long as possible.
In the cellar, Sam was still laying in the
same position that he had been in since Tom put him there. He
shook his head, figuring he must have drifted off from being so drained from
the struggle with Tom and being hit on the neck with the gun. The quantum physicist felt even more miserable than before. His
bladder was full, his stomach was empty, and his throat felt like a desert. The
tea towel stuffed in his mouth did not help matters.
However, as restricted as Sam was, he could
still hear, even if he couldn’t see, talk, or move. He
heard the faint sound of the screen door opening and footsteps on the floor
above him. Sam was able to
discern Tom’s voice—even though it was hard to actually make out what he
was saying—talking to someone else, an unfamiliar voice. After
a minute or two, the screen door opened and closed again, silence retaking
Doctor Beckett really wished he could get
someone’s attention, but it was no use.
He wasn’t going anywhere until someone discovered that he was
there, alone, in a dark basement.
June 7, 1960
Mulhill farm near Carlisle, South Carolina
As Tom led Billy out to the barn, they could
hear the animals making noise. After
passing some of the livestock, they reached the Mulhills’ pride and joy,
Midnight. The Arabian horse was coal black and had nearly perfect
conformation, but she couldn’t show because she had a wild streak. Although all of the brothers had contributed in breaking her,
she was most attached to Hank, who seemed to have a special bond with the
animal. Billy petted the fiery
horse, which looked at him with a fierce gaze as he entered her stall.
Turning to Tom, Billy said, “This here’s
where the stranger said the body was buried.”
He began to search around the interior of the stall.
it, Marty even told ’im which horse was stompin’ on Hank’s body!
Tom screamed inside his mind. It’s gonna take a damned miracle to keep Billy from findin’ somethin’.
It certainly didn’t appear like anything was
amiss in the stall, just freshly laid soil and hay, which was necessary for
the proper maintaining of a horse. The
sheriff was just headed to the back of the stall when they heard a loud,
panicked shriek from outside. Tom
and Billy looked at each other and ran out of the stable to see what the
Mick was running toward them with his arms
waving excitedly. He looked
surprised to see Billy but didn’t pay it much mind. “Boss!
Boss!!!” he yelled. “Come
quick! It’s Paddy!”
Tom looked almost relieved at the fact Mick
had come by at that moment, but his expression quickly turned to one of
concern. “What’s goin’ on, Mick?”
“There’s been an accident… Paddy’s in
real bad shape!” Mick continued, panting for breath. “We
was sprayin’ and somehow the canister came loose, causin’ the hose to
come back unto itself. Paddy’s
just been sprayed with pesticide and is burnin’ in pain!”
Billy and Tom took one glance at each other
and rushed after Mick back toward the fields.
Noticing a first-aid kit just inside the barn entrance, Tom stopped
and let Billy go ahead so that he could bring the kit, and then managed to
catch up to the other two men as they charged out toward the tractor. As
they neared the sprayer, they could hear the frantic crying from Patrick
Mulhill as he writhed on the ground.
After the three men got Patrick Mulhill inside
and resting on the couch, Tom picked up the telephone and called their
family physician in Carlisle, Doctor Richard Henderson, to report the
emergency. The nurse said that the doctor would be out right away. As
soon as Tom hung up the phone, Billy used it to call his office and had one
of his deputies pick up the physician and drive him out to the farm as fast
Paddy had settled down a bit since they got
him to the couch, but he was still writhing, his hands clamped into fists
and his mouth wide open as he gasped for air. He
tried to speak, but not much would come out.
All Mick could think about was the possibility of losing his brother
and he found himself wishing that Hank was there now: he
would know what to do. Hank
sure would be surprised at all that had happened at the farm since he had
gone off to the exposition in North Carolina.
Nobody talked for a long while, and Mick
Mulhill watched Paddy closely, who was still moving around a lot and
groaning. His face and arms
looked red and blistery. Thinking that the injured man could maybe use some more cool
rags against his skin, Mick headed for the cellar door to get some.
To his befuddlement, it was locked: they
never kept that door locked. He
shrugged and went over to the desk to fetch the key.
Watching with disguised horror as Mick walked
toward the cellar, Tom turned to the sheriff. “I’ll
be right back, Billy,” he said, leaving the living room to meet Mick at
the desk. “Need somethin’
in the cellar, Mick?” he asked as casually as possible.
After going to the desk, Mick looked around
for the key, but didn’t find it. He
was contemplating where it could be when Tom approached him. Shrugging,
he stated, “Shure do, but I cain’t find the key. It shoulda been right here in the desk. I wanna get some cool rags; you know how we have that stash
down there ’cause it’s always ’bout twenty degrees cooler than in the
house. I thought Paddy might
get some good use of ’em.”
Another lie came to Tom quickly. “I
was lookin’ fer it earlier, too, but couldn’t find it. I
shure hope Marty di’n’t take it with ’im or somethin’,” he said
with false sincerity. “There’s
s’more towels upstairs in the linen closet, I guess those’ll hafta do
’til we can find the key for the cellar.”
Mick nodded in agreement, seeming to believe
the story, and headed upstairs to get some towels. After
watching him ascend the steps, Tom returned to the living room to see
nothing had changed. “God, I
hope Doc Henderson gets here soon,” the farmer said to Billy, fully
concerned about Paddy. “I
jus’ feel so helpless.”
