September 7th, 2001
The inner peace that Sam could sense in the blue void while waiting
for his next assignment carried over with him as he felt the electrical
tingle of leaping in begin to dissipate.
His eyes were closed, and his breathing, if it even seemed like
breathing, was slow, deep, and steady as he felt serenity all about him.
All of his muscles were relaxed as he realized he was lying
comfortably on a flat surface.
Despite the heightened awareness
of calm, the leaper decided that it was time to face his new reality and
take in the new surroundings. Opening
his eyes, he found darkness waiting for him.
From what he could tell as his vision adjusted, the small room he was
in seemed to be full of monitoring equipment and computers.
The blinking red light of a video camera on a tripod told him that he
was being recorded for some purpose. Across
the room was a large mirror on the wall with a closed door next to it.
Sam’s eyes traveled back to the monitoring equipment located on
either side of the platform he was lying on.
As a doctor, he was able to figure out that they were cardiograph and
electroencephalograph machines used to monitor heart conditions and
electrical brainwave patterns. Wires
from the machines were connected to his head, bare chest, and arms through
electrodes and small shiny, silver discs.
What puzzled Sam was that he had no feeling of anything being
attached to him at all. Even
more confusing was why he was unattended.
There was no one in the room with him; he was totally alone in the
dark, hooked up to machines that were making faint whirring noises as they
With a start, Sam rose upright on the platform.
His ears were not picking up any signs of breathing; it was only the
sounds of the machines making the faint noises.
On top of that, he could physically tell he wasn’t breathing.
There was no air intake or exhalation from his lungs.
Sam sat there and watched his chest and discovered there was no
movement there, as if he had forgotten how to breathe but he wasn’t
suffocating. Then came another
shock, the wires that appeared to be attached to him were no longer on him
at all. They were going right
through him, still attached to something on the bed behind his back.
In panic, Sam moved off the platform and stared at horror at what he
could perceive in the dark room. Where
he had been lying was a medical examination table with a prone body still
situated on it with wires attached to the head, chest, and arms.
At first, Sam thought the body was dead but then noticed it was
breathing oxygen. Moving
closer, the leaper leaned over to get a better look at the body’s face in
the dark room and recoiled in shock.
The man on the table had Sam’s face!
“Ohhh boy…” was all Sam could think
of, not realizing that he now hovered a few inches off the floor.
May 8th, 2006
It felt weird for a worn-out Admiral Al
Calavicci to physically (not as a hologram) find himself being driven around
the streets of Hope Springs. In
some respects, it didn’t feel right for him to be here.
The events of the last twenty-four hours were still filtering through
his groggy brain. His nerves
were still on red alert after watching Sam slit his own throat with a
razorblade; dying in that hospital room, and then the Imaging Chamber visual
dissolved, separating him from his best friend.
Somehow, Al had found a way to pull himself together before he strode
down the exit ramp to the Control Room.
Hiding the loss he was feeling, he had inquired to Ziggy about his
“Dr. Beckett leaped,” Ziggy
Al’s head popped up at what Ziggy announced in shock. “What?”
“Dr. Beckett has leaped,” Ziggy reiterated patiently.
Al quickly moved to the mainframe and blinked as he listened to
“I’m sorry, Admiral, I can’t ascertain the time period the
person is from. There is someone in the Waiting Room, but they are in a
comatose state. Based on what I know, I cannot figure out anything regarding
his newest leap. Dr. Beckett is in the past, but I cannot find him.”
flooded through the Admiral. Even
if Sam was lost somewhere, he was still alive.
The odds suddenly seemed to go the Observer’s way.
Before Al could comment, Dominic had
entered the room. “Admiral,
General Hawkins called for you just a few minutes ago.
He wanted to remind you that the testing of Project Liberty is
scheduled for tomorrow, and he wants to know if you’ll be coming.”
The Admiral cursed under his breath.
“It’s tomorrow? Damn, I forgot all about it with all the crazy leaps lately.
I really wanted to see what this Liberty is all about so that we know
if that project threatens ours. Dom,
tell him I can’t go, not with what just happened with Sam.”
Dom nodded and turned to go when Ziggy
interjected, “You should go, Admiral.”
“What about Sam, Ziggy?
We need to find him.”
“Admiral, although we have a comatose
person in the Waiting Room right now, I can assure you with 99.6% certainty
that Dr. Beckett will not leap in for at least twenty-four hours.”
“How can you know that?” demanded
“I cannot say for certain.
A subroutine is telling me this.”
“Subroutine?” Dom frowned.
“One that was put into my programming
once by former head technician Gooshie,” Ziggy answered with just a twinge
of sadness in her voice. “It’s
telling me that Dr. Beckett is one day from leaping in, and it’s also
telling me that Admiral Calavicci needs to go to Project Liberty.”
“This sounds like a load of bull,
Ziggy. You wouldn’t be lying
to me by any chance?”
“Would I lie to you, Admiral?”
“That’s a topic for another time,
The blue orb paused slightly before
responding, “When it comes to my father, I would never lie.”
Sighing, Al turned to Dom.
“Get on the phone and tell the pompous ass that I’m packing now
and will be there first thing in the morning.”
Despite his mistrust of Ziggy’s
ability to tell the truth when it came to Hawkins, Al had taken the early
flight to D.C. Although he felt
this trip to Project Liberty was necessary, he was upset that he would not
find time to squeeze in a chance to visit with his daughter Jules, who was
in the area. It had taken some
doing for Ziggy to trace Jules recent phone call to her father, but now it
seemed like a wasted task for the time being.
Instead, it was off to Hope Springs.
Since Sam’s first leap to this town
back in 1985, it had changed drastically.
The crime rate dropped dramatically, but most of the buildings and
businesses seemed the same. The atmosphere was like a ghost town on the warehouse side of
town, which contrasted greatly with the thriving suburbia on the other side.
Few people on the sidewalks stopped to
look and see who was on the other side of the tinted windows of the
government car. Al was a bit
surprised when he had gotten off the plane at Dulles and found a chauffeur
waiting for him. He had
expected to rent a car for himself, and protested the ride he was being
offered, but exhausted as he was, he eventually conceded and climbed into
the backseat. Apparently, his
visit to Hope Springs was deemed important and his host was going to offer
every courtesy possible. Now,
he was glad he made his decision, as his back had stiffened up a bit after
the flight and he wanted to just relax and not worry about anything.
It had been hectic for Al over the last four months as Sam repeatedly
leaped in quickly after each previous assignment was completed. Instead of the usual week or so, Sam was leaping in almost a
day or two immediately after, giving Al little time to rest.
That meant Al’s visit to Hope Springs was going to be extremely
short to allow him to head back to New Mexico quickly in case Sam needed
The current trip down memory lane in
this town reminded him of when Sam, or even the younger version of Sam for
that matter, had both almost died at the hands of a rogue leaper named Dr.
Maxwell Connors. The rogue
leaper was somewhere lost in time, not even God or Time or Fate probably
knew where he was right now. Al
could only pray that his own existence would not be wiped out by that
madman. Then again, anything
Sam did over the years could produce that same effect, which really didn’t
make him feel any more comfortable than he was feeling at the moment.
Peering out the passenger window, a
shiver went down the Admiral’s spine as the car passed by a cemetery.
Al always had an aversion to things regarding the supernatural and he
tended to shy away from those things if he could.
Vampires, ghosts, or even dead people were things he could do without
in his lifetime. It also
didn’t help that a friend of Sam’s by the name of Dr. Alexander Garner
was buried in that cemetery, a victim of cancer in 2003 at the age of 89.
Before long, the car made its way
through the heart of the city. Al continued to stare at the scenery in silence, the
chauffeur apparently not in a talkative mood.
Just as well, since they were now just passing the alleyway where Sam
had been injured by a knife in a brawl and the Admiral felt queasy
remembering the image of his best friend on a side street lying in a puddle
during a downpour, blood trickling from the wound.
After passing what was left of an
abandoned dilapidated athletic field, the car made it’s way around another
street and cruised past a series of warehouses and storage areas.
Before Al could fully recall the memory of Sam being beaten to a pulp
during a Memorial Day festival at the athletic field, the sight of a small
mountain range alongside a tributary of the Potomac River off in the
distance behind the warehouses grabbed his attention.
It was breathtaking to see the silver and green scenery combined with
the clear blue sky positioned above it.
The majestic view made up for the remains of the deserted end of
town, which once had been a thriving enterprise.
Various people had once made a living running their own warehouse
businesses, but Sam’s visit here in the past allowed the government to buy
up all these properties at high prices that the owners couldn’t refuse.
Now this area was rundown and looked like it needed a facelift badly.
The only reason why the town was practically without crime was due to
the fact that the government had secretly moved into the neighborhood and
kept things in check.
The squeal of the car’s brakes brought
Al back to where he was and why he was here in Hope Springs.
The vehicle had stopped outside of a large group of warehouses, one
of which once housed the drug empire of a Darius Dreck until that previous
leap by Sam brought the criminal down.
A large fence, most likely electrified, surrounded all the
warehouses, cutting off the outside world from intruding on this side of
town. All the buildings were
now covered with signs reading Hanswik Industries to make it look like one
big company (albeit one no one had ever heard of) owned all the property
The road leading up to the warehouses
finally came to a gate with a security booth.
To the casual observer, it looked like the booth of any other
business that checked ID and badges before letting ‘employees’ inside.
To the trained eye, it spelled government property.
back the strong urge to nod off, Al smirked as his driver handed an ID
complete with bar code over to the ‘security guard’.
To the Admiral’s tired eyes, he had ‘military soldier’ written
all over him. The guard checked
the ID and handed it back to the driver before he opened the electrified
gate and motioned them through.
up to one warehouse in particular, the driver stopped the vehicle and
seconds later, got out to open Al’s door.
Inside the car, Al was fast asleep, snoring loudly. Rolling
his eyes, the driver gave the Admiral a light nudge. Stretching from intense fatigue, Al climbed out and tried to
overcome the dread that his sense of déjà vu was giving him.
Over twenty years ago, Sam had almost died at the hands of Dr.
Connors in this building.
The side door to the warehouse opened
and Al was greeted by two people who apparently were waiting for him.
One was General Hawkins, the man who invited him here.
The other person was a tall, muscular man with brown hair in his
early forties dressed in what appeared to be a military uniform jumpsuit.
