the moment that Al leaped in, he became instantly calm. He had been nervous
after seeing some of the precarious positions Sam had been put in during his
leap-ins. But this was more than he could have possibly asked for. He was
wasn’t home literally, but he was more at home in these surroundings than
anywhere else. Staring out into the great blue yonder, he was completely at
looking down at the instrumentation in front of him, he could immediately
tell he was the pilot of an F-4 Phantom II Fighter Jet. This was a jet Al
knew inside and out. He had flown one occasionally during his first tour of
duty in Vietnam.
staring at the horizon out of the fighter jet’s window, a piece of Al’s
memory came back to him, seemingly from out of nowhere. He had leaped, that
was for sure, but Al could’ve sworn that just before he did, he touched
someone on the shoulder. That someone’s aura changed into Sam’s. Then
what had happened? They had both leaped.
Al suddenly became curious as to where Sam had landed. He wasn’t a pilot
and would not be able to handle the F-4 Phantom II. Hearing a gasp of air
coming from the seat behind him, he didn’t have to worry anymore.
his friend, Al said, “Kick in the butt, ain’t it?” But Al didn’t
receive an answer. Sam was too terrified to speak.
to calm his friend down, Al said, “Don’t worry, Sam, I know this plane
like the back of my hand.”
afraid of heights, Al,” said the green-around-the-gills physicist.
then I guess you wouldn’t want me to do any of this,” said Al as he
began displaying some advanced aerobatics.
to control himself anymore, Sam vomited all over the back of Al’s seat
before uttering those two simple words, “Ohhh boyyy!!!”
ten minutes after Sam lost his lunch, Al got the call to return to the
aircraft carrier. Feeling the plane make a nice smooth turn, Sam let out a
huge sigh of relief. It didn’t go unnoticed by Al.
Al brought the plane around for the landing, Sam couldn’t help but notice
that Al handled the plane just like a woman: smooth and gentle. He
couldn’t help but mentally kick himself for thinking just like Al.
they were on the deck of the aircraft carrier, Al walked up to his friend
and said, “Hey, sorry, pal; I probably shouldn’t have done the
aerobatics, but I couldn’t help myself. It has been a long time since I
have gotten the chance to fly a jet fighter.”
worry about it, Al. Just don’t do it again.”
to Ziggy,” a familiar voice said from behind them, “he may not have a
quickly, both Sam and Al saw the recently promoted Admiral Tom Beckett
holding Stephen’s handlink.
Al for a moment, Tom said, “Hello, little brother. It’s really great to
see you again.”
tears of happiness formed in his eyes, Sam instinctively tried to grab Tom
and pull him into a big bear hug. He was more than slightly disappointed
when his arms passed right through the hologram.
that people were staring, Al snidely said, “It’s good to see you again
too, Admiral. But people are staring. Could you just tell us how we got
I wasn’t here, but from what I understand, about five days ago,” Tom
pushed some buttons on the handlink, “Al, you had to leap into Sam to save
his life. Then when you got yourself into the same kind of trouble, Sam
leaped into the would-be killer to save you.”
remember all of that,” said Al. “But how is it that we managed to leap
to Ziggy, it’s because the two of you were touching.”
kind of like when you saved Alia,” Al said to Sam. “The two of you were
holding on to each other when you leaped, so you leaped together.” Then
looking to Tom, Al asked, “And why are you here?”
Al a look of contempt, Tom said, “Well, you guys needed an observer and I
was the logical choice. After all, I have a biochip installed in my brain
that connected me to Omega while at Project Liberty, and since Omega and
Ziggy were essentially ‘sisters,’ the link works with Ziggy too. All Dom
had to do was tweak the connection a little bit so that Al could see me as
Ziggy said why we are here yet?” Sam asked.
pushed a few buttons on the handlink and read the information scrolling
across the screen. “Al, you are a Navy pilot named Commander Louis C.
Paige, call sign: Pigeon.”
couldn’t help himself. He smirked at the name. But seeing this, Tom
clarified, “Your wingmen call you that due to your accuracy with your
missile shots. You send them in like a homing pigeon that always seems to
hit its target.”
was obviously not very happy about his host’s call sign, but it was
something that he would have to live with.
to read off the handlink, Tom continued, “You’re twenty-three years old
and are from Baltimore, Maryland. You have been in the Navy for five years
and are planning to turn it into a career.”
to Sam, Tom said, “Your name is Paul Sterling, call sign: Professor; Prof
for short. They call you that because you were valedictorian when you
graduated from high school last year in your hometown of Franklin, North
Carolina. You’re nineteen and are counting the days till you are out of
the service for good.” Then pointing towards Al, a smirk appeared on
Tom’s face as he very purposely said, “You’re Pigeon’s rear. It’s
your job to keep him out of trouble.”
said Al, “that’s some information at least. How about the date and the
name of this boat?”
date is June 16, 1965, and you’re aboard the USS
Midway. Ziggy hasn’t said why you are here yet.”
ask her, shall we,” said Al, pointing to the button that would call up
know how to use the handlink, thank you very much, Admiral,” said Tom,
pushing the button. Immediately, Ziggy’s hologram appeared out of the
Admiral, Dr. Beckett. I trust you enjoyed your flight.” Al had to smirk at
the hologram’s comment.
start with me, Ziggy. Why are we here?” snapped Sam.
two days’ time, Commander Louis C. Paige and his rear, Lt. Paul J.
Sterling, perish when the F-4 Phantom II they are in is shot down just south
of Hanoi on June 17, 1965. I project a 98.7% probability that you are here
to ensure that they survive the battle.”
obvious irritation in his voice, Sam responded, “Great, just great.”
don’t worry, kiddo. I may have been shot down the first time around, but
I’m not exactly a slouch while flying a plane.”
know, Al, I didn’t mean it like that. I just wish that for once, one of
these leaps could be simple. Too many of them put me in life or death
this one is on me. All you have to do is sit there and watch the radar.
Don’t let me get surprised by anything and we will be fine.” Then
turning towards Tom, Al said, “Could you just direct the way to our
the hologram that was Ziggy back into the handlink, Tom directed Sam and Al
to their quarters before calling up the Imaging Chamber door. “I’m going
to go see what else Ziggy can dig up. I’ll see you guys when I find out
more.” With that said, Tom stepped through the door and back into
Gate, New Mexico
the Imaging Chamber and walking down the ramp to the project’s Control
Room, Admiral Tom Beckett asked, “Ziggy, what are the odds that Admiral
Calavicci and Dr. Beckett will be successful in their mission?”
was the parallel-hybrid computer’s response.
a second, Tom thought he could hear a bit of sadness in that response, but
he decided not to dwell on it. “Ziggy, how could it be only 14.2%? The
Admiral has a documented history of air combat. He’s been in a dogfight or
you forget, Admiral Beckett, Admiral Calavicci was shot down in a dogfight
doesn’t change anything,” argued Tom. “Calavicci is still a damn fine
pilot. There has to be better odds than what you’re giving him.”
