The door from the Imaging Chamber slid open, and Al was greeted
by the sight of Verbena standing near Gooshie, her gaze meeting his

    "How's Sam?" she asked.  "When Ziggy told me you went tearing
into the Imaging Chamber, I wasn't sure what to expect.  What

    "There was a radical surge in Dr. Beckett's brainwave readout,"
Gooshie said. "I've never seen a spike like that on any of his readouts
since he began leaping."

    "What happened, Al?" Verbena repeated as the Observer came to
the control panel.

    "I didn't see anything.  But when I got there Sam was at a classroom

door with the school nurse handing him a note. And when I asked him
why she was there, he said that the last thing he remembered was
brushing his teeth......"

    "...when the Aaron personality asserted itself...," Verbena filled
remembering the startled, almost spooked look on Al's face when he'd
come out of the Imaging Chamber almost as quickly as he'd gone into it
over an hour ago.  His description of the emergence of the taunting
personality of Aaron only confirmed much of what Evalyn had told them

    "...yeah. And the next thing he knew, he woke up on the hall floor
school. A couple of teachers found him and took him to the school
nurse.  She walked him to his class...and that's where I came in,"
Al finished.

    "A second transition," Verbena said thoughtfully, a slight frown
furrowing her brow, "in less than two hours...."

    "Whatever it was," Gooshie interjected, "it was sudden and very
powerful to make Doctor Beckett's brainwaves spike the way they

    "Al, when Sam was brushing his teeth, what were you talking to
him about?"

    Al didn't need any refreshing on that.  "I was starting to tell him
about Aaron.  All of a suddden he grabbed his head, fell on the floor,
kicking and screaming about the pain.  A few seconds later he stopped
moving.  And that's when Aaron came out."

    "When are you going back to see Sam?"

    Verbena's sudden focus and questions got Al's attention. "In a
little while,
when he has lunch. Why?"

    "That gives me enough time to go talk to Evalyn," Verbena said more
to herself as she headed for the door out of the Control Room. As she
opened it she said, "Let me know when you're ready to go back to see
Sam," and she was gone before the Observer could respond.

    For a couple of minutes Al just stood staring after her, wondering
what she was pursuing. When Gooshie cleared his throat for the third
time, he put aside his wondering.

"What have you found out about Perry?" he asked.

 "For one thing..." Gooshie began.

"....his I.Q. is nearly as high as my father's," Ziggy smoothly
herself into the conversation.

 "How high?" Al asked.

"During the last testing done in the school district, Perry had the
score in the district."

 Al repeated his question. "How high, Ziggy?"

 "196," Ziggy replied.  "His highest scores were in math and science."

 "What else did you find out about this kid?" Al asked.

 It was one of those rare times when Ziggy did exactly as asked and
began reciting the background information on the current guest in the
Waiting Room.  If Al or Gooshie had taken a moment to consider the
hybrid computer's "serious" attitude as she provided dates and facts
about Perry, they might have realized that Ziggy had arrived at the
same conclusion as they: that her creator was in the midst of possibly
the most dangerous leap yet, and that there was no place for
playfulness in such a situation.

"Perry Eduardo Kirkwood was born on August 13, 1944 to Joseph
Jesse Kirkwood and Stacia Sophia O'Nyan Kirkwood.  His father
worked in the McKeesom Bottling factory at the same job for most
of his adult life.  Joseph Kirkwood never finished school, having
dropped out when he was fifteen.  He met and married Stacia Sophia
O'Nyan in August 1942 when she came to town to teach at the local
high school."

 "Did you find any pictures of Perry's mother? Or his dad?" Al asked.

 "On screen," the computer said.

 Moving around the control panel, the Observer and Gooshie focused
their attention on the monitor set in the panel at the end nearest the
Imaging Chamber.   As they watched, a black and white newspaper
picture of a much younger version of the man Al had watched taking
care of Sam when he'd first leaped in, appeared.  But it was the dark
haired, dark-eyed beauty with him in the picture that caught the
Observer's keen eye for beautiful women, and he couldn't help the
low appreciative whistle under his breath.

    The young woman was dressed demurely in a simple, light-colored
summer frock and a wide brimmed white hat decorated with a pale
colored (probably pink, Al guessed) rose on the band. Yet for all the
simplicity the new bride had striven for, Al recognized a sultriness in
the dark eyes and the full, pouty lips that was as bold and inviting to
the Observer at that moment as it was when the picture had been
taken more than fifty years ago. Though she'd pinned her hair up in a
very unassuming French twist for the picture with her new husband,
it was all too easy for the Observer to summon up a mental picture of
what Stacia Kirkwood would look like off-the-shoulder
peasant blouse, her dark hair worn loose, tumbling about her shoulders,
and gold hoop earrings glinting in the moonlight....

Suddenly Al realized where his thoughts were headed, and he gave
himself a mental shake.  He could see how a rather ordinary looking
young man from a small country town like Willandale (*hell..any man
from anywhere*, he thought) could fall under the spell of a young
woman like Miss Stacia O'Nyan.  The only spoken thought he
permitted himself was, "Boy!....did opposites attract!"

"Any background on her?" Al had moved away from the monitor
and the picture still filling the screen.  Even if the picture was over
fifty years old, he recognized the pull of sexual attraction, even from
photograph.  But recognizing it only made him wonder about her more
*A woman like that...a teacher?  In a small Southern town?*  He shook
his head, clearing his thoughts, and focused his attention on the
information Ziggy was reciting.  He interrupted the computer only once
ask, "Are you sure about the kid's middle name, Ziggy?  I
It's not a name that was real common in the deep South in the forties."

 "It's on his birth certificate, Admiral," the computer replied, her
miffed at having her work questioned.

 The only sign that Al had noticed Ziggy's attitude was a quirked
eyebrow.  He remained quiet during the rest of the recitiation.  About
half way through it, something, a thought, an idea began nibbling at
the edges of his attention. A past master at listening and maintaining
near total concentration on something else was a skill Al had learned
early in his miltary career.  While Ziggy talked, every now and then
he'd toss the "something nibbling" a scrap of a thought then mentally
sat back to see where it would lead or what it would come up with.