“I know, Tom, but don’t you worry. This’ll
all be over before ya know it,” the sheriff responded. As
they heard Mick coming back down to the main level, the front door busted
“We’re here!” Doctor Richardson called
out, heading straight for Paddy. Kneeling
at his side, the physician unbuttoned the front of Paddy’s shirt and took
out his stethoscope, listening to the patient’s heartbeat. “How
are you feeling, son?” the doctor asked. Though only about ten to fifteen years older than Paddy, he
still considered bedside manner to be important.
Paddy could sense the commotion around him,
but things were slightly fuzzy. “Not
so good, Doc. I got a real bad
headache and feel like throwin’ up,” he reported as he felt his eyes
continue to water. “I
cain’t stop the tears neither.”
Some saliva dripped out of the corner of his
mouth. Looking around, he saw
Tom, Billy, and Deputy Harris looking on. “Where’s
Mick? Where’s Hank?”
demanded Paddy, his mind very muddled.
The doctor simply nodded as Paddy listed off
how he was feeling, sounding to the physician that he had received a decent
dose of the pesticide both on his skin and possibly into his system. “I
need soap and water on him immediately!” Henderson said as he turned to
Tom. “Get me a basin of
water, hot if you can, and all the towels you can muster.”
When Tom took off, the doctor turned back to
Paddy. “Did you ingest any of
it, son? Anything get into your
nose or mouth?”
“I ain’t need a bath, Doc, I need ya to
cure me!” Paddy cried out.
“Listen to me.
Did you get anything in your nose or mouth?” the doctor reiterated,
his Midwestern accent a strange sound to Paddy’s ears.
“Um, I don’t… remember,” Paddy stated,
but quickly recalled, “Wait, it sprayed in my face, almost got in m’
To that, the doctor said, “Almost? They’re
right puffed up.”
Paddy called, wanting his brothers at his side.
Mick had been dampening the towels he
retrieved when Tom said they needed more.
After telling Tom there were more in the linen closet, Mick took the
wet towels out to the living room just to hear Paddy calling his name.
“I’m here, Paddy,” Mick said, taking the free hand that was
dangling over the side of the couch as the doctor performed his evaluation.
Returning a few minutes later with a basin of
lukewarm water, some more towels, and a bar of soap, Doctor Henderson helped
Tom set the water down next to other towels that Mick had just gotten wet
with cold water. Mick let go of
Paddy’s hand, and the doctor then proceeded to dampen a towel in the
basin, smother it with soap, and give the skin that was exposed to the
pesticide a soft pat down so as to not rub any of the chemicals deeper into
“We need to get him to a hospital right
away,” Henderson said as he started to cleanse Paddy’s skin. “Can
somebody help me get him into the back of the cruiser?”
ain’t wanna go to no hospital! People
die in there!” Paddy exclaimed, then hearing Mick trying to calm him down
and convince him to go. “No,
Mick, I cain’t go!” The
injured Mulhill could no longer see anything since his eyes were so puffy,
and the voices were starting to meld together around him.
“Look, Doc, maybe me or Tom could go
’company you and Paddy, so he feels like he got some kin there supportin’
him. The rest of us can stay and look out fer things here.
What d’ ya say?” Mick proposed to the physician, hope in his
eyes. The doctor agreed while,
in the background, Sheriff Boone was quietly instructing Deputy Harris to go
ahead and drive them straight to Wallace Thomson Hospital in Union as fast
as possible. Billy figured when
these people had cleared out, he would be free to look around the property
again. It was not that he
thought anything was off-kilter, but he could get pretty strong feelings
sometimes when something just was not right.
Right now, he had that “strong as a cup of Minnie’s morning
“Mick, why don’t you go with Paddy to the
hospital? I’ll stay here and
mind the farm,” Tom piped up. It
was all he could do to choke back his emotions as he thought about the
family members that had passed on while at the very same hospital to where
they were taking Paddy, including both of their parents.
Paddy was still protesting going to the
hospital, but Billy and Tom watched as the doctor, the deputy, and Mick
assisted Paddy into the back of Harris’s cruiser and took off down the
road, sirens blaring and lights flashing. Turning
to Billy, Tom swallowed hard, thinking about both the events that just
occurred and the events that may occur soon.
Sam had heard somebody trying to open the door
to the darkened basement where he currently lay taped to a chair. Desire jumped into his throat but quickly subsided when the
jiggling of the doorknob stopped. There
were some voices—Tom and Mick, he guessed—and then it got quiet, with
only the sound of footsteps moving around above him.
Suddenly the leaper heard, muffled through the
floor, some yelling of protest, then the front door swinging open and—soon
after—police sirens blaring. The
fact that the police had arrived here gave the scientist at least some peace
of mind that the sheriff had followed up on the report of finding a body in
the Mulhills’ barn.
Right now, he realized it would be a miracle
if anybody found him without Tom’s indulgence. Sam
was grateful that the sheriff was investigating and hoped that they would
check out the cellar for more bodies, but he was hoping that would happen before dying of thirst.
With any luck, Al would show up with some
information. It had been too
long since the observer visited with an update, and he could really use some
of that “moral support” right now.
There were only two voices coming from above
now. They were the same two that had been in the kitchen earlier: Tom
and another man. They were
speaking in softened tones and Sam could only hear a few choice words. Footsteps
echoed across the floor toward the kitchen, Sam guessed, and he heard the
screen door open and close. Silence
filled the farmhouse once again and the leaper resumed thinking about some
way of escape.
