Episode 1129

Quantum Departure

by: Greg Carey


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     In May of 2006, Admiral Al Calavicci attends the test phase of General Hawkins new anti-terrorist project in Washington D.C. called Project Liberty, a time travel experiment based on Sam’s that would be used to prevent terrorism.  Also attending the demonstration are Tom Beckett and his son J.T., along with David Watkins, the grandson of a man Sam had once leaped into.  At first the demonstration proceeds smoothly but near the end, four soldiers are killed by quantum energy due to a recurring glitch in Omega, the project’s main computer.

     Meanwhile, Sam is Reginald van Halstrom, a young man gifted with the ability to astral project.  For the leaper, it is September of 2001 and he is part of an experiment at the Williams Science Institute in Plainfield, New Jersey.  The objective: to determine whether or not metaphysical and parapsychic sciences, such as astral projection and ESP, could be used to aid the military.  While at the Institute, Sam is shocked to find a Colonel Hawkins there to help supervise the experiment.  Another surprise finds the leaper in the form of a psychic that warns him that Hawkins will be the cause of Armageddon in the future.

     When Al finally arrives, he tells Sam that he is there to stop a project under development by a Dr. Qasim and his partner Mustafa, both of whom were present in Hope Springs, 1985, when Sam witnessed the evil Dr. Braden selling his secrets of time travel to them.  If the two are not stopped, their funding money and project materials will be smuggled to the al Qaeda terrorist network.  Sam manages to destroy the lab and Dr. Qasim’s work, but in the process, Colonel Hawkins is injured, and Qasim and Mustafa are killed.  Above all else, Sam witnesses the death of Dr. Garner by seeing Al walk into Garner’s body, control it, and take a bullet meant for Sam.  Just as the laboratory is destroyed in an explosion, Sam manages to get out of the building and collapses to the ground…





May 8th, 2006

Hope Springs, Virginia



     The air contained a hint of chilliness in it as the unseasonable winds blustered their way through the city of Hope Springs, Virginia.  Shivering slightly in her jeans and short-sleeved shirt, Paige Arlyss helped her mother Dianne remove the bags of groceries from the trunk of the car.  Spring was still debating on whether or not it wanted to hit high gear as the early evening temperature dropped enough to be annoying to those without a light jacket once the sun disappeared.    

     Except for the occasional wind gust or occasional car moving up or down the neighborhood, it was a quiet night.  The stars were out, the constellations easily recognizable in the evening sky.  To Paige, these things were unimportant.  In her mind, she wanted a challenge, something to stimulate her creative intellect.  Ever since the computer virus had come into her life recently, she craved another enigma to unravel.  Unfortunately, fate was about to deny her this.

     “Any more bags left?” Paige asked her mother, looking inside the back seat of the car for anything she might have missed.

     “Nope,” Dianne replied, “these bags are the last of the groceries.” 

     As Dianne slammed the trunk of the car, the serene stillness of the evening was ripped asunder by a near deafening blast that shattered the windows on their car, the house, the neighbors’ houses, and knocked the women roughly to the ground.

     Car alarms that had immediately started to wail just as suddenly all stopped.  People from all different houses rushed outside to find what was going on, some of them screaming out of fear and panic or confusion.

     “What’s happening?” Paige’s voice quaked as she got back to her feet, not even aware of the groceries she crushed in the wake of her fall or the trickles of blood coming from her ears and nose.

     “I don’t know,” Dianne replied, her voice full of fear and panic.  She, too, was bleeding in the same manner as her daughter.

     Neither woman would get a chance to inquire further as a blinding flash of light erupted from very far away down the right side of the street, throwing them and all the people outside to the ground in pain and agony.  The white-hot glow had burned their optic nerves before anyone had known what hit them.  Screaming, all anyone could do was yell for his or her salvation as a wave of heat and fire engulfed the entire area, burning them all alive to a crisp.

     The force of the wave swept through quickly, flicking bodies and objects like automobiles aside like leaves in a tornado.  Houses burst apart like twigs and scattered in all directions.  Before long it was over, the wave had passed and nothing was left alive, not on this particular street or within the town of Hope Springs itself.  The entire city was now flattened; a smoking cinder as ash and soot fell to the ground in what looked like a blizzard on a photograph negative.  The precipitation continued to fall for hours.



Friday, September 7th, 2001

Plainfield, New Jersey



    When Sam came to, he found himself lying in a hospital 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 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 the last few 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, is not 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 ago.”

     “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?” snapped Al.

     “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.  “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 happened?”

     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 silent as Sam jumped out of bed, reached into a closet and began putting on his clothes.  “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.  “Ohhh, boy!”






Friday, September 7th, 2001

Plainfield, New Jersey



     The energy seemed to have drained out of Sam after Al had recited Ziggy’s information.  The leaper, perched upon the edge of the bed, stared downward into the floor, his mind lost in thought, the warning from the psychic Johnny Smith fresh in his memory.  Somewhere else in his mind, he knew he had seen images of nuclear destruction somewhere before and could only imagine how horrible the recent event must have been.  Silence filled the hospital room for several moments before the man named Dr. Garner, supposedly deceased, cleared his throat. 

     “Sam, you can’t sit there forever.”

     “What would you have me do, Alexander?” Sam’s face came up with a start.  “That accident is a few years from where I am now.  It happened in Al’s present, my future.  How am I gonna leap forward from here and change it if all I have is just a warning from a psychic.  If it just happened in Al’s time, Ziggy wouldn’t have any information for me, at least not yet anyway.”

     “A psychic?” Al said in disbelief.  “You put your stock in the words of someone who claims to know the future?”

     “Time travel was once thought impossible, and here we are in 2001 having this conversation,” Sam responded back.  “Especially after what I saw in Mustafa’s lab and a dead man standing here with us right now, who is to say that psychics don’t exist?”

     “What did your personal Miss Cleo have to say?” demanded the Observer.

     “All I was told, Al, is that Hawkins will be…is responsible somehow for this disaster.  That means he must have survived his bullet wound.”

     The Admiral smacked his handlink.  “Yeah, he’s alive.  Ziggy says he’s under heavy sedation just a few doors down.  Doesn’t appear to be any changes to the timeline that would affect us concerning the monkey butt.”

     “Great,” muttered the leaper.  “Even if Hawkins wakes up now, we’re still years away from Al’s present.  He might not be linked yet to anything that would give us a clue as to how this all happened.”

     “There might still be a way, Sam,” Garner stated.  “But it will involve something you have never done before.  It may be best to leap further ahead and backtrack the information to the cause of the explosion.  Perhaps the answers to your questions lie in the future.”

     “That would mean leaping outside of my lifetime.  That’s impossible!”

     “You’ve leaped outside of your lifetime twice before,” Garner reasoned.  “If I recall you were your ancestor in the Civil War, and you also saw what might have been your future when you met your granddaughter Isabella.”

     Granddaughter?  Sam’s heart soared when he heard Isabella’s name.  Vaguely, he recalled the fact that he had a granddaughter, but knew it would be a topic for another time.   “My great-grandfather was in the past and it was similar DNA that allowed that.  The future is different.  It hasn’t happened yet.  How can I be someplace that doesn’t exist?”

     “Only in your mind, it doesn’t exist, Sam,” Garners tried to convince the leaper.  “Forgive the expression, but it’s perhaps a leap of faith.  The future is attainable.  It’s your mind that prohibits you from getting there.”

     “The future? What kind of crap is this?” scoffed Al.  “The only reason Sam made it to the future was because someone yanked him out of his current leap cycle.  It wasn’t a natural leap.”

     Garner turned to Al.  “Are you as narrow-minded as well?” retorted the doctor.  “As I am trying to convince Sam, your mind must be made open to ideas never before believed possible.”  Sighing, Garner looked upward looking for assistance.  After what seemed like a few seconds of him communicating to an invisible presence, the doctor turned his gaze to Sam.  “I can see trying to convince you myself is not going to work.” 

     “No kidding, Sherlock!”

     The doctor ignored the hologram’s jab and approached the leaper.  “It’s time for us to go, Sam.”

     “Go?” Sam inquired, confused.  “Go where?”

     “Yeah,” Al interjected, “where are we going?”

     Garner gave the hologram a sideways glance.  “I’m sorry, Al.  Where we are going, you cannot follow.”

     “You wanna bet, Casper?”

     Sam ignored his best friend as he tried to get an answer to his previous question.  “Where are we going?”

     “Do you really need to ask me that, Sam?” Garner demanded.  “Where is the one place we can go to find the answers to your questions?”

     After a few seconds, the leaper nodded.  “I understand.  We’re going to see Him!

     “Who’s Him?!” Al pouted, then he did a double take.  “Ohhh, wait a minute, you pesky poltergeist, you’re not taking Sam to see that bartender, are you?”

     “For someone who doesn’t enjoy being around dead people, you’ve been quite chatty.”

     The truth of those words sank in as Al realized that he was indeed talking to a dead man and subconsciously took a few steps back.  “Sam, leap away or something.  Get away from this guy.”

     Sam shook his head, his mind spinning.  “I think…I think I’m supposed to go with him, Al.”

     The handlink in Al’s hand chirped.  “Sam, Ziggy says that if you go, the chances of finding you will be slim.  It could take months of me standing in the Imaging Chamber trying to get a lock on you, and I am not putting myself through that again.”

     Garner gave the Admiral a sad smile.  “Your part in this story has come to an end.  If Sam is to do what is expected of him, there won’t be any way that you can help him.”

     “How do you know that?” Al shot back.

     “All I can say is that if he goes into the future as it will play out from this moment, you won’t be there to assist him.”

     “Am I dead in this future--?” Al started to say, but before he could speak further, Garner moved his hand in a farewell wave, and the form of Al Calavicci dematerialized into thin air.

     “Was that necessary?” Sam asked.

     “I don’t have the time to argue with him over his beliefs and his fears, Sam.  You must come with me now.  Remember your astral projection sessions.  In your mind, feel yourself relaxed.  Imagine yourself projecting forward as total consciousness without solid form, moving ahead as energy.  Bend the reality of this hospital room as if you were turning a page, your destination being on the other side of the page.  The wall of this room is a curtain.  Pull it aside with your mind, and above all, stay at peace.  Remember, you’ve seen this done before when Angela the Angel stepped from Al’s reality at the Project to yours in South Bend, New Mexico.” (author’s note: refer to Mirror Expression trilogy at end of Season 9.)

     “Angela who--?  What?”  Confusion began to take over Sam’s thoughts.

     “Never mind.  Just focus.”

     Squeezing his eyes shut, Sam concentrated on Garner’s words, forcing the knowledge of the catastrophe out of his mind to the best of his abilities.  Quantum energy seemed to flow through him as he felt himself start to float.  But this time, it was different.  All the leaps before it felt like an overwhelming rush of pure energy sweeping through and carrying him off like a flash flood.  Now, it felt like small hands were pulling him, guiding him to a destination.  All at once, the hospital room dissolved into a void of blue, but just as quickly it disappeared and Sam found himself back in the hospital room with Garner standing before him.

     Opening his eyes, Sam looked around himself.  “Why am I back here?  Is this the future?”

     “I’m afraid not, Sam.  For some reason, your mind is preventing you from going where you want to go.  There is no more time to waste on this, I’ll have to assist you.”

     Garner reached out and his hand physically made contact with Sam’s.  The normal sensation of overwhelming quantum energy overtook him and then changed to the sensation of hands pulling at him as Sam leaped out of Reginald van Halstrom.



May 8th, 2006

Project Quantum Leap

Stallion’s Gate, New Mexico



     “Garner, you bastard!” Al screamed as the walls of the Imaging Chamber resumes their normal metallic shape.  “Dom, re-establish a link with Sam, NOW!” he yelled into the handlink.

     “Sorry, Al, honey,” bawled Tina’s voice almost dripping with tears.  “I can’t get a lock on Dr. Beckett at all.”

