Chapter 4 Verbena walked down the deserted hallway to her quarters. She had seen Al and Beth off this morning and wished them well. Al had been working so hard at trying to find Sam, that she had agreed with Beth that they needed to get him to take some time off. Yes, they had bamboozled him, but at least he had agreed to go. She had set the arrangements up at once and the couple went on a well deserved second honeymoon. She clutched the notebook she was carrying tightly to her chest. It had been a long day. Being the project's only psychiatrist wasn't easy. The stress was getting to a lot of people lately. The uncertainty of what was to come next. Business was starting to pick up, that much was for sure. She thought of Al and Beth again. Come to think of it, I could use a day off myself. We all could. She approached her quarters and put her hand on the palm reader. The machine scanned her palm and verified her identity. The door slid open. She hit the switch for the lights, and entered the room. As she passed her desk, she placed the notebook down gently. Her feet ached with each step she took. Boy was she tired. She stepped out of her pumps and padded over to her desktop terminal in her bare-feet. She pulled out the chair and plopped down with a weary sigh. The machine readily accepted her commands and booted up to the main screen. Checking her messages, she found she had three new ones. One was from her mother. She would answer that one later. One was from a technician requesting an appointment. Verbena scheduled one for next week and sent the man an e-mail to let him know the date and time. The last message was from Donna. She had been worried about Al as well, he had been cranky with her as of late. Verbena made a note to meet with Donna after dinner. Finishing up her messages, she logged off and went to change. Looking through her drawers, she found a comfortable pair of blue jeans. The next drawer held sweaters, so she skipped over it and went to the bottom drawer which held her T-shirts. Her hand fell on one in particular. It was her favorite. Sam had given it to her on her 40th birthday. She fingered it lightly for a moment, then pulled it out. It unfolded and she got a glimpse of a face. A cute doggie face. Sam had the shirt airbrushed for her when he found out she liked pomeranians. She peeled off her business suit and slipped into the jeans and shirt. Sam. She thought of him alot. Heck they all were. She went to sit on her worn sofa and wondered what to do next. Because it was fast approaching the one year mark, some people were starting to give up hope. The government certainly was. Their budget was cut to an all time low. People had been let go. Donna had run out of grants, and the rocks she had been squeezing were fresh out of blood. Ziggy ran on half-power when not searching for Sam. They were going to have to either cut the search time soon, or reduce Ziggy to the bare essentials to keep the project going. There just wasn't enough money. Privately, Verbena wondered if she should be looking for another job soon. She sighed. Al never gave up, she didn't think he was capable of it. Donna refused to even consider that Sam may be gone. Both of them worked themselves to the bone trying to find Sam and keep the project afloat for just one more quarter. As she was pondering over these thoughts, Ziggy interrupted her. "Dr. Beeks?" Verbena glanced at the ceiling. "Yes, Ziggy?" "Dr. Beckett has Leaped." We know that, Ziggy." Verbena was not in the mood for jokes or games. "We just don't know where or when." "We do now." the computer responded smugly. A trifle too smugly for Verbena. She perked up, afraid to hope what the computer really meant. "You mean we have a Visitor?" She always refered to the person in the waiting room as the 'Visitor'. "I believe I just stated that, Dr. Beeks." Verbena's mind raced. Her heart quickened. They could contact Sam! She hopped off the sofa and threw on a pair of sneakers. She had to tell Al. "Ziggy?" she quieried. The room was quiet. "Ziggy?" she questioned again. "Did you tell Donna yet?" No response. "Ziggy?" She called out one more time, in her most authorative tone. "Dr. Eleese has been notified." came the curt response. "Where is she now?" Verbena was a little worried. Donna might race to the waiting room. Verbena liked to examine the Visitor first, before she would let Donna in. "Dr. Eleese is still in her quarters." "Thank you, Ziggy." Good, she thought. Now to get a hold of Al.