Billy led the way back toward the barn, Tom
following closely behind him and dreading every step. They
came upon Midnight’s stall again and the sheriff carefully opened the gate
so as not to spook the horse too much. Calming
her as he went in, knowing that she must be getting stressed out with him
and the drifter both being in here today, he continued toward the back of
the stall. There were
hoof-prints stomped into the ground near the back wall, and dirt and hay had
been scattered about. He looked
back at Tom, who had followed him in.
“That horse is actin’ kinda funny,”
Billy commented. “She always
this fidgety? I know she’s a
wild one, but why would she be messin’ up her stall like this?”
The farmer shrugged and acted as surprised as
Billy. “I dunno. She’s unpredictable as y’ know. There, girl,” he soothed to the beast, petting her lightly.
Bill Boone started to move his foot around the
area where Midnight had been, then got down on his knees to examine the area
more closely. He didn’t see
anything unusual, but as he moved the hay and dirt about with his hands, he
suddenly came across a slight bump protruding from the dirt. The
sheriff took a closer look and felt a chill run through his spine when he
realized it was a human finger. There
was a person buried there!
“Tom, you got a shovel?”
Tom felt a shiver of fear run through his
being, looking at his friend in horror. He
nodded and asked, “What is it?”
“Looks like your drifter was right,” Billy
replied, getting back to his feet. “There
is someone buried here, and we’re gonna find out who it is.”
Reluctantly, Tom went off and fetched the
shovel. “H-here,” he said,
starting to feel nauseous as he handed him the spade. When
Sheriff Boone made the first dig into the dirt, Tom nervously asked, “Oh,
God, who could it be?” Billy
didn’t answer, and Tom really wasn’t expecting one.
Inside his head, however, thoughts were
screaming their way around. How
can I stop this? I certainly
don’t wanna hurt Billy, a life-long pal, but he needs to be stopped
Midnight was still stomping, nervous with the
two men in her stall. Tom
looked at her in the eyes, seeing a wild glint in them as she returned the
gaze. Suddenly, she let out a loud whinny and kicked up her front
legs, knocking over Tom and nearly stomping on him. Billy
got up from his crouching position to try to calm her down, but instead
received a chest-full of Midnight’s front hooves.
“Midnight, no!” Tom screamed out as he
scrambled to his feet. Billy
fell against the back wall, his head making a sickening smack. He
was sitting against the wall with the wind knocked out of him, but still
Taking a defensive position, Tom began to
instruct his friend. “Billy,
try t’ get outta the stall, slow and quiet as ya can,” he said in a
hushed tone. The farmer then sidestepped his way to the stall’s gate and
opened it slowly. Midnight was
still stomping around, ready for anything the men might try to do. Billy heeded the advice, slowly sliding his way along the wall
toward the gate. Tom was
standing outside, waiting for the sheriff to join him safely outside the
Finally, Billy made it to the other side of
the stall and Tom secured the gate behind them.
Midnight snorted, shaking her whole head and mane as if to say
“Good riddance!” Billy
sighed heavily at Tom, suggesting that they return to the house. Tom
agreed, noticing that the horse must have been relieved to have them out of
her territory, but not nearly as relieved as the farmer was.
The smell of the meatloaf being kept warm in
the oven greeted them. After
suggesting they discuss the situation over a meal, Tom grabbed two bottles
of beer from the refrigerator and then removed the bag from the stove. Placing
a plate-full for both of them on the table, the two began to eat.
“Sure hope the hospital calls soon,” Tom
mentioned as they dug into the food. “I
was hopin’ to share this with Mick and Paddy.”
Though true, he was secretly glad that his two brothers were no
longer in the house to be questioned by the sheriff.
After dinner, Tom put the leftovers into the
refrigerator while Billy headed toward the restroom, rubbing his head a bit
where he had taken the good knock against the back stable wall. The
farmer was pondering about how he could hide the body elsewhere and keep
Billy from interrupting. He
could not risk doing it tonight while Billy slept, having invited him to
stay the night.
“Well, I’ve already locked one person away
today… why not another? There
are no windows in the bathroom, and Mick’ll probably stay at the hospital
tonight,” Tom mumbled to himself. Retrieving
the twine from the utility drawer again, Tom heard Billy close the bathroom
door behind himself. Tom
Mulhill walked out of the kitchen and down the hall to the washroom,
grateful that the bathroom door opened inwardly. He
carefully tied some of the strong rope around the doorknob, making a tight
knot. He then pulled the rope taut across the hallway to attach it
to the closet door. After
giving the rope a tug, the farmer figured there was no way his friend was
ever getting out of that bathroom on his own.
Returning to the kitchen, Tom sat and waited
to see how long it would be until he heard a cry for help.
It had been quiet upstairs for maybe ten
minutes, and Sam began to doze off once more.
The screen door slammed and jolted him out of his snooze, as there
was more commotion and talking in the kitchen. The
leaper strained his ears to catch the conversation, but the kitchen wasn’t
as close as the living room was, so all he could hear was the voices.
