Author's Note: This is a Quantum Leap/Dark Shadows crossover I wrote back in 1992. It was originally published in a spinoff of Kathleen Resch's "World of Dark Shadows" fanzine.
The blue shimmer gradually coalesced into solid shapes. Sam Beckett swallowed, trying to get over the familiar nausea of Leaping, and looked around. His first thought was relief that he was alone. He hadn't leaped into a fight, or a natural disaster, or a sexual encounter. For once, he had a chance to get his bearings.
But as he looked at his surroundings, a feeling of dread crept over him. He was in a drawing room whose furnishings and decorations appeared to be from the eighteenth century, down to the last detail. Had he been wrong in theorizing that one could time travel only within one's own lifetime? Would he be forced to live through the Salem witch trials? The Black Death?
The flash of panic lasted only a moment. He told himself firmly that this must be a museum, or a movie set. But looking around, he saw no sign of either: just dozens of flickering candles casting eerie shadows on the heavy velvet draperies and reflecting off the brass handles of the mahogany desk.
His first priority was to find out who he was. "Al?" he called softly, but his friend did not materialize. The house appeared deserted. Sam took a chance and went upstairs. He looked into a few empty rooms, feeling like Goldilocks, poking around a stranger's house. He hoped he wouldn't be arrested for breaking and entering. For all I know, this could be my house, he tried to reassure himself.
The next door he tried opened into a beautiful old-fashioned room with a canopy bed and a vanity table. "Ah, a mirror," he thought, going to the vanity. He looked expectantly into the glass for a clue to his identity.
The mirror offered no clues, however. It was empty.
"What the...?" Sam did a double take. All he saw was the empty room behind him. Slowly he sank into the chair, staring into the mirror.
"This isn't possible," he said aloud. Unless... A chill passed over him. What if he hadn't leaped into a person at all? What if something had gone wrong, and he was just a disembodied spirit, lost in time?
Sam took a deep breath and got a grip on himself. He had opened the door of the room, so he had to be in a body, he told himself. That didn't explain his lack of reflection, though. He tapped the mirror with his knuckle. It felt solid enough.
Experimentally he picked up a silver comb from the table. In the mirror, the comb floated in the air by itself.
"Wow, will you look at this place!" came a voice behind him.
The comb clattered to the table. Sam whirled around. "Dammit, Al, don't do that to me."
"Sorry,"' said Al breezily. "But just look at this furniture! You know, my third wife collected antiques. She would've had a field day in here."
"Never mind that," said Sam. "Look at this mirror." He gestured at the reflection.
Al let out a whistle. "How'd you do that, Sam?"
"I didn't. I don't understand it."
"Well, it's...it's gotta be a trick of the light, that's all," said Al, waving his cigar.
"It's not, though," said Sam grimly. He looked at his friend. "Can you see me? Am I invisible or something?"
"Of course I can see you. You're about 45, dark hair, expensive suit..."
"Well, tell me who I am and maybe we can figure it out."
Al punched some buttons on the handlink. "Okay. Your name is Barnabas Collins, you're in Maine, and it's 1967."
"Thank God," murmured Sam, glad to know he definitely wasn't in a distant century.
"You're kind of a history buff. This house belonged to your ancestors, and you decided to restore it the way it was 150 years ago."
"What about electricity?" Sam asked, looking at the flickering candles.
Al checked the data. "Nope. No electricity, no central heating, no modern plumbing. Apparently this Barnabas Collins wanted to recapture the romance of a simpler time," he said skeptically.
"Great," sighed Sam. "So I've leaped into the local eccentric."
"No, not really," said Al, looking at the handlink. "Ziggy says Barnabas Collins is one of the most important men in this town. He's well-liked, he's very wealthy, he's educated..."
"...he doesn't cast a reflection," Sam reminded him.
"That too." Al frowned. "I'll have Ziggy check on that."
"Does Ziggy have any idea why I'm here?"
Al hit some buttons. "There have been a series of attacks on young women in the area."
"Attacks? What kind of attacks?" Sam asked.
"About two months ago, a woman was attacked and left for dead. She just barely survived. Then a girl named Maggie Evans was kidnapped. They found her two weeks later - she was alive, but had gone insane. Ziggy says that's just the beginning. Tomorrow night a girl gets murdered. It was really sad: she was celebrating because she'd just been accepted for a Rhodes Scholarship to study in England. Her friends treated her to a night out as a kind of going-away party, and on her way home she was killed."
Sam digested the information. "Any clues?"
"No," said Al. "The police are baffled."
"Naturally," said Sam. But the mention of the police gave him an idea. "Does anyone in town have a criminal record?"