Calavicci is indeed a fine pilot. But he hasn’t been in a dogfight since
he was shot down over Sun Bin Yan Pu in 1967. The pilots he will be going up
against are some of the best in the Vietnamese People’s Air Force. That,
in conjunction with the fact that the F-4 Phantom II that the Admiral will
be piloting does not have an internal gun and Dr. Beckett’s lack of
experience as a radar operator, makes the chances of success only 14.2%.
However, if Admiral Calavicci were to have an experienced rear in the plane,
I predict a 64.2% chance of success.”
his chances would increase by fifty percent if Sam is not in the plane. Is
is correct, Admiral Beckett.”
fear of heights aside, you know as well as I do that Sam would never allow
Al to go there alone. What if we found a way to get him some practice before
would increase the chances of success by 7.5%, but in the short amount of
time they have before their scheduled departure, I don’t know how Dr.
Beckett is going to get any practice.”
have to go talk to Sammie Jo. I have an idea.”
on the door of Al and Beth’s quarters, Julianna Sherman-Calavicci heard
the voice of her stepmother say, “Go away.”
the request, Julianna opened the door and walked in. There, she saw Beth
lying on the bed with her head buried in a pillow. “Are you alright?”
thought that I said to go away.”
well, since when did I ever listen to you?” replied Jules with a smirk.
you have a point, you have a point. What is it, Jules? I kind of want to be
left alone right now.”
and I want Sean Connery to sweep me off my feet, but neither is going to
couldn’t help but laugh at that. “Ok, ok, I’m up. What can I do for
not what you can do for me, it’s what I can do for you. Get dressed.
You’re coming with me.”
I don’t want to go anywhere. I want to be here where I can hear what is
happening with Al.”
arguments, mama. You’re coming. Sammie Jo said that she would watch Jude,
and I have a plane standing by already.”
where exactly do you want to take me?”
a surprise,” said Jules, walking over to Beth’s closet and pulling out
an outfit for her to wear. Tossing it to her stepmother, she finished, “So
to the fact that Jules was not about to take no for an answer, Beth got up
and said, “Ok, just give me fifteen minutes.”
the clock starts now,” said Jules, walking to the door and stepping out
into the hall.
down at the dress that Jules had just picked out, Beth let out a sigh and
began to get dressed.
hour later, Jules was piloting a small Cessna 310R airplane over the New
Mexico Desert, heading towards Arizona. Beth, being quite a capable pilot
herself, sat in the co-pilot’s seat wearing the co-pilot’s headphones.
far, it had been an uneventful flight, with the possible exception of a
weird bang at take-off. So the two women had sat mostly in silence, each
hoping the other would be the one to break it. But, as of yet, neither had,
so Beth just turned to stare out the window. Staring at the desert far
below, Beth couldn’t help but think about Al and started to cry.
this, Jules finally said, “Mama, don’t worry about dad. He’s very
resourceful, and he has Sam there. Sam wouldn’t let anything happen to
what if he can’t? Observing isn’t the same as leaping. At least when Al
is in the Imaging Chamber, he’s not in physical danger. He is not actually
in the situations that Sam seems to find himself in way too often.”
dad isn’t a recluse. He has found himself in a dangerous situation or two.
And he always seems to find his way home to you.”
Beth said, “Thanks occasionally to Sam.”
I didn’t hear that. What did you say?”
don’t worry about it.”
was about to push Beth for an answer when they heard a loud bang coming from
the left engine followed by a rattling. Looking over her shoulder, Jules saw
that the propeller was not spinning nearly fast enough.
the radio, Jules said, “Mayday. Mayday. This is Cessna N312DZ. We have a
left engine cutoff…”
off in mid-sentence, Jules saw the engine catch fire. Reaching forward, she
pulled the fire extinguisher release latch, which promptly put out the fire.
As soon as the fire was extinguished, Jules watched as the propeller stopped
said, “It’s ok, we still have the right engine.” But she spoke too
right engine overcompensated for the defective left. It wasn’t long until
the right engine gave way too.
Mayday. This is Cessna N312DZ. We now have a right engine cutoff as well. We
are flying dead stick and we are going down. Mayday. Mayday. This is Cessna
N312DZ. We have a right and left engine cutoff. We are flying dead stick and
we are going down.”
pulling the headphones off her head, Jules threw them down and said,
“Mama, assume your crash position.”
did as she was told and Jules started to try to bring the plane down.
Finding a flat area of desert, she aimed for it and tried to get her air
speed down. It didn’t take long for them to realize that they were coming
in too hot.
they were approaching the ground, Jules started to lift the nose trying to
scrub off the excess speed. At touchdown, the wheels broke off from
underneath them. Then the plane did a nosedive and both passengers flew
forward in their seats.
across the desert sand, the nose planted itself and the rear end of the
plane lifted into the air. As the rear of the plane went the rest of the way
over, the plane came to a stop while upside down. Inside, Beth and Jules
were hanging upside down in their restraint harnesses, completely
in their hosts’ quarters, Al and Sam were going over Sam’s
responsibilities as a radar and weapons specialist. Slowly, using a paper
and pencil to illustrate his points, Al described the parts of the
instrument panel that his Swiss-cheesed brain could remember.
was taking to it about as well as could be expected under the circumstances,
but there was only so much that he could learn looking at shaky hand
were about to go over the drawings for the thirteenth time when they heard
the Imaging Chamber door open up. Looking over at it, they saw Tom walk
through and close the door behind him.
up at his brother, Sam said, “Hey, Tom, what have you got for us?”
much right now. We’re working on something right now, but we’re not sure
whether it will work yet. What are you two working on?”
Al was trying to show me how to read the radar and weapons displays. But it
is hard using just these drawings.”
that’s what we are trying to…” Then speaking to an unseen person, Tom
asked, “What do you mean ‘something happened to their plane?’”
asked Al. “What’s going on?”
answering, Tom opened the door and stepped back into the future.
Gate, New Mexico
back into the Control Room, Tom said, “Ziggy, what’s happening?”
was tracking the flight of Captain and Doctor Calavicci. It disappeared from
radar moments ago.”
do you mean that it went off radar?”
estimate a 98.3% probability that the plane has crashed.”
