Date:  April 2, 1999

     "Samantha Fuller, report to Central Programming immediately. 
Samantha Fuller, report to Central Programming."  The voice was came
both quietly from the speaker in her room and also loud as it boomed
throughout the Project and it startled Sammy Jo out of
sleeping so quickly that she snapped into a sitting position. 
Unfortunately, she had turned in her sleep, and the snap upright
overbalanced her right off the bed, leaving Sammy Jo in a tangle of
sheets and comforters on the cold steel floor.
     "Shoot, Alpha!" Sammy Jo cursed, her voice muffled by the fabrics
as she attempted to extract her limbs and head from the mass.  "There
are IMPLANTS in each and every one of us.  You know exactly where not
only I but also 679 other members of this project are at all times. 
There is absolutely no need for you to bellow my name across the entire
     "I am aware of the implants."  Alpha's voice was, as always,
without emotion.  "I was aware that you were in your room, and of the
fourteen different nightmares you experienced last night."  Sammy Jo
winced.  The sheets were drenched with sweat due to those nightmares,
as they were more nights than not.  But now wasn't the time to let
Alpha distract her.  
     "If you KNOW all that," Sammy Jo growled as she finally got her
head free, "then why did you still--"
     "Why did I announce that you are needed to the entire project?"
Alpha cut Sammy Jo off.  "I wished Gooshie and Tina to know that you
have overslept today, the first time you have ever been given the
opportunity to be in charge of my programming and, by extension,
Project Revision's day to day performance."  There was a pause as if
Alpha were letting her decision sink in for Sammy Jo.  Then, Alpha
spoke up once more. "I do not believe you capable of handling me or
this Project, and I wished them to understand my worries."
     Sammy Jo finally managed to get out of her sheets, her anger at
Alpha's consistent ability to be ruthlessly self-aware giving her the
power to rip the sheet entangling her left arm.  "You tattled on me? 
Is that what you're saying?"
     Alpha's voice betrayed no emotion in her response. "It seemed a
wise choice.  It has a 65% chance of succeeding."
     "Over my dead body," Sammy Jo snarled and grabbed for the closest
clothes in her room.  Yanking jeans up and over her hips and snatching
a baseball cap for her long, black hair, Sammy Jo dashed out the door.
     As it swung shut, Alpha remarked quietly, "The odds on that
happening are actually higher than you know, Ms. Fuller."  In the
recesses of its memory banks, Alpha was far more worried than it had
let on.  Far more worried, indeed.  Her predictions listed a 96.9%
chance that Sammy Jo Fuller would be dead before the weekend was out.  

And Alpha had no idea why.

Date: April 2, 1999

     Al Calavicci sat on the front porch of his ranch estate home and
watched as his daughters practiced basketball.  His head tilted
slightly, amused, as he watched them constantly striving to get more
and more reach with their shots.  He laughed softly to himself.  Two of
the four daughters were already playing in school, and one of the last
two was trying out the coming fall.  Beth constantly growled to her
husband that it was HIS fault they were all so determined to play
sports.  She said his lasting depression over never having any boys had
influenced the girls into trying to be masculine in their pursuits.
     Their youngest daughter, Leigh, played harder than any of the
other girls.  But basketball wasn't what she wanted to do when she
reached junior and senior high school. At the tender age of 7, she
already knew that she intended to be Head Cheerleader.  Beth said that
was HER influence, finally winning out.  Al chuckled again.  God knows
Beth had been pretty enough to be Head Cheerleader.  If only it hadn't
been for that nozzle Gregory Bolt  Beth had told him all about how
Bolt, the school's bully, had tripped her as she was stepping out onto
the field for her try-outs.  It was a trip that caused her to break her
knee so badly she'd never been able to stand up to the grueling
gymnastics that were a cheerleader's life.  She told that story so many
times Al felt as though he'd actually been there, standing right beside
her, like a ghost or a …a hologram, watching the past as it unfolded in
front of him.
     When was that, Al suddenly wondered?  What year did Beth's
accident happen in, anyway?  While Al's memories (or rather, the dreams
that seemed like memories) had been scaring him silly the past four
days or so, he had never forgotten a date in his life.  It was
something he prided himself on being able to remember.  It was Beth's
first year in high school, so she'd have been 14-no, 15.  In the late
50's, of course, just as it was with Al.  It must have been '58.  No,
'59. That's right--it was 1959.  Right after Beth divorced Al to marry
someone else.
     Al sat straight up in his chair, his lemonade flying off his lap
and shattering on the planks of the porch.  DIVORCED?   What in the
bloody hell was he talking about?  In 1959, they'd not even MET, much
less been married-and they'd never been divorced at all!  Al, buddy,
you gotta shake this whole lapsing fake memory thing, Al warned
himself.  Someone's going to think you've gone a little kaka.
     And yet, it was there, suddenly, in his mind.  He had been a
prisoner of war in Vietnam.  It had taken years for him to get out, and
the only thing that had kept him going was the love he felt for Beth. 
When he was finally released, the eternity of his flight home had
seemed longer than the entire time in the camps…all because he wanted
to see Beth so very badly.
     And then, when he had finally seen her…there had been another man
there.  She had cried, and he had been stoic and reserved (never show
them your tears), and he'd learned that she had declared him dead, and
married another man.
     It was the entire reason Al couldn't be faithful to the women he
married after that.


