by Lee Kirkland

     Leaps were always disorienting and this one was no
exception.  With the usual lack of warning, Sam Beckett found
himself hurled into a new body, a new place and a new time.  The
body he suddenly occupied was pacing slowly through what
appeared, at first glance, to be some sort of mine shaft, dimly
lit by an unseen source.  Sam put out a hand, supporting himself
against the rough rock wall as he looked around.  He turned to
examine the wall itself and stopped, staring transfixed at the
hand braced there.
     It was not a human hand.  It had four fingers and an
opposable thumb, but there its humanity ended.  It was large,
strong-looking, and the back of it was covered with long, dense
reddish fur.  Sam turned the hand over,  curling the fingers to
examine the tips more closely.  What passed for  fingernails
weren't really nails at all... they resembled nothing so much as
     Gingerly Sam touched the point of the forefinger against the
pad of the thumb and learned the claws were as sharp as they
looked.  He lifted the other hand slowly to join the first,
turning them back and forth in awe and amazement.
     A faint clinking sound from a side passage just ahead drew
his attention.  Sam waited warily as a bobbing, wavering beam of
light appeared and grew stronger.  Finally, the source of the
noise and light, a rather curiously dressed young man, rounded
the corner.
     As the young man approached, Sam assessed his strange outfit
 bewilderment.  It seemed to consist of layer upon layer of worn,
threadbare sweaters topped by an unevenly fringed leather tunic. 
Tied to the fringe and hanging from his belt was an incongruous
assortment of tools; pliers, wrenches, wire cutters,
screwdrivers, a geologist's hammer, a short-handled folding spade
and a large coil of insulated wiring swung and tapped together at
every step.  Balanced across one shoulder were several long
lengths of white PVC pipe.  PVC joints and metal brackets
protruded from every pocket and he carried a twelve-volt dry cell
battery in one hand.
     The oddest thing was what the young man wore on his head and
Sam stared in fascination.  It appeared to be a welder's cap with
common flashlights fastened to leather earflaps on either side. 
The lights bounced haphazardly and the entire effect was
     Trying not to laugh, Sam set his jaw and clenched his teeth,
receiving a shock.  Forgetting the strange young man, his tongue
probed swiftly, discovering, to his astonishment, that all four
canine teeth were elongated and sharp.  He had fangs!
     He had no time to ponder this, however, as the young man
greeted him cheerfully, a smile lighting his guileless blue
eyes."Vincent!  Mouse was looking for you!  Mary sent you tea! 
In your chamber!"
     None of it made sense.  "Mouse?" Sam managed, a little
surprised to find that this strange mouth with its animal-like
teeth and thick upper lip could speak.
     "No time!" the young man exclaimed.  "Jamie's waiting!" 
With that cryptic goodbye, he scurried around another corner and
was gone.
     Sam stared after him, his bewilderment growing by the
second.  Well, at least I know my name, he thought.  I'm Vincent. 
But who am I... what am I?  Again he stared at the unusual hands. 
And where am I?  Totally disoriented, he looked up and down the
narrow, rock-walled passage.  'I don't think I'm in Kansas
     Looking down again, he found that his style of dress was no
less odd than that of the young man's... layers of sweaters
covered with a padded gray vest that laced up the front.  His
corduroy trousers seemed fairly normal, but some sort of padded
knee guards were tied over them with elaborately knotted lacing. 
Knee-high boots were made of stout, worn leather.  A heavy black
cloak hung from his shoulders, swaying slightly with his every
     Footsteps sounded behind him and he whirled.  A young girl,
perhaps eleven or twelve years old, was coming down the passage. 
Her quick, light step slowed when she spied him and he wondered
what she saw, wondered if he frightened her.
     She continued toward him, her expressive brown eyes filled
with sad
 concern.  "You didn't find her yet, did you, Vincent?" She
seemed not to
 expect an answer as she stopped in front of him.  With a
curiously adult
 gesture, one meant to comfort, she reached out to take one of
his large,
 furry hands between her own small smooth ones.  "I know you'll
find her,
 Vincent, I just know it!"
     Find who? Sam wondered wildly.
     "She's been gone for so long!" the girl went on.  "I really
miss her."
     "So do I," he murmured.  It seemed a safe answer, and Sam
found himself fascinated with the quality of the voice emanating
from his throat.  It was deep, husky and gentle and he wanted to
hear it again.
     "Are you all right, Vincent?" the girl asked anxiously. 