Ziggy, please tell me that you are joking.”
don’t joke, Admiral. I tried to perpetrate a joke on Doctor Beckett and
Admiral Calavicci once when I let them believe that Doctor Beckett had
leaped into a wolf. Unfortunately, it didn’t go over well. Possibly due to
the food Doctor Beckett was forced to consume.”
his head, Tom said, “I don’t want to know. Do you have a location on the
plane right now?”
at this time, Admiral. Unfortunately, when the plane went under radar, I
lost its location. However, I have narrowed down the location to a
fifty-square-mile-area of New Mexico desert.”
try to get me the audio from their last transmission and dispatch a
search-and-rescue team from the project to try and find them. Let’s just
hope that they are still alive.”
the Control Room, Tom headed down the hallway to his office. This was a call
that he didn’t want to make, but he knew he had to. “Ziggy, get me Lisa
Sherman on the phone.”
Admiral. Her phone is ringing on line two.”
Ziggy,” said Tom while picking up the phone and putting it to his ear. He
heard it ring three times before it was picked up.
said a cheerful voice.
Sherman, you don’t know me. My name is Admiral Tom Beckett. I work with
to sound a little nervous, Lisa asked, “How may I help you, Admiral?”
you talked to your daughter recently?”
actually, earlier today. She called and told me that she was flying herself
and Beth Calavicci to California for the day. Why, is there something
unfortunately, yes there is. I am calling with some bad news. Your
daughter’s plane went off radar about twenty minutes ago and it is
presumed that they have gone down.”
Lisa screamed, “What!! Are they ok?”
Ms. Sherman, but at the moment, we don’t have any information. We have
just dispatched a search-and-rescue team to search for the wreckage.”
Al? I want to talk to him.”
Calavicci is away from the project for a short time and I am in charge while
really is no need for that. I’d be more…”
hell there isn’t. That is my daughter and a very close friend out there. I
don’t give a shit if I have to hitchhike all the way there. I am
that case, let me send a plane to pick you up. It’ll be easier that
you, Admiral. I would appreciate it.”
have Ziggy dispatch the plane immediately and she will get in touch with you
to tell you where and when it will pick you up.”
straining to hold her composure, Lisa said, “Thank you again, Admiral.
I’ll be waiting.”
up, Tom asked, “Ziggy, did you get all that?”
the plane immediately and let me know when Ms. Sherman arrives. I have to go
see Sammie Jo.”
leaving his quarters, he went to find Sammie Jo. Walking to her room, Tom
knocked on the door.
over Isabella’s crib, Sammie Jo was just brought back to reality by a
knock on the door. “Come in.”
Tom saw Sammie Jo just staring into the crib, a look of admiration on her
face. On her bed, Jude Albert was sleeping. Walking in, he saw her looking
over her shoulder at him.
Sammie, could I talk to you outside for a couple minutes?”
Sammie Jo said while walking out the door and into the hallway. “What’s
the door shut behind him before speaking, Tom said, “Hey, did you get a
chance to work on what I asked you to do?”
said Sammie Jo nodding to the door. “I have been busy. But I asked Stephen
to take a look at it. With his talent with the holographic interface and the
fact that he created the handlink, I thought he would be the best one to
make the adjustments you asked for.”
that’s fine.” Then nodding to the door, Tom asked, “Does Jude know
Sammie asked, “Does he know what?”
Don’t tell me you don’t know yet?”
nervous, Sammie again asked, “Know what?”
Jules and Beth… Their plane… It disappeared from radar. Ziggy said that
there is a 98.3% chance that they’ve gone down.”
no. Are they all right?”
don’t know yet. We just got word of the accident. To my knowledge, they
haven’t been found yet. But Ziggy has narrowed the search to a
fifty-square-mile search area.”
what happens if they are dead? What’s going to happen to Jude? What’s he
going to do if his mother is dead?”
don’t go jumping to any forgone conclusions. Both Jules and Beth are good
pilots. There is a very good possibility that they were able to bring the
plane down safe and sound. We’ve sent a search-and-rescue team to look for
them, and we are trying to get the audio from their last radio transmission
now. Just go inside and be with Jude, but act normal.”
that’ll be easy,” said Sammie sarcastically.
Sammie; for Jude’s sake. I called his Grandma Lisa to let her know about
the accident. She is on her way to the project as we speak. But I have to go
see Stephen and see how his little project is coming along.”
try,” said Sammie Jo before turning and walking back into her room.
the hall, Tom walked to Stephen’s room next. Knocking, he heard, “Come
the door, Tom walked into Stephen’s room. Looking around, he saw bits and
pieces of electronic components scattered everywhere. Looking over to the
desk in the corner of the room, he saw Stephen soldering something. Walking
up to him, he said, “Hey, Stephen. How’s it going?”
Uncle Tom. I was just doing some last minute adjustments on the handlink.”
it’ll work the way I asked then?”
it wasn’t too hard. I just had Ziggy dig up a picture of the cockpit then
I downloaded it into the handlink. It’s going to suck up a ton of power,
but I think you’ll have at least a half hour before you run out.”
I just hope it helps your dad.”
think it will. Dad’s a quick study and this was a really good idea you
had. I actually would like to figure out how to perfect it so we could use
it again if we have to.”
over to his nephew, Tom said, “All right, show me how it works.”
Tom walked back through the Imaging Chamber door, Al and Sam were waiting
for him. “Tom, what’s going on!” screamed Al.
worry about it, Al. I have everything under control.”
hell you do! I am the administrator of this project and I want to know what
is going on!”
unfortunately for you, Al, you are about forty years in the past right now
and I am Acting Administrator. So I’ll take care of it.”
when I am back, I’ll be Administrator again. Now you said something about
a plane. I want to know what is going on.”
nothing you can help with right now. A friend of mine was on a plane that
had to make an emergency landing,” said Tom cryptically.
friend, who?” asked Sam.
just a fellow ex-SEAL.” Then quickly changing the subject, Tom said,
“But that’s not why I am here. I have had Stephen working on something
since we first located the two of you.”
what would that be?” asked Al.
Ziggy said that even with your experience in dog-fighting, that there is
only a 14.2% chance of success.”
I don’t buy that, not for a second. I had a pretty impressive kill record
in ’Nam,” informed Al.
but Sam doesn’t have any experience as a rear. With this particular plane,
the pilot has to rely heavily on the radar and weapons specialist. If we get
Sam some practical hands-on experience, then Ziggy says the chances might go
up to 21.7%.”
how exactly are we supposed to do that?” asked the irritated Admiral.
what I had Stephen helping me with. Pull up a couple of seats and set them
up back to back.” Tom watched as Sam and Al did as they were told. “Set
them close together and then, Al, you sit in the first seat; Sam, you behind
and Al both sat down and listened as Tom said, “Ok, we’re going to have
to go through this pretty quickly. I only have about a half-hour’s worth
of power for this.”
