CHAPTER 5 Entering the Control Room, Verbena went to Gooshie who was closely monitoring Ziggy's control panel. The head programmer moved quietly back and forth, his blue eyes keeping an eagle-eye on the fluctuations of energy and a myriad other things that had to be monitored every time Admiral Calavicci entered the Imaging Chamber to contact Sam. He glanced up, sparing the psychiatrist a glance and a smile as she approached. "Good morning, Verbena," Gooshie said. "How's the visitor doing?" Not for worlds would she have hurt Gooshie's feelings, but Verbena took a couple of steps back when his breath assailed her nose. "He's doing better than most," she replied. "Any word from Al, yet?" As if on cue, Gooshie saw a strong power shift on the control panel. "You two must be thinking alike," he said, grinning. "The Imaging Chamber just powered down. He..." The sound of the secured door into the Imaging Chamber, opening, drew both their gazes. Al came down the ramp, chewing on his cigar, his mind clearly focused on something. Reaching the control panel, he held out the handlink to Gooshie for recharging. It was then that he saw Verbena behind the control panel, and his attention shifted to her. It wasn't unusual for the Project's chief psychiatrist to be in the Control Room, but considering the person's whose life Sam had leaped into, as well as the circumstances under which he'd just left his friend, it ticked a disquieting note in the back of his mind. "Problem with the visitor?" he asked around the cigar clenched in his teeth. He took a slow pull from it, exhaling smoothly. Al didn't like the troubled expression that replaced the careful smile Verbena was wearing. "I'm not sure," she spoke thoughtfully. "But I'd rather talk in my office. Have you got a minute?" "Lead the way," Al said, taking the cigar from his mouth. He watched, his face expressionless, his gaze considering as Verbena turned and leftthe Control Room. Whatever was on her mind was even affecting the way she walked. Slowly, carefully, as if her body were on auto-pilot because her mind need her full attention on whatever it was delving into so deeply. He turned to Gooshie again. "I want you to keep a close monitor on Sam. Right now, he's sleeping, and I'm hoping he stays that way for a few hours. But if he wakes up, I want to know about it immediately. Is that clear?" Gooshie nodded. "Perfectly, Admiral." Al then turned his attention to the hybrid super-computer. "Ziggy?" "Yes, Admiral?" the computer responded. "What data do you have on the visitor?" "At present, I have only been able to ascertain data on Mr. Kirkwood through August 16, 1963." "Why's that?" Al raised the Chivello to his lips and took a small puff. "Because on that date, it appears that Perry Kirkwood vanished." "What..." Al began, but was cut off abruptly by the computer. "I believe this conversation would be better completed in the secured confines of Dr. Beeks' office," Ziggy said with a note of finality in her voice. She paused. "And, according to my scanning records, Dr. Beeks arrived in her office exactly twenty-seven point three eight seconds ago." Another pause. "To use a human saying that I've come across many times, Admiral, "the doctor is in", and she's waiting for you." For another moment Al just stood and stared at the swirling globe of softly swirling colored lights that was affixed above and in front of the control panel. He took a long, slow, deliberate pull on the cigar, smoothly exhaling a stream of the cigar's uniquely fragranced smoke. Then he turned and headed for the door. "Remember what I told you, Gooshie," was all he said as he went out the door, brushing past Tina, who was on her way into the Control Room. "What's wrong with him?" she asked, looking out the still open door then back at Gooshie. "He nearly walked over the top of me, and this outfit will usually catch his eye at nearly two hundred yards." The Head Programmer took a quick, appreciative glance at Tina's near form-fitting, one-piece powder blue jumpsuit with a swirling silver-sequined design across the front. "It catches my eye at twice that distance!" he thought. "Something to do with Doctor Beckett," he mumbled, his eyes still tracing every curve that filled the jumpsuit to perfection. Tina saw what he was doing, and went to stand beside the usually shy Gooshie, and poked him in the ribs. "You can do better than that!" she giggled. Gooshie felt the heat rise in his face and averted his eyes to the control panel, his hands fumbling over its surface. "The Admiral was rather pre-occupied when he came out of the Imaging Chamber. When he saw Verbena here, he asked if there was a problem with the visitor, and she said told him she'd rather talk in her office." "So?" Tina didn't see what the big deal was about that. Gooshie made a minute adjust to a dial, then continued. "After Verbena left, Admiral Calavicci asked Ziggy what data she had on the visitor. She said that the data she's found only goes up to August 16, 1963, two days from now, because according to the records, Perry Kirkwood vanished without a trace." "Yeah, so?" "When the admiral started to ask her another question, Ziggy said that it would be better if the conversation were completed in the secured confines of Dr. Beeks' office. And that's when he went by you like you were a part of the door frame." The two were quiet for several minutes, each considering what their conversation could mean. Then, Tina shook her head, coming back to the moment. "Tell you what, I'll take over for a while so you can go get some lunch." Gooshie smiled his thanks, and started to leave, then stopped. "One thing. Admiral Calavicci made it very clear that he wants a close watch kept on the monitors of Doctor Beckett's heart rate, respirations and brainwave activity. If you see indications of change, of any sort, in any of them, have Ziggy notify him and Doctor Beeks immediately. Otherwise, he may hang me from some yardarm...even if he has to build the darned thing!" Tina giggled, waving him on his way. "I'll keep a really close eye on it," she promised. Then a thought occurred to her. "The macaroni and cheese is really good, today!" she called out as Gooshie waved a hand in acknowledgement and disappeared out the door. In the three or four seconds that Tina watched Gooshie leave, then call out to him, there was a sudden, sharp blip on the monitor of Samuel Beckett's brainwaves. It's sharp, spiky activity lasted a full two seconds, then disappeared as quickly as it had appeared. Turning back to the control panel, Tina began a methodical checking of every dial and monitor on it. She cast a sharp look at the dials for Doctor Beckett's heart rate, respiration and brainwave activity, watching them for several seconds. When the activity remained within normal parameters, she smiled and said softly, "Sweet dreams, Doctor Beckett," and moved on down the panel. A minute and a half later, Tina was at the opposite end of the control panel, away from the monitors, her attention focused on a particular energy reading that she was double checking, and so she didn't see the second blip appear on the monitor for Doctor Beckett's brainwave. This one lasted a five full seconds, then disappeared as quickly as the first.