CHAPTER 23 Sam had calmed down a little, he turned to the nurse, "Who were they? One of them looks familiar but I don't know the woman, I've never seen her before." "They are you friends Sam. Didn't you recognise them?" "N-no not the woman, the man looked sorta familiar though, different, someone I know, I think." Sam looked confused. "You keep calling me Sam. Is that my name?" "Yes, Sam is your name, well is says Samuel on your records, but your friends called you Sam, so that's why I did," the nurse's voice was calming to Sam. "It'll be the anesthetic, you've just had an operation you know, you were attacked and suffered a head injury." "Another operation? I only had one two week's ago!" Sam was feeling alarmed again. "No Sam, you only came in about forty-five minutes ago." "NO! I've been here over two weeks!" Sam was getting really frustrated, "You're new here, I've not seen you before today, you wouldn't know! I must be in another department then." "No Sam, you were bought here straight after recovery," her voice still calm, "I've worked here for over six years, now settle down Sam, we don't want your blood-pressure getting high." "What's going on here? What's happening?" Dr. Weasel Mikowski entered Sam's room. Sam recognised him immediately. "Doc, tell the nurse here, that I've been here over two weeks, you know that, you operated on me." "Yes Sam, I did operate on you, about, erm," Dr. Mikowski looked at his watch, "about five-and-a-half hours ago. But you've not been here two weeks though. You were bought in as an emergency." Sam looked around, not knowing what for, "Y-you gave me the cultures, here look they're in the locker." Sam tried to turn to his locker, but the drain tube pulled at his neck. "Can you get them for me nurse? They're in a square box." Dr. Mikowski looked at Sam's notes. The nurse looked through Sam's locker. "There's no square box in here, it's still empty." Dr. Mikowski looked at Sam sternly, "Sam, the cultures I gave you. I gave them to you in 1992, that's over sixteen years ago." "N-no, no, no! That's not right, you gave them to me right after the operation, remember? You said, you didn't know why you did it but you saved a fragment of bone." "I'm not denying that Sam, but it was sixteen years ago." Sam glared at the nurse. "What have you done with the cultures? I need them for the project, time is running out, I need them." The nurse looked at Dr. Mikowski in amazement. "I haven't seen them Doctor." "I know you haven't nurse." Dr. Mikowski closed his eyes and rubbed his forehead, after a moment he looked at Sam. "I think you're suffering some sort of memory loss Sam. You've already started the project, it's been in all of the major newspapers. They made quite a big thing of it a few years back." Sam's brow crumpled, he said quietly, "I've already done it, started it? When?" "I don't think they mentioned that, but there was a big inquiry. Whether or not the government would continue the funding. When you, er, erm," Dr. Mikowski looked away from Sam, he looked anywhere, but he didn't want to see the look on Sam's face when he told him. "When you were lost in time, Sam, around 2002, I think." "2002! Lost in time, my God, what year is it now then?" The nurse said, "2008." Sam recollected something. "Al! Bring Al in. Not the woman though, I don't want to see her, just Al." Dr. Mikowski looked back at Sam, "You don't want to see your fiancE9e?" "My fiancE9e, s-she's my fiancE9e?" "So your friend Al says." "Just Al, just bring Al in for the minute. I need to talk to him." "Okay nurse, go fetch him." The nurse left returning a few minutes later with Al. Sam turned to the nurse, "In private." Dr. Mikowski nodded, "I think it'll be all right for a while," he turned to Al, "if anything happens just press the red emergency button." He left escorting the nurse. "It's you Al, I didn't recognise you before, you, you're so, erm, old." "Whatcha mean old, Sam? Thanks pal." Al dragged a chair up to the bed and sat down. "I've got some sorta memory loss or somethin', I can only remember you from 1992, remember, my last accident. I don't remember anything since then. What's my last name Al?" "Not that again, we've been all through this before." "You mean I've lost my memory before?" Sam looked at Al surprised. Al laughed, "You sure did pal, every time you leapt." "I leaped? I actually did it, I leaped?" "Yep, for five years, erm, till we lost you Sam" Al looked despondent. "How did you lose me?" "Well you just disappeared Sam, vanished from Ziggy's scanners." "Ziggy? Who's Ziggy?" "The computer you created Sam." Sam was elated, "I actually did it? I created the computer?" He looked at Al confused, "Whose stupid idea was it to call the computer Ziggy? "Yours Sam, erm, well, er, I said she sounded like the cartoon character and you said you liked it, so, your idea Sam." "The computer's a she? It can talk too?" "Talk, sure, sure and can she talk. She can talk the hind legs off a donkey." "I can't remember Al." Sam said sadly. "Now where have I heard that before?" "Who's this woman Al, this fiancE9e?" "You can't remember her, eh? Her name is Bernadette, Bernie for short, you met her just over two weeks ago, and you....." "Two weeks! I've only known her for two weeks and we're engaged?" "Well, erm, you only asked her out three days ago but erm...." "Argh, this is getting worse Al." "Let me finish will yer. She's not actually your fiancE9e but I have a feeling she will be, I just said that so she could get in to see yer." "That's a relief." "You love her though and she loves you, I know that much." "Isn't she a little old for me though Al?" "How old do you think she is? How old do you think you are? You're 55 Sam and she's quite a few years younger than you are." "Do I look older Al?" "Cause you do." Al walked over to the corner and unhooked a mirror from the wall and handed it to Sam. "Here, take a look." Sam looked in the mirror and laughed, "I look like mother mop with this bandage on. Oh Al! I've got crows feet, my face has gone thinner. Have I gone grey? I can't see." "No you've not gone grey, but you're starting to get a little thin on top pal." "What's this on my neck Al? It looks like a...." Al looked embarrassed, "From your attacker, Bernie didn't do it." "And all these scratches, are they from him too." "Er, yes Sam, but not a him though, he was a her." Sam's mouth fell open. "A woman did this?" He lay the mirror on the bed, Al picked it up and hung it back on the wall. "She must've been crazy." "She was Sam." "What happened to her?" "We've got her locked up at the hanger, over at the project. They've probably picked her up by now. There wasn't enough room on the plane that bought you in." "What number wife are you on now Al?" Sam changed the subject. "Number one, Why Sam?" "Oh you found Beth again then, are you happy now?" "That's right you wont remember. It's a long story Sam, I'll tell you when...." "I'm not going anywhere, tell me." "No, I'll tell you later when you're a bit better." Al pointed a finger at Sam. "That's a promise, I've got you to thank for that." Sam knew he wouldn't get any more from Al, that gesture meant, stop asking. "Will you bring Bernadette in for me?" "Bernie Sam, you call her Bernie. Yeah sure I'll fetch her." Al headed for the door and opened it. "Oh Al. Have we, er, erm, you know?" Sam asked awkwardly. Al grinned at Sam and headed out of the door, "Yes pal, you have." Sam felt scared and strange at meeting Bernie, she was a stranger to him, but she knew all about him, he felt awkward, she would remember the intimate moments they had shared together. His memory was denying him of those moments, this saddened him. It must have been so special. He tried to dig deep into his memory but it was not there. He thought hard, ' What else had he forgotten?'