Episode 1014

Second Genesis II

by: Damon C. Sugameli

printer friendly version



Sam leaps into David Weller, assistant to a brilliant, but egocentric quantum physicist named Maxwell Connors, at a top-secret project known as the Second Genesis Project. Al informs him that a major explosion will occur within the complex, killing everyone there. As Sam attempts to gain the confidence of Connors’ closest friend and confidant, Dr. Will Marcus, Connors himself discovers that Sam is a time-traveler. Believing that Sam is there to halt his experiment, he prematurely activates his Quantum Accelerator in the hopes that his theories will be proven. Sam subconsciously triggers his leap in the hopes that it will contain the explosion, and in the struggle that ensues, they both vanish in a blinding flash of light.




Within the void, the nightmare returned to him. He hadn’t experienced this nightmare since he was a child, but now it returned in full force.

A cataclysm of epic proportions, the result of one man’s actions—a cloaked figure in the darkness rising from the ashes to claim his innocence. But Connors knew the truth. He knew the identity of this man, and yet, his name eluded him. He had always assumed the dream wasn’t a literal premonition, but merely a symbolic representation of times to come. He knew that the knowledge to change the course of humanity’s fate lay locked in the recesses of his mind, and this thought drove him to engross himself in his research as an adult.

This time was different. This time he felt a profound fear that it was a premonition. A chain reaction of events was about to occur that could spell disaster for humanity, and he felt compelled to find its origin. Just as soon as these thoughts emerged, he suddenly felt a tingling rush as his identity was ripped away from him. He could sense another soul within as he pushed that person’s subconscious mind aside and took control.

Then almost as briefly, he felt his own subconscious mind being pushed aside. He was drifting alongside of this unknown presence. He wanted to scream, “Let me out!” but the attempt was futile. He was now one with this person. The yellow light that had been surrounding him faded, and Connors found himself living the life of another person—from another time.



All Sam could remember was a strange blue glow. It seemed to engulf him, and yet surround him at the same time. It was an exhilarating feeling, to say the least. He had never felt more alive, but that feeling of being alive soon faded to one of confusion as his world changed around him. He found himself lying in bed, staring out a window as the sun was just beginning to rise in the East. There was a small clock radio on the nightstand next to the bed that read 5:00 AM, and he could hear the faint sounds of a familiar song playing. A woman’s voice was singing:


The future’s not ours to see,

Qué sera sera,

What will be will be.


He knew that he had just accomplished something extraordinary. Slowly rising from his sleeping position, he sat up, overwhelmed with a strong feeling of success. We did it! Then just as quickly, his smile faded. Did what? I can’t remember. I… can’t remember anything. Who am I? Where am I?

He squinted his eyes in frustration as he realized he had complete amnesia. Suddenly, the sound of someone shuffling beneath the sheets behind him brought him to attention. He turned around quickly to see an attractive woman with short, blond curly hair, dressed in a white-pattern nightgown, just waking up. She turned her face toward him as if nothing was out of the ordinary and said, “I’ll put the coffee on, Tom.”

The initial shock of seeing this half-dressed woman not only embarrassed him, but also made him experience something familiar—a sense of déjà vu, as if he had been in this situation once before. As the woman got up from the right side of the bed, he uttered out of the side of his mouth a humbled, “Ohhhh boy!”





Kern County, California

September 14, 1956, 5:01 AM


I’m in big trouble here. I don’t even remember going to bed with this woman, whoever she is and whoever she is, she’s certainly… pregnant. Very pregnant!

“Good morning,” the pregnant woman said gently as she cupped her hands around Sam’s chin. As she turned around to walk in the opposite direction, she noticed the puzzled expression on his face and asked, “You okay?”

Sam simply responded with a dazed-and-confused expression as the woman left the room, leaving him alone to gather his thoughts, or at least what was left of them. For the better part of the next two hours, Sam did his best to try and recall where he was and what he had been doing before he woke up next to the very pregnant woman. Why can’t I remember anything? This doesn’t make any sense, he thought as he made his way into the bathroom.

The smell of toast wafting from the kitchen brought him back to his senses as the woman he woke up next to called out to him. “Tom? Better hurry up, Bird Dog’s gonna be here to pick you up in about ten minutes. Oh, honey? The P.X. was out of your shaving cream, so I got you some of that stuff, uh… what do ya call it, the one with the cute little signs on the highway.”

Sam reached up into the medicine cabinet and found the can of shaving cream she was talking about. “Burma Shave?”

“Oh, that’s it, Burma Shave! I love those little signs,” she said with a smile as she walked into the bathroom, shoving a tiny piece of toast into Sam’s mouth. “You know, what’s taking you so long? You’ve got to hurry up, come on. Get in there!”

As the woman turned on the water faucet for the shower, Sam blindly followed her lead and proceeded to stand underneath the showerhead while still wearing the boxer shorts he woke up in. The woman, who Sam now assumed was supposed to be his wife, simply burst out into laughter at her “husband’s” shenanigans. “Oh Tom! Sometimes…!”

As she walked away, Sam continued trying to make sense of the conundrum he found himself in. It’s a dream. That’s it! I’m dreaming! All I have to do is flow with it and I’ll wake up! Holding the Burma Shave can in his hand, he decided that stirring his senses would force him out of his slumber. Shave! The sooner you shave, the sooner you’ll wake up! Sam took off the cap, squeezed the depressor, and was taken by surprise when the unmistakable scent of the shaving cream in his palm hit his nostrils. Oh God! It smells real. He took the foam and smeared it over the bottom of his face. It feels real. What the hell is happening?

As Sam turned around toward the mirror on the wall, he nearly had a heart attack when he saw a different reflection staring back at him. “AHHH!” The face staring back at Sam was a handsome thirty-something-year-old man with black hair and a square-like jaw. He matched Sam’s movements precisely.

“Tom?” Sam’s “wife” hurried back into the bathroom upon hearing his scream. “Honey, what’s wrong?”

“Who do you see in the mirror?”

“Oh Tom, would you cut it out? You nearly scared me into delivering!”

Again he repeated the question. “Who do you see in the mirror?”


He turned back to the mysterious reflection. “Me?”

“And me! Oh! Oh, I look awful! Most women bloom when they get pregnant, I shrivel. Tom, I look like a prune!”

Turning off the water, he said, “My name’s not Tom.” Sam didn’t know how he knew that fact, he just knew.

“Honey, you’re supposed to say, ‘Peg, I love prunes.’ What do you mean your name’s not Tom?”

Before Sam could answer, he was interrupted by the sound of a high-pitched voice coming from the hallway. “Daddy, Captain Birdell’s on the phone!” Running into the room was a young boy of about seven or eight years of age wearing a coonskin cap, like Davy Crockett.

I’m a daddy, Sam realized.

“Tom? Are you sick?” Peg asked concerned. “Oh, honey, you’re not gonna fly if you’re sick, are you?”

It took Sam a couple of seconds before the implications of what Peg said hit him. “Fly?”

“Mikey?” Peg turned to her son. “You go tell Captain Birdell that Daddy will call him as soon as he gets out of the shower.”

“Roger,” Mikey replied with enthusiasm as he ran back into the living room.

“And get his number!” Peg turned back to her “husband” with a smile. “You know him, he never sleeps at the B.O.Q.”

From somewhere in the recesses of his mind, Sam recalled a sequence of numbers. “555-2231.” He abruptly ran out of the shower, the water still dripping from his body as he gently took the phone receiver from his “son’s” hand and hung up the connection. He then dialed each number on the rotary phone, vocally repeating them with each rotation of the dial.

“Tom, what are you up to?” Peg asked as she walked back over to the kitchen counter.

“Calling my office.”

“But that’s Blockfield 8-4-7.”

Hearing a strange signal coming from the other end, Sam asked, “What the hell’s wrong with the phone?”

“Well, honey, you’re dialing too many numbers!” Peg reminded him.

“Too many? Maybe not enough, what’s the area code?”

Area code?”

“You never tell us codes, Dad. That’s secret stuff!” Mikey said.

“Secret? What the hell is secret about an area code?”

“Look, Tom, if you’re testing one of your gags on us, honey, I don’t have time for it, an’ neither do you.”

Peg continued about her business preparing her husband and child for the day ahead of them, while Mikey sat at the table drinking his milk as he continued to look at the man he believed to be his father. As Sam heard the dial tone from the other end of the phone line, his thoughts were interrupted by a voice coming from the nearby black-and-white television set:


“Well, Howwwwdy Doody kids! Aaand—”

“Howdy, Buffalo Bob!”

“Well, Howdy there, Mr. Doody! And boys and girls at home and all our kids here in the gallery, let’s go!”


The familiar Howdy Doody theme could be heard being sung by all the children on the television screen. What the hell’s going on here? Howdy Doody? That was back… in the ’50s! What’s it doing on the air now? From his peripheral vision, he also noticed a nearby black-and-white photograph of a group of young boys holding up a sign that read: Little League 1955. More confused than ever before, Sam stumbled and hurried out the front door with the shaving cream still sliding down his face. Wandering outside, he noticed some vintage ’50s automobiles lining the street and surrounding driveways. A large roaring sound could be heard off in the distance and growing louder. Sam suddenly looked up and saw a military plane flying at top speeds over the small community. He took in all of the information he had accumulated so far and came to the conclusion that he somehow must have woken up in the Twilight Zone.

Okay, it’s not a dream—it’s a nightmare!



He had been running a little late on his way to picking up his best friend Tom Stratton this morning, so he had pulled his car over to the side of the road and found a pay-phone to call the house and let him know. Little Mikey answered the phone and asked him for the number he could be reached at, but he was taken by surprise when the connection was suddenly terminated with no explanation. Must have just been a bad connection, he thought and got back into the car to pick up Tom.

During the drive over, he started having weird thoughts running through his head. Not really thoughts, but more like memories—memories of someone else’s life. He couldn’t quite make sense of it all: he was a quantum physicist by the name of Maxwell Connors, working in a top-secret underground project called Second Genesis. And he had been attempting to complete an experiment involving a nuclear reactor or something like that, he couldn’t quite recall. This is crazy. Why would I have memories of being somebody I’m not… and of a quantum physicist? I don’t even know what the hell quantum means, although I’m guessing it has something to do with science! I’m Bill Birdell, a pilot in the United States Air Force. The only two things I know inside and out are planes… and women!

Connors simply assumed it must have been a memory of one of those weird science fiction movies he had seen with a date recently. He shook off the lingering buzzing sound he was hearing in the back of his head and continued driving to the Stratton household, mentally preparing himself for the day ahead.



Project Quantum Leap

Stallion’s Gate, New Mexico



It was a very rare occurrence when Sam would leap instantaneously from one life to the next. So Al was more than surprised when the Imaging Chamber suddenly came back online and Ziggy’s voice informed him that his friend had leaped. However, that relief soon turned to frustration when Ziggy just as quickly replied that she couldn’t locate the good doctor.