Hawkins knew not to extend his hand to
Al as he puffed on a cigar. “Admiral, welcome to Project Liberty. My associate here is Isaac Lane, head of security.”
Al almost made a blunder when he meant
to reply with a ‘We already met’, but at the last second kept his mouth
shut. Al really wasn’t
supposed to know about the secrets inside the warehouse.
He wasn’t supposed to know that Hawkins’ project existed
underground in Hope Springs, contained an unauthorized copy of Ziggy through
the blackmailing of Dominic Lofton, and that Hawkins had to a smaller extent
copied Sam’s blueprints for said project.
The only reason Al had this knowledge was because Sam had recently
leaped into Isaac and as a holographic observer, he got a sneak peak at what
was inside. Sweating just a
bit, the Admiral hoped that the head of security did not recognize him from
his recent visit to the Waiting Room.
Instead of saying the wrong thing, Al
smoothly wiped his sweaty palm on his white Admiral’s uniform and extended
his hand to Isaac and managed to say, “Mr. Lane.
Nice to meet you.”
“Likewise,” Isaac responded, almost
crushing Al’s hand in a viselike grip.
“You are dismissed,” Hawkins
informed the driver as he turned to Al and asked, “Dr. Beckett is between
Al nodded as professionally polite as
possible. “As far as I know,
he leaped out yesterday,
which allowed me to grab the first plane out here to honor your invitation.
I am eager to see what awaits inside.”
The Admiral nearly winced as he lied about his emotions concerning
this project. The less time
around Hawkins, the better it would be for him.
A few months ago, he had walked in on the General’s Project Quantum
Leap office and was a witness to finding two dead personnel on the floor
with Hawkins holding a flagpole with a bloody tip.
The General had claimed self-defense against spies with Ziggy
validating the story. But
something in Al’s mind did not add up about the whole affair and
Hawkins’ order that he remain quiet about it didn’t help his feelings
about any of it.
General Hawkins tried not to scowl.
“We shouldn’t be discussing all this outside of the main
building.” He stole a quick glance at his watch.
“The testing phase is scheduled to commence in one hour.
I suppose that gives us time to give you a quick tour,” he said
At first, the General hesitated, as if he wanted to pull Al aside,
and then thought better of it. Al
wondered if Hawkins’ conscience was starting to emerge with feelings of
guilt over the murders. Maybe
the General was ready to talk about it and admit the truth.
The look the General had that he wanted to say something vanished,
leaving Al more confused over recent events.
Trying to look interested, Al followed
the other men into the main warehouse.
Out of the corner of his eye, he felt as if someone was watching him
from an upper story window. Looking
closely, the Admiral decided it was his imagination playing tricks on him.
Shrugging, Al walked onward.
Gate, New Mexico
May 8th, 2006
For a pregnant woman, Sammy Jo Fuller managed to maneuver her way
around the technicians who were busy at work at the entrance to the PQL
Control Room. Inside the small
chamber she found Tina, Dom, and Ziggy (of course) waiting for her, looks of
concern obvious on the human faces.
“What’s going on?” Sammy Jo wanted to know.
After popping a bubble with her gum, Tina responded, “We’re still
waiting for Donna yet before we get into this.”
“I see,” Sammy Jo frowned, turning her attention to the
technicians in the doorway. “Is
all this work necessary?”
Dom’s face tightened as he tried to keep his emotions in check,
somewhat still angry with himself for recent events.
Luckily, everyone knew not to bring up the way Hawkins had recently
blackmailed him into giving out top secret project information.
“After the leapees showed up a while back and because of the
security breach when that guy hitched a ride in my car and almost made it
all the way to the project elevator, the government wants to give this place
state-of-the-art security measures.”
“Don’t forget like those three recent leap-ins Sammy Jo detected
a few months ago,” Tina added.
“How high tech are we talking here?” inquired Sammy Jo who
suddenly remembered another occurrence; the female leaper who had
temporarily replaced her father when he had leaped back home to the project
Another pop of Tina’s gum sounded before Dom answered, “Gonna be
a few changes around here. If
there is enough in the funding after this phase is complete, I’d like to
see a Def-Con type light indicator system hooked up on each level,
especially the control room. Basically,
if Sam is between leaps, the light indicator is green; a yellow light
indicates when he has leaped in somewhere, and a red light will signal if
security has been breached. Basically,
I’d like to establish a system so that everyone in the project knows Dr.
Beckett’s status. For the
time being, we’re looking at thermal-scans; infrared kinda stuff.
Daniel Fulton, as head of security, is in charge of the installation
proceedings. Everyone’s gonna
have their own unique thermal body signature encoded into the system.
If you aren’t in the system, you can’t access anything, making
the elevator and the doors to the lower levels instantly restricted.
We’ll have to meet with Beth and Aurora then and have special
subcutaneous sensors placed somewhere in our wrists.
That will allow Ziggy to track any one of us at any time throughout
the levels of the project like a homing device.”
“The downside is that Ziggy or anyone else with access will like
know who is doing what with other people,” Tina grumbled.
“It’s an invasion of privacy.”
“What about my father?” wondered Sammy Jo.
“When the leapee shows up in the Waiting Room, will it show the
body signature of the new person or the host?”
“Good question,” mused Dom as Donna entered the room
and made her way past the technicians who were now installing sensors
in the doorway. “But I am
afraid that will have to wait. Now
that you’re here Donna, we can get down to the situation at hand.”
Donna Elesee-Beckett kept a stern face as Dom launched into the briefing.
“About twenty minutes ago, Sam leaped back into the timeline. The leapee
has been under Verbena’s care since yesterday.”
“Since yesterday? These recent leaps have
been a marathon for all of us. Will Verbena need some assistance?”
Dom shook his head. “We’re
not sure, Donna. I already
called Aurora and Beth and had them go to the Waiting Room to assist.
Verbena told me she just witnessed something extraordinary.
Right after the leap-in, the leapee immediately laid down flat, went
rigid, and then acted as though it were deceased.
All vital signs were barely there.
Heart rate was extremely slow, and synaptic functions were almost
non-existent, meaning the leapee by all appearances became a vegetable.
But then, as if a switch had been thrown, all vital functions
returned and synaptic energy resumed normally.”
“What does all this mean?” inquired Donna.
“Is my husband affected somehow?”
Dom raised a hand. “I’m
getting to that. Based on vital
readings and the synaptic patterns, the best guess from Verbena is that the
leapee had an out of body experience, as if the soul had left the shell
behind and then returned to inhabit the body again.
The leapee suddenly bolted upright, shivering from lack of heat. It, because we don’t know the gender, thinks it’s dead
and gone to heaven; won’t tell me who it is, so right now we have no way
of knowing the person’s identity.”
“Can’t Ziggy figure out who our guest is?” Sammy Jo aimed her
question at Ziggy, whose blue sphere seemed to stop swirling slightly but
“Ziggy is very perplexed right now,” responded Tina.
“Something seems to be blocking her ability to think clearly on
anything regarding this new leap. Ask
her to perform any task or find information on anything not related to this
leap, and she can fulfill her assignments.
As soon as she tries to compute any type of data or make a prediction
for this leap, her system goes into a loop until we can give her something
else to work on. Something has
her spinning her wheels.”
“Great,” muttered Sammy Jo.
“My father has leaped into someone who at times is a vegetable and
our parallel-hybrid computer is displaying the same ability?”
“Afraid so,” Dom replied gravely.
“To make things worse, something has affected Ziggy’s circuitry
regarding the Imaging Chamber door. Nothing
appears wrong with it from what Tina and I had checked out, but for some
reason when we try to open the door, Ziggy goes into that loop again.
Even the override has failed and we don’t know why.
Until we can get the door to open, we have no idea how this leap is
affecting Dr. Beckett.”
“Al picked a swell time to jet across the country,” Sammy Jo
“Don’t blame the Admiral,” asserted Dom. “He left right
after Sam had leaped out. There was no way to know that Sam was going
to leap back in sooner than Ziggy predicted, even though this has been
happening frequently lately.”
“It still doesn’t help any of us that
we can’t figure out who the leapee is.
Worse than that, no one can get inside the Imaging Chamber to help
Sam,” worried Donna as she looked up at the swirling blue sphere and
wondered what had become of her husband and Ziggy this time.
September 7th, 2001
‘Am I dead?’ Sam wondered.
‘Did I kill myself? I
remember feeling a young girl’s guilt over someone dying, and I also
remember holding a razorblade and slashing my throat.
Now I’m here standing over myself, I must be dead.
Maybe it’s a nightmare. If
it is, I’d like to wake up now.’
There was no doubt in Sam’s mind that the person lying on the
examination table he was hovering over was somehow himself, right down to
the wisp of gray hair and the crow’s feet.
An image flashed in his mind of sitting at the bar at Al’s Place
and seeing himself in the mirror, wondering if he was dreaming or not.
Sam wondered if there was a connection or an explanation to all this.
The leaper would not get the chance to find out as the door next to
the one-way mirror suddenly flew open, spilling light into the room. Before Sam knew what had happened, the room seemed to spin in
a whirl of light, and he quickly found himself lying on the table, shivering
from the cold as he felt his movements constricted slightly by the
electrodes and silver discs he could now feel attached to himself.
A dark haired man in his late forties wearing a white medical jacket
rushed into the room. “Reg,
are you ok?”
Sam couldn’t respond, his teeth chattering furiously.
The man grabbed a blanket from underneath the examination table and
quickly threw it over Sam and then hit a switch to turn on the room’s
heating unit. Gradually,
Sam’s shaking subsided and the man started to check the machines alongside
“Incredible,” the man remarked.
“Look at all the activity on these pages.
The EKG and EEG readings went off the scale for a few seconds, and
that was before it recorded the decrease in synaptic activity.”
“It must have sensed my leap…” Sam started to mumble.
“What was that?” asked the man as he leaned over to examine Sam.
The identification badge on his lapel read Dr. Daniels.
“Nothing, doctor. Just
disoriented.” Looking into
the mirror by the door only added to the confusion.
He wasn’t seeing himself anymore.
The image staring back at him was a young male in his early twenties
with blonde hair and a clean-shaven average face.
‘He called me Reg,’ Sam
not here as myself.’
“Are you feeling better
“Much warmer. That
weird experience was the longest few minutes of my life.”
The doctor gave Sam a quizzical look.
“Few minutes? Reg, the
event only lasted twenty seconds.”
