Episode 924


September 20, 1981  Jungles of Venezuela

While traveling to Venezuela with Doctors Without Borders, Sam finds that his host has lived here before with a different name, a horrific history, and a driving desire to atone for his past deeds.

Written By:

A. J. Burfield




With some leaps Dr. Sam Beckett is dropped suddenly into situations where all his senses don't come online at the same time. This leap was lead in by a hypnotic drone that was almost comforting, and followed by the sense of a comfortable, padded seat surrounding him like a womb. He settled deeply into the seat with a sigh before his vision came into being, and opened his eyes to the distinctly familiar sight of medical records. He blinked in confusion as he momentarily tried to place the drone, and a sideways tilt of his head put it all together: He was on an airplane - a small one that sat about a half dozen individuals - and there was bearded man sitting next to him frowning at his own pile of medical files.


Sam slowly turned his head and looked out the window of the plane. Below him, all he saw was trees and hills, as far as the eye could see. In the distance he saw a tendril of smoke drifting skyward from the treetops and a collection of puffy clouds on the horizon.


He turned his attention back to the pile of folders in his lap. The top one was open to the medical history of Símon Delgado, a boy of 10. Sam quickly scanned the dry description of the boy's health, attitude and physical health. When he flipped the papers aside and saw the photograph of the boy, his heart immediately went out to him, and he whispered shakily, "Oh, boy."


The utterance caused his seatmate to turn and look at him. The humor that glittered in his eyes only accented the sly grin. "Don't worry, Curt," he said warmly. "There is civilization down there, trust me. Everything you can do will be not only appreciated, but improve a lifestyle that is difficult at best on a day-to-day basis." The man grasped Sam's wrist firmly for a moment, and Sam immediately liked him.


Just as Sam began to feel good about this leap, his newfound friend stood and dropped his files on the empty seat. "I'll get you a coffee. Really, you'll do great. We've only lost one doctor. Just take the 'Beware of Crocodiles' signs seriously."


Sam jerked his head back to the man's face in fright. He wasn't sure if the grin he saw was accenting a joke or not, and still wasn't sure as the man chuckled and walked to the back of the plane.


September 20, 1981

Over South America


"Crocodiles?" Sam whispered. "Where are we going?" He flipped the folder in his lap closed and read softly out loud the printing on the outside. " 'Medecins Sans Frontieres/Doctors Without Borders'. I must be a doctor." He scanned the folder with more interest this time, and realized before he got to the final page that this boy's problem was beyond Sam's ability to fix. This boy needed a specialist. "And that specialist must be who I leaped into." He glanced upward hopefully. "I only hope this isn't the reason I leaped because I can't do this!"


"Sure you can, Curt." Sam's seatmate had returned and passed him a cup of coffee. "The local hospital has one surgery suite and it's clean. We have everything else we need: Nurses, autoclave, and instruments. If you can't finish here, we can get donations to bring the boy north. Anything's possible with a little faith. Just remember that."


Sam nodded sickly and sipped the brew in quiet as he studied the landscape below. He wanted to know where they were going, but knew such a question would be taken as very odd. He'd have to wait for Al to fill him in. After a moment, his new friend began to talk quietly.


"I know you're nervous about this whole thing, Curt. I mean, I've tried to get you to come on one of these junkets for years now. I know you can help. I also know that the last year has been tough on you, and I want you to know that we're all here to help. I think you'll find the personal fulfillment all that you need." The man playfully nudged Sam with his elbow. "Trust me."


Sam smiled sickly. Why did he get the feeling that there was more here than met his eyes? Isn't that the way these leaps had been going lately?


It wasn't long before the plane started to descend. Sam watched out the window nervously; he couldn't see an airport in sight in the sea of trees. Just when he thought the tops of the trees were going to start slapping the belly of the plane, the sound of the Imaging Chamber door made him jump and clench his seat arms tighter. The bright rectangle of the open door appeared directly in front of him, and Al stepped into his world resplendent in an ensemble of teal and purple complete with customary fedora and smoldering cigar.


"Sam! How's it going, buddy? Enjoying the flight? I see you've figured out who you work for." The bright rectangle disappeared behind him, and the Observer took a step back so that only his torso was visible above the seatback in front of Sam. He pointed at the red folder with the MSF logo on the front. He took in Sam's glare and white knuckled grip on the armrests and looked around. "Oh, these small planes wiggle a lot on approach." He looked out the window, following the tilt of Sam's head. "Don't worry. There's an airstrip ahead. Man, it's a hoot landing on dirt strips! I didn't get the chance to do that too much." The look on Sam's face told him he hadn't reassured his friend much. "Jeeze, Sam, just close your eyes, for Pete's sake. It'll be okay. The plane doesn't crash or anything." Al glanced around the fuselage. "Hey, I gotta check out the cockpit. I love these old C-12s - I flew quite a few of these in the Navy." He gave the tense scientist a quick once over and snorted in disgust. "You ain't gonna hear a word I say until your feet are safely on terra firma, anyway. Be right back." With a few taps on the handlink, the hologram blinked out of existence.


The landing was surprisingly soft, and Sam exhaled in relief when they came to a safe stop. His new friend laughed shortly at Sam's discomfort and stood to disembark. Before Sam reached the hatch he could feel the hot, humid outside air hit him. When he stepped from the plane, the heat nearly took his breath away and he was instantly sweating. He gripped the stair railing tightly as he stepped down and hoped he'd adjust to the climate quickly.


For the first time Sam saw the others on the plane and noted how friendly they were to each other. This obviously wasn't a new experience for any of them as they greeted the ground crew with familiarity. Sam was directed to a waiting Land Rover and joined by several women.


"Hi, Dr. Denton. What do you think of our little slice of paradise?" one jolly woman asked. "Perfect weather to cleanse the pores!" The other two women joined her in her laughter. They all dabbed their foreheads with handkerchiefs. Sam smiled nervously and nodded in agreement.


As the driver, a small Hispanic man with brown teeth and calloused hands started the dusty vehicle Al popped back into Sam's vision and hovered outside the door.


"All right. Now that you've landed in one piece, I'll give you the details we have so far." He brought the link up, cleared his throat, and started to read. "You've leaped into Curt Denton, a doctor from a very small town outside of Cleveland. Ha! Dr. Denton! That's a good one, Sam! Bring your jammies?" He noticed the blank look on Sam's face and continued after clearing his throat. "Uh, never mind. Anyway, he's recently widowed; or is that widower'd? You're - he's - 64 years old, in good health, and a respected physician in his community. He also has surgical rights at his local hospital, and is known for a steady and talented hand although his specialty isn't surgery."


