Chapter XIV DECEMBER 17,1955 KEARNEY, NEW JERSEY The sound of someone knocking of the bedroom door brought Sam out of a deep sleep. ``Mom?'' ``Yes?'' he replied, groggily, attempting to sit up in bed. The door opened a crack, revealing the face of Dorothy. When she saw that Sam was still in bed, she opened the door all the way and stepped inside the room. ``Mom! You're not ready!'' ``Ready for what?'' Sam asked sleepily. ``For church, of course.'' It was then that Sam noticed Dorothy's fine wool suite. Eudora, having heard her niece's exclamation, poked her head in the doorway. ``Eugenia! Why aren't you ready?'' ``I - I forgot,'' Sam stammered. ``I really think you should see the doctor. You haven't been your self lately.'' ``I think she just needs to rest a little, Aunt Eudora,'' Dorothy said, ``especially after yesterday. I don't think it was a good idea for you to stay out playing cards as long as you did last night,'' Dorothy observed. ``Why not? It's never been a problem for her in the past,'' Eudora replied. Sam jumped in before the conversation went any further. ``I just need some rest, that's all. I'll stay home today. In fact, I'll have breakfast on the table for you by the time you get back.'' This seemed to appeal to them, yet Eudora still looked a bit concerned about it. ``Oh, all right. But if you keep this up, I swear to you Eugenia, I'll call the doctor in for a house call.'' ``I'm fine, really.'' Whether she was convinced or not, Sam wasn't sure. She and Dorothy left, closing the door behind them. He could hear them talking, as the got ready to head out. Sam couldn't hear what they were saying. Lowell, who was still with them, said something, and the front door shut. Sam waited until he heard it being locked before collapsing back into the pillows. Dorothy was right, they shouldn't have stayed out as late as they had. But to refuse the dinner invitation, and the card games, would have just aroused Eudora's suspicion even more, so Sam had no other choice than to go along. Al had dropped in, half way through the dinner, and informed Sam what he'd learned about Alice. The data, though sparse, convinced Sam even more that he wasn't there for her. After Al left, Sam didn't feel as uncomfortable about staying with Eudora and her friends for cards. Of course, once those ladies started playing, they more or less lost track of time. It was well after ten when Sam and Eudora returned home. And he still didn't know why he was here. Frustrated, Sam hopped out of bed. He wasn't so much worried about not leaping, they'd already determined that failure did not prevent leaping. It was the knowledge that *he* failed, that bothered Sam. Al had assured him that Ziggy *was* working on the problem, yet he couldn't account for her slow processing rate. There wasn't a whole lot Sam could do about it, except worry. Sam got changed, and puttered around the house about half an hour, before turning his mind to what he'd make for breakfast. His mind was so engrossed, he missed hearing the Imaging Chamber Door open behind him. ``Sam!'' The scientist jumped, startled by Al's sudden and frantic arrival. ``You gotta get movin'! Ziggy says Timmy Carmichael is gonna die. This morning!'' It was almost a relief to hear those words, because it meant Sam still had a chance. ``How does it happen?'' Sam wasted no time. He was about to dash out the front door, but thought better of it. He made his way to Gena's office, Al trailing, to fetch her things. ``Well, he falls through some ice and drowns. There's a good size pond in the local park, a couple of blocks from here.'' Sam pulled on Gena's boots. ``Al, why was he at the park? Why wasn't he at church?'' ``According to the police reports, Alice told her mother that she wasn't feeling well this morning. As it turned out, she had a rendezvous with Tony, in the park. Dora left Timmy home with her and went to church alone.'' Sam was in the process of bundling up.''And her mother believed her? About not feeling well?'' Al shrugged. ``She must have been very convincing, Sam, but not enough for Dora to leave her entirely alone. Dora thought that Alice wanted to stay home, so she could *call* Tony.'' ``Why did she take Timmy to the park with her, Al?'' Sam asked, frantically searching for Gena's keys. ``So he wouldn't tell on her, I guess. Timmy liked playing on the ice, according to his sister. She promised him he could play on the ice, but he had to promise not to say anything to their mother,'' Al looked up from the link, face creased with worry. He must have realized what Sam was doing. ``Sam, the park's in walking distance.'' ``But it's snowy and slippery out there, Al,'' he pointed out, dumping the contents of Gena's purse on her desk. ``I might not make it in time if I have to watch my step.'' ``But, you can't waste time prepping the car, either!'' The handlink shrieked at him. ``Oh, wait! Ziggy says that if you drive there, you can cut through the park. That'll put you closer to the pond than if you went on foot.'' It suddenly occurred to Sam that the reason Gena walked to work, was because she didn't drive. He never questioned why Eudora did all the driving since he arrived. He was grateful she did. Just when he was about to give up, he found the key, tucked into her wallet. It looked like the spare. ``How long before he dies, Al?'' he asked. ``Uh, Ziggy says in about twenty minutes, give or take,'' Al informed him as they rushed out the back way. The car wasn't in the driveway. Sam began to swear, something he rarely did. There was a look of despair on Al's face. ``Oh no,'' Al whispered. ``They mustve taken the car.'' Sam looked frantically up the driveway, toward the street. ``No,'' he said, remembering ``they took Lowell's car.'' ``Well, where did you park the car then?'' Al demanded. ``I didn't. Eudora drove. She let me out and then --'' Sam stopped, feeling utterly foolish. Without saying a word, he approached the garage and opened it. There was the car, protected from the elements. ``Where was Alice, when Timmy fell through the