"Are you getting sick again?"  She looked worried, even a little
     "I'm just tired," he said quickly, and realized it was so. 
Whatever this body's owner... Vincent... had been doing recently,
it was something which exacted a physical toll and Sam could feel
fatigue in every muscle.  "Could you help me to my chamber?" he
asked, remembering the tea waiting there and knowing he needed a
     The girl seemed pleased to be asked, putting a supporting
arm around his waist.  She's not afraid, he thought as he let her
lead him.  Whatever I am, I'm intelligent.  I speak.  I'm
peaceful.  Whatever I am.
     The girl took him through curving rock tunnels, making
several turns in the process and soon Sam was completely lost. 
Where am I? he wondered yet again.  This place was totally alien
to anything he'd ever seen, ever heard of, ever read about.
     The girl stopped and Sam looked around, amazed again.  They
were standing in a medium-sized room which had been carved out of
solid rock.  A splendid stained-glass window in gold and blue
dominated one wall and the furnishings had a slightly medieval
     "Will you be all right now?" the girl asked anxiously. 
"Should I get
     Who, thought Sam plaintively, is Father?  "No," he said
aloud, noting again the rough, soothing voice.  "I'm okay. 
Thanks," he added, and the child gave him a quizzical look as she
went on her way.
     A delicate china teapot steamed faintly on the heavy round
table in the center of the room and Sam went to it.  He poured
himself a cup of the
fragrant liquid, spilling some because the hands fascinated him
so much
that he forgot to watch what he was doing.
     Cup in hand, he began a tentative exploration of the
chamber.  As he lifted the cup for a thoughtful sip, he found
drinking unexpectedly difficult.  Setting the cup on a shelf, he
used his fingers to gingerly investigate his mouth.  As with the
earlier exploration with his tongue, his fingers found a thick,
stiff, almost immobile upper lip.  The center of it was deeply
cleft, the split going all the way to the base of the nose.
     Sam wondered why, in this day and age, the rift hadn't been
repaired by plastic surgery.  You idiot, he reminded himself. 
You don't know what day and age it is.  For all you know...
     He sighed and looked around the cluttered shelves and
cabinets for
something to use as a mirror, but found nothing.  All the while,
one hand
was touching, probing his face gently.  He found the nose to be
broad and
flat with virtually no bridge.  Short, soft hair grew along it. 
cheekbones were high and prominent with deepset eyes beneath a
prominent brow.  Ears, forehead, chin and neck all felt normal,
although it felt as if he could use a shave.  Coarse, tangled
reddish blond hair fell over his shoulders and once more Sam
wished for a mirror.
     Wandering the room again, he began touching items as he
tried to get a feel for their owner.  A polished geode, an ornate
pewter figurine, a
leatherbound book of poetry all attracted his attention.  In the
corner, a
small jukebox sat on a shelf. 
     A handsomely bound book on an antique writing table drew him
and he opened the cover.  Inside, in a strong, feminine hand, was
the inscription, 'With love, all things are possible.'  It was
signed, 'Forever, Catherine.'
     "'With love, all things are possible,'" he said aloud. 
"'All things are
     He turned a few pages and was surprised to learn that this
was a journal.  Before he snapped the cover shut, one line caught
his eye.  '...she is lost to me.  I fear...'  Suddenly, he felt
like an intruder.
     "'With love, all things are possible,'" he said again, and
this time there was an answer.
     "Take it from me, Sam, love's not all it's cracked up to be. 
     Sam couldn't remember ever seeing Al look so surprised. 
Al's eyes were wide as he looked Sam up and down, circling him
slowly.  "Wow!  This is incredible!  This is great!"  The hand
holding the ever-present cigar waved ecstatically.  "This is
terrific!  Sam, you ought to see yourself!"
"Well, I can't," he snapped, and found that the voice wasn't
conducive to
snapping.  "There aren't any mirrors."
     Al had stopped staring at Sam and was now walking around the
eclectically decorated chamber, making more excited comments and
gestures.  "This is great!  Who would have guessed this was
     "Al.  Al.  Al!"  Sam's voice grew progressively louder until
he finally
 succeeded in capturing Al's elusive attention.  "Where am I?"
     "You're..." Al looked down, consulting his hand-held
computer.  "...about a half-mile below Central Park."
     "Central Park?  You mean New York?  Manhattan?"
     "Yeah.  This is great, Sam!"
