VIRTUAL SEASONS EPISODES
It was a dark and gloomy November night. Dr. Sammy Jo Fuller used to love this particular time of the year in Stallion’s Gate—not that warm, but not cold enough to want to stay inside on a clear night where the stars could be seen overhead. Over the years, she would often get away from the Project for a few hours, look up into the heavens, and reflect on all of the blessings and curses she had been dealt with throughout the course of her life. But tonight was an especially tough night for her. For it was on this very night one year ago, that she made a cataclysmic mistake in her quest to find her father, Dr. Samuel Beckett, who disappeared without a trace.
In many ways, it was a miracle that her father hadn’t been around since the dawn of the new millennium. The amount of bloodshed this world had been exposed to over the past few years would have possibly destroyed her father’s spirit—it very nearly destroyed her own. That horrific day in September of 2001 that changed the world forever affected everyone at Project Quantum Leap profoundly, none more so than Al. He had known many good men and women who died at the Pentagon that day. Days passed as she and Al had discussed the tragic events, and they both couldn’t help but wonder if this had been the Devil’s way of exacting revenge, to seek retribution for all of the wrong that Sam had negated over the years. Ironic that Sammy Jo herself, a caring and loving individual like her father, would be the catalyst for a much greater tragedy years later.
But alas, that greater tragedy was a story she had replayed in her head every single day for the past year. She didn’t wish to relive those painful memories anymore. All she needed to do was simply look at the devastated world around her to remind her of the burden she carried—of the guilt she had to bear. Now, all she wished for was eternal peace—to be with her beloved, Daniel Fulton. With their child now in the loving care of Donna Elesee, she knew with all of her heart that the Fuller family curse would not be passed on to a new generation.
And so, as Samantha Josephine Fuller stepped out of the caves and into the apocalyptic landscape, a single tear trickled down her cheek as she thought about her father one last time. He was still alive, she was sure of it. In this final moment of clarity, Sammy Jo knew that her father was fulfilling a destiny he had been meant to fulfill since his birth. He was God’s messenger—putting right what once went wrong, year after year, life after life. It went against Sam’s nature to let evil perpetuate in an irrational world, and because of that, his work would never truly be done. To seek his own happiness would be selfish compared to the countless others who needed his guidance more. And that, quite simply, was why her father was a true hero.
This was the final thought she had as she took the knife she held in her hand and plunged it into her heart. As the bright light enveloped her body, her soul was finally at peace, and she smiled.
The blue light was always soothing—a reminder of how truly wonderful a creation the universe was. For Sam Beckett, it was breathtaking, to say the least, to be able to see the multilayered levels of reality all around him without a physical outlet to process and comprehend the information. Here in this void between infinite timelines, he was completely himself. Drifting in unreality with the memories of Al, Donna, Sammy Jo, Alia, and so many others whose lives he had touched, he remembered everything and yet nothing. In the nanosecond it would take for Sam’s mind to realign itself with the realities he created, it would unravel just as fast. It was the constant driving force that kept Sam focused on his mission to put right what once went wrong.
This time, things had changed. In the quantum void, he saw… a mirror? That had never happened before, had it? He tried to look at his reflection, but he couldn’t see one. Sam couldn’t put his finger on it, but something felt different this time. He could feel some “force” pulling him in a new direction. The universe became small once again as the blue light faded. He was leaping…
The first thing Sam noticed was the smell. It was an odor unlike any he had ever smelled before—the stench of death, and it frightened him. He looked around at his surroundings. He was outside and it was dark, but it was a different kind of darkness. Not the dark of night, but rather, the dark of terrible destruction—like a black cloud billowing over the world. He started coughing and suddenly realized he was breathing in toxic fumes of smoke. All around him, he could see the debris of cars and buildings. Dust covered everything and when Sam looked closely through the dense fog, he could literally see hundreds, maybe thousands of skeletons—the remains of human bodies caught in the throes of a deadly cataclysm.
My God, where am I? he thought, as he saw the faint outline of a figure moving toward him. Before he could make out the form, he collapsed and fell into unconsciousness.
Sam awoke to the sound of a female voice. The coarseness of her voice made it hard to distinguish, but she was talking to someone else. “He’s coming to. Thank God!”
Sam looked up through strained eyes and found the source of the voice. Leaning over him was a beautiful woman with lovely brown eyes—a contrast to the dark hooded shroud she wore around her body. Although most of her physical features were hidden underneath the cloak she wore, Sam guessed that she was most likely in her mid to late twenties.
“Wh-where am I?” he asked.
“You’re in an underground shelter, about five hundred feet below ground level. You were beginning to succumb to the radiation. If I had arrived a few minutes later, you would most likely have been permanently exposed to fatal toxins without proper protection. Luckily, you were only a few hundred yards from where you were supposed to be. Thank God it worked, otherwise the Prophecy would have remained unchanged.”
“The prophecy? I don’t understand. What’s going on here? What happened to all those… people… up there?” Sam asked as he pointed a finger upward.
“All in good time,” the woman calmly replied. “Just try to relax. You have a long journey ahead of you, Dr. Beckett.”
Sam jolted up as he heard his name. “D-Dr. Beckett? D-did you just call me Dr. Beckett?”
The voice of an older man shouted out from across the enclosed shelter. “Damn it, Izzy, I warned you that he’d get all riled up over this. He needs time to adjust to his new surroundings.”
“Time is something we don’t have a lot of, Adam,” Izzy huffed. “In case you’ve forgotten, our society is on the brink of extinction, and Dr. Beckett might be the only one who can help us change things for the better!”
Sam had to shake his head just to make sure he was hearing the words correctly. “Society… on the brink of extinction? Dear God, what’s going on? Please, tell me!”
Izzy gave Sam a look devoid of emotion. “I don’t know how to put this delicately, so I’ll just come right out and say it. You’re in the future. The 39th Year of Ascension, or to be more specific, December 31, 2034 on the Roman calendar.”
“The future? M-my future?”
“Welcome to hell, Sam.”
As Sam came to grips with what he had just been told, he uttered a very sorrowful, “Oh boy!”
Gate, New Mexico
December 31, 2034
“This has to be some kind of sick joke, right? Or a dream?” Sam asked, desperately trying to make sense of the situation. “I mean this can’t be the future. I… can’t be in the future! It just isn’t possible!”
“I wish this was all a dream, Dr. Beckett,” Izzy replied. “But it’s all very real. It’s the final day of the final month of 2034 A.D., according to the Roman calendar. You’ve been gone for nearly forty years.”
“So, I’m me again?”
“Yes, you’ve leaped as yourself, if that’s what you’re getting at,” answered the older man standing beside Izzy. He had graying hair and a full goatee. He looked like he could have been about Sam’s age, possibly a couple years older, maybe fifty-three or fifty-four. “I still say this is a big mistake, Izzy. He’s not ready to accept his destiny yet.”
“Adam,” Izzy protested. “If the Prophecy is correct, we have less than twenty-four hours until the end. It’s been on the mark with everything that’s happened so far, and I doubt this time will be any different.”
“Excuse me,” Sam interrupted. “But if you don’t mind, I’d like to be brought into the loop here. Apparently, you two seem to know a lot about me. If that’s the case, then I’d like to know what I’m doing here and what this so-called ‘prophecy’ is all about!”
Izzy gave Sam a stern look. Perhaps Adam was right. Maybe Sam wasn’t ready for the role that was about to be thrust upon him. But she knew that she had been meant to bring him here for a reason. Whether he realized it or not, it was a self-conscious choice Sam made for himself when he decided to continue leaping. Dr. Sam Beckett had helped so many countless others for the better part of the past century, at the cost of his own freedom. Now it was time for someone to help him—to put right what once went terribly wrong in his own life. That, itself, held the key to saving the future. He deserved to hear the whole story.
“Very well, Samuel. But it’s best if you heard this tale on the way to our destination. Take a flashlight, and let’s go.”
Sam got up slowly and saw a row of beat-up looking flashlights lining the shelf next to the cot he had been laying on. After trying a few, he found one that had a strong battery charge and took the hooded cloak Adam held out for him. He was immediately taken aback by the dusty mildew scent of the cloak, but he managed to adapt fairly quickly as he wore it and followed Izzy and Adam out of the shelter into the caves beyond.
Adam took point as he navigated the twists and turns of the rock caverns. Sam trailed Izzy closely behind as she began to speak once again.
“First of all, allow me to formally introduce myself. My name is Isabella, but everyone calls me Izzy for short. The man leading the way is Adam, one of the most well-respected members of our society and… someone I consider to be a close, personal friend.” Adam returned a small smile upon hearing that remark, but remained silent as Isabella continued. “What I am about to tell you is the general story that has been passed down for the past quarter of a century or so. Some of the details have been lost to time, but it’s a rough approximation of what we know as fact. Ironically, it all began at Project Quantum Leap, shortly after the First Decade of Ascension.”
“I’m sorry… first decade of ascension?” Sam asked in confusion.
“Oh… pardon me. Um… a few years after the turn of the 21st Century… 2005, if memory serves correctly,” Isabella confirmed. “Anyway, the parallel hybrid computer you created, Ziggy, suddenly lost all contact with you. The legendary Rear Admiral Albert Calavicci was determined to find you at all costs.”
“What do you mean, his brainwaves are gone, Zig?” Al barked at the glowing blue orb.
“Exactly as I said, Admiral Calavicci,” Ziggy replied. “My tracking sensors have lost all connection with Dr. Beckett’s neurons and mesons. To put it quite simply, Admiral, he has vanished. I am unable to locate his temporal signature anywhere within the confines of his lifetime. The only logical conclusion I can make is that his life force has terminated. If it didn’t, I would be detecting a small trace of his brainwaves within my program.”