     Swearing in Italian, Al swung his arm around to smash the handlink out of anger, but at the last moment brought himself under control.  Instead, he slammed his fist onto the handlink button that controlled the Imaging Chamber door.  With a whoosh, it swung open, and the Admiral stormed out.

     As he approached the bottom of the ramp, he spotted Tina by herself.  The computer programmer was nearly beside herself as she constantly wiped her eyes with tissues.  The piles on the floor around her feet suggested that she had been at this for some time.  The news of the catastrophe seemed to hit her hard too.

     “Tina, where’s Dom?”

     “Dom and Aurora,” blubbered Tina, “bolted as soon as the news bulletins came on.  They have relatives in the D.C. area.  I think they tried to like get plane tickets to go find them, but President Bush ordered that all aircraft stay on the ground due to the travel ban.”

     “What travel ban?”

     “Until anyone knows what’s happened, President Bush has ordered that all modes of public transportation like trains, buses, and planes be halted indefinitely.  This is totally scary, Al.  It’s like 9-11 all over again, but much worse.”

     “Tragedy or not, Dom had no businesses deserting his post.  I need to find Sam.  He leaped out and I need to know where he is.”

     “That is impossible at present, Admiral,” purred Ziggy from the blue globe suspended from the ceiling.  “Based on past leap readings, I project with 100% certainty that Sam is somewhere in time as himself.  The only way I will be able to lock on to him is if you stand in the Imaging Chamber until I cycle through all the days of his life.  Even then I cannot guarantee success,  through no fault of my own.”

     “No one will fault you, Ziggy,” growled Al.  “I have a hypothetical question though.”

     “Proceed, Admiral.”

     “What if Sam has moved ahead past our present and into the future?  Can you track him then?”

     “No.” Ziggy proclaimed without pause.

     “Are you positive, Ziggy?”


     “Damn,” hissed the Admiral, who turned around as he heard the sound of Donna Elesee-Beckett’s footsteps approaching.

     “Al,” Sam’s wife blurted out, “is Sam between leaps?”

     “Yeah,” Al nodded.  “He leaped.”

     “I don’t know how to say this, Al.  But just before the catastrophe, City Of Hope called my residence outside the project.”

     Al’s face drew a blank.  “City of Hope?”

     “City Of Hope is a cancer center facility in Los Angeles, California,” intoned the parallel-hybrid computer.

     “It’s where Sam’s mother was moved to when her condition got worse a few weeks ago,” Donna added.  “Her breast cancer apparently has been malignant for some time now and has spread.  Her recent treatments were believed to be helpful but now she is apparently unable to tolerate the procedures.  She’s not expected to live much longer.  The doctor said they tried to contact Tom and was unable to leave a message with him.”  Tears formed around her face.  “What gets me is that Tom didn’t tell us about her condition, and now he and J.T. are presumed dead.  Sam is gonna be devastated when he hears about all this.”

     Al bit his tongue and remained silent.  A few months earlier, Tom had revealed to Al that Thelma Louise Beckett was terminal.  It was believed that Sam’s mother would stay alive for at least another year or two.  This announcement wasn’t what Al needed to hear.  When Tom asked the Admiral to tell Sam, Al had refused, believing that if Sam knew his mother was dying, he wouldn’t be able to complete his leaps with her on his mind.  But now, Sam was missing in Time, and his mother was dying. 

     “Are you still going to try and get to Los Angeles?” Al asked.

     Donna nodded.  “Stephen and I are packed. We plan to go early tomorrow morning during daylight.  A couple of soldiers are going to drive us in a military van past the protestors out front and make sure we get there in one piece.  Stephen is frightened to go but I can’t leave him behind, not with all the things that are going on right now.  I want him with me.”

     “I understand,” Al said.  “Have a safe trip if I don’t see you before tomorrow.  I hope Mrs. Beckett pulls through somehow.”

     “Thank you,” Donna sniffed as she made her way to her quarters to pick up Stephen.

     “Ziggy, if anything new develops to depress me, let me know.  I’m gonna be in my quarters watching the news with my wife.” Al walked as fast as he could to the elevator and stepped inside, his heart heavy over the developments concerning his best friend.  As he selected the desired floor, Al let out a deep breath and slumped against the elevator wall, sliding down it to the floor and wondering what the hell was going on in the world. 



No Date

No Time


     Sam and Garner found themselves standing outside the entrance door to Al’s Place.  The building itself looked no different from his previous visits to the establishment, right down to the familiar window sign that advertised liquor, wine, beer, lunches, and sandwiches.  Other than the front of the building, there was much to be desired to the imagination.  A thick blue fog was the only other thing visible in all directions besides the doorway.  Feelings of disorientation from the fog overcame Sam as he suddenly felt like he was back in the blue void again.

     “Where are we?” Sam wondered aloud.

     “Al’s Place, of course,” Garner put simply.

     “I know that, but where are we?  What city is this?  When I was here before, it was either Pennsylvania or New Mexico.  This is nowhere, a blue void.”

     “Very true, Sam.”  Garner opened the door and motioned for Sam to enter.  “We are in between time right now.  I know it’s a bit hard to explain.  The only approximate word I can say to describe this is limbo.  Time has no meaning here.  A few minutes here could be seconds in the real world.  This state of existence can only be sustained for a limited amount of time.”

     After the two men entered, the door closed behind them with the jingling of small bells.  Looking around, Sam realized that the bar was exactly how he remembered it.  The counter, the tables, everything was the same except it was devoid of customers.  The television set was running but no sound was heard.  On the screen was the picture of a news anchor with a small picture of a mock nuclear explosion cropped just off the shoulder.

     Below the television screen was a long mirror that stretched behind the bar.  Out of reflex, he peered at it to see his reflection.  To no surprise, he was himself, dressed in a blue button shirt, and tan slacks.  Feeling his back pocket, he could tell that his velcro wallet was in there.

     “Welcome, Samuel,” boomed a voice from across the bar,  breaking the silence.  “The critical juncture of the current timeline has been reached.”

     Swiveling his head, Sam saw who it was that addressed the leaper.  It was Him.  The enigmatic bartender named Alberto, Albert, or even Al for short, was standing by the far side of the room.  He was dressed in a white button shirt and black pants.  It seemed odd to Sam that the bartender was not wearing an apron or a dishtowel over his shoulder.

     “Have a seat,” Alberto ordered as he scooped a punchboard game off the counter and placed it underneath behind the bar.  Grabbing a few glasses and a pitcher of ice water, he brought them over to the table and joined Sam and Garner who had just taken a seat at a table, the same one Sam had witnessed Al’s uncle, Stawpah, disappear from during his first visit here.  “I am sure you have a lot of questions for me, Sam,” the bartender said as he poured drinks for everyone.  “To the best of my ability, I will try to explain the answers to you.  There will be no games this time, no double meanings or twisted words.  A major disturbance in the timeline has occurred and it has to be corrected.”

     “It has to do with the explosion,” guessed Sam, staring over at the television screen on the wall.  The news anchor was no longer present.  Instead, live images of government agency workers dressed in radiation suits rummaging through the fiery, smoking wreckage of Hope Springs was alternated with pictures of Washington D.C. burning in flames with the word LIVE superimposed in large block letters.

     Alberto nodded gravely.  “This may be difficult to understand.  You have probably come to the realization that the city of Hope Springs and certain individuals like General Hawkins and Dr. Garner, to name a few, have repeated shown themselves recently over the course of your leaps.”  Sam nodded as the bartender continued.  “When you first met Alexander in 1959 while you were Ohdee, you took it upon yourself to reveal your identity to him.  Do you know why you took that course of action?”

     Sam took a sip from his water before answering, “Sometimes when I have limited information during a leap, I have to rely on my instincts and my gut reactions.  On occasion lately, it seems like there is this voice inside my head that guides and tells me what I should do to successfully complete a leap.  That voice told me that I should tell Dr. Garner who I really was.”

     “Mm-hmm.”  Alberto’s moustache bristled as he elaborated on Sam’s reply.  “At the risk of deflating the faith in your abilities to complete a leap, it should be noted that I am the cause of the little voice you’ve been hearing from time to time.  Even when you were dying as Ohdee inside of Alexander’s Time Displacer Unit, I was still trying to talk to you, trying to get you to realize that you could go home if you truly believed you could, but I had to influence your ability to do that.  Speaking of influence, your partner Al has told you of late that General Hawkins has controlled your leaping to fit his agenda, well the same holds true for me, sad to say. I, too, have been influencing your leaps as well.”

     Sam’s jaw gaped at this revelation.  “To what end can you justify doing all this?”

     Garner raised a hand.  “Sam, please hear him out.  All will be made clear to you.”

     Clearing his throat, Alberto continued, “Back in 1959, you were given some encouragement when it was decided that the ulterior goal had to be achieved for the greater good.  I allowed you the impulse to tell Alexander who you really were otherwise General Hawkins would have pulled the plug on Project Quantum Leap, and at that point, you weren’t ready to lose your, how may I delicately put it, training wheels and be able to leap by yourself.  By doing this, we made a grave error.  Unforeseeable events were put in motion when Dr. Braden caught on to you when your blood type didn’t match the samples taken from Ohdee.  To allay his suspicions, you were leaped eight months forward to prove Garner’s experiment worked so that your project could be saved and you would be leaped out quicker.”

     Anger formed in Sam’s words.  “Dr. Braden drugged me and found out about me and the project.  Why couldn’t you see all that?  Because of what you made me do, an evil project was created that hurt many people.  Do you understand the torture you put me through at their hands?  All the anguish I went through because I thought that all this time that other project was my fault when it fact it was yours?  Am I your whipping boy or what?  Go find someone else to do your dirty work, because I quit!”

     “Sam,” Garner cautioned.

     “I mean it!” Sam yelled as he bolted out of his seat.  “You said no games, but you persist in playing them.  Once you told me that I could go home at any time.  I’m ready to go home now.”

     “No, you’re not,” Alberto mentioned calmly.

     “What makes you think I’m not?” snapped the leaper.

     “The catastrophe, for one thing.  Deep down you know you have to prevent it from happening and besides that, your curiosity will ensnare you to stay long enough and listen to what I have to say.”

     Sam stared coldly at the bartender as he returned slowly to his chair.




May 9th, 2006

Project Quantum Leap

Stallion’s Gate, New Mexico

9:31 am


     A dejected Dominic Lofton drove his vehicle down the desert road that led back to the project.  His wife Aurora was constantly drifting in and out of sleep next to him.  He knew he was in deep trouble for leaving his post, but when news of the disaster had struck; there was no one who could secure permission for him to leave.  For all he knew, his relatives were dead in the explosion and until the travel ban on public transportation was lifted, there would be no way short of driving cross country that he could make the trip, and that wasn’t an option considering his wife’s condition.  All he and Aurora could do was turn their car around after news came over the radio that all planes and trains were not running.

     Over the last twelve hours he had repeatedly called their number, but no one answered.  In the last six hours, the phone lines became completely jammed.  News agencies were having trouble speculating whether it was another terrorist attack or a government cover-up that caused the nuclear explosion.

People who sided with the government conspiracy explanation quickly began showing distrust with demonstrations outside of every military installation known in existence.  No matter what was believed, the end result became the same as American citizens were in a state of panic and paranoia.  In some cities, people feared another attack and full-scale riots had broken out.  Police precincts could no longer maintain law and order in some areas of the country, a state of anarchy loomed in the distance to take over.  Dom had shut off the radio a few hours back, unable to hear anymore about how the world had turned upside down in the blink of an eye.

     Before long, Dom turned his car onto the side road that led up to the security entrance to the project.  An unwelcome sight quickly became apparent.  The road leading up to the main entrance was blocked by mobs of people protesting the project.  Armed guards kept the people away from trying to break through the closed security fences.