He looked up and saw the wide-eyed panic of Sam's face.


"Don't worry, Sam, I don't think you're here for that. Well, Dr. Denton is, but not you. It seems that Curt Denton, although known for his benevolence in his community, has resisted joining Doctors Without Borders for many years. Now that his wife is dead and he's alone, he changed his mind, I guess. Anyway, this is his first trip south of the border - you're in Venezuela, by the way - and it seems he disappears."


"Disappears?" Sam whispered. The ride was noisy and dusty and rough, and the driver didn't notice that he'd spoken.


"Yup, without a trace on September 21, 1981. The organization has some sort of buddy system thing that they're very strict about, and it seems that Dr. Denton didn't follow the rules. You're here to see that he does which would insure that he's around to perform the specialized surgery he was brought here to do. There's a 10-year-old boy who needs his help and you're here to see that the boy gets it."


"What happened?" Sam mouthed.


Al shrugged. "No one really knows. He was there one evening and gone the next morning. Never seen again. They assume he got up in the night to take care of business, if you catch my drift, got lost and more than likely killed and carried off by a predator." The Observer waved a hand around him at the jungle circling them. "I'm glad I'm a hologram. There's all sorts of critters out there I don't wanna meet. Besides, I had enough of jungles in 'Nam, thank you very much." He glanced up at Sam and read his expression. "He disappears tomorrow night. Just follow the rules about buddies, Sam, and you should be all right. The surgery is scheduled for three days from now." He called for the Chamber door. "Get settled in, and I'll check in on you later when we can talk. Bye, Sam."


Sam held on tight as the Land Rover bounced over the narrow, rutted road. The jungle loomed green and lush all around them, and the sound of exotic birds pierced the air with shrieking regularity. The heat and humidity made it feel like he was inhaling steam. Sweat ran in rivulets down his back and temples, and he closed his eyes, feeling dizzy. Just then, he felt something tap his shoulder.


"Take a drink, doc. You have to keep hydrated." The plump, jolly nurse handed him a canteen. "And only drink the water that's been sterilized in camp. This is your first trip, isn't it?"


"Yeah," Sam replied weakly after taking a sip.


She smiled warmly and spoke above the noisy vehicle. "You'll do fine. Dr. Weitz has told us all about you. Glad to see you finally came."


"Thanks," he sputtered, then wiped his mouth and handed the canteen back. What he really wanted to do was pour it over his head.


After awhile, when it seemed like the road would wind on forever, the jungle gave way to an area that was clear and Sam began to see a smattering of buildings. They were piecemeal huts put together with whatever was on hand. He couldn't help but notice the poorly dressed children on either side of the road playing in the dirt. Every one of them stopped and watched the group of vehicles pass by, their wide, dark eyes following them with suspicious interest. The occasional shawl-draped mother spoke sharply to them in Spanish to keep away from the road.


The number of huts grew, as did the quality of building, when they drew closer to the main part of the village. There was a bustle of people on the sole main street, selling and trading their wares under bright canopies. Sam's driver slowed down considerably as they passed through town, and the driver waved and yelled congenially to a few people.


At one point, the driver stopped to allow a boy leading a goat to cross his path.  Sam looked around in curiosity when he saw an old man, a white man, studying them with what Sam would describe as surprise. The man appeared to be in his 60's, neatly dressed in khaki, holding a bag in one arm while leaning on a walking cane. His mouth was slightly agape, his eyes wide behind thick glassed.  Sam returned the visual inspection for a few moments, and then dropped his head in self-consciousness. It was then that he realized how he stuck out as a white man in this village and wondered what the man studying him was doing here. Another doctor, perhaps? His thoughts were disrupted as the vehicle jerked forward and his driver shouted a greeting to the goat boy.


On the other side of the village and through another section of untamed rainforest Sam's little troupe finally came to another cleared area of fairly sturdy looking buildings. His vehicle came to a bumpy stop in front of a small shack and the women poured out from the back.


"Home again!" one of them laughed. They gathered the small packages they'd brought with them, and the friendly woman extended her hand to Sam. "I'm Emily. I'm in charge of the other nurses on this trip. Nice to meet you."


Sam took the hand gratefully and shook it. "Nice to meet you, too. Is this your, um, house?" He indicated the building next to them.


"No, that should be yours. It's where Dr. Weitz usually stays. We nurses are closer to the main building." She indicated a larger building farther up. "We'll probably see you at dinner. Bye now!" With that, she took off at a speed surprising for her weight. The other two women had difficulty keeping up with her.


Sam felt a slap on is back and fought to keep his feet. "I see you met Emily," Dr. Weitz said, his arm draped around Sam's shoulders. "She's irreplaceable, and a damned good nurse. We're lucky to have her. Well," he turned Sam to the building before them. "Here ya go! Home for the next week!"


"Oh, boy," Sam said, weakly cheerful as he wiped the sweat from his brow.




It didn't take Sam long to discover that the humidity was only a secondary distraction; bugs easily took first place in that category.


He had familiarized himself with the layout and people, and even squeezed in a few basic health exams in the time he had before dusk. The flies were a bother during the day, but they were eclipsed by the onslaught of mosquitoes that appeared as soon as the sun dropped below the tree line. Emily magically appeared at his side with a bottle of repellant within minutes of the first attack.


"You'll get into the habit of always having this within reach. And the netting over your bunk is the first thing you check." Sam looked at her blankly as he smeared on the cream and reluctantly rolled down and buttoned the cuff of his long sleeved shirt. "Holes. Check the net for holes," Emily clarified. Then she smiled warmly and patted his shoulder sympathetically. "You'll get used to it. Trust me."


"Yeah," he breathed, swatting a sting on his cheek. "All this trust better start paying off soon!"


Emily laughed and moved on. After a while Sam found he was the last one left in the exam area and decided it was time to find some food. He moved around the room and straightened up the counter tops and table, then turned off the few and feeble lights. Outside, the small generator chugged in the darkness and Sam glanced out a window, drawn by the noise. A motion in the dark caught his attention just as the Imaging Chamber door clunk-shoomed behind him in the room. Sam squinted at the motion outside.


"Hey, Sam, we got a little more information." Sam continued to stare outside. "Sam? What are you looking at? Whatever it is, it can't be as interesting as what we've found - or not found, I should say."


The scientist was sure he'd seen the outline of a person watching him in the shadows, but if there was someone out there, they were gone now. "I just thought I saw. . . oh, never mind." With a frown on his face he finally turned his attention to his Observer. "What? What do you mean?"


