Episode 1008

The Leap For Truth

by: A. J. Burfield

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The quantum phasing dissipated like dust in a breeze and Sam Beckett found himself on a grassy slope, which made him lurch slightly and jerk his arms to maintain his balance on the uneven ground. Settled, he cautiously looked to his immediate surroundings to see if anyone noticed; they hadn't. The woman standing next to him was a little ahead and standing with her head bowed. Sam couldn't help noticing that she was dressed in black. He cautiously looked the other way and didn't see anyone. Sam sighed in relief.

        He moved to raise his head and look down the hill but something just beyond his feet stopped him, a grave marker in the grass. It read, "Kelly Robinson Cole, Beloved Mother and Wife, Oct. 5, 1912 - May 10, 1981. Rest in Peace." Sam blinked, and slowly looked around. Well, at least I know it's sometime after 1981, he thought nervously, taking in the fact that he was standing in the middle of a cemetery.

        Finally, he raised his head enough to see that there was a small gathering of people at the bottom of the hill. A graveside service was in progress with a fair amount of people in attendance. He could hear the murmuring of the priest, and was surprised at the number of glances thrown his way. Frowning at the possible implications of the glances, he was completely surprised when a hand clapped his back in greeting.

        "Hey, Bruce," a man said lowly as he moved up to stand by Sam. "I'm surprised you're here, man, I mean with the circumstances and all." He adjusted his jacket, and stood with his head respectfully bowed.

        "Ah…circumstances?" Sam stuttered nervously, his gut suddenly churning.

        The man threw him a sideways glance, his expression surprised. "Yeah. I mean after all, you did shoot him, and all!"

        "I shot him?" Sam choked. "You mean I killed him?" He realized as soon as the words passed his lips that it was too late to make it sound like a statement instead of a question.

        The man frowned worriedly. "That's what I say, buddy, but those guys down there are calling it murder," the man replied softly. "This is going to be a long, hard road, Bruce. You know that, don't you?"

        Oh, boy! I can't be a murderer! Sam thought desperately, his palms suddenly sticky with sweat.




September 2, 1987

Ada County, Idaho


I couldn't believe what I was hearing. A murderer? How could that be? I wasn't in jail; how could I …I mean, Bruce,… have shot a man and still be free? But then again, I was up on this hill away from the graveside like he knew he was not wanted here. And there are people with me up here. Why do I feel like I'm in the middle of a very volatile situation?

        Sam tried not to fidget as he glanced around. There did appear to be a clear division of people, those clustered by the grave and those up on the hill with him. As he expanded the scope of his visual scouting, he saw that both groups weren't very large, and he was completely shocked and surprised when he saw a line of uniformed men beyond at the edge of the cemetery lawn. Beyond them was a sea of news vans and what he figured were reporters. Amazingly, they seemed to be respectfully quiet, but he could also see the photographers and cameramen jockeying for position while protecting the long, ungainly lenses on their cameras. Only the line of uniformed officials kept them off the grass and out of the faces of the mourners.

The sound of a helicopter made everyone look up 'Channel 96 News' was emblazoned on the side in red writing. "Damned reporters!" hissed the man nest to him. "They have no respect!"

        Now that everyone was glancing up at the noisy aircraft, the reverence of the situation seemed to vanish as everyone began milling. The priest did a final motion over the shiny, black casket and an obviously grieving widow, supported by women on both sides, placed a spray of red roses on the lid. The crowd broke up as the woman was helped off to the side.

        "Come on, Bruce. Let's get out of here." The man next to him touched his elbow, and tilted his head in a direction behind them.

        "I .. ah .. shouldn't I… tell her I'm sorry?" Sam stuttered.

        He snorted.  "You're the last person she wants to see, buddy. Besides, I'm sure you'll see enough of her soon enough when she sues the snot outta you. Come on." Again, he indicated with his head the direction the rest of his 'group' was headed.

        "She's suing me?" Sam squeaked, his now wobbly legs moving in the man's direction.

        "You know how it goes. Anyone can sue anyone. Doesn't mean she'll win, but she'll sure have a cheering squad backing her." The man glanced apologetically at the aura of Bruce Oakley. "Sorry. But you know where you stand in the Department."

        Department? Sam repeated mentally, confused. Before he could explore the possible meaning in that phrase, his question was answered as they started down the other side of the hill he had leaped onto. Below, lining one of roadways criss-crossing the cemetery, were numerous police cars. I'm a cop? Sam reasoned, dazed. That would explain why he wasn't handcuffed or in jail; but if that was a bad guy in that coffin that Bruce had shot, why the heck was he at the funeral? And why were all these other cops here? The whole scenario was bizarre, and he hoped Al would show up soon with some kind of explanation.

        Thankfully the man next to him stuck to his side as they started down the hill. Sam noticed the collective glances his way and the occasional mumbled greeting. Two uniformed men clapped him sympathetically on the back; one uniformed woman gave him a hug and said she'd call him later when she was off duty.

        Sam was sort of herded towards an ugly brown sedan as his partner shook out a small tangle of keys from his coat pocket. When the confused leaper opened the door on the passenger's side and lifted his foot to step in the car Sam was shocked to see an ankle holster on his leg loaded with a small revolver. Shaken, he slipped in the car quickly and adjusted his pants leg over the protuberance. He was surprised he hadn't noticed the weight of the thing before.

        Sam’s new buddy slipped behind the wheel and shut the door. The sedan was in the middle of the line of marked squad cars as they trailed out of the cemetery. When they passed the reporters, fingers pointed and the car was swarmed with bodies.

        "You want to stop?" his driver asked.

        "NO!" Sam yelped, then in a calmer voice, said, "Oh, no. Not really."

        "Don't blame you one bit, buddy." The driver reached under the dash and came up with a microphone, the cord trailing to the radio hidden underneath. "Put it on 1, will ya?"

        "Uh, sure." Sam followed the cord to the radio under the dash and saw that the current setting was 4. He dialed it back three notches and sat up.

        "Hey, run a gauntlet, will ya?" the man said in the keyed mike. There was an immediate reply.

        "Will do," a voice responded and the marked unit in front of them braked so Sam's car could ride right on the bumper. The unit behind followed suit and soon the tight line of cars didn't allow any reporters to surround the car. They snaked towards the exit.

        "Throw him to the dogs," a voice remarked on the radio.

"Back off, Clyde!" another barked.

        "He deserves what he gets," yet another piped in.

        "Get out of my way or get rammed!" Growled another.

        Sam's driver glanced at the shocked Sam then reached down and turned the volume down. "Guess you didn't need to hear that, huh?" he said sheepishly. "You're probably sick of it."

        Sam felt his eyes grow large as he realized that battle lines were obviously being drawn around an event he had no knowledge of, and he felt a stab of fear. "Do ... do you think more people are on my side, or the other side?" he asked quietly.