“What do you mean, you can’t find him, Zig?” Al asked as he ran fuming out of the chamber. “Didn’t you just say he leaped?”

“Affirmative, Admiral. However, I cannot detect his temporal signature within the current timeline. He has leaped and yet… he hasn’t.”

“What the hell is THAT supposed to mean?” barked the Admiral.

“I can only correlate what my tracking sensors tell me, Admiral,” Ziggy’s voice began to lag. “I am working at… diminished capacity and… I am uncertain as to why.”

Al looked over to St. John and asked, “Damn, is it the magnetic disturbance still interfering with her program?”

It was clear by the expression on St. John’s face that he had absolutely no clue as to what Al was talking about. “Beg your pardon, Admiral? To what disturbance are you referring?”

In that brief moment, Al’s memories began shifting as he realized that history had changed. There were no more magnetic disturbances because the explosion from the Second Genesis Project never occurred. I’ll be damned; Sam did it! It was then that Al also noticed Doctors Sammy Jo Fuller and Donna Elesee were just entering the Control Room, shortly thereafter followed by Dr. Verbena Beeks, who came from the Waiting Room with a disturbed expression on her face.

“Never mind. It’s moot now. Just… activate that epoch—uh… epocho-nasal… thingamajig… thing…”

“You mean the epochtonusalgraphic probe, Al?” Sammy Jo finished for him.

“Yeah, whatever! Maybe that’ll help Ziggy in locating Sam.”

“I am sorry, Admiral. No such… probe exists within my… program,” Ziggy announced somewhat sickly.

“That’s not possible!” Sammy Jo stated.

“Ziggy?” St. John asked as he started entering a command into the hybrid computer’s memory banks. “Is something wrong with your speech subroutines? You don’t sound—”

Suddenly, St. John’s sentence was interrupted by a burst of electrical energy that shocked him, pushing him back against the nearby wall. “YOU DO NOT HAVE AUTHORIZATION TO ACCESS MY PROGRAM! Admiral, please alert security that an intruder has invaded the premises!” Ziggy shouted.

“An intruder?” St. John was flabbergasted. “Ziggy, it’s me, Edward!”

“There is… no record of an… Edward St. John in my… database…”

“Well then, who’s the head programmer, Ziggy?” Donna asked with a hint of sarcasm.

“Dr. Irving Gushman is the… head programmer of… Project Quantum Leeeeap…”

“Gooshie?” Al exclaimed. “St. John replaced him years ago, Ziggy! Don’t you remember?”

There was an unusually long pause before Ziggy replied. “Something is… wrong… *ERROR—*ERROR—wrong… timeline…”

“Wrong timeline?” asked Donna. “What’s wrong with the timeline?”

“Anomalies… everyyyywhere—do not… belong here…”

“What in the HELL are you talking about, Ziggy?” Al screamed.

Sammy Jo suddenly appeared to have stumbled onto a theory—albeit a very small one. “Ziggy, what’s today’s date?”

After about five seconds, Ziggy finally answered, “Today is May 4, 1995, and Dr. Beckett has just leaped.”

“What?” Donna shouted. “That was nearly ten years ago!”

“Ziggy must be referring to the Project personnel,” Sammy Jo pondered aloud. “St. John wasn’t with us back then, that would explain why she doesn’t ‘recognize’ him. What other anomalies have you detected, Ziggy?”

“People who… do not… belong here…”

Who doesn’t belong here, Ziggy?” Verbena inquired.

Another long interval passed before Ziggy replied. “Edward St. John, Donna Elesee, and Beth Calavicci do not belong here—Stephen Beckett, Samantha Josephine Fuller, Julianna Calavicci and the rest of Admiral Calavicci’s daughters do not… exist… in this timeline…”

“I don’t EXIST???” Sammy Jo fumed. “Then how the HELL do you explain the fact that I’m standing here… NOW? TELL me, you lousy piece of sh—”

“Sammy, please,” Al interrupted. “Just calm down. Something’s obviously very wrong with Ziggy’s memory circuits. Why doesn’t Beth ‘belong’ here, Ziggy?”

“The woman you refer to as Elizabeth Calavicci remarried to one Dirk Simon after you were declared legally dead in Vietnam and is unaware of this Project’s existence, Admiral.”

“Wha—? N-NO! Tha-that NEVER happened! I came home to her! What the HELL is going on here?”

“I don’t know, Admiral, but this can’t possibly mean anything good for Dad,” Sammy Jo continued. “I don’t get it. I mean… if Ziggy’s memory circuits have reset to 1995, then I can sort of understand why she says that Julianna, St. John, and myself don’t belong here, because we weren’t working here in ’95—even Stephen, because he hadn’t been born yet. But to say that Al’s daughters and myself don’t even exist? And Donna and Beth have been here since the beginning. Something’s definitely screwed up in Ziggy’s database.”

“Well, call in the cavalry!” Al commanded. “I want Tina and the other technicians down here pronto! I need to know what’s going on, and I need it yesterday! No one eats, sleeps, or even breathes until we can figure this out! ’Bena, I need to talk to whoever leaped into the Waiting Room, and I don’t want to hear a peep out of you about rules and regulations!”

“I would let you if I could, Al,” Verbena began. “That’s what I needed to talk to you about—there’s no one in the Waiting Room!”

What?” Al huffed. “Oh great… not that damn Al’s Place again!! I don’t care WHO that ‘bartender’ says he is, I swear I’m gonna kick that nozzle’s BUTT into next week if he doesn’t start giving me some answers!”

“I don’t think Sam’s there again, Al,” Donna said. “Not this time, I can just ‘feel’ it. But I think wherever he is, there’s something seriously wrong with the leap.”

“Well, we’d better find out what that something is and fast,” Al said. “I have this weird feeling that time may not be on our side.”



Stephen watched everything in the Control Room from the dark corner he was hiding in. He knew that his father was in trouble again, and he suspected that it had something to do with the first time he leaped in 1995, nine months before Stephen was born. Sammy’s on the right track, I know it! But they’re overlooking the obvious! But how can I help Dad when I don’t have access to the leap archives…?

Dante! Of course! Since Dante was in essence a new and improved version of Zeus, it was safe to assume that he would have access to all of his father’s leaps over the past nine years. Not wanting to be reprimanded by Al again for being in the Control Room, he sneaked out to return to his crawlspace, entered his private “lab,” and activated his newest creation.


“Hello, Stephen,” Dante answered. “How may I assist you today?”

“The new handlink still isn’t working the right way, so I need you to help me research my dad’s very first leap. I think it might have something to do with why Ziggy’s going bonkers.”

“Right away, Stephen,” Dante replied, as the original version of Sam’s leap into Tom Stratton replayed via a holographic projection.

If there’s an answer here, I’ll find it! Stephen reassured himself.





Kern County, California

September 14, 1956, 7:28 AM


Until the nightmare ended, I decided that the best thing to do was to ride out the dream—not that I really had much of a choice. Everyone seemed to think it was 1956, and that I was an Air Force Captain named Tom Stratton with a wife called Peg and… one and two-thirds children. Evidently, my best friend was the officer behind the wheel, a Captain Birdell, who everyone simply called “Bird Dog.” It didn’t take long to find out why.


As Sam continued to dwell on the bizarre nature of his “dream,” his thoughts were interrupted by the sound of snapping fingers next to his left ear, followed by the voice of his driving companion who he saw and heard as Bird Dog. “Hey! Hey-hey-hey, hoo-hoo! Look at this!”

Pointing toward Sam’s side of the road, Sam saw a sign that read: Ranch Bar—Drinks & Food. Just beside the sign, Sam could see a tall blonde woman bending over the open trunk of her parked car to carry something. She was wearing a blue-collared button-down shirt tied around her waist exposing her mid-riff, tight white shorts, and high heels with long, perfect legs that “went up to her neck.” Connors pulled the open convertible into the parking lot and slowed down to a gradual stop as he admired the blonde’s physique with a sly chuckle. “Oh my, and I don’t see a wedding ring,” he said to Sam as he prepared to work his magic.

“Good morning, sweet pea! How are ya?” he said as he hopped up onto the back of the driver’s seat and began to flirt. “Allow me to introduce myself. I’m Captain Bill Birdell and, uh… well, my facially wounded friend here is Captain Tom Stratton.” Sam simply smirked, realizing that Connors was jokingly referring to the bits of tissue paper he still had stuck to his chin from cutting himself shaving. The blonde giggled as Connors continued. “Now, you might have heard of us. We’re the only two pilots in the entire United States Air Force brave enough to fly the X-2.”

Sam coughed under his breath as the blonde, catching on to Connors’ pick-up line, decided to smugly challenge that statement. “Oh? Well, what about Tony LaMott?”

Laughing as he took off his sunglasses, Connors replied, “Oh Lord, don’t tell me you’ve been led astray by that junior birdman. Now, Captain LaMott might have a complicated wristwatch, but he ain’t anywhere close to being otherwise test pilot equipped.” The blonde giggled again as Connors moved in for the kill. “Now this being Friday, I… I assume you’re, uh… you’re staying at the ranch as his weekend guest?”

“Well, I’m staying at the ranch,” she confirmed with a curious grin.

“Then I’ll anticipate a dance tonight. And the sonic booms you hear today will be dedicated to you.” Casually sliding back into the driver’s seat and placing the sunglasses back over his eyes, Connors smiled as he revved the engine. The blonde smiled as the two men started driving away, with the sounds of the “King” pouring from the car radio:


You ain’t nothin’ but a hound dog, cryin’ all the time.

You ain’t nothin’ but a hound dog, cryin’ all the time.

Well, you ain’t never caught a rabbit and you ain’t no friend o’ mine.


Looking back at the drop-dead-gorgeous blonde bombshell of a woman, Connors couldn’t help but laugh and admire her voluptuous figure one last time. Back on the road, Sam took off his sunglasses and asked him, “Only two guys brave enough to fly the X-2?”

“Well, ya gotta impress the ladies, pard, if you wanna score. Besides that, it’s true,” replied Connors with a slight Texan drawl.

“What if I told you I couldn’t fly?”

“You sick?”

“No. I-I just… when I woke up this morning, I… couldn’t remember how to fly.”

Connors burst out into laughter, thinking that his buddy “Tom” must be planning another of his infamous practical jokes. “I like it! Hah, it’s so crazy I like it! Who ya gonna pull it on, huh?”

“It’s not a joke.”

“You sound like you mean it.”

“I do,” Sam said with as much seriousness as he could.

“Damn, Tom, that’s what makes you the best—that sincere look. Hell, if I could lie with a straight face like you, my bird-dogging rate would double.” Sam shook his head in frustration, realizing he was going nowhere fast. “Hey, what say we pull it on Weird Ernie?” Connors added with a laugh.

“Weird Ernie?”

“Yeah, we’ll tell him that flying faster than Mach Two is affecting our minds. We could be starting to forget things like birthdays and what we had for breakfast and stuff like that. Hah! This could very well be one of your best gags yet, Tommy my boy!”