Al punched in the question. "Good thinking, Sam. Ziggy's come up with three names: Jason McGuire, Burke Devlin, and - Hold on."
"What?" asked Sam.
"I think we have something here," said Al eagerly. "The third suspect, Willie Loomis, works for Barnabas Collins. He lives right here in this house."
"And I've leaped into Barnabas Collins," said Sam thoughtfully. Willie Loomis certainly seemed the logical place to start. "Okay. Where is Loomis now?"
Al looked up. "Right behind you."
Sam whirled around. A young man with sandy brown hair hovered in the doorway. Sam turned back to the mirror and whispered frantically to Al, "I'm alone in the house with a potential killer?"
"Relax, Sam. It's only women that have been attacked."
"So far," Sam pointed out.
"Anyway, according to Ziggy, Willie and you are good friends," added Al. "He used to be a criminal, and you gave him a job and kind of turned his life around, so now he looks up to you." Sam looked doubtful. Al said, "You find out what you can; I'll see what other data Ziggy has on these police records." The blue door rose from the ground and vanished, taking Al with it.
Sam turned to face Willie Loomis, who didn't seem to find it strange that Sam had stared into the mirror for five minutes before acknowledging him. Maybe this Barnabas Collins was given to daydreaming, Sam thought.
"Hello, Willie," he said. That should be a safe enough opening.
"Hello, Barnabas," said Willie hesitantly.
He looks as nervous as I am, thought Sam, puzzled. Well, if he was going around attacking women, he had a reason to be nervous. "So, um, what did you do today, Willie?" God, that sounded lame, Sam thought.
Willie shifted uneasily. "I refinished some of the chairs in the drawing room, and I fixed the broken window in the room across the hall. And I went into town for supplies."
"That's good," said Sam, wishing he knew what to say next. On most of his Leaps, the first person he met had done a lot of talking and inadvertently given him most of the clues he needed. But Willie just stood there, waiting for Sam to speak. "Anything, uh, interesting happen lately?" Sam tried, taking a shot in the dark.
Willie tensed visibly. "What do you mean?"
"Well, nothing, really," Sam said uncomfortably. "Just...wondering if anything was going on I should know about."
Willie didn't meet Sam's eyes. "Well...I went into town, like I told ya. I locked the door, I know I did. And I was only gone a little while. But, um..." He took a deep breath. "I must've left a window open or something, 'cause when I got back, David was here."
"David?" said Sam, wondering who that could be.
"He was in the basement," said Willie, adding quickly, "He didn't see nothin', Barnabas, I swear he didn't. He wasn't anywhere near the coffin."
"The...coffin?" asked Sam, completely bewildered. He stood up, and Willie immediately shrank back against the wall.
"It won't happen again Barnabas, I swear it won't," Willie said desperately.
Sam was surprised to see fear in his eyes. "It's okay, Willie."
"It is?" Now it was Willie's turn to be bewildered.
"Sure. Don't worry about it." Sam didn't know what to do next. Willie eyed him warily.
There was a knock at the front door. "I better go see who that is," said Willie, giving Sam an odd look. He scurried downstairs.
Sam stood alone for a moment. "Coffin?" he said to himself. He shrugged and followed Willie. At the top of the staircase, he looked down to see a lovely dark-haired girl of about 20 enter the house.
"Good evening, Willie. Is Barnabas here?"
"Sure, Vicki. He's upstairs.''
Al materialized as Sam came down the stairs. He whistled at the sight of Vicki.
"Hey, Sam, this could be interesting," he said. "Or at least it would be if I were in your shoes."
Sam glared at him, then looked at the girl. "Good evening, Vicki," he said, emphasizing the name. Al took the hint and consulted the handlink.
"Vicki...Vicki...here we are. Victoria Winters. She's the governess at your relatives' house, about half a mile from here. She takes care of your 10-year-old cousin, David."
"David..." The name caught Sam's attention. "David was here today. Willie found him playing in the basement," Sam said, forgetting that he was speaking aloud.
"Oh, was he?" Vicki looked worried. "I'm so sorry, Barnabas. I keep telling him that this is your house now, but it's so hard to keep him under control sometimes."
"She could keep me under control anytime," Al said admiringly.
"Barnabas," said Vicki, "I just came by to return your book. It was wonderful - it make me feel like I really knew what it was like to live back then."
Sam glanced at the book, a history of Maine in the eighteenth century. "I'm glad you enjoyed it."
Vicki looked past him at the drawing room. "The house is really coming along, Barnabas. It looks beautiful."
"Thank you," he replied. "Do you want to look around?"
Vicki glanced at her watch. "I really should be getting back. I don't want to walk through the woods too late, after what happened to Maggie Evans."
