Episode 1204

Killin' More Time

by: Mike Bloxam and Damon Sugameli


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Theorizing that one could time-travel within his own lifetime, Dr. Sam Beckett led an elite group of scientists into the desert to develop a top-secret project known as Quantum Leap.  Pressured to prove his theories or lose funding, Dr. Beckett prematurely stepped into the Project Accelerator…and vanished.


He awoke to find himself in the past, suffering from partial amnesia and facing a mirror image that was not his own.  Fortunately, contact with his own time was maintained through brainwave transmissions with Al, the Project Observer, who appeared in the form of a hologram that only Dr. Beckett can see and hear.


As evil and neutral forces alike do their best to stop Dr. Beckett’s journey, his children, Dr. Samantha Josephine Fulton and Stephen Beckett, continuously strive to retrieve their time-lost father and bring him home permanently.  Despite returning home several times over the last decade, Dr. Beckett has remained lost in the time stream…his final fate no longer certain.


Trapped in the past and driven by an unknown force, Dr. Beckett struggles to accept his destiny as he continues to find himself leaping from life to life, putting things right that once went wrong with the hopes that his next leap…will be the final leap home.





Sam leaped into a top-secret project known as the Second Genesis Project, headed by Doctor Maxwell Connors.  As Connors’ assistant, Sam discovered that Max was using his String Theory to experiment on the human genome in an attempt to eradicate death.  Knowing that Connors’ experiments would result in catastrophic failure, Sam saved the project (along with the lives of everyone in the complex) by stepping into the Quantum Accelerator and using his own body to harness and absorb the excess energies within.  As the two men struggled within the chamber, both Sam and Connors vanished…  (*See “Second Genesis”)

Sam subsequently found himself temporarily trapped in a time loop when he “re-leaped” into Air Force pilot Tom Stratton.  Meanwhile, Connors became a “rogue leaper” and inhabited the aura of “Bird Dog” Birdell, with the intention of sabotaging the X-2 so that Sam (as Tom) would not be able to eject, thus restoring history.  Morpheus, the super-computer he had created to detect anomalies, was now permanently grafted onto Connors’ brainwaves, allowing communication between the two.  With Al’s help, Sam was successful in preventing Connors from causing a time paradox, but not before Connors swore he would return someday…  (*See “Second Genesis, Part II”)

That day occurred when Sam leaped into an out-of-work actor turned superhero named Captain Liberty (a.k.a. Brad Bennings) in the city of Hope Springs, Virginia in 1985.  As drug kingpin Darius Dreck, Connors orchestrated a bold plan to abduct the Sam Beckett of that time period (who was in Washington, D.C. at the time) and murder him in cold blood, thus preventing him from ever becoming a leaper in the first place.  Sam, as Captain Liberty, raced to his younger self’s rescue and convinced Connors that his plan was flawed and would only make things worse.  In the confusion, Connors was then shot by the evil British scientist Dr. Braden and leaped…  (*See “True Callings, Parts II & III”)

Connors clashed with Sam a third time when he leaped into the aura of Sheriff Bill Boone in the town of Carlisle, South Carolina in 1960.  After finding out that Sam had altered history drastically, Max allowed a murderer, Tom Mulhill, to go free in order to repair the timeline as much as possible.  Unfortunately, part of the new history required the death of Tom’s youngest brother Paddy, which Connors successfully saw to by leaping into a pharmacist at the hospital where Paddy was admitted for pesticide poisoning.  Although Max regretted having to kill Patrick Mulhill, he knew it had to happen in the new history and also tried to murder Sam in order to prevent any further disruptions to history.  Sam leaped before any harm came to him, however, and he was left wondering why he couldn’t get there in time to save an innocent man’s life…  (*See “I Left a Little Piece of Myself on the Farm, Parts II & III”)


And now, the saga continues…






Albuquerque, New Mexico

Tuesday, August 8, 2006

18:48 MDT


“We’re here,” Al announced as he stepped out of the car.  He was dressed in his bright devil red suit, beige shirt, red tie, and red sunglasses.

Out of the vehicle came Donna, dressed in a fabulous outfit that almost made him envy Sam if it weren’t for his wife Beth, who followed Donna out.  She too looked like a knockout in her blue dress, a calla lily in her hair.

Next came Sammy Jo, in a dress covered in floral designs.  The dress managed to do her justice despite how far along she was with her pregnancy.  She was due any day and couldn’t wait for the bundle of joy that would soon enrich her and Daniel’s life.  After Sammy Jo, her younger brother Stephen emerged replete in a little tuxedo.

“This is the place, right?” Donna asked.

Al pulled out the eight-month-old note.  “Yeah, according to Mark’s directions, this is the place.  Albuquerque Best Western.”

The procession from Project Quantum Leap entered the lobby where a sign said: ALTERATIONS CONVENTION – BANQUET HALL B – PRIVATE PARTY.  “Must be it,” commented Beth as they made their way to the door.

A woman sat at a table checking off names on the guest list.  “Names please?” she asked.

“Calavicci party,” Beth replied.

The woman checked the name off the list.  “Please enter, they’ve been expecting you.”

Al opened the door and everyone walked in.  A party was in progress.  There was a dance floor with people on it, and a buffet table lined along the right wall.  Tables crowded with people filled the rest of the room.

“This is what I call a Quantum Leap convention,” Al quipped.

“You made it,” shouted a voice behind them.

They all turned to see Mark Robbins in a very formal suit approach them.  “Good to see all of you.  Looks like our main guest won’t be attending this time?” he asked with a note of disappointment.

“I’m afraid not this time,” Donna answered, a tear forming on her face.

“Don’t cry, Mrs. Beckett, your husband will celebrate with us one of these years.”  Mark excused himself and headed for the DJ table.

“I don’t understand,” said Beth. “What is going on here?  What did you drag us to?”

“It was the leapees’ idea,” Sammy Jo explained.  “Every year on Sam’s birthday, they all want to get together and catch up on events in their lives, and meet the new people that Sam has done good for.  They will continue to meet here every year until Dad is finally home to celebrate it.  As long as you are the result of a leap or connected to one, you have a standing invitation for life.”

Suddenly, the music stopped.  “May I have your attention please,” came the voice of Mark Robbins, who was DJing the event.  “Will the Calavicci party please take to the dance floor.”

Each of them puzzled, they walked to the now empty floor.  A large spotlight came on them as the house lights dimmed.  “May I present the people responsible for us being here today to commemorate all the good that Dr. Beckett has done for us.”

The members of Quantum Leap stood under the spotlight as everyone in the room stood up and applauded.  Among the people that they could recognize based on name tags (as they were considerably older since their time in the Waiting Room) were Arnold Watkins and his wife Dawn, the Cameron Wilson family (along with Cheryl), Dr. Ruth, Tom Selleck, Frankie and Teresa LaPalma, Jimmy LaMotta, Linda Bruckner and her daughter Teresa, Eddie Vega, Butchie Rickett and his family, Katie McBain, and standing off to the side, Al noticed a much older Brad Bennings.  Other leapees filled the banquet hall, but were hard to tell who they were.

Touched by the show of people in the room, Donna began to cry.  Stephen moved over to comfort her as she grabbed him in a big hug.

“I wonder how all these people got invites?” Al wanted to know, taking a glass off a serving tray offered to him by one of the leapees.

“Weren’t you ever curious as to what I was doing to take my mind off my pregnancy?” Sammy Jo shot back, refusing her glass due to her condition.  The woman moved down to offer a glass to Beth as Sam’s daughter continued, “I accessed Ziggy’s database and found out which of the leapees were still alive and contacted them personally.  No e-mail.  Hawkins never knew.  It was the least I could do for these people.”

“Whose idea was it to have this shindig on Sam’s birthday?” Beth inquired.

Sammy Jo laughed.  “Guilty.”  She took a moment to look at all the people staring back at her.  ‘All those people were here because their lives were touched by my father,’ she thought, feeling special because she too shared a bond with them, having been the result of a leap herself.  In turn, her child would be added to that list of people who would not be here if not for Sam.

“OK everybody,” Mark’s voice echoed over the sound system speakers, “the buffet and dancing will commence shortly.  But first,” he raised his glass of champagne, “a toast.  To Dr. Sam Beckett.  May he find his way home.  Happy birthday, Sam.”  A moment of silence followed as glasses were then clinked and consumed.  “Please feel free to mingle and get to know your fellow leapees and their families.”  Dance music began to blast over the speakers.

“Rap music?” complained Al, as the group started to walk off the dance floor.  “Don’t they have Ray Charles?”

A cry of alarm sounded from behind the Admiral.  He turned to see Sammy Jo clutching at her swollen belly.  “I think it’s time,” she cried out.

“Her water’s broken,” Beth observed.  “Help me get her off the dance floor.  I don’t think we’re gonna get to a hospital in time.  Isabella wants out now!”  By now, the crowd had gathered to offer assistance to the little miracle that would soon enter their lives.  All of the people touched by Sam that were still alive were here now to witness the birth of his grandchild.

“I’m gonna notify Daniel,” Donna said as she hurried to get her cell phone.

One of the leapees then stepped forward, revealing himself to be Phillip Mililani, Sammy Jo’s stepfather.  Reaching out, he grabbed his stepdaughter’s hand in his own.  “I’m here,” he told her.

Smiling bravely up at him, she asked Phillip, “Is mom here?”

He shook his head.  “No.  Just like you requested, I came up with an excuse to leave the hotel.  She thinks we’re still on our way to visit you in time before you give birth, not knowing that it was all planned for me to be here with you tonight.  Whatever your reasons, your mother has no knowledge of this party or of you being here.  Too bad the baby couldn’t wait a few more days.”

Sammy Jo nodded.  Deep down she knew there was no way that her mother Abigail could ever know about Sam Beckett.  It was simply enough that her stepfather understood why he had recently lost time in his life without knowing why and leave it at that.  With a nod of her head, she beckoned Al to come over.  As the Admiral grasped her other hand and smiled, his best friend’s daughter whispered into his ear, “Despite the wonders of Quantum Leaping you share with my father, I would never trade any of that for the ability to create life and the daughter I will soon share with the world.  Someday, I hope he will be a part of her life.”

“Speaking of sharing, it looks like someone else will share Sam’s birthday with him,” Al remarked as he waited with the rest of the room for the arrival.  Glancing past the bar, the Admiral thought he recognized a familiar overweight bartender behind the counter, grinning from ear to ear almost looking misty-eyed, holding up a glass of champagne as if to salute him.  Waiting for people to walk past him, Al looked again only to discover no one was behind the bar.  (*From “True Callings, Part III,” written by Greg Carey)



Doctor Sam Beckett once again felt the serenity of the warm blue light that enveloped every fiber of his being upon leaping.  The eternal void gradually faded from the quantum physicist’s eyesight, replaced by a large room with wooden mahogany walls.  As Sam’s vision cleared and the whining sound in his ears vanished, he realized that he was standing behind a large table.  At the front of the room was a high podium where a judge sat, dressed in a black robe.  He appeared to be in his early to mid-fifties, possibly older:  Sam couldn’t tell from where he was standing.  The nameplate read Judge Harold Shearer.  To the far right of him was an empty wooden booth where a jury would normally sit during a trial.

‘I’m in a courtroom,’ Sam realized.  ‘But there’s no jury; does that mean I’m at the arraignment, or the sentencing?’

