"Who does this Chapel guy think he is?" Gushie demanded.
Ziggy replied, "Congress sent him down. Not surprising, considering what happened."
"Yes, but why do we need a shrink? We already have one one!"
"Don't ask me."
Gushie sighed. Great. Just great. This was the icing on the cake, it really was.
He walked into the Waiting room where this Mark Chapel was sitting with this hands clasped and eyes closed, mediating. Gushie cleared his throat. Chapel's dark brown eyes snapped open, and he smiled. He must have been mid- to late-twenties, but there was a solid gray streak in his hair. Perhaps he didn't respond well to stress.
"Well, do I have clearance now?" he asked pleasantly.
"Yes, you do. Where would you like to start?"
"With the admiral, if you wouldn't mind."
"Of course." Gushie had expected that. Of course this kid was coming down to see Al. That was why everyone was so nervous.
"He's not in any good shape, is he?" Chapel asked.
"And whatever happened to him was strange and unexplainable?"
Chapel sighed. This did not look good, to say the least. He was lucky to have his specialist in the odd and bizarre on speed dial, even here.
The man stood and followed Gushie through the maze. He walked almost listlessly, and he appeared quite a bit out of it.
"Why are you doing this?" Chapel asked unexpectedly. "You're not exactly next in line for his job."
"He's my friend," Gushie replied and left it at that. That was all he needed to say.
They reached the re-purposed electronics closet. The techs had cleaned it out and put in a bed and medical equipment. Admiral Al Calavicci was in the bed hooked up to everything, but he wasn't responding to any stimuli. Chapel stepped forward and looked down into his face then glanced up at the various monitors.
"When did this happen?" Chapel asked.
"About 48 hours ago. Something in the Imaging Chamber exploded."
"I doubt that's related."
"My track record with this sort of thing is very long. It's why I'm here, among other things, and, believe me, what you think is the cause isn't."
Gushie looked at him incredulously.
"Leave me, please," Chapel said. Gushie nodded reluctantly, and the room cleared. Chapel sighed, took a deep breath, and put a hand on the admiral's face. A minute later, he gasped and withdrew it. He hurried out of the room.
"I need to make a call," he explained in a rush to Gushie. Before Gushie could reply, Chapel was gone down the hall. He found a quiet corner and pulled out his small communication device. He connected the Wilson sundial and finely tuned it.
The familiar face came up on the small screen.
"Mark! What's going on?" Artie asked.
"I think I've got a one."
"Yeah. I'm in 1990 with the Quantum Leap project. Send Pete and Myka down to Los Alamos. I'll take care of the rest."
"Alright. They'll be there in a few hours."
"Good. I'll meet them in town. I have a thing or two to take care of first."
He closed the lid and tucked it away before heading back. He headed back into the sick room, and he pulled out an old leather portfolio.
"And how does that make you feel?" he whispered to the coma patient. The leather glowed brightly, and he opened it. Frowning, he closed it again and turned to go.
Gushie had been watching the whole time. "What's that?" he asked.
Chapel looked at him. "You'd never believe me. Now, I have to go into town. I'll be back in a few hours."
"Alright. But I have to ask, is it serious?"
"I don't know yet. I hope not."
Artie walked into the parlor armed with a new assignment. Pete and Myka were waiting with tea and scones.
"Well, what's today's seek-and-find?" Myka asked. She was in a good mood; Pete hadn't gotten on her nerves all day.
"I'm not sure," Artie replied as he sat down and reached for a scone and passed out the files. "Do you remember Mark Chapel?"
"Yeah," Pete replied. "Weirdo shrink who could dig around in more ways than one?"
"Yes. Well, he's in New Mexico in 1990, and he needs some help. He has a ping."
"He's in 1990?" Myka asked. "How did he manage that?"
"With the sundial that Carrie Wilson owned. She was a time travel researcher, and her sundial will let you jump through time. The side effect is it will mess up your internal clock. Your biological rhythms eventually move to the tune the dial sets for it."
"Why does Mark have it?" Pete asked.
"Because it happened to him. Nasty accident. Now, you'll be leaving for Los Alamos ASAP."
"Los Alamos? Cool!" Pete declared as he took the plane ticket. Myka rolled her eyes.
"Anything else we need to know?"
"He's with the Quantum Leap project, but he'll have to fill you in."
Pete and Myka stood to go. They had a long flight ahead of them.