From Tue Mar 14 00:38:17 2000 Return-Path: Received: from (cfa []) by (8.9.2/8.9.2/cfunix S 0.5) with ESMTP id AAA13758 for ; Tue, 14 Mar 2000 00:38:16 -0500 (EST) Received: from ( []) by (8.9.2/8.9.2/cfunix M-S 0.1) with SMTP id AAA21833 for ; Tue, 14 Mar 2000 00:38:13 -0500 (EST) Received: (qmail 14435 invoked from network); 14 Mar 2000 05:37:35 -0000 Received: from (HELO justine) ( by with SMTP; 14 Mar 2000 05:37:35 -0000 Message-ID: <001b01bf8d77$006f9300$6e12fea9@justine> Reply-To: "Hilary Mullins" From: "Hilary Mullins" To: "Brian Patten" Subject: My email of earlier today Date: Tue, 14 Mar 2000 15:34:41 +1000 MIME-Version: 1.0 Content-Type: text/plain; charset="iso-8859-1" Content-Transfer-Encoding: 7bit X-Priority: 3 X-MSMail-Priority: Normal X-Mailer: Microsoft Outlook Express 4.72.3110.1 X-MimeOLE: Produced By Microsoft MimeOLE V4.72.3110.3 Content-Length: 18017 Status: OR Dear Brian, Sorry, I've just sent my email to you and can't remember if I sent it HTML or plain text. Here it is again, definitely in plain text this time. Dear Brian, The newbie here again. I think I've worked out how to send 'Vacation' in the format you want. The first part of Chapter One is given below. If you decide to accept it for your site, please don't put it on just yet as I'd like to add an intro explaining how I came to write it. QL started me on this writing thing and I'd like to acknowledge my debt to all concerned. I'm merely sending this now so you can confirm that I have the format right and whether or not you want it. Thanks, Hilary Mullins Author's Name: Morgan Thomas Author's Email: Story Name: Vacation Chapter: Prologue and first part Chapter One VACATION by MORGAN THOMAS PROLOGUE Skydiving. It was like skydiving. Stepping out into the void, leaping into the unknown, stomach churning with anticipation. It was wonderful, magnificent, incredible...superlatives crowded his mind. He twisted and turned, soaring effortlessly, catching air currents, diving, somersaulting like an acrobat. No-one else could do this. No-one else could Leap as he could, fly through time. Exhilaration filled him. He almost missed an air current. His maneuvers were not so graceful now, each one taking more effort to accomplish. He was tiring, but still he managed to catch the currents. Then he realised the air was catching him, great gusts tearing at him, flinging him around like a rag doll. Clumsy with fatigue, it took all his strength to make the moves. There was no parachute. The realisation smashed into him like a heavyweight's fist. He saw Earth rushing to meet him as he plummeted down, tumbling headlong, out of control. He twisted and turned desperately, only just catching an air current, then another, then - barely - another. One false move would send him crashing to earth. Or was there no Earth beneath him? Nothing but the yawning well of the void stretching into infinity? He was a speck, a mote, falling. Falling in time forever. A whimper of fear began somewhere deep inside, gathered momentum, became a great shriek of terror, which tore out of his throat like an express train from a tunnel. SEPTEMBER 2, 1977 CHAPTER ONE A hand touched his shoulder. "Excuse me, Dr Beckett." He swung around in his chair. A girl stood by him. "Yes," he answered automatically, trying to regain his equilibrium from the Leap, and failing miserably. "I'm sorry to disturb you, Dr Beckett, but you must get ready to leave. I have to close the library in five minutes." "Oh. Sorry." He stood hurriedly. His head swam and he grabbed the edge of the battered table in front of him. He swallowed hard, fighting the confusion whirling through his mind like autumn leaves and dust whirled by a wind. Out of the corner of his eye, he could see the librarian watching, patiently, as though she was waiting for something, waiting for him to go. The table was littered with open books, pens and a lecture notepad covered in scruffy writing. They must belong to him. He piled up the books with fumbling, tired hands and heaved them into his arms. Here he went again, trying to pick up the threads of someone else's life, booted out onto the street before he'd even had a chance to find out his name, let alone what he was doing here. His name. "WHAT did you just call me?" "Dr Beckett. It is Dr Beckett - Dr Sam Beckett - isn't it?" The librarian smiled. A nice, friendly smile. The books slipped from Sam's fingers onto the table with a thud. "O-o-h boy." * * * * * The ground heaved. His legs buckled and he sank down onto the chair, staring up at the girl. She was young - very young, early