VIRTUAL SEASONS EPISODES
the blue light after the previous leap, Sam found he seemed more aware than
ever before. Usually, he would
just realize that he was “floating” in a blue haze, and occasionally
would even be able to remember things that normally were casualties of the
Swiss-cheese effect during his leaps. Usually,
the blue haze seemed like a nice long soak in a hot tub more than anything
else. Soak, get the kinks out,
and prepare for the next big game. No
matter how badly beaten he was after a leap, he would find himself in
excellent physical health when he left.
time was different. Sam still
felt calm and relaxed, but the memory of those recent “inter-point”
locations was nagging at his brain. He
remembered a leap not far back in which he’d come in out the “rain”
dry and had met a woman named Merry. It
was after that experience that Sam had leaped home for awhile.
Seeing Donna again, the memory tugged at his heart.
She was his wife, the love of his life, his soul mate—his beautiful
Dulcinea. He again felt the
pangs of guilt, knowing that his leaving her again and again had to be a
living hell for her. After all,
it was he that during an early leap had changed history, which led to their
marriage. If not for—OH GOD,
YES, Stephen—his son. The boy
was the anchor that held Donna to their marriage for the many years he had
said a silent thank you of gratitude to GFTW that he had been allowed to
visit the project as a younger version of himself right before he leaped the
first time. Stephen had been a
result of that leap. There had
been several leaps; Sam remembered now, where he’d gotten the chance to
spend a little time with Stephen and to realize what an incredible child
they had created between them. Sam
had certainly been a prodigy as a child, but he had also grown up on a
working farm. Most of his
extreme intelligence had been focused on learning things, but not yet
was that time though; he remembered it now like it was yesterday how he took
the tractor apart when he was ten years old.
His father just about had kittens when he walked into the barn and
saw all the parts of the tractor spread about.
John Beckett was afraid he was going to have to buy another one and
the farm profits just weren’t going to allow that.
Sam remembered how he’d convinced his dad that he’d have it back
together later that week and promised it would run better than it had
before. John had held his
tongue at that point. He knew
that Sam was smart, but rebuilding the tractor?
Still he’d said that was fine.
He didn’t really require the use of it that week, but he would need
the tractor after that.
had spent the next five days working on the mechanics of the tractor,
cleaning the parts, and had even asked Tom to create some new parts he’d
designed in the shop class at the local Jr. High school Tom was attending.
He’d given Tom the blueprints he’d worked up and then continued
on, adjusting the tractor and knowing that Tom would come through for him.
By Friday of that week, the tractor was good as new.
No, it was better than new. Sam
had figured out a way to improve the fuel efficiency twenty percent and had
also tweaked the other operational parameters of the tractor. Although fuel costs in 1963 were still reasonable, ten years
later, his modifications had helped to keep the farm in the family a few
years longer than it otherwise would have.
That day in 1963, though, John Beckett had again said the words that
Sam most craved, “Son, I’m proud of you.”
had gotten the chance to spend some quality time with Stephen on that last
leap home. Unlike Sam, who had
only had limited opportunities to apply his intellectual skills on the farm,
Stephen had the perfect opportunity to use his mind in what had become his
playground—Project Quantum Leap. He’d
been able to create a way for Ziggy to actually appear in the Imaging
Chamber, and even had created enhancements, which brought Ziggy closer to
being ‘human’ than Sam had ever thought possible.
a moment Sam felt another twinge, this time of jealousy.
After all, it was Al, his best friend, his constant leaping
companion, his Sancho that was getting to watch over his son as he grew up.
It was Al, who got to fill the shoes on a daily basis that Sam so
wanted to live in—to be the male role model for Stephen.
Sam himself was more like the ‘non-custodial’ parent in a
divorce, only getting to see and interact with his son as visitations were
allowed. He had to admit, however, that Al was doing a pretty good job
in his absence. The jealousy
faded and turned into gratitude that he had such a good and loyal friend.
knew, of course, that he had to thank Donna even more than Al for the
wonderful son that he’d gotten to know during that last leap home.
She had stayed at the Project, raising Stephen, being his link to his
mother and siblings, and—again he felt a twinge of guilt—continuing to
pursue HIS dream when he knew she was a great physicist in her own right.
Had she continued to follow her own research these last ten years?
He hoped so.
clear were these thoughts that an idea came to him. ‘I wonder if there is more to this blue haze than meets the eye,
well figuratively speaking since I’m
not really corporal at the moment. Is
there a way to interact differently in this space? He sure had felt “whole” when he’d visited Merry’s
house and those times in Al’s Place.
Indeed, he thought he’d leaped into those spaces.
What was it Merry had said?
“Call it the space between the moments, if you will—something
that both exists, and yet at the same time, does not. Sometimes the spaces
are bigger than others, and sometimes there are havens in the larger
since he was in-between leaps, then maybe he could find one of those havens.
Maybe even learn how to get (dare he think it) home. Sam closed his figurative eyes again, focusing in his mind on
a single spot in front of him and felt something happening. He tried to put words to it and then it came to him—Fractal
Time! It was like having a view
high up and then drilling deeper to where you saw the details, like a
fractal pattern. The paradox
that things became larger as you drilled down into the details opened the
haze and he saw a downtown street lit by streetlamps.
Seemingly meeting the earth, Sam started walking down the street,
towards what—he was not sure. He
came to a crossroads and wondered which road to take. On one of the corners, the lights of a coffee shop were lit
‘Guess I’ll check that place out,’ he thought. He
walked across the street and into the shop.
around, the familiar words that had become Sam’s trademark left his lips.
coffee shop was similar to that one he’d visited in 1993 when he’d been
in Seattle on Project business. Why
this place in an ‘inter-point space’ brought back that memory so sharply
was a mystery to him. He stayed
with it though feeling nostalgia for that time in his life before the
leaping began, back when he and Al were engaged in trying to make Quantum
Leap a reality.
remembered there had been some time to kill before the flight back to New
Mexico. He’d figured that a
cup of coffee was what he needed to think over those issues that were
presenting a roadblock towards his dream.
