July, 1985
Atlanta, GA

  Sam opened his eyes slowly, but he still couldn't see anything because it
was so dark out. Then his eyes widened and he felt the other side of the bed
he was sleeping on. His hand met with an empty pillow, much to his immense
relief. If there was one thing Sam truly hated, it was leaping in next to
someone he was supposed to know intimately.
  He sat up and reached for some source of light. Before he could find it, he
heard the sound of movement from the far side of the room and he groaned in
despair. He had come so close. He was gratified to note that he had on an
undershirt and boxer shorts, which was promising. He waited, but nobody
joined him. "Hello?" he hazarded, pulling back the covers and sitting on the
edge of the bed.
  The sound came closer and Sam felt the cold hard muzzle of a gun press up
against his head. He tensed and swallowed hard. "Don't talk," said a voice at
his side.
  *Where are you, Al?* he thought to himself with increasing panic. He had a
bad feeling about all this. It was hard not to when someone was holding a gun
to your head.
  "Get up and get dressed."
  Sam obeyed, fumbling around in the drawers for a pair of pants while at the
same time making note of his surroundings. It appeared he was in an
apartment, in a small bedroom area. Through the open door he could see the
small kitched with an adjoining living room.
  "Hurry up!" the man yelled from behind him and Sam turned so he could catch
a glimpse of his attacker. With a photographic memory, one glimpse was all it
ever took. The man was small and lean and very afraid. He looked like he
hadn't shaved or possibly showered for at least a couple of days, as his
thickening stubble showed. He was dressed all in black, casual clothing, but
his encounter was anything but. The thin sharpness of his face revealed more
than a hint of desperation and Sam wondered if that had anything to do with
what was going on.
  "What is it you want?" Sam asked. He paused before his next question,
unsure if he should voice it without Al's council, but he saw no other
opportunity. "Who are you?" he demanded.
  The man didn't respond, but he didn't call Sam crazy either, so maybe he
didn't know this man after all. He didn't say anything at all, but advanced a
step with the gun.
  "Okay," Sam said quietly. "Okay, just calm down now. Please, put down the
gun. You don't need it. Just tell me what you want and we can clear this up."
  The man's eyes narrowed and he shook his head. "I don't think so Mr. Price.
Go outside." He tossed Sam a set of keys. "You're driving," he said. He was
starting to look a bit more confident about himself and Sam could feel his
chance slipping away. Well, at least he knew now that this man knew him,
which was something.
  "Please, if you could just tell me what it is you want, maybe I can help
  He paused, the hand that held the gun trembling slightly. "You want to know
what I want? I want my life back, that's what I want. I want you to give me
my life back. You go about your life and work your way up and you never even
stop to think of the people you grind underneath your heels while you do. But
I will not be ignored. You don't remember me? Fine. I shouldn't have expected
any less from the likes of you. Now," he grabbed Sam's arm roughly, "get
  Sam stumbled out onto the damp lawn, noting the BMW parked off to the side.
He was pushed to the worn-looking sedan parked out front in hasty abandon and
his head connected with the roof of the car, causing him to wince in pain.
His captor pushed him over the the driver's side and got in himself, the gun
still trained on Sam. "Look, you don't want to do this. I can't give you your
life back. I'm sorry."
  "Shut up," the man said evenly.
  Sam gripped the steering wheel and started the car. "Where are we going?"
  "We? _You_ are going to commit suicide. _I_ am just along for the ride.
Drive. I'll tell you where to go."
  *Suicide,* thought Sam frantically. Where was Al?