     How was this possible? Dom thought.  How did all these people get here?  Quickly, the head programmer recalled the website that months ago Dr. Beckett’s nephew, J.T., logged into and told everyone all the information he knew about the project.  As his vehicle pulled up to a stop at the back of the mob, the angry protestors whirled around and began to surround him and pummel the vehicle with their signs.  Some people slashed his tires while others smashed in his car windows.  Hands reached in to unlock the doors and then pulled Dom and Aurora out of the vehicle, the engine still running in park.

     The security guards at the fences did nothing but stare and watch as Dom and his wife were led away by the angry people to the other side of the mob.  The crowd parted as they approached.  Aurora refrained from resisting while Dom was dragged, kicked, and punched until he was thrown without mercy to the dirt in front of a large vehicle.  Blood dripped into Dom’s left eye as he stared up into the open back end of a large white van.  A shadow within stirred and made its way to the open doorway.  As it loomed closer, Dom was able to see the familiar features of a man in his late forties with a trimmed moustache just turning gray and neatly groomed hair.

     The man seized Dom and dragged him up on his feet.  “We meet again, stranger,” Jake said as he ordered both prisoners to be tied up.

     “What do you want from me?” Dom pleaded while a few of the protestors began to bind his arms and legs.  “Don’t harm my wife.  She’s pregnant!”

     “Don’t you recognize me?” Jake wondered.  “I clearly remember you.”

     Dim recollection came to Dom as he arms was completely bound behind him.  “You seem familiar somehow.”

     “I should be,” Jake grinned.  “You made it possible to almost smuggle my partner into your project once, courtesy of your car.”

     The head programmer struggled in his bonds to get at Jake but could barely move forward with the ropes now secured on his legs.  In a futile attempt, he collapsed to the dirt.

     “Save your strength,” Jake continued.  “I still owe you for Benjamin getting arrested that night.  I have a better use for you,” he smiled wickedly.





Al’s Place

Time and Date - Unknown



     “You have to understand something, Sam,” the bartender informed him.  “Time is an intricately woven tapestry.  In theory, when events change, the strings in the fabric change also to create a new picture.  Just with your leaps alone, the image has been rearranged countless times.  Due to the constant change, it occasionally puts time in such a flux that we cannot perceive the entire image as a whole and can only interpret small alterations.  It may shock you, Sam, but we are not as perfect as you think we are.  If we were, we would have no need for anyone to travel in time to put things right that once went wrong.”

     Sam’s anger lessened slightly as Alberto continued, “When Dr. Braden became involved in the tapestry of your leaping existence, it tangled the skein so badly that all the after effects of his interrogating you became uncontrollable.  In an attempt to untangle everything, we tried to manipulate events to bring the tapestry back into clarity and focus.  The reason why your leaps would sometimes have a déjà vu feeling to them with recurring people and places was our attempt at manipulating events.  Again, it made things worse. Tweaking the tapestry, it was soon determined that two horrible events would now occur.  One was the creation of Hawkins project and the catastrophe that has now resulted from it.  The other with our best guess would be in the year 2008.”

     “The future,” Sam uttered.

     “The future,” Alberto confirmed.  “A few years from your project’s present, two people from the Middle East by the names of Dr. Badi-Al-Zaman Qasim, whose name ironically means ‘Marvel of Time’ in Arabic, and Abdul-Azim Mustafa, will  take the secrets Braden got from you and build a project similar to yours, run by the terrorist network known as al-Qaeda.  These terrorists would then travel back in time and change world history for the worst.”

     “But I stopped their accelerator lab experiment.  Both men died, and I burned their research notes,” Sam recounted.

     The bartender clasped his hands together.  “So you did, Sam.  The research was destroyed and the al Qaeda have been denied their project.  But by completing that leap, you started the chain of events that launched the other catastrophe.  As bad as the tragedy in Washington D.C. is, you actually prevented the worst of the two.  So now, you can concentrate on the explosion.”

     Sam was flabbergasted.  “In some strange way, I caused the nuclear explosion?”

     “In the original history, the man in charge of your astral projection sessions, a Dr. Daniels, was originally killed in 2001  a week later when he stumbled onto what Mustafa and Qasim were up to due to the heightened paranoia of foreigners after 9-11.  They were never implicated in his death.  But once those two were killed through your leap, it altered history and avoided a temporal war against the terrorists.  Daniels, who holds a degree in psychiatry as well as parapsychology, was tabbed by Hawkins to be the psychiatrist for the soldiers that would be used for his project.  Thus, all the staff for Hawkins project now fell into place.  When Daniels life was saved, it created a new timeline, one in which the explosion occurred.”

     “Wait a minute,” Sam cut in, “I wasn’t the only one who made it possible for the leap to be completed.  Dr. Garner did something I never thought was possible, and shouldn’t have been possible.  He wasn’t supposed to be in any of my leaps after 1959.  Dr. Garner originally died from suicide in early 1985 when the scientific community ostracized him!”

      “Very true, Sam,” Garner agreed.  “However, you saved me from an early death when you convinced me my time experiments worked and I became accepted by that very same community.”

     “But your death was changed a second time,” argued the leaper.  “The second time, you were supposed to die in 2003 from cancer.  When I returned home to the project after leaping out of your Time Displacer Unit, I looked up what happened to you, and the Washington Post had your obituary printed up as July 2003 with cancer as the cause of death!”

     “A death I chose to avoid, thank you very much,” put in Garner.  “I remember all three of my deaths vividly.  Dying of cancer would have been the least painful of the three, but involved the most long-term suffering.  When you leaped into Hope Springs in 2001, your friend Al was at the testing of Hawkins’ new project and was unavailable.  The leap mission objective of taking out those terrorists was too important to allow failure, so we controlled your project’s computer.  As the window of successfully completing this mission began to close tightly, it was decided that I would appear in the image of Al to nudge you along.  That was why I arrived late.  After I told you why you were there at the science institute, I returned back here to consult with the bartender.  When I returned to assist you, I found you and my still living elderly self being held at gunpoint by Mustafa and I chose to break a rule and literally leap into myself to take the bullets.”

     “You shortened your own life to save mine?” Sam asked incredulously.

     “To me at that age of my life, dying to save you or living two more years suffering from a disease was no contest.  I made the end of my life meaningful and died with dignity, not wasting away hooked up to some machine.  Besides, I knew I would still end up here to help others in need.”

     “The dead on another plane of existence,” Sam murmured.  “Helping the living, just like Al’s uncle, Stawpah.”

     “Correct, Sam,” Alberto nodded.  “But by doing what he did, he broke one of our rules.  Just like your project has rules, we are bound by our own code.  Whether it is an angel like Angela or someone like Alexander or Stawpah, no one is allowed to forcibly assume control of a mortal’s body to change history.  But under the circumstances, I allowed Garner to do it in order for you to stop the terrorists.”

     Despite himself, a grin began to form on Sam’s face.  “So angels do exist.  Al was right.”

     “Don’t blame yourself, Al’s memory has fewer holes than yours,” the bartender smiled back.

     “Perhaps, but now that I think about this, you broke another rule, too,” Sam suddenly accused the portly barkeep.

     Alberto broke into another grin.  “Indeed I did, Sam, very observant.  You remembered one of our other rules.  The dead cannot assist people in any time period before time of death.  It must be afterwards.  A necessary rule to not muddy up the tapestry and avoid temptation of changing one’s own past or endangering their existence.”

     A thought struck the leaper.  “Then I’m a violation of almost all of your biggest rules!”

     “Technically, no, Sam,” the bartender chuckled.  “You are still mortal and not dead.”

     “That’s a relief.”

     “Your experiment was based on your string theory of leaping around in your lifetime, that is a contradiction of our rule, too.  That was why we grabbed you during your first leap.  You were an unknown element that defied our rules, but it was deemed that your heart was good and that you would be allowed to change things in your own lifetime, which took some of the slack off of my staff.  Although from time to time we sent someone to keep an eye on you,” Alberto added with a smile.

     “Excuse me,” Garner exclaimed, “but how much longer can this limbo existence be sustained?  Once this limbo realm expires, Sam’s project computer can monitor us.  We can’t stay cloaked from it much longer.”

     Alberto rose from his chair.  “You’re right, Alexander.  We have told you all we can right now.  It’s time for you to move ahead on your journey and figure out what caused the nuclear explosion.”

     “The future?” Sam breathed as he stood up.

     “The future,” Alberto slapped Sam on the shoulder.  “With the tapestry in disarray, we cannot supply you with the answers you seek.  You will need to get those after the fact.  As I said before, you still need your training wheels, so we will send you to where you need to go.  God bless, Sam!”

     Before Sam could say a word, the bar disappeared as he leaped.



May 9th, 2006

Project Quantum Leap

Stallion’s Gate, New Mexico

9:51 am


    Al Calavicci sat in silence in his quarters, a lit cigar in one hand and a silver framed photo of himself and Sam in the other.  So absorbed in his thoughts, he barely noticed his wife Beth limp across the room, nursing her almost healed broken ankle, to sit on the arm of the oversized chair he was occupying.  Only the motion of Beth’s hand swatting the cigar smoke away brought him back to reality.

     Sighing, Al set the picture down on the nightstand on the other side of the chair away from his wife.  “Wherever he’s leaped, Sam’s still himself.”

     “Because no one’s in the Waiting Room?”
“There’s no other explanation,” Al shook his head, trying to fight the wave of sadness that was overtaking him due to his missing friend.  “Ziggy’s started a nano-second search this  morning but I got a feeling Sam’s leaped beyond his lifetime.”
      “Into the past or future?” Beth wondered.

    An odd look of resolve came over the Admiral’s features.  “The future. Don’t ask me how I know, I just do.  He’s in the future...beyond his current lifetime.”
     “How’d he get there?”
     “The bartender sent him,” Al told his wife.
     “The bartender?” Beth asked quizzically.
     Al shrugged.  “Why not? Anyone who has the power
to leap Sam through time can be anyone he wants to be... a
bartender, a train conductor...a steambath attendant.”
     Beth thought about what her husband had just told her for a few seconds before looking down at him.  “He’d know where Sam was in the future.”
     That brought a chuckle from Al as he failed to take her suggestion seriously.  “How do I ask him? As a hologram, would he hear me?”
      “If he’s God, I think he’ll hear you,” Beth frowned.
     “Good,” Al snorted derisively.  “But without Sam in the bar, I can’t get there.”
     After a pause, Beth cupped her husband’s chin in her palm.  “You could if you leaped.”

    Al sat there, looking straight ahead.  After he considered the logistics of the idea, his face turned to look his wife in the eyes.  “I might not come back,” he said sorrowfully, knowing that there was a chance of being trapped in time the same as Sam.  Beth would not be in his life, she would be a forgotten memory like Donna was to his best friend. 
     Smiling bravely, knowing that her husband’s heart was torn between her and his best friend, Beth kissed his forehead.  “You’ll come back. Anyone who came back from Vietnam can come back from anywhere.”

     The Admiral looked her in the eyes with wonder.  “Forty-five years and you still amaze me,” he said as he put his arm around her and pulled her down to kiss her.  To Al, he gave his wife another forty-five years of passion in that one kiss, not knowing when he’d even do so again.  Before Beth could catch her breath from the embrace, Al bolted out of the chair and raced out of the room towards the Control Room.
     Looking longingly at the door moments after he had left, Beth rubbed a hand across her face to wipe away the tears.  “So do you,” she whispered to herself, wondering what she had left to hold onto in this topsy-turvy world.



     Donna sighed with impatience as she banged on her son’s bedroom door.  “Stephen, we have to leave now.  People are waiting for us.  The bags are already loaded.”

     “I don’t want to go,” came the muffled reply from the other side of the door.

     “Look, I know it’s dangerous.  But we have to do this.  I’m not going to lie to you; this might be the last time any of us ever get to see your grandmother.  Open the door right now!”

     “No!  I’m staying here with Al and Sammy Jo.  There are all sorts of scary people outside.”

     “I know there are, Stephen.  But we’ll be under the protection of marines.  They will see that we make it to City of Hope safely and back again.”