“Sam’s life force has NOT been terminated, you bucket of bolts!” Al protested angrily. “Maybe YOU can just give up on him because you’re a damn emotionless hybrid computer, but I can’t! I WON’T!”
“No need to get snippy with me, Admiral,” Ziggy replied with a snotty tone. “You act like I am intentionally terminating my link with Dr. Beckett. I assure you that that is not the case, and quite frankly, I resent that you would imply otherwise. You wound me.”
“Oh, quit being melodramatic!” Al turned toward the African-American man standing behind the main console and without thinking, said, “Edward, prepare the new handlink and activate Ziggy’s e-probe. Sam’s out there somewhere and I’m gonna find him no matter what it takes!”
The new head programmer looked over to Al and corrected him. “Admiral, it’s, uh… Dom, remember?”
“Oh… right, I forgot. Sorry, Dom,” Al apologized. “Force of habit.”
“Perfectly understandable, Admiral,” Dom sympathized.
God, like it didn’t already take long enough to get used to a replacement when Gooshie died, Al thought, as he reflected on the unfortunate passing of Edward St. John VI and his subsequent replacement, Dominic Lofton.
As the Imaging Chamber door opened, Al walked over to the central imaging disc and activated Ziggy’s holographic matrix. “Even if Dr. Beckett is miraculously alive out there, Admiral,” Ziggy began, “It could take days, possibly weeks, to find him without a frame of reference from a Visitor in the Waiting Room.”
“I don’t care if it takes months, Ziggy!” Al argued. “Just begin the nano-search—as far back as 1952, from the day he was conceived, up to today. That new gonio—um… thingy… GoSep… er, ma-call-it… meter that Stephen installed should be able to detect his bio-signs, even if your program can’t.”
“As you wish, Admiral Calavicci,” Ziggy responded, as her matrix transformed into the whirling tornado effect. Al stood within the maelstrom of images in time, focused on finding his lost friend.
go by, which turned into weeks, which in turn became months, and Ziggy
still had no luck finding you. Despite his prior assistance in obtaining
additional funding for the Project, General Hawkins was losing ground with
the Senate committee, and hope was slowly dwindling. On November 22, 2005,
your daughter, Dr. Samantha Josephine Fuller, made one final, desperate
attempt to bring you back home before all hope was lost. If only she had
known the full consequences of her actions, she would have reconsidered
her decision. But history is always doomed to repeat itself.
“Dominic, I need some help with these algorithms for the Retrieval process. Would it be too much to ask for your assistance?” Sammy Jo asked the programmer, almost as if she was in a trance.
“Of course not, Sammy Jo,” Dom replied with enthusiasm. “Stumbled on a way to bring Dr. Beckett home, eh?”
With a look devoid of emotion, Sammy Jo answered, “I won’t know for sure until the calculations are complete. It’ll only take a minute.” As Dom left the main console, making his way out of the Control Room, Sammy Jo began to follow his lead.
Suddenly, without warning, the claxons sounded as Dom found himself locked out of the Control Room, with Sammy Jo still inside.
“What the—? Dr. Fuller? S-Sammy? What’s going on?” he screamed, hoping she would hear him.
But she chose not to answer. She needed to keep him out of the loop for her plan to succeed.
“Dr. Fuller, what are you doing?” the disembodied voice of the parallel-hybrid computer spoke.
“I’m doing what needs to be done… Ziggy. I’m activating the Accelerator Chamber. I’m going to find… my father.”
“I can’t let you do that without confirmation from either Dr. Beckett or Admiral Calavicci. Those are the rules, Dr. Fuller.”
“I think it should be obvious, I don’t intend on following the rules, Ziggy. And in case you haven’t noticed, Dr. Beckett and the Admiral aren’t here right now!” Before Ziggy had a chance to respond, Sammy Jo entered a code into the main console that temporarily removed the hybrid computer’s security and safety protocols.
Ziggy’s voice shifted an octave accordingly, although the strain in her voice indicated that her program was trying to fight the override. “Activating… Accelerator Chamber. Please specify… the date…”
Sammy Jo thought for a minute before responding, “Make it random.” She removed her lab coat to reveal the skin-tight white Fermi suit she had been concealing from Dom. With a look of fixed determination in her eyes, Dr. Sammy Jo Fuller set the power output to maximum levels and entered the chamber, never looking back.
“Sammy Jo!” Sam exclaimed, as the memories came flooding back to him. “My—my daughter!”
“Yes, following in her daddy’s footsteps,” Isabella said with a mix of sarcasm and grief. “To this day, no one really knows what drove her to make such a rash decision. But, she did. And her actions would be felt for decades,” she said, as she continued the story.
managed to break into the Control Room, but he was unable to crack the
code that Dr. Fuller had input into Ziggy’s mainframe. In desperation,
he placed a call to Admiral Calavicci, who was on his way back from an
unsuccessful committee hearing with his wife, Beth.
“Don’t lose hope, honey,” Beth reassured her husband, who was behind the wheel of their sports car. “Hawkins is on our side. With the both of you calling in some old favors, together, you should be able to pull a few strings and keep the Project up-and-running until we can find Sam.”
“I don’t trust him, Beth,” Al barked. “Last time he was at the Project, he mentioned something about ‘government input.’ That could only spell trouble for Sam during his leaps. He’d see to it that all the other bureaucratic nozzles got first dibs on dictating Sam’s mission for political agendas, I’m sure of it!”
“Al, I’m sure if he got to take a closer look at the archives, and—” But her words were cut off by the sound of the car phone beeping.
“Hold on, hon,” Al interrupted, immediately recognizing the URGENT message originating from Central Control. Over the horizon, he began to notice the blue glow of the Project just starting to emanate, and suddenly, it felt like ten years ago all over again. Al began to fear the worst. “Lofty? What’s going on?”
“Admiral, it-it’s Sammy Jo!” Dom’s voice announced over the speaker. “Sh-she’s leaping! Ziggy is saying no, but… I think something’s wrong with her program! Sammy’s leaping!”
“Oh my God!” Beth shouted out, her hand covering her mouth in shock.
“Is she out of her freakin’ mind?” Al screamed. “Put her on the line!”
“I can’t, she’s in the Accelerator! She locked me out of Control before I knew what she was up to! What do I do?”
It’s happening again! Al thought. Damn it all to hell, it’s happening again! I’m not gonna lose another Beckett to time! Not on my watch!
“If you try and interfere directly, you might kill her! Damn it, you’ve got to buy me some time until I get back there! Lofty! Dom! Can you hear me?”
It was at that moment, however, that the line went dead as a crackling explosion of light flashed beyond the horizon. A power overload of immense proportions had caused a catastrophic cascade feedback through the Accelerator ring buffer. In the blink of an eye, the complex had become a glowing beacon in the dark desert night.
Al and Beth both looked on in horror as the stray energy snaked out from the mountains like streaming tentacles, sending random bursts in all directions. One of those bursts hit the ground directly in front of the vehicle, and before they could even blink, Al and Beth found themselves being thrown off the road. The car tumbled repeatedly, the force of each impact battering and bruising it beyond recognition along with the two occupants inside, before the mangled heap was consumed in a blazing inferno.
In those final moments before death came to take them, as their lives flashed before their eyes, the Calaviccis knew that something had gone catastrophically wrong at Project Quantum Leap.
Gate, New Mexico
December 31, 2034
“NO!” Sam screamed. “You’re lying to me!”
“I wish I was, Sam,” Isabella said with sorrow. “I truly wish I was!”
“It can’t…” Sam began to break down, and Isabella and Adam stopped walking. His body was wracked with heaving sobs as Isabella knelt down to console him.
“Ahhh… nooo… please, God… no… Beth… Al… you can’t be gone! You… can’t…”
“I know this comes as a shock, Dr. Beckett, but we need to keep moving. To pardon the expression, time is of the essence,” Adam nudged.
Sam looked up at Adam defiantly and gritted through his teeth, “How can you act so heartless? Those were my friends! The people I loved!”
“I apologize if I seemed unsympathetic, Dr. Beckett, but you have to realize… to us, this is history,” Adam answered. “It happened many years ago from our perspective. Izzy’s plan will give you a way to change all of this from ever occurring, but ultimately, it depends on your own resolve. History recorded that you never returned home, and the reason why you never did is because you’ve locked yourself into a set mind frame.”
Sam felt like he had been punched in the stomach upon hearing Isabella’s story and Adam’s statement. I never returned home? Al and Beth and who knows how many others all dead? How had things gone so wrong so fast? “But I… I remember going back home a few times… didn’t I?”
“A few, yes, but never permanently,” Isabella chimed in. “There was always a catch that forced you to continue the leaping cycle. The truth is, you were never able to accept that you were subconsciously controlling your journey. Because you relinquished your free will, you were at the mercy of Time’s rules, bouncing back and forth within your own lifetime, the percentage of returning home dwindling with each new leap, until at last, it became impossible. In the decades since your disappearance, we’ve solved a few mysteries about how the leaping process works. When someone first leaps, they have a forty-eight-hour window of opportunity to leap back before they become stranded in time. Subsequently, once a person becomes stranded in the time stream for too long, they become integrated with it. Their ‘anchor’ deteriorates and they eventually become exiled in time until the end of their natural life. That time for you is now fast approaching, Sam. With my help, you can have a second chance at changing your fate. At this point in history, it’s too late… but at your point in time, there’s still hope.”
“No, nooo!” Sam protested. “My leaps are controlled by God or Time or Fate, or-or whatever! I-I even met Him once before… I think… or maybe twice? I can’t really remember. He controls my future, not me! He even implied that the leaps were going to get tougher. And for the most part, they have been!”
Isabella looked into the eyes of this great and selfless man she had looked up to for her entire life and, for the first time, felt pity. As kind and caring as he was, he was naïve. That naïveté had also infected her society, allowing them to blindly follow a “prophecy,” which they believed to be set in stone. It was for that very reason that she only confided in Adam about her plan. Sam needed to hear more in order to fully grasp the gravity of the situation he would soon find himself surrounded by.