"Ziggy's found and interesting discrepancy in Curt Denton's background. It seems that there was no Curt Denton living anywhere before 1956. It he sorta rose from the dead at that point."


The confused expression on Sam's face made it clear to the hologram that he needed to explain further.


"Ziggy not only found Curt's birth certificate, but his death certificate as well. It seems Curtis Everett Denton was born and died in 1917 in Cincinnati, Ohio. He was three days old when he died."


Sam blinked and spoke slowly, his mind racing. "So, you're telling me that I'm not Curt Denton? I stole that identity?"


"That's what Ziggy says. That's the most common way to pick up a new identity - find the death certificate of a newborn and simply take the name. Easy as pie and old as the hills. What we don't know is who Denton really is. Ziggy's working backwards from Denton's last known address, but everything stops in 1956. We're assuming that's when he picked up the identity."


"You have no idea where he comes from? Did you ask him?"


"Yeah, but Beeks can't tell if he really can't remember due to the recent stress of his wife dying or he's lying. He's pretty befuddled, Sam. His memory is really Swiss-cheesed."


"Maybe there's something he'd rather not remember," Sam mused as he moved to the door. The room suddenly seemed too dark and close. It made him uneasy. "He's a skilled doctor according to everyone here and what Ziggy's found. Where did he get his medical training? Maybe that's a place to start."


"Well, any starting angle's a good one right now. We're getting nowhere." Al sighed and tapped on the glowing link. It looked like a handful of luminescent gummy bears mushed together in the Observer's hand. Between that, the swirling of the smoke from Al's cigar and the headache inducing chugging of the generator, Sam began to feel a little queasy.


"I need some sleep, Al, so check back in the morning."


"Ok, will do. Hey, what about that buddy system, Sam? Where's your buddy?"


Sam stuck his head out of the door and saw the dark outline of Dr. Weitz in the doorway of their building, chatting happily with a pair of women. "There he is. I'm leaving now." He swatted at another biting varmint and stepped outside. "See ya later."


"All right. Bye Sam." The Imaging Chamber door opened in the frame of the building's door, and the hologram was gone.


The camp area seemed much darker to Sam because the glare from the Imaging Chamber had blinded him a little. He rubbed his eyes and concentrated on the ground in front of him. He was nearly to his cabin when he noticed a motion out of the corner of his eye. When he snapped his head around, a dark form was moving away from him. It looked like a man. "Hey," he said out loud.


"Curt! Come on over!" Dr. Weitz's voice drew Sam's attention from the darkness. "See? You can't stop helping now that you're here. I knew you'd do fine." The bearded doctor glanced in the direction Sam had been looking. "Oh, critters creep in and out of here all night. That's why it's best to say with someone, especially after dark. Safety in numbers, you know. Coming to bed now? Usually we play some cards after dark because there's not much else to do, but I can see you're tired."


"Yeah," Sam said. "I am." He stepped up on the porch and then into his small room. Bed was sounding pretty good. Soon, he was under the net and safe from the aggravating bites. Their screechy hum was even more apparent as the generators were shut down, one by one, for the night. The heat of the day ebbed with the night, but the humidity hovered, unchanged.


With his arms behind his head and his light blanket thrown back over his hips, Sam listened to his roommate settle into his own bunk. After few minutes the final generator fell silent. It wasn't long before the leaper was lulled to sleep by the lullaby of the frogs and crickets and bugs surrounding them.


Neither one of them woke when the shadow slowly and silently slipped into their cabin. The form's breath was laboring and shaky, but that didn't stop it from making its way to the net-draped bed. The shadow leaned heavily on a walking cane, careful not to bump into the side of the bed, and stood next to Sam's bunk. The darkness encased head tilted down to stare at the sleeping man.


The shadow's hands slowly clenched into fists, and after a moment, took a step back and made its way back out into the night.




There was screaming and begging. Although I didn't recognize the language in my dreams, the tone of the words and the position of the people I saw made it clear they were begging.


The people looked like skeletons. Their eyes were huge, black and round. Their teeth were white and clearly visible as their lips were pulled back in horrific, skeletal grins. Their hands - long and thin tipped with chipped, dirty nails - reached towards me like they were rising out of the grave. Once they were men; now they were ghosts clad in rotting rags, kneeling in front of me, begging. I don't know what they were begging for, but their wails circled around me until I felt enshrouded in them. Their hands clawed at my legs, and their eyes - those dark, hollow eyes - reflected pain and sorrow without a hint of hope.


My throat closes as their fingers crawl up my chest and find my neck . . . I can't breathe . . .


I'm suffocating!




Sam jerked awake with a gasp of fear.  The sound of children crying momentarily stunned him as he thought that maybe this, too, was a dream. It was the blast of heat that convinced him he was really awake; in his nightmare, he had been freezing cold. He struggled to a sit, his heart racing, and the horrible dream faded.


It was barely dawn and his foggy brain took a moment to remember where he was.


"Come on, partner," his roommate said. "Daylight's burnin'!" Weitz chuckled as he wiped his face with a towel. "I've always wanted to say that. I'll go grab us some food and meet you in the infirmary."


Sam blinked, confused. "Infirmary?"


Weitz chuckled again. "Yeah, the place you couldn't pull yourself away from yesterday." He looked out the window frame. "The line's started already. I tell you, these people don't tarry about. We have checkups this morning, and then we can start preps for the surgery tomorrow morning. The boy should be here this afternoon."


Sam struggled to sit on the edge of the bed, momentarily tangling himself in the mosquito net. "Yeah, sure." Finally, he freed himself and stood, still a little shaky even though the nightmare had faded from his mind. "I'll . . . I'll see you over there." He rubbed his eyes, looked out the window and was amazed at the line he saw. Sam began to get ready for the day.


Al the Observer popped in just as Sam finished cleaning up. "Good morning, George of the Jungle." He greeted, unwrapping a cigar. The hologram was dressing in safari khakis and hiking boots.


The scientist eyed him and fought to control a laugh. "Are you on a safari or something?"


Al snorted. "Safaris are in Africa. This is South America. The dress is still appropriate, though."


Sam shook his head in amusement. "Did you find anything more on Denton?"


"Nope. Nada. Nothin' but a cold trail."


"Have you talked to him in the Waiting Room?"


Al glanced at his watch. "I was just about to do that. He's awake now, and Beeks says he seems more coherent. I'll get what I can, but I don't really see what that has to do with critters snatching him in the dark."


"Al, you should know about covering all the bases by now. And besides, I have this gut feeling . . ."


"About what?"


