Episode 714

A Hard Day's Leap

by:  Chris Atkinson and A. J. Burfield

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The blue-white lightning faded. The usual post-leap disorientation began to take over. Sam swayed for several seconds before gaining total self-awareness. As he looked around, he found he was sitting behind a large wooden desk in some kind of lavish hotel or apartment building. A 'ding' noise made him look up and around the well-appointed, brightly polished lobby and focus on a shiny pair of elevator doors. A light above it indicated that the doors were about to open. And when they did, and the sole passenger stepped out confidently, Sam's Swiss-cheesed brain still allowed him to recognize the man immediately. 

Sam stared in wonderment as John Lennon walked by and nodded an acknowledgment to Sam. Practically speechless, all Sam managed was a very excited, "Oh, boy!"



December 8, 1980

New York City, New York


Quantum Leaping through time, I’ve come into contact with some famous people. But none of them had that same magical sense as John Lennon. "Imagine" was my favorite song, and I still have a memory of sitting on the porch with Katie, singing it to her.

As soon as John stepped from the building, Sam saw someone stop him for his autograph. Sam heard the familiar laugh as John dashed off his signature in good humor, and the two men went their separate ways.

Just then, Al popped in. He was wearing a lime green hat, purple pants, and a yellow and blue striped shirt. Sam couldn’t help but laugh at his best friend’s clothes.

"Good morning, Sam." Al seemed to be in a good mood.

"Why so cheery?" Sam eyed his friend as he bounced happily on the balls of his feet.

"Well, I was just outside and saw John Lennon! In the flesh! Well, holographically speaking, that is." Al was as giddy as a schoolboy.

"What am I here to do, Al?" Sam was hoping he’d be able to help John in any way possible.

Al punched commands into his Handlink. "Well, today’s the day John gets shot."

"John Lennon gets shot?" Sam said, shocked. "What happened? Am I here to stop it?"

Al gave a somber nod, his excitement extinguished. "Not only shot, Sam, he dies. But Ziggy puts the numbers for saving him real low, about 3%. She says that after he died, more people were inspired by his music then while he was still alive."

Sam nodded. "I can't believe it. Why would someone do that?"

Al sighed. "There's a lot of nuts in the world, and one shoots John Lennon. What a loss."

Sam didn't speak for a few moments. "So, who am I, anyway? What am I here to do, then?" Sam was skeptical about Ziggy's projection.

"Oh, yeah. You’re, uh…" Al squinted to read the hand link. "You’re Francis Jackson, 28 years old. Right now you’re filling in for your boss. You’re usually just a bell—" Al slapped the link. "—hop"

"My mission?" Sam wanted to know what was more important than saving John Lennon.

"Oh, right. Well, around 10:50 PM, your girlfriend Mona is going to kill herself upstairs," Al read with disgust. Al hated suicides. He hated death in general, but Ziggy was right, the Lennon murder would let the world see how violent people can be. Maybe they’d start taking precautions. Maybe it would result in lives saved. 

Al tapped the hand link and the Imaging Chamber door opened. "Listen, the police reports don’t mention why she killed herself. I’m gonna go see if Ziggy or Francis can figure it out. Until then, don’t interfere with Lennon." Al stepped back into the door, and it closed.

Sam sat and wondered for a minute. There was a strange tone in Al’s voice, one he couldn't put his finger on. His thoughts were interrupted when he heard a woman call to him. 

:"Francis? Francis, are you all right?"

It took a hand on his shoulder to make him remember that he was Francis. "Oh, yeah, I’m fine." Sam glanced up and found himself hoping that this lady was Francis' girlfriend Mona. She was extremely attractive! 

"Good. I missed you, baby." She kissed Sam softly and his heart soared. It was Mona! "Did you miss me?"

"Of course I did!" Sam stuttered, smiling as he returned the kiss. He hadn’t seen a woman so beautiful since ….. well, Beth was the last woman he remembered. 'And Al is a truly lucky man,' Sam thought to himself.

Project Quantum Leap

November 1, 2000


"That’s just my luck," said Al as the power went out in his quarters, throwing him into pitch darkness. It wasn't long, though, before it came back on. He wondered momentarily how widespread the outage was. Al hated it when Sam Leaped in the middle of the night. In fact, it put strain on everyone. Dr. Beeks, Beth, and Donna were the strongest-willed women Al knew, and he was proud that he knew them, but sometimes even they showed the strain of working odd hours.

Al groggily stood up. He needed to get to the Waiting Room. He had less than 12 hours before Mona committed suicide, and still needed to know why she did it. He hadn't meant to sleep this long. 

