Episode 1122

I Left a Little Piece of Myself on the Farm Part I:


by: Mike Bloxam, Erin Bauer and Ruth Merry


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The blue electricitys familiar pull dissipated slowly, leaving Doctor Samuel Beckett wondering where and when he had landed this time.  He blinked, trying to take in the new surroundings, which was hard to do being that it was pitch black.  Sam looked down at himself, seeing that he was dressed in a sloppy pair of jeans with a checkered shirt, and he had nothing but a beat-up backpack at his feet to help indicate who he was and what he was doing there.

As his eyes adjusted to the darkness, he was finally able to make out that he was in a forest of some kind, and apparently his host had intended to camp here for the night.  Looking behind him, the leaper saw a small campfire burning and noticed the bag was open, as if the leapee was just going to unpack a few things.

It felt desolate there, and the scientist couldnt help but shiver a bit, even though it was quite warm out.  It was bad enough leaping into an unknown person and place, but even worse when all alone.  Sam hoped that Al would show up soon so that he could see a familiar face and find out why he was here.

Surprisingly, a white light came from behind the quantum physicist, and he turned around to see the Imaging Chamber Door, adding to the luminescence from the campfire, as Admiral Albert Calavicci stepped through it.  “Heya, Sam, I guess we got lucky this time.  Ziggy’s proclaiming the nano-search time today to be a record!” the observer stated happily.

“I think she might be right,” returned Sam with a small smile.  “So, what do you have for me, Al?”

The expression on Al’s face turned quickly to one of playful annoyance.  “Hey, you just got here.  We haven’t run anything by Ziggy yet.  I just thought I’d let ya know what was going on, that’s all.  All we know is that the date is June 6, 1960, and you’re somewhere in South Carolina.”

“All right, good, so I know my when and part of my where.  How about who I’ve leaped into and why I’m here?”

Al chuckled at Sam’s impatience.  “Beeks is on her way to the Waiting Room as we speak, so just hold yer horses, Sam!” the observer replied jovially.  He always enjoyed talking to his friend without having to wrack his brain about those kinds of things, but the leaper seemed to like to get down to business.

As Al figured, Sam wasn’t enjoying the chitchat.  There was a cold wind blowing now as smoke blew in his face.  After coughing and sidestepping the blowing smoke, he said incredulously, “Hold my horses?  Why don’t you go back and speed things up with Ziggy if you have nothing better to do?”

Al shrugged.  “All right, I can see you’re cranky,” he commented as the Imaging Chamber Door re-opened.  “I’ll come back after you’ve had your nap.”  Without a word more between them the Door closed, leaving Sam alone again… but not for long.  The time-traveler felt a heavy object come into contact with his back and he fell to his knees, now wishing that he hadn’t ushered Al away so quickly.

“Ohhhhh boy!” he cried out in pain.





Monday, June 6, 1960

21:44 EDT

The Mulhill farm near Carlisle, South Carolina


Sam forced himself to fall forward and he rolled over onto his back, quickly getting back onto his feet.  Putting himself into a defensive position, the leaper saw what had been the cause of his fall.  A man in a tank top was wielding a bat-like weapon, looking ready to give Sam another wallop.  Before the other man could make another move, Sam saw two more men coming out from behind a bush, also with blunt weapons in their hands.

Being proficient in a few martial arts, the time-traveling scientist decided that the best way to deal with this was to rid the men of their weaponry.  Quickly, he brought his foot into contact with the assailant’s one hand, and then the other, and finished the attacker off with a sweep kick.  Now it was his turn to take to the ground.

“Boss!” the two men called out as they dropped their branches, and each grabbed one of the man’s arms to pull him up.

Now having the upper hand in this situation, Sam took a better look at the three men who had just appeared.  The original attacker was thin and had dark hair, including a moustache and goatee.  The other two men were overweight and dressed very similarly to Sam, in flannel shirts and jeans, although their pants were overalls.  One had a beard and the other’s front teeth were badly decayed.  The thought of Deliverance immediately came to Sam’s mind, but he didn’t want to jump to too many conclusions until he knew more.  Perhaps these men had simply thought he was an intruder on their property.  The question in his mind was quickly answered when the goateed farmer got to his feet with the help of the other two men, spitting to the ground and looking like he was about to explode.

“What’re ya doin’ on our land?” he demanded angrily.

“Uh…” Sam said, still not sure what he was here to do.  “I was just making camp for the night.  I didn’t mean to trespass.”

“Well, ya were,” said the man, but then he paused, softening a bit.  “Aw, well,” he continued, freeing his arms violently from the other men as if it was an annoyance even though they had just helped him up.  “Name’s Tom Mulhill.  These here are my younger brothers, Mick and Paddy.”

“I’m, uh… just passing through,” Sam said, trying to evade the issue of his name since Al hadn’t told him what it was yet.  “Look, I’m sorry if I caused…”

“No matter… where’d you learn them moves?” Tom asked, making the time-traveler blush with embarrassment.

“I’ve had a bit of training in my day.”

The other two men were oddly quiet, just letting their older brother take the lead in this encounter.  “Well,” Tom continued, “I reckon we have room t’ put ya up tonight, if ya want,” he said.  “Hate to see drifters out… driftin’, ’specially on my land.  We got a farm just beyond these woods.”

“That—that would be nice,” Sam nodded, already figuring out that in the South in the 1960s, people were much more hospitable than they were in modern times.

“Well, c’mon then,” Tom said, letting Sam take the lead while he and his brothers followed.

Sam was a little disconcerted having the tables turn so quickly.  First, this Tom guy attacked him, and then suddenly he was offering a place to sleep.  “Ya look like ya could use somethin’ in that there stomach o’ yers,” Tom pointed out.  “How’s about we fix ya some grub when we get to the farm?”

“Err… Boss, y’ think that’s a good idea?” Mick asked as he tromped alongside Paddy.

“Ahh, shuddup, Mick.  Hank ain’t gonna be back fer a few days at least.  What he don’t know won’t hurt ’im.  ’Sides, does this man look like he’s a troublemaker?”  Despite the fact that Sam had knocked the man to the ground, Tom Mulhill felt it had only been in self-defense, and the drifter did not know it was private property.

Mick, the man with very poor dental hygiene, licked his lips, still concerned about housing a stranger at their farm.  “Err… well, Boss, he did…”

Tom turned quickly on his heels to face his younger brother.  “I said shuddup, didn’t I?  I’m in charge while Hank’s away, and what I say goes!”

The sudden outburst caused Doctor Beckett to stop in his tracks as well, wondering what kind of brothers these guys were.  First of all, the two younger ones were calling Tom “Boss,” and he certainly seemed to be living up to the title.

“Look, fellas, I don’t wanna cause any trouble.  I just needed some rest before the morning, and I can be on my way now, since it seems I’m trespassing,” Sam said to Tom, attempting a friendly smile.  He didn’t want to make any disruptions to this family’s farm or their routine.

“Oh jus’ ignore him.  He gets a little edgy ’round new people, that’s all,” Tom replied, sounding like he was talking about a nervous dog rather than another human being.  After a brief pause, Tom sped up to join Sam at his side, but still talking loudly enough for his brothers to hear the conversation.  “It’s Hank he wants to be ’fraid of, and since he ain’t around to do squat, I’m in charge, and I say you come and have somethin’ to eat.”  The farmer then put an arm around the leaper’s shoulder, guiding him through the forest back to the ranch.  It made Sam feel a little uncomfortable, but he endured it nonetheless, glad to have a roof over his head for the night.

“Well, thank you, Mr. Mulhill,” he said, wanting to sound grateful.

As they walked along, the senior Mulhill present continued talking.  “Aw, call me Tom.  And as I said, this ’ere is Patrick; Paddy we call ’im,” he said, pointing to the thinner of the two younger brothers and the only one of them sporting a full beard.  “And that there is Michael, or Mick fer short.”  Mick was very round and was wearing a baseball cap.  Smiling at Sam, the leaper found it difficult not to make a face at the shameful teeth that Mick had obviously not taken very good care of.

“They’re m’ half-brothers, but since we’re on duty, they gotta call me ‘Boss.’  Ain’t that right, boys?” Tom continued.

“Right, Boss,” they both replied in unison reluctantly.  Doctor Beckett found such a custom a little odd, considering his family farm in Indiana had been just the family as well.

Tom went on talking to Sam acting like it was some kind of tour.  He had certainly taken to the leaper pretty quickly for some reason.  “I know they ain’t likin’ it, but, well, it’s Hank, our older brother, who sets the rules around here.  It’s his farm, y’ see, but he’s away on business.  Since I’m next oldest, he puts me in charge when he ain’t here.”

