Episode 605


by: A. J. Burfield & Erik Dreiling

printer friendly version



The first thing that Dr. Sam Beckett, time traveler, noticed was that the sun had not quite risen, but judging from the red, yellow and purple streaked horizon, sunrise would be within the next five minutes or so. Sam closed his eyes and felt the warm, gentle breeze that would later turn this beautiful dawn into a scorching day. When he opened his eyes it was because he felt his left arm sag with the weight of something heavy gripped in his fingers. He blinked, and shifted his shoulders, and lifted his arm.

His fingers were tightly holding the handle of a battered leather suitcase. Taking a few steps back, Sam bumped into something and turned around to find that it was a red and rust colored VW van. It looked like it had seen better days.

Sam set the suitcase down on the paved ground next to the van’s drivers side door and walked around to the back side of the van only to be presented with what looked like a half dozen luggage bags and a green and gold trunk wedged in the middle of the chaos. He looked around to see if he could find any clues that might help explain what was going on here. 

Across the street was a neat row of houses making up a small neighborhood that appeared to rise up sometime in the 1950’s. It was a nice atmosphere, with a dog barking somewhere in the distance and birds starting to chirp happily in the abundant trees. Turning to his left he saw the van was parked in front of a house that was about fifty yards from where he was standing. The house was quite pleasant with a metal fence painted white bordering the perimeter of the yard and a blacktop driveway. The roof sported a brick chimney and a weather vane of a trotting horse. Sam also noted that the front door was standing open.

Well,’ he thought to himself as he observed the house. ‘I wonder if I’m coming or going?’ His question was answered by a male voice emanating from inside the house.

"Kenny! What are you doing?" A young man stepped into the doorway, looking impatient. "I don’t know about you, but I’d like to have all that unloaded before it’s hot enough to melt!"

Sam hesitated, realizing his physical labor had just begun, and muttered tiredly, "Oh, boy." 



Shamrock, Texas

July 12, 1978

The first two thoughts that run through my mind when leaped into a new situation are ‘Who or what have I leaped into,’ and ‘What do I have to do?’ I never know what to expect, and that sometimes leads to disaster. I have never really gotten used to seeing another face staring back at me in a mirror; it’s very unnerving. I can only imagine how a Leapee reacts in the Waiting Room to see my face in a mirror. The hysteria they must feel is quite understandable. I was scared out of my wits the first time I saw a strange face emulating me. This ‘after Leap paranoia’ seems to wear off faster when I leap into situations requiring physical labor. And it looked like I had my share this time.


The young man speaking to Sam appeared to be in his early or mid-twenties, just shy six feet, with short, wavy brown hair and the most engaging brown eyes Sam could ever remember seeing, when the man got close enough for Sam to notice them.

"Kenny, what are you doing? I thought that you were going to unload the rest of the luggage from the van and put it in front of the house."

Sam quickly regained his composure and replied, "Well, I was, uh, taking a break. Getting a little fresh air."

The young man eyed him skeptically for a moment and then shook his head. "Jeeze, Kenny, you only started unloading five minutes ago. What do you mean you’re ‘taking a break’?"

"Oh, uh, well-"

The young man just waved him off and said in disgust, "Just finish unloading the rest of the luggage. Put it in front of the door and try to be quiet. We don't want to wake up Dad. Last time we did this, we woke him and he chewed both our asses for nearly an hour!" 

Sam wouldn't remember, but he couldn't let on that he didn't. "Oh, of course. I couldn't forget about that.”

He shot Sam a strange look then went back in the house. Sam stood by the van for a few moments, staring in the direction of the front door. Sam knew that the man had something on his mind, judging from the worried look on his face, but couldn't tell what it was at this time. Turning back to the van crammed with luggage, he started the unloading process. 



Unloading the van took about twenty minutes. When he was done, he propped himself up against the vehicle and took a moment to relax. The sun was out and it was becoming terribly hot... and it was only morning! Sam had figured out the young man that had greeted him by the door was named Chris, and was glad to see him return with two large glasses of lemonade.

"Here you go, Kenny. Drink up. There's plenty more where that came from.”

Sam thanked him and accepted the cool glass with much appreciation. Chris found a spot next to Sam on an especially large trunk and joined him. Sam had nearly killed himself trying to wrestle the trunk out of the van. When Chris had seen him struggling with it, he had offered his help and the two of them had lugged it to the front of the house, settling it on the porch. They had just sat there for a few moments enjoying their drinks when Sam heard the all to familiar whoosh of the Imaging Chamber Door.

He turned around and saw his holographic companion from his own time, Admiral Al Calavicci. Al was dressed in his Naval uniform and had a unlit stogie clenched between his teeth. The Door had 'appeared' right in front of a big oak tree about fifteen yards from where Sam was. He tapped in a command on the handlink and the brilliant white sheet of light vanished. Al had a distant look on his face that Sam immediately identified.

Sam got up and handed Chris his now emptied glass. "Could you please get me a refill?" Sam gave him a faint smile.

Chris took the glass and got up, heading back inside. He stopped half way and wiped the sweat from his face and muttered something about the hot weather. Sam watched him leave, and when he was convinced he was gone, Sam walked over to his friend and positioned himself in the shade of the nearest tree.

"Where have you been?" Sam said impatiently. "I've been here for nearly an hour!" 

Al stifled a yawn. "Well, Gooshie and I were feeding programs through Ziggy and it took us a while. And then I had to spend time in the Waiting Room helping Beeks calm down our Visitor. You should've seen the look on his face when he caught a glimpse of himself in that metallic table." Sam stared at Al, and the look that Sam was giving him wasn't good. He turned his attention to the handlink and read the information marching across the view screen. "Anyway, it's July 12, 1978, and you're in Shamrock, Texas. You've leaped into 18 year old Kenneth Richardson. Says here you go by Kenny." 

Sam wiped the sweat from his forehead and tugged at his dirty, sweat-streaked T-shirt while waiting for Al to finish. Al took out a gold plated lighter and lit his cigar, taking a few puffs to get it going.

When he looked back up he saw Sam was still giving him a sour look. An electronic squeal from the handlink caught Al's attention and he peered into the tiny view screen. "Hey, Sam. Ziggy has come up with some information on why you've leaped here." Sam perked his head up, and interested look on his face replacing the grumpy one. Al continued as he read the records from the data files. "In the original history, Chris Richardson disappeared from home on July 16, 1978 and was never seen or heard from again." There was a moment of uncomfortable silence between the two men. Al blinked then said, "The police records state that Chris disappeared sometime around 11:00 P.M. on the night of July 16th."

"Police records?" Sam asked quizzically.

"Yeah, police records. Originally, Kenny Richardson went to the police on July 30, 1978, which is two weeks after Chris disappeared, and filed for missing person's report. The report doesn't go into detail on why Chris left." Sam looked on as Al continued with the grim news. "All that the report said was that he had an argument with his father, James Richardson, who was the one who last saw him. We don’t know what they argued about, and no one ever found out."

"So, that's why I'm here. To prevent Chris from disappearing.” 

"This is odd, Sam, Ziggy is only giving that a forty two percent probability on why you're here. She says that there is a fifty eight percent probability that you are here to do something else."

"Well, what is it?"

"Ziggy doesn't know yet. Look, Sam, I'm going to go back and check with Ziggy and see if she can get more information on the Richardson family. In the meantime, try to keep an eye on Chris. I don't have enough data on why he disappeared.”  Al tapped in a command on the handlink and the Imaging Chamber door appeared. A moment later he was gone.

Sam turned around and started to head back towards the house when he saw Chris and an older man staring at him with looks of befuddlement on their faces. Obviously, they had been watching Sam the entire time.

Sam self-consciously ducked his head and muttered, "Great. Now they probably think I’m nuts." He sighed and continued working to clear the porch.




April 2, 1999

Project Quantum Leap 

Stallions Gate, New Mexico


Al Calavicci took his time getting back to the Control Room. He was in no hurry to get back. He had been deprived of sleep for the past two days, if the dark circles under his eyes were any indication. But he couldn't linger much longer, for he had to get ready for another meeting with the Committee on funding requests in about four hours.