Sam asked, “For what?”
this.” Tom pushed a button on the handlink and aimed it at the sitting
men. From out of nowhere, a perfect holographic replica of the cockpit of
the F-4 Phantom II appeared around them.
Sam and Al jumped as the hologram surrounded them and Sam asked, “What’s
is the newest handlink feature, compliments of Stephen. That kid’s a
genius, I’m telling you.”
what do you expect with a father like he’s got,” asked Al pointing at
enough chit-chat. We’re on the clock here. Let’s get to work.”
in the New Mexico Desert
regaining consciousness about an hour after the crash, Jules did not
immediately recognize her situation. All the blood had rushed to her head
and she was very disoriented. After a couple minutes of trying to clear her
head, she realized that she was hanging upside down in her seat. Trying to
find a way to brace herself, Jules released the seatbelt. Unfortunately,
being so out of it, she still fell down hard and banged her head on what any
other day would be the inside roof of the plane.
herself, Jules could see that her Mama Beth was still out cold. Slowly
crawling over to her, Jules supported Beth’s unconscious frame and
released her seatbelt. It wasn’t easy, but Jules managed to keep Beth from
falling as hard as she herself had.
inside of the now somewhat flattened plane was very cramped and Beth was now
twisted up like a pretzel. Although she still felt very loopy, Jules knew
she had to get Beth out of the plane. So, summoning all her determination,
Jules managed to get a good hold of Beth and began to drag her out.
took a while, but Jules now had Beth outside the plane and lying next to it.
Starting to feel a little better now, Jules surveyed the situation.
Realizing that the situation was extreme, her Navy SEAL training kicked in.
Knowing that the first essential in a desert survival situation was to
locate shade, she opened the plane’s storage compartment. Grabbing a beach
umbrella, she set it up. Then, speaking to the still unconscious Beth, Jules
said, “I had planned to take you to a beach in California, and good thing
too. Now we have at least a semblance of shade.”
was also essential that she treat any injuries that she could. Knowing this,
Jules looked Beth over for injuries. Immediately she noticed that Beth’s
leg was twisted all out of place and dislocated. It looked painful and, all
in all, she was glad that Beth had not regained consciousness yet. It made
what she knew she had to do next easier.
knew that Beth would be in excruciating pain when she woke up, so she
grabbed her leg above and below the knee. Summoning all her strength, she
shoved it back into place. Then using pieces of the destroyed aircraft, she
created a makeshift splint and tied it in place to support the injury.
the first aid kit from the plane, Jules started treating Beth for some cuts
and scratches she received in the crash. When she was sure she had gotten
them all, she then turned her attention to her own cuts and scratches.
she was cleaning her own wounds, Beth finally regained consciousness and
lowly moaned. “What happened?”
downplaying the seriousness of their situation, Jules answered, “We had a
duel engine cutoff and we went down. We’re somewhere in the New Mexico
desert right now.”
does my leg hurt so much?”
we hit, you must have dislocated it. I popped it back into place and then I
cleaned your other cuts and scratches.”
Jules. I really appreciate it.” Then changing the subject, she said, “Do
you think they know we went down yet?”
would bet on it,” answered Jules. “Doesn’t Ziggy always monitor
flights in and out of the project?”
honestly don’t know. It’s hard to think right now. Is there any kind of
pain relievers in that first aid kit?”
me check.” Grabbing some extra strength Advil, she handed it to Beth with
a bottle of water from out of a picnic basket she had brought for the beach.
“We don’t have a lot of water, so we have to go easy on it.”
Jules. You’re a life saver.”
I’m working on it,” said Jules while grabbing a cushion off of one of
the broken seats to give to Beth as a pillow. Then putting it under her
head, she went back to get some beach towels for them to lie on.
they set everything up, Jules said to Beth, “Why don’t you try to get
some sleep. It would probably help. At least you wouldn’t feel the pain in
your leg anymore.”
not such a good idea, and I wouldn’t recommend sleep for you either,”
said Beth in true doctor form.
Jules asked, “Why not?”
you lose consciousness at all in the crash?”
her stepmother, Jules said, “Yeah, I came around not long before you
you might be concussed. We both might be.”
can we tell?” she asked the doctor in Beth.
you should know all this. After all, weren’t you a SEAL? You should know
the symptoms of concussions.” Beth sounded very agitated.
off the agitation in Beth’s voice, Jules said, “It has been a long time
since I have had any day-to-day experience with concussions, so could you
refresh my memory. What are some of the symptoms?”
severe headache, dizziness, and vomiting, increased size of one pupil or
sudden weakness in an arm or leg. They may also seem restless, agitated or
irritable. Sometimes, the person may have memory loss or seem forgetful.”
about it for a moment, Jules said, “I do have a slight headache, and I was
disoriented at first, but I’m fine now. I don’t seem to have any of the
other symptoms. How do my pupils look?”
at her stepdaughter’s eyes, she said, “No, they’re fine.”
in her Mama Beth’s eyes, Jules said, “Your right pupil is larger than
the left. And you sounded agitated before. That’s a second symptom. Do you
exhibit any of the other symptoms?”
do have a massive headache, and I am dizzy. Then there is my leg, but that
is beside the point. We know why my leg feels the way it does.” Closing
her eyes, she said, “It’s obvious that I’m concussed. You have to keep
me awake, no matter what. It’s not safe for me to sleep right now.”
worry, Mama, you can count on me.”
Gate, New Mexico
the Imaging Chamber, Tom placed the handlink in its cradle and asked,
“Ziggy, what are the chances that Sam and Al will be successful in their
largely to the success of the holographic cockpit of the F-4 Phantom II that
Stephen created, I predict a 47.8% possibility of success. It was an
excellent idea you had, Admiral Beckett.”
Ziggy, but I got the idea from the Star
Trek holodeck.” Then turning to Dom, he said, “Dom, get me some more
power. We have to get another training session in. 47.8% is still way too
low of odds.”
do what I can, Admiral,” responded Dominic, “but it’s going to take
is not something we have an abundance of right now, Dom. Pull power from
wherever you have to, I don’t care. Just get it for me.”
is there any other news on Jules and Beth yet?”
at this time, Admiral,” responded the dreamy voice. “I have dispatched a
search-and-rescue team to their last known location as you requested.