"I don't know. Denton. This place. Something just doesn't seem right. I just have this bad feeling." Sam frowned as he spoke, and put his hand over his abdomen.


Al snorted. "As long as it's not Yellow Fever or Montezuma's revenge. I'll check back later." And with a flourish of his cigar laden wrist, the hologram stepped from the jungle to the Project.


Project Quantum Leap

Stallion's Gate, New Mexico


Admiral Calavicci slipped the unlit cigar into his pocket before he stepped from the Imaging Room and walked down the ramp, a spring in his step.


"I'm on my way to the Waiting Room. Would you let Beeks know I'm coming?" He handed the link to St. John, who continued to fiddle with the controls. He patiently stared at the programmer until he had the man's full attention.


St. John did a double take from his console to the Admiral's face before meeting his eyes. He flushed slightly. "Um, you were talking to me?" The British tone was slightly flustered. He took the offered link and waited for the Admiral to release it.


Al let go. "Yes. The last time I asked Ziggy to do it she snarled at me and now I'm on her black list. I think she's PMSing."


The programmer smiled nervously and dropped his head with a laugh. "I don't think that's possible, Admiral, but I know what you mean."


Al took a step back from the console when the weird feeling he always felt around St. John once again tingled his unconscious. Tina had told him that St. John had a crush on him; that whole idea gave Al the willies so he gave the Control console a wide berth as the walked away. "Thanks," he said over his shoulder as he left. Still, he had to admit the man was a wiz with Ziggy.


Al moved down the hall with a bracing sigh. His thoughts turned introspective as he compared the supposed admiration St. John had for him to the admiration a woman would have for him. A blonde, perhaps. A blonde with legs up to there, and 6-inch stiletto heels and curves like a mountain road . . . Al grinned at the invading image then reached up and slapped his own cheek. "OK, Mr. Project Administrator. Let's keep our thoughts in check, shall we?" he said quietly.


With another bracing sigh to clear his head of the lovely distraction he marveled at his capacity to accept St. John for what he was without anger or revulsion. He was simply the way he was, just like anyone else. Al chuckled, knowing Beth would approve of his maturity; he hadn't always been like that. Then Al began to think of ways she could show her approval . . . perhaps in that red teddy he got her for Christmas . . .


Al had to slap himself again to get his mind focused on the task ahead.


He met Beeks in the observation area next to the Waiting Room. "I think he's ready to talk now, Admiral. He seems to be pretty pulled together and remembering quite a lot. Says he had a good night's sleep." Beeks tapped her pen absently on her palm, and gazed through the one-way glass into the Waiting Room. "I get the feeling he hasn't slept well for a while, but he won't elaborate on why. Maybe you can find out some more. I don't think he's too comfortable with me."


A chuckle escaped Al's lips. "Another male chauvinist, I take it?"


"Guess we'll find out, won't we?" Beeks picked up a notepad and followed the Admiral into the Waiting Room.


When they left hours later, shaken, they both wondered how the Visitor had slept at all in the past 40 years.




Sam's morning was very busy and distracted him from his weariness, his sleep during the previous night both unrestful and therefore unrefreshing. Before he knew it, lunchtime rolled around and his stomach let him know it was time for a break. It growled so loudly, the little boy he was examining giggled. Sam grinned in return and sent the boy on his way with a pat on the head.


"I need some food," Sam said out loud as he stretched a kink from his shoulders. And some real rest, he thought to himself.


"I'll get someone to bring you a sandwich," Nurse Emily said as she tugged a little girl's dress into place. An even littler girl clung to the patient's leg, her eyes wide with fear.


Sam laughed. "No, that's all right. Looks like your hands are full. I'll get something myself." Nurse Emily nodded with her trademark laugh and turned her attention on the pair of girls.


"I'll join you." Mel Weitz slipped off his gloves with a snap and shoo'd away his patient. "I need to get off my feet for a bit."


The activity around the buildings had lessened as the heat of midday reached its peak. At Sam's suggestion, the two men walked slowly toward their quarters to change into fresh shirts before going to the kitchen.


"Besides, I need more mosquito repellant," Sam said.


Weitz laughed. "I'm sure glad the little critters like you more than me!"


Their chatter ended abruptly when they stepped into their cabin and Sam saw an old man in khaki glaring at him from the furthest corner.


Sam frowned. "Who . . ?"


There was a sound of motion behind him just before a flash of pain and stars erupted in his head. He was unconscious before he hit the floor.




The world was whirling confusion as Sam slowly regained his senses. Hammering pain echoed in his head as he thought about opening his eyes open to figure out where he was. The motion of lifting his chin made him groan and his head lolled to the side. He squeezed his eyes more tightly shut.




Sam heard the voice but the name didn't register. Nothing made sense at this moment.


"Curt! Are you all right? Look at me, Curt!"


The leaper turned to face the voice with the intention to tell the speaker to shut up - the noise hurt his head. He forced his eyelids apart and saw a fuzzy outline next to him.


"That's right, Curt. Open your eyes. I think you may have a concussion. I don't think they hit me as hard."


"Hit?" Sam mumbled, squinting at the painfully bright light.


"Yeah. You've been out for awhile."




"Yeah, as in knocked out. Who are these guys, Curt? Come on, wake up! We have to get a plan together."


Sam struggled to make sense of his surroundings through the blazing pain in his head. He managed to lift his chin and force his eyes to focus. It took him a moment longer to realize that his hands were bound behind his back and he was sitting in a chair. As his senses came into focus, he looked around and saw that he was in a dilapidated shack with a dirt floor. And 'shack' was a generous description.


"You with me now?"


The leaper turned toward the voice and saw a man - Mel Weitz, he realized - similarly tied in a chair next to him. "Yeah," Sam groaned. "I wish I wasn't."


"Me too. That guy's gonna be back in a few minutes. He seems particularly interested in you. He doesn't give me the time of day."


"Oh." What was going on? Where was Al? Just as the world seemed to be making sense again, an old man dressed in khaki stepped in the hut, leaning on a walking cane. A flash of memory came to Sam. "You were in our cabin," he said slowly.


"You can stop the games now, Steffan. You and I both know why you're here." The man moved close enough to his captive to lift the scientist's chin with his finger until Sam was looking into his eyes. 


Sam saw a faded scar running from cheek to chin, counter to the aged wrinkles on the man's face. His eyes were dark and sparked with anger, and his thin, silver hair neatly combed straight back. He emanated authority - a command presence that made Sam unconsciously sit up straighter.


"So tell me why I'm here," Sam said quietly, his heart pounding. This man caused tendrils of fear to crawl from Sam's stomach.


