Chapter 21

	When Al walked out of the Imaging Chamber, into the 
Control Room he was amazed at how quiet it was.  Glancing 
around he saw only two technicians working at one of the 
smaller computers that he'd heard Ziggy refer to as one 
of her 'satellites." Gooshie, at the control panel when 
the Observer had gone into the Imaging Chamber, was still 

	Al braced his hands against the front of the panel 
and surveyed the large room.  "Where is everybody?"

	"Most are at dinner," Gooshie replied as he set the 
handlink to recharge.

	Al's eyebrows arched in surprise. "What time is it?  
How long was I in there?" 

	"Seven twenty-one p.m, and three hours, thirty-two 
minutes, nineteen seconds," Ziggy answered both questions.

	"How's Perry?" Al asked.

	"The visitor has finished his evening meal and, 
according to his life function readouts," Ziggy informed 
him, "will fall asleep in approximately seven point four 
one minutes."

	"You look beat, Admiral," Gooshie ventured.  He 
glanced at the control panel.  "Doctor Beckett's sleeping 
quietly.  Why don't you do the same?"  

	After the adrenaline roller coaster he'd been on for 
most of the time he had been with Sam, Al had to admit that 
Gooshie was right.  A hot shower and a few hours in the sack
... alone...was just what he needed. 

	Al glanced around the room, at the technicians focused 
solely on their work, considered the quiet atmosphere of the 

	"I think I'll take you up on that offer, " Al said.  He
was just beginning to realize just how tired he was as the 
adrenalin faded from his body. 

	Gooshie smiled back. "Go get some rest, Admiral.  I'll 
keep watch on Doctor Beckett's brainwave activity.  If it 
changes in any way, I'll call you."

	Straightening up Al headed for the door, then paused 
and looked back.  "If Sam so much as sneezes.." he said, 
pointing a warning finger at him.

	"'ll know before the 'ah-choo' ends," Gooshie 
assured him.

	Twenty minutes and one steam-billowing hot shower and 
quick shave later, Al toweled off, pulled on peach silk 
pajama pants, and crawled into bed.  Fastening his wrist 
communicator on again, Al let himself fall backward.  He 
was asleep before his head hit the pillow.


	The sound of his bedroom door being opened drew Sam 
from sleep.  For a moment he lay still, watching through 
barely open eyes as Howard left his room, pulling the door 
closed carefully. Glancing at the window he saw the first 
pale streaks of dawn on the open drapes. He glanced at the 
clock. Quarter to six.

	Quickly Sam got out of bed and put his ear to the 
door.  Not hearing anything, he opened it a crack.  Peering 
down the hall, he watched Howard start downstairs.  He 
didn't question the feeling urging him to follow Perry's 

	Moving carefully, almost holding his breath, Sam 
crept to the head of the stairs in time to see Howard turn 
to enter the kitchen. He was about to start down the steps 
when the telephone in the living room rang, and he jerked 
back out of sight, pressing flat against the wall.  As 
soon as he heard Howard's deep voice say, "Hello?", Sam 
crept down the stairs as far as he could without being seen.


	"It's getting worse."  Howard paused, listening, unaware 
that he was nodding in agreement with what the caller was 
saying. "I want to do this as quietly as possible.  How about 
early Saturday morning?"  He listened again. "Last week he 
mentioned some school dance he wanted to go to tomorrow night.  
I was figuring if I let him go, maybe it'll keep him...quiet."  
He listened again, then nodded.  "Okay."  Again he listened. 
"Yeah, I got the drops." A moment of darkness entered his eyes. 
"I know how to use 'em," he said in low, angry tones.  Another 
moment of listening.  "Okay.  I'll have him there Saturday 
morning before dawn.  You'll have the papers ready for me to 
sign?" He listened again, then nodded. "All right."

	Hanging up the phone, Howard stood for a moment, looking 
down at his hand still resting on the receiver.  On his way 
back to the kitchen he paused and looked up the empty staircase, 
his expression one of sad but resolute acceptance. After a moment 
he continued into the kitchen.


	Sam paced around the small bedroom, going over and over 
every word of Howard's conversation.

	*Drops?....Chloroform?......Maybe it's something to put 
in a drink or in food. ....Something that can't be tasted....*

	Realizing that he needed to keep his behavior as normal 
as possible, Sam started to get dressed.  Finding clean socks 
in a dresser drawer, he sat on the side of the bed and started 
to put them on.