However, they will not arrive there for another 18.2 minutes.”
Zig. Keep me posted,” said Tom as he exited the Control Room. Then walking
down the hall, he knocked on Stephen’s door.
in,” yelled Stephen from his workbench.
Tom said, “Hey, kiddo, how’s my genius nephew doing?”
me? I’m good. How’s Dad? Did the handlink work? Is dad able to use it to
whoa, whoa, not so fast. Let’s try one question at a time. What do you
Uncle Tom,” apologized Stephen. “How are dad and Uncle Al doing?”
all right. And they are both very proud of you.”
the handlink worked then?”
a charm. You definitely are your father’s son, Stephen.”
Uncle Tom,” said Stephen, positively glowing from the compliment. “So
the hologram is going to be able to help Dad train?”
certainly is. Ziggy had been predicting that getting your father some
experience would increase their chances of success to 21.7%. After your
father got some experience in your hologram, their chances of success jumped
to 47.8%. So I would say that it is a total success.”
could see the pride radiating off of the youngster’s face at hearing that.
“You just sit here and bask in your glory for a while, Stephen. You’ve
earned it. I have to go talk to your sister for a while.”
got up and threw his arms around his uncle, giving him a big bear hug.
“Thanks, Uncle Tom.”
sweat, kiddo. I’ll talk to you later, ok?”
got up and walked out the door. Going to see Sammie Jo, he knocked on her
door before being told to enter.
Uncle Tom, is there any word from Beth and Jules?” Sammy Jo asked.
yet. Ziggy sent a search-and-rescue team to try and find them, but they
won’t be there for like ten minutes yet.”
know. Daniel is heading up the search-and-rescue party.”
Daniel is a good man. If anybody can find them, he can.”
So, any news about Dad and the Admiral?”
the modifications that Stephen made to the handlink worked like a charm. The
makeshift holodeck brought Al and your father’s chances of survival to
47.8%. Dom is trying to get more power right now so that we can run the
training program again.”
him that if he needs help to just give me a call.”
you have Isabella and now Jude to worry about. Your place right now is here.
I’ll keep you posted on what is happening. But I had better get back to
the Control Room and light a fire under Dom’s butt. I’ll see you
later.” Then kissing Sammie Jo on the forehead, Tom said, “Give Isabella
a kiss for me, too.”
his way back to the Control Room, Tom heard Ziggy chime in. “Admiral
Beckett. The search-and-rescue team has made it to the site of where the
plane went off radar.”
they found anything yet?”
as of yet, Admiral. There is no sign of the plane or any survivors. However,
as it is now quite dark in the desert, this fact is not surprising. It is
quite possible that we will not hear anything until morning.”
them on it, Ziggy. It gets awful cold in the desert at night. And they could
I think you should be prepared for the possibility…”
say it, Ziggy. Don’t you even think it. We are going to find them. They
may be a little worse for the ware, but they are alive. Trust me on that.
Jules is a former Navy SEAL and Beth is too stubborn. She has to be to be
Al’s wife. They’re alive, Ziggy. There is a 100% certainty of that.”
in the New Mexico Desert
the setting of the desert sun, the immediate danger for Beth and Jules
changed from the immense desert heat to the deep night cold. Unfortunately,
having planned to spend the day at a beach, they didn’t have any heavy
clothes to wear for warmth. Scrounging around in the plane, Jules had
managed to find a few select items to burn. It wasn’t much and she just
hoped that she would be able to keep the fire burning long enough to get
them through the night.
other problem was Beth’s concussion. She was becoming increasingly more
difficult to keep awake. Twice, Jules had to slap her lightly in the face to
keep her from dozing off. But, for the moment, Beth was winning the battle
against her weariness. Her eyes had just started to close when Jules had
said, “I’m sorry.”
Beth asked, “Sorry for what, honey?”
getting you into this mess. I only wanted to get you out of the project for
a while, to somewhere that you could lose all your worries. The middle of
the desert is not what I had in mind.”
know, honey. It’s not your fault. There was a parts failure. Part failures
happen occasionally. There’s nothing you can do about that.”
I put you in a dangerous situation that you didn’t have to be in.”
didn’t put me into this situation. You were flying us to the beach and we
had engine failure. The way I look at it, you got us out of a dangerous
situation. We could easily have died in that crash and here we both are. We
might be a little banged up, but we’re alive. That’s thanks to you.”
Mama, but you wouldn’t have been on that plane in the first place if I
hadn’t dragged you onto it. I mean, you said you didn’t want to go but I
wouldn’t listen. I forced you to go.”
agitation started to show through again as she said, “Jules, put a sock in
it, all right? I don’t need to hear this self-pity right now. Did you drug
me and carry me onto the plane? No. Nobody forced me to go. If I hadn’t
wanted to go, I wouldn’t have. All I had to do was refuse. The truth is,
we haven’t really gotten a chance to spend much time together recently,
and spending the day together was a great idea.”
Jules said, “Thanks, Mama Beth. I miss spending time with you too. Just
promise me something, ok?”
what would that be, dear?”
after we get out of here, we’ll make it to the beach…” Looking around
at the desert sand all around her, Jules shuddered before saying, “Well,
maybe not the beach, but somewhere where we can spend the day together
without the hassles of the project, just you and me.”
promise, but only under one condition.”
time, we drive.”
couldn’t help it. She had to laugh at that. With a chuckle still in her
voice, she said, “So what are you trying to say, huh?”
it’s just that two plane crashes in one lifetime, it should be enough to
make anybody take the bus.”
Gate, New Mexico
at the project’s heliport, Tom awaited the transport that would bring Lisa
Sherman to Project Quantum Leap. Hearing the helicopter approaching in the
distance, Tom stood at attention. He watched as the aircraft made final
approach and finally landed.
the helicopter’s blades stopped spinning, he watched as the door opened
and Lisa Sherman stepped out. Walking over to her, Tom held out his hand to
shake Lisa’s. “Ms. Sherman, it is a pleasure to meet you. I just wish it
could have been under better circumstances.”