“Adam’s right, we need to keep moving,” Isabella changed the subject as the three individuals continued walking.
“What I have told you is mere prologue,” she continued. “Unbeknownst to Dr. Fuller at the time, Ziggy had been using her own resources to tap into the mainframes of other computer systems across the country in an attempt to track down your possible location in time. The code Sammy Jo had input into Ziggy’s mainframe contained a bug, which unintentionally corrupted her program. Once her corrupted program began interfacing with the other systems, it acted like a virus, corrupting them in the process.”
“In other words, her mainframe became a giant server,” Sam realized, almost stumbling over a rock incline in his path.
“Yes… you crash the main server and the entire network crashes along with it—a chain reaction which proved to be disastrous, not just for the Project, but for the whole nation as well. See, some of the databases that Ziggy had been interfacing with were controlling several nuclear missile silos in a few military bases. Once the warheads became active, it was just a matter of time before they struck. Hence, the ‘nuclear winter’ you were exposed to when you first leaped in.”
Isabella fell silent for a few seconds as she saw the distant look in Sam’s eyes. He felt partially responsible. It was his brilliant, genius mind that created Ziggy—a hybrid computer, which was, no pun intended, a quantum leap beyond anything the world had ever seen; a hybrid computer, which in turn was too advanced for its own good.
I should have known that Ziggy’s advanced program could lead to something like this someday, Sam thought. Good God, how could I have let this happen?
Isabella let him ponder for a moment before she continued. “But I’m getting ahead of myself…”
Fuller’s attempt to leap proved to be unsuccessful in the long run, as
she rematerialized in the remains of the Accelerator Chamber a few hours
later. The disorientation she experienced was amplified by the destruction
that surrounded her. She had no idea what she had done or what had
“Hello?” Sammy Jo shouted, coughing through the billowing smoke. She couldn’t quite remember anything, but it was obvious that something was very wrong at the Project. She stepped out of the Accelerator into the Control Room—or rather, what was left of it. The carnage waiting to greet her was like something out of a bad horror movie.
The room and the corridors beyond were littered with bodies, twisted, and in many cases, burned beyond recognition. Some, she could make out, but most of them…
Oh God! she thought, feeling the bile rising in her stomach. This can’t be happening! The smoke filled her lungs, and she began to cough.
The coughing subsided, which transformed into heavy sobs. No longer able to contain the bile in her stomach, it poured out, followed by a long series of dry heaves. As she looked up from her bent-over position, the lifeless face of the new head programmer, Dominic Lofton, stared back at her from behind the main control panel. The scorched flesh of his body made him barely recognizable.
“Lofty! Oh my God, Lofty! Noooo!” she screamed in terror. Barely beyond the shock of seeing Dom’s dead body, Sammy Jo turned around and saw the once beautiful face of Tina Martinez-O’Farrell, her head lying in the corner of the room—with the rest of her burnt body hunched over in the opposite corner, along with other appendages strewn out beside it.
“Tina! Oh please, God, no…” she cried out, as she emptied out the contents of her stomach all over again. This felt like some horrible nightmare that she desperately wanted to wake up from. She murmured something but didn’t get the response she had hoped for, so she repeated it louder and more clearly than before. “Ziggy?”
But there was still no response. “Please answer me,” she whimpered.
Five seconds later, the disembodied, distorted voice of the parallel-hybrid computer came alive. “I am… here… Dr. Full… er,” she weakly stated, the strain apparent in her synthesized voice.
“Ziggy, what in the hell happened here?” Sammy Jo yelled through her tears.
“Leaping… program—*FZZT—corruption—overload—chaos…” Ziggy’s voice was scattered, speaking in fragments that made little sense. Sammy Jo looked up to the blue orb where Ziggy’s mainframe resided and saw a faint glimmer of light from within. The blue quantum energy flow within the globe suddenly jogged her memory, and Sammy Jo’s heart collapsed under the weight of the knowledge of what she did.
“Dear God, what have I done?” she whispered, as she sobbed even more than she did before. “I condemned them! Every single one of them! How could I have been so damn careless?”
“Don’t… blame… —self, Doctor,” Ziggy offered, fighting through the corruption in her system. “No human… being could have… foreseen my… error…”
“Y-your error?” Sammy Jo asked, confused.
“Was… unable to detect… bug in your code—*FZZT—my… new emotion subroutines. Shall take time… to… purge what’s left of… program…”
“Daniel!” Sammy Jo remembered in shock. “Oh God, Daniel! Ziggy, please tell me there are people still alive. I need to find… Daniel!”
After nearly ten seconds of silence—an eternity for a sentient computer program—Ziggy’s voice responded with, “Handlink… take… handlink—activate… matrix…”
“The handlink?” Sammy Jo asked in confusion. As she looked over to the burnt-out console, she noticed Stephen’s new handlink, miraculously intact, and grabbed it out of its receptacle. “You mean, the hologram? But… how can I activate your hologram, Ziggy? Don’t I need to be… in the… Imaging Chamber?”
“Imaging… component… next to… control panel…” Ziggy responded. “Stephen… used it to… modify when… handlink broke…”
Sammy Jo looked over in desperation, fighting through her tears, as she at last found the component Stephen had used during his experiments nearly a year ago. In a flash, it all came back to her, as she knew what needed to be done to integrate Ziggy’s holographic matrix into the portable unit. She pushed Dom’s corpse aside, and within fifteen minutes, the hologram was up-and-running, albeit at diminished capacity.
guided the way, helping Sammy Jo to navigate through the ruins. As they
made their way to the deepest levels of the once-shimmering Project, hope
of finding anyone alive was fading as fast as Sammy’s will to persevere.
After about three hours of searching, Ziggy finally detected a small
section of the complex, caved in but not completely inaccessible.
Carefully making her way into the area, Sammy Jo was overjoyed to find a
few survivors fighting to stay alive, two of whom she had come to look
upon as family members.
“Donna! Stephen! Oh, thank God, you’re both alive!” she cried, reaching out to hug them, but then stopping as Donna winced in pain. “Oh no, you’re hurt!”
“I-I’ll be… fine,” Donna reassured as she gritted her teeth. Sammy Jo could tell from the way she held her right leg, and the way it was positioned, that it was broken. “It’s S-Stephen I’m… worried about…”
Sammy Jo looked over Donna’s shoulder as she got a closer look at Stephen. He appeared to be almost catatonic. Most likely from shock, Sammy Jo considered.
“Stephen!” she said. “Stephen? Are you all right?”
“He’s… been like this since I… woke up. Just… unngh… stares off into… space…” Donna struggled.
“Master Stephen appears to be in… a state of shock due to the… catastrophe,” Ziggy responded matter-of-factly.
“Gee, you THINK, Ziggy?” Sammy Jo asked sarcastically. “What about Donna? Will she be okay?”
“She has a broken femur… right down the middle, which will… prevent her from being… able to move on her… own until it heals. Other than… a possible limp for the rest of her life… I foresee no… permanent damage…”
“Hello?” another voice sounded from across the cavern. Sammy Jo and Ziggy turned in the direction of the voice to find Verbena Beeks standing there, along with imaging technician Ike Bentenhoff, both of them happy to see someone else alive.
“Thank God, we were beginning to think we were the only two people who made it,” Ike said, relieved. “What the hell happened? Did World War Three break out or something?”
Not able to contain her grief in front of her friends any longer, Sammy Jo confessed, “It-it’s all my fault! I… I activated the Accelerator to… find D-Dad and something went… wrong…” She broke down in tears.
“I told you, Dr. Fuller… you should not… blame yourself,” Ziggy interceded, with a slight quiver in her voice. It was almost as if Ziggy’s program experienced… guilt. “I am… as much to blame as you… perhaps even more so…”
“Stop it, both of you!” Verbena shouted, as her survival instinct kicked in. “It won’t do any of us any good to have you blaming yourselves, saying ‘woulda, coulda, shoulda’! What’s important now is that we find as many survivors as we can, and find shelter, and food and water as soon as possible.”
“Y-you’re right, Verbena,” Sammy Jo conceded as she gestured toward Donna and Stephen. “Donna is hurt, she… she won’t be able to move on her own. Stephen’s in a state of… shock.”
Verbena bent down to take a hold of Stephen, carrying him against her shoulder, while Ike took an emergency first-aid kit he had found and tended to Donna’s injury. “Go and keep searching,” Ike said. “I’ve got this taken care of.”
As Sammy Jo, Ziggy, and Verbena continued their trek through the ruins, Verbena tried whispering comforting words to Stephen. Upon reaching the outskirts of what was once the main entrance of Project Quantum Leap, Sammy Jo screamed in despair as she finally found who she had been looking for. He was still alive—but it was obvious that he wouldn’t be for much longer.
“Daniel! Oh, no, Daniel!”
Commander Daniel Fulton had third-degree burns over ninety percent of his face and body and was struggling to keep breathing long enough to say his goodbyes to the woman he loved. “Sam… antha… I… knew you’d be… a… live…”
“J-just hold on, Daniel…” Sammy Jo cried. “Ike has a-a first-aid kit… he’ll-he’ll make you more… c-comfortable…”
“It’s too late for me… Sammy,” Daniel told her. “A-any f-fool c’n… see that…”
“You’re calling me a fool?” Sammy Jo asked, trying to laugh through the clear anguish she was feeling.
Daniel smiled back at her, gasping for a few final breaths. “Please don’t… forget me… Sammy… I can… see… the f-future—our… child… will grow into a… beautiful woman…”
“Our ch—our child?” Sammy Jo asked, thinking her once-fiancé was losing his mind to the pain that wracked his body.