twenties - with a pleasant, open face and curling red hair. Apart from her youth, she looked a typical librarian, neat and conservative in a pale-green blouse, navy skirt and sensible shoes. There was a slight lilt to her voice, not quite all-American, that he couldn't place. She was still smiling in a reassuring manner and it struck him that she was quite calm and relaxed, her hands clasped lightly in front of her. She had called him by his own name. She knew who he was. Sudden excitement lifted his spirits, filled his heart with joy. If she knew who he was he must be - "I'm sorry, Dr Beckett," she said gently. "You're not home. This is 1977, it's a Leap. It isn't home. I'm sorry." The joy was gone. He was consumed by the old longing, the gnawing, continuous ache for home. Of course this wasn't home. Nothing felt the slightest bit familiar. Though he probably wouldn't recognize home if it jumped up and bit him. He hadn't the slightest idea of where or when home was. He swallowed again, thrusting away his disappointment, forcing himself to concentrate on his current situation. The girl was still watching him. How could she know who he was if it was 1977? It was just not possible. No-one he met while Leaping knew he was Sam Beckett. "How - how do you...?" He couldn't even finish the question. "Know who you are? You told me," came the astounding reply. "You sent me a letter. In fact, I've been receiving letters from you since before I was born. I know quite a lot about you, Dr Beckett. I know about the Project and Ziggy, your computer. I know you're a time traveler and that you inhabit other peoples bodies. You call it 'Quantum Leaping'." Sam's mind reeled. "But you CAN'T know. In 1977 I hadn't even thought of the Project let alone Ziggy. I don't remember writing to you. I've never even seen you before. I don't KNOW you. At least," honesty compelled him to continue, "I don't think I do. Do I?" Another of the joys of Leaping, having a scrambled Swiss-cheese memory. Clear grey-green eyes regarded him steadily. "No, you don't," the girl reassured him, "but you WILL write to me. You just haven't done it yet." She paused a moment as if to let him digest this, then went on in a brisker tone, "It's about time I introduced myself." She held out her hand formally. "I'm Helen Carter." Hesitantly, he took the hand, automatically giving the conventional answer. "S-Sam Beckett. Pleased to meet you, Miss Carter." She wore no wedding ring. Even though his mind was a chaotic mess, part of him managed to function, to observe, assess and file away information. "Please call me Helen. I'm very glad to meet you at last, Dr Beckett. Welcome to Truro. That's Truro, Virginia - not Cornwall, England." "Th-thanks," stammered Sam, remembering belatedly he wasn't supposed to tell anyone who he really was; it was against the rules, his rules. But he hadn't told her, she'd already known. The grey-green eyes looked calmly down into his. "Call me Sam," he found himself saying. "I - I'm not used to Dr Beckett anymore." "Okay - Sam." She smiled again, shyly this time. He continued to hold her hand limply, frantically trying to make sense of the information she had given him. He'd written to her? Impossible. And if he was in a Leap, he couldn't be Sam Beckett. He must be someone else, he always was. His overtaxed mind refused to process the conflicting information. He'd file it away and think about it later, when he wasn't so tired. Helen saw bewilderment written all over Sam's face. Even though he had acknowledged his own name, he was clearly in a state of complete confusion. She had obviously not convinced him she knew who and what he was. Gently disengaging her hand, she tried again. "I know about Al Calavicci, your Observer, too." She knew about Al? More impossibilities. Again Sam decided his poor, befuddled brain could deal with this at a later date. He hadn't even seen Al on this Leap yet. If he had, he'd know what it was he was here to do. Al always told him what he had to do. Maybe this girl would know what he was here for, she seemed to know everything else. "Do you know why I'm here?" he asked cautiously. Helen took a deep breath. "Yes, Dr Beckett - Sam - I do. You've had some pretty tough problems to deal with lately and the powers that be," she gestured heavenwards, "have decided you're in need of a little R and R. You're here to recuperate for a while, take a vacation." Sam's jaw dropped to his knees. If he hadn't already been sitting down, he'd have hit the floor. "TAKE A VACATION?" Suddenly, an image of a woman with almond eyes