As Sam looked around the courtroom, he saw a large crowd of people gathered in the pews behind him, sitting and watching the proceedings with deep interest.  Directly standing to his right was a middle-aged man in a business suit who Sam assumed must have been his lawyer.  It became readily apparent to Doctor Beckett that all eyes in the courtroom were focused on him.

Judge Shearer broke the silence by asking, “Does your client have trouble hearing, Mister Riley?”

“No, Your Honor,” the lawyer answered before turning his head to Sam in annoyance, whispering, “I can’t help you anymore, Leon.  Your fate is in the judge’s hands now.  He asked you to approach with counsel, so just follow me.”

Realizing that the judge had asked him to come forward before he leaped in, Sam began walking to the front of the room as the bailiff and several guards stood at the ready, in case he decided to do something stupid.  Sam couldn’t help but get a queasy feeling in his stomach as he wondered what sort of crime the leapee had committed to warrant such extreme security measures.  He didn’t need Al there to tell him that it was probably something especially heinous if the looks he received from the people around him were any indication.  The judge’s words brought Sam back to attention.

“After carefully considering all of the facts in this case, taking into account the brutal nature of the crimes which were indicative of wanton cruelty, the Court finds that the defendant has been found guilty on all twelve counts of murder in the first degree and has also been found guilty on all nine counts of rape and aggravated assault.”

Sam’s heart nearly stopped.  He expected that the judge was about to sentence him to death.  He had leaped into someone on death row once before and had no intention of putting himself there again.  What the judge said next, however, threw Sam for an even bigger loop.

“Therefore,” Judge Shearer continued, “it is the judgment of this Court that Mister Stiles be remanded to Oklahoma State Penitentiary for the duration of his life to serve each one of his life sentences, all running consecutively one after the other, without the possibility of parole.”

“Stiles?” Sam whispered to himself in shock.  Leon Stiles?” he added as he remembered that his lawyer had called him Leon about thirty seconds earlier.

As the judge’s sentence came down, some people gasped as mixed emotions flooded the room.  “Order!” the judge announced as he banged his gavel down, reminding everyone to settle down until the proceedings were over.

All Sam could think of saying in response was,  “Oh boy!”





Oklahoma City, Oklahoma

Friday, October 16, 1959

15:25 CDT


Quantum leaping through Time has had its ups and downs.  Ending up back in the life of somebody I have been before typically was a good thing, because I got to see how I had helped them in a previous situation and was usually surrounded by familiar faces.  Finding myself back in the aura of Leon Stiles, however, could only possibly mean one thing:  trouble.


Sam’s mind was firing innumerable thoughts per second, the foremost being why he was there as Stiles.  It had been a long time since a thought of the multiple-murderer and rapist had crossed the leaper’s mind, and being back in the aura of such a despicable person was not exactly an ideal place to be.  As the judge continued to read off the list of offending crimes and the appropriate punishment for each one, Sam fell into a daze as he recalled the events of his first leap into Stiles and how scared he had felt.  It took a few minutes before Sam finally snapped out of his daydream and realized that the judge was once again addressing him.

“Mister Stiles, do you have anything to say for yourself?” Judge Shearer asked in a serious tone, his Southern accent lightly afflicting his words.

Looking to his right, Sam glanced at the face of the lawyer.  He seemed to have a strange mix of delight and somberness in his expression and gave a quick nod of approval.

“N-no, Your Honor,” Sam replied, hoping that he wasn’t going to have to be the one serving Stiles’s life sentence.

“Very well.  This hearing is adjourned!” the judge replied, slamming his gavel down on the desk.  “He’s all yours, Mister O’Neil.”

Sam suddenly felt a strong hand grab his right forearm followed soon after by the sensation of cold metal being quickly applied to his wrist, which caused him to wince in pain.  “Give me your other arm, Stiles,” O’Neil ordered as the lawyer, and everyone else in the courtroom, looked on.

The quantum physicist took a quick overview of the man as he held out his left hand.  O’Neil stood about six-feet tall, had a sharp-featured face with a medium-toned Caucasian complexion, and was dressed in a police-style uniform with a star-shaped badge stating “U.S. Marshal” on it.  The other half of the handcuff clasped around Sam’s wrist and, once again, his right arm was in the grasp of the bailiff.  Walking beside his captor with the lawyer following, Sam could only wish that Al, his guide from the future, would show up soon to let him know what exactly he was doing back in the life of Leon Stiles.

As they left the courtroom and entered the main hallway, flashbulbs started going off and questions were coming from left, right, and center.

“Mister Riley, do you think your client was given a fair sentence?”

“How did you manage to get Stiles out of the death penalty?  Isn’t that what the prosecution wanted?”

“What was it like defending such a notorious case?”

Marshal O’Neil continued through slowly with a firm grip on Sam’s right arm, not letting anybody stand in his way as the leaper kept his gaze toward the ground.  Riley, the lawyer, was following closely behind, giving the occasional single-word answer.  They were almost through the throng of reporters when Sam felt a strange sensation course through his being—a sensation that he had only experienced on a small number of occasions.  Looking up at the man with the grasp on his arm, his jaw dropped when the person standing there was no longer the bailiff that had escorted him from the courtroom.

“Connors!” Sam hissed, his eyes burning with anger as he ground to a halt, some memories of their most recent encounter coming back into his Swiss-cheesed mind.  Luckily for him, most of the media had their attention on the attorney instead of the marshal and his prisoner.

“B-Beckett?” Maxwell Connors replied quietly, temporarily confused after his leap in and immediately seeing another time-traveler.  “What are you doing here?”

“I might ask you the same thing,” Doctor Beckett shot back in a low tone.  When he took a second to look ahead and saw the main entrance still a good walk away, he realized that standing in the middle of the hallway was probably not the best of ideas.  “Keep walking.  We don’t want to raise suspicion.”

As it was the rogue leaper’s mission to keep history as it was originally, he took Sam’s advice and they continued on immediately.  Only a few yards later, they were stopped again when a woman in the crowd, with a press pass pinned to her blouse, dropped her camera and charged at Sam with a knife.

“He deserves death!” she shouted.

Max let go of Sam and stepped in front of him, grabbing the crazed woman’s wrists in an attempt to wedge the knife from her grasp.  Members of the media turned their attention to the struggle as cameras began to flash in their direction.

“Let me go!” she screeched while she eyed Sam Beckett in the aura of Leon Stiles, who was approaching her, using what little mobility he had with his hands to aid Connors in disarming the blonde-haired fury.  Flashbulbs continued to fire off, making the scene feel like it was taking place during a violent thunderstorm. 

While the rogue leaper continued to hold her steady, Sam retrieved the knife from her hand as they heard heavy, quick footsteps approaching them.  As she glowered at Sam, her expression suddenly turned from one of complete despising to one of utter surprise.  “W-who are you?” she asked, keeping her eyes fixated on Sam’s face.  “You’re not Stiles!”

Before Sam could answer, three of the guards that had been on their way tackled him to the ground and disarmed him, thinking that he wanted the knife for his own reasons.  The other guard placed handcuffs on the confused and raving woman who continued to proclaim that the man being brought back to his feet was not Leon Stiles.  Sam watched as she was dragged away by two of the officers while the other two each maintained a strong grip on his arms.

“I’ll take it from here,” Connors said seriously over the din of the press as he motioned the guards to release Sam.  “He’s my prisoner now.  C’mon, Stiles.”  Favoring the other leaper with a glare, Sam complied, knowing that one more wrong move and he could be separated from Connors.

As he continued walking down the corridor, Sam couldn’t help but remember the first time he had leaped into Stiles.  Al had needed to track the killer down after he managed to escape the Project, which in turn required Gooshie to fill in as the Project Observer on a temporary basis.  ‘God only knows what kind of trouble that madman is causing in the Waiting Room this time,’ Sam thought as the knots in his stomach already began to form.



Project Quantum Leap Waiting Room

Stallion’s Gate, New Mexico

Tuesday, August 8, 2006

18:58 MDT


“Stay back,” Stiles ordered to Ike as he held Verbena Beeks in a stranglehold, “or this colored bitch will have her head on backwards!”

“Okay,” Ike Bentenhoff gently reassured, “just take it easy and no one will get hurt.  You’re not going to be harmed, I assure you, but right now, you need to let her go and take it easy.  Then, we can talk.”

“Not until you tell me where I am and how I got here!” Stiles shouted before taking a glance of recognition at the Waiting Room’s blue walls.  “This place… I REMEMBER bein’ here!  But I can’t remember WHEN!  TELL ME…or I’ll snap her NECK!!”

Unsure of what else to say, Ike knew he needed to stall for time until either Commander Fulton or Corporal Heston could make it down there.  “Okay, um, well, we call this the Waiting Room.  This woman was just coming in here to ask you some simple questions, that’s all.”

“WHAT KINDA QUESTIONS?!” demanded Stiles as he kept his arms locked tightly around Verbena’s neck.  Ike could see the fear in the psychiatrist’s eyes and knew that this situation had to be handled with as much sensitivity as possible.

“Basic questions, really,” Ike said calmly.  “Your name, where you came from…”

“I ain’t tellin’ nobody nothin’ until I get outta here!” the leapee shouted back.

“We can’t let you out; trust me, it’s for your own protection.”

“I’ve heard that before,” Stiles tried to recall.  “It wasn’t you, though; some old guy with a bright yellow suit—and then, some weird-lookin’ guy with red hair and bad breath came walkin’ along.  He called me… BECKETT!!  Who the hell is Beckett?!  Tell me or this nigger whore dies!”

“Let her go, whoever you are,” the booming voice of Commander Daniel Fulton announced from the now-ajar Waiting Room door, where he stood holding a military-issued semi-automatic pistol.  It took every ounce of his willpower to put aside his uneasiness of aiming his weapon at the aura of his father-in-law.  But, Daniel knew he had a job to do, and that job was protecting the security of the Project.

“Nuh-uh!” Stiles countered.  “I also seem to remember the old geezer tellin’ someone else that he couldn’t kill me otherwise this ‘Doctor Beckett’ person could never get back.  It was someone just like you—a guard or somebody like that.”

As much as Daniel hated to admit it, the Visitor had a point—although, it didn’t seem to stop Sam from leaping before.  He could specifically remember there being a time a few years back when the Visitor died in the Waiting Room and Sam leaped anyway—albeit, a bizarre out-of-body experience occurred as a result.

“Besides,” Stiles dared as he and his hostage started moving slowly toward the door, “I’m guessin’ this colored is important to all o’ you.  You shoot me, you might kill her too.  A big gamble either way.”

Never taking his eyes off Sam’s aura, Daniel decided to take that gamble by saying, “Well, then I guess you need to ask yourself just one question:  ‘Do I feel lucky?’”

Not getting the reference, Stiles inched forward into the corridor and called Daniel’s bluff, causing Daniel and Ike to slowly back up in response.  “I’m bettin’ you don’t.  Now, look here, this colored girl is my ticket outta here.  Anybody tries somethin’, she’ll be takin’ a permanent nap!  YOU!”  Stiles looked in Ike’s direction.  “How do we get outta here?”

Gesturing toward the wall on his right, Ike answered nervously, “J-just take that elevator up ten levels and you’re there.”

“You won’t get very far, I can tell you that much,” Daniel reiterated.