     Al didn't even realize he had spoken aloud, much less screamed,
until his daughters turned to him, confused and a little worried.  Al
raised a hand quickly, waving to them and plastering what seemed like
the world's most disgusting grin on his face.  THAT did NOT happen, he
repeated to his mind.  I returned home, and Beth was there-ALONE.  She
was crying, yes.  Because she LOVED me.  Not because she had married
someone else.  Had she done that-had she actually done what you're
telling me she did-it would have been the end of me.  Without Beth, I'd
have been nothing, and I'd have destroyed myself.
     I didn't, because she didn't leave.  So whatever that memory is,
it's an illusion.  A crock.  It CANNOT be anything but a momentary
vision-an alternate reality glitch maybe-but there is no truth to it. 
THIS is the version I lived, and I am as happy as can be here.
     Beth appeared at the door, her voice as lovely as ever when she
asked if anything was wrong.  "No, no, honey," Al quickly said, smiling
again with just as little desire to do so.  "I just dropped a glass of
lemonade."  And apparently created an entire false memory of you
divorcing me and marrying someone else, he added to himself.  Other
than that, everything's just peachy keen.
     "Then why were you yelling 'That never happened', honey?"  Beth
moved to pick up the shattered glass shards, her tone light and amused.
 But Al was smarter than that, and he watched her as she turned away. 
There was a look in her eyes, one that Al knew from his days in the
camps of Vietnam.

It was the look you gave a man who was losing control-a man you were
afraid might snap at any moment.

     She can see it, he thought.  She knows something's wrong…and it's
wrong enough that it's worrying her.  I can't let that happen.  Al
Calavicci, it's time you admitted something is happening.  It's time
you got help.
     "Beth?"  Al's voice was quiet as he leaned forward in his seat. 
When she turned back, he patted his knee for her to come over. 
"Beth…there's something we need to talk about."  She nodded, the look
on her face getting more worried by the moment.  Al noted it, and
wondered to himself what she was worried he was going to say.
     If you wanted to be paranoid, Al-his inner voice told him-it could
be that your memory of her leaving is TRUE and the rest of this is just
a dream.  Or an experiment.  Maybe you never even left Vietnam and the
rest of this is caused by drugs.  And maybe she's afraid you're
developing resistance to them.
Maybe, the voice whispered, she's worried because she knows you know
the truth.

     SHUT UP, I SAID, Al demanded mentally.  As  you wish, his darker
side answered, just as it had all of those years in Vietnam.  Those
years when despair tried to make him give up, when Vietnamese soldiers
tried to wear him down.  When life seemed to want him dead and this was
the voice that said it sure would be easier than fighting back.

Al hadn't let it win then, and he wasn't about to start now.