“Can you describe it at all? Apparently,
time seemed to move slower for you.”
Sam thought carefully over his answer. “It was like being in a dream
state. I felt myself floating. Things looked distorted. I
thought I was dead.”
A smile came to Daniels’ face.
“You almost did it! You
were on the verge of astral projecting yourself.”
“Astral projecting?” echoed Sam in a whisper.
“We’ll do another test shortly once you’re ready to try again. If this works, imagine what this would mean for science.
Other quantum states of being, other realities, turning the mind into
pure energy, and being free from the bonds of our mortal shells.
Of course, once those military big-shots get word that this might
work, they’re gonna exploit it anyway they can.”
Sam looked up concerned, feeling as though he had heard this tune
once too many times before recently. “What’s
the military got to do with this?”
“I know you’ve only been here two days, but don’t tell me you
volunteered without anyone explaining the purpose of this to you?”
Sam’s silence brought a sigh from the doctor as he continued.
“The research done here at the Williams Science Institute is geared
towards metaphysical and parapsychic phenomena and applying it to military
operations. Basically, we are
attempting to develop astral projection and ESP abilities to aid the
Sam started to chuckle. “If
I recall something I read in school once, parapsychic phenomena also
included the existence of angels or the souls of the dead on another plane
“True,” agreed Daniels, “but I don’t understand the humor
here. I take my research very seriously.”
“I have a friend named Al,” Sam explained, “who tried to
convince me once that angels exist. I
wish he was standing here right now to listen to us talk about it.”
He kept waiting for the whoosh of the Imaging Chamber door but never
“Maybe your friend Al could try to convince the Colonel sent here
to observe the experiments for his boss General Horowitz.
He thinks that the research here is a waste of time and that none of
these projects will ever work. Somehow
I feel that even if I can prove you have astral projection ability, that
Hawkins guy is just gonna shoot my research down.”
Sam sat up on the table, as a memory from a past leap came to light.
“Hawkins is here?”
“Yeah,” nodded Daniels, “you know of him?”
Sam tried not to let the shock show on his face.
“Uhh, never mind. Must
be thinking of someone else. The
Hawkins I knew was a young cadet, more like a security guard.”
“Doesn’t sound like the colonel, although you might run into him. He’s spending the day in the ESP ward voicing his opinions
on how this institute is a waste of time.”
The leaper leaned back down on the table,
exhaled deeply, and muttered, “Ohhh, boy…”
May 8th, 2006
Al managed to keep his cool about the new project as General Hawkins
and Isaac Lane showed him around the project.
The main warehouse was crawling with armed guards and the upper
levels that were once Darius Dreck’s private offices were now converted
into computer rooms and complex surveillance suites.
Near the far wall was a metal staircase that led upstairs to the
upper levels and close by was a large, wide stack of crates that piled up to
the ceiling. Isaac slid a small
secret panel on one of the crates to reveal elevator controls and pushed a
Moments later, the front panels slid up on a few of the bottom crates
to reveal an open elevator car. General
Hawkins nodded for Al to follow Isaac and himself inside.
After the door closed, Hawkins pushed a button and the car traveled
“We’re passing the original underground levels that were built
under this warehouse,” Isaac explained.
“The drug dealer that once owned this had about three hidden floors
for his illegal drug racket. Those
levels we converted to housing, personnel, cafeteria, and recreational
areas. After obtaining this
building we tunneled out some more floors for the main part of the
The elevator came to a stop and all three men stepped out and headed
down a brightly lit, long corridor. At
the end of the hall was the entrance to another elevator with a marine guard
on duty who snapped a salute as the others entered the other elevator.
“I feel like I’m in the opening credits of Get Smart with all
these long hallways,” quipped Al to relieve the nervous tension he was
experiencing. “Do we get to
fall down inside a telephone booth at the end?”
Isaac chuckled at that remark while Hawkins made no show of emotion.
The ride this time was shorter and barely a few seconds later, they
stepped out into another hallway. Two
marine guards this time blocked a doorway at the far end.
They too saluted Hawkins as the General placed his hand on an
identification scanner mounted on the wall by the door.
The red light above the scanner turned green and the door slid to the
side with a whoosh.
As they entered, Al still found himself impressed by the sleek
Control Room despite his objections to this project.
Computer consoles were everywhere as were numerous technicians who
scurried around performing
final diagnostic checks. One
technician was David Watkins, the grandson of Arnold Watkins, the Midnight
Marauder from one of Sam’s past leaps.
With a nod and a slight smile, David hurried past Al to give an
attractive, voluptuous, leggy female technician his clipboard.
“Quite a distraction, isn’t she?” smiled Isaac.
“Huh?” the Admiral blinked.
“That tall blonde technician you seem to have just noticed. That’s Lexia Stafford, head programmer for this project.
Don’t tangle with her, she’s very smart.
The body count on crushed male egos with her is beyond number.”
“I’m happily married,” was all Al could counter with.
Isaac shrugged. “That
hasn’t stopped some of our personnel here.
At least one person a week tries to tame Red Sonja over there.
Tell me she doesn’t look like a young Brigette Nielsen with that
The Admiral gave the woman another look.
“She does look familiar somehow.”
Al dismissed the thought as he then peered out the thick glass
windows to get a good glimpse of the main project.
It was like being in a press box looking out a few feet over a
basketball court. In this case,
the Imaging Chamber Grid appeared to be in a pit below.
The door between the two sets of glass windows in the Control Room
led out to a narrow walkway ledge with railings that traveled all around the
chamber, leading to an elevator on the right side that led down to the
Imaging Chamber Grid below. More
marines guarded the elevator. Across
the chamber, past the pit, was the Accelerator Chamber.
The far-left wall housed the Conference Room.
Suspended above the pit was a giant blue sphere.
A smaller version was placed in the ceiling in the Control Room.
Al shook his head in disgust as
he saw the finished product of what Hawkins had forced Dom to create for
him. Turning around inside the Control Room, Al glanced around at some of
the computer consoles. Some
were just simply computer terminals while others housed video monitors that
showed live video feeds from the Accelerator and the Imaging Chamber Grid.
All talking in the room ceased as the doors that led out to the
walkway ledge opened and Captain Tom Beckett, brought out of retirement as a
former Commander, walked in, dressed in his old military uniform.
Behind him were four soldiers dressed in odd military fatigues, and
bringing up the rear in a guard’s uniform was J.T. Beckett.
Tom ignored Al and marched up to General Hawkins to report.
“Mission briefing in the Conference Room complete.
All essential personnel ready for test phase as ordered.”
“Excellent,” Hawkins nodded as he turned to J.T.
“Prepare for next phase of the mission.
Take the soldiers over to the Accelerator Chamber immediately.”
J.T. and the four soldiers saluted as they marched out to the walkway
and headed along the ledge to the Accelerator Chamber.
“While we wait, Admiral,” Hawkins began, “I think it is time
that you were brought up to speed. Months
ago, I told you that President Bush wanted to focus more on anti-terrorist
related projects. When I had
informed him that Dr. Beckett’s project was a success, it was decided to
create a project that dealt with fighting terrorism in a manner that
involved time travel. Project
Liberty is the end result. After
numerous scientific think tank committees and the assistance of Dr. Samuel
Beckett’s proven theories, we are now about to embark on an historic
mission. We will have improved
upon Dr. Beckett’s project by sending small elite troops into the past as
themselves. No leapees and no
Waiting Room required. The
soldiers will go back fully clothed; their fatigues are specially designed
Fermi suits. These soldiers
will ensure that no one else will go back and change things that will affect
the course of American history. What
you will see here today is the evolution of Project Quantum Leap.”
Al was unmoved by the speech. “What
you’re doing is playing God. What
do you really hope to accomplish with this?”
“This project will stand ready to combat any foreign powers that
decide to alter our way of life, and with Omega, our parallel hybrid
computer running the show, we will have fair warning to send troops back in
the event of an emergency. Ultimately,
should today’s test prove successful, the President has authorized that we
initiate an attempt to send soldiers back to prevent the airplane attacks of
“Unbelievable,” remarked the Admiral in disgust.
“You disapprove of Project Liberty, Admiral?
A pity. I really wanted
you on my side in this matter, considering you help Dr. Beckett ‘Play
God’ on a regular basis.”
“Damn right I disapprove…sir.
Whether you believe it or not, there is a force beyond our reasoning.
Call it Time, Fate, God, or whatever you want, but this force has
been selecting Sam’s assignments. For
you to just pick and choose your missions as you please goes against this
force’s plans. Hell, you
could even find yourself undoing any number of Sam’s previous leaps.
I admit I lost a lot of friends in the Pentagon on 9-11, and I would
dearly love to bring them all back. At
one time, I truly wished Sam could will himself back and change it.”
“What changed your mind?”
“Something you once said, General, when you talked about how
Sam’s failure to capture Dr. Braden in 1985 didn’t actually change much
in the whole scheme of things.”
“Refresh my memory,” ordered Hawkins.
“You told me that if Dr. Braden had been stopped by Sam, some other
criminal element might have come up with a similar idea to Project Quantum
Leap. ‘Where there is one,
there is another and another’. Did
I misquote you? Because I feel
the same holds true to stopping 9-11. If
that horrible tragedy were to be prevented, the terrorists would have come
up with something else until they had succeeded in attacking this country
again. Stopping one thing would
cause another to happen.”
“But that is the beauty of this project,” reasoned the General. “We prevent 9-11 and as soon as the terrorists try
else, Omega notices the change in history and we send our troops back to
prevent that. Our best
scientists described it to the President as a temporal war scenario, and we
have to be ready to fight on that battleground, whenever it may be.”
Al chewed on his lower lip. “Perhaps
it has some merit. However, I
question your methods to get to this point.
You sliced funding from other projects including
Sam’s to finance this, stole ideas from the blueprints for Sam’s
project to build this, and you blackmailed one of my
men to get a working copy of Ziggy to run your project.
Using your influence, you then manipulated one of Sam’s leaps to
secure a location for this project. Above
all else, there is now blood on your hands.
I question your morals that you had the audacity to do all this.
The end result does not justify the means.”
A quizzical look came over the General’s face.
“Blood on my hands? What
are you talking about? Surely
there is no need for overdramatics, Admiral.
I admit I may have done a few unorthodox things on the road to
launching this project—”
“Un-Unorthodox?!” Al sputtered.
