The Imaging Chamber door opened with a 'whoosh' and the familiar figure 
of the observer stepped out. He found himself in the centre of a large 
oak table, surrounded by several high backed chairs. He looked up, 
immediately above was a large dusty chandelier. "That doesn't look none 
too safe." He commented and moved quickly from the table and walked 
around the room. Heavy curtains hung at the windows. His eyes scoured an 
ornate dresser that almost covered one wall, a picture hung crookedly 
above an iron fireplace. Ironically he tried to straighten the picture, 
and laughed "Ha-ha, stay crooked then," as he realised he couldn't move 
it. As he turned amused from the picture he noticed a rough cot in 
disarray on the floor, and strode closer. The sheets were not sheets but 
old rags and were none too clean either.
Suddenly a door opened and two coarsely dressed guards entered the room, 
sandwiched between them was a sorry sight of a figure. One of the guards 
backed out of the room and stood in the doorway. The observer touched a 
button on the hand-link. The figure heard this very familiar sound and 
lifted his head and looked towards to the observer. "Al!"

The observer responded quickly, "Sam! Don't say another word." Sam's 
forlorn face looked questioningly towards the observer. The remaining 
guard pushed Sam further into the room with the muzzle of a riffle. "Get 
over there, darkness is falling, have to take care of the others." He 
lit the lamp on the dresser keeping the weapon aimed at Sam and closed 
the curtains at the windows. The observer spurted out, "You're in Russia 
Sam, the date is 14, July 1918. I don't know who you are yet, cos 
there's no-one in the Waitin' Room."

The guard turned to leave the room, before closing the door, he turned 
to Sam, "If you remember anything more, doctor you'll have to holler as 
usual, damn gentry can't do a thing for themselves." He continued to 
close the door and the sound of a key turned in the lock.

"Al! What am I doing in Russia? What's the year again 19....?"

"1918 Sam. Well, that's good, at least we know you're er, a doctor. 
Ziggy, find out what you can about a doctor here." The hand-link tweeted 
and spluttered, the observer looked anxiously at Sam. He looked like 
Sam, sounded like Sam, well sort of. He could just make out the image 
through a thick, smokey haze of what must be this doctor, and the voice 
came through, gravely and deep, but the under-tones were Sam. He shook 
his head and continued, "You're Dr. Eugene Botkin."

"What! What am I-I doing in 1918?." The observer looked back at the 
hand-link, "Er-erm. You're in Russia, Ekaterinburg, Ipatiev House. 
You're the personal physician of the czar of Russia, and his wife 
Alexandra and their four daughters Olga, Tatiana, Maria, Anastasia and 
their only son, Alexei. Oh no! Sam!. You're erm, he, er Dr. Botkin was 
assassinated along with the rest of the Russian Imperial Family."

"Yeah, but what am I doing in 1918, Al?"

The observer raised his shoulders and shrugged them, "There must be some 
sort of malfunction or something. A lot has happened since you last 

"What do you mean a lot has happened? I only got here yesterday 
morning." Sam's face was puzzled.

"Oh my God Sam!" he covered his face with a hand, trying to hide the 
emotion he could no longer hold inside. Tears flooded down his cheeks, 
he turned his back on his companion, and wiped away his sorrow.

"Al! What is it?" Sam moved closer to his friend. "God damn it, tell 

The observer was silent as he slowly turned to face Sam, and found it 
difficult to look him square in the face.

"It's been nearly nine years since you last leapt." He could see Sam's 
face drop, and for the first time he could see through the haze. Time 
had been hard on Dr. Beckett, although he still looked in good physical 
shape, lines had furrowed deeply into his face, time had taken its toll.

Sam looked at the floor his face wracked with emotion. "What! Nine 
years!" Sam sat slowly into a chair, his elbows on the table, hands 
cupping his face. He looked worried. "What-what the hell?" The observer 
watched Sam with concern in his eyes, feeling Sam's pain. "Nine years. 
Al, what have you been doing for nine years?"

"Just like you Sam, to think of someone else before yourself, but of 
course you wouldn't know this Sam, I'm a grandfather now." The observer 
trying to change the subject a little, trying to make light of this 
difficult situation. "Lisa Jane had a baby last year and..."

Sam interrupted. "Lisa Jane! Beth! What about Beth?"

"Oh, she's okay. She wasn't too keen on being a grandmother, but she got 
over it. In fact, she loves having the baby around and Ruth, Sharon and 
Maxine are all pleased too."

"Who's Lisa Jane?"

"My eldest daughter. Why?"