All Sam could do was nod at the words, actually starting to feel grateful for all of this information.  It would help Ziggy with zeroing in on what he had leaped here to accomplish.

The rest of the walk back to the farmhouse was uneventful as Tom prattled on about what they did at the farm, mostly focusing on crops like corn and green beans, but also raising some livestock and running a small dairy business.  They entered through a side entrance that led to a small room beside a kitchen and removed their boots before stepping into the kitchen.

“You got a name?  Don’t wanna have t’ call ya ‘Stranger,’ even though that’s what y’ are,” Tom said with a laugh while the other two Mulhills watched on.

Sam knew this was coming.  “Uh yeah, I suppose you wouldn’t want to just call me ‘Stranger,’” he laughed, trying to buy time.  Since these men didn’t know him from Adam, he decided that the best option was just to use his own name.  “I’m Sa—”

The time-traveler had just begun when behind him echoed a voice, saying, “Martin… ‘Marty’ Adler…”

Sam glanced back, pretending to be acknowledging Paddy and Mick, as well as Tom, and saw Al staring back at him.  He tried not to miss a beat with the three brothers.  “Sammm…martin—Martin Adler.”

Tom looked at the leaper like he’d come from Mars, his upper eyebrows scrunched in skepticism.  “Well, which is it?  Sam or Martin?”

“You can just call me Marty,” Sam replied, thankful that Al had decided to show up when he did.

“Well, we like nicknames ’round here,” Tom nodded.  Mick and Paddy tried hard not to show it, but Sam caught a subtle expression that gave him the impression they were less than thrilled with their nicknames.  “So, Marty, why don’t you sit on down at this here table and we’ll get ya some vittles.  We have some leftover chicken and ’taters from our dinner.  Paddy’ll heat it in the oven fer ya.”

Paddy rushed over to the fridge, grabbing a couple of pans and placing them in the oven.  Sam could see that Paddy and Mick seemed to have an obvious fear of crossing their older brother.  He wondered if his leap had anything to do with possibly strengthening the bond between these men and improving family ties.  He had been on so many leaps that had something to do with bringing a family together.

“Thank you,” Sam said to Tom as he sat down, waiting for the food.  Al stood beside him and ran off some information he had just gotten from Ziggy.

“You’re from… well hey, what do you know?  You’re from Indiana.  You’re twenty-one years old, born in nineteen thirty-nine, and you—I mean, Martin—ran away from home about four years ago and have been drifting from state to state during that time, doing odd jobs and just trying to get by.  Ziggy still doesn’t know why you’re here, but it’s probably no accident you landed near these clowns,” Al commented, pointing to the three brothers.

“So, where ya from?” Tom asked.

“Indiana,” Sam answered, just glad to be able to actually say something that was true.  “I’ve been gone for about four years now, just wandering around.”  Tom nodded in response, looking as though he understood Martin Adler’s situation completely.



After Sam had finished the meal, Mick and Paddy cleared his plates and started to wash the dishes.  The scientist felt a little awkward not helping them with the chores, but Tom insisted that he was a guest and encouraged him to come into the living room.  Sam followed the farmer and took a look around, noticing a group of pictures hanging on the wall above the mantel of the fireplace.  At the top were an older man, also with overalls, and a young dark-haired woman.  Underneath them were four men, three of which he had already met.  Sam assumed the one remaining was Hank—the older brother that Tom had mentioned was away on business.

Sam nodded to the photos.  “Your family?” he asked, already knowing the answer.

Tom nodded, but Sam detected a subtle annoyance in his features, as if he wasn’t happy that the visitor had been nosey enough to ask.  “Them’s the family,” he began, and explained who each of the people were.  “That there’s our ma,” explained Tom, pointing to the photograph of the young woman, “and this here’s our pa,” he continued, now pointing at the man in overalls.  “Both of ’em’ve gone to be with the Lord, bless ’em.”

Sam bowed his head, unsure of what to say.  He did not know how long ago either of them had passed away and hoped Al might be able to give some insight.

Tom went on, identifying the last unknown photograph.  “You already met me ’n’ Paddy ’n’ Mick:  that one there’s Hank, our older brother I mentioned to ya.”

“Well, you look like you have a very nice family,” Sam admitted.

Al was hitting the handlink behind Sam, trying to gather data on all the names he’d just heard.  “Hmmm… Sam, it appears in the original history that Hank, the older brother, disappeared without a trace.  He apparently went to a farm expo in North Carolina and his family never saw him again.”

“Hank disappeared?” Sam repeated, a bit too loudly.

Tom was now staring at him with a glint of anger in his eye.  “What’s that?” the farmer asked, almost accusatorily.

“Er…” Sam said, “I mean, so Hank disappeared for awhile and left you in charge of the farm, huh?  You must enjoy being the leader.”  The leaper was now blushing fiercely, embarrassed to have made such a stupid mistake, but the data Al had given him had taken him completely off guard.  It did indicate a reason for why he might be here though.

Tom still looked at him strangely, but decided to let it go for the time being.  “Yeah, and I have to admit, me an’ my brothers have gotten even more work done around here just in the few days since Hank left.  Them boys know how to take orders.”

Just at that moment, Mick and Paddy came out of the kitchen after cleaning up the dishes.  “Well, Boss, I’m beat,” said Mick, yawning and exposing his teeth.  Sam wished he could have handed Mick a toothbrush and reminded him of the importance of dental care before bed.  Of course, he himself didn’t have any supplies along those lines either, unless of course Marty had a brush in his beat-up sack.

“Yikes!  Maybe you’re really here to teach this guy how to brush and floss,” Al commented at the sight of Mick’s mouth, obviously thinking the same thing as the leaper.

“Sounds fine t’ me, Mick,” Tom said.  “We got a lot o’ weeds to be a-pullin’ tomorrow, so ya might as well turn in.  As fer me, I think I’ll go check up on Midnight, Icing, Donut Glaze, and the cows before turnin’ in.  Why don’t you and Paddy get a pilla and some blankets here for Mr. Sam Martin Adler to sleep on?”

“That’s very kind of you,” Sam stated, suddenly feeling fairly tired himself.  He also knew that he would have a better opportunity to talk to Al once the brothers were out of the room.

Paddy returned with a pillow and a blanket for Sam, leading him over to the couch that looked like it had been around as long as the brothers and then some.  After letting Paddy know that he was fine, Sam settled on the couch, taking a seat in the middle.  He was alone now, except for Al.

“Hank disappears in North Carolina?  How am I supposed to stop that, Al?  They wouldn’t believe me if I suddenly told them that,” the leaper asked of his observer, remembering the expression that had crossed Tom’s face when he accidentally repeated Al’s report.  “Is Ziggy sure there’s nothing else that goes wrong here?”

“I don't know what to tell you, kid,” Al said, shrugging.  “That’s all Ziggy has.  She’s looking up information on the parents and the rest of the family, but I guess for now, just keep your eyes and ears open, find out all you can about these people.  I’ll try to get Ziggy to narrow things down on what you’re supposed to do.”

Sam made a face.  “That would be terrific,” he said snidely.

“All right.  You get a good night’s sleep on that… comfortable couch,” the admiral said, smirking, and then he opened the Imaging Chamber Door and was gone.

Dr. Beckett lay down, the couch’s old bars digging into his back.  It obviously wasn’t meant to be slept on, and as tired as Sam was, he found it hard to fall asleep between the horrible couch and all the thoughts running through his mind.  He glanced around the room, taking everything in.  He saw the photos again hanging on the wall, a cellar door with a dresser just beside it holding all the usual office materials, an old television set from the mid-Fifties, and two other well-used chairs.  The leaper sighed, trying to close his eyes and get some rest.  He eventually drifted off and never heard Tom come in that night.





Tuesday, June 7, 1960

07:29 EDT

The Mulhill farm near Carlisle, South Carolina


After waking up several times throughout the night, Sam finally saw light pouring through the windows, indicating morning.  He was grateful to finally be able to get up off the couch and move about.  Sitting up and rubbing his sore back, Sam heard footsteps coming down the stairs.  The leaper wiped his eyes as Tom stepped into the living room.  “Mornin’, Marty,” greeted the farmer, giving a sideways smile.  “Didja sleep well?”

Not wanting to offend his host, Sam nodded his head.  The couch was the most uncomfortable piece of furniture he had ever had the displeasure of sleeping on and it had been humid all night long, not that anybody could do anything about the weather.  “Yeah, just fine, thanks,” answered Doctor Beckett as he stood up, pulling at the front of his shirt in a vain attempt to get rid of the wrinkles that had formed during the night.

“Good, good, glad to hear that,” the elder brother responded as the two younger ones appeared at the bottom of the steps.  “Ya can go grab a shower if ya want.  Paddy an’ Mick here’ll make breakfast.”