and black hair floated up out of the fragments of memory whirling in his mind. For a second, it hovered on the edge of his consciousness before collapsing back into the chaotic confusion. "Yes. Or a sabbatical if you prefer." The words provoked another memory. The Bartender had said he could have a sabbatical, but he'd changed Al's life instead, so there was no way this could be a sabbatical or vacation. "Please believe me," said the girl, leaning towards him, one hand on the table. "It's true. If you come with me, I can prove it. I can show you the letter you sent - I mean - will send me." Sam simply sat, staring up at her. "Look, I have a few things left to do before we go, Sam. Just stay here, I'll be back soon." She quickly piled up an armful of books from the table. As she did so, she gave him a concerned look. "Will you be all right?" He nodded, too confused to give a verbal answer. "I'll be as quick as I can," she reassured him. "Just sit here and wait." He nodded again. He didn't want to do anything except sit, anyway. He watched the girl quickly disappear between two rows of dark, wooden bookcases. Late afternoon sunshine slanted down through high windows. Sam watched dust dance in its beams while his mind jumped all over the place. Fragments of memory rose out of the vortex then disappeared before he could catch hold of them, turn them into sense. God, how long had he been doing this? God was probably the only one who knew how long he'd been Leaping. He certainly didn't. It was peaceful here - which made a nice change. So often he found himself slammed in the middle of a dangerous or embarrassing situation. In this quiet old place there was no danger or embarrassment. The only sound was the faint buzz of traffic penetrating from outside. The air smelled good, faintly familiar - musty old books and wood panelling. He should have felt comfortable, he always did when he was somewhere associated with study, with the quiet pursuit of knowledge. Instead his mind was in turmoil, still reeling from the effort of completing the previous Leap successfully. Why was he doing this? It was his own fault. If only he'd taken the time to conduct those final tests with Ziggy, then he might still be in control. Oh, the elation of those first, glorious seconds when he'd realised he'd done it. His theory was proven, he was in the past, he had traveled in time! If only it had worked properly. If only he'd arrived at his first destination in control, in his own body. Instead, without his knowledge, without his consent, it had become his job to live someone else's life, change that life, make it better than it had been originally. Something else - or was it Someone else? - was in charge, bouncing him around in time with the ease of a kid bouncing a rubber ball, sending him from one destination to the next, only allowing him to Leap when he had changed history for the better, altered crucial moments in people's lives. He didn't remember being asked to sign an employment contract - that's probably why he hadn't been given one - he'd never have agreed to accept the conditions. Or would he? Somewhere in the dim and distant past, the past of his own time-line, he had found Leaping very fulfilling, even enjoyable at times. Hell - some of it had even been fun! He was really able to help people, ordinary people. It had been very satisfying, but each time he felt himself Leap, a tiny part of him hoped he'd find himself back in his own time, able to be Sam Beckett once more. And then, on that weirdest Leap of all, he'd met the Bartender. The Bartender who'd said he controlled his own destiny, said it was up to him, that he had a choice. He could carry on helping people or he could go home. Home. Sometimes the longing, the need for home was so great he almost fell to his knees and shrieked aloud his want. But the longing brought something else with it. Guilt. Guilt that racked and tortured the fragments of his mind just as much as the longing. If he went home who would correct life's mistakes, help those who needed it? No, he could never put his own needs first. There would be no point in going home anyway, he would find no peace there. The guilt would consume him. HE had control? He almost laughed aloud. The Bartender had lied. He had no control, no choice at all. And why should he be the only one who had charge of their destiny? No-one else did. He took it away from them when he changed their lives. No, he was being controlled, manipulated, just as much as everyone else. The only difference was he knew it and they didn't. After