“You call what you did to those two men--? Forget it, you don’t want to talk about it with all these
people around. You may have
swept all this under the rug, but don’t think you’ve heard the end of
this. Believe me, sir, this is
gonna be like the snake charmer who turned his back on the cobra. It’s gonna bite you in the ass.”
An almost evil smile came to Hawkins’ face.
“If you feel you have evidence to bring me up on charges, Admiral,
then by all means file a report. Right
now, I have a Presidential Approval card in my hand, which gives me all the
right I need. Nothing you can
do will stick to me in a court of law, so you might as well give your
support to this project because it is going to become operational in just
Before Al could argue further, the outer door opened and J.T. entered
the room. “All soldier
personnel are situated inside the Accelerator Chamber, sir.”
“Thank you, Mr. Beckett. Return
to your duties.”
J.T. saluted the General and assumed a position by the back wall of
the Control Room, which contained a spiral stairwell that led down to the
Imaging Chamber Grid. That
entranceway could only be opened by a special code.
“Tell me something, General,” Al inquired skeptically, “how are
you going to be able to supply power to leap four people back at the same
time? Sam’s project takes up
quite a bit of power just for one person.”
“Did you enjoy the scenery on the way in, Admiral?”
“Yeah, I did, but what is the point?”
The General smirked. “Come
now, Admiral. Surely you
can’t believe that a power source big enough to run this project is
located under the warehouse.”
Al’s eyes widened in understanding.
“The mountains. You
built a nuclear reactor under all those mountains?”
A twinkle shone in Hawkins’ eyes.
“Wasn’t easy to tunnel all that out, but we managed.
What took the longest amount of time was connecting the control
center of this complex to the reactor.
Our biggest concern was accidentally digging into the water on the
surface above. The tributary
and its springs provide adequate water to power the energy plant. The citizens of Hope Springs have been living in the shadow
of a nuclear reactor for the last six years and have no idea as to its
existence. The facility also
has a power collector to absorb the quantum energy.
Can’t have the damn mountains glowing all day and night to attract
tourists and other unwelcome guests.”
“Collecting that much energy is dangerous,” Al countered.
“What would happen to this town if that collector overloaded and
Before the General could reply, the door that led to the long hallway
opened and a familiar, clean-shaven, well-groomed man in his late forties
entered the room. “Dr.
Hasselein,” Hawkins greeted the newcomer.
“Welcome, we are just moments away from testing the project.
Hopefully, you’ll have a favorable report to take back to the
“I hope so, too,” responded Dr. Hasselein.
“The fact that it doesn’t appear you are ready at this moment has
“Well,” squirmed the General, “we had a slight glitch in our
main computer software this morning. At
first it appeared that another program was trying to overwrite itself but
after careful scrutiny, it appears that it cleared up. No traces of any
foreign software present. A
minor setback, I assure you. As
soon as Ms. Stafford runs a few more quick tests, we will be ready.
In the meantime, please take a moment to meet the staff and ask
Obviously not pleased, Hasselein excused himself and wandered off to
observe Tom talking with Lexia and David, then decided instead to head
towards a rear station where a medical crew was monitoring the vital signs
of the soldiers on four special monitors.
“That was the Chief Scientific Advisor to the President,” Hawkins
“I know,” shrugged Al. “I
saw him on Larry King once.”
“Few months ago, I believe,” recalled the General.
“Been so busy with Project Liberty, I tend to have trouble keeping
track of time or remembering what day it is.”
“Experienced lapses in time you can’t explain?” Al remarked
Something in what Al said struck the General hard, and Al didn’t
miss it. “Was it something I
“I’m not sure,” responded the General.
For the first time, Al saw the General as a vulnerable, fragile
confidence and arrogance seemed to have been ripped away from him.
“Something to do with lost periods of time?” Al prodded.
The fragile look on Hawkins’ face disappeared, as it looked like
the General was about to change his mind again about getting something heavy
off his chest. Any chance of Al
prompting Hawkins further to open up about his problem was lost as Captain
Beckett walked to the center of the control room and motioned for everyone
to be silent.
“Ladies and gentleman,” Tom finally announced.
“Ms. Stafford has finished final diagnostics and in a few minutes,
everything will be a go. Everyone
to his or her stations please. General,
Admiral, and Dr. Hasselein, you may stand at the far window to observe.”
As everybody moved to his or her positions, Tom grabbed Al’s arm
and pulled him aside. “Did
you tell Sam about his mother dying yet, Admiral?”
Al pulled his arm away and straightened his sleeve.
“No,” he replied indignantly.
“You know I won’t do that.”
Sighing, Tom stared at Al coldly.
“Then it was justified that I took the job here.
If you won’t tell Sam, then I am gonna use this project to do what
I can to find my brother and bring him home, even if you won’t help me.”
“Does Hawkins know about this?” demanded the Admiral.
Tom spun on his heels and stormed away as Al called after him,
“Guess not.” God,
how can this guy be related to Sam?
All eyes now were staring out across the pit of the Imaging Chamber
grid to the Accelerator room on the other side.
Looking through the windows, the forms of the four soldiers could be
seen, each one standing equidistant apart.
“Alignment is in sync,” David Hawkins announced from his computer
station in front of the other set of windows that overlooked the project.
“Sigmatron on line?” came the question from Lexia Stafford from
her post at the multi-colored control station in the middle of the room.
Above her, the blue globe of Omega swirled in time to the vastly
larger version of the orb that hung suspended over the Imaging Chamber grid
“Affirmative,” David shot back.
“Sigmatron online and ready to fire.”
Despite his objections, Al couldn’t help but feel the excitement
build as the hum of the Accelerator and Omega’s systems geared up into a
powerful crescendo. The hairs
on the Admiral’s back began to rise.
Whether from goose bumps or from the static electrical power being
produced, he couldn’t tell.
“Firing!” yelled Lexia as she placed her hand on the top of the
multi-colored console. Above
her, Omega’s globe began to pulse and glow even brighter, almost like a
sun growing larger.
Remembering Gooshie’s description once about how the former head
programmer was immersed in the wake of quantum energy when Sam first leaped,
Al expected to feel the effects of the Accelerator overtake him, but then he
realized that this new project design kept all that energy spread across the
chamber. Apparently all the
power was absorbed or distributed to all the rooms through the large Omega
sphere outside, making it the central hub of the project.
Across the chamber, all eyes watched inside the Accelerator room as
the four soldiers used as test subjects began to glow in blue leap energy,
their arms reaching upward in euphoria.
“Soldiers are leaping!” confirmed David.
“Confirmed,” Tom Beckett stated from another station.
“After leap-in is complete, I will initiate next phase.”
Seconds later, the four forms disappeared, leaving the Accelerator
empty. “Heading for the
Imaging Chamber.” Tom walked
over to the doorway next to his son, J.T. and entered his code to take the
winding stairway down to the pit.
“Tom is the project observer?” Al asked Hawkins, stunned.
“One of four, actually,” Hawkins replied.
“The other three are still recovering in the medical ward from
having the neural links installed in their brains.
Tom was the only one who could handle it without ill effects. For some strange reason, Omega only likes Captain Beckett’s
link. Besides, for this
operation all four soldiers will be in the same area, so one observer will
suffice. We only need four
observers when they are split up in different locations.
That’s why the grid is split up into four squares.
We can monitor all four from up here separately.”
The room quieted as each square below suddenly contained a blue
glowing form. As the glow
dissipated, a test soldier took up each space.
Everyone in the control room cheered as the soldiers looked around
confused in their new environment, which consisted of an empty office with
two windows and a door.
“Instantaneous leaping?” Al said in disbelief.
“No lag time in between?”
“Come now, Admiral, my scientists may not be as smart as Dr.
Beckett, but I put enough of them together that they were able to come up
with something that was an upgrade. Originally,
the President wanted us to simply send a man back at least seven days into
the past. I think we outdid our
goals here, wouldn’t you say?”
Al could only nod in agreement as he realized how obsolete Sam’s
project was about to become. What
would that mean for Sam?
“Another change,” the General continued as he spoke softly to Al,
“is that no one has to touch the observer to see what is going on in the
Imaging Chamber. If you recall,
the accident back in 1959 with Dr. Garner’s experiment did some damage to
me. I couldn’t see any images in your
Imaging Chamber and for this project I need to know what is happening at all
times, forgive the pun. We made
some progress in that we can see it all happening directly below or we can
watch the live feed on smaller monitors up here.
That way, we can give the observers assistance in combat situations.
Extra eyes can’t hurt. Considering
the amount of money that was poured into this, there will only be one
project like Liberty. All of us
here must make sure that nothing goes wrong because we won’t get a second
chance with this.”
Al looked on in amazement as he watched the soldiers check out the
room. One went to a set of
windows and pulled the blind, only to discover that they were overlooking
the inside of the warehouse that housed Project Liberty.
Another one tried the door and found it to be locked while a third
soldier opened the blinds to the other window and looked out to see a car
pull up to the building. Al’s
eyes widened as he saw it was himself an hour in the past getting helped out
of the military car and stretching from the fatigue of his plane ride.
“Soldiers have reached leap-in target,” stated David.
“May 8th, 2006. Exactly
one hour ago, inside one of the old upper level offices in the main
In the pit below, Tom Beckett entered the room carrying a
multi-colored handlink. All
four test-soldiers seemed oblivious to his presence.
Standing in the exact middle of the grid, Tom hit a button on the
handlink and suddenly all four soldiers turned and approached him.
One put out his hand and was shocked to find it pass through Tom.
“Congratulations, men,” said the new holographic observer’s
voice over speakers scattered through the control room.
“Phase one is a success. You
have gone back an hour in time.”
“One small leap for mankind,” one of the soldier’s voices
crackled over the speaker.
“Have to fix the leapers’ vocal distortion,” muttered Lexia as
she pressed a button on her console. “Tom,
please inform the men that we are about to initiate retrieval process.”
Looking up at the control room, Tom nodded and did as he was
instructed. Then he pushed a
button and walked to the exit from the pit, leaving the soldiers confused as
they looked around but could not see him.
Once Tom was back up in the control room, Lexia barked to David,
“Prepare to execute Project Liberty Retrieval Program.”
“Program ready,” David replied.
Exhaling deeply, Lexia placed her hand on the console.
David hit some buttons on his console and brought the retrieval
program on-line. Once again,
the energy output in the project built up to a climax, the hum of the
Accelerator even this far away was almost deafening.
