Lenora's Fiction Archive

"Quantum Leap: A New Leaper" by Lenora McCoy

As Al Calavicci left the Imaging Chamber and encountered his first wife,Beth, the young technician standing in the back corner knew that it meant that Dr. Samuel Beckett was no longer under their care. A quick query to Ziggy, the Projectís parallel hybrid computer, confirmed that fact.

She went to bed after her shift ended, thinking What will we do now? Without Dr. Beckett, there is no project. Suddenly, a beautiful blue light filled the room. "Papa!!!" The technicianís dead grandfather had appeared to her. He told her, "Agnes, you must be the leaper now. You have done as much learning as is possible for you to do here at Project Quantum Leap, and now, you are needed to be a leaper, in Dr. Beckettís place. Otherwise, the project will close down. You must go now, or else Admiral Calavicci will try to stop you." He then disappeared. "I understand Papa. I love you!" Her eyes filled with tears.

A few minutes later, she left her quarters and went to the Control Room, which was shut down for the night. She told the guard sheíd left her research in there, and she wanted to check some circuitry. As soon as she was in, she told Ziggy what she was going to do, then put on a Fermi suit and stepped in the Accelerator...and vanished.

In the morning Al woke to the sound of Ziggyís voice, "Admiral, I need you to come to the Control Room, immediately." When Al arrived, Ziggy explained what had occurred.

"She has lept into New York State, in 1967. I have already programmed the Imaging Chamber so she can see you, and you can see her."

Al stormed into the Imaging Chamber, and found Agnes Frances Garreffa sitting in a college dorm room, alone. She looked up, and immediately stood at attention, as Al was in uniform, and he was certainly acting like it.

"What the hell did you think you were doing, stepping into that Accelerator without permission?" he barked.

She closed her eyes and took a deep, cleansing, calming breath. "I had permission, from a higher authority than you," and she explained her grandfatherís appearance. "I had to Admiral," she concluded, "I think that whoever has been leaping Dr. Beckett around in time let him go out of our control because he or she or it needed someone else, with different skills...me. Papa said Iíve done all the learning I can do here at the Project, and I need to move on. Leaping certainly is the most unusual learning experience there is."

Her argument seemed to relax Al, and he dropped some of the hardened military bearing. "Well, I canít very well punish you...and youíre here now, so we might as well put you to work. Iím sure you know all about the Imaging Chamber and Ziggy, and the string theory....but do you remember any of it?"

She nodded, "Yes. Iíve viewed Ziggyís tapes on all of Dr. Beckettís leaps and I understand the difficulties he had in remembering stuff. But, I donít seem to have experienced any dramatic loss of memory -- or at least, not that Iíve noticed. So, does Ziggy know why Iím here yet?" Al shook his head, "Nada. But, your name is Jenny Sandino, and youíre a junior here at New York State. The date is June 6th, 1967...classes ended for the summer yesterday, but youíre staying here because you canít afford to go home for the summer. The University lets you and others in the same situation stay, but you have to work with a member of the faculty to earn your keep. Thus, youíve been put with a Professor...John Wilcox, the head of the Astronomy department, to work on a special research project in the area of Astrophysics. Oh, and apparently he expects you to carry your own weight. That might be hard, because apparently Jenny really knows her Astrophysics!" Agnes smiled sweetly, "Donít worry, Admiral, I have a doctorate in Astrophysics." Al looked confused, but after a quick check of his handlink readout, he apparently confirmed that fact. "So you do. Oh, and Agnes, as long as weíre going to be working together, you can call me Al. Um, Iím gonna go try and get Ziggy to speed up and see if we can figure out why youíre here." And with that, he opened the Imaging Chamber door, stepped through it, and disappeared.