Hopefully, Francis could help by now. Beeks' call is what had awakened him; she said Francis was remembering more and calm enough to be interviewed. 'Of course.' Al thought, yawning. 'It's because it's the middle of the night!'

New York City

December 8, 1980


Mona brought Sam back up to her apartment after Sam’s boss had come back and given him most of the day off. Sort of. He still had to be back at work by 11 tonight to finish working a split shift. Sam hoped he would have leaped out by then; he didn't want to have to watch John Lennon die.

Mona’s apartment was wonderful. It was light and bright, without a lot of furniture, and had a great abstract painting on the wall. A painting of what, Sam couldn’t tell, but it was bright and cheery like the apartment and the colors matched everything perfectly. This girl had an eye for art.

Sam sat on a classy tan leather couch, and the thought crossed his mind how she afforded all this. Mona spoke, and blew his concentration. 

"Do you want anything to drink?" She gave Sam an innocent-girl look, the kind men dreamed of. Men like Al. And Sam had to admit; he could see Al's point on this one.

'Where was Al, anyway?' Sam thought distractedly, uncomfortable with the feelings Mona was managing to stir up. Then he remembered the grim prediction for the future. "Got any bourbon?" Sam asked, hoping it would numb a little of the pain, even if just a little.

"No, but I’ve got Coke. Will that do?" Sam nodded, and Mona walked into the kitchen.

"She can get me a Coke anytime," a familiar voice said wolfishly.

Sam spun around and saw his best friend smoking a cigar as usual. Sam thought cigars were disgusting, and was very happy he couldn't smell the smoke. "When are you going to give up that disgusting habit?" Sam asked being careful not to be too loud.

"Oh, how could it bother you? You can’t even smell it." Al loved his cigars.

"I think you should just quit, Al." Sam really hated tobacco, but he was actually a little relieved for the distraction from Mona.

"Well, I’m sorry if my personal habits upset you." Al put out the cigar and tapped on the link.

"What’ve you got for me?" Sam asked hopefully.

"Well, that’s a good question, Sam. Francis doesn’t have any information on why Mona would kill herself." Al tapped rapidly on the hand link. "But Ziggy says Mona killed herself with a gun, so I suggest you get rid of any guns around. She might not let you though, because she’s a cop. Ziggy's infiltrating the Police Department's personnel files to see if there's a psychological problems. I’ll see you later, Sam, when she's got something." Al opened the Imaging Chamber Door and stepped through, closing it behind him.

Sam watched the door close and felt bad about snapping at his friend. In retrospect, Sam was surprised Al had only said that Coke line about Mona. He had to admit that he kind of missed the smart-aleck comments when Al was gone. It helped to distract him from more unpleasant thoughts.

Sam brought his attention back to the moment. He was here for Mona, and where was she? Sam strolled to the kitchen, trying to look casual. It was very quiet for someone who should have been looking for glasses and drinks.

Sam slowly pushed open the door to find a beautiful kitchen. It had a white-tiled floor, a lot of space to work, and a great big built-in counter in the middle. On one side, under the sole window, was a built in bench with a small, café-style table cozied up to it. Mona was slumped over the table, unmoving.




Sam shoes click-clacked on the tile floor as the approached her, his heart beating wildly, and he bent down to check Mona’s pulse. She still had one, which was good. There was no blood, which was also good. Her head was lying on her arms, her legs stretched out from the nicely padded bench. As a doctor, Sam recognized the symptoms right away: She was sleeping.

Sam bent over and picked her up. She didn't stir. He click-clacked his way out of the kitchen and put her on the couch. He covered her up, and placed a pillow under her head. At least now she looked comfortable. She sure didn't look that tired, but law enforcement worked odd hours, so that could explain it. And lots of overtime pay would explain the nice apartment as well as her exhaustion.

He turned on the TV real low and settled in a chair. He didn't get time to enjoy the show, because someone knocked on the door. Sam jumped up and answered the door before Mona awoke, and found a perfectly uniformed policeman standing at the door; all the creases were perfect on the shirt and pants, and all the metal and leather parts shined brightly. Even the keys on his belt were chromed. This guy was a poster boy for perfection.

"Hey, Frank. How’s Mona?" The policeman looked over Sam’s shoulder to see Mona passed out on the couch. "She's been working hard, huh? I hardly see her anymore."

Sam looked at the man’s nametag and saw it said Officer Fox. "No, Fox, she’s just tired."