That is what Al loathed the most; facing a bunch of airheads whom could care less for the Project. There were some that believed Sam Beckett had died when he first stepping in the Accelerator Chamber, and it has been due to several miracles Al was able to keep the Project alive.

He keyed in the command on the handlink to open the Door and he stepped through. When he reached the bottom of the ramp he was not surprised to see Gooshie hunched over Ziggy's main console, his hands flying about the knobs and buttons. He barely looked up when Al paused at the console and asked, "Has Ziggy got anything yet on why Chris Richardson disappeared?"

Gooshie quickly glanced at Al and returned to his work. After a brief moment he said, "Not yet, Admiral. She’s still performing data searches and it will take her a while to finish."

"In a more accurate estimation, Admiral, try back in seven point six hours. I should have accumulated helpful data by then," came a pleasant feminine voice that seemed to come from everywhere. Al knew the sound of that voice all to well and looked up at the glowing blue orb that was suspended above the console. The orb produced a quiet, rhythmic hum. 

"What do you mean 'seven point six hours’? Usually it takes you a matter of seconds, minutes at the most, to break into the archives. What gives?"

"At the moment, Admiral, I am dealing with many data limiting factors and it has caused me to operate at a diminished capacity. Therefore, it has rendered my ability to acquire data at my normal rate." 

Al continued to hold his gaze with the orb, pondering that last statement. He narrowed his eyes and said, "That doesn't make much sense Zig. I mean, you were able to get the police files for Chris Richardson’s disappearance."

Ziggy didn't bother to answer that one. But instead she said, "I should inform you, Admiral, which Senator Weitzman phoned. The meeting with the Committee has been postponed until a later date."

Al looked surprised as well as relieved. ‘Finally, some good news!’ Al thought to himself. "Been eavesdropping on the phone lines again?" He commented with a smile, walking over to far left of the cold, chameleon room. He pulled out a chair, just wanting to rest his feet as Gooshie worked. Ziggy didn’t grace him with an answer.

He made himself comfortable and closed his eyes, taking in a deep breath. His cigar went out and he tossed it into the nearest trash can, patting his pockets for a fresh one. When he had made himself comfortable once again, he asked, "Did Weitzman say why the meeting was postponed? That’s not like him. Usually, he would jump at the chance to terminate the Project."

"That last statement is untrue to a point, Admiral. You see, although that you were unable to prove to the Committee that Dr. Beckett is actually traveling in time, his absence has left the door open for possibilities to the Committee," Ziggy replied almost immediately. Al grumbled a response, stretched, and got up to go to his quarters. He decided that he could deal with the problems at hand when he was better rested.

"I am going to go to my quarters to get some rest. Let me know if you get anything on the Richardson's. I need to know just why Chris left." Al was half way to the elevator when a thought occurred to him. He hesitated, and asked Ziggy, "Where's Beth? I haven't seen her around." 

"Mrs. Calavicci is away at a meeting. She said she would be back in a few hours," Ziggy replied. 

Al nodded, then headed back towards the elevator. He pushed the button that would take him to the ninth level, greeting two technicians as they left the elevator. Al stepped inside and let a sigh escape as the door closed behind him. 



Verbena Beeks appeared around the corner just as the elevator departed. Wearing a lab coat with a light-purple colored jumpsuit underneath, she held a cup of coffee in one hand and a clipboard firmly clutched in the other. She walked over to Gooshie and they exchanged greetings. She then walked over to the chair that Al had just vacated and looked at her watch. 6:30 A.M. She sighed and took a sip of her lukewarm coffee. 

"Good morning, Dr. Beeks," came the pleasant response of Ziggy. 

"Good morning, Ziggy." Verbena was looking kind of ragged and had trouble keeping her eyes open. She drained her coffee cup and set it on the floor. The clipboard lay absently on her lap. Stifling a yawn, she rose and approached Gooshie and gave him all the data she acquired from Kenny in the Waiting Room. He took it from her and began to input it to Ziggy.

"How's our Visitor, Verbena?" Gooshie asked.

Verbena looked up and said, "He's fine at the moment. He’s calmed down and convinced himself that he’s dreaming the whole experience. Right now he is tying to get some sleep." 

Gooshie nodded and continued to input the latest data to the parallel hybrid computer.

"Where's Al?" Verbena asked as she looked about the room. "I haven't seen him around."

"Admiral Calavicci is resting at the moment. If you wish, I’ll send for him," Ziggy replied suggestively. 

Verbena thought about the suggestion for a moment then replied, "You don't need to do that right now. He really needs his rest."

"So do you, Doctor Beeks. Your respiratory patterns indicate that you may fall asleep within the next two minutes." Verbena considered this for a second then got up from her chair. "I’ll get some rest later, Ziggy. Right now I have to do some paperwork in my office, and it’s going to take a while." She then walked out of the Control Room and headed down the corridor that would lead her to her office. 

Gooshie was finally alone in the Control Room. He glanced around, sighed, and continued to input data. This was going to be a very long day.



Kenny Richardson couldn't get much sleep. For the first ten minutes he actually tried, but was unsuccessful. The feeling of terror had turned into total confusion. That lady and that Navy guy had asked some awfully strange questions.

"What year is it, Kenny?”


“Please tell me what year it is."


"Where are you from?"

He squinted his eyes, as if he had trouble remembering. "Texas... I think." He had never heard anything more ridiculous in his life. No... wait. There was one thing that he just could not believe. "Where am I? I know this isn't Texas."

"Well, you see, that one is a bit tough to answer." She took a moment to think of how she would answer that one. "Well, you are part of an ... experiment. You have traveled twenty one years into the future, and you have switched places with a scientist."

"A scientist."

"Yes, a scientist."

"Won't people realize that I am gone?"

"Well, no. When you and Dr. Beckett switched places, an illusion of your physical appearance was left behind, clouding peoples perceptions of him. To everyone else, he is you."

"And I am him." 

She nodded.

He gave her a look of disbelief and rejected the whole concept. She then suggested that he look into the mirrored table at his reflection. He complied to prove her wrong. Boy, was he in for a surprise! He had to keep himself from screaming when he saw someone else staring back at him.

"This is impossible," he muttered. "Impossible."

She placed a hand tentatively on his shoulder and he recoiled from her. The Navy guy had gone after him, but the lady held him back. 

"Maybe its best that we give him some privacy, Al. He needs time to adjust."

This guy, Al, had something in his hand that made little electronic noises and blinked different color lights. Kenny had looked at it curiously, trying to figure out what it was, but some instinct told him he would never know what the thing did. When they finally left, Kenny had gone to the shiny table and to stare at ‘his’ reflection, then finally collapsed on the bed in hopes of waking up from this dream. He had no idea on how to handle this one.



Al lay on top of the sheets of his bed, staring at the ceiling. In the past week he had gotten very little sleep, and no privacy, but now he was alone and it was quiet. He thought about Beth ...... God did he miss her! The thought of her brought a smile to his face and he felt his anxiety slip away. For now, he just wanted to rest. He closed his eyes and he began to drift into sleep when Ziggy called his name.

"Admiral, I think that I should inform you that I have acquired more data pertaining to Dr. Beckett's leap." 

Al leaned forward and got up to go over to the monitor that was linked through Ziggy. He waited for what seemed to be a full minute then prompted the computer. "Well? What is it?"

"I have acquired a little data on the Richardson family. I will put it up on your monitor." 

Al waited as the latest information graced the screen. He read it, frowning at the screen. "This won't help Sam much, Zig. I need to know why Chris disappeared."

"As I said earlier, Admiral that is going to take a while to receive. If you relay this information to Dr. Beckett, maybe he can work with it."

"Yeah. Maybe." Al walked over to the bathroom and turned on the hot water in his shower. A nice, hot bath would be help immensely, in addition to some sleep.




Shamrock, Texas

Wednesday, July 12,1978


Sam took a walk around the neighborhood to get some time alone. He just needed to think. Plus, he had to get away from Chris and Jim before they started to ask him some more questions on why he was 'talking to thin air' earlier. Sam need to think on ways to keep Chris from leaving the house four days from now; but the problem was that he had very little to work with and he didn't know if his solution, when he would come up with one, would cause or complicate the future situation.

