Quantum Leap "A Time to Hurt, A Time to Heal" Chapter 8 Al watched Sam like a hawk while they ate breakfast. It was obvious that Sam was having difficulty eating the amount of food Al ordered him to eat. Nonetheless, Sam ate as much as he could of the prescribed breakfast. After they had finished eating, Sam and Al went to the nearest phone, Al in the lead. Al waited for Sam to sit down before instructing him. "Okay, now, pick up the phone and dial 555-9732," Al told him. "That's the number for the nurse's station on your floor at the hospital." He looked at Sam with concern when Sam didn't respond. "Are you all right, Sam?" Sam didn't look well at all. In fact, he looked as if he were about to faint. "Oh, Sam," Al said with deep worry. "We'd better get this done so you can get back to bed. Now, come on. Pick up the phone." Sam obeyed. "Dial 555-9732," Al instructed. "Let them know you're Dr. Byron Zetter and that you won't be in for the next couple of days due to the chicken pox. That way they won't expect you for a while." Sam nodded and did as he was told. "And while you're at it, can you think of anyone whom you've met in the past two days whom Bryon would trust implicitly?" "Darren Maning," Sam told him before speaking to the nurse at the hospital. Al frowned. "I don't think so, Sam. He's definitely out. Someone a little more reliable." Sam shook his head as he hung up the phone. "No one I can think of." He looked at Al. "I trust you implicitly." Al smiled gently, touched by the sentiment. "Thanks but I can't cook holographic food," he said in a joking manner. He looked at Sam with concern. The physicist really wasn't looking well. "You should rest a while before we go on. You'll need your strength." Sam exhaled. His nervous shaking was increasing dramatically. "I don't think I can do this later, Al. Let's get it over with." Al lowered his eyebrows. "Are you sure?" Sam nodded. "I'm sure." He closed his eyes in an attempt to control his deteriorating condition. "Okay," Al said gently. "Now, you've got to call the university and tell them the same thing you told the hospital. The number is 555-7743." Sam dialed the number, told the secretary that he wouldn't be in due to chicken pox, and hung up. "Good," Al said, nodding with approval. "What next?" Sam asked, starting to pant in exhaustion. There was enough determination in his eyes for Al to know that Sam wanted to do what needed to be done. But Al could also tell that Sam was on the verge of collapsing where he was. "There's nothing else," Al told him, wishing that what he was saying was the truth. "Go get some rest." "You said something about someone Byron trusts implicitly," Sam insisted. Al sighed. "Geez, Sam! Can't you see you're exhausted! You need to lay down." Sam looked at Al and gave him a weak smile. "Your turn to trust me. You can't care for me the way I need to be. You're a hologram. That's why you want someone whom Byron trusts." Al nodded. "Yes," he said bluntly. "Then, let's find someone," Sam told him. As he said this, the telephone rang. Sam quickly answered it, trying to control his panting. "Byron," the voice on the other end said. "What the hell is going on with you? Chicken pox? You had the chicken pox when you were six! You're immune!" "Darren?" Sam asked. "Darren!" Al exclaimed. "Sam, we can't have him poking his nose around here! Ziggy says that, unless you drop him like a hot potato, he'll influence Byron to start again." "What's going on, Byron?" Darren demanded. "Have you been taking your medicine?" "So," Sam told him. "In fact, I flushed them." Al's concern was growing. Sam was so weak that he could barely talk. "Sam, you've got to get to bed," Al told him. "Are you nuts?!" Darren was telling Sam at the same time. "Byron, you've got to feed your head!" Sam huffed. "As far as I'm concerned, Darren, 'feed your head' is just a line from a Jefferson Airplane song." He hung up quickly before collapsing on the floor. "Sam!" Al exclaimed in concern. He lowered himself at Sam's side. "Come on, Sam. Get up." Sam didn't move, taking a couple of shaky breaths. "Get up, Sam!" Al ordered. "Now! You have to get up to the bedroom." "I can't," Sam panted. "I can't." "Yes, you can, Sam," Al assured. "I know you can. So, come on. You can't stay here." He paused. "Even if you have to crawl up there, you can do it. You need to be in bed, Sam. It's too dangerous on your health for you to stay here on the floor." Sam took a deep breath and slowly stood up. " tta boy, Sam!" Al cheered him on. "Let's get you upstairs." Sam slowly staggered to the stairs and up a few steps before falling. "Come on, Sam," Al urged. "You only have a few more feet." Sam slowly stood up again and started up again, grabbing to the railing like a safety net. "That's it," Al told him. "Keep going." Sam reached the top of the stairs before falling again. "Come on, Sam!" Al urged again. "The door's right there! Through the door and you're home free!" Sam panted in exhaustion. "I know you're tired, Sam," Al sympathized. "I know you think you can't go any further. But you can. I know you can. I promise you can rest once you're in bed but you've hot to get there first." Sam lay still, unwilling to move. "Come on, Sam. You can do it." With a deep breath, Sam slowly stood up and leaned on the stairs' banister post. "I can't do this, Al," he panted. "I need those pills. My whole body hurts." "Like hell, you need them!" Al told him firmly. "You just remember that it's those pills that are causing that pain. Now get in bed." Sam staggered to the bedroom door, clinging to the handle to keep himself from falling. "Well?" Al coaxed. "Open it." Sam obeyed and staggered to the bed. He collapsed so that only his arms and head were on the bed. "Get in and cover up," Al ordered firmly. Sam obeyed, slowly crawling onto the bed and pulling the sheets over his body. He panted heavily, relieved the task was over. "You did that very well, Sam," Al complimented with a smile. "I'm proud of you. That took a lot of courage." Sam closed his eyes. "Now I can rest?" Al nodded. "Now, you can rest." Before Al could finish the sentence, Sam was asleep. ********************** As Al's concern for Sam was growing, so was Verbina's concern for Alex. It wasn't the fact of his resignation that bothered her. It was the possible reasons for his resignation. There seemed to be no logical reason for it. He enjoyed his job, as far as Verbina could tell. He was nowhere close to retirement age. He had no disputes with the staff. Everything narrowed to one reason: his contraction of AIDS. Verbina couldn't ignore the feeling she had. She had to act on it. She went to Al's office and entered it. She looked on the desk, where Alex said he would place the resignation. As she expected, there was the resignation, sealed in an envelope and addressed to Admiral Albert Calavicci. However, directly under the envelope was yet another envelope addressed simply "Al." Verbina exhaled. Something told her that privacy wasn't an issue in this matter. She picked up the envelope and opened it. She took out the sheets of paper enclosed and unfolded them. Leaving the envelope on the desk, she read the letter in silence. "Oh, my gawd!" she said in shock. She quickly stood up, dropping the letter. "Ziggy?" she said quickly. "Dr. Beeks," Ziggy replied. "I believe your being in Admiral Calavicci's office is a violation of his privacy." "The hell with privacy!" Verbina told Ziggy. "Where's Dr. Hathorn?"" "Dr. Hathorn is on Level One. He is leaving the complex." "Stop him!" she ordered. "I'm afraid it's too late, Dr. Beeks," Ziggy told her. "Damn it!" Verbina yelled, heading for the door. "Can you tell me where he's going?" "I'm afraid not, Dr. Beeks. I haven't enough data to theorize what his destination may be." Verbina was now in the hallway, heading for the elevator. She had activated her wristband to continue contact with Ziggy. "Inform Al that we have a problem," she instructed. "Dr. Hathorn is going to try to commit suicide."