Episode 823

Contract With A Leaper

by: A. J. Burfield

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 Sam fell into another time rather abruptly sometimes, and this was one of those times. When he shook his head to clear the roaring noise from his ears, he discovered that it wouldn’t go away. He straightened up, finding himself in the passenger seat of a rather loud, and smelly, car.

The quantum physicist looked slowly and carefully around after sighing an inward sigh of relief that he wasn’t driving, but immediately took in a short breath of shock when he saw the driver. Or rather, smelled the driver. Or at least Sam hoped it was the driver emitting the stench and not himself. Involuntarily wrinkling his nose at the strong body odor assailing his senses, Sam’s first impression of his traveling companion was ‘slob’; then he looked down at his clothing and blinked. ‘We’re both slobs!’ the usually neat Leaper deducted in horror

He shifted uncomfortably in his seat and the noise of clanking metal at his feet caught his attention. On the floor were the remains of numerous fast food meals, beer cans and greasy plastic baggies, with the beer cans definitely outnumbering the lot. Sam was instantly sweating, nervous about this whole scene, and wiped his palms on his greasy jeans.

“Slow down, Bull, and let her catch up,” a voice growled from the back.

Sam fought the urge to swing around, surprised by the additional passenger behind him. This was a small car, and the driver, and to Sam’s dismay, his host, were rather large men.

 The driver grunted a Neanderthal reply and lifted his foot from the accelerator slightly. Sam slowly looked behind him, and saw the rear passenger looking out the back window. The man was dressed similarly to the two of them in the front with torn, greasy jeans, faded black t-shirts, black leather boots with chains and black leather jackets. None of these items had seen water in a long, long while, and the smell in the car proved it. The term ‘you are what you wear’ was very true in this case; the overweight, unshaven greasy bodies confirmed that quite nicely. Sam couldn’t help but notice the writing on the back of the jacket as the rear passenger looked out the back window: Hellbenders.

 As the poorly running car chugged along, Sam couldn’t help but notice the tension in the air. The driver’s knuckles were white under the grease because he was gripping the steering wheel so tightly, and he kept glancing in the rearview mirror. Occasionally a wolfish grin would cause his stained teeth to show themselves against the darkness of where other teeth once resided. The man in back was attentive to the road behind them, and repeatedly cracked his massive, scarred knuckles.

 Sam had a bad feeling about all of this. He attempted to crack the window to try and get some fresh air, but the window crank fell off in his hand; the attachment bolt was missing. With a little careful maneuvering, he finally got the filthy window down a bit, and he put his nose close to the crack. He noticed open, desolate, desert-like landscape passing by and knew they were in the proverbial middle-of-nowhere, but wasn’t really surprised. These ‘people’ had to live somewhere, and this was the most likely place for them to reside. Or exist.

 “OK! I see her! She’s just coming into sight.” The rear man faced forward and reached under the front seat, pulling something out and placing it in his lap.

 Curious, Sam tried to see out the dirty, sticker-laden back window to see whom he was referring to, but couldn’t make out anything through the window’s clutter.

 “Turn around, Fly,” the passenger snapped at Sam. “She’ll get ‘spicious.”

 ‘Yeah, like she could see me through that mess. Bull and Fly. What kind of names are those?’  Sam faced forward, feeling himself tensing up as his heart began to race. ‘This couldn’t be a good thing,’ he thought, trying to run scenarios through his mind. What could possibly be going on? At first he was alarmed, then slightly relieved when he heard the police siren behind them, and saw the flashing red-and-blue lights in the rearview mirror. ‘Thank God’, he thought. ‘Maybe I can get away from these guys and find out who they are.’

 His relief was short lived when he heard a snorting laugh from the back seat. “This is gonna be fun!” the behemoth cackled, trying to keep himself from bouncing in glee as the driver slowly pulled over to the sandy shoulder. Sam glanced back and saw the vague outline of the police car follow them to the side of the road, then glanced down at the passenger’s lap.

Gripped in the goon’s grimy hands was a sawed off shotgun.

 “Ooooohh, boy!” Sam stuttered as every hair on the back of his neck sprung to attention.




March 8, 1974

Riverside, California  

 What happened next went so smoothly and quickly that Sam was taken completely by surprise; the organization to the motley crew was amazing. He would have been impressed if it wasn't such a horrific event.

The officer was very cautious in her approach of the car, but the windows were so dirty and cluttered with stickers she didn't see the shotgun in the back seat, concealed under the passenger's arm. It took Sam a second to realize the officer was a female, and recalled that his 'buddies' had known that already.  This whole thing wasn't adding up to anything good. Sam tried to open his door, but it was stuck shut.

"Stay where you are," the officer barked. "Keep your hands where I can see them. You," she opened the door from the outside and nodded at the driver. "Turn off the car and step out."

Bull did what he was told without argument, but threw the rear passenger a glance as he stepped out. The officer had Bull step to the rear of the car, and Sam could only hear the outside voices as murmurs.

Suddenly, the rear passenger nodded at Sam. "OK, let's do it," and he opened his door, which creaked loudly, and cradled the sawed off shotgun on his forearm.

Alarmed, Sam tugged at his door, which resisted opening. While he kicked furiously at the door, he heard the officer yell, "Hey!" Then he heard the sounds of a scuffle and then a couple of gunshots. By the time Sam kicked the stubborn door open and rolled out, the roaring sound of motorcycles grew loud, and they were quickly surrounded by at least a dozen bikers in black leather jackets. Some of them joined the fray, and soon the officer was cuffed and silenced with a ham-sized hand over her mouth. Others jumped on the patrol car.

"Damn bitch shot me!" Bull griped, holding his arm.

"Yeah, like that's somthin' new!" another grimy individual quipped, and they all laughed heartily.

One of the group stepped forward boldly. "We gotta move it. Deke, open the trunk." No one moved, and the speaker, who had fiery, red hair in a long tangle, turned his attention to Sam.  "You got a problem? Open it!"

Completely out numbered, all Sam could do was utter, "Right," and fumble for the keys in the ignition. ‘Where the hell is Al?!’ he thought as his trembling hands popped the trunk and he tried to figure out a way out of this situation.

When the Frankenstein sized man quickly replaced the hand over her mouth with a dirty bandanna, he dragged her to the trunk and Sam realized their intent. "You can't put her in there!" he said a little too defiantly as he grabbed the sleeve of the giant.

The next thing he knew, he was face down in the sand, his jaw throbbing.

"Who's in charge here?"  The wild haired redhead sneered as he stood toe to nose to Sam. Without waiting for an answer, he kicked Sam in the side to prove who was the boss. The heavy boots made the strike quite painful, and Sam struggled for his breath as he painfully sat up.

"Ah, y..you're in charge, of course, ah.." Sam gasped, as he looked up and saw the name 'Griz' written on the jacket. "Uh…Griz. I…I .. was just sayin' that there's not enough room in there, ya know, and..and..we can keep an eye on her up front." Sam struggled to his feet, holding his side. "She … she .. may have hidden weapons. Right?"

Griz glared at Sam, then at the monster holding the officer. "We gotta move. Put her in the back seat and check her out. Move!"

There was a smattering of gruff laughter at the wording as Griz slammed the trunk lid down. Lecherous comments were flying as the bikers ravaged the inside of the squad car and the woman was dragged to the battered vehicle. Sam raced to the other side and jumped in, helping to pull the struggling woman inside, which wasn't easy with the pain he was in. He was sure he had a cracked rib, but that would be nothing compared to what he imagined this woman was in for.

"Jesus, she's a wildcat!" Frankenstein rumbled as he forced her in. She was, too. She used elbows, legs, teeth and her head in an effort to free herself, even though she was grossly outnumbered. Sam tried to calm her and use his weight to subdue her, but she would have no part of that.

Finally fed up, the massive biker punched her hard in the face and she fell quiet. Sam pulled her limp body close to him, and slammed the door. Griz piled in on the other side of her, and Bull jumped in behind the wheel.

There were gunshots, cheering and laughter as the gang 'tagged' the destroyed squad car. The man with the sawed of shotgun hopped into the front of the overtaxed compact and managed to pull the recalcitrant door closed as the car chugged away. As they drove off, he busted out the side window and shot a round outside. "Yehaw!" he screamed as all the others hopped on their hogs and fired them up.

They pulled away, an odd parade, leaving the shot up remains of a squad car behind. Crammed in the back of a small, smelly car with three bikers and an unconscious cop, Sam never felt so alone in all his life.

Project Quantum Leap      

"DUCK!" the voice yelled as something connected with the Waiting Room wall with a bang.

Al had just stepped into the hallway from the elevator when he heard the ruckus and saw two Marines sprint past. They ran into the open Waiting Room door as Verbena Beeks came backing out with her arms over her head.

" 'Bena!!" Al yelled as he ran to her side and pulled her back from the open door.

"I'm OK, Al. He just started throwing things." She spoke in short gasps as she lowered her arms and went through the motions of smoothing her jacket in an effort to collect herself. "Really, I'm fine. I need to get him sedated."

