The feel of hands turning him over on his back and the concern in a

male voice saying, "Perry..are you okay?  What happened?" let Sam
know that he was in control again.  Opening his eyes he blinked,
on the roundish face of the man kneeling beside him.

     "What happened? Where am I?" Sam asked haltingly as he slowly
sat up. "Who are you?"

     The expression of the young man with carefully combed red hair and
wearing horn- rimmed glasses was concerned. "It's me, Mr. Pernier..
your French teacher.  You're in school, Perry."  He studied the dazed,
confused boy watching him. "I heard something in the hall, and when I
checked, you were passed out on the floor."

    Sam started to get up, but the man prevented him.  "Just sit still
a few minutes. Catch your breath," Edward Pernier said, then repeated
his earlier question. "What happened?"

    "Guess I must've...fainted," Sam offered the first and only
reason that came to mind.  Both looked up when the classroom door
nearest them opened.

    Caroline MacGruder, a woman of about fifty wearing a plain navy
suit and flower print blouse, her gray-streaked dark hair done up in a
tight French knot stepped into the hall, pulling the door to the
class closed.  "What's going on?" she asked, her eyes darting to the
French teacher still kneeling beside Sam.

    "It appears Mr. Kirkwood fainted," he said.

    "Can you get up?" she asked.

    "I think so," Sam said, and got up carefully.  He took the books
and notebook the French teacher handed him. "Thanks. I'd better
get to class," he said, starting to move away, but was prevented by
both teachers.

    "You need to see the nurse," Mrs. MacGruder stated firmly.

    "I agree," Edward Pernier said.  "Come on, Perry" he said, putting
a hand on Sam's arm. "I'll walk with you to the first aid room."

    In spite of his protests that he was okay, Sam spent a half hour in
the first aid room under the nurse's eagle eye, having his temperature
taken and drinking some orange juice when he admitted he hadn't
eaten breakfast.  It gave him time to check his notebook and found
that Perry had written his class schedule on the inside cover.  When
the nurse was satisfied that he wasn't going to pass out again, she
insisted on walking him to his class.
Handing him a note for the teacher, she said, "Make sure you have
some lunch."

    Sam nodded and watched her walk away.  He was about to open
the door to the classroom when he heard the Imaging Chamber door
open behind him.   Moving quickly away from the door he turned to
face the Observer.

    "What the hell is going on?" he demanded as loudly as he dared.
He didn't wait for Al to respond. "The last thing I remember is brushing

my teeth. Next thing I know, I open my eyes and find myself laying on
the hall floor at school.  What's going on, Al?  Where have you been?"

    "I've been talking to the..lady in the Waiting Room," Al replied,
taking a slow puff of his cigar.  The puzzled look that replaced the
irritated greeting told him he had Sam's attention.

    "I'm the one with a Swiss-cheesed brain, Al," Sam said, "and even
I know there isn't a woman in the Waiting Room.  A nineteen year old
boy, yes; a woman, no."

    "I didn't say "woman"," Al said quietly. "I said "lady".  There's a
difference." He took another puff of the cigar, exhaling a stream of its

uniquely scented smoke.  He glanced down the hall just as the nurse's
trim figure turned a corner and disappeared. "Why was the nurse here?"

    Sam's irritation had evaporated with Al's cryptic reply. Over the
of leaping Sam had learned to read his friend's expressions and moods
with swift clarity.  One of the things he'd learned about Al was that
he was deliberately vague or cagey, the situation usually held hidden
danger.  Looking closer he tried to read the hologram's face, but Al's
expression was closed.  The considering look in those dark eyes coupled
with the fact that his friend hadn't made a single comment about the
nurse's sleek, hourglass figure, only intensified his curiosity. What is
Al?" Sam asked, his tone more reasonable.

    "Too involved to go into here," the Observer replied.  "When do you
have lunch?"

    Sam checked his notebook. "Perry has lunch from eleven forty-five
to twelve thirty."  He glanced at his watch, then the notebook again.
nine twenty.  After this class, I've got calculus and economics."

    "I'll be back in a couple of hours," Al said, summoning the Imaging
Chamber door. "And, Sam..."


    "Pay attention in all your classes," Al said. "Don't let your mind
wander. Keep focused."

    Sam watched the Observer step into the Imaging Chamber and
disappear.  Shaking off the uneasiness that the cryptic parting words
gave him, he entered the classroom.