September, 2000
Santa Fe, NM

  Al glanced back behind him at the three cars parked side by side, mostly
obscured by a smaller building so that whoever had set this up wouldn't
detect them. He felt better knowing they were there, even though it meant
that he had to put them on for extra hours. He hadn't wanted to sacrifice
project security on this, but neither did he want a potentially innocent
person to die because he decided not to go or because he gave it up to the
  There were no other vehicles around and he walked slowly to the warehouse
door, feeling the reassuring weight of the small handgun he was told not to
bring. He hoped it wouldn't cause any trouble, but with as little information
as he was going on, he wasn't about to take any chances. The door opened with
a sharp creak and Al winced. The inside of the warehouse was dimly lit,
always a bad sign, and there was no sign of anybody. He was uncertain whether
to sneak in or yell out, but he figured the door had already announced his
presence to anyone within. The slightest noise echoed in the massive, empty
room. He slid through the small crack in the door he had created, motioning
to the troops in the cars to hold off until they recieved a signal. What kind
of  signal he would send, he wasn't yet sure, but if worst came to worst, the
sound of a gunshot would send them running.
  "Hello?" he hazarded softly and the echo of his voice caused him to regret
it. The room had stacks of carts everywhere in a maze-like formation with one
clear view right down the center. He realized that he stood in that plain
view and he moved quickly to one side to get out of it.
  The sound of movement like a soft scuffle reached him, but due to the echo,
he was unable to tell where it was coming from. "I want to see the hostage,"
he tried again, but there was still no response. He walked slowly forward,
taking care to remain out of the direct path in the middle, wishing it was
safe to take out his gun. He wasn't but fifty yards into the place when he
saw the figure lying on the floor. A woman lay bound and gagged in the middle
of the room, wiggling furiously. He knew instinctively that it was a trap,
but he couldn't think of anything else to do other than try and help her. He
crouched low to the ground to try and get close enough to pull her behind the
shelter of the crates and then gunfire erupted overhead.
  Al reached out and grabbed her by her leg, dragging her to safety,
simultaneoulsy reaching behind him to get his gun. The doors exploded inward
and the people he had brought filed into the building, returning fire with
seemed to be ruthless accuracy. The ear-splitting noise went on for a full
five minutes, at least. Al got off a few shots himself, but made sure that
nobody put themselves in any danger seeing as the hostage was safe and there
was no apparant reason for anyone to risk their lives more than they already
  Finally, the racket ended when it became clear that the enemy had gone out
the back. Al had half of the troops go outside to try and find where they had
escaped to while he and the other half advanced cautiously on the spot where
the shooting had begun. He steeled himself for a gruesome sight, but everyone
was gone. There were no bodies and there was no blood. He could only assume
that in the whole darned thing there had been no casualties at all.
  "That doesn't make any sense," Al muttered to himself, stooping to find any
clues as to what had caused all this. "Why call me here, hand over the
hostage, and not shoot to kill?"
  He straightened and looked at the man standing next to him. "Corporal,
let's clear out. Go find out if they found anything outside."
  "Aye aye, sir," the man responded and walked off.
  Al raised his voice a little. "The rest of you, I want you to go over this
place with a fine tooth comb. I want to know everything. Every speck you
find, report it to me." He spun angrily on his heel, suddenly remembering the
hostage he had left behind. He crossed the room back to the location he had
left her at and she lay there trembling and scared, and no doubt as confused
as the rest of them. "It's okay," he said gently, kneeling beside her. She
was breathing hard and he reached down to remove the gag, holding her steady
as she gasped for air. "It's okay," he repeated, "nobody's going to hurt
  She was coughing furiously, probably because of all the dust in the place.
Al helped her sit up and was about to untie her hands when he got his first
good look at her and he gasped a little bit, almost letting her go in the

August, 2000
Santa Fe, NM

  Christina entered the room slowly, hesitating to tell the senator what she
had to. "Senator, I am telling you that I just can't get any further on the
equations on my own. I have tried everything. I am very sorry." She was
uncertain what else she could say, or how he would react to it.
  Senator Franklin leaned back in his chair and she couldn't erase the mental
image of a panther lying in wait, biding his time before pouncing. "We
predicted this."
  She wasn't sure whether to feel relieved or offended. "You did?"
  "Yes. After all, you're brilliant, but you're no Sam Beckett. If you've
gone as far as you can, it's time for phase two."
  "What does phase two involve?" she asked, shifting her weight anxiously.
  He smiled. "You don't need to concern yourself with phase two. Suffice it
to say that in shortly, you should have all the information you need to
finish the project. Give us another two months after that and we will not
only be able to travel through time, but we'll have someone specially
conditioned to do it."
  She narrowed her eyes. "What are you going to do? You're not going to hurt
anybody,  are you? I'm doing this to help people, not harm them. What good is
it if we hurt people to get what we want?"
  He stood, slowly, menacingly. "Thank you for your advice, Dr. Meth, but we
have invested a great deal of money and time in this and we are not about to
stop because you are having problems with your moral fiber. You never had
problems in the past."
  "You never talked in such drastic tones before," she pointed out, warming
to her subject.
  "If you had had your eyes opened, you would have seen that our methods have
not changed one bit."
  "Then I quit. I don't want your money anymore." It was a desperate grasp at
straws which she had failed to keep focused on all this time, and he knew it.
  He smiled. "You won't do that. This is your dream."
  "I don't care," she said, and she almost believed herself. "You can't keep
me here. You can't force me to do this."
  His smile widened. "A fool believes what he wants to believe while the wise
believes what is. That, my dear, is why the wise will always control the