     “I’d be less scared if Dad and Al went with us.”

     “You know that’s not possible,” Donna said into the door.  “They can’t both be with us.”

     “I don’t want to go, I’m afraid of what’s out there.  Something’s gonna happen to both of us.”

     Donna thought about her situation for a few seconds.  “Tell you what, maybe your father and Al can go with us.”

     “How?” Stephen sniffed from the other side of the door.

     “We’ll take your favorite picture; the one of Al and your father together.  They’ll be with us in spirit.  As long as you carry that picture you’ll be safe, nothing will happen to us.”

      The door unlocked and swung open, revealing a teary-eyed Stephen dressed in his Sunday clothes.  “Promise?”

     “Promise,” Donna smiled down at her son.  “Now let’s go get that picture.”

     “It’s in Dad’s old office.  The picture is just like the one that Al keeps in his room; a photo of him and dad in a silver frame.  We need to get it quick, I don’t wanna stay in that area for long.”

     “Any particular reason?”

     “Because it’s near Hawkins’ office and I hate that man.  I don’t trust him.  He’s a nozzle just like Uncle Al says.”

     Donna tried to hide a smile.  “Stephen, that’s not a nice thing to say about a person.”

     “I know, mom, but it is the truth.” 

     Putting her arm around her son, they walked to the elevator that would take them to the office level.



    Despite her fear and anguish over recent world events, Tina couldn’t help but pop her gum repeatedly.   As if on cue, the moment her bubble burst, Al came racing into the Control Room, wearing a Fermi suit.

     “Any word on Dom yet?”

     “No, Al, and I’m getting worried.  No one has heard from him.”

     Al grimaced.  “Tina, I’m going to need you to fire up the Accelerator.”

     Blinking, Tina nodded and began initial procedures without question.

     “Ziggy?” Al yelled up to the ceiling.

     “Yessss,” purred the blue swirling globe.

     “I’m going after your father.  I need you to pull up all the archived data that Gooshie fed into your system when he came back after his death.”

     “After his death?” Tina nearly swallowed her gum.

     “Long story, Tina,” Al said as he looked back to the blue sphere.  “Ziggy, whatever Gooshie programmed into you  concerning monitoring leapers at Al’s Place or even how to get there, I need you to retrieve it all now.”

     “Files retrieved, Admiral,” hummed the computer seconds later.

     “Is there any technical reason why I can’t leap to the Bartender?”

     “None that I can detect,” Ziggy said with just a note of sadness in her voice.

     “I’ll pretend I didn’t notice that, Zig,” remarked the Admiral, as he put out his cigar in an ashtray on the control panel.

     “Notice what, Admiral?”

     “You’re gonna miss me, you egotistical bucket of bolts, admit it, why don’t ya?”

     The globe remained silent, and before either one could make any further comments, Sammy Jo Fuller raced into the room as fast as her pregnant body allowed her.  Her eyes were wide open in shock, her face covered in tears and she had trouble regaining her breath.

     “Sammy Jo, what’s wrong?” urged Al.

     “They killed him!” Sammy Jo screamed.  “They shot him in cold blood!”

     “Who?” Al demanded, taking the woman in his arms to soothe her.  “Who was killed?”

     “One of the soldiers came in from the front gate wounded from gunshot fire and told me,” Sam’s daughter sobbed as she tried to tell what she knew.  "The anti-government project protestors outside the project.  They shot him.  They killed Dom!”

     “Oh, God!” exclaimed Tina, as she lowered her face into her hands.  “This can’t be happening!”

     Al said nothing at first as he hugged the near hysterical woman tighter.  “How did it happen?” he finally inquired.

     Sniffling, Sammy Jo rubbed at her eyes.  “One of the protestors grabbed him and Aurora just minutes ago.  He demanded that the soldiers let them all in to destroy the project or one of the prisoners would die.  When the soldiers refused, the man turned around and shot Dom, saying that Aurora would be next if they refused.  Gunshots rang out.  In the confusion, one of the guards shot the man that killed Dom, and suddenly both sides opened fire on each other.  There’s no word if Aurora is alive!”

     “That does it!” Al snapped, releasing Sammy Jo as he turned to Tina.  “I’m heading for the Accelerator.  Leap me out as fast as you can.  I’m going after Sam or at the very least I’m gonna change the last twenty-four hours.  God, Bartender, or whatever else help me.”

     “I just realized, you can’t leap,” shouted Tina.  “There’s no one tuned into your brainwaves.  At least with Sam, we have a few people as backup observers.  How are we going to find you?”

     “If this goes according to plan, I won’t need any help from this project, understood?”  Turning to leave, the Admiral made a grab for the handlink perched in its holder.  At the last second, he moved his hand away and stared at the handlink, wondering how he would succeed without the multi-colored device.  “Take care of the handlink for me until I need it again,” he said as he headed for the Accelerator.

     Tina nodded as Al stepped into the chamber, the door hissing shut behind him.

     “Al’s going after my father?” Sammy Jo said in panic.

     “Alignment in sync.  Sigmatron on line,” was Tina’s wavering voice that answered no one in particular as she moved her hand up towards the console to fire up the accelerator.

     “Wait,” came Beth’s choked-up voice from the Control Room door.  “If anyone’s going to do this, it will be me.”

     “You can’t,” Sammy Jo interjected.  “You aren’t cleared to handle the control console.”

     “The hell I’m not.”  Beth limped into the room, favoring her bad ankle, and stopped under the globe.  “I swore I wouldn’t reveal that I knew this, but I’m not going to waste the information my husband mumbles in his sleep.  Ziggy?” she called up.  “Command override: DONNA.”  The globe stopped swirling and shortly resumed moving in the other direction.  “Ziggy?” Beth called again.

     “Yessss, Dr. Calavicci?”

     “Are my codes for the new thermal-scan security system installed in your memory yet?”


     “Command directive: TRANSFER.  Move my thermal-codes into the control room console command directory.”

     “Transsssfer complete.”

     Beth limped behind the console and moved Tina out of the way.  “Prepare to fire accelerator on my command,” she ordered, a large tear running down her cheek.

     “Accelerator ready, Dr. Calavicci,” Ziggy intoned.

     Beth slammed her hand onto the console, the action now irreversible.  “Fire the accelerator!”

     Quantum energy filled the accelerator chamber as Al, in his Fermi suit, raised his hands in euphoria.  He could not help himself as a large smile crossed his face.  A moment later, the Admiral had leaped.





Al’s Place

Time and Date- Unknown

     The tendrils of electrical energy began to subside around the glowing blue form that had materialized just moments before.  As it dissipated, the form of a man in the white uniform of an Admiral took its place.  A brief period of dizziness took over the newcomer as the disorientation he experienced slowly subsided.

     Looking around, he noticed that the bar was how he had remembered it on his past visit, as if it hadn’t aged a day.  The tv mounted on the wall showed the same video footage of the catastrophe that Sam had seen earlier.  An eerie silence filled the room, as it was quickly apparent that there were no customers.  More confusing was that a wall of blue fog was visible outside the door and windows, making it seemingly impossible to leave the building.

     The sound of glasses clinking caused Al to turn towards the back end of the bar.  A heavyset man in a white shirt and black pants stood there with a dishrag, his moustache bristling as he sized up the man in the naval uniform.  “The bar is closed,” the bartender said, placing a large beer mug in a rack.

     “Not here for a drink,” Al replied as he saw his true reflection in the mirror behind the bar. “Those days are long behind me.”

     “Assuming your current perspective of life isn’t altered in the past, that is true,” the bartender said sternly.  “What can I do for you?”

     “You once told me I was welcome back anytime.”

     “So I did,” the bartender replied, wiping off a spill on the counter.  “You look fine,” he added, noticing Al’s preoccupation with his reflection.  “Nothing fancy with these mirrors, no distorted reality.  You are in your normal quantum state here.”

     “Whatever that means,” Al grumbled as he set his white hat on the counter.

     “Something tells Alberto you are definitely here for something.  What’ll it be?”

     “Information,” Al stated dryly.

      Nodding, Alberto reached behind the counter and placed a punchboard game in front of the Admiral.  “Twenty five cents a punch.  Hit the jackpot and I’ll answer your question,” the bartender said with a twinkle in his eye.
     Al seemed put off.  “I gotta gamble to get info from God?”
     “Who said I was God?”
     “Sam did,” frowned the Admiral.  “He said you were God…or
Time or Fate.”

     Alberto’s belly jiggled as a hearty laugh escaped him.  “Why not an alien while you’re at it.”
     Stunned, Al gave the bartender a long hard look.  “Ohhh, my God…”
     This time it was Alberto who frowned.  “What?”

     “We didn’t think of that,” Al said slowly.  “It makes sense. You could be a higher intelligence from the outer reaches of the universe!”

     “I’m afraid the only alien here is you, Al.”
     “Why me?”

     “Because you’re the only one who doesn’t belong here,” the bartender commented.
     “What about Sam?” Al got down to business suddenly.
     Pausing for a moment, Alberto set his towel down on the counter.  “He’s not here anymore.  He’s on the job.”

     “In the future, right?” guessed Al.
     The bartender nodded.  “Right.”
     “I knew it!” Al exploded in a sudden burst of anger.  “Without me!”
     Alberto pursed his lips.  “I didn’t think you were needed.”
     Al was clearly annoyed.  “You didn’t think I was needed! Who flew the X-2? Me! Who taught him Elvis’ moves? Me! Who showed him how to box, shoot pool, draw a six-gun...kiss the girl?”

     The Admiral jabbed a finger at the other man.  “You’re damn right, me!”  Thinking of whom he might be talking to, he hastily added, “If you’re God, excuse the language.”
     Alberto nodded in understanding.  “If I’m God, you’re excused.”
     “Sam wouldn’t have righted a single wrong if it wasn’t for me,” Al reasoned.
     The bartender hesitated, “Well…”

     “Okay,” Al cut in.  “Maybe one or two, but he needs me. And more important, I need him.”

     Alberto stood there for a moment, looking off into space.  He was obviously mulling over what he was going to say next.  Finally the larger man said, “The past has been mere prologue.
Where Sam has gone, there is great danger.”

     Al slammed a fist on the counter.  “Cut the Star Wars dialogue! Are you going to send me with him or
     The bartender cocked his head.  “You’d no longer enjoy the safety of a hologram.”
     The Admiral let out a big sigh.  “I was kinda hoping that would continue.”
     Alberto shook his head.  “You’d be a Leaper, like Sam, with
all the inherent risks.”
     “I still want to join him.”

     “That’s all it takes,” was all the enigmatic bartender supplied.

     Al eyes the man curiously.  “What do you mean?”

     “You just have to want to do it.  When Sam was here recently…”

     “Sam was just here?”

     “Quite recently in fact.  You missed him by a full minute.  Ironic for a place that currently does not exist in time or space that both you and him being here separately would be so linear.  When he was here, I tried to tell him that he controls his leaps, but that he doesn’t seem ready to believe that.  The question applies to you as well: are you?”

     “Am I what?” queried Al.

     “Ready to will yourself to join Sam?”

     “How do I do that?”

     Alberto chuckled.  “Don’t worry.  If you cannot make the leap of faith, I will assist you.”

     Al closed his eyes and thought hard about leaving the bar to be with his best friend.  After a few seconds, he felt that nothing had happened.  Opening his eyes, he found the Bartender staring back at him oddly.

     “What is it?” the Admiral wondered.

     “Nothing.  Perhaps everything.  It just struck me suddenly about the fact that you made it here.  I never would have guessed that bold move from you.  Loyalty to a friend is truly one of God’s gifts to mankind.”

     “My presence here has changed something hasn’t it?”

     “Perhaps.  Perhaps not.”

     Al did his best to hold back his frustration.  “No more games.  If you have something to say, then tell me.”

