Leap From the Sky
Date: July 23, 2001
Location: On flight from California to Hawaii.
Leap: Sam leaps onto a plane flight that originally nothing happened and is now is destined to crash.
Leap From the Sky
"ERRRRRRR!" was unceasing sound and nonstop vibration Sam Beckett felt as he awakened sitting in a fetal position. Regaining his senses Sam took the sound to be mechanical and a highly efficient rotating engine like nothing he was used to back on the farm in Indiana.
"Was I from Indiana?" he thought to himself as he stretched.
In a highly confined space Sam found himself hitting something in every direction. His head bumped a hard piece of plastic, his right arm hit something soft and warm, and his left arm ran into something hard and cold. Each of these sensations added up to being tightly held in the window seat of a passenger airliner. The constant sound was the roar of a turbine jet engine. Sitting next to a sleeping middle-aged woman, Sam squinted out into the bright afternoon sunlight at the watery scene passing below. Very few clouds interrupted his view. From the shadows on the wing he was heading westward at about 40,000 feet over an ocean toward an unknown destination following the path of the sun.
In the poor reflection of the hazy Plexiglas window Sam saw an eleven-year-old boy staring back. The boy was blonde, fair complexion and skinnier than most. The perplexed look on the boy's face was typical 'Sam Beckett' at this point in his leap. The woman asleep next to him was probably his mother since she was wearing a wedding ring and resembled the boy. No one sat in the seat next to her. Looking up the elderly couple in front of him was also sound asleep as was often case on long overseas flights. Looking further down the aisle row after row of passengers were limp in their seats. The same was true looking down the aisle. Sam stood up as far as he could. At the front of the coach section in the aisle was a stewardess sprawled out on the floor unconscious.
Sam undid the buckle of seatbelt, pushed aside the woman next to him who slumped over into Sam's unoccupied seat.
"Hello!" cried out Sam standing up straight.
Only the sound of the engines replied. "ERRRRRRRRRRRRRR!"
"Can anybody hear me?' called out Sam as he worked his way down the coach cabin. "Hello!"
Almost every seat contained one sleeping human being who HAD been in the middle of some in-flight activity whether reading, eating or carrying on an incomplete conversation. Each passenger had collapsed in place in their seat. Sam shook several of his fellow passengers, but got no responses. Sam peered up and down the aisle. One overly large individual suddenly snored startling the nerve-racked Sam Beckett.
Walking to the front of the coach section, Sam steadied himself on one of the armrests as he got down on one knee. Checking for a pulse, he found that the stewardess was just unconscious. Sam pulled her out of the aisle into the tiny kitchen and sat her up against the stainless steel cabinets.
"Miss? Miss?" he asked. Shaking her shoulders she shook like a rag doll and did not respond to Sam's actions.
Sam stood up and pushed aside the curtains. The situation in first class was the same except that one of the stewardesses had dropped a tray of mixed drinks and had landed in the middle of it. Her head had hit an armrest and her neck was at an unnatural angle staring up at the ceiling with vacant eyes. Her face had lost all its coloring. The poor woman had not survived the fall.
Sam bit his lip looking at the once pretty face. Grabbing a blanket from the overhead storage compartment, he closed her eyes and then covered up her earthly remains. Stepping over her, Sam reached the cockpit door.
"Opened up!" he screamed pounding on the locked door. "Help! The passengers all need help!" After banging about 45 seconds and receiving no answer, Sam put his shoulder to work. Once. Twice. Three times he pushed at the door. Cracking and snapping it finally gave way at the lock.
Flying through the door, Sam was nearly hyperventilating when he practically stepped on the uniform of an unconscious crewmember. The two pilots were slumped over against the control panel. The two steering wheels rocked forward, backward and side to side in ghostly precision as the automatic pilot flew the plane.
Sam was the only conscious person on a transoceanic flight. He stumbled back one step and fell against the wall. The internal danger alarm he had developed during his many leaps went into overdrive. He was totally alone.
Sam looked up and uttered one phrase that almost sounded like a prayer, "Oh Boy!"
Project Quantum Leap
November 29, 2008
Project Quantum Leap. One lonely forgotten spot in the United States' federal bureaucracy. Fourteen billion dollars a year so spread out within the annual budget that even the super-secret Central Intelligence Agency would be envious. But with the sheer power that is in the hands of the project, the power to change and alter the very fabric of reality, the project, the idea, the very concept must be hidden from the world and from those who would and have tried to take advantage. And so on the shoulders of one man, Admiral Albert Calavicci rested the burden of the secret and protection of the secret and the very life of its creator, Sam Beckett.
To help keep the secret, Al Calavicci was running through Ziggy's latest data from his ever vigilant search of history, past and present. While constantly adding to her historical database by assimilating data from computers, magazines, government agencies and all known published and secret sources Ziggy kept busy because today's world may soon be the past of Sam Beckett's next leap. As Sam used to say, "History is only a microsecond away."
One item Ziggy was constantly looking for was evidence of the project being discussed in all that open source literature. And the subject of Sam Beckett came up quite often in physics circles. Those close to the project try and steer his former colleagues and current followers of his thought away from his time travel theories and toward more energy saving thoughts. Those who get close to it, Al prefers to bring them within the fold of the project rather than have other competing projects that they have come across.
With a laptop under one arm and his handlink in the other Al quickly stopped off in his office. Having received the signal that Sam had begun another leap he grabbed everything he needed and one last item. The last two cigars left in his possession. Beth was on a yearly kick to have him cut down and because he was extra busy he hadn't stopped by his favorite cigar store. He could order them off the Internet, but he preferred to handpick them like fresh vegetables from the humidor of the local Stallion's Gate tobacconist. He HAD to treat these two with extra special care. Pulling them out of his own specially climate controlled box, he noticed a red flag on his computer message service or otherwise a priority message from Ziggy.
Al reached for his desk communicator. "Ziggy. I have got to check in with Sam. Why the red flag? What's up?"
"Admiral. Drew Watkins, an engineering doctorate candidate at VPI is working on a pulsating generator similar to the one we use to regulate the radium ring in the acceleration chamber. He is proposing to develop a device that could contact alternate time periods via radio waves," explained the third generator hybrid computer.
"And how long before this becomes a reality?" asked Al as he lovingly pocketed his two remaining cigars.
"Though his theories are sound, he has much work to do. I would recommend that the government take him under its wing due to the implications of his work," suggested Ziggy in a tone that showed no urgency.
"Fine, Ziggy. Send your report to the science department and have them look it over," replied Al. "Sounds fairly routine."
"And Admiral," she continued.
"Ziggy. First, status of Doctor Beckett," he said raising his voice slightly.
"He is currently waking up on a Being 757 in the disguise of an eleven year old boy," reported Ziggy.
"On his way home?' asked Al.
"No, Admiral. On his way to Hawaii," replied Ziggy.