"Fox? Why so formal? You can still just call me Sammy, even though I’m in uniform." Officer Fox seemed friendly enough, Sam thought.

Sammy shifted uncomfortably for a second. "Can you tell Mona I need to talk to her?" Sammy sounded a bit urgent.

"I will when she wakes up, yes. Good bye, Sammy." Sam watched as Sammy hesitated, then turned and walked away. He had a limp. Sam smiled. It reminded him that not everyone was perfect after all.

Sam closed the door quietly and strolled around the apartment, taking advantage of the quiet time to let his thoughts go as he looked for the gun Al mentioned. The TV droned quietly in the background, and Sam tried to search his memory. Try as he might, Sam couldn't recall anything of John Lennon getting shot and it was frustrating. "Why can’t I save him?" Sam muttered to himself out loud.

"Because he wasn’t meant to be saved." Al's voice and the Imaging Chamber door noise were simultaneous. "His death moved a lot of people, Sam. It must have been written by God, or Time, or Fate that Lennon was to die." Al was there, without a cigar.

"John Lennon didn’t believe in God, Al." Sam was surprised he remembered that. He must be quite a Beatlemaniac.

"That doesn’t mean he’s not supposed to go to heaven, does it? God is all-forgiving, I suppose." Al seemed to be looking for a reason for the events himself.

Sam shook his head to get off this depressing subject and on to another. The difference was, he could do something about Mona. "Anyway, have you got anything for me?" Sam knew he needed more information because it wasn't long before Mona died.

"Yeah. Ziggy dug up a police report, but nothing more. She is going to be found dead tomorrow, from a shot to the head with her own gun. Francis goes to work a little before 11 tonight, and finds her when he comes back in the morning. And Francis is her boyfriend, that’s you now, and he was unavailable for questioning, but had an alibi by being so visible at his job downstairs. Her partner, Sam Fox, had no comment, either. It’s a shame, too, because she just got a promotion from the uniform division to detectives. Been workin' hard for it." Al put the hand link in his pocket.

"Which is why she falls asleep at the kitchen table, I suppose. They find her tomorrow morning? Didn’t anyone hear the shot?" Sam was a little perplexed.

"Well, it might have happened at the same time Lennon was murdered. In that case, someone could mistake Mona’s shots for the ones that killed Lennon. After all, people reported having heard more shots taken than were accounted for at Lennon's murder. Sort of a case of missing bullets. Guess this is where one ended up."

They both walked around the apartment as Mona slept. There was no gun that they could find. They went back to the living room and Sam again settled down in the chair by the TV. The screen showed an old movie, which got Sam's attention momentarily, and he smiled. It was 'The Time Machine.' 

Al studied at Mona. "This is your girlfriend, Sam? Jeeze, I would hate to know she’s going to die tonight. She has the nicest set of—"

"Al!" Sam hissed, snapping his attention away from the hero on the screen.

"—eyes. What?" Al said innocently.

"She’s not going to die tonight, Al. Go ask Francis if he can think of anything. Anything at all." Sam wanted as much information as he could get as quickly as possible, because none of this made sense. She couldn't commit suicide while she was asleep and there was no gun in the house. Nothing was adding up.

Al bent down next to Mona and whispered, "Sweet dreams, Snugglebuns." At that, Mona stirred and stretched.

"Bye, Sam." Al opened the Imaging Chamber door.

"Francis, I just had the strangest dream." Mona yawned and stretched again. "Hey, I like that movie!" She sleepily nodded at the TV. "Anyway, you and some guy named Al were talking about death. And just when he was about to leave, he told me 'sweet dreams' and called me Snugglebuns." She giggled and turned her attention to the TV as she tried to wake up some more.

Sam and Al looked at each other in surprise. "Strange," said Al. He stepped back through the Chamber door and vanished.

Could sleeping people perceive holograms? Or was she mentally unstable? That would explain a suicide. But no, she didn’t see him after she woke up. And there was still the missing gun issue. Al had picked the perfect word: Strange. "That was a strange dream, Mona," Sam said, trying to cover his surprise.

"You’re telling me. Especially since you two said I was going to kill myself. I wouldn't do such a thing. I love life too much," Mona said in a terrifying calmness as she stood and absently brushed off her clothes.

Sam didn’t want to believe her because if he did, her death wasn’t a suicide. It was a murder. Sam was speechless, but managed to utter an, "Oh, boy."