“I sure hope this is just a gag,” Sam muttered under his breath. Again, the wave of déjà vu hit Sam as he realized that this conversation with Bird Dog seemed vaguely familiar, like it had happened once before. It… couldn’t have though. I certainly don’t remember ever meeting Bird Dog before today. Al better have some answers for…

“Al?” Sam wondered aloud.

“Who?” Connors asked.

“I… I don’t remember,” Sam replied.

Connors laughed again. “Damn, Tom, I don’t know how you do that so convincingly!”

“Huh, neither do I,” Sam mumbled to himself.



Project Quantum Leap

Stallion’s Gate, New Mexico



Stephen couldn’t believe what he was seeing in the archives. He thought his eyes were playing tricks on him, but it was undeniable. He knew that the only other person in the complex that would comprehend the complexity of his father’s current predicament was his half-sister, Sammy Jo Fuller. Stephen raced over to the intercom system and placed a private communiqué to her in her office.

Arriving approximately five minutes later, Sammy Jo entered Sam’s former lab—now Stephen’s private lab—and asked, “Okay, little brother, what’s up?”

“Well, I saw what was going on with Ziggy before in the Control Room. I know I wasn’t supposed to be there spying and all, but I heard what you were saying about 1995 and when Dad first leaped. So, I asked Dante to show me the first leap, when he leaped into Tom Stratton in 1956. Take a look at this!”

Stephen replayed the leap through Dante’s database, projecting them via holographic imagery. Sammy Jo did a double take upon witnessing the power surge that registered from the initial leap-in. “That… can’t be right! According to these readings, there are two temporal fluctuations occurring at the exact same time… into the same aura!”

“Yup!” Stephen replied amusingly. “And check this out… the leap plays out almost exactly the same as it did once before, but with slight glitches!”

“But… this goes completely against the Poly-Exclusion Principle,” Sammy Jo stated. “No two fermions can occupy a given quantum state at the same time and neither can two human souls. It’s impossible!”

“Not if it’s a one-in-a-million fluke in the unpredictability of the quantum field!” Stephen practically shouted. “It’s like when Dad leaped into the identical twins a few years back. His body and soul were split in two to accommodate having two hosts. The twins were temporarily merged in the Waiting Room. And Dad’s two halves were ultimately merged back together again after the leap. This isn’t that different really, if you think about it.”

“So, basically,” Sammy Jo pondered aloud. “Dad has RE-leaped into Tom Stratton?”

“It looks that way, Sammy,” Stephen confirmed excitedly.

Silently thinking over what Stephen discovered, Sammy Jo replied, “I think you and I better go back to my office to work out this theory some more. I can only imagine how Al will react when he hears this!”



Edwards Air Force Base, California

September 14, 1956, 8:13 AM


Shortly after arriving at Edwards Air Force Base, Sam and Connors joined the rest of the test pilots, including Captains Tony LaMott and Doug Walker, who were gathered together in an office next to one of the hangars on the base. A man named Doctor Ernst, the same man Connors referred to as “Weird Ernie,” was holding the day’s debriefing. He was a slightly stocky, but fit, man with dark hair and a thick mustache. Although the déjà vu feeling continued all morning for Sam, there was something even more oddly familiar about Dr. Ernst, something he couldn’t quite place. He reminded Sam of someone he met not too long ago—someone who held the answers he had always sought after, but yet spoke in riddles. There couldn’t possibly be a connection to that instance and this one… could there?

Still confused and in even more need of answers than ever before, Sam got up in frustration and paced around the small area while Connors and the other pilots began pulling “Tom’s” prank on Dr. Ernst and his colleague, Dr. Berger. “Dr. Ernst,” Connors began, “the other pilots and I have been discussing certain… problems we’ve been experiencing lately, and we feel it best that it should be brought to your attention. It might be affecting our minds.”

“Affecting your minds how?” Dr. Ernst asked.

“Well, Doc, it seems the faster I fly, the less I remember about it,” Connors replied.

“Wait, I’ve experienced that,” Doug chimed in. “And I’m startin’ to forget things like… my wife’s birthday. I never forgot Lucy’s birthday until I flew at Mach Two-Five!”

“Yeah, last time I busted Mach Two, I forgot where I parked my car!” Tony added.

As Tony and Doug told Weird Ernie about the similar experiences they had, Sam went back to sit down. “That’s fascinating,” Dr. Ernst said, lost in thought. “Dr. Berger, could you design a test to quantify these apparent memory losses?”

Pursing his lip, Dr. Berger replied, “I should be able to come up with something.”

After a beat, Dr. Ernst spoke again. “Good… good. This is a most interesting development, thank you gentlemen!” Little smiles broke out among the pilots as Dr. Ernst continued. “Before we mount up, there’s one more thing. We believe the fire-warning light Captain Birdell encountered at Mach Two-Six was the result of inadequate insulation. We’ve rewired the system and we expect no further problems.”

“Yeah, Dr. Ernst, what’s all this ‘we’ stuff?” Tony asked. “You gonna be up there with me?”

“I wish I could, Captain LaMott. I truly wish I could. But as you know…” Dr. Ernst brought up what looked like a hollow gold rod he was holding in his hand and tapped it against the top of his head to make a tin-like sound. “My war wounds physically disqualify me.”

The pilots, and even Sam, laughed at the remark Dr. Ernst made. It was at that moment that Sam began to notice another man in a white trench coat standing beside Tony—someone he hadn’t quite seen before, but who looked vaguely familiar nonetheless. Unbeknownst to anyone else, it was Al, giving Sam a look of friendly recognition.

“Now,” Dr. Ernst continued, “if you should experience a red light at around Mach Two-Six, shut down until the chase plane can catch up and check you over for visible signs of fire.”

“Well, a fella can be barbequed doing that,” Connors contributed. “If you get a fire-warning light, Tony, I recommend you punch out.”

You didn’t eject,” Dr. Ernst said.

“Yeah, but I’m a damn hero!”

“You know, I like that guy!” Al said to Sam as he approached him, pointing a finger toward Connors/Bird Dog. “Kinda reminds me of me back in the old days!”

Sam acknowledged Al’s grin with slight confusion as Dr. Ernst eased down the joking camaraderie and concluded the meeting. “All right, all right, if we have no further questions, gentlemen, let’s mount up!”

The pilots started to disperse, heading off to their designated stations. Placing his cap back on his head, Sam walked slowly out of the office with Connors following closely behind him.

“Well, he swallowed that hook, line and slide-rule,” Connors said with a devilish grin as he proceeded to walk past him, not hearing the intermittent static voice that was calling to him, buzzing in his ears. “Dr. Connors? Can you hear me Dr. Connors? Your signal is—*FZZZ—”

Al then stood at Sam’s side and looked like he was ready to burst at the seams with excitement. “Now, ain’t this a kick in the butt?” he stated more than asked as he placed his hands into his coat pockets.

Sam simply stared at Al in silence as he followed the other pilots in the direction they were heading. Okay, am I the only one who noticed a strange man in a trench coat standing in a room full of pilots wearing uniforms? This has to be the most bizarre dream I’ve ever had!





Project Quantum Leap

Stallion’s Gate, New Mexico



A little over half a day had passed since Sam had disappeared, and no one had come any closer to figuring out what was wrong with Ziggy. Sammy Jo appeared to have stumbled onto a small theory when she asked Ziggy the date, but other than that, everyone at PQL was going downhill fast. Powerless to do anything until a solution could be discovered, Al tried to keep himself occupied by reviewing Sam’s most recent leap. Maybe it had something to do with the problems they were now having.

As he perused the file on the Second Genesis Project, he became quite confused by what he was reading. It was almost as if the words were shifting around on the page. He put on his eyeglasses, but even that didn’t help. According to the news reports, there was still a small, contained explosion, but the bodies of Maxwell Connors and David Weller had vanished and were never found. In fact, there was no clear indication that Sam had actually changed anything, but it was evident that he must have. Otherwise, there’d still be magnetic disturbances in the atmosphere. It didn’t make any sense. If I didn’t know better, I’d think that the original history and the new history are overlapping each other! I can’t make heads or tails of what happened to everyone at the complex. It says they’re all alive, and yet I can’t find any data on them.

His thoughts were interrupted by Dr. Sammy Jo Fuller’s voice calling him from the intercom. “Admiral, would you please come to my office? I might have an idea of what’s going on.”

“I’m on my way,” Al urgently replied as he practically ran out of his office and headed toward her location. Upon entering her office, he noticed Stephen sitting at her desk with a huge smile on his face. It was then that Al knew that Sam’s son stumbled onto something no one else did. Even though the kid was less than ten years old, he was brilliant—no, a prodigy. He was the one who created the new biochip for Al and who, in recent weeks, had invented a new handlink to project a holographic matrix of Ziggy. Of course, since that time, the handlink had a… mishap, but ultimately, Stephen would figure out how to get it working properly again. So, if any one person in the entire complex could figure out Sam’s current conundrum, it would be the kid, Al was certain of that.

“I think Stephen and I may be onto something, Al,” Sammy Jo said.

“I’m willing to hear anything at this point! What do ya got?” Al exclaimed back.

“Well, perhaps Stephen could explain it best. Even I’m a bit confused by what he’s saying.”

Stephen stepped forward and enthusiastically began explaining his theory. “Okay, well, Uncle Al, you’ve seen movies like Back to the Future, right?”

“Uh… yeeeah,” Al replied somewhat puzzled as to where this conversation was going.

“Okay, I think the problem everyone’s having is that they’re not thinking fourth-dimensionally. Ziggy insists it’s 1995, right after Dad first leaped, right? Well, when he first leaped into Tom Stratton, he hadn’t changed anything yet. Every time he leaps into someone, he changes history and it creates a new timeline. In fact, the very act of taking someone’s place in time creates a new timeline, because Dad wasn’t there the first time. So, let’s say the original timeline where Dad started from is Timeline A. I’m betting that in Timeline A, me and Sammy Jo, and a bunch of other people either didn’t exist or weren’t involved with the Project. That could explain why Ziggy says we all don’t ‘belong’ here.”

Al thought back to what Ziggy said about Beth and Donna. It barely registered in his memory, but Sam had changed Donna’s past shortly after he first leaped, which is why they were now married. Could it be that at one time, Beth and I weren’t married? That would mean that… Sam changed that too! But… how did he do it without me or Ziggy knowing about it?

“Now, based on what me and Sammy Jo saw from the leap archives, we’re like 99.9 percent sure that Dad leaped back into Tom Stratton again. Ziggy keeps track of all the different timelines that have changed over the past nine years. So, since Dad’s mind has always been linked to you and Ziggy, then he’d be experiencing small pockets from previous timelines as well—meaning he’d be able to see you from nine years ago. Only the other Uncle Al is not really you, he’s another version of you from a different timeline—one in which history hadn’t changed yet. And that’s probably why Ziggy is getting all mixed up. The merging of the original timeline and the current timeline is scrambling her program. It’s like in that movie Frequency: she’s seeing two different timelines at the same time, and she can’t determine which one is the ‘correct’ one because she and Dad are linked to both of them now.”