	*Hot chocolate.*

	Sam hesitated as he pulled on the second sock. "Hot 
chocolate?" he murmured, his brows knitting slightly.   After 
a moment he shook his head and finished pulling the sock on.  
Going to the closet he took out a pair of tan slacks.  He had 
them half on when....

	*Don't drink the hot chocolate.*

	Slowly Sam drew the slacks up and fastened them, even 
as his mind focused on the ... thought.

	A part of his mind wanted to panic, but his natural 
scientific inquisitiveness wasn't afraid.  Not sensing any 
hostility, he took a couple of deep, slow breaths.  Closing 
his eyes, Sam calmed his thoughts and became still inside.

	**Why shouldn't I drink the hot chocolate?**

	*That's how he will give the drops to...Perry.*

	Sam's brow furrowed slightly again, but his eyes remained 
closed.  **Who are you?**


	Sam's thoughts shifted into overdrive **Another 
personality!**  Still not sensing any hostility, he decided 
to take a chance.

	**But only Evalyn and Aaron are...with Perry.**  It was 
almost as if "Philip" had anticipated the question.

	*How many personalities has Perry had?*

	 **Evalyn said there were seven.** Sam hesitated then 
counted them off.  **Evalyn, Timmy, Annabelle, Marian, Henry, 
and Aaron.**

	*That's only six.*

	**Why didn't she mention you?** 

	*She's been hiding me from Aaron.*


	Sam sensed a hesitation in the newly discovered 
personality, a hesitation he recognized. 'Philip' was deciding 
if he could be trusted.  When the personality finally spoke, 
the answer startled him nearly speechless.

	*Because I've been hiding the little ones....*

	Recovering quickly Sam said, **But I thought...I was 
told the little ones had been...eliminated.**

	*The path through the whirlwind is sometimes the safest 
way to shelter,*  Philip replied.

	**I don't understand.**

	*There isn't time to explain right now,* Philip responded. 
*But, like Aaron, I thought it wise to find out who you were.*  
He paused.  *You are a good and strong man, Doctor Beckett.*  
The personality paused; Sam sensed that the other seemed to be 

	*I have to go* Philip said quietly.  *But I will be help you.*

	**How will I know....**

	*My knowing is more important than your knowing.  
Trust me, Sam.*

	Before Sam could respond in any way, a sharp knock on 
the bedroom door jerked him back to the moment.  He glanced 
down at himself, momentarily confused, then looked at the 
door.  Seeing the doorknob begin to turn spurred him into 
action.  Grabbing a short-sleeved shirt from the closet, he 
yanked it on just as the door swung open.

	"Yeah, dad?"

	"Didn't you hear me?" Howard said, his tone striving 
for patience.  "I've been calling you for five minutes.  Are 
you all right?"

	"Yeah," Sam said, fumbling with the shirt buttons.  
"Just drifting in the ozone."


	"Uh..daydreaming," Sam said, hastily stuffing the tail 
of the shirt into the waistband of his trousers.

	Howard frowned.  "Pull that shirt out and do it right," 
he said sharply. He watched his son obey as Sam unfastened 
the catch of his trousers and tucked the shirt tail in 
smoothly. "That's better.  Get your belt on and get downstairs 
and eat something. I gotta go into work early today seeing as 
how...." he didn't finish the sentence.  "I'll drop you at 
school on my way."

	Sam glanced at the clock. Six thirty.  The sound of the 
Imaging Chamber door opening behind him just as Howard spoke 
was the best sound he'd heard so far this morning.

	As much as his body had wanted to sleep longer, years 
of habit had wakened the Observer at four-thirty a.m. sharp.  
A quick cold shower got rid of any lingering cobwebs of sleep, 
and he'd dressed quickly.  Breakfast was two mugs of the 
nearly lethal black coffee that was always brewing in the 
Project cafeteria and a half of a toasted onion bagel with 
cream cheese.  Now, seeing what had the earmarks of another 
possible confrontation between Sam and Perry's father, made 
Al glad that the coffee had been twice as strong as usual. 

	"Go along with him, Sam," Al said quietly, casting a 
narrow sideways look at Howard.  "It'll give us time to talk."

	*Who is he?*

	Keeping his eyes on Howard and his hearing tuned to 
Al's voice, Sam knew instantly who it was. But he hesitated 
before responding.