"Shore leave paradise," mumbled Al to himself. "Fine. And your other point."
"Drew Watkins has several new approaches that make his pulsating generator 87 percent more efficient. Our current model is almost twenty years old and could use an overhaul. Doctor Fulton should be made aware of this. I've just picked up a fault in the AE35 unit generators. It's going to go 100% failure in 7months hours," explained Ziggy.
"Fine, fine. I will detour through her office on my way to the control room. Anything to save some moola here. Keep an eye on Doctor Beckett. I'll be there shortly," he said patting to make sure he still had Izzy and Moe, his cigar'.
"Thank you, Admiral," said Ziggy replied after he had left the room. "We have to keep going until Doctor Becket his home."
"Sammy Jo!" exclaimed Al he said after finding her in the Gushman Computer Lab. "SAMMY JO!" he huffed after five minutes of searching for her.
"I know Al. On my way. Dad just leaped," she replied.
"No. It's this change to the acceleration chamber Ziggy seems so hopped up about. Seems some future Beckett in Virginia can help us with the electric bills!" explained Al as he grabbed the side of the cubical to help support himself.
"Watkins and his pulsating generator? Nix on that! Ziggy's been insisting I look into it for a week. Sure, it would help, but not for another five years. Minimum. Ziggy just wants us to interface more often with that new VIP supercomputer. I think Ziggy is jealous. Or in love!" she said with a small quirky smile.
"Ziggy is in love? That is preposterous, but then there are lots of weird things with that super-egomaniac. At least let her know you'll look into it. We don't want any extra distractions with Sam," he replied getting ready to leave.
"I'll put Justin Martin on it. Who knows what we might learn?" Sammy Jo asked as she flipped up on eyebrow and then put her hand to her head. "Ooohh. I seem to have a little headache," she said as she winced in pain and then collapsed to the floor.
"Sammy Jo!" exclaimed Al. "Medics!" he called out through is commentator. "Gushman Computer Lab and hurry!"
Trans-Pacific Airways Flight 231
July 23, 2001
Alone. Sam had always felt that way since he was a stranger to everyone around him. He could never truly be himself. But now seven miles high in a complicated piece of aeronautical machinery with no one who could physically help him he had never felt so alone or so helpless.
Sam opened up his eyes as his heart pounded. "Tha-thump! Tha-thump! Tha-thump," sounding over the constant noise of the jet engines.
He struggled with the crewman on the floor (navigator or technician) dragging him into the first class kitchen. Pulling the pilot out of his seat in a small space proved much harder. Sam wrestled with him and then laid him next to the navigator. He did the same thing with the second pilot leaving himself along in the cockpit.
Watching the plane fly itself was a completely natural mechanical operation of this aircraft, but to Sam it was just plain spooky. The plane or aircraft could fly itself until its fuel had finished or some other force, manmade or natural made the computer loose its concentration. He sat down in the left pilot's seat and then strapped himself in. This small safety action was the only motion he was absolutely sure of. He had sat in the pilot's seat before, but always with Al beside him. Where was he?
Before him were scores of gauges, dials, levers, switches and buttons. Any one handled wrong could quickly end this dead man's flight. Sam reached up and put his hands on the steering column. The motion was steady. Left and right turned the wheel. Back and forth moved the steering column. Even holding it tightly Sam's hands were following its motion. He had become part of this intricate mechanism. Just another cog in this complex flying machine. Sam let go a sigh of frustration not knowing what to do. He seemed to remember that Al had pointed out the he was really incapable of landing something as complex as an aircraft. And even if he could, there was no land in sight.
Throwing his hands up, he looked for the radio and found a microphone. Pushing the button on mike Sam reached out for any type of help.
"Control tower. Flight controllers. Whatever. This is an emergency. Hello!" he called out. Only static replied. He called out again, but again received no reply. Not wanting to create any new problems he gently put the mike back where he found it. Glancing around Sam did find a clipboard with some unknown flight instructions on it. A chart was included among the weather reports and notes in unknown pilot shorthand. Sam did figure that he was enroute to Hawaii on Trans-Pacific Airways flight 231. And that the date was Monday, July 23rd 2001.
Sam tossed the clipboard back into the side pocket it had come from and then just watched the clouds pass by him. Underneath him the sky had gone from mostly clear to partly cloudy. Some large cargo ship passed quickly underneath Sam. He had a quick notion to send up a flare, but the ship was long gone before he had a chance to look for one. And there was no way he could have opened up a window and signaled with a flare gun at 560 miles an hour. Sam realized this since he had found the speed indicator and the fuel gauge. He still had several hours of flying time left depending upon the plane's fuel consumption. Sam slumped back in his chair, lowered his head into his hands and watched the ghostly action of the twin steering columns.
"Whoosh-wish," went the hydraulic sound of the Imaging Chamber door. Sam turned around and didn't see Al.
Then Admiral Al walked through the cockpit door sweating. "Hiya, Sam. We are in a heap of trouble there. Um … here," he said pointing to the plane.
Sam smiled, "That's putting it mildly. Care to take the pilot's seat?" Sam asked hopefully indicating the empty seat next to him.
Al shook his head. "Not funny. You don't understand! What you're experiencing isn't supposed to happen. This isn't a standard correct what originally went wrong scenario. According to OUR history, nothing bad happened on this flight. It landed in Hawaii and everyone was safe and sound. Something changed history even before YOU got here!" Al said reading from his handlink and wiping his brow.
"Now this is leap is getting really spooky!" said Sam almost to himself.
"That's not the worst of it. Sam YOUR family is on THIS flight!"
said Al quietly.
"My family! Who?" ask Sam as he could not bring up any images of his loved ones through his Swiss cheese memories.
Al pulled out a cigar and slowly rolled it between two fingers. "Your wife, your son and your daughter. They were on their way to your mother's 80th birthday party in Hawaii. That was seven years ago to me. Originally they survived and returned to Quantum Leap. Now Ziggy gives you a two percent chance of saving ANYONE on this airliner."
"Then that can't be right. Something is changing here, where I am!" said Sam quietly. He wanted to grab the wheel and take them all home.
"But with their history changing we have no idea of how this will end up. And since there is a change in the probability and outcome of their three lives, each of them have gone onto a coma here at the project. Dr. Lofton has them in the infirmary. Their vital signs have gone completely whacko. We are down the two smartest people left at the project. And if don't fix this looney situation we'll loose you too, Sam," said Al shaking his head.
"Um, how long do I have?" asked Sam.
Al tweaked away at his colorful little information calculator. "According to Ziggy you are three hours east of Honolulu. You have enough fuel to fly two hours past Hawaii. The FAA is currently flabbergasted. They never had a runaway this big before."
"A runaway? This plane left home without telling anyone?" asked Sam.