She and Al cautiously peered in the door and saw four Marines holding a roaring form on the floor. The language coming from the Visitor's mouth was almost enough to make the Admiral blush.

Verbena strode in and retrieved an injector gun from a locked cabinet, and started filling it. "I just can't get used to that kind of language coming from Dr. Beckett's mouth. It's so…"

"Unlike him?" Al offered, admiring Beek's cool even with the racial epithets spewing from the aura of their friend.

"I was going to say @&%*#+* annoying, but 'unlike him' will do!" She winked at Al's astonished face as she banged the cabinet shut with her hip.

"Dr. Beeks!" Al said with a chuckle after he'd recovered. "You'd make a great sailor!"

"Not in this lifetime, honey," she responded as she fell on the flailing Visitor and shot the sedative in the general area of his butt. "There you go, mister. Teach you to trash my room!"

The man fell still, and the Marines hefted him onto the gurney and put him in full restraints. Verbena was right; it was disturbing to see the aura of his best friend in that position, but time and experience allowed Al was able to brush off the feeling quickly.

The Marines left one by one, leaving the Admiral and Dr. Beeks together in the Waiting Room as the door swooshed shut.  With a sigh, Verbena started to pick up what the Visitor had rearranged.

"Well," Al said lightly. "That's enough of that." He pitched in with the clean up. "Did you get anything from him before things went ca-ca?"

Beeks set upright a chair and a small table. "Yeah, a little. Said his name was Deke Swanson and he accused me of being a jail nurse with an agenda to torture him. Oh, and that he was innocent and framed."  She picked up some papers and a clipboard, and tried to put them in order as she spoke. "He freely told me the date, March 8, 1974, then even told me who the President was."

Al's head cocked her way as he picked up some cups and a small tray. "Sounds like he thought he was getting tested for mental illness."

Beeks nodded. "Exactly. Standard questions of a competency test a psychiatric nurse or police officer would ask. Sounds like he's been through that before." She caught Al's eyes and her hands fell still. The Admiral could see how wide with concern her eyes were, and then she continued. "After he seemed to fully recover from the shock of leaping, he started with the white power propaganda. Al, I'm afraid Dr. Beckett may have leaped into something completely over his head here.  This man's attitude is so opposite of everything Dr. Beckett believes, he's going to have trouble fitting in. He needs your help, pronto."

"Say no more, 'Bena. I'm on it. Ziggy?" He directed his command to the ceiling.

"Yes, Admiral?" the silky voice of the parallel hybrid computer intoned.

"Tell St. John to fire up the Imaging Chamber, and give him the info that…."

"Already done, Admiral," the voice sniffed. "I am well aware of the situation."

Al rolled his eyes. "Fine. I'm on my way." The door swooshed open ahead of him and shut on his heels before he even completed his sentence.




Sam gave the unconscious police woman a quick check, and decided that she may have some facial fractures from the punch she'd received. Griz wasted no time in feeling her all over, much to the other occupant's delight, and came up with a hidden gun on her ankle and two large knives, one in her boot and one on her belt. Griz was disappointed to find that she was wearing a bullet proof vest and stopped short of ripping it off of her for fun.  Bull was pulling over, the parade of motorcycles continuing by.

Quickly, Bull and the shotgun-toting man hopped out and ran behind some shrubs. Sam heard another car fire up, and a station wagon pulled alongside the small car.

Griz slid out, leaving the woman in Sam's arms, and started digging for something in the other car. For once, Al's timing to show up was perfect as he stepped from the Imaging Chamber and stood next to Sam, outside the car.

"What took you so long? This is serious!" Sam hissed, not giving the Observer a chance to speak. "She's hurt, and the guys are all dangerous, Al!"

Al glanced around. "You're not kiddin' there, Sam. The Visitor decided to rearrange the Waiting Room already."

"What do I do? I've got to get her out of here!"

"I know, Sam, I know.  Your name is Deke Swanson and you're a known member of the motorcycle gang Hellbenders. You're in the California desert region, near Riverside." The hologram cocked his head at he officer. "I don't know who she is, though."

Glancing quickly around first, Sam tugged at the woman's shirt. A shiny nametag read 'K. McGuire'. "McGuire," Sam said.

"Okay, lemme check here," mused Al as he punched the buttons of the link. "Animals. Hittin' a woman like that… oh, Sam!" Al's eyes got big as he turned to his friend.

The other bikers were coming back to the car. Sam barely had time to ask, "What?" before the men fell on the woman, taping her wrists and legs.                                                                            

"Sam," Al said seriously. "This is a big one."

All Sam could do was look at his friend, his expression saying 'why?' as the officer was dragged from the first car to the second one. Although he managed to stay with her, his ears were on his Observer.

"A kidnapped cop named Kathy McGuire was never found. Her loss resulted in and all-out war, so to speak, between law enforcement agencies and outlaw biker groups. Lots of innocent bystanders are killed as a result, lots of good cops are in prison for violating civil rights, and lots of bikers destroy lots of property. It's like the wild West all over again. I remember it because I was just back from 'Nam and came to L.A. for the beaches." Al paused as he gazed at the woman. Then he said, almost to himself. "I felt like I was still in the middle of a war." After a pause, the Observer continued. "Anyway, these nozzles are acting on a standing contract by another biker group called Satan's Riders to grab a live police officer for $50,000. These guys get the money and use it to set up quite a successful drug business. And I'm not talking about a Mayberry drug store, if you catch my drift."

Sam didn't get to reply because the others returned to transfer their catch to the second car. Sam managed to stay by her side all the way into the nearby mountains. Al kept a running dialogue as to their location, and they finally stopped in a very remote area of Los Angeles County. Ironically, they were on the undeveloped backside of the affluent town of Malibu; civilization was just on the other side of the mountain but may have well been the other side of the world. Sam had no idea how to get out of here with an unconscious woman.

The bikers hooted and hollered and basically used the woman as a centerpiece to their gathering spot deep in the woods. They had abandoned the broken down car just off the road and strapped the limp woman to the sissy bar of one of the motorcycles, then took off down a dirt path. It seemed that their numbers multiplied by the mile, and when they reached the primitive encampment Sam estimated at least three dozen men and half that amount of tough looking women. Sam had hitched a ride to the camp, and was dropped off next to his 'hog', an ancient looking Harley with lots of leather and chrome and a sizeable puddle of oil soaked in the dirt under it.

Al had stayed with him the whole way, keeping the leaper from doing something stupid and probably getting beaten to a pulp; Sam was so out numbered Al knew that the only way to get out of this was by stealth. Reasoning with this crowd would be out of the question. He convinced Sam to bide his time.

Griz was in very high spirits and all ready hopped up on tequila and some white pills Sam figured was speed of some sort. As the police woman was dragged to the center of the site near the now roaring campfire, she showed signs of awareness and struggled against the handcuffs on her wrists. She was thrown to the ground and Griz happily plucked her utility belt clean of the tools of her trade: mace, extra cuffs, ammunition, a utility knife, and other odds and ends. Some of it he tossed to the raucous crowd and some he kept. The gun was long gone; Sam figured it was tucked away in Griz's belt.

Then he pulled off her boots and discovered another small gun tucked inside. A cheer erupted and he picked it up and let off a round in the air, laughing.

"Al," Sam whispered uneasily, wringing his fingers and shifting his feet. "I can't stop this without being killed! This is a mob!" He didn't bother trying to hide his talking. No one was noticing anyway with the loud music and drunken party atmosphere.

"I know, Sam, this isn't going to be easy. You may see some pretty bad things before you get a chance to help her, but remember that she dies in the original history. Anything you do has to be better than that." Al knew that he had to keep cool himself to help Sam keep his cover.

Sam bit his lower lip and tried to keep Kathy within sight as he was being pushed around by the riotous group. As it got darker, they seemed to get wilder. The handcuffs were taken off, and her wrists were bloody and swollen. She was stripped down to nothing and manhandled in ways that turned Sam and Al’s stomach, beaten to near unconsciousness again all at the hands of Griz.  They both had a near impossible time keeping their mouths shut.  Griz ordered her shredded uniform shirt to be put back on her so he could prove she was a cop and get the Satan’s Rider’s reward.  The shirt was barely recognizable as a uniform and hung in tatters from her shoulders.

As the evening wore on, the gang got drunker and wilder.  Griz had the woman handcuffed to a tree just outside the main fire area so he could party on and not worry about her escaping.  Sam made sure he was always nearby, keeping her from being killed, noting that Griz was the only one that actually touched her.  Anyone else that tried was immediately put in place by the huge man.

Sam watched her as closely as he could, recognizing signs of shock and amazed at how she hung on, and fretting that he didn’t have a handcuff key.

“How can I get her separated from that tree, Al?  I need a key!”

“Hang in there, buddy.  We’ll find a way.  She’s got the will to live, Sam.  I think she can make it if you get her out of here soon,” Al said after getting a good look at her in the poor light.  “I’ve seen that same look in Vietnam.  She’s a survivor.  We just need to keep our heads and look for the right opportunity.”