meeting the Bartender each Leap had been harder. Each one physically and mentally more demanding than the last, as if he was being tested to see how much he could take. The Leaps came faster and faster, relentless, remorseless. Every new situation took more of his energies than before. He had no time to rest, his brain felt like cotton and he was making mistakes, just little ones, but they made it more difficult to complete the task he had been set. He couldn't take much more. His own personality, what made him Sam Beckett, was disappearing under the residuals of so many other personalities, tiny pieces of all the different people he had been. Sure, he knew some facts about himself. But that is all they were - facts. He knew he could speak six modern languages (and four dead ones) but didn't know when, how or why he'd learned them. He was a pianist, had performed at Carnegie Hall when he was nineteen, but what music did he like to play? He was a doctor of medicine, but where had he become one? Had he practised? Why did he stop? He was a farm-boy from Elkridge, Indiana, who had built Project Quantum Leap at Stallion's Gate, New Mexico, but he didn't know what these places looked like, what his life there had been like. The names, the words, evoked no images in his mind. What did he like to do? What did he hate? The few memories of life before he had stepped into the Accelerator were slipping away, fading. Soon there would be nothing left. He was an empty pitcher filled with someone else's life, then drained away, only to be filled again with a different life, a different personality. He was so tired. *I can't do this much longer. I want to be ME again. Have pity - please. I want to go home - wherever, whenever that is.* But he would never go home. The Someone was pitiless. Sighing, he rubbed his eyes and pulled himself together. He ought to work out why he was here, but he was too tired to move and the chair so comfortable. Where had that girl gone? Telling him he was here for a vacation was ridiculous. He needed Al. Al would tell him the truth. Only, of course, just because he was needed, Al wasn't here. He'd have to find things out for himself. He wondered who he was this time. That girl had called him Sam Beckett, making him believe for one ecstatic moment that the Someone had compassion after all and had sent him home. But he wasn't home, he was still Leaping. Perhaps he looked like himself this time. Perhaps he'd Leaped into his younger self again. Suddenly eager, suddenly hopeful, he looked down at himself, trying to assess the shape of the body beneath the clothes. A scruffy denim jacket and creased shirt, with a vile, loud pattern and huge collar, fitted tightly across a narrow chest. He couldn't remember how broad he'd been when he was younger. He looked further down. Faded jeans hugged tightly around a skinny waist and hips. He didn't remember being skinny, though he couldn't remember NOT being skinny, either. Hope trickling away, he noticed the jeans ended in wide flares - and he was wearing platform shoes. Oh, Lord! He'd forgotten about flares and platforms! Welcome to the Seventies - Decade of Disco and Medallion Men! He felt around his neck hurriedly, then murmured a fervent, "No medallion - thank you, thank you!" One of the books still on the table had a shiny, protective cover. He reached for it slowly, no longer so eager. His hand was large with long, bony fingers, ending in badly bitten nails, attached to an equally bony wrist. A nervous and flappy hand with a cold and clammy grip, no doubt. All hope gone, he tilted the book, bracing himself for an unknown face to stare back. As he realised he hardly remembered now what Sam Beckett looked like, a finger of ice ran down his spine. But there was no way he looked like THIS guy. He - that is the man he'd become - was in his late twenties, maybe early thirties, and had blond, straggly hair and unhealthy-looking skin with no hint of a tan. Definitely not someone who loved the Great Outdoors. Timid blue eyes, surrounded by pale lashes, peered at him from under pale brows. A receding chin, so weak as to be almost non- existent, covered in stubble, degenerated into a scrawny neck. Even allowing for the distortions in the plastic, it was the sort of face no- one looked at twice. He pushed all thoughts of the girl and what she had said out of his mind. Everything she had told him was garbage. Everyone he met would see this face, this body. Everyone would treat him as though he were this man. And he would have to convince them he was this - this - this wimp!