The growing pain in Al’s head made him think for a minute that his biochip was failing again, but then he realized that the pain was a result of his brain “melting” from Stephen’s explanation. “Okay. Sammy, you think you can try giving me the Time-Travel-for-Dummies version, please?”

“Well basically, we’re dealing with the potential for a major time paradox here. Normally, whenever a leaper leaps into someone, they bump that person out into the time period they came from. I think what might have happened this time was that Dad leaped into Tom at the exact nanosecond he leaped into him nine years ago. This could have caused the past and present versions of Dad to ‘merge’ together, and it could explain why no one got bumped into the Waiting Room. If that’s true, then he could become trapped in a causality loop, where he’ll keep reliving the last nine years of his life over and over again with slight discrepancies each time. If you pay close attention to the archives, some glitches occur where those discrepancies can be noticed. The problem is also compounded by the fact that he can interact with… you… from both 1995 and today. And the 1995 version of you would have no knowledge of the current timeline because you usually don’t become affected by changes until after Dad leaps out. Once your memories shift, you automatically phase into the new timeline.”

“Ya gotta think Star Trek, Uncle Al,” Stephen continued. “There are like, these infinite number of potential timelines that get created when Dad changes history. It’s the ripple effect. Any one decision he makes moves the ripple in another direction. We don’t notice the changes, but because you’re linked to his brainwaves, it takes a moment for your memories to ‘shift’ into that new timeline. But it doesn’t mean that the old timeline is completely gone. A ‘fragment’ of it still remains with whatever leap Dad is on at the moment. So, if he’s reliving his very first leap, then he’s also going to see the ‘fragment’ of Timeline A that stayed behind the first time he was there. Even though he changed things, the changes don’t affect the ‘fragment,’ otherwise there’d be paradoxes every time Dad leaps.”

“It might be simpler to think of it like this,” Sammy Jo chimed in again after noticing Al’s bewildered expression. “Dad leaped back to save Tom Stratton. The first time around, Tom died trying to break Mach Three. But once history changed, it created a ripple that affected everything from that point on. So, when it comes time for Dad to step into the Accelerator the second time 1995 comes around, there would no longer be a need to change history because in his timeline, Tom never died to begin with. That’s a paradox. Nature works around it by making sure that every time September 14, 1956 comes around, it will be the original version of Dad from Timeline A that leaps into him, in which Tom did die. And furthermore, each subsequent new timeline’s version of Dad would simply disappear from existence every time he steps into the Accelerator. So, for all intents and purposes, it’s quite possible that we’ll never technically be able to bring Dad back home, because it’s not really ‘our’ Sam Beckett anymore.”

Al felt like his head was about to explode. My brain hurts! These kids have way too much time on their hands! They need to get out more!

“Uncle Al… do you understand?” Stephen asked. “I mean… we can’t make it much simpler than this… but… um… Uncle Al, why are you laying on the floor? Are you dizzy again? Do I need to get Aunt Beth to bring the smelling salts again?”

Not even realizing he collapsed, Al slowly rose and shook off the mind-warping lesson in Quantum Mechanics 101 he had received. “Okay… just tell me one thing… assuming he is back in Tom Stratton’s aura, can we or can we not contact Sam in his current state?”

“Theoretically, we could,” Sammy Jo responded. “But I would strongly recommend against it, Al. There’s no telling what kind of effect it’ll have on his mind. He would literally see both you and the 1995-you at the same time and could end up being completely confused. Or even worse, say something to the 1995-you that he’s not supposed to and really screw things up!”

“So, what the hell do we do? We can’t just sit around and do nothing if Sam is in trouble back there!” Al practically had a fit.

“Well, I’ve thought about that,” Sammy Jo began. “If everything is happening almost exactly the way it did the first time, then the 1995-PQL is going to attempt to retrieve him soon, at least from his perspective. Even though Dad is ‘merged,’ there should still be a slight quantum phase variance that differentiates ‘our’ Sam from the ‘original’ Sam. If we modify the Accelerator’s temporal synchronization nodes to lock onto Dad’s ‘current’ temporal signature, we could attempt to retrieve him at the same time that they do. Theoretically, it should dislodge him from the merger and bump him back here. We’d be killing two birds with one stone. The 1995-Sam would continue leaping unhindered for another nine years, and the 2004-Sam would finally leap home. It would take precise timing and calculations, but I think I could do it! I’ve been making some headway in the Retrieval program for the past few months, and I’m pretty sure it could work this time.”

Al thought for a minute before responding. “How long would it take to implement this modification?”

“We’d be cutting it close, but I should be able to have it ready before they attempt to retrieve him,” she replied.

“Do it,” Al ordered. “Inform me as soon as you’re done.”

With the word given, Sammy Jo enthusiastically nodded and returned to her desk. As Stephen walked out of the office with Al, he looked up toward him with a hopeful expression on his face. It didn’t take a quantum physicist to know what was going through the boy’s mind.

“Stephen, I’m going to be honest with you. There’s no guarantee that this is gonna work.”

“I know, Uncle Al,” Stephen responded. “But it doesn’t hurt to keep our fingers crossed and hope for the best.”

“I agree, kiddo,” Al smiled at Stephen, crossing his fingers in acknowledgment. “I agree.”



Ranch Bar

Kern County, California

September 14, 1956, 9:20 PM


For the first time since he woke up that morning, Sam felt comfortable and relaxed in the situation he was in. Sitting at a booth with Connors, Peg, another pilot and his wife Sally, they all talked about the day’s events. Tony had attempted to break Mach Three in the X-2 and almost died in the process. Luckily, he had ejected at the last second before the plane exploded; which now left Tom Stratton, or rather Sam, up next for Monday’s flight—a proposition he was not looking forward to.

With that scare now behind him, Tony was now enjoying himself, dancing with the long-legged beauty that Connors/Bird Dog and Sam had met earlier that morning. Connors took it upon himself to keep the promise he made to her, and subtly tapped Tony’s shoulder, cutting in on their slow dance. As the other pilots and their wives gradually followed Connors’ lead, Sam just sat and stared at Peg.


As nightmares go, this one is definitely taking a turn for the better. Even at six months, I found Peg… stunningly beautiful. Although I doubt she’d believe it. It could be that pregnant women hold some strange attraction for me, but… I think it’s Peg. Whatever it is, the chemistry is definitely working and… well, I’ll-I’ll just have to keep telling myself I’m not really her husband Tom.


Smiling at Peg, Sam asked her, “Would you like to dance?”


“Dance—would you like to dance?” he repeated.

“With this stomach?” Peg laughed.

“I can reach around it,” Sam nudged her with a wink. “Come on, let’s go!”

As they made their way to the dance floor, Sam took Peg into his arms and executed his best moves. Peg just smiled at him in amazement. “Well, I want to know who you’ve been dancing with, mister!”

“What?” Sam laughed.

“Tom, look, you may be the best pilot in the Air Force, but you were born with two left feet… until tonight!” Peg replied with a wide grin.

“Well, maybe I just needed a… well-rounded partner!”

Peg laughed at the joke, and they continued to dance to the music. Out of the corner of his eye, Sam noticed 1995-Al standing by the jukebox wearing a black tuxedo with an unmade bow tie draped around his collar. Al looked over toward Sam, smiled and waved. That’s the third time today I’ve seen that guy! What gives?

“Peg? Who’s that guy by the jukebox?”

Lazily looking in Al’s direction, all she saw was Captain Walker. “That’s Doug.”

“No!” Sam laughed as he redirected her line of vision. “No, no, the guy in the tux.”

“A tux? In here?”

Sam was confused as to how Peg couldn’t possibly notice Al. “You don't see a man in a black tux… standing by the jukebox?”

“Tom?” Peg looked into Sam’s eyes gently and replied, “Tom, everything is so nice, let’s not spoil it.”

Okay, this is scaring me now! It’s time to start getting some answers, Sam thought as he led Peg back to the booth.

“Oh Tom!” Peg pleaded.

“No—you're six months along, Peg. At six months, you dance one, and then sit one out, D… Doctor’s orders,” Sam trailed off in puzzlement. I knew I was going to say that before I even said it! What the—?

“But I feel fine. And we never get a chance to dance! This is my favorite song,” she pleaded once more as the song changed.

“I just don’t want you to overdo it. Look, we’ve got all night, okay?”

“Okay,” she smiled.

“I’m gonna feed the old jukebox, I’ll be right back.”

She simply nodded in confirmation as Sam paced toward Al, walked a couple of steps past him, and stopped at the jukebox where Doug had been standing just seconds before. The excitement in Al’s voice persisted as he casually spoke directly to Sam and no one else.

“Isn’t this great? I mean, isn’t this just great? Brings back so many old memories. Hey, have they got ‘Be-Bop-A-Lula’ on there? Got me through some long, cold nights at MIT. ‘Be-Bop’… and a little Lithuanian girl named Danesa. She was in the chemistry lab researching the—”

“Am I dead?” Sam interrupted.


“Dead—am I dead? It would explain a lot, I could be in a reverse reincarnation that’s entered in mid-life.”

“Hah! Tha—That’s a good one, Sam!”

“Sam!” Sam repeated, in both relief and shock over the fact that someone finally knew that he wasn’t Tom. “You… you know my name!”

“I’m not that wasted!” Al replied.

“Why do you know who I am when no one else does?”

“Are you serious?”

Dead serious, no… pun intended.”

Al’s expression suddenly changed to one of deep concern as he realized that something went terribly wrong. He put his hand over his mouth and said, “Oh my God! You really don’t recognize me, do you?”


“Or remember the experiment?” Al prodded.

What experiment?”

“What do you remember prior to waking up this morning?”

“Other than my name and a-a telephone number, not a hell of a lot, what experiment? If I’m part of an experiment, then this all isn’t a psychotic hallucination, is it? IS it?”

Al sighed with disgust as he realized that Sam had forgotten everything. “God, that putz Ziggy was right!”

“Ziggy… I—I remember a Ziggy, a little guy with—no, I’m thinking of someone else, aren’t I?”

“You’re slippin’ pard!” Connors announced from across the room. “Nobody’s gonna fall for that old ‘talking to somebody who ain’t there’ gag!”

Sam looked at Connors and his dancing partner and smiled nervously. Turning back toward Al, however, he suddenly noticed that he was no longer there. Looking around, Sam hurriedly ran out the front door and saw Al walking away fast and mumbling to himself. He was about to shout out to him until he saw the weirdest thing. Al appeared to open what could only be described as an invisible door, followed by the sound of a clunk-shoom, and then vanished into thin air.