ice?'' Sam asked, sliding the key in the ignition. It took Al a moment to respond. *Probably feels as foolish as I did, just now,'' Sam thought, hurrying up the driveway to open the gate. ``Uh, she said she and Tony had walked a little ways from the pond, up wind from it. She didn't hear him scream. By the time both of them reached the pond, he'd been under too long. It says here that Tony fished him out, but it was too late to save him.'' ``Al, *why* did it take Ziggy so long to get this information? I could have said something to Dora, days ago. Or at the very least, been on the lookout this morning, when they snuck off.'' ``I don't know, kid. She *insisted* she wanted to be thorough. Beeks thinks it's an ego thing, due to the last leap,'' Al explained, adjusting his image as Sam slid into the driver's seat. ``At the cost of making another mistake?'' Sam asked. He hoped the car was warm enough, and started backing up the long, up hill driveway. ``That doesn't make sense.'' ``What can I tell you, Sam, that's what she said.'' ``Give me the fastest way to the park, Al.'' Sam had cleared the driveway. He toyed with whether or not to shut the gate. He decided against it. They had already lost precious time. Maple Street was one-way and Sam had little choice in which direction to go in at first, but he had no idea in which direction the park lay. ``Okay, go to the corner and turn left onto Archibald Terrace. Make another left unto to Highland Avenue.'' Sam complied. Once he got to the corner of Highland Avenue and Rose Street, he saw why Gena walked. It was quicker. ``Make another left?'' he asked. ``Yep. Cut across Maple and, at the light, make another left onto Kearney Avenue.'' ``Will I get to make a right hand turn any time soon,'' Sam asked tightly, ``just for variety sake?'' ``Yeah, at Duke Street. Keep goin' straight on Duke, until I tell ya to stop.'' Al shook his head looking out the window at the entrance to the park. ``I bet they came this way, to avoid crossing in front of the church,'' Al commented. ``How much longer, Al?'' Sam asked heading up Duke. ``Five, six minutes, Sam. It'll take you three just to get to the pond.'' Duke Street ran through the city park, and Sam immediately saw this had been the wisest choice. ``Stop! Ziggy says just cut straight across this field, down the little incline, and you'll see the pond,'' Al advised him. Sam hopped out of the car, with the presence of mind to take the key with him. He bolted across the street. He was grateful that it was Sunday morning, when most of the residents would be in church. Sam also kept a look out for a roving patrol car, in the hopes of having assistance if he didn't make it in time. Ahead of Sam, Al had centered himself at the top of the incline. ``Hurry, Sam! He's on the ice now! I can see Alice and Tony from here!'' Sam didn't waste any breath asking Al the odds. Instead, he pelted down the hill. He looked in the direction Al had waved at, and saw the familiar brightly colored hat. Alice was the mysterious girl who lurked outside of Gena's window. Knowing it was nearly futile, Sam starting yelling at Timmy. The young boy didn't hear him, but Tony did. The older boy must have figured that his wildly running teacher was trying to warn the little boy, for he too set off toward the pond, yelling. Alice was only a few steps behind. Sam was only a few yards from the pond when Timmy looked in Tony's direction. Al was out on the ice with the boy, knowing there wasn't anything he could do but watch, and warn Sam. ``Hurry! The ice is about to break!'' Al hollered. ``Timmy, get off the ice! Now!'' Sam yelled. Timmy heard and looked down at the ice. Scrambling in fear, he slipped on the ice and fell. To Sam, it was if time slowed. He could see the fear in the little boys eyes as the ice gave way under him. Alice screamed as her brother fell through. Sam slowed down, before stepping out onto the ice. ``Mrs. Grayson!'' Tony called, ``Let me! I'm lighter!'' Sam stood anxiously on the edge of the ice. Timmy surfaced, crying and flapping his arms. He tried to hold on to a piece of ice, but he couldn't get a firm grip and he slid back under. Alice was crying. Tony ignored them all. With amazing calmness, he carefully set out across the ice. At a certain point, he got down on his knees and crawled the rest of the way, before stretching out flat. Sam saw what he was attempting to do, and carefully crossed the ice, and stood ready to haul Tony and Timmy in, once the older boy got hold of him. Out the corner of his eye, Sam saw Alice trying to join them on the ice. ``No, Alice! Run and get help!'' ``But Timmy's drowning!'' She wailed. ``Go!'' Sam and Tony yelled. Sobbing, she took off in the direction Sam had come. Sam wondered if she'd find anyone. He glanced over at Al, who was watching Tony intensely. Sam knelt on the ice, while Tony carefully inched further, arms up to his shoulder in water. ``I got him!'' he yelled, triumphantly. ``He did it, Sam!'' Al exclaimed, before Timmy's head had even surfaced. ``He saved Timmy!'' The younger boy was breathing and crying as Tony hauled him out of water. Sam shed Gena's coat and carefully dragged the two boys way from the hole. ``It's okay, Timmy,'' Tony was saying, ``I've got you. You're gonna be fine.'' Sam wrapped Gena's coat around the little boy. Timmy seemed as if he didn't want to let Tony go, so Sam let the little boy cling to his rescuer. Tony wrapped his arms around the boy and rocked him gently. Sam stared at the young man, wondering why the other had considered him no good. Sam looked up at his hologram, with a questioning look. Which he misinterpreted. ``I don't know why you haven't leaped, Sam,'' he said with a small frown. Sam decided that this wasn't the time or place to get into a conversation with Al. ``Alice?'' Timmy asked weakly. ``She went for help, Timmy,'' Sam said, soothingly. He through a look at Al, and this time he understood. ``I'll go see.'' He punched out, and was back before Sam could move a muscle. ``Here she comes, with the police.''