Episode 1123

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

Hostile Measures

by: Mike Bloxam and Erin Bauer


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Finding himself being taken in by a family of farmers, Sam at first is frustrated when Al and Ziggy can’t tell him why he has leaped into Martin Adler, a drifter from Indiana who ended up in South Carolina.  However, when the overbearing man in charge of the farm, Tom, heads out on an errand, Sam finally discovers what his mission is:  to identify the corpse buried in the Mulhills’ barn…




Tuesday, June 7, 1960

14:21 EDT

The Mulhill farm near Carlisle, South Carolina


After over an hour of working in the field, pulling more weeds and preparing the crop to be sprayed, Paddy happened to look up and see Tom’s truck pull into the laneway.  “Tom’s back,” he called out, and Mick said that he would go meet him.  Sam watched as the portly farmer walked back toward the house, thinking this alone time with Paddy might be useful.

Now that Mick had left to go meet Tom, Sam felt another wave of nausea come over him; Tom was back and no doubt Mick would tell him about their guest looking around the property.  The sheriff still hadn’t arrived, and now Sam would certainly be in deep trouble with Tom.  His only option was to take a chance and confide in Paddy.  This was assuming, of course, that he didn’t have anything to do with the death of the person in the barn.  Sam didn’t know that for sure, but what he was about ninety-nine percent sure of was that Tom was involved.  It was either face Tom alone or possibly with an ally.

The time-traveling scientist cleared his throat after pulling a weed.  “Look, Paddy… I need to tell you something.”  The farmer looked up, noting the concern on the other man’s face.  Sam knew there wasn’t a lot of time before Tom inevitably came to confront him.  “You know… earlier, in the barn?”

“Yeah,” he replied.  “You was real spooked by Midnight.”

“No…” Sam began, cautiously.  “It wasn’t Midnight.”

“Then what in tarnation was it?” Paddy questioned with some frustration, not understanding.

“I… in that barn… there was a body buried in Midnight’s stall.  I—I don’t know who it is, but I think Tom might.”  There, Sam had said it.  All he could do now was see how Paddy was going to react to this news, if he believed it at all.

“You musta been seein’ things, Marty.  There ain’t no body buried in the barn,” Paddy told him, confused about what he had heard.

 “I tell you, I saw…” Sam began, but Paddy interrupted him, angered at his accusation.

“You saw nothin’, Marty!” the farmer yelled, noticing that Mick and Tom were coming within earshot.  “Now shuddup, or Tom’s gonna have ya out on yer ass.”

“Oh, boy,” Sam muttered quietly.



Purchasing the pesticide was easy enough since there really was little choice.  The farming store offered only two brands, each claiming they would control just about any crop pest that farmers were bound to encounter.  Besides, Tom didn’t have time to contemplate that kind of thing.  If it was labeled to kill critters, that was good enough for him.  After leaving the warehouse, Tom headed back to his family’s farm at top speed, mulling over what to do.  He knew that he needed Paddy and Mick on his side, possibly to help in apprehending Marty.  Somehow, Tom had to make their guest out to be the bad guy, not only against himself, but his brothers too.

The farmer was thinking about the situation so much that he almost drove past the farm and had to slam on the brakes to not miss the lane.  Driving in, he stuck the gun back in his pocket to hide it from his brothers and, more importantly, the drifter.

Mick came upon the truck and greeted Tom, though he felt nervous.  He had enjoyed his overbearing brother being gone but had to accept the reality that he was back, and hoped that Tom would forgive the earlier hostilities.  “Hey, Boss,” Mick said as he approached Tom.  “How’d it go in Carlisle?  Want some help unloadin’ the pesticide?”

Tom thought that Mick looked a little distraught as he walked up and asked to help unload.  The elder Mulhill knew that he had to be gracious with his brothers today if he was going to have to use them against Marty.  “That’d be great, Mick.  Thanks,” Tom answered, putting a pleasant expression on his face.  He knew that the anger must be hidden until the right moment.

Once Mick and Tom unloaded the two crates of pesticide canisters, Tom asked Mick to get the sprayer while he moved the truck to the garage.  Upon Tom’s return, Mick had the sprayer trailing the tractor as he exited the grain barn.  When Mick dismounted the tractor, Tom looked him in the eye.  “Did you notice Marty acting… suspicious while I was gone?” Tom questioned, narrowing his eyes a bit when he paused.  He figured that the other two brothers were getting annoyed with the visitor’s presence just as much as he was.  The Mulhills had usually kept to themselves, except for interacting with their adjacent neighbors and folks in Carlisle.  Somehow, Tom knew he had to make their visitor out to be the enemy.

Mick just shrugged at the query.  “Well, I ain’t actually seen nothin’, but Paddy checked on ’im earlier an’ he’d apparently gone t’ the barn t’ check on Midnight.  Guess she was makin’ some noise.  She spooked ’im some, and Pat said Marty’s hands were shakin’.  Then I guess he went in to finish them dishes and made some iced tea for us.  Otherwise, we’ve just been in the fields keepin’ an eye on him.  He was askin’ about Hank though… think he can tell we’re anxious to have him back.”

Mick hoped that his mentioning Hank didn’t anger his brother.  He tried to be as casual about it as he could.  Tom looked thoughtful and didn’t reprimand his younger brother, so Mick continued.  “Anyway, that’s about it.  Then you came home.  Marty’s been pretty helpful an’ all, but I still wonder when he’s gonna move on.”

Tom was thinking about what he just heard and how it confirmed his suspicions.  Marty had been snooping around and must have found Hank’s body behind Midnight’s stall.  Damn it! Tom cursed silently in his mind.  Instead of showing his aggravation, he decided to play off of Mick’s thought.  “Yeah, I think we might wanna tell ’im to hit the road.  Y’ know he called Billy an’ told ’im we been abusin’ our animals?” Tom lied.  “That’s why I’s askin’ if ’e was actin’ suspicious.  He musta called the sheriff’s office while pretendin’ t’ do the dishes.”

Mick’s eyes widened, and Tom could see a flash of anger in his expression.  “How dare he say that?!  ’Specially after all we done for ’im?” he replied loudly, obviously upset at what he was just told.  Tom managed to keep a straight, honest face, showing a little anger, not too much—just enough to let Mick know that he was ticked off as well.

“Now, Mick, calm down.  What we gotta do is tell Paddy what Marty’s gone and done, trying to sully our reputation.  No damage done.  I told Billy we’d put up a drifter an’ maybe I’d misjudged him, so Bill just wrote Marty off as a loon.  While you and Paddy are out sprayin’, I’ll send our ‘guest’ on his way.”  After telling Mick the plan, the younger brother nodded in agreement, obviously believing Tom’s lies fully.  “Don’t let nothin’ show, though, and don’t tell Paddy nothin’ until I’ve taken Marty inside to say goodbye.  If he is crazy, we don’t wanna alarm him.”

Mick could still barely believe it after all they had done, being hospitable to a complete stranger.  It made him have a new respect for Tom though.  His older brother seemed to be a bit suspicious all day about the drifter, and yet he and Paddy really didn’t do anything but welcome him.  The plan sounded fine to Mick, considering he felt this “Marty” had already overstayed his welcome.

Tom and Mick made their way back to the field, finding Sam and Paddy in what looked like a heated discussion.  Neither Sam nor Paddy said anything more as the two older brothers approached, the third Mulhill getting up from his crouched position and Sam looking in pure shock when he saw Tom.  “Paddy, I want you an’ Mick t’ start sprayin’ the fields.  I’m gonna go in an’ make some calls to the neighbors to warn ’em about their crops possibly gettin’ infested too,” Tom announced.

“Sure thing, Boss,” Paddy responded.  “What about Marty?  He can’t be out here pullin’ weeds if we’re a-sprayin’.”

“If y’ don’t mind, Marty, I’d like to have a quick chat with ya,” Tom said calmly.  From the look that Mick gave Tom, Paddy could tell that something was up, thinking their guest might just be hiking it down the highway in a few minutes.

Sam was beginning to wish that he had shown Paddy the body when he had the chance earlier, when the farmer caught him in the barn.  There were a lot of things Sam would have done on this leap, if only he had not figured them out too late.  Doctor Beckett felt a rush of anger coming over him.  He felt completely abandoned by Al and everyone at the Project.  All Ziggy could tell him was that his leaping in resulted in Paddy’s death in addition to the person already dead in the barn.  It was going on two o’clock in the afternoon now, and Sam hadn’t accomplished a thing other than to gain the mistrust of these farmers… and find a murder victim that may or may not ever be investigated now.