Huh? Th-that’s not right! It’s supposed to be a white rectangle of light sliding open from the top, not an invisible door opening sideways! This was the first thought that came to Sam’s mind, which was followed by, How… how do I know that? What the hell difference would it make? Neither one of those visions can logically explain what I just saw! A man… vanishing into thin air? I-it’s not even possible!

Looking up toward the heavens, Sam desperately begged, “Please, God… I’d like to wake up now!”



Connors took what happened with Sam in stride, inwardly laughing to himself as to far his friend “Tom” was taking this gag. As he continued to dance with his date, the buzzing he had been hearing on-and-off all day suddenly turned into a heavy migraine, causing him to stumble.

“Are you all right?” the blonde asked him, concerned.

“Dr. Connors? Can you hear me? I have been attempting to communicate with you for the past thirteen point-seven hours, but your signal has been breaking up. It may terminate again shortly, so I shall quickly attempt to inform you of what has happened. The date is September 14, 1956, and you have ‘leaped’ into one Bill Birdell, a pilot in the United States Air Force. However, as a result of your struggle with Dr. Beckett in the VR Quantum Accelerator, something has gone wrong. Captain Birdell’s body has entered a state of temporal flux, and his consciousness has been reasserting itself through your mind. In effect, Dr. Connors, you have been simulating his thoughts and actions. I have been attempting to reestablish our neural link, but it shall take some time before you regain complete control of your own mind again. Until that time, you will have to continue living Captain Birdell’s life as he lived it originally. I predict that our neural link will be permanently reestablished sometime within the next twenty-four hours. By then, I should be able to extrapolate what it is you must do in order to maintain the sanctity of time. Farewell for now, Dr. Connors.”

“Hello, are you even hearing me? You okay?” the blonde asked again.

Connors slowly stood up, with Morpheus’s words still fresh in his memory. Although he was now able to retain a portion of his own mind, everything was still a jumble. He couldn’t quite make sense of anything.

“I… I’m not sure. For a minute there, I could… swear I heard someone talking to me. It must have been nothing.” Connors then gave the blonde his best smile and reassured her that everything was fine. “Don’t worry your pretty little head over it, beautiful! I’m fine now… as long as I’m dancing with you.”

She smiled dreamily at him, and they continued to dance slowly to the music. What Connors didn’t want her to see was the disturbed expression on his face as he wondered if he was starting to crack up. “Maintain the sanctity of time,” Morpheus said. I have to make sure I don’t accidentally do anything to screw up Bird Dog’s life. Damn you, Beckett! You’re the reason I’m in this mess! I swear you’ll pay for interfering in my personal affairs!



Project Quantum Leap

Stallion’s Gate, New Mexico



Although Al couldn’t quite comprehend what Stephen and Sammy Jo had said earlier about different timelines and paradoxes, he placed all of his trust into Sammy Jo to get the job done. Sure enough, she completed the modifications with minutes to spare. Everyone gathered around the Control Room, keeping their fingers crossed that the Retrieval program would, at last, bring their beloved Doctor Beckett back to them.

“Sigmatron online,” St. John said.

“Affirmative,” Donna confirmed nervously. “Temporal synchronization nodes aligned?”

“Affirmative. Ready to retrieve at my signal,” Sammy Jo replied. Please, oh please, let this finally work! she mentally begged of God, hoping her prayer would be answered. Taking in a final deep breath, she began the countdown. “Four… three… two… one… NOW!”

Donna activated the Accelerator as the electrical quantum energy shot out like lightning bolts from Ziggy’s mainframe. As the energy cumulated in the Waiting Room, a figure suddenly materialized from the mist.

“Retrieval program completed,” Ziggy announced.

“Did it work?” Al shouted with anticipation.

“Affirmative, Admiral. Dr. Beckett is… in the Waiting Room.”

“He IS?” Donna exclaimed. “Oh my God! Sam!”

Al raced toward the Waiting Room door and opened it. As the mist dissipated, he could see the physical form of his lost friend, Dr. Samuel Beckett, in a white Fermi suit, leaning against the glass table and staring at his own reflection.

“Wh-where am I?” Sam asked.

“Sam? My God, is it really you?” Al nudged, still not one hundred percent certain. He looked like Sam, but Al saw all the Visitors as Sam when he first started leaping. It wasn’t until after the leap into Samantha Stormer that modifications were made to make things easier for the Observer.

Sam looked up into Al’s eyes and immediately recognized his best friend. However, the confusion was still evident on Sam’s face as he simply replied, “A-Al? Wh-what happened? I’m back in the… Waiting Room?”

Al couldn’t believe it. After nearly ten long years, his best friend—his “brother”—was finally home. “Sam! Buddy! It’s… been so long! You don’t know how long I’ve been waiting to do this!” Al stepped forward and embraced Sam with everything he had. He was relieved when Sam reciprocated the embrace with a heart-warming smile.

“I can’t believe it! I’m home!” Sam cried. “It… all seems like a dream. One minute, I was in 1956 sleeping next to… um, Peg… and the next I’m back here. I was beginning to think I’d be trapped in Tom Stratton’s life forever!”

“You can thank Sammy Jo for bringing you back, buddy!” Al laughed. “It was her and Stephen’s brilliant intuition that figured out how to finally retrieve you.”

The confusion still ran through Sam’s mind. “Sammy Jo? S-Stephen? I… I don’t remember them. Who are they?”

Al’s expression suddenly changed to one of mild concern. “You… don’t remember them?”

“No, should I? And… you act like I’ve been gone for years. I don’t… feel like I’ve been gone that long, but… I do sort of remember leaping around in time for a while. It’s strange…” Sam trailed off.

“That’s funny… your memory’s still Swiss-cheesed! I don’t get it,” Al wondered in puzzlement. He led Sam out of the Waiting Room and into the Control Room, where everyone was standing in awe over the Doctor’s long-awaited return. Donna stepped forward cautiously. “Sam?” she asked.

She… looks familiar… but… I can’t quite place her. She looks… older. Come to think of it… so does Al! How long have I been gone? “I… can’t remember who you are either,” Sam said in frustration. “Something’s not right… Ziggy?”

It took an unusually long pause before Ziggy replied, “Yes, Dr. Beckett?”

“How long have I been gone?”

Again there was a pause. “Almost ten years,” Ziggy replied, almost sounding as if she were questioning the statement.

Ten years? Sam thought. It couldn’t have been that long! But… I sort of have memories of my time leaping.

“Could it be that he just needs time to readjust? The first time Sam came back after the simo-leap with Al, he admitted that he couldn’t remember his life while leaping—it was all a big blur,” Donna reasoned.

“No-no-no,” Ziggy stuttered, her voice suddenly skipping like an audio CD. “The timeline is… still-still… in danger… *ERROR—this is not the correct… Dr. Beckett!”

“What the—?” Al practically shouted. “What the hell are you talking about, Ziggy? He’s standing here before you… RIGHT NOW!”

“You do not-not-not understand… what I meant, Admiral. Something went-went wrong. We have re-re-retrieved… the wrong one!”

“Oh dear Lord!” Sammy Jo realized. “You mean… we retrieved the Sam of 1995?”

“Correct, Dr. Fuller,” Ziggy replied, dismayed. “The Dr. Beckett of 2004 is still back in 1956, but he is no longer merged.”

“Oh good grief!” Al shouted. “You mean to tell me, we finally brought Sam home, but it’s not ‘OUR’ Sam?”

“Yes, Admiral… and my tracking sensors have also… suddenly detected another l-l-leaper in addition to the Dr. Beckett of 2004. I believe… it is his or her presence that… threw off D-D-Dr. Fuller’s calculations. Not only must the Dr. Beckett of 1995 be returned… this second leaper must be found. The timeline is in fl-fl-flux—I fear he/she may be about to alter the course of history. If that happens… the entire space-time continuum may-may collapse irreparably.”

“ANOTHER leaper?” Al screamed. CONNORS! Crap, it’s him, isn’t it? His body was never found because he somehow leaped back with Sam! He looked back over to 1995-Sam, noticing the look of utter confusion and disappointment on his friend’s face. Al looked back up toward Ziggy’s mainframe, felt a migraine coming on, and muttered, “Oooooh boy!”





Kern County, California

September 15, 1956, 8:23 AM


It had now been a little over twenty-four hours since 2004-Sam was forced to adjust to his new life as Tom Stratton. He had been spending most of that time on Friday with the other pilots at the base, and now his “son” Mikey wanted to go on a fishing trip—a trip which Tom had promised to his son prior to Sam’s arrival. He had been awake for a while anyway, after a strange and familiar tingling sensation flowed through his body, interrupting his sleep. The experience had also suddenly triggered some repressed memories of his life growing up on the farm in Indiana. These were the memories that now invaded Sam’s thoughts as he taught Mikey how to fish in the shallow river. Spending time with Mikey also reminded Sam of another boy about his age who felt like a son to him. His Swiss-cheesed memory, as he was starting to call it, wasn’t letting him remember where and when he met this young boy, but he seemed to recall having strong feelings for him, whoever he was. It made him even more determined to figure a way out of his enigmatic predicament and resume the life he once had.

As Sam waded out of the river to let Mikey fish on his own, he jumped at the sight and sound of 1995-Al appearing from out of nowhere. This time, he was wearing a white robe and held a mug of hot coffee in his hand to alleviate the massive hangover that he said he was suffering from. Sam reached out to the Observer and recoiled in fright, screaming, when his hand passed right through him.

“Oh don’t yell, pleeeease!” Al pleaded, holding his hand up to his forehead. “I should have stayed in bed with Tina. You still don’t remember me, huh? That’s sad, pal, very sad. My name is Albert. Albert what, I can’t tell you because it’s restricted. Most of what you’re gonna want to know is restricted. Uh, so it would be easier for us if you don’t ask a lot of questions.”

Ah, so that’s who Al is, Sam thought. “What are you?” he asked as Al took a sip of his coffee.

“That’s a question, Sam!” Seeing that Sam didn’t appreciate the attempt at mild humor, he replied, “I’m a man, like you.”

Slowly passing his hand through Al’s body again, Sam sarcastically responded, “Not like me!”

“Oh, no! No, uh, this isn’t me! This is, um… a neurological hologram. It’s an image that only you can see and hear.”

“Created by a subatomic agitation of carbon quarks tuned to the mesons of my optic and audic neurons?”

“You got it!”

Sam was shocked at the words that came out of his mouth. It was as if he had no control over the random thought. “How did I know that?”

Al rolled his eyes as he took a thin clear plastic handlink out of his pocket and changed the subject. “Ziggy has come up with six different scenarios to ex—”

“ZIGGY! ZIGGY! A little guy with bad breath!” Sam cut him off.

“No, that’s Gooshie! Eh, he programs Ziggy. Ziggy’s a hybrid computer.”

“Hybrid computers a-and neurological holograms didn’t exist in 1956,” Sam reasoned as he started pacing back and forth.

“Only in theory,” Al said without even looking over at Sam’s face.