Al shook his head since we was again acting as a cosmic encyclopedia for his memory challenged friend. "No. A plane flying on automatic pilot after the incapacity of the pilot and or passengers. Usually this happens on small planes due to a heart attack or depressurization. Neither which seems to be the case here. Plane just keeps flying onto until... Well, you can figure that out. Not a nice scenario, Sam," explained Al quietly. "Damn waste."
Sam looked out the cockpit cabin door down the long expanse of the quiet passenger cabin. "I don't sense anything in the cabin air. No odors or contaminates. Food poisoning would not have been so complete. There doesn't seem to have been a panic."
Al clumsily relit his cigar as his hands visibly shook. "Well, I may give you a good example of that. Sam this is a Boeing 757 and there is no way in hell that you are going to land it. Flying is easy. It's doing that itself. Landing is really just a very tightly controlled crash scenario. Stay within the tight bounds and you don't. According to our friend Ziggy, you have a 2 per cent probability of NOT killing everyone on body trying a landing. And that's with your's truly as your holographic co-pilot. I can help you contact the Honolulu flight controllers. You passed beyond the range of those guys in California."
"Can they can help me?" asked Sam.
"Not that much Sam, but at least you can apprise the authorities of the situation. Switch the frequency 462.3. There that's good. Now flip on the switch on the right. Here the channel click? Push the mike button and ask for Honolulu flight control," explain Al very slowly. He took a deep puff and waited. No one knew more than he what was required in operating such a complex flying machine.
Sam did as he was told. "Hello, this is Trans-Pacific Airways flight 231. Requesting help. Hello, this is Trans-Pacific Airways flight 231. Requesting help. Honolulu flight control? Mayday. Mayday. Are you there? Over."
Sam repeated himself twice and then somebody replied. "Roger, TPA 231. We've been tracking you on a heading of 263 at 42 thousand for the last seventy minutes without audio response. Request flight update."
Al read from his handlink. "Sam, you're Denny Hilton, an eleven year old from San Luis Obispo. That's in California."
"Um. Roger. My name is Denny Hilton. I'm a passenger on flight 231. Everyone onboard is completely unconscious," called out an urgent sounding Sam Beckett.
The silence lasted for several seconds.
"OK, Denny. This is Honolulu flight control. My name is Chuck.
Everything is going to be fine. Now can you tell me what the condition of the pilot and the co-pilot?" asked Chuck sounding somewhat softer.
"Both are unconscious and breathing. A third guy from the cockpit is alive as is one stewardess. The other one is dead due to a fall, Chuck. Over," replied Sam.
"That's great Denny. You're doing fine. Now what about the third stewardess?" asked the Honolulu flight controller.
"I only saw two. Over," replied Sam.
Another brief silence occurred. "Denny. The crew compliment for your flight is six. Three in the cockpit and three flight attendants or stewardesses."
Sam looked over to Al. "I'm on it. Back in a minute!" he said walking through the rear bulkhead.
Chuck continued. "OK. We can see your direction and altitude. Look at the round dial on the right. That's how much fuel you have. What does it read?"
Sam squinted at the dial. "OK, 6200 pounds. Over."
"Very good, Denny. You read that well. What grade are you in?" asked the controller.
Sam figured it out in his head, "Um, sixth grade. Over."
"Sam! Sam! You do have company. The third stew is conscious and in the last rear restroom. Probably frightened to death!"
Sam contacted Honolulu. "I think I know where about the third stewardess is. Over," said Sam as he put the mike down.
"Denny. Denny, don't go," called out and anguish Chuck. He classed out again and heard nothing but static.
Trotting to the back of the plane, he passed by his family without even recognizing them. Five year old Steven was curled up next to Donna Beckett. Sammy Jo had fallen asleep over some thick, complicated and boring technical journal.
Sam opened the rear restroom and there sat the third stewardess with a very cross look on her face.
"Thank God! The rest of the people on the plane are all asleep, Miss Nancy," said Sam reading the tag on her uniform.
The redhead looked up turning up the side of her lip. "So I noticed. My, aren't you the grownup little rescue ranger? I thought you were sound asleep, Tom Sawyer!"
"What in the name of 911 is her problem?' asked Al who popped in next to Sam. He punched button and came up with the name "Nancy Black."
Sam huffed and puffed and pointed back to the cockpit. "I've contacted the flight controllers. Can you help us get out of this mess?"
She put her hand on her chest. "DO I know how to land this aircraft? Not on your life, Tom Sawyer. But I can help you out with that radio," she lamented. She stood up without puling down her skirt that showed more than it should.
"Thanks!" exclaimed Sam leading the way.
Nancy got up and then slowly walked down the aisle muttering to herself. She walked over her deceased colleague and then stepped into the cockpit and turned to Sam. "Now what?" she asked nonchalantly looking around.
As Sam tried to reply she added, "That'll do it." Reaching for the handset she ripped the microphone from the wire and used it to out smash the glass on the radio as sparks shot about the cockpit. She smiled with a grinchy grin.
"Sam, stop her!" yelled out Al as Sam grabbed her shoulders and then turned her around.
"Why would you destroy that?" asked Sam who could only think that she was mentally deficient or worse, suicidal.
Nancy's smile turned to a sneer. Sam struggled with her as her face and body was quickly eaten away. Behind the young stewardess was an older woman with dark set eyes and short straight red hair. Sam's aura also seemed to vanish.
"Sam back away!" yelled a frightened Al. "Jumping Josephine! It's that bitch Zoë!"
Her sneer morphed into anger and hatred. "You? How did you know? Why are YOU even here? This plan was foolproof! First, you relieve me of Alia's company and then a month later you show up here!"
"Who are you?" asked Sam as he stepped back as far as he could in the small cockpit.
Al checked his handlink. "Ah, Sam. That's your evil leaping twin, Zoë Malvison. She's supposed to be completely incapacitated. According to her comments she must be from shortly after you leaped into that woman's prison."
"Beckett, you are a meddling fool!" exclaimed Zoë. "This time you are not going to stop us. You can go ahead and DIE with the rest of them!" she yelled pointing toward the quiet passenger cabin.
"What did YOU do to the plane?" asked Sam shaking her. "Why is everyone out?"
She slapped Sam's hands down and then poked him in the chest. "Nothing. Nothing I'm going to tell to you!" exclaimed Zoë. "Fitting. All the Beckett's can go down together in a blaze of glory! All buried at sea! Splash!"
"And you too!" Sam reminded her.
She put her hands on her hips looking very cocky. "HA! I only stuck around to make sure that nothing went wrong and it's a good thing that I did. Now my job is finished here. Right, Thames?" she asked looking toward the corridor.
Sam and Al both looked toward the point where the "other" observer stood.
"No? That is true. I see your point!" she exclaimed grabbing the large heavy flashlight mounted on the wall and then running into the first class kitchen. She raised up the heavy object quickly crushing in the skulls of the two pilots and the navigator. Cocking her head to one side and then wiping some blood from her hands she admired her handiwork.
"Now all the details are taken care of, Beckett!" shoe sneered.