Tom’s hand, Lisa said, “So do I. Has there been any word yet?”
the search-and-rescue team arrived in the search area a little while ago,
but there is no sign of them yet. In the meantime, I have arranged some
guest quarters for you.” Then turning to a guard, he said, “Would you
please get the lady’s bag and see that it’s brought to her quarters?”
sir,” the guard responded.
started leading the way to Lisa’s quarters. Then, realizing that she may
not have eaten, Tom asked, “Have you eaten yet? The cafeteria is open and
their food is… edible… almost.”
allowed herself a little smile at that. “No, as soon as I got off the
phone with you, I packed a bag and left. I actually am kind of hungry.”
right this way.” Tom led the way to the cafeteria and ordered himself a
turkey club. Lisa ordered the Salisbury steak and then they both sat down.
a moment of silence, Lisa asked, “So, when do you expect Al back?”
really aren’t sure. We are hoping it will be soon, but he has been given a
really important assignment. It could be a while.”
finished eating in silence and then Tom led the way to Lisa’s guest
quarters. “If you need anything, just ask Ziggy and she will get somebody
to get it for you. I have to reiterate that your security clearance will
only allow you access to your guest quarters and the cafeteria. Everywhere
else is off-limits.”
know. I’ve been here before.”
know, but I still have to mention it.”
you, Admiral. You have been very kind.”
my pleasure, and as soon as I know something about Beth and Julianna,
Lisa’s guest quarters, Tom walked back to the Control Room. “Dom, did
you manage to get me that power I need yet?”
minutes, Admiral,” replied the head technician.
work, Dom.” Then grabbing the handlink, Tom said, “I’ll be in the
Imaging Chamber. Load it up when you get the power.”
and could you please let Sammie Jo know that Jude’s Grandma Lisa is
that said, Tom stepped through the Imaging Chamber door to wait for Dom to
only had to wait a minute before the Imaging Chamber came online. When it
did, he saw Al and his brother lying on their respective bunks, sleeping.
time and power limited, Tom wasted no time in waking the two leapers up.
“Sam, Al, come on guys, get up. I have power for training, but it’s
limited. Hurry up and set up the seats so we can get started.”
Al asked Tom, “Haven’t you ever heard of the fifteen-minute rule?”
a rule that said that you are not allowed to use your brain for fifteen
minutes after waking up.”
in your case, not at all,” said Tom, chuckling.
a big smile on his face, Tom asked, “That got you up, now didn’t it?”
children, play nice,” said Sam, laughing to himself. It felt good to be
able to see Tom again, even if he couldn’t hug him. “Let’s set this
placed the chairs back to back again and sat down. As soon as Tom pushed the
appropriate button on the handlink, the holographic cockpit of the F-4
Phantom II appeared from out of nowhere and surrounded them.
front of Al were the familiar gauges and joystick. Stephen had rigged the
hologram to react to Al’s movements. So even though Al wasn’t actually
touching the stick, it reacted to his movements and Sam’s radar screen
front of Sam sat a radar screen. Looking at it, he saw a blip coming up from
the bottom of the screen. “We have a MiG 17 coming up at our six. He’s
at two thousand yards and closing.”
flying the holographic simulator, Al veered off to the right causing Sam’s
radar screen to change in order to account for the MiG’s new position.
swinging around to follow us. Now he is at eight-thirty, fifteen hundred
performed a mock loop and the radar showed the plane following them.
back on our six. Shake him off.”
Al making the appropriate movements to slow down, the radar responded by
showing the plane starting to close in.
at our five and closing to eight hundred feet.”
Al broke hard right and the radar responded by showing the plane flying
Al, he just went right by us.”
to Sam’s observation, Al went to swing the simulator back around. Then he
asked, “Now where is he?”
he is at our eleven, five hundred feet.”
the simulator around to eleven o’clock, Al fired an AIM-9 Sidewinder
Sam saw the Sidewinder’s quantity decrease by one then promptly saw the
blip on the radar screen vanish. Then Sam proclaimed, “Direct hit!”
Sam proclaim victory over the MiG 17, Tom smiled and queued up a couple more
Gate, New Mexico
half hour later, Admiral Thomas Beckett stepped out of the Imaging Chamber
and into the Control Room. “Ziggy, what are the odds of Sam and Al
is not quite as high as I would like it,” said Tom, “but at least it’s
more than fifty percent now. Dom, what are the chances of getting this
holographic cockpit able to run again tomorrow morning?”
good, Admiral,” answered Dom. “I pulled every bit of power that I could
muster for that training session. Hell, I even have us running on emergency
was not until Dom mentioned the lighting that Tom even realized how dark it
was in the Control Room. Changing gears a little, Tom asked, “Ziggy, is
there any word on Julianna and Beth?”
the search-and-rescue team has yet to find the wreckage.”
his head, Tom then asked, “Don’t you have any good news for me?”
Admiral, Dom just saved a ton of money on his car insurance by switching to
his eyes at Ziggy’s comment, Tom looked over at Dom and could see that he
was smirking slightly. “Ziggy, I meant about Beth and Jules.”
yes. I have managed to obtain a copy of Captain Calavicci’s final
work, Zig,” said Tom with a hint of relief in his voice. “Set it up for
me in my office.”
out of the Control Room, Tom started heading for his office—an office he
hoped would not be his much longer. The office’s previous occupant had
been General Hawkins, but he had been killed in that whole Project Liberty
fiasco. Before him, the office belonged to Dom. He was still fine, but he
had received the office after his predecessor, Edward St. John VI, was
killed when a plane hit the car he was in while it was making an emergency
landing on the runway just outside the complex.
there was Gooshie. Gooshie was a legend inside the walls that housed Project
Quantum Leap. He had been the project’s first Head Programmer. But when
the project came under attack from an outside source, he gave his life to
save Ziggy. Ziggy still carried a hint of sadness in her voice when talking
told, three of the four previous occupants of this office met with an
untimely demise. He did not want to become the fourth. So walking to the
office, he was thinking that he needed a talisman and considered giving his
old war buddy Magic a call. It couldn’t hurt, could it?
shuddered a bit when he walked through the door, but didn’t dwell on it.
He needed to hear the tape of the last transmission. Just as he had asked,
the recording was queued up on his computer.
play, he heard the familiar voice coming through the computer’s speakers. “Mayday. Mayday. This is Cessna N312DZ. We have a left engine
Julianna stopped talking, she had left the radio queued and Tom vaguely
heard Beth say, “It’s ok, we still have the right engine.”
the background, Tom could hear the other engine give off a stained sound and
knew what was going to happen next.
Mayday. This is Cessna N312DZ. We now have a right engine cutoff as well. We
are flying dead stick and we are going down. Mayday. Mayday. This is Cessna
N312DZ. We have a right and left engine cutoff. We are flying dead stick and
we are going down.”
from what sounded like far away, he heard Jules say, “Mama,
assume your crash position.”
long after that he heard the sound of the plane crashing into the desert and
the radio go dead.
a heavy heart, Tom pressed the stop button and closed his eyes. This day had
worn him out and all he wanted was to get some sleep. “Ziggy, if you hear
anything about Jules and Beth, let me know. I am going to bed. Tomorrow
might be a brighter day.”