     “Very well.  Your coming here now has changed my thinking.  When you first appeared, I thought of sending you right back because there was nothing you could do, but based on this conversation it seems that you have a purpose to fulfill after all.  You need to help Sam.  No more questions now, this limbo realm is about to collapse.  Just stare straight ahead into the mirror.”

     The bartender moved aside to allow Al to peer into the mirror.  After a few seconds, a tiny spec of blue appeared on the glass.  After a moment, it quickly expanded to cover up Al’s image in the mirror.  Suddenly, there was a flash of blue light; blinding enough that it caused Al to turn away. 

     Once his eyes cleared from the flash, Al looked around the bar.  Sunlight filled the room as the wall of fog had inexplicably vanished as though it never existed.  The tables were filled with paying customers, young and old, all of who seemed to be having a miserable time.  On both sides of the Admiral, the barstools were filled with patrons ordering drinks, all looking depressed.  The bartender was there, his whistling out of place with his clientele’s mood as he took orders and cash, and dispensed the glasses and change.  Looking at the Admiral, he sneaked in a quick wink.
      A drunken middle-aged man staggered up to the bar next to Al and ordered another pitcher of beer.  The new leaper turned away to avoid the man’s bad breath.  “Almost as bad as Gooshie’s,” he muttered under his breath.  The words almost died on his lips as he spun around to catch his reflection in the mirror.  Staring straight across from the Admiral was a vision of a young twenty-something, blonde goddess wearing flashing light earrings in a red dress with shoulder straps and a black leather purse.  The same red dress that Al was now apparently wearing he realized as he looked down at himself, the Admiral whites now gone.
     “What the hell-?” exclaimed Al, who spun around to see if anyone was staring at him in the ridiculous get-up.  Without thinking, his hand reached down to make sure the lower portion of the dress did not rise up to expose himself.

     Suddenly, Al felt a hand pat him on the rump.  Turning around, he found himself face to face with the drunk with the bad breath.  “Can I help you, pal?” the Admiral asked in a huff, shoving the hand away.

     “I’ve been in a hundred bars and truck stops from here to Florida, and believe me,” the drunk slurred, “you’ve got the greatest set of casabas I’ve ever targeted.”
     “Oh, boy,” Al sighed, about to punch the drunk who was getting in his face.
     “Back away from the young lady,” Alberto ordered the man with a quick sly grin towards Al. 

     The man locked eyes with the bartender and slowly backed away.  “My apologies,” he whispered and slunk away.

     “I could have handled that nozzle,” Al complained.

     “I tried to warn you about becoming a leaper like Sam,” Alberto reminded him, causing Al to scowl.  “You’re welcome, by the way.” the bartender added.

     “A woman?!” Al muttered in disgust.  “Of all the people to leap into, it had to be a woman.  Dr. Beeks and the others must be having a field day in the Waiting Room.  If you’re gonna leap me into a dress, why couldn’t I be Jamie Farr?””

     “Call it poetic justice,” beamed the bartender.  “On a positive note, you should be glad, you seem to have regained a lot of your memory.”

     “Probably because this isn’t my first leap.  I have leaped before, you know?”

     “That’s right, you have,” Alberto recalled as a customer came to the bar to order some drinks.  “As much as I would love to stand here and talk shop with you, I do have a business to run.”

     Al surveyed the doom and gloom atmosphere of the establishment.  “You call this a business?  It looks like someone died.”

     “These people are in here to forget about what is happening in the world right now,” Alberto explained as he filled a pitcher.  “But before I get back to work, care for some bartenderly advice?” 

     Al leaned forward to hear better and brought a hand up to make sure no one got a peek down his dress. 

     “If I were you,” the bartender went on, “I wouldn’t waste too much more time in here.  You need to find Sam.”

     “Where is he?  How do I find him?”

     “The world is not that big of a place after all, Al.  I’m sure you’ll come up with a way.  Besides, as I explained to Sam, time is in flux here.  Future events are constantly in motion, I cannot give you much more information.”

     “Thanks for nothing,” Al griped, and jumped off the barstool.  Conscious of all the male eyes watching him, Al sauntered ungracefully in his flashing high heels and somehow made it out the door.  The warmth of the sun struck him as he stood in the middle of the sidewalk.  Not knowing what to do, he picked a direction and started walking down the street, subconsciously hiking the purse strap up his shoulder to keep it from falling off.  Embarrassed by his current attire, Al tried to remain as inconspicuous as possible.

     A little bit further down, the Admiral spotted a bus parked alongside the curb.  Tearing off his high heels, Al sprinted in bare feet down the sidewalk, hoping the bus wouldn’t leave without him.  As he got to the closed door, he knocked on it.  Getting no answer, he peered in to discover that no one was inside.  The bus was deserted.

     “Great,” Al griped, his eyes moving to the billboard on the side of the bus.  Tickets available for your 2006 Albuquerque Isotopes…Call now…Sponsored by Statler Toyota, Verizon Wireless, and Al’s Place Bar & Grill…” Al read aloud.  “Albuquerque?  I’m in New Mexico!  Didn’t think this was Cokesburg, Pennsylvania or South Bend.  Does that bartender own a chain or what?  All I gotta do is get a ride to Stallion’s Gate and get out of this mess.”  Turning around, he noticed a bank behind him with a sign that kept flashing over and over: May 12th, 1:55pm, 65 F. 

     “May 12th, 2006?” he moaned.  “I barely went ahead in time?  I wonder if…” Without hesitating, Al grabbed the purse and began rummaging through its contents.  After digging past all the cosmetic products, he discovered a New Mexico driver’s license that showed the blonde bombshell’s face and a name that said: Alicia Dalton, age 26.

     “I’m Alicia, how cute?” Al carped, as he finally found what he was looking for.  Taking out the cellphone, Al switched it on and dialed the number that would get him in touch with the Project.  After a few seconds, the phone beeped at him and informed him in a female computerize voice that the call could not be placed as all lines are down.  “This just gets better and better.  How am I supposed to get back?”

     “You need a lift?”  A gruff voice asked behind the Admiral.

     Al turned to see a middle-aged truck driver with about four days of stubble dressed in a plaid shirt, jeans, and a green mesh cap approaching.

     “I couldn’t help but overhear, little darlin’,” said the truck driver.  Al’s face grew red with anger at being called a darling but he let it slide as the man continued.  “You won’t be able to hitch a ride on any buses for a while.  President still has that public transportation travel ban in effect while he’s holed up in Norad or Crystal Palace or wherever the hell he made it to.”

     “Because of the explosion?” Al remembered.

     “Yeah.  Still don’t know what caused it.  Terrorists or the government.  My money is on the terrorists, they’ve been getting vocal again of late.  But if you need a lift, I have an extra seat in my truck cab.  Name’s Kenny by the way.”

     A wild-eyed drunk suddenly walked between the two, giving Al a lustful stare.  “Get out of here,” Kenny pushed the man away.  “Now how about that lift, beautiful?  I’m a lot friendlier than he is,” the truck driver said, nodding his head at the drunk who was still staring from a distance away.

     ‘What a horrible pick-up line,’ thought Al.  ‘I would never be caught dead using a line like that, especially on someone like Beth.’  Sighing, Al knew he had to make do with his current situation.  “A ride would be great, Kenny, since I don’t have any other options right now.  I’m heading for Stallion’s Gate area.”

     “Not going there directly,” Kenny said, “but my route takes me past it.  Fortunately, the travel ban doesn’t include rigs.  Gotta get shipments to people somehow, although the routine stops by the police have gotten tiresome already.  If you don’t mind, I’m ready to hit the road now.”

     “You read my mind, Kenny.  Lead on.”

     Kenny motioned for Al to follow him further down the street to a parking lot where the eighteen-wheeler was waiting.  “However, if you feel the passenger seat is too big for you, there’s always room on my lap while I drive.”



     An hour and a few random police stops later, the truck cruised down the highway, coming within sight of the side road that led to the project.  Kenny shifted gears to bring the vehicle to a stop.  “You all right, little darlin’?”

     Al’s mind, currently absorbed in trying to figure out what to do upon returning to the Project, brought him back to the present.  “I’m fine.  Why?”

     “You told me if I brushed your thigh one more time while shifting, you’d find a permanent home to put those gears.”

     “I still might do that.  Stop here, this is where I get off.”

     “Here?” Kenny questioned.  “In the middle of an empty highway road?”

     “Thanks for the ride,” Al said, flipping some money out of Alicia’s purse and opening the cab door.

     “I’d try to talk you out of this, but I think you’d follow through on some of your threats.  I thought no one else had a dirtier mind then me.” 

     “Take care of yourself, Kenny,” Al said as he closed the door and walked across the highway towards the side road.  Kenny’s truck slowly resumed its course down the highway, letting loose the horn before it faded out of sight.  Not knowing what to expect, Al walked up the side road that would take him to the front gate.

     After a few minutes of walking on the pavement and sand, Al found it more comfortable to wear the heels, blinking lights and all.  Even after some time like that, Al took his chances, breaking the heels off before putting the shoes back on. 

     As he eventually got within sight of the project, a ghastly sight filled his eyes.  Bodies were everywhere on the ground, no sign of any movement from them.  Al knew instantly they were dead.  From the looks of things, the dead bodies appeared to be civilians, and not from the project.  Bullet wounds, guns, rifles, and dried up blood were commonplace here.  The whole area looked like a war zone.

     At the other end of this sea of corpses were two vehicles.  One was a bullet ridden white van and the other…

     “Dom’s car!” Al gasped as he stepped around the dead to reach it.  The tires were all slashed, the windows broken in, and bullet holes covered it.  Walking around to the front of the vehicle, he saw three bodies by the back end of the white van.  Barely recognizable, it was obvious that two of them were Dom and Aurora, both tied up.  The Admiral’s years of combat experience told him that the third man lying there riddled with bullet holes was the one who held them captive.

     “What is this?” Al yelled to the heavens, suddenly overcome with the urge to throw up.  Running away, he reached the front gate of the project that led into a tunnel behind an electrified fence.  It wasn’t much better here as the bodies of marine guards were strewn about.  No longer able to fight it, Al began to throw up.

     When he was finished, he nearly jumped out of his skin as a hand reached down to help him stand up.  

     “Are you all right?” came a familiar voice.

     Refusing the hand, Al stood up to face the person standing before him.  His eyes widened as he saw who it was.  “Sam?” his shocked voice cried out.

     “Do I know you, Miss?” Sam Beckett asked.

     “Geez, Sam, it’s me, Al!”

     “Al?  But you’re a wo…”

     “That damn Bartender’s idea of a practical joke.”

     “You talked to the Bartender?”

     Al nodded.  “He leaped me here to find you.  Of all the nerve, you leap here as yourself and I have to be a woman.  If I see him again, I’m gonna kick that Bartender into next week.”

     “I’m glad you’re here anyway.”  With a big smile, Sam hugged his friend.  “You really smell good.  What perfume is that?”

     The Admiral stepped away at Sam’s joke and sighed as he noticed a frown on Sam’s face. 

     “Well?” wondered Al.

     “For some reason, it didn’t work.  I had assumed that by touching you, it would create a magnetic convergence field that would let me see you.  Since I’m here as myself, it must be because we are at different quantum states of existence.  I’m not exuding someone else’s aura.”

     “The bartender said something about quantum states.  What the hell does that mean?”

     “Hard to describe it.  It’s as if there are many levels of being.  After Garner died, his existence is now on a different level.  As a mortal, I’m here as myself, and you are under a woman’s aura.  It’s different for all three of us.”

     “I’m not even gonna try to understand this,” Al remarked.  “What’s important is that we are both here now.  We should be more worried about what we should do next.”

     “We can’t get in the front way,” stated Sam.  “I was in the middle of checking out the guard booth after I leaped in when I saw you approach.  Wasn’t sure who you were so I held back and waited.  Whatever incident happened here messed up the gate controls.  I think the electricity on the gate is shut off but it’s built to fit snuggly into the tunnel.  We can’t open it or squeeze around it, and none of the vehicles around here are capable of operating, so we can’t even ram it.  Are there any other entrances?”