Sam rushed at her as she swung around trying to hit Sam with the flashlight. Sam ducked, grabbed the flashlight as Zoë flew down in the corridor hitting her ribcage on an armrest.
She pulled herself up to a sitting position and rubbed her side. "Ahh! Wonderful! Well, I just put wrong what once went right, to borrow a phrase," she said now smiling evilly. "And now this fine mess is all yours. And may you be damned to Hell, Doctor Beckett!" she said pointing to Sam as she leaped out in a blaze of red quantum light packets.
The aura of the flight attendant returned as she leaped back and then collapsed in the corridor. A look of leaping confusion crossed her face as she peered up into Sam Beckett's eyes.
Sam reached down and helped her up.
"Thank you, young man," she said as she put her hand to her head. "Where have I been?" she asked. "That was a wild ride." Terror filled her eyes as she then saw the three dead crewmembers. "OH, shit!" she screamed looking at the blood on her hands, on her uniform and on the walls. "What in God's name is happening here?"
"Wrong direction," mumbled Al.
She reached down and checked for pulses. "They've... They've been murdered! Did you do this? Did I do this?" she asked taking one half step back. She narrowed her eyelids life as she studied the skinny young boy.
Sam didn't move. "No. It was somebody else. And she's gone. You had nothing to do with this."
"Gone? From a plane? Nobody get's off a plane in mid-flight," she said shaking her head at a crazed murderous boy. "I blacked out! My God… Did I?" she screamed grabbing at her head and falling to her knees. "Was it me?"
Sam dropped to his knees. "No. It wasn't you. It WASN'T YOU! Don't worry! If I try and explain it..."
Al put his hand on his head. "Sam. No time for explanations that don't jive with her sense of reality!"
Sam put up his hands and tried to explain, "Easy there! I'm Denny. And I'm NOT going to hurt you. We have bigger problems. Do you know how to fly this thing?" Sam asked sounding funny. He hoped that she had forsaken flying for a career to help out people as an airline stewardess.
Nancy looked up at the young boy, shook her head and tried to think rationally. "Son, I'm the stewardess, nurse, server and safety truant officer. Never had a flying lesson in my life," she replied.
Sam pointed down the corridor. "Everyone else is asleep."
"Why? That does not make sense. After my trip to a la-la land, I wake up in a worst nightmare possible!" she exclaimed. "Was I asleep too? Why did I wake up? What put all these people to sleep? Who killed our crew and why are you awake and..."
"All good questions that I have no answer for!" exclaimed Sam. He still admired all rationally she was talking this totally off the wall situation.
"Um, according to Doctor Lofton who examined your unconscious leapee, presumably all of these passengers are suffering from oxygen deprivation. Nothing life threatening. Zoë must have cut off the oxygen making everyone pass out. No telling when any of them will be coming to. That portable oxygen tank back on the restroom must have been used by that evil bitch to keep herself awake," reported Al from Ziggy's musings.
"OK, let me guess at this. There was a malfunction in the oxygen system knocking everyone out. One of the passengers woke up and then went berserk killing the crew," Sam tried to explain to her.
"Then why did they leave the flight deck and why didn't the emergency oxygen system deploy? Who could have known how to do all that?" she asked with a knowledge that exceeded most flight attendants.
"All good questions. It's only a suggested scenario to try and fit the facts. It's the plane that needs landing, Miss Nancy!" said Sam. "That's our number one priority."
"Move on, Sam. She would never understand the whys. So just forget it," explained Al who started to walk back to the cockpit.
"Look. Our first and most important task is to save us and the rest of the passengers," explained Sam. "So come and help me out."
"You're awake. You had the opportunity to kill the crew. Are YOU going to kill me?" she asked ever so slightly frightened putting her hand on her breast.
Sam shook his head. "No. I want us all to live. At least those that are still alive. And I need your help in the cockpit. Please, come with me," said Sam ushering her into the cockpit.
"Are you sure?" she asked. "If it wasn't me than it must have been... been..."
"No. I'm only here to help. Come on in and get in the right pilot's seat. Um?" asked Sam.
"Black. Miss Nancy Black," replied getting into and strapping herself in the right cockpit seat. "This is hopeless. What are we going to do?" she asked putting her head in her hands. Then she turned to the right as another roar could be heard over the jet engines. "What's that sound?" she screamed looking all around.
"Over there. Out the window," pointed Sam.
"See! It's the Navy! Yippee! An F-18 Hornet off to our starboard... er… right side," exclaimed Al.
"They're here to shoot us down!" said a frightened Nancy.
The jet flew right next to the 757 as the Navy pilot tried to see in the cockpit.
"No. Standard procedure. He's checking on the plane's condition and intentions," explained Al reading off his handlink.
"I don't think so. At least not yet," said Sam looking a bit worried himself.
"Since this is new history to us, I can't give you any definitive data on that. The DoD didn't start shoot down orders until after nine eleven, which isn't for another couple of months." said Al. "Nasty business shooting down civilian passenger liners. We're not the Russkies! And this ain't Korean flight 007."
"Just wave," said Sam. "Let him know we see him."
Nancy waved as the jet dipped its wings responding. She gave Sam a crooked nervous smile. "He saw me! Now what?"
"Is he just going to follows us?" asked Sam.
"Why would I know?" replied the stewardess.
"Probably giving the FAA and DoD onsite intell. Despite the movies, the military isn't equipped to get anyone onboard an aircraft in flight," replied Al. "Not at the speed this baby is flying."
"He probably just wants to help as much as he can," Sam tried to reassure the woman.
Nancy saw the jet's wings wave again. "Denny, He's signaling us."
The F-18 pilot held up a sign. "Pilot condition?"
"Go ahead and tell him. Use the back of this manual," said Sam smiling and handing it to her.
Nancy marked on the back of a notebook "Dead!" Then she held it up for the pilot to read.
He 'roger'ed them back. "Radio?" he then asked.
Nancy replied, "Out!"
"And why is that?' she asked Sam.
"Just to make this leap as hard as possible," muttered Sam. "Just another part of the puzzle, Ms. Black."
"Fuel?" the pilot asked and Nancy told him what their fuel gauge read.
He 'roger'ed them again and motioned that he'd follow them.
Nancy waved again as the F-18 Hornet pulled to a position further away and behind the 757.
"That stick jockey is just getting out of the wake of your plane. Easier to maintain formation flight," replied Al. "Smart guy. Um, Lieutenant Commander Mark Wellington," said Al checking his handlink. "Currently assigned to the nuclear carrier Stennis..."
"Al," said Sam softly.
Al looked up from his colorful handlink. "Sorry. Just very close to my heart. Navy wings are made of gold, you know," he said sighing.
"Al?" asked Nancy, "You don't have an invisible friend do you, Denny?'
"Sam, leave me out of your conversations!" said a now distraught Al. "Do I need to wear a sweatshirt with the word "Observer" on it? I'm an observer and not a participant in these leaps!"