“That’s why this woman is my hostage,” Stiles explained with a crazed look in his eyes.  “No one will do anythin’ as long as I’ve got her life in my hands.”

As Stiles dragged Verbena toward the elevator hatch waiting for it to open, it was at that exact moment when the head programmer, Dominic Lofton, exited the car and bumped into both of them, tumbling over in the process.  Caught off guard, Stiles released his tight hold on Verbena and she fell to the floor.  Ike dove to the ground and covered her while Daniel carefully took the shot he was waiting for.  It nicked Stiles across the shoulder of his Fermi suit leaving little more than a flesh wound.

Stumbling backward over Dom’s body, Stiles quickly scurried toward the elevator hatch and almost made it into the car when Daniel yelled out, “ZIGGY!  Activate Security Protocol Elesee-One-Alpha!”

Before Stiles could escape, an infrared force field surrounded Stiles, shocking his body into unconsciousness as he collapsed on the floor of the corridor.  Breathing a sigh of relief, Daniel knelt down beside Ike as the two men both helped Verbena back up.  “Are you all right, Verbena?” Daniel asked.

“A— A little shaken up, but… I-I’ll be fine,” Verbena answered back shakily.

“All the same, I think we’d better have Aurora check you over,” Daniel suggested.

“I said I’ll be fine,” Verbena shot back, a bit tersely that time.

“This isn’t open to discussion.  I’m in command at the moment and I want to make sure that you’re okay.  Now, let Ike take you down to the Infirmary.  That’s an order!”

Realizing that Daniel was right, Verbena complied, “All right.  What about the Visitor?”

“Don’t worry about him.  Dom and I will get him back into the Waiting Room and seal it off.  Until Al gets back, the chamber is off-limits.  And after Aurora checks you over, inform her that we need to have the Visitor sedated.”

Nodding, Verbena entered the elevator hatch with Ike as the door closed behind them.  Dom then proceeded to brush himself off and said, “I guess it’s a good thing I came along when I did.”

“Thank God for small favors,” Daniel replied.  “Let’s get this nutcase back into the Waiting Room and see if we can figure out who the Hell Sam’s leaped into this time.  I think we’d better get in touch with Al at that convention and tell him to get back here ASAP.”

“That’s actually why I came down here to find you.  Donna called from there about five minutes ago asking for you.  Sammy Jo has just gone into labor.  According to Beth, the baby might be born in as little as an hour.”

“WHAT?!” Daniel shouted as he dropped his grip on the unconscious form of Stiles.  “Oh boy,” he groaned just before he fainted.

“Actually, I thought Sammy Jo was having a girl,” Dom said with a smirk.




The back-roads of Oklahoma

Friday, October 16, 1959

18:48 CDT


After a little more than three hours of travel, including multiple stops to accept more prisoners, Sam was still wondering what repercussions on the timeline would result from Connors saving him from the woman who wanted to kill Stiles.  He had no idea if Stiles was supposed to have survived the attack or not.  The two men had not said anything to one another since they were in the courthouse in Oklahoma City, mostly because Connors was being kept at the front of the bus while Sam was confined to the very back seat.  Doctor Beckett was beginning to get anxious for information about the situation, whether it was from his fellow time-traveler or from his holographic observer.

Try as he might, the quantum physicist could not figure out a way to talk to Connors.  He had attempted asking the other guards to summon his escorting marshal, but they just ignored his request.  Once he tried calling out to “O’Neil” and received a rather powerful blow to the stomach to shut him up.  Despite the fear of further discipline, Sam called over the nearest guard, the one who had struck him earlier.  The nametag on his left breast read “Hartman.”

“Officer Hartman, could I please have a word with Marshal O’Neil?  It concerns what happened earlier at the courthouse,” he said, watching as a fist began to form at the end of Hartman’s right arm.  As he was raising his arm to quiet the prisoner a second time, a hand grabbed the guard’s bicep.

“It’s all right, I’ll talk to him,” came the voice of Doctor Connors from behind.  A sneer crossed Hartman’s face as he looked down at Sam, lowered his arm, and sat back down in his seat, carefully watching Max as he sat beside Sam.

“What is it, Stiles?” Connors asked with a slight smile of arrogance on his lips.  “You’d better make this quick.”

“Knock it off, Connors,” Sam whispered back, taking a glance at the setting sun and noticing his reflection in the window.  Seeing the face of Stiles faintly reflected in the glass reminded him how careful he had to be.  “I just want to know why we’re here.”

Max considered revealing some of the information that he had received from Morpheus, but decided against it.  “You know as much as I do, Beckett.  I’m the marshal and you’re the prisoner.  And from what I gather, you’re going away for a looong time.”  The smile on his lips widened into a smirk.

Gritting his teeth, Sam managed to maintain his composure.  ‘Don’t let him get to you, Sam,’ he mused.  “Fine.  If you’re not going to tell me anything, then at least let me thank you for saving me back there.  Is that what happened in the original history?”

“I told you, I don’t know.  It just felt like the right thing to do, so don’t read too much into it.  I would’ve done it if you were the real Leon Stiles,” replied the other leaper.  Unfortunately, he also didn’t know if Stiles was supposed to die in the original history or not.  Morpheus had given him little information on the situation.

“Why did that woman say that I wasn’t Stiles?” Sam wondered aloud.  “If I didn’t know any better, I could swear she saw me and not my aura.”

“She was probably just some fanatic who wanted Stiles dead.  I wouldn’t worry too much about it.”  Standing up, Connors said louder, “I don’t think I have anything more to say to you, Stiles.  Just keep quiet or next time I won’t stop Hartman here from teaching you your lesson.”  Hartman heard the comment and also stood up to stare Sam down with a cold stare.

“Now, if you’ll excuse—” the rogue leaper started to say, but he was cut off when there was a sudden ruckus of voices at the front of the bus.  The vehicle began swerving from side to side, tossing Connors and Hartman into an empty seat.  Each time they tried to stand back up, the violent force of the bus would toss them in the opposite direction as it sailed off the road and across a rough patch of field.  Finally, the prison transport came to a halt and threw all passengers from their seats, the deafening sound of metal meeting trees resounding in their ears before they lost consciousness.





Somewhere off the back-roads of Oklahoma

Friday, October 16, 1959

19:07 CDT


Once the darkness subsided and his awareness started to return, Sam Beckett flinched at the pounding headache that began to plague him as he brought his head up from his chest.  Blinking a couple of times, the leaper saw that the prison bus had been turned on its side and he was sitting in the corner, half on the back seat and half on the window.

“Connors?” Sam called out as he attempted to find his footing in the slanted vehicle.  The sound of a fire burning caught his attention and he could see a flickering light at the front end of the bus.  “Connors!  Wake up!”

Roused by the sound of someone yelling his name, Max Connors groggily opened his eyes and managed a painful moan.  Like Sam, he also had a terrible headache, but could not find the energy to speak.  He then felt a hand on his shoulder and the blurry figure of Doctor Beckett came into his field of vision.

“Connors, there’s a fire.  We have to get these people outta here before it reaches the gas tank!  I don’t think anyone else is awake!” Sam yelled, giving the man a gentle shake.

“I… I can’t move.  Head hurts,” Connors replied in a hushed tone.

Grunting in exasperation, Sam began walking toward the front of the bus, checking each person’s medical status as he went along.  Much to his despair, the majority of them had died in the crash, many with fatal wounds to the head.  There were three unconscious prisoners in addition to Hartman, Max, and himself who’d survived.  Sam realized that there would be the opportunity to mourn later, and starting with the survivors closest to the door he commenced to drag them out on his own, despite the handcuffs that seriously hindered his efforts.  When the three criminals were at a safe distance, he ran back into the bus and made his way to the back.

“How do you feel, Max?” Sam questioned, concern obvious in his tone as he felt the other leaper’s pulse.  “Can you move?”

Maxwell Connors was not used to requiring aid, at least not like that.  He wasn’t about to admit that he needed Sam Beckett’s help.  “I think so,” he replied as he propped himself up with his arms, hissing at the rush of pain to his temples while a wave of dizziness came over him.  “What’s going on?”

“I told you, there’s a fire.  Everybody’s dead except Hartman and three prisoners that I already got out.  You’ve gotta help me with Hartman because I don’t think we have time to make two trips.”  Although Sam had no idea how much longer they had, he certainly didn’t want to waste any of what time remained and risk having a survivor of the crash end up a victim of an explosion.  The quantum physicist offered his hand to Doctor Connors in order to help him up.

With a sigh, Max stuck out his hand and allowed Sam to help him to his feet.  “You all right?” Sam asked as he let go to place his cuffed hands beneath one of Hartman’s underarms.

“I don’t know,” Connors answered back as he swayed, grabbing a seat for support on the tilted bus.

“Well, just get yourself off the bus,” Sam ordered as he began dragging the guard along, trying his best to not get caught on anything during his fourth rescue.  “This thing could blow at any minute!”

Heeding Doctor Beckett’s warning, Max followed behind, not feeling as though he would do any good by lifting Hartman’s feet because it would probably land both of them on their backs again.  Once they reached the door, which as a result of the crash was now facing more downward and a few feet from the ground, Sam lowered Hartman down and jumped out to continue hauling the man toward safety through the long grass.  When the way out was clear, Max jumped out as well, stumbling as he became more lightheaded.

“Hurry up, Connors!” Sam called when he saw Max staggering as he followed.  He set Hartman down beside the three prisoners and saw that Connors seemed to be losing his ability to walk.

Just as Sam started running toward the other leaper, the fire heated the gas tank of the bus just enough to make it combust and an explosion rocked the ground, knocking both time-travelers off their feet.  The sound of debris falling surrounded Sam as he got back up and charged toward Connors, who was trying to stand up as well.  Doctor Beckett grabbed Max by the arm and threw it over his shoulders, supporting the man as they retreated to join the other survivors, where they both collapsed in a heap.

“Let me take a look at you,” Sam said as he began examining Connors.  His mouth went agape when he saw a small triangle of shrapnel lodged in the other man’s skull.  “You have a piece of metal stuck in your head, Max.”

“Take it out… please,” Doctor Connors whispered, fearing the severity of the injury.  Carefully, Sam removed the shrapnel, making sure that nothing remained in the scalp and that no heavy bleeding started.  He was satisfied that the wound was of no further danger, although it would need a bandage, and shifted his position.

“There,” said Sam, allowing Max to rest his head on the ground.

“Guess we’re even now, eh, Beckett?” Connors commented with a grin before submitting to unconsciousness once again.




Project Quantum Leap Control Room

Stallion’s Gate, New Mexico

Tuesday, August 8, 2006

22:51 MDT


Nearly four hours had passed since the leapee arrived and Ziggy still had not been able to find Sam’s signal in Time.  With Al and Donna gone to provide moral support for Sammy Jo during her delivery, it fell to both Dom and Ike to man Ziggy’s main station and find the solution on their own.  Even with the help of the ditzy but brilliant pulse communications technician, Tina Martinez-O’Farrell, they didn’t seem to be making much headway.

“Ziggy, recheck that last algorithm,” Dom ordered.  “There has to be a logical explanation for why the e-probe isn’t picking up Doctor Beckett’s brainwave patterns.”