Admiral,” was the parallel-hybrid computer’s response. “Pleasant
like there is even a chance of that.” Then getting up, Tom left his office
and headed towards his quarters for a sleepless night.
Gate, New Mexico
next morning, Tom woke up when he heard the shrill call of his alarm clock.
Sleep had not come that night. He couldn’t stop his mind from racing. All
night, he was hearing the last transmission from Jules before she went down.
When he wasn’t thinking of that, he was thinking about Sam and the
precarious position he was in.
he would never tell him, Tom had a newfound respect for Al. He had only been
in charge there a week and he already felt like he needed a vacation. Al had
been running the project for quite some time now and showed no signs of
slowing. Tom really didn’t know how he did it.
out of bed, Tom took a quick shower before getting dressed and heading to
the Control Room. When he walked in, he saw Dom was already at his station.
morning, Admiral,” said the head programmer. “Did you get any sleep last
a wink. Thanks for asking. Has there been any word about Beth and Jules?”
yet. But the sun is up now. They should have better luck, with the daylight
with that daylight comes the desert heat. That is a complication that they
to sound heartless to the situation with Dr. Calavicci and Captain
Calavicci, but Admiral Calavicci and Dr. Beckett should be about ready for
takeoff,” said the voice of the parallel-hybrid computer.
fire up the Imaging Chamber.”
the handlink off of its cradle, Tom walked up the ramp and stepped through
the Imaging Chamber came online, Tom saw that he was standing on the flight
deck. Sam and Al were standing by their plane. Each was holding his helmet
under his arm. “Hey guys,” he said. “Did you manage to get any
said Sam. “What does Ziggy say the chances of us succeeding today are?”
up the information on the handlink, Tom read the screen and saw that the
odds hadn’t changed from the night before. Not sure whether that was a
good thing or a bad thing, he said, “64.2%.”
that’s certainly better than what she had been predicting,” said Sam.
you ask me, she is still forgetting about my combat experience,” informed
Al. “Otherwise, the odds would be higher.”
just glared at Al before saying, “I already told you. She is taking into
account for your prior combat experience. It was Sam’s lack of experience
that was bringing the odds down, and we did a pretty good patch job on
whatever you say, Admiral.”
newfound respect for Al was gone now. ‘That
didn’t take long,’ he thought. “The other pilots are mounting up.
You guys better get up there and prepare for takeoff.” Then Tom just stood
back and watched as Sam and Al mounted their steed.
fifteen minutes later, they sat at the end of the runway, waiting for
clearance to take off. Tom stood at the other end of the runway. He wanted a
front row seat for this.
moment later, the flagman at the end of the runway gave the signal and Al
and Sam’s plane shot forward. Reaching the end of the runway, they passed
right though Tom and climbed high into the air. Then, spinning on his heels,
Tom turned just in time to see Al do a lazy roll.
the plane, Sam yelled, “Don’t do that!!!”
Al said, “Just trying to get a feel for the old girl.”
well, if you’re going to keep doing that, you can drop me off at the next
now, Al said, “Sam, you had better get used to it. When we are in the
dogfight with this MiG, we are going to have to do a lot of defensive moves
like that, at higher speed too.”
wasn’t sure, but he could’ve sworn he had heard a whimper coming from
behind him. “Sam, you have to make sure you hold it together today. I
don’t have radar in front here, so I am going to have to rely heavily on
worry, Al, I’ll be alright.”
himself outside the window of the aircraft, Tom had Dom keep him centered on
the leapers. “Ok, guys, heads up. We are going to be intercepting four
enemy MiG 17’s in about eight minutes.”
second Sam looked out the window at his brother, he felt queasy again. In
order to keep himself from throwing up again, he had to close his eyes to
settle his stomach. “Hey Tom, maybe you could position yourself behind the
few minutes later, Tom said, “Alright, you should be having the MiG appear
on your radar in about thirty seconds.”
to Tom’s word, a blip labeled MiG
17 appeared on Sam’s radar about thirty seconds later. “Alright, Al,
heads up. There are four MiG 17’s on our four at about twenty-one hundred
yards. We are closing the gap quickly.” Seconds later, they flew right by
the enemy aircraft.
we wait,” said Al.
Sam asked, “Now we wait? What are we waiting for?”
rules of engagement say that we can’t fire until fired upon.”
Sam said, “What? When were you going to let me in on this little piece of
what do you mean ‘oops’?”
didn’t have time to answer. Sam’s radar went red, signifying that the
enemy had just taken the first shot. One of the MiGs had snuck up on their
six and Sam had been too preoccupied to notice.
maneuvers. They’re firing!”
Al yelled while cutting hard left. The missile missed them by only three
feet. “Sam, you’re supposed to be watching the radar.” Then queuing
the radio, Al said, “This is Iron Eagle, we have been fired upon by enemy
aircraft. Do I have permission to return fire?”
granted, Iron Eagle. Fire at will,” was the response.
Sam, on your toes. Where are they?”
have enemy aircraft on our six, ten, two and four. We’re completely
one is closest to us?”
one at two o’clock. He’s at three hundred yards. But the MiG on our six
is closing fast. He’s at five hundred.”
we have to shake this guy,” said Al. “Get ready for some of that fancy
did a tight roll and the MiG behind him did the same.
there,” said Sam.
the radio, the leapers heard their wingman say, “Pigeon, I have a MiG on
my tail. Could you maybe see fit to get him off my ass?”
his two-way radio, Al said, “I would love to, but I have my hands full
with my own MiG right now.”
he’s still on our six and closing. He’s eight hundred feet back now.”
Listening to his friend, Al started slowing down. “What are you doing?
You’re slowing down.”
bringing him in closer, Prof.”
going to do what?”
saw this in a movie once. I’ll hit the brakes and he’ll fly right by.”
Al, lets talk about this for a second.”
Al didn’t listen. He hit the airbrakes and pulled up on the stick.