"You said it. I can’t imagine anyone taking their own life. It’s pointless." She looked thoughtfully at the actor on TV as he pushed his time machine across the floor. "I was going to get drinks, huh?" She said airily with a yawn as she moved to the kitchen again. Sam followed, perplexed. Ziggy was telling him one thing, and his gut was saying another.

Once again, Sam needed a more information. He had no suspects for a murder. 

"Off the subject," Mona said as she took down some glasses and opened the refrigerator. "Did Sammy stop by? He was supposed to come by this afternoon."

Officer Fox. "Uh, yeah. He said he needed to talk to you."

She sighed. "I missed him again. Oh well, I’ll call him later. Maybe he can stop by and have some coffee or something. What do you think, Francis?" Mona looked into Sam’s eyes. "Francis, are you okay?"

"Yeah, I’m fine. Why?" Sam was still stunned that she might be murdered. With all the people in this building, it would take forever to find a suspect. And Sam didn’t have forever. He had nine and a half hours. He needed Al, now.

"Nothing, it’s just… your eyes, they look different." Mona stood and walked next to Sam and put her arms around his waist. "I love you, Francis." She gave Sam a gentle kiss, and led him to the drinks on the counter.

Project Quantum Leap

November 1, 2000


Al was sweating. He had been questioning Francis for hours. Well, there was a chat here and there. Actually, it was more like a five-hour chat with questioning here and there. Most of the chatting was about Lennon; Francis was quite the fan.

Al looked at his watch. He was running out of time. "Francis, tell me more about Mona." Al knew Sam needed information, and his chatting had cost a great deal of time.

"I told you, Admiral—" Francis started.

"Call me Al." Admiral sounded too formal.

"Okay, Al. I told you, Mona would never kill herself. I’ve known her for six years now, and she's happy and well adjusted." Al had to trust Francis. He was the only person who could help.

"Do you know of anyone who would want to harm Mona in any way? Crazy neighbors, anyone like that?" Al hated to sound as if he was interrogating a witness after a crime. But, in a sense, he was. It had dawned on him that there was the possibility that she had been murdered, and so hoped his last question would help.

"No, of course not. Everyone loves her." 

'So much for that idea,' Al thought morosely. 

Francis lay back on the couch. "You know, I don’t know where this experiment of your is, but wherever it is, it has the most comfortable couch I’ve ever been on. Much better than… uh… I can’t remember…" 

"That’s quite all right, Francis. It’s just a side effect of the experiment, like I said before. But please, don’t forget anything about Mona." Al tried not to sound too pushy.

"Don’t worry, Al, I’m trying my hardest."

Al knew he was. But, according to Ziggy latest scenarios, if this was murder, not only Mona would die now. Francis, or in this case, Sam, would wind up dead with her. 




New York City, New York

December 8, 1980


After Mona got a blast of caffeine from the Coke, she decided to give Sammy a call to see if he could stop by again before Sam had to go to Francis' job. Sam had already decided not to go to work, for obvious reasons, but didn't tell Mona just yet. He wanted to see how the evening went, and who would make an appearance. If this was murder, he needed some suspects.

Mona called the dispatcher and had her relay a message to Sammy to call.

It was about 40 minutes later that there was a knock on the door and Mona opened the door to Officer Perfect himself.

Sammy Fox came in all smiles, the nervousness Sam saw earlier all gone. He and Mona and Sam talked and joked for a bit, then Sammy got serious when he congratulated her on her promotion. He seemed sincere, but Sam saw a glimpse of something in his eyes as he spoke of her good fortune.

"I hope there's no hard feelings, Sammy, about this," Mona said softly. "I know you were up for this promotion, too, and worked hard for it. I know you even have some seniority, but I guess Affirmative Action helped me out a bit."

Sam then pegged the look in Sammy's eyes as anger. "Yeah, I suppose I'm a bit upset," Sammy admitted, the flash disappearing from his eyes. "But you are a good Officer, and I wish you the best, Mona. My turn will come."

For some reason, Sam didn't think that last statement was as sincere as it should have been. The term 'Affirmative Action' rolled in his mind for a minute, and he recalled that it meant promotion and hiring quotas for minorities in this time period. He could understand the need for the quotas, but could also see the anger it could bring up for those passed over. Could this be a reason for murder?

As Mona and Sammy chatted, Sam's opinion of the man slowly formed. He was a little vain, based on how his uniform looked, and how he kept patting his hair, but seemed competent enough. He also seemed fond of Mona. Overall, Sam's feeling was to leave him off the suspect list. After all, he was a policeman and couldn't commit murder, could he?