“I have already rechecked it twice, Professor Lofton,” Ziggy’s sexy silicon voice announced.  “I do not believe the problem lies within the epochtonusalgraphic probe, but rather the situation that Doctor Beckett has found himself in, whatever that may be.”

“It sounds like you’re implying that there’s, like, some kind of outside interference jamming the signal,” Tina commented.

“That is precisely what I am implying, Doctor O’Farrell,” the hybrid computer replied smugly, almost sounding as if it had reached an epiphany.  “Before Doctor Beckett’s signal was blocked, I was able to detect that he had leaped into a male host somewhere in the Midwestern United States in the year Nineteen Fifty-Nine.  However, based on what the Visitor said when he first arrived, I have logically deduced that he has been here once before, which significantly narrows down the search to former Visitors from Nineteen Fifty-Three to Nineteen Fifty-Nine.  Add to that the mental instability and hostile nature of the Visitor upon his arrival and the search is narrowed down even further.”

“How long will it take before you have a positive ID match on Doctor Beckett’s current host?” Dom asked.

“I believe I have already deduced into whom Doctor Beckett has leaped.”

After five seconds of silence, Dom rolled his eyes and added, “Well?”

“A minute temporal fluctuation has been detected at fifteen hundred twenty–four hours Central Daylight Time on October Sixteenth, Nineteen Fifty-Nine in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma.  I predict with ninety-eight point one percent accuracy that Doctor Beckett has leaped into the serial killer Leon Randolph Stiles, an illiterate drifter who was responsible for the murders of at least eight women in three states and was brought to justice by Sheriff John Hoyt on June Eighteenth, Nineteen Fifty-Eight.”

“Oh my God!” Ike exclaimed.  “This is not good.  We have to inform Al immediately.  We need him back here pronto.”

“Who was Leon Stiles?” Dom asked innocently.

Ike shook his head, remembering the first time Stiles had been a visitor.  “He’s the only leapee that ever managed to escape the complex.  A guard was escorting Al into the Waiting Room.  Before either of them knew what was going on, Stiles knocked out the guard, grabbed his gun, and held Al up at gunpoint.  I’ll tell you more about it later.  Right now, we need to get in touch with Al and see how long it will take him to get back here.”

“I’ll take care of it,” Dom said.  “You two work on getting Sam’s link established in the Imaging Chamber.  I may have to fill in for Al until he gets back.”

“That shouldn’t be too hard,” Tina commented.  “Didn’t you, like, have to do that once before?”

“Briefly, but it was only for a few minutes,” Dom confirmed.  “We weren’t dealing with Sam having leapt into a cold-blooded killer, though.  There’s no telling what’s going on with Sam’s leap right now, and it probably doesn’t help that he’s had no contact with the Project in almost four hours.  I sure hope Al is in a good mood,” Dom said as he stepped into the elevator hatch and headed for the Communications Level.




Interstate 25, New Mexico

Tuesday, August 8, 2006

22:57 MDT


As Al drove along the highway that ran along the outskirts of Project Quantum Leap, he reflected on the impact that Sam’s leaps had on history and the huge amount of people that were affected by them.  The banquet hall of the hotel had been packed with literally hundreds of people, and yet, that amount was likely only a fraction of the total number of people that were directly affected by Sam’s presence in the past.  The thought brought a smile to the Admiral’s face.

Then, his thoughts drifted back to Sammy Jo and the birth of her daughter, Isabella.  Daniel had made it to Albuquerque just in time to witness Beth helping Sammy Jo in delivering the newborn into the world. Donna, Stephen, and Beth all decided to stay behind for a while to help Daniel get Sammy Jo and the baby to the nearest hospital and administer them into the maternity ward—which left Al to make the long drive back to Stallion’s Gate alone.

His thoughts were interrupted by the sound of his car-phone beeping.  Bringing himself back to reality, Al pressed a button to switch the speakerphone on and said, “Admiral Calavicci here.”

“Admiral, it’s Dom,” replied the voice on the other end of the line.

“Lofty, what’s going on?  Did Sam leap?”

“Yeah, four hours ago.  We’ve been trying to make contact with Sam, but something’s been blocking his signal.  Ziggy wasn’t able to break through the interference until about six minutes ago.  She’s also detecting a minor fluctuation in the timeline.  Something changed that wasn’t supposed to happen, but we won’t know more until someone gets into the Imaging Chamber and gets a lock on Sam.  I would’ve informed you sooner, but we couldn’t reach you after Donna called.”

Sighing, Al said, “It’s okay, Dom.  It wouldn’t be the first time that that bucket of bolts gave us some problems tracking Sam.”

“I heard that, Admiral,” Ziggy’s voice announced over the phone.

“Get off the line, Ziggy!” Al shouted.  “Jeez, haven’t you ever heard of invasion of privacy?”

“There’s more, Al,” Dom continued, the nervousness evident in his voice.  It didn’t go unnoticed by Al.  “Apparently, Sam has leaped into someone that he leaped into once before.”

“That doesn’t happen very often,” Al said in response.  “Did Beeks find out who the leapee is?”

“Umm, well… yes and no.  She’s, um… a bit rattled from her encounter with… er, him, but afterward, Ziggy was able to determine his identity.”

Hearing the way that Dom was stuttering, Al could sense that Dom was holding something back.  “Lofty,” he pushed, “just come out with it.  Whom did Sam leap into?”

“Before I tell you, Al, just know that we’ve got the situation under control.  The leapee is sedated and restrained in the Waiting Room.”

“Dominic, WHO?” barked Al.

“Leon Stiles,” Dom answered, barely above a whisper.

Upon hearing the name Stiles, Al’s face turned as white as a ghost as he said, “Oh boy!  Listen, Dom, I’m about an hour and a half away, but I’ll try to pick up speed a little bit.  You may need to step into the I.C. and go talk with Sam until I get back.”

“Already one step ahead of you on that one, Al.  Tina and Ike are already prepping the Imaging Chamber, but it’s still going to take a while for it to reach full power because of the interference on Sam’s end.  I just wanted to apprise you of the situation before doing anything.”

“I appreciate that, Dom,” Al reassured the head programmer.

“Don’t worry, Sam will be in good hands until you get back.  Dom out.”  The last words were followed by a clicking sound, and Al pressed the button again to hang up the connection.

The Admiral took in a deep breath and exhaled, thinking about the man who would have killed him seven years earlier if he hadn’t been wearing a bulletproof vest.  He could only hope that Sam could survive the new situation he found himself in, whatever it was.




Somewhere in the woodlands of Oklahoma

Friday, October 16, 1959

20:38 CDT


Sam Beckett had been left alone with his thoughts since the evacuation from the flaming wreck of the prison bus.  Surrounding him were five unconscious men who had yet to awaken, much to his surprise.  Not wanting to leave any of them alone, the leaper alternated in moving each of them farther away from the crash site and deeper into the woods for cover.  Without any contact with the Project, Sam had no way of knowing if rescue vehicles would be on the way or not; it was 1959 and an accident had occurred on country roads after sundown.  Most of the farmers would have been heading to bed at the time of the accident and explosion, and Doctor Beckett could only do what felt right—protect his fellow survivors.

Wanting two things—a first-aid kit and some water—Sam realized that neither was at hand.  Even if there had been a first-aid kit on the bus, it surely had been destroyed when the gas tank exploded.  Beyond that, there didn’t seem to be any body of water in the vicinity.  To top it all off, his wrists were beginning to chafe from the handcuffs and it reduced his manual dexterity severely.

Despite the lack of medical supplies and the hindrance on his hands, Doctor Beckett commenced to rip part of the prison uniform he was wearing to create a bandage for Max Connors’ head wound.  Except for a possible broken arm for Officer Hartman, none of the other four seemed to be seriously injured.

“Where are you, Al?” Sam whispered to himself as he began dressing Max’s head.  He jumped slightly when his patient replied.

“What are you doing?” Connors asked hoarsely as his eyes opened lazily.

“I’m putting a bandage on your wound.  Hold still,” Sam ordered.  “None of the other men have woken up yet.  Do you know what we’re here for?”

Connors was quiet for a moment, a pained expression on his face.  It didn’t get by Sam while he finished tying up the bandage.  “What?  What is it?”

Max licked his lips and was quiet again while Sam waited impatiently for an answer.  “Morpheus hasn’t contacted me since the accident,” he finally said.  “He never goes this long without giving me some kind of update.”

“Morpheus?” Sam asked, confused about the name.  “Is that your hologram?”

Shaking his head slowly, Connors explained, “Morpheus was the super-computer I designed to operate the Second Genesis Project.  Ever since I started leaping, he has been my only guide.”

“I sort of remember,” Sam tried to recall.  “Kind of like Ziggy, but… different.  How is Morpheus contacting you, though?  I thought it was destroyed when I contained the explosion.”

“His program was connected to my brainwave patterns, much like ‘Ziggy’ is connected with yours,” Connors explained.  “When you and I both stepped into my Accelerator, something happened during the energy transfer that mutated the effect.  Morpheus’s mainframe was destroyed, but the actual program somehow grafted itself onto my brainwave patterns, allowing me to communicate with it during my leaps.  I guess you could say that Morpheus became a ‘sentient’ program.  Unfortunately… I now fear that the injury I’ve sustained has permanently damaged the program, the connection, or both.”

Sam Beckett looked at the other quantum leaper with worry.  He knew what it was like to feel isolated from one’s source of information.  “If it makes you feel any better, I haven’t had any contact at all with my project.”

“I guess you’ve been abandoned, too, Beckett?” Connors asked with sarcasm.

Before Sam had a chance to respond to the other man’s statement, he heard a voice behind him say, “Sam!”

Turning around, preparing to berate Al for his tardiness, Sam was surprised to see a well-groomed black man standing in his stead holding the handlink as the white rectangular door closed behind him.  “Who… are you?”

“You don’t remember me, Doctor Beckett?  I’m Dominic Lofton, the head programmer,” Dom answered.  “I apologize for being so late.  Al has been out of the complex dealing with a… situation, but he’s on his way back here now.  Since our brainwaves are compatible without the use of bio-chips, I’m filling in for him until he gets back, which should be very soon.”

Concerned about that statement, Sam nervously asked, “What situation?  Please don’t tell me that Stiles escaped again!”

“Um… no, we’ve got him sedated in the Waiting Room,” Dom reassured.  “Al’s absence has nothing to do with the leap, so don’t worry about that, Sam.”

“Well, that’s a relief.  What about, uh, what’s-her-name?” Sam asked.  “The one who usually fills in for Al when he’s indisposed?  Doctor Fuller?  Fulton?  Something like that?”

“Right on both counts, Sam.  Well… technically, Sammy Jo goes by ‘Doctor Fulton’ nowadays.”  Almost forgetting that Sam had to remain on a need-to-know basis, he added, “She’s, um… also…”

“Indisposed.  You know, sometimes it seems like the whole Project gets ‘indisposed’ at the worst possible times,” Sam said sarcastically.

“You have no idea,” Dom mumbled to himself.


Suddenly noticing the presence of the rogue leaper, Dom quickly changed the subject and commented, “Damn it, Doctor Connors is here?  Well, that might explain the reason for the interference and why we had a hard time getting a lock on you.  It could also explain the odd readings Ziggy’s been getting.”

What odd readings?”

“Oh great, let me guess,” Connors interrupted, “your hybrid computer has detected me, hasn’t it?”