        The driver didn't answer immediately, his forehead creased in concentration as he tried to avoid the milling pedestrians. His hands nervously gripped the wheel as he spoke. "You know who you've pissed off, Bruce. Most of them have big mouths and friends in high places, same as you." He glanced sideways at Sam. "And so did Mikey. I think it's safe to say that most of the rank and file is just glad they weren't in your shoes that day and are straddling the fence."

        Sam closed his eyes in relief when he heard the Imaging Chamber door open near him. He glanced around and saw the bright light of the Accelerator Chamber disappearing in the back seat of the sedan, leaving a grim looking Al in its wake. Even the powder blue motif of his dress failed to brighten his expression. With a few taps on the handlink Al settled in the back seat with a nod of acknowledgement. "Hey, Sam."

        Sam gave him a look that clearly allowed the holographic Observer to read his nervousness. "Wow. Quite a paparazzi out there," he noted. "And you've really landed in the center of the shit pile this time, buddy."

        Biting his lip, Sam ducked his head at the obviousness of the statement.

        "Your name is Bruce Oakley and you're a Deputy Sheriff with the Ada County Sheriff's Department here in Idaho, just outside the city of Caldwell. You just left the gravesite service for Michael Stanton."

        'Mikey', Sam thought, nodding his head.

        "Sam, this is a totally weird, freaky incident that sounds like it came right out of a movie script, but here it goes:" He began to read off the handlink. "On August 30, 1987 you, Deputy Oakley, responded to an armed robbery in progress call at a house. Now these calls are usually a dime a dozen, false home alarms, but this one was called in by an actual witness. When Deputy Oakley arrived he found the garage door standing open, so he went inside without waiting for a cover unit. When in the garage he saw a door that lead into the house standing open so he peeked in the house."

        Sam nodded slightly, listening intently. The police radio chattered softly in the background.

        "The door led into the kitchen of the house. The first thing he saw was a man lying on his stomach on the floor with his hands bound behind him and a much bigger man kneeling on his back. The big man held a needle and syringe against the smaller man's neck and Oakley heard the big man say, 'Tell me the combination or you die.' "

        Sam glanced at Al in wide-eyed shock.

        "This is all off Oakley's report and the victim's documented statement, Sam." Al cleared his throat and continued. "Oakley yelled 'Stop' or 'Freeze, Sheriff's Department' the suspect jumped up and faced him, dropping the syringe. The guy had a stocking pulled over his head that totally obscured his face. Oakley says the man stepped towards him with his hands out in front of him. Oakley yelled again to stop and the man did, right next to a kitchen table. Oakley saw two large kitchen knives on the table four to six inches under the suspect’s hand; the suspect yelled something and his hand dropped a little towards the knives, so Oakley shot him. It was several seconds later that Oakley realized that the suspect had shouted 'Bruce! It's me!' " The Observer looked nervously at his friend. “You know how the brain works. Oakley shot before his brain realized what was said - it’s a natural reaction with people that have heavy training in these situations. They react automatically.”

        Sam closed his eyes in grief as he tried to imagine the situation.

        "Three shots, all in the chest. Oakley called for paramedics immediately and felt for a pulse. Then he pulled off the stocking and saw it was his off duty beat partner, Michael Stanton. The paramedics declared him dead at the scene."

Sam swallowed hard trying to rid his throat of the knot growing there. What a tragedy. He made a fist and tapped his thigh in frustration.

        The driver glanced at him. "You OK?"

        Sam nodded, moving his elbow to the arm console on the car door so he could rest his forehead in his palm.

Al's voice continued.  "The event split the Department. Oakley was known as an outspoken individual who always questioned directives from superiors and staff. He's one of those 'love him or hate him' kinda personalities. Anyway, as a result of this incident Bruce is forcibly retired when his training is called into question. The Department drops him like a hot potato, and without Department backing the widow, Tracy Stanton, sued him for just about everything. Oakley ended up divorced and walked away from Caldwell into total obscurity. He sort of gave up on himself, according to Dr. Beeks."

        "Why'd he do it?" Sam whispered to himself.

        “That’s the million dollar question,” the driver said, thinking an answer was required.

        "What he said,” Al agreed with a nod, returning his attention to the link. “I have some scoop and gossip on that, Sam, but I'll wait until you're alone," Al said. "Meanwhile, you may whan to know that your chauffeur here is Randy Hope, Bruce's best friend and a detective on the Department."

        They had long cleared the cemetery and had entered a quiet neighborhood. Sam was looking out his side window when he heard Randy say, "Uh, oh."

        Sam's head jerked up.

"Uh, oh is right. The nozzles!" Al growled.

        The street they turned on to was lined with news vans and reporters, most of them grouped near one particular house that Sam knew must be Bruce's.

        "Guess they found your address," Randy said quietly. "What do you want to do?"

        "I want to go home," Sam said with more heart than Randy realized.

        "I understand, buddy," Al said softly.

        Sam steeled himself as Randy pulled in the driveway. As soon as they jumped from the car, the reporters swarmed around them like ants at a picnic.

        "What happens now, Deputy?"

        "How did it feel to kill another Deputy?"

        "Are you suspended?"

        "What was your last score at the shooting range, Deputy Oakley?"

        Head bowed, he and Randy made it to the door and got inside without answering any questions.

        "Vultures," Randy spat.

        "Hear, hear!" Al agreed.

        "They're just doing their job," Sam said quietly, feeling a headache coming on.

        "They're still jerks," Randy commented. "You OK? I gotta get back to the office."

        "I like this guy," Al said approvingly.

        "Yeah," Sam sighed. “Thanks for the ride.”

        "Brenda at work?"

        Sam glanced at Al, who mumbled, "Yup. She didn't want to go to the funeral, and didn't want Bruce to go, either. I can see why they got divorced."

        "Yeah. I'll be all right. Thanks, Randy." Sam extended his hand and Randy slapped it in a high five.

        "No problem. You do have friends on your side. Remember that."

        Sam nodded and Randy slipped out the door to the shouting reporters. Sam immediately closed the living room drapes to the reporters waving in the window from the sidewalk and retreated to the back of the house where he could see cameramen peeking over the back fence. He closed those curtains, too, throwing the house into a dreary gloom.

        "Why was Stanton torturing that man, Al? What was he thinking?!" The ringing phone caught his attention, and he grabbed it. "Hello?" He didn't speak for a second, then said "No!" and slammed the phone down. After a second it rang again and Sam went through the same routine. When it started to ring a third time, he repeated the performance, then after hanging up, picked up the receiver and dropped it on the counter with disgust. He sank on a bar stool and put his head in his hands. "I can't even think, Al. Those reporters…"
        "It doesn't improve for awhile, buddy. You just have to work around it. It is big news, you know, one cop shooting another."

        "Yeah, I suppose." He sounded shaky. "So what happened in the original history? The widow's lawsuit showed merit and she won? Is Bruce incompetent? The guy was caught in the act!"