Agnes sat back on the bed to wait. After a few minutes, she noticed some books on a nearby shelf and got up to read the titles. The Great Gatsby; A Wrinkle in Time; James and the Giant Peach; Tam Lin; I. Asimov; The Dolphins of Pern; Outlander; A Dragonfly in Amber; Voyager; A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthurís Court; Pride and Prejudice; 1984; Fahrenheit 451; War and Peace; Foundation; Foundation and Empire; Second Foundation; Quantum Leap: Search and Rescue; Star Trek: Doctorís Orders; and Babylon 5: Book 1: Voices. "Wow! Some of my favorites!" She grabbed A Wrinkle in Time and laid down on the bed to read. After finishing that, she immediately started Tam Lin. By the time she had finished Tam Lin, it was dark outside, and Al had returned.

"Are you one of those nerds whoís always reading?" was his opening remark. "So what if I am?" Agnes countered. "Then I can see why you were chosen -- you have the same bookworm mentality as Sam." She folded her arms and glared at him. However, it was difficult to even look at Al without laughing, as he had changed out of uniform and was now wearing a black & white checked shirt, silver tie, silver jacket, white pants, and silver shoes. He punched some buttons on the handlink, slapped it a few times as it squealed loudly, and told her, "Youíve got a pretty easy mission. Professor Wilcox is going to be fired after the next school year if he doesnít get any results in his research. In the original history, Jenny went to some party instead of monitoring the telescope tomorrow night and someone else got credit for discovering some comet or other. Ziggy says thereís a 90.3% chance that if you spot that comet, you and Wilcox will share the credit for discovering it, and he wonít be fired. Oh, and the University will offer Jenny a job in the Astronomy department when she graduates, too."

"So, all I have to do is monitor the telescope instead of going to that party? Sounds simple enough, and itís been a while since I got to do some real telescope-style stargazing."

Al looked puzzled, "But didnít you always go out every night and stargaze on the cliffs by the cafeteria, sometimes with a telescope? Iím sure I saw you do that." Agnes smiled, "But thatís more in the realm of amateur astronomy. I meant university-size telescopes. They have a much better range and can resolve smaller celestial objects, like the smaller comets of lesser magnitudes. Not that amateur astronomy isnít fun and worthwhile, but I like to do some real extrasolar observing every once in a while. I had originally wanted to join a team at JPL working on finding extrasolar planets, but when Dr. Beckett asked me to come to Project Quantum Leap, well...it was an offer I couldnít refuse," she smiled, "So...where is the observatory here?"

After a quick consultation with the handlink, Al pointed, "Right out your window. The large domed building." Agnes pulled back the curtains and saw a large brick building with a segmented dome. "Wow! They must have at least a hundred-incher! Wow! This is gonna be just like at Palomar!" Al stopped in the act of pulling a cigar out of his inner jacket pocket and asked, "Palomar?" Agnes gave him a look, "The mountain in California where they have 4 telescopes, including a 200 inch." Al finished pulling out the cigar and lit it, "Oh. That Palomar." Agnes rolled her eyes at him and looked back at the dome. The dome then slowly spilt open, and a large telescope was visible. "Wow! A 150-inch reflector! Iím gonna have some fun tomorrow night!" Al spoke around the cigar in his mouth, "Yeah, but right now youíd better get some sleep. You have a piano lesson at 11:30 AM tomorrow, and youíll need to practice a little...I hope you play piano." She smiled, "A little. Iím not terrific though." Al opened the Imaging Chamber door, "Neither is Jenny. Iíll be back in the morning. Pleasant dreams." He punched out, and Agnes showered and got ready for bed. She was asleep the instant her head hit the pillow, dreaming dreams of comets and stars and extrasolar planets.

Agnes had just finished getting dressed when Al popped in holding a coffee cup in one hand and the handlink in the other. "Good morning, Agnes! Ready for some piano practice?" Agnes smiled, "Yíknow, itís a good thing I hate coffee, or Iíd be drooling over yours. So, whereís the piano?"

"Uh...you gotta go to the piano lab to practice. The music is on your desk." Agnes picked up the music, "'Somewhere Out There' I love this song!" Al visibly perked up, "Youíve played it?" "Not for a long time, but yes. According to this note, I just have to know the melody for today. Thatís good, because it would take me a while to remember how to play the whole song."