Sam watched Mona, too. She was a vibrant, cheery person, and the thought of suicide seemed impossible. This wasn't adding up, and time was running out. He needed Al.

Around 9:30, Sammy commented that it was end of shift for him, and time to get back to the station. He made a comment about how detectives worked the cushy day shift, which Mona laughed off, obviously a bit uncomfortable on that subject. 

When she said her last good byes and closed the door behind Sammy, she let out a breath and dropped on the couch.

"He's not happy with my promotion," she sighed. "I mean, he knows I'm qualified and all, but he was really sure he had it. I hope it doesn't ruin our friendship, but I'm not turning this chance down!"

"And you shouldn't," Sam agreed taking her hand. "How long have you known Sammy again?"

"We went to the Academy together!" She quipped. "You know that! So it's been, let's see..six years?" She stood and turned down the hall. "Oh, well. He'll get his chance. Be right back, honey, the Cokes are getting to me!" Mona turned into the bathroom and shut the door.

Sam had just finished clearing the table when Al popped up. With Mona out of the room, Sam was free to talk. He took the glasses to the kitchen, and Al lit up a cigar. Sam frowned.

Al noticed the look. "I know, I know, you hate this but I always smoke when I’m nervous." Al puffed on his cigar.

"Nervous about what?" Sam had a feeling it would tie in somehow with this leap as he ran some water in the sink and rinsed the glasses.

"Oh, uh, nothing." Al had a strange look in his eye that he only got when something bad was happening.

Sam turned off the water and planted his feet in front of his Observer. "Al. I know you. Tell me what’s wrong." Sam knew he’d give in sooner or later as he stood stubbornly with his arms crossed. Preferably sooner. 

"Well, uh, Ziggy says if you don’t help Mona, you’re going to end up dead yourself." Al didn’t want to meet Sam’s eyes. He never did under these circumstances.

"What?" Sam whispered loudly as he heard the bathroom door open in the other part of the apartment.

Al shifted uncomfortably. "Well, that's what Ziggy's saying now. She doesn't know if Mona kills you or if someone else kills you both. This is all too weird."

"Al," Sam said quickly and quietly. "There's no way Mona's killing herself. And if that's the way it looked in the police report, then someone set it up to look like that, and that makes me real nervous." He stopped as Mona's footsteps got closer.

"So it's probably all planned, then," Al concluded. "Someone thought ahead enough to make it look like a suicide, and now a suicide/murder. Premeditated."

Sam nodded tightly as Mona came in carrying a plant. She went directly to the kitchen window and cracked it open, setting the pot on the windowsill. 

"It looked lonely in the bathroom." Mona said, oblivious to Sam's expression. She stood back and tilted her head as she studied the plant a second. "There. The greenery looks nice there." She then walked to Sam, wrapped her arms around his neck, and kissed him. 

Sam heard Al clicking his tongue in envy. "Well, I still couldn’t get anything from Francis, so I guess I’ll stick around here with you." Al said cheerily as he slipped the hand link in his pocket.

Sam and Mona stopped kissing and walked to the living room, Sam lagging behind a little. "Am I supposed to just sit and wait right here?" Sam whispered to Al.

"That might be the best idea, Sam. The killer may be coming in any minute, if she's not already here." Al ignored Sam's glare at that comment. "Just, be ready." Al walked behind Mona, watching her sway as she walked, and whistled quietly. Sam, who was walking next to the hologram, took a backhanded swing at him but it passed right through Al's chest.

"Hey," Al quipped. "I can't help it!"

Sam and Mona sat on the couch and clicked on the TV. The time ticked by too quickly for Sam, and he nervously watched the clock at it approached 10:30.

"Aren't you working at 11:00?" Mona asked sleepily.

"Ah, I was, but I traded shifts." Sam lied. He wasn't about to leave now.

A knock on the door made Sam jump. "Room service!" Sam looked at Mona.

"They have room service here?" asked Sam, puzzled and leery. 

"I didn't think so," Mona replied, frowning. "Wrong room!" she yelled at the door.

"I know, I was kidding! It’s Sammy! I left my hat here. I didn’t remember until half way home. I think it’s here, anyway. It’s not at the station."

"Who's that?" Al asked Sam.

"Her old partner," Sam said quietly as Mona jumped up to get the door.

"Sam, don't you think the timing is a bit coincidental??" Al commented quickly.

Without answering his friend, Sam grabbed Mona's arm, restraining her. He glanced at Al, who said he'd check the hall as he popped out of sight. Mona pulled her arm away, and looked oddly at Sam.