	**That's Al.**

	*Can he be trusted?*

	**Yes!** Sam put as much emphasis as he could on the 

	"Sam?" Al said, shifting his narrowed gaze to his 
friend's face.

	"Perry?" Howard put a hand on his son's shoulder.  
"You all right?"

	Sam shook his head a bit, then offered a smile to the 
man and hologram watching him like two hawks eyeing a mouse. 
"Yeah, I'm fine.  Just trying to catch the tail of the dream 
I was having when I woke up."  Stepping past Howard, Sam 
hurried downstairs.

	Over a bowl of Wheaties and a glass of orange juice, 
Sam kept an eye on Howard, who stood by the open back door, 
drinking coffee and smoking three cigarettes in quick 
succession.  He also watched the Observer, who prowled 
the area between him and Howard, keeping a sharp watch 
on the big man.

	Finishing his breakfast, Sam went back upstairs to 
brush his teeth.  Al was waiting for him.

	"What's going on, Sam?" Al demanded even though Sam 
already had a mouthful of toothpaste foam.  "You looked 

	"Not here, Al," Sam said, rinsing his mouth and 
putting the toothbrush away.

	"Then where?" the hologram demanded.

	"At school."  Sam glanced at his watch.  "There 
shouldn't be too many kids there at seven a.m."

	Running a comb through his hair, Sam went to grab 
the books and notebook from the desk where Aaron had 
tossed them the afternoon before.  He turned toward the 
door then hesitated when Philip 'spoke'.

	*The book.*


	*Under the dresser.*

	Al hadn't let Sam out of his sight since he'd gone 
into the Imaging Chamber.  Now, watching him hesitate, 
then turn to look at the dresser, or rather at the floor 
by the dresser, started his suspicions churning.  His 
suspicions churned even harder as he watched Sam glance 
at the door, then lay the books on the bed, and go to 
the dresser and kneel down.

	Bending down, the side of his face almost on the 
floor, Sam peered at the bottom of the well used dresser 
with stubby legs on ball and claw feet. Sliding a hand 
under it, he felt around.

	"Sam, what are you doing?" Al demanded, crossing 
closer to him.

	"I'm looking for something."

	"Would you care to be a bit more specific?"

	When his fingers touched it, Sam carefully peeled 
away the wide strip of tape that held the object in place.  
Grasping it carefully, he drew it from its hiding place. 

	It was a book approximately ten inches high by eight 
inches wide.  It had a smooth surfaced nondescript brown 
cover.  A brown shoelace was tied around it, and from the 
looks of the bottom corner of the front cover, the book 
had been frequently handled.

	"What's that?" Al demanded.

	"A diary," Sam whispered as he quickly tucked the 
slim book into the inner pocket of his notebook, grabbed 
the textbooks and hurried out of the room.

	Al took no chances, 'riding' in the truck with 
Howard and Sam to the school.  Once there, and as soon as 
Sam entered the building, he had Gooshie center him on 
his friend, not at all surprised to find Sam in the boy's 
bathroom.  For once he didn't mind; no one...physically
...could sneak up on them.

	Perched on the narrow strip of countertop between 
the two sinks, Sam had the diary open, hidden inside a 
slighter larger history book.  By the time he heard Al 
'pop in', he had already read the first four pages, the 
small, close handwriting having slowed his speed reading 
a bit.

	"Sam..." Al began.

	"Let me finish," Sam said, his eyes never hesitating 
as he rapidly skimmed the closely written words. When he 
turned the last page a couple of minutes later, he found 
the envelope.  He glanced up at the Observer.

	Sam didn't need the urging he saw in Al's eyes, and 
opened the envelope and pulled out the single folded sheet 
of soft pink notepaper.

	"Who's it from?" Al demanded.

	Sam read the return address on the envelope.  
"His mother."

	"Bingo! What does it say? And before you say what I 
see in your eyes," Al continued, "for the moment you are 
Perry.  So, read it."  It took less than a minute for Sam 
to read the letter.

	"So what does it say?" Al demanded.  When Sam turned 
the letter around for him to see, the Observer's fingers 
flew over the buttons of the handlink. Punching in the 
last bit of information, Al eyed the diary laying on the 
counter.  "What's in it?"

	*Do you think it's wise to tell him what's in the 
diary?* Philip 'asked' just then.

