Chapter 3

	"I'm here to save Susan's life," Sam concluded.
	"Not just her life," Al said quietly.
	Sam looked at Al with concern. "What happened... What's going to
	Al's face grew sad. He spoke without once looking at the handlink.
"Susan's going to go home to her apartment which she shares with her
sister Angela. Her sister won't be home. Susan undresses and takes a
shower. When she steps out, someone grabs her and kills her." He
hesitated. "She survives just long enough for Angela to find her dying
on her kitchen floor from knife wounds to her abdomen."
	Sam frowned at the manner in which he had spoken. "You speak as if you
were there."
	Al looked at Sam with surprise. "I wasn't there, Sam," he told him,
sounding a little defensive. "It was completely impossible for me to
have been there." He started to pace again. "I wish she could have
understood that."
	"Susan?" Sam questioned gently.
	Al shook his head and looked at him. "Angela." He stopped pacing. "She
committed suicide this morning." He lowered his head. "And she made sure
that I was there to witness it."
	"Oh, my gawd!" Sam exclaimed. He closed his eyes in sympathy before
looking up at his friend again. "She never got over her sister's death?"
	Al shook his head. "No, she never did."
	Sam exhaled sadly. "Why you?"
	Al hesitated. "She has always believed that I killed Susan."
	"But you didn't."
	Al glared at him. "Are you doubting me?"
	Sam stood, frowning at his friend. "Of course not, Al. You know me
better than that. I'm just getting all the facts."
	Al's face softened a bit at the realization of his question. "Sorry,
Sam. I guess I'm still a little bothered by not being able to save
	Sam gave him a reassuring smile. "We'll both save her when we save
	Al nodded. "And we'll save her from years in a mental hospital. You can
see how Susan's death was one hell of a big wrong."
	"Did they ever find her killer?" 
	Al shook his head. "Never. Yet another reason Angela blamed me."
	"She needed a scapegoat," Sam concluded. "But why you? I mean, other
than you used to date her sister, I don't see the connection."
	"She insisted that Susan named me as her murderer before she died."
	"That's impossible!" Sam exclaimed. "You couldn't murder anyone, Al!"
	"I'm glad you think so," he replied. "Because I did have the perfect
	"And that was?"
	Al gave him a small smile. "I was orbiting the Earth in the space
shuttle, launching a military satellite." He paused. "Now, tell me
that's not one hell of an alibi."
	"But Angela still insisted that you did it," Sam stated.
	Al nodded his head sadly. "Yeah. Poor woman."
	There was a moment of silence between the friends as they thought of
the situation in which Sam had leaped.
	"What time does Susan die?" Sam questioned.
	Al checked the handlink. "We aren't sure. Sometime between four and
six. Ziggy says the best way to keep her safe is to take her out
tomorrow night. That is unless her murderer is someone she knows. In
which case, the time and date of her death may shift."
	"How's that?"
	"If her murderer knows her, it's obviously not a random act of
violence. So, the guy would be watching for opportunities to do it and
get away with it." He hesitated. "I hate to say it, but I think it could
be someone she knows. The police said that the door was unlocked so
anyone could have gotten into the apartment. But, from what I remember
of Susan, she never left the door unlocked when she was alone in the
	"So, you're saying that whoever killed her had to be someone she knew
because he would have needed to have a key to get into the apartment."
	"Exactly," Al told him.
	Sam exhaled. "Terrific," he said sarcastically. He exhaled loudly. "So,
how do we find out who this guy is?"'
	Al looked at him firmly. "The only way we can at the moment. I'll go
back and have Ziggy run a few things around in that hard drive of hers
while you keep an eye on Susan." He opened the Imaging Chamber door.
	"Wait a minute, Al," Sam stopped him. "Where's Susan's apartment?
What's her phone number? I'm supposed to keep an eye on her, right?"