He stopped half way around the block, looking for some shade to escape to, as it was becoming miserably hot. He looked around and saw a large tree with a very inviting shade patch to sit under. As he walked towards the tree a person emerged from the house and looked right at Sam.

"Well, if it isn't Kenneth James Richardson. It's nice to see you again," a pleasant voice stated. Sam turned around and saw an elderly woman giving him a wide smile. He guessed that she must be somewhere in her seventies. She had permed white hair and wore bright red lipstick and a gray shirt and brown slacks. 

He instinctively smiled back. "It’s nice … to see you again," he stammered. 

She gave him another wide smile and then laughed. "Well, Kenneth, you look as if you are about to faint. I can't say that I blame you, though. I have all of the fans in my house going at full blast." She asked Sam if he would like to come inside and cool down. Sam assumed that she must either be a relative of Kenny's or a close family friend, so he accepted the offer gratefully and the two of them went inside.

The house looked similar to Kenny's but the living room was a bit smaller and the front door was on the left side instead of the right. As he walked inside the living room, he saw a small mirror hanging on the wall. Curiously, he took a moment to step in front of it to see what he looked like.

Kenny was tall for his age, well muscled and broad shouldered. He had longish brown hair that was framing a strong face with dark brown eyes. Sam was pleased about the way he looked. He turned around and headed towards the kitchen where the woman had gone. She met him half way, offering him a soda.

Sam and the woman, whose name he did not know yet, walked back to the living room and she motioned for him to sit. It felt good to get out of the heat and relax in a nice, cool room. He reclined in a chair and closed his eyes for a few seconds. When he opened them, he saw the woman looking at him pleasantly. Sam smiled back and took a sip of his soda.

They talked about the weather, and her late husband, and how hot the summer was going to be. After a moment of silence the woman, whose name Sam found out was Louise Cutter, asked Sam about Chris. 

"How is Chris doing, Kenneth? I haven't seen or heard from him in a while now. I certainly hope that he is doing better." 

Sam became alert at the last statement. "What do you mean 'doing better'?"

"Well, you certainly remember last time he visited, don't you?" She gave him a quizzical look.

"Oh … of course I remember last time."

"I mean, your daddy and Chris were just a yelling at each other at the top o' their lungs. And Chris went storming out of the house." Sam thought about this for a few beats before she went on. "That boy has a lot of anger inside him. The whole neighborhood didn't have a clue as of what was goin' on. I thought maybe you could tell me... if you want."

Sam had no idea what to say next. "Well...I-"

"Hasn't anyone else asked you about that? I mean, you were there, Kenneth. You were trying to stop them from yellin' at each other. I've never seen anything quite like it." 

Sam remained silent as he took in the new information, now having a firmer grasp on the situation. He looked at her and gave her a little smile, then got out of the chair and headed towards the door, pausing half way to face her.

"I am sorry, Mrs. Cutter, but I do have to go now. Uh..., my dad is probably wondering where I am," he stammered.

"I understand. Thank you for stopping by, Kenneth. I do hope everything works out between your brother and father."

Sam nodded and left.

She watched him go. When she shut the door she thought to herself. That boy seems different somehow. She couldn't quite put her finger on why. Oh, well, it must have to do with his brother and father. They never had really gotten along for as long as she could remember. They always seemed to be arguing about something.



Sam hurried to get back to the Richardson house. He now knew why he was here. Oh, keeping Chris from disappearing was important, he wasn’t denying that, but he felt that he was beginning to understand the true meaning of this Leap. He hoped that Chris would still be there when he got back. 

Sam stopped half way and swiped sweat from his forehead and thought ‘I can't remember summer ever being this hot before!’ Either his childhood memories of summer were wrong or summer in Texas was brutal. He guessed on the latter. He got back to the house and saw Jim Richardson sitting on a chair on the front porch sipping at a beer. Chris was no where to be seen. For a brief moment Sam began to panic. ‘Had Chris already left?? Had I changed history without knowing it??’ 

Putting aside his fears for the moment, he asked tentatively, "Where's Chris?" Jim looked up at Sam through his wire-rimmed glasses and said nothing for a moment. He just stared at Sam. After a pause, he set down his beer on the ground next to his chair and said quietly, "Chris is inside, Ken. He's resting at the moment. I guess he had burned himself out unloading all those suitcases from that sorry excuse he calls a vehicle." Jim's voice had a definite sarcastic tone to it, as well as anger. He picked up his beer again and sipped at it. 

Jim was a little overweight and balding. He had a graying thin mustache and was dressed like a cowboy; blue jeans, cowboy boots, a white T-shirt complete with a vest and a tan cowboy hat that looked a little large on him.

Sam looked at the way he was dressed, and felt an urge to make a comment on it. "Aren't you hot under all those clothes?" Sam asked, genuinely curious. He was amazed that the man hadn't fainted from heat stroke. 

Jim laughed a little and shook his head. "When you've lived in Texas as long as I have, son, you tend to adjust to the weather." Jim paused for a beat and a smile drifted on his face as if he were reflecting on some old memories. He continued, "I've lived here in Shamrock for over twenty-five years and the heat hasn't gotten to me yet, Kenny. I'll tell you what; it takes a lot to get to James Kenneth Richardson!" 

Sam smiled and laughed along with him. 

After the last of Sam's laughter had dried up he said, "I'm going to go check on Chris, Dad. I need to talk to him."

At the mention of Chris, Jim suddenly became sober. "Don't expect him to listen, Ken. He never has before." 

Sam stopped in the middle of the doorway and winced at that last remark. He stepped inside and closed the door gently behind him.

The house resembled Mrs. Cutter's quite a bit but the living room here was a trifle larger and less cluttered. He turned around and headed to the hall, making a right turn down the narrow passage. To his right, a door was slightly open and he poked his head in to see what was inside. Chris was sprawled on his bed staring at the ceiling. He didn't seem to notice Sam. Sam cleared his throat to get Chris' attention.

"What do you want?" Chris replied curtly.

"I was just checking to see if you were O.K."

"Do I look 'O.K.'?

"Sorry. Dumb question." 

Chris snorted and continued to stare at the ceiling. Sam walked over to the foot of the bed and sat down. Chris sat up. "I can't believe someone could be as stubborn and pig headed as Dad," Chris said after a moment of silence. "I mean, he won't listen to anyone whose opinions are different from his."

"Well, have you ever tried to listen to what Dad has to say?" Sam asked. 

Chris gave Sam a look that could kill. "I can't believe you just said that, Kenny. After all this time and what has happened in the past, you had to go and ask that!"

Sam took in a deep breath and tried to relax. He had no idea what to say to that. At that moment the Imaging Chamber Door opened and Al appeared. The Door had appeared in the doorway of the bedroom. Al curiously looked in the room and saw Chris’ savage look.

"What happened in here?" he asked. "Sheesh, it looks like someone died in here." Sam couldn't answer at the moment with Chris in the room, so he got up and headed for the door. "I'm going to, uh, go to my room. I'll leave you alone now."


Sam sighed quietly and left the room. Al re-centered on him at the end of the hall.

When Sam walked past him, Al tapped at the handlink then smacked it on its side. The handlink produced a squeal of electronic outrage, and Al said calmly, "Ziggy's got some data on the Richardson's, Sam." 

Sam stopped walking and turned around to face Al. The hologram looked ragged and trying hard not to show it. Sam leaned against the wall and closed his eyes. The hologram gave Sam a hard stare and for a moment said nothing. When Sam opened his eyes Al spoke up. 

"I had Ziggy run a scan on the Richardson's family history. I think that I should tell you that there isn't much on them. It took Ziggy a while just to get this much." Al waited for Sam's reaction. When he didn't get one, Al continued. "I also had Beeks talk to Kenny in the Waiting Room to get as much family history as possible. We were able to get a little more, but his memory is Swiss-cheesed, Sam."

"Just get to the point, Al," Sam replied hotly. 

Al’s jaw dropped in pure surprise at Sam tone, and Sam immediately felt guilty. 

"Sorry, Al. It's just that I do not know what to do here." He was obviously frustrated. "I mean, I never had to deal with anything like this before with my family." 