A half-hour passed and he suddenly heard
Tom’s companion yell, “Hey, Tom, could ya come here a sec? Door’s
“What’s that?” Sam heard Tom yell back,
footsteps moving out of the kitchen and closer to Sam’s proximity. After
a moment, footsteps sounded again, heading very close to the cellar door. The
leaper couldn’t be sure, but it sounded like Tom was having a one-sided
conversation. He’s either on the
phone or he’s going crazy, Sam thought to himself, and then realized
what it must look like when people caught him talking to Al. Or maybe he’s a
Doctor Beckett tried to push that thought out
of his head. If Tom really was
a leaper, certainly Ziggy would have detected his presence and sent Al to
report it by now.
The conversation ceased and Tom left the
house, returning a minute later to say to someone, “You still alive in
there?” For a second, the
leaper thought he himself was being addressed. Of
course, Tom knew that Sam was unable to reply with the dishcloth stuffed in
However, Sam’s hopes were shattered when the
voice of Tom’s visitor returned with, “Yep, but I’m not lookin’ to
spend the night in this here restroom. I’m
actually pretty beat after the day’s events, so the sooner y’ can get me
out, the sooner I can settle into one o’ those comfy feather beds y’
“Sure thing, you got it, buddy,” Tom
replied. “But I don’t think no screwdriver’s gonna fix this mess.
Just realized the hinges are on
the inside with you! Damn!”
From what Sam could gather, a friend of
Tom’s was trapped in the bathroom. He
could hear the conversation easily and guessed that it must have been
carrying down a hallway and toward the basement door. If
only an actual person could find their way to that door and get him out of
After stating that the hinges were on the
inside of the bathroom, Tom heard Billy say something in response, but
didn’t process it as he was too lost in his thoughts trying to figure out
what to pretend to do to “help” him next. He
felt horrible for lying and trapping his friend like this, but he had to
make sure nobody could link him to that body in the barn.
“Hold on, Bill, I’ll go see if’n I can
find somethin’ else in that tool shed… maybe a torch or somethin’ t’
heat up whatever’s got this dang-blasted thing stuck,” Tom told him,
hearing another plea to hurry up.
Returning outside, Tom didn’t even give the
tool shed a glance as he headed back to the barn. Midnight
was still upset, not nearly as bad as she was before, but she was visibly
stressed out. Quietly, Tom
approached her stall, soothingly saying her name.
“There there, Midnight, atta girl. Just
be calm.” The black Arabian
horse did not even whinny, but the farmer could tell she wouldn’t be happy
with him entering the stall again.
Tom grabbed the tethering rope and managed to
coax her over to him, and then tie her up on one of the metal loops. “It’s a good thing Billy didn’t think about this last
time we was out here, haha. His
head musta hit real hard,” Tom
laughed aloud, more to himself than the horse. Still
not wanting her to cause a ruckus, he gently opened the gate and returned to
where Hank’s body was buried. Billy
had dropped the shovel when Midnight reared up before, so Tom picked it up
and started digging…
June 7, 1960
Thomson Hospital, Union, South Carolina
Mulhill paced back and forth in the waiting area,
wishing they would let him in to see his younger brother.
The worst part was the waiting, the not knowing what was going on.
Bordering on ten o’clock at night, Doctor Richard Henderson emerged
from Room 304 and approached Mick. “I
think we have everything under control now.
He’ll have to stay here for a couple of days, so I’m turning him
over to Doctor Warren who works here at the hospital.”
nodded and thanked the doctor. “Can
I go in an’ see ’im?” he asked anxiously.
course. I already asked the
nurse to bring you a pillow and blanket, though you’ll have to spend the
night in a chair, I’m afraid,” the Nebraska physician answered.
Deputy Harris approached the two men, looking desperate to leave.
y’all should get goin’. Don’t
wanna hold up the deputy here any longer.
Thanks for all ya’ve done, Doc Henderson,” the farmer said, and
then shook hands with the doctor and the police officer.
Now free to visit his brother, Mick entered the hospital room and
looked down at Patrick Mulhill. He
was sleeping soundly, still looking puffed up around the eyes and red of
up a chair, he decided to telephone their older brother, Tom, and let him
know what was happening. After
letting it ring six times, Mick hung up, wondering where his half-brother
could possibly be. Figuring he
and Billy were busy with something, Mick decided to get some rest and call
Tom in the morning.
June 7, 1960
Mulhill farm near Carlisle, South Carolina
Tom had spent two hours first filling up the
hole where Hank Mulhill’s body had been in the barn, and then properly
disposing of it. He figured his
oldest half-brother was in a safe place now—well, it was easier to hide
something as large as a human being when divided into smaller pieces.
A shovel could be used for more than just digging, as Tom discovered.
The farmer was sure that the pigs would enjoy the extra food he
slipped into their trough, and the rest would keep them nice and toasty
tonight. The furnace was secure
and he left the barn’s door open to make sure the animals did not get too
warm on the humid South Carolinian night.
Returning to the house, Tom heard the
telephone ring twice before it stopped just as he reached it.
It could only have been Mick at this time of night, and Tom reasoned
that his younger half-brother would call back later or in the morning.
“Tom, where in tarnation are you?!” a very
angry Sheriff Boone cried out.
Tom walked over to the washroom and replied to
his trapped friend. “Sorry,
Bill, had a problem with one o’ the sows.
Seems she wasn’t too fond of her children anymore,” he lied
through the bathroom door. “I couldn’t find anythin’ for ya, but I’s thinkin’
I might try breakin’ the door down. We
can’t have ya locked in there all night, sleepin’ in the tub, eh?”