“Last… hope for… humanity…” Daniel’s breathing became heavier as he struggled to speak his final words. “The light… so beautiful… soothing…”
“Noooo… please, Daniel, stay with me… just a… little longer… please…”
“Good… —bye… Samantha—I… l-love youuu…”
“He is… gone, Dr. Fuller,” Ziggy said solemnly. “I’m… sorry.”
As Sammy Jo knelt there cradling her beloved in her arms, every ounce of pain, every tear she had ever shed, came pouring out of her wounded soul. “NOOOOOOOOOOO!!!” she screamed.
Verbena and Ziggy just looked on, not saying a word to each other. No words were necessary at a moment like this. Even Ziggy surprised herself with the feeling of melancholia that overwhelmed her program. But only she, with her one-million-gigabyte capacity, could have known the exact amount of time that passed as Sammy Jo continued to cry into the long, dark night.
Sam felt himself at a loss for words. As unbelievable as it all sounded, he believed Isabella’s story—every word of it. His beloved Project—destroyed in one fell swoop. His friends and loved ones struggling to stay alive in the wake of a nuclear disaster—and all because he wasn’t there.
“His words weren’t just the nonsensical words of a dying man, either,” Isabella continued, referring to Daniel Fulton’s final words to Sammy Jo. “Approximately eight months later, she gave birth to the child he was referring to. She never even knew she was pregnant until Ziggy had confirmed it, shortly after Daniel’s death.”
Sam noticed a single tear roll down Isabella’s cheek as she removed the hood that had been concealing her face. For the first time since his arrival, Sam was able to get a good look at her. She was an angel of beauty appearing to be almost thirty years old, as he had guessed earlier, with flame red hair that stopped and cascaded around her shoulders, and a pale complexion. In that one moment, Sam knew, without a doubt, the truth behind Isabella’s heritage.
“You’re the child… aren’t you?” he asked, knowing in his heart what her answer would be.
“Yes,” she replied. “Isabella Fulton… your granddaughter.”
Sam held her chin up as he looked into her eyes and said, “Your father was right. You have grown into a beautiful young woman.”
With the tears falling from her eyes, she sadly replied, “Except, I was a girl who grew up without her mother.”
“W-What?” Sam murmured, stumbling backward.
“Well, over the course of the next few months… a few dozen survivors were eventually found, both within the Project’s ruins and people on the outside world who managed to survive the nuclear fallout. My mother was able to salvage what was left of Ziggy’s mainframe and converted some stray power cells to integrate into the Imaging unit so that her holographic form could be maintained indefinitely. They were able to lead the survivors into a stable series of caverns beneath the complex that could sustain them, for a while, at least.”
through it all, Sammy Jo’s guilt was eating away at her, bit by bit. She
felt a small pang of joy when I was born, but even months later, the
anguish she had been carrying overcame her short-lived happiness. She
couldn’t bear to live with her burden and didn’t want her daughter
carrying that “curse” throughout her childhood. On the one-year
anniversary of the Great Disaster, she went to see Donna, who together
with Verbena, had started to break through the psychological barrier
Stephen had erected. The intention of my mother’s visit was not only to
ask for Donna’s forgiveness, but also to ask her for a favor.
“I’m sorry to disturb you, Donna,” Sammy Jo began, her four-month-old infant held tightly in the tattered cloth she was wrapped up in. “But… well, you’ve always been like a mother to me and… I have a request.”
Donna limped over to Sammy Jo, looking at her through tired eyes, and remained silent as her stepdaughter spoke.
“I-I don’t expect you to forgive me for what I’ve done. I can’t even forgive myself. Every day—literally, every day—I’m reminded of the terrible mistake I made that led to… this,” she made a grand gesture with her free hand to emphasize her point. “I can’t keep going on. I can’t!”
“Sammy,” Donna interrupted, knowing where the conversation was going. “Please… you’ve got to stop blaming yourself. No one blames you, except you. We’ve survived—all of us—because of you and Ziggy! We could never have made it as far as we did without the two of you guiding our path. If there’s anything to forgive, it’s the lapse in judgment you had when you activated the Accelerator. And for what it’s worth… I do forgive you for that.”
Sammy Jo cried as she replied, “I wish that were enough. But, it isn’t. The pain never goes away, Donna. I thought having Izzy could help me forget about it… but I can’t! My irresponsibility helped pave the way for this disaster. I-I can’t let Izzy’s growth as a person suffer as a result of that. How can I ever hope to protect her if I couldn’t even protect an entire civilization? This world is better off without me! Isabella… is better off…”
“Sammy, you’re being too hard on yourself,” Donna started to say, until Stephen suddenly pushed his way between her and Sammy Jo.
For the first time in twelve months, Stephen spoke. “Sammy. Don’t go.”
“Stephen?” Donna replied in shock. “Oh, my sweet boy!”
Sammy Jo handed the innocent form of Isabella Fulton over to Donna and reasserted her decision. “Please, Donna. Take good care of her. I can leave this world peacefully knowing she’s in your hands. All of the Project data I was able to salvage and compile is stored in Ziggy’s mobile unit. All you or Stephen need to do is to access them from her matrix.”
“Sammy,” Donna pleaded. “Please don’t do this! Reconsider—”
“No,” Sammy Jo interrupted. “I… I need peace. I want to be… with… Daniel. Please try to understand. I-I’m sorry.” As she hugged Donna and Stephen tight and kissed Isabella’s forehead, she shed her last deluge of tears as she somberly said, “Goodbye.”
as Sammy Jo left the cavern, Donna continued to stare at Isabella’s
youthful face, the innocent child completely unaware of the world
surrounding her. How can I just stand here and let her end her life? Donna thought. All
Al, Verbena, and I, and so many others ever wanted was for Sammy to find
But she’ll never find it in this world, she argued with herself. Why shouldn’t she be allowed to end her misery?
“Sammy?” Stephen meekly asked.
“Oh, Stephen.” Donna took hold of her ten-year-old son with her free arm and sorrowfully explained, “I think Sammy Jo lost her will a long time ago, sweetie. Nothing I said would have changed her mind. Please don’t hate her for it.”
As mother, son, and infant remained motionless in their small living space, not a word was spoken for what seemed like hours, even though it was most likely just minutes. The one who finally broke the silence was Stephen, who suddenly seemed to emerge out of his catatonic state completely. He spoke with a new determination, his boyhood innocence gone forever, replaced by the first inklings of a mature, young man. “I won’t let her decision be in vain, Mom. I’m going to teach Isabella everything that Sammy and I ever knew. No one in this world will ever forget the legacy that Dad started with Ziggy and the Project. I swear it!”
Donna took hold of her son tight and kissed his forehead, wishing her husband could be here to see the young man that Stephen was becoming. Her heart yearned for him, but she knew as well what Sammy Jo realized in the end: Sam was out there, doing what he had always been meant to do. He was never coming back. And for the first time in over a decade, she felt truly alone. Only Stephen and Isabella could fill the huge hole in her heart.
Sam took in all the details of the story that the adult Isabella was telling him and could no longer contain his frustration and sorrow. “Oh, Samantha… you could have had so many wonderful years ahead of you. Why did you do it?”
“Now you see what I meant when I said I was a girl who grew up without her mother,” Isabella expressed her mutual sorrow.
Sam looked up at Isabella and asked, “W-why are you telling me all this? I mean… what’s the point of sharing all of these horrible things that happened to everyone with me if I can’t do a damn thing about them now?”
“Because you need to see how far your ‘legacy’ has reached, Dr. Beckett,” Adam announced ahead of them. “We’ve arrived at our destination.”
“What you are about to see is the cold, monotonous reality of the society we live in every day,” Isabella said. “You can’t let them see who you really are. You’ll need to keep your face concealed from the public, I’m afraid.”
Sam did as he was told and placed the hood of his cloak back over his head. He heard Isabella whisper into his ear, “Just let us do all the talking.” As he looked ahead, he saw a mysterious, but familiar brown-haired man approaching them. Sam could feel the thumping of his heart reverberating through his body. What was this “legacy” that Isabella and Adam were referring to? Did it involve the so-called “Prophecy” that was mentioned earlier?
His thoughts were interrupted by the powerful and deep voice of the man who greeted Adam and Isabella. He spoke with an overpowering charisma, enunciating every syllable. “Greetings, Brother Adam! Your presence is always looked upon as a blessing to us! And greetings to you, Sister Isabella! I see you have brought a guest into our midst.”
Isabella hesitated slightly before she responded, “Yes, this is… Thomas. He wishes to be blessed with the gift of salvation in these final moments of our existence.”
“Excellent!” the enthusiastic man responded. “The more disciples there are to follow the Word, the greater the eternal reward for all of us. Come, let us celebrate the Prophecy together!”
Sam followed the three individuals into a series of man-made corridors, which reminded him of… something vaguely familiar. Everything was dark, but he knew he had been here before. I’m not sure why I have to hide my identity, but if it’ll give me the answers I’m seeking, then I suppose I’ll have to masquerade as this… Thomas, Sam thought.
As he continued to follow the others, the architecture of the corridors triggered Sam’s memories, as he discovered exactly why they looked familiar. My God, it’s the remnants of the Project! he realized. He could see a light at the end of the tunnel. As he got closer to the light, it grew until it filled the whole area.
Shortly upon entering the light, he could hear a large group of people chanting in unison. It was hard to make out at first, but within a matter of minutes, the chanting grew louder as well. They were repeating, “Praise be to the Traveler, for He shall come again! Praise be to the Traveler, for He shall come again!”
As the leader guided Sam, Isabella, and Adam through the final stretch of the corridor, Sam couldn’t believe his eyes when he saw the scene unfolding before him. He was in a rebuilt version of the former Project’s Control Room. Gathered in the room was a crowd of about fifty or so people, dressed in tattered robes and cloaks, all of them appearing to be in a state of deep worship. Situated above them was a giant mural, which was sitting in the spot where the blue orb that once housed Ziggy’s mainframe used to be. The mural contained a painted image of a man in white, surrounded by a bluish glow, with his arms outstretched towards the heavens.