Down in the pit, all four soldiers stood still as their bodies became
enveloped by blue energy.
Even Al was amazed as the four soldiers disappeared off the grid. “Your program works!” he exclaimed, thinking of how he
could get this to work for his best friend Sam.
Across the chamber, everyone stared at the four masses of blue energy
beginning to take shape in the Accelerator.
The globs of energy began to take on human form slowly, blue quantum electrical energy dispelling from them.
Suddenly at David and Lexia’s stations, sparks began to fly from
the controls as alarms sounded.
“The glitch is back!” shouted Lexia in horror.
“Shut down the power!” thundered Hawkins over the cries of alarm
coming from the onlookers.
“If we do that,” yelled David as he tried to work the controls without electrocuting himself, “we don’t know what will
happen to the soldiers. They
might return back to one hour ago, or they might return here.”
“They might even become stuck between times!” added Lexia as the
hum of the power got even stronger.
The four shapes of blue quantum energy dimmed to almost nonexistence
and then suddenly returned with a fierce blue glow.
“What the hell?” screamed Lexia as the blue energy suddenly
shifted to a fierce blinding red. Sparks
and small fires now sprang from several consoles and monitors.
Without warning, the red glow vanished and the power levels returned
to safer levels. J.T. and a few
of the technicians grabbed fire extinguishers to put out the small fires.
Silence filled the room as people tried to figure out what had
happened. “Where the hell are
my men?” demanded Hawkins, peering out at an empty Accelerator Chamber.
“Not sure,” Lexia trembled from the shock.
“The glitch has disappeared again.
Omega has no lock on any of their vital signs.”
“There won’t be any vital signs,” remarked Al gravely as he
pointed to a monitor that showed the interior of the Accelerator.
“They returned home all right.”
Cries of horror and the sounds of nauseous
people filled the control room. Sadly,
Al turned to Hawkins, trying not to show how horrified he was at the
moment. “General, I’ve
seen enough today. I’m
heading back. Looks like there’s more blood on your hands now and this
time, you can’t cover it up.” Without
another word, Al walked out of the project and did not look back, leaving
Hawkins to stare at the monitor, where four burnt unrecognizable masses
lay smoldering on the Accelerator Room floor, burnt from the inside out by
quantum energy. So caught up
in the horrible tragedy, the General pushed aside any notion of confiding
in Al that he had recently experienced lapses in time he could not
September 7th, 2001
Sam made sure the wires were still firmly attached to his bare arms
and chest before lying back and covering himself with the blanket on the
examination table. Before long,
he felt relaxed and ready to begin the experiment again.
“Ready to proceed?” Daniels wanted to know.
“Yeah,” Sam groggily answered, his eyelids starting to droop from
the inner peace he was feeling.
Dr. Daniels activated the EKG and EEG machines and then turned off
the light before exiting the room, leaving Sam in darkness.
“Can you hear me in there?” the doctor’s voice crackled over a
small intercom located in the ceiling.
“Yeah,” Sam replied again.
“Good. Quiet your mind
and free it from any thoughts, concerns, or fears,” instructed the
doctor’s voice from the other room. “As
long as doubt clouds your mind, you will not achieve your goal.
It must be controlled. Achieved
by not doing anything.”
Sam laid there, his eyes shut. His
breathing slowing down as he tried to clear his mind of thought, especially
concerning his leap and the lack of Al’s presence, and he was finding it
difficult to do so.
“Relax your body, Reg,” the voice of the doctor soothed. “Relax
your face…your jaw…relaxing. Now
relax your shoulders…your neck…your arms and hands.
Feel at peace now. Let
go of thought. Relax your
hips…your torso…your legs and feet.
You should be completely relaxed.”
The feeling of inner peace seemed to augment inside Sam as he heard
Daniels continue, “Focus on your breathing.
Inhale slowly and deeply through your nose, and then exhale through
your mouth slowly. Soon, you
will see yourself floating away from your physical body.
Let go of the fear, the inhibitions that deny you the experience. In your mind, pick a location directly in front of you in the
room. Target that area and
project yourself to it. Remain
conscious while your body is asleep, free of physical sensations. You may feel a tingling or electrical energy building up
inside you, push it down, keep it at bay.”
For a brief moment, Sam felt overly relaxed and began to feel a
tingling. Growing stronger, it
began to feel like quantum electrical energy signaling that he was about to
leap out. Calmness stayed with
him. Instead of crying out in
fear or letting the sensation overwhelm him, Sam found he was calmly able to
push the sensation down, down deep past his toes until it was gone.
Suddenly, a familiar sensation took over as Sam realized he had
stopped breathing and yet felt unaffected.
Opening his eyes, he was shocked to find himself upright, hovering a
few inches off the floor. Once
again on the table, under the blanket, was himself.
Not the young blonde face, but the aged face of Sam Beckett, eyes
closed, oblivious to the world, and breathing very slowly.
“Amazing, isn’t it, Sam?”
The leaper hovered only by a few inches and turned to see who called
him by name. All he could
perceive was a figure all in white, shining brightly.
But before Sam could make out the face, the room spun around again
and he found himself back on the table shivering as he pulled the blanket
tightly around himself.
Immediately after, the door opened and Daniels hit the light switch.
Trying to overcome the chilly air while adjusting his eyes to the
brightness of the room, Sam was able to make out the forms of Daniels and
Al, dressed in his military whites. Sam
kept quiet as he tried to hide his delight in finally seeing his friend.
A part of him wanted to strangle his holographic partner for being
Dr. Daniels checked his printouts and then began to unfasten the
electrodes and discs. “That
was a much better attempt. According to these machines, you briefly had an
out of body experience. Too bad
you lost the control and returned. Almost
seemed like something shocked you back.”
Sam gave Al a sideways look as the doctor handed Sam his clothes. “Go ahead and put them on, Reg.
We’re done for today. I
have a few more people to check in on later this afternoon and then I’m
off to Blockbuster after work. My
niece and nephew are coming to visit this weekend from Hope Springs,
Virginia and they want me to rent that X-Men movie.
My niece Phoebe is such a tomboy, watching superhero movies all the
time. Can’t believe she’s
almost a teenager already. You
like superhero movies, Reg?”
The leaper winced as he recalled a recent leap in Hope Springs as a
superhero named Captain Liberty. “Not
really. Had a bad experience as
one once.” Sam’s mind did a
have I heard the name Phoebe Daniels before?
Hope Springs? Coincidence?
“Ohh-kay.” Baffled by the enigmatic answer, Daniels headed for
the door. “After you’ve
dressed, you can let yourself out. Have
a good weekend. I’ll see you
After saying goodbye and making
sure Daniels was gone, Sam turned to Al.
“Where have you been?” the leaper demanded. “Did you see what I was just able to do?
I was able to astral project myself!
It was amazing, Al, to be able to touch another plane of reality.
We might have just witnessed the evolution of man’s existence!”
The Admiral didn’t quite seem to share Sam’s excitement.
“Apparently, I interrupted your session. My apologies, Sam, but I couldn’t get here any faster.
Other issues have preoccupied my time.”
“Other issues? Like
“I can’t go into it right now.
Events keep changing, and we can no longer determine what will happen
Puzzlement crossed Sam’s face.
“What events? What’s
happening? Is it something I changed, or didn’t change?”
Al’s face remained blank. “We
don’t know if it’s something on your end, or ours.
Something is about to happen in your present, and mine.
Something that might also have future repercussions.”
“What are you talking about? Do
you have any information for me?”
The Admiral clasped his hands together.
“I’ll share what I know. Right
now, you are Reginald van Halstrom, age 23, and it’s September 7th,
2001. By this time, you must
realize that Reginald has parapsychic ability in that he can utilize an area
of his brain most people have never tapped into and astral project
“His ability is being examined by the military here for some sort
of project,” Sam added. “Apparently,
I inherited Reginald’s ability.”
A half-smile crossed Al’s face.
“Yes, and no. You
leaped into Reginald just as the ability was manifesting itself.
It triggered the area in your brain that controls that.
In most, it is a dead area of the brain since most people never learn
to tap into it. Many of us have
mental abilities that we never knew we possessed and will never get to use
them. Your once-in-a-generation
brain is quite easily capable of reaching to these dead areas.”
“You think my brain is capable of doing more than just astral
“Perhaps,” Al nodded. “But
you have to believe in yourself to do it. Self-doubt will always be your
Sam looked at his friend in a new light.
“Al, you’re getting very philosophical on me all of a sudden.”
Al’s eyes twinkled in amusement, as if he were holding back on an
inside joke. “You’re right,
we shouldn’t be talking about all this right now.
I should be telling you why you are here.”
“No one needs a psychic to figure that one out,” Sam remarked.
The Admiral ignored that. “From
what I was told, you have to stop a scientist that is working here on a
“That’s very straight forward.
Seems like all I do anymore is destroy people’s projects.
This just seems too simple a leap, I thought they were gonna get
“It is a simple leap, Sam, but it may surprise you that the tougher
part depends on your point of view.”
“Why do I get the feeling you aren’t telling me everything?”
Al clasped his hands again. “I’ve
told you all I can.”
“Give me some more details. Who
is this scientist we are supposed to stop?
What project is he working on?”
“The scientist’s name is Dr. Badi-al-Zaman Qasim, from the Middle
East. He is working here at the
Williams Science Institute in an attempt to prove that early versions of
your String Theory work.”
Sam could only stare back at his friend in shock and disbelief for a
few seconds before uttering, “What? How
is that possible?”
“Don’t you remember one of your past leaps, Sam?
When you and Dr. Garner went to D.C. to catch Dr. Braden?”
(Author’s note: See True Callings Part III)
Vague recollection came to Sam’s mind as Al continued, “The table
in the corner that Dr. Braden was sitting at.
There were two men with him. One
was a Middle Eastern man who was looking at what Braden had to sell.
That was Abdul-Azim Mustafa, a very prominent businessman.
He bought the secrets of Quantum Leap and gave them to Dr. Qasim, the
man sitting with his back to you at the table.
Mustafa has employed Qasim in the States for the last fifteen years
to determine whether or not he could prove the theories work and secure
American funding that he would then steal and bring back to his country.
According to their plan, Mustafa and Qasim would then build their own
project, one with ties to Osama bin Laden’s al Qaeda network.”