     "What year is it, Al?"
     Al consulted the computer again.  "1989."  He went on with
scarcely a breath.  "This is incredible!"
     "Will you stop with the 'greats' and 'incredibles?'" Sam
demanded.  "What am I doing here?"
     Al gave the computer a cursory glance.  "Don't know."
     "What do you mean, you don't know?"  He didn't notice the
man who limped into the room with the aid of a cane.
     "Vincent?" Who are you talking to?"
     Sam spun to face the man.  He wore more of the strange
clothing that was beginning to seem normal and his lined face
wore a worried frown. 
"Samantha said you didn't seem well.  Is it... your illness
     "I don't think so," Sam ventured cautiously, wondering what
this illness was and why it worried everyone so much.  "I'm just
     The man's mouth tightened.  "I'm not surprised.  You've
never allowed
 yourself the time to recover... every waking moment is spent
     "You're looking for someone, Sam!"  Al said in delight. 
"Now we're getting somewhere!  Find out who it is!"
     "For Catherine," Sam said slowly, remembering the journal
     "I know how difficult this is for you, Vincent, but it's
been six months. Perhaps there is a reason why you have not found
her, why your connection with her is still lost."
     "Six months!  Persistent fellow, isn't he?" Al commented. 
     "I can't stop looking," Sam said, hoping it was the right
     It must have been, because the man sighed.  "I know.  But
you must try to rest, Vincent.  If your illness should return,
Catherine is not here to
bring you back to us.  I don't think you would have survived last
without her."
     "A woman, Sam!  You're looking for a woman!  Wonder if she's
like you?"
     Sam had been wondering the same thing.  Was it possible that
a group of creatures like... whatever he was... lived in tunnels
below New York City?  It seemed incredible, and yet...  He
glanced down at his hands again.
     The man seemed to find nothing unusual in his bewildered
silence, coming closer to take his arm in a warm, fatherly grip. 
"Your love for Catherine and hers for you is a precious thing,
Vincent.  Rare and wonderful.  I suppose you are right not to
give up hope."  He turned away, as if imparting bad news.  "One
of our helpers sent down word that the D.A.'s office is ending
their investigation into her disappearance.  She's one of their
own... perhaps they know more than we do."
     At a loss for a response, Sam simply stared.  His lack of
reaction seemed to trouble the old man, who approached him again,
taking him into a sudden embrace.  "When you were a boy it seemed
so simple to help you solve your problems and calm your fears.  I
wish I could ease your pain now."  He sighed regretfully.  "Rest
now, my son."
     "I will... Father."  The man accepted the name and Sam
heaved a mental sigh.  Upon his arrival in a new body, one of the
hardest things was to identify people he was supposed to know.
     Al was still talking in the background.  "I'll bet that's
what you're supposed to do, Sam.  You're supposed to find this
     After the man called Father left the chamber, Sam turned to
Al with a sigh.  "If I'm going to find her, I'd better know more
about her.  What does Ziggy say?"
     Al punched a few buttons and waited.  "Not much.  There's no
record of this place.  No record of any Vincent who looks like
you do."  He looked up.  "Ziggy needs somebody's last name, date
of birth, something."
     "The journal," Sam mumbled to himself.
     Al brightened.  "A journal!  Yeah, good idea!  Well, what
are you waiting for?" he demanded when Sam hesitated.  "You're
not getting principled on me, are you?  We've had this discussion
     "I know."  Sam sighed and reached for the book, his fingers
caressing the finely embossed leather.  He read the inscription
on the flyleaf again.  'With love, all things are possible.'  "I
think we're looking for an ordinary woman, Al," he commented.  "I
mean, I don't think she's like him."  He looked down at his hands
yet again.  "What I'm trying to say is, if she loves Vincent, she
can't be ordinary...
     "Didn't Father say something about the D.A.'s office?"
     "Yeah," agreed Al.  "Something about one of their own..."
     "That's a starting place.  See what you can find out about
someone named Catherine who worked for the D.A. and disappeared
six months ago.  I'll see what I can learn from this," Sam said,
and began to turn the pages.
     After reading all of the current journal, Sam found he was
completely captivated by this Vincent whose body he inhabited. 
He marvelled over the depth and perception of the thoughts
contained within its pages.  The journal focused on Vincent's
search for his beloved Catherine, who had mysteriously
disappeared six months before.  He had found her once, only to
lose her again as her captors made a narrow escape.  Heartache
and longing fairly shimmered on each page.