Nodding again in response, and really needing a shower, Sam asked for directions to the bathroom.  It was down the hallway along the stairs, opposite a closet.  Upon entering the washroom, it was obvious that the brothers were in desperate need of cleaning lessons.  The fixtures were covered with water spots, the toilet was running, and the bathtub had a wide, grimy ring.  The thought ran through Sam’s head to just pretend to take a shower for fear of getting filthier at having to step into the tub, but instead breathed a sigh and disrobed.  The shower was pretty quick, as the water temperature could not seem to get above lukewarm.  The leaper dried himself off with a clean towel, which seemed to be the only thing in the bathroom that had been washed lately.

Doctor Beckett considered combing his hair, but after seeing that the only two combs were congested with hairs and dandruff, he simply put his clothes back on, feeling at least slightly refreshed and a little more awake.  The scientist left the restroom as quickly as he could and returned to the kitchen, smelling the wonderful aroma of bacon, eggs, and home fries.  Tom was merely sitting at the table watching Paddy and Mick, looking at them as if at any moment they were going to make some kind of mistake.

Noticing their houseguest had returned, Tom looked up at Sam with a welcoming grin.  “Good shower?” he asked.

Inwardly, the quantum physicist grimaced at the pathetic bathing that he just experienced, although it was probably better than the locker rooms at high school.  “Yeah, thanks for letting me use your bathroom,” Sam responded, smiling politely.  The men were very hospitable, despite their appearance, and the time-traveler wouldn’t dare offend them by complaining about the cleanliness of their restroom.

“No problem, Marty,” Tom replied, nodding toward a chair as he indicated for Sam to take a seat, immediately having Paddy drop a plate of eggs, bacon, and home fries in front of him.  Mick did the same for Tom, and then they sat down with their own meals.  Nobody touched their food:  both Paddy and Mick were looking at their older brother in anticipation.  Tom looked at the leaper, and so followed the gazes of his younger siblings.  “Since you’re our guest, Marty, would you do the honors?”

Sam was stunned for a moment before realizing that he wanted him to say grace, making the leaper feel guilty about thinking anything bad about these people.  Appearances could be very deceiving.  “Oh, sure, if you’d like,” he answered.  Bowing his head and clasping his hands, Sam prayed, “Thank you, Lord, for this food you have given to us.  Also, please bless Tom, Paddy, and Mick for being such gracious hosts to a complete stranger.  May the strength of this meal help us throughout the day.  Amen.”

“Amen,” the three brothers replied in chorus and they dug into their food with eagerness.  Breakfast was over pretty quickly and, after finishing his last home fry, Mick jumped up as a kettle began whistling on the stove.  Paddy got up as well, grabbing four mugs from a cupboard and placing them on the table.  He dumped a spoonful of instant coffee in each cup and retook his seat.  It sure appeared to Sam that Tom had these brothers of his well trained.

Mick walked over with the kettle and filled each of the mugs with the boiling water.  As Sam began stirring his soon-to-be coffee with a spoon, Al suddenly appeared in the middle of the table, startling the leaper so much that he forcefully jittered his spoon, knocking over the mug from the inside and spilling the freshly made coffee on the table.

“Sorry!” he exclaimed, jumping up to get a towel.  He grabbed one from the counter and turned around to favor Al with a glare, but he had disappeared without a sound.

“Don’t worry about it, Marty,” Tom answered, the gracious host that he was.  Doctor Beckett was grateful, however, that neither he nor his brothers made any motion to help clean up.  To Sam, it only made sense that since he had made the mess, he must clean it up.

If only I could make Al do it! he mused silently to himself.

The coffee was downed speedily and the three men went through the kitchen door leading outside.  “We’ve got some work to do on the field.  Feel free to relax, Marty,” Tom reported as they began gearing up with rubber boots and coveralls.

“Well, the least I can do is wash the dishes,” Sam responded, getting a smile from Tom.  “I have no other way to repay you, really.”

“All right, Marty.  Do whatever ya feel like.”  The three exited through the screen door and disappeared around the corner of the house.  Collecting up the breakfast dishes after starting to fill the sink, the leaper added soap to the water and began the process of washing the plates, utensils, and glasses.  Thinking back to his days in Elk Ridge, he remembered that they never had a dishwasher at home, and as far as he could remember through the Swiss-cheesed brain of his, he had never had one in any of his own places either.  Hand-washing the dishes had the advantage of some quiet time to think.

“Sorry about that, Sam,” the scientist heard from behind, startling him again.  So much for some quiet time.

“What was that for?  Doesn’t Ziggy normally center you on a more acceptable place to appear?” Sam criticized as he dried his hands on a tea towel.

“Well, uh… Ziggy’s been having issues lately,” Al explained.  “We have Dom working on the problem.  I have to admit, the look on your face was priceless when I appeared in the middle of the table,” he chuckled.

“Oh, ha ha, very funny, Al.  Just tell me Ziggy has something for me.”

Al looked embarrassed.  “’Fraid not.  All we know is that Hank disappears off the face of the Earth, Tom takes over the farm with his brothers, and that’s the end of story.  However, we have found out that this family has a history of tragedy.  Both parents are dead, the second-oldest brother died seven months ago, and Tom is only a half-sibling to the rest of the family.  His mother, Lily Mulhill, was raped and he was the result.  Seems the family took him on as their own, though.”

Sam looked thoughtful.  “Still, it might explain Tom’s temperament.  Al,” he said, turning to the observer, “I think there’s more going on here than those brothers are letting on.  I can’t have leaped in here to do anything about Hank… if he disappeared in North Carolina, I should have leaped in there.”

Al shrugged.  “My advice,” he said, opening the Imaging Chamber Door, “is to take a look around the farm, see what you can discover about their lifestyle, although, of course, you got a pretty good idea last night from the looks of that couch out there.”

“And the bathroom this morning,” Sam said, shivering.  “Just… just see what you can find out from Ziggy.  This place is giving me the creeps.”

“Well, there’s no woman’s touch to keep the place alive,” Al commented, looking like his thoughts were elsewhere.

Sam cleared his throat.  To him, it didn’t matter who was living in a house, man or woman, the place should be kept picked up and clean in order to feel comfortable.

“Right… right, I’m on it,” Al exclaimed, going through the Door and vanishing.

After finishing up the dishes, Sam was at a loss as to what to do.  He hated to impose on his hosts any longer if he didn’t have to, but the idea of spending a night in the foreboding forest really didn’t appeal to him either.  He decided the best thing he could do was play detective for now and take a look around the premises, as Al had suggested.  The sooner he could leap out of this place, the better.

Sam Beckett walked outside to be greeted by a sunny, hot, and humid day.  He could feel the sweat forming on his brow before he had been out there for two minutes.  He could now see the outside of the house more clearly, since the night before it had been too dark to make out its nuances.  It wasn’t in much better shape than the inside:  it needed a fresh coat of paint and more than a few new boards to replace the ones that had come loose.  Apparently, looks didn’t really matter much to the brothers.  There was something strange about them all around, and even as hospitable as they had been, thoughts of the hillbillies featured in the movie Deliverance still plagued him.

He started making his way around the perimeter, looking in all directions and finally seeing the field and the three forms at a distance working it.  The leaper started heading toward the field, thinking he could offer his assistance and perhaps get some more information about what the brothers did around here.

Hearing Sam’s footsteps crunching on the dry earth, Tom stood up from the weed he was pulling and greeted his guest.  “How’s it going, Marty?”  Paddy and Mick stopped what they were doing to look up as well, probably hoping that Sam would offer his assistance.

“Good,” responded Doctor Beckett.  “I just wondered if you needed some help.  I mean, no reason for me just to sit around the house.  I lived on a farm as a boy, after all, and I could give you a hand.”

Tom just nodded and explained that they were pulling weeds, proceeding to demonstrate which were the offending plants.  Mick and Paddy just kept on with their work as Sam began to pluck at the weeds, deciding that conversation might be the ticket to forgetting about his nervousness.  If Al wasn’t going to be any help, he obviously had to do some reconnaissance of his own.

“So, it must be nice being in charge when Hank’s gone, huh?” he asked Tom while tugging at a very uncooperative weed.

Mick grumbled something under his breath, but the elder brother seemed to brush it off.  “Yeah, I guess so.  He usually leaves me to tend to these two twits anyway.”  Now it was Tom who was starting to get nervous, but he covered it up as he always had.  What Sam said next made the farmer want to kick his behind into the next county, but again, he had to restrain his emotions.