Although he’d known that Starbucks was the leading coffee house in
Seattle, he had just wanted to find something off the beaten path. He had found a small place that looked comfortable and walked
into the Café Nervosa.
had liked the place right from the start.
The walls of the shop were lined with books, giving the place a homey
feel, almost like you’d walked into someone’s personal library.
The place had been a bit crowded and the only space available had
been next to two men arguing about a point of contention.
Sam wasn’t an eavesdropper, but he had overheard their
assure you that Jungian psychology more than adequately addresses that
point. I am using a form of
therapy with my group that he recommended and I’m getting excellent
results. You just don’t like
the concept of a collective unconscious,” the first man was saying.
second gentleman had been equally as adamant, “No, I tend to follow
Freud’s analysis pattern myself. It
is obvious to the most casual observer that the ‘talking cure’ is still
utilized today by many of the best in the field.
Why would that be so if the therapy didn’t have merit?”
I can say is mother appreciated both Jung and Freud. She certainly was proud of both of us following in her
distinguished footsteps,” the first gentleman stated, which seemed to
satisfy both of them. “I
really must be going, now. I
have an appointment at 3:30 and it’s almost three o’clock now.”
Let me walk you out.” The
two men got up and walked out of the coffee shop.
remembered his reaction clearly. ‘They
must be psychiatrists. Hearing
this much disagreement over what form of therapy is best makes me glad I
didn’t go that direction after obtaining my medical license.
Of course, I respect the field.
Wouldn’t have Verbena on my project if I didn’t.’
was his friend and he missed her. Whenever
there had been an issue that had been causing him stress or difficulty,
he’d found her ability to listen and ask questions invaluable.
She had a knack for helping him find his own answers.
He’d asked her to join the team at Project Quantum Leap and
thankfully, she had accepted. ‘I
sure wish I could talk to her now. Recently
leaping has become so hard. I
just don’t seem to be able to function like I did before.’
recent leap had helped him realize that God indeed cared about him and for
that he was grateful. He still,
however, was trying to come to grips with the feelings that seemed to
overwhelm him at times. He
still wanted answers and they just didn’t seem to be available.
As he looked around he saw a skinny, kid behind the counter washing out simple, white, extra large coffee mugs. Seated at the table was a well-dressed beautiful older woman. As she sipped her coffee and read a book, Sam couldn’t help but applying the term “well-bred” to her. She looked up, put down her book, and said, “Sam, I’ve been expecting you. Would you like to sit here with me?”
by this point understood this coffee shop was one of those “inter-point”
havens. He looked at the name
on the board behind the counter “Timed Perks” and contemplated the name.
Was this something, which he had found due to his Fractal Time search
with his mind, or was it just the right time for the one leaping him to lead
him to this place? Either way,
he was sure that any answers that he might find here were likely to be more
confusing that the questions themselves.
thought back to a musical movie that had been panned by the critics back in
1973--Lost Horizon. A friend
telling him that he needed to get his head out of a book and just go
somewhere mindless for a while had pulled him along to the movie.
There was one song that had always stuck in Sam’s head called,
“Answer Me a Question.” “Answer
me a question bright and clear, I will question with an answer clear and
bright, even though your answer may be wrong my question will be right.”
had always known how to ask the right questions. It was the answers that sometimes caused some difficulties.
walked over to the table and sat down next to the woman.
“Do I know you?” asked Sam.
we’ve never met. However, I
have been expecting you.”
knew I was coming here?”
the Bartender told me you’d be arriving soon.
My name is Esther.”
a coffee-shop? Why not Al’s
like a nice coffee shop. It’s
quiet and it’s a great place to read or chat if the right person comes
along. I’ve never been a fan
of the bar scene. Although
Al’s Place is about the coziest I’ve ever seen.
Would you like a cup of coffee?”
that would be nice—uh… black.” Esther
turned slightly and the skinny kid looked up.
After Esther ordered, the kid brought over the coffee.
Sam breathed in the aroma, almost like an actor in a coffee
commercial, took a sip and visibly relaxed. After a second or so, he started
with his questions. “So…
did the Bartender say why he expected me to come here?
Did I get here myself or was I summoned?
Why are we meeting?”
let’s take the middle question first, the answer is a bit of both.
You wouldn’t be here now if you didn’t want to be here.
Just as the Bartender has said, you are in control of your destiny,
but since you still have a hard time believing that, we sort of ‘boost’
the power a little to pull you along once we know the direction.
The Bartender just thought you might like to have someone to talk to. As to why we are meeting, you’ll need to answer that
would I know that? I didn’t
even know you or this place existed. I
don’t know what’s expected of me in this place.” Sam was right, great
questions, and confusing answers.
is expected of you. If you want
to drink that nice cup of coffee and chat, we can do that.
If you’d prefer to read a book, the shelves contain quite a
selection. You can choose a
classic, or a mindless diversion, or even some fascinating non-fiction.
It’s interesting, but it seems like whenever I scan the shelves,
I’ll find something I may or may not have been looking for, but the book I
need is always there.”
I’m supposed to read a book?”
if you want to.”
it is that whenever I come in these ‘inter-point’ havens, I never feel
like I’m getting the meaning? Everything
seems to be in riddles. It’s
like I’m given just taste of the answers but the rest….” His tirade
started to trail off, but then the right analogy hit him.
“It just seems like I’m being played with like a cat with a
mouse,” the statement dripped with frustration and anger, mixed with a
large dose of self- pity.
looked directly into Sam’s green, troubled eyes. “Would you like to examine those feelings?”
sound like Verbena.” Sam took another sip of his coffee.