Sam was near tears from frustrated helplessness.  The party around him raged on, and soon fights started breaking out.  A lot of the members were passed out on the ground, loaded on pills or fighting and finally Sam heard the words he was waiting for.

“I think it’s time, Sam.  Grab that and grab her!”  Al pointed at a nearby Hellbender swinging a rusty, well-used bolt cutter like a club.  Sam jumped into the fray and let loose with a well-placed round kick, dropping the guy like a stone.  Sam snatched the bolt cutters from the dirt and made his way back to the bruised woman under the cover of darkness, throwing drunken and stoned bikers left and right out of his way.

He clipped the cuffs and caught her as she fell.  Pulling her into the darkness of the trees, he finally felt all the energy he’d been saving come to bear and was able to carry her quite a way.

“Which way, Al?” Sam puffed.  He couldn’t see anything and only heard his heart pounding with the knowledge that pursuit was imminent. He put her down momentarily and draped his host’s leather jacket over her.  He wrinkled his nose in disgust at how dirty it was, but he knew he had no other choice.

“Uh, I think the best way is west, Sam.  These morons will cover the roads, and it’s the direction of civilization.  Eventually.”  The link beeped and booped and glowed eerily in the dark as Al poked at it.

Breathing heavily, Sam picked up the woman, who began to struggle weakly.  “It’s okay, Kathy, I’m getting you outta here.”

“NO!” she croaked, continuing to struggle as Sam gallantly moved on.  The roar of thunder seemed to add energy to her fighting.

“Uh oh, Sam!  Ziggy says it’s gonna start raining. Hard.”

“We can’t stop, Al, they’re still out there.”  Sam was breathing hard, holding the wiggling woman tightly when he felt the first drops.

Kathy’s struggled grew stronger as the rain fell harder.  Soon it was nearly impossible to keep his feet and when he finally lost his footing in the slick mud and fell, she pushed away and disappeared in the darkness.

“Al!” Sam puffed, wobbling to his feet. “Where is she?”

“Over here!”

Sam followed the voice, tripping over countless obstacles in the dark.  Water was dripping in his eyes and visibility was getting worse.  Finally, he fell over some unseen thing and he felt a crack in his ankle as he hit the ground.  “Al! I think I broke my ankle!”  Sam tried to stand, but the ankle wouldn’t hold his weight.

The hologram popped into sight next to him.  “She’s getting away, Sam!”

As he leaned against a tree, soaked to the skin and shivering, Sam felt the familiar tingling in his limbs.  “Does she make it, Al?  What happens to her?”

“Sam, you can’t leap yet!”  The Observer poked frantically at the handlink.  “There’s still no sign of her!”  He raised his head, eyes full of sorrow and looked pleadingly at Sam.  “You can’t go!”

‘I don’t have much of a choice, my friend,’ Sam thought as the world dissolved around him and he leaped.





March 10, 1974

Malibu, California


Sam Beckett knew it was raining before his vision even cleared. All his senses picked up on it before the final one, sight, kicked in. He smelled the wetness, heard the pounding, felt the dampness on his palm as he wiped a window clear, and tasted the cool sweetness of rainwater on his lips. What surprised him, however, was discovering he was in a moving car when the blue haze dissipated and he took in the entire picture. His host had been wiping the inside of the windshield clear of fog at the time, and the driver's window was cracked to help clear the glass. Sam immediately took his foot off the gas pedal and pulled to the right carefully.

He couldn't see a thing. The storm was so vicious that the rain was blowing in sideways through the cracked side window and the hood of the car was barely visible. It wasn't completely black outside, to Dr. Beckett knew it was still daytime, at least. As he eased over to the right, the car bumped and bounced, letting him know he was on a dirt road. He slowed to a stop to wait out the downpour, and as a second thought self consciously gazed around the car to make sure he was alone before throwing the gearshift into park. After that, he immediately rolled up the window, and made sure the heater was on the defrost setting. By the look of the dashboard, he knew that the car, at least, was a late 60's model Mustang; that didn't tell him, however, what year he was really in. The storm wasn't abating in any way so Sam decided to peruse the contents of the glove box for information.

He was right. The car registration showed this as a 1969 Mustang, registered for the year 1974. The owner was one Elliott S. Goff, with a post office box in Los Angeles, California. Sam nodded to himself and raised his eyebrows, feeling for a wallet at the same time. It was getting stuffy in the car, what with the left side of his body being so wet and the heater making him steamy, but the glass had cleared enough for him to easily match the photo on the California driver's license to the face in the rearview mirror. With that curiosity settled, Sam settled down to try and figure where he was.

The view out the windshield had not improved. The raindrops were thunderously huge, making a hammer like noise on the roof and hood. It was almost painful to the ears and made Sam's heart beat a little faster as if he was expecting something to happen. Suddenly, a huge gust of wind rocked the car and cold air squeezed in every possible crack and opening. Sam gripped the steering wheel and tried to see if there was anything outside that could possibly come crashing down on them. The visibility was still zero as Sam pressed his face closer to the windshield. His breath fogged up the glass again, and as he wiped it clear there seemed to be a slight break in the rain. In that second, Sam saw a flash of movement at the far edges visibility before the rain resumed its merciless flood this time accented with a clap of thunder and blinding light.

"Hey!" he said out loud, surprised. Had he really seen something? Frantically, he wiped the glass and tried to blink away the spots floating in his vision from the lightning. He scooted over to the passenger seat and tried to look out that window, too. Thunder growled, followed by another flash-bang. Sam realized he was holding his breath. Was there something out there, or was it his imagination?

Lightning and thunder were rolling almost nonstop overhead now as two parts of Sam's brain argued with each other. ‘It had been my imagination or a tree branch or something,’ one side said. The other side agreed with his ever-faithful gut feeling: ‘Someone is out there. And they need me.’  With a groan of realization with part of his brain he would act on, Sam yanked on the door handle before he even completed the thought.

"Oh, BOY!" he exhaled as the icy rain pelted his face, taking his breath away as he was instantly soaked. The triple combination of wind, rain and cold was disorienting. After a couple of slippery steps Sam almost convinced himself that he had just seen an animal, and it wasn't worth this abuse. An unknown drive kept him moving, even as he mumbled out loud about his stupidity.

Footing was treacherous, and he did go down a couple of times. By the time he stumbled upon a rain-sculpted gully several yards from the car, Sam was not only soaked to the bone, but solid mud, too. He could barely feel his fingers and nose due to the cold as he watched the churning ground in the gully. While watching the muddy water part and rush by a big rock, Sam convinced himself to go back to the car before hypothermia set in. He turned, and then paused as something about the rock finally clicked in his brain. His discomfort forgotten, Sam leaped into the gully.

It wasn't a rock.

Sam fought through the rushing water and slippery mud to reach the side of the body. It took him a moment to figure out where the person's head was, and when he found it, Sam rolled the body on its back and held the face out of the running water. He peeled hair away from the blue face and determined the body to be that of a woman. A young woman, probably in her 20's if she was still alive. Sam had his doubts from how cold she felt, and frowned to himself as a feeling of familiarity brushed over him.

He hardly noticed the rain now as he hauled the body to the side, pressing his fingertips to her neck looking for a pulse. A clap of thunder made him jump, but his fingers never left her neck. There! He felt a weak beat, and snatched her up in his arms.

The elements were relentless. Sam had to fight for every inch to the car. When he finally wedged her in the back seat, Sam was horrified to notice her lack of clothing. The only thing she had on was a bulky leather jacket, but Sam was full in Doctor mode and noted her lack of dress as a clinical note. He turned on the car's heater full blast, and scrunched on the back floor, next to the still form on the seat.

"Come on!" He urged as he tried rouse her by rubbing her arms. "Stay with me!" He checked her eyes, which were reactive to the dim light of the car, albeit unevenly, but hope sparked in his heart. "I've got to get you to a hospital. Where's Al?" Sam spoke in urgency as he checked her over quickly. Even in the poor lighting of the car, Sam could see that her fingers were misshapen, possibly broken, as was her jaw and some ribs. She had bruises everywhere and Sam's first thought was, ‘What happened to this woman? Did she get hit by a train?

He had just made the decision to see where the road went, and was trying to secure his patient when the Imaging Chamber door swooshed open. Observer and hologram Al Calavicci hadn't even stepped completely through the doorway before Sam was peppering him with questions.

"Where am I, Al? And where's the closest hospital? This girl needs a doctor, now!"

As the door clanked shut, Al jumped back in surprise. "You're a doctor, Sam! And who's she?! She's almost a human popsicle!"

"I know! She hypothermic, and needs hospitalization! Where do I go?" Sam scrambled over the seat, and tried to wipe the fog from the windshield. It was still pouring outside, but the lightning and wind had let up.

Al's cocked his head at an odd angle trying to see the woman, and he started to speak, but clamped his mouth shut instead as his forehead furrowed. He shook his head, and then the hologram pulled out the hand link and started hammering away on it. "Nope, nothing here about her at all. But she looks so familiar." He voice trailed off as his eyes wandered in her direction, then he came back to attention. "And you can forget the hospital. You can't get there from here!"