“According to Ziggy,” Dom continued, “Leon Stiles was supposed to have been stabbed and killed by a woman disguised as a reporter, just as he was being led away to the transport bus that would have brought him to Oklahoma State Penitentiary to serve his sentence.  But, obviously, that’s been changed somehow.”

“Yeah, Connors saved me.  You mean Stiles was supposed to die all along?” Sam asked.

“WHAT?” Connors shot back.  “But… I didn’t even know; it all happened so fast.  Morpheus didn’t…tell me….”

“What did he tell you?” Sam queried, but when Connors didn’t clarify, Dom continued.

“You see, Sam, in the original history—or rather, the ‘new’ original history that you created from leaping into Stiles the first time—Stiles had killed eight women, mostly prostitutes in their late teens or early twenties.  His last victim, however, managed to escape before she would have been killed otherwise she would have been Victim Number Nine.  She then went to the authorities and gave them a detailed description of her rapist; that’s how Stiles was eventually tracked down and apprehended in Oklahoma.  But not before he managed to accidentally kill Sheriff John Hoyt’s ten-year-old daughter, who happened to be with him at the time.

“When Stiles escaped custody, he succeeded in killing three deputies before breaking into the home of one Carol Pruitt and taking her and her daughter, Becky, hostage—which is when you leaped in the first time.  Hoyt would have killed you if Carol hadn’t talked him out of it.  Ultimately, Stiles was convicted on twelve counts of murder in the first degree along with nine counts of rape and aggravated assault with a deadly weapon.  At the sentencing hearing, it was Carol’s testimony that helped convince enough members of the jury not to push for the death penalty, probably in no small part thanks to the effect you had on her, Sam.  She believed that life in prison was a suitable enough punishment for someone like Stiles and that only God had the right to decide whether someone should live or die.  Because the jury wasn’t unanimous, they were dismissed from service, and the judge gave Stiles life in prison without the possibility of parole.  But before Stiles even got out of the courthouse, a crazed woman got close to him, screaming something about how he deserved to die.  Then she stabbed him and was hauled away by the guards while Stiles bled to death.”

“And no one tried to save him?” Sam asked, horrified.

“This is Oklahoma City, Nineteen Fifty-Nine, Doctor Beckett.  Stiles was a cold-blooded serial killer who mercilessly stalked and preyed on innocent young women.  Carol Pruitt forgave him, but not many people really held much sympathy for the bastard.  Sheriff Hoyt was even quoted afterward as saying that Stiles got what he deserved even though he couldn’t get himself to pull the trigger when he had the chance.”

“But wasn’t that what I was there to change all those years ago?  To stop Hoyt from killing Stiles?”

“Correct, but the reason was so that Hoyt wouldn’t ruin his own career over an act of vengeance; that, and also preventing Becky Pruitt from getting killed in the crossfire.  That was the reason you leaped into Stiles the first time—for Hoyt and Becky, not for Stiles.”

“So then, why in the Hell did I leap into Stiles this time, if history didn’t need to be changed?” Sam demanded.

“We don’t know, but Ziggy says there’s a sixty-two percent probability that Doctor Connors himself may be the reason you’ve both leaped into this situation.  Apparently, this accident was never supposed to happen in any of the previous timelines.  Somehow, the presence of both you and Connors have made things worse.”

“What is your observer saying, Beckett?” Connors gritted through his teeth as he tried to fight back the wave of dizziness and nausea that was beginning to overwhelm him from his injury.

Sam took a moment to relay the information Dom told him to the rogue leaper.  After Sam had finished, Connors had a shocked expression on his face.

“This can’t be right!  How could I have leaped into this time period and caused the very anomaly that I was trying to prevent?  It doesn’t make any sense!”

“Well, whatever the reason,” Dom stated, “you both better figure out something fast, because Ziggy now says that everyone in your group—including the two of you—will be found dead when the search party arrives in the pre-dawn hours!”

“Oh boy,” Sam groaned.





Somewhere in the woodlands of Oklahoma

Friday, October 16, 1959

21:05 CDT


After Dom left, I informed Connors of our new situation.  With his link to Morpheus severed—perhaps forever—he no longer had the ability to directly track the source of any time anomalies he might stumble upon—at least, that’s what he told me.  So now it came down to simple survival instincts.  We both agreed that, for now, we had a common goal:  to find shelter for ourselves and everyone else who survived that deadly bus accident.  My medical skills were possibly the only thing that would ensure the success of our joint mission.  I could only pray that they would be enough…


“Let me take a look at that wound, Connors,” Sam said as he knelt down in front of his temporary ally, who was sitting against a tree away from the other survivors.

“Don’t do me any favors, Beckett.  I’ll be fine,” protested Connors, clearly struggling to hide the intense pain that he felt shooting through his entire head.

“If you don’t let me treat the wound, it’ll get infected,” Sam argued.  “Now, stay still and let me tend to it, okay?  And it would help if I didn’t have these things on,” he said as he shook the handcuffs in front of Max’s face.

Connors sighed with resignation and searched around in his pockets for the key, finally finding it under numerous other keys.  He then unlocked Sam’s restraints and allowed his sworn enemy to change the makeshift bandage around the top half of his skull.  After almost a full minute of silence between the two men, Connors finally decided to break the silence.  “Why are you helping me, Beckett?”

“Does it matter?” Sam asked, not wanting to have to explain his reasons to a man who would sooner kill him.  When Connors didn’t respond, Sam continued, “Besides, I think you already know the answer to that.”

“Ah, yes, the time-traveling Boy Scout whose goal is to help save as many people as he can.  If you only realized how much of a danger your actions are to the natural flow of history, you might think twice about what you’re doing.”

“And what exactly is that supposed to mean, Connors?” Sam demanded, now more than a little annoyed at the other leaper.  “Look, you’ve had it in for me almost since the day we first met all those years ago.  I don’t know what I ever did to you to make you hate me so much, but I never intended to sabotage your Second Genesis Project or your experiments.”

“This is no longer about my project or my experiments, Beckett.  It’s about you gallivanting around in Time like some god, changing people’s lives without their consent.  Okay, sure, you’ve done a lot of ‘good’ things, but what about the people’s lives you’ve destroyed in order to make those ‘good deeds’ possible?”

“Destroyed?” Sam asked in shock.

“Don’t be so naïve, Doctor.  For every good act you create, something bad has to happen elsewhere to keep the universe in balance.  Evil can’t exist without good, but the reverse also holds true.  Evil can never truly be eradicated, otherwise humanity would never be able to evolve and learn from its past mistakes.  It’s that very reason why you will never leap home.  Because deep down inside, you want to continue helping people until there aren’t any people left to save.  The problem with that is that there will never be a timeline in which no one needs to be ‘saved.’  Even you have to realize that your ‘mission’ is a never-ending battle.”

“Maybe,” Sam answered sullenly, “but it doesn’t mean that I shouldn’t keep trying.  I never asked for this job, Connors, any more than you did.  How can you sit there and judge me?  You allowed an innocent man to die because you decided that I needed to be taught some kind of lesson?  Even you can’t be that hypocritical,” Sam retorted.

“I wasn’t happy about killing Patrick Mulhill… but it was for the greater good.  He was meant to die anyway, after how you mutilated that timeline.  I considered it an acceptable compromise.  By changing history, you keep causing more tears in the space-time fabric, and eventually, those tears will rupture into an irreparable hole that will cause a temporal catastrophe.”

“A catastrophe?” Sam asked, confused.  “What are you talking about?”

“I’ve seen it, Beckett,” Connors began to describe.  “The vision is always the same:  a decimated wasteland as far as the eye can see; bodies strewn everywhere, piled on top of one another; a world completely ravaged by some unknown cataclysm.  And then, I look ahead and see a cloaked figure laughing—taunting me—because I was too late to stop him from destroying this reality.  And I can never figure out who he is beneath the hood.”  Connors had never shared his vision with anyone before, but Sam could clearly hear the sorrow and fear in the leaper’s voice.

“Are you referring to a possible future?” Sam asked, trying to make sense of the apocalyptic “vision” that the rogue leaper was describing.  He couldn’t help but remember thinking he had witnessed something like that once before—he just couldn’t recall where or when.

“Possibly.  The future is constantly in motion for both of us, so I can’t be certain of what it holds until I actually live through it—the same as you.  All I do know is that this premonition has been haunting me since my childhood.  It has invaded my dreams for what now seems like an eternity.  I used to think it was foreshadowing a plague or biological warfare gone wrong, or something like that.  It’s part of what drove me to perfect my experiments, and the nightmares greatly diminished as I made progress over the years.  Ever since I began leaping, however, the nightmares have returned full force.  Now, I’m almost certain that the premonition is a warning of things to come—that you are somehow the catalyst for a great disaster that will destroy everything via time travel.  In a sense, you are already destroying everything whenever you change history.  Every timeline you create causes the previous timeline—and the billions of people within it—to vanish from existence.  Your actions pose a grave threat to the very fabric of the space-time continuum.”

“You can’t know that,” Sam denied.  “God or Time or whatever would never allow it.”

“There you go again with that God/Fate kick.  How can you even call yourself a true scientist?  ‘God’ is simply a myth… a concept that people choose to believe in because they don’t want to take their lives into their own hands.”

“Just because science hasn’t proven that God exists doesn’t mean He isn’t real.  It’s called faith, Connors.  And my faith guides me to do the right thing.  I’m doing what… I think He wants me to do,” Sam pointed upward.  “And I seriously doubt that He would allow reality to fall apart so easily like you’re suggesting.”

“Don’t go preaching to me about faith, Doctor,” Connors shot back spitefully.  “I believed in faith once, a very long time ago.  But, faith can only go so far when someone is dying of a terminal illness, like I am.  Like… my father….”

“Your father?” Sam asked, the realization suddenly dawning on him.  “He died from cancer, didn’t he?  That was why you devoted your life to science.  You wanted to make sure no one else would suffer the way your father did.”

Connors tried to hold back the tears as he confirmed, “Yes.  Your Swiss-cheese brain has caused you to conveniently forget how very much alike we once were.  We both came from very similar upbringings—you were born and raised in Elk Ridge, Indiana; I was born and raised in Kecksburg, Pennsylvania.  My father played a crucial role in my adolescent development, just as yours did.  I was always teased and bullied by the other kids because I was so much smarter than them and I hated it.  But it was my father who would always be there when I got home to make me feel better about myself and remind me how special my gift was.”

Sam remained silent as he listened to Max pour his heart out.  Even though he didn’t have a degree in psychology, Sam didn’t need one to know that Connors had a lot of pent-up emotions and emotional scars that ran deep in his psyche.  They had obviously been bottled up inside Connors for so long that he had never fully addressed them up until now.

“He made me a promise that I would never feel alone as long as I kept my faith,” Connors continued, with emphasis on the word faith. “As long as I had that, he would never leave me, he said.  A few years later, he discovered he had cancer.  I prayed to God every night to cure him, and every night, he got sicker and sicker.  And yet, I kept praying, hoping beyond hope that my father would miraculously be healed.  But it never happened.  His last words to me on his deathbed, just before he died, were to keep believing in myself and that he was proud of me.”  **

As Connors spoke about the close relationship he had with his father, Sam was reminded of a similar crisis of faith that Al had once had when his father died so many decades ago.  In recent years, however, Al had mended his relationship with the Catholic Church.  Sam also thought about his own father and how terrible he had felt for not being there when he died.  Even though he was given a chance to say goodbye during a leap not too long before, the guilt still ate away at him every so often.

