Chapter V


	Bertie studied the equation on the screen in front of her.

	It was 2 a.m., and she was restless.  Bertie had gone to bed earlier, but
couldn't sleep more than a few hours. *Practice for those 2 a.m. feedings,*
she thought, sipping her tea.

	Bertie carefully deleted the equation, sighing.  Retrieving Sam, based on
the current program as written by Donna, was like catching butterflies
blindfolded: darn near impossible to catch one.

	Her attempts to remove the blindfold had produced some unexpected, but
disappointing, results.

	 First came That Darn Chip, as it was affectionately known (no one ever
gave it a proper name and it was called TDC for short).  The chip was
actually a failure for the project.  It did nothing to improve Ziggy's
capabilities.  However, NASA asked for the chip and the darn thing saved
them millions of dollars, and then went on to help Bertie win the Nobel.

	The Imaging Enhancer got mixed responses from the project.  It only
allowed the project staff to see the Visitor.  Donna hated it, so it was
never used.

	The only thing, so far, that had worked in tracking Sam was the program,
Tracker 2000.  A dumb name, but Gushie didn't seem to care and neither did
anyone else.  It  enhanced Ziggy's ability to predict the time lapse
between leaps.   It wasn't 100% accurate, but it was never more than two
days off.  So far.  It was a step in the right direction.  *Now only if we
could find a way to grab him,* Bertie thought.

	Then there was the whole debate on who was controlling the leaps.  Bertie
had a few suspicions about that, but kept them to herself.  Regardless of
who controlled the leaps, Bertie doubted that Sam would just reappear on
the door step.  She and the others would have to work at getting him back.
When the time was right, the solution would present itself.  She just hoped
it was soon.

	"Dr. Calavicci?"

	Bertie flinched.  "Yes, Ziggy?"

	"The Visitor has awakened."

	"And?"  Bertie scrolled up, rereading the file.  "What does that have to
do with me?  I'm not part of the project."

	"The staff is asleep, doctor," the computer replied tartly.

	"Well, wake one of them up, Ziggy.  It never stopped you before, or so
I've been told."  She tried another equation.  "Why don't you wake up
Sammie Jo?" she told the computer, absently.

	"Dr. Fuller is currently . . . occupied."

	*Occupied?*  "Ziggy," Bertie started.  She stopped, finally registering
the meaning behind the computer's statement.  Ziggy normally only used that
term when referring to Bertie's parents when they were amorously engaged.
The young scientist sat several seconds, speechless.  She had no idea what
to say.  Finally, she asked, "Do I know Sammie Jo's . . . `friend'?"

	"Yes, doctor."

	"Well?" Bertie demanded.

	"It's not my place to spread rumors, Dr. Calavicci," the computer replied
smugly.  "Getting back to the original subject, it would not be prudent,
until Dr. Beeks returns to the project, to have either of your parents
enter the Waiting Room."

	Bertie slid out of bed and demanded,  "Why not?  What's going on here,
Ziggy?  Who did Sam leap into?"

	"Dr. Beckett has leaped into Lieutenant Commander Elizabeth Calavicci on
April 1, 1973."

		* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

	Beth opened her eyes, confused and disoriented.  At least now she
remembered her name.  Her first one, anyway.

	She sat up, wincing.  Beth had fallen asleep on the floor.  Her whole body
was sore and her head was pounding.  She looked around.

	Beth found herself still in the strange blue-white room with the strange
looking table.  She carefully got to her feet and tried to find the door
the other woman had used earlier.  She wasn't successful.

	Giving up, Beth moved over to the strange table.  It appeared to be some
sort of bed, but instead of a mattress or frame, it had a mirror mounted on
it.  Her disheveled face gazed miserably back up at her.

	She climbed up on the table and closed her eyes, trying to remember how
she got there.   She remembered part of the conversation she had with the
stranger, but it all still seemed like a bad dream.  Maybe it was.

	*Maybe this is an asylum or sanitarium.  Maybe I've finally had a nervous
breakdown.  Gran always said I'd give myself one, one of these days.* Beth
thought wearily.  *But why am I here?  I must've blotted out the reason.*
She rubbed her aching head.

	*Gran!  I can remember Gran!*  She opened her eyes.  Gran had been dead
for years now, but the fact that Beth could remember her was one step
closer to remembering other things. The last thing she remembered was going
to work that morning.  Now she was in a strange room, in New Mexico (if it
wasn't a dream), without her wedding ring or her bracelet.  Beth *rarely*
took the bracelet off, since the day she put it on.  If she had to take it
off, it was always on her person.  Beth couldn't remember removing it or
her rings.

	Then the image of a face with warm dark eyes and a smile that could melt
stone, rose in her mind.  It was the face of her husband.  She couldn't
remember his name at the moment, but she remembered the sound of his voice
and his touch.  Beth hadn't heard or touched him in so long, that the
memory always overwhelmed her, and it was threatening to do it again.