"No, I was thinking. I said 'I'll have to do something about this," replied Sam slowly.
"That's better!" retorted Al. "There's enough rumor and innuendo about Admiral Albert Calavicci already floating through history due to your leaping escapades."
"I said I'll have to land the plane," added Sam.
"What!" responded both Nancy and Al simultaneously. Al looked shocked as he saw the same expression plastered on Nancy Black's face.
"SAM! I told you the odds!" yelled Al. He seriously wondered if all this leaping was also affecting the thinking part of Sam's forgetful brain.
"Ever even fly a private plane, son?' asked Nancy.
"Done it on a computer. The same type of jet," lied Sam with a half cocked smile.
"This is a lot different than landing a pretend jet at a virtual airport," Nancy replied looking over the multitude of controls, dials and switches.
Al was busily plinking and plunking his handlink for answers. "Sam, you can't land it at Honolulu! It's a very small airport not to mention you have to land at the right angle in the right direction at the right speed. Ziggy says even with your great brain you'd need 120 hours in the simulator to give you a 34 percent chance. And this bird has only four hours of flight time left."
"I don't intend to use the airport. There's a big wide ocean down there," pointed out Sam.
Both Nancy and Al gasped simultaneously.
"DITCHING! Sam you are out of your ever-loving mind!" yelled pilot Al. "It can't be done!"
"No way!" exclaimed Nancy.
"Sam, the odds are slightly better, but still WAY under ten per cent. Some passenger liners have ditched in recent history. A 767. A 737. Usually with loss of life. And that water at the speed you're traveling is as hard as concrete!" explained Al. "I've ejected out of a fighter with a parachute, but this is an entirely different operation!"
"Any other suggestions?" asked Sam looking directly at his project observer.
"Wait it out?" asked Nancy nervously.
"Um, leaping everyone out of her?" asked Al. "We don't really have that capacity. How about beaming them out?"
"Not for another 200 years, Scotty," retorted Ziggy. "My dematerialization capacity is limited to one time traveling individual. Maybe two."
"Never-the-less I have to land to or I won't leap I mean live. I won't lose my family or let whoever put us in this situation win!" exclaimed Sam pounding on the dashboard.
"You want to land this plane? By yourself?" asked Nancy as she leaned over and looked down at the ocean seven and a half miles beneath them.
"No. With your help," replied Sam to Nancy and to Al.
"Sam. Even I'd worry about landing this two engine beauty without the help of ground control. Wish this airliner had ejection seats," replied Al.
"Don't have to worry about ground control. Our friend next to us can help us out," said Sam.
"Help ID the floating wreckage. I'm sure they won't be happy either, Denny," said the flight attendant. "They've probably already written us all off."
"And the alternative? Sit here enjoying the ride until... I don't have to explain to you," Sam told Nancy. Sam had to convince this rational person with the destiny complex.
""We should at least go out trying. Your arguments are good for a lad," she said nodding in agreement.
Sam patted her on the knee. "Let's just say I've been in a lot of life and death situations for my age."
"Try and do it, Sam. There's no way to wake up the other passengers any faster. Ziggy doesn't find a flying a background in any of the passengers' biographies. We'll have Ziggy patch into every output on this thing, weather, telemetry, the works. Then we can virtually fly it here and run some landing scenarios. But remember when we finally land you get only on shot at it, Sam.," said a solemn Admiral Calavicci.
Sam asked "What are the current odds if do we ditch it?"
"Um, twelve per cent. Weather is improving. The high and the mighty must be on our side. Sixty-two percent if I did it and I have never flown anything like this or been over 400 knots in 20 years, Sam!" insisted Al. He had to have faith in his friend even if it was going to be their final adventure together.
"Just give me the course and direction nearest the island," requested Sam.
"Um, Denny?" asked a confused Nancy.
"Working things out loud, Miss Nancy," said Sam laughing slightly as Nancy stared at him carefully trying to judge his sanity. Sam picked up the flight clipboard and looked a tit trying to look busy.
Al glanced at his handlink and then reported to Sam. "You have got to land it safely and get these people off before it sinks. The whole fuselage could crack open. The larger planes usually do. Move the passengers to the center Sam just in case you loss the tail section. This is nuts!"
Nancy shook her head. "Guy, you're nuts."
Al looked up for just a moment. "I'm starting to like this woman. Maybe we have something in common. Definitely an admiration of Sam Beckett."
Sam replied, "Just doing what I can do. We either live until this aircraft dies or we try and survive."
"I wan to do all I can to survive," replied Nancy.
"Good. Tell the F-18 that we're going to try and put this baby down on the ocean whether they are happy about that or not," explained Sam confidently.
Nancy sent the word "Ditching!" to the F-18 pilot.
After about a minute the pilot gave her thumbs down and waggled his wings. He asked "Experience?"
The flight attendant replied "None." as the pilot gave her another thumbs down.
"Just let him know that we are going to do it!" said Sam. "Unless he does want to shoot us down."
The flight attendant again said 'No" and the pilot acknowledged her and then dropped back.
Al gave Sam some computer coordinates near Pearl Harbor and the Honolulu airport to plug into the automatic pilot. The plane mysteriously complied.
"Good. You're on course. You can't fly over the island or the F-18 might take you out. Once south of Oahu you can make another course correction and fly due west," explained Al. "so far, so good Lindbergh."
"Are you sure about all this?" asked Nancy.
Sam pointed to the flight clipboard and tried to reassure her. "See its all here. We're heading to roughly the same place as the airport. They are tracking us and we'll be very close to land."
"How rough?" she asked hesitantly.
"We'll have the Navy base and the Coast Guard. I'm sure they'll help use out," said Sam confidently even though all he had was Al's postulated assurances.
"Probably to pick up the pieces," Ms. Black said staring out the window.
Sam put his hand on her shoulder and then tried to get her mind off their situation. "I think you need to move everyone to the middle of the plane. It'll keep the plane balanced better and the survival rate up."
"What are you? An expert at everything?" she asked. "Where do you get all this expert advice from?"
"Let's just say I have my sources," he said glancing over at the project observer.
"Care to help me out?" she asked.
"Love to, but I better keep an eye on the controls and…"
"All right All right. Anything to break this tension. Now he thinks he's Dick Rutan," she said quietly to herself.
"Now we can talk. Dick Rutan was the guy who flew the Voyager aircraft around the world on one tank of gas. More of a stunt than a record. Don't talk too loud though. You have to get the feel of the aircraft. All the controls are hydraulically operated, but you still have to get the feel so you don't over correct. It's a lot different than that two engine seaplane you were flying though the Bermuda Triangle," explained Al.
"The Bermuda what?" asked Sam.
"NEVER MIND, Mr. Swiss Cheese Brain. Instead of explaining the world to you I'm giving you your first flying lesson. Take off the autopilot and then hold the wheel steady. Not too tight," explained Al.