Now Tom wanted to talk to him; Mick couldn’t have told him about the body because only Paddy knew about that, so as far as Tom knew, Sam was just snooping around the property.  The leaper was confident that he could come up with some excuse for it.  He had gotten out of bigger scrapes than this.

Nodding at Tom, Sam replied, “Sure, no problem,” and then followed the older Mulhill brother to the house as Mick and Paddy prepared for the spraying.

“You two finish up the weed pullin’ and then start sprayin’,” Tom instructed, nodding to Mick as he and Sam left the two younger brothers in the field.  Sam and Tom walked side-by-side toward the house, neither of them saying a word as they went.  Tom noticed that Sam’s breathing sounded a little heavy, as if he was nervous.  Good, he’s scared o’ me! the farmer thought.

Indeed, Sam was really feeling nervous as they walked back toward the house.  Ever since he found the body and knew what the farmer was capable of, Sam’s fear had grown.  Opening the door to the kitchen, Tom let Sam enter first, allowing the door to slam itself shut behind him.  Without warning, Tom pulled out his gun and stuck it in Sam’s back.  “Now listen here, Marty.  I hear you’ve been snoopin’ where you ain’t s’posed to be, botherin’ my animals.  Midnight is a beautiful horse, but timid by no means.”

Sam froze in his spot, the cold barrel of the gun nudging his spine.  “Don’t worry, I ain’t gonna kill ya.  I just need y’ outta the way and to stop makin’ trouble at my farm.”  Before the leaper could react, Tom raised the gun and used the butt of it to strike Sam on the neck.  Doctor Beckett fell to the floor in a slump.

Tom put the gun back in his pocket, and, using some twine from the utility drawer, he bound Sam’s ankles and wrists together with his hands behind his back.  Then the farmer took a dishtowel and put the bulk into the leaper’s mouth, leaving enough to tie a knot behind Sam’s head.  Tom also grabbed a roll of masking tape, slipping it into his other pocket after wrapping a few strips around Sam’s hands, feet, and head.

Putting the scientist over his shoulder, Tom Mulhill carefully descended the steps to the basement.  After placing his hostage in an old oak chair, Tom used up most of the remaining tape to bind Sam to the chair.

Sam groaned a couple of times and his eyes fluttered a bit as he began to regain consciousness.  “Oh, good, you’re awake.  I hope you’ll enjoy the rest of your time here at the Mulhill farm, Marty.  You’re goin’ to be stayin’ for a while.  Make yourself at home, huh?”

Not realizing that he was gagged, Sam began to speak but could only manage a few muffled sounds.  Then he tried getting up, making Tom recognize that Sam might be able to hop his way toward something to make noise later, alerting Paddy or Mick.

“Might as well get comfortable,” Tom said with a snicker, kicking the chair over sideways and sending Sam tumbling to the floor.  Laughing to himself, Tom went back up the stairs and closed the cellar door behind him, locking it and putting the small key to the door in his pocket.

Sam heard the locking of the door and the entire cellar went as black as pitch, blinding him from seeing anything.  All he knew was that he was in bigger trouble than he had anticipated.  Tom had bound him so tightly that he was sure that the circulation was cut off to his hands and feet, and the towel was making him gag.  The leaper shifted around as much as he could muster, but to no avail.  He had to find a way out of this.  If only there was a way to alert someone.

Becoming aware that he was getting himself worked up, the time-traveler calmed down for a bit.  He was sweating and getting nowhere.  Think, Sam, he thought to himself.  Use your brain…  But somehow, he was so drained and tired that he just couldn’t think.  At that moment, Doctor Sam Beckett had no idea what he was going to do.





Tuesday, June 7, 1960

14:46 EDT

The Mulhill farm near Carlisle, South Carolina


“Welp,” Mick said to Paddy, “we might as well get the rest o’ these weeds up.  I got the canisters all ready t’ go.”  Paddy nodded, although he looked rather disturbed about something.  Mick just ignored it, figuring he and Tom would fill Paddy in on Marty later.  Paddy and Mick continued on with the pulling, and within a few minutes, they saw Tom coming back without the houseguest.

Tom placed the remaining tape back in the utility drawer before going back outside, seeing Paddy and Mick still out in the field.  “All right, boys, let’s get ready for this spray!” he shouted upon his approach.

“Hey, Boss.  So, is the drifter on his way then?” Mick asked innocently.

Tom noticed that Paddy had a strange look on his face, but figured his younger brother was just tired of working.  To Mick’s question, he replied, “Yep, he’s headed down the road toward Carlisle.  I gave ’im directions to the nearest motel.  Figure ’e can beg ’is way inta some money.  Had half a mind to call Billy to pick ’im up, callin’ us animal-beaters after all!”

Seeing the look of surprise on Paddy’s face, Tom told him the same story that he had told Mick.  Paddy’s expression changed to the same that Mick had as well, but there appeared to be a lingering doubt in his eyes.

“Now that Marty’s on his way, let’s finish up with these weeds here.”  Mick and Paddy nodded in agreement, and the three men got to work.

Two hours passed before Tom was satisfied with their work.  “I’m gonna go call the neighbors now.  You two get the sprayer goin’, okay?” stated Tom, feeling like it was the hundredth time he had told them this same demand.  After all, it was their livelihood on the line, and if the cutworms destroyed the crop, things would not look so good for the Mulhill family this year.  Tom would be the one who would be blamed by the townsfolk.  Even if his brothers had not done the correct fieldwork, it was Tom who was in charge now, and the one in charge was always the first one scrutinized.  It was more important now than ever for Mick and Paddy to listen to him and obey him; he not only would lose money, but also his reputation if the corn was inedible.

Mick wanted to protest Tom’s continuous pressure to begin the treatment right away.  It seemed that they should be spending some time really studying the label so they knew how to properly apply the pesticide.  If something went wrong, the crops could be ruined or someone could get hurt, and then they would be far worse off than they were now.  However, Mick figured that he had better keep quiet after the outburst earlier and to take a more democratic approach by just following his brother’s orders.  Still, he wished they didn’t have to do this now.  It was already going on five o’clock—which seemed a little late to begin a project like this—and his stomach was getting hungry, especially after a tiring day with finding the pests, pulling weeds, and dealing with the drifter.  Mick knew better than to go against anything that Tom said at that point, so after they stood up, he told Paddy to unload the first canister and hose and then they would get started.  As the three brothers started walking toward the house, Mick heard his stomach growl and decided that he would not be able to do his best without having some food to look forward to after the work was done.  Cautiously, he suggested his need for food to Tom, hoping his brother would be understanding.

“Boss,” he said, nodding at the fields, “I figure this here could take us a good three hours.  When you call them neighbors, would you also consida callin’ Minnie in Carlisle to deliver us some of those homemade vittles she makes at the Café?  Shure could use it after we’re done.”

Mick’s mention of food reminded Tom that he had not eaten in a while either, not since Marty’s “Hamburger Helper,” and all of the day’s activities had built up an appetite.  “Shure sounds like a good idea to me,” the eldest brother replied.  “I’ll call up Minnie first and then get ahold o’ John an’ the others.”

The three of them walked back toward the farmhouse, and Tom first helped them with loading up the canister.  Mick started up the tractor, and Paddy said, “Hey, Mick, we goin’ to church now?”

“What’re you talkin’ ’bout, Pat?” declared Mick with a chuckle, feeling a joke coming on.

“Well, y’ know what they say:  ‘let us spray’!”

All three Mulhill brothers laughed at the play on words.  Once they were on the way, Mick maneuvering the tractor and Paddy operating the sprayer, Tom headed into the barn to check up on Midnight.  She whinnied when she saw the man enter the barn, an uneasy look in her eyes.  The farmer took a glance at the ground beneath her and saw that Marty had been digging around.  “Easy, big girl,” he soothed, and gently opened the gate to take a closer look at the ground.  Inspecting toward the back where he had hidden Hank, Tom could see one of the fingers slightly protruding from the ground.  Getting up, Tom grabbed a shovel and took some dirt from the pigsty, enough to cover the area in Midnight’s stall fully.

Once that was done, Tom also laid some fresh hay in Midnight’s stable and gave her some oats to chew on.  “Atta girl, just calm down,” he cooed to her as she ate from the feedbag, softly brushing her mane with his hand.  “You just keep this little secret between us, eh?”