"Take it easy, Sam. I'll help you out here. Just calm down." 

Sam tried to relax.

"Chris and Kenny's parents got a divorce back in '70. The mother got Chris and the father got Kenny. Chris stayed with his mother until her death in '72 then came back to live with his father and brother. Chris stayed with his dad until '75, when he moved out." 

Sam was beginning to get a clearer perception of the problem. "Do you think that this divorce had something to do with the bad relationship between Chris and Jim? I've noticed that they don’t get along. They always seem to be fighting."

Al thought about this for a second and shook his head. "I don't know Sam. I'll go back and have Gooshie search the archives again. Maybe there's something that we missed." As Al opened the Door, Jim Richardson walked through Al and towards Chris’ room. Sam spoke up.

"Uh... Dad... maybe you shouldn't go in there right now." 

Jim gave Sam an icy stare. For a moment Sam was afraid of what Jim might do next. This feeling felt all too familiar, and Sam guessed that it was a residual from Kenny. Then for a moment Kenny completely took over.

"Please don't let this end up like last time, Dad. I was hoping that by bringing Chris here, that maybe you two could put aside your past conflicts and just get along, damn it! How hard is that to do?" Sam stopped himself and felt totally befuddled. He tried to clear his mind, but it seemed that there was a lot more merging between Sam's and Kenny’s mind than he could deal with. 

Jim’s expression was one of shock that turned to one of pure anger. "You shut your mouth, boy. You do NOT talk to your father like that, you hear me?"

Sam fought to keep his mouth shut and nodded. Jim walked into the room, shutting the door behind him.

Sam and Al just stood there completely amazed.

"Jeez, Sam. I didn't know that you had it in you. What made you say that?"

"More like 'who' made me say that. For a moment Kenny completely took over, Al. I was spouting his words and thinking his thoughts."

Al considered this, then stepped through the Door. Before he left he said, "This reminds me of when you Leaped into Lee Harvey Oswald, or those twin boys." 

Sam didn't remember, and he didn't try to. Al tapped the buttons on the handlink and a second later he was gone.

Behind him Sam could hear the shouts of the two men in the other room. He sighed heavily and shook his head. Sam hadn't thought this way in a long time, but he was beginning to feel that he couldn't fix what he leaped here to do.



The sun had just set when Sam stepped out on the front porch and surveyed his surroundings. The vibrant colors that streaked across the sky were similar to what he had seen when he first Leaped in here. The temperature had dropped significantly, and Sam just stood there enjoying the coolness. He was both mentally and physically tired from going over a thousand plans in his mind on how to help Chris and Jim with their problem. None of the possible solutions he came up with seemed right. 

He walked to the concrete steps of the porch and looked up at the sky in an effort to quiet his mind. The stars were just starting to become visible and Sam’s eye was drawn to the North Star. He marveled at how it twinkled in the sky, and took a deep breath before heading back inside.




 The screen door slammed shut as Sam entered the house and he flinched at the loudness of it. He stopped at the door when he heard a faint sound coming from the living room, and cocked his head slightly as he figured out what it was. Music. Soft music. When Sam listened more carefully he found out that it was the song ‘Georgia’ by Ray Charles. Sam couldn't explain it but a sense of familiarity overwhelmed him when he heard it. He tried to remember what event was connected with it, but the harder he tried, the more aloof the memories became. Leaping had left so many holes in his once photographic memory; he decided to just let it go. Sometimes things simply fell into place. And if it didn't fall into place, then it wouldn't come to him at all, so what was the point in getting himself worked up?

Sam walked into the living room to find Jim standing by the fireplace mantle, holding a silver-framed picture in his hands. He walked a little closer, thinking about what he could possibly say at that opportunity. Sam took a deep breath before speaking. "Dad?" Jim turned around and faced Sam, a look of pure sadness painted on his face as he grasped the picture firmly in his hands. "Are you okay?" Sam asked softly. Jim set the picture back down on the mantle without taking his eyes off it, and still didn't look at Sam when he crossed the small living room.

"I'm fine, son. You don't have to worry about me." Sam saw the pain in his eyes when Jim slightly turned his head. 

Sam walked over to him. "I want to help you, Dad. Please tell me." 

Jim faced Sam and said nothing, sorrow in his eyes. Then he said softly, "It wasn't always like this, Ken. We used to be a family. We were together. Now, it's completely different. I wonder what I did to deserve all this!" He was beginning to speak louder. "I must have done something wrong in my life. First, I lose my wife, then I'm close to losing a son." 

Sam remained silent as Jim spoke, not daring to interrupt. The situation was far worse than Sam thought, and he still had no idea how he was to help them. Sam put an arm around Jim and looked him in the eye.

"You listen to me, Dad. You didn’t do anything wrong. This is not your fault. We can work through this. All of us. You, Chris, and me. We can still be a family." After a brief pause, "We are a family." 

Jim looked at Sam then he moved towards the hallway. He stopped halfway and turned around, looking thoughtful. "I don't know what else to do. I try, and I try, and I try, and I still can't get through to that boy! I don't know what else to do!" Jim stopped talking to remove his glasses and rub his eyes. He breathed in deeply and remained silent. 

Sam spoke up. "Have you ever tried to listen to what Chris has to say? I mean, maybe if the two of you just sat down together and... talked then maybe you two just might be able to help each other. Please Dad, don't let it end like this." Jim's eyes narrowed at Sam's last comment as Sam caught himself and realized what he sounded like. He had to be careful about how he said anything. "I mean, don't let it happen like this. Neither you or Chris deserve this."

Jim nodded and walked over to Sam. "I never told you this, Ken, but I think that Chris blames me for your mother's death. Ever since she died, he’s been angry. I try to explain to him that it's nobody's fault, but I know that he doesn’t hear." In the background ‘Georgia’ ended and the room fell silent except for the humming of the record player. Jim turned his attention to the machine. "That was your mother's favorite song. I remember we used to stay up at night, just the two of us, and we would just listen to it." He paused briefly before continuing. "That's what I miss the most, son." Jim looked at Sam for one more moment then disappeared down the hall.

Sam turned and walked to the mantle, picking up the picture that Jim had held. It was a black and white photo of Jim, Chris, Kenny, and Rose Richardson. It was a little faded with was a small rip in the lower left-hand corner. A feeling of familiarity came over Sam, and he decided it must be residual from Kenny’s memories. Sam set the picture back down and turned around, finding himself face to face with a somber Al. In the hologram’s hand, the handlink produced little electronic beeps. Al stepped back as Sam looked around to make sure that no one else was in the room. 

"How long have you been here?"

"Long enough."

"I'm lost, Al. I don't know what else to do! I tried talking to Jim, and he won't listen. Maybe I can't fix what I was sent here to do. Nothing seems to be working for me, Al. Nothing." Al could easily see that Sam was becoming frustrated, if the visible vein on his forehead was any indication. Al silently puffed his cigar as he watched Sam collapse in the leather chair, rub his temples, then close his eyes. When he opened them again, Al was looking down at him. Sam shook his head and closed his eyes again. "I just don't know what else to do," he mumbled.

Al tilted his head back and said thoughtfully, "Well, let's see, you talked to Chris, and you talked to Jim." Al squinted his eyes while concentrating. "Who else is there?" Sam's eyes flashed open as he bolted out of the chair. 


Al, without missing a beat, faced Sam. "What?"

"Kenny. Al, he is the only one who might be able to help me." 

Al flicked some ash from his cigar and shook his head. "I don't know about that, Sam. His mind is still Swiss-cheesed and he’s still a little shaken up from the Leap. I don't know if that's such a good idea." 

Impatient, Sam began to pace the room as he spoke. "Come on, Al. I need you in the Waiting Room with Kenny. I need you to ask him what he remembers about his family history. Maybe he knows something that might be able to help me here. It's worth a try. Please, Al." 

Al let out a sharp breath and began to punch at the buttons on the handlink. The Imaging Chamber Door appeared. "Okay, Sam, I'll go talk to Kenny and find out what he remembers. I'll be back as soon as I can." Al stepped through the Door and was engulfed in the bright light.  A second later, he was gone. Sam looked up at the clock above the mantle. It read 8:38. Sam sighed and headed back to the leather chair.