Out of the corner of his eye, Sam saw Willie start at the mention of Maggie. He glanced at Al, who had noticed it too.
"I'll walk you home," offered Sam.
Willie interrupted. "You don't have to do that, Barnabas. I'll take her home." He seemed agitated.
"Don't let him do it, Sam," Al said urgently. "He could be the killer."
"Uh, that won't be necessary," said Sam. He noticed an Inverness cape on the coat rack and out it on, assuming it was Barnabas'. Next to it was a wolf's head cane. Sam picked it up and looked at it admiringly. For a moment he wondered what he looked like in such distinguished clothes. The image of the empty mirror rose unbidden to his mind, and he pushed the thought away.
"Isn't it a beautiful night?" said Vicki as they left the house. She ran a few steps ahead, then turned back to wait for Sam. Al followed.
"Yes, it's lovely," said Sam unenthusiastically as he fell in beside her. In truth, the dark blobs of bushes and unidentifiable shadows were giving him the creeps. "I guess I'm more of a day person though."
Vicki started to laugh. "You? Is this the Barnabas Collins who rhapsodized to me about the beauty of the night for ten minutes yesterday?" She smiled in amusement. "Do you know, I don't believe I've ever even seen you during the day."
Sam realized he'd made a faux pas, and decided to keep quiet. Vicki glanced at him. "I'm sorry. I wasn't making fun of you."
"I wasn't offended," said Sam.
Vicki looked up at the stars. "Do you know what I like to do on nights like this?"
"I go out on the balcony, and I pretend it's a hundred years ago. I'm Josette Collins, and carriages are pulling up to the house. Out come beautifully dressed men and women, ready for a ball." She stopped suddenly, blushing. "I suppose it sounds very silly."
Sam smiled, charmed. "No, it doesn't. I think it's very romantic." Vicki smiled back.
"Hey, Sam, I think she's sweet on you," said Al.
Sam ignored him. "Anyway," he went on, "it's very natural. Most people have fantasies of one kind or another. Do you know that song The Stranger'?"
Vicki's brow furrowed. "I don't think so."
Al hit his head. "Sam, that song won't be written for another ten years."
Sam cursed himself inwardly. It was so hard to keep track of these things. "Actually it's a poem," he said, trying to cover his tracks.
"Who wrote it?" asked Vicki.
"An old English poet called...uh...Billy Joel," said Sam lamely.
"Oh. How does it go?"
Sam tried to remember. He quoted:
"We all have a face that we hide away forever
And we take them out and show ourselves when everyone has gone.
Some are satin, some are steel, some are silk, and some are leather.
They're the faces of the stranger, but we love to try them on."
"That's so perceptive," said Vicki. "That's what I love about you, Barnabas. The way you talk, the way you quote poetry...sometimes you sound like you don't really belong here, as though you come from some other time," she said dreamily.
Sam shot a startled glance at her. "Sometimes I feel that way," he admitted. "Do I sound that way a lot?" Maybe it wouldn't be so hard to act like Barnabas Collins.
"Oh, all the time," said Vicki, adding hastily, "I mean that as a compliment. You're such a gentleman." She stopped walking. Here we are, back at Collinwood."
Collinwood? thought Sam. It seemed a bit pretentious, naming a house after yourself. Then he looked up at the house and forgot everything else. It was a tremendous mansion, with stone turrets and towers that seemed to stretch for miles. Graceful points etched themselves into the night sky, and elegant balconies floated airily above. Around the side of the house, an elaborate fountain splashing cool water was visible. "It's beautiful," breathed Sam. You actually live here?"
Vicki laughed. "You're so funny, Barnabas. As though you haven't been here a hundred times."
Suddenly the door burst open and a scruffy, bearded biker in a leather jacket staggered out. From inside the house came angry female voices.
"Hey, Vicko," said the biker, "what it is." He flashed her a peace sign.
"Hello," said Vicki distastefully. "Are you taking Carolyn out?"
He shrugged and glanced back at the house. "If she can get past her old lady." He noticed Sam. "Hey, dude, what's shakin'?"
Vicki sighed. "Buzz, this is Barnabas Collins."
"Hey, right, Carolyn said something about you." Buzz leaned closer to Sam and said confidentially, "Man, your cousin is one swinging chick! I mean, she is now. You dig?"
"Uh..." Sam tried frantically to dredge up an appropriate response from his Leap into a biker gang. He hoped Buzz wouldn't start quoting Jack Kerouac at him.
"Man, don't be square," said Buzz. "I mean, she's hip, she's groovy, she's where it's at."