If the drifter had told Paddy or Mick about his discovery, Tom was confident that they wouldn’t be able to follow up on it.  There was enough soil and hay there to deter them from digging too deep without causing a lot of fuss with Midnight.

On his way back to the house, Tom saw Paddy and Mick still driving out toward the other end of the corn field, just about ready to start spraying.  He figured being the twits they were, they would believe his story to the letter and think Marty was trying to get them in trouble by saying they were being cruel to their livestock.  The farmer could only hope that neither of them would talk to Billy about it.  “I’ll have to keep those two away from town and the phone for a while,” Tom reckoned aloud.

Approaching the desk where the telephone sat, Tom saw the phonebook on the surface open to the page with the number for the Carlisle sheriff’s office on it.  Closing the book, Tom put it back in a drawer and pulled out his address book.  First, he dialed the number for The Down-Home Café.  “Howdy, what can I do ya for?” came the voice of a jovial female after a couple of rings.

“Hey, Minnie, this here’s Tom Mulhill.  Ya think we could get three meals delivered out here?  Whatever’s your special today, sweetheart.”

“Oh, sure thing, Tommy.  I’ll have Joe Bob whip that up in a second.  Laddy could have it out to ya in, say, forty minutes?”

“Sounds great,” Tom replied, hanging up the phone.



Tuesday, June 7, 1960

17:05 EDT

The Down-Home Café, Carlisle, South Carolina


It had been a pretty routine day for Sheriff William “Billy” Boone.  He had broken up a couple fights in town and found a lost cat, but that was about it.  The only thing bothering him was the disturbing call he had received from the Mulhill farm.  He trusted the Mulhills:  they were clean, honest folk, and had been around the area since before he had been born.  However, it didn’t seem right for him not to at least follow up on that stranger’s claim.  If there was a murder victim out there, the Mulhills probably didn’t even know about it.

Billy was sitting in The Down-Home Café as his shift had just ended.  Minnie brought him out her special of the day, which was meatloaf, fried potatoes, and green beans.  Billy thought she was a mighty fine woman, and that son of hers, Joe Bob, was a mighty fine cook.

“Thank you, darlin’,” the sheriff told her as she set the plate before him.

“Anythin’ for you,” she winked.

Their pleasantries were interrupted by the sound of Joe Bob hollering from the back.  “Hey, Ma, did the Mulhills say if they wanted extra tomatoes on their meatloaf?”

Minnie turned around and shook her head.  “No, but I don’t think it much matters.  Told Tommy it’d be there in forty minutes though, so get a move on.”

A thought came to Billy:  he wasn’t sure he could have peace of mind without at least stopping by the farm to make sure everything was all right.  “Are those boys comin’ in to get their meals?” the sheriff asked.

The restauranteusse shook her head.  “No, I’s gonna have our boy Laddy go deliver it.”

“No need,” he stated.  “I’ll finish my vittles an’ then take it out to ’em.  Tom told me earlier he wanted me to help ’im out with somethin’, so this might be a good opportunity.  No need for Laddy to make the extra trip all the way out there.”

“Well, that’s mighty kind of you, Sheriff Boone,” Minnie said, smiling again.  “You just finish yer food, and a piece of my homemade apple pie is on the house for yer makin’ this errand.”

“Much obliged,” Billy replied, tipping his hat at her.  He felt better now, not really thinking that anything was amiss at the farm, but felt it was his duty to at least check out such a report as murder.  Tom was normally easygoing, and he would help Billy straighten out this mess before it got to be a rumor around town.  That would be the last thing Carlisle needed.



Tuesday, June 7, 1960

17:34 EDT

The Mulhill farm near Carlisle, South Carolina


After calling their four closest neighbors, Tom took a glance at the clock.  Minnie had said nearly thirty-five minutes prior that the food would be there in forty.  Pulling a beer out of the icebox, Tom went out to the front porch and pulled up a lawn chair, waiting for Laddy to arrive with the food.

Closing his eyes, Tom slowly sipped on his beer.  Five minutes later, on time as always, he could hear a vehicle coming down the road.  When he opened his peepers, however, the farmer nearly soiled himself when he saw Billy’s cruiser coming into the lane.

Taking the bottle of brew with him, a nervous Tom Mulhill got up from his seat and approached the vehicle.  “Hey, Billy, what’re you doin’ out here?  You deliverin’ for Minnie now?” he joked, giving the sheriff a friendly smile.  Tom and Billy were childhood friends, but if he started snooping around the farm or talked to Paddy or Mick, Tom figured that he would be in serious trouble.

Billy smiled.  “Actually, I am today.  I was just in the Café and overheard Minnie take yer order, so I thought I’d drop by and give it to ya.”

Tom expressed his thanks as he took the sack containing the meatloaf, even though that point in time had to have been the worst possible opportunity for courtesy on his behalf.  Billy detected just the slightest bit of tenseness in the farmer’s demeanor.

“I also thought I ain’t doing a thorough job by not at least checkin’ up on what that fella said on the phone earlier.  Now, I know you, Tom, and I know you’ve always been cooperative, but y’ do understand I can’t take the chance of a possible murder lightly.  I’m sure you’d want to know if someone was buried on your property just as much as I would.”

Tom nodded slowly and, with false honesty, said, “Yeah, o’ course.  I ain’t want nothin’ hinky goin’ on ’round here neither, Billy.”

“Now it won’t take long, I’d just like to look at the grounds a bit, check the barn where the fella said he saw the body, and talk to you and your brothers.  Also could have a word with the drifter if he’s still around.”

The sheriff looked at him, expecting Tom to be more than willing to comply with the request.  “Sure thing, Billy.  I dunno if you’ll get to chat much with the boys; they’re out on the field sprayin’ the corn for the cutworm.  As for that drifter, after he been callin’ in crazy calls to you, I sent him on his merry way.”

Sheriff Boone was a bit bothered by the fact that the drifter was no longer around, making him wish that he had indeed responded to his call earlier.  “Too bad ’bout that, Tom.  I was hopin’ to talk to ’im before he left.  I’m concerned ’bout who he might tell this story to.  ’Twouldn’t be good to have such rumors ’round town.  I’m ’fraid it’d get us in a fine mess, so that’s one reason I wanted to nip this biznis in the bud before it gets outta hand.”

Tom nodded to his reasoning, although he still seemed a bit nervous.  Billy figured hearing about a possible murder on his property would rile anyone up.  “Yeah, that’s a good point there, Billy.  I sent him down the highway toward Carlisle, but hopefully he won’t bother nobody there.”

After a single nod at Tom’s statement, the sheriff continued.  “As for yer brothers, I have time to wait ’til after they’re done sprayin’.  Why don’t I just go have a look about the barn for now?  That’s a good place to start.”

“Sure, let’s go on over to the barn,” the farmer replied, trying to be as cooperative as possible.  Clutching the beer bottle in his hand, Tom looked over at Billy.  He gestured toward the bottle and said lightheartedly, “I’d offer ya one, but I know yer on duty here, both as a sheriff and a delivery boy.”  He got a laugh out of the police officer anyway.  Tom Mulhill figured that, with any luck, if he could act like his regular self, Billy wouldn’t be too thorough with his search.

“Well, good, Tom.  And yeah, I could use a brew right now, but as you said, I’m on duty.”  Billy looked down at Tom’s one hand, which was grasping the paper bag tightly, almost looking like he could rip the top off, while his other held the beer bottle.

“Ya know, I’m bein’ rude.  Here I delivered your dinner and it’s gettin’ cold.  Why don’t you call those boys in for a break so you can have your eats, and I’ll just chat with them first?  Then I’ll have a look ’round the barn while you finish up yer dinner.”  The sheriff smiled at his friend cordially, not wanting to have to have him warm up the meals in the oven again.  Even if this was police business, it could be conducted in a tactful, neighborly way.

“Nah, they just got started out there… it’ll be a good three hours, so I was just gonna keep these vittles here warm in the oven for a while,” Tom explained to Billy who nodded, knowing how farm life was.  The two men entered the kitchen with Tom intent on delaying things as long as possible.



In the cellar, Sam was still laying in the same position that he had been in since Tom put him there.  He shook his head, figuring he must have drifted off from being so drained from the struggle with Tom and being hit on the neck with the gun.  The quantum physicist felt even more miserable than before.  His bladder was full, his stomach was empty, and his throat felt like a desert.  The tea towel stuffed in his mouth did not help matters.