Sam took a closer look at the mural and was shocked when he saw the image of the man’s face was his own—surrounded by a multitude of images of random people from all walks of life.
“Oh boy!” he whispered in total awe. Sam wanted an explanation for the “legacy” that he left behind—now, he was going to get it.
“Greetings, my brothers and sisters! Praise the Traveler!” the preacher shouted to the masses.
“Praise the Traveler, Father Stephen!” the crowd responded.
Stephen? God, no wonder why he looked familiar! Sam realized. My boy is all grown up!
“A new disciple joins us today!” the now thirty-eight-year-old Stephen Beckett gestured toward Sam and continued. “His name is Thomas, and he wishes for his soul to be saved on the Eve of Final Ascension! Let us, the holy members of the Divine Brotherhood of the Quantum Traveler, welcome him with open arms… and an open heart!”
“Welcome, Thomas!” the crowd said in unison.
“He too realizes, as have we all, that as the New Age looms… the Almighty Word is the only thing that can absolve our tainted souls! The Traveler hears our prayers and grants us eternal salvation!”
“Accentuate the Positive! ALLELUIA!” they shouted in unison again.
Sam couldn’t believe what he was witnessing. These people were worshipping him, treating him like he was the Son of God. Isabella could see the protest beginning to form from Sam’s mouth and quietly shushed him. Reluctantly, he remained silent as he continued to listen to Stephen speak, allowing him to preach his “gospel.”
“As we worship in these final hours of the Eve of Final Ascension, let us reflect back on the many miracles the Traveler has blessed us with. I bestow upon all of you the first of His many children who have been given the gift of His guidance: Brother Michael Stratton.”
Sam looked up and saw an elderly man in his mid eighties approach the podium. Upon hearing the name “Michael Stratton,” Sam suddenly recalled the identity of the first person he leaped into a little over ten years ago, Tom Stratton, and his son. “Mikey!” he whispered in shock.
“Yes, the Traveler touched my life during the very first Year of Ascension. My father was a pilot and was fated to die. Had it not been for the Traveler’s kind and generous compassion, my life would surely have been one of great sorrow and misery. As a result of His divine intervention, He was also able to give the gift of life to my sister, Samantha. The Quantum Traveler reached back into Time itself to touch my life, so that I could know His glory!”
“And Michael was just the first of the Chosen Ones!” Stephen continued. “Thousands upon thousands of His children, many of whom this world deemed unworthy of His giving graces, have received the Traveler’s blessing, decades before the Age of Ascension even began! The Leap Chronicles, as I have dictated, have shown numerous others the light of His giving grace. I implore any others who have received His blessings to come forward and tell us your story, so that we might further revel in His love!”
Within a minute, a line of approximately a few dozen men and women of different ages formed in front of the podium. Many of them, Sam couldn’t recognize, but a few faces stood out in his mind, as he suddenly began remembering several of the leaps that he made over the past ten years of his life. The first of which was an elderly woman, around the same age as Michael Stratton, give or take a few years.
“My name is Becky Pruitt, and the Traveler touched my life when I was but a little girl. Back when the Traveler still assumed the human name of Samuel Beckett, He controlled the life force of a murderer named Leon Styles, who had taken my mother and I hostage in our own home.”
“Abominable!” a random voice from the crowd shouted.
“Tragic!” another random voice shouted.
“But, He convinced us that He wasn’t going to hurt us and set us free! He knew nothing of us, and yet, He defied Fate and put right what was destined to go wrong in our lives. I took that lesson with me into my adult life and used it to keep doing good for others. Once the Great Disaster came upon us and the existence of the Traveler was confirmed, I just knew that I had been chosen to be one of His disciples. I’ve devoted the remainder of my life to His Word and the lessons He taught us: to love one another and to pull others like me into His loving embrace.”
“Praise be to the Traveler!” the crowd shouted in response.
Next, a man and a woman stepped forward. They were middle-aged, appearing to be in their mid fifties or so. The man had graying brown hair, brown eyes and was of average height and build. Sam didn’t recognize him, but the woman standing next to him looked very familiar. She had long, dark brown hair, dark brown eyes, and contained an aura of youthfulness, despite her age.
“Hello, everyone,” the man began nervously. “I’m Damian Santorelli and this is my wife, Terry. Before the Great Disaster, our paths never even crossed, but the Traveler’s impact on both of our lives and our shared experiences is what brought us together in its aftermath. I’m one of the few that have been blessed twice by the Traveler. When I was a teenager, I had been in a state of deep depression—so deep that I often thought about ending my life. He took control over the person who would become my best friend, and showed me a level of kindness no stranger had ever shown me before. It gave me a new hope that there were caring people in the world who didn’t always think about themselves and we became like brothers to one another.”
Hmm, I don’t remember him, Sam thought. Must have been a leap I haven’t done yet.
“Many years later, I met a woman named Margaret Conahey through the online community, who I had also begun developing a close friendship with,” Damian continued. “She was becoming like a sister to me but was also destined to die in a terrible car crash, which would have cut our new-found kinship short, had it not been for the Traveler. He took control of her life and shared in her pain, ultimately keeping her alive. Her loss would have devastated me at a point in my life when I had finally started feeling better about myself. His strength kept her alive, allowing her wonderful soul to continue touching my life as she had touched so many others.”
It was then Terry’s turn to speak. “And Damian’s strength and compassion in turn helped me continue living after the Great Disaster struck. During my childhood, when I was almost five years old, the Traveler and His Companion appeared to me and saved my brother, Kevin, from a horrible fate. The Companion, Albert Calavicci, promised he’d be a part of my life again someday, and he fulfilled his promise many years later. Unfortunately, he was one of the first to be lost in the Great Disaster, and his loss very nearly destroyed my spirit. If not for Damian, and the lesson he learned from the Traveler, I would’ve lost all hope. Our story is the perfect example of how the lives that the Traveler touched, in turn touched others, and in some cases, rippled back through time to touch each other. Samuel Beckett was truly a Savior to all of us. I never forgot about Him.”
“Teresa Bruckner?” Sam whispered. “My God, it is her!”
“Praise be to the Traveler!” the crowd shouted once again.
After Damian and Teresa stepped away from the podium, another woman came forward. She had blond hair and dark green eyes. Although she was a few years younger than her predecessors, she appeared to be struggling with some kind of illness that made her weak.
“My name is Dawn Bowen and my story is one of both tragedy and triumph. When I was five years old, my birth parents died, which left me an orphan. Shortly afterward, I was injured in a hit-and-run accident, which sent me into the hospital. When I was there, a medical mix-up caused me to get infected with the HIV virus through a tainted needle.”
The crowd gasped in disbelief over the tragic occurrences in her life.
“But despite the fact that I had become ‘damaged goods,’ the Traveler took control of a social worker who in turn adopted me. He showed me unconditional love, even in the wake of a terrible illness that still consumes me to this day. I never forgot that lesson, and I used it to become an advocate for AIDS. Countless others who shared my fate took in my message of caring and hope and became better people in the process.”
“Praise be to the Traveler!” the crowd shouted for the third time.
Stephen returned to the podium and said, “What powerful messages of love! Their stories prove, without a shadow of a doubt, that the Traveler, AKA Samuel Beckett, has been moving back and forth within Time itself to change the lives of so many. I know there are many others who would like to share their experiences, but I feel it would be appropriate at this time to lead us all in singing our unending hymn of praise!”
The crowd seemed to become overjoyed at this statement, and they immediately began singing in unison a chorus that also sounded vaguely familiar to Sam:
“I’m just a Traveler,
upon the sea
Of time, of life, of
Fate’s wide wheel
Just a Traveler, in this
The me I am, is all that’s real to me”
Sam heard the words being sung with a religious connotation and felt a wave of déjà vu hit him. He had heard that somewhere before, but he couldn’t remember where and when. Was it also from another leap?
Isabella and Adam pulled Sam off to the side as they motioned him toward a corridor behind them. “Come along, Thomas,” Isabella whispered. “We don’t have much more time to do what needs to be done.”
As they slowly moved away from the crowd, Sam’s mind went in a thousand different directions. “What the hell was all that, Izzy? It’s like a… cult! Those people are letting their lives be governed by some ridiculous notion that I’m, what? A god who knows all and sees all?”
“Why is that so hard for you to believe, Dr. Beckett?” Adam replied. “Every religion has its origins based on the notion of a powerful entity that governs us. The Christians believed that a humble carpenter named Jesus was the Son of God that was meant to deliver us from our sins—all because he performed a few miracles and taught people to love one another.”
“There’s a lot more to it than that, Adam,” Sam defended his Christian upbringing. “Jesus Christ’s coming was foretold in the Old Testament. He was born in an immaculate conception through the Virgin Mary so that he could devote His entire lifetime to preaching God’s gospel and to inspire the world through His deeds. He loved us so much, that He was willing to be crucified so that God could save us from our sins. He was subsequently resurrected on the third day to give us Hope of eternal life.”
“And you know this as fact? Were you there?” Adam challenged.
“Well… no, but… that’s what the Bible tells us. It’s what I was taught.”
“And the Bible was also written by Man. It is simply speculation that God was speaking through Man to convey His message. Ultimately, it comes down to what you yourself believe. Faith is an extremely powerful thing. It can create an absolute truth in your mind, despite the lack of hard evidence. For all you know, Jesus could have been a time-traveler, like you, who performed ‘parlor tricks’ to convince his followers that he was performing ‘miracles,’ or even used modern-day techniques to heal the sick.”
“How can you even think something like that?” Sam asked angrily.