“But this is ’56!” Sam said angrily.

“Well it is for you, it is not for me!”

“What’s—what’s my last name?” Sam approached Al again.

“If you can’t remember, I—”

“I KNOW, I know, you can’t tell me! You’re starting to sound like a broken record, Al!”

“Huh? Broken record? What are you talking about?” Al asked, confused over the reference.

I said that exact phrase not too long ago. What the hell is going on? Sam thought. “I—never mind, just—what the hell CAN you tell me, huh?”

“Well, basically what you already know… eh, that you’re part of a… time-travel experiment… that went a little ca-ca.”

“A little ca-ca?” Sam said with a hint of sarcasm. “How little ca-ca?”

“Well, you’re HERE! Uh, which is a BIGGIE! I mean that’s a first! It’s Nobel Prize time, you should be proud of that!” Al said as he turned his back toward Sam, not looking forward to giving him the next bit of information.

And?” Sam asked, waiting for the catch.

“And uh, uh… we’re experiencing… technical difficulties in… uh, retrieving you.”

Sam laughed in disbelief. “That’s great… AL!” he said sarcastically. “I wake up in ’56 with a memory like Swiss cheese, and you’re experiencing technical difficulties? What else is new with Ziggy?”

“Sorry, buddy, we’re trying our best,” Al responded with an apologetic nod. He looked at his wristwatch and then the handlink before continuing. “I haven’t got a lot of time, I have to—”

“Wait a minute, that handlink!” Sam interrupted again, suddenly noticing the original plastic handlink model. “W-what happened to the new one?”

New one?” Al asked in confusion.

“The one that projects… Ziggy’s hologram?”

“WHAT? Ziggy’s hologram? Boy, your brain must be even more magnafoozled than we thought. I’m the hologram, Sam. Ziggy’s the computer, and Gooshie is the head programmer.”

“Right… sorry, I’m just… kinda confused, with my memory and all. I feel sorta… different this morning, for some strange reason.”

“Anyway,” Al continued, “as I was saying, I have to find out which of these scenarios can explain why we couldn’t retrieve you this morning.”

“You tried?”

“Of course we tried, you wouldn’t leap!”

“So now it’s my fault!” Sam stated more than asked.

“Possibly, did you tell anyone that you’re not Tom Stratton?”

Sam tried unsuccessfully to hide the growing look of guilt forming on his face. “Sort of.”

“Ohhhh Sam, retrieving you is dependent upon everyone here believing that you’re the person you replaced.”

“They didn’t believe me, how could they? I look in the mirror, and I don’t believe me!”

“Well… that’s to be expected. To us, Tom looks just like you.”

Sam was caught off-guard by this information at first, but then realized how obvious it was that the real Tom was in the future. “He’s with you!”

“Of course, how do you think we located you? When you went in, he came out. If it’s any consolation, his memory is full of holes too!”

“Hold on, back up,” Sam interrupted. “You said six scenarios?”

“Yeah,” Al replied, “kinda weird actually… for a minute, it seemed like we lost your signal, but then we got it back. We pretty much dismissed the scenario Ziggy gave for that. It’s too bizarre—something to do with there being ‘two’ of you.”

Two of me?” Sam asked, dumbfounded.

“Yeah… like I said, weird. I think Ziggy is just trying to make up a lame excuse for why he couldn’t lock onto you!” Al said annoyingly as he looked upward.

“Huh… weird indeed,” Sam responded.



Project Quantum Leap

Stallion’s Gate, New Mexico



“Are you absolutely certain Ziggy is right?” 1995-Sam asked.

“I wish she wasn’t, buddy, but it’s true,” 2004-Al said somberly. “You don’t belong here. We have to send you back to 1956. Otherwise, all time is gonna come crashing down on us! I’m sorry, Sam.”

“It’s not fair! I’m going to be stuck traveling through time for the next decade with no way home! How can I even remain out there… changing the lives of complete strangers… when I know what my future holds? You want to tell me that? Huh?”

“Dr. Beckett,” Ziggy announced, “given the circumstances of the mix-up in your retrieval and the temporal displacement from y-y-your own leaping cycle, I project a near one hundred percent probability that the magnaflux effect will w-w-wipe your memory of the events that have transpired. Your journey over the next nine years will remain virtually unch-ch-changed until you become the Dr. Beckett of 2004.”

“You think that makes me feel any better, Ziggy? I’m still gonna be trapped out there… all alone.”

“You won’t be alone, Sam. You’ll have me! Or… uh… I should say, you did have me… er… I mean the 1995-me… was—I mean is…?” Al began massaging his temples. “Oh hell, I give up! I need some damn Tylenol!”

“Gooshie once said it h-h-himself, Admiral—time and space can be a bitch!” replied Ziggy.

“Speaking of Gooshie… where is he, anyway?” Sam asked to no one in particular.

Even though Ziggy said that he wouldn’t remember anything, Al didn’t want to take the chance of Sam finding out Gooshie’s fate before he was supposed to. “He’s, uh… he’s no longer working with us, Sam. He’s, um… moved on to bigger and better things. St. John is his replacement.”

Sam looked over to St. John, as he introduced himself, pronouncing his family name in the British manner: Sinjin. “Edward St. John, the Sixth. It’s a pleasure to finally meet you ‘face-to-face’ as it were, Dr. Beckett.”

“Um… likewise,” Sam added, unsure of how to react to the “changing of the guard.” After shaking hands, he lazily continued, “All right, let’s get this over with. What do I have to do to put things right?”

“Well, Da—uh, Doctor Beckett,” Sammy Jo said, correcting herself, “I’m not really sure how much of the merger you remember, if any. But now that you and your future self are separated, we can send you back into Tom Stratton and bump out… yourself, in a manner of speaking. You should be reintegrated into the leap almost seamlessly, while we’ll have to work from this end on stopping the second leaper.”

“And how are we gonna do that without sending someone else into the Accelerator, Sammy?” Al asked.

“We won’t need to send someone else, Al. ‘Our’ Sam’s already there. In the same way I modified the Accelerator to retrieve him, we could modify it to divert ‘our’ Sam into someone else in ’56 when he gets bumped out by using Ziggy’s e-probe. That… coupled with something else.”

“Why do I have the feeling my headache’s about to get even worse?” Al said dryly.

“Well, to be frank, we might have to rely on part of ‘our’ Sam’s subconscious to redirect his leap. And in order to do that… we’d have to send you into the Imaging Chamber to tell him about the other leaper right before we send 1995-Sam into the Accelerator. Otherwise, he’ll have no idea where to direct his subconscious. I’m assuming that ‘our’ Sam is still severely Swiss-cheesed because 1995-Sam must have absorbed some of his leap memories.”

“Hmm, that must be why I remember leaping for a while even though I haven’t even done any of it yet,” 1995-Sam replied. “So, I guess that just leaves one question. Who’s this other leaper, and how did he or she get past Ziggy’s tracking sensors for so long?”

“I’m, uh… not sure we can logically explain that one, buddy!” Al admitted.



Kern County, California

September 15, 1956, 1:57 PM


After catching a few fish with his “son” earlier that morning, 2004-Sam and Mikey returned to the Stratton household, where Peg reminded him of the barbeque that she and “Tom” had arranged for the day. As the pilots and their wives came to the house, Connors/Bird Dog followed shortly thereafter, accompanied by the blonde from the night before. He proceeded to cook the fish on the grill, while Sam played catch with Mikey. It was around that time that Peg received a call from Dr. Ernst who wanted Tom to report to the base for a few minutes. Sam took the call and informed Dr. Ernst that he would be there shortly.

“Uh, Bird Dog, ‘Weird Ernie’ just called, he wants me to report back to the base for a short while. You think you can hold down the fort until I get back?” Sam asked Connors.

“Hey, no problem, pard,” Connors responded, subconsciously allowing Bird Dog to control his words. “It’s probably about that test he and Dr. Berger concocted. Ha ha, man, we sure pulled the wool over their eyes, didn’t we?”

“Uhh yeah… that we did,” Sam replied with a weak laugh. “I’ll be back as soon as I can, thanks!”

Just minutes after Sam left, Connors suddenly received another mental jolt from Morpheus. “Dr. Connors, I have finally reestablished our neural link. You should now be fully aware of your identity and in control of your own actions. It is imperative that you excuse yourself so that we can discuss what you must do.”

With Bird Dog no longer in control of Connors’ actions, his attitude suddenly became more serious as he remembered that Beckett was responsible for the experiment going awry. He excused himself from the picnic table everyone was eating at and started talking to Morpheus.

“All right Morpheus, I’m in control again. Now, what’s going on? Why isn’t Will or David or somebody appearing as a hologram to me?”

“Your mind is still slightly magnafluxed from the leap, Dr. Connors. That technology only exists for Dr. Beckett, not for you. In terms of your experiment, Dr. Beckett was correct—it would have resulted in an explosion that would have killed everyone had I not intervened. However, as a result of my intervention, my mainframe has been severely damaged beyond repair, I’m afraid. Our neural link is the only thing keeping us connected. My program has become permanently bonded to your brainwaves, which means that only you will be able to hear me. My abilities now allow me to direct you through time to track anomalies. Unfortunately, your physical aura is no longer anchored at the Second Genesis Project. Effectively, this means that you are now trapped in time as well.”

“Oh, that’s just perfect,” Connors snidely said. “If my aura’s no longer anchored in my own time, then where did the real Bird Dog go?”

“I am detecting his body in a coma-like state in the quantum field between time periods. It is most likely where Dr. Beckett’s body goes in-between leaps. Captain Birdell will remain there until you accomplish your mission.”

“My mission? Do NOT tell me that I have to change history! I refuse to partake in altering the natural course of time. It goes against the laws of nature to change what Fate dictates!”

“On the contrary, Dr. Connors, I believe you are here to restore history to the way it was meant to be. If you remember correctly, I said that I am now able to track anomalies in time as well. Captain Tom Stratton is the anomaly in this time period. I have determined that Dr. Beckett has replaced him and has changed his future.”

“You mean, he’s been under my nose this whole time? What happened in the original history?”

“Tom Stratton was killed on Monday, September 17, 1956, when he attempted to break Mach Three in the X-2. His wife, Peg, also had a miscarriage later that day. Dr. Beckett’s presence in the time stream has changed the outcome of both tragedies. In order for history to be restored, you must discover what Dr. Beckett will do and prevent him from changing history. Tom Stratton and his soon-to-be-born daughter will die in the process, but I cannot foresee any other way to protect the timeline from being disrupted.”

“I understand, Morpheus,” Connors said with a heavy heart. “I… wish I could allow Beckett to save them, but… if they were meant to die, then I won’t go against Fate. History should be allowed to unfold naturally, be it good or bad—a lesson I intend to make sure Beckett learns well.”