Sam turned angrily on the hologram. "I have to get there, Al! She's going to die!" He got the car going slowly. "Where am I? Get me out of here!"

"I'd love to, Sam, but you're trapped here because of the storm! Your name is Elliott Goff, and you are in your driveway, believe it or not. As of right now, a couple of down trees and a mudslide have blocked off the only way to the main road. You need to get back to your, I mean Elliott's, house. Keep going up this dirt, or rather mud, road."

Sam strained to see out of the car. "Where does this guy live? In the middle of a forest?"

"Practically," Al informed his friend. "He's a recluse. Hey, she doesn't look so good. Is she breathing?"

Sam glanced back. "She was. Can't you tell? My hands are kind of full, here!"

The hologram leaned back through the front seat, and watched the leather jacket closely. "Yeah, I saw her chest move. Her face looks awful. What's wrong with her mouth?"

"I think she has a broken jaw. Can you direct me from the outside? I can't see a thing."

"Oh, sure. Something about her is familiar. It's the jacket," The hologram mused as he blinked out, and Sam saw him re appear sticking out of the car hood like some sort of animated ornament. He pointed the right way, and Sam followed his directions carefully.

It seemed like forever that Sam battled the sliding, fishtailing car up the unpaved driveway. He saw a dark form in the trees suddenly loom up in front of him, and realized it was a house. He got as close to a door as he could before daring to stop the car, which slipped back several inches when it was put in 'park'. Sam ran around to the passenger's side, pulled open the door, and gathered her up, hardly noticing the rain.

"Over here, Sam, and watch your step!" Al cautioned as Sam stumbled to the front door. When he kicked open the unlocked door, Sam quickly moved inside and looked for a place to put her.  "Here's a couch. Watch your shins, there."

The house was dark. "Is the electricity out, Al? Can I get light?" Sam was settling the woman on the leather couch, easing off the heavy, soaked jacket and using a small quilt thrown over the back of a chair to rub her dry.

"Everything's out for miles around. Must be a flashlight somewhere; you'll have to make a fire." Al pointed to the fireplace across the room. "I'll look for more blankets. Wow! Nice place!" The hologram started looking around, using a small and piercing light from the hand link.

Sam concentrated on his patient. As he rubbed her, what he thought was mud turned out to be bruises and scrapes all over her body, many of them cris-crossing her legs. When her lips regained some of its normal pink tone, Sam stopped long enough to start a fire and dry himself. "Al! Find some blankets?" He yelled.

"Yeah! There's a linen closet down this hall. Follow my voice, and watch for obstacles."

Following his friend's voice, Sam pulled several blankets from the shelves. He secured them around the girl, checked her pulse, and then made sure a fire was going strong. He pushed everything away from the hearth and shoved the girl and the couch as close to the fire as he dared. "I've got to clean her up."

The gas stove fired up with a match from the fireplace, and Sam started some water to boil.

"All right, Al, what's going on? You say this guy is a recluse?" Sam fished out wash cloths and towels from the linen closet as he spoke.

"Yeah. Actually, he's a concert pianist and a recluse. He's made so much money that he only needs to do a couple of concerts a year. The rest of the time he's composing or signing autographs or whatever a recluse does." Al put the link in his pocket and replaced it with an unlit cigar. "He looked like a landed fish in the waiting room, he mouth opening and closing and all. Definitely doesn't adjust well to new circumstances. Beeks had to work just to get his name and the date. I think he's gone catatonic."

"So I guess the girl is a surprise. Ziggy doesn't find her in Goff's history?"

"Nope.  Nada.  Nothing shows up in Goff's history at all."

Sam took some warm water in a bowl to her side and started cleaning her up. "Look for some candles, will you? I need more light."

"Sure," the Observer said as he wandered around some more. "Anyway, it's March 10, 1974, which is eventually dubbed 'Miracle March' because of the amount of rain. It's been raining hard and steady for two days now, ending a long period of drought. And like I said, you're Elliott Goff, 45 year old concert pianist, never married. You're in Malibu, California; the rural part, obviously. Goff owns a big chunk of land that backs up to a national forest. Apparently, he inherited a bunch of dough, too, which helps. Here, Sam, candles. Lots of 'em."

Sam retrieved the candles and illuminated the woman as best as he could. "How long until I can leave? She needs a hospital."

Al stored the cigar in his mouth and pulled the link free from his pocket. "Let's see here. Power comes back in about two hours, but the phones will be down until the middle of the night. And our friend Elliott calls tomorrow from a neighbor's to get the lines on his property fixed, and get his driveway cleared. So I guess no phone until you get out of here. Luckily, there's a lull in the storm in the morning so you can hike out. It's about a half mile that a way." Al jabbed his thumb over his shoulder.

"I can't leave her, Al. I'll have to clear the driveway enough to drive out." He sighed. "I can't believe you can't figure out who she is. Did you run her description through Ziggy?"

Al snorted. "Not yet. I've been helping out here. Okay, describe away, and I'll input right now." He held the hand link in front of him, poised and ready.

Sam talked as he worked. "White female adult, mid to late 20's, about 5 feet 8 inches, brown, shoulder length hair," he stopped and lifted her eyelid, holding a candle closer. "Blue eyes. That's pretty distinctive." He put the candle down and looked at her arms and legs. "No tattoos or moles that I can see. She's going to have lots of scars, though." He covered her up again and started to move her jaw. "Guess I'll immobilize her jaw and arm, at least. They both look broken."

Sam tore some pillowcases to use as bandages and made a sling for her jaw by wrapping the pieces around her head from chin to crown. "She's got a head injury, too, by the way her pupils react unevenly. I can't leave her, Al."


The tone of Al's voice made Sam's stomach drop. He'd found something. He glanced up at his friend and found his eyes in the flickering candlelight. Rain continued to pound the roof, making a dull roar.

"I think Ziggy found her. There's a whole lot of newspaper articles on her. She was never found in the original history. This is a big one, Sam." His voice was serious.

"Why do you say that?" Sam whispered.

"Because she's a cop. A kidnapped cop named Kathy McGuire that was never found. The cops took it real personal. An informer told them she'd been grabbed by a biker group, and they paid big time." Al's eyes bugged out at the next bit of information. "Why didn't you tell me that before, you pile of rusty bolts!" Al yelled, shaking the link like he was strangling it. "I KNEW she looked familiar!"

"What? What is it?" Sam said, completely surprised.

"You leaped into her life before, Sam! Two days ago! Well, it's been a week for us here, but two days ago Ziggy says you helped her escape the Hellbenders, which is the biker group that snatched her. What?" Al glared at the ceiling.

"What's she saying?" Sam asked, keeping his voice low and flicking his eyes from his patient to Al. She had seemed familiar to him, but any details of the previous leap were lost to him.

"Ziggy says as soon as she realized the date you had leaped into she knew who the girl was."

"Why didn't she tell us right away?" Sam asked, turning his attention to Kathy and feeling her forehead.

Al rolled his eyes. "Ziggy said she didn't think it was relevant."

"And now she does?" Sam asked quietly as he looked down at the woman who showed no flicker of consciousness. "What happened last time? You don't remember?" He asked softly as he stroked her wet hair.

"When you leap, Sam, everything sorta fades like a dream for us at the Project. Ziggy keeps track of everything and only tells us about the changes when she thinks it's necessary. Anyway, when Kathy McGuire was on patrol in a sparsely populated area in Riverside when she called in a stop she was making on a small car with no plates.  That's the last anyone heard from her. They found the patrol car, mostly stripped of all the police gear, about a half-hour later when she didn't respond to the radio. There were lots of motorcycle tracks at the scene, and a car matching the description was found around Barstow the next day. It had been stolen, and had no prints or evidence, but there were several sightings of motorcycle gangs in the area at the same time." Al paused as he read more. "A biker group called Satan's Riders had a standing contract out at the time. It stated that any biker group that kidnapped a uniformed police officer and produced him or her, live, to the leader of Satan's Riders would get $50,000.  It was seen as an effort to organize biker groups in their communications, and later as a network for drug suppliers and dealers."

"That's sick," Sam said, his head swimming.

"Yeah, it is, but it didn't work like they'd hoped. An informant says she never got to the Satan's Riders leader as proof, thanks to you, I guess, in the last leap. You helped her escape, but she never made it out of the hills alive originally, and the cops went on a revenge rampage. It was horrible. No one was ever prosecuted for the kidnapping, but a lot of people paid the price. And since the Hellbenders never got the money, they never got their drug trade going. That's a good thing, at least."

Both men were quiet as they watched the woman; so much sorrow from one person's misfortune. "Well, I barely saw her in the rain." Sam noted. "I guess Goff either didn't see her or didn't go after her. I almost didn't. Haven't I changed history enough yet to stop the bloodshed?"

"Not yet. It isn't clear if she survives. I guess you're here to save her, Sam. Get her out alive and head off a war. That's what Ziggy says."

There was a moment of silence before Sam said, "I hope I can."