Friday, April 2, 1999

Project Quantum Leap Waiting Room


Dr. Beeks was sitting next to Kenny when Al entered the room, writing things down on a notepad as Kenny spoke. Kenny looked up at Al and smirked. Dr. Beeks also looked up at Al, and he motioned for Verbena to come over to where he was. When she approached him, Al said quietly, "Sam wants me to talk to Kenny to see if he can remember anything about his family history. Sam's having a rough time back there." Nodding, Verbena put the notepad in her lab coat pocket and headed towards the door. Before she entered her access code she turned to Al.

"I don't know if anything Kenneth Richardson remembers can help Sam. He can only remember bits and pieces here and there, nothing solid. You're welcome to try, though. I must say, he has calmed down so it’s a little easier to talk to him." She punched in her access code and the door slid open. She stepped through and the door closed behind her. 

Al turned around and headed towards Kenny. "Kenny, I'm going to be asking you some important questions. Now I need you to try and remember what you can, okay?" 

Kenny raised an eyebrow at Al and leaned back on the table. "Sure, why not. But I hope you don't ask me the same weird questions Dr. Beeks asked. And maybe you could answer some of mine. Deal?" 

Al nodded and pocketed the handlink. "I'll see what I can do. Now, can you tell me anything you can remember about your brother and father?" Kenny nodded. "How long has your brother been away from home?" 

Kenny squinted his eyes, trying hard to remember. "There's not much that I can remember but... wait, I think I remember, now." Kenny had a certain energy as he spoke. "Chris and Dad rarely got along for as long as I can remember. They were always yelling at each other and... and... damn, I can't remember. I hate it when that happens!" Al smirked and Kenny glared at Al. "What's so funny?"

"Nothing. Don't worry, Kenny, the effect won't last long." 

Kenny gave Al a strange look, then rubbed his forehead. A look of realization suddenly appeared on his face. "I remember calling Chris and asking him to come down to visit since he was in town. I had been trying for months to get him to come down. I was hoping that Dad and Chris could finally set aside their differences and settle everything between them. That's the last thing I can remember clearly before... this," he waved a hand at the Waiting Room, "all happened." Al got up and pulled the handlink from his pocket and began punching at the buttons. Kenny leaned over to see what Al was doing. "What's that?" he asked curiously. 

Al looked at Kenny and said that it was a new type of tape recorder. 

Kenny didn't quite believe that, but he nodded, then sat up with a grin on his face. "Now, Admiral, now it's my turn to ask the questions."



Sam was still sitting in the chair when Chris entered the room. He looked rather tired and sat down in the small brown couch across from Sam. He said after a moment of silence, "I heard you talking to Dad. I'm surprised he listened to you, Kenny. That's not like him." 

Sam slowly got out of the chair and turned to face Chris. "Now this has gone on for long enough, Chris. You and Dad really need to talk to each other and settle this once and for all. You have to stop acting so damn stubborn and talk to him. He hurting, too, you know. Maybe you two can help each other." Chris’s face grew dark, but he remained silent and took a deep breath. Sam turned around and headed towards the hallway. He looked at Chris and said, "I'm going to bed now." 

Chris turned around and gave Sam a strange look. "Going to bed already, Ken? It's only ten after nine."

"Yeah, well I'm tired and I need some sleep. Now Chris, I want you to think about what was just said. Think long and hard." With those last words Sam walked down the hall to Kenny's bedroom, leaving Chris alone in the living room. Chris sighed and closed his eyes.




Thursday, July 13, 1978 

7:55 A.M.


Sam awoke the next morning to find the bedroom brilliantly bathed in sunlight. He squinted his eyes to shield them. Sam lay there in the narrow bed listening to the continuous chirping of the birds, the low hum of the cars that passed on the streets, and the barking of a dog in the distance. Rarely on any leap did Sam have much time to just relax. The room was becoming quite warm so pulled the sheets off himself and rolled over on his back. He needed time to think things over and review the events of the previous day.

Sam slowly got out of bed and walked over to the window, shutting the curtain. He could tell by the excessive warmth of the room that today would be another scorcher. He went over to the closet and looked for something cool to wear and found a white tank top and some jean shorts. After dressing Sam looked around at the room. He hadn't gotten a good look the night before as he was preoccupied by Jim and Chris's situation. 
       During most of his leaps Sam really didn't get to explore the lives of the people who he had leapt into, rather he focused on helping to fix the lives of others he encountered. For once he had some privacy and the time, so he decided to explore the life of Kenny Richardson. The room was rather small and cluttered with a red electric guitar propped up in the right hand corner of the room next to a mini amplifier. Tacked on the walls were small baseball pennants with the Waco Bombers' logo on them (Sam wasn't sure why that seemed so familiar), and the dresser drawers were overloaded with clothes hanging out of them. Turning to his left, Sam noticed a desk next to the window, its top cluttered with empty crumpled soda cans, wrappers of candy bars and stacks of 8-track tapes. Obviously, Kenny wasn't much of a housekeeper. 

Walking back to the bed Sam stubbed his toes on something metallic. Wincing in pain, he knelt down and put his arm under the bed and extracted two free weights. He returned the weights back in the indentations in the carpet they had left behind. In the process, something caught his eye and he reached further under the bed, pulling it out. It was tattered Playboy magazine. Shaking his head, Sam put it back under the bed. When he stood back up he noticed a full length mirror tacked to the door. 

Sam stepped in front of the mirror and Kenny stared back at him. He hadn't gotten a real good look at himself since he had first leaped in. Kenny's longish brown hair hung limply in Sam's face and he had to brush it back with his hand. Sam looked over his new aura and was again pleased with the way he looked. Kenny was quite tall and was well muscled, guessing Kenny to be somewhere around six feet tall. Sam smiled to himself and turned to walk to the dresser, finding Kenny's black leather wallet. He picked it up and flipped it open to Kenny's driver license. Sam found out that Kenny's birthday was February 5, 1960, his height was 6'3, and he weighed 175 pounds. There was about fifty dollars in the wallet along with a slightly torn picture of Kenny and a girl who appeared to be the same age. Folding the wallet, Sam put it in his back pocket and turned around to find Al standing right behind him.

The hologram was dressed in a Hawaiian shirt, blue pants, orange loafers, and a red fedora. Sam shook his head and sat down on the bed. Al walked around to face Sam, who asked "Did you find out anything from Kenny?"

Al scratched his nose and shook his head. "Sorry, Sam. He didn't tell us anything that we already didn't know." Sam took in a deep breath and remained silent. After a moment, he added, "But I did have Ziggy run another data search on the family. Ziggy came across a death certificate for Jim Richardson. In the original history, he died in October of '78, three months from now." 

Sam perked up at that bit of information, and thoughtfully rubbed his chin. "Do you think that's what I'm really here for? To keep Jim from dying?"

"I'm not sure, Sam. I had Ziggy check out the cause of death and it was recorded that he died of natural causes." 

Sam got up and headed to the door. He stopped and turned around, asking, "Last night I talked to both Chris and Jim. I think I may have gotten through to both of them. Have Ziggy check the odds on Chris not leaving." 

Al nodded and tapped the buttons on the hand link. After a brief consultation he looked up with disappointment in his eyes. "Sorry, Sam. The odds haven't changed. Chris still leaves Sunday night." 

Sam looked at the window. After a long moment of silence he said, "Then, until Sunday night, I have to stick to Chris like glue and make sure he doesn’t leave." Sam started to open the door when a thought occurred to him. He turned his head to Al. "Have Ziggy run a probability check on Jim. I want to know the percentage of him not dying if Chris doesn’t disappear."

"What for?" Al asked, confused. 

"I can't explain now. Just do it, please." 

Al noted the look of desperation on his friend’s face. "Sure thing, Sam." Al typed in a command and the Imaging Chamber Door appeared behind him as a glowing, white rectangle.

Sam headed towards the living room, where he found Jim reading the morning paper with the TV on. It was some news program reporting to the viewers the severe traffic jams on the freeways. The picture kept cutting in and out as the report was being broadcast. Jim looked up. 

"Good morning, son." 

