As a leaper traveling through time, in and out of people’s lives in order to change history for the better, I have had many unusual experiences. I have arrived while driving a car, riding on the hood of a car, in the midst of shoot-outs, and even in the middle of a battle.
But I have never before leaped into someone falling to the ground. All I knew as I found myself crashing toward a building roof was that I should roll myself into a ball and hope and pray for the best.
As a crashing sound was heard, Police Chief Lawrence Durrel looked up in askance, even as Agents Smith and Jones backed toward the police chief’s doorway.
A body came hurling through the roof, down through the floor, and into the basement.
“Great! Now I got a #@%&ing human cannonball to deal with!” Durrel swore. Into the phone he said, “Sorry. Yes, please do send someone quickly.” Hanging up, he went over to the hole in his floor, peering cautiously down the newly created hole to see the fallen form below.
“Great. Just #@%&ing great! Now what is he doing here? And why the hell did he crash through my office?”
Slowly, Smith and Jones walked over to the hole and looked down. “Holy crud!” Agent Jones exclaimed.
Agent Smith nodded. “I agree.”
Elsewhere, Terry Lee Travis cautiously made his way through the wooded area. He quickly spotted three black-clad men moving slowly toward the two remaining targets.
“Freeze — and drop those guns!” he yelled in Spanish. One man hesitated, but the other two turned to where he had shouted from and opened fire with their machine-guns.
Terry Lee had, of course, already moved out of the way, and from his vantage point he aimed and fired his own pistol at his attackers.
Support fire came from the direction of the surviving state trooper and the Donnici security man. All three attackers were hit with hot lead, and they spasmed in their death throes.
Terry Lee, checking his ammo, shouted, “All clear! I’m coming out.”
Looking around to ensure there were no more attackers, he slowly raised his head to look around, and he spied no more signs of an enemy presence. He moved toward the two by the road.
“Who the #@%& are you?”
“Justice. And who are you?”
Officer Green, looking at a three-way collision, tried to call in a report to get an ambulance present. All he received was static. But he did hear sirens and hoped they were coming this way. Then he realized, of course, that they were already near the hospital.
“I called this in to 9-1-1!” a woman shouted from nearby. “But the dispatcher said they’re running all over the place.”
Green thanked her and wondered if he could do anything to help the injured while he waited. The rookie police officer was feeling very overwhelmed.
Al Calavicci walked into the waiting room and was surprised by the greeting he received. On the surface, of course, the visitor looked like Dr. Sam Beckett, but who he looked like in the table mirror and his reaction completely blew Al away.
“Why have you brought me here, and who are you?” was the standard question. On occasion, Al even had to defend himself against their more violent “guests.” But this individual’s reaction was, however, quite unexpected.
“I’m assuming there is a good reason I’m here, Calavicci, and it had better be darn good.”
Al didn’t know how the visitor knew him, though it was only mildly surprising, considering Al’s life and his distinguished naval career. No, what surprised Al was this opening statement and the identity of his strange visitor.
Looking at the newcomer to the waiting room, Al replied politely, “Well, you have the advantage over me, sir. I’m assuming we have met before?”
The visitor nodded. “Yes. Not long ago by my reckoning, but judging from what I have seen here, several years ago your time.”
“I must say, you’re handling this well,” said Al. “Now, if you could tell me who you are, it would be very helpful.”
“You don’t recognize me?”
“No, and if you’ll look in that mirror there on the table, you’ll see why.”
The visitor looked. “I see a handsome fellow. Dr. Beckett, isn’t it?”
“You know Sam, too?”
“Yes, of course,” the visitor replied. “Some… uh, some friends of mine recently helped him get funding for his project, which I am assuming has been successful.”
Al shook his head. “You could say that, in a way, Sam is currently in your body, and you’re in his.” He was waving his arms as he spoke. “It’s something to do with leaping through time, but he doesn’t do it physically.”
“I see.” The visitor nodded. “Well, then, I hope his reason for leaping into me is to help some people in need.”
“Rest assured, Sam is one of the most helpful people I have ever met.”
“Are you all right, sir?”
“Of course he’s all right. Guy like him can’t be hurt, eh?”
“Yeah, now I’m glad they’re late letting us out of this drunk tank, eh? I never thought to meet him, me.”
Dr. Sam Beckett shook his head. Realizing he was in a jail cell, he looked up and saw three men looking though a hole in the ceiling at him, and two shabby-looking men standing by him, looking awestruck. He got a look at some of what he was wearing, grabbed the mirror on the cell wall, and said, “Oh boy!”