Agnes headed for the piano lab, with her invisible escort leading the way. The piano teacher, Leona Janel, was already there. "You are here so early, Miss Sandino! Are you ready to start?" Agnes shook her head, "No. I wanted to warm up a bit." Miss Janel nodded, "I understand. You have half an hour to do so. Will you be at the piano party tonight?" Al chimed, "Bingo!" Agnes frowned, "Iím afraid not. Iím monitoring the telescope for Professor Wilcox tonight." Miss Janel looked disappointed, "I understand. Thatís more important because itís your room & board. But please stop by on your way to the telescopes, as I have something for you." With that, Miss Janel left the room and Agnes began practicing. She left the headphones off at Alís request, since he wanted to hear her play.

After several times through the song, Agnes felt she was back in practice, for the melody at least. Al had run out and gotten rid of his coffee cup, switching to a cigar, several minutes ago. "Thatís lovely, kid. Just terrific!" Agnes managed a wan smile, "Well, thatís just the melody. Thatís always easy for me. Itís the left hand thatís hard." Miss Janel walked in, "Yes, the left hand is usually harder, but whom are you telling that to? Your döppelganger?" Al scrambled to get a definition for the word from the handlink, but Agnes didnít need one, "Nope, just thinking out loud." Al chimed in, a bit late, with, "A döppelganger is a ghostly twin of a living person." Miss Janel sat down next to Agnes, "And playing aloud, too. Very good. I donít need to ask you to play the melody for me, so letís just start on the left hand."

Time flew by quickly, and before Agnes knew it, the 1-hour piano lesson was over. As she headed back to her room, Al assured her, "I got Jenny a keyboard in the Waiting Room so she wonít be behind a lesson. Donnaís showing her what you worked on today. And you need to get lunch. Why donít you put that music away and head for the McDonalds across the street there." Agnes followed where he was pointing and saw the familiar Golden Arches. "Iíll be back a little later, after I eat my lunch. Ta-ta!" Before she knew it, Al was gone. Agnes counted the money in Jennyís wallet and headed for McDonalds. After lunch, she went back to her dorm room and read James and the Giant Peach until Al showed up.

When Al returned, it was nearly time for Agnes to head off to monitor the telescope. However, Al had discovered a little snag. "Agnes, Ziggy says that by not going to that party, youíve changed history." She perked up, "Really?" Al shook his head, "Yes, but itís not good news. According to Ziggy, thereís a girl at that party who tries to commit suicide now. Youíve gotta stop her, but youíve also gotta monitor the telescope." Agnes frowned, thinking hard, "Well, Iíll call up Professor Wilcox and tell him I have to help a friend and could he monitor the telescope." Al checked the handlink and shook his head, "Nada. Heís at a conference in some other city tonight. And youíre the only one working with him -- you and Wilcox have the only access to the observatory. Too bad you canít be in two places at once." Agnes began thinking, as Al distractedly slapped the handlink, producing the expected squeals. "Wait! I can be in two places at once -- with your help!" Al looked up, "My help?" he asked in a flat tone. "Yeah. I could go to the telescope and you could go to the party. Once you see that person getting ready to commit suicide, you can come and get me. Iíll set up a recorder so I can flip it on and be at the party in a matter of minutes." Al thought about it for a second, "It could work. But you still gotta stop in at that party -- like Miss Janel asked you to." Agnes nodded, "Of course. Oh, donít I need a key to the observatory?" Al slapped the handlink, which emitted a loud, tortured squeal, "Yeah -- itís in the top desk drawer, the middle one." She found the keys in the drawer and pocketed them as she walked out the door, with Al right on her tail.