The old man smiled; it didn't sit well on his face. "I still find it hard to believe that you sneaked off like one of them." He indicated Weitz with a condescending flip of his wrist. That's when Sam noticed the accent. The man's next words were in German, and Sam understood them clearly. "But here you are, not only acting like them, but consorting with them. I am appalled and ashamed, Steffan."


Sam realized that the man was speaking German and that he understood every word. My brain must be magnafluxed with the real Heiler; I know what he's saying.


Out of the corner of his eye, Sam saw Mel Weitz stiffen. "You don't know him, Curt, do you?" Apparently, Weitz spoke German, too. Weitz's eyes were wide with fear when Sam turned to reply, but the man spoke, again in German, before Sam had the chance.


"Of course he knows me. We were close at one time. We came here together, lived and worked together in this cursed place. Worked to survive. Worked to keep our dream alive." The man's eyes never left Sam as he spoke, and they burned even brighter with anger. "You remember our dream, Steffan? The one we fled Germany with? The one we swore to keep alive? The dreams of the Third Reicht?"


When Weitz looked at Sam the leaper clearly saw a mix of fear, disgust and complete sadness registered in his eyes. "Is he saying you were a Nazi, Curt? A Nazi?" The man's voice choked. "I've trusted you all these years! I've admired you! And you've lied to me!"


"No, I . . . I didn't lie, Mel. I didn't . . ."


"You didn't what? Butcher my family? Murder my people? Have you ever noticed the marks on my arm, Curt? The tattoo? When I was a boy, the Nazis tattooed my arm like branding cattle." The mix of emotion had now given way to hatred, pure and sharp. "And you were part of that, Curt. I bet that's not even your real name, is it? He called you Steffan! When you slithered into America you changed it like a coward. You didn't want to be held responsible. So how does it feel to be in hiding, Curt - or what ever you name is? Like I was for so long before my family was dragged off to the camps? How does it feel, huh?"


The man in khaki laughed at Weitz's reaction. "So, your friend had no idea of your true self, huh, Steffan?"


The familiar clunk-shoom of the Imaging Chamber door was a welcome noise, and Sam, wide-eyed, searched desperately for his friend.


"It's not true, Mel. I can't be a . . ."


"Nazi?" Al finished for him solemnly as the door closed behind him. "Yes, I'm afraid it is true, Sam. Or was, at least."


Sam dropped his head, unable to meet the eyes of either Al or Mel. His eyes burned with unshed tears and overwhelming weariness. The Observer continued on in a level, calm voice.


"The Visitor's real name is Steffan Konrad Heiler. He worked under Josef Mengele in Auschwitz and Sigmund Rascher in Dachau. Heiler was very young at the time, just finishing his medical training. He didn't really have any hands on dealing with the experiments, but he was fully aware of what was going on. It sickened him, but he was afraid of what would happen to him and his family if he voiced his disapproval. He had to support his mother, a young wife and five siblings. Dissidents were immediately executed, Sam, and any criticism would have endangered his family as well has him. He says he helped the prisoners when he could by giving them extra food and blankets; but still, he was a Nazi."


The wrinkled man continued to chuckle as he leaned on his cane and studied the leaper. Sam's stomach flipped like a landed fish and he fought nausea. He hoped it may be from the blow to the head, but knew it wasn't as Al continued.


"Heiler and what was left of his family left Germany after the war an came to Venezuela. A lot of Nazis did. He and two other families pooled their wealth - some of it taken from the camp inmates - and moved here. They kept the valuables together in a trunk, and hid it around here somewhere. Only three people knew the exact location of the trunk: You, I mean Curt, another officer who died shortly after coming here, and a third man who was killed in 1955. That's when Curt disappeared from Venezuela, alone. His wife had died, along with his remaining siblings. No one knew where he went."


"America," Sam whispered.


"Yup. He sneaked across the border, got an identity, and began a life of atonement. He also felt that someone killed the third man to find the location of the trunk. He didn't stick around here to figure out who it was. He also says he didn't take the contents of the trunk with him. It's still here."


Sam's head rose slowly as the words sank in. His eyes, watery with emotion, caught Al's. The hologram spoke again. "Curt Denton is haunted by what he saw, Sam. He is sickened, horrified and regretful for his part in it. He decided to dedicate his life to helping and healing others. We've checked it all out, Sam, and it's true. He says his work made him feel better, but he still has nightmares and the guilt won't go away." Al took a breath. "Anyway, he re married in the states, and after his second wife died last year he decided to try one last thing to stop the nightmares. Dr. Weitz and Doctors Without Borders gave him the opportunity."


"He came here to get the trunk." Sam suddenly understood why Curt Denton came to Venezuela, and also understood the chance he had taken returning here.


Weitz glared at him as he spoke, and growled, "You know why we're prisoners here, don't you? You're still a Nazi, like him!"


Sam acknowledged Weitz with a desperate glance and turned back to Al, who nodded at Sam. "Yup. For forty years Curt - Steffan - has tried to think of a way to make up for what he'd done. All his community service he did in that time didn't help to get rid of the nightmares. He figures this is his last chance. He thinks that if he can return the valuables somehow, it will help." Al's fingers flew over the handlink. "According to our Visitor, this guy is probably Emrich Fleischer. He and Curt - uh, Steffan - fled Germany together."


Footsteps scraped on the dirt floor and Sam felt the closeness of his captor. He looked up into the withered, wrinkled face as the man spoke. "You will take me to the trunk or your companion here dies. No great loss to me, but I think that it may mean something to you." Fleischer pulled a black handgun from his pocket and placed the muzzle against Weitz's temple. "My only souvenir from the Homeland. And it is in fine working order."


"I don't speak German, but I get that! Don't you dare!" Al yelled as he moved in between Weitz and Fleischer, waving his arms. "I swear, if you hurt them I'll hunt you down myself!"


"No, I'll take you, I will. Let him go," Sam pleaded, falling into the language of his captor. The man hesitated, and then slipped the gun back into his pocket. Then he turned and slapped Sam hard on the cheek, causing the stars and pain to resurge in force. Sam groaned.


"You nozzle! He's all tied up!" Al yelled. "So when do you start beating the women and children, too?! Or should I say again?"


"I think not. We leave immediately." With a nod to someone behind the chairs, Fleischer stepped back and allowed the captives to be yanked to their feet.