As he put the cup back down, a light seemed to go off in his head.
“That’s what this is, isn’t it?
Are you a psychiatrist? You
said that the Bartender was expecting me?
I remember he once said, “Let
too much time go by and you’ll lose touch with reality.”
Have I actually lost it? I
mean, am I nuts now?
Is that what leaping does to you—drives you crazy?
God, I hope they
don’t put me into a place like when I had the shock treatment. I NEVER want to experience THAT again!” Sam was agitated and he jumped up, looking around like he
thought he might be trapped.
put her hand out and took Sam’s in her own.
“Sam, that’s not it at all.
As I said before, we can chat or you can read a book, or whatever you
feel is best. But let me ask
you, do YOU feel that you need a
looked down at Esther’s face, seeing it was calm and held a slight smile.
He didn’t know what it was,
but just seeing her clear eyes and reading her calm demeanor settled him
down. He retook his chair.
“I don’t know. It’s been so long. Things
have been really tough over the past year or so. At least I think that’s how long it’s been.
I just don’t know anymore.”
took a second to think about what Sam had said.
think you know more than you believe you do.
You say you don’t know,
but you’re also indicating that your perception is that leaping is
becoming tougher. Is that
looked at her with sheer amazement. “What
do you mean PERCEPTION? I KNOW
they’ve gotten tougher. The
Bartender even warned me they’d become tougher.”
considered that. “Is that what he really said?
That the leaps would become tougher?”
thought back to the conversation.
Bartender had said when comparing Sam’s leaping to the priesthood, “They
can also take sabbaticals, especially before embarking on a difficult new
he never actually answered that
question. I just assumed that
was the answer. And now that I
think of it, he said I
could take sabbaticals before the difficult assignments.
I guess not all of the leaps will be tough, but God, some of them
have been so hard,” Sam
started to get animated again as he continued,
“and I’ve failed so many times. It
didn’t used to be like that.”
looked at Sam compassionately, her eyes full of concern as she slightly
leaned toward him. “Sam,”
she called his name so softly that it was all that he needed to light the
fire that was already bubbling underneath the surface.
killed Marilyn Hicks as sure as I shot her.
I used the razor! I cut my own throat! That
was just so wrong of me to do! Suicide
should never be the answer! There
had to be another way. That
poor girl leaped back into a dying body that I killed.
I… I should have been able to save her.” Sam’s eyes became moist and tears started to fall.
“It just hurt so bad. I’ve
never hurt that bad before!” Sam’s
head fell to his arms on the table and his body became wracked with heavy
reached over to the box of tissues that was within reach and rubbed Sam’s
back lightly, letting him know there was someone there for him.
After a moment, the sobs lessened and Esther removed her hand.
Sam took a few deep breaths and struggled to regain his composure.
Sam looked up, eyes blazing and declared, “If I were really in control
I’d have made a difference. I’d
have stopped it! She’d still
I know that you believe that, but you can’t fix everything that goes
wrong. After all, you are only
human,” the words were said softly and with great feeling.
“And remember, you saved her long enough to write your/her
feelings. The first time, both
her father and brother blamed themselves for her death.
The second time, they at least knew what she was thinking and they
didn’t blame themselves as much.”
but what must it have been like for her to leap in and know she was
dying—that must have been terrifying.” Sam was trying to reason things
in Marilyn’s case, she was numbed to that reality.
Remember what you leaped into her at the start.
She had already stepped over that line.
She had already decided this was an acceptable solution.
I truly don’t believe she felt anything when she leaped back in
except a physical end to her pain.” Esther
paused a moment and then continued, “Even if you had leaped out with her
in complete health, she still would have taken her life. That’s part of free will.
We don’t always like it, but sometimes we’re up against a losing
battle. We just need to accept
it and go on, knowing that the odds were too great.”
just SUCKS,” the bitterness in Sam’s voice was palatable.
“If I can’t win, why am I put there?
Isn’t that like being set up for failure?”
Sam fell again into his own self-pity, looking deeply into his almost
full yet cooled mug of coffee.
me freshen that up for you,” Sam heard beside him.
Looking up he saw the skinny kid from behind the counter.
He looked somewhat familiar, but Sam couldn’t quite place him. Sam nodded his acceptance of the offer and then took another
coffee is really good. Thank
you.” No matter what, Thelma
Beckett’s teachings about manners came through loud and clear.
did you ever have a time when you failed before you started leaping?”
Esther again looked into his eyes, searching for an answer.
although I seemed able to turn most of the problems into opportunities.
I’d think about what had gone wrong, what had gone right, and then
incorporate what I’d learned into the next situation.”
you think you can look at your leaps that way?”
Esther continued her line of questioning.
it’s harder. You see, I get Swiss-cheesed during my leaps.
Sometimes I forget everything I’ve learned previously.”
Sam hated it when that happened.
Having an eidetic memory from childhood, he found it frustrating to
lose the ability to pull things up at a moments notice.
Although he usually remembered enough to complete the leap, sometimes
it seemed he had to work harder for the answers to come.
That was very different than his pre-leap experience when the answers
just would flow in easily.
but you have the in-between times to incorporate those things into the who
you are, your autopilot as it were. Have
you ever wondered why from leap to leap you are still always Sam Beckett?
Why even when the other’s ego pushes you aside, there is still a
complete Sam Beckett inside?” Esther
said this softly, allowing the concept to fully seep into Sam’s thoughts.
guess I’d never thought about it like that.
I just am, like I’ve always been.
I’ve always known who I am,” Sam said almost in a whisper,
thinking hard on its implications. “Sometimes
the others sort of take hold of me, and I find I’m doing things that I
don’t have experience doing. And
sometimes....” Sam’s shoulders took on a dejected posture.