“I’m sure your brothers don’t appreciate you calling them twits,” the time-traveler said, trying to be as good-hearted as he could muster.  He was starting to get the feeling that the two younger brothers bowed to Tom’s every command, because they were not laughing.  Sam cleared his throat.  He had never been good at pulling off jokes.  “Well, anyway, I’m sure that you’ll be happy to have him back.  I’d like to meet him and thank him for his hospitality, too.”

That really seemed to rub Tom the wrong way.  The elder Mulhill gave a darting glance that could have been malice or suspicion.  Doctor Beckett was now very confused and was beginning to suspect that something was amiss here, knowing that it would probably be best to find out what that was, and soon, because he was starting to get the impression that he wouldn’t be feeling their hospitality for long.



Sunday, March 26, 2006

19:35 MST

Stallion’s Gate, New Mexico


As Al left Sam for the third time during this leap, he sauntered into the Control Room and placed the handlink in its place near the main control board.  “Any luck yet?” he questioned to Dominic Lofton, the chief programmer for Project Quantum Leap.  The reluctant response came in the form of a negative headshake.

“I’m sorry, Al,” Professor Lofton responded with a tinge of nervousness in his voice, “but all we have to go on is what the visitor has told Doctor Beeks beyond the data we could pull before taking down the research unit.  It’s still offline for month-end maintenance and should be up within a couple of hours.”  About to say something else, he cut himself short there, hoping the admiral wouldn’t push any further.

Eyeing the programmer warily, Observer Calavicci stepped up closer to Dominic.  “What else is going on, Dom?” he demanded in a no-nonsense fashion.

“Nothing,” Lofton replied, trying to evade the question.  “It’s all theory and we can’t speculate on that alone.”

“Enlighten me,” Al encouraged with a wan expression.  He didn’t like the thought of anything being kept from him that involved Sam.

“Well, this leap doesn’t make much sense.  From the data that we already had on the time period, Ziggy can’t find any reason why Doctor Beckett is in South Carolina in 1960 on that farm at all.  All she knows is that Hank Mulhill disappeared… but nothing else even remotely comes together.  I know Ziggy isn’t up to top speed, but she’s never not been able to determine the reason for one of Sam’s leaps.  It’s just… disturbing is all.  It’s like he’s going to have to find it out on his own.”

Al looked deeply concerned.  The programmer was right, nothing about this leap made much sense so far.  The admiral knew that Sam would be waiting for some sort of guidance that he couldn’t give him right now, and he only hoped that Sam getting to know the hillbillies would shed some light on the situation.





Tuesday, June 7, 1960

11:58 EDT

The Mulhill farm near Carlisle, South Carolina


Tom wondered what their visitor was up to, making all of this talk about Hank.  He stared at the stranger for a moment, trying to see what he meant by wanting to meet their older brother.  Tom couldn’t see anything in his expression except perhaps curiosity, and although the guest didn’t know about Hank’s situation, he was still getting way too nosey for Tom’s taste.  “Yeah,” he answered levelly to the statement about meeting Hank, trying to keep civil, and then turned back to his weed pulling.  The farm was better off without Hank, Tom figured, and Tom’s being in charge certainly got things done a lot faster.

As the four men continued to pull weeds in silence, Sam glanced at his watch and noticed it was nearing noon.  The day was half over and any hopes that he would leap out of there before having to spend another night were dashed.  If only he could figure out what he was here to do.  Al didn’t seem to know anything, which had struck him as odd.  Usually Ziggy was able to determine something by now, unless she was having technical problems.  However, he knew that he was there for a reason, and all he knew was that he did not want to be stuck in South Carolina circa 1960 forever.

Dr. Beckett shook the thoughts from his head and looked back to the brothers.  He was so sweaty now that it was running into his eyes and stinging.  The brothers seemed unaffected by the heat; they were probably so used to the weather that it didn’t bother them nearly as much.  At any rate, maybe there was an opportunity for him to go get something cold to drink and do some more exploring.  The other men weren’t very good at conversation, so Sam wasn’t getting anywhere.  He was going to have to see if anything else on their property told him anything.  Maybe they had defective equipment that was going to kill one of them and that was what he was here to do, or maybe he was here to make sure Tom was nicer to his brothers.  It could have been anything.  Their responses to his questions about Hank were suspicious, but he couldn’t read these people well enough to know why.

Sam finished with a weed and then told Tom, “Well, I might go in and make us some lunch.  I’m not used to this southern sun, being from Indiana, you know.  I’ll call you when it’s ready.”

Tom was starting to think that maybe Marty was on to him… he and his brothers had only been out in the field for a couple of hours clearing up the weeds before the corn grew any taller, and the drifter already wanted to go get lunch.  Well, I may be a welcoming host, the elder Mulhill thought to himself, but I sure as Hell ain’t gonna let him snoop ’round here on his own.  I shoulda left one o’ the twits in the kitchen with him before.

Putting on a façade of hospitality, Tom responded very contrary to his emotions.  “Sure Marty, I’ll send Paddy on in with ya.”  He then looked over at Paddy who nodded and rose up from his knees.

Sam hadn’t been expecting this, but it also told him that Tom no longer trusted him, not wanting the leaper going anywhere alone on the property.  Then again, having one of the younger Mulhill brothers alone with him might allow him to open up without the oppressive Tom around.  “All right, I could use the help,” Sam smiled at Tom.  “And I’m sure Paddy could use the break.”

Tom’s expression continued covering his true feelings as he nodded at Sam.  “We don’t normally take a break ’til two o’clock, but if yer willin’ to make us somethin’ up, I’m sure we’ll gobble it down.”  He then moved his glance over to Paddy.  “Go with ’im, Pad’.”

As if having Tom in charge wasn’t bad enough, Patrick Mulhill always had to endure being called “Paddy.”  Hank and everyone else always called him Pat for short, but since Mick had never gone by his Christian name of Michael and Tom got a kick out of those Irish jokes, he got dubbed Paddy.  He had never liked it, but the chain of command was always oldest to youngest:  Hank, Tom, Mick, and then him.

“Yes, Boss,” he responded, though he was already on his feet.  That was another thing that bothered him—having to call Tom “Boss” when they were on duty—but that was Hank’s idea for whoever was in charge of the farm at the time.

Once Sam and Paddy were out of earshot of the other two men as they headed toward the house, the time-traveler decided to spark up some conversation.  “So… you like working for the family business?” he asked Paddy innocently.  “You and your brothers look like you make quite a team.”

Paddy had been following behind the leaper as they walked toward the farmhouse, but found himself beside Sam, who began talking to him.  “Yeah, I guess so,” he answered a bit distantly.  “Mick and me usually like having Hank around, though.  Tom doesn’t boss us around as much when Hank’s here.”  Paddy figured that Sam wouldn’t go around telling Tom about what he had just said, and it was about time he got to complain to somebody besides Mick.  Just in case, he quickly added, “Don’t tell Tom I said that.”

Nodding, Sam assured Paddy that nothing would be passed on, noticing that the farmer almost seemed relieved to get that out of his system.  More and more, the quantum physicist was getting the feeling that Paddy and Mick were afraid of their older brother.  “So when is Hank due back?” he continued, hoping to stray away from the talk of Tom being in charge.

“Oh, he gone t’ North Carolina fer a few days… won’t be back fer two more days, sometime on Thursday.  I’m sure hopin’ he’s back by Friday:  the tenth is Mick’s birthday.  We’re s’posed to be goin’ down t’ Columbia on the weekend fer the whole family t’ gather.  We got an aunt and two cousins also celebratin’ birthdays this month.”

“Well, I hate to impose on you too long,” Sam said as they entered the farmhouse.  “I get the feeling that Tom doesn’t like me too much.  I don’t want to make you feel uncomfortable.”

Shaking his head, Paddy told him the opposite.  “Naw, I think he jus’ sent me in t’ watch ya.  If I go back without you, he’ll get mad.  An’ don’t worry ’bout Tom, he seems to like you a lot.  Normally he don’t care fer drifters.”

Calling Sam a drifter hit a nerve with the leaper—Paddy didn’t know the half of it.  Sam traveled from place to place just like a drifter, never sure where he was going to end up.

“Whatcha gonna be makin’ for us?” Paddy asked when Sam was just standing there, lost in his thoughts.

Patrick Mulhill seemed to be getting a bit fidgety, so Doctor Beckett took no more time as he looked in the refrigerator.  There was some hamburger in there that looked like it needed to be cooked right away.  “Well,” he laughed, “I could make some Hamburger Helper.”

Paddy stared at the stranger blankly and Sam realized that they wouldn’t have had that brand name in the 1960s.  It hadn’t come out until 1971.  Now why could his Swiss-cheesed memory recall the date when a product came out and nearly nothing of his own personal history?  “Er,” he quickly replied, “it’s a specialty of mine… I need some pasta and cheese to add to this hamburger.”