"I can't remember." Sam looked confused.

"Well it could be that swiss-cheesed memory of yours." He wished he 
could console his companion.

"All I remember before coming here was.... erm, seeing Beth." Sam sat 
thinking "Yes, Beth. I told her you were coming home. Yes, you-you 
coming home Al."

"Sam, what are you talkin about? Beth's been with me for 44 years." The 
observer scrutinised Sam quizzically.

Sam stood up suddenly, walked around the table and confronted the 
observer. "Al, don't you remember, you were a POW in Vietnam and Beth 
declared you dead and she married a Lawyer."

"No, you got that wrong Sam." His face was stern, "Vietnam, yes, you got 
that right. Beth didn't marry any Lawyer. We have four beautiful 
daughters together."

Sam smiled at his friend. "So Beth waited for you then?"

"Yeah course she did, what makes you think she didn't?"

"Then what about Ruth, Sharon and Maxine?"

"They're my kids Sam! Boy your brain really got magnafuzzled this time."

Sam turned away and whispered to himself, "I did it." The observer 
didn't see Sam's smile. "I'm really happy for yer."

The observer was by now very confused, and looked at Sam thoughtfully. 
"Thanks Sam!"

Sam turned back to face his companion and moved closer. "They keep 
questioning me about people I know nothing about, I don't know what to 
say to them, I don't know anything. Al, why am I here?"

"Erm, well. We're having a little trouble with that one Sam. Ziggy's 
working on it, but I can hazard a fairly good guess."

"What's that?"

"Well Sam, I think you're here to stop the assassination of the Romanov 
family, and I think the people they are questioning you about are their 
relations, erm- immediate family."


"Oh Sam, you must remember the abdication of the czar Nicholas II during 

Sam shook his head. "Nope."

"And about Rasputin, the Mad Monk?" The observer looked at Sam 

Sam shook his head once more. "Never heard of him, I can't remember."

"Sam, you must remember something? Ziggy said..."

"Ziggy, Ziggy, Ziggy! Why can't that darned computer come up with 

"Well Sam, she hasn't any data on 1918. I mean she's not been programmed 
for anything further back November 1952, and, this time you've leapt way 
outside of your own life-time. She's working on it though."

Sam's gaze changed suddenly, "I've met him Al."

The observer was once again puzzled by Sam's change of subject. He found 
it hard to keep up with Sam's mind going off on tangents. "Who?"

"Yer know, him." Sam looked upward still keeping his eyes on his friend. 
The observer looked at Sam in total confusion. "Oh Al, the one that's 
leaping me around in time."

The observer still looked at Sam, as confused as ever. "When?"

"My last leap. He gave me a choice Al. To return home or to carry on 
helping put right peoples pasts, your past Al."

"You could have stopped me goin to Vietnam, that woulda helped."

"But I did help yer, can't you see, before, when you were in Vietnam, 
Beth didn't wait for you."

"Oh Sam, don't start that up again." The observer turned his back on 
Sam, not wanting to show his emotions. Sam looked on at his friend, 
wanting to tell him more.

"How long's it gonna take, Al?"

Sam had gone off on another tangent again, "What, how long's what gonna 

Sam was getting impatient at his friend, "Ziggy, how long's Ziggy gonna 
take?" Familiar tweeting and chirping came from the hand-link. "95% 
done, won't be long now Sam."

They both heard the sound of sobbing from outside of the room where the 
two friends stood. Sam rushed over to the door and started banging on it 
with his fists, the observer followed him. A voice yelled back from 
outside. "Hey, you stop that banging, and you bitch, stop that whining. 
'Cause if you don't I'm gonna give you something to whine about. Stop it 
do you hear!"

Sam shouted back at the voice, "You leave her alone." Sam still banged 
on the door. "If you touch one hair on her head I'll-I'll....." The 
sound of a key turned in the lock. Sam moved away from the door.

"Be careful Sam!" The observer sternly warned Sam.

The door flew open with a 'crash' and the guard stood challenging in the 
doorway. "And you'll do what old man?"

Sam suddenly became very quiet, "Just leave her alone okay!" The sound 
of sobbing still continued outside.

The guard turned slightly in the doorway, "Stop that whining bitch." The 
guard left the room pulling the door closed behind him. They heard the 
muffled voice of the guard continue, "Whining like that will not help 
you, yer all the same, damned gentry."

"Be quiet for a while Sam," the observer held a finger to his pursed 
lips, "the guard hasn't locked the door. I'll go check on the girl. You 
stay here."