Sam reached down and shut it off. He held on stiffly not adjusting the column.
"Now just slightly left and right. Good," said Al. "You're doing just fine."
"This is easy," said Sam confidently.
"Sure until you hit a cross-wind, wind shear or have to descend. Now for a few minutes keep it on course, level and at this altitude. Four two zero. Just not so stiff. You are an extension of the plane. It's a big sky out here. Stay on 127. Speed is fine. Horizon looks good," said Al calmly.
"Al. I may look calm but inside I'm scared to death," remarked Sam not glancing toward Al.
"Who isn't? It not so much knowing what to do as much as keeping a cool head. Those that crash usually panic. Like I said it's a big sky out there. And remember there's a very thin line between landing and crashing," Al reminded Sam.
"AL!" yelled Sam in a stage whisper.
"I mean keep everything in balance and in check and you'll do fine. Now push forward ever so slightly. We're going to descend to 40,000 feet," coached Al. "Easy does it, Wilbur."
Sam pushed forward as the plane pitched down.
"What's going on?" said Nancy as she quickly ran back to the cockpit.
"Just getting the feeling of the controls!" replied Sam. "It's easier than you'd think."
"Then how come your knuckles are turning bright red?" Nancy asked.
"Just move those guys around and buckle them in. Please," asked Sam.
"Or wake a few up?" she asked.
"No. They're better not knowing," responded Sam.
"I'm with them on that, kid," she replied going back to the cabin. "Better not knowing sometimes!"
"Passing through 40,500. Pull back and level off," said Al as Sam complied.
"Good. You'll need a very slow descent rate or you'll end up in the drink," explained Al. "Ground comes up awfully fast."
"Sound advice. There we're back to level," said Sam as the F18 rejoined them. "The horizon is nice and even. What is up with him?"
"Just doing his job, Sam," said Al as the Navy flyer crossed over and got on Sam's right. Sam gave him thumbs up which was quickly returned.
"Let's try a right turn to 125," instructed Al.
"Got ya. Compass heading," interjected Sam.
"Just a little turn of the wheel," said Al while turning his own imaginary wheel in front of him.
Sam did a little as the plane barely tilted.
Al read off the gauges. "126.5 126. 125.5 125 124.5. Bit too far, but you can do your turning way here. You'll not be correcting at lower altitude once you loose airspeed during decent."
"Change course, airspeed down. Simple physics," replied Sam.
"Yea, but all the applied physics in the world doesn't help when you're flying by the seat of your pants. Now your decent will be even more gradual. Just after your last course correction. Next to the water you'll have to keep your plane level, with your nose up and your wings on top of the water.
"Sounds like a Rubik cube trick. Actually I was fairly good with them. I think," responded Sam briefly looking up toward the heavens.
"Well, this is one shot. No going back, Sam You did well. One more time later and then we'll make your correction. OK. Steady as she goes," said Al holographically sitting down in the empty co-pilot's chair.
"Aye, aye, captain," replied Sam as Al looked out the great expanse of the ocean taking in quite a few memories.
Project Quantum Leap
November 29, 2008
Doctor Lofton threw up her hands.
"Loosing them. We're losing them!" she said pacing up and down. "Their vitals are all over the place. There is no logical medical problem here. Blood pressure up, temperature down, breathing up blood count down, cells shutting down lymph system working too hard. These guys are destroying themselves from within."
Stephie Hartmann looked worried. "Then we should get them to a hospital. We can evac them to Phoenix if we have to..." said the Chief of Elementary Particles watching her best friend disintegrate.
"And tell them what? That actions way in the past are slowly destroying them. There's nothing I can do and I am at my wits end, Stephie! This is the Quantum Leap Infirmary; not the Mayo Clinic. And these are almost supernatural goings on. I didn't take a course in this back at Johns Hopkins," she said almost hysterically.
"No one has, Aurora. This is just beyond conventional medical science. Just keep them comfortable," said Stephie quietly. "There is nothing else that any of us can do!"
"Bull cocky-doodle-doo! That's the same stupid advice they give nurses those who are near death Stephie!" replied a slightly revitalized Project doctor.
"I know. Just do that for now. We just have to keep our faith in Sam Beckett. I now I have had it in the pat and I will stay with it now and forever, Aurora. That I always well have," she said looking off into the distance.
"God help them! God help us! And Sam too," sighed Aurora.
Trans-Pacific Airways Flight 231
July 23, 2001
Thirty minutes later Nancy returned to the cockpit looking a bit dragged out. She plopped down in the co-pilot's seat as Sam stared out the cockpit window.
"That's the first time I ever regretted being a woman. Try wrestling a 200 pound mass of deadweight out of one tiny seat into another. All sixty-nine passengers are belted up tight in the seats centered on the wings. That should help us get them out of here faster," she said and then fell backwards with her eyes closed.
"Sorry, I couldn't help," said Sam patting her side.
"The airline trains us in all these different skills, but never has us develop our upper body strength. But then we're suppose to be hostesses and not bar bouncers," sighed Nancy. Though tired she couldn't sleep still knowing that her fate was in the hands of an eleven year old novice pilot.
"You're doing great!" said Sam patting her again.
"Am I? I'm almost alone in the sky plummeting forward in a 130 ton aircraft being flown by a video game enthusiast. I know you think you know what you're doing, Denny, but I'm a realist. It doesn't look good," she sighed. "I have got a very bad feeling about this."
"Her instincts are pretty good. Ziggy has you up to a twenty-three percent chance. Forty-two minutes to the airport," explained Al. "Say something to her."
"So you married?" Sam asked.
"Nope. I'm a confirmed workaholic. A small apartment in LA that I share with another working girl and the sky are my two homes. United was giving me a tempting offer overseas based out of Paris. When it comes to my personal life, it's pretty barren. No chance to change it now."
"Cheer up. We'll get through this," said Sam.
"Denny. Only a boy your age could be such an optimist. The truth is even though flying is statistically just about the safest mode of travel, when it does go wrong the results are usually catastrophic. Nothing seems to have gone right on this flight. It's like the Titanic cubed. Malfunctioning equipment. Phantom murderer. I give us one chance in a hundred thousand, my little junior pilot," Nancy said almost sarcastically.
"If you want to be realistic, I have a good authority that it's down to one chance in four," said Sam quoting Ziggy. "I just have to put my faith in a greater power."
"That's just another way of saying, 'God help us!' Denny," responded Nancy.
"Sam, you better get ready for your last correction and then we'll start your descent according to Ziggy," said Al quietly.
"This is it," said Sam quietly to Nancy who strapped herself in and then gripped the armrests tightly. She closed her eyes as her body tensed up.
"Good luck," she said in a bare whisper.
Sam turned off the autopilot for the final time. He griped the wheel as the plane began to respond to every tiny twitch Sam made.