She unlocked the door to the Universityís observatory, and walked in with Al still following her. "Wow! This is awesome!" he said as he looked around in awe at the size of the telescope. Agnes, who hadnít realized he was still with her, swung around, glaring, "Al! Youíre supposed to be at the party!" Broken out of his trance, Al looked at her, "Oh, yeah! Iím on my way." With a couple of pokes at the handlink, he was gone. Agnes shook her head, "Itís a wonder Dr. Beckett didnít lose his mind," and set to getting the telescope ready for observing.

The party was already jumping when Al popped in. Looking around, he noticed that the crowd was mostly women. "Oh, boy! I think I got the better part of the deal here." A tall, well-endowed brunette walked through Al on her way to the punch bowl. "Yummola! I am gonna do a lot of observing tonight," and he began to follow the tall brunette around like a little puppy dog.

Agnes sat back in the comfortable rolling chair and surveyed her work with satisfaction. The recorder would record everything the telescope saw while she was at the party. Then she realized, she hadnít yet stopped in at the party. She looked at the little gold watch Jenny wore around her left wrist. 7:00. Agnes figured that she had about an hour before local sunset, so she could stop in at the party for a while, but then she had to come back to the observatory to study the star charts and plan out the eveningís observing. She got up and left the observatory, locking the door behind her, and headed for the party.

When she got there, Miss Janel immediately descended upon her. "Oh, Jenny, youíre here! Wonderful! How long can you stay?" Agnes forced a smile, "Only until 7:30. I still have to map out my observing schedule for the night." Miss Janel nodded, "Of course. Weíll do the awards right now. Everyone!" she called, silencing the room, "We will do the awards right away, as one of our students has to leave early." Agnes discreetly searched the room, looking for Al, and spotted him both staring at a tall, well-endowed brunette and talking to a short blonde woman. Then she did a double-take, since no one else here could see or hear Al. Miss Janel noticed the blonde and said, "Jenny, will you please go ask Anna over there to sit down, and then take a seat yourself." Agnes nodded, and walked over to Al and the blonde woman named Anna. She came up behind the woman, but neither she nor Al noticed Agnes approach. She tapped Anna on the shoulder, and suddenly a wave of electricity passed through them and Annaís features melted into those of a man who looked vaguely familiar. Al noticed this, and decided, finally, to make introductions. "Oh, Agnes, meet Sam Beckett. Sam, this is our new leaper, Agnes Garreffa." Sam smiled, "Pleased to meet you." Agnes smiled as she took his hand, "Same here, Dr. Beckett. Miss Janel wants me to ask you to sit down." Sam glanced over to Miss Janel. "Okay. Come on, Al." They sat down in the back, Al standing in the aisle beside Agnes. Miss Janel clapped her hands to silence the room. "Everyone, Iím glad you all came, and now we will pass out the awards to our outstanding students. First, to our best beginning piano student, we present the award to Jenny Sandino." Everyone began to applaud. Agnes stood up and walked to the front of the room, with Al at her side. She accepted the award with a smile and quickly sat down. The rest of the awards went by quickly, and she paid very little attention.

At the end of the awards ceremony, she glanced at her watch and almost yelped. 7:45. She got up and told Sam discreetly, "I have to go to the observatory." Sam nodded, "Al and I will stay here and keep an eye on things. He told me about your mission." Agnes grinned, "Thanks!" and quickly left. Sam looked for Al to ask him a few questions, but Al no longer stood in the aisle. After a moment, Sam spotted Al following the tall brunette again. Some things never change, he thought, and began to plot a way to draw Al away from his woman-watching.