It was a long, dark night, and Sam was kept busy with the fire and his patient. The rain passed through in waves, sometimes with wind, sometimes not. Sam really didn't notice. Just before dawn the lights flickered as electricity was restored. Al, unable to help much, left to grab some much-needed sleep. Sam dozed restlessly in an armchair.

Kathy McGuire didn't notice any of it. She was motionless all night. Her vitals were weak, but getting better as she warmed up. When the morning came, there was a break in the clouds and a sliver of sunshine came in the window across her face. Sam thought he saw her eyes flicker, and went to her side.

"Kathy?" he asked, feeling her face. She had gone from cold to hot, and Sam suspected a fever. It didn't surprise him. "Kathy. Wake up for me, will you? You're safe here. Come on; you're safe."

The motion under the eyelids increased as he spoke, and her eyes crawled open, shiny with fever. Fear filled them, and she started to stir.

"No, Kathy. It's all right. I'm here to help you. You're safe!" Her struggles were weak, and she moaned in pain. "Your jaw is broken. Don't try to talk. I need to get you to a hospital. Do you hear me?"

She stopped moving, her breathing labored and obviously painful. Sam took that as a positive response. "When the rain lets up, I need to get you out of here. It won't be easy and it won't be fun. You understand?"

Her eyes found Sam's and she blinked, nodding slightly. Sam smiled. "Good. My name's Sam; I … I mean Elliott. Gee, I'm so tired I can't even recall my name!" He laughed lightly to cover his gaff. "Anyway, you need some fluids. I'll see what I can find."

Kathy's eyes drifted closed again as Sam left her side. While in the kitchen, he noticed the leather jacket that she had been wearing which had been thrown over the back of a chair to dry.  Sam slowly picked it up, and looked a bit closer. He hadn't noticed the big patch on the back, but even through the crust of mud he could make out the words "Hellbenders". It was a biker's jacket. He dropped it on the chair in disgust.

After Sam got some water into his patient, he bundled up and went out front to try and figure out how to get out of here. The sliver of sun disappeared and was replace by drizzling rain. It was all he could do to keep his footing in the mud as he circled the house, and was relieved when the familiar Imaging Chamber door sounded. 

"Al! Good to see you. I'm not getting very far on this. How do we get out?" All Sam could see were trees and bushes all around.

"Good morning to you too, Sam." Al smoothed the front of his electric blue jacket. "I've gone over the maps of this area, and the best way out is the way Goff went," Al pointed in a sideways direction to the driveway. "About a three quarters of a mile that a way is a neighbor with a phone."

Sam shook his head. "I can't leave her, and I can't drag her through that. The driveway's really blocked, huh?"

"Yup. Takes a bulldozer most of a day to finally open it up."

Sam ticked off the possibilities in his mind; there was one avenue left. "Helicopter," he blurted. "An air lift! The area where I got her was open space, a meadow or something!"

Al tapped on the link. "Yeah, that may work. But you still gotta call 'em. You have to make the hike, Sam. There's nothing more you can do for her anyway. I'll stay with her. If she needs you, I'll come and get you.  It's under a mile; you can jog that in no time."

Sam was still reluctant, but saw no other choice. He went back inside and checked the phone; still dead. The electricity had been intermittent all morning, so he set the thermostat at a comfortable level and stoked the fire. Finally, he sponged the woman's face, checked her vitals, and got a bit more water into her. She was drifting in and out of consciousness, but not moving too much, so Sam was fairly confidant she wouldn't fall off the couch. Still, he put some cushions down on the floor next to her.

"I'll be right back," he promised her, brushing back her hair. Al had watched Sam the whole time.

"Go, Sam, I'm here." Ziggy says the storm doesn't start up again for a while, so you have a small window, here."

"Okay. Thanks, Al." Sam shrugged on the jacket again and zipped up. The hologram pointed out the direction, and Sam was off.

The Observer's directions were straight and true, and Sam found the house in no time. He surprised a woman in the kitchen and it took a bit of convincing for her to finally let him use her phone. He had quite a time convincing the Sheriff's Department that he really had Officer McGuire at his house, but once they were satisfied he was telling the truth he knew that they would move heaven and earth to get her to the hospital. With a happy sigh, he finally hung up the phone and saw that the woman of the house was staring at him with huge eyes.

"You're serious? All that was true?"

"Yes, it is, and I need to get back to her, so excuse me, will you?"

The woman nodded dumbly as Sam trotted off. When he got to the house he concentrated on keeping her warm and dry. It seemed to take forever before he heard the first sounds of emergency crews.

Al popped outside, then reappeared almost immediately. "You did it, Sam. They're here, and she survives. The cops and biker wars never grow to the extent of the original history. Good job, buddy."

Again, Sam felt the familiar tingle.

"But they never find the guys that did this." The hologram paused in his tappings and looked mournfully at Sam. "She never recovers completely, either. What a waste."

Sam was only allowed one quick glance at the prone woman before he leaped yet again.




September 29, 1974

Los Angeles, California


When Sam blinked he found himself sitting in a car in a parking lot. His hands instantaneously gripped the steering wheel tightly and he cautiously looked around the interior of the car. Empty; he let out a breath he hadn't realized he was holding

Then something crackled and a voice made him jump.

"40 Lincoln, 10-4, code 7. Station M."

A police radio? He waited a few seconds to see if the voice expected an answer, but the chatter continued calmly. Where was the radio, anyway? Sam checked the interior again and eventually found the device under the seat on the passenger side. When he leaned over and found it he felt a lump under his arm. When he threw back the suit jacket he discovered a holstered gun under his arm.

"I sure hope I'm a cop and not a bad guy dressed as a cop," he mused, redirecting his search to his pockets. He pulled out a wallet that did confirm that he was a cop. A detective, to be exact, named Lonnie Bacon of the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department. He compared the face on the I.D. to the one in the mirror and confirmed his identity with a sigh. Det. Bacon looked to be just barely 30, thin and wirey with a bushy moustache and green eyes.  Sam stroked the moustache. "Nice to meet you Detective Bacon," he said softly to his reflection.

Turning his attention outside he saw he was parked in front of a low, neat building with a hint of Spanish tile on the roof and walk ways and pleasing landscaping. A very tiny sign just outside the car read, "Parking for Hospital only. All others vehicles will be towed."

He stepped from the car, which looked like a 70's model sedan, with an odd feeling of calm, like part of him wasn't surprised to be here. Quickly wracking his Swiss cheese brain he was unable to pinpoint any information from any previous leaps, yet he knew he should be here.

His host's feet automatically headed down a path that lead to the glass fronted building in front of him. As he got closer he saw "office" stenciled on the door. His feet took him through the door and confidently past the front desk.

"Hello, Detective!" A pretty girl in a white nurse's uniform said with a smile.

"Hi," Sam responded in return without pause in his stride. He passed several more people in uniform as well as patients maneuvering the halls in walkers and wheel chairs. Most of them greeted Sam pleasantly.  ‘Detective Bacon must come here a lot,’ Sam thought letting his feet unconsciously duide him to his destination. He realized this wasn't a standard hospital, but a convalescent hospital; a place where patients recovered from illness, injury or surgery with lots of physical therapy.

Finally his host-lead feet stopped and Sam found himself in front of a closed door with "182" stenciled on it.

Sam stood for many seconds feeling his heartbeat beginning to increase from nervousness. What was he going to find behind the door? Slowly, he pushed the door open and cautiously stepped inside.

The room was bright and sunny and very neat. The bed was made and the sound of soft music touched his ears. He took another step inside and the door swooshed closed behind him.

In the corner was a woman sitting in a chair whose startlingly blue eyes were regarding him calmly. Her hair was straight and brown, her skin pale. She was dressed in a sweat suit and her hands rested in her lap. A ghost of a smile touched her lips.

"Hi," Sam said, smiling back. "How are you?"

The woman's smile faded and her eyes dropped to her hands in response. One hand raised up and wobbled back and forth in a motion meaning, "okay," then she reached for a magazine on the table next to her and held it up, her eyes meeting Sam's with a tentative look.

"Reading?" Sam said, and she nodded. Stepping closer he pulled a chair next to her and read the title. " 'People' ? The sexy men issue?" his words came out with laughter as he took the magazine from her. Her eyes sparkled in response and she pointed at Sam and blushed slightly as a small grin showed white teeth.

            Sam chuckled. "Me? I belong in here with…with.." he flipped some pages. "Clint Eastwood? Wow, he has hair. And Robert Redford. Boy, he looks young." Sam turned to the cover and saw the date as September 1974.

The woman's eyes sparkled again at his laugh. When he handed the magazine back he noted recent scars circling her wrists when she reached for it. When she turned her head to put the magazine back on the table, he could see scarring along her jaw line, too. ‘She's had a rough time,’ he thought.

"Um, do you want to go for a walk?" Sam offered, trying to keep the mood light. She nodded in response, pushing herself to her feet. He also rose and touched her elbow as he moved to her side. She walked with a limp, but was able to move on her own to the door where Sam noted a walker to the side. He looked at it, then at her. "Do you want me to take that?"