“Sometimes I do things that are horrible and awful.
Like the time before the timeline was fixed. I killed my own nephew in cold blood. I couldn’t stop myself.
It was like I was hidden back inside the host’s mind.
I could watch what was happening like it was on a screen, but I
couldn’t stop it. I knew it
was wrong, but I still took that knife and cut his throat.
I felt his blood on my hands.”
Sam looked down at those hands now as he relived the experience
making him shake. “I’m
trained to be a physician, to save lives and here I was taking his life.”
looked at him with such compassion. “Sam,
that must have been horrible to feel like you had no control.
But remember, Lothos had put that chip inside you that was
controlling what you did. It
wasn’t you. You need to forgive yourself.”
just nodded. His head still
what do you take away from these experiences where the host has you do
things that you aren’t comfortable with?”
thought for a moment. “Well, sometimes I learn something about how to do
something I’ve never done and sometimes I have a better understanding of
what doesn’t work.” An idea
took hold in Sam’s mind, “So you’re saying that what I learn, I take
absolute certainty Esther stated, “It’s mostly at an unconscious or
subconscious level at best, but yes, you do grow and learn through your
travels in time.”
I guess that makes sense,” Sam considered what she said carefully.
“After all, I know I’ve gotten better at reading the clues when I
leap in. Sometimes, I’ve even
got more of it figured out than Al when he arrives.”
Sam thought back to the pleasure this gave him, when he knew more
than Al—especially at the start of a leap.
exactly it, Sam. You are learning and growing.
Who knows, perhaps it won’t be that much longer before you no
longer need the ‘boosters’ we provide.
Esther was pleased with Sam’s brightening mood.
However, Sam, being who he was, didn’t shy away from tackling the
next issue that was bothering him.
about going home though. I’m
not there for the most important people in my life.
Donna, Stephen, Al, and Beth…” he stopped suddenly and turned
pale. “And now I’m a
grandfather. Sammy Jo had a
little girl, her name’s Isabella. I’ve
never even held her. For that
matter, I never got to hold Sammy Jo or Stephen when they were babies
either! What kind of a man am I
that I’m not there for my family?”
sighed. If it wasn’t the
leaps themselves that were causing Sam to lose faith in himself, then
recognizing the reality of the sacrifice caused by his choice to keep
leaping did the job just as well. This
Sam Beckett was a complicated man and she wondered if anyone could help him
help himself. She knew though
that the Bartender would never have asked her to meet with Sam if he
wasn’t concerned with his well being.
who worked with the Bartender knew about Sam.
He was the only mortal in his group of leapers.
While the others, the ones who had already passed beyond the mortal
plane of existence, had been given the opportunity to help out, to set
things right after they died, they found that Sam was unique.
He had actually chosen to do this while he was alive, while he was
still in his mortal shell. That
was the amazing thing and the rest of the leapers were amazed by the soul of
this mortal. Whereas the rules
did not allow any of them to go back into their own timeline, Sam’s
project allowed him to do exactly that.
He’d built his project so he could travel within his own lifetime.
As far as they knew, he had never turned away from a challenge, but
always performed his task of setting right what once went wrong to the best
of his abilities.
Sam had first leaped, the Bartender had questioned allowing mortals to act
as agents of change, then the Bartender had looked at Sam’s heart and
soul. He knew that this man
could do the work,
which needed to be done,
and Sam’s unique ability to travel in his own lifetime was a new tool.
However, Sam didn’t know how to use this tool, not at first, so the
Bartender had chosen to ‘help’ him along.
The fact that Sam’s friend was there to provide support and
friendship made the equation work.
Bartender had learned recently just how strong those bonds of friendship
were. Even when Sam, controlled
by Lothos’ chip, had lashed out at his best friend, his buddy was still
willing to do whatever it took to be there for Sam.
The Bartender had seldom seen such devotion to the concept best
stated as, “greater love has no one than
this, that someone lays down his life for his friend.”
He knew that Sam’s friend was willing to do that when he had placed
himself into the Accelerator, knowing full well that he may never return.
the Bartender knew how precious Sam’s soul was. How, like his brain, Sam’s soul set him apart from the rest
of that physical plane he existed on,
and recent events had troubled that soul more than the Bartender was
comfortable with. After all,
this was a mortal man who still had his life to live.
The Bartender had once told Sam,
“You’ve done a lot of good,
Sam Beckett and you can do a lot more” to which Sam had replied “More? I
don’t want more. I want to go home.”
Even though Sam had been told, numerous times, that he controlled his
destiny, Sam refused to believe it and so The Bartender had continued to
‘help’ Sam travel through time.
didn’t realize, of course, that his memory of the Café Nervosa had
summoned Esther to the coffee shop. In
his mind, that coffee shop in Seattle would be associated with the thought
of psychiatrists. Sam only knew
that he was hurting badly and that his desire to speak with Verbena had put
this session into motion.
didn’t know that Esther had been a distinguished psychiatrist when she had
been alive. She had been offered this opportunity by the Bartender to
help him help himself. When
she’d asked the Bartender why he didn’t help Sam himself, the Bartender
told her it couldn’t be him. Sam
was just too wary of accepting what the Bartender tried to tell him.
So, Esther was doing her best to help.
Hearing his last question, she turned to Sam. “What kind of man do
you think you are and why do you think that?”
considered the question. “Well,
I know what kind of man my father was and he was always there for us.
Life on a farm was hard work. We
all had to pitch in and do our fair share of what needed to be done, but
that was just reality. Dad
expected us to do what was needed and he led us by example that he was
equally expected to work himself. He
certainly hadn’t expected for someone with my IQ to be a part of the
family, but he did the best for me that he could, just like he did with Tom
and Katie. That’s what a father should do—do the best for his family
that he can.”
haven’t been there to lead by example, haven’t been there for Stephen
the way my Dad was for me. No, I just leap through time and deal with everyone else’s
problems while leaving my family and friends to suffer.