However, as restricted as Sam was, he could still hear, even if he couldn’t see, talk, or move.  He heard the faint sound of the screen door opening and footsteps on the floor above him.  Sam was able to discern Tom’s voice—even though it was hard to actually make out what he was saying—talking to someone else, an unfamiliar voice.  After a minute or two, the screen door opened and closed again, silence retaking the house.

Doctor Beckett really wished he could get someone’s attention, but it was no use.  He wasn’t going anywhere until someone discovered that he was there, alone, in a dark basement.





Tuesday, June 7, 1960

18:01 EDT

The Mulhill farm near Carlisle, South Carolina


As Tom led Billy out to the barn, they could hear the animals making noise.  After passing some of the livestock, they reached the Mulhills’ pride and joy, Midnight.  The Arabian horse was coal black and had nearly perfect conformation, but she couldn’t show because she had a wild streak.  Although all of the brothers had contributed in breaking her, she was most attached to Hank, who seemed to have a special bond with the animal.  Billy petted the fiery horse, which looked at him with a fierce gaze as he entered her stall.

Turning to Tom, Billy said, “This here’s where the stranger said the body was buried.”  He began to search around the interior of the stall.

Damn it, Marty even told ’im which horse was stompin’ on Hank’s body! Tom screamed inside his mind.  It’s gonna take a damned miracle to keep Billy from findin’ somethin’.

It certainly didn’t appear like anything was amiss in the stall, just freshly laid soil and hay, which was necessary for the proper maintaining of a horse.  The sheriff was just headed to the back of the stall when they heard a loud, panicked shriek from outside.  Tom and Billy looked at each other and ran out of the stable to see what the commotion was.

Mick was running toward them with his arms waving excitedly.  He looked surprised to see Billy but didn’t pay it much mind.  “Boss!  Boss!!!” he yelled.  “Come quick!  It’s Paddy!”

Tom looked almost relieved at the fact Mick had come by at that moment, but his expression quickly turned to one of concern.  “What’s goin’ on, Mick?”

“There’s been an accident… Paddy’s in real bad shape!” Mick continued, panting for breath.  “We was sprayin’ and somehow the canister came loose, causin’ the hose to come back unto itself.  Paddy’s just been sprayed with pesticide and is burnin’ in pain!”

Billy and Tom took one glance at each other and rushed after Mick back toward the fields.  Noticing a first-aid kit just inside the barn entrance, Tom stopped and let Billy go ahead so that he could bring the kit, and then managed to catch up to the other two men as they charged out toward the tractor.  As they neared the sprayer, they could hear the frantic crying from Patrick Mulhill as he writhed on the ground.



After the three men got Patrick Mulhill inside and resting on the couch, Tom picked up the telephone and called their family physician in Carlisle, Doctor Richard Henderson, to report the emergency.  The nurse said that the doctor would be out right away.  As soon as Tom hung up the phone, Billy used it to call his office and had one of his deputies pick up the physician and drive him out to the farm as fast as possible.

Paddy had settled down a bit since they got him to the couch, but he was still writhing, his hands clamped into fists and his mouth wide open as he gasped for air.  He tried to speak, but not much would come out.  All Mick could think about was the possibility of losing his brother and he found himself wishing that Hank was there now:  he would know what to do.  Hank sure would be surprised at all that had happened at the farm since he had gone off to the exposition in North Carolina.

Nobody talked for a long while, and Mick Mulhill watched Paddy closely, who was still moving around a lot and groaning.  His face and arms looked red and blistery.  Thinking that the injured man could maybe use some more cool rags against his skin, Mick headed for the cellar door to get some.  To his befuddlement, it was locked:  they never kept that door locked.  He shrugged and went over to the desk to fetch the key.

Watching with disguised horror as Mick walked toward the cellar, Tom turned to the sheriff.  “I’ll be right back, Billy,” he said, leaving the living room to meet Mick at the desk.  “Need somethin’ in the cellar, Mick?” he asked as casually as possible.

After going to the desk, Mick looked around for the key, but didn’t find it.  He was contemplating where it could be when Tom approached him.  Shrugging, he stated, “Shure do, but I cain’t find the key.  It shoulda been right here in the desk.  I wanna get some cool rags; you know how we have that stash down there ’cause it’s always ’bout twenty degrees cooler than in the house.  I thought Paddy might get some good use of ’em.”

Another lie came to Tom quickly.  “I was lookin’ fer it earlier, too, but couldn’t find it.  I shure hope Marty di’n’t take it with ’im or somethin’,” he said with false sincerity.  “There’s s’more towels upstairs in the linen closet, I guess those’ll hafta do ’til we can find the key for the cellar.”

Mick nodded in agreement, seeming to believe the story, and headed upstairs to get some towels.  After watching him ascend the steps, Tom returned to the living room to see nothing had changed.  “God, I hope Doc Henderson gets here soon,” the farmer said to Billy, fully concerned about Paddy.  “I jus’ feel so helpless.”

“I know, Tom, but don’t you worry.  This’ll all be over before ya know it,” the sheriff responded.  As they heard Mick coming back down to the main level, the front door busted open.

“We’re here!” Doctor Richardson called out, heading straight for Paddy.  Kneeling at his side, the physician unbuttoned the front of Paddy’s shirt and took out his stethoscope, listening to the patient’s heartbeat.  “How are you feeling, son?” the doctor asked.  Though only about ten to fifteen years older than Paddy, he still considered bedside manner to be important.

Paddy could sense the commotion around him, but things were slightly fuzzy.  “Not so good, Doc.  I got a real bad headache and feel like throwin’ up,” he reported as he felt his eyes continue to water.  “I cain’t stop the tears neither.”

Some saliva dripped out of the corner of his mouth.  Looking around, he saw Tom, Billy, and Deputy Harris looking on.  “Where’s Mick?  Where’s Hank?” demanded Paddy, his mind very muddled.

The doctor simply nodded as Paddy listed off how he was feeling, sounding to the physician that he had received a decent dose of the pesticide both on his skin and possibly into his system.  “I need soap and water on him immediately!” Henderson said as he turned to Tom.  “Get me a basin of water, hot if you can, and all the towels you can muster.”

When Tom took off, the doctor turned back to Paddy.  “Did you ingest any of it, son?  Anything get into your nose or mouth?”

“I ain’t need a bath, Doc, I need ya to cure me!” Paddy cried out.

“Listen to me.  Did you get anything in your nose or mouth?” the doctor reiterated, his Midwestern accent a strange sound to Paddy’s ears.

“Um, I don’t… remember,” Paddy stated, but quickly recalled, “Wait, it sprayed in my face, almost got in m’ eyes.”

To that, the doctor said, “Almost?  They’re right puffed up.”

“Mick?  Hank?  Tom?”  Paddy called, wanting his brothers at his side.

Mick had been dampening the towels he retrieved when Tom said they needed more.  After telling Tom there were more in the linen closet, Mick took the wet towels out to the living room just to hear Paddy calling his name.  “I’m here, Paddy,” Mick said, taking the free hand that was dangling over the side of the couch as the doctor performed his evaluation.

Returning a few minutes later with a basin of lukewarm water, some more towels, and a bar of soap, Doctor Henderson helped Tom set the water down next to other towels that Mick had just gotten wet with cold water.  Mick let go of Paddy’s hand, and the doctor then proceeded to dampen a towel in the basin, smother it with soap, and give the skin that was exposed to the pesticide a soft pat down so as to not rub any of the chemicals deeper into Paddy’s skin.

“We need to get him to a hospital right away,” Henderson said as he started to cleanse Paddy’s skin.  “Can somebody help me get him into the back of the cruiser?”

“Hospital?  I ain’t wanna go to no hospital!  People die in there!” Paddy exclaimed, then hearing Mick trying to calm him down and convince him to go.  “No, Mick, I cain’t go!”  The injured Mulhill could no longer see anything since his eyes were so puffy, and the voices were starting to meld together around him.

“Look, Doc, maybe me or Tom could go ’company you and Paddy, so he feels like he got some kin there supportin’ him.  The rest of us can stay and look out fer things here.  What d’ ya say?” Mick proposed to the physician, hope in his eyes.  The doctor agreed while, in the background, Sheriff Boone was quietly instructing Deputy Harris to go ahead and drive them straight to Wallace Thomson Hospital in Union as fast as possible.  Billy figured when these people had cleared out, he would be free to look around the property again.  It was not that he thought anything was off-kilter, but he could get pretty strong feelings sometimes when something just was not right.  Right now, he had that “strong as a cup of Minnie’s morning coffee” feeling.