Billy played along with Tom, trying to return
in a joking manner. “Yeah,
y’ got that right, Tom. I
don’t have a mind t’ sleep in the tub; it’d be mighty
uncomfortable.” Sleeping was
the last thing on the sheriff’s mind, however. With Tom’s long absence, he was determined to solve the
mystery of the body tonight and be done with it, even if it meant arresting
his long-time friend.
“Listen, Bill,” Tom said calmly as he
leaned against the wall near the restroom door, “who do y’ think coulda
done somethin’ like that t’ whoever’s buried out there?”
The farmer figured a game of twenty questions might give him some
insight as to where Billy’s loyalties lay.
“Well, I’ve been thinkin’ ’bout that,
Tom. At first, I thought the
drifter ’imself did it an’ just lied to me on the phone, an’ then
conveniently disappeared. But
that body’s been there for longer than the drifter coulda managed.”
Sheriff Boone paused for effect.
“Now, I have t’ admit, you’ve been actin’ mighty nervous ever
since I came here…” he continued, “but I know you’re protectin’
someone. I don’t know who
that body is out there, but after seein’ yer concern for Paddy, I know
you’d do anything for those boys. I
think one of ’em gone and done a deed that can’t be undone now, and you
don’t wanna see ’em put away. I
admire your loyalty, Tom, but you know ’s well as I do that we can’t let
that pass. I assure you that if
one o’ yer brothers did it, I’ll see to it they get the best justice
Tom thought over the words for a moment,
considering how far he could take a lie to get himself out of suspicion.
“O’ course I’d do anything for ’em; they’re my flesh and
blood, after all. I don’t
think Paddy or Mick could ever do anything like that.
Hank, on the other hand… ever since George passed on, rest his
soul, Hank’s been actin’ mighty strange.”
The farmer paused for another rest, letting
the words sink in to his friend before moving on.
“If ya don’t think it was the drifter, how long do ya figure that
body’s been out there? Ya
might wanna wait for Hank to come back; give him a good talkin’ to.”
Bill Boone knew his work well enough to
recognize that the finger he saw belonged to a male:
the bone structure, the size of the nail… it all indicated that.
He shivered to himself, wondering if this was as sinister an affair
as he was suspecting it might be. “Well,
I don’t rightly know without lookin’ further, Tom. But I’d say it’s been out there awhile… more than a
day, but less than a month, judgin’ from the condition of the finger.
As for Hank, I would like t’ talk t’ him ’bout this biznis.
Maybe you could break down that door; seems that’s the only way to
get it to budge. I’d like to
get some shut-eye, and then I might call the coordinators of the expo in the
morning and see if’n Hank’s there. Guess if ’e’s not, we’ll know he isn’t where ’e
says he’s gonna be, and that, of course, would be mighty suspicious.”
The sheriff’s instincts were giving him a
really bad feeling as he waited to see how Tom would react.
If he was right, Hank was not only not at the exposition, but also
not even among the living anymore.
The whole conversation was filtering into Sam
Beckett’s ears as he lay on the cold cellar floor.
His mind was working on the words of the two men, who were speaking
loudly in order to communicate through the lavatory door.
There was a pause in the conversation and then footsteps of one
person going back into the kitchen. From
the words that were exchanged, the leaper had a feeling in the pit of his
stomach that something had happened to Hank’s body.
Sam promised himself that he would do whatever was required to bring
Tom to justice for such a despicable act.
confines were becoming extremely uncomfortable now; most of his extremities
were completely numb and his bladder was screaming for release.
Al still had not returned since Sam found himself being held
prisoner, and he wondered what the delay could possibly be.
in his thoughts, he was brought back to listening to the events upstairs
when the two men shouted with delight.
Billy had made it out of the bathroom, and then more footsteps
sounded through the floorboards. The
front door opened, and a new voice—a female—joined the chorus.
If only he could remove the gag and alert those people that he was
trapped and feeling totally helpless.
Helen Hilverton, daughter of one of the
nearest neighbors, was standing in the Mulhills’ front door with a hot
apple pie in her hands. She had
just finished hearing the story of Paddy’s accident from Tom when she
noticed Carlisle’s sheriff entering the living room.
Having too good a set of manners to question
his presence, she simply greeted him. Billy
tried his best to force a happy return, but quickly excused himself. “I’ll be right back.
Just gotta grab a couple o’ things from my cruiser,” he said.
He managed to get out of the farmhouse, hearing Helen further
question Tom about Paddy’s situation.
After making it to his cruiser and retrieving
his sidearm from the glove compartment, he decided that he would never
forgive himself if he did not go to the barn to see what Tom had been up to
for such a long period of time.
Noticing that Midnight was much calmer now, he
eased his way into the stall and spotted the shovel just where he had left
it. Concern came over Billy when he noticed that the hay had been
replaced, and after clearing it away, horror struck him.
The body was gone!
Now he knew that Tom was guilty for sure since
no one else could have moved it. The
sheriff’s first thought was to search for the body, but quickly decided to
confront Tom Mulhill instead. He
went stomping toward the house, his hand gripping the handle of his
Billy entered the kitchen to find his
suspected murderer setting the apple pie on the counter with Helen looking
on. “So, got yer things for
the night, pard?” Tom asked the sheriff as lightheartedly as possible.
William Boone tried to compose himself since
he would be talking to Tom in front of a lady.
Shaking his head at Tom’s question, he replied, “Almost, Tom, but
there’s one thing I need help with in the cruiser.