"It's just Sammy!" Mona opened the door and Sammy walked in smiling tightly. He gave a genial hello as he had earlier in the day, and went off in search of his hat.

As Sammy stepped in the kitchen, Sam heard something in the hallway. As he moved to Mona's side, he looked at the clock. 10:40. He had about ten minutes. 

"Sam! Come here!" Al called from the hall. Sam walked to the door, taking the knob before Mona closed it all the way. He stepped by her into the hall.

"What?" Mona said with a frown.

Al was at the other end of the hall. "There's someone hiding behind the curtains down here, Sam! Close the door. Maybe he'll come out if he thinks the hall is clear."

Sam stepped quietly in the hall and held a finger to his lips to keep Mona quiet. He then closed the door with a click on Mona's perplexed face, leaving himself standing alone in the hall. After a second, a person stepped from behind the curtain at the end of the hallway. He was wearing all black and a ski mask with eyeholes covered his face. When he saw Sam, he froze momentarily then ran.

"Get him, Sam! That must be the guy!"

Sam took off after him in hot pursuit. By the time he got to the end of the hall and turned the corner, all he saw was an elevator door and another door with 'Stairs' painted on it.

"Where’d he go, Al?" Sam gasped, convinced he'd located the murderer.

"I’ll go check, hold on." Al tapped the hand link and popped out of sight for a second. He popped back in. "He’s going down the stairs, Sam. Hurry!"

Sam ran downstairs as fast as possible. He was sweating when he saw the guy in the lobby trying to yank the mask off as he ran. Sam caught up and tackled him in the lobby, rolled over on top of him and tore off the mask.

The suspect couldn't have been more than 15 years old. Terrified, he was bawling his eyes out. "I only wanted some extra money, man! No one was supposed to be home! All I needed was enough to get my mom something nice for Christmas!" Sam patted him down for a gun. There was none. The boy continued to cry and protest his innocence as Al frantically tapped the hand link. 

"Sam! This isn't the guy! Mona still dies! You’ve got just a few minutes!" 

"Go check on her!" Sam didn’t care who heard him now. He knew who the murderer was, and jumped up, fighting his way through the small crowd that had gathered.

Al popped in Mona’s apartment and was horrified at what he saw. Although he wasn't in uniform, Al recognized Sammy Fox. Mona was shaking and crying, and Sammy looked completely demented, pushing her on to the window bench in the kitchen with the gun's muzzle on her temple. 

Al tapped on the hand link. "Gooshie! Center me on Sam! Now!" He disappeared.

Al found Sam running from an elevator towards the apartment. "Sam! It’s Officer Fox! He’s the killer! Hurry! You have three minutes!"

Sam ran as hard to the apartment and slammed open the door. Mona was crying on the very bench she had been fallen asleep on earlier in the day. Sammy jerked his head towards Sam as he entered the kitchen. Before Sam could pounce, the gun was turned to him, and Mona's head was forced on the table by Sammy's grip on her hair. Sam froze instantly, shot his hands up and stood still.

"Don’t move, Francis, or I’m gonna shoot." Sammy's voice was almost a growl. His eyes looked wild and angry, and Sam realized instantly that this man was consumed by hate. Sam didn’t want to make any sudden moves, fearing he might send Sammy over the top.

"Why are you doing this, Sammy?" Sam said slowly and quietly.

"I should have gotten that promotion, Francis. I have debts and responsibilities. I was counting on that promotion, and deserved it. I was at the top of the list! She only got it because she was a woman!" Sam could see Sammy's knuckles were white from gripping the gun. The fury there had been building a long time. He continued through gritted teeth. "First my wife divorces me and takes everything. I had to start over! Then Mona dumps me for you, and then I get this limp from some idiot woman driver! I had to fight to keep my job! Now this! I've had it!" He tightened his grip on the gun

"Sam, hurry!" Al said nervously.

"Hurry? I'm in no hurry! I'm obviously not going anywhere!" Sammy snapped, giving Mona's hair a yank as she cried out.

Al stared at Sammy. "Sammy? You can hear me?" asked Al.

"Stop with the voices, Francis!" Sammy snapped as he glared at Sam and cocked the gun.

Sam tried to not look surprised, and turned his eyes momentarily to Al.

"Uh, Dr. Beckett, I think our patient here - " Al pointed to Sammy, "—is a little off his nut."

Sam nodded and inched closer to Sammy. Sammy twitched. "Stay there!"

"Can I please be with Mona?" Sam said quietly, keeping his hands up. "If we die, we die together." Sam inched closer to Sammy and thought he saw the man's eyes soften for a fraction of a second.