“Mick, why don’t you go with Paddy to the hospital?  I’ll stay here and mind the farm,” Tom piped up.  It was all he could do to choke back his emotions as he thought about the family members that had passed on while at the very same hospital to where they were taking Paddy, including both of their parents.

Paddy was still protesting going to the hospital, but Billy and Tom watched as the doctor, the deputy, and Mick assisted Paddy into the back of Harris’s cruiser and took off down the road, sirens blaring and lights flashing.  Turning to Billy, Tom swallowed hard, thinking about both the events that just occurred and the events that may occur soon.



Sam had heard somebody trying to open the door to the darkened basement where he currently lay taped to a chair.  Desire jumped into his throat but quickly subsided when the jiggling of the doorknob stopped.  There were some voices—Tom and Mick, he guessed—and then it got quiet, with only the sound of footsteps moving around above him.

Suddenly the leaper heard, muffled through the floor, some yelling of protest, then the front door swinging open and—soon after—police sirens blaring.  The fact that the police had arrived here gave the scientist at least some peace of mind that the sheriff had followed up on the report of finding a body in the Mulhills’ barn.

Right now, he realized it would be a miracle if anybody found him without Tom’s indulgence.  Sam was grateful that the sheriff was investigating and hoped that they would check out the cellar for more bodies, but he was hoping that would happen before dying of thirst.

With any luck, Al would show up with some information.  It had been too long since the observer visited with an update, and he could really use some of that “moral support” right now.

There were only two voices coming from above now.  They were the same two that had been in the kitchen earlier:  Tom and another man.  They were speaking in softened tones and Sam could only hear a few choice words.  Footsteps echoed across the floor toward the kitchen, Sam guessed, and he heard the screen door open and close.  Silence filled the farmhouse once again and the leaper resumed thinking about some way of escape.



Billy led the way back toward the barn, Tom following closely behind him and dreading every step.  They came upon Midnight’s stall again and the sheriff carefully opened the gate so as not to spook the horse too much.  Calming her as he went in, knowing that she must be getting stressed out with him and the drifter both being in here today, he continued toward the back of the stall.  There were hoof-prints stomped into the ground near the back wall, and dirt and hay had been scattered about.  He looked back at Tom, who had followed him in.

“That horse is actin’ kinda funny,” Billy commented.  “She always this fidgety?  I know she’s a wild one, but why would she be messin’ up her stall like this?”

The farmer shrugged and acted as surprised as Billy.  “I dunno.  She’s unpredictable as y’ know.  There, girl,” he soothed to the beast, petting her lightly.

Bill Boone started to move his foot around the area where Midnight had been, then got down on his knees to examine the area more closely.  He didn’t see anything unusual, but as he moved the hay and dirt about with his hands, he suddenly came across a slight bump protruding from the dirt.  The sheriff took a closer look and felt a chill run through his spine when he realized it was a human finger.  There was a person buried there!

“Tom, you got a shovel?”

Tom felt a shiver of fear run through his being, looking at his friend in horror.  He nodded and asked, “What is it?”

“Looks like your drifter was right,” Billy replied, getting back to his feet.  “There is someone buried here, and we’re gonna find out who it is.”

Reluctantly, Tom went off and fetched the shovel.  “H-here,” he said, starting to feel nauseous as he handed him the spade.  When Sheriff Boone made the first dig into the dirt, Tom nervously asked, “Oh, God, who could it be?”  Billy didn’t answer, and Tom really wasn’t expecting one.

Inside his head, however, thoughts were screaming their way around.  How can I stop this?  I certainly don’t wanna hurt Billy, a life-long pal, but he needs to be stopped somehow.

Midnight was still stomping, nervous with the two men in her stall.  Tom looked at her in the eyes, seeing a wild glint in them as she returned the gaze.  Suddenly, she let out a loud whinny and kicked up her front legs, knocking over Tom and nearly stomping on him.  Billy got up from his crouching position to try to calm her down, but instead received a chest-full of Midnight’s front hooves.

“Midnight, no!” Tom screamed out as he scrambled to his feet.  Billy fell against the back wall, his head making a sickening smack.  He was sitting against the wall with the wind knocked out of him, but still conscious.

Taking a defensive position, Tom began to instruct his friend.  “Billy, try t’ get outta the stall, slow and quiet as ya can,” he said in a hushed tone.  The farmer then sidestepped his way to the stall’s gate and opened it slowly.  Midnight was still stomping around, ready for anything the men might try to do.  Billy heeded the advice, slowly sliding his way along the wall toward the gate.  Tom was standing outside, waiting for the sheriff to join him safely outside the stall.

Finally, Billy made it to the other side of the stall and Tom secured the gate behind them.  Midnight snorted, shaking her whole head and mane as if to say “Good riddance!”  Billy sighed heavily at Tom, suggesting that they return to the house.  Tom agreed, noticing that the horse must have been relieved to have them out of her territory, but not nearly as relieved as the farmer was.

The smell of the meatloaf being kept warm in the oven greeted them.  After suggesting they discuss the situation over a meal, Tom grabbed two bottles of beer from the refrigerator and then removed the bag from the stove.  Placing a plate-full for both of them on the table, the two began to eat.

“Sure hope the hospital calls soon,” Tom mentioned as they dug into the food.  “I was hopin’ to share this with Mick and Paddy.”  Though true, he was secretly glad that his two brothers were no longer in the house to be questioned by the sheriff.

After dinner, Tom put the leftovers into the refrigerator while Billy headed toward the restroom, rubbing his head a bit where he had taken the good knock against the back stable wall.  The farmer was pondering about how he could hide the body elsewhere and keep Billy from interrupting.  He could not risk doing it tonight while Billy slept, having invited him to stay the night.

“Well, I’ve already locked one person away today… why not another?  There are no windows in the bathroom, and Mick’ll probably stay at the hospital tonight,” Tom mumbled to himself.  Retrieving the twine from the utility drawer again, Tom heard Billy close the bathroom door behind himself.  Tom Mulhill walked out of the kitchen and down the hall to the washroom, grateful that the bathroom door opened inwardly.  He carefully tied some of the strong rope around the doorknob, making a tight knot.  He then pulled the rope taut across the hallway to attach it to the closet door.  After giving the rope a tug, the farmer figured there was no way his friend was ever getting out of that bathroom on his own.

Returning to the kitchen, Tom sat and waited to see how long it would be until he heard a cry for help.



It had been quiet upstairs for maybe ten minutes, and Sam began to doze off once more.  The screen door slammed and jolted him out of his snooze, as there was more commotion and talking in the kitchen.  The leaper strained his ears to catch the conversation, but the kitchen wasn’t as close as the living room was, so all he could hear was the voices.

A half-hour passed and he suddenly heard Tom’s companion yell, “Hey, Tom, could ya come here a sec?  Door’s stuck.”

“What’s that?” Sam heard Tom yell back, footsteps moving out of the kitchen and closer to Sam’s proximity.  After a moment, footsteps sounded again, heading very close to the cellar door.  The leaper couldn’t be sure, but it sounded like Tom was having a one-sided conversation.  He’s either on the phone or he’s going crazy, Sam thought to himself, and then realized what it must look like when people caught him talking to Al.  Or maybe he’s a leaper!

Doctor Beckett tried to push that thought out of his head.  If Tom really was a leaper, certainly Ziggy would have detected his presence and sent Al to report it by now.

The conversation ceased and Tom left the house, returning a minute later to say to someone, “You still alive in there?”  For a second, the leaper thought he himself was being addressed.  Of course, Tom knew that Sam was unable to reply with the dishcloth stuffed in his mouth.

However, Sam’s hopes were shattered when the voice of Tom’s visitor returned with, “Yep, but I’m not lookin’ to spend the night in this here restroom.  I’m actually pretty beat after the day’s events, so the sooner y’ can get me out, the sooner I can settle into one o’ those comfy feather beds y’ got.”

“Sure thing, you got it, buddy,” Tom replied.  “But I don’t think no screwdriver’s gonna fix this mess.  Just realized the hinges are on the inside with you!  Damn!”

From what Sam could gather, a friend of Tom’s was trapped in the bathroom.  He could hear the conversation easily and guessed that it must have been carrying down a hallway and toward the basement door.  If only an actual person could find their way to that door and get him out of his predicament.