     “One other that I can think of.  Do you remember the helicopter pad we installed in the project’s early days?”

     Sam’s mind was blank.  “I may be here as myself, but my memory is still Swissed-cheesed which surprises me.”

     “Right after you first leaped, we were scared as hell that something would happen to you.  We installed a helicopter pad mainly for medical reasons.  In case we had to med-evac you or the leapee to a hospital, we could bring in a chopper and fly someone out for emergency treatment.  Really haven’t had much need to use it.  It’s more of a contingency.  The only person who’s used it on a consistent basis is Hawkins.”

     “I remember him.  Last time I saw him he was shot.”

     “Hawkins is still alive, Sam, and more of a nozzle than ever.  One good thing about the future, he can’t monitor this discussion, the pompous ass.  If I ever see him again, I’ll tell him that to his face.”

     “What about that project of his?  Is it operational?”

     Al closed his eyes, trying to block out an image of four soldiers burning to death from the inside out.  “I don’t know.  Right before I saw you in the hospital, I had just come back from there.  They tried to test it, and it almost worked.  If the malfunction they have is corrected, it might be operational soon.”

     Sam scanned the skyline, seeing nothing but mountain and hilly terrain.  “Which way to the pad?”

     “Other side of the mountain, Sam.  It’s gonna be a bit of a hike.”

     “Think you can make it in those shoes, Al?  I can carry you.”

     “Stow it, Dr. Beckett,” the Admiral shot back.

     “Yes, sir,” Sam saluted.  “One thing though.  At least hike your shoulder straps up, you’re really falling out of that dress.”

     “That’s enough,” Al snapped.

     “I can’t help it.  The Bartender has put my best friend into the body of a goddess.”

     “I don’t believe it,” groaned Al.  “This is payback from that Samantha Stormer leap.  I lied before, Sam.  I’m gonna kick that Bartender into the next century.”



      Just over an hour later, the two time travelers made their way around the mountain to the helicopter-landing pad.  Both men were sweating profusely and Al looked like he was ready to collapse from exhaustion.  As the Admiral took a few moments to catch his breath, Sam headed for the door that led to the project’s interior.

     “Hold up, Sam,” Al wheezed.

     “What is it?”

     “We should have tripped the project’s security system a while back.  There’s no one here to greet us.  I have a bad feeling about this.”

     Sam approached the door.  “Nothing looks out of place.  The door doesn’t appear to be damaged.  There’s a security code panel next to it, but I don’t recognize it as any kind of security system I installed before I leaped out.”

     “It’s a new system we installed recently,” Al came over to join him.  “It’s based on thermal-scan technology.  Here, let me try.”  The Admiral put his hand on a slot in the panel, but nothing happened.  “Damn!” he hissed.

     “It senses the aura of the person you replaced,” commented Sam.  “I wonder…” Putting his own hand to the panel, the red lights on it blinked a few times, and then turned to green.  With a hiss, the door slid open.  “Figured I’d be in the system.”

     Not wasting any time, they both entered the project and found themselves in a corridor that stretched down in one direction to an elevator shaft.  Most of the hallway was in darkness, a few light bulbs sparked or buzzed.

     “Something blew out most of the power,” Sam observed.  “I had this project designed to initiate an auxiliary back-up power system in the event of a catastrophe.  Whatever happened here, it looks like even that power is almost gone.”

     They walked down the hallway and approached the elevator.  Al pressed a button and then chided himself.  “Idiot!  The thermal-scan technology applies to the elevator too.  Can’t have the leapees escaping the Waiting Room and heading into town again.”

     Sam pressed the button as well, but no effect.  “We’re gonna have to wedge the door open.”  With Al’s help, the two men grabbed the elevator door and tried to pry them apart. After much strenuous effort, they succeeded.  Beyond the doors, the elevator shaft stretched down into blackness.

     “Great,” Al commented.  “What now?”

     “If I remember the schematics of this place, there should be metal rungs along the elevator shaft.”  Reaching down inside the doorway, Sam’s hand groped around until it felt metal protruding from the wall.  “Found it!  We’ll have to climb down awhile until we reach the elevator car.”

     “I’m going first,” the Admiral declared.  “I’m not giving you a chance to look up my dress, morals present or not!”

     “After you, ma’am,” Sam moved aside.

     “Helluva time to have a sense of humor.”  Al skirted past his friend and lowered himself down into the elevator shaft.  A few seconds later, he began climbing down the metal rungs.  Moments later, Sam followed him many levels below until they were both standing on the car.

     On the opposite wall from the metal rungs, they both noticed light dimly coming through the wall in front of them.  Momentarily, they found that the outer doors had already been pried open.  A dim view greeted them as they stepped out of the elevator shaft into a hallway littered with debris and covered with soot.  All the doors appeared to be torn off their hinges and thrown about, some still barely attached to the walls.  Small fires still flickered in various locations.

     “My God,” Al coughed.

     “Let’s keep moving,” Sam suggested.  “We need answers and we can’t breathe this smoke forever.”

     “Sam, this is the living quarters floor.  We’re a level above the control room.”

     “We’ll search these rooms while we…” Another feeling of déjà vu overwhelmed Sam.

     “What is it?”

     “Just had the strangest feeling this project’s been destroyed before.  Everything seems different, but it’s happened before.  I can’t explain…”

     Al never let his friend complete the sentence as he ran down to a room at the end of the hallway and darted inside.

     Small fires burned in here as well as Al peered around the familiar living area.  “Beth?!” he screamed, coughing as he inhaled more smoke.  “Beth?”

     The room was in shambles, as if someone had gone through it recently.  Racing over broken pieces of furniture, he raced into the bedroom, which looked even worse than the previous room.  Clothes from the closet were thrown in all directions, the television set was smashed in, and the bed had collapsed.

“Beth? Oh dear God…” Walking into the bathroom, the Admiral stopped short.  Lying on the floor, he saw the unmoving body of his wife.  She was covered with severe burn marks and a pool of blood lie on the floor next to her.  Moving her gently, Al noticed Beth’s throat was sliced.  Crying uncontrollably, Al held his wife against him.  “God, I’m sorry Beth.  I should never have left you.”

     It seemed like an eternity until Sam entered, grief evident on his face.  “I’m sorry, Al.”

     “So am I,” the Admiral said, staring blankly ahead through his tears.  “Did you find anything?”

     “A few more dead bodies.  I think one of them was Tina.  There was another one I couldn’t make out at all, horribly burned.  A woman, I think.”

     “Did you recognize anyone else?”

     “No,” answered Sam.  “At least they didn’t seem personal to me, damn this memory.”

     Al lowered Beth to the floor and covered her with a bath towel.  “Rest in piece.”  He kissed his wife goodbye gently before covering her face.  “She was killed, Sam.  Someone killed her.”

     “Any connection with the incident outside?”

     The Admiral rose to his feet.  “No.  I remember Sammy Jo came running in to say Dom had been killed and that the protestors were shooting it out with the marines.  The front gate wasn’t opened and no sign of anyone coming in the way we did at the landing site.  The elevator doors to this level were already opened.  Someone else is here.”

     Picking up a few undamaged washcloths, he handed one to Al.  “Keep this over you face, it’ll reduce the smoke inhalation.”

     The Admiral nodded as he followed his friend out the door, looking back one last time at the body on the floor.  Then, he stepped away and looked around his bedroom.  “I’ll be damned if some bastard is gonna kill Albert Calavicci in a dress,” he said as he scooped up a slightly singed electric silver suit.  “I don’t care if it’s too big, I’m gonna die in style.”

     “We aren’t done yet, Al.  Both of us are here for a reason.”  Sam stepped back into the bathroom as Al changed out of the dress.  Other than the blood on the floor next to Beth’s body and the damage to the room, nothing else provided a clue as to what had happened.  As he started to leave, he noticed Beth’s arm sticking out from under the towel.  Moving her arm, he saw that a piece of paper, slightly soaked in blood, sat on the floor back by the tub.

     Picking it up, he read the contents of the note.  Anger surged through him as he absorbed the message.  Crumpling the paper, Sam stormed into the bedroom where Al was now dressed.  On Alicia’s aura, it was way oversized and would have looked comical.

     “Calavicci, you son of a bitch!” Sam roared.

     “Take it easy, Sam.  What the hell is wrong with you?”

     “This note!  It’s from Donna!  She’s here at the project.  I’m married, and you never told me.  That leap with Dr. Connors recently when I saw my younger self wearing a wedding ring.  I asked you if I was married, and you said no.  You lied!”

     “I couldn’t tell you, Sam,” Al said, guilt lying heavy in his heart.

     “Oh, yeah?  You couldn’t tell me?  Is that the same reason why you couldn’t tell me that my mother is dying.  This note from my wife says that she took my son Stephen…my son!  She took him to see my mother at the hospital in Los Angeles.  It also says there’s been no contact from my brother Tom in Washington D.C.!”

     “It’s most likely that Tom was killed in the catastrophe,” exhaled the Admiral.  “As for your mother, I couldn’t let you go through the same thing you did with your father…”

     “That’s enough, Al.  I trusted you all these years, and this is how you repay me!  Get out of my way!” Sam brushed past the Admiral, leaving him to stand there in anguish, and headed back down the hallway to the elevator.  Standing on the roof of the car, he felt around until he triggered the emergency hatch.  It popped open, providing a decent sized hole for the leaper to climb down into.  After landing inside the elevator, he discovered that the doors leading outward were pried open here as well.

     Stepping out, Sam realized he was entering the Control Room.  The area was the most heavily damaged place that Sam had seen so far.  The control console was missing its top panel as pieces of machinery were scattered about.  Hearing a crunching sound, he looked down to see he was trampling over blue colored glass.  With a cry of despair, he looked up and saw that only a black charred mark with fused wires dangling from the ceiling was all that was left of Ziggy.

     Wiping tears from his face, he stumbled around the room trying to see what he could access.  None of the other doors would open.  The Imaging Chamber, Waiting Room, and Accelerator Chamber refused his thermal-scan identification, the red lights on the panels were barely noticeable, all power supplied to them was dying.  Sam could only imagine that Dr. Beeks and Alicia in Al’s aura were both probably running out of oxygen or were already dead inside the Waiting Room.  Pounding on the doors, he got no answer.

     “Where do I go from here?” Sam asked the ceiling.  “I’ve checked everything,” he said, looking around, “or have I?”

     In the corner of the Control Room farthest away from everything else, there was a large hole in the floor.  Peering down into darkness, Sam was barely able to see that office furniture was stacked beneath to form a makeshift ladder, the top of which was a gutted bookshelf on top of a desk that was braced against the edge of the hole.  It didn’t look very sturdy, but Sam decided to find out what was down there.  Holding his breath, he descended.

     Going down the bookcase for a short while, he let go and jumped down to the desk, which turned out to be a smaller one perched on top of a much larger one that he recognized as his own.  Hopping to the floor, he peered around.  The damage was extensive here as well.  Doors were blown off the walls, and the hallway he was in was littered with the scattered clutter that had once occupied the drawers of the desks.  Apparently, whoever had moved the desks had emptied out the contents to make them less heavy.  Soon, the reason for the ladder became clear as well.  The elevator doorway was blocked under debris from the roof above.  A closer inspection of the floor area revealed drops of blood trailing down to the end of the corridor.

     Al’s office was closest and it was a mess.  Small fires were in here too, and the place was completely ransacked, as most of the furniture was used for the ladder.  Moving down to his office, Sam peered in to see that it was in identical shape.  Heading down to the office at the far end of the hall, his foot scuffled against something.

     Reaching down, Sam picked up a small, burnt keepsake box and opened it, nearly dropping it as he saw what was inside.  A gold wedding ring was nestled inside, undamaged.  Prying it out, Sam slipped it on his finger.  “How could I leave so precious a thing behind when I first leaped?” he queried as he continued down the hallway to the last office his memory told him that was once Gooshie’s.