        "Well," the hologram mused as he punched the handlink. "It was quite a media circus. Johnny Cocheran used this case to prepare himself for O.J.” Al glanced up, realized his partner probably wouldn’t follow that one. The blank look he got in return confirmed the thought. “Well, the point is, it’s been done before. Or will be done . . . before. . .” The hologram shook his head to clear it. “Whatever. Anyway, there are lots of editorials about how the 'blue wall' hampered the investigation, too. Clouding the situation always helps when it comes to pointing fingers."

        "The what?"

        " The ‘blue wall’. Cops taking care of their own. There were allegations of Stanton being dirty, but no one would talk about it because that would open an Internal Affairs investigation, and more cops would probably get nailed. The man he was torturing wasn't a crook, but his son was. Stanton was a narcotics team investigator, and some of those guys operate completely in the shadows. They believe the ends justify the means and overlook or rationalize around the obvious because Stanton was one of the ‘good old boys’. If he got nailed, they would be in peril."

        “Do you think Stanton was working for someone else, Al? Taking bribes or something?”

        "Either that or one of those vigilante types. There are indications he wasn't alone in his actions.” The hologram began to rock back and forth on the balls of his feet as he read the handlink. “His partners were very close-mouthed about any of Stanton's cases or off duty activities. They were, however, very critical of Bruce Oakley. Apparently, Oakley has a real aversion to cops who write their own rules. He is, was, strictly by the book and didn't hesitate to call his fellow officers on the carpet when they did questionable acts. Stanton’s buddies put out heavy innuendo that Bruce was going vigilante on Stanton to skew the picture."

        Sam thought about that for a moment. "What does Bruce say? Does he think Stanton's corrupt or vigilante?"

        "According to Beeks, he can barely remember his name right now."

        Standing from the bar stool, Sam began to pace. "Al, find out all you can about the son that's a crook. Find every scrap of info on Michael Stanton. If I can find hard evidence of some sort of illegal activity by Stanton that would make the lawsuit go away and Oakley would keep his job, right?"

        “Well,” the hologram mused.

        “I mean, if I can get rid of the vigilante allegations against Oakley and make Stanton look completely guilty, Oakley’s actions would be justified by law and the eyes of all the Department, right?”

        "You would think. Tough job, though, especially if using the shooting is an excuse for one faction to flex its power."

        Sam stopped pacing. His voice was strong with conviction. "Then it sounds like this Department needs a house cleaning, doesn't it?"

        "Whoa, Sam, that's a big bite to take as one person! You're talking about changing attitudes that have been built up over years! In every law enforcement group I’ve ever dealt with, and that includes the military, there are always those that go by the book and those that throw it out the window."

        Hazel eyes burned with determination as Sam locked his eyes with Al’s. "Dirty, vigilante cops who work under their own agenda don't belong on the street, Al. This incident proves it."

        “I know, I know! All I’m saying is that you’re dealing with people who are used to wielding power. They know the ins and outs, Sam. You are setting yourself up to be a sitting duck. Right now, in my time, Oakley is off the force but at least he’s alive.”

        The lanky scientist bowed his head in consideration. "OK, then, one step at a time. Find the information on Stanton and the son. I've got to figure out how I can sneak away from the crowd out there and see if Stanton left anything behind at the office." 



Vivian Coolidge flipped her hair over her shoulder and glared at her cameraman as she tapped her hand mike on her palm in an unconscious rhythm. She started to chew her lower lip, but caught herself in time. “Stop it, Viv. Gnawed lips look tacky on screen,” she mumbled to herself.

        If she could get an exclusive with this Oakley guy it could make her career. She looked around at the pressing hoard of media around her and tried to see how she could distinguish herself.

        “Hey, Viv, there’s only so much closed curtains I can shoot.”  Ryan had a surfer-dude aura around him that allowed him to get in a lot closer than most. He had a knack for looking laid back, but he always got the shot. Viv had recognized his talents immediately, and managed to snag him for all the major stories. Their reputation was growing at Channel 8 News. Viv could smell the anchor desk; this one could do it.

        She sighed and gave him a weak grin. “Yeah, you’re right.” Just as she began to put together a mental list of what she could do, there was a twitter in the group.

        “Hear that? It was in the garage!”

        “Cyrus! Get over here with that camera!”

        “Outta my way, lardbutt. I was here first.”

        Vivian and Ryan had just jockeyed their way to the front when they heard the sound of a car starting behind the closed garage door. The press of reporters began testing their mikes and pitching opening statements for station sound bites. Vivian saw four cameramen race from the back of the house and set up on the edge of the property. All eyes were on the garage door. The group held their breath in anxious anticipation.

        Vivian frowned, struggling to keep her place in the mob. Something about this didn’t feel quite right, but she couldn’t pin down the reason for her suspicion.

        Then the edgy silence ended abruptly with a collective gasp and whirring cameras as the garage door grinded open. Everyone stared in silence at the car backed inside the garage, its headlights facing out like great, blind eyes. It was a gold Camero, a little beat up, but looking to all crowded at the edge of the driveway like a million bucks. Cameras zoomed in. Reporters cleared their throats and checked their hair. Anticipation hung heavily in the air.

        Cameras whirred. The crowd froze in wonder. The car didn’t move.

        “There’s no one in the car,” Ryan whispered to Viv, his eye planted on the eyepiece of his camera. “And no one in the garage.”

        Viv dropped her hand to her side in defeat. “Crap.” She spat. “We’ve been had.”




Sam settled deeply into the cab’s seat and hoped the driver didn’t recognize him. He clearly spoke the address of the Lake Division of the Sheriff’s Department, where Al said Oakley and Stanton had worked.

        “Good escape, Sam! Once those turkeys cleared from the back fence, you were free and clear. Fell on the old decoy like cops on King.”

        Sam frowned. “Martin Luther?” he said quietly.

        “No, Rodney. Never mind, Sam, it’s grossly inappropriate now that I think about it.”

        Sam snorted, and ducked his head as he spoke. “When did that ever stop you?”

        “Well, at least you didn’t say ‘when did you ever think?’ like Beth would.”

        Sam hid his smile behind his hand and mumbled for his Observer’s ears only. “Any information on the girlfriend or the son?”

        “Yup. Just sit there and listen. The son, Doug Abernathy, has ties to a biker group called the Mongrels. This is based on an arrest report a couple years back and a lengthy rap sheet. He’s been runnin’ with them for about four years now and it appears the Mongrels are trying to make a dent in the drug trade in this area.”

        Sam raised an eyebrow and Al continued. “Ziggy pulled from some other data bases and found that the drug money here is currently collected by a rival biker group called Hell’s Spawn. Oh, and here’s another tasty bit: Abernathy biker name is Dog Boy.” Sam rolled his eyes, and Al snorted a short laugh. “Thought you’d like that. I was wonderin’ who the brains behind the names was myself.”

        When Sam began to look worried again, Al tried to keep it light.

        “Hey, that reminds me of something I read earlier,” Al said brightly as he slipped the link into his pocket. “Seems that Stanton was buried in a Harley Davidson t-shirt and a black biker leather jacket. Ain’t that weird?”