Could y’ give me a hand? Excuse
us for a moment, ma’am.” The
police officer stood in the doorway, waiting for his friend to follow.
Instead of following, the farmer asked,
“What would that be, Billy?” curious as to what the other man could be
up to. He had not come here expecting to stay the night, so what
could there possibly be that was so cumbersome in the cruiser?
However, Tom noticed that Billy had his gun now, and that was an
indication that he thought he might need to use it.
Tom Mulhill intended to keep himself bullet-free.
“It’s those extra saddles y’ asked me to
get in town. It won’t take
long.” The sheriff was
half-glaring at him now. He did
not want to make a scene in front of Helen, but he would if it came to that.
Tom could tell from the look in Billy’s eyes
that nothing would be held back if it stood in the way of solving this case. “Oh, right, I plum forgot about ’em. ’Scuse us a moment, ma’am,” Tom said with a slight nod
of his head to Helen as he exited the kitchen, joining Billy just outside.
Once they had reached the cruiser, Tom asked
Billy nonchalantly, “So, what is it ya have t’ say t’ me that ya
can’t say in front o’ the neighbor-folk?”
“Tom, you know we’ve been friends for a
long time, so this is probably one of the hardest things I’ve ever done.
But it’s time for the truth: where’d
you put the body and who was it? I know you gone and done it; I checked the barn and it
wasn’t there. No sense lying
to me anymore; I promise you I’ll get as fair a justice as I can muster
for ya, but you gotta come clean.” Billy
had his hand on the gun, but he still had it in the holster.
However, his hand did not remain on his weapon for long, as an unseen
wash of yellow light came over his body.
Doctor Maxwell Connors now stood where Sheriff William Boone had, a
small smile crossing his lips.
June 7, 1960
Mulhill farm near Carlisle, South Carolina
Tom Mulhill realized that there was a fork in
the road: one would be filled
with lies and would hopefully lay the blame of the body on the person who it
actually was—Hank, and the other path would be the truth, or at least a
reasonable facsimile. His
friend, Sheriff William Boone, had just told him that the best justice
possible would be given if he told the truth about Hank.
“Can I really hold ya t’ that, Billy?
If’n I tell ya who the killer is an’ who the body is, ya think I
can be spared of any charges? You
know Paddy and Mick need me here as much as I
need to be here,” Tom responded, choosing his words as carefully as he
could so as to not incriminate himself.
Doctor Maxwell Connors, a time-traveler
trapped in the past, now found himself in the aura of William Boone.
The first words he heard were from Tom Mulhill, overlapped by those
of a second voice—one that only he could hear.
Connors, it appears that some serious damage has been done to the timeline.
In the original history, Thomas, Michael, and Patrick Mulhill
continued to run their farm until passing it on to Thomas’s children,”
the voice of Morpheus stated at a quick pace.
“They also employed a
farmhand named Martin Adler. However,
I currently predict with ninety-percent certainty that Patrick will die in
two days and Thomas will be incriminated by the local authorities for the
murder of his older brother, Henry.”
Connors made a thoughtful face, disguising
both his façade of thinking on Tom’s words as well as hearing the
predictions from Morpheus. “Originally,
Henry was thought to have simply disappeared, and life moved on.
Now, the family loses the farm and Martin Adler ends up in and out of
prison for the rest of his life as a petty thief.
You must prevent Thomas from being apprehended, but it seems that it
is too late to prevent reporting Henry’s death.”
his head, Max noticed that Tom was beginning to look uncertain of his
comrade’s mental health. “You
have my word. We’re honest folk ’round here, Tom. You know that as well as I do.
We look out for one another and stand by what we say.
You have my promise that I’ll do everything I can to make sure this
business is taken care of within the law but with keeping in mind personal
obligation and circumstances.” He
was not sure where most of the words had come from, having made them up on
the spot, but it seemed to satisfy Tom.
Taking in a breath through his teeth, Tom
tried to come up with something that sounded believable considering the
circumstances. “What would ya
think… what would ya think if I told ya that the body out there… that
the body was Hank?” The
farmer had started stuttering quite a bit, but first wanted to gauge the
reaction from Billy about his half-brother being dead and buried in that
The leaper looked down at the ground for a
moment, then back up at Tom. “It
wouldn’t come as much of a surprise,” Max admitted, already knowing the
facts from Morpheus. “Go
“Well, I didn’t want nobody to find out,
but… Hank, well, he done himself in, if ya get what I’m sayin’,” Tom
said in a half-whisper, insinuating for who he thought was Billy to
interpret it as suicide, but leaving it open to the courts should that
course of events take shape. He
could say that he meant that Hank’s death was his own doing, even if it
was at the hands of Tom. Little
did the farmer know that he was about to get away with murder.
“I see,” the leaper responded.
Although Morpheus said that Tom had murdered Hank, was it possible
that it actually was suicide with a set-up?
From the body language the farmer was giving him, Connors could not
be sure. It was going to have
to be reported that Hank was dead, but it could possibly be brought off as
you have leaped into Sheriff William Boone of Carlisle, South Carolina on
June 7, 1960. From what I can gather in the police records and court
transcripts regarding Hank’s death, he and Tom Mulhill were close friends,
but the sheriff could not ignore his police duty,”
Morpheus continued on in an even, silky tone.