“Sure, pasta’s in the cupboard and cheese is in the ’frigerator somewhere,” Paddy informed.  “Want me to boil the water for ya?”  The youngest Mulhill thought this man was making lunch, so there was no point in him standing by and just watching.

“That’d be great,” answered the leaper as he found the cheese and took it out of the brand-new refrigerator along with the hamburger.  He then proceeded to look for a bowl and some utensils to get the meat and cheese ready.

In the meantime, he was also watching Paddy closely, who seemed at ease now that Sam wasn’t asking him a bunch of questions.  Still, if Ziggy had nothing, Sam obviously had to find out more.  “You know, some corn-on-the-cob might make a good side-dish… or some of those beans in the field.  I’d be happy to go gather some if you’d watch the water for me and add the pasta when it starts to boil,” the scientist said as nonchalantly as he could.

Paddy helped Sam get out the utensils, grateful that the leaper had stopped asking him questions about his family.  Tom probably wouldn’t be too happy with him if he knew Paddy was talking too much about the Mulhill history.  He also felt uncomfortable when Sam asked if they could have some vegetables for dinner from the field.  That would mean leaving Sam alone again, and Paddy knew Tom would react pretty badly to that.

“Nah, we’ll save that for supper,” Paddy replied, getting a brief but quickly recovered look of disappointment from Sam.  “Just somethin’ quick is all we need right now,” Paddy told him, eyeing the drifter up as he tried to figure out if he was up to something or just being helpful.

“Yeah, sure, we can just have it for supper then,” Sam agreed, turning away from him and starting to squish the hamburger with a fork while Paddy put the water on to boil.  The scientist could feel Paddy’s eyes on him, and he had the feeling the farmer could see right through him.  Sam had pretty much resigned himself to taking the cooking opportunity to come up with another plan when he heard voices from outside.  They were raised in anger, and within moments, Mick and Tom had come in, arguing like Sam had never seen them do before.  Paddy had turned wide-eyed toward them as well, appearing equally as stunned by Mick’s anger towards Tom.  Mick was carrying a piece of corn in his hand and flailing it up and down.

Mick cried out, “Hank woulda never let this happen… Boss.”  His words sounded bitter and condescending, which seemed to enrage Tom even more.  The fact that he would actually challenge Tom’s authority had been unimaginable, until now, and Tom was not taking it too well.

“Well, I guess he did, now didn’t he?!  I’m not the one who was pullin’ the damned weeds all spring and I’m not the one who was givin’ the orders neither!” he yelled at him, noticing Paddy cringe out of the corner of his eye.

It had all started while the two farmers had been in the field.  Continuing to pull weeds after Sam and Paddy had gone back to the house, Tom had asked Mick to check a few ears of corn to see how the crop was coming along.  He had been gone just a few minutes when he had screamed out Tom’s name—not “Boss,” but “Tom”—which made Tom realize that this was something serious.  He ran to Mick’s spot, and immediately his younger brother started accusing him of being the cause of some bug getting into the corn.  They opened a few more ears and they all had, along with most of the nearby weeds, an infestation with the same larval stage of cutworm.

Tom began yelling back, blaming Mick and Paddy for shoddy keeping of the fields.  After all, they were the ones who were supposed to do the work.  Hank had been around all spring, so Tom wasn’t even the one in charge when the infestation probably started.  To Tom’s surprise, though, Mick just continued to talk back, grabbing an ear of corn and walking away from his older brother back toward the house.  Tom followed him, the two of them arguing all the way to the kitchen, where they saw Sam and Paddy staring at them like stunned dogs.  That’s when Mick had said Hank would never have let this happen.

Tom’s outburst in response to this had only made Mick angrier, so he made his way over to Sam and thrust the corn into his face.  “This!  What do you make of it?”

Sam was taken aback at first, but inspected the corn, frowning at what he saw.  “Well, this species is black cutworm; it tends to infest corn if weed growth isn’t minimized in the spring.  It’s more common for them to affect the weeds, but if left alone, they’ll attack the corn as well.”

The three brothers were now staring at the scientist intensely; Tom especially looked about to explode, his eyes shooting daggers.  That had obviously been the wrong thing to say, because it looked like Sam was insinuating that the men were not knowledgeable about farm matters and had been mistaken about when they chose to pull weeds in order to prevent this problem.  Sam quickly felt embarrassed, and he stood there stupidly, saying, “I mean… uh…”

Tom stared him down with intensity.  He couldn’t believe the nerve of the drifter:  he acted like he knew everything about farming when probably hadn’t set foot on a farm for five years, when the Mulhills had been working their farm all their lives.  “How dare you say that?!  We’ve been workin’ this land day in, day out since we was old enough to use a hoe, and we ain’t never had a bad crop, ’cept for poor weather.”  What Sam had said was the least of his worries though, and he turned his attention back to Mick.  “Hank got you boys to pull every weed out there, so don’t go blaming this on me either!”  Tom’s temper was getting the better of him, but he knew he was right, damn it.

Sam, Paddy, and Mick seemed lost as to what to say, but Tom wasn’t finished yet.  He now looked at all three of them, his head starting to spin from the anger.  “And if y’all don’t stop accusin’ me of trying to sabotage our crop, you’ll have somethin’ comin’ for ya, I guarantee!”





Tuesday, June 7, 1960

12:19 EDT

The Mulhill farm near Carlisle, South Carolina


Doctor Beckett realized that he really wasn’t helping the situation, but if Tom didn’t calm down soon, Sam imagined the farmer’s head might literally explode.  To Tom, who was now reeling with anger, Sam put his hands out in a peace offering and said, “Look, Tom, I didn’t mean to insinuate anything.  I know about the cutworm because my father ran across it many times in our fields, too.  Even the most dedicated farmer is going to have problems with pests.”

Tom Mulhill seemed to calm down, but only slightly.  Continuing in his attempt to settle the situation, Sam began walking back and forth among the brothers.  “The important thing is you discovered it while the corn is still young, so you can do a bio-control or insecticide treatment and stop it before it gets out of hand.”  Sam was hoping out of all hopes that they were taking in his words.  Obviously a pest taking over the crop could be devastating if one made one’s living from food production.  He wanted to suggest to Tom the kind of insecticide that his father had used in the fields, too—a natural pyrethrin that was less toxic than other formulations—but thought Tom wouldn’t take to being told what to do, even if it meant better safety for applying it later.  He only hoped the farmer would consider this sort of thing before doing anything rash.

“He’s right, Boss,” said Mick, who was beginning to think he had overstepped his bounds.  Tom had a short temper, but very rarely displayed as much fury as they had just witnessed.  “It’s just that things ain’t the same ’round here without Hank… ya know how it takes this whole family everything we got to run this place, and with him gone, it’s hard t’ keep up.  Plus, it’s m’ birthday in a couple days and that’s the only time our whole family is together.”

Sam was beginning to think that his purpose here had something to do with keeping this family from being torn apart.  Many of the leaper’s assignments had that theme, so he was hoping that was all it was.  Turning to look at the three of them, all of whom still appeared stiff and in shock over the argument, he suggested, “Why don’t you guys just sit down and take a load off, and I’ll finish making the Hamburger Helper?”

“The what?” Mick declared, thinking to himself that the stranger was talking nonsense, but sat down as suggested.  He was exhausted from the argument with Tom.

“Just a recipe from home,” Sam explained, trying to create an atmosphere of warmth and camaraderie to cool down what had just ensued.  When Mick sat down, Tom continued standing by the door looking like he was thinking hard, and Paddy returned to the pasta while Sam cooked the hamburger.

Once the meal was ready, Sam told Paddy to sit down while he combined the meat, noodles, and cheese.  He also got out the plates and forks, insisting that he serve the farmers after a wonderful breakfast and letting him stay last night.

“Thanks, Marty,” Paddy said as the physicist put the plate in front of him.  Tom finally sat down at the table, still looking pretty angry, and said nothing throughout the meal.  Mick and Sam were silent too, and Paddy didn’t want to say anything to break the silence.

From Tom’s perspective, one thing was for sure:  the boys weren’t getting their two o’clock break that day, and he guessed neither was he if he had to go find pesticide.  He was still angry that Mick had acted like a little upstart about the corn and that the stranger had taken it upon himself to act like a know-it-all about how to run a farm.  He finished first and leaned back in his chair, arms crossed in front of his chest as he waited.  Mick and Paddy seemed to speed up their eating.  At least they still know who’s boss ’round here, Tom thought to himself.  The eldest Mulhill had been starting to worry about the way Mick kept going on about Hank and the corn.