She glanced at it and shook her head as she patted his forearm with a smile. Sam smiled again; he couldn't help it. "Yeah, you're right. Why bother when you have me?"

He offered his elbow and she took it, taking the led out the door. She limped along, barely leaning on him as she lead him out a back door to the building. They stepped into the warm dog days of summer and wandered a path through a rose garden. She sighed, closed her eyes and tilted her head to the sun.

"It does feel good, doesn't it?" He commented. As she nodded in response Sam heard the metallic whoosh of the Imaging Chamber door. He cocked his head slightly to the side and had to grin at the gold and teal ensemble bedecking his Observer.

"Hey, Sam! Oh, you have company I see." His eyes roved over the woman's body in appreciation. "Even with the game leg she's quite the package!" he concluded, much to Sam's chagrin. "Where are we anyway?"

As he turned in a circle to check the place out he ended up right in the middle of a rosebush, and Sam had to fix his eyes on the path in front of him to keep from laughing. "Hey, nice roses. Good thing thorns don't poke holograms, huh, Sam?" Al pulled out the hand link and tapped in a few things. "Looks like one of those places where people recover from stuff. Hmm, let's see here. First off, you're a cop in L.A."

Sam rolled his eyes and nodded.

"Oh, you know that already. Okay, then did you know your name is Lonnie Bacon? Bacon? For a cop! What a hoot!" Al laughed. "I bet he gets teased non stop on that one! Bacon! Ha!"

Sam had found a bench in the sun and had the woman sit. "I need to find a rest room. I'll be right back. You all right here?" he asked her. She nodded, and settled back to bask in the sunlight. Sam moved off towards the nearest building.

"Al, cut it out! I already know all that stuff. I need to know who she is," Sam indicated the woman with a tilt of his head as he spoke in low tones to his friend. "She's has some unusual scars…"

The hand link squealed loudly demanding Al's attention. The hologram frowned for a second, reading the link, and became total seriousness. "This is amazing, Sam. You won't believe who that woman is! You've helped her before; I thought she looked familiar."

Sam looked back at the slight, pale woman enjoying the sun. Flashes of events crossed his mind: A cramped car packed with people, a fight, blue lips on a near frozen face and rain; lots of rain. He blinked. "I kept her from freezing to death," Sam whispered.

"And from probably being tortured to death, too, according to Ziggy. Her name is Kathy McGuire. She was a police officer."

It all made instant sense to Sam. "And Lonnie is her boyfriend."

"Fiance, actually." Al corrected, punching the link. "Since you saved her twice before, Ziggy figures that's why you're here again. But the history doesn't support that…" with a grimace, Al slapped the link.

"What do you mean?" Sam said softly, studying the woman.

"Well, it shows here that she's still alive and living in an apartment in Los Angeles. Married and divorced twice, no kids, currently single.."

"She and Lonnie got a divorce?"

"She and Lonnie never got married. Doesn't say why." Al shrugged his shoulders and dropped his arms.

"Maybe that's why I'm here. To find out why." Sam turned his attention to the hologram. "Get all the information you can on her recovery and on Lonnie's current lifestyle. I think I'm here to re-direct their lives, not save hers alone. And Al? Please find out what shift Lonnie works. I hope I don't have to be a detective."

"You've done it before, Sam. No sweat," Al said as Sam walked back to the woman. Al directed some questions to the ceiling and the handlink beeped again. Sam had just reached Kathy's side when Al spoke again. "As far as Kathy is concerned, medical reports to this point say her physical wounds are healing or are healed, but she hasn't spoken since they picked her up and she refuses to leave the hospital." He called for the Imaging Chamber door. "Sounds like she only has mental obstacles to get over, Sam. Who knows how long that will take. I'll talk to Beeks about that. And it says here that Lonnie is off duty in four hours, then off for two days. You lucked out there, buddy! I'll find out about Detective Bacon in the meantime." He couldn't help but snicker at the name again as he stepped through the door. Sam threw him a scowl as the door slid shut.

He sat with Kathy for about an hour, then she indicated that he needed to get back to work. She was able to communicate rather clearly for someone who didn't speak, Sam noted. He escorted her back to her room, kissed her cheek, and left.

He managed to find the police station and Lonnie's desk and spent the next four hours cleaning his desk and fielding phone calls, ending each with "I'll get back to you next week." Some of the cases on the desk were very interesting, and Sam admired someone who could deal with these kind of people on a daily basis.

Tucked back in the top desk drawer was a file with Kathy's name on it. Curious, Sam pulled it out. Inside was the complete history of her case and all the medical records relating to her injuries. It made Sam sick to read it. An envelope in the very back contained several of what appeared to be jail photos; several dirty looking men holding numbers under their chins with 'Los Angeles County Jail' printed above the numbers. He lay the half-dozen photos out side by side on Lonnie's desk and studied them, connecting the names written on the bottom with the faces. A slap on the shoulder surprised him.

"Hey, Lonnie, we'll get 'em someday. Maybe not for what they did to Kathy, but for something else." A thin, blond detective perched himself on the edge of the desk and proceeded to light up a cigarette.

"We don't have enough yet, ah, do we." Sam turned his personal question into a statement.

"Can't convict solely on an informant's statement, and it doesn't look like Kathy's gonna help." He stopped and glanced at Sam. "Sorry. That didn't come out right."

"It's OK," Sam mumbled. ‘She's too traumatized to give a statement, ‘he realized. ‘They got away with it’. His eyes fell to the photos.

The blond slapped is shoulder again and stood. "Gotta go. Going to the party tomorrow night?"

"Party?" Sam asked.

"Yeah! You gonna pass up a chance to rub elbows with celebrities? Come on, Lonnie. It's a once in a lifetime chance! Just think; sipping champagne with the rich and famous in a Malibu beach house! For once we can go to a place like that to have fun instead of working and keeping their dirty little domestic problems to ourselves! I probably won't know anyone, with my luck. My music runs towards rock and roll." He blew out a puff of smoke and nodded in Sam's directions. "I'll call ya tomorrow, partner." The man strolled to a desk and sat, waving another detective over to talk.

Sam saw the name tag on the desk: Tim Burglund. That was one of the investigators in Kathy's case. Sam riffled through the desk again and found an engraved invitation dated for the next evening and realized this was the party Tim had referred to. The invitation had the time and date details engraved on it, and a small slip of paper inside which read: In appreciation for all you have done in the case of Kathy McGuire. Sincerely, Elliott Goff. There was a Malibu address on the directions.

Flashes of memory hit Sam when he read the name at the bottom. He clearly saw the inside of a house and remembered the sound of pouring rain and the smell of mud. ‘I've been him.’ The report he'd read only had Goff as a minor witness and nothing more. He had to remember to ask Al for more details.

Sam took the file with him when he left for Lonnie's apartment. He was relieved to find that Lonnie lived alone, and spread the report over the kitchen counter, going over it more carefully as he ate leftovers from the 'fridge. Burglund was right; Kathy was the only one who could identify her specific assailants. Looking at the photos again, Sam found himself focusing on one particular mountain of a man. The back of the photo listed his name as Jerry Cooper, AKA 'Griz'. Sam knew instinctively that this was the main guy they wanted; he looked vaguely familiar. Now all he needed was proof.

When Al arrived a few minutes later he didn't even wait for his friend to say hello. "I know why I'm here, Al. I'm here to get Kathy to identify her kidnapper."

"I thought you thought you were here to get Kathy and Lonnie back together." Al said in response.

"Why not both? What does Ziggy say?"

Al tapped in the information. "She appears to agree with you. Gives it a 92.87 percent. She also adds that she figured that out first," Al said with a snort.

"What is this, a competition?" Sam replied.

"Ah, she's been this way ever since she's been monitoring WWF wrestling on T.V." Al said with a wave of his hand. "It hasn't helped her ego any."

Sam didn't know how to reply to that, so he merely shook his head and continued. "In the original history, does Kathy go to a party tomorrow night?"

Al consulted the link. "No. According to her medical records, she doesn't leave the hospital grounds for any reason for the next several months. That's one of the problems with her recovery, according to the shrink's notes and Beeks assessment of the records. Her refusal to leave the grounds is one of the reasons for her breakup with Lonnie, too. He couldn't handle it anymore. What a shame." Al slid the link into a pocket and pulled out a cigar and began readying it to light up. "You think that's a place to start, Sam?"

"Does Beeks agree?" Sam asked.

"Yup. It's one of the scenarios Ziggy and Beeks ran and it came out as the best bet. Kathy needs to get out." He chewed the end of the cigar, but didn't light it. "So, how're you gonna swing that one, Sam? Force her out on a date at gunpoint?"

Sam's brow furrowed for a few seconds in thought. "How does Lonnie feel about psychiatrists?" he asked out of the blue.

Al, gripping the cigar between his teeth chuckled briefly as he scrolled through the handlink readout. He then waggled the link in Sam's direction as he plucked the cigar from his lips with the other hand. "Police Officers and Navy Pilots all think that shrinks are for the weak minded and really serve no useful purpose to them. And like flight surgeons, if you have to see one the only goal they have to get you removed from your job."