The observer walked through the door without opening it. Then popped his 
head back through. His voice demanding, "Mind you don't go anywhere 

"Al, as if I would."

"I know you pal, now stay put. I'll stalk out the territory while I'm at 

"Al, I'm not gonna go anywhere, I promise." Sam shooed the observer away 
with a gesture of his hands. Sam watched the disappearing image of the 
holographic observer.

Sam faced the centre of the room and looked about him. Sam started 
thinking, "Sometimes after a leap I can't figure out who I am, where I 
am or what I'm here to do. This time I know who I am, where I am and I 
have the probability of knowing what I have to do.

Mostly confusion reigns for the first part of a leap, then the memory 
that the leapee has left behind, kicks in. This leap seems somewhat 
different somehow. How can I leap into someone and that someone not be 
in the Waiting Room?

Also there is the fact that I have leapt outside of my own life-time. 
This is something that has only happened twice before, and there were 
reasonings for those times. The first time Al's and my own masons had 
merged and we switched places, Al had leapt back in time and I was the 
hologram. We were in Al's life-time.

The other time was when I leapt into one of my ancestors. That was due 
to me having the same metabolic atoms as that ancestor, but what of this 
leap? There are no connections whatsoever that I can think of to 

Sam heard the observer voice, "Hey Sam, she's beautiful." The observer 
re-materialised through the closed door. "Oh sorry Sam, I mean sh-she's 
pretty for a 17 year old. Hm."

"Al, lechery will get you nowhere."

"What yer mean, I'm not being lecherous?" The observer was hurt.

"Come off it, if it wears a skirt and is of the opposite sex, you just 
gotta have a go. Don't forget I know you, Al."

"Aw, that really hurts, I'm a happily married man. Perhaps you don't 
know me like you think you do."

"Oh I'm sorry, I forgot you've only been married to one wife and not 

"Five! Where'd yer get that from? Oh don't answer that one.... Anyways 
Ziggy's come up with the scenario." The observer pointed to the 
hand-link. "Of course I knew I was right all along."

"Your head is swelling Al."

"All right, all right, cut it out."

"What'd Ziggy say?"

"There's a 99.5% chance that erm, " The observer struck the hand-link. 
"That you've got to stop the ass...." The observer hit the hand-link 
once more. ".....oh, hm, stop the assassination of the czar and his 
family, the Romanovs.... Nothing else has come up."

"How am I supposed to do that? There are guards everywhere?" Sam glanced 
at the observer for advice.

"Well, I've had a look around, we're on the first floor. That door on 
the right leads to the four Duchesses' room, also through there is 
Nicholas', Alexei and Alexandra's room. The door to the left is the 
Salon, which leads to the hallway. Everyone's in the Salon at the 
moment. Apparently you are kept in this room because you erm, Dr. Botkin 
has a bad heart condition and only had an attack yesterday morning."

"Al that's when I leapt in, yesterday morning. A bad heart eh, that's, 
that's why I'm not feeling too good, right?"

"Probably Sam, probably. I must say you don't look too good either."

"A mirror Al, I can't find a mirror. Have you seen one?"

"Honestly Sam you don't need one, I don't think you'd like what you'd 
see. How are you feelin'?"

"Okay, why?"

"Thought we might join the others. I'll go and check and see if it's 
clear." The observer moved towards the door.

"Don't be long." Sam sounded a little more than anxious.

"I won't." He left the room in his usual manner and re-appeared on the 
other side of the door.

The observer looked about the Salon, a few more steps into the room he 
could see a large archway to the right leading to another section of the 
Salon, to his left there was a stairwell. The room was dark, lit only by 
two lamps, one in each section. Along one wall was a large marble 
fireplace and a chase-lounge on which sat the czar, Nicholas and 
czarina, Alexandra. On another sat the two eldest daughters, Tatiana, 
and Olga along with the son, Alexei. On two separate chairs sat Maria, 
and Anastasia with her dog, Jemmy at her feet. All the females were in 
the process of sewing. Crouched in a corner talking, were three 
servants, one male and two female. There were no guards in sight. All 
was quiet except for the sobbing of Olgar.

The observer walked through the darkened hall and headed down the 
stairs. At the bottom of the stairs he turned left, a short passage and 
down more stairs to the left. Through empty, darkened rooms and 
corridors he trudged. He passed a room full of noisy guards and watched 
for a while, mentally counting each one. His final destination, the 
cellar, empty and dark. The only light came from the moon that shone 
through the solitary window.

"Oh my God! This is where it all happens, two days from now." The 
observer swallowed visibly.