     Sam found other journals, neatly shelved in chronological
order.  His hand touched some of the early ones.  He wanted to
explore more of Vincent, learn more about him, what he thought,
how he felt.  But while Sam could justify looking through recent
journals for information about Catherine, snooping through
Vincent's boyhood was another matter.  Regretfully, he left the
early journals shelved, pulling down the next newest journal and
opening it.
     While this book was of lesser quality and had no loving
inscription to grace the flyleaf, the feelings and thoughts
inside were no less powerful and incisive.  Sam pored over it,
reading of many things... the death of Catherine's father and her
ensuing grief; a painful, telling reunion with someone named
Lisa; an anniversary celebration which culminated in Catherine's
near death; her reinvolvement with someone called Elliot;
Vincent's agony and self-reproach during a crisis with someone
called Paracelsus, a crisis which apparently prompted the illness
which had Father and Samantha so worried. 
     Vincent's handwriting during this period grew less and less
legible, but his struggle against what he called 'the darkness'
came through clearly.  A final page was covered with a large,
untidy scrawl and Sam could decipher only an occasional word.  A
blank page was followed by more pages, once again covered with
Vincent's neat hand.  In these pages he spoke of being in a dark
place, and of Catherine coming to bring him back.  He mentioned
memory loss, and the loss of something he called a bond.  'I can
no longer feel her in my heart,' he'd written sadly.  'Something
troubles her, for I can see it in her face.  Why won't she tell
     Sam was impressed and intrigued by everything he read.  As
he closed the journal quietly, he wished he had leaped into some
other body so he could sit down and talk to Vincent, get to know
him.  On the other hand, he mused, if I weren't Vincent, I
wouldn't have been able to read the journals.
     His eyes were tired and he thoughtlessly rubbed at them,
almost instantly jerking his hand away with an exclamation of
pain.  A more cautious finger touched to his eyelid came away
spotted with blood and he regarded the claws on the offending
hand with rueful humor.  "These things are dangerous," he
     At least his blood is red.  The random thought was
immediately replaced by a more impatient one.  What color did you
expect?  Green, like Mr. Spock?
     "I'm getting punchy," he said aloud.  Putting the journal
aside, he removed his boots and stretched his rather large frame
out on the bed.  The mattress and pillows were firm but not
uncomfortable and as Sam pulled a blanket over himself, he
realized how weary he was.  Soon he was asleep.
     When he woke, he had the usual moment of uncertainty before
he remembered where he was.  He lifted one hand to confirm the
memory before rolling out of bed.
     After sleeping in his clothes, he felt rumpled and grubby. 
A hot shower would feel great... Or maybe just a bath, he mused,
looking at his surroundings.  Logic dictated that there must be
somewhere to bathe, but he had no idea where to start looking. 
Ah, the hell with it.  A change of clothes will have to do.
     He found clean clothes folded neatly in a cabinet and
removed what he needed.  He disrobed slowly, hesitating when he
reached the last layer, wondering what he would find underneath. 
He was relieved to learn that Vincent's body was that of a man...
normal in all respects except for the fine, downy fur which
covered it.  The fur was thicker in the places where most men had
body hair and Sam found that oddly reassuring.  Not too unhuman,
he thought.  A china pitcher and basin caught his eye and he
managed a cursory wash, dressing quickly afterward because the
room's opening had no door, leaving him with no sense of privacy.
     Some of the garments in the cabinet defied his imagination,
but he found a pair of dark blue wool trousers and pulled them
on.  A long-sleeved t-shirt thin and soft with wear went on next,
followed by two much-mended sweaters and a fringed suede vest. 
Clean socks covered Vincent's rather furry feet and Sam stamped
them firmly into yesterday's... (yesterday?  He had no time sense
away from the rhythms of sun and stars... no idea if it were day
or night...) boots and stood up.  Rolling the soiled clothing
into a compact bundle, he placed it on a chair near the door and
addressed another need. 
     He was hungry.  He wasn't sure when Vincent had last eaten,
but he had a feeling Vincent's meals had not been exactly regular
     His short trip through the tunnels with Samantha had taught
him how easy it would be to get lost down here, but he'd have to
chance it.  Starting out the door, he stopped and turned back for
the long black cloak.  It seemed a necessary part of Vincent's
dress, so he swung its weight over his shoulders and ventured
into the unknown.