“You, on the other hand, can file a report of suicide and then leap
out, which should sufficiently repair the timeline to a reasonable facsimile
of how it was originally.”
had to refrain from smiling when the computer sentience made the same
supposition as him. There was a
long pause while the leaper looked thoughtful again before speaking to the
farmer once again. “Well,
Tom, what would you have me do?”
breathed a sigh of relief when it seemed that Billy had bought into his
story, at least for now. “I
really didn’t want this to get out, Billy.
If’n people hear that one of us Mulhills has gone and died that
way, we might find ourselves with no customers.
I was hopin’ his trip to North Carolina would make everyone think
he’d up and left fer good, leavin’ no questions ’bout no nasty biznis.”
Maxwell Connors felt pity for this man on some
level; it was certain that Henry “Hank” Mulhill was dead and Tom had
been involved in some way. Somebody
had changed history, and now his whole family was going to suffer.
However, Hank’s death needed to be reported, since apparently the
real Bill Boone already knew about it.
Before he could answer, the hillbilly pressed on.
“Ya cain’t cover this up, can ya?” Tom asked, his expression
The rogue leaper shook his head no.
“No, I don’t think I can. I’m
the sheriff, after all. Now you
looky here, though…”
here? Max thought to himself, wondering where the colloquialism had come from.
Well, he had to keep going. Considering
that Tom was apprehended in the altered history, it may mean he confessed.
Perhaps a sheriff’s power, as well as that of a close friend, could
convince him to cooperate with Connors fully.
know you, Tom, but I know that you were the one that killed Hank.
I can see it in your eyes,” Connors pressed, trying to keep as
professional as he imagined a sheriff would be.
The farmer stood aghast at the revelation, and the leaper continued.
“I’m not saying it was right, and no, we can’t hide this.
But, I’ll report it as Hank ‘doing himself in’; that will
conjure suicide in the minds of the townsfolk.
They don’t have to know it’s metaphorical.”
Tom couldn’t believe it… Billy had it all
figured out. He knew what had
happened. Tears began to form
in his eyes at the sheriff’s proposal.
“Billy…” is all the farmer could muster before he tried to stop
any more tears. Swallowing
hard, Tom tried to get the lump out of his throat.
Closing his eyes, Tom whispered, “Oh, God, forgive me.”
Doctor Connors, realizing that he was still
positioned with his right hand on the sheriff’s weapon, loosened his grip
on the gun and put his hands down to his sides.
“It’ll be all right, I promise you that,” Max told him, getting
a verifying response from his source of information.
predict near one-hundred-percent success if you file a suicide case tomorrow
“You just let me take care of this.
I’ll report in the morning that you found Hank’s body last night
hanging in the barn and that I am your spokesman because you’re too
emotional.” The leaper paused
for a moment, realizing that they needed evidence of Hank’s demise.
“I do have to know where the body is, Tom, so it can have a proper
The expression on Tom’s face turned to one
that deer had when the headlights of a vehicle were shining on them.
The police officer’s request to know where the body was sent a
chill down the farmer’s spine. He
had not planned on being found out, but he had gotten this far… and yet
the man he saw as Billy knew that Tom had murdered Hank.
“Sure, it’s in the barn,” Tom told him, which was the truth.
“But I don’t think you’re gonna find anythin’ in there,
“What do you mean?” Max questioned.
“I already gave Hank the burial that he
deserves,” responded Tom, darkness overshadowing his face and his tone.
“I guess ya could say he was always one t’ support cremation.”
Connors took a moment to process his
statement, and it dawned on him. “Don’t
play games with me, Tom. What
did you do with the body?”
“Well, you’re the sheriff, Billy.
Use your deductive police skills,” Tom retorted levelly, not
unkindly. “I said he was in
the barn and liked the idea of being cremated.
Ya could say I was just givin’ him his wishes.”
Taking a look toward the wide-open barn, Max
could spot a large, green furnace inside.
Certainly, he didn’t mean….
He returned his gaze to the farmer, horrified at the thought.
“Tom… you didn’t…”
A frown crept over Tom’s mouth. “’Fraid so,” he said lowly.
“’Twas the only way to hide the evidence.” The leaper shook his head in utter disbelief.
There certainly were some sick people in this world, and he wasn’t
sure why he was here to help keep this man free.
However, Morpheus said that the original history held no jail time
for Tom Mulhill. Whoever may
have been messing around with Time in this period certainly wouldn’t be
getting very far, if he had anything to say about it.
“Hope that don’t cause no trouble,” Tom added as if he had
forgotten the potato salad for a box social.
“I guess we’ll just have to gather some
ashes from the furnace and say he simply jumped in to do himself in.”
Again, Max paused, but not to listen to advice from the computer
program that was grafted onto his brainwaves.
He just needed a moment to absorb this bizarre situation.
Finally, he figured they might as well rest for the night.
His head was beginning to pound, and he wasn’t sure if it was from
the circumstances or something beyond that.
“Well, it’s been a long day.
You’d better get some sleep. I’ll
stay here for tonight and report a suicide in the morning, and then we’ll
go from there.”
The farmer nodded, but Max wasn’t finished
yet. He felt that this man really needed to realize what he had
done, murdering his own brother. “Tom,
I really do hope you understand the seriousness of your deed, but for the
sake of our friendship, and of your brothers and your farm, that’s why
I’m doing this.”
Despite Tom’s original predictions of Billy
taking the whole thing by the book, he was willing to overlook things in
order to help the farmer out. “Thank
you, Billy,” Tom squeaked and gave him a bear hug.