A pretty blonde girl came storming out of the house. "I'm going now, Mother," she snapped, angrily tossing her long shiny hair.
Al eyed her appreciatively. "That guy is right, Sam. She really is where it's at."
"Would you stop?" said Sam in exasperation. "She's my cousin."
Buzz spread his hands. "Hey, man, no offense." He turned to Carolyn. "Coming, babe?"
"Yes," said Carolyn, and helped him wheel his motorcycle onto the path.
A dignified, attractive older woman came to the door. "All I said was that it's a little late to be going out."
"Oh, buzz off, Mother," the blonde said petulantly.
Her boyfriend laughed. "Buzz off, that's pretty funny, Carolyn."
Carolyn giggled. They climbed onto the motorcycle and rode off.
The older woman shook her head. "Vicki, I just don't know what to do about her anymore."
"She's just upset, Mrs. Stoddard. I'm sure this won't last," said Vicki reassuringly.
"I hope you're right." Mrs. Stoddard noticed Sam. "Barnabas, come in. We haven't seen you around here lately."
"Thank you," said Sam. The three of them went inside and closed the door. Al floated through the wall to join them.
"I'm sorry you had to see that little scene, Barnabas," said Mrs. Stoddard.
A tall, handsome, but shifty looking man got up from the couch. "Now, Liz, don't go apologizing for Carolyn," he said with an Irish accent. "I'm sure she'll settle down after the wedding." He put his arm around Elizabeth Stoddard, who shuddered visibly.
"Oh? Who's getting married?" The words were out before Sam could stop them. Too late, he realized Barnabas probably knew this already.
Elizabeth sighed. "Barnabas, don't you start. I've had enough interference from my brother. I'm marrying Jason, and that's final."
Sam glanced at Al, who nodded. "Jason McGuire," he confirmed. One of the suspects.
Jason's eyes narrowed. "Am I to understand, Mr. Collins, that you disapprove of my impending nuptials?"
"Well, no. I mean, I hardly know you," said Sam.
"Excuse us a moment, Liz." He led Sam into the drawing room and closed the door. "Now, look, Mr. Collins, I know your family doesn't approve of me. But if you have any intentions of trying to stop this wedding, I'd advise you to forget them right now."
Al said, "I don't like this guy, Sam. He seems like a real sleazeball."
Sam nodded and said to Jason, "I never said I wanted to stop the wedding."
"Well, that's good," said Jason, staring challengingly into Sam's eyes. "Because I've been wondering a lot about you lately, Mr. Barnabas Collins."
"What do you mean?" asked Sam.
Jason shrugged. "Well now, it just seems strange to me that you should hire Willie Loomis to work for you. I hate to say anything against him, seeing as he's my friend and all, but he's a disreputable fellow and that's a fact. And I have to ask myself, what does a man like Barnabas Collins want with a man like Willie Loomis?"
"Well, he just works for me," improvised Sam. "I haven't had any problems."
"I know, and that surprises me," said Jason. "I've never known Willie to take orders from anyone in his life, but he seems to take them from you." Jason's eyes narrowed. "He's been acting very strangely lately, Mr. Collins. more than once I've seen him heading up to that old mausoleum - the same place they found that Evans girl."
"What do you think he was doing there?" asked Sam.
"I don't know," said Jason slowly. "At first I thought he was after those jewels that were supposedly buried with members of your family. But now I'm not so sure." His voice hardened. But whatever it is, I intend to find out."
"Well, when you do, let me know," said Sam.
"I'll certainly do that," said Jason with a predatory smile.
Sam walked to the door, then turned to add, with just a touch of irony, "Oh, and my very best wishes on your marriage." He left the drawing room.
Elizabeth looked up as he entered the foyer. "Oh, Barnabas, are you leaving already?"
"I'm afraid so," said Sam.
"I do hope you'll come again," said Elizabeth warmly. "You know you're always welcome here. You're part of the family."
Jason had strolled back into the room as she spoke. "Why, so he is. How about that, Mr. Collins? After the wedding, you and I will be related," he said ironically. "Isn't that nice, Liz?" She shot him a dark look. He bent to kiss her cheek, but she turned away.
Sam said uncomfortably, "Well, it was nice seeing you all again."
Vicki walked him to the door. "Barnabas, may I come over tomorrow to see the renovations on the house? It looks like you've done a lot since I saw it last."
"Sure, Vicki," said Sam with a smile. She seemed to be the only friendly, normal person around. "Come by tomorrow afternoon."
"All right. Good night, Barnabas."
Outside, Al breathed a sigh of relief. "Talk about a tense atmosphere."