     Direction didn't matter, since he didn't know where he was
going anyway.  Choosing the left-hand passage leading away from
Vincent's chamber, he began walking.  He tried to memorize the
landmarks... openings into other chambers and side passages...
but these were many and soon he had lost track of the turns he
had made.  Great, he thought in exasperation.  Now you're lost. 
And you still haven't found where they keep the food.Three
children turned a corner and came down the tunnel toward him.  He
recognized Samantha, the girl from yesterday.  She was
accompanied by two boys about the same age and they hailed him
cheerfully.  "Hi, Vincent!"
     He acknowledged their greeting, wishing there was a way to
ask them the location of the kitchen without arousing suspicion,
but they seemed to be in a hurry and passed him without stopping. 
With a mental sigh, he moved on. 
     As he approached the type of narrow opening that heralded a
living chamber, a tiny, frail-looking elderly woman peered out. 
"Vincent!" she cried in delight.  "I was just going to send
someone for you!  I need your help!"
     "Of course," Sam agreed at once, wondering what sort of
assistance he would be expected to render, and if he would be
able to deliver. 
     "Come in, come in," the woman urged him, leading him into a
quaintly decorated chamber.  It reminded Sam of his grandmother's
house, with every conceivable surface covered with hand-crocheted
doilies, needlepoint pillows and painstakingly hand-stitched
     "What do you need?" he inquired.  The woman indicated an
immense, intricately carved oak armoire which stood against one
rough rock wall. 
     "I dropped an entire box of hairpins, Vincent," she
explained.  "The box fell behind the armoire and I can't reach it
to get it out.  Would you move it for me, please?"
     Sam stared at the massive piece of furniture in dismay.  The
thing had to weigh four or five hundred pounds.  He stole a look
at the woman who was looking at him expectantly.  Well, there was
no help for it... he'd have to attempt it.
     Moving to one side of the armoire, he found a solid grip,
braced himself, and shoved, exerting all his strength.  To his
amazement, it slid away from him with ridiculous ease and he
almost stumbled as its support moved away from him. 
     "There was no need to move it so far, Vincent," the woman
scolded him gently, stooping to retrieve a small carved wooden
box.  "Oh, good, it's not damaged," she said, placing the box on
an antique dresser.  "You can put the armoire back now,
Vincent."Her reminder was gentle. 
     Sam was more cautious this time, using less strength and
moving the armoire back into place more slowly.  He flexed the
muscles in his arms and shoulders in awe.  Vincent's body was
enormously powerful and Sam's respect went up another notch.
     The woman was twisting her long gray hair into a compact
knot at the back of her neck and securing it with a few hairpins
from the wooden box.  "There," she said in satisfaction.  "I
can't thank you enough for helping me, Vincent.  I couldn't very
well go to dinner with my hair down my back, now could I?"
     Sam's ears perked up at mention of the word dinner.  "No, I
suppose not," he said.  I'll follow her, he planned. 
     "Do you suppose, Vincent, that I could trouble you for one
more favor?"
     "Of course," Sam agreed instantly. 
     She came closer and placed a thin, frail hand on his arm. 
"My old feet aren't as steady as they once were," she confided. 
"Would you be kind enough to escort me to the dining chamber?"
     Things couldn't have worked out better if Sam had planned
them.  Adjusting his long stride to the woman's slower one, he
allowed her to guide him as he steadied her.  At last they
reached a large chamber furnished with long tables flanked by
wooden benches and hand-crafted chairs.  Against one wall, a
large, gruff-looking bearded man was ladling something from an
enormous cast iron pot suspended over a small bed of coals. 
Several loaves of fresh bread were stacked on a nearby table and
a sharp-looking bread knife lay across a crumb-strewn cutting
     "Vincent and Martha!"  The big man smiled, greeting them
both heartily as he reached behind him for more bowls.  He ladled
a savory smelling soup, thick with vegetables and meat, into one
of the bowls and handed it to Martha.  "Bread on the table," he
invited.  "Help yourself."  Not waiting for a reply, he turned to
     "Haven't seen much of you, Vincent," he said, filling
another, larger bowl.  "Father worries you aren't eating right."
     Sam made a non-committal reply, accepting the bowl with
thanks.  He helped himself to some of the bread, found a place at
the end of one of the long tables, and began to eat.
     The soup was delicious, hot and filling, and Sam was so busy
appeasing this body's ravenous appetite and dealing with the
physical difficulty of eating that he barely noticed when the man
called Father sat down opposite him.