        The look Sam gave Al was one of disbelief.

        “No, really! I read it in one of the papers. Tracy, the widow, said that he was most comfortable in that outfit and it fit his personality. Besides, he asked to be buried in it if the issue ever came up. Looks like it did, huh?”

        Sam shook his head. The taxi jerked to a stop at the end of a long driveway in front of a lonely building.

        “Lake Division station,” the cabbie droned. “Looks closed, ‘probably ‘cos it’s Sunday.”

        “That’s OK,” Sam said quickly, throwing some money at the driver. As he stepped from the cab he again noticed the weight of the ankle holster and he hoped he wouldn’t be put in a position where he needed it. The cab sped away without Sam noticing.

        “Cops always use the back door. Come on, Sam.”

        Sam followed the hologram around to the back of the building where he saw four squad cars in a small lot and a dilapidated picnic bench carved with all sorts of obscene words and statements sitting by the back door. He couldn’t help but notice the large and freshly carved words ‘Oakley kills’ in the center of the table just under a smaller, well aged inscription that read ‘speed kills’.

        The Observer shook his head. “I just don’t get this. Police officers that don’t stand by their own. It’s sick, Sam.”

        Sam didn’t reply because his stomach flipped uncomfortably in his gut.

        They found the back door secured, accessible only by key or number code. Al’s fingers flew over the link.

        “Ziggy’s hacking into the Department files. Not very secure for a law enforcement agency! Try this: 10851. It’s the code for stolen vehicles.”

        Long fingers flew over the buttons and the door clicked open. Sam slowly pulled the door open and he stepped into an empty squad room. Mail cubbies lined one wall, and a long bench with attached handcuffs stood against another. The center of the room was dominated by tables pushed together. A glass-enclosed office with ‘Patrol Sergeant’ in black lettering on the door was at the end opposite the prisoner benches. A hallway wandered back from the office and Sam automatically went in that direction, grateful the station was empty. A police radio quietly chattered in the Sergeant’s office as he passed, and there was a lingering odor of vomit and pine cleaner in the air.  Sam’s steps quickened as he started down the hallway.

        “Here,” Al called from where he’d popped in ahead of Sam. “Detective Division.”

        Sam arrived and pushed open the door to a fairly small office crowded with four desks. One was fairly organized and two others overflowed with stacked files. The fourth one was stripped, save for the cardboard box sitting in the center. A plastic desk nametag protruded over the top which said ‘Detective M. Stanton’, and Sam knew he was in the right spot. Feeling a little guilty, he peered into the box. Al peeked over his shoulder.

        “Not much there,” Al commented, and he was right.

        In the box was a framed photo of the woman Sam saw by the gravesite, a matching pen set and clock, a few files, loose pens, and two penal code books. Tucked to one side was an address book which obviously been rifled through, because when Sam picked it up and opened it, loose pages fell out. When he stuffed all the pages back in and replaced the book, a well-worn business card at the bottom of the box caught Sam’s eye. He picked it up.

        “Regency Travel Agency,” he read. “It looks well used.” Dates and prices were scribbled on the back. “Al?”

        “I’m on it.” A few seconds later, the Observer let out a low whistle. “Wow. Looks like the Stanton’s were cruise-aholics.”


        “Ya, you know, dining, dancing, gambling. Sorta like the Navy cruises I took but with chicks and cleaner beds.” He chuckled at his own joke, and Sam looked at him blankly. “Sam, these are luxury cruises. I was making a funny. If Navy cruises were like that I’d be volunteering for sea dut!.”

        “Ah.” Sam put the card down and picked up the photo. He could hear his friend’s fingers flying over the link.

        “Looks kinda like they were in a rut,” the hologram commented. “How many trips to the Caribbean can one couple make? Hey, wait a minute, Sam. The Caymans. They visited the Caymans quite a bit during their high sea adventures.” His fingers flew again.

        “The Caymans?”

        “Yeah, the Caymans. It’s the North American version of the Swiss Bank. It’s known for its anonymous banking.”

        Sam perked up. “Anything in Stanton’s records?”

        Al shook his head. “No, but not surprising. They don’t use names. Usually numbers or keys, like a safe deposit box. And they don’t send out monthly statements.”

        The scientist’s mind whirled as his eyes stopped at the photo of Tracy Stanton. He lifted the picture and stared at it, his finger automatically traced the necklace glittering in the sun and frozen in time. The Observer followed Sam’s look.

        “Yowzers, look at that rock! Between that, those earrings and that ring there, I’d say we’re talking six carats at least. On a cop’s pay? I don’t think so!”

        Without a word, Sam pulled the frame apart.

        “What are ya doin’ Sam?” Al watched as Sam flipped the photo over. Written along the top edge in pencil was a long sequence of numbers. “Why do I get the feeling that those numbers weren’t put there by the picture developer?” the Observer said softly.

        Sam read them out loud quietly then dropped the picture back in the box, the numbers now firmly imprinted in his memory. His eyes met Al’s. “Where’s the locker room?” he asked flatly.

        The locker room was in the far corner of the building, down a hallway lighted by a flickering florescent tube that crackled as the pair passed underneath. The label ‘Locker Room’ told them they had arrived and Sam pushed his way in.

        The locker room was darkly lit by a pair of bare bulbs in the ceiling. Tall metal lockers lined three walls, and the fourth opened to a bathroom area and showers. Sam read the labels on the locker doors as he passed. Stanton’s locker was directly across from Oakley’s, separated by a bare wooden bench. There wasn’t a lock on Stanton’s locker and the door was slightly ajar. Sam pulled it open.

        “Looks empty,” Al commented.

        Sam checked the corners of the locker floor and then tried to see in the back corners of the upper shelf. Unable to see it all because of the dim light, he used his hand to feel every inch. Just as his finger touched a small object in the very back, he heard voices in the hall.

        “Sam,” the hologram warned. “Incoming!”

        “I hear,” Sam breathed as his fingers closed on the hard object. Quickly, he stuck it in his pocket as the locker room door was pushed inward. Sam spun around and the voices stopped abruptly. There were several heavy seconds of silence

        “Well, lookie what the cat dragged in,” the taller of the two shadows said. “It’s the murderer himself.”



“What the hell do you think you’re doing in Mikey’s locker, Oakley?”

Al automatically stepped between Sam and the pair. “Back off, chumps! I don’t like your attitude!”

Standing straight and holding his ground, Sam met the men’s shadowed eyes. In the poor light he could see that they were in uniform. The silver stars on their chests caught what little light there was and they flickered in the gloom.

“I wasn’t aware the locker was off limits.”

Al was surprised at the strength of Sam’s tone, and he glanced at his friend’s eyes. He didn’t recognize them.

“Not officially,” the shorter deputy growled. “But we say it is, especially to you.”