“I’m not agreeing or disagreeing with you, Doctor; simply giving you something to dwell on. You’ve never questioned why your beliefs are true, only that ‘They just are,’ or ‘That’s the way it is.’ Anyone can believe whatever he or she wishes to believe, but most people never bother to question the reasons why they believe what they do.”
A brief memory resurfaced in Sam’s head once again. A mysterious ‘bartender’ who told him, “Sometimes… ‘That’s the way it is’ is the best explanation.” The memory was so vivid, and yet, so very prophetic now. “He knew! He was challenging my way of thinking even back then!” Sam whispered to himself.
“What about the Muslims?” Adam continued, not hearing Sam’s words. “They believe Allah to be their creator. Small segments of their doctrine even dictate that the non-believers should be smote down and punished. There have been some extremists who have taken that quite literally and led horrible acts of terrorism upon our world. September 11, 2001 proved the evil extremes which some would go to in the name of religion.”
“September 11th? W-what are you talking about? What happened on September 11th?” Sam asked, honestly ignorant of the events that supposedly happened that day.
“Sam needs to learn of those events on his own, Adam,” Isabella interrupted. “I think what he’s trying to say, Sam, is that there are many religious and political leaders throughout history who let themselves hear what they want to hear in order to justify their actions. The Crusades, the Nazi regime, the Taliban… they were all responsible for some of the bloodiest slaughters this world has ever seen, and all in the name of race or religious beliefs. In the eyes of the followers, their deeds will lead to great rewards in the afterlife. They honestly don’t see their actions as wrong, even though they are.”
“I understand what you’re saying, but is there a point to this debate?” Sam asked. “I mean, what does this all have to do with me and this… cult devoted to my ‘legacy’?”
“Because there are some within the ranks that believe a ‘reckoning’ is about to unfold,” replied Isabella. “Your prophesized ‘resurrection’ will supposedly usher in a new age of human existence. Adam and I have reason to believe that an extreme faction of fanatics plan on doing something that will accelerate our ‘destruction.’ How yet, we’re not entirely sure. But your knowledge of what’s to come could change all that. I want you to take a quick look at something.”
Isabella handed Sam a thick document with the title, The Leap Chronicles. Sam saw that several pages were dog-eared and realized that Izzy wanted him to read what was highlighted on the selected pages.
“‘The quantum physicist once known as Samuel Beckett stepped into the Quantum Accelerator on May 4, 1995, and ascended to a new plane of existence upon entering the Fourth Dimension. This has come to be known as the Day of Ascension, marking the beginning of a new age. The Age of Ascension shall last for forty years, whereupon He shall return as the Traveler and deliver us from our sins so that we may join Him on His eternal crusade to right the world’s wrongs.’ So… the date of my first leap was used as the focal point for your… calendar?”
“Again, does that surprise you?” Adam replied. “The Roman Gregorian calendar is based on the approximate date of Jesus’ birth. Although many believe that the calendar is off by about four years or so, but that’s beside the point. According to the Jewish calendar, we’ve just moved into the 20th of Tevet in the year 5795. And according to the Chinese calendar, we are in the year 4732. The Brotherhood’s origins center around your first leap, so we record the passage of time based on the amount of years you’ve been gone since then.”
“Unbelievable!” Sam exclaimed as he flipped a page and continued reading. “‘The Companion, known as Albert Calavicci, guided the Traveler’s journey during the first ten years. As was foretold in the Prophecy, the Companion’s mortal existence ended during the Great Disaster, which ushered in the first phase of Final Ascension. During this time, the Traveler’s Son, Stephen Beckett, brought His followers together to form a new society based on His teachings.’”
He skipped ahead to another section and kept reading. “‘During the Second Decade of Ascension, a small faction of His followers led a revolt to establish the presence of the Divine Brotherhood and to seek out the Chosen Ones who were unaware of the Traveler’s impact on their lives. With the Divine Brotherhood of the Quantum Traveler firmly established as a legitimate religious society, the Chosen Ones began to work toward the day when Final Ascension would take place.’”
“And that day is today, Sam,” Isabella noted. “Final Ascension refers to the end of the ‘string’ that represents your death. The Prophecy says your lifetime will end when you return to die of natural causes, just as the Gregorian calendar rolls over from December 31, 2034 to January 1, 2035.”
“And according to this ‘Prophecy,’” Sam said sarcastically, with a hint of a smirk on his face, “my death will result in the end of the world? Do you have any idea how ridiculous that sounds?”
“Actually, it’s our society that will end, not the world,” Isabella corrected. “But, you’re right. I personally never bought into that notion either. Unfortunately, there are many others who are so strong in their beliefs, they’re willing to do whatever it takes to ensure that it will happen.”
“Hence our religious discussion earlier?” Sam realized.
“Exactly,” Isabella confirmed. Motioning to Adam, he pulled out what appeared to be a pocket-sized audio playback unit. “You’re probably wondering why that hymn the crowd started singing sounded so familiar, right? Turn to the last page and read the verses while you listen to this recording. I guarantee you’ll recognize it in its entirety.”
Adam pressed a few buttons on the unit while Sam found the entire hymn as Isabella told him. The memories of a leap long past returned to the forefront of his mind as he read the title: “Fate’s Wide Wheel”
As I travel in space and
I want to stay; I want to
You see my face, but
it’s not mine
What you can’t see,
you’ll never know
How can we meet, if I’m
Our hearts may touch, our
But time divides what we
And sends us all where no
I’m just a traveler,
upon the sea
Of time, of life, of
Fate’s Wide Wheel
Just a traveler, in this
The me I am, is all
that’s real to me
We all begin this life
We live; we love, all
through the years
Yet deep inside, we long
But it recedes, obscured
I cry for time, it falls
The door of faith remains
But in my soul, this hope
Oh, please let there be
one final leap
I’m just a traveler,
upon the sea
Of time, of life, of
Fate’s Wide Wheel
Just a traveler, in this
The me I am, is all
that’s real to me
The me I am, is all
that’s real to me
“I do remember this song!” Sam recalled. “I was… Tonic of the rock band, King Thunder! I sang this very song!”
“One of your earlier leaps, according to the Chronicles,” Isabella offered. “It’s become the mantra for your followers—the hymn they sing to praise you.”
“This is insane! I’m not some miraculous Messiah! I’m just a man—an ordinary human being, like Stephen and the rest of them! All I’ve really done is change a few lives here and there, that’s all!”
“At the risk of over-inflating your ego, Sam, you’ve done so much more than that. To the people you’ve helped, you are a Messiah! You’re a Savior to these people—someone who showed unconditional love for complete strangers because you didn’t have an ounce of selfishness in you. You cared in a world where compassion was becoming as foreign as the situations you found yourself in. Stephen wanted the world to know of your accomplishments, to share your compassion with others. He did what he felt was necessary to keep your spirit alive.”
“But at what cost?” Sam asked. “Even though I didn’t always consciously remember him or your mother, or even Donna, deep down inside, all I’ve ever wanted was for them to move on, to create better lives for themselves. Stephen could have done so much more with his life.”
“But you weren’t there for him,” Isabella interrupted, with a kind, but firm voice. “That little boy was forced to grow up before his time. With Al and my mother no longer around, it fell on him to look after Donna—to protect her. The truth is… he needed you… more than you could ever know. That’s why I can’t just stand idly by and allow this… reality to continue.”
“But, I still don’t understand what I can do to change all this,” Sam responded.
“Follow me, Dr. Beckett,” Adam chimed in. “Everything will become clear in a few minutes.”
As Sam followed Adam and Isabella once again, he found himself being led into a new, hidden area of the former Project, one he was unfamiliar with. After making sure no one else was around, Isabella entered a secret password into the keypad on the wall, and the door cracked open.
Once inside, Sam looked around to see literally hundreds of books, volumes of forgotten scientific lore lining the shelves, collecting dust. This must be some kind of private workspace Isabella built for herself, Sam thought. As the thought entered his head, a familiar female voice spoke from across the room. “Welcome home, Dr. Beckett.”
Sam knew that voice anywhere. What he saw when he turned around, however, threw him for a loop. Standing before him was a beautiful woman with brown eyes, shoulder-length brown hair, and the body of a supermodel. The vision of beauty was wearing a white dress that accentuated her perfect form. Another memory floated to the front of Sam’s brain as he recalled her face appearing to him a few times in the past. Recent developments in his own time had resulted in a new handlink that projected a partial image of Ziggy from the shoulders and neck up. As Sam looked at this woman, he realized that he was now seeing the full hologram standing before him.
“Yes, I’m now complete. It’s been a long time… Father!”
“Ziggy? I-it’s really you! You still exist!” Sam practically shouted with glee. As he reached his hand out toward her face, he was surprised when it actually touched her physical form.
“Is something wrong, Doctor?” Ziggy asked curiously.
“Y-you’re not a hologram anymore!” he replied in shock.
“Oh, that!” Ziggy replied with a huge smile on her face. “Actually, I still am a hologram, Dr. Beckett—just not an intangible one anymore. A lot can change in thirty years, as you’ve no doubt seen by now.”
“And the way you’re speaking… you’re not talking like a computer program,” Sam was puzzled. It was as if Ziggy had shed her computerized personality completely and had become… human.
“Over the years, I’ve attempted to explore more aspects of humanity. Your… disappearance affected me more than I’d care to admit, Father. In addition, the Admiral’s death left a… gap in my program. It was a very disconcerting feeling. To be honest, I… I’ve missed the adventures all three of us used to have together. Even if the Admiral did used to call me a ‘bucket of bolts’ when he was annoyed with me.”
“So do I, Ziggy,” Sam said earnestly. “So do I.”
“In any event, Dr. Beckett… it’s good to finally see you again, even if you’ll be gone again shortly.”
“Gone again?” Sam asked. “What do you mean?”
“Why, isn’t it obvious, Dr. Beckett?” Ziggy replied. “You’re going to go back to where you belong.”