Outside the kitchen window, Sam could hear a car pulling up. It was either the cops for the kid downstairs, or….he looked at the clock. John Lennon. It was happening all over again.

"Get over here with her, Francis, but be warned: you try anything, you both die."

Sam sighed and walked slowly towards Mona. Everything seemed to slow down; Sam heard his heart beating in his ears, and saw Mona's terrified eyes turned on him. A car door slammed, and Sam heard someone outside call "Mr. Lennon!" Sam glanced quickly up to the window at the voice, which made Sammy's eyes glance in the same direction for a fraction of a moment. That was all Sam needed as he automatically sprang into motion and kicked Sammy as hard as he could just as the first shots that were doomed to hit Lennon rang out. The kick sent Sammy back into the window, as the gun went off wildly. Sammy slammed the windowsill, sending the flowerpot that Mona had just set there hours earlier, falling to the ground outside.

The screaming Sam heard sounded muffled and far away.

The kick had stunned Sammy, and as Sam wrestled with him to get control of his arms, Sam glanced down and saw a final glimpse of John Lennon, lying on the ground. The falling flowerpot seemed to burst in slow motion as it hit the ground outside, creating a pattern of green, blossoms, dirt and shattered pottery that was as abstract and crazy as the picture on Mona's wall. A young man, gun in hand, spun to face the shattered pot, giving the shocked crowd outside time to jump on him, take the gun away and wrestle him to the ground.

The world snapped back into real time speed as watched Yoko Ono fall next to her fallen husband, weeping. Sammy groaned as he started to regain his senses, and Sam had to focus on keeping him restrained as his vision blurred with tears. 

He couldn’t have stopped it. He couldn’t have saved both of them.

Mona had sprung into action as soon as Sammy had released her, and slapped on some handcuffs she had gotten from her purse. They lay Sammy on his face on the floor, and collapsed on the floor next to him. Sammy was slow in regaining his senses.

Both Mona and Sam were breathing heavily. The crowd outside was getting noisier. "He only got off one shot, didn't he?" she gasped, catching her breath and rubbing her head. "I thought I heard more."

Sam looked into her eyes as a tear ran down his cheek. "Someone just shot John Lennon," he whispered hoarsely.

Mona's mouth dropped open. "Oh my God, Francis!" She glanced at the window. "Is he okay?"

Sam shook his head. "No, he’s not. I’m afraid he’s going to die."

They both sat in silence for a moment, shocked at the events of the evening. Mona moved next to Sam on the floor, and they held each other as they cried softly.

Somberly, Al tapped on the link. "You couldn’t help him, Sam. He wasn’t meant to be saved. An believe me, I'm sorry, too."



Hours later, Sam still hadn’t leaped. It had taken quite a while to get Sammy taken away. The events that had happened in Mona's apartment were greatly overshadowed by the death of John Lennon. Mona seemed to gather herself together quite quickly, especially when she realized how close she had come to being on the body count list herself. She knew how lucky she was.

Sam, Mona, and Al had found themselves drawn outside to the scene of the fallen icon. He had been taken away much earlier, but the fans continued to arrive. To get some solace, they all joined in singing 'Imagine' together.

"Why haven’t I Leaped, Al?" Sam whispered to Al as the grieving crowd sang sadly.

"I don’t know, Sam." Al checked the hand link, and frowned. "Ziggy's got to be kidding. She's as sentimental as you are. Is Yoko around?"

Sam looked around and saw a dark sedan slowly stop in front of the building. The door opened and a mourning Yoko was helped out. Sam pointed her. "She’s over there. Why?"

"You don’t remember do you?" Al looked into Sam’s eyes.

"Remember what?" The mix of sorrow and happiness in his friend's eyes confused Sam.

"Sam, Ziggy says Mona may not have been your mission. Mark David Chapman originally killed Yoko, too. I guess that falling plant distracted him, and he never got out the shot that killed her. Now she goes on to support a lot of Lennon-oriented things. She keeps his legacy going." Al grinned a small grin.

"That doesn't explain why I haven't leaped." On a gut feeling, Sam walked to Yoko as Al watched, bewildered.

"Mrs. Lennon? Can I speak to you a second?"

Yoko signaled her escort to stop. Her eyes were bloodshot, her cheeks tearstained. Still, she managed a weak smile, and asked in her thick Japanese accent, "Are you a fan of John's?" Her voice shook a bit as she said her husband's name.