“Well, when you sign my paycheck, I’ll pay attention.” Sam’s voice was edged in challenge. Sam stepped through the hologram and Al jumped back in surprise. The Observer’s mouth opened to say something, but Sam’s attitude checked his comment.

The Leaper stepped up to the pair, his intention to leave the room very clear. The pair of deputies did not move. Sam locked eyes with the taller man.”

“Excuse me,” he said lowly, nose to nose with the taller man.

It was a tense few seconds and Al could see the deputies’ hands curl into fists, but the parted just enough to allow Sam to pass. The scientist brushed by, and pushed the door open in disgust.

“Wow, Sam, that was impressive!” Al exploded. “I was even scared!”

        “Thanks,” he said shortly, sounding more like a Beckett. “This is getting ridiculous. We’re all supposed to be on the same side.”

        They should be on the same side, Sam. You aren’t a cop.”

        Sam blinked, and his stride faltered. Al saw his friend’s face soften, then fill with agony. “Right. They.”

        Al squinted at him. “You OK, buddy?”

        Sam came to a stop in the patrol room and shakily scrubbed his face with his hands. “What’s going on, Al? I just don’t get this. Something is very wrong here.” He made his way out the back door and collapsed on the carved picnic bench. Sam unconsciously traced the offensive carved words with one finger as he spoke. “We’re missing something. It’s obvious, I can feel it.” He pulled the item out of his pocket and regarded it, his mind miles away.

        Al waited for a comment. When none came, he stated the obvious. “It’s a key.”

        “Yeah,” Sam said distractedly, rolling the key in his hands. Suddenly, he sat up straight. “You said something about a key earlier. And safe deposit boxes.” Their eyes met. “You think?” Sam said, holding the key up.

        “Don’t look like any safe deposit box key I’ve ever seen.”

        The key had a cylindrical plastic end with the number ‘4142’ punched in it. The metal was shiny and worn; this key had been around awhile. Sam bounced it in his hand, then stood and began to pace the small patio. Something niggled at his brain; he just had to put the pieces together.

        “OK,” he breathed. “We have a dead cop that has . . . had . . . extra income. He likes the biker lifestyle.” Sam came to a stop. “Have Ziggy check payroll for his vacation time, then compare his spending habits to those trips.”

        Al punched the keys. “What are you expecting to see?”

        “Well, I’m looking for major purchases before or after his cruise dates. If he had some sort of income . . .”

        “It would be burnin’ a hole in his pocket. I follow ya.” Al tapped away but he still noticed that the faraway look in Sam’s eyes. When he finished his input, he let his arms drop. “What? That look scares me.”

        Sam’s voice was soft. “I wonder if she knows.”

        Al squinted his eyes suspiciously. “ ‘She’ ? Aw, Sam, don’t tell me you want to talk to the widow! I don’t think that’s a good idea!”

        “Don’t you see, Al? She’s the key to Oakley’s future. It’s the lawsuit that does him in. He can weather the line at work, but when she nails him personally, he crumbles.”

        Al regarded his friend carefully. How would he know about the inner workings of the Leapee’s mind? Well aware of the magnafluxing phenomena of past leaps, he wondered if one day Sam would blend completely and never return. The though scared the shit out of him. “Sam?”

        Sam seemed to be miles away and in a daze. His eyes dropped to the key in his hand and after a moment, he said in a soft voice. “The train station.”

        “That’s it.” Al agreed, growing excited. “The lockers at a train station! That’s where I’ve seen those kinds of keys! Train stations, public gyms, ice skating rinks - jeeze, even at Disneyland! You put in money, and get the key!”

        “And it’s available 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Easy access and more practical than a safe deposit box for people that need instant access to. . . whatever.” Sam met his Observer’s eye and his eyes sparkled. “Wanna see what’s there?”

        “Does a hooker take cash?” Al replied instantly. “But you’ll need to go inside and call the cab again.”

        Sam pulled a set of keys from Oakley’s pocket with a evil grin. “Don’t think so. Let’s ride, partner!”

        “A squad car? Cool!” The previous concerns about magnafluxing brains fled Al’s brain like darkness in the light of day. So far, it was a positive thing as Sam fit a key in the squad car like he did it every day. “Oh, Sam, can we use the siren?”

        “No!” Sam said with a chuckle as the engine turned over. “Now make yourself useful and get us to the train station.”

        During the ride Ziggy spewed information on Stanton’s spending habits and vacation plans. Other than the cruises, it looked like the Stanton’s spent their time on the Harleys.

        “Damn, Sam, they’ve hit every hotel between here and Mexico in the past seven years. These two are serious roadies!”

        Sam smile was enigmatic. Al got the feeling that he was expecting that result. The scientist didn’t, however, voice what was going on in his mind and it niggled at Al like a burr under his saddle until the joy of discovery at the locker was almost eclipsed.

        The only bus station with lockers was in Boise, several miles east. It didn’t take long to get there in the patrol car; the speed limit didn’t apply and Al was having a ball while at the same time complaining about how cops had no one to keep them in line. By the end of the ride, he realized a little more how the fine line that Oakley walked took its toll; cops who monitored other cops were in an awkward position.

        The bus station was fairly crowded but it may have well been empty by the way Sam walked purposefully through the building. His focus was complete, and Al had to work to keep up.

        “Here,” Sam said. “4142.” The locker was in a row of smaller ones perched above larger ones. He hesitated before inserting the key and glanced at Al.

        “Well? Do it, already!” the hologram urged, realizing he had been holding his breath.

        Sam inserted the key and turned it slowly, the satisfying click reaffirming their quest. With a quick tug, Sam pulled the door open and peered inside. It was too dark to see what was in there.

        “Go on! Jeeze, Sam, you’re drivin’ me nuts already. Reach in there!”

        Carefully, and after taking a small breath, Sam reached inside. He frowned, and pulled out two fat vinyl bags with zippers along the long side. They looked like a bank deposit bags.

        “Oh, yeah! Paydirt, Sammy my boy. Let’s check ‘em out.”

        Sam tucked the bags under his coat and glanced around before moving to the exit with Al hot on his heels. When they settled in the squad car, Sam put the bags on his lap and opened the top one.

        “Holy, shit, Sam! There must be at least a hundred grand there!”

        Sure enough, the thick stack of bills Sam pulled from the bag was astounding. There were at least a dozen bundles, and it looked like they were all one hundred dollar bills. Stanton was definitely supplementing his income, but this amount was staggering. Sam’s eyes were huge moons as he tried to imagine the source.

        “Open the other bag, Sam!”

        Sam did so, and was just as astounded.

        “What the hell was Stanton into?” Al whispered after a moment’s silence.

        Spread in Sam’s lap were at least ten passports and a thick stack of identification cards held together with a rubber band. They spilled out all over the seat when Sam tried to remove just one.

        “Look! He has more names than Elizabeth Taylor!” Al cocked his head as he read the cards. “And how many countries for the passports? Four? Columbia, Mexico, Nicaragua; and all different names!”