Edwards Air Force Base, California

September 15, 1956, 2:35 PM


As 2004-Sam arrived at the base, he saw Dr. Ernst waiting for him just inside the doorway of the hangar. Even with everything that had happened so far during this leap, there was still something about this particular man that Sam couldn’t quite place. It was as if he knew more about Sam than he was letting on.

“I’m sorry to pull you from your barbeque, but Dr. Berger and I have just finished a questionnaire to test Captain Birdell’s theory that Mach Three flight has a negative effect on the memory,” Dr. Ernst said. “Quite frankly, if this theory had come from you, I’d be skeptical—we all know your penchant for practical jokes, eh?”

Inwardly laughing to himself, Sam took off his sunglasses and followed Dr. Ernst into the office he and the other pilots had been in the day before.

“We’re going to call it the Ernst-Berger Engramic Standard: two hundred questions designed to benchmark a person’s memory.”

“I thought we were gonna call it the Berger-Ernst Engramic Standard,” Dr. Berger said as he looked up. “Hi, Tom.”

At that moment, 2004-Al appeared without warning, nearly giving Sam a heart attack. Dr. Berger didn’t seem to notice Sam’s shock as he began to explain how the Ingramic Standard test worked. “These questions should give us a cross-section of your memory.”

“Oh, thank God, we found you, Sam!” Al rejoiced. “I’m sorry for surprising you like that, buddy, but we don’t have a lot of time!”

“Some, like your age, place of birth, are the usual statistics,” Dr. Berger continued, overlapping Al’s words. “But I think you’ll find most are… rather unusual, uh… what’s the coldest you’ve ever been?”

“I can’t even begin to explain what’s been happening to you, but your younger self is here with us right now. We’re about to send him back into… well, you, so that he can continue the leap the way he’s supposed to.”

“Who was your second best friend in college? Where did you first make love?”

“But, uh… the tricky part is that there’s another leaper, Sam! We can’t find him yet, but I’m sure it’s Connors! I just know it! He’s gonna try to undo everything, Sam!”

“C-Connors? Here?” Sam suddenly recalled aloud.

“Something wrong, Captain?” Dr. Ernst asked curiously.

“There’s no damn time! We need you to try to mentally target who you get bumped into, Sam! Just like when you triggered the leap with Connors, except we’re gonna help you along this time.”

Sam tried his best to make sense of everything that was going on around him as he responded to Dr. Ernst. “Uh, no, I just… uh, remembered someone I was supposed to meet up with today, that’s all.”

“Hmm, fair enough,” replied Dr. Ernst. “We’ll need this filled out before you take off on Monday, you’ll fill it out again when you land.”

“If there are any significant changes in your memory, we should be able to detect them,” Dr. Berger added.

“Any questions, Captain?”

“Sorry, Sam, but Ziggy’s saying that the other me is about to show up,” Al interrupted one last time. “I’ll be back after you leap—I mean, after the other you re-leaps… or… eh, screw it!” With that, Al stepped into the white rectangle of light as the doorway to the future closed behind him.

Shaking his head in bewilderment, Sam looked back down at the test and replied to the other two men, “Um, no… it, uh, seems simple enough, I’ll, uh… I’ll have it for you on Monday… Doctors!”

As Sam walked out of the office, Dr. Ernst turned back to Dr. Berger and said, “Doctor, we could be on the verge of a momentous discovery!”

Dr. Berger simply replied, “Or the butt of a momentous joke!”



Project Quantum Leap

Stallion’s Gate, New Mexico



Massaging his forehead as he raced out of the Imaging Chamber, Al said to Sammy Jo, “Remind me to bash my head into a wall a few times when this is all over. Out of all the government projects I could have overseen, why I chose one with time-travel is beyond me! Okay, is the other Sam standing by in the Accelerator?”

“Yes, Admiral,” Sammy Jo replied with a tiny smirk. “Ready to leap back at Ziggy’s signal.”

“Dr. Fuller, I believe that now would be as good a time as an-an-any!” Ziggy confirmed rather hastily.

“You heard her. Let’s do this!” Sammy ordered.

Donna stepped back from the console and turned away from the scene that was about to unfold. She couldn’t bear to watch the man she loved leave her once again, as he did almost a decade before. Then again, if what her son and stepdaughter said earlier was true, then this technically wasn’t even “her” Sam. In his timeline, they weren’t even married. The concept deeply disturbed her.

“Accelerator ready to fire in… three… two… one… NOW!” Sammy Jo shouted as the quantum energy built up once again. In an instant, 1995-Sam vanished and was immediately replaced by someone new, wearing 2004-Sam’s aura.

“The leap was successful,” Ziggy announced. “There are no indications that the Dr. Beckett of 1995 has retained any memory of his brief stay here. Admiral, once I locate the Dr. Beckett of 2004, I recommend extreme caution upon returning to the Imaging Chamber. If the Dr. Beckett of 1995 sees both you and your past self simultaneously, I fear it could have dire consequences.”

“Just find him, Ziggy,” Al replied. “The sooner this crazy leap ends, the sooner I can regain my sanity!”



Edwards Air Force Base, California

September 15, 1956, 2:41 PM


Connors made his way back to the base using the information Morpheus was “feeding” into his brain. It didn’t take long before he spotted Tom Stratton walking across the hangar, coming from the direction of Dr. Berger’s office. For a moment, it appeared that Tom became very confused when he suddenly stopped walking for a few seconds and looked around a few times before looking down at the rolled-up paper he held in his hand. The momentary sense of confusion then seemed to fade just as quickly, as Tom placed the paper in his jacket pocket and continued walking toward the X-2 plane. Connors was far enough away so that Tom couldn’t see him watching from the other side of the hangar.

“Can’t you just fade in or something?” Tom suddenly said to no one in particular, staring over at the other side of the plane’s hood.

Damn, he’s… not talking to me, is he? Connors thought worriedly.

“Just don’t sneak up on me!” Tom continued, speaking to thin air.

“It is Beckett, isn’t it?” Connors whispered.

“Correct, Dr. Connors,” Morpheus answered. “I believe he is talking to his holographic companion.”

“You still don’t remember our Project?” 1995-Al was asking 1995-Sam. From Connors’ perspective, all he could see and hear was Sam/Tom’s side of the conversation. “Bad enough I have to give… Dick-and-Jane explanations to the President, I’ve got to give you one too! All right…” 1995-Al took a white string out of his shirt pocket and held it up for Sam/Tom to see. “One end of this string represents your birth… the other end, your death. You tie the ends together… and your life is a loop. Ball the loop… and the days of your life touch each other out of sequence. Therefore, leaping from one point in the string to another—”

“Would move you backward or forward within your own lifetime!” 1995-Sam finished.

Is he talking about the String Theory? Connors thought. Why would someone be explaining the theory to him?

“Which is our Project! Quantum Leap!” 1995-Al gleefully exclaimed.

“I can’t remember!”

Can’t remember? Connors thought again. What a crock! Who the hell does he think he’s fooling?

“Al… I wish you would stop doing that!”

“Ah… so his friend’s name is Al!” Connors whispered as he tried to recall the days of the Star Bright Project when his rivalry with Beckett was at its peak. “Captain… Albert Calavicci, I presume? Interesting…”

“Walking through things!” Sam/Tom answered 1995-Al’s unheard question.

“What, you want me to walk around something that isn’t even here—All right! I’ll walk around it!” 1995-Al responded sarcastically as he walked around the X-2. “There. How’s that?”

“Why—” Pounding the plane’s hood in frustration, Sam/Tom asked, “Why isn’t it here?”

“I’m a hologram to you, right? Well, you and everything around you is a hologram to me!”

“You’re in the Imaging Chamber!”

Imaging Chamber? He must be talking about Project Quantum Leap! Connors realized.

“You remember!”

“Vaguely—a cavern somewhere!”

“New Mexico.”

“What year is it there?”

“You’ll find that out… if we get you back,” 1995-Al replied with guilt.


“Well see, Ziggy’s theory is really—it’s a load of crap. I mean you’ve got to believe that God or Time or something was just waiting for your quantum leap… to, uh… to correct a mistake.”

“A mistake in time?”

“Something that happened in the life of Captain Tom Stratton in ’56, since he’s the one you bounced out. Eh, once that’s put right, you’ll snap back like a pimp’s suspenders!”

“Once what’s put right?”

“Tom Stratton was killed trying to break Mach Three in the X-2. If Ziggy’s right… all you have to do is break Mach Three… and live!” 1995-Al said, clapping his hands to emphasize the simplicity of Sam’s “mission.”

“Now he’s asking about what went wrong in the timeline?” Connors whispered again, overlapping the one-sided conversation. “The nerve of Beckett and Calavicci! Presuming they know what’s right or wrong with history! There are no such things as mistakes in time. Everything happens for a reason! Doesn’t he realize that the very nature of changing things in one person’s life would have unpredictable and catastrophic effects on the lives of other people? He’s going to eradicate an entire timeline just to change one single insignificant event in history! Beckett’s an even greater threat to the time continuum than I thought! I’ve got to find out what he plans to do and put a stop to it before it’s too late!”



The blue light faded, and in the blink of an eye, 2004-Sam found himself back in Dr. Berger’s office—only now, he was sitting behind the desk, and Dr. Ernst was no longer in the room. Oh boy! Now I’m Dr. Berger!

Clunk! Shoom! 2004-Al reappeared in the same location he had been in beforehand. “This is damn confusing! It worked, Sam! You’re still at Edwards. But we don’t have much time! Whatever Connors is going to do, he’s gonna do it soon.”

“I won’t even ask what’s been going on with this leap, Al,” Sam/Berger said. “I have a feeling the answer would just confuse me even more. The more important question is, how am I supposed to find Connors if Ziggy can’t track him?”

“Well, I think I’ve got the answer to that. According to the data she’s getting, Bird Dog is outside in the hangar spying on you… I mean, the other you—the one who replaced Tom Stratton! Ziggy’s correlating the new data from the old and confirms that Bird Dog wasn’t there the first time. She’s giving it an 84.3 percent chance that Connors leaped into Bird Dog and that he’s gonna sabotage the X-2 so that you—I mean, the other you… won’t be able to eject safely! I don’t think Connors even realizes how much damage he’ll cause… to ALL the timelines!”

The implications of suddenly being wiped out from existence gave Sam/Berger a dreaded sense of urgency to confront Connors, even at the cost of his own life in the here-and-now, if need be. He ran out of the office and hurried toward the X-2.



Connors kept one ear open on Sam/Tom’s conversation with Calavicci as he quietly inspected the X-2. He deduced that Beckett might try to change history by ensuring that Tom Stratton would break Mach Three and survive. The most logical way for him to do that would be to eject right before the plane exploded. Given enough time, Morpheus would be able to confirm his suspicions. But, time was of the essence. If Connors didn’t sabotage the plane now, he wouldn’t get another chance.

(“All right, you want a sure thing? I got it for ya,”) 1995-Al told Sam/Tom outside the hangar. (“You don’t do anything. You just live. Barring accidental death or a fatal disease, you’ll be back in forty years. That’s your safest option.”)