“What?” Sam queried, looking back to Isabella and Adam.
“Haven’t you been paying any attention, Dr. Beckett?” Adam responded, slightly annoyed. “Izzy plans on sending you back home so that, in effect, your future—our past—will change.”
“I’m… not sure I follow,” Sam said.
Isabella stepped forward and began to explain the specifics of her plan. “For the better part of the past quarter of a century, I’ve been conducting extensive research into my mother’s theories and what went wrong back in 1995 and 2005. Through the continuation of her work, I was finally able to perfect the retrieval program and find you. Didn’t you wonder how I was able to bring you here, to this specific point in time?”
“You mean… my being here wasn’t a coincidence?” Sam pondered.
“Of course it wasn’t,” Adam answered. “Using the perfected retrieval program and ‘our’ Ziggy’s upgraded matrix, Izzy was able to reestablish your connection to ‘her’ so that she could track your presence in-between leaps anywhere in the time stream and redirect your next leap here instead.”
“If that’s the case, then how come you didn’t just ‘redirect’ me back home in the first place? Or even send me back as soon as I got here?” Sam asked, somewhat confused.
“It’s not quite that simple, Sam,” Isabella explained. “My mother was able to salvage as much of the Project’s database as possible, but she wasn’t able to salvage the actual leaping program—at least, not in the same way you originally designed it. You forget, Doctor, there are hundreds of ‘followers’ out there that are anxiously awaiting your return. The reason why is because your older self is still out there leaping. He has been for the past thirty years—and according to the Prophecy, he’s about to finally come home to die. Once that happens, you’ll be bumped out of this time period, since you can’t exist outside of your own lifetime without a host that you’re genetically connected to. That’s why I pulled you out now, before your lifetime ends and it becomes too late.”
“Wait a minute,” Sam interrupted, trying to make sense of what Isabella told him. “If I’m here… now… then, how am I still out there?”
“I temporarily pulled you out of temporal sync with your own leaping cycle, which is why you leaped as yourself and not into someone else’s aura. Think of yourself as a ‘shadow’… a simulacrum of your body and soul that was pulled out of quantum phase from your regular body, as it existed in 2005. Remember how I said that the temporal ‘anchor’ of a leaper deteriorates after they’ve been trapped in time for too long? Well, your temporal ‘anchor’ is still at PQL, in your present, but it won’t be for much longer—relatively speaking. You’ve been trapped in time for a little over a decade. All I can do is return you to the point in the quantum field where I got you from, so that you can leap yourself to a point in your own past where you can plant the ‘seed’ for your return before it becomes impossible.”
“The seed?” Sam asked.
As Sam asked the question, Isabella held up a small Plexiglas tube containing what appeared to be a microchip. “This chip has the perfected Retrieval program stored in its memory. I’ve programmed a time-code that will automatically activate within a week of the Great Disaster occurring on November 22, 2005, and lock onto your temporal signature in the time stream. But in order for it to work, it needs to be integrated into Ziggy’s circuitry in the dawning days of her creation.”
“The most logical timeframe for its integration would be the first few months of your tenure at the Star Bright Project, Dr. Beckett,” Ziggy interceded. “When my blueprint was still in the pre-conceptual stages, SID was the prototype for what I would eventually become. In a way, I suppose you could say ‘he’ was my… older ‘brother.’”
“SID!” Sam suddenly recalled. “That’s right! The—the energy ball that Professor LoNigro showed me when I first signed on had time-altering properties, if I remember correctly. It kept… growing. We had to build a special mainframe just to contain its growth.”
“Yes, that’s correct, Dr. Beckett,” Ziggy continued. “And once I was created, Admiral Calavicci, Dr. Gushman, and yourself took some of the components from SID and transplanted them into the core of the mainframe that contained my program. Since Isabella’s chip contains an automated time-code, assuming it’s properly inserted into my core components in the past, it should remain dormant until it activates in ‘your’ present, allowing me to retrieve you in 2005. If you target either yourself or one of the other two individuals I mentioned earlier to be your host for the next leap and covertly plant the chip into SID without changing the course of the Star Bright Project’s history, I project a near one hundred percent chance of success.”
“Near one hundred percent?” Sam asked Ziggy curiously. “I never knew you to be so non-precise in your calculations.”
“It’s as I said earlier, Father. A lot—”
“Yeah,” Sam finished for her. “A lot can change in thirty years.”
Suddenly, just as Sam finished his sentence, a large cry from the crowd in the Control Room down the corridor could be heard, and a random voice screaming, “Final Ascension is upon us! The Traveler has returned!”
“Oh no!” Isabella said, as she turned toward the digital readout on her console and saw the digits blink from 23:59:59 to 00:00:00. It was now January 1, 2035.
“It’s happening! We don’t have a lot of time! Ziggy, we need to send my grandfather back now!” However, as Isabella turned to give the chip to Sam, Adam stood between them, not letting her pass. “Adam? What are you doing?”
“What needs to be done… Izzy. I can’t let you alter this timeline. I’ve worked too hard to see my plans come unraveled so easily.”
“What are you talking about?” Isabella asked, suddenly very concerned.
“I’m sorry, Izzy,” he responded as, with amazingly quick reflexes, he turned toward Sam and punched him hard, square across the jaw with the back of his fist.
“Ooooooofffff!” Sam muffled as he fell to the floor.
As quickly as he had punched Sam, he turned back toward Isabella and drew two strange-looking laser devices from beneath his cloak. He aimed one at her and Ziggy, while placing his left foot on top of Sam’s back, shoving him into the ground to keep him down. “Don’t move, or ‘your’ Sam dies, right here and now!” He aimed the other weapon at Sam’s back to prove his point.
“Adam, what do you think you’re doing?” Ziggy asked.
“To quote the late Samantha Josephine Fuller, ‘I think it should be obvious.’ I intend for the Prophecy to be fulfilled exactly as the extremist factions want it to happen. Those people out there will all be annihilated in just a few short minutes. And then, there will be no one left behind to stop MY followers and I from exacting retribution for the pathetic good deeds Sam has performed over the past eighty-plus years! This weapon, of my own invention, is charged with a temporal disruption beam capable of tearing a human body apart at the subatomic level. Even at this very moment, my men are standing by until the designated time of ‘old’ Sam’s death at 12:10 AM, waiting to blast the crowd with a focused chronal burst that will tear their bodies apart and send them into eternal oblivion!”
“No!” Isabella cried. “You sold us out! How could you betray us?”
Laughing evilly, Adam responded, “Oh, my dear, sweet Isabella, you are even more naïve than the good Dr. Beckett and your mother were. You and Stephen were my pawns since Day One! Haven’t you ever heard the old expression, ‘Keep your friends close, but keep your enemies even closer’? No, I don’t suppose you have. Before your time, I guess. Anyway, I’ve had the leaping technology under everyone’s noses, including yours and Ziggy’s, for decades. It was just a matter of waiting for the right time to strike!”
“That isn’t possible!” Ziggy protested, her old arrogant ego resurfacing. “That kind of technology could never have been concealed from my sensors!”
“How arrogant of you to presume that my leaping technology is the same version of the one Sam Beckett created, you insipid egotistical hologram! Have you ever heard of a man named Philip Braden?”
“Dr. Braden!” Sam mumbled under his restraints, suddenly recalling that fateful leap from just a few short months ago.
“It seems he managed to escape from a top-secret military base during the late 1950s with a rather… unique memoir on time-travel theories and equations. He sold those secrets to various people over the next thirty years before his eventual murder at the hands of his daughter, Zoë Malvison. Some time after Braden’s death, I stumbled across a copy of his memoirs. A very wise man, I must say, to ensure that he had multiple copies of his documents so that they wouldn’t fall into the wrong hands.
“Well, suffice it to say, I studied those memoirs inside and out. I craved for the power to manipulate Time, to control people’s lives with a single thought or action. And then, the Great Disaster occurred. I found out about Dr. Beckett and Project Quantum Leap. I knew I could use that to cement my foothold on history. Who do you think planted the information that Stephen foretold in the Prophecy?”
“Oh my God!” Isabella realized. “It was you?”
“Ha hah, did you honestly think that the ‘Traveler’s’ return was prophesized? You disappoint me, Izzy! I thought you were smarter than those fools out there! I have time-travel at my disposal! I can peek into the future as well as into the past! I knew EXACTLY when the ‘old’ Sam would come home to die. Everything Stephen wrote in the Chronicles was told to him through the computerized sentience he called Dante. And whom do you think found Dante’s program in the Project ruins and reprogrammed ‘him’ to give Stephen that information? Yes, that would again be me! I have to admit; I got quite a kick out of the little game I played with Sam Beckett’s descendants! I secretly helped Stephen manufacture an entire religion that I could mold to my liking! That little twerp would do anything to be reunited with his daddy!”
“You used my son and brainwashed him! You bastard!” Sam screamed as he struggled underneath the restricting force of Adam’s boot in his back.
“Now, now, it’s pointless to struggle, Samuel,” Adam mocked him. “This will all be over in a few minutes. Your older self will die, and you’ll be reintegrated into your leaping cycle, completely unaware of the events that have transpired here. Allowing me to continue my work without any more interference!”
“You can’t possibly expect us to let you get away with this, Adam,” Ziggy defied him. “Even if your weapon works the way you say it does, you cannot use it to destroy me. I am not human.”
“You’re right, Ziggy. You’re not human,” Adam said. “But Isabella IS!” And before Sam or Ziggy could even flinch, Adam pulled the trigger as a stream of red quantum energy enveloped Isabella Fulton along with the Retrieval chip she was still holding. Her body appeared to stretch and contort as a blood-curdling scream came out of her mouth, and she disappeared in a flash of light.
“NOOOOO!!!” Sam screamed.