Quickly, the plane slowed while climbing. It was a risky maneuver, but it
paid off as the enemy MiG flew right underneath them.
quickly, Al pulled in behind the MiG that was just behind them. He tried to
get a lock, but the pilot was good. Al was keeping up with him, move for
move, but he couldn’t quite get the lock.
one of his buddies is coming around at our eight.”
give me five more seconds.”
he is going to get a lock on us.”
almost got him.”
they have a lock.”
do I.” Al fired a heat-seeking Sidewinder missile then watched as the
plane in front of him exploded in a great ball of fire.
yelled, “Al, he’s firing!”
did a couple of tight rolls to dodge the missile. Then swinging around to go
after the uninvited visitor, Al saw that plane go up in flames too.
was only then that Al saw that his wingman had managed to shake his MiG. He
had just fired a missile of his own at the MiG and managed a direct hit.
watching the radar, Sam saw the other planes heading in the direction they
had come from. “The other MiG 17’s are leaving. Al, you did it.”
we did it, buddy.”
flew the plane. All I did was sit here and look at a radar screen.”
you remember me telling you how important the radar and weapons specialist
was in this bird? It was a team effort.”
over the radio, they heard, “The Pigeon and the Professor. Great work,
guys. Let’s head back to the carrier, what do you say?”
certainly sounds like a plan to me,” said Al over the radio. “Thanks for
mission a success, the two planes flew back to the carrier in tandem. First
Al’s wingman landed, and then when the runway was clear, Al brought his
plane in for a nice smooth landing.
parking the bird, Sam and Al lifted the canopy and were greeted by a roar of
cheers and applause. Turning around, Al shook Sam’s hand before beginning
to climb back down the ladder. Sam followed closely behind him.
the bottom, Tom greeted them. “Great work, guys, you changed history. Now
both Commander Louis C. Paige and Paul Sterling survive the conflict in
Vietnam. And they, along with your wingman, one Lt. Jack E.D. Baston, are
credited with the first victories over MiGs in Vietnam.” Then, once again
reading the handlink, Tom said, “Everything is turning out great. Get
ready to leap.”
giving each other a hug, both Sam and Al leaped.
in the New Mexico Desert
next to the destroyed aircraft, Jules stroked Beth’s hair and spoke in a
calming voice. “It’s going to be all right, Mama Beth. I won’t let
anything happen to you.” Then wiping the sweat from her brow, she said,
“Keep fighting. We’ll be rescued soon, and then we’ll be safe and
sound back at the project. They can give you a once over and then you can go
heat was intense. Jules didn’t need to look at her watch to know that it
was a little past noon. The scorching desert sun positioned itself right
above them and the near lack of shadows was more than enough information to
determine the time.
had been stranded for nearly twenty-four hours and their situation was
becoming critical. It had to be one hundred twenty degrees and the immense
desert heat had started to take its toll on them physically. To make matters
worse, having only packed a picnic basket, they were running out of food and
water. If they weren’t found quickly, they would be in serious trouble.
had not had any sleep the night before. She had pulled an all-nighter trying
to make sure Beth wouldn’t fall asleep. That task proved to be nearly
impossible. What was worse was the fact that Beth was seemingly getting
worse all the time. During the night, she had vomited a couple times, and
her speech had become steadily more slurred. These new symptoms were enough
to tell Jules that Beth had more serious problems to worry about than just a
happened next was the worst thing imaginable. As Jules sat over Beth,
stroking her head, Beth started to seize. Recognizing this, Jules
immediately turned Beth over onto her side to prevent her from swallowing
the next several minutes, Jules sat alongside Beth and tried to keep her
from hurting herself more than she already was. But, when all was said and
done, Jules had to watch helplessly as Beth’s body convulsed.
when the seizing subsided, Jules looked her stepmother over for newly
received injuries. After a second, she saw that Beth’s eyes were closed.
Knowing that she still had to keep her stepmother awake, Jules tried to
shake her awake without success. “Mama Beth, wake up, please wake up. You
know you can’t go to sleep right now.”
Beth didn’t wake up, Jules’s first thought was that Beth had fallen
unconscious again. For a moment, part of her was glad that her stepmother
had fallen back into unconsciousness. That thought lasted all of thirty
seconds. That’s when she noticed that Beth had stopped breathing.
Jules started CPR. She didn’t even notice the tears form in her eyes as
she worked intently at reviving her stepmother. “Come on, Mama Beth, come
on. Fight, fight, damn it, FIGHT!!!” However, no matter how much she
yelled or how hard she tried, Beth didn’t respond. Refusing to give up,
Jules performed CPR for fifteen minutes before finally giving in to the fact
that Beth had died.
into the sky above, Jules screamed, “NOOOOOOOOO. PLEASE GOD, NOOOOOOOOOO!!!
DADDY, SAM, SOMBODY HELP ME!!!”
turning back to her stepmother, she continued, “Please don’t be dead.
You can’t be dead.” She was crying so hard now that she couldn’t even
see Beth’s face clearly anymore.
sorry. I’m so sorry. I never meant for any of this. All I wanted was a day
with just the two of us. None of this was supposed to happen. I love you so
much. I never meant to kill you. I’m so sorry.”
putting her head down, Jules just cried into Beth’s shoulder.
time, the leap out and the leap in were almost instantaneous. There was no
stop at what Sam was beginning to think of as the way station between leaps.
the blue light from the leap in dissipated, a very unwelcome sight
immediately greeted Sam. Directly in front of him was a set of rigid prison
bars. Nervous, he glanced down at his host’s clothing and was relieved to
see that he was one of the guards.
he thought, ‘at least I am not a
prisoner again.’ Again…Again… He had leaped into a prisoner on
death row once. At both the beginning of that leap and the end of that leap,
he found himself sitting in the electric chair. That was one of Sam’s
clearest memories of leaping. Even with a Swiss-cheesed brain, there are
some things you just don’t forget. At least he didn’t have to worry
about that nasty little experience reoccurring this time, being a guard and
was one thing however for Sam to worry about. Al was nowhere in sight. Where
was he? He had to be somewhere. Walking forward, Sam started looking in the
cells for his leaping companion.
was obviously solitary confinement. A solid-looking steel door sealed off
each cell. Each door had a smaller sliding door at about eye-level for
checking on the prisoners. A little lower on the door was another sliding
door that Sam assumed was for giving the prisoners their meals.
walking from door to door, Sam slid the eye-level doors open and peered
inside each one. One by one, Sam saw that Al was not the occupant. He kept
searching until he had checked all but two doors that were at the other end
of the hall.
on his heels, Sam headed back the other way. Reaching the end of the hall
once again, he checked the final two cells. In the last of the six cells, he
saw the broken image of his best friend. “Al,” said Sam with hope in his
he heard in return dashed all those hopes at once. It was the voice of his
best friend, sure, but there was a certain kind of defeat in his tone as he
heard Al say, “Calavicci, Albert M., Lieutenant Commander, United States
Navy. Serial number B-21-23-29.”
that the leap into solitary confinement had made Al relapse back to his days
spent in a Vietnamese POW camp, Sam let out a very dejected “Oh boy.”