“Al Qaeda? What is
“Long story, Sam. It’s
a group of terrorists that have done horrible things to the world in Quantum
Leap’s present. If this
project gets completed, and the al Qaeda get time travel technology, it will
be hell on earth. Mustafa and
especially Qasim must be stopped.”
“So how do I go about this?”
“Mustafa has recently arrived in the country and will be here this
afternoon at the Institute to check on Qasim’s progress.
In 2001, the terrorist network hasn’t been fully brought to public
awareness yet until 9-11 happens, so these men will be respected somewhat
amongst their peers. Somehow,
whatever materials they have must be destroyed.”
“9:11? What happens at
“It’s not so much a time of day as it is a date in history.”
“If today is the 7th, then…” Sam’s voice trailed
“No, Sam,” Al said gravely.
“You’re not here to change 9-11.”
“But something will
happen, won’t it?” Sam demanded to know.
“Innocent people will be affected.”
“Believe me when I say to you that 9-11 is far too complicated for
Reginald van Halstrom to prevent while in New Jersey.”
Saddened, Sam glanced at the clock.
“It’s 1:25 now. How
much time do I have on this leap?”
Al paused for a moment. “Mustafa
will be here at 2pm sharp. I
suggest you get to Qasim’s lab immediately and demolish the place.
If you act now, you can accomplish your goal before anyone finds
Incredulously, the leaper turned to his friend.
“I’m supposed to break into someone’s lab and vandalize it?
What if I’m caught? What
would happen to Reginald?”
“In the grand scheme of things, one person’s fate versus the fate
of the world puts things into clarity.
None of us are pleased that this all can’t be resolved with a happy
ending. No matter how we try to change things, this is the best
option possible. This project
has to be destroyed in the next hour or Hawkins’ boss General Horowitz
will green light it, and major history will be changed.”
“Al, Hawkins is here with me in the past.”
“I know, Sam, but whatever you do, you are not to change anything
in his life.”
“Why not, Al? I should
at least warn him about Dr. Qasim and Mustafa.”
Al shook his head. “It’s
too risky. At this point in
time he would have no knowledge of Project Quantum Leap.
If you change anything concerning Hawkins, he might not decide to
continue funding in the future during your leap into Ohdee back in 1959.
Since Mustafa and Braden were not stopped in ’85, this is the next
best place in the timeline to alter it.
I have trust in you that you won’t be caught and Reginald’s life
will go forward as before. I
have to check back in, Sam, so good luck. Qasim’s office is reached by leaving Dr. Daniels’ lab and
making a right down the hall. Turn
left at the end and go through a pair of double doors.
Go past the snack area and turn right.
Go down some steps and make a left.
The lab at the end is Qasim’s.”
Sam headed for the lab exit and paused, amazed at how Al was able to
rattle off that information. Over
and over in his brain, things did not add up.
Something wasn’t right with Al, he seemed different.
His observer wasn’t telling him everything he knew, things were
being held back. Turning around
to confront his friend, he realized the room was empty and Al was gone.
Trying to keep himself calm, Sam left the lab and turned right, down
the hall. At the end, he made a
left as Al instructed him to do, and opened up a pair of double doors and
walked through them. A long
hallway stretched beyond and a snack area complete with vending machines,
and a few tables were located within on the right.
A little further down on the left side was a receptionist area where
a couple of scientists in lab coats were talking to two military men.
Although somewhat older, Sam recognized the one man as Hawkins, now a
colonel in this time.
“Excuse me,” came a voice from the snack area.
Sam turned to see there was a lone occupant inside the area.
He was a man in his early thirties, with slicked back blonde hair,
dressed in black, and sitting in a wheelchair.
“Can I help you?” the leaper asked.
“Yeah. I need you to
do me a big favor. The paper
towel roll is empty and I obviously can’t reach the replacement rolls up
on the top shelf of the pantry. My
bad leg won’t let me reach up for them.
Haven’t graduated to a cane yet.””
“Sure,” Sam replied hurriedly, thinking this would only take a
second and then he would be on his way to Qasim’s office with no great
amount of time lost.
“Really appreciate this. Can’t
do much until I start the therapy on my leg I’m afraid.
Name’s Johnny, by the way.”
“Mine’s Reginald.” Walking
inside the snack area, Sam reached the pantry and grabbed a roll of paper
towels, then handed it to the young man.
As soon as Johnny touched the roll, his body froze up and an odd look
came over his face. Quickly,
the look disappeared, but the look of fear was unquestionably present.
“Are you all right?” asked Sam in alarm.
“I’m fine. I get
like this from time to time. Everything
will be cool in a few minutes,” the young man said as he regained his
Sam nodded. “Well, you
seem ok, I really must be going.”
As the leaper turned to leave, Johnny called out, “Wish I could say
you’ll be ok, Sam.”
Whirling around, Sam walked back to Johnny.
“What did you call me?”
“If you want to go by Reginald, that’s fine with me,” Johnny
replied cryptically, “Even though we both know that isn’t true.”
“Who are you?”
“I told you, Sam, my name is Johnny.
Haven’t been awake from my coma a week yet when this reverend I
know named Purdy decides to fly me down from Maine for the day to be a part
of some psychic experiment because he is buddies with this one Colonel who
supervises here. Apparently I
have abilities, or so they claim, from a car accident I was involved in six
years ago that left me in that coma. The
scientists here tell me I’ve accessed some sort of unused dead area of my
brain. Contact with an object gives me vibes on a person’s past,
present, or future. When I
touched the roll after you gave it to me, I got glimpses of your life.
I knew your name was Sam from what I saw.”
“What else do you know about me?” wondered Sam.
Johnny took a towel and wiped a small soda spill off the table. “For starters, in my vision, there was one specific guy’s
face with many different faces overlapping it one at a time.
I also know what you plan to do in Qasim’s lab and it won’t
“What did you see?”
“If you go into Qasim’s lab in the next hour by yourself, you
will be killed.” The look of
dread returned to Johnny’s eyes as he slowly continued, “A horrible
tragedy will occur. I don’t
think the catastrophe will occur today, but sometime in the future.
It looked like Armageddon.”
The revelation hit Sam hard as he shut his eyes and exhaled deeply. “I have to stop this project, even if it means my life.
I caused all this and I am not gonna be responsible for causing
anything even close to Armageddon.”
Johnny stared Sam hard in the face.
“I don’t know how I’d react if I were in your place like that,
stopping Armageddon I mean. I
do know that you will be killed if you carry out your plan.
Whatever it is you are here to stop must be very important.”
Before Sam could speak, Colonel Hawkins marched into the room. Even though Hawkins could not recognize Sam, the leaper still
tried to hide himself from the other man’s gaze.
“There you are, Mr. Smith,” Hawkins bellowed in his deep voice as
he pushed Johnny’s wheelchair towards the hallway.
“Your little break is over. Time
we returned back to the lab. I
promised Reverend Purdy we’d have you back on a plane to Maine within the
next few hours.” As the
Colonel started to guide the wheelchair, a gasp of pain escaped his lips as
he grasped his left arm and began to double over.
“Are you all right, Colonel?” Johnny asked as he reflexively put
out an arm to help steady Hawkins.
“I’m fine,” Hawkins replied as he reached out for Johnny’s
assistance. “It’s just an
old injury that flares up from time to time.
Got shocked by a lightning bolt once back in the 50’s.”
As Hawkins grabbed Johnny’s arm, Sam could notice the odd look come
over the psychic’s face. Again,
the look quickly vanished as Johnny was slowly led away towards the exit.
“A moment please, Colonel.”
Johnny stopped short, turned his wheelchair around, and moved himself
back to talk to Sam.
“Make it quick, Mr. Smith,” warned Hawkins as he massaged his
sore arm. “The sooner I am
done with these ridiculous projects, the better.
I don’t want anything I do here risking my chances for the
promotion I’m up for.”
Johnny ignored Hawkins as he leaned close to Sam’s ear and
whispered as calmly as he could, “Do not trust anyone, people are not who
they appear to be. Be careful
of broken glass or you will fail. The
Colonel is the man you want. He’s
part of something that will cause Armageddon.
He must be stopped or Washington D.C. will burn in flames!”
Johnny called over to Hawkins. “I’m
ready to go now, Shockey.”
“How do you know about that?” the
bewildered Colonel gasped. Without
another word, Johnny left with Hawkins, leaving behind a very stunned
September 7th, 2001
His mind swimming, all Sam could think of was the prophecy that
Hawkins would cause Armageddon. On
one level it made sense but on another it was a contradiction.
Wasn’t it the point to stop Mustafa and Qasim in order to prevent
their project from seeing the light of day and thus avoiding the
catastrophe? But Johnny said
Washington D.C. would burn in flames and Hawkins would be the cause of it
all. What was the missing piece that linked all of this together?
In alarm, Sam saw the clock, which read 1:56pm.
John Smith’s revelations had caused him to become so lost in
thought that he had lost sense of time as well.
As fast as he could, Sam turned right out of the snack area, and then
made another immediate right and ran down a flight of stairs to a lower
corridor. At the left end of
the hall was a door and on the right was an open janitor’s closet.
Sam tried to open the door on the left.
To his dismay, it was locked. With
all his weight, he tried slamming into the door to try to break it open but
to no avail. Hunched over and
panting from exhaustion, Sam’s gaze traveled back up the hall to the
flight of steps. Two pairs of
shoes were descending towards him. With
no time to lose, Sam bolted into the janitor’s closet and closed the door
just far enough that he could peek out and see who was coming.
Two men with Middle Eastern features, talking animatedly in Arabic,
approached the locked door across the hallway.
Sam recognized the one, Mustafa, from a previous leap, his
Swiss-cheesed memory not in effect this time as he remembered the man
sitting at a table in a previous leap, buying secrets from Dr. Braden.
The other man, apparently Dr. Qasim, produced a key from his lab coat
and unlocked the door. Both men
entered, the door closing and locking behind them.
Cursing under his breath, Sam decided to come up with a plan. Turning on the closet light, he looked around to see what he
could use. All he saw was a mop
bucket, a broom, a ladder, and some spray bottles.
Considering his options, Sam grabbed the broom and snapped off the
handle at the bristles.
Opening the door, Sam glanced around to make sure no one was coming,
and then trotted over to the door. Inside,
he could hear the sound of machinery humming loudly. As he reached for the
door to knock, the sound of footsteps on the stairs forced Sam to dart back
into the closet.
