Christina L. Bartruff (firstname.lastname@example.org)
DECEMBER 19, 2000 PROJECT QUANTUM LEAP STALLIONS GATE, NM Al's arm closed around thin air as the abandoned building dissolved into the blue-white Imaging Chamber. The handlink slipped unnoticed from his numb fingers. The noise it made when it hit the floor echoed around the silent, empty room. He closed his eyes and sank to the floor, waiting for the memories, or Ziggy's voice, to tell him what he feared had happened. Al clenched his fists, and realized that he was still wearing a wedding ring. *Oh, God. Sam*. The pain was just as sharp. "Damn it, Sam, why didn't you listen to me?" he whispered. Al covered his face with his left hand. He was afraid to call for Ziggy. Afraid she would confirm his suspicions. At least, if he sat here and said nothing, he could pretend that everything was fine for a little while longer. "Admiral?" Ziggy's voice sounded subdued, sad. Al lowered his hand and opened his eyes. "What?" There was a long, painful pause. "I'm sorry, Admiral, but I have to inform you that . . . " The computer cut itself off. "I have estimated that Dr. Beckett will land at his next assignment in approximately seven days." It took a moment for the significance of Ziggy's statements to register. "No," he whispered, his voice breaking. "Beth." And then the memories came.
Less Than Perfect