     "I'm surprised to see you here," Father said, probing. 
     "I guess I was more tired than I thought.  I slept longer
than I meant to," he explained.
     Father leaned back in a deceptively relaxed manner.  "You
know, Vincent, I can't remember the last time you actually sat
down to a meal like this."
     Sam groped for a reasonable answer.  "I realized you were
right.  If I'm going to find Catherine, I have to be strong.  I
need to rest and eat."
     It was apparently the wrong thing to say, because Father sat
up straight and stared at him.
     Sam pushed his empty bowl away uneasily.  "Don't worry.  I'm
fine.  Really I am," he said, trying to reassure. 
     The apprehension on Father's face said he hadn't been
successful.  Not knowing what else to do, Sam terminated the
conversation by the simple expedient of getting up and walking
     In the corridor outside the dining chamber he sagged against
the wall.  It had been a long time since he'd handled a
conversation as badly as he'd handled that one.  Father was
becoming suspicious and Sam needed to be more convincing.
     Starting down the passage, he hoped to meet someone who
could be persuaded to lead him back to Vincent's chamber, or,
better yet, lead him to the surface.  His wish was granted almost
at once as the curious young man he'd met yesterday (this
morning?) barreled around a corner and almost ran him down.
     The young man seized Sam's arm enthusiastically.  "Wait,
Vincent!  Got news!"
     "News?" Sam asked cautiously.
     "Told Jamie Mouse could find you!" the young man went on,
following his own peculiar stream of logic.
     "News," Sam repeated, clinging to the one word he clearly
     "Found her maybe!  Helper heard men talking... strange
men... move Chandler today.  Building on 53rd."
     Chandler, Sam thought.  Catherine Chandler.
     Head down, the curious young man was rummaging through his
many pockets.  "Paper somewhere," he muttered.  "Here!"
     Successful at last, he thrust a grimy scrap of folded paper
into Sam's hands.  Unfolding it, Sam tried to decipher the
     "Ready to go?  Mouse go too!" the young man volunteered with
bright-eyed eagerness.
     Mouse.  He said that yesterday, and Vincent wrote of someone
called Mouse.  Sam decided to risk the name.  "Mouse, yeah.  Come
on, walk with me back to my chamber.  I need to get something
     "Okay, good!  Okay, fine!"  Mouse turned to accompany him
willingly enough.The journey to Vincent's chamber was shorter
than Sam expected.  "Wait a second, Mouse," he said when they
reached it.  Inside, he picked up a smooth lump of soft limestone
he'd noticed earlier.  Vincent evidently used it as a
paperweight, but Sam was going to put it to another use.  Sorry,
buddy, he apologized silently, and returned to Mouse. 
     We're off to see the wizard, he thought bemusedly as they
started off.  Lagging half a step behind, he allowed Mouse to
show the way. 
     At every turn and fork, he used the limestone to make a
surreptitious mark on the wall.  Should he and Mouse become
separated, he could use the marks to find his way back.Mouse led
him through what seemed like miles of rock tunnels, brick
passageways and concrete steam tunnels, but at last they came to
a dead end.  Mouse pointed to a vertical ladder made of iron
staples set into the concrete wall."New entrance," he announced
proudly.  "Just changed the walls yesterday.  Couldn't use it
     Sam found that remark to be cryptically Mouse-like and
incomprehensible.  He decided to ignore it. 
     Mounting the first rung, he wondered if he should have let
Mouse go first.  What if I come up in the middle of Fifth Avenue? 
Well, it's too late now! 
     The ladder led to a manhole cover and Sam was glad to have
Vincent's strength as he shouldered it aside.  He climbed out
cautiously, finding himself in a dim, narrow alley.  Mouse
followed quickly and Sam replaced the heavy iron disk
carefully.Keeping to the shadows, Sam let Mouse lead him down the
alley, around a corner and up another, narrower alley.  Mouse
stopped beside an older, well-maintained building and pointed up. 
"Here it is," he announced with satisfaction.
     Sam looked up dubiously.  A fire escape led up the
building's side and the bottom rung of its spring-loaded ladder
was a good six feet over his head.
     "Jump, Vincent," Mouse suggested impatiently.
     It's too high, thought Sam, then remembered the ease with
which he'd moved Martha's armoire.  Well, maybe not.  Gathering
himself, he sprang.  His first leap, made tentatively, fell short
but on his second, he succeeded in catching hold of the ladder
and it dropped under his weight, carrying him none too gently to
the ground.  He held it down while Mouse ascended and followed. 