"We're going to turn right to a heading of 266. You did this before. No more than four degrees a minute," said Al looking at his handlink. "You should be able to handle that.
"OK here it goes," said Sam
"Oh God!" mumbled Nancy.
"OK 240. 241. Slower Sam. Watch the artificial horizon,"
"Shall I turn back?" asked Sam.
"No. Stay on the long slow turn. You don't want to complicate the plane's motion. Major Wellington is backing off. Good," said Al sticking his head through the roof. "There's some turbulence ahead, but the airport has ten miles visibility and the seas are calm."
"244. 244.5. 246." said Sam counting. Even with all the hydraulic controls Sam still found the plane fighting him to return to level flight. "257. 257.5. 276."
"Slow down, Sam. Your airspeed is dropping," explained Al. "Damn I wish I was there." All of Al's aerial instincts made him want to leap into Sam, but he was where he had to be, where he was needed and where his job was.
"264.5. 265," reported Sam as he began to level off. "265.5. And 266."
"How am I doing?' asked Sam.
"We're still flying," mumbled Nancy who looked out through the window. She found returning to level flight a bit reassuring.
"Good. You took longer than you should to turn and you'll overshoot our landing zone, but you're not heading for a two hundred foot wide runway. It's still a big ocean out there," said Al calmly.
"Please stop saying that, Al," whispered Sam. He leaned forward, looked through the partial cloud cover and still felt that it was a long way down there.
Nancy had opened her eyes once the plane leveled out and saw that Sam was in full control of the plane. "You seem to take to flying like a duck to water, Denny," she said with only a slight tremor in her voice. "I'd never even had the nerve to try it in level flight. I never had the concentration level. I'm more of the creative type. I'll bet you like science and math in school."
"Bingo!' exclaimed Al. "This woman should have been a psychologist, not a plane conductor."
"That's very perceptive of you," said Sam quietly as the plane fought him for a moment. Sam struggled monetarily and brought artificial horizon back to where it belonged.
Nancy cringed as her body pressed the right hand side of the seat and then returned to an upright position.
"Whew!" sighed Sam as he wiped his brow.
"You're doing fine," Nancy reassured him. "I was up over the Rockies one time back in '98 and I was in an old 737 that almost did a forty-five degree dip when we hit an updraft. Dump everything on top of my service cart and on a very startled female executive type from Kansas City. She got her flight free that day," she said almost smiling.
"Flights can get rough at times," admitted Sam.
Nancy nodded her head. "Yes. Another time we were out over the Pacific and hit this aerial elevator descending over a thousand feet in one quick motion. Dropped like a rock. Over five million miles I've flown. Five million miles, but you still don't get completely used to it. Those last few minutes before we land, I still thank God once the wheels touch down and I feel the thrusters reverse and we're taxiing at sixty miles an hour.
"I feel the same way," admitted Sam. He was not the world's best passenger and was even less sure of himself as a pilot.
"You do?" she asked as her heart jumped slightly and then she dismissed the thought. He was way too young for her, but he acted far beyond his years.
"Never!" disagreed Al. "Every bit of the flight is a thrill. Especially up her in clouds with nothing but you and God as your co-pilot to borrow a phrase. Zipping along at Mach…"
Al stopped when his handlink beeped.
"Oops. Time to start your descent. Ease the wheel forward. Let's go for 2000 feet a minute till you hit 6000 feet," said Al.
"Time to begin our descent," remarked Sam he said looking over the clipboard for effect.
"How do you know that?' asked Nancy who started to sound very impressed.
"Their original flight plan, the instruments and simple geometry. You did say I seemed to know my math," Sam reminded her as he slowly pushed the wheel forward. The plane nose dipped ever so slightly as the true horizon rose to above eye level.
"That's true. All right then, Denny. Let's put this bird down safe and sound. You can do it. I will believe that," she said. "I'll going to believe that. I've got to believe that!"
"Ziggy has you up to thirty-two percent. Not bad for an earthbound guy," said Al. "Continue descent through 34,000."
The TPA aircraft pointed earthward ever so slightly as the partial level clouds at twenty-eight feet came closer. The two in the cockpit said nothing. The plane engines kept their constant whirring noise. Major Wellington followed them closely as another jet joined them on the left-hand side.
"You're getting a full escort in, Sam. As always the FAA is very cautious, but they have closed the airport and cleared out every other plane within fifty miles. The sky is yours except for the Wright Brothers on either side of you. Thirty thousand and descending. Looking good."
The cloud cover slowly moved toward the plane, first slowly and then faster. Sam maintained his descent, as Nancy remained quiet. He only flinched as he entered the clouds cover for about a minute and a half. The bright blue sky disappeared as he was surrounded by a white grey world of fluffy cotton and weird towering pillow like shapes.
Sam still had this unknown feeling nagging at him not knowing whether the clouds were solid or not. It passed as he broke free of the clouds at 23,000 feet. The ocean was spread out below him with a slight haze over it. Sam knew that it was solid, hard and his final destination.
Both of the Navy planes broke through the cloud ceiling with him. The bright blue sky could still be seen through the open spaces in the clouds.
"That was fun!" sighed Nancy. "How much further?"
"22,000 feet and eighty miles, maybe," replied Sam. "Ten minutes!"
"Close enough," replied Al.
Sam felt a shutter in the plane as it pulled to the right. Sam turned to the left.
"Watch it, Sam. Easy does it. Small adjustments!" Al reminded his novice flying buddy.
The jet turned to the left and kept turning. It started to pitch further down. The ocean seemed to fill the window.
"Back Sam. Turn to the right. And give it some thrust! You're loosing airspeed!" said Al as the plane accelerated down.
"20. 19. 18," called out Al as the plane stayed at a 20 degree angle.
Sam fought with the wheel and gave it more thrust. The nose came up faster and the plane leveled out.
Nancy saw both of their escorts pull away and behind their jet. She breathed a bit easier as the horizon was now dead in front of them.
"Not the time to demonstrate your aerobatic skills, Denny," she said not really kidding.
"Sorry. It just got away from me," said Sam.
Al looked over his handlink. "Turbulence. You may hit some more. Now slowly back to the descent. You may overshoot the airport now, but we'll have to stay away from the approach to Pearl. Can't bottle up the fleet!"
"Right," said Sam as he slowly eased the plane down again.
"We'll descend to 4000 and then descend at 500 feet a minute nearly leveling out for the landing or splashdown to be more appropriate. Remember you can't do any major corrections when we're below 4000 feet. No altitude left," explained Al.
Sam nodded his head as they passed through 16,000 feet. The island of Oahu was now passing to their right though the airport was still out of sight. Even at sixteen thousand feet the water and land passed very slowly under them.
A report was sent to Al through his handlink that Al was not going to share with the busy Sam Beckett. As the odds of Sam's success improved the condition of his family in 2009 no longer deteriorated, though it also did not improve. Sammy Jo Fulton, Stephen Beckett and Donna Beckett still sat on the balance between life and death. Their lives were in the hands of Sam who was at the controls of a 757 descending toward the ocean about a mile off the coast of the island of Oahu.