God, I’m not even there for my wife, the love of my life.
She’s just stuck waiting for me when her life could have been so
much richer.” Sam’s memory
of Donna hit him now. He ached
to be with her, to hold her in his arms.
Instead, he realized that after he had leaped, there’d been so few
times to be together, for him to simply hold her close and lose himself in
had he done to her? He’d brought her into a life where she had to be a single
parent, where her every waking moment was spent on bringing him home to her.
What kind of a life was that? Sam
thought back to his father and how he’d always treated his mother with the
utmost respect and caring. Even
when he had to be away from the farm on business, he had always called her
each day to discuss things. More
importantly, those phone calls had always ended with John Beckett telling
his wife that he loved her.
bitterly thought how HE didn’t even REMEMBER Donna on his leaps.
He didn’t remember any of them, except for occasional flashes of
memory. That fact, more than anything else tore at his soul.
voice got quieter, “I think if my Dad was still around, he’d say that I
haven’t been the man he raised me to be, not where my family is concerned
anyway. Oh, he might appreciate
that I do my best to help people—he taught me to do that too.
But in regards to family? Those
are the ties that bind.”
Sam was in the throes of self-pity. He
got up then and started walking around the coffee shop.
Both Esther and the skinny kid watched him as the turmoil continued
to play upon his face.
was doing his best to figure out this latest dilemma.
On the one hand, he’d been told that he controlled his own destiny,
but if that was the case WHY hadn’t he leaped home.
Since he couldn’t leap home, that told him he wasn’t controlling
his destiny, but that would mean they were lying to him.
If they were lying to him then that meant he was taking “a flying
leap” for beings that didn’t have integrity and didn’t play fair, but
if it was God, then integrity would have to be the basis of the
relationship—God didn’t lie.
matter which way Sam tried to reason this out, it wouldn’t play out for
him; it wouldn’t fit the way he wanted to believe about the whole
situation. Sam decided to try
another line of reasoning.
he assumed that God didn’t lie, then that would mean that he was
controlling his own destiny. If
that were true, then…. Suddenly,
the worst sinking feeling that Sam ever had hit him.
”I must not WANT to go home,” burst from Sam’s lips in an
anguished cry. “I must not
care or love my family. Oh
Lord! I am exactly going
against EVERYTHING I admired about my Dad.
I am not a son he’d want to claim.”
At that moment, self-loathing threatened to take Sam over and he
stood there, eyes to the floor, shoulders stooped.
Why are you taking the sucker’s choice?” asked Esther quietly.
do you mean?” said Sam still seemingly checking out his shoes.
mean why is it either/or? Why
can’t you see an ‘and’ in the equation?” Standing, she walked over
to Sam and placed a hand on his shoulder.
did you create Project Quantum Leap?”
travel in time,”
answered Sam honestly.
you want to travel in time?”
was telling him he’d heard these questions before.
“To change the world.”
make it a better place?”
course…. Now hold it, I’ve
already been here before!” Sam’s frustration was growing again.
doesn’t make the questions invalid to answer them again.
Sam, you have to come to grips that you want multiple things.
Lot’s of people have this problem.
Your situation is just a little… ah… different.”
do you mean?”
people don’t go out and build a machine that will jerk them around through
time. Add to that the fact that
you WILLINGLY stepped into the Accelerator before even you thought it was
became defensive. “I was going to lose funding.
There wouldn’t have even been a chance to continue if I hadn’t
done what I did. It was the
only course of action I COULD take.”
don’t you see? It was a choice! If
you hadn’t willingly made that choice, you wouldn’t have that family
back at Project Quantum Leap. All
that would be there would be Al and the others who started with you.
Al wouldn’t have Beth or his daughters, or his grandchildren.
Tom wouldn’t be alive, nor his two children.
You wouldn’t have seen your father before he passed on. Donna, Sammy Jo, and Stephen would not be there at all.
Many of the things you want are there because you choose to take a
leap of faith.”
decided to drive the point home. “Sam,
if you hadn’t stepped into the Accelerator, what would your life be like
don’t know.” Bitterness was all that was present in Sam’s voice.
“Probably better than what it is today.
I wouldn’t be spending my life leaping, never having a place to
call home. I wouldn’t be a
traitor to the family values that my father and mother lived every day of
their lives together. Everyone
would be better off. Everything
would be wonderful if I just hadn’t stepped into that damned
looked over to the skinny kid behind the counter. He nodded and Esther said, “Let’s find out if you’re
right.” A second later, Sam
found himself leaping again.
awoke in a bed, an alarm clock going off beside him.
He hit the off button and threw his legs off the bed.
He noticed that the room was a bit cold and was happy to find his
slippers next to the bed. He
realized that he was hungry and decided to find the kitchen, grabbing the
robe off the hook on the back of the door.
he walked out of the room a cat came up and brushed against his legs,
mewing. Sam reached down and
picked it up. “What’s your
name puss?” He noticed a nametag and read it. “Donner. Hey I
had a cat named Donner when I was a kid.
Now what do you think about that!”
He put the cat down and continued looking about his new environment.
noticed that the hallway was lined with bookshelves.
He scanned them, happy with what he saw.
If books were any clue to the person he leaped into, they had really
similar interests. He saw books
spanning all six of his degrees and even some topics that he hadn’t
studied, but had wanted to. Sam
hoped that would make this leap easier, but if nothing else, if he was here
long enough, he might be able to catch up on a bit of reading.
down the hallway, he gazed into the second upstairs ‘bedroom.’