        Sam was curiously quiet as he fingered the stacks of evidence. He felt a creepy, crawly sense as he slowly realized that this was bigger than he first thought; much bigger. In fact, the implications were staggering.

        Suddenly in his mind’s eye, he saw himself - no, it was Oakley - in a classroom with a vigorous speaker pacing back and forth in front of him. By the way he punched his finger in the air as he spoke, it was obvious the speaker was driving home a point that was important. Life and death important. In his magnafluxed mind, Sam clearly saw two words written on largely on the chalkboard behind the speaker: Mongrels and Hell’s Spawn.

        “Al!” Sam barked suddenly, rousing out of the strange vision with a start. He snapped his head sideways and met Al’s wide eyes. “I think I got it! Now I just have to prove it!”

        “Got it? Got what? The nozzle’s obviously workin’ something on the side, and if these passports give a giant clue, it’s either heroin or cocaine!”

        Sam shook his head with vigor. “No, Al, this is too big for one man. I think Stanton is a mole.”

        Al’s jaw snapped shut, then flapped open a few times like a beach landed fish before he was finally able to blurt, “Huh? A mole for what? The Mafia?”

        “Close, but not quite! It all ties together now.” Sam spoke quickly, his eyes dancing as all the puzzle pieces fell together in his head. “You need to do a little research for me in the gang records of the various law enforcement agencies. Look for details on the Mongrels and another group called Hell’s Spawn.”

        The Observer finally found his voice. “What exactly am I looking for?”

        “I need membership rituals. Tattoos, marks, oaths; anything that a higher-level member would have. Focus on Hell’s Spawn.”

        The implications dawned on the hologram. “You think Stanton was a biker mole in the Sheriff’s Department? That’s . . . that’s . . .”

        “Evil. And it scares me to death if it’s true. If there’s one . . .”

        “There’s more. I’m on it, Sam. And I’ll see what Oakley remembers.” The Observer’s fingers danced on the link and the Imaging Chamber door swooshed open. “What are you going to do?”

        Sam smiled a crooked, sad smile. “I’m going to have a talk with Tracy Stanton.”

        “What? Sam, what if she’s in on this, too?”

        Sam held his friends eyes for a moment. “What if she’s not?” Sam countered quietly.



The non-descript brown van parked across the lot from Sam’s patrol car started up just as the marked Sheriff’s unit pulled from the train station lot.

        “I knew it,” Viv whispered fiercely, slapping her toned thigh as she viewed the video Tony had just shot. “My nose is never wrong!”

        Tony chuckled. “You can say that again. Was the picture clear? Did I see what I thought I saw through the camera lens?”

        “If you saw him take two fat bank bags from that locker, then you’re right. Now all I have to do is figure out how this all ties together.” The reporter chewed on her lower lip as she thought. Being on camera was not foremost in her mind now as her mind raced

        “Hey, you figured out the diversion at Oakley’s house and that they would go to the station. I have no doubt you’ll get this figured out.” Tony pulled the van on to the road and kept a discreet distance from the squad car.

        “You bet I will,” the blonde said with conviction. “I wasn’t first in my class at Stanford for nothin’. All I have to separate the bad guys from the good one.”




Sam’s mind was in turmoil the entire drive back to Caldwell. He tried to see what he could actually prove, and take the next step. First and foremost, the reason to meet with Tracy Stanton was to see if she knew of her husband’s secret life; the passports were enough to back up that supposition. Sam shook his head when he remembered the first puzzle of this leap: Why did Stanton do what he did?

        The scientist felt like he was answering the question backwards, that he’d have to plow through many other questions before getting to that one. It was turning out to be a paint-by-numbers picture without the numbers or the lines.

        Sam tried to relax and feed into the insight that came to him in spurts. A term flashed through his mind - ‘magnaflux’ - and the idea of it both scared and bolstered him. Oakley’s insight was helpful, but it didn’t sit well with him that his mind, the thing that made him so unique, was being influenced by another mind. Would there be a time when Sam Beckett wouldn’t return? What would happen then?

        With a shake of his head, Sam pushed that thought aside and checked his watch. He could be at Tracy Stanton’s house in 45 minutes. Where will he be in an hour?



The highway gave way to city streets that wound lazily through established trees and peaceful neighborhoods. The pastoral setting did little to calm Sam’s nerves as he drew nearer to Stanton’s home. Sam didn’t question how he knew where to go, he simply allowed the ghost in his mind to take the lead. He knew he was close by the increasing number of news vans and on the street, and stopped several blocks away in sudden realization that there was no way this was going to be a peaceful meeting.

        How in God’s name am I going to pull this off?’ he thought with growing panic. This wasn’t at all what he envisioned. If this went poorly, it would be on every news station in the world within the hour!

        A gentle tapping on the car’s window made the leaper jump out of his skin and he had to make an effort to keep his hand from going for the gun at his ankle. The face that smiled at him through the window appeared friendly, but the overall trappings set off alarms in Sam’s head. Even so, he found his hand rolling down the window like it had a mind of its own.

        “Deputy Oakley! I’m so pleased to meet you face to face! My name is Vivian Coolidge. Can we talk?”


        Her smile was practiced but warm. His inclinations were open, but tinged with wariness. After a moment, he nodded and patted the empty passenger’s seat and wedged the two bags under his left thigh. Sam could tell that she wanted to sprint to the car door but forced herself to walk calmly, and it made him snicker to himself. He wasn’t the only one trying to keep control.

        Vivian slipped into the seat along with the faint scent of Opium perfume and Sam found it mildly pleasing.  She closed the door softly and cleared her throat. Sam watched her with interest as she took a moment to collect herself. Unspoken questions poured from her aura, then she turned to face him and her lips parted.

        “Wait,” Sam started, holding up his hand to silence her. “First off, are you a reporter?”

        “Yes, I’m . . .”

        His hand silenced her again. “Fine. I know where I stand now.”

        The corner of her mouth twitched. Sam could see her juggling the questions in her mind as she sat there. Finally, she spoke.  “Well, I guess we need to figure out where I stand then, right?”

        Sam nodded, and suddenly a plan came to him out of the blue. Or was it Oakley again? “I think we can use each other and both get what we want in the end. Are you game?”

        Vivian’s green eyes flickered with thought for a moment and then she bobbed her head in agreement. There was something about this man that seemed so sincere; she normally wasn’t susceptible to men’s charms, but she felt and instant bond with this man and at that moment, she decided to go with her instinct that had served her so well in the past. “Since we’re putting things on the table, you should probably know that my camera man is filming us right now.” She indicated the brown van parked a little ways behind the squad car.

        Sam looked back, then after a moment, waved out the back window. They both laughed a little, and the atmosphere lightened.

        “Understood. I’ll start by telling you what I want.”

        “OK, shoot.” Vivian cringed. “Sorry. Poor choice of words.”

        The scientist couldn’t help but laugh. He took a moment to form his thoughts, and then said, “I need to talk to Tracy Stanton. Alone. If you can get her to agree to that, then I’ll give you an exclusive interview.”