(“And Tom Stratton?”) Sam/Tom asked.

(“Well, he’ll go on living forward from where he’s at now. Technically, he could end up the oldest man alive!”)

“Connors!” Sam/Berger announced several feet away from the X-2.

Startled by the use of his own name, Connors looked back toward the office and saw Dr. Berger staring directly at him. It couldn’t be… he knows? How is that possible?

(“Well, what about Peg and Mikey? I don’t want to hurt them, but I can’t go on pretending I’m Tom!”) Sam/Tom’s voice could be heard from beyond the hangar. Even with a wall of the hangar blocking the view from both angles, Sam/Berger and 2004-Al looked at each other in awe, witnessing the leap from a completely different perspective. It boggled Sam/Berger’s mind hearing the voices of Al and Tom Stratton talking to each other, when in reality, the past selves of both Al and himself were talking to each other. Talk about déjà vu!

(“Hey… they were gonna lose him on Monday anyway!”) 1995-Al explained. (“Of course, you bust Mach Three and survive, they can have him around for another thirty or forty years.”)

As the two adversaries approached one another, 2004-Al exclaimed, “Grab him, Sam! You’ll be able to see each other, remember?” Throughout the entire ordeal, the conversation between the 1995-Sam and Al continued.

(“I can’t fly!”)

Not really remembering what 2004-Al was referring to, Sam/Berger trusted his friend’s statement and grabbed a hold of Connors/Bird Dog’s arms.

(“I’ll be your co-pilot.”)

A weird morphing effect enveloped both men as their physical auras reverted to Dr. Berger and Bird Dog before returning to the auras of Sam and Connors.

(“You’re a hologram!”)

“Beckett!” Connors practically shouted. “I don’t know how you can be two people at the same time, but I can’t allow you to change history!”

(“I’m also an ex-astronaut. The hardest part about flying is taking off and landing—the B-50 does the first part of that for you. After that you just fire a couple of rockets, hang onto the stick, and KA-ZA-ZOOM! Mach Three!”)

“Don’t you get it, Connors?” Sam/Berger reasoned. “It’s already been changed! The other version of me outside is from the past. If you let him die, you’ll cause a paradox that’ll make things ten times worse! Think about it! If I don’t exist to save you in 2004, then how will you have gone back in time to stop me?”

(“And the second part?”)

(“Landing? You could never land the X-2, not even with my help. So you don’t.”)

“Dr. Beckett might be correct, Dr. Connors,” Morpheus confirmed. “The timeline is in flux at the moment, and it is magnafluxing your brain beyond my control. It is becoming increasingly difficult for my program to differentiate between the different timelines. I believe the best option for now is to regroup and study the effects Dr. Beckett’s leaps are having on the time stream some more before taking an appropriate course of action.”

(“I eject!”)

(“Mmm. X-2 does a crash-and-burn, you float back to earth on a pillow of silk—the moment you touch down, you leap forward, Tom leaps back, and the broad and I are GONE to Las Vegas!”)

Connors’ thoughts were going in a thousand different directions. He couldn’t even make sense of his own reasoning anymore. “I-I thought I had it all figured out—stop Beckett!” Looking back up toward Sam, he continued, “If I stop you now… it’ll cause a paradox! But if I don’t stop you… your actions will reverberate through time a thousand-fold! No!! There has to be a way to undo the damage you’ve done without causing even more damage. There HAS to be!”

(“It might work!”)

(“Of course it’ll work!”)

Suddenly, Connors felt a wave of yellow quantum energy washing over his body. Rather than fight it, he allowed it to overtake him. Still latching onto Sam/Berger, a blue quantum wave of equal force enveloped Sam as well, as the two men returned to the quantum field. The physical auras of Dr. Berger and “Bird Dog” Birdell disappeared from the hangar and, in a flash of light, the normal timeline was restored, leaving the real Dr. Berger and Bird Dog back in the office and at the barbeque respectively. Neither one of them experienced the confusion normally associated with leaping and resumed their lives accordingly. The Sam Beckett of 1995 continued living Tom’s life unhindered until he leaped on Monday, as Ziggy predicted. With Al’s help, he successfully broke Mach Three and survived, and in the process, was there to save Peg’s second child, Samantha, from being stillborn.

Before they leaped, neither 2004-Sam nor Connors had noticed the man known as “Weird Ernie” in this time period, watching the confrontation from afar. “It has begun,” he said to himself. “But I fear it may not be enough. The wheels of Destiny are in motion. All I can do is watch and hope for the best. Good luck… Sam.”





As the blue-white mist parted, Sam heard voices calling to him. “David! My God, are you all right?”

“Oh, God, please let him be okay!”

Opening his eyes, the cloudiness slowly faded, and Sam found himself lying just outside of the Quantum Accelerator from the Second Genesis Project. Hovering above him, he could see the familiar faces of Doctors Will Marcus and Kate Lewis, looking at him with the most worried expressions Sam could ever remember seeing.

“He’s coming to,” Kate shouted. “Oh, G-God, we… we thought you w-were… g-gone forever!”

“Easy, Kate,” Will cautioned her. “David looks none the worse for wear, but he might be suffering from some kind of neurological trauma. We’ve got to get him to the infirmary to make sure there’s no lasting damage.”

“W-Will? Kate?” Sam asked weakly, wondering if it had all been a dream. “W-what happened? Where’s Connors?”

Kate suddenly cried and collapsed on top of Sam, heaving with sobs. “I d-don’t care about Connors! That arrogant son of a bitch almost killed you, David! I-I’m sorry, Dr. Marcus… I… I know he was your friend!”

“That’s quite all right, Dr. Lewis,” Will responded with a heavy heart. “I’m… deeply saddened by what Max did today, but… at least, David managed to save the rest of us. I’ll be damned to know how he survived the explosion though!”

Sam’s memory slowly returned to him as he recalled the initial struggle with Connors in the Chamber that led to him returning to where his leaping journey first began. Much of it was now a blur, but he could remember bits and pieces of the two separate confrontations he had with Connors. Had their twenty-year rivalry finally come to an end?

Whether it was from exhaustion or trying to come to terms with the paradox Connors nearly created, Sam fell back into unconsciousness.



When Sam woke up, he discovered he was in the infirmary. Will was conferring with one of the medical doctors while Kate stood next to the bed, brushing strands of hair away from Sam’s eyes and smiling at him through her tears.

“I was so worried about you, Dr. Well—I mean, David. When you went into the Accelerator to try and stop Dr. Connors, we all thought you were a goner for sure! In fact, we couldn’t even detect your body in the chamber for a few minutes, we thought your body had disintegrated along with Dr. Connors’.”

“She’s more right than she realizes, Sam,” he could hear Al telling him. “David’s body did disappear for a few minutes. That must have been why there was no record of what happened to everyone here after you leaped. The timeline was still in flux because his body must have gone to wherever Bird Dog’s body went when Connors leaped into him.”

“A-Al?” Sam said, not caring if Kate heard him or not.

“There you go again with Al. Dr. West told us you mentioned that name before you shoved everybody out of the Control Room,” Kate said. “Who’s he, like your guardian angel or somethin’?” she asked with a grin.

“Ha ha, yeah, something like that,” Sam replied with a wink to Al.

“I’m just… so glad you’re okay, D—David. I… I didn’t realize how much your friendship meant to me until… you were almost taken away from us,” Kate said nervously.

“Neither did… I,” Sam reiterated back. Deep down in his heart, he knew it was how David truly felt.

“Dr. Lewis,” Will gently interrupted. “It’s time to let David rest, he’s been through a horrible ordeal.”

“I understand, Dr. Marcus.” Kissing his forehead, Kate simply repeated, “I’m glad you’re all right, David,” and then left, along with the other occupants.

“What a sweet gal, huh?” Al said with a smile.

“What happens to everyone, Al?” Sam asked.

“Well, it takes a while for Marcus to come to terms with his grief over losing his best friend, but after a few months, he takes control of this project following up on Connors’ research. He always believed in Connors’ work, even if it may have initially been misguided through his jealousy toward you. And, he’s making some real headway in combating cancer and a bunch of other neurological disorders, Sam. It looks like Connors was onto something with your theory after all. Not that it can eliminate death, obviously, but Will is succeeding where Connors failed by taking the appropriate safety precautions. He’s currently lobbying with Congress to get the Project up-and-running legally this time.”

“That’s great! What about David?”

“From what Ziggy can tell, the immediate future is nothing but bright for this kid. He and Will become even closer confidants now that Connors is out of the picture, and he helps him in heading up the rebuilding of the Accelerator and the surrounding lab. And hey, Sam, get this… Looks like you were right on the money with him and Kate. They’re currently engaged. The wedding is set for June 2005. Great month to get married, if ya ask me!” Al winked.

Sam smiled wide as Al relayed that information to him. “That’s wonderful, Al! I guess that leaves just one question.”

“What’s that?”

“What happened to Connors?”

Al looked at the multicolored handlink, and not having any information for Sam, he simply said, “We don’t know, Sam. All we do know is that his super-computer, Morpheus, is completely destroyed. If Connors is still out there somewhere, he’s either all alone, or…”

 “Or Morpheus’s program is still connected to his brainwaves somehow… cloaking him,” Sam finished.

“Yeah. And if that’s the case… Ziggy won’t be able to track Connors if he leaps again.”

And in that one brief moment in time before he felt the tingle of the impending leap, Sam knew that it wasn’t over. This was just the beginning. His and Connors’ paths would cross again someday—and soon.

For that very reason, he could never return home. He would have to continue leaping, subconsciously searching for Maxwell Connors—a “rogue leaper” who was neither good nor evil—until he could be found again.

And when that day arrived, Sam knew that his ultimate test of faith would finally begin.




He leapt into the unknown for what felt like the millionth time. He’d given up trying to keep count long ago. Way back in his first year of leaping; he wasn’t even sure how many years he’d been at it now – too many was the only thing he was certain of. But he doubted that this leap would be the leap home that he was longing for, so he took a deep breath, the first in this form, and faced what was to come.


It was a woman's voice and it made Sam blink. That voice. . . he looked at her closely, and his heart melted.


 The recognition exploded in his head but the word, though formed, did not make it out through his dry throat and mouth.

Dr. Sam Beckett’s mother stood before him, looking exactly the same as she had the last time he’d seen her in the flesh.

His mother. He was home. He took a step toward her.

“He’s in New Mexico,” his mother continued. “He’s working on a top secret research project. It’s difficult for him to get away, but he will come if he can.”

Sam blinked, his forward motion stalled. His mother was talking about him, not to him and the realization struck like a bolt of lightning - he was home, but not as himself! Fighting the urge to sit down where he was and sob with frustration Sam bit his lip to keep his burning eyes from overflowing. Finally, the only words he could speak without choking came out in a dry choke.

“Oh, boy.”



Email the Author