With that thought in mind, Sam told Connors, “At least you were there to say goodbye to your father when he died, Max.  I didn’t get that luxury until I leaped back in time and got a second chance.”

Doctor Connors looked at his fellow scientist for a moment, opened his mouth to say something, but promptly clamped it shut.  Emotions had come rolling to the surface and he wasn’t about to break down in front of anybody, especially in their current situation.

Instead, he decided to change the subject.  “How are they doing?” Max asked with a jaunt of his chin toward the unconscious men behind them.

Standing up straight, Sam turned around to look at the four survivors who were resting a short distance from them.  His eyes widened when he noticed that there were only three bodies on the ground.

“One of them escaped!” he cursed, charging over to those remaining.

Max wanted to get up to see what Sam was talking about, but the pain surging in his head prevented him from even trying.  “What do you mean?” he asked instead.

Turning on his heels, Doctor Beckett faced Connors again.  “Exactly what I said!  The tall guy, he’s gone!” exclaimed Sam, pounding his fists into his thighs in frustration.  Rushing over to the other three men, he checked their vitals and found that each of them was still out cold.

“I have to go find him.  If any of these guys wake up, tell them to stay put,” Sam said to Max, who just nodded in response and watched Sam leave into the moonlit forest.

There was a hint of a trail through some tramped-down shrubs and Sam decided to follow it.  Unfortunately, the forest was quite dense and had very few clearings in it, so he only had the small amount of light that filtered through the leaves of the many trees from the moon.  The only advantage he had over the prisoner was that he would still be handcuffed, whereas Sam had his restraints removed.

After what felt like over a quarter of an hour of searching, the leaper heard some heavy breathing from nearby that almost sounded like panting.  Walking quietly on the dirt floor of the bush toward a clearing, he followed the noise that was unceasing.  When the sound was so close Sam thought it could be he himself breathing so hard, he peeked around a tree into the opening where the sound was coming from.  He saw a man dressed in a black-and-white-striped prison uniform, sitting on the ground with his cuffed hands resting on his knees.  What struck the scientist as odd was that the criminal had his eyes closed… as well as his mouth.

“Who the heck is making all that noise then?” Sam whispered to himself.  His question was soon answered as a large coyote stepped into the clearing, and all he could do was watch with horror.  Its tongue was waggling back and forth as it panted, which it quickly ceased doing when he looked in Doctor Beckett’s direction and started growling.

Not being very familiar with coyotes, the scientist figured that an old adage would probably fit:  “They’re more afraid of you than you are of them.”  Stepping into the clearing, Sam began to shout at the animal, waving his arms, and clapping his hands.  It growled at him for a moment before it began crouching back toward the trees, and finally turned around, tearing off through the woods.

Meanwhile, the handcuffed criminal had gotten back on his feet, which had not gone unnoticed in Sam’s peripheral vision.  “What are you doing out here?” he demanded of the prisoner, who had to have been at least six-foot four.

“I’m escapin’, what’s it look like?” he replied with a sneer.  His expression softened as he looked off into the forest.  “Thanks fer scarin’ away the coyote, though.  I was snoozin’ there.  Got myself an awful headache.”

Sam approached the man, who took on a defensive position despite the cuffs.  “Don’t worry, I have medical training.  Can I have a look at you?”

“Just a bump on the head from when that bus crashed, I think,” the statuesque prisoner answered as he sat back down to let Sam inspect him.  “By the way, have I seen you before?  Ya look familiar.”

Not wanting to upset the man before he finished examining, the leaper avoided the question.  “I don’t think so.  What’s your name, by the way?”

“Al,” he replied, getting a slight chuckle out of the time-traveler.  “What’s so funny about that?”

Shaking his head as he found the bump on Al’s head, Sam replied, “I have a friend named Al, that’s all.”

The convict made a huffing sound and winced as Sam finished his inspection.  “How’s it look, Doc?” he joked.

“Well, you made off a lot better than most on that bus,” the physicist replied sadly.  “Might want to put some ice on it, but we gotta survive until morning to be rescued.”

“Oh, no way, we ain’t waitin’ around for nobody to find us!  Maybe you wanna go to jail,” Al replied, standing up to full height and turning to face Sam, “but I’m gonna enjoy my freedom.”  To make sure his point was understood, Al stalked off toward the trees, but stumbled and caught himself on a tree.

Sam rushed to his side.  “What’s the matter?” he demanded.

“Just got dizzy, that’s allll…” answered Al as his words started to slur, and he slumped up against the tree.  Once again, he was down for the count.  The leaper heaved a sigh and tried to wake Al up by slapping his face lightly.  When the prisoner’s eyes fluttered open, Sam frowned at him.  “If you go out alone, you’ll probably die.  What would you rather do?  Serve your time and go on to live your life, or die out here tonight in the middle of nowhere?”

Swallowing in an attempt to hydrate himself, Al nodded.  “All right.  You got me, Doc,” he said with a smirk as he attempted to begin walking.  Sam grabbed one of his arms and helped him along back in the opposite direction, hoping that they would be able to find their companions.



After Sam disappeared into the woods, Maxwell Connors found himself able to let out some of the emotion he had been holding back.  Silent tears slipped down his cheeks as he thought about everything he and Sam had discussed.  Why had he opened up to Beckett like that?  Was it just to “get it all out”?  No, he was just feeling vulnerable without Morpheus and could only hope that he would leap out soon.  At least then he would be given the chance to heal and hopefully regain his connection to Morpheus.

As he blinked and wiped his cheeks dry, he noticed that another one of the prisoners had awoken and was rolling over on his side in an attempt to get to his feet.

“H-hey, are you okay?” Connors called to the red-haired convict, who was now standing and getting a bearing on his surroundings.  “Don’t try going anywhere.  We have to stick together until help comes.”

A loud guffaw emitted from the man’s mouth.  “Yeah, right.  I didn’t convince those guys to jump the bus driver for nothing,” the deep-voiced criminal stated as he began to approach the disabled leaper.

“You did what?” Max asked, realizing that this prisoner was one of his main charges on the bus.

“I didn’t do anything wrong,” he replied with an evil smile on his lips.  “If you tell anybody different, I’m going to make sure that you never speak a word to anyone again.  Deal?”

Unable to refuse the offer given to him under the circumstances, Connors simply nodded his head and watched the man go over to the two remaining bodies.  “What’s wrong with these guys?”

“We’re not really sure,” the scientist answered.  “Just like you were a minute ago, they haven’t woken up.”

Much to the chagrin of Max Connors, the redhead started walking back toward him.  “Oh, I’ve been awake longer than that,” he whispered, the sickening grin of a sense of superiority still on his lips.  “I heard pieces of the conversation you and that whack-job Stiles were having.  You took off his handcuffs and let him go wandering around in the woods?  I can’t wait to tell the Marshal Service about this!”  The prisoner glanced at the badge on O’Neil’s bloody shirt and snorted.

The leaper gulped at that, realizing that there was another blip in the timeline.  “He’ll be back,” Connors challenged.  “He just went after another prisoner who had wandered off.”

“Yeah, sure he will, buddy.  I’m just gonna get my pal up here and we’ll be on our merry way, all right?”  Reaching down to take the sidearm issued to a marshal, the criminal cried out in pain when Max executed an uppercut and caused him to fall backward.  That gave the time-traveler enough time to arm himself with the pistol and aim it at the convict as he lay on his back, trying to cope with the pain of the impact.

“What’s going on here?” came Sam’s voice from the fringe of the clearing, followed by Al the prisoner.  The other leaper charged over to Connors and looked down at the groaning criminal.  “Are you all right?”

“I’m fine,” answered Max with a grin as he kept his eyes on his attacker.  “This prisoner was just trying to take my gun.  Put him back with the others and make sure he doesn’t move.  He’s the one that staged the attack on the bus driver and caused the accident.”  The leaper had no intention of keeping Sam in the dark about anything from now on in.  He knew that they needed to be rescued, and if anybody else died, the timeline would deviate farther from anything resembling the original.

With the help of Al, Sam dragged the complaining convict back to the others.  “Al, you make sure he doesn’t go anywhere.  If we’re all going to survive, we have to stick together,” Sam said calmly, getting an assuring nod from his new helper.  Taking a quick check of the remaining criminal and Hartman, Doctor Beckett returned to Connors, oblivious to the holographic observer that popped into existence behind him.

“What do we do now, Beckett?  Keeping them all here is going to let us survive… how?” Max demanded in a hushed tone.

“If they all go running off, I think they’ll end up like Al almost did:  dog meat,” Sam replied just as quietly.

“Why, what did I do?” Admiral Calavicci questioned loudly, causing Doctor Beckett to nearly jump out of his skin.

Gritting his teeth, the leaper turned around to face his observer.  “Al!” he hissed.  “It’s about time you got here!”

“Dom wasn’t enough for you, huh?  You need your old buddy Al as well?  I’m touched, Sam,” the hologram said in a joking voice as he gave Sam a cheesy grin.

As the leaper maintained his composure, he turned toward Max to make it look as though they were having a conversation.  “Enough with the comedy act, Al.  What’s going to happen now?”

“Unfortunately, nothing much has changed since Dom talked with you,” Al said as he looked in Connors’ direction with contempt in his eyes.  “Having Connors around makes it almost impossible to get any conclusive data from Ziggy.  Damn nozzle!  Although I have to admit, I can’t understand why we’ve been having such a huge problem maintaining contact with you.  Even when Connors was around before, it never caused Ziggy to act up like this.  Something seems a bit off; I just wish I knew what it was.”

“Connors isn’t the one we need to be worried about right now, Al,” Sam whispered.  “We’re all in the same boat at the moment, so for the time being, we’ve called a truce until we can get this leap straightened out.”

“He’s tried to kill you three times already, Sam.  What makes you so sure he won’t try to do it again this time?”

“Well, first of all, because he’s had plenty of opportunities over the past few hours to do something, and he hasn’t; secondly, he’s lost contact with Morpheus, so he’s not really in much of a position to determine the best course of action in ‘restoring’ history.”

“He’s right, Admiral,” Connors whispered, realizing that Sam was speaking with Al.  “For now, Beckett and I have the same mission.”

“Morpheus?” Al asked, not recalling the name.  “What, did Connors take the red pill and discover the truth behind the Matrix?” he joked.

“What?” Sam asked back, oblivious to the reference.

“Never mind.  Who the heck is Morpheus?”

“Not who—what.  Morpheus was his super-computer from the Second Genesis Project.  Its program became grafted onto Connors’ brainwaves when he started leaping.”

“Ah, right, I remember now,” replied Al.  Glaring at the rogue leaper, Al continued, “I’m still gonna keep my eye on him; I don’t fully trust him, Sam.”

Deciding it would be best to get back to the subject at hand, Sam simply nodded and asked, “So, when does the search and rescue team arrive?”

“Well, it’s Nineteen Fifty-Nine, so technology was somewhat limited in this time period.  It’s not like they had GPS satellite tracking back then.  That being said, the local authorities began an estimated perimeter search when the transport bus didn’t arrive at the state prison on its scheduled time, which was about two hours ago.  Ziggy says it should take them approximately six more hours to find all of you in the middle of this wilderness.  She also says there’s a huge lightning storm heading directly in your path.  I’d suggest getting everybody out from under the trees and find some shelter somewhere before either the lightning or the coyotes get you, or both.”