     The apartment number on the scrap of paper Mouse had given
him was 9B, so they climbed silently to the ninth floor.  The
fire escape access door was handleless, meant only to be opened
from the inside.  Sam wedged claws under the door's rim and
tugged but, as expected, the door was latched firmly and the
release lever could only be reached from inside.  There was a
small window beside the door and Sam peered in cautiously.  By
craning his neck, he could just make out the numbers on the two
doors nearest.  The apartment they sought was immediately to
their right and Sam pointed out the appropriate windows to Mouse.
     "No problem!  Easy," Mouse said with confidence, climbing
over the fire escape's protective railing.  Sam watched,
horrified, as Mouse stepped out onto a narrow ledge which ran the
length of the building, edging along surefootedly.  He looked
back expectantly.  "Coming?" he demanded.
     "Uh, sure," Sam mumbled.  He cast one wary look down before
averting his eyes.  Heights were not his favorite thing.  Heart
pounding, he followed Mouse out onto the ledge.  It felt smaller
under his feet than it had looked and Sam pressed back against
the rough stone behind him as he sidled along.  He dared not look
down again, concentrating instead on moving along the ledge one
careful inch at a time. 
     "Hurry up!" Mouse urged impatiently.
     Turning his head cautiously, Sam saw Mouse had already
managed to open one window and, as Sam watched, Mouse disappeared
through the opening.  He tried to sidle along a little faster and
was finally able to hook one hand inside the window frame.  His
secure grip gave him confidence and a moment later he, too, was
inside the dark apartment. 
     The apartment was deserted.  A broken-down chair stood
against one wall and a plethora of abandoned miscellania littered
the room.  Mouse was scavenging eagerly through a haphazard pile
of discarded items in a corner of the room, all thoughts of their
search for Catherine Chandler forgotten.  Sam left him happily
pocketing useless items and began a methodical search through the
trash which had been left behind, looking for something,
anything, that would link this place with Catherine. 
     "Mouse," he said a moment later.  "Tell me again what was
said about Catherine..."
     Mouse turned reluctantly away from his newly discovered
treasure trove.  "Didn't say Catherine," he reminded.  "Said
Chandler.  Move Chandler today."
     "Yeah."  In his hands, Sam held a torn envelope.  The
typewritten address was still intact and he read it sullenly.  It
was addressed to this building, apartment 9B.  The addressee's
name was Tamara Chandler.  "Damn!" he whispered.  "Not here!"
     "What?"  Mouse was only half listening as he sifted through
his pile of treasure. 
     "I said she's not here, Mouse," Sam repeated more loudly. 
"She never was here.  This Chandler is somebody else."
     "Too bad."  Mouse looked truly disappointed, his attention,
at least for the moment, focused fully on Sam.  
      "Yeah," Sam agreed.  "Too bad."  Too bad in more ways than
one, he thought.  If it had been the right Chandler, maybe I
could have found something to point me in the right direction. 
Now I'm back to square one...  I can't even go back down, he
realized a moment later.  Vincent wouldn't.  Vincent would search
until dawn.
     "Vincent keep looking," Mouse urged.  "Mouse stay here." 
With that pronouncement, he turned back to sorting junk and Sam
stared, envying his single-mindedness.  Since Mouse clearly
expected him to leave, he couldn't stay. 
     Going back to the open window, he peered out.  I'm not
getting back on that ledge, he decided suddenly.  It can't be
more than six steps from the front door to the fire escape.  How
much risk can there be?  He knew it didn't really matter how much
risk there was... nothing was getting him back on that ledge. 
     Crossing to the front door, he used the fisheye peephole to
scan the hallway.  It appeared deserted, but it was also well
lit.  Pulling his cloak's hood over his head, Sam took a deep
breath and opened the door.  Five of Vincent's long strides took
him to the fire escape and within seconds he was safely outside,
leaning back against the firmly closed door in relief.  Mouse
hadn't even seen him go. 
     Sam stood on the metal landing a few more moments, catching
his breath and getting his bearings.  His options were limited. 
He couldn't go back into the tunnels yet, but he didn't want to
chance losing track of the only tunnel entrance he knew, either. 
His only choice was to remain close to this building.  But he
couldn't very well stay on the fire escape all night... it was
too exposed and someone might see him. 