The time-traveler felt really uncomfortable with a strange man
embracing him, but gently pushed Tom away after a brief moment before Tom
began to lead the way back into the house.
For the rest of his life, he would have to keep the secret that the
pigs dined on Hank, and he sure hoped that Billy and he could keep the fact
that Tom murdered Hank between them. Luckily
for Tom Mulhill, the only people who knew the truth came from the future…
and one of them had overheard the entire conversation.
Al Calavicci had watched the entire proceeding
from when the two men exited the house.
He was appalled at the lack of police professionalism, but would be
even more appalled when he finally centered himself on Sam.
Helen Hilverton had been waiting inside,
chewing absently on a slice of her own pie that she brought over for the
Mulhill brothers. Finally, Tom
and Billy returned to the kitchen, along with the holographic projection of
Al, invisible to all in the room. Tom
explained that the saddles had taken a bit to unload, and she nodded with
“I wonder, could you be so kind as t’
escort me home, Sheriff Boone? My
car’s not the most reliable vehicle on these here roads,” the young
woman asked in a tone as sweet as the sugar in her apple pie.
When Morpheus made no protest, Max nodded and walked with her out to
the driveway. He quickly found
the keys to Billy’s cruiser and waved back at Tom as he saw them both off.
Once Helen pulled out of the lane in her
vehicle, the police car rolled behind her, and they took off down the
highway. Tom returned to the kitchen and yelled out in glee.
“God, thank You, thank You!” he cheered.
“I’m finally gettin’ what’s been comin’ to me.
No more worryin’ ’bout Hank comin’ down on me every time I make
a little mistake. Bless Bill
Boone, Lord, bless him with all Your wisdom.”
You little nozzle!” Al exclaimed, angry that Tom was getting away
with his dire act. So enraged,
the observer threw a few punches, but they went right through Tom, going
His praise to the heavens over, Tom took a
beer out of the refrigerator and downed it within a couple of minutes, with
Admiral Calavicci trying to get more data from Ziggy.
“Whaddya mean history’s changing at ‘an alarming rate’?” he
demanded. His hollering got him
an immediate response as the holographic representation of Ziggy appeared
“I do not know what happened, Admiral.
I was projecting that Tom Mulhill was to be incarcerated in order for
Doctor Beckett to leap. That
has gone down to a point-three-percent probability of success. In addition, Patrick Mulhill will be dead within two days.
That chance lies in the top percentile,” the computer reported in a
sultry tone. “It saddens me
to see my father having so much difficulty.”
Al was about to respond to the sudden emotions
that Ziggy had shown, both in her tone and visibly in her hologram’s
facial features. However, his
attention turned back to the farmer, who suddenly withdrew a revolver from
his front pocket and a small key from his back one.
“Oh, Marty, I forgot all about you, you
sumbitch,” Tom muttered to himself, anger overcoming his emotions again.
Al was beginning to fear for Sam’s safety.
Ever since he had returned to the Imaging Chamber, Ziggy was unable
to achieve a centering lock. Not
only that, but the scans of the fingerprint had brought up nothing, and even
though it would probably frustrate Sam, the observer wanted to let the
leaper know of their progress.
Admiral Calavicci had begun fearing the worst,
that perhaps Tom had done something to his best friend, but hoped it was
just some other interference. Dominic
had stated that there was a strange reading coming from the farm just as Al
was about to step into the Imaging Chamber.
Regardless, Al followed Tom as he headed toward the cellar door. The farmer took the stairs down two at a time, obviously
frightening Sam out of his snooze.
“Sam!” Al called out, both grateful that
his friend was alive and abhorred at his condition.
Ziggy, now able to achieve a lock, re-centered them on the leaper at
his side while Tom stood over him with an ugly sneer on his face.
“Well, ya thought y’ were gonna get me in
trouble, didja?” Tom questioned Sam, knowing full well that his captive
was still gagged. Lying on the
ground, taped to the chair, Sam looked up at the farmer with bewilderment in
his eyes. Tom gave him a few
kicks to the ribs for good measure, enjoying the muffled sounds of pain the
leaper emitted. “I ain’t
wanna kill ya, but if gettin’ ’way with murder ’round here’s so
easy, I just might be considerin’ it.”
“You bastard!” Al shouted, but instead of
staying to say anything more to Sam, the farmer quickly ascended the stairs
and re-locked the cellar door, returning the key to his back pocket.
He then went back to the kitchen to open another beer, anxiously
awaiting Billy’s return.
Sam Beckett couldn’t remember ever feeling
so helpless, and he felt that he obviously was not doing any good with this
leap by being locked up in the cellar.
These thoughts raced through his head as Tom went back up the stairs,
leaving him in the darkness once again.
At least this time he had company.
me, Al. Can ya hear me,
buddy?” he questioned with concern. All
that the observer received in answer was some muffled grunts.
The observer wished with all his might that he could be a solid form
right now and help untie the leaper, and then charge up the stairs to teach
Tom Mulhill a thing or two about kicking a man when he’s down.
“Admiral, it is pitch dark in here.
There is nothing we can do for Doctor Beckett at the moment except
give him an update on the situation,” Ziggy interjected with a
Biting his tongue, Al realized that she was
right. Instead of starting
another argument with the egotistical hybrid computer, he let out a sigh and
began giving Sam the facts…