For a man in his 60's Emrich Fleischer was in good physical condition in spite of the walking cane. His lackeys, two young Hispanic toughs, were in excellent shape. Sam stumbled along trying to keep an eye on Weitz, who seemed to be fighting off his innate fear with anger. The problem was that he was directing his anger at everyone, Sam included. And Sam knew that Weitz would have to cooperate with him, if not trust him, to get out of this alive.


Al hovered protectively by his friend's side, and linked the handlink directly with Beeks. The real Heiler would have to direct them; and he would have to trust the psychiatrist to tell his story.


It takes time to build trust, and Sam knew they didn't have a lot of that commodity right now. He also prayed that the area hadn't changed so much that Denton's directions would be clear.


"Obviously, you've changed history, Sam. Ziggy says Denton was probably snatched later in the day in the original history.  Since they never found a body, she can't say what really happened. Anyway, you are going to have to start in the area Denton lived when he was here for the directions to make any sense."


The goons pushed Sam and Weitz along a barely visible trail through a particularly thick section of jungle. It was difficult to keep his feet with tied hands. "He needs to help me, Al. Make him understand."


"Shut up and move, Heiler." A vicious shove from behind almost sent Sam to his knees.


"We're trying, Sam." The Observer's fingers flew over the keys. "Beeks says he's trying to remember. It's like regression therapy - part of him doesn't want to go there."


"I know how he feels," Sam grumbled. Another shove did send him to the ground, and someone fell over him.


Sam found himself face to face with Weitz. He saw the fear in the doctor's eyes just before he met Sam's eyes. In an instant, hate replaced fear.


"We have to work together to survive this," Sam said quickly. All he got in return was a glare as Weitz struggled to his feet. Sam could see that the man was physically suffering. He wouldn't last long.


"Sam, Heiler - er, Denton - says that you have to head south on the main road of the town. He's still hedging on the exact location. He doesn't want this nozzle to have it." Al indicated the German with a nod of his head.


Panting, Sam asked, "He knows about me, right? About the project and why I'm here?"


"Yes, he does. He gets it, and is starting to realize this is a chance to stop the nightmares. He also knows this guy," Al jabbed his cigar in the direction of Fleischer, "and knows how determined he can be."


The little troupe spilled out onto a rutted road that was obviously well used. Sam lifted his head and saw the edge of the town he had passed through enroute to the medical camp.


"Which way?" Barked the German captor.


"South," Sam gasped.


Weitz uttered a phrase Sam didn't understand.


"Good thing you don't speak Yiddish, Sam." Al commented darkly. "Denton - uh, Heiler - says to keep going south."


When the dirt road smoothed out and pedestrians became more prevalent, one of the goons grabbed Sam's elbow and moved in close so it appeared that he was assisting the older man to walk.


The other did the same to Weitz, who struggled a moment. "How can you do this to your people?" he asked the young tough in his native language. He jerked as the younger man jabbed something into his side in response.


"Shut up or you're dead," the young man growled in accented English.


"Stop it, I'm helping you," Sam said through his teeth.


"Denton says start where he used to live." Al looked at Sam. "Which would be…??"


"My old house," Sam said quickly. "Take me to my old house."


The young men propelled the two old men along the road with the German behind, verbally directing the goons. He spoke as they walked. "I'm the only one left from the original group. The families either died or moved away, but I stayed. I knew the trunk was here, and I knew you were alive somewhere. I've been so patient." With a wave of the walking stick, the group was directed along a narrow side road. "I've waited so long. I deserve this."


"What about those you stole it from?" Weitz spat. Apparently, his German was still very good.


"Spoils of war go to the stronger and smarter." Fleischer snarled. "It's the way of history." He turned his back on Weitz to indicate the conversation was over. He spat a few words to his muscle power. Sam and Mel were propelled through a tangle of dirt footpaths until they came upon a small building at the edge of the forest that sagged with neglect. Still, there were indications of someone living there.


"There is your old home, Steffan. As you can see, the natives are not too keen on upkeep."


"That's because they are fighting to survive." The knife in Mel's side didn't dampen his anger in the slightest. Sam had to admire his pluck.


"As are most inferior races."


"Do you believe this guy, Sam? He sounds like a page out of ancient history!"


Their captor's eyes were glazed in excitement. "But we will rise again. It's happening as we speak. Now show me where the trunk is."


Sam gaped at the man, then glanced at his Observer. Al was typing madly on the link and mumbling to himself. "I hope this nozzle lives long enough to see the Berlin Wall fall. His brotherhood is headed nowhere." His fingers paused on the keys. "Curt says the trunk is under the floor of the house, Sam."


"The house," Sam said. "It's in the house. Under the floor."


The muscle men pushed them towards the house at their captor's command, but halfway there, Weitz fell to his knees. "I will not be a part of this. I'm willing to give my life resisting you, just as my family did. He will not use me as a pawn."


"Fine with me!" Fleischer barked in German, the directed the young man in his own language. "Do it!"


Sam, held fast by his escort, tried to break free. "NO!" He yelled. He watched the young man move behind Weitz and move the knife to a position to cut his throat.


"Sam! He's gonna slit his throat!"


Sam moved on instinct. He dropped, throwing his escort off balance, then dove toward Weitz with enough power to break his captor's grip and knock the German to the ground. He slammed into the executioner and they both rolled aside.


Mel struggled to his feet as Sam leaped to him in a way completely beyond the physical capabilities suggested by the aura of Curt. With his hands still bound behind him, Sam executed a front kick, followed quickly by a side kick that both disarmed and knocked Mel's escort senseless as he struggled to his feet. Sam disabled him with a jaw-breaking kick to the face. The second young tough jumped in and Sam took a defensive stance and bounced on the balls of his feet as he circled the wary attacker.


"Run, Mel! Into the jungle!"


"Sam! Look out! He's getting the gun!" Al waved his arms wildly.


As Mel stumbled away, the German fumbled for his dropped pistol. The knife wielding young man was between Sam and the German; Sam feigned a kick that backed his opponent closer to Fleischer. Just as the pistol was leveled for a shot, Sam launched himself feet first into the young tough's chest.


The attacker slammed backward into the German just as a shot was fired, and they both rolled aside in a tangled heap. Sam fell hard to the ground but scrambled to his feet and took the opportunity to tear after Mel.


"He missed him, Sam! The shot went wild!"


Mel had disappeared around the old house and into the jungle with Sam right behind him. The old man was wheezing as he ran and the scientist knew he'd have to rest.


"The nozzle and his remaining henchman are real close, Sam! Don't make so much noise!" Al reported as he kept vigil for the leaper.


"Easy for you to say, Al. I've got to get Mel to stop. He's going to pass out."


Sam caught up with his friend and bumped him aside.