	Sam closed his eyes a moment and focused inward. 
**Definitely.  I trust Al with my life.**

	*If you tell him what's in the diary, you're putting 
Perry's life in his hands, too.  Do you trust him that much?*


	Al didn't like the way Sam closed his eyes and went 
suddenly still, almost as if he'd gone into a trance.  He 
felt the edginess beginning when Sam opened his eyes and 
looked at him.

	"What's wrong, Sam?" Al asked suspiciously.  "That is 
if you are Sam."

	"It's me, Al," Sam assured him. 

	"What were you doing just now?" the suspicious look 
in Al's eyes remained strong.

	Picking up the slim brown diary, he turned back to the 
Observer. Meeting Al's eyes levelly, Sam said, "I was just 
assuring Philip that it's safe to tell you what's in here."

	Al felt the hair on the back of his neck stand up. 
"Who's Philip?" he demanded.

	"Perry's seventh personality," Sam said simply. 

	For the next forty-five minutes, any early student 
walking past the boy's restroom wouldn't have thought much 
of hearing two different voices coming from within that 
facility.  What would have spooked them was the fact that 
there was only one person in the bathroom. What would have 
have freaked them out, if they could have heard it, was a 
third, rather gravelly sounding voice from a man who wasn't 
really there. 

	When the school bell sounded at seven fifty-five, 
warning that the first class of the day was about to begin, 
Al and Sam stood looking at each for a long moment. Within 
the quietness of their own thoughts, leaper and Observer
each mentally reviewed the unique three-way discussion that 
had filled three quarters of an hour.  Then the still silent 
Observer summoned the Imaging Chamber door, stepped inside 
and was gone.

	By the time the Imaging Chamber door was closed, Sam was 
halfway to the principal's office.  Stepping inside the 
already busy office, he went to the desk and made his request.

	Small spikes of pain heralding Aaron's intent to emerge 
had begun throbbing in Sam's temples halfway through his 
economics class.  But he'd drawn on as much of the depth and 
breadth of his intellect that was available to him and fought 
back, and the pain had eased.

	By lunch time, Sam was decidedly pale and feeling quite 
drained.  But he ignored it, and went in search of Margie 
Hennessey.  He found her in the quadrangle, eating a sandwich 
and chatting and laughing with a couple of her girlfriends.

	"Hi, Margie," he said, smiling as he walked up to the 

	Margie smiled warmly at him.  "Hi, Perry."

	"Hi, Perry," Cathy, the redhead from physics class said, 
scooting over and making a place between herself and Margie.  
An impish twinkle shone in her eyes as she patted the bench. 
"Sit with us."

	Sam felt the blush rise in his face but ignored it, 
and turned to Margie.  "Could I talk to you for a minute?  
In private?"

	Margie smiled again at the tall, shy young man she'd 
had a crush on since she was a freshman, although none of 
her friends could understand why.  "Sure," she said, getting 
to her feet and picking up her purse.  "I'll catch up with you 
two later," she said, glancing at her friends, then moved 
away with Sam.

	It was quiet for a minute or so as the couple walked.  
Finally Margie stopped and turned to 'Perry', putting a hand 
on his arm.  "What did you want to talk to me about?"

	Numerous things flashed through Sam's mind at her 
question, but his response was the same one he'd silently 
rehearsed all morning.  "Would you my date for the 
Junior-Senior Get Acquainted Dance tomorrow night?" he asked 
almost shyly.  "I know it's the last minute but...I'd really 
like for you to be my date.  That is if nobody else has 
asked you."

	Margie felt her heart flutter against her ribs, almost 
as if it had wings, as she smiled up at him.  "That doesn't 
matter," she said, her eyes shining.  "And no one else has 
asked.  I'd love to be your date."

	"Great!" Sam breathed softly, smiling.  "I'll pick you 
up about eight o'clock, okay?"

	"I'll be ready," she said.  Something occurred to her 
and she asked, "Will you be driving?"

	"Well..uh, no, I don't think so. will probably 
drive us."  He prayed that wouldn't put her off.

	"Okay," she said.  "Just so I know what to tell Momma 
and Daddy.  You know how parents are," she said laughingly.

	*I know how my parents were* Sam thought, but responded 
with a nod saying, "I sure do."

	Margie glanced at her watch. "I really need to get 
going.  I need to stop by my locker and the library before 
my next class starts..."

	Sam reached out to put a hand on her arm.  "Margie, 
could I ask a favor of you?"

	"Sure," she said.  "What is it?"

	"I'll walk you to your locker," Sam said.  "I'll tell 
you what it is on the way."