     Inside, Sam could see numerous pieces of destroyed computer equipment everywhere.  Dried blood splotches dotted the rear wall behind the main desk.  As Sam moved the desk aside, he discovered a man’s body in a military uniform lying in blood, various computer fragments protruding from wounds in his arms, legs, and chest, a large gash evident across the pale skin of his forehead.  Trying to move him, the leaper was shocked when the man uttered a low groan, drops of blood leaked from his mouth.

     “He’s still alive!” Sam whispered.

     “It’s General Hawkins,” came Al’s voice from the doorway.




May 12th, 2006

Project Quantum Leap

Stallion’s Gate, New Mexico

5:49 PM


     “You!” snarled Sam as he shook the General by the shoulders and pulled him up to a sitting position.  “It’s all your fault.  This whole catastrophe is your fault!”

     “Take it easy, Sam,” snapped the Admiral.  “What the hell has gotten into you?”

     Seeing that the General’s eyes were not clearly focused, Sam let him go.  Hawkins slumped with his back against the wall, obviously in pain. 

     “You have the nerve to ask me that question?” growled Sam, a venomous look in his eyes.  “That psychic from my last leap warned me that Hawkins would start the catastrophe, that Washington D.C. would be in flames.”  He turned to the General and shook him again.  “You’d better tell me what you know, now!

     Al moved forward and pried the leaper’s hands away.  “That’s enough, Sam!  Back away from the General.”

     With some of the anger subsiding, Sam moved back.  “Just remember, Al, you’re only here right now because I need you.  Once I figure out why I’m here and how I’m supposed to change the past, you won’t be needed as my Observer any more.”

     The Admiral, in disbelief over Sam’s words, could feel his friend’s eyes glare at him in hatred, but tried to ignore them as he turned to the injured military officer.  “General,” Al said, gently slapping Hawkins’ face.  “Can you hear me?”

     After a few attempts, Hawkins came around.  “Yes, I can understand you, but I cannot see.  Who are you?” he groaned softly.  “The pain is lessening.  Either I’m not as bad off as I thought or death is coming for me.”

     “Look,” Al pressed, “I don’t have a lot of time.  Dr. Beckett is with me.  You’ve got to tell us what happened?  How did the Project get destroyed?”

     “Beckett?  You’ve come home?”  Hawkins seemed to look right through Al as he began to explain in a slow, painful manner filled with short gasps of air.  “It happened after test phase of Liberty Project.  There was a malfunction, glitch in Omega.  Four soldiers died horribly.  Calavicci left too quickly.  Woman wanted to return to Project Quantum Leap with him.  It was too late, Admiral already took first flight back.”

     “Woman? What woman?” Al demanded.

     “Blonde woman from project.  Admiral’s early departure changed her plans.  Hour after he left, woman entered my office.  She drugged me, made me answer questions about this place.  Kept asking me about Ziggy.  She made me leave project with her.  Waited a while at airport, took next flight for New Mexico.  Something happened during flight because plane landed unexpectedly right after takeoff.”

     “The explosion,” Al supplied.

     Hawkins nodded, his eyes vacant.  “Plane was ordered to land, travel ban imposed.  Woman drugged me again, then she stole a car at airport.  She drove forever, took much longer to reach the Project.  When we arrived, dead bodies everywhere.  Made me take her inside front gate.  Used my handprint to enter, then destroyed guard booth.  Drugged me some more, and then made me take her to Control Room.  No one there would tell me where Calavicci went.”

     “Why did she want to go to the Control Room?”

     “She brought special interface,” Hawkins explained, holding up the still intact piece of technology, tiny lights blinked all around it. “Wanted to control Ziggy, then connect online to Omega, link them together.  Interface was about to be connected when drugs wore off.  Due to longer trip, she ran out of drug to control me, though she didn’t know it.  Fought back only way I knew how.”  A coughing spell overcame the General as Al and Sam waited for the rest of the story.  “Explained to her that interface would work better on my computer.  Told her I had special link with Ziggy, much better to install interface into that.  Didn’t tell her that if my link with Ziggy became improperly disconnected, it would destroy project.  Before woman knew what happened, I terminated the link, which caused overload with Ziggy.”

     “You destroyed my project?” yelled Sam, putting a hand to his forehead as if he had experienced a massive headache.

     “No choice.  Woman was responsible for corrupting Omega.  She wanted control of this facility.  I denied her Ziggy.  When I ordered my personal computer linked with Ziggy months ago, had technicians give me option of level of explosion in event of takeover or siege, my own self-destruct option.”

     “Getting back to the explosion in D.C., what caused it?” inquired Al.

     Hawkins coughed up some blood before answering, “Don’t know, happened after I left.  Think it might be connected to Omega.  It’s tied in to reactor and energy collector under mountains.  Unless terrorist plot happened, reactor and collector only way a nuclear explosion possible.”

     “What about the woman?” Sam urged.  “Who was it?”

     “Drugs still cloud parts of memory.  Can’t remember name.  She survived Ziggy’s link from my computer being terminated.  Badly injured, flames grabbed her face.  Badly burned and unrecognizable, she went mad, limped off to die somewhere.  Serves her right after she hurt people out in hallway before I led woman here.”

     The leaper pushed Al out of the way and violently shook the General again.  “Damn your memory.  Tell me who it is!  What did she do in the hallway?!!”

     The Admiral slapped Sam in the face and shoved him back off the General.  “You wanna get mad at someone.  Get mad at me!  I knew about your mother and I purposely held back the truth from you.”  He looked back at the General, whose life signs were growing faint, as breathing became a labored endeavor. 

     Hawkins looked up through sightless eyes.  “Tell Admiral…experienced lapses in time…could not explain…”  With a gasp, his head rolled over to its side, eyes blindly staring ahead into whatever waited for the deceased.

     “What did he mean by that?” Sam demanded.

     “It’s too late to get an answer now.  The pompous ass is dead,” the Admiral said to Hawkins’ face.  “The General had experienced lapses in time he couldn’t explain?  That could only mean one thing: someone had leaped into Hawkins at some point in the past!  It might have been Connors.  Then again, it could be something else we haven’t thought of.  With Hawkins dead, we’ll never know.”

     Sam looked over at the late General.  He was now slumped over and his eyes had rolled back.  “Good job, Al.  Because you stopped me, we lost our source of information.”

     “I got news for you, pal, that bitch killed Beth.  The woman we’re looking for is named…umm…named…damn, I can’t remember either, but there was a blonde woman working at Hawkins’ project, and she was so damn familiar to me.”

     “I’ve had enough,” Sam turned to leave.  “It’s a dead end here.  As soon as I crawl out of this hole, I’m going to see my mother before she dies.  Have a good life, Al,” he added crossly.

     “You’re not gonna thank me?” the Admiral yelled after him. 

     “Thank you?  For what?”

     “That was why I was sent here, it all makes sense,” Al uttered softly.

     “I could have handled this without your help.”

     “No, you wouldn’t have,” Al objected.  “If the bartender refused to send me here, you would have killed Hawkins before you got one word out of him.  I was here to make sure we got the information we needed.”  Sam scoffed and started to climb up the bookcase ladder to the Control Room.  “And now I understand why Alberto originally didn’t want me here.  He knew there’d be a chance that you’d find out about Donna and your mother.  He knew that you’d get angry at me.  Something’s happened to you, Sam.  This anger isn’t you.  I don’t know what caused it, but it’s not in your nature.  Whatever is responsible is why the bartender went against his better judgment and sent me here to find you.  Deep down, he wanted me to see the change in you.  When he said to help you, it wasn’t about this leap, it was about you personally.”

     Sam stopped climbing and jumped back down to the floor.  “Listen,” he cautioned, “I know enough to go back a week to D.C. and stop this, so I don’t need you.  In fact, I don’t need this project anymore.  I can leap anywhere, anytime, as myself now.  After all this is changed, I’m gonna leap myself home and live my life with my family, without you!”

     “Why don’t you then, Sam?  In fact, just leave me here in case that scarred woman is still around, mad enough to kill me.”

     “This conversation is over.  I have nothing else to say to you,” Sam announced coldly as he closed his eyes and tried to will himself to leap.  For several seconds, he stood there waiting.

     “As you were saying,” needled the Admiral.

     “Dammit,” Sam retorted hotly, “why can’t I…”  The leaper’s voice trailed off as he noticed something in the rubble by the damaged elevator doors.  A silver picture frame seemed to be sticking out of it, and attached to the frame was a small human hand.  Without a word to Al, Sam quickly cleared off the rubble and pulled a small limp form up from the floor.

     “Is this Stephen?!” cried Sam, holding his son in his arms as he weeped.  “My god, he looks just like me.”

     Meanwhile, Al finished discarding pieces of wreckage aside until he pulled another body out.  “Damn,” the Admiral sobbed as he put a finger to Donna’s bloodied throat and found no pulse.  “Sam, I’m sorry.  Donna didn’t make it.  Looks like she took a massive blow to the head.  How’s Stephen?”

     Sam ignored Al, shedding tears through tightly closed eyes over his now deceased wife, and then stared at the son he had never really known.  “Why?”  He yelled up to the ceiling.  “Why send me here to find this?  My family dead, everything in my life destroyed?”

     As the leaper shifted his son’s body to lie him on the floor, Stephen’s hand lost his grip on the silver picture frame and it fell to the floor, the glass in the frame was severely cracked down the middle between the images of Al and Sam in the photo.  Looking his son over, Sam noticed blood coming from near the top of Stephen’s skull as he checked for signs of life.  “Pulse is faint.  He’s alive!”

     “Both of them show signs of severe head trauma,” observed Al as he came over.  “Probably from the debris falling on them.”

     “It wasn’t the debris,” Sam said icily.  “It was her.  Hawkins said she hurt some people in the hallway before he pulled Ziggy’s plug.  If it’s the last thing I do, I’m gonna get that woman.”

     “Get in line, pal.  She killed Beth too.”

     “You can have her when I am finished,” Sam shot back.  “I don’t give a damn about your problems after the way you hurt me.”  He turned back to his son, stroked his hair, and cried again.  “Dammit.  I finally get to see you and you can’t hear me.  So many things I want to say and I don’t know where to begin. All I can say is I’m sorry I wasn’t here.  I’m sorry I was never here.”

     “Sam, we need to get him to a hospital.”

     “How do we do that, Al?  No phones, no electricity.  I don’t think we can move him too far.  Even if we get him to the surface and find a working car, it’s too far a drive.  Assuming there is a hospital still intact somewhere, he needs to be flown by helicopter and there’s no way that can happen now.  Besides, even if he makes it to a doctor, the trauma is so severe that chances are high that he’ll be maimed or paralyzed for the rest of his life.”

     “At least he’ll live, Sam.  We have to try.  I’ve never seen you give up like this.”

     “What kind of life is that to suffer?  Not in this world, this reality, I can’t accept that.”  Sam shook his head.  “No, I have to stop all this.  The catastrophe is the key.  Prevent that, and Donna lives and Stephen will be all right.  I can save them.  I can save everything.”

     The sound of heavy breathing made Sam and Al look down at the child.  For a brief moment, Stephen’s eyes slowly opened and a slow smile etched across his face as he whispered, “…father…Al…I’m safe now…” Just as quickly, the eyelids shut and Stephen returned to unconsciousness. 

     Sam’s face twitched as fierce anger overtook him.  Standing up, he pumped his fists upward and screamed will all of his might towards the heavens.  “Bartender??!! You finally send me home as myself only to find the home I know is destroyed.  Why?  WHY??!!!”   His yell was so intense that even Al backed away a step in fear.

     “If you’re finished, what are we gonna do now, Sam?”

     The leaper whirled around to face Al.  We?!  I don’t need you!  I’m leaping out of here.  Do what you want, I don’t give a damn.  That woman will be found and she is going to pay, even if I have to kill…”

     “Would you listen to yourself, Sam?”

