CHAPTER ONE Sam Leaped into a headache. Not five feet behind him some device was shrieking at incredible volume and a horrendously high pitch, the singular and spine-chilling wail of feedback. He felt like the whole world was coming to pieces around him. [Not another airplane!] That sounded too much like fighter engines, and Sam Beckett, Ph.D. several times over, had no idea how to fly. Worse, the Leap-in still had him half-paralyzed so he couldn't do a single thing about it. "God Almighty, Sam!" called a distinctly British voice. "Turn that bloody thing off!" The Leaper, still disoriented from the Transit, whirled around as if he was being addressed. This earned him a strange look from the British man as another person in the room, presumably named Sam, moved to stop the noise, much to Beckett's relief. "That's a noise to make a banshee break out in a cold sweat, isn't it, Paddy?" The man was looking straight at him, so Sam figured it was a pretty safe bet that he was to answer. "Yeah..." he answered with a weak smile. "That would do it." "Sorry, guys," called...that must be Sam, the Leaper decided. This voice had the sound of the American Northeast. "Boy, Paddy, you shouldn't sit next to the amp! That's a good way to lose your hearin', you know." Sam smiled again, and said, "I wasn't thinking about it." [I wasn't here, anyway!] Sam thought indignantly. He began trying to piece together the puzzle he had Leaped into. He noticed he had an electric guitar in his hands, and looking around the room, he counted two more guitars, a keyboard, and a massive drumset. The band was practicing on a stage inside a huge auditorium, and there were no people around except the band itself and the roadies. "Well, you'd better think about it from now on," warned Sam the guitarist. "I don't want you goin' deaf on me. Really, Paddy, you need to use some sense in the future." "The future?" Sam Beckett asked. "Oh, I think about the future all the time," he replied quite honestly. "Oooh, wow," came the mocking voice of another guitarist. He began to mock the Irish burr of Sam's host. " 'This is the Psychic Friends Network, Paddy speaking. I see great things in your future...' " He finished by humming the theme to 'The Twilight Zone.' A mock-serious voice emerged from behind the stage, and soon after came a man dressed in khakis and a black sweater that shrieked 'Overdrive' in neon pink letters. "Okay, people, you can stop clowning around now! Especially you, Tom." The mocking musician faked a not-very-convincing look of guilt. With excitement in his voice, the new arrival announced, "We've got a concert in four days, and you need to be ready to blow everyone away! Let's get a move on!" "Come on, Demon," groaned the long-haired drummer, "can't we have a little fun?" 'Demon' showed absolutely no reaction to the name applied to him by the bandsman. "No!" snapped the man with a ferocity that wasn't convincing anyone, even himself, judging from the merry glint of his eyes. "Fun is not a word that belongs in our vocabularies." After a pause, he finished, "You know...I think you need to go home early, especially you guys who have to leave your families at home when you're on tour." A loud cheer rose up from the band and all of the roadies, except for a very confused Sam Beckett. "Long live Demon! LONG LIVE DEMON!" "I know, I know," he replied to the exultant band members. "Ain't I somethin'?" The camaraderie of this group was amazing. Sam Beckett followed the other Sam out to the parking lot. [Where do you call home, Paddy?] Beckett wondered. He looked around and saw, he guessed about twenty cars parked. And he had absolutely no idea which one was his. "Ahh no," the Leaper groaned to Sam. "I forgot where I parked my car." "Duh, Paddy, it's right there in front of you." The guitarist rolled his eyes. Beckett mustered up a sheepish smile and thanked Sam. To his immense relief, he discovered that his car keys were in his front pocket (he always worried someday he'd Leap into someone who'd locked them in the car!), and as he waved goodbye to the musician, he unlocked the door to Paddy's Volkswagen Bug and cranked the engine, which purred to life, and the Leaper drove off, having no idea where to go. Luckily, Paddy's driver's license revealed his address, which was in San Francisco, and Sam discovered an immense collection of maps in the glove compartment, one which turned out to be San Francisco. As he slowly found his way home, he began to wonder where Al was. He was usually here by now, he grumbled inwardly, to help with things like this. If Paddy hadn't had all of those useful maps in the car, Sam had no idea where he'd be right now. At last, he arrived at the proper address to find a very nice-looking one-story house made of reddish brick. Inside, he could hear a large dog barking as his master's car drove up. He hoped the dog didn't react badly to the fact that his master wasn't exactly at home, and crossed his fingers as he unlocked the door. A huge black Labrador with the word 'LUCY' printed in black on a screaming neon pink bandanna came bounding out and suddenly shrank back, whining. What was this that had intruded on her house? It smelled like her master, it wore his clothes, but it didn't look like him. The dog slunk away into the living room, tail between her legs. Sam plopped down on a couch, exhausted and frustrated. "Come, come, now, Samuel, don't spend the whole Leap wallowing in misery." Sam whirled around. Samuel? Samuel?! _No one_ called him Samuel. Except...no... Standing behind him was a tall man wearing an old-fashioned, subdued black suit, and gently holding a handlink in his right hand. No... Never had the Leaper felt this awful, heartrending feeling, that his soul was about to tear itself apart. Sam wanted to cry. But all he could manage was a strangled-sounding, "Oh, boy..." Because the hologram facing him was Edward St. John the Fifth.