	"Oh!" Al said quickly, stepping back into the Imaging Chamber. He
punched a few buttons on the handlink and slapped it before he got what
he wanted from the small device. "Here you are," he told Sam, showing
him the information he needed. "Watch out for her temper, Sam. She can
be a tornado if she's pushed hard enough."
	Sam gave him a small smile as Al slipped through the door and
disappeared from Sam's sight.
	Sam exhaled at Al's words and began to form a plan of defense for the
fiery Beth-look-alike.

	Verbina Beek's calm composure cracked the moment she left the Waiting
Room, suddenly free to let herself show her anger and frustration. She
glared at Al, who had just returned to the Control Room as well.
	Al took a step back, surprised by the glare. "What is that for?" he
questioned her.
	"Do you know what that... THING... has been doing?" she said angrily.
"He's been trying to judge my bra size!" She slammed her handlink down
on the control console as Al placed his on it with much less force.
"That man is impossible!"
	Al held back his amusement of Verbina's situation but not enough for
the psychiatrist not to notice.
	"Of course, you would find this amusing! You're not the one being
sexually harassed!"
	"Calm down, Verbina," Al told her. "This isn't the first time we've had
a guest make a pass at you."
	Verbina exhaled. "This wasn't a pass, Al! This was sexual harassment!"
	Al thought about her words, his face looking at her with genuine
concern. "Do you want me to put a little pressure on him so he'll stop?"
	She exhaled again, finally calming herself. She shook her head. "No. He
isn't being very cooperative with giving us information now and his
personality indicates that he'd just close up completely if we put
pressure on him."
	Al was uncertain. "Are you sure?"
	She nodded. "I'm sure. Thanks for the offer, though. I can handle him."
She sounded like she was trying to reassure herself rather than Al.
	He nodded a bit. "Okay. If you really are sure..." He took a breath.
"If you change your mind, let me know. I'll be glad to teach the guy a
lesson on respecting ladies."
	Verbina smiled at his words, taking them for the genuineness of his
intentions. "Thanks, Al. I'll remember that."
	Al gave her a friendly smile before turning towards Dr. Gushie F.
Conelf, the head programmer for the project.
	"Gushie," he told the small nervous man with halitosis. "Have Ziggy run
scenarios to find out who Susan's killer could be if it were someone she
knows. Update me on her progress."
	Gushie nodded. "Right away, Admiral," he answered as Al and Verbina
left the Control Room together.
	"So, other than sexual innuendoes, what have you got from Dick
Anderson-Kemp?" Al asked as the two walked to the elevator, seeming to
head for the same destination.
	Verbina shook her head. "Very little. He has no idea who would want to
kill his fiancée. But he did swear that he would, and I quote, 'kill the
fucking bastard' once he finds out who attacked her."
	Al gave a small shrug. "Can't really blame him for the sentiment. She
is his fiancée, after all. I would've reacted the same way if I were in
his place."
	Verbina frowned in disgust. "The man has a mouth more foul than yours
when you're angry. And that's when he's calm." She rubbed her hands
together. "I can't wait for this leap to end and soon. He gives me the
serious creeps. I can't see how any woman would find him attractive."
	"She likes it kinky," Al commented. "Maybe that's his appeal to her."
	She exhaled. "Maybe." The two entered the elevator and started up to
the fifth level. "But what she may find attractive, I find disgusting."
	Al said nothing, letting the elevator reach its destination and
stepping out. He turned, noticing that Verbina wasn't following him as
she usually did.
	"No coffee break today?" he questioned.
	She shook her head. "I think I'll go take a nap, get ready for round
three in the ring with Mr. Chauvinist Pig."
	Al smiled with understanding. "Don't let him get to you, Verbina. You
won't have to see him again after a couple of days."
	She gave him a slight nod just before the elevator door close and
continued towards the residents' apartments.
	Al proceeded to the cafeteria, procured his cup of steaming hot coffee
with three packets of sugar, and took it down to his office where a pile
of paperwork waited for his attention.