	*My God, he's dead,* Beth thought miserably. *They came to tell me that
and I lost it, then they put me in here.  Why else would I take my rings
and my bracelet off?  Why else would I been in a room like this, dressed
the way I am?* 

	The image of her husband's face did not diminish, and Beth could feel a
wave of unbearable grief, mixed with the deep love she felt for him,
overcame her.  A fresh stream of tears coursed their way down her checks as
she buried her face in her hands.

	Beth didn't know how long she sat there, crying at the loss of her
husband, when she heard the door slide open.  Putting her grief aside, she
immediately cleared her eyes and looked up.

	Standing in the doorway was a girl.  The new arrival had short, dark,
curly black hair, and looked to be no more than five feet, if that.  Her
expression was unreadable, and there was something very familiar about her.
 The girl was carrying a thermos, a box of tissues, and a bathrobe.  The
girl was dressed in a bathrobe and pajamas.  Apparently, it was night time
for the people who worked here.  Beth couldn't fathom how long she'd been

	Beth tried to see behind the girl, but all she could see were the backs of
a pair of US Marines.  At least, that's what they looked like to Beth.  *I
work with Marines,* she thought, as a stray memory surfaced.  She tried to
remember more, but nothing else would come.

	The stranger made no move yet, and it occurred to Beth that she was
waiting for permission to come in.  At a loss, Beth just nodded at the new

	Apparently, that was enough.  The stranger advanced and as she drew
nearer, Beth realized that the girl was in fact a woman.

	"Hello," the young woman said.  "I've brought you some tea."

	Beth tentatively reached for the thermos, never taking her eyes off the
stranger's face.  It was *so* familiar to her.  "Thank you."

	"You might want to put this on," she continued, holding out the bathrobe
to Beth.  "The Fermi suit isn't the most modest thing ever made."

	While Beth put the robe on, the stranger placed the box of tissues on the
mirrored surface, fishing in her own bathrobe pockets for something.  The
young woman pulled out a plastic spoon and several packets of something
that turned out to be sweetener.

	The oddity of everything she'd encountered so far puzzled Beth and she
still wasn't sure she dreamed the earlier conversation or not.  Though her
grief was still fresh, curiosity overcame her.  "Someone told me this was
New Mexico, and that I got here accidently," Beth said.

	"That's correct," the younger woman said, face betraying nothing.

	"Does it have anything to do with my . . . my husband?"

	The younger woman's dark brown eyes studied her like a hawk.  "What do you
remember about him?"

	Beth swallowed painfully.  "He's . . . he's been gone for a very long
time.  Captured, I think."

	"Missing in Action, in Vietnam," the woman supplied.

	Beth looked sharply at her, heart sinking.  "How do you know that?"

	"I know who you are, and who he is."

	"How?  I haven't told anyone my name."

	"Elizabeth Calavicci.  Lieutenant Commander, United States Navy.  You're a
registered nurse, working at Balboa Naval Hospital, San Diego, California,"
she replied evenly.

	Beth blinked several times, the information nearly overwhelming her.
"Calavicci," she whispered.  She struggled to find the first name of the
man it belonged to.  "I can't remember his name."


	*Al!* With that, an onslaught of memories hit her: their wedding, his
return from the first tour, the fight they had when he told her he would be
leaving again, and the day she found out that he had been shot down.  Beth
started to cry again.

	A gentle hand touched her shoulder.  Beth looked up at her, through the
tears.  The woman's eyes were filled with compassion.  She handed Beth a
tissue, and Beth composed herself enough to ask, "When will they release me
from here?  I want to attend his funeral."

	The young woman's eye grew wide with astonishment.  "You think he's dead?"

	"Why else would I be here?"

	"That depends.  Where do you think you are?"

	"In some sort of asylum or mental institution.  I can't remember anything
beyond going to work this morning.  I think I had a nervous breakdown."
Why they would bring her all the way to  New Mexico was still beyond Beth.

	"Trust me when I tell you that your husband is alive."

	"How do you know that?" Beth asked, suspicious.  Fear that the woman might
be wrong kept her from letting go, and she fought back a wave of joy. 

	Her companion sighed.  "He was found by a rather persistent SEAL team on
March 29, 1973.  It took a couple of days for the team to get word back to
the appropriate people.  On April 6, 1973, you were unofficially notified
that he was on his way home, alive.  On April 27, 1973, you received the
best birthday gift in years: your husband was admitted into Balboa."

	Beth's head began to throb.  "Why do you keep referring to things as if
they already happened?"

	"Because to me, they have.  It's not 1973."

	"What do you mean?"

	"I mean, this is the year 2000," the woman informed her.

	Beth was speechless. Her head was beginning to pound harder. *She's got to
be kidding.  She must be a patient here, too.* Beth ignored the fact that
she had known things about her.  "You're lying."

	The young woman's eyes grew wide.  "What?"

	"I said, you're lying.  You're lying about the year, and about Al."  Her
voice broke as she spoke his name.  "How could you be so cruel?"

	The stranger was staring at her.  "I'm not lying."

	Anger and grief began to well up inside Beth.  "Go away!  Just leave me

	The mask fell and the young woman looked deeply hurt.  Without another
word, the stranger turned and stormed out of the room.

	Beth, once again in tears, took the box of tissues and curled on the floor
under the table, crying herself to sleep.