"Yeah," agreed Sam. "I'm definitely not on Jason's 10 best list. Al, I thought Vicki called that older woman Mrs. Stoddard. How can she be getting married? Is she a widow?"
Al consulted the handlink. "Her husband left her eighteen years ago. She hasn't left the house since."
"In eighteen years?" Sam looked back at the house, which loomed ominously in the moonlight. Thoughtfully he said, "Al, do you think I could be here for more than one reason?"
"What do you mean?"
Sam shrugged. "I don't know. I just can't see that quiet, dignified woman marrying someone like Jason McGuire. She certainly didn't seem too affectionate towards him."
"Who knows why people get married?" said Al dismissively.
"You should," said Sam. "You've done it five times."
"Never mind that," said Al. "Anyway, I've got some information on those police records."
Sam perked up. "Tell me."
"Willie Loomis has a long list of minor offenses - picking pockets, that sort of thing. He was also charged with assault when he pulled a knife on Burke Devlin."
"Was he trying to mug him?" asked Sam.
"No, it was some kind of barroom fight," said Al. "But listen, here's the big thing. You know that girl Maggie Evans, the one that went insane? Two weeks from now, they catch Willie Loomis breaking into her window. The police figured he was afraid she'd get her memory back and was trying to silence her."
"Did he confess to the kidnaping?" asked Sam.
"No, he got shot and went into a coma."
Sam looked thoughtful. "McGuire said he'd been seen in the same are where they found Maggie Evans. Oh, what did you find out about McGuire?"
"He's a slippery one. He's wanted in seven countries on suspicion of fraud, smuggling, and extortion. But he's never been convicted, because he'd always leave the country, and without hard evidence they couldn't extradite him."
"Charming. And Burke Devlin?"
"He was sent to prison for five years on a hit-and-run."
"Hmm," said Sam. "So far Willie's the only one with a violent record. And he certainly seems nervous about something." He was silent a moment. Then he yawned. "Well, we have until tomorrow night, right?"
"Yeah," said Al. "At 11:00 p.m. Outside a bar called the Blue Whale."
"Okay. I'm going back to Barnabas' house to get some sleep. Wake me up early, and we'll figure out how to proceed. Maybe you can center on the suspects when they're alone, see what they do when no one's around."
"Good idea," said Al. "And listen, Sam, be careful around that Willie Loomis."
"I thought you said he and Barnabas were friends."
"They are. At least according to the articles that came out after he got shot. But still, a murderer is a murderer."
"I don't think I need to worry," said Sam slowly. "When I spoke to him before...I can't explain it, but he seemed almost afraid of me." Sam was puzzled.
"Maybe he was just afraid of you finding out about the murders," suggested Al.
"Maybe," Sam said doubtfully. "There's definitely something strange about him. He also said something to me about a coffin in the basement."
"A coffin?" said Al uneasily. "Maybe he's hiding bodies down there."
"If he was, he wouldn't tell me about it," Sam pointed out. "Anyway, I'll be careful." He headed toward the house as Al dematerialized.
As he entered, Willie came up to meet him. "Did Vicki get home okay?" he asked with a trace of anxiety.
"Of course. I was with her all the way home," said Sam, looking closely at him.
Willie turned away abruptly. "I'll go check that all the windows are locked."
Okay,'' said Sam, wondering about the man's mood swings.
After Willie left, it occurred to Sam to see if there really was a coffin in the basement. He went downstairs and almost got lost in the network of tunnels under the house. Then he came upon a small room off to the side. Inside, he found it - a heavy oak casket, just sitting there in the middle of the room.
Sam wasn't the superstitious type. He examined the coffin with the curiosity of a scientist. Opening it, he was relieved to find it empty. The blue satin lining was clean.
Nothing scary about a coffin, thought Sam. It was probably just part of Barnabas' fascination with the past. It did look to be an antique. An eccentric thing to have, certainly, but harmless.
In its own way, it was even rather aesthetic, he thought, running his hand over the smooth polished oak. The shiny satin lining seemed almost inviting, its blue softness an invitation to eternal peace.
Sam shook himself. He'd almost dozed off, standing by the coffin. Well, no wonder - it had to be four in the morning by now. I'd better figure out which room is Barnabas', thought Sam.
Back upstairs, he looked through the rooms, but most of them seemed unrenovated. The only one that seemed fully restored was the delicate, feminine room with the canopy bed. Sam thought of going in search of Willie, but it would look strange for him to ask where his own bedroom was. He shrugged and went into the frilly room, wondering what it was for. There didn't seem to be any females in the house.
The light from the window bothered him, so he pulled the heavy drapes closed. Then he climbed into the canopy bed and instantly fell into deep, dreamless sleep.