The footsteps became louder as the newcomer came into Sam’s view. To the leaper’s astonishment, he saw that it was yet
another older version of his friend from previous past leaps, Dr. Alexander
Garner, who now looked to be in his late eighties, slightly stooped over,
very frail, and hobbling on a cane. It
was quite clear that the cancer Garner was fighting was taking its toll,
plainly evident by the lack of hair on his head and the tone of his skin. Sam watched as Garner knocked loudly on the door and soon
after Mustafa opened it.
“The power generator is gearing up now,” Mustafa informed Garner.
“Excellent,” replied Garner weakly.
“I’ll get the Colonel and the General.”
Mustafa nodded and shut the door again as Garner slowly disappeared
back up the steps.
Sam’s mind reeled. His
friend was in league with Mustafa and Qasim, the same two he and Garner had
watched buy information from Braden? Worse
yet, Hawkins was involved, and, if Johnny Smith was right, also the one
responsible for a major catastrophe. Was
Garner connected to this tragedy somehow, too?
Johnny also said Sam would die if he took on Mustafa and Qasim alone,
but he was determined to end this right here and now by any means necessary.
Grabbing the broomstick as a club, Sam marched across the hall and
pounded on the door. Seconds later, it opened and Sam found himself face to face
with Qasim, the scientist. Apparently
expecting Garner, he was surprised to find Sam in the guise of a young man
with blonde hair. Using the
element of surprise, Sam pushed the man backward to the floor and followed
him into the room.
The lab was full of electrical equipment and other type of apparatus.
A power generator was situated to one side of all of this, operating
at a very high speed. In the center of the equipment was a man-sized oval container
that was connected to almost everything.
Inside the container, small threads of electrical energy moved
“What is the meaning of this?” Qasim demanded as he got to his
feet and stood next to his partner.
“I know what you’re doing in here,” Sam brandished his
broomstick, pointing the jagged broken end towards the two men, “and I’m
gonna make sure this project ends here.”
“This project,” Mustafa shrugged, “is just a harmless
experiment in an attempt to accelerate and harness energy at a sub-atomic
level. You appear to have entered a lab you do not belong in.
Please leave immediately.”
“Don’t lie to me!” snapped Sam.
“You’re in the early stages of conducting a time travel
experiment, and I can’t permit this to continue.”
“I don’t think so,” Mustafa said in astonishment, pulling out a
gun from under his lab coat. “You
will not be allowed to interfere. Tell
me, my young friend, what do you know about this?”
“I know enough,” Sam shouted, the roar of the machinery
increasing. “I was there
sixteen years ago when you made the deal to purchase all these secrets.”
“Liar!” snarled Mustafa. “You
would have been a boy all those years ago.”
“How could a little boy remember you sitting in a corner at a
Washington D.C. hotel, buying a suitcase full of secrets from a bearded man
with glasses?” reasoned the leaper.
Fear began to cross the businessman’s face.
“Who sent you?”
“Do you believe in Fate?” Sam countered, noticing the itchy
trigger finger that the gunman was developing.
“I believe in Allah,” responded Mustafa icily,
the gun shaking in his hand, “and very,
very soon, America will fall to its knees, begging for forgiveness.”
“Sam,” came Al’s voice suddenly from behind the leaper,
“he’s going to shoot you if you don’t act now.”
“I’ll die first before this experiment succeeds!” Sam cried.
Before anyone could act, the door to the lab opened and Dr. Garner
entered the room followed by Colonel Hawkins and General Horowitz.
“What the hell is going on here?” thundered Horowitz who saw
Mustafa’s weapon and out of reflex, reached for his own sidearm.
Startled by the intrusion, Mustafa turned and fired a shot that
struck the General in the chest. As
Hawkins reached with his right hand for his sidearm, a second bullet found
his left shoulder and knocked him to the ground where he lay motionless from
shock. Dr. Garner made an
attempt to leave the room but stopped when a bullet winged past him into the
wall by the door.
“Away from the door, doctor! Move
over next to him,” Mustafa motioned with his gun towards Sam.
“You fool!” Qasim screamed at his partner.
“Without the aid of the military, we won’t be able to steal their
funding and equipment and return home with it.
We’ll be lucky to get out of this country with our lives!”
“Silence,” ordered Mustafa.
“It was an accident. My
finger slipped on the trigger with the General.
We can still get out of this,” he sneered, turning to Sam, “as
long as we eliminate witnesses. Qasim,
go to the main power generator controls and overload the output.
We can’t leave any traces of this experiment behind for someone to
copy. The work will be
continued someplace else. Considering
what is planned to happen in a few days, it would be best if we stay with
our plan and take what we have now and leave this country immediately.”
Qasim nodded and walked over to the control panel and initiated the
power regulator. The hum and
the noise grew deafening as all the power directed into the oval container
began to overload the equipment. Larger
strands of electricity began to fill it now.
Sam, unclear as to whether the psychic’s vision was coming to pass,
stared straight ahead and yelled, “Al, I could use some help right now! Al?”
“Al?” Garner turned to the leaper, eyes wide in understanding.
“Sam, if that is you, I’m
sorry you became involved in this. I was asked by the Colonel to come out of
retirement and supervise this project.
I wanted to see how much information they had.
Had no idea they were capable of this much.
Can’t let them duplicate our work.”
“Shut up!” screamed Mustafa before Garner could comment further. “Qasim, pick up my briefcase.
We may have lost this experiment but at least I’ll have the notes
to start over again. It took
over fifteen years to get this far with the meager funding I’ve gotten, I
can wait another fifteen more. The
day this technology becomes a reality, time will have a new meaning for
Dr. Qasim picked up the briefcase and handed it to Mustafa. Before Qasim knew what happened next, Mustafa shot him in the
chest. Falling forward, the
doctor clawed at Mustafa, who stepped back to allow his victim to slide off
of him. Surprise lit up
Qasim’s eyes before they rolled back and he collapsed to the floor, dead.
“I can always find a scientist back home that won’t have any
knowledge of what has happened here today,” the businessman laughed,
turning his attention back on Sam and Dr. Garner.
“Two bullets left, and two more witnesses to dispose of.”
“Do something now, Sam,” pleaded Al, as Mustafa’s gun swiveled
in Sam’s direction. “We’re
running out of time!”
Sam’s mind went into overdrive.
Was this the vision that Johnny tried to warn him about?
By barging into the lab alone, was he about to meet his fate?
But he wasn’t alone, Dr. Garner was with him.
Would the vision be changed?
Before the leaper could figure out an answer, the most incredulous
sight of this leap filled his eyes. Al,
his best friend and holographic observer, walked up to Dr. Garner and
stepped not through him, but into him!
Garner, his face contorted into a look of brief puzzlement and then
understanding, dropped his cane as he shook for a brief moment as a man
possessed and walked on his own power between Sam and Mustafa.
“This time I’m going to die with dignity!” the doctor screamed as
he threw himself puppet-like at the evil businessman. Two cracks sounded as Mustafa emptied his last two bullets
into the left side of Dr. Garner’s chest.
“NOOOO!” The recent feelings of possibly being betrayed by the
scientist forgotten, Sam yelled in anguish, watching the man he had known
over the course of his leaping, fall to the floor, blood seeping outward to
form puddles around him. Garner’s
eyes were glazed over, and a second later, he ceased to live.
Enraged, Sam charged at Mustafa in a bloodcurdling roar and hit him
hard with the broomstick. With
so much anger in the swing, the stick broke in two across the
businessman’s chest, sending the al Qaeda operative screaming backwards
into a collection of machinery where he collided with a loud smash.
Somehow, it took all of Mustafa’s strength to stand back up, his
hand now clutching a long jagged piece of glass that had broken off of a
display panel. Barely able to
stand, he assessed the damage and broken bones he knew were inflicted on him
as he staggered forward.
“By Allah, I will strike you down, infidel,” Mustafa vowed,
spitting out blood as he cursed Sam. “Your
death will most assuredly be much slower and more excruciating than Dr.
Garner’s,” he continued as he managed to slash out at Sam.
Each time, the leaper was able to avoid the sting of the sharp glass,
but it allowed the businessman to advance closer and get into better
In a last desperate attempt, Mustafa drove his hand forward to stab
the leaper in the stomach. Just
in time, Sam reached out with both hands and grabbed Mustafa’s wrist, the
blade edge almost pressed into the fabric of his shirt.
The businessman’s face twisted in pain, blood pouring from the hand
tightly clutching the broken glass, as he used his other hand to try and
remove Sam’s grip on his wrist. Pushing
outward, it seemed Sam was slowly starting to win the battle of strength as
the blade inched away bit by bit. Muscles
straining from the effort, the leaper was surprised by the tenacity of his
foe’s attack. After a weird
merry-go-round struggle of going in circles to keep Mustafa from impaling
him on the glass, Sam soon found himself pressed up against the same
machinery he had knocked the businessman into just moments earlier.
Sensing the momentum was going his way, Mustafa renewed his attack
with a fierce determination, the glass blade once again close to finding its
way past Sam’s flesh. In what
seemed like another lifetime, Sam’s memory suddenly flashed on another
in a dark alley as a heavy downpour crashed down over him, Sam peered out
through the eye-slits of a mask. Without mistake, he quickly realized he was
back in the garb of Captain Liberty. Coming
towards him brandishing a knife was a street punk with blond peroxide hair.
Impatiently, the punk raced forward to stab him just as a bright
flash of lightning blinded the leaper followed by a loud clap of thunder…
Just as quickly, the flash faded and Sam found himself
standing in a police station office wearing an officer’s uniform.
On the name badge was the name McPhearson.
In another room he heard someone answer a telephone by saying,
“Hope Springs Police Department.”
Standing across from him was Al.
“From what Ziggy just told me, General Hawkins has opened another
project,” the Observer’s voice spoke.
“What?” Sam heard himself ask in disbelief.
The leaper spoke the words, but he really wasn’t saying them.
It was as if he was the Observer instead of the leaper, eavesdropping
on a conversation between Al and another Sam.
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. “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.”…
The image brightened intensely again as Sam found himself as he was
an hour ago, sitting on the examination table inside Dr. Daniels research
room. Again, Al stood near him
in his military whites uniform and the same feeling of being an observer
overcame the leaper.
“Events keep changing, and we
can no longer determine what will happen any longer,” Al informed him.
Puzzlement crossed Sam’s face.
“What events? What’s happening? Is
it something I changed, or didn’t change?”