Sam nodded and walked to the kitchen where he found Chris sitting at the kitchen table sipping a cup of coffee and reading a magazine. The windows were open all the way and Chris had three fans turned on at full power. He didn't look up when Sam took a seat across from him. Sam looked at Chris for a beat before talking.

"Did you get any sleep last night?"

"No, not really. It was too damn hot to sleep. I just stayed up watchin' TV." Chris was a little more sociable than the previous night. 

Sam looked around the kitchen for a pot of coffee. "Is there anymore coffee? I could really use a cup right about now." 

Chris gave Sam a strange look with one eyebrow raised. "I didn't know you drank coffee. Usually, you only drink Dr. Pepper. What gives?" 

Sam quickly looked down at the yellow tiled floor trying to think of something to say to get him out of the hot seat. "I... uh... just felt like having some coffee this morning. For some strange reason, I have a craving for it."

"A craving for it," Chris repeated. Sam nodded. "Well, the pot's almost empty but I think there’s enough for one more cup." Chris motioned with his head the direction of the coffeepot and Sam got up to pour a cup. 

Chris said, "I'm going to be gone for most of the day. I got some errands to run. I was wondering if I could borrow your car today? My van is acting up again. I think it's the transmission." Sam started to decline but Chris spoke up again. "Come on, bro. I need to get these things done. I know how you are about your car, and I promise I won't put a scratch on it." 

Sam suggested that they both go together. Chris said, "What about Marisa? I thought you said that she was coming over today and you two were going to the movies. You made such a big deal about it yesterday morning. I promise it won't take any longer than today." 

Sam was about to say no when he heard a familiar whoosh followed by a just as familiar voice. "Don't worry, Sam. He'll be back. You haven't changed anything." 

Sam nodded and Chris's face lit up. 

"Thanks Ken!" With that Chris got up and took a pair of keys from the green plastic key rack and walked out the front door towards the garage as Jim walked in the kitchen and looked out the window. 

"Where's your brother going?"

"To go do some errands, Dad. He said he'll be back later today." 

Jim nodded and went to get some more coffee. When he saw that there wasn't anymore, he grumbled and opened the pantry door. Pulling out a coffee container, he prepared to make another pot. Al motioned for Sam to go outside, so Sam got up and excused himself. 

When he got outside Al relocated to the large tree in front of the house. Sam jogged over to where the hologram was poised in the shade.

"I had Ziggy run a probability check on Jim not dying if Chris doesn’t leave." Al paused as he lit up a cigar. When he looked up he could see Sam becoming impatient.


"And, as weird as it is, the odds on Jim surviving are about 96%. I don't understand it, Sam."

"I do. Last night I had a talk with Jim. He explained to me what it was like for him after the divorce. It hit him pretty hard, Al. He also feels very depressed over his and Chris's rocky relationship. He said something about Chris blaming Jim for the mother's death. Maybe that's why I'm here. To help heal that wound." 

Al rolled the cigar in his fingers and stared at it. He looked up at Sam and shrugged his shoulders. "Maybe, Sam, but you first have to find a way to keep Chris from leaving. If you do that, then you can find a way to help heal that wound. But for now, concentrate on Chris." 

Sam nodded and looked down the street. He saw a girl approaching the tree, and he realized she looked just like the one in the picture in Kenny’s wallet. She had a cheery smile when she walked up to Sam.

"Hey babe." 

Sam smiled back at her. "Hey yourself," he responded.

She gave him a hug and a kiss on the cheek. Sam deduced that this must be Marisa. She had short brown hair, hazel eyes and had a slightly high voice, which held lots of energy as she spoke. "Are we still on for today, Kenny?" 

Sam looked at Al and Al nodded. Sam mirrored the motion. 

"Good. I can't wait! I can't stay long, though. My dad wants me to go to my aunt's this morning. How boring is that?" She looked at Sam for a moment then said, "Is something wrong, Kenny? You’re so quiet."

"Uh, no, no, nothing's wrong. I was just thinking about going out to dinner tonight instead of the movies." Marisa narrowed her eyes and Sam continued. "And I was wondering if maybe I can bring a couple of people with us."

"Well, who did you have in mind?"

"My father and brother."

"WHAT!" Al and Marisa exclaimed in unison.

"I just thought that it would be a good idea for the four of us to have a nice evening together." 

Marisa continued to give Sam that strange look, then she nodded her head knowingly. "Is it still that bad?"

"What?" Sam asked with a surprised look on his face.

"With your brother and father. I know it's tough for you, Kenny, but do you think that this is such a hot idea? I mean, no offense, but the two rarely get along when they are in the same room."

"Yeah, what she said!" Al agreed, pointing at her.

Sam ducked his head, looked at the house then back to both Marisa and Al. "Trust me," he said, hoping he was right. 



Later that day when Chris returned home, Sam asked him to join them at dinner. Chris questioned the offer, and Sam said that he just wanted to treat everyone to a nice evening out. When Sam mentioned that Jim would be joining them, Chris declined. It took a little begging, but Sam finally talked him into it. 

When the sun went down was it got a little cooler, but not by much. Sam spent twenty minutes getting ready for dinner. After showing and shaving, he found some decent clothes buried in the back of Kenny's cluttered closet. Blue jeans, boots, a white T-shirt, and a black leather jacket would have to do. He would have worn something more dressy, but Kenny wasn't the dressy type. He hoped that by getting Chris and Jim together tonight, his chances on succeeding would increase.

There was a knock at the front door followed by footsteps. Sam left the bedroom for the living room to find Marisa, wearing a white and blue blouse, some type of perfume, and her hair all fixed up. She looked beautiful. She had been speaking with Jim in the doorway but approached Sam when he arrived and gave him a hug. 

Chris entered the room putting on his watch. Without looking up he said, "If we’re supposed to be there at 6:30, then we better leave now." 

Sam led the group outside, where they stood by while Sam pulled the tan station wagon out of the garage. Marisa sat in the front, and Chris and Jim in the back. The two barely spoke during the trip.

It took Sam about five minutes of circling the parking lot before he found a decent spot. The restaurant wasn't quite full when they entered, and the waiter showed them right to their table next to a window, and handed each of them a menu. 

After a brief look at the menu, Sam looked up at Chris and Jim. He said, "Order anything you want. It's on me." Both Chris and Jim nodded and continued to look at their menus without looking at each other. Marisa gave Sam a brief glance and took a small sip of water. Sam looked around the restaurant hoping to see Al, but he was no where to be found. The waiter came back. 

"May I take your orders now?"

Sam nodded to Jim, who gave the waiter his order, followed by Chris, Marisa, then Sam. After the waiter was done writing down the orders he took the menus and left. Sam glanced in Chris's direction and saw that Chris was staring out the window. Sam then glanced at Jim. He was looking ahead at the line that was forming in the reception area. Sam had no idea what to say. 

Marisa spoke up. "How long are you going to be here in town, Chris?"

Chris looked over to her. "I'm not sure. I’ll probably be here for the next few days or so. I have to get my van fixed still." 

Jim grinned at Chris's comment on his van. Chris saw it and turned to face Jim. "What's so funny, Dad?"

"Nothing, Chris. It's just that I thought that you said you were going to save your money and buy a decent car."

Sam could see Chris working his jaw in an effort to control his anger. His hands were gripping the water glass so tightly that Sam was afraid the glass would shatter. And he didn’t think Chris would notice if it did.

"I don’t need you telling me what’s decent," he growled through clenched teeth.

Jim’s raised his eyes to meet his son’s, and they locked in a battle of wills. "You don’t need anyone telling you anything, right?" Jim responded in a low tone.

Chris slowly rose to his feet, gripping the table edge until his knuckles were white. Marisa, her mouth hanging open and eyes wide, cowered back in her chair, afraid.

Sam bolted to his feet, speaking calmly although his heart was in his throat. "This isn’t the time or place. Get a hold of yourselves."

The whole restaurant was looking at them. Sam felt like he was on a stage, and this wasn’t real.

Chris’s face was red with anger, his eyes still locked on his father. "My life is the way it is because of you," he growled. "I’m running my life now. Understand?"