After stating that the hinges were on the inside of the bathroom, Tom heard Billy say something in response, but didn’t process it as he was too lost in his thoughts trying to figure out what to pretend to do to “help” him next.  He felt horrible for lying and trapping his friend like this, but he had to make sure nobody could link him to that body in the barn.

“Hold on, Bill, I’ll go see if’n I can find somethin’ else in that tool shed… maybe a torch or somethin’ t’ heat up whatever’s got this dang-blasted thing stuck,” Tom told him, hearing another plea to hurry up.

Returning outside, Tom didn’t even give the tool shed a glance as he headed back to the barn.  Midnight was still upset, not nearly as bad as she was before, but she was visibly stressed out.  Quietly, Tom approached her stall, soothingly saying her name.  “There there, Midnight, atta girl.  Just be calm.”  The black Arabian horse did not even whinny, but the farmer could tell she wouldn’t be happy with him entering the stall again.

Tom grabbed the tethering rope and managed to coax her over to him, and then tie her up on one of the metal loops.  “It’s a good thing Billy didn’t think about this last time we was out here, haha.  His head musta hit real hard,” Tom laughed aloud, more to himself than the horse.  Still not wanting her to cause a ruckus, he gently opened the gate and returned to where Hank’s body was buried.  Billy had dropped the shovel when Midnight reared up before, so Tom picked it up and started digging…





Tuesday, June 7, 1960

21:27 EDT

Wallace Thomson Hospital, Union, South Carolina


Mick Mulhill paced back and forth in the waiting area, wishing they would let him in to see his younger brother.  The worst part was the waiting, the not knowing what was going on.  Bordering on ten o’clock at night, Doctor Richard Henderson emerged from Room 304 and approached Mick.  “I think we have everything under control now.  He’ll have to stay here for a couple of days, so I’m turning him over to Doctor Warren who works here at the hospital.”

Mick nodded and thanked the doctor.  “Can I go in an’ see ’im?” he asked anxiously.

“Of course.  I already asked the nurse to bring you a pillow and blanket, though you’ll have to spend the night in a chair, I’m afraid,” the Nebraska physician answered.  Deputy Harris approached the two men, looking desperate to leave.

“Well, y’all should get goin’.  Don’t wanna hold up the deputy here any longer.  Thanks for all ya’ve done, Doc Henderson,” the farmer said, and then shook hands with the doctor and the police officer.  Now free to visit his brother, Mick entered the hospital room and looked down at Patrick Mulhill.  He was sleeping soundly, still looking puffed up around the eyes and red of skin.

Pulling up a chair, he decided to telephone their older brother, Tom, and let him know what was happening.  After letting it ring six times, Mick hung up, wondering where his half-brother could possibly be.  Figuring he and Billy were busy with something, Mick decided to get some rest and call Tom in the morning.





Tuesday, June 7, 1960

21:31 EDT

The Mulhill farm near Carlisle, South Carolina


Tom had spent two hours first filling up the hole where Hank Mulhill’s body had been in the barn, and then properly disposing of it.  He figured his oldest half-brother was in a safe place now—well, it was easier to hide something as large as a human being when divided into smaller pieces.  A shovel could be used for more than just digging, as Tom discovered.  The farmer was sure that the pigs would enjoy the extra food he slipped into their trough, and the rest would keep them nice and toasty tonight.  The furnace was secure and he left the barn’s door open to make sure the animals did not get too warm on the humid South Carolinian night.

Returning to the house, Tom heard the telephone ring twice before it stopped just as he reached it.  It could only have been Mick at this time of night, and Tom reasoned that his younger half-brother would call back later or in the morning.

“Tom, where in tarnation are you?!” a very angry Sheriff Boone cried out.

Tom walked over to the washroom and replied to his trapped friend.  “Sorry, Bill, had a problem with one o’ the sows.  Seems she wasn’t too fond of her children anymore,” he lied through the bathroom door.  “I couldn’t find anythin’ for ya, but I’s thinkin’ I might try breakin’ the door down.  We can’t have ya locked in there all night, sleepin’ in the tub, eh?”

Billy played along with Tom, trying to return in a joking manner.  “Yeah, y’ got that right, Tom.  I don’t have a mind t’ sleep in the tub; it’d be mighty uncomfortable.”  Sleeping was the last thing on the sheriff’s mind, however.  With Tom’s long absence, he was determined to solve the mystery of the body tonight and be done with it, even if it meant arresting his long-time friend.

“Listen, Bill,” Tom said calmly as he leaned against the wall near the restroom door, “who do y’ think coulda done somethin’ like that t’ whoever’s buried out there?”  The farmer figured a game of twenty questions might give him some insight as to where Billy’s loyalties lay.

“Well, I’ve been thinkin’ ’bout that, Tom.  At first, I thought the drifter ’imself did it an’ just lied to me on the phone, an’ then conveniently disappeared.  But that body’s been there for longer than the drifter coulda managed.”  Sheriff Boone paused for effect.  “Now, I have t’ admit, you’ve been actin’ mighty nervous ever since I came here…” he continued, “but I know you’re protectin’ someone.  I don’t know who that body is out there, but after seein’ yer concern for Paddy, I know you’d do anything for those boys.  I think one of ’em gone and done a deed that can’t be undone now, and you don’t wanna see ’em put away.  I admire your loyalty, Tom, but you know ’s well as I do that we can’t let that pass.  I assure you that if one o’ yer brothers did it, I’ll see to it they get the best justice possible.”

Tom thought over the words for a moment, considering how far he could take a lie to get himself out of suspicion.  “O’ course I’d do anything for ’em; they’re my flesh and blood, after all.  I don’t think Paddy or Mick could ever do anything like that.  Hank, on the other hand… ever since George passed on, rest his soul, Hank’s been actin’ mighty strange.”

The farmer paused for another rest, letting the words sink in to his friend before moving on.  “If ya don’t think it was the drifter, how long do ya figure that body’s been out there?  Ya might wanna wait for Hank to come back; give him a good talkin’ to.”

Bill Boone knew his work well enough to recognize that the finger he saw belonged to a male:  the bone structure, the size of the nail… it all indicated that.  He shivered to himself, wondering if this was as sinister an affair as he was suspecting it might be.  “Well, I don’t rightly know without lookin’ further, Tom.  But I’d say it’s been out there awhile… more than a day, but less than a month, judgin’ from the condition of the finger.  As for Hank, I would like t’ talk t’ him ’bout this biznis.  Maybe you could break down that door; seems that’s the only way to get it to budge.  I’d like to get some shut-eye, and then I might call the coordinators of the expo in the morning and see if’n Hank’s there.  Guess if ’e’s not, we’ll know he isn’t where ’e says he’s gonna be, and that, of course, would be mighty suspicious.”

The sheriff’s instincts were giving him a really bad feeling as he waited to see how Tom would react.  If he was right, Hank was not only not at the exposition, but also not even among the living anymore.



The whole conversation was filtering into Sam Beckett’s ears as he lay on the cold cellar floor.  His mind was working on the words of the two men, who were speaking loudly in order to communicate through the lavatory door.  There was a pause in the conversation and then footsteps of one person going back into the kitchen.  From the words that were exchanged, the leaper had a feeling in the pit of his stomach that something had happened to Hank’s body.  Sam promised himself that he would do whatever was required to bring Tom to justice for such a despicable act.

His confines were becoming extremely uncomfortable now; most of his extremities were completely numb and his bladder was screaming for release.  Al still had not returned since Sam found himself being held prisoner, and he wondered what the delay could possibly be.

Lost in his thoughts, he was brought back to listening to the events upstairs when the two men shouted with delight.  Billy had made it out of the bathroom, and then more footsteps sounded through the floorboards.  The front door opened, and a new voice—a female—joined the chorus.  If only he could remove the gag and alert those people that he was trapped and feeling totally helpless.




Helen Hilverton, daughter of one of the nearest neighbors, was standing in the Mulhills’ front door with a hot apple pie in her hands.  She had just finished hearing the story of Paddy’s accident from Tom when she noticed Carlisle’s sheriff entering the living room.

Having too good a set of manners to question his presence, she simply greeted him.  Billy tried his best to force a happy return, but quickly excused himself.  “I’ll be right back.  Just gotta grab a couple o’ things from my cruiser,” he said.  He managed to get out of the farmhouse, hearing Helen further question Tom about Paddy’s situation.