Sam nodded as Al spoke. "Exactly. They are an adversary. So, I'd bet Lonnie never worked with Kathy's psychiatrist, right?"

Al nodded suspiciously. "I'd bet the farm on that one, Sam. I take it that's your plan then?"

The scientist nodded vigorously and moved to the telephone. "I figure if we can get Kathy going on the right path for recovery by getting her out of the hospital, things will go better. What's the number, Al?"

The Observer shook his head as he tapped the link. "I hope you aren't getting Officer Bacon into something here. I bet a shrink would be all over him on his name alone…"

Sam rolled his eyes as he dialed the number his friend rattled off with a sigh.


Dr. Jan Frazier was at first guarded at Sam's plan and then slowly began to see that he was motivated by Kathy's best interests. Sam was able to enlist the Doctor's help, and got her to agree to accompany Kathy and himself on an outing to shop for a party outfit. Sam figured, and Dr. Frazier agreed, that a brief appearance at the party in her honor might be a good thing for her. Dr. Frazier also agreed to accompany Kathy to the party if the shopping went well.

Dr. Frazier met him in the hospital lobby late the next morning. Jan Frazier was polite, and obviously curious about Lonnie's sudden friendliness towards her; apparently Lonnie hadn't given her the time of day in the past. Sam wasn't surprised.

"And actually, I'm curious myself to meet Elliott Goff." Dr. Frazier commented. "For such a well-known recluse, I'm interested to see what sparked this gathering. He's known for being so private. It's just so curious."

Sam was amused at her curiosity, and understood it completely. Curiosity was what got his going on Project Quantum Leap; that thought made him somber again as the quote about curiosity and cats crossed his mind. He cleared his throat nervously, getting a glance from the Doctor in response. Suddenly, he felt like he was being examined.

"Ah, here we go," he said, grateful to finally reach Kathy's room.

Kathy was standing in the furthest corner, looking at her feet. Dr. Frazier had mentioned the trip to her earlier that morning and had been met with a panicked look. The Kathy Sam now saw was a picture of tenseness; Sam was sure she would flee at the slightest noise. They each flanked her, and she grabbed Sam's arm in a death grip. It was agreed to let Frazier do the talking while Sam acted as physical support, and it appeared to be working.

Feeling like a guide dog, Sam led Kathy out of the hospital to his car. Her eyes were fixed on her toes, and she was fully focused on Jan's words, enabling her to ignore the outside world. The ride to the nearby strip mall was mercifully short, as even Sam could see her tenseness growing by the minute. When they reached the mall it took a lot of talking to get her out of the car, and several windows of brightly colored outfits and other merchandise to finally get her to look up from her toes.

They found a small shop occupied by a sole clerk and stepped inside. Sam felt Kathy's grip lessen with the quiet surroundings, and her eyes began to wander over the bright clothes. Soon, her hands reached out to feel the silky fabrics and the fear faded from her face as long as Sam and the doctor were right next to her. With a nod from Frazier, Sam introduced the idea of the party.

Kathy froze and gave him a look that made his heart melt; she was terrified of the idea. Sam continued to talk, telling her about all the people that had helped her, including Elliott Goff. Keeping her nervous energy busy by flipping through the dress racks, Kathy took in all the information. Finally, she pulled out a simple but elegant dress and held it to her body hugging it tightly. She faced Frazier, who told her that she agreed that Kathy needed to get out, and that she would go with her. Kathy then turned her woeful eyes on Sam and held his eyes as she chewed her lower lip.

Finally, she nodded.

"That's great! There won't be many people there, I promise, and we'll go when you want. You'll be in control. All right?" Sam held her shoulders and grinned.

Kathy's lips eventually turned up into a shy smile, and she took in a big breath then nodded.

"This is great, Kathy," Dr. Frazier said calmly. "I think you are on you're way to getting your life back."



It ended up being a longer day than either Sam or Frazier expected. Kathy decided to get her hair cut and styled, much to her companions' surprise, in a small salon while Frazier juggled appointments on the phone. The doctor wanted to let Kathy control the timetable to feel some bit control in her life, and it was encouraging to see her patient doing so well. Why hadn't Det. Bacon arranged for this sooner? Why hadn't she herself suggested it? Frazier filed this experience away in her mind for future use.

After the salon, their last stop was a beauty supply store where Kathy got some make up. Her steps were getting bolder with each passing hour, but she still kept herself nestled between her two escorts. By the time she was done in the beauty supply, she looked tired.

"Time to go back?" Sam offered, and Kathy agreed with a tired nod accompanied by a weak smile. "You'll sleep well tonight, I bet." She nodded.

At the hospital, Dr. Frazier excused her self after congratulating her patient on her progress. As Sam was escorting Kathy back to her room, Al joined them, floating next to them. Sam threw him irritated glances.

"What? My feet hurt, OK? I got the new shoes and they aren't broken in yet so excuse me for not torturing myself." He popped a cigar back in his mouth and continued to fiddle with the link to keep himself abreast of the pair, talking around the cylindrical obstruction. "You've really changed Kathy's history, Sam. I don't know what you did, but she's outta here in just a month now."

Sam opened Kathy's door and escorted her in, hanging her new dress in the small closet. He praised her on her success, and promised to drop in the next day to show her the invitation and give her the rundown on who would be there so she wouldn't be surprised. Al hummed to himself and nodded his approval at the purchases and her hair style.

When he finally got out of the room, Sam whispered, "Do Lonnie and Kathy get together now? What's Ziggy say about that?"

Al shook his head. "No, they still break up, but not until next year now. Guess it's not meant to be, Sam. Ziggy says you should be leaping."

"Why? Because she's getting out of her earlier? Is she speaking by then?"

Again, Al shook his head. "No. That doesn't happen for a long time."

"How long?" Sam prodded. 

"Um," Al looked uncomfortable. "Not for several years, Sam. And she's still seeing a therapist even today."

Sam frowned. Something still didn't seem right. "I'm not ready to leap, Al. There's something else here…" he looked thoughtful.

"Like what? Ziggy hasn't come up with anything else."

"There's more. I just know it," was all Sam could say.




The next morning passed quickly. Sam had contacted Goff and got a list of party goers, relieved that there were barely 20 on the list. Goff assured him that his beach house was very roomy, and that many people would not make Kathy feel crowded. He was elated that Kathy would make a showing; he understood her feelings completely about crowds, and admired her bravery at coming. He also confessed that Kathy was instrumental in his tackling his elusiveness; he had finally realized that there were some good people out there, and he wanted to meet them. She had renewed his hope in mankind.

Sam hung up the phone and reflected on what he had said, knowing that his leaping had something to do with Goff's new interest in life. When he began to dress for the party, Al popped in with the latest updates.

"No change in Kathy's future, Sam, but this Goff guy sure does a turn around. He becomes a big philanthropist, and gets his big-wig musician buddies to back all sorts of charities and stuff.  Far cry from the hermit he was in the past timeline."

Sam couldn't help but smile as he pulled on his clothes. "That's great, Al."

When he arrived at the hospital, Kathy was waiting with a nervous smile.             "Wow, Sam, she's a knock out! Lonnie must be crazy to let her go!" The Observer circled her slowly, eyeing her up and down. Sam threw him a frown when Kathy turned to get her purse.

'Stop that!' he mouthed at him, swatting the air of the hologram, then offering his arm with a smile as Kathy turned back. Her smile faded a bit as she looked at her watch and the door. "Dr. Frazier will meet us in the lobby. I saw her when I came in," Sam assured her. She followed his lead cautiously.

"Sam, I'll meet you at the party, and get some info from Beeks; you know, what to look for and stuff. See ya in a bit, and keep your hands to yourself, young man!" With an evil grin, he stepped through the bright doorway, not giving Sam the time for a disapproving frown.

When the trio arrived at Goff's house, they were greeted by a valet. Kathy gripped Sam's arm tightly when she stepped from the car, and looked at the house with opened-mouth awe. Dr. Frazier joined her in her gawking.

"Look at those windows!" Frazier breathed. "I wonder who washes up that high?"

The very idea of being up on a ladder at the heights those windows reached gave Sam the chills, and he instantly felt Kathy's grip tighten. ‘She senses my fear,’ he thought as he cleared his throat nervously and changed the subject. "Well, let's check out the ocean view from the inside shall we?"

When the doorman let them in, the sound of classical music and murmuring voices met their ears. A neatly dressed man stepped up to them and extended his hand. Sam felt a feeling of familiarity wash over him.

"Hello, I'm Elliott Goff. It's good to see you again, Detective. And Miss McGuire; what can I say? I am so happy you decided to come." He smiled, and took her hands. "And may I say that you look wonderful? May I show you my home?"

Sam could see Kathy tense up and saw her turn her eyes to Dr. Frazier.

"Um, Mr. Goff, this is Kathy's doctor, Jan Frazier." Goff shook her hand politely. "Maybe we all can take the tour?" Kathy's shoulders relaxed at the comment, and she nodded shyly at Goff.

