(*Author's note: I'm back again! Sorry for the looooong delay, but things have been very busy here. I've been accepted to Keene State College (Yay for me!) and there has been loads of paper work to do. Hopefully now I'll have more time to work on this baby. Anyway, on to the story.)
Al had arrived while Sam was in the process of revealing his true identity and mission to Colonel Hogan. To say that Al was less than pleased about this latest development would have been an understatement of epic proportion. He coughed loudly to get Sam's notice.
"I see you're back, Al." Sam gestured to Hogan. "Colonel Hogan, I would like you to meet Al."
Ignoring Hogan, the irate hologram focused both his attention and ire at the leaper.
"What were you thinking?!" Not giving Sam a chance to answer, he continued. "Do you want to stay here forever?!"
Sam looked pained and for a moment Al regretted being so rough on him.
"Al, I had no choice- what was I supposed to say?"
"I don't know," Al huffed, still angry and worried over his friend's fate. "But you don't know what this'll do to the time line- you don't know how this'll effect your leaping. You might get stuck here."
"I know, and I'm sorry, Al, but I didn't know what else I could do." Sam smiled. "Besides, we need all the help we can get."
Al nodded, accepting Sam's apology, although he was not completely mollified. Sam could be so frustrating sometimes. He always took chances with his life, his leaping and the time line. It worried and angered Al to no end that Sam never seemed to care about himself.
Al turned around and looked into the confused face of Colonel Hogan. Hogan obviously couldn't see him. His eyes seemed to be searching for a sign of Al's presence. Al was irrationally grateful to the powers that be that at least someone here couldn't see him.
"So, Al," Sam started, "do you have anything new for me?"
Al started to say no until the squealing of the hand link interrupted. He read over the new information feeling decidedly unhappy at the new turn of events. "According to Ziggy, history's changing."
Sam looked startled. "But I haven't done anything yet."
"Except for telling everyone who you really are." Al said sarcastically. Before Sam had a chance to say something in his defense, Al waved it off. "Anyway, according to Ziggy, whatever was supposed to kill Klink has moved up to tomorrow."
"Tomorrow? How does he get killed? Do you have any idea at all?"
Al shook his head wearily. "Nadda. All we can find is what happens afterward. Although, now, when the underground is discovered, they don' find anyone besides prisoners in the tunnels. But Colonel Hogan and a fair share of his men still die."
"I guess that's something." Sam sighed and rubbed his head, obviously developing a headache.
"Look, Sam, why don't I leave you to explain all this. There's something that I need to do."
Sam nodded and Al called to Gooshie. "Center me on Andrew Carter!"
Wilhelm sighed yet again, wishing he had a watch to tell him that not as much time had passed as he thought must have. It would have been nice to be able to tell with
certainty whether he had been waiting hours for the eventual return of Verbena or if it had only been minutes.
That was another bothersome thing that he could complain to Verbena about when she got back (whenever that was going to be). He had no idea what time it was. The room had no windows and the light hadn't changed in any way since he was aware of himself being here. He had no way to judge the time, the day, the season- anything.
It made everything seem even more unreal than it already felt. How long had he been awake now? He didn't feel tired and, taking into consideration what sort of day (night?) he'd been having- he probably should have felt sleepy. But, while the confrontations and the memory loss (and gain) had been draining, the boredom left him with a sort of manic energy that no amount of pacing or trying to sleep could dispel.
After awhile, he simply sat on the bed again, trying to relax as best he could while he waited for something to happen. He was still doing that when the door hissed open. He looked up, hoping that Verbena had returned as she had promised. He felt his face fall ever so slightly when he saw who stood in the doorway.
It was that same unpleasant woman who had come to . . . visit him before. In place of a food tray, she held a paper bag, which she clutched tightly, her knuckles threatening to turn white. She looked so nervous that the flippant remark he was going to make died in his throat.
She looked at him and tried a shaky smile. "Hi."
"Hello," he replied evenly. While still feeling a bit miffed by her earlier attitude, manners dictated that he should still hear her out. At least she no longer looked outright hostile- she actually appeared to be somewhat sheepish.
She looked down at the floor, as if, now that she was here, she didn't quite know how to proceed. "I-I know that we got off to kind of a bad start." She gave a sort of half laugh, shaking her head a little. "That's a bit of an understatement." She gave her head a curt shake and stared him in the eyes. "I came down here to apologize. I was wrong to treat you like that."
Wilhelm was very surprised. Of all the things he expected to hear from this woman, an apology wasn't one of them. He nodded slowly, unsure what to say.
After the pause lengthened into an uncomfortable silence, she sighed and handed him the bag she held. He looked at its contents, cards and books and a few other things, and felt his brow crinkle in question. "Just some stuff Verbena said you wanted." She turned to walk away.
She turned back to face him, looking confused.
"What is your name?"
"Sammy Jo Fuller."
"Well, Sammy," he said as he riffled through the bag, looking for the cards he had seen earlier. Finally finding them, he pulled them out of the bag and giving Sammy what he hoped was a friendly smile, he said, "Do you play poker?"
She smiled back at him and nodded.
(TO BE CONTINUED AT SOME LATER DATE)