After making it to his cruiser and retrieving his sidearm from the glove compartment, he decided that he would never forgive himself if he did not go to the barn to see what Tom had been up to for such a long period of time.

Noticing that Midnight was much calmer now, he eased his way into the stall and spotted the shovel just where he had left it.  Concern came over Billy when he noticed that the hay had been replaced, and after clearing it away, horror struck him.  The body was gone!

Now he knew that Tom was guilty for sure since no one else could have moved it.  The sheriff’s first thought was to search for the body, but quickly decided to confront Tom Mulhill instead.  He went stomping toward the house, his hand gripping the handle of his revolver.

Billy entered the kitchen to find his suspected murderer setting the apple pie on the counter with Helen looking on.  “So, got yer things for the night, pard?” Tom asked the sheriff as lightheartedly as possible.

William Boone tried to compose himself since he would be talking to Tom in front of a lady.  Shaking his head at Tom’s question, he replied, “Almost, Tom, but there’s one thing I need help with in the cruiser.  Could y’ give me a hand?  Excuse us for a moment, ma’am.”  The police officer stood in the doorway, waiting for his friend to follow.

Instead of following, the farmer asked, “What would that be, Billy?” curious as to what the other man could be up to.  He had not come here expecting to stay the night, so what could there possibly be that was so cumbersome in the cruiser?  However, Tom noticed that Billy had his gun now, and that was an indication that he thought he might need to use it.  Tom Mulhill intended to keep himself bullet-free.

“It’s those extra saddles y’ asked me to get in town.  It won’t take long.”  The sheriff was half-glaring at him now.  He did not want to make a scene in front of Helen, but he would if it came to that.

Tom could tell from the look in Billy’s eyes that nothing would be held back if it stood in the way of solving this case.  “Oh, right, I plum forgot about ’em.  ’Scuse us a moment, ma’am,” Tom said with a slight nod of his head to Helen as he exited the kitchen, joining Billy just outside.

Once they had reached the cruiser, Tom asked Billy nonchalantly, “So, what is it ya have t’ say t’ me that ya can’t say in front o’ the neighbor-folk?”

“Tom, you know we’ve been friends for a long time, so this is probably one of the hardest things I’ve ever done.  But it’s time for the truth:  where’d you put the body and who was it?  I know you gone and done it; I checked the barn and it wasn’t there.  No sense lying to me anymore; I promise you I’ll get as fair a justice as I can muster for ya, but you gotta come clean.”  Billy had his hand on the gun, but he still had it in the holster.  However, his hand did not remain on his weapon for long, as an unseen wash of yellow light came over his body.  Doctor Maxwell Connors now stood where Sheriff William Boone had, a small smile crossing his lips.





Tuesday, June 7, 1960

21:55 EDT

The Mulhill farm near Carlisle, South Carolina


Tom Mulhill realized that there was a fork in the road:  one would be filled with lies and would hopefully lay the blame of the body on the person who it actually was—Hank, and the other path would be the truth, or at least a reasonable facsimile.  His friend, Sheriff William Boone, had just told him that the best justice possible would be given if he told the truth about Hank.

“Can I really hold ya t’ that, Billy?  If’n I tell ya who the killer is an’ who the body is, ya think I can be spared of any charges?  You know Paddy and Mick need me here as much as I need to be here,” Tom responded, choosing his words as carefully as he could so as to not incriminate himself.

Doctor Maxwell Connors, a time-traveler trapped in the past, now found himself in the aura of William Boone.  The first words he heard were from Tom Mulhill, overlapped by those of a second voice—one that only he could hear.

“Doctor Connors, it appears that some serious damage has been done to the timeline.  In the original history, Thomas, Michael, and Patrick Mulhill continued to run their farm until passing it on to Thomas’s children,” the voice of Morpheus stated at a quick pace.  “They also employed a farmhand named Martin Adler.  However, I currently predict with ninety-percent certainty that Patrick will die in two days and Thomas will be incriminated by the local authorities for the murder of his older brother, Henry.”

Connors made a thoughtful face, disguising both his façade of thinking on Tom’s words as well as hearing the predictions from Morpheus.  “Originally, Henry was thought to have simply disappeared, and life moved on.  Now, the family loses the farm and Martin Adler ends up in and out of prison for the rest of his life as a petty thief.  You must prevent Thomas from being apprehended, but it seems that it is too late to prevent reporting Henry’s death.”

Nodding his head, Max noticed that Tom was beginning to look uncertain of his comrade’s mental health.  “You have my word.  We’re honest folk ’round here, Tom.  You know that as well as I do.  We look out for one another and stand by what we say.  You have my promise that I’ll do everything I can to make sure this business is taken care of within the law but with keeping in mind personal obligation and circumstances.”  He was not sure where most of the words had come from, having made them up on the spot, but it seemed to satisfy Tom.

Taking in a breath through his teeth, Tom tried to come up with something that sounded believable considering the circumstances.  “What would ya think… what would ya think if I told ya that the body out there… that the body was Hank?”  The farmer had started stuttering quite a bit, but first wanted to gauge the reaction from Billy about his half-brother being dead and buried in that barn.

The leaper looked down at the ground for a moment, then back up at Tom.  “It wouldn’t come as much of a surprise,” Max admitted, already knowing the facts from Morpheus.  “Go on.”

“Well, I didn’t want nobody to find out, but… Hank, well, he done himself in, if ya get what I’m sayin’,” Tom said in a half-whisper, insinuating for who he thought was Billy to interpret it as suicide, but leaving it open to the courts should that course of events take shape.  He could say that he meant that Hank’s death was his own doing, even if it was at the hands of Tom.  Little did the farmer know that he was about to get away with murder.

“I see,” the leaper responded.  Although Morpheus said that Tom had murdered Hank, was it possible that it actually was suicide with a set-up?  From the body language the farmer was giving him, Connors could not be sure.  It was going to have to be reported that Hank was dead, but it could possibly be brought off as suicide.

“Doctor, you have leaped into Sheriff William Boone of Carlisle, South Carolina on June 7, 1960.  From what I can gather in the police records and court transcripts regarding Hank’s death, he and Tom Mulhill were close friends, but the sheriff could not ignore his police duty,” Morpheus continued on in an even, silky tone.  “You, on the other hand, can file a report of suicide and then leap out, which should sufficiently repair the timeline to a reasonable facsimile of how it was originally.”

Max had to refrain from smiling when the computer sentience made the same supposition as him.  There was a long pause while the leaper looked thoughtful again before speaking to the farmer once again.  “Well, Tom, what would you have me do?”

Tom breathed a sigh of relief when it seemed that Billy had bought into his story, at least for now.  “I really didn’t want this to get out, Billy.  If’n people hear that one of us Mulhills has gone and died that way, we might find ourselves with no customers.  I was hopin’ his trip to North Carolina would make everyone think he’d up and left fer good, leavin’ no questions ’bout no nasty biznis.”

Maxwell Connors felt pity for this man on some level; it was certain that Henry “Hank” Mulhill was dead and Tom had been involved in some way.  Somebody had changed history, and now his whole family was going to suffer.  However, Hank’s death needed to be reported, since apparently the real Bill Boone already knew about it.  Before he could answer, the hillbilly pressed on.  “Ya cain’t cover this up, can ya?” Tom asked, his expression crestfallen.

The rogue leaper shook his head no.  “No, I don’t think I can.  I’m the sheriff, after all.  Now you looky here, though…”

Looky here? Max thought to himself, wondering where the colloquialism had come from.  Well, he had to keep going.  Considering that Tom was apprehended in the altered history, it may mean he confessed.  Perhaps a sheriff’s power, as well as that of a close friend, could convince him to cooperate with Connors fully.

“I know you, Tom, but I know that you were the one that killed Hank.  I can see it in your eyes,” Connors pressed, trying to keep as professional as he imagined a sheriff would be.  The farmer stood aghast at the revelation, and the leaper continued.  “I’m not saying it was right, and no, we can’t hide this.  But, I’ll report it as Hank ‘doing himself in’; that will conjure suicide in the minds of the townsfolk.  They don’t have to know it’s metaphorical.”

Tom couldn’t believe it… Billy had it all figured out.  He knew what had happened.  Tears began to form in his eyes at the sheriff’s proposal.  “Billy…” is all the farmer could muster before he tried to stop any more tears.  Swallowing hard, Tom tried to get the lump out of his throat.  Closing his eyes, Tom whispered, “Oh, God, forgive me.”