Back at the observatory, Agnes pulled out the star charts to plan her observing schedule, but then realized she needed to have some idea in which area of the sky she was supposed to be observing. Just as she was about to panic, Al popped in with a smug look on his face. "Al! Youíre just in time! I need to know where this comet was found." Al started at the sound of her voice, but then quickly recovered and began to beat the handlink, producing the expected tortured squeals, "Uh, Ziggy says itís found in...Cass-ee-oh-pee-ah...or is that Ethiopia, the country?" Agnes pounced on the star charts. "No, Cassiopeia is a constellation...here! Itís supposed to be Cassiopeiaís throne, but it looks more like a W than anything else." She yanked out rulers and compasses and began to plot the coordinates for the telescope. "Oh, by the way, how come youíre here so early?" Al looked up from half-heartedly tapping the handlink, "Oh, Sam said Iíd be of better use to you here, and that heíd handle the suicide. He figures itís his way of making your first leap a bit less stressful. I think itís his way of ruining my fun." Agnes giggled, "Your fun? You mean staring at that tall woman?" Al glared at her, "Yes! Sam will tell you, I have a very healthy interest in women. Besides, most of my wives were tall brunettes -- the best of the species." Agnesís head popped up, "Most of your wives? How many do you have?" Al produced a smug grin, "5 ex-wives and counting." Agnes rolled her eyes in exasperation and walked over to begin positioning the telescope. "Remind me to thank Dr. Beckett when this is all over. Uuugh! This is heavier than I thought!" Al perked up, "Iíll go get Sam to help you! Then you can thank him, and get two things done at once!" Agnes glared, "No you donít. You stay right here. Iím going to trust Dr. Beckettís judgment on this matter." Al tried giving her a puppy dog face, one that had worked on Ruthie, Maxine, and Theresa, but not on Sharon or Beth, and apparently not on Agnes either. She ignored him and continued to position the telescope. He gave up and went to look at the star charts. "How did some of these get their names? Ursa Major, Ursa Minor -- they look like the Dippers to me!" Agnes smirked, "They should -- thatís what they are. The Dippers are parts of Ursa Major and Minor. Ursa means bear. Ursa Major is Big Bear, and it has the Big Dipper in it. Ursa Minor is Little Bear, and it has the Little Dipper in it. The end of the Little Dipper is Polaris, the North Star, a good thing to know, because if youíre ever lost, you can always find your way by Polaris." By now, the telescope was in position and ready to go. Agnes strode over to the time tables, looked up the date, and found the time of first dark. "8:49 PM. And itís...8:40 now. I have 9 minutes to get the film in place and ready the dome for opening." Al watched in fascination as she loaded film and unlocked latches. At 8:49 on the dot, she started cranking the dome open. Above, the stars twinkled brightly. Al was entranced, "Wow! No wonder you went into Astronomy!" Agnes corrected him, "Astrophysics," and set to work examining the sky through the eyepiece.

Meanwhile, Sam was trying to avoid the advances of a short, stocky blonde man while simultaneously keeping an eye out for the suicide attempt Al had mentioned was going to take place. At least he didnít have to worry about Al not keeping his mind on his work, and Agnes probably could use Alís guidance anyway. He had been a little surprised when Al had introduced them and she had recognized who he was. He had thought she was as swiss-cheesed as Sam had been the first time he lept. Apparently, that wasnít the case. Heíd have to remember to ask Al if they had done any improving on the Accelerator since he had lept. That might explain why Agnes had suffered no apparent memory loss. Then again, it might not, and trying to get a straight answer out of Al about goings on at the Project was damn well near impossible to accomplish. Oh, well, he mentally sighed, Iíd probably have forgotten it the next time I lept anyway.