“Well, let’s get back to work,” Tom said emotionlessly, standing up from his chair after his two brothers had finished their food.  Mick felt another tinge of annoyance at the brother currently in charge.  Tom had never been one for long meals… it was always “work, work, work,” although Paddy and Mick were the ones who did most of it.  Figuring they had better obey him after the outburst Tom had already had, the two younger brothers quickly got up from their chairs as well.

Sam didn’t feel the meal had gone nearly as well as he had hoped.  He was thinking that by them all sitting there together, having lunch, maybe they would open up.  That was always how it was with his family, but he often forgot that not everyone had the nice family life that he had had.  Everyone just sat there in silence, and Sam quite honestly did not really know what to do to keep a conversation between these brothers flowing.

He found himself wishing he had leaped into one of the brothers instead of as a drifter.  If he were someone they knew, they would be more apt to listen.  Unfortunately, he was a stranger here in every sense, and his opinion counted very little, especially to someone as headstrong as Tom.  If he had leaped into Hank, for example, he could probably have knocked some sense into these guys.  That, and he would have been able to prevent Hank’s disappearance.  There were some odd variables to this leap anyway—the fact that he had leaped into someone unknown to the people he was supposedly here to help being only the beginning.

The three brothers had gotten up from the table now; they had practically rushed through the meal.  Tom said it was time to get back to work, and Sam suddenly had another idea.  “Sure, you go do that,” he said, getting up himself and picking up his plate to bring to the sink.  “I’ll just do the dishes and then, if you like, I can go to town and get the pesticide for you while you work in the fields.”  The time-traveler figured maybe he could ask the townspeople what they knew about the brothers and get better insight into their history.

Tom felt that something seemed fishy about the way Marty immediately offered to go get the pesticide.  He certainly wasn’t going to trust some drifter with his truck.  It was quite possible that the stranger had been trying to gain their trust just to take off with one of the vehicles, sell it to someone for some quick cash, and go back to Illinois or Indiana or wherever he said he was from… unless of course he left there for “legal” reasons.  Not to mention, he could get the kind of pesticide that he felt would be the safest choice.

“That’s all right, Marty.  I’ll go inta town.  Paddy and Mick here’ll go back out into the field, and if you wanna help ’em out, it’d be much appreciated,” the older brother responded, watching the man’s face while he thought over the words.

Sam knew it would have been a miracle if Tom had agreed to such a request.  Figuring that he would have had to take one of their vehicles to town, the leaper could not really blame him since he did not really know him at all.  However, with Tom going to get the pesticide, that meant that Sam could probably get away with searching the farm on his own.  Mick already seemed a bit rebellious, and if Doctor Beckett could come up with an excuse to stay in the house while the two youngest Mulhill brothers went to the fields, it might buy him some time.  Besides, maybe Paddy and Mick would loosen up without Tom around.  All Sam knew was that this whole situation was becoming more uncomfortable by the minute and was growing more worried as the day crept by.  Staying another night with these people really didn’t appeal to him very much at all.

Trying to wear as straight a face as he could when Tom said he would go to town instead of him, Sam replied with a polite, “No problem.  I just thought I’d offer since you have all been so hospitable.  But I’ll just get these dishes done, and then help Paddy and Mick in the fields.”  With that said, Sam began to clear the rest of the dishes away, then smiled at Tom, hoping that he would take the bait.  The quantum physicist really wanted the elder brother to leave now, realizing how Paddy and Mick could feel so intimidated by him.  He was supposed to be a guest in this house and yet he felt that Tom was bearing down on him too.

“Thanks for making lunch, Marty,” Tom said simply in answer as the three brothers walked toward the kitchen door leading outside.  Sam waved his hand and nodded in response; wordlessly saying “it was nothing.”  Tom was not going to outright trust a stranger, despite how pleasant the drifter seemed.  He was sure the three of them could defend themselves against him if they had to… which reminded him that he had better get his revolver ready just in case.

Mick looked at Paddy and Tom.  “Well, Paddy and me best get t’ work then.  We’ll try t’ clear ’s much ’s we can t’ get ready fer the pesticide.”  The second-youngest Mulhill hoped that Tom was not still upset and just wanted to get on with their work, keeping in mind that Hank would return by Friday and things would be back to normal.

“That’s a good idea, Mick… for once,” Tom snarled at him, still somewhat angry about the way Mick had yelled at him.  “You two boys go on out, I’ll be out in a second.”  Paddy and Mick went outside and Tom headed up the stairs, leaving Sam alone in the kitchen.

Paddy and Mick went back outside, putting their gloves and field boots back on.  The argument was weighing heavily on Paddy’s mind and decided to let out his thoughts.  “Tom sure is pissed off at ya, Mick.  You know y’ ain’t supposed t’ yell at ’im!” he chastised his brother, even though he knew that Mick already realized that.

Mick nodded his head, knowing that Paddy was just being his younger brother.  “I know, but he’s been pushin’ us too hard lately since Hank left, an’ I just blew up.  He’s never been this tough on us before when Hank put ’im in charge.  Somethin’s crawled up his butt and died, I think.”  Mick looked like he was about to say something else when they heard Tom speaking with Sam, the voice of the older brother becoming louder.

Upstairs, Tom had retrieved his gun from his dresser drawer, hidden behind a bunch of old shirts.  It still had four bullets left in it, having used the other two to get rid of his older brother Hank.  “Bastard,” he muttered aloud at the thought of Hank, the same word that he used for Tom so often since he had revealed to Tom about how their mother really got pregnant with him.

Stuffing the revolver in his pocket, Tom headed back downstairs.  “Well, have fun with the boys out there, Marty,” he said, trying to be friendly.

Surprised at his appearance, Sam looked up from the dishes.  “Will do,” the leaper replied, also somewhat surprised at the sudden change of attitude.

There was no reason for Tom to be mad at the guest, so Tom figured that he might as well make him feel comfortable while he was there.  Heck, if he’s this useful all the time, we might as well hire him on to replace the workload that’ll result from Hank ‘quitting,’ Tom thought to himself.

Without a word more, Tom exited the kitchen door and saw his two younger brothers suddenly turn around to face him.  Motioning them to walk away from the house with him a bit, they followed.  When Tom figured they were out of earshot, he said to them quietly,  “Yous two keep a good eye on ’im.  I figure he’s up t’ somethin’, and I don’t want nothin’ happenin’ to this farm anymore than you two do.  Got it?”

Paddy and Mick stared at their older brother blankly and right in sync answered, “Yes, Boss.”

Tom looked pleased, especially at Mick, who was thinking it was just best to keep the peace, despite how good it had felt to backtalk to Tom a bit.  After all, before they knew it, Hank would be back, and things could get back to normal.  Tom then went to the driveway, still glancing at his brothers with a “you’d better not screw things up” glance, and then boarded one of the two pick-up trucks.  Hank had decided to take the bus to Gastonia in North Carolina, so both vehicles were available.  Driving the 1956 Chevrolet down the road was a lot nicer than the 1946 Ford rust-bucket that they had had since their father was in charge of the farm.

The truck started up without a problem and Tom took off down the road toward Highway 121.  He started thinking that it might have been better to send either Paddy or Mick into town.  At least then, he could watch Marty for himself.  The farmer was beginning to suspect that the drifter felt something was up, and he seemed pretty smart, if not more than he should be for his own good.  As the truck traveled down the dirt road toward the highway, he removed the revolver from his pocket and put it at his side.  Tom hoped that he wouldn’t need to use it, but he would if he had to.

Reaching the highway, he turned right and tore off down the road toward Carlisle.  Tom didn’t want to take any longer than he had to with the insecticide.  Thankfully, traffic was light at that time in the morning and he didn’t have to worry about somebody taking his sweet time in front of him.  It would only take a half-hour before he got to Carlisle.



Paddy and Mick stood in their place for a few moments after their brother had left.  “Well,” Mick said to Paddy, “we best go t’ the field.  We’ll take turns goin’ back t’ check on Marty, makin’ sure he’s not up to somethin’.”  Paddy nodded and the two youngest Mulhills headed toward the field.

Sam watched out the window as Tom’s truck drove off and sighed with relief.  Somehow it felt like a huge weight off his shoulders.  Now he could finally take a look around the place, wishing he had done so this morning when Tom hadn’t been so suspicious of him.  The leaper had already seen most of the house just from the time he had spent there, so he decided not to waste too much time with that.  That was something he could risk tonight after everyone had gone to bed.  For now, Sam felt that he needed to search the grounds and see if there was anything unusual or faulty that would signify possible danger to the brothers.

Though he hadn’t finished the dishes, Doctor Beckett figured he didn’t have time to dawdle with it now.  Who knew how long Tom would be gone, or if he’d change his mind and come back?  The man in charge seemed rather friendly on his way out, but Sam knew better than to take that at face value.