        Vivien tried to find a downside to this deal, or some way she could exploit it, but she couldn’t. Then she began to calculate how she could pull it off. “It’s a deal. But I need something to get her attention. To her, I’m just a face in the crowd right now.” She smiled. “Like, maybe, some sort of offering?” Vivian’s eyes fell on the fat pouches that peeked out from under Sam’s thigh. “And can I sit in on the meeting?”

        “Sorry. Alone means alone. But you’ll still have your exclusive with me.” Sam fiddled with the pouches. “You should know that I have an idea about why Stanton did what he did. Part of the answer is in here.” He patted the bags. “But I need her to corroborate my theory. Or, she may know nothing. Does that matter to you?”

        Soft green eyes met his tormented hazel ones and a flicker of understanding seemed to pass between them like a finger of electricity. When she spoke, he truly felt she spoke from the heart - and she did. Something about this man sitting next to her made the reasons she went into journalism come to the surface once again. He brought out the idealistic feelings of her younger days, and it made her feel energized in a way she had forgotten long ago. Vivian realized she missed that old feeling.  Bruce Oakley wasn’t at all what she expected. “I only want to find out the truth,” she said with sincerity. “It’s my job.”

        “I believe you,” Sam replied softly. After a moment, he broke the connection and unzipped the top bag. Reaching inside, he pulled out a passport and two I.D. cards. “Show her these and watch her reaction. I don’t know if she knows about them or not, and I need to know.”

        Vivian Coolidge knew she had the story of a lifetime in her hands, and her palms grew tacky with sweat. It surprised her how easily she pushed aside the vision of the anchor’s desk for the sake of truth - and this man. Clutching the items close to her chest, she gave him a sharp nod and opened the car door.  After twisting her hips to exit the car, she hesitated and glanced back over her shoulder at the aura of Bruce Oakley. She gave him her best, real smile. “I won’t let you down,” she said with long forgotten passion.

        “I know,” Sam replied, and she was gone.



It was almost an hour later and the sun hung low in the west. Long shadows marked the street and Sam began to wonder what his next step would be if this didn’t work. The sea of reporters by the Stanton house had not thinned, and Sam wondered briefly if they ever ate or used the bathroom. He had just begun to wonder what was keeping Al when a tap on the window made him jump.

I’m letting too many people sneak up on me! Sam chastised himself as he turned to face a man that looked like he belonged on a beach instead of in the landlocked town of Caldwell, Idaho. Sam stepped from the car.

        “Hi, I’m Tony, Vivian’s cameraman. She did it, she’s inside.” He tapped an earphone. “She let me know by her microphone, but then she turned it off! Don’t know what’s gotten into her to do that!”

        “Hi, Tony, and I have no doubt Miss Coolidge knows what she’s doing.”

        “Man, you got that right. That woman has instincts like I’ve never seen before.” Tony gushed with genuine respect.

        They stood side by side with Sam partially hidden behind a tree and waited. The sun disappeared behind a distant mountain range and in the falling purple twilight, a blonde head finally bobbed into sight. Vivian’s face was visibly flushed with excitement even in the falling darkness. She took Sam’s arm with both of her hands. “Tracy said yes! She’ll meet with you in Stanton’s office at the station, and she’ll make sure you are both alone.”

        “What about the documents?” Sam asked lowly, taking her shoulders gently in his hands. All his plans were based on the gut feeling of a reporter that he just met. He hoped his gut instinct was also right - about everything.

        “Bruce, I honestly think she was surprised. I don’t think she knew anything about those documents.” She met the Deputy Oakley’s eyes and read relief. “There’s more like that in that pouch, isn’t there? Who was he working for, himself or someone else?”

        Sam smiled tiredly at her tenacity.

        “Oh, sorry.” She giggled. “Sorta comes naturally.”

        He gave her a quick hug. “Trust me, you’ll get your story, Vivian Coolidge.”

        “Viv,” she said quickly with a shy smile. “My friends call me Viv.”




Sam slipped away from the mob with the brown van tucked close behind. When he got to the Lake Division station, there were more police cars in the back lot. Sam cursed at his no show hologram as he parked the car, and tried to stop his hands from shaking. He could see some people in plain clothes around the picnic bench, and figured them to be off duty Deputies. When he walked closer, he recognized the woman who had hugged him at the cemetery, and Randy, his chauffeur.

        God, was that only this morning?’ he thought with shock.

        The man in Oakley’s aura managed to relax a little at the friendly faces, but didn’t fail to notice that at least one of the group stiffened at his arrival and left abruptly when Sam greeted Randy.

        Randy cleared his throat, embarrassed. “Good to see ya, Bruce, but rather unexpected.” Randy glanced to the parking lot as Vivian and Tony walked toward them. “Who’s that?”

        “A reporter. She’s helping me.”

        “A reporter? Are you nuts?” the woman whispered sharply, taking Sam’s arm in a tight grip. “Here? You need to make more enemies or something?”

        “No, she’s OK. She set up my meeting with Tracy.”

        “Tracy STANTON?” Randy gasped. “Like Gloria said, are you nuts? You better make sure she’s unarmed, partner, she hates you!”

        “Yeah, but I do have something she wants.” Sam took Vivian’s arm when she arrived at his side.

        “Yeah, your head!”

        “No, the truth. That’s all I have to offer.” Sam directed Vivian by her elbow to the squad room door.

        “Well, we’ll be in there with you to back you up, then. Between me and Gloria here, and those two grunts,” he waved at the two men standing by the bench, “at least the numbers will be even.”

        They all fell in like behind Sam as he confidently entered the squad room.

        There were six uniforms in the squad room, and every one of them glared at Sam when he entered. There was a visible separation  as the individuals chose to either stand with Sam or move to the other side of the tables. Tony hovered in the middle, and looked around curiously like he was seeing a whole new world out side his camera lens.

        Sam ignored them all and walked directly back to Stanton’s office. Once there he instructed Vivian and Randy to escort Tracy back when she arrived. They left, and he took the time to compose himself. He pulled the bags from his pockets and put them on Stanton’s desk then proceeded to wait for the longest forty-five minutes of his life, again cursing the missing hologram.



Tracy’s arrival was concurrent with the sound of the Imaging Chamber door. Sam groaned inwardly. It figures! he thought disgustedly, but he kept his face calm, neutral and ignored the hologram. Al quickly realized what he’d stepped into, and wisely kept quiet and observed.

          Tracy Stanton stood with her back to the closed office door, shaking in rage. Sam could read it in every line and angle of her body and nearly felt it coming off her in waves. Her eyes, though, held a touch of sadness that tore at Sam’s heart.
         How on Earth do I start this?

        He didn’t have to.

        “What’s the meaning of this?” she said in a barely controlled voice as she dropped the passport and I.D.s on the desk.