"Yes, I am." Sam replied gently. "And as a fan, I would like to tell you and idea of mine." Sam pointed across the road to Central Park. "Right over there, where John and Sean used to play, you should have a special place in John’s honor."

Yoko nodded as her eyes became watery. But her smiled grew a bit. "John would really like that, I think." She lay a hand gently on Sam's arm, and asked kindly, "And what was your idea for a name?"

"Well," Sam said after a second. "Name it after the place where nothing is real. That way it can be an escape for anyone visiting there." Sam patted her hand with a smile and walked away, back towards Mona and Al.

"Where nothing is real," Yoko said to herself, gazing at the spot indicated by Sam. Her smile grew in understanding. "Of course," she said, taking her escort's arm. "Strawberry Fields."

When Sam rejoined the pair, he hugged Mona tight and gave her a kiss. "I knew you wouldn’t kill yourself."

Al punched the hand link.

"Huh? What do you mean?" Mona pulled back and studied Sam with a confused look.

"I think it's time you leaped, Sam." Al said after reading the display.

Sam smiled. "Nothing. I love you, Mona."

"I love you too, Francis." They embraced one last time as Sam leaped.




It didn't matter how many times Sam Beckett dropped into another life; it never got any easier. 'Whatever happened to the benefits of experience?' He thought, as he tried to unscramble the ghostly images left behind in his brain by his current host's mind. Sam knew he'd been doing this for a long time; it felt like forever. Had he ever had a life before leaping?

He knew it was disorienting at first; that wasn't surprising. But what was surprising this time was the strength of the disorientation. The spinning thoughts made him feel unbalanced, and he fought stay upright. Sam stopped, and tried to physically settle himself as he barely noticed his surroundings. His thoughts were turned inward, wild and raw. Sam Beckett felt like he was trying to fight something off in his mind.

Raising his hands to his temples, he squeezed in an effort stop the spinning. With arms raised, he noticed his own foul body odor. He looked down at his high-top, sneaker-clad feet and vaguely made note of his dirty black jeans, difficult to see in the darkness of the night. 'Stop it!' he mentally implored the persistent images pushing at the edges of his sanity, and he had a moment of silence, dropping his hands to his side.

The moment was long enough for him to find he was outside a modest two story house. The air was cool, but not cold. There was a clay birdbath standing next to him on the grass. There was barely a breeze, and he saw the merest flutter of a lacy curtain in an open window on the ground floor of the house. He fixed his eyes on the curtain, and felt himself drawn to the window. Once there, he peered inside and made out a form asleep in a bed. Sam felt himself blush. 'Just walk away,' he told himself. 'What am I? A peeping Tom?' His feet, however, wouldn't move.

Then he heard a voice. A bare whisper, tickling his mind. He could barely make out the words. He moved his hands to hitch up his pants when his fingers brushed a lump in his back pocket, and he pulled out a Walkman with a cassette inside. Sam squinted at the cassette label, and saw the name 'AC/DC'. He blinked, perplexed, and the voice was suddenly clear, chilling him to the bone. 

'Serve me and I will protect you.'

Then Sam felt himself pushed into another leap. This time he fell into the life with sudden surprise, and launched himself out of the bed he had been in. Sam stood, breathing raggedly, and noticed he was standing by a window. He tried to calm himself, and looked out the window to see that he was above the ground, probably in the second story of a house because he could see over a fence into a house next door. It was barely dawn. His eyes flicked around the grassy yard, and he saw a clay birdbath, knocked over. 'That wasn't like that before,' he caught himself thinking with a frown. "I was here … there.." he whispered out loud. A sudden chill swallowed him, and he felt drawn to the bedroom door, and down the stairs to the first level of the house. He stood in the hall at the bottom of the stairs and saw some mail stacked on a small table. The top envelope was addressed to Mrs. Jennie Vincow. Sam looked down at himself and saw that he was a man wearing pajama bottoms. So who was Jennie Vincow? His wife?

Sam's feet took on life of their own as they took him to a closed door. He absently noted that the room behind this door was directly below the one he had awakened in. Instantly, his hands felt clammy as they, also, moved on their own to the doorknob. 'No.' Sam's mind said, 'Don't..' But his body was being moved by another force as the door opened and he stepped through.

The horror of the scene before him didn't sink in immediately. Sam's mind was trying to deny it all. But soon the fluttering lace curtain, the blood, the disarray, and the angle of the nearly decapitated head of the old woman were etched in his mind's eye. And the tingling of the impending leap was never so welcome.


 E-mail Chris Atkinson and A. J. Burfield