Chapter 4 Not even the Leap when Sam had come within seconds of being electrocuted just as that Leap had begun, had made Al feel as helpless as he had for the last four minutes. After telling his friend to choose his words carefully, the Observer could only watch as Sam, battered and bloody, was intimidated, kissed and almost fondled by the "animal" married to the terrified woman being cared for in the Waiting Room. Like Sam, Al continued to hold his tongue until the brute left the house, and he heard a car start, then drive away. Going to the bedroom's double windows, Al managed to catch sight of the back of a red Chevy Caprice, Tommie's husband at the wheel, disappear from sight. But not before Al had read, then punched in the numbers on the license plate into the handlink. "Gooshie," Al said aloud. "Have Ziggy run that plate and get back to me immediately. I got a bad feeling about this Leap, so don't take any guff from 'her'." Sam, aching all over, his head pounding, still sat with his back the wall. Gently he dabbed at the blood trickling from his nose while he waited, listening to the Observer. "From the looks of your face, I'd bet your nose is broken. Those shiners are gonna be real beauts by tonight," Al said quietly. "How do you feel?" "Like I've been beaten within an inch of my life, and just missed being raped," Sam snapped. "How the hell do you think I feel?" Moving carefully, he got to his feet, putting a hand on the wall to steady himself when he suddenly felt lightheaded. When his head was clear again, he turned to Al. "Besides the fact that he's my "husband", just who is that manic?" Sam demanded, his tone soft in acquiescence to the pounding in his head. "Who's hell have I been dropped into, Al?" Al started punching buttons on the handlink. "Let me see if Verbena's had any luck calming the woman in the Waiting Room. Believe me, Sam, she wasn't in any state to talk coherently when she arrived. In fact, she was still screaming that the guy..Derek was gonna kill her..." "I know how she feels," Sam said muttered as he walked slowly across the room to sit on the bed. "Okay, we got something," Al said, punching in responsive codes as Ziggy fed information into the handlink. "It's not much, but Verbena was able to get the woman's name, and Ziggy ran the license plate from the car. The car is registered to a Derek Floyd Emerson. He lives, with his wife, Tommie..you..at 2113 Corona Drive in New Orleans. Hey..you're in the Big Easy!" Al enthused. "This is _the_ partyingest town in the world. I remember one time..." At the moment though, all Sam could, or wanted, to think about was getting some medical attention; from the way his head felt, he was about ninety percent certain he had a concussion. And, if the gleam in the Observer's eyes was any indication, Sam knew he was about to be regaled with a bawdy recitation of some misadventure Al had been part of in his younger years. "Al!" Sam nipped the budding story sharply, then gasped at the way his vision blurred for a second when he snapped his head up to glare at the hologram. "Could you please...just tell me..whatever it is you have on whoever I am." He eyed the pillow longingly, but knew it was out of the question until after he was examined by a doctor. "Sorry, Sam," Al apologized. Kicking himself for wandering down memory lane, he began punching buttons on the handlink and started reading the information that Ziggy was providing. "We don't have much so far, considering what your counterpart in the Waiting Room looked like when she arrived." he began. "Okay, uh your name is Thomasina Victoria Emerson, but everyone calls you Tommie. You're twenty-four years old, and both your parents are dead; your father, Albert Jefferson Hewitt Chastaing died of a massive heart attack three weeks after your marriage seven months ago." "Seven months ago from.....when? What year is this?" "Oh, it's..uh, today is April 7, 1987. Which means that you..Tommie and Derek were married in October 1986. October 2, 1986 to be exact." "How did she end up married to that animal?" Sam asked as he stood up and moved toward the open bathroom door on the opposite side of the bed. The low glare florescent lighting in the bathroom hurt Sam's eyes as he stood at the sink and looked at what should have been the fairly pretty face of Thomasina Emerson. Instead, the face that looked back at him, framed by short, curly blonde hair was, he suspected an almost mirror image of his own face. Sam reached up to touch the shallow cut at Tommie's hairline, just above her left eye, watching as the battered young woman in the mirror mimicked his moves. There were streaks of partially dried blood down the left side of her face and matted in her hair. Tommie's eyes..[Blue], Sam thought, peering closely at Tommie's reflection..were barely visible through the swollen, purple-black flesh around her eyes. The horrific bruising, caused by her nose being broken, extended halfway down her face. Blood from her nose had run down over her mouth, mixing with the blood from the splits on her lip. Turning on the cold water, Sam let it run a minute while he found a washcloth in the narrow linen cupboard behind the door. Wringing it out in the cool water, he began to gently wipe his face, gasping and wincing with each touch. "How's Tommie doing?" Sam asked when, after five minutes he was satisfied that the bleeding from his nose and lower lip was stanched. When Al didn't respond with a few seconds, he glanced him. He had seen similar expressions during other leaps, and each time it meant he wasn't about to be given any encouragement that the leap was about to take a positive swing. "Go ahead," he said wearily, knowing that whatever it was he was about to hear was going to multiply whatever it was he was facing in this Leap. "Drop the piano on my head. What?" "Remember," Al began, "that these are Ziggy's first super rough calculations about what you're here to do." "Yeah?" Sam didn't bother to look up as he dabbed some antiseptic cream he'd found in the medicine cupboard on the small cut on his lower belly where Derek had paused with the point of the switchblade. He looked up when Al didn't speak quickly enough. "Ziggy says that Derek's the reason you're here." "Then that trillion dollar bucket of bolts is out of her hybrid mind if she thinks I'm gonna help that son of a bitch do anything," Sam snapped, then wished he hadn't when the pounding in his head increased. "You're not here to help him 'do' anything," Al said carefully. "You're here to stop him." "From doing what?" "Killing fifteen more women over the next twenty-seven months." "Fifteen more wo...what is this guy? A demented murderer?" "A lot of people in this city believed that he was but, nothing could ever be proved. There wasn't even circumstantial evidence that could be linked to him in any way whatsoever." He paused. "There's more." "Isn't there always?' Feeling his knees begin to buckle, Sam grabbed the lip of the sink then sat down on the closed lid of the toilet, then stared at Al as he continued speaking. "Ziggy also says that if you don't come up with something that'll link him to the eight women who were raped and murdered over the last seventeen months...he's going to kill you some time in the next nine days."