As Terry Lee Travis approached the state trooper and Donnici’s security guard, he looked around cautiously like the other two, while trying to keep a wary eye on both him and each other. Both had already lost their partners.
He had nearly made it all the way to them when more bullets came flying out of the wood, taking out Donnici’s man. Both Terry Lee and the state trooper returned fire, and one more Peruvian gunman went to his final judgement.
“$#!^! I’m gonna need medical,” the trooper said, then turned to the costumed figure. “I also got orders to keep an eye out for a costumed vigilante running around interfering in police business.” He shrugged. “‘Course, you said you were Justice Department. So, mister, I guess you’re not the man my captain warned me about.”
Terry Lee nodded. “I’ll see if I can get you some back-up. Damn, I thought I had knocked that man out.” He turned to leave, looked back, and said, “Keep your head low. There’s more of ’em running around.”
The trooper grinned. “You, too, Mister Justice.”
Later, Terry Lee was listening to a police broadcast after having grabbed a backpack from a fallen commando. The battle seemed to be over, with all of these Peruvian mercenaries dead or captured. Pulling some jeans and a light shirt out of the back, Terry Lee nodded.
“Mister Justice — now that I like.”
A CDC official hung up his phone. After making and receiving several phone calls, he knew something serious and possibly unknown was going down in Seminole City, Florida, which called for immediate action from a specialty team. He reached for his Rolodex. He knew just who he had to call.
Police Chief Lawrence Durrel sighed heavily and growled. “Someone better get downstairs and let him out of the cell before he busts down the door. Oh, and let those two other guys out before they decide to become his groupies or something.”
Desk Sergeant Stanton nodded and said, “OK, Chief. Oh, and Rheems and Holmes busted that guy who did the murders yesterday. I understand your mother and wife helped. They also rescued Dr. Monroe and his granddaughter.”
Durrel looked puzzled for a moment, then said, “My mother’s involvement doesn’t surprise me. My wife running along with her does — I thought she was more sensible than to play Mrs. Columbo.” He shrugged. “But, then, my mother can be persuasive. OK, Stanton, thanks.”
“Those two guys in the holding tank becoming groupies of him might be a good thing for you,” Agent Smith said casually.
Durrel looked at him and snarled, “You still here?”
Agent Jones looked at his partner. “Come on, matey. We’re obviously not needed here anymore.”
“Now,” said Al Calavicci, “I really need some information to help Sam out. You must be somewhat aware of what we’re about.”
“Somewhat,” the newcomer to the waiting room said. “I recall hearing that Dr. Beckett was doing time travel research, and…” A buzzer sounded, interrupting the visitor.
Al looked exasperated. “What is it, Gooshie?” he asked the ceiling.
“Admiral Ziggy has the information on that plague in Seminole City, 1987.”
“OK, Gooshie, thanks.”
“Sam, in his leaping around these last couple of days, found himself involved not only with a case of mass murder, but a mysterious plague as well.”
“I see,” said the strange visitor. “Well, as I recall, he’s both an M.D. and a physicist.”
“Yes. Yes, he is,” Al said, holding up his handheld computer. “Now, then…”
Officer Davison, lying in his hospital bed, was reading a book entitled The History of Seminole City. “So,” he said to himself, “even back then the Bodeaux family were criminals.”
He had been reading about the trade in rum, sugar, slaves, and other needs and wants people had and how the Bodeaux family had been noted smugglers and suppliers of goods. They had also been blockade runners for the South during the Civil War as well.
Then he sat upright as he came across a chapter entitled, “She Wore a Long Black Veil.” This chapter told of a woman named Lucinda Bodeaux, who had allegedly been raped and murdered by Yankee soldiers as the war was ending, but before dying, she laid a curse on her attackers. There had been many sightings of her at the scenes of tragedy and murder in and around Seminole County ever since then. The illustration showed a woman who looked exactly like the woman he had spotted while in that deep hole.
And that deep hole, he now realized, made him think of the one in the chapter about a rock that had fallen to earth in 1859, which brought with it a mysterious plague that killed most of the population of the area at that time. The rock in question was buried in a very deep hole some thirty feet in the ground and even covered with protections that a local native medicine man put around and over it. The plague had reportedly involved sudden skin eruptions and sores. Davison began to wonder — had he fallen into that same hole? Was that same plague back?
“Oh, God!” he cried out. “What have I done?”
Al Calavicci and his visitor listened as Ziggy’s soft, feminine computer voice explained about the plague hitting Seminole, Florida, in 1987. Al whistled.
The strange visitor then shook his head and said, “Listen very closely, and I’ll tell you what to tell Dr. Beckett.”