     Anger coursing through his veins, Sam whirled on Al, his eyes burning with hatred as he raised a fist to strike the Admiral.  But it wasn’t Al he was seeing before him as his fought to keep his vision from blurring.  It was a blonde woman, and somewhere deep down a part of him knew it was wrong to strike her.  As some of the anger lessened, Sam brought his fist down to his side.

     “You won’t hit me because I look like a woman?” Al asked.  “Is that why the Bartender did this to me?”

     Before the question was answered, Sam leaped out in a blaze of blue light.  Falling to the floor was a gold wedding ring.  It landed on the photo in the picture frame lying on the floor and circled around numerous times before coming to a stop on the cracked glass that separated Al and Sam’s images like a dagger.

     “I’m all alone with the Morlocks,” Al muttered in disgust as the blue energy that was once Sam Beckett dissipated.  Looking down, he noticed that he was holding on to the piece of technology that the blonde woman had tried to connect to Ziggy.  With a strong throw, he hurled it into the bookcase ladder where it shattered with a loud squawk.  Before all the pieces hit the floor, Al Calavicci leaped out, leaving a very confused Alicia in his place in a destroyed hallway looking down at an unconscious child and a dead woman.



Al’s Place

Time and Date - Unknown


     He was back again, standing outside in the blue fog, staring at the front door of the establishment.  Somehow he had been pulled here.  In his mind, he knew that he had been angry, but now back at Al’s Place, the strong bitter feelings he had experienced seemed to diminish greatly, as if a switch had been thrown.  But not all of it was gone.  Some hint of resentment was aimed at his friend Al, something that deeply bothered him.

     It felt strange being back here so soon, knowing that he had to go back in time and prevent a horrible tragedy from happening.  He had tried to leap himself out and had failed, only to wind up at this door.  Believing that Fate brought him here for a purpose, Sam turned the doorknob and walked in.  The door jingled behind him as it closed.

     As before, the place was empty of customers.  The strange eerie quiet seemed commonplace now.  Only the sound of faint humming could be heard, coming from the bar.

     “Anyone here?” Sam shouted.

     Alberto poked his head up from behind the bar.  “Not so loud,” he quieted the leaper.  “I take it you found what you needed?”

     “For the most part,” Sam pulled up a stool and sat down.  “This isn’t where I wanted to be though.”

     “I’ll try not to take that too personally, Sam,” the bartender responded, wiping down the counter.  “After all, I got four stars from AAA last month.”

     “Congratulations,” the leaper acknowledged. 


     “Somehow, I don’t think I returned here to dole out platitudes.  You brought me here,” Sam accused.

     “Perhaps.  Consider this a pit stop before reaching the final destination.  You look like you needed a time out.”

     “I thought that I had the ability to leap myself wherever I chose, like I did for Beth once.”

     “You do, Sam.  You just have to will it.”

     “Why couldn’t I leave the future?”

     “In simplest terms, it’s your doubts and fears, Sam.  They stopped you.  Don’t you remember? Alexander once said that it was all up in your head.  He was right, you know.”

     “But what causes these fears and doubts?”

     “Inability to handle emotions when it comes to loved ones possibly.  Whether it’s your brother, sister, father, or even a mother or wife maybe.  Perhaps it’s something else.”

     “No, that’s it exactly,” Sam said hotly.

     “Somehow I believe your anger is directed at someone else, other than me.”

     “Besides you, I’m mad at Al.”

     “Why is that?” the bartender said without any hint of surprise.

     “Come on, don’t you already know?”

     “Enlighten me, Sam.”

     “Because he betrayed my trust.”

     “I wouldn’t get too mad, Sam.  After all, you still need him.”

     Sam’s eyes narrowed.  “Come again?”

     “Al is the only one who might be able to figure out who is responsible for the disasters in D.C. and at Project Quantum Leap.  You need him.”

     The leaper sighed.  “Even if I need him, like you say, he was left behind when I leaped.”

     “Actually, Al is back one week in time at the project.  He leaped back into himself, the moment right after you and Alexander left him behind at the hospital in Plainfield, New Jersey.  In Al’s mind, it’s as though he never left to come here, although he most likely will retain the knowledge of everything that happened in the alternate reality.”

     “You’ve allowed him to remember.”

     Alberto smiled.  “I did.  Besides if you accomplish your task and change the past, a lot of things will be forgotten.”

     “Then why don’t you let me remember important things when I leap?  Like my wife or my mother?”

     “The same reason that Al refused to tell you.  Whether your anger for him is permanent or not, we both hold the same belief that you would not be able to function on your leaps knowing what you have left behind.  Your friend did you a favor.”

     “Did he?” Sam mused.  “I was taken from the future before I could say goodbye to my mother.”

     “It was too late, Sam.  You leaped out of the future the instant she died.  I’m sorry.”

     Tears filled Sam’s eyes, blinding him.  As he wiped them away, a startling image appeared in the mirror behind the bar.  The reflection showed his mother and father as they each would have appeared before the day they died.  Whirling around, Sam turned to find that they now appeared the same way he remembered them when he had leaped into himself as a teenager in Elk Ridge, Indiana back in 1969.

     “Mom?!”  The leaper rushed into his mother’s arms as she embraced him warmly.  “Is this really you?” he cried.

     Thelma Louise Beckett, who looked to be of middle age, released her son and took a step back to see him.  “Of course it’s me, Sam.”

     More tears flowed down Sam’s face.  “I never thought I’d get a chance to say goodbye to you.”

     Mrs. Beckett wiped a tear away with her finger.  “Don’t you agree that it’s better this way?  Would you rather see me now, knowing that I am at peace in a better place, or watch me suffer as I waste away in a hospital room with no trace of dignity left.  I want you to remember me as I am now and not as some invalid to feel sorry for.”

     “If I can remember you,” Sam said, looking at the bartender.

     “Someday, you might be ready to handle your memories on your leaps, or you might just leap home for good,” countered Alberto.

     “You told me that before.  That I can go home whenever I wish.  A part of me still doubts that.”

     “Son,” John Beckett stepped forward.  “No matter what happens, you are doing these leaps for a reason.  Your mother and I want you to know that we will be watching you, even if you forget us.  Above all else, we are both very proud of you, and always will be.”

     “Same here,” came a few familiar voices.

     Facing a different mirror than the one behind the bar, Sam could now see the images of Gooshie, Alia, and Dr. Garner as they had appeared later in life just shortly before their deaths.  Turning to face them, they appeared now as they had earlier in life.  Gooshie looked like he had stepped out of Star Bright, Alia looked like the young leaper he had encountered as Jimmy, and Dr. Garner looked the way Sam remembered him back in 1959.

     “We have always been watching you, Sam Beckett,” said the bartender.  “Even on your first leap,” he said, hitting the side of his head as if he a metal plate in it.  “My middle name is Ernie.  Weird coincidence, isn’t it?”

     “You were with me from the beginning?”

     “You said so yourself, Sam,” said Alberto.  “You’re a variation of our rules.  We had to make sure you were trustworthy enough to finish your leaps, hoping that one day you’d realize you could go beyond your project and do so much more.  Somehow, you once touched into the area of your brain that made you forget your fears and doubts.”

     “When I helped the miners in Cokesburg on the exact day I was born.”

     The bartender smiled.  “You made it here somehow on your own.  That day, I assumed you were ready to understand more.  Leaving here to tell Beth that Al was coming home showed that you appeared to be ready.  Somehow, the doubts and fears returned, and I feel that it is my fault.”

     The leaper’s face went blank.  “I don’t understand.”

     “When we first grabbed you, we took away memories that would hinder you because it was determined that you could not complete your missions with them.  Doing so left a seed behind.  It created the fears and doubts that prohibit you from advancing to the next level of leaping.  Even if I remove that seed, the imprint remains.  Those fears and doubts are etched into your subconscious.  During your astral projection sessions, you almost found the key, but as soon as your thoughts strayed to the people in your life, you could not overcome that.  Until you learn to control this, those doubts and fears will remain.  In truth, you can go home when you wish, but only after you vanquish the demons inside yourself.  It’s also quite possible that your problem will cause you to lose the ability to astral project again or demonstrate any other mental abilities your brain is capable of; these things may never happen again.”

     “That’s not fair.  I’ve done all you’ve asked of me over the years,” Sam complained.

     “But you have more to do,” Garner said.  “You have to stop the catastrophe before you can worry about going home again.”

     “We wish you success, Sam,” added Alia, who came up to give Sam a hug.

     “A pleasure to see you again, Dr. Beckett,” Gooshie chimed in, shaking his hand.  “As much as I like heaven, I do miss old friends.”

     “I’m leaving now?” questioned the leaper in surprise.

     “I’m afraid this limbo state cannot be maintained much longer,” Alberto informed the leaper.  “We’ve been using this reality quite too often of late and it is taking a toll.”

     Sam rushed over to his mother and hugged her once more.  “Goodbye, mom.  I love you,” he sniffed.  “Dammit, I wish I had more time with you and dad, but these leaps…I am always at the mercy of someone else’s agenda.  It’s not fair!  When do I get my turn to do something for myself?  I’ve put the lives of people I’ve never met, before my own, so many times that I think I deserve something.  But I can’t, because I’m not allowed to be selfish.  It’s just not fair…”

     “We will see each other again,” Thelma Louise smiled.  “I love you, too, Sam.  Now go, your brother needs you.”

     “Dad, I love you.”  Sam wrapped his arms around his father. "I can't belive you're real this time."

     “Make us proud, son.”

     Sam looked around and said goodbye to everyone, tears rolling down his face again.  “I’ll try to remember you all.”

     “Through all the leaps that you have endured,” the bartender patted Sam’s arm, “there is no way that you could come out of this without having changed to some degree.  Who knows?  Perhaps someday, if you wish to feel different than people expect of you, then act in a completely different way.  Be selfish if it makes you feel better.  Should you choose that path, you’ll be reminded why it’s against your nature, just like this anger you’ve been exhibiting lately.  Figure out the cause of that dark emotion in yourself and you just might be rewarded; maybe even return home.  You’re only human after all; you don’t have to be perfect every minute of your life.  Despite living other peoples’ lives, you have to find a way to live your own as well.  Find some time on one of your leaps to just look around and enjoy where you are with the people you’re with.”

     Sam wiped the tears from his face.  “I think I just have.”

     “Try it again another time, Sam.  Take care and God bless,” waved Alberto as Sam vanished in quantum energy before he could make a response.

Somewhere in Time


He felt at peace.  It had been some time since the Quantum Physicist had felt the serene calmness as he was held within the blue-white chasm that always took care of him.  As he floated in the midst of the abyss, Dr. Sam Beckett thought of his parents and even as he did so, he could feel a smile spread across his face.  Suddenly though, his mind went back to the cataclysmic destruction of Hope Springs, Virginia and how it affected not only his project, but his family as well.

“How am I going to do this?” he asked the void as his words began to echo around him ominously.

The question wasn’t answered, though he began to feel the blue-white electrical pull begin to tingle at his extremities, moving toward his abdomen where it usually grabbed him, physically moving him in Time.

“Please…” he begged the empty space as he felt the energy continuing to build.  “Let me fix this… not like… not like Marilyn Hicks.  Please…”

         Without an answer, the force of the warm, tingling, pulsating electrical current began to wrap around him.  It was in that last moment that Sam spoke up as his mind enveloped what not only the enigmatic bartender was telling him as well as what his failed leap had taught him.  “I understand why I couldn’t save her,” he said quickly and felt the impulse ebb slightly from completely engulfing him.  “I’ve never accepted that suicide was a way out… but I… I had to understand how she felt.  I had to know what it was like to be that desperate… and he’s right too.  I’ll… stop and smell the roses and….” Sam wasn’t able to finish his thought as the electrical blue-white light caught him completely unaware and whisked him toward another point in the timeline.




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