The old man wouldn’t release his gaze even though Sam saw him blink once. It must have been hard to push aside the guilt and stand his ground. "And you don’t want help from anyone, do you? You’re a fool."

Sam had to stop this; both men were too proud to back down on their own. Sam sidled over next to Chris and put his hand on his brother’s forearm

He wasn’t prepared for the reaction it caused. Chris jerked his arm away and spun on Sam. "Get your hands off me!" he barked in a barely controlled voice. Sam could see the unbridled anger simmering in his eyes.

"Chris! I..."

Sam didn’t see the punch coming. The next thing he knew, he was on the floor, Marisa at his side, watching Chris’ back as he stormed from the restaurant. Embarrassed, the other patrons inspected their plates in a moment of silence. Sam’s jaw was tender to the touch. Jim was trying to calm a hysterical waiter in a reassuring tone.

"Are you OK, Kenny?" Marisa took Sam’s elbow and helped him up. "That’s the last time I’ll trust you on your selection of dinner plans!" She managed to calm the waiter, and they all sat again, the obviously empty chair a reminder to them all.

There was a lot of food taken home as leftovers.



When they returned home it was around 8:30. Marisa gave Sam a kiss goodbye and she told him to ice his jaw. Jim had settled down in his chair in the living room and was staring at the TV. He hadn’t said much all evening. There was no sign of Chris although they had looked for him on the drive home. Sam hoped that he hadn’t changed history for the worse this time.




Project Quantum Leap

Stallions Gate, NM


Al briskly walked down the corridor to the Control Room. As he walked down the corridor he became aware of the low hum that seemed to emanate from everywhere. He was used to that sound by now. Approaching the end of the corridor he saw the Marine standing guard caught sight of Al and saluted him as he entered the Control Room. Al returned the salute as he passed.

No one else was in the room except for Gooshie and two technicians. The head programmer was deep in conversation, but when he saw Al he dismissed the technicians. Gooshie focused his attention on Al as he looked about the quiet room. "Where's Verbena?"

"She's in the Waiting Room with our Visitor. I think she’s just checking up on him." Al leaned against the terminal, a distant look on his face. Gooshie was about to say something when Al spoke. "Kenny's one sharp kid. Last time I was in the Waiting Room he was asking me a bunch of questions. He kept asking me what was really going on here, and who Sam really was. He wasn't terrified as much as he was suspicious. I couldn't get out of there. He just kept asking me questions." Gooshie gave Al a quizzical look and Al took note of it. "What if he finds out too much? I mean, it seems like that he's catching on pretty quick." Al shook his head and walked over to the blue orb that was suspended from the high ceiling and spoke directly to Ziggy. "Have you found anything else on the Richardson's?"

Ziggy replied cheerfully, "I have accumulated minimal data over the past eight point five hours, Admiral. And Dr. Beeks is requesting your presence in the Waiting Room." Al, cringed, then picked up a handlink from the console and headed out the door.

When he got to the Waiting Room door he paused for a brief moment before entering his access code. When he entered, Kenny looked up at him and Verbena Beeks left his side, pulling Al to one side so Kenny couldn't hear them.

"I must comment that our Visitor is very persistent. He demands to know who Sam is. Obviously, he doesn’t believe the explanation that we have given him and he won't talk about anything else."

Al quickly looked over in Kenny's direction and saw that Kenny was trying to listen in.  "Let me have a few minutes alone with him, ‘Bena. I think I know how to handle this." 

Verbena hesitated for a moment then gracefully left the room. Al turned around and walked over to Kenny. "I heard that you’ve been asking Dr. Beeks some questions. I believe we already covered that area." Kenny held his gaze at Al.

"Well, not exactly, sir. You see, you just gave me a vague explanation. You and Dr. Beeks really didn't answer my questions. All I am asking is that you tell me what is really going on here. Is that so hard to explain?" Al grinned at Kenny. Kenny raised an eyebrow and quickly glanced at his reflection. Sam stared back at him.

"Actually, Kenny, it is. You see, what you're asking for is restricted information. But trust me; it's for your own good." Kenny’s expression told him he wasn't buying it. Al tried again. "I can't tell you anything more than I already told you. You must understand that." Kenny got up from the reflective table and began to pace.

"I don't get it. First, I find myself in this strange place with all these people looking at me as if I am some type of lab experiment, then I get asked some pretty ridiculous questions, and when I ask what is going on here, you give me a quick explanation and leave it at that. Now that's not fair, is it Admiral?" 

Al took a deep breath and began to explain what was meant by the term ‘restricted information’. His gut feeling told him this was going to take a while.



When Al was finally able to escape Waiting Room he was mentally exhausted. He tried several times to get Kenny to understand his point of view, but wasn’t very successful. Kenny had already made up his mind, and nothing Al said would change it. The Admiral brushed off the irritation, because he had bigger problems to tend to. It had been quite a while since his last contact with Sam, and he had to see how his friend was doing. 

When he entered the Control Room it was positively crowded. Tina, Gooshie, two technicians and a couple of Marine guards moved purposely about, all attending their own duties. Al approached the main terminal and Gooshie acknowledged him. 

"How'd it go, Admiral?" He inquired.

Al sighed and leaned against the terminal. "Not as I expected. That kid has a pretty closed mind. I couldn't get through to him at all. I’ll try again later, but now I need to get to Sam. I haven't had much contact with him."

Gooshie nodded and began to bring the Imaging Chamber online. He handed Al a new handlink, and Al walked up the ramp and into the Chamber.



Where’s Al?’ Sam thought for the hundredth time, frustrated that the last day and a half had been so fruitless. He felt that time was running short and he had to act fast and soon if he was to save this family. He finally was able to relax a bit when he heard the sounds of Chris getting home. His anger must have been worked off by now; that had been a long walk. Sam was relived there was still a chance on this leap, but his time and ideas were running short.

Sam lay awake in the darkness on the narrow bed, watching the shadows on the walls cast by the trees in the moonlight. The room looked rather gloomy in the darkness. From the living room the clock chimed eleven and went unnoticed, he was so lost in thought. He had gone to bed at 9:30, but had yet to fall asleep. His mind was continually going over all the possible solutions to this leap, and he always came up short. Nothing had worked. He couldn't shake the feeling that there was something more to the leap, that he was here to do something else, something more important. Not that preventing Chris from disappearing tomorrow night was important, he wasn’t denying that, but his gut instinct told him that he was here to do something else. Until he found out what that ‘something else’ was, he was faced with the possibility of a failed leap and being Kenny for the rest of his life!

Giving up on trying to sleep, Sam slowly got out of bed and walked to the window. He pulled back the curtain halfway to get a better view of the outside world. The neighborhood looked quite peaceful, and the stars shined bright in the pitch black sky. Sam silently prayed to God, Time, Fate, or Whoever, for some guidance. He was feeling lost and very alone when the entire room was suddenly lit up with a white light. Sam spun around to see the Imaging Chamber Door open. When Al stepped into the room, Sam couldn’t help but grin at the sight of him. Al looked at Sam with a quizzical expression as the Door closed behind his holographic friend. Al was dressed in a green suit, red tie, and orange loafers, topped with a purple fedora. 

"Where have you been?" Sam asked hastily.

"In the Waiting Room." When Sam's eyes widened Al quickly continued. "I tell ya, Sam, Kenny kept asking me the same question over and over. Nearly wore me out. He's a very persistent kid, and an observant one, too." 

Sam walked over to the foot of the bed and sat down. "Well, what did he ask about?" Sam said.


Sam looked surprised at the answer. "Me? Why me?" 

Al absently put the hand link in his pocket and walked over to the window. "After he saw your reflection he would only question about who you were. Beeks and I tried to explain it to him but he didn't believe us. He trying to find out as much about you as he can. He commented that he should be here instead of you." Sam shook his head and continued to stare at Al, who glanced around the dimly lit room as he spoke. "Ziggy still hasn't come up with any new information, Sam. I had her search the archives several times. There isn't a whole lot of information on small towns like Shamrock. We're lucky we got as much information as we did." 