"Of course! You may know most everyone here, Miss McGuire, and you too, Detective. Shall we?"

Elliott Goff did a very good job of making them feel relaxed and at home. Kathy was tentative in her steps at first, closely sticking to either Sam or Frazier, but after the tour and some greetings Sam noticed that she actually released them. Still, she did not utter a word and kept her eyes shyly downcast.

The trio eventually faded back to the impressive deck that overlooked the sparking ocean to take a breather. The gathering continued on merrily with the soothing music in the background.

Frazier, a tall glass of something in hand, studied the group through the picture windows. "I can't believe he's called a recluse. He's charming!"

Sam turned to follow her gaze, and agreed, pleased at how well Kathy was doing and wondering why he hadn't leaped yet. As if on cue, the Imaging Chamber door appeared right in front of him and Observer Al stepped through, resplendent in navy blue and silver. Sam choked on the drink he had just sipped when his eye fell on the sparkly silver vest.

"Hey, Sam, don't choke! I didn't scare ya, did I?" The door clanged shut behind him as Sam shook his head and Frazier patted his back.

"You all right?" She asked with a grin.

Sam waved her off. "I'm OK," he gasped, stepping to the other side of the deck. Kathy gave him a glance and a tentative smile. "I'll be right here," he said hoarsely. She nodded, and stepped a bit closer to Frazier. When he was able to whisper, he turned his back on the pair. "Why haven't I leaped, Al? She's doing great."

"Yeah, she is. Says here she's well on her way to recovery. Beats me why you're still here." The hologram glanced at the view. "What a view! I tell ya, the view of the ocean from here is a lot more pleasant than the view from a carrier deck. I'm sure the food's better, too." Just then an attractive girl in a female server's version of a tuxedo glided by the window, skillfully balancing a serving tray. "Ah, yes. It's a very pleasant view! If the Navy had uniforms like that, I'd still be sailing!" He moved to step through the windows as Sam snapped.

"Oh, no you don't! You gotta tell me what to expect here!"

"Sam, just enjoy yourself! Ziggy says that nothing happens."

Just then Sam's attention was drawn to Kathy at the sound of a sudden intake of breath. Kathy was now ramrod straight and tense, gripping the railing so hard her arms were trembling. She was focused on something next to the house, and he could see that she was beginning to breath erratically. Frazier put her hand on her arm in alarm, and glanced at Sam.

Sam quickly stepped to her side and put his arm around her. She was shaking like a leaf. "What is it, Kathy?" He followed her gaze to the side and down.

The deck they occupied projected over a hillside. Below them and to the side of the house was a public parking lot for the beach area. It was a beautiful day, and the lot was full of cars, but the half dozen motorcycles were obvious; one was idling loudly, the rider laughing raucously. The leather decked group standing next to him also began to laugh, and one of them threw a can into the parking lot where it careened off a parked car. They all laughed even louder.

"Sam, are you thinking what I'm thinking?" Al said seriously, pulling out the link.

"Kathy?" Sam said, instantly by her side. "Do you recognize them?" He glanced at Al, giving him the cue to go check the group out.

"Gotcha, pal, I'll be right back."

"Kathy, breathe slow and deep breaths," Dr. Frazier instructed calmly. "You're safe here with us. They can't touch you."

Sam glanced at the group and the sight of the largest man made him freeze; he knew the jacket he was wearing. It was Griz, and he was getting ready to ride away.

Without a second thought Sam vaulted the deck railing, landing heavily in the brush below. He instantly lost his footing and slipped most of the way down, grabbing at the brush to slow his descent. He thought he was near the bottom when he heard the bike fire up in typical Harley noisiness.


The voice was somewhere above and he didn't have time to acknowledge it. He was pushing his way through the final stand of brush when Al popped in next to him.

"What, are you nuts?! What are you doing?" The hologram ducked instinctively as the branches snapped back towards him.

"It's him, Al!" Sam panted, jumping the low rail surrounding the parking lot. "The guy that grabbed Kathy. One of 'em, at least. I .. I remember him ..."  Sam took cover behind a car to locate the direction of the bike's noise. Apparently they hadn't noticed his jump from the deck.

"Does anyone know you're even down here?! Sam??"

"Yeah," Sam breathed. "Kathy and Dr. Frazier. I've got to stop him, Al!"

Before the Observer could protest Sam darted from behind the car, finding his target instantly. The big man on the black, noisy bike was hard to miss. Sam launched himself at the moving target.

Griz had pulled away from his buddies, and was circling the lot to leave when a cannon ball of a man hit him from out of nowhere.  Caught totally off guard, the pair tumbled to the ground in a pile and the bike swerved off  to collide with a parked car.

"Jeeze, Sam! That musta hurt! Watch out for his left! He's a southpaw!" Al danced next to the wrestling pair, yelling encouragement and shadow punching Sam's foe. "Comon, Sam! Get up and nail 'em!"

Sam managed to roll clear and sprang to his feet as Griz let out a roar and charged. Easily sidestepping the charging mountain, Sam let loose with a double kick, which didn't seem to faze Griz in the slightest. Griz ploughed to a stop and swung around, fists flying. Sam caught the tail end of a roundhouse punch, and he saw stars, but kept his feet and returned with two swift jabs. He ducked another wild punch, and lashed out with a side kick that caught Griz's knee joint perfectly; he went down with a roar

Panting heavily Sam bounced lightly with fists raised, waiting for a challenge from the downed man.

"Uh, Sam…" Al said slowly.

"What? What?" Sam replied breathlessly, nervously watching Griz writhe on the ground. "Did I hurt him?"

"Uh, yeah, and I think it's payback time!"

Sam glanced at his friend, fists still raised in a ready position. "What are you talking…." he stopped dead as he followed Al's line of sight. Griz's buddies had heard the ruckus and were heading his way.

"This don't look so good, Sam!"

The group began to run towards them and Sam looked wildly around, his eyes settling on the bellowing Griz, who was struggling to stand on one leg and hold his destroyed knee with one hand. The flash of an object in Griz's free hand caught Sam's attention.

Sam reacted instantly and kicked the knife from Griz's hand, then leaped on it and executed a sweeping kick that knocked Griz's legs out from under him. The biker went down hard, and Sam rolled into him, coming up with the knife at Griz's throat.

"Whoa, good move, Sam!"

The gang slid to a stop in front of their leader. Sam was tucked safely behind the huge man with the blade nestled against Griz's jugular.

"Stop right there! You're all under arrest!"

"Oh really?" Sneered the foremost thug.

Sam blinked at the name on the jacket: Fly. That sounded so familiar…

Before he could reply, a voice from another direction said, "Yes, really. And if any of you idiots move we'll blow you away."

Sam craned his neck to see over Griz's shoulder and saw a line of plain clothed police officers from the party pointing their weapons at the crowd.

"I think the cavalry has arrived," Al said snidely, pulling out the link.

Sam slid out from behind Griz and pocketed the knife. Burglund stepped forward, handcuffs in hand, and stopped next to the biker. "Is this him?" he said softly, looking off to the side.

Still breathing hard, Sam glanced over to where Burglund was looking. Kathy stepped from behind a parked car with Dr. Frazier right next to her. With a boldness in her step that Sam hadn't seen before, Kathy walked slowly towards Griz and locked her eyes on his. Something ignited inside, and her expression was suddenly alive again.

"Yes," she said quite clearly. "It's him."

"Sam, you did it. You were here to make sure he got caught. Kathy is an excellent witness and he goes to prison for life, along with several of his cronies here." Al pushed the last button with a triumphant sweep of his hand.

Sam stepped back from the congratulatory back slaps and hand shakes and asked quietly, "What happens to her?"

"Kathy? Well, with Dr. Frazier's help she gets almost back to normal, but doesn't return to the force. She's on medical retirement and teaches self-defense for women. And she's engaged to a karate instructor! She's really happy. Good job, and get ready to leap, buddy."

Sam smiled crookedly as he watched Kathy walk away with Dr. Frazier. Kathy paused and turned to look back at him, and raised her hand in a small wave, grinning. Then she flashed him a "V" with her fingers.

"Victory," Sam whispered as the world faded around him, and he leaped.            





Rain. ‘Heavy rain by the sound of it,’ Sam realized as his hearing returned. That was the first of his senses to restore itself, the next was feeling and it quickly became evident to Sam that he was cold; he was sitting down on something damp and he could feel the chill seeping through him. He waited another few moments for his vision to clear before the sickening reality hit him.

There was something tied across his eyes.

Sam moved to lift his hands only to discover that they were bound together behind his back and his feet were similarly immobilized. He found himself taking rapid, shallow breaths as a feeling of panic surged through him. Sam twisted his hands trying to free them only to find after several minutes he was making no headway at all and his wrists were rubbed raw and beginning to ache. The familiar mantra of ‘Oh Boy’ that he clung to throughout all his leaps seemed grossly inadequate and a sense of desperation forced a curse from his lips for the first times in ages. “Oh sh…”


 E-mail A. J.  Burfield