"Keep away from me!" Mel gasped as he fell.


"We have to work together, Mel! And keep quiet! They aren't far away!"


Dr. Weitz struggled to a sit, gasping for breath. "You are a fraud!"


Sam ignored him as he wriggled his arms under his feet, and brought his hands up in front of him. His hands were still tied, but at least they were in front of him now. "Let me help you."


"No!" Sam continued to ignore him as he guided the man's arms under his feet and brought his hands in front of him. Sam began to work on the knot to free Mel's hands. Mel tried to catch his breath and his struggling against Sam ceased. "How could you, Curt?" He said angrily between breaths. "How am I supposed to feel? You've lied to me all these years!"


Sam continued to work the knot. "I can't begin to imagine how you feel, Mel. I know I can't begin to make up to you what happened. I can't change any of that. I didn't do anything because I was trapped, too. You have to believe me when I say I wasn't a willing participant. I was surviving."


"At the cost of my family and my people."


"Yes." Sam said after a moment. "Sadly, yes. I've been trying to atone for my part in all that ever since. The only thing I can change is me, and that's what I've been trying to do these past years."


Sam's tone had changed subtly as he talked. Al noticed it, and closely monitored the handlink. "Sam," he said softly. "You're magnafluxed with Curt. Can you hear me?"


The knot was finally worked free, but Sam continued to talk, oblivious to the Observer. There was a look in his eye that Al noted was the same look Curt had when he confessed his past to him and Dr. Beeks in the Waiting Room. Sam was not here at the moment and Al knew it.


"I've tried every way I could think of to fix what I did. I've suffered, too. I know it's not even close to what you have been through, Mel, and I know that. No matter how much community service I gave, no matter how many people I helped, the nightmares would not go away." His voice was thick with emotion, and the tortured soul of the man's aura was very clear in his eyes and tone. His shoulders seemed to sag with the weight of what he'd done. "And I'm sure your nightmares are worse."


Al saw Mel's eyes shine and jaw flex with controlled emotion.


"I'm begging for your help, Mel. I'm sure my soul is condemned, but I want my last physical days to count for something good. I know you can never forgive me or forget the past. I know I can't. I'm asking you to help me do something in atonement. I want to put myself in your hands to do what you wish. It's all I have left to do."


"Sam!" Al barked. "You have to keep moving, you hear me? Those two are close!"


Sam didn't appear to hear him. Instead, he knelt in front of Dr. Weitz with his head bowed and his cheeks wet with tears. Weitz was struggling for emotional control. His voice was husky and low when he finally spoke.


"I don't have the right to punish you. Only God has that right. I just don't want to lay my eyes on you again."


"As you wish." Sam got to his feet and began to walk away, his hands still bound in front of him. "They only want me. Here's you chance to get away. Goodbye, Mel. I will always consider you my dear friend."


"Sam! What are you doing? You're heading right for them!"


Unhearing, the essence of Carl Denton walked into the hands of his hunters. Mel Weitz could only watch with hooded eyes and conflicted feelings.




Sam was vaguely aware of his own thoughts but was driven by those of his host. His heart pounded and his breath came in gasps as he worked his way through the forest growth. Trees thick with winding vines created a rustling noise he didn't bother to mute. The heavy humidity made the air as thick as the brush. Sam felt like his lungs were inhaling water; he sweated profusely.


He didn't hear the Observer pleading with him to slow down before he - or the Visitor - had a heart attack.


With spinning head and narrowing vision Sam was barely aware of the painful grip that brought him to his knees.


"Found you, old man," the youth's voice said in Spanish.


The burly young man half dragged, half carried Sam back to the wooden structure and through the doorway. The door had long vanished, replaced by a hanging curtain, and what was left of the wooden floor was warped and loose.


The old German was sitting on a rickety wooden trunk. Hammocks draped across the back wall indicated the sleeping area and a rickety table and various wooden bowls designated the kitchen. Fleischer held a small, wide-eyed boy in his lap. A weeping woman was just outside, visible through an opening that had been a window.


"I needed a new hostage. Boy, go find the Jew. I don't think my friend here is going anywhere.


The tough released Sam and returned to the jungle. The leaper blinked to clear his head. After a moment, he turned and looked at his Observer with a puzzled expression.


"Sam? You finally hear me? Thank God, Sam, you gotta listen. Listen, Sam! You've psychosynergized with the real Curt to the point where he's not responding to Beeks at all. You have to separate your thoughts, Sam. Curt can't help you."


"Under the floor," Sam mumbled. "The trunk is under the floor."


The German's eyes turned stormy. "Show me." The boy squirmed under his grip.


"Sam, come on. Show him, already."


Slowly, Sam turned in a circle and noticed a section of wood floor that was in the shape of a square. He moved over to it, head spinning, and squatted down. With his hands still tied together in front of him, he flipped the section of board over.


Underneath was a hole in the dirt. In the hole were the remains of a well-used fire pit.


"Oh, Jeeze, Sam, it's gone." Al's fingers flew over the link.


Sam stared in the hole, dazed. The German growled, and the scientist saw his captor's arm raised as he reset the muzzle of the handgun on the boy's temple. Sam turned to him.


"I see your hiding place has been turned into an oven. You have 60 seconds to find out where the contents went."


"Sam, we got nothin'." Al shook the link in a frustrated manner. Curt is in some sort of vegetative state…"


Sam stared at the German, but his thoughts raced wildly with visions of things that did not belong to his own history. The central focus of the pictures in his mind was a carved wooden trunk with a brass lock. Slowly, his eyes fell to the trunk on which the German sat.


It was the same trunk. Worn, dirty and stripped of all the brass, but the same trunk. Fleischer frowned, and then dropped his eyes to his seat. Sam pointed to the trunk.


"That's it."


The next few seconds were a blur to both Sam and his Observer. There was a scream, then yelling, and then the German flew to the ground. The boy screamed and crawled away from his captor, unharmed. The gun clattered to the floor and grabbed it.


Unthinking, Sam then took the boy by his arm and ran outside right into the arms of the child's mother and a group of what Sam assumed were villagers. Several older men restrained the young tough, now rather bruised and subdued in his attitude. One in the crowd held a bow with a quiver of short arrows slung over his shoulder. Mel Weitz, dirty and breathing heavily, stood at the back of the group.


"That was some shootin', Sam! He got him through the window! It was amazing!" Al nodded at the young man. "It looks like someone notified his parents. And brothers. And every other relative in town."


A grey, wrinkled man began to cut away Sam's bonds with a very sharp knife, worn with age. A pair of younger, stronger men entered the house.