He looked inside and was surprised to find the room had been turned
into a personal dojo. He noted
that it was traditionally laid out with the weapons upon the back wall.
He walked into the room and found that the closet held several clean
uniforms ready for the next practice session.
He noted that the uniform belts were black.
the closet door, he looked again about the room.
It was impeccably clean. This
pleased him. It told him that the occupant of this house respected not
just the activity of martial arts, but also the discipline and concepts that
a master would expect in his dojo. There
was a reason that dojo meant “the place of the way.”
left the room and continued walking down the hall towards the stairwell.
The house was small, but well appointed.
Whoever lived here seemed to be doing pretty well.
Not rich, but comfortable.
wondered where Al was. Usually
his friend would at least make an appearance, tell him nothing, and then go
off to learn what he could from Ziggy.
Oh well, maybe he could find out those minor details before Al got
there. He liked it when he won
Sam walked into the kitchen, he realized that there was a dog in the house
too, waiting by the door to go outside to take care of morning business.
Sam noticed the dog’s name, Chance, was woven into his collar. He opened the door and the dog walked out sniffing around the
yard. The dog ran about the
yard for a few minutes, did what nature demanded, and then came back to the
door. Sam let the dog back in
and immediately the dog went over to his bowl looking between the bowl and
you guys must be hungry.” Sam
looked through a few cabinets and found both dog and cat foods.
After filling their bowls and assuring they had fresh water, the
animals both decided breakfast was an activity to enjoy.
be pretty trusting animals.
Usually I get at least a look
or growl before they start trusting me.’
Sam continued to putter around the kitchen, making a breakfast of
eggs, toast, juice, and, of course, coffee.
He was just finishing his meal when he heard the doorbell and got up
to answer it. He figured by
this time that he was the only resident of the house other than the dog and
he walked down the hall, he turned to look in the hall mirror and stopped
dead in his tracks.
me—I’m me, but why haven’t I leaped back to the Project?”
Sam was confused. He
looked in the mirror and found the face older than when he’d been at
Al’s Place. Sam touched his
face and traced the lines that he didn’t remember being there.
Sam didn’t understand but somehow, the face looking back at him
didn’t ‘fit.’ Sam thought for a moment what a crazy thought that was.
After all, how could you not fit your own face?
it all made sense. The books,
the dojo, the cat. This was his
home, his ‘space’—but he didn’t remember this house.
It certainly felt comfortable to him.
Everything there was a direct reflection of the person he was.
There was something wrong with that though.
was Donna? Where were the
little nuances that stated her presence?
Where were Stephen’s things? ‘If
this house only has two bedrooms, why is there a dojo and not a room for
Stephen? What’s going on?!’
doorbell rang again followed by a knock.
“I’m coming!” Sam went to answer the door leaving this
disturbing mystery until later.
Sam opened the door, he got the second major shock of the morning.
Al was standing there on the stoop, cigar in hand.
His clothes held the same sense of style, but seemed more somber than
usual. He was wearing a dark
green suit with gold pinstripes and a gold shirt.
His tie was really unique with multiple colors. He had on simple
brown loafers and socks.
you’re not dressed yet? What’s
with you Sam, you tell me to come pick you up at nine sharp and you’re not
even dressed yet.” Al was
obviously a bit perturbed.
YOU’RE HERE! IN FLESH
AND BLOOD!” Sam felt weak and
leaned against the wall.
Are you okay? Concern
was evident in both the look that Al gave him and his voice.
“You look white as a sheet.”
what year is it? Sam managed to croak out the question.
where am I?” Sam was feeling a bit nauseated.
in your house in Cambridge, Massachusetts.
What is this? Twenty
questions?” Al was sounding a bit miffed.
Why aren’t we at Project Quantum Leap?”
Why do you want to bring that up again?
You know that it didn’t work out.
Sure, everything SHOULD have worked.
On paper it was fine, but the retrieval program—we just couldn’t
fix it.” Al was really
becoming concerned with how Sam was acting.
“Sam, I really think you need to sit down.
You don’t look so hot.”
nodded and Al snuffed out his cigar before the two walked into the living
room. It was comfortable, in a
bachelor’s kind of way. A
nice leather sofa and two side chairs were gathered in front of what once
had been a working fireplace, but had been converted to natural gas.
A Steinway grand piano had a prominent place in the room, angled at
such a way that it was obviously there for a workout and not simply for
show. Side tables holding
matching Frank Lloyd Wright lamps sat between the sofa and the chairs.
A coffee table of mission design rounded out the grouping.
Sam sat in one of the chairs while Al sat on the sofa.
Really, what’s wrong? You
haven’t brought up Project Quantum Leap for years now. I know it was your dream and it was tough to walk away
from, but it just didn’t work out. Who
knows what would have happened if you stepped into the Accelerator that
night. I don’t know, maybe
your work on the entanglement of quantum particles will allow someone,
someday to figure it all out. Then
again, maybe time travel is just an impossibility for humanity.” Al shook
his head at the thought.
took in this knowledge and realized he’d never leaped.
‘Then why do I remember it all? Why
do I remember all the people at the project… my family, my friends…
why do I remember those leaps and all the things I’ve done.
It just doesn’t make sense. What
has changed?’ Sam looked
up. “Al, what do I do now?
I mean, what’s my life like?”
Sam was nervously chewing on his lower lip, his eyes begging for an
have you had a stroke or something? You
know like Dolores, my… what was she… seventh wife?
She started acting funny after her stroke, God rest her soul.
Couldn’t remember anything. I
think I should call an ambulance.”
Al. That won’t be necessary.
Just answer my question. What’s
my life like,” Sam continued to press for an answer, but he wasn’t sure
he wanted to hear it.
let’s see. It is 2006—you
had your 53rd birthday last August.
Do you remember that nice dinner we had that night?”