The water was rushing up toward Sam in the cockpit faster than it seemed it should have. The water color got a deeper and deeper blue. No longer part of a flat ocean, Sam was now part of a three dimensional landscape that continually reached up in small wakes of bluish whip cream. Faster and faster the waves passed by, but more importantly they were getting closer and closer.
"A hundred feet, Sam. Nose up!" urged on Admiral Al talking nervously with his hands.
Nancy had almost stopped breathing as she raised her hand to her mouth. "This might be it!" she thought to herself glancing over at the boy behind the wheel.
Sam stared out the window as he barely put forward pressure on the wheel. The horizon notched down as the plane pitched up ever so slightly. The plane was almost touching the water, but where? Sam had no references since his altitude gauge now read zero.
"Flaps down. Speed 100 knots. You'll impact in three, two …" yelled Al as the tail hit the water and bounced up.
The nose dived down into the water as the windows went dark. A cascade of water passed over the windows. Everything loose in the cabin flew at Sam and Susan as the door slammed shut and Nancy screamed.
Sam felt like he hit the console, but it was just the force of his body being retrained by the seatbelt. The plane nosed up as water ran down across the window and the rear of the plane slammed onto the surface of the ocean. Sam saw the sky through the cascade of water and then the nose went under into the waves and then back up several times. Each descent was accompanied by another thrust forward each slightly less than the one before.
Nancy covered her face and was thrown around in the seat like a rag doll. Sam covered his face until the bouncing stopped and the plane stopped its forward motion, but it didn't come to a rest.
Through the cracked windshield Sam found themselves bobbing in the water much lower than expected. Sam barely saw the sky through the waves. Small patches of blue between the dark green ocean waves.
"Good crashing, Sam. Better than Firefly did the time he got his nickname on the Hornet. Sweet Jesus! You OK?" asked a very wet and sweaty Al. "I'll tell you. Even my life already passed in front of me and it was a rerun of "Anchors Aweigh!" Gene Kelly, Frank Sinatra and Katherine Grayson starred."
"Yea," said Sam checking all his bones. He found nothing that was more than muscle ache. "You OK, Ms. Black?"
Performing the same self-check she responded almost giddy. "Alive! I'm alive! That's good enough. No broken bones. I'm alive! God, Denny! You did it!" she exclaimed giving Sam a big wet kiss.
"Thanks!" exclaimed an embarrassed Sam.
She sat back up sheepishly and then another thought occurred to her. "We have to get these passengers off fast before this rotten excuse for a boat sinks!"
"AL?" asked Sam.
"Um, there's a crack in the tail section. Still should stay afloat for at least forty minutes, more or less," he replied looking over his handlink. "You should have time if you keep moving."
"Forty minutes?" asked Sam.
"I hope it's longer that that! We have got 96 people on board here! It took me a long time to move them around," admitted Nancy Black. She quickly unbuckled herself.
Sam followed her into the main cabin as two thumps could be heard directly overhead.
"Oh my God! We're breaking up!" yelled Nancy.
"Not true," replied Al. "Help's on the way!"
"No. Just listen," said Sam standing still as he could in the rolling waves.
More noise could be heard overhead and then out on the wing. Pounding came from the outside. Sam could see a man in a helmet pounding on the window.
"There's our help!" yelled Sam. "I knew they'd be there!"
Nancy and Sam moved the three bodies from the exit row and then Nancy opened up the hatchway. The two men grabbed the escape door and let it fall into the ocean. The cool salty sea breeze hit Sam in the face. Salt air never felt so good.
"Lieutenant Terry Winchell, United States Navy, mam. We have to evaluate these passengers. Pronto!" he exclaimed. "They're all asleep?" he asked very surprised.
"Every last one of them," replied Sam.
"I'm afraid that he is telling the truth, Lieutenant," admitted the flight attendant.
"I see. Flanders. Truman. Get in here. Tell comm center we need more help. Lots of it!" he called out to the other two team members.
"Not to alarm you, but the tail section has a crack in it and we don't have long. Still the damnedest flying I ever saw, mam!" admitted the Lieutenant. "Damnedest flying!"
"It wasn't me. It was Denny here!" exclaimed Nancy proudly patting his shoulder.
"The kid ditched a passenger liner? Man, we could use pilots like you. Ever consider the military?" exclaimed the Lieutenant.
"Let's get these passengers out of here," said Sam as he tried to pick up one of the men they had removed from that row.
The navy guy shook his head. "Negative. The EVAC team will handle it. We're trained for it. Mam, son. Out this way," he said reaching first for Nancy.
Nancy climbed out on the wing as it pitched on the ocean. She hung onto Sam who had followed her.
She leaned over and kissed Sam. "Just want to say, thank you. I owe you my life, Denny."
"Shucks mam. It weren't nothing!" replied Al.
Sam nodded as one of the other rescuers replied, "Mam, put on this harness."
Nancy bit her lip. "The hero first."
Sam gave her a big grin and shook his head. "Go ahead. I'll be right behind her."
Nancy strapped on the harness and was lifted to an awaiting helicopter.
Al didn't bob up and down. Instead his feet kept disappearing in the plane wing. "Good job Sam. I couldn't have done better. Everyone except for Zoë's victims survive. Since both Denny and Nancy were in their respective waiting rooms at the time of the murders, they have nothing to report to the authorities. No conclusion at the coroners' inquest. Just a big mystery. No that we haven't done that before."
Sam was strapped in a harness and was taken up to the waiting helicopter. "Why am I still here?" asked Sam as Al rose beside in midair him.
"Take a look down there!" said Al. "Here comes your family relations."
Two of the Navy guys were carrying out Sammy Jo, then Donna and finally little Steven. Though unconscious they were lifted into a boat now safe and sound.
"See? Everyone is safe. Lothos and Zoë were foiled!" said a triumphant Al.
Sam looked down, "This time. But because of time. They could be back! No matter their final destiny, they could still be back!"
"And we'll be more ready for them." Al looked over his handlink. "Everything's now safe, Sam. You did lose the four crewmembers. Everyone else is still alive and well. The boy Denny has just been admitted to Annapolis getting into Navy aviation. Finest kind! Nancy wrote a best seller about her experience and is now on the college lecture circuit. Jennifer Anniston played her in the TV movie based upon her experience. And most importantly according to our own Doctor Lofton Donna, Sammy Jo and Steven have all made a full recovery. I don't know how you did it, but you know who was on our side," he said pointing upward.
"Always is," agreed Sam as they helped him into the helicopter hatchway.
"And the spirit of Charleston Heston, too. Bye Sam!" waved the project observer as Sam leaped into the vast void of nothingness toward his next adventure somewhere along the infinite corridors of time.