Sam slipped out another side door of the farmhouse, on the opposite end of where the field was, just in case Paddy and Mick were keeping an eye on the house.  His first stop was going to be the barn just a few feet from this side of the house.  Sam Beckett headed toward the large, red structure, looking back and forth behind and to the sides of him on his way.  The time-traveler felt he was becoming paranoid, but Sam knew when to be careful.  Making his way to the barn door without incident, he went in.

It looked like a normal barn, sending a pang of nostalgia through him.  There was hay on the floor and a small loft.  Stalls held horses and a couple of cows that started making noise when he walked by them.  Sam petted their muzzles and soothed them to be quiet as he took in the place.  Nothing seemed unusual there, and there wasn’t any large machinery that looked like it could cause damage.  He continued to walk along past the last stall, where a beautiful black horse was whinnying and pawing at the ground.

“Easy girl,” Sam told her, petting her muzzle.  The horse seemed distraught and Sam wanted to comfort her, but he also did not want her cries alerting Mick and Paddy.  The horse would not be comforted though, and the leaper saw where her hooves had made quite an indentation in the back of her stall as she had paced around it.  Curious, he went inside the stall in order to get a better look at the indentation.  The horse neighed loudly as Sam went to the area, and as he glanced down, he saw something protruding from the dirt.

Hunkering down, the horse getting more fidgety behind him, Sam took a closer look and his heart suddenly skipped a beat.  It was a nail—a human fingernail—attached to a human finger…





Tuesday, June 7, 1960

12:42 EDT

The Mulhill farm near Carlisle, South Carolina


Paddy and Mick were out in the field, thinking only about how they had a lot of weeds to pull and were only at half-strength.  After ten minutes, Mick looked up at his younger brother and vocalized his curiosity about what could be taking Marty so long.

Ill go get ’im, Paddy answered as he stood up straight, stretching before taking off for the house.  He got to the kitchen and found that the dishes were only half done.  Maybe he went to the restroom, Paddy mused to himself.  He searched the whole house quickly but found no sign of their visitor.  However, the side door was ajar, and nobody had used it since the afternoon of the previous day, before they had come in with Marty.

Paddy hurried out the door and looked all around, thinking maybe the drifter decided to move on to wherever he was headed, but he didn’t see anything for miles around:  only the flat land surrounding the Mulhills’ farm.  It was then that the farmer heard a horses whinnying from the barn and he rushed over to the stables, spotting Sam Beckett in the aura of Martin Adler as he backed away from Midnights stall, looking terrified.

Sam felt chilled and frozen in his position as he looked at the finger, but somehow had managed to get up and back away.  What the Hell is going on here?” he whispered.  Obviously the secrets in this family were much more sinister than the leaper had imagined.  Who was the buried person?  Who had put him there?  Even the horse’s behavior made him wonder… had she known the dead person, and was her whinnying because of her being alarmed at his placement in her stall?  Sam believed that animals had a lot to tell, as they sensed some things on different levels than humans did.  If only she could speak and tell him what she knew.

Now, Sam had to figure out the next step.  The first thing he needed to do was get out of that stall and back to the house so that the brothers would not know that he was snooping around.  The scientist could see now why Tom seemed to be hovering over him all the time.  He probably knew about this whole thing, whether he was the actual murderer or not.

Just as the leaper tried to soothe the black horse and had gotten just outside the stall, he heard footsteps in the barn.  Hey, whatre ya doin out here, Marty?  Yre suppose t come help us out in the field, Paddy told him, trying to make his voice sound as authoritative as possible.  The leaper didnt answer him and just stared at him with a shocked look on his face, both from what he had seen in the stall and from Paddy’s surprise visit.

Whoa, Marty, did Midnight give y a fright?  She can be a purty scary beast, I know.  Just come on out with me and Mick, huh?”

The farmer didnt seem very worried about Sam being near the stall, other than concern over being spooked by the horse, whose name apparently was Midnight.  The time-traveler really wanted to tell Paddy what he had found, but he had no idea if Paddy was involved, and if he was and Sam told him about it, Sam would be in big trouble.  If only Al was here! Sam thought, wishing the cigar-smoking admiral would show up and give him some insight into this new development so he’d know how to proceed.  As usual, Sam had no idea when Al was coming back, so he had to make due with what he knew… which was pretty much nothing.  He just played as cool as he could in front of Paddy.

Uh, yeah, Midnight here gave me a scare.  Ha!  See, my hands are shaking,” he said, forcing a smile.  Anyway, I was doing the dishes when I heard her neighing, so I thought Id just come out to see what was wrong.  I think shes okay now.  Ill just go in and finish those dishes, then Ill bring some iced tea to you boys in the field.”

Not letting Paddy get a word in edgewise, Sam just left him in the barn and nonchalantly walked back to the house.  He could hear that the farmer was not following and hoped that his excuse had sounded convincing.  When he got in the house, the leaper found the telephone and the phone book for the nearest town, Carlisle.  Rustling through the directory with shaky fingers, he found the number for the sheriff and dialed.  I’d like to report a find… a possible murder, he said, his hands still shaking.  The person on the other line asked where, and all Sam could tell him was the Mulhill farm.  After giving the man the details about what he had seen, Doctor Beckett hoped that they would get there soon to investigate.  All he knew was that he didn’t want to end up like the pour soul buried in the barn.



“What was it? Mick asked when his younger brother returned to the field.

Oh, Marty heard Midnight an thought somethin might be wrong… she gave im a little scare is all, Paddy replied.  Hes gone back inta the house t finish up them dishes, and then hes bringin us out some iced tea.”

Mick nodded and went back to his work as if nothing had happened.  But y remember what Tom said:  we gotta watch im.  I give im five minutes to get out here, then I say we both go in to fetch im. It was a good feeling for Mick, having someone report to him for once, instead of always having to answer to Tom or Hank.



After Sam finished up the telephone call, he found some solace in the fact that they were going to send someone out to the farm.  However, he would have to make sure that he didnt act suspicious in the meantime.  Mick and Paddy would be expecting him in the field, and it would be to Sams benefit to do everything they asked him to do until this mess was straightened out.  He was already fearing when Tom would return, because he was sure Paddy would tell his older brother about him being in the barn.

Sam had finally stopped shaking, and as he turned away from the desk to head to the kitchen, the Imaging Chamber Door revealed itself before him, sending another shock through his body.  “Again, Al!” the leaper exclaimed, feeling a sense of déjà vu from that morning’s coffee incident.

“Fine.  If you don’t want me here, I’ll just close the Door right now…” threatened Al with levity, hovering his finger over the button to close the portal.  When Sam simply walked through him, the observer completed his trip into the Imaging Chamber and closed the door behind him.  “Look, how was Ziggy supposed to know you’d turn around just at that moment?  You need to calm down a bit, Sam.”  The admiral followed his friend into the kitchen and noticed the expression of apprehension etched in his face.  “Is something wrong?”

Swallowing hard, the leaper nodded his head.  “Yeah.  Yeah, you might say that.  I just got off the phone with the sheriff.  II found a body, Al.”  A brief wave of nausea washed over him as he spoke with the hologram.

“A body?  Oh, Sam, no wonder you’re on edge.  Who is it?  Where?” he questioned frantically, getting about as uneasy as Sam.  Cadavers never went over well with the observer.

“I don’t know who it is, Al… it’s mostly buried in the barn.  All I could see was a finger.”

Now it was Al’s turn to start feeling queasy.  “Ah, yuck!  But a finger’s hardly a body, kid.  How do you know the whole person is buried there?”  The admiral quickly changed his mind and dismissed the thought with a wave of his hand.  “Never mind, I don’t want to know!”

Rolling his eyes, Sam placed his hands on the kitchen counter and leaned forward.  “Nonetheless, I found a human body-part in Midnight’s stall, and the police are coming out to inspect it.  So why haven’t I leaped yet?  There can’t be more to this than solving that mystery, right?”

“Well… Ziggy’s got something to say about that.”  Observer Calavicci pressed a button on the handlink and a second hologram appeared in the form of a woman.

“Indeed I do.  Good afternoon, Doctor Beckett,” greeted the female hologram representing Ziggy.  “After my research unit went back online, I was able to supplement the data already processed for your era and location.  It appears that you have changed history for the worse, Doctor.”

It felt to Sam that today was just one piece of bad news after another.  “What are you talking about?  I’ve found a body and the sheriff is on his way.  The poor person out there can at least have a decent burial now and the murderer will be brought to justice.  I think Tom has something to do with it.”