Agnes turned away from the telescope to check the positioning of the telescope. When satisfied, she turned to the oven where the film was hypering. It rang just then, and she quickly loaded a roll. "So, any info on what time this comet will be in Cassiopeia?" Al was staring up at the stars through the dome hole, "What? Oh, uh," he proceeded to bang and smack the handlink. "Al, why do you hit that thing so?" Agnes cried, upset by the tortured sound of the squeaks the tiny handlink emitted. "Because if I donít, it never displays the information I need. Oh, here it comes, here it comes. The comet is discovered at 9 oíclock on the dot." Agnes turned back to the telescope. "Thatís better. Now to find Cassiopeia." Al walked up behind her and scrutinized the little oven she had baked the film in, "Uh, Agnes, why did you cook the camera film?" Agnes turned to look at him. He was puffing on his Chavelo cigar, and Agnes was utterly grateful that it was holographic smoke. "Itís called hypering the film. It makes the film more sensitive to light so it can capture more faint objects -- such as comets. Then pictures are taken in sequence without moving the telescope. When developed, we have an instrument that allows two pictures to be viewed simultaneously. Unless it is close by or moving extremely fast relative to us, any object will not appear to have moved from shot to shot. But, a comet or asteroid moves quickly and is nearby, and so stands out when viewed in the stereoscope." She bent again to look through the eyepiece. Al leaned over her shoulder, "Can I?" he asked. "Sure, but, I mean, you canít touch anything here ... " Her voice trailed off. He leaned over and whistled softly, "Wow! Yummola! No wonder you astronomers donít say much about how you do your work. If you did, everyone would want to be an astronomer and theyíreíd be no jobs left," he backed away, stepping through the hypered film box, "Ooops. Donít worry, I didnít affect the film." Agnes said, "Sure, but itís better to be safe than sorry." She took all those photos and left them in the developing box, then reloaded the film to take pictures of the comet. "Itís 9 oíclock Agnes." Agnes murmured a reply as she snapped off a roll of film, then reloaded and took a second roll ten minutes later.

Sam kept looking around him and almost spilled his punch. He wished Al would come back for a minute to tell him exactly when this supposed suicide was going to happen.

Back at the observatory, Agnes finished off the film and took it into the darkroom, with Al right on her tail. "Gooshie, increase the brightness of the Imaging Chamber ... she turned out the lights and I canít see a damn thing!" Agnes looked at him, "Al, the lights are off because this is a darkroom! Any excess light will overdevelop the film." Al yelled, "Thanks Gooshie! Donít worry, Agnes, Iím only agitated carbon quarks. I wonít develop the film."

Agnes rolled her eyes but went back to developing the film. "Why donít you check on Sam -- but come back in five minutes! He may need some information." When she looked up again, Al was gone. She set a timer for five minutes. Before the five minutes were up, the first pair of photos of the comet were ready and she ran out to check them in the stereoscope. Looking through the stereoscope, she searched the photos for signs of the comet.

Sam jumped when he heard Alís voice behind him, saying, "Howís the girl of my dreams?"

"I thought I sent you to stay with Agnes!"

"You did. She said to check if you needed any help, and then be back in five minutes. So -- need any help?"

"Do you have an exact time on this suicide?"

"Uh . . ." Al proceeded to slap the poor handlink, "Nope. Weíre outside the original history here, so we donít have that much info."

"Well, youíd better get back to Agnes. Tell her if she found that comet yet, to come help me."

"Will do, beautiful!" Al popped out before Sam could retaliate.

Al popped into the observatory, and found Agnes bent over the stereoscope. Right then, the five minute timer went off with a ding. Agnes got up and turned around -- right into Alís face.

"Right on time!" She ran back into the darkroom, with Al following. "Howís Sam doing?" She asked as she pulled several more sets of photos out of the developing trays and set several more in.

"Heís okay, but he says he could use your help when you find that comet."

"Mmmmmhmmmm. I should find it soon. Iím going through the film in reverse order so Iíll find the comet quicker."

She hurried out of the dark room with piles of film in her arms to find Al peering at the stereoscope.

"Howís this work?"

Agnes loaded a fresh set of photos into the stereoscope as she spoke, "Itís kinda like 5D stereograms. The comet will have moved from one frame to the next and so it will stand out when viewed in the stereoscope."

She bent over the stereoscope to look at the set of film. "Eureeka!"

Al jumped. "You found it?" He bent to look at the pictures. Agnes got up and pointed to the comet on the film.

"Here it is. You see it?"

Al gasped, "Holy mackrel! Well, now you can help Sam!"

Agnes shook her head, "Not yet. I have to mark which set of film it is and the time and date etcetra in the log. Itíll only take a minute. Why donít you go on ahead, and Iíll meet you there."