Al’s face remained blank.
“We don’t know if it’s something on your end, or ours.
Something is about to happen in your present, and mine.
Something that might also have future repercussions.”…
Sam found himself in the Institute’s snack area, facing the psychic
seated across the table from him. A
look of dread filled Johnny’s eyes as he slowly said, “A horrible
tragedy will occur. I don’t
think the catastrophe will occur today, but sometime in the future.
It looked like Armageddon.”
The revelation hit Sam hard as he shut his eyes and exhaled deeply.
“I have to stop this project, even if it means my life.
I caused all this and I am not gonna be responsible for causing
anything even close to Armageddon.”
Johnny leaned close to Sam’s
ear and whispered as calmly as he could, “Do not trust anyone, people are
not who they appear to be. Be
careful of broken glass or you will fail.
The Colonel is the man you want.
He’s part of something that will cause Armageddon.
He must be stopped or Washington D.C. will burn in flames!”…
Another intense flash of
lightning found the leaper back again as Captain Liberty in the alley.
The punk was rushing towards him again, the knife held high. With
perfect timing, Sam executed a high spin kick to the face, rivulets of rain
flying off of his dark blue costume and spraying everywhere as his boot
connected with the punk’s face, knocking him cold to the wet pavement.
Exhausted, Sam stood in the
downpour and reached down to his side, expecting to find blood from a knife
slash wound. To his amazement,
he was unharmed.
‘What is going on?’ he wondered.
‘Am I having a vision like Johnny Smith’s?
Have I touched upon another mental ability in my mind that most
people never tap into?’ Before
he could understand anything further, the bright flash returned…
Reality came back to the leaper as he found himself still pressed
against the machinery, just moments from losing his life to Mustafa.
‘I can’t let this man
win,’ Sam thought as he renewed his strength to avoid being stabbed.
was no blood or a knife wound on me in my vision even though everything
played out as before. Fate has
shown me I will not die here. This
experiment will not be completed. It
will not be run by terrorists. But
how is this linked to Hawkins? Is
this vision telling me I need to stop both?”
realized it was now or never, the moment of truth had arrived.
Bracing his left foot against the machinery, he launched himself off
from it as hard as he could. The
momentum spun him and Mustafa around, eventually breaking Sam free from
being harmed by the glass shard, hurling him a short distance away.
Coming to a stop, the leaper turned to see Mustafa snarling at him.
Both men stared at each other in silence, waiting to see what the
other would do. Seconds later,
Mustafa impatiently charged at Sam, the glass shard held high in an attempt
to stab down and slash at his throat.
Sam smiled cryptically as everything played out before him in slow
motion. The images he had
flashed on now made sense to him; he knew what to do.
Everything leading up to this point had happened for a reason.
Seeing the odd look on Sam’s face cost Mustafa an extra second in
his attack, allowing Sam the opportunity to time his defense.
As the businessman drew near, the leaper spun around and executed a
high kick to Mustafa’s face. Howling
in pain, the al Qaeda operative dropped the glass shard as he staggered back
a few steps, blood flowing from a cut to his face.
Unarmed, all Mustafa could do was stand there and take a sideways
kick to his chest that sent him sprawling back into the oval container.
With a crash, it exploded, bombarding Mustafa with megawatts of
electricity. Explosions rocked
the controls and equipment as flames leaped up from them, initiating the
fire alarm to evacuate the building. It
was obvious to Sam that this section of the building was going to go up in a
fireball and nothing could be done to prevent it.
Picking up the briefcase, Sam hurled it into the fiery remains of the
container. It struck the
charred, smoking corpse of Mustafa and began to burn.
“Take your damn secrets with you, you son of a bitch!”
“Come on, Sam,” Al’s voice mysteriously shouted from behind the
leaper. “This place is gonna
Another explosion rocked the room, causing pieces of ceiling to rain
down on Sam. Big chunks slammed
into the doorway over the dead body of General Horowitz, breaking into
smaller pieces that struck the injured Hawkins in the right leg as he was
attempting to stand up. The
pile of debris had now created an effective cave-in as the Colonel screamed
in pain and fell over.
“Is there another way out, Al?” Sam coughed as the smoke from the
fires started to fill his lings. Soot
and ash had started to cover him and Hawkins.
Al looked around. “You
have to dig, Sam.”
The leaper raced over to the blocked doorway and began moving pieces
of debris aside. “How did you
do that, Al? How did you do
that to Garner?”
“Keep digging, Sam!” Al ordered, ignoring the questions.
“Don’t make Garner’s sacrifice a vain one.”
Sam felt his lungs begin to burn as he scooped fragments away. Hawkins, now conscious and on his feet, tried to help with
his one good arm while favoring his injured leg.
Both worked in silence until they heard a voice from the other end
yell, “Is anyone in there?”
“Yes!” screamed Sam. “Help us get out of here!
We need you to try to move the pieces on your side.”
“I hear you,” came the voice on the other end.
“Sam,” Al cried, “get the broomstick.
Use it as a fulcrum to shift the debris.”
Nodding, Sam ran over to where the fires were growing stronger. The sparks and explosions were growing as well and Sam knew
he was running out of time. Braving
the fire, Sam reached down and grabbed the larger half of the broken
broomstick and returned to assist Hawkins.
After a few strenuous efforts, Sam used the broomstick as a fulcrum.
With one good push, he was dismayed to see the stick splinter and
snap, but to his relief, it was enough to dislodge some of the pieces that
blocked the door.
Noticing there was enough room, Sam grabbed Hawkins and helped him
scramble up the remains of the doorway and into the hallway beyond.
To the leaper’s surprise, Dr. Daniels was there to greet them as he
stood on the top of the debris pile.
“Help the Colonel get outside,” Sam ordered Daniels, who nodded
and allowed himself to serve as Hawkins’ crutch as they worked their way
up the stairs.
Sam turned around to look back at the wrecked lab filled with flames
and sparks. His eyes locked
onto what was left of Mustafa and the burning briefcase.
Then, his eyes lingered onto the bodies of Dr. Qasim and finally Dr.
Garner. His legs almost gave
out on him as tears filled his eyes. “Goodbye,
doctor,” he spoke softly.
“Get out of there, Sam,” came Al’s voice from the hallway now. “Everyone is out of the building. This wing is going to go
Hearing Al’s voice, Sam nodded and raced up the hallway and flew up
the stairs. Finding an
emergency exit, Sam forced his way out the door; thankful for the fresh
oxygen he was receiving. Then
without warning, the ground shook as the lab gave one last explosion, and
Sam fell into unconsciousness.
September 7th, 2001
Sam was floating. Feeling
completely relaxed and at peace, he felt a familiar tingling sensation
engulf him. With no effort, he
forced that feeling down past his toes until it subsided.
Looking around, he could see his friend Al standing there watching
him, almost as if the observer could see him hovering. What kept him here in this room?
Why couldn’t he just go home?
Thoughts of home and the project suddenly flooded through him.
Faces of people he felt he knew there suddenly flooded his mind and
suddenly, the room spun by in a flash and he felt himself lying on a bed.
When Sam came to, he found himself wearing a hospital gown, lying in
a bed. Disorientation hit him
as the events of the last eight hours flooded through him.
Not surprised that Al was standing nearby, Sam whispered, “I must
be here for smoke inhalation. Was
I projecting again?”
Al looked at his friend with concern.
“You almost leaped out. Somehow
you stopped yourself, and it’s a good thing you did.”
Sam looked at the observer quizzically.
“What does that mean?”
“You can’t leap to another assignment yet.
There is more you must do now.”
Before Sam could ask another question, the door to the Imaging
Chamber opened up and Al Calavicci walked through, dressed in his military
whites. “Thank God, it
finally worked. I’m in,
Dom!” the second Al yelled back through the holographic door.
Blinking, Sam sat upright in bed as he saw the double set of Al’s
looking back at him.
“You ok, Sam?” the new Al inquired.
“You look like you’ve seen a ghost…” His voice trailed off as
he followed Sam’s gaze and saw his twin standing on the other side of the
room. “Saaaam…what the hell is going on here?”
“You tell me, Al,” Sam said.
“I thought the Al on this leap was acting funny.
He talked differently, he never used a handlink, and he never used
the Imaging Chamber door. I’ve
had this happen before. It’s
déjà vu, just like I’ve felt over recent leaps.”
“What the hell are you talking about, Sam?”
The new Al hit a few buttons on his multi-colored handlink. “This other me, whatever it is, isn’t real. Ziggy
gets no reading from him at all. Whoever’s
been with you on this leap, it wasn’t me.
I just got back from Washington D.C. an hour ago. We’ve had no way of contacting you until just a minute
“Gentleman,” began the
imposter, “I believe my guise is no longer needed, now that Sam has
changed what he needed to.” The
image of the fake Al shimmered, and was then replaced by that of a younger
Dr. Garner, in his forties, dressed in normal clothes and a lab coat over
top. Without mistake, he was
now the spitting image of himself from 1959.
“What the hell is this?”
“That can’t be you, doctor,” gasped Sam.
“I watched you die. How
could you be Al?”
“You did indeed watch my sacrifice,” Garner explained as he
looked upward and then back to the leaper.
“The Lord works in mysterious ways, Sam.”
Understanding dawned on Sam.
“You’re working for the Bartender, aren’t you?”
Before Garner could explain further, everyone turned as Al’s
handlink let off a long series of high-pitched squeals.
“Oh, my god!” exhaled
the Admiral as he staggered backward seconds later, his voice quaking as the
handlink nearly fell from his hand. The
leaper had never seen his friend so pale.
“What is it, Al? What’s
Gaining his composure as best as he could, Al gravely turned to his
best friend, finding it hard to speak and breathe.
“Sam, Ziggy just monitored a live breaking news report.
Twenty minutes ago from my present time, a massive nuclear explosion
occurred right outside of Hope Springs, Virginia.”
Garner remained emotionless and silent as Sam jumped out of bed,
reached into a closet and began putting on his clothes.
“A nuclear explosion in Hope Springs?!
That’s Hawkins’ project! How
bad is it?”
“Bad enough. There’s
more, Sam. The nuclear blast
was powerful enough to cause damage to the capital region.
Counting the aftermath of the radiation that will fall on the
survivors of the civilian population, Ziggy calculates a 100% probability
that Washington D.C. will be a total disaster area by nightfall.”
Closing his eyes in horror, Sam sank back upon the bed.