Doctor Connors, realizing that he was still positioned with his right hand on the sheriff’s weapon, loosened his grip on the gun and put his hands down to his sides.  “It’ll be all right, I promise you that,” Max told him, getting a verifying response from his source of information.

“I predict near one-hundred-percent success if you file a suicide case tomorrow morning, Doctor.”

“You just let me take care of this.  I’ll report in the morning that you found Hank’s body last night hanging in the barn and that I am your spokesman because you’re too emotional.”  The leaper paused for a moment, realizing that they needed evidence of Hank’s demise.  “I do have to know where the body is, Tom, so it can have a proper burial.”

The expression on Tom’s face turned to one that deer had when the headlights of a vehicle were shining on them.  The police officer’s request to know where the body was sent a chill down the farmer’s spine.  He had not planned on being found out, but he had gotten this far… and yet the man he saw as Billy knew that Tom had murdered Hank.  “Sure, it’s in the barn,” Tom told him, which was the truth.  “But I don’t think you’re gonna find anythin’ in there, Bill.”

“What do you mean?” Max questioned.

“I already gave Hank the burial that he deserves,” responded Tom, darkness overshadowing his face and his tone.  “I guess ya could say he was always one t’ support cremation.”

Connors took a moment to process his statement, and it dawned on him.  “Don’t play games with me, Tom.  What did you do with the body?”

“Well, you’re the sheriff, Billy.  Use your deductive police skills,” Tom retorted levelly, not unkindly.  “I said he was in the barn and liked the idea of being cremated.  Ya could say I was just givin’ him his wishes.”

Taking a look toward the wide-open barn, Max could spot a large, green furnace inside.  Certainly, he didn’t mean….  He returned his gaze to the farmer, horrified at the thought.  “Tom… you didn’t…”

A frown crept over Tom’s mouth.  “’Fraid so,” he said lowly.  “’Twas the only way to hide the evidence.”  The leaper shook his head in utter disbelief.  There certainly were some sick people in this world, and he wasn’t sure why he was here to help keep this man free.  However, Morpheus said that the original history held no jail time for Tom Mulhill.  Whoever may have been messing around with Time in this period certainly wouldn’t be getting very far, if he had anything to say about it.  “Hope that don’t cause no trouble,” Tom added as if he had forgotten the potato salad for a box social.

“I guess we’ll just have to gather some ashes from the furnace and say he simply jumped in to do himself in.”  Again, Max paused, but not to listen to advice from the computer program that was grafted onto his brainwaves.  He just needed a moment to absorb this bizarre situation.  Finally, he figured they might as well rest for the night.  His head was beginning to pound, and he wasn’t sure if it was from the circumstances or something beyond that.  “Well, it’s been a long day.  You’d better get some sleep.  I’ll stay here for tonight and report a suicide in the morning, and then we’ll go from there.”

The farmer nodded, but Max wasn’t finished yet.  He felt that this man really needed to realize what he had done, murdering his own brother.  “Tom, I really do hope you understand the seriousness of your deed, but for the sake of our friendship, and of your brothers and your farm, that’s why I’m doing this.”

Despite Tom’s original predictions of Billy taking the whole thing by the book, he was willing to overlook things in order to help the farmer out.  “Thank you, Billy,” Tom squeaked and gave him a bear hug.  The time-traveler felt really uncomfortable with a strange man embracing him, but gently pushed Tom away after a brief moment before Tom began to lead the way back into the house.  For the rest of his life, he would have to keep the secret that the pigs dined on Hank, and he sure hoped that Billy and he could keep the fact that Tom murdered Hank between them.  Luckily for Tom Mulhill, the only people who knew the truth came from the future… and one of them had overheard the entire conversation.

Al Calavicci had watched the entire proceeding from when the two men exited the house.  He was appalled at the lack of police professionalism, but would be even more appalled when he finally centered himself on Sam.



Helen Hilverton had been waiting inside, chewing absently on a slice of her own pie that she brought over for the Mulhill brothers.  Finally, Tom and Billy returned to the kitchen, along with the holographic projection of Al, invisible to all in the room.  Tom explained that the saddles had taken a bit to unload, and she nodded with understanding.

“I wonder, could you be so kind as t’ escort me home, Sheriff Boone?  My car’s not the most reliable vehicle on these here roads,” the young woman asked in a tone as sweet as the sugar in her apple pie.  When Morpheus made no protest, Max nodded and walked with her out to the driveway.  He quickly found the keys to Billy’s cruiser and waved back at Tom as he saw them both off.

Once Helen pulled out of the lane in her vehicle, the police car rolled behind her, and they took off down the highway.  Tom returned to the kitchen and yelled out in glee.  “God, thank You, thank You!” he cheered.  “I’m finally gettin’ what’s been comin’ to me.  No more worryin’ ’bout Hank comin’ down on me every time I make a little mistake.  Bless Bill Boone, Lord, bless him with all Your wisdom.”

“What?  You little nozzle!” Al exclaimed, angry that Tom was getting away with his dire act.  So enraged, the observer threw a few punches, but they went right through Tom, going completely unnoticed.

His praise to the heavens over, Tom took a beer out of the refrigerator and downed it within a couple of minutes, with Admiral Calavicci trying to get more data from Ziggy.  “Whaddya mean history’s changing at ‘an alarming rate’?” he demanded.  His hollering got him an immediate response as the holographic representation of Ziggy appeared beside him.

“I do not know what happened, Admiral.  I was projecting that Tom Mulhill was to be incarcerated in order for Doctor Beckett to leap.  That has gone down to a point-three-percent probability of success.  In addition, Patrick Mulhill will be dead within two days.  That chance lies in the top percentile,” the computer reported in a sultry tone.  “It saddens me to see my father having so much difficulty.”

Al was about to respond to the sudden emotions that Ziggy had shown, both in her tone and visibly in her hologram’s facial features.  However, his attention turned back to the farmer, who suddenly withdrew a revolver from his front pocket and a small key from his back one.

“Oh, Marty, I forgot all about you, you sumbitch,” Tom muttered to himself, anger overcoming his emotions again.  Al was beginning to fear for Sam’s safety.  Ever since he had returned to the Imaging Chamber, Ziggy was unable to achieve a centering lock.  Not only that, but the scans of the fingerprint had brought up nothing, and even though it would probably frustrate Sam, the observer wanted to let the leaper know of their progress.

Admiral Calavicci had begun fearing the worst, that perhaps Tom had done something to his best friend, but hoped it was just some other interference.  Dominic had stated that there was a strange reading coming from the farm just as Al was about to step into the Imaging Chamber.  Regardless, Al followed Tom as he headed toward the cellar door.  The farmer took the stairs down two at a time, obviously frightening Sam out of his snooze.

“Sam!” Al called out, both grateful that his friend was alive and abhorred at his condition.  Ziggy, now able to achieve a lock, re-centered them on the leaper at his side while Tom stood over him with an ugly sneer on his face.

“Well, ya thought y’ were gonna get me in trouble, didja?” Tom questioned Sam, knowing full well that his captive was still gagged.  Lying on the ground, taped to the chair, Sam looked up at the farmer with bewilderment in his eyes.  Tom gave him a few kicks to the ribs for good measure, enjoying the muffled sounds of pain the leaper emitted.  “I ain’t wanna kill ya, but if gettin’ ’way with murder ’round here’s so easy, I just might be considerin’ it.”

“You bastard!” Al shouted, but instead of staying to say anything more to Sam, the farmer quickly ascended the stairs and re-locked the cellar door, returning the key to his back pocket.  He then went back to the kitchen to open another beer, anxiously awaiting Billy’s return.

Sam Beckett couldn’t remember ever feeling so helpless, and he felt that he obviously was not doing any good with this leap by being locked up in the cellar.  These thoughts raced through his head as Tom went back up the stairs, leaving him in the darkness once again.  At least this time he had company.

“Sam?  It’s me, Al.  Can ya hear me, buddy?” he questioned with concern.  All that the observer received in answer was some muffled grunts.  The observer wished with all his might that he could be a solid form right now and help untie the leaper, and then charge up the stairs to teach Tom Mulhill a thing or two about kicking a man when he’s down.

“Admiral, it is pitch dark in here.  There is nothing we can do for Doctor Beckett at the moment except give him an update on the situation,” Ziggy interjected with a matter-of-factness tone.

Biting his tongue, Al realized that she was right.  Instead of starting another argument with the egotistical hybrid computer, he let out a sigh and began giving Sam the facts…


To Be Continued…


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