Hearing everything that his observer had to say, Sam relayed the information back to his temporary ally who in turn nodded his head in agreement.  Blindly looking back in Al’s direction, Connors added, “What are the odds that we’ll all survive until help arrives?”

As Al looked down to glean more information off of the handlink, a squealing sound caused his expression to change.  “Something’s going on, Sam,” he remarked.  “Ziggy says that history’s changing again.  Now, everyone still dies except for one person, and it isn’t you or Connors.”

“Huh?”  Sam was confused.  “Well, if it’s neither of us, then who?”

Before Al could answer, the sound of a gun being cocked was heard as Sam felt its cold barrel being pressed into his back.

“Don’t move, Stiles,” Hartman said viciously, “or I’ll blow your brains out!”

“That would be Officer Jack Hartman,” Al answered Sam nervously.

It was then that Connors realized just how much of a powder keg the situation had suddenly become.  “Oh boy,” he said in frustration.





Somewhere in the woodlands of Oklahoma

Friday, October 16, 1959

21:57 CDT


“Hartman,” Connors asked, “what are you doing?  I have this situation under control.”

“I’m sorry, Sam,” Al apologized.  “He must have come to while the three of us were talking and cold-cocked that other prisoner so that he could sneak up on you.”

“That’s funny, Archie,” Hartman sneered, “because it looks to me like you’ve been lettin’ Stiles roam free without handcuffs.  I’d say that’s a far cry from having the situation under control, wouldn’t you?”

“He was helping me get everyone to safety,” Connors tried to explain despite how ridiculous it sounded.  “In fact, if it weren’t for him, we’d all be dead right now… or haven’t you noticed that the bus exploded?”

“That head injury you’ve received must have made you delusional,” Hartman reasoned, his gun still aimed squarely at Sam’s back.  “This psycho is a cold-blooded murderer and rapist!  And that STUPID jury couldn’t agree on giving him the death penalty—which is what he DESERVES!  Something that I’m gonna remedy right now.”

“Sam, the odds of Hartman killing you have just gone up to ninety-six percent,” Al shouted.  “You’ve gotta do something!”

“Officer Hartman,” Sam pleaded, “you don’t want to do this.”

“Oh really?” Hartman mocked.  “I don’t think all those women wanted to die either, but you still killed them.”

“What I’ve done is irrelevant, Hartman.  I was tried and convicted in a court of law by a jury of my peers.  It’s not up to you to decide whether I live or die.”

“He’s right, Hartman,” Connors reiterated.  “As much as it pains me to say it, his fate was already decided.  It’s not our responsibility to take retribution for his crimes.”

“That’s bull and you know it, Archie,” Hartman shot back.  “Stiles deserves to die.  We’re out in the middle o’ nowhere.  No one will ever know the difference.  We could just say that he got attacked by a wild animal or even died in the crash.  It doesn’t matter—the point is, he’ll be dead and will never harm anyone again!”

“That’s not your decision to make,” Sam said.

Pushing the cold barrel farther into the leaper’s neck, Jack Hartman licked his lips as a strong breeze made its way through the branches of the trees.  “I’m the officer in charge here, Stiles, so SHUT UP!”  Sam swallowed hard, seeing the look of urgency in Al’s eyes.

“Actually, Stiles is my prisoner,” Max replied, taking on an authoritative tone.  “If anything happens to him, it’ll be my neck.  Put the gun away now, Hartman.”

After screwing up his face for a moment, Hartman whipped the pistol away from Sam and put it back into his holster.  “I swear, Archie, if this guy makes one wrong move, he’s dead—even if it is your neck.”  The guard then stalked back to the other prisoners, barking orders at them to stay put.

“Whew,” Al breathed loudly.  “Now you just gotta make sure he’ll cooperate when it comes to relocating your ‘camp’ to somewhere safer from lightning.  With all these trees here, any one of them could come crashing down.”

Before Sam could reply, a low rumbling of thunder could be heard from the distance.  He was sweating from the physical exertion of the day added to the death threat he had just received.  Wiping his brow, he crouched back down beside Connors.  “Look, maybe it’d be better if I put the handcuffs back on.  It might get Hartman there to calm down a little,” he said to the injured scientist.

“Are you sure that’s such a good idea?  We know that two of the prisoners there orchestrated the entire bus hijacking.  If I hadn’t been back talking to you, maybe this never would have happened,” Max answered with scorn in his voice.  Sam tightened his lips but did not answer, feeling as if the other man was accusing him of helping cause the crash.  “If we’re going to save these people, you’re going to need your hands to be free.”

Al nodded in agreement.  “I don’t believe I’m saying this, but Connors is right, Sam.  With his condition, there’s no way he can help you in any way except holding a gun on someone.  You’re going to have to convince the happy guard over there,” the observer said with a jerk of his thumb toward Jack Hartman, “that you’re willing to help until the rescue team arrives.”  He poked at the handlink and decided against bringing up Ziggy’s hologram; Sam was under enough stress without having the hybrid computer spouting figures at him.

After letting out a heavy sigh, Doctor Beckett looked back to Connors.  “I’m gonna go talk to Hartman.  He must’ve heard that thunder, too.”

Max nodded and put his hand on O’Neil’s gun, just in case anything got out of hand.  He didn’t say anything to Sam but was giving the other leaper the sign that he would cover him.

Walking the short distance to where Hartman was threatening the three prisoners to stay where they were, Sam waited until the guard noticed his presence.  “What do you want?” Hartman spat.

“I was just going to suggest, Officer Hartman, that we move our camp to someplace safer.  There’s supposed to be a mighty powerful thunderstorm tonight and I just heard some thunder,” Sam said levelly and rationally.

A cough of disgust came from the ground, and both men turned to look at the redheaded convict who had attacked Connors.  “Are you really going to listen to this soulless demon-spawn?  I mean he killed at least eleven people.  What if we’re next?”

Al the prisoner stared at Sam’s face as he realized just who he thought his “doctor” had been.  “You’re Leon Stiles!  No wonder ya looked familiar,” the tall criminal said as he tensed up.  “How in the Hell could an illiterate drifter know anything ’bout doctorin’?”

“Just shut yer mouths, all of ya!” Hartman cried out, keeping his eyes on Sam.  “I don’t know what’s goin’ on here, but there’s only one man I trust here and it’s me.  Yeah, I heard the thunder, but we’re not goin’ anywhere with O’Neil incapacitated and the four of you convicts tryin’ to escape.”

“I won’t go nowheres, boss,” Al answered defiantly.  “Stiles said we gotta stick together if’n we’re gonna survive this all.  I for one wanna live to see tomorra.  You tell me what to do and I’ll do it.”

Jack Hartman fixed his gaze on the tall prisoner and ground his teeth.  “Well, for starters, you could shut that trap o’ yers!  I’m in charge here, not Stiles!”

Getting up from his crouching position, Al the convict walked over to face Hartman, who was probably half a foot shorter.  “I dunno ’bout you, boss, but when a man saves m’ life, I tend to say I owe ’im one.  Despite the awful things Mister Stiles has done, he dragged each and every one of us to safety from that bus.  If’n he says we go somewheres safer from the storm, by all means, I say we follow his advice.”

“You said it, pal!” Al the hologram cheered.  “Give this noodle-nose something to chew on.”

Breathing in deeply and then out again through his nostrils, Hartman nodded.  “Sit down and shut up, or I’ll shut you up,” he threatened as he held his gun to the prisoner’s chest.  Shaking his head, Prisoner Al turned away and sat back down at his post to watch the other two convicts.

“Now, as for you, Stiles,” Hartman said with a sneer, “I don’t know what you did to Archie over there, but he sure ain’t acting like his normal self.  I don’t know why you pulled us outta the bus, but don’t think I owe you anything.”

“I never said you did,” Sam replied calmly, trying to make his request sound reasonable.  “I just think if we’re going to make it through the night, we’d better find a better place than in a grove of trees to survive a lightning storm.”

Hiding his surprise at the sudden sanity that Stiles had taken on, Hartman nodded his head.  “I’ll think about it.  Until then, go sit with O’Neil, since you’re under his jurisdiction,” the guard replied coldly.  The leaper did as he was told without a word, taking a seat beside Connors.

“Keep your gun on ’im, Archie!” Hartman called out.  Not a shock to Sam, Max did as he was told immediately, a look of worry obvious in his expression.




Somewhere in the woodlands of Oklahoma

Saturday, October 17, 1959

01:18 CDT


Hartman had finally seen the logic in Sam’s proposition to move to a safer place, especially after multiple rumblings of thunder coming from the distance.  They waited until the remaining unconscious prisoner had woken up before leaving so that only Connors would need help moving around.  Sam volunteered to support the wounded leaper while Al and Hartman made sure that the deep-voiced convict and his associate wouldn’t get away.

Al the observer stuck around the entire time, sitting down for the most part in the chair that he kept in the Imaging Chamber.  Considering the danger of the situation, he was willing to run up the Project’s electricity bill to make sure that his time-traveling companion was safe.

The fallen leaves crunched beneath their feet as the group trudged through the forest, which eventually thinned out into an outcropping of rock.  Al the hologram told Sam to stop.  “This is the perfect spot.  There are a few rocks that you can take shelter under over there,” the admiral reported, pointing the handlink in the right direction.

A bright flash of lightning lit up the sky and was shortly followed by a loud clap of thunder.  “This way!” Sam yelled over the noisy weather as droplets of rain began to splash on his face.  “We can take shelter under the rocks!”

Not questioning his directions, the other four men followed the leaper toward the rocks as the rain started to come down harder and more thunder followed.

“If you can just stay here and avoid anybody going over the edge,” Admiral Calavicci said, rolling his eyes toward Hartman as they took cover under the formation, “then you should be safe until help arrives in the morning.  You’ve only got three or four hours to wait.”

“Is that it?” Sam whispered sarcastically, getting a look from Connors.

“What is it?” the other leaper demanded quietly as he watched Hartman ready his gun at the three prisoners.  “How long do we have?”

Letting out a breath, Doctor Beckett helped Max down to the ground.  “We have three to four hours to wait until the rescue team gets here,” the leaper said as he glanced back at his observer, hoping he heard wrong.

“Just hang in there, Sam,” Al replied as he poked at the handlink for more information.  “Ziggy still says there’s a good chance that Hartman is going to lose it and shoot the whole lot of you, so be careful.  Anyway, Dom says we have to power down the Imaging Chamber for a little while, but I’ll be back as soon as I can.”

Sam nodded in acknowledgement as his observer disappeared through a rectangle of white light, knowing that the next few hours were going to seem like an eternity.





Sam hadn’t been planning on it, but he must have dozed off, because the next thing he knew there was a familiar feeling of cold metal against his skin.  “All right, Stiles, get up,” Hartman whispered as he clamped his hand over Sam’s mouth.  “O’Neil’s asleep, and I ain’t gonna risk you turnin’ on us.  It’s time you met the fate you deserved.”

Following the guard’s orders, Sam stood himself up with the aid of the rocks he was leaning against.  The rain was coming down hard and thunder seemed to be coming from all around.  The two men stepped out into the pouring rain as Hartman held his pistol near the leaper’s Adam’s apple.