     "Beth…you know the nightmares I have been having?"
     She nodded.  "The ones about Sam."
     Al nodded as well, while in his head he saw hair…brown with a
streak of gray.  I think that's what he looks like, he thought.  "Well,
they have been getting more pronounced, honey.  They're getting worse,
and I'm…I'm starting to have them even when I'm awake."
     She nodded again.  "I could tell.  Especially when last night you
screamed in your sleep."
     Al blanched, with no memory of having done so.  "What did I
scream?  Did I say anything coherent?"
     Beth's face scrunched up in the cute way she had of trying to
remember.  It was one of the things Al loved most about her.  One of
the things he couldn't live without.  "It was hard to make out most of
it.  But I do remember you saying 'Tell him to stop!  It's not ready!' 
Do you have any idea what that was about?"
     Al shook his head, mechanically.  Inside, he saw a mountain range
in the desert.  He saw an elevator in a shed.  He saw a security
checkpoint.  And he saw something that looked like a giant LEGO.  
"Did…Did I say anything else?"
     Beth touched his face gently, trying to comfort him.  "Nothing
that made any sense.  Just the words "He's leaping."
     Al slammed his eyes shut, knowing that the fear those words caused
him would show on his face just as clearly as her worry had shown to
him.  Very carefully, very quietly, making sure to sound calm, Al said,
"Well, the nightmares are getting too much to take, Beth.  I am going
to make an appointment with Dr. Gyore and see if he can help me find a
way to stop them."
     Again, Al felt his wife's (not true, never true, the dark
whispered) hand caress his cheek.  "If that's what's made you so jumpy,
darling, then please do.  I have to admit I was worried, myself.  But
not over the nightmares.  I thought they were an indication of
something worse."
     "Worse?"  Al's eyes opened and he looked up at his wife's
brilliant blue eyes.  "What on earth did you think was wrong?"
     Beth couldn't help it.  She began to giggle softly.  "Believe it
or not, I was worried that you'd been having an affair.  I thought the
nightmares were from the guilt over it."
     "An affair?"  Al was genuinely shocked, but started laughing at
how ridiculous that was as well.  He rubbed his eyes, and kissed his
wife, and wrapped her tight in his arms as he sighed, "An affair.  Oh,


     The patient slept.  Verbeena Beeks looked through the window and
Observed the woman as she rested.  Beeks had been having trouble
sleeping--nightmares again.  Sometimes Beeks was able to take care of
the dreams with pills, and sometimes she chose to stay awake
instead--there were always things a single, attractive black woman
could do if she put her mind to it.  Especially if she was willing to
give a little pain in the process.  Or take a little.
     Sometimes, however, the dreams were too severe.  A side effect of
the revision process, The Computer had explained when she asked about
it.  When timelines shifted, sometimes the effects weren't complete for
several days--and those who were connected to this Project felt them
for far longer than anyone else.
     This time, the dreams had been monstrous.  Huge, devastating
creatures had haunted her through the night, desperately trying to
eviscerate or violate her as repayment for the sins she had inflicted
on the souls in the Waiting Room.  The dreams were not something she
was willing to go back to tonight.  They were also NOT something she
was going to let get to her.  She was stronger than anything her
subconscious could throw at her, more powerful than any ripple in time
could ever be.  She'd show those dreams who was boss.

The easiest and strongest way to do that was to commit yet another sin.
 It was time to kill again.

     She pulled out her ID card and unlocked the door to the Waiting
Room.  Before it opened, however, she whispered to the computer. 
"Silent open, please.  I wish to take readings from our guest."  The
computer complied, as even what Beeks liked to do in her spare time was
interesting for its data.
     Beeks looked down at the syringe in her hand.  One injection and
the body in the Waiting Room would die a slow and torturous
death-without leaving any residue for autopsies to find.  What a
brilliant thing it was she'd dated that pharmacist.  She wondered if
they'd ever located his body.
     Beeks twitched, anticipation already running high, as it always
did when she killed a Waiting Room body.  Sure, that locked the leaper
into the body of the past, and killed the aura of the person who was
leaped here.  But it was always possible to fool the leaper into
finishing the revision before they leaned of it, and after that who
cared?  The computer always replaced the visual logs of her kills with
clean footage--both she and the computer enjoyed discussing them in
detail, frame-by-frame, in Beeks' days off.  So that was covered.
     There was really no reason NOT to kill this body.  She remembered
Donna Beckett-the woman had been a mousy, stuck-up snob.  Destroying
her aura would be a welcome relief-it might even change the past to one
where the woman was dead even FASTER and out of everyone's way.  And
besides, it locked the current leaper in the past.  That pleased Beeks
even more.
     As the door to the Waiting Room slid silently shut, Beeks turned
towards the guest and smiled to herself.  Yes, she thought, that
pleases me most of all.

I never DID like Sammy Jo Fuller.