"We have had enough," the old man said quietly in Spanish. "He will be punished by the elders." With a slight nod, the young tough was escorted away.


"I think they plan more than grounding him for the weekend," Al commented. "You okay, Sam?"


Sam nodded slightly to his Observer, and his eyes drifted over his friend's shoulder and met Mel's. "Thank you," he whispered. He didn't wait or expect a response, and instead, his eyes were drawn to the edge of the jungle behind the Jewish doctor.


There was something there. He felt it.


His face took on a dazed look that made the hologram edgy. "What?" He, too, turned to follow his friend's gaze.


The pair of men that had entered the house approached the village elder with respectfully bowed heads. "He's dead," one of them reported softly.

The elder issued quiet orders, and the group slowly broke up. Sam seemed unaware of any of it; when it was just he and Mel left standing, the leaper walked to the trees without acknowledging anyone.


"Sam! Where're you going? You should be leaping." Al's fingers flew over the link. "Ziggy? What's going on?"


Sam moved to the very edge of the trees. Mel had followed him, his forehead furrowed in confusion.


When he reached the trees, he stopped. His eyes were locked on a particular and peculiar group of greenery. The thick vines that grew everywhere were, in one spot, braided into a single, thick vine. Still in a daze, Sam walked to the aberration and placed his hand on the trunk. With age and time the individual vines, which had been purposely intertwined in a regular pattern in their youth, were now one, solid entity.


"Hey, I've seen that done with acacia trees," Al commented, studying the vines. "We have one in our condo."


"It's inside," Sam said softly.


"What?" Mel and Al said in unison, totally confused.


"The treasure." Sam walked around the vines, his voice soft but firm. The width of the trunk was an impressive size. "It's inside. I put it in the middle."


Mel and the hologram gaped at the vines.


Sam spoke in a dreamy voice. The words were coming directly from the Visitor. "It took so long. The nightmares made sleep impossible. I would come out here in the darkness and work on it - placing the vines and training them. It took months to form them." He looked at his hands. "My hands were raw. I didn't sleep much. It helped, but the nightmares didn't go away. I knew the trunk was not safe. I knew the treasure inside was not mine. I had to hide it."


"So you made your own vault," Al said softly.


"I made a tomb," Sam corrected. "I didn't want to forget what I saw, but I didn't want to remember either. This helped. And it made the treasure safe."


Emotions rolled over Mel's face in waves. Anger gave way to sadness, then surprise and finally, exhaustion.


"Curt. I . . . I don't know what to say. This is nothing less than remarkable." He hesitated for a moment then placed his hand on his old friend's shoulder. "I don't know how to feel. I need some time."


Sam turned to the doctor and smiled a tired smile. "That's all I have to give, my friend."


Al's attention was moved to the squealing link. "Sam! You won't believe this! These two take the valuables and move it to the Caymen Islands. With the offshore account, they build a modern medical unit here! This area becomes an important center for health for the poor! You did it, buddy! Curt stays here and becomes the resident doctor. Mel visits often, and they both decide how to use the money."


The leaper turned to his hologram and smiled as he felt the familiar tingling sensation in his limbs. His last thought before leaping was the hope that Curt Denton's nightmares would finally end.




The leap took a hold of Sam so hastily that it took his breath away.  Even as the tingling sensation spread up his legs, through his body, and out through his fingertips, something about the leap didn’t seem quite right.  The sudden rush of it made him lightheaded.  When the motions of the leap came to a sudden screeching halt, it didn’t stop the dizziness that assaulted him.


Something pressed against his chest – not pressed, squeezed, he felt.  ‘What in the heck is going on?  Am I in a vise?’ Sam thought for a split second as he felt his body constrict from the pressure.  His eyes squeezed shut as he cried out in pain as pain swept through his body.  His senses, nearly overloaded by physical sensations, were vaguely aware of the laughing, and hooting behind him, or of the foul mouthed language that was shouted in his ear… not to mention the foul stench of the breath that carried the words.


Something was obscenely not right.  Not only was the big man pressuring his lungs, but also there was a sensation on his pelvis that caused Sam’s stomach to lurch with an overwhelming sense of nausea.  The motions from behind him weren’t ones that should be happening – period. And, unfortunately, the words the man yelled into his ear proved that it wasn’t a dream.


It was most definitely a nightmare. 


“I'm gonna make you pay, you little shit!" The unrelenting motions behind him came to a sudden stop when the man behind him sighed with satisfaction. Sam felt used and besmirched from the act that he had leaped into. He squeezed his eyes closed to shut out the reality of what had occurred. 


He felt the man move away from him. Sam didn't dare open his eyes in fear of what might come next.  For a brief moment he thought he had a reprieve, but he was proven wrong.  He was pushed hard and his head cracked against a hard, rough surface.  He was pulled back from the wall thrust forward at it twice more; his head bounced off the wall like a ball on a ping-pong paddle.  Warm blood poured down his face and into his eye, blurring what little vision he had.  He grunted in pain as he felt himself being pulled back from the wall yet again. 


He felt hot breath on his ear. “Let this be a warning to you. Next time you interfere with something that’s none of your fuckin’ business, you won’t be so damn lucky.” The sadistic laughter that followed contained no merriment.  Sam felt the man’s breath retreat to his neck and he shied away from the silkily spoken words that were accented by a rough hand that patted Sam’s bare bottom. “Next time, we won’t have an audience watching.  Next time, it’ll be just you and me… sugar.”


The bulky man let go of Sam and stepped back to watch as his victim slid down into a heap on the ground with his pants still around his ankles.  In a quick motion he adjusted his own pants, zipped them up then regarded Sam once more.  One step brought him next to the Quantum Physicist where he reared back and began to kick Sam in the gut until his target coughed and cried out in absolute pain.  With a smug smirk he gathered a mouthful of saliva then spat at Sam, enjoying the way it made it way down Sam’s cheek.  Feeling justified, the man turned on his heel and walked away, taking the crowd with him.


Sam didn't move.  His head throbbed with pain.  His abdomen felt as if a hole had been punctured all the way through his spinal column.  His body screamed out in ways that he had never felt before.  For a single solitary moment all he could do was blink his eyes and stare off into the distance and try to catch his breath.  Shock settled in and took hold as he slowly sat up and pulled his legs toward him.  Sam began to rock himself back and forth as he suddenly felt alone - miserably and hopelessly alone. 


A soft murmur found its way to his lips and repeated over and over; two words that he always used at the beginning of a leap and which were the only ones that came to him at the moment:  “Oh boy… oh boy… oh boy…”


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