Al looked at Sam trying to see what he could remember, but Sam’s
face was blank. He went on, still concerned about his friend’s obvious
change. “Anyway, you’re the head of the physics department at MIT,
professor emeritus. You live
here in Cambridge with your cat and dog and you get to do pretty much
whatever research you want to do. Really,
Sam, what’s with all the questions?”
Alarm bells were going of like lit firecrackers in Al’s head.
What if I was to tell you that Project Quantum Leap was NOT a
failure? That I really had
leaped through time? That this
is not the way things are supposed to be.
That….” Sam trailed off, looking at this friend with both hope
and fear at the same time.
I’d say that you’d finally cracked that bottle of Lagavulin I
gave you for your fiftieth birthday and finished it off in one round. I was there, remember? You
were trying to decide what to do and decided that if the retrieval program
wasn’t ready NO ONE was going to try it out. You really ticked off the DoE with that stunt too.
I wasn’t sure that they’d ever fund you again.
Something about wasting way too much money on a pig in a poke.”
was still concerned about Sam, watching him like a hawk.
“Now, are you going to get ready or what?
Don’t we have to get you to the airport?
You know how long things take. If
we don’t leave soon, you’ll miss your flight out to Hawaii.”
am I going to Hawaii?”
right. That’s it.
You ARE going to MISS your flight, but it’s so we can take you into
the hospital. All you’ve been
talking about for the last week is getting to visit Katie and the new
bambino, and now you can’t remember WHY you’re going?”
Al had finally decided that the health and safety of his friend was
paramount and he wasn’t going to take no for an answer.
understood that he wasn’t going to get Al to back down and that a trip to
the hospital was in his near future. He
knew that when they reached the hospital, they’d find nothing wrong, at
least not physically. He was healthy as a horse and he knew it.
Sam did, however, have one more question to ask Al and he wasn’t
sure how his friend would take it. Softly,
he voiced the words, “Al, if Project Quantum Leap didn’t succeed, why
are you here in Cambridge with me?”
looked stricken. “Sam, what is WRONG with you?
You know we’ve stuck together through thick and thin.
You’re my best buddy! You
asked me to help head up the Entanglement Project and when that ended three
years ago, I decided to retire here when you decided to teach at MIT.
What’s happening to you? Has
that great brain of yours decided to go belly up?”
didn’t know what to say. From
his viewpoint, he’d lost it all. No
Donna, no Stephen, no Sammy Jo, no Isabella.
Katie and he were all that were left of the Beckett clan.
And what was it that Al said—his seventh wife?
How did he afford the alimony?
This isn’t right. This isn’t what I want.
I want my family back and I want them back now!’
emotions that Sam felt bordered upon despair.
‘I never knew how blessed I
am. Even with the constant
stress of leaping from life to life, never knowing if and when I can go
home, at least I have a home I want to return to.’
he’d step into the accelerator again at this very moment and not look
back. It was better than this
life with no family. He was
sure the cat and dog were very nice, but they weren’t enough.
memory was triggered as he thought of the difference between this timeline
and the one he had left. Donna.
Especially that night when he had leapt back into his younger self,
back to that night they had created Stephen with their love (or was it the next morning in the shower? an unfamiliar lecherous
thought crossed his mind.)
It really made no difference, what mattered was his memory of the
softness of her skin, the scent of her hair, and the curves of her body as
they’d explored the depths of their love.
As the memory played out in his thoughts, Sam realized that he
didn’t know how, but he was going to reclaim that life.
if you insist upon taking me to the hospital, let me call Katie and let her
know I’ll have to reschedule,” Sam said as he walked over to the phone.
He dialed what he remembered to be Katie’s number hoping it was the
same. Sure enough, a moment
later a woman’s voice answered the phone with “Bonnick’s residence.”
Is that you?” Sam felt
the same twinge he did whenever he got a chance to speak with his family.
Sam. Why are you calling?
Anything wrong? We’re
planning to meet you at the airport tonight.
Has the flight been changed?”
Katie was obviously eager to see him.
nothing’s wrong but Al’s insisting that I need a check-up before
leaving. Really, it’s nothing
and to ease his mind, I’ve agreed.”
are you sure you’re okay? Cooped
up in that little house with all your books and things.
I really think getting out here will be the best medicine for you. You always so enjoy being Uncle Sam, and now you’re GREAT
Uncle Sam.” Katie wasn’t
giving up easily. “You’ve
always told me that the greatest regret you have is that you never had a
family of your own. It’s just
so sad that after that bitch, Donna, left you at the altar, you never found
YOU EVER CALL HER THAT AGAIN, KATIE!”
The anger sprang to Sam lips immediately, but then the memory started
to fill in for him and his heart felt the pain.
been standing at the altar, Al by his side.
Katie and his mother were in the front pew on the groom’s side of
the church. At first he thought
there might have been a glitch in the organ, but as the minutes ticked by,
he realized that Donna would not be coming through the door to the
sanctuary, that she would not be standing beside him to pledge her life and
love to him as he was ready to pledge his to her.
He had simply thanked the people for coming and had turned to go back
to the little dressing area that Al and he had left such a short time
removed the ascot from the formal morning suit that Donna had asked him to
wear. He had wanted to help
make this a special memory for her and had agreed to wear the outfit, even
though he’d never liked having to dress so formally.
Al had immediately suggested going to a bar, and shocked by the
events, Sam had agreed, barely speaking with his mother or sister before
heading out to a strip club Al was familiar with.
made quite a sight at the club, dressed as they were like gentlemen from the
last century. Sam had drank
heavily, only vaguely aware of his surroundings. After his fourth double
shot of Scotch, none of which he had nursed, he suddenly got up and left the
bar, seemingly falling off the face of the earth.