Terry Lee Travis, wearing civilian clothing over most of his costume, hitched a ride into town. He was glad he’d had the foresight to wear a disguise when getting a rental to join the fray, but he was sorry he had left the car behind. Well, it had been wrecked in the firefight, so what could he do?
Wearily, he made his way to his hotel room and was surprised by a well-dressed man sitting at the desk in his room.
“‘Bout time you returned, Travis,” the man said, brushing some of his graying hair off of his face.
“And who are you?” Terry Lee asked cautiously, reaching for inner strength in case he needed it.
“Perkins, CIA,” was the response. “I’m here to recruit you. Seeing as how you never responded to official inquiries, my boss sent me here unofficially. I’m sorry he did, seeing what’s going on in town.”
“What do you mean?”
“Some sort of plague. Haven’t you noticed? No, I guess you were too busy playing commando.”
Terry Lee looked surprised. “Sorry, I was out sightseeing, not playing commando.”
Perkins snorted. “Right, and it’s just coincidence you’re in the same area when a newcomer to the ranks of the mystery-men is off shooting people.”
Terry Lee shrugged and turned to the door. “Sorry, but you got the wrong man. Now, if you will kindly leave, I feel like being alone for a while.”
Perkins stood up. “I’ll be back, Travis. After all, your country still needs your services.” With that, he saluted and left.
Puzzled, Terry Lee turned on the TV.
Dr. Sam Beckett was pleased to discover his fall hadn’t hurt his borrowed form, but now knowing who he had leaped into, he couldn’t really be surprised any longer.
“Look,” Police Chief Lawrence Durrel said to him, “not that I ain’t glad to see one of the good guys here, but did you have to drop in literally?”
Sam shook his head. “Sorry about that. Minor mistake on my part.”
Durrel nodded. “I thought maybe one of those drunks had something do with your plunge. Well, since you’re here, maybe you can lend a hand, and maybe later you can save the taxpayers some money by fixing those holes you left in the ceiling and the floor.”
Sam nodded. “I’ll do what I can.” He saw the door of light open and a very concerned Al appear.
“Hold on, Chief. I’m picking up some information,” Sam said, squinting his eyes as if peering off into the distance.
Al nodded and said, “Sam, there’s a pit just outside of town. The chief knows where it is, since one of his men fell into it yesterday. What you need to do is fly out there, find a meteorite, and take it and throw it into the sun.”
“Throw it into the sun?” Sam asked. “I can do that?”
Durrel looked confused. “Throw what into the sun? The hole you made in my station?”
“I’ll fix it later,” said Sam. “Right now I need to know about a pit or hole one of your men fell into.”
Durrel nodded. “Come with me. I’ll show you a map.”
Al nodded. “Hurry, Sam. Medical help is en route, but you have to act fast.”
Sam was surprised at how easy it was to fly. Essentially, flying was leaping, aiming for the ground, and missing. He was wobbly at first, but he soon got the hang of it. The chief’s suspicion that something had affected him adversely likely aided his seeming inability to fly at first, but he was surprised by how exhilarating it felt. Using these powers, which were new to him, all had to do with tapping into his willpower, and willpower was one of Sam’s strong suits.
It didn’t take him long to find the hole, fly into it, and locate the meteorite within. Once he had it, he wrapped it in his cape and flew straight up, up, and away, until he was outside of Earth’s atmosphere.
“Oh boy!” he gasped, looking around as he reached the edge of space. “This is incredible!”
“It sure is!” Al said, looking around.
Sam refrained from jumping out of his skin. “Don’t do that!” he exclaimed.
“Sorry, Sam, but as you know, I never qualified as an astronaut,” said Al. “This is my first look up here, and wow! I wish we could really explore, but…”
“I know — find the sun and toss this rock.”
It took him mere seconds.
“You did it, Sam! You did it!” Al exclaimed joyfully.
“Yes, wow! Amazing!” he said. “So now what?”
Al shrugged. “Well, I guess it’s time to return back to earth,” he said sadly, looking around. “Hey, is that a UFO?”
Sam looked but saw nothing, so he shrugged and flew back to Seminole City, landing a bit more gracefully this time near the police station. There, he spotted a little girl crying. He walked over to her.
“What’s the problem?” he asked her.
Looking up at him with wide eyes, she managed to raise her little arm and point to a tree. Sam looked up and saw a frightened kitten clinging to a branch. Casually, he floated up, picked up the kitten, and took it down to the little girl.
“Thanks, Superman!” she said, smiling.
Sam smiled back, just as he was covered with glowing blue light and white sparkles.