A wash of lightning came over the clearing as Al the hologram re-appeared through the threshold of the Imaging Chamber Door.  “Sorry I took so long, Sam, I had to grab my camera,” he said with a chuckle, which stopped dead in his throat when he looked up to see the perilous situation.

“What’s one more loud bang in a night like this?” the guard scoffed as he cocked the gun.  “Say your prayers, Stiles.”

“Sam, no!” the hologram cried out when a deafening shot fired, followed quickly by a loud thunder from the heavens.  His heart was in his throat until he saw Jack Hartman fall lifelessly to the ground.  Both observer and leaper turned around to see Max Connors standing behind them, a look of determination on his face hiding the pain he was feeling.

“Looks like you owe me one now, Sam,” the rogue leaper said with a satisfied grin.

“Th-thanks, Max,” Sam replied, the torrential rain hiding the tears that were threatening to fall.

“I don’t believe it.  He saved you, Sam!” Al exclaimed as he waved his hands.  “The nozzle actually saved your life this time!”

Doctor Beckett walked over to join Connors, whose composure was starting to slip.  Once again supporting the harmed leaper, Sam took him back to the relative safety of the rocks.  Al Calavicci was grinning from ear to ear.

“What happens now, Al?” Sam asked, anxious to leap as soon as possible.  As if leaping into Leon Stiles hadn’t been enough the first time, he just couldn’t wait to leave for the second instance.

Al pressed a key on the handlink, furrowed his brow for a second when the display flickered, and then began to talk when it came back into focus.  “In under an hour, the rescue team will find you.  All five of you here survive, and although it doesn’t help Stiles in any way, a prisoner named Alexander Silcox gets his sentence reduced for helping O’Neil,” the observer reported as he read from the holographic screen.  “Apparently, Hartman had a history of psychological problems.  That, combined with the sociopaths he was surrounded by in the prisons every day, led him to crack under the pressure.  In the original history, he had been responsible for instigating several instances of brutality and physical abuse of prisoners in the prisons but never got caught.  With Hartman gone, O’Neil begins to clean up some of the corruption and maintains order in the prisons.  Also, there are five fewer murders that would have happened otherwise if some of those prisoners had survived the crash and were released later.  History seems to be fixing itself nicely.”

Relieved, Sam said, “So, I guess everything works out in the end, huh?”

“It would seem so, Sam.  Hartman was the reason for everyone turning up dead.  The remaining survivors should have no problem staying safe until help arrives.  I guess you’ll be leaping within the next few minutes.”

As Sam told Connors how everything turned out, the expression on the rogue leaper’s face changed to one of confusion as he said, “Hold on….  Something still isn’t right.”

“What do you mean?” Sam asked curiously.

“I’m not sure exactly.  I’m still sensing some kind of… disturbance in the timeline.”

“A disturbance?” Al asked, thinking Connors had completely lost it.  “I don’t think it’s the timeline that’s ‘disturbed’!”

“Cool it, Al,” Sam reprimanded before turning back to Connors.  “Max, I thought you said that you lost contact with Morpheus.  How do you know that something is wrong?”

“You misunderstand, Beckett,” Connors explained.  “Morpheus controlled my journey somewhat and allowed me to track down anomalies directly at their source.  Although I can no longer ‘feel’ a connection with his program, I can still sense anomalies in the time stream.  It’s just that without Morpheus, it will require trial and error to track an anomaly down to a specific time period and determine what effect it might be having on history.”

“So, in other words,” Sam realized, “you have no idea if this ‘anomaly’ you’re detecting originates here or somewhere else in Time.”

“That’s just it… I sense a ripple effect in motion.  Normally, a temporal fluctuation would only ripple outward from its point of origin—much like a tributary in a river—but in this instance, it’s rippling both outward and inward on itself.  It shouldn’t be doing that.  Ask Admiral Calavicci to check his database for any anomalous readings in that new history, no matter how minor they may seem to be.”

Turning back toward the hologram, Sam said, “Al, ask Ziggy—”

“I heard him, Sam.  He’s the one that can’t hear me, remember?” Al replied bluntly as he began punching some buttons on the handlink.  After a series of weird noises sounded, Al’s expression changed to one of bewilderment.  “That’s odd.  Ziggy is receiving two conflicting pieces of data concerning the fates of Stiles, O’Neil, Hartman and the other prisoners.  It’s showing that nothing has changed, but it’s obvious that history has changed for the better.  So, how come that blip is showing up in Ziggy’s database?  It’s almost like a… hiccup in Time.”

Thinking about what Al said for a minute, Sam suggested, “Could it possibly have something to do with when Connors saved me from getting killed by that woman?”

What woman?” Al asked nervously.

“My God, you could be right, Beckett,” Connors realized.  “I had forgotten about that little ‘incident’ earlier.  Damn it, how could I have been so careless?  Stiles and that woman, whoever she was, must be the key to this new anomaly I’m detecting.  I need to find the answers out there somewhere in Time,” he said with a new sense of urgency.

“Now, just hold on a minute, Connors,” Sam interrupted.  “Let’s not blow this out of proportion.  We have no idea if they’re even related to this ‘hiccup,’ as Al put it.”

“Please, Beckett,” Connors pleaded, “just trust me for once.  I’m the one that inadvertently caused all of this in the first place; now it’s my responsibility to fix the repercussions that come about from it.  You’ve forced me to reconsider my position on time travel.  It’s obvious to me now that there are bigger things going on here than just our conflict.  So, for the time being, I need to shift the focus of my mission to discovering the specific cause of this anomaly.  Just remember, though, that we’re not finished.  I still question whether what you’re doing is right, but for now, this anomaly takes higher priority.  I’ll take care of it… I give you my word.”

“Fair enough, I suppose,” replied Sam, not entirely sure he felt comfortable with Connors “taking care of things” in his absence.

“Are you sure that’s such a good idea, Sam?” Al asked, equally suspicious of Connors’ sudden change in motivation.

“I don’t think we have much of a choice, do you?” Sam whispered to his companion.

“Farewell for now, Beckett.  We will meet again,” Connors finished before he became engulfed in yellow electrical energy and leaped, leaving a confused Marshal O’Neil standing in his place.

“W-where am I?” O’Neil asked.  This isn’t the courtroom!”

“Marshal O’Neil,” Sam immediately said, “I know you’re confused and it would just get even more complicated if I explained it to you, so all you need to know is that our bus crashed and help should be arriving soon enough.”

“Stiles?” O’Neil shouted before noticing the dead body of Jack Hartman.  “I… I killed him… didn’t I?”

“That’s right,” answered Sam, amazed that O’Neil could “remember” that.  He deduced that it must have had something to do with the way Connors’ leaping process worked and how the leapees were reintegrated into their lives once Connors left.  “Help should be arriving soon, so I think it would be wise to put those handcuffs back on me.”

“You won’t get no argument from me on that one,” O’Neil replied as he placed the cuffs back around Sam’s wrists and ordered him to lean back against the rock formation while he checked on the remaining prisoners.

Finally breathing easier now that the leap was coming to an end, Sam turned back to Al and, keeping his voice low, asked, “So?  Why am I still here, Al?”

Thinking about it for a few seconds, Al pointed upward and responded, “Maybe He’s giving me a chance to show you something.”

“What are you talking about?”

Taking a deep breath, Al sighed and said, “I really shouldn’t be doing this, but… what the hell!”  Reaching into the inside pocket of his red suit, the Admiral pulled out a handheld digital camera, pressed a button and turned the screen toward Sam.

Confused at first, Sam asked, “What is this, Al?”

“Just take a look at the screen, Sam.  Consider it a birthday gift from me to you.  Well, technically, it would be a belated birthday gift now, since it’s been over six hours.  You’re probably going to forget about it once you leap anyway.”

“It… it’s my birthday?” Sam asked before he saw the smiling beautiful brunette woman in the picture.  A look of instant recognition came over his face as he exclaimed, “Sammy Jo!”  She was lying on what appeared to be a hospital bed, her head propped up against a pillow.  Standing next to the bed with his arms on her shoulders and a loving expression on his face was a blond-haired man.  Although Sam couldn’t remember the man’s name offhand, he knew that it was Sammy Jo’s husband.  Last, but not least, Sam could see his daughter cradling a newborn infant in her arms.  Wrapped in a pink blanket, the baby girl had peach-fuzz hair with just a hint of red in it and, if he looked just closely enough, also had Sam’s eyes.

“She… had a baby!” Sam realized.  That’s the ‘situation’ that Dom was talking about before?”

“Yup,” Al confirmed.  “I thought, given all of the recent tough leaps you’ve had to endure over the past few months, that you deserved a small peek of your life back home.  And when I spoke to Tom about an hour ago, he agreed with me—one of the few things we both agree on.”

Looking up at that comment, Sam asked, “Tom?  You mean my brother Tom?  He’s at the Project now too?”

“Oh yeah,” Al said matter-of-factly.  “He was recently appointed the new Presidential Liaison for Project Quantum Leap.  Not as bad as Hawkins, but still, I’m not too crazy about having a government watchdog on my back!  He’ll likely be traveling back and forth between here and D.C. on a semi-regular basis.  At least Tom doesn’t have a hidden agenda like that monkey-butt Hawkins did.”

Nodding in response, Sam just looked back down at the camera screen and felt a small tear roll down his cheek.  Still in shock just from recalling the fact that Sammy Jo was his biological daughter, he asked his best friend, “W-what’s the baby’s name?”

“Isabella Abigail Fulton, born August Eighth, Two Thousand Six, weighing in at seven pounds, two ounces,” Al answered with a huge grin on his face.  “I’d give you a cigar, but well… you know.”

“Yeah….  It’s okay, Al.  Showing me this picture is the greatest gift you could give me.  Thank you.”

“Don’t mention it, buddy,” Al reciprocated before finishing with, “So, I guess congratulations are in order for you as well, Sam.  You’re a grandfather!”

Upon hearing the word “grandfather,” Sam’s jaw dropped at the sudden realization that he was indeed old enough to be one.  Before he could say those infamous two words, the blue electrical energy began pulling Sam back into the time stream, and he leaped on to his next assignment.





“When can I go home?” Doctor Sam Beckett heard himself question, though he could not feel his body nor physically hear the words.  The blue-white light was everywhere, healing him, giving him strength.  His body was nowhere and everywhere, now and then.  Only the time-traveller’s soul could speak out.

“Soon enough, Sam,” a benevolent voice replied.  “Not until you are ready.”  The voice often spoke to Sam while he was in this void, but the leaper was never certain of its origins, whether it was external or internal, or both.

Before the quantum physicist could ask another question, he felt the familiar pull of his being getting reassembled, every aspect of his body convalescing somewhere in the past.

Dropping into the body of who or what he was to occupy next, Sam blinked, opening his eyes.  The leaper felt the pull of something strong in his arms begin to provide some resistance against his hold on it.  Losing his balance, he almost fell to the ground before someone gripped his arm and pulled him back.  Looking down in his arms, he saw a wide hose leading through his arms.  “I’m a fireman?  Ohhhhh boy.”




**(*For the full details of Connors’ back-story, please read the Season 1 Finale of The Starbright Project, “Conceptions,” coming soon.)


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