Al nodded and popped out. Agnes had barely finished marking the film when he popped back in again.

"Agnes! Quick! Itís about to happen!" He popped out again.

Agnes rushed out of the observatory, barely taking the time to lock the door, and raced to the party. She spotted Sam right away -- he was so tall he stood out well, and she ran to him.

"Sam! I came as quick as I could," Agnes panted, winded from her hurried dash, "Al said itís about to happen!"

Just then Miss Janel hurried up to Agnes and Sam.

"Jennie! Josephina is out on the ledge and she says she wonít listen to anyone except for you."

Agnes looked at Sam and Sam looked at Agnes. The look that passed between them said that although Agnes was the one who had to do the actual work of talking the person out of suicide, Sam had more knowledge and experience. They had to figure out some excuse for Sam to be by Agnes to talk her through it.

"Miss Janel, maybe I should stick with A -- Jennie, as Iíve read quite a bit about suicides."

Miss Janel wearily nodded her consent, and Sam & Agnes raced over to the ledge. Sam stayed at the windows while Agnes slowly, carefully stepped out on the ledge, with Samís strong arms helping to balance her.

"Josephina? Itís A-- Jennie. Iím told you wanted to talk to me?"

"Jennie? Is it really you?"

"Yes, it is."

Sam whispered to Agnes, "Try and coax her off the ledge. Ask to come inside to talk." Agnes nodded.

"Josephina, why donít we go inside to talk. Itís getting chilly out here."

"No! Iíd rather talk out here!"

"Well, what do you want to talk about?"

"You. I loved you Jennie, but you never returned my love. I thought we were friends, but then you only came to the party to get your stupid award."

"I wanted to come to the party, Josephina, but Professor Wilcox is out of town and I had to monitor the telescope in the Observatory for him. Thatís how Iím earning my summer room and board. Thatís why."

"But what about my love? I love you Jennie. I want us to spend the rest of our lives together."

"Wheew! Sheís a lesbian!" Al had to inject his comments at full volume and give Agnes a heart attack.

"I understand, Josephina. But I canít love you in return. I just canít. You have to find someone who will love you in return."

"Agnes -- youíre changing history. Josephina becomes a leading gay & lesbian rights activist, is one of the first lesbians to get married, and one of the first lesbian couples to have a baby!" Al excitedly punched buttons on his handlink.

"Okay Jennie. But how do I get off this ledge?"

Sam and Agnes helped her get off the ledge, as Al kept informing them of what was to come.

"Jennie gets that professorial position here like I said, and she married a wealthy doctor and in 1999 -- theyíre living in the Rocky Mountains where he has a tiny private practice and she has her own 200-inch telescope! And Anna goes on to become a marriage counselor. You guys did it!"

Agnes held hands with Sam.

"Weíre probably going to leap any minute now, so I just want to give you some advice. I think youíre going to make a great leaper. Keep an eye on Al so he doesnít get too distracted by the women you meet in your leaps. Always look beyond the obvious. Never take people at face value. And develop good reflexes and a good poker face. Maybe weíll meet again someday."

Sam let go of her hands and both Agnes and Al saw him leap away. Agnes smiled at the confused Anna and walked back to the observatory, finished entering the information about the comet in the log and sat back to look at Al.

"I guess this is it. Iím probably going to leap any minute now."

"Yup." He fiddled with his handlink.

"Will you still keep track of me, and be my Observer?"

Al glanced up sharply, surprised. "Of course, honey. Iíll be there for you as long as God, Time, Fate, Whatever, letís me. I wonít desert you."

Agnes smiled and suddenly was caught up in the blue light of leaping.

A breath later, she found herself standing at a window as a familiar-looking man with striking dark hair handed her a pile of paper strips and other things.

"Have a good run, Joe!"

"Thanks Broz!"

She walked away from the window wondering how she knew the manís name. Suddenly she remembered.


The End

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Last updated 18 JUN 98

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