        “I was hoping you could tell me.” He slowly pushed the bag of documents toward her and then began to tell her the trail of clues that led him to the lockers.

        Tracy was mesmerized by the bags and unzipped them as Sam spoke. As he spoke she fingered each document the sharp lines of her face sagged. Finally she collapsed in the closest chair and simply stared at the pile. She was a woman lost.

        “I don’t understand this,” she whispered in a wavering voice. “It still doesn’t explain why, does it? And I’m not sure I want an explanation; it’s so much easier just to blame you!”

        “Sam,” Al interrupted softly. “I think I know the why. Ziggy researched everything you asked for, and I finally got Bruce to remember. Ask her if Michael had a tattoo.

        “Did your husband have a tattoo?”

        Tracy looked at him sharply, a parade of emotion playing in her eyes. “No.”

        “Sam, tell her that it’s small, and either on his chest or hip. A small cross inside a tear drop.”

        He relayed the description, and her face dawned with recognition. “Yes, I’d forgotten about that. It was right here,” she pointed at her right hip bone. Her eyes narrowed. “How would you know about that?”

        Sam glanced questioningly at the hologram and cleared his throat.

        “It’s a membership mark, Sam. Mike was a Hell’s Spawn member. It looks like he was a plant in the Department. There’s a huge drug trade across the border here, and the Hell’s Spawn runs it all.”

        How could he tell her that her husband was a criminal? Would she believe him?

Sam picked up the photo from the box, and handed it to her.

        “I’ll tell you what I believe, but I won’t blame you for wanting to check it all out yourself. It’s the only way to clear your mind, Tracy. Start with the number on the back of this photo. I believe that is the account number to a bank in the Cayman Islands. I don’t know what’s there or who it belongs to. This is also yours.” He handed her the bag of cash. “I’m leaving it up to you. I think the man had a big secret, and you deserve to know it. I’m leaving it up to you because only you can find the peace you deserve.”

        Tracy’s whole frame sagged in the chair as she regarded the money. “I didn’t know him,” she said so softly that Sam could barely hear her. “I lived with him for three years, and didn’t know him at all! I feel so stupid!”

        Sam rose slowly to his feet. “The truth lies right there in front of you. What you decide to do with it is fine with me.”

        “I think you already know what this adds up to, Bruce, and I know it would put you in the clear. Why, after the way I’ve treated you, would you leave this to me? I could throw all of this away and no one would ever know.”
        “I know. But the truth is always the truth, whether anyone knows it or not. What’s important here is your piece of mind.”

        The weary widow began to cry softly. Sam quietly left her with the means to answer the question ‘why’.

        Al followed, tapping the link like a mad man. “Wait, Sam. . . she does it! She turns everything over to the Grand Jury and it creates a huge story! Abernathy was a Mongrel, like I told you before, and had tapped into the Hell’s Spawn local drug trade. He hid drug money in old dad’s safe, and that’s why Stanton was there! Oh, and it gets better! The person that called in the robbery was Abernathy’s girlfriend, who was a Hell’s Spawn spy! Man, this is soap opera stuff! I couldn’t make up a story like this!”

        Sam felt a growing tingle in his extremities, and knew he was about to leap. He found Viv in the squad room and took her hand. “I’ll give you your interview under two conditions,” he said with a cheerful gleam in his eye.

        “You’re changing the rules in mid stream, Deputy Oakley! Not fair!” She gladly took his hand and smiled back. “What are they, and I’ll think about it?”

        “First, I have to get the OK from Mrs. Stanton, which I don’t think will be a problem. And second, you have to have dinner with me.”

        “Sam!” Al yelped, but with a twinkle in his eye. “Oakley is married!” his fingers danced on the keys. “Well, not for long. He gets dumped by the spouse anyway, the poor sap.” The hologram looked Vivian up and down with a tilt of his head and brightened. “Well, maybe not so poor after all; she’s got great legs!” The chittering link demanded his attention. “Says here they stay together for a long time. And Sam! Other biker plants are located not only in this department, but others between here and Mexico. They were set up to rule the West, but you busted ‘em, Sam! Lots of Departments cleaned house with this information. Oakley is a hero, and is even decorated three years from now. AND he’s voted in as Sheriff shortly thereafter! It’s a long road, but the rift in the Department is healed. I’d say you’re just about done here, buddy!”

        Sam offered the reporter his elbow, and he stepped into a cloud of electric blue with a satisfied smile.




        The blue white lightning of the leap engulfed Dr. Sam Beckett as he felt himself being whisked away to the mesmerizing blue void, which held an inner peace.  In the blue void, he was safe from harm and he felt at home.  It was there that he could remember some of the family and friends he’d left behind when he stepped into the Quantum Accelerator.  Normally, he would get to spend time with his thoughts, but this time – this time something was definitely amiss.

        Even as quickly as he came, he felt himself being pulled away and he felt gypped of the memories he could have remembered.  Still the same mantra echoed around him as he began to fall into his new host, “You will know all you need to know.”

        Even before Time and reality began, he felt out of control.  As the leap began to permeate around the host and grab onto them to pull them away, Sam felt something slam into his right side causing indescribable pain.  He also felt his head ricochet back then tipped forward as intense white-hot pain erupted inside his skull before it shot backward then forward once again the pain increasing with each pass.  The leap then deposited Sam Beckett into the past leaving him in a slumped unconscious bloodied mess in the driver’s seat of a mangled Dodge Caravan.



        A searing stinging burning pain enveloped his body and mind.  He opened his eyes and found that he was looking down at a mattress.  Confusion immediately entered his mind as he heard a thunderous explosion near his ear and felt more pain as if someone had inserted a nail into his head.  Fearing for his life, he tried to move but the hands that held him firmly wouldn’t budge.

        “Let me go!” he retorted forcefully as he felt another intense spasm wracked his body and mind.  “You’re hurting me!  Let me go or I’ll… I’ll…” he began to threaten as he tried to think about what he might do to them if he got the chance.  He wasn’t sure he could do anything at the moment to the faceless captor but he would do everything in his power to make the hold even more difficult.  However, even as he confirmed that thought in his mind, he felt a cool sensation enter into his upper right arm above his elbow.  It almost immediately made him relax somewhat before another thunderous jolt to his brain was induced.  Sam cried out in pain.  “Aaauuuggghhh!  Do that again and I’ll kick you into next Tuesday!!”  He wasn’t sure where the thought emerged, but he knew he had the skills.  All he needed to do was get free of their grasp.

        “Listen to me, Mrs. Conahey.  If you can get up off the ER table on your own volition after all the blood you’ve lost then by all means, you can do whatever you want to me,” a male voice replied somewhat close to his ear.

        Sam swallowed and blinked at the information given to him.  ‘ER Room?’ he questioned himself.  ‘What’s going on?  Why am I here?  Al?  Where are you?  Oh God… what’s happening?’

        Another piercing thud came and again he cringed and cried out in pain, this time not as loud or forcefully as thankfully whatever was given to him for pain knocked him out.

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