Al had started a formal search for Sam but no one was able to
discover where Sam had disappeared. A
month after the botched wedding, Sam had returned and made it clear he would
speak to no one about that day, not even to Al.
Sam had decided to lock the door to those thoughts and emotions.
He had decided never to revisit the chasm of emptiness that Donna had
left in his soul.
I’m sorry, but after she left you, you never found anyone else.
I feel like she stole a part of your life that day that would have
led you to a happier, more contented life.
You would have made a wonderful father, Sam.”
I know you’re just trying to say what you feel, but I just don’t want to
talk about it, okay? I’ll give you a call when I rebook, probably tomorrow.
Hey sis, you know I love you?”
Sam found that his eyes were getting a bit moist.
you’re the best big brother a girl could have and I love you too.
Now hurry up and get checked out so that Al can sleep at night then
rebook quickly. You really need
to come out and see Samuel Thomas Bonnick.
The christening is next Sunday.”
Katie was firm and wasn’t going to take no for an answer.
long as I’m here, I promise I’ll be there,” Sam answered honestly.
exactly is that supposed to mean? You
sure you’re okay?”
Katie, I’m fine, but I’ve lost something very precious to me and I have
to try to reclaim it.” Knowing he was probably confusing his sister more he ended
with, “You know I get a little weird sometimes.
Don’t worry, I’ll always be your big brother and I will be with
right, Sam, but I’d be holding you to your word.
Give me a call when you have the new travel plans.
Katie. See you soon.”
Sam hung up the phone and then added under his breath, “But I hope
it is back the way I remember it.”
then turned to Al. “Let me go upstairs and get dressed. I’m not going to the hospital in my pajamas and robe.
I’ll be right down.”
nodded his head and picked up one of the magazines on Sam’s coffee table.
“Sam, can’t you just keep an issue or two of Playboy around, it
would sure make more interesting reading that this high-brow stuff you’re
laughed, thinking no matter what timeline he was in; Al’s unique character
would come to the foreground. “Hey,
you can read those at your place. You
have enough to start your own library!”
With that, Sam turned and went back up to his bedroom.
realized that if he didn’t leave soon, the memories that he had of his
family from the other timeline would fade away and he’d be left instead
with the one he had of the day Donna left him.
Al had explained that was the way things were with major shifts.
For a short while the memory of two timelines would be there, but
quickly, the current timeline would become solidified and the previous
timeline would become a mere hint of a memory.
He didn’t want to lose the Donna he loved.
into his room, he was shocked to see Esther again.
this what you want, Sam? No
leaping, no family?” The
question was asked forthrightly.
it’s not. Please—change it
back. I think I understand now.
I’m not yet sure how I’ll make the “and” come true, but
leaping AND having a family to come back to—that’s what I want.
I want my life back.” Sam’s
wistful reply held the most honest words he had ever spoken.
if that’s what you want, you can put yourself back. You control your destiny.”
looked at her determined and then closed his eyes, reaching out through time
and space, pushing the current timeline away, while he willed himself to
reenter the timeline where Donna, Stephen, and the others awaited him back
at Project Quantum Leap. He would never again question his choice to step into the
Accelerator. He had seen that
life and it wasn’t his.
heard a voice saying, “God Bless, Sam.”
walked back into the coffee shop. The
skinny kid turned to her. “Everything
paused thoughtfully. “I’m
not sure, Al. That was a lot for him to take in. And I still don’t think he’s fully ready to accept the
ramifications. He’s a
stubborn man, that Sam Beckett.”
the Skinny Kid laughed. “Yeah,
but then Mother Theresa wasn’t exactly a pushover either.
I think Sam will be fine for now.
Thank you, Esther. I
don’t think he would have accepted it from me.”
smiled, “He didn’t accept it from me either.
Rather I think he’s beginning to accept it for himself.”
found himself in the blue light again.
The most recent leap was still in his mind.
Had he done it? Was he
able to push aside that life devoid of those he loved?
He thought again, ‘Except Al.
He was still my friend. He
was still with me.’ But
Donna and the other’s? Oh
God, he wanted them back.
voice came from nowhere in particular.
considered the question and answered, “Yes.
I’ve chosen. Is my
life back the way it was?
everything is as you remember. How
do you feel about that?”
thought what this meant to him and stated, “Well, I wouldn’t use the
word wonderful, but it sure beats the alternative.”
With that Sam felt the pull towards another leap.
Samuel Beckett shook his head as the last effects of his previous leap
dissipated and his head began to clear. Throughout his many time traveling
escapades he would usually physically adjust to his new surroundings faster
than his mental adjustments. As his consciousness returned, Sam could not
shake the fuzziness that filled his brain and morphed into a pounding
headache that occupied his twin frontal lobes. Sam rubbed his eyes, shook
his head and started massaging the back of his neck trying to ease the pain
while nervously shifting his feet on a loose gritty surface.
thee an illness, Master Williams?" inquired a young female voice.
stopped his self-induced massage, barely opening his eyes afraid of what he
might observe. He was standing on a dirt floor in a sparsely furnished
clapboard house that contained a table, a bureau, three wooden chairs and a
huge stone fireplace. The atmosphere smelled of meat cooking in a large pot
over the fire, spices and burning embers. The woman sitting on the chair
near Sam was dressed in black with a black bonnet and large white collar
looking up at Sam having put down her mending.
the millionth time, Sam began his leap with sheepishly asking, "Excuse
me, but will you repeat that?"
woman looked up at Sam quite concerned as she restated the question,
"Master Williams, are thee well?"
hesitated and looked down at himself. He was wearing black boots, black
pants and coat and a white collar. Reaching up to his head he removed a tall
black hat with a large buckle on it.
As if the hat became incredibly hot, Sam dropped it, looked up to the shingled roof and exclaimed, "I'm a pilgrim? OH BOOOOY!"
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