“I’m afraid that the murder is never reported, at least not in any official capacity.  I can find no records with the Carlisle sheriff’s office indicating a murder in Nineteen Sixty nor any pertaining to the Mulhill family,” Ziggy relayed, and then sighed impatiently.  Al shifted in his position, already knowing what she was about to say.  “However, that is not the issue to which I was referring.  In the original history, the three brothers continue running the farm along with a variety of hired hands over the years, including Martin Adler.  Now, there is an eighty-two percent chance that Patrick Mulhill will die by tomorrow evening and a seventy-nine percent chance that the family sells their farm.”

Sam, realizing that the dishes still needed finishing, turned to complete the job while speaking with his two holographic companions.  “All right, so what happens to Paddy?” the leaper demanded, working on the information that Ziggy revealed.  “And how did my leaping in here endanger him and the farm?”

“Insufficient data,” stated Ziggy sadly as Al took his turn to roll his eyes.  “I am still attempting to retrieve his medical records from the South Carolina archives.”

“What she really means is she’s been lazy.  Thank you, Ziggy,” Al interjected and turned off the hologram, which swirled into oblivion and caused the handlink to make an annoyed squawk.  “Sorry, Zig’, but I think Sam’s stressed out enough as it is.  Now, how can we figure out who that is out in the barn?  We can worry about Paddy after, I guess.”

As he finished washing the last utensil, Sam unplugged the sink and watched the water swirl down the drain.  “Why not get the fingerprints?” he said in a sudden revelation.

“Sam, I can’t do that!  I’m a hologram!” Al proclaimed, waving his arms.

Rolling his eyes with a huff of exasperation, Sam reiterated himself.  “Can’t you scan the fingerprint with the handlink?  With any luck, the print will be stored in some database somewhere.”

Smacking his palm lightly against his forehead, Al declared, “Now why didn’t I think of that?  Great idea, Sam.  I’ll go out there and do it now.  Which stall is Nightshade in?”

Sighing with annoyance, Sam corrected the observer.  Midnight, and she’s in the last stall.  You can’t miss her.  She’s the big Arabian with a temper.”

Al waggled his eyebrows lecherously.  “Sounds like a woman I dated once,” he commented while getting a glare from the leaper.  “All right, all right, I’m going, I’m going.”

“And don’t come back until you have something about Paddy, okay?”

“Sure, Sam,” the admiral nodded, his expression turning serious as he pressed a button on the handlink and disappeared.

With Al gone, Sam recalled that he was to prepare some iced tea for Mick and Paddy.  He got some glasses out and was just getting some ice from the freezer in the refrigerator when he heard crunching sounds outside the house, and the door opened.  Mick and Paddy were standing there, looking pensive.  Mick said they had just come to check on him, but seeing that Sam was putting ice into glasses seemed to relieve them somewhat.

Well, Im a thorough dishwasher, the leaper laughed nervously and proceeded to get the tea out.  I was just getting the iced tea now.  After filling the glasses, he brought them over to the table.  You want it now or should we bring it to the field?”

“Gee, Marty, its mighty nice o ya to keep treatin us like this, but I think we should drink this stuff down purty quick and git t work.  If Tom dont think we was doin nothin’ while he was gone, hell be purty cross, Paddy said to him, noticing Mick nod in agreement.  Deciding to go along, Sam didn’t protest and they quietly drank their iced tea.



Tuesday, June 7, 1960

13:11 EDT

Carlisle, South Carolina


Driving through Carlisle, Tom headed for the farming supply store, pretty much the only attraction this town had, as far as he was concerned.  He parked his truck in the parking lot and headed up to the front doors when a police cruiser with the word “Sheriff” printed on the side pulled up beside him.

“Afternoon, Billy,” Tom greeted the driver.

“Afternoon, Tom.  I got a mighty disturbin’ phone call from your farm just a few minutes ago.  Told the fella that we’d be out as soon as possible, but it shure didn’t sound like one o’ yer brothers.  You got a hired hand there playin’ tricks with us?” the sheriff asked.  Tom could feel his blood starting to boil, but didn’t let it show to Billy.

Tom shook his head, playing annoyed.  “Yeah, I found some drifter last night sleepin’ on my grounds, so I put ’im up for the night.  Guess it was a mistake; sounds like he ain’t right in the head.  What’d he say that’s so disturbin’?” he questioned his friend.

“Says he thinks someone got murdered on your property an’ he found the body,” Billy reported, obviously not believing what Sam had told him.  “Y’ might wanna think about kickin’ this guy out if’n he’s gonna be makin’ prank phone calls like this.”

Laughing, Tom nodded in agreement.  “Y’ may be right there, Bill.  But you’ll pardon me; I just gotta get some insecticide.  Corn crop’s infested with cutworm,” the farmer explained.

“Sure thing, Tom.  Just saw you comin’ inta town and thought I’d let ya know about that fella’s phone call.  Take ’er easy,” Billy said, and with a tip of his hat, left the parking lot.

Tom Mulhill waved him goodbye and headed into the store.  He was already there, so he figured that he might as well buy the pesticide and then gun it back to the farm to make sure that Sam Martin Adler didn’t say anything to anybody else anytime soon.



Paddy and Mick just seemed to want to get back to the fields.  As the three men drank the iced tea quickly, Sam noticed that Mick and Paddy appeared agitated and worried.  He thought they were almost as afraid of Tom coming back as he was, but for them it was because they knew he would scold them for taking time away from their work.  Doctor Beckett could only hope that the police arrived before Tom did.  It seemed obvious that Paddy and Mick would tell their brother that their visitor had been snooping around, and somehow Sam didn’t think he’d take that too well.  There was something about the man that just gave the leaper the creeps; Tom was abrupt, headstrong, and seemed to keep to himself.  Sam was sure that he knew about the body… he could have murdered the person, but even if he didn’t, Sam was sure that he knew who did.

Beyond that, Sam was beginning to wonder about Hank, too.  It seemed almost too convenient that he was gone right now.  Mick and Paddy seemed to genuinely be ready for him to come back, and apparently he was a much better “supervisor” than Tom was.  Still, it made Sam wonder… was Tom covering for Hank?  Had Hank murdered someone and had Tom caught him, saying the only way he would keep the secret was if Hank left?  That would be awfully lucky for Tom, having the opportunity to run the farm by blackmailing his older brother.

Sam swallowed the last of his tea and then looked right at Mick and Paddy.  “I’m sure you guys are anxious to get to the fields again.  I’ll come with you and help you now that I’m done with the dishes.  And with Tom and Hank gone, you’ll need the extra pair of hands.”  Sam attempted to laugh lightheartedly.  “I’m sure Hank must have felt a little guilty leaving you here to do all the work yourselves.  He must have really wanted to go to that conference.”

Mick and Paddy looked at each other.  Mick shrugged.  “Actually, he ain’t never mentioned it to us ’imself.  Tom said it came up quick and Hank left one day while we was in the fields.  Guess he had to take a quick train outta town.  But it was apparently an expo that would really help give us some good tips on our farmin’.

“Look, enough with the questions, we really need to get to the field,” Mick added, nervously putting his glass on the table and getting up from his chair.

The leaper nodded.  Either Mick was lying, or the two of them had not seen Hank actually leave or even discussed him going to the conference.  This wasn’t getting any easier for Sam to figure out, and he hoped the sheriff got here soon so that they could find out who was in the barn and get to the bottom of it.  For now, he just had to bide time.

“Hey, Mick, don’t you remember Hank sayin’ he was takin’ the bus to Gastonia?  Least that’s what he told me,” Paddy piped up as they stood from the table, noticing that Sam was paying special attention to the conversation.  “Oh, right, you and Tom’d gone t’ town when he made his plans.  Guess I forgot to tell ya.  I figured he told Tom and thought you’d know too.”

Mick looked at his brother with scrutiny.  “Ain’t nobody told me nothin’!” he shouted.

“Sorry, Mick, I thought Hank or Tom woulda said somethin’ to ya.”  Mick nodded his head and calmed down—thankfully the opposite of what Tom would have done in the same situation.  “He’d pret’ near forgot about the farm expo and had to leave quick-like.”

Paddy was annoyed with Sam seeming to have a pretty keen interest on what they were saying, and although he tried to look like he wasn’t listening, Paddy could tell he was concentrating on the conversation as they finally departed from the table.  He didn’t say anything more to Mick or Sam, and Mick took the actual facts about Hank’s absence with grace.

The three men headed for the farmhouse door and went outside.  Sam’s head was starting to spin after the contradicting tales about Hank’s absence… he didn’t know what to believe anymore and felt the story was getting more convoluted by the minute.  Doctor Sam Beckett was no detective—even if he had leaped into one a time or two—and really needed some guidance or some true, solid facts.  The only way that was going to happen was if Al or the police came soon.  They were the only ones who could shine some light on this mystery.

As they stepped outdoors, the heat was intense again… but this time, it wasn’t the heat that was making Sam sweat.


To Be Continued…


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