"We got to be missing something, Al. I tried everything I could think of to get Chris to stay and nothing seems to work." Sam glanced at the bed, yawned, and climbed back in. "I'm going to try to get some sleep now and tomorrow I'm not going to let Chris out of my sight." With that Sam laid his head on the soft pillow and closed his eyes in exhaustion. Al watched his friend for a moment then opened the Chamber Door. A few minutes later, Sam was asleep. 


Sunday, July 16, 1978


Sam awoke to the sounds of a loud radio. He covered his ears and blindly slapped the snooze button on the clock, then groggily propped up his head to look at the clock. 8:00 A.M. Sam pushed the sheets away and slowly got out of bed and walked over to the closet to find something to wear. The room had already grown quite warm from the light that seeped through the window. He dug out a gray shirt and another pair of faded blue jean shorts.

Sam opened the bedroom door and walked into the living room. He found Jim in the same spot as he was yesterday morning (and the morning before that) watching some news program on football. Sam said, "Good morning," to Jim, and Jim smiled a response. Sam walked into the kitchen. Chris wasn’t around. Sam began to panic. Had Chris left again? Sam quickly looked out the window and saw Chris's battered van parked across the street. Sam sighed with relief and walked back into the living room and questioned Jim about Chris’ whereabouts.

"He's still sleeping," Jim said dryly. 

Sam nodded and went back into the kitchen to make some coffee. After he started the coffee maker Chris sleepily stumbled into the kitchen. Chris went got the toaster from the bottom pantry and plugged it in. He then went to the refrigerator and retrieved two slices of bread and popped them into the toaster. He offered some to Sam, and Sam declined, still not sure what to say. While waiting for the toast, Chris walked over to the table and sat down across from Sam.

"Today's going to be another scorcher. I can't imagine how anyone could get used to the heat around here." His actions from the previous night were obviously not a subject to broach.

Sam smiled slightly and nodded an agreement, his mind racing. He jumped at the loud sound of the toaster as it popped up the bread. Chris snorted a laugh and headed to the counter. 

When he got back to the table Sam asked, "So, Chris, what do you have planned for today?" 

Chris peered at Sam through a dangling lock of hair and just shrugged. "I don't know yet. I really haven't thought about it. What about you?" There was a slight hesitation. "Did you ice your jaw?"

"Yeah," was all Sam said as he rubbed the bruised spot. 

Chris nodded and continued to eat his toast. Between bites he gave Sam an embarrassed look and mumbled a quiet, "Sorry about the punch."

Sam just nodded.

"One thing I will do today is fix that van... again," Chris continued. 

Sam perked his head up and offered to help. He figured that this was a way to keep Chris here. Sam could see that he was considering the offer.

"Sure, Kenny. Why not? You know a lot about cars, more than I do, anyway."

"Agreed." Chris and Sam both smiled and sat in the kitchen staring out the window, trying to get the ambition to move in the early morning heat. "We'll start after breakfast, then." Sam tipped his head and sipped at his coffee.



Chris and Sam spent most of the day working on the van. Sam took his time to insure that Chris wouldn't disappear. They actually had a good time working together. The sun was about to set when Chris looked up from his position at the engine. "I think we're about done here, Kenny. I just need to adjust this here..." His words were cut off by small grunting sounds. 

"And we're done!" Sam emerged from the back of the van where he had been for the last hour and a half cleaning the interior. He tossed the brown rag on the driveway and walked over to Chris, who was returning from the cooler with two cold Dr. Peppers. 

"I see you're stocked up, Ken." 

Sam laughed and accepted the cool drink. Things were looking better with each passing moment.

The sound of footsteps on the driveway caused Sam to raise his head. It was Marisa. She smiled broadly as she approached Sam, and Chris gave Sam a knowingly look as he politely went into the house. 

"Do you want to come over to my house, Kenny? No one’s home and we would have the house all to ourselves." She grinned and quickly kissed Sam. He blushed and pulled away. "I could help nurse that jaw," she purred as she touched the sore spot.

"I'm sorry Marisa, I can't. I have to stay here tonight." The disappointed look on her face made him feel bad, but he really had no choice.

"I don't get it. Kenny, we planned this for a week! In fact, it was your idea!" She complained. "After last night’s fiasco, I thought you’d want to get away."

Sam explained his situation and when he was through she nodded and tried to cheer up. Sam promised that he would make it up to her by taking her out to dinner Monday night. Just the two of them, he added, and she laughed. If all went well, Kenny would be back and he could handle it, Sam thought to himself. She agreed and turned around to leave. Before she left she gave Sam a kiss on the cheek. Al was standing next to the van as Marisa walked through him. The grinning hologram turned his head and watched her leave. When she was out of sight he faced Sam. 

"Sam, you won't believe this! When you declined Marisa's ‘offer’ the chances on you succeeding went up to 95%. I guess that's what we were missing." 

Sam's face lit up and Al continued to punch at the buttons. "Ziggy theorized that in the original history, Kenny wasn't present when Chris pulled his vanishing act. I guess Kenny was with Marisa." 

Sam grinned and looked at the house. Finally! Some success! 

"All you have to do now is to wait until 11:00 tonight and keep Chris from disappearing. At that moment Chris bolted from the house and briskly walked toward his van, the shouting voice of Jim trailing after him. Sam quickly joined Chris.

"Chris! Wait!" Chris didn't stop but continued on to the van. Sam stopped him by grabbing his left arm. "You can't leave, Chris. Please." Chris tried to calm down by taking deep breaths. Sam looked him in the eye. "You can't let it end like this. Listen, we can work through this. You can't walk out on the family; it won't do anyone any good. Believe it or not, Dad doesn’t want this either. Please go back in there and just talk to him." 

Chris actually met Sam’s eyes as he considered the action, but then rejected the idea. "I don't think Dad's going to listen, Ken. I want it to work out, but I'm not sure that Dad does. Maybe this is a lost cause."

"Not if you let it be, Chris. Just go back in the house and try to be calm. You'll be amazed at what could happen. Please." Chris could see the empathy in Sam's eyes and nodded.

"OK, Kenny. I'll go back inside. I'll try, I'll try." Chris slowly walked back into the house and Sam watched him. 

"I thought you said he wouldn't leave until eleven tonight?!" Sam hissed. 

Al was speechless and looked to the handlink answers. "That’s what Ziggy said he did. This argument wasn't the one that caused Chris to leave. By talking to Chris you hanged history. Now Ziggy says that he doesn’t leave after all." 

Sam sighed heavily. He walked to the front of the house and stood at the doorway with Al next to him. Inside, Chris and Jim were sitting on the couch calmly talking to each other. Sam smiled broadly and turned to face Al.

"What happens now?"

Al tapped in the request on the handlink.  "Well, father and son reunite and remain close until Jim Richardson's death in August of 1983. Heart attack. Chris moves on, gets married, and ends up owning his own business; a small repair shop a few towns over."

"And Kenny?"

"In the original history, Kenny spent the rest of his life searching for Chris. Now, he goes to college and graduates in the fall of '83, then he marries Marisa Taylor, his current girlfriend, and they have a couple of kids, and move to California." The hologram continued to read the hand link. "Ziggy says you were really here to start the emotional healing. The rest was up to them." He slid the link into his pocket and gave Sam an approving nod. "You did a good job, Sam." 

Sam smiled at Al then looked back into the living room. He was still smiling when he leaped.





Dr. Sam Beckett, barely cognizant of his senses, leaped backwards at the yell, instantly raised his arms to block an attack and dropped low into a horse stance for balance. His well-rehearsed defense was not needed when he focused his eyes and realized that his attacker was no more than seven years old. He became even more aware of his surroundings when he heard the tittering of stifled laughter, and noticed that he was standing in front of at least a dozen young boys dressed in traditional gis for martial arts.

"Did I scare ya, sensei? Did I?" The little boy in front of him could barely contain himself as he tried to stand at attention in front of Sam, prancing in place from excitement. From somewhere in the group Sam heard a low hiss of warning. 


A look of embarrassment crossed the boy’s face, and he collected himself enough to execute a stiff bow to Sam. Sam dropped his defenses and returned the bow awkwardly. "Oh, boy," he mumbled to himself, very aware of the eyes upon him as Sensei Sam.


 E-mail A. J. Burfield & Erik Dreiling