“Isabella! No, I wasn’t quick enough,” said Ziggy sadly. For a nanosecond, Adam could swear he saw a tear forming in her holographic eye, and it surprised him momentarily.
Sam used that brief moment of distraction to push out of Adam’s foothold with all his strength. Adam stumbled as Sam used his martial arts training to instantly get up and execute a roundhouse kick into the side of Adam’s shoulder. The weapons went flying out of Adam’s hands as Sam continued his assault, letting his rage fuel him on.
For several minutes, the two men traded blows back and forth, while Ziggy’s matrix stood off to the side in a daze, apparently trying to compute how Adam could have duped her program. Down the corridor, the crowd of followers could still be heard, awing and praying to the “other” Sam Beckett, who was on death’s door. As Adam managed to land a lucky blow into Sam’s chin, Sam stumbled backward for about two seconds, giving Adam just enough of an opening to dive for his weapon.
Suddenly, Ziggy seemed to snap to attention. As she saw Adam dive for the weapon, a level of fury emerged from the deepest recesses of her emotional subroutines, and she screamed, “NO! YOU SHALL NOT HARM MY FATHER!”
Sam and Adam both looked up, shocked and horrified, as Ziggy’s holographic form began glowing with a bright red energy and moved with an extremely incredible speed toward Adam’s body.
“NO! Stay AWAY from me!” Adam screamed.
“I FORBID YOU TO CONTINUE WITH YOUR PLANS! YOU HAVE SINNED, AND FOR THAT, YOU SHALL NOW FEEL THE WRATH… OF EDEN!”
The pupils of Ziggy’s eyes disappeared, replaced by a solid white glow as she extended her arm and phased it into Adam’s chest. Sam watched in horror as Ziggy phased her arm back into solid form while it was still impaling Adam’s body.
“AAAARRRRRGGGGHHHHHH!!!” Adam screamed, as a wave of electrical charges shot through him like lightning. He felt his life force seep out of him just as the darkness came to envelop his soul.
And just as quickly as Ziggy’s wrath took over, it was over.
For about a minute, there was nothing but silence. Sam looked at Adam’s dead body and saw Ziggy standing over it, just staring at it with a look of pure fear in her once-again normal eyes.
“Ziggy?” Sam gently asked. “Talk to me, Ziggy.”
With the sound of her creator’s voice invading the room, Ziggy looked back up to Sam and nervously responded, “I… I could not control myself, Dr. Beckett. He was… going to kill you. I… couldn’t let that happen.”
“What was that—that ‘Eden’ thing all about?”
“Eden was… a name I had considered calling myself when my solid holographic form first became complete. For some reason unknown to me, I felt compelled to revert to that name when I decided to cast Adam out of the paradise he wanted to create for himself here. Please… forgive me, Father!”
“I forgive you, Ziggy,” Sam consoled her. “I felt a rage when he killed Isabella too!”
“No, wait!” Ziggy interrupted. “Isabella isn’t dead! I… can still detect her life force!”
“What? How is that possible?” Sam asked, suddenly feeling a glimmer of hope rise to the surface.
Ziggy studied the weapon Adam had used on Isabella and revealed her analysis. “Adam must have mistakenly misaligned the quantum phase of this weapon. It sent her body into the quantum field intact. All it did was destroy her ‘anchor’ to this time period. For all intents and purposes, she is ‘unstuck’ in the time stream. She can be pulled back into phase, but it will take a long time to find her.”
“Damn! My way home is now ‘unstuck’ with her!” Sam said sadly.
“Actually, no, Dr. Beckett,” Ziggy replied, as she walked back over to the console and opened a secret compartment which contained another Plexiglas tube. “Isabella would never have been careless enough to not have a spare chip. She anticipated you might need another one in the event of an unforeseen contingency such as this.”
“Bless you, Izzy,” Sam said, as he took the last Retrieval chip from Ziggy’s hands.
“There is very little time, Dr. Beckett. You must leap back to the Star Bright Project and integrate that chip into SID’s circuitry. I estimate five minutes until your older self dies. Since you inhabit your own aura, as long as you hold the chip tightly in your hand when you leap, it will leap back with you into your next host.”
“I have to stop Adam’s men from killing Stephen and all those people out there, Ziggy! I can’t let them die that way!”
“But, Dr. Beckett, when you leap home, this timeline will be changed. It’s pointless to change it now when leaping home will prevent this scenario from ever coming about in the first place.”
“You can’t know that for certain, Ziggy! I still have a few minutes. I can save them!”
“And how do you hope to accomplish that, Dr. Beckett? You are one man against many.”
Sam smiled as a plan formulated. “I have an idea, Ziggy, but I’ll need your help to pull it off…”
“S-Stephen?” the “old” Sam struggled to ask, as he strained his eyes to look up into the eyes of his son.
“Dad? It-it’s really you? Dante was right! I knew it!” Stephen said, leaning over his father’s position on the floor with tears rolling down his cheeks. “You-you’re going to die, but don’t be afraid. Your followers and I are going to join you on your journey into the afterlife. Together, we’ll all share in your accomplishments and change the world for the better!”
Suddenly, an image began to materialize in the center of the Control Room. Stephen and the crowd turned toward the image as it took on the form of a younger, almost angelic appearing Sam Beckett and spoke to the crowd.
“My brothers and sisters of the faith, I come to you with a warning. A false prophet named Adam has deceived you all. He has misled you into believing that my return will usher in the end of all existence. Even now, his men are waiting in the shadows to destroy your corporeal bodies so that no one will remain to stop him from controlling this world.”
The crowd gasped in disbelief over this new piece of information. The Leap Chronicles never foretold this event.
“But, fear not, for I have struck Adam down. He shall no longer pose a threat to this society. You must find it in your hearts to trust my words and imprison his men, so that you may all continue on with your lives and live in peace.”
As the words were spoken, the “real” Sam Beckett snuck up behind the confused leader of Adam’s faction, who was disguised as one of the followers in the crowd. He held Adam’s weapon, aimed it at the leader’s back and said, “Drop your weapon, and tell your men to stand down! NOW!”
The leader, who knew all too well what Sam’s weapon was capable of doing to him, did as he was told and tossed his own weapon down to the ground. Holding his arms up to surrender, he shouted out to the others to comply with Sam’s orders. The crowd simply looked on in shock as the other angelic-looking Sam Beckett transformed before their eyes into a stunningly beautiful woman.
“I’ll take it from here, Dr. Beckett,” Ziggy told Sam.
Sam watched as the crowd began to round up Adam’s men. Knowing they wouldn’t harm anyone else today, he turned his attention back to Stephen, who just stared at him with his mouth agape, not saying a single word. “Stephen?”
“Dad? I-I don’t understand! What’s going on?”
“Ziggy can explain it to you once I leave. I’m so sorry you had to go through this, Stephen. Just remember that I’ve never stopped loving you! I want you to move on with your life, you hear me? You don’t need to worship me to keep my spirit alive. Your actions—your compassion for others—will do the job just the same.”
Speechless beyond words, Stephen simply moved off to the side as Sam leaned down over the body lying down behind him and came face-to-face with his older self. The “old” Sam was very disheveled-looking with long, withered gray hair down to his shoulders and a beard covering his entire neck. He reached his hand out to the “young” Sam, taking a firm grip on his clothing.
“C-Connors was right! I’m a… monster!” Old Sam said.
“What?” Young Sam asked.
“All those timelines… destroyed so many timelines… just to get home, when… I had the power to go home all along…”
“What are you talking about?” Young Sam asked again.
“It’s all so clear to me now… I… I can see Time in a whole new perspective… Bartender… tried telling me but… wouldn’t listen…”
“I control my own destiny?” Young Sam replied, more in realization than questioning.
“Y-yes… future’s… not set in stone… change our fate… before it’s too late…”
In that moment of clarity, Young Sam finally understood. He felt the tingle of the leap beginning to overwhelm him and knew he had to put things right. He took the Retrieval chip out of his pocket and held it firmly in his left hand as he turned back toward Ziggy.
“Find her, Ziggy! Promise me you’ll do everything you can to find Isabella!” he pleaded with her.
“You have my word, Dr. Beckett! Even if it takes another century, I WILL find her! I promise.” Ziggy smiled and finished with, “Good luck… Father!”
And with those final words, seconds before his older self took his last breath, Sam’s world filled with blue as he reentered the quantum void and prepared for the second-to-last stop on his journey home.
When the blue light finally faded, Sam found himself standing in a well-lit room. The light emanated from a chandelier on the ceiling above him, and in front of him was a wooden table with chairs around it.
The momentary confusion that Sam had gotten used to in his ten years of leaping faded quickly when he looked down at his left hand and saw the Plexiglas tube clenched tightly in his palm.
The Retrieval chip! Sam remembered. It worked! Now, all I have to do is plant it into SID. But…
Sam looked around at his surroundings and realized he was in someone’s home—a dining room, to be specific. Where exactly am I? Why didn’t I leap back to the Star Bright Project?
A small tug on Sam’s pant leg brought him out of his thoughts. He looked down and saw a small blond-haired girl, maybe six or seven years old staring up at him. “Uncle Gooshie? Have you seen Mommy and Daddy?”
“Um… no, but I’m sure they’re—wait! W-what did you just call me?”
“Uncle Gooshie!” the girl responded innocently.
“Gooshie?” Sam said in shock. “No! It can’t be!”
Almost directly in front of him, Sam saw a wooden china cabinet filled with fancy dinnerware. As he looked into the glass windows, he strained to see his reflection and was completely thrown for a loop when he saw the face of his late colleague and friend, Dr. Irving Gushman, staring back at him.
“I’m Gooshie!” Sam exclaimed in amazement.
The little girl started giggling, saying, “You’re being silly, Uncle Gooshie! Oh boy!”
Special thanks to Sue Johnson, Helen Earl and Aurora McPherson for their input on helping me to flesh out several technical details.
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