     With a sigh, he yielded to the inevitable and started to
climb.  The building wasn't tall by New York standards and a few
minutes later he reached the roof.  It wouldn't exactly be a
comfortable place to spend the rest of the night, but it would be
safe.  Besides, Al should be showing up any time with information
about Catherine and here, no one would be wondering who Sam was
talking to.
     Making himself as comfortable as he could, Sam let his eyes
and mind wander.  A high-rise tower of steel and smoked glass a
block or two away kept drawing his attention and it took him a
few minutes to figure out why.  All the other skyscrapers he
could see were brightly lit even at this time of night.  This
building alone was darkened.  It seemed almost eerie and its
strangeness was compounded by the single light which shone from a
solitary window high above the street.
     What kind of building has as many rooms as that one must
have, he wondered, and only one light is on?  Weird!
     Several hours later, he descended the fire escape by the
pale glow of dawn.  Al had never showed and coming daylight made
it reasonable for Sam to return to the tunnels.
     He found the manhole cover and levered it up, dropping
through the hole and pulling the cover back into place.  He was
impressed by the easy economy of Vincent's movements even under
the somewhat uncertain commands his mind was giving it. 
     Vincent's extraordinary eyesight was a blessing too, as Sam
was able to pick out the limestone marks he'd left on the tunnel
walls without benefit of light.  He was almost to Vincent's
chamber, in fact, before he missed a mark and lost his way. 
Well, he thought philosophically, at least I'm not in one of
those remote tunnels Mouse took me through.  If I wander around
long enough down here, I'm sure to find someone who can show me
the way home.
     It was still very early, even for tunnel folk, however, and
Sam met no one on his explorations.  Wrong turn followed wrong
turn and soon he had left the residential area of tunnels behind. 
He had resumed making marks on the walls with his chunk of
limestone so he was fairly certain of being able to find his way
back.  Unexplored territory beckoned and for a moment he was ten
years old again, about to crawl into the narrow opening he'd
found in the hillside near his grandparents' house. 
     Drawn by the faint sound of water, he went down a side
passage that opened into a large chamber lit with what appeared
to be diffused sunlight.  Sam was looking up, trying to find the
source of the light, and almost walked off the edge of the wide
stone ledge.  He looked down just in time to see the still,
glassy pool which lay before him.  He jerked himself back,
catching a fleeting glimpse of his reflection in the water as he
did so.  Kneeling by the side of the pool, he leaned over,
eagerly studying the image in the water for a long time. 
     The features were much as he had imagined them.  What
surprised him was that the overall effect was much different than
he had expected.  Somehow, taking into account the hands with
their fur and claws, the sharp teeth, and Al's astonishment, he
had expected something more savage.  The intensely blue eyes
looking back at him were filled with sorrow and compassion; for
all who looked for it, Vincent's humanity was plainly there to
     "Pretty neat, huh, Sam?"
     Al's voice in his ear made Sam jump and he turned to find
him looking over his shoulder.  "You scared me," he said.  "You
have no reflection."
     "That's because I'm not really here," Al reminded him. 
"Never mind that.  I found out who she is!"
     Sam was on his feet in one smooth move, the fascinating
reflection in the pool forgotten.
     "Her name's Catherine Chandler," Al explained rapidly,
waving his cigar with enthusiasm.  "She was an attorney working
for the D.A.'s office.  The case she was investigating seemed to
have mob ties and one day she just disappeared.  They found her
car wrecked in a parking garage."
     "Do you know where she is?"
     "Yeah.  Took me a while to get hold of the file, but I found
it.  And you don't have much time, Sam.  Day after tomorrow, she
turns up dead in her apartment." 
     "I'm not here to find her... I'm here to save her life!"
     "Looks that way," Al agreed.  "And it gets better."
     "She's pregnant, Sam.  She has the baby just before she
     "What?"  Sam was shocked, his mind racing.  Vincent's
journals made no mention of a pregnancy.  Indeed, the slant of
them had led him to believe that, even though Vincent had, in
some ways, wanted a physical relationship with Catherine, he had
also feared what might happen.
     "It's still a mystery, Sam.  No one ever figured out how her
body got to her apartment or what happened to the baby." 
     "They never found the baby?"
     "Better sit down, Sam.  This is gonna take a while."
     Reluctantly, Sam made himself comfortable and Al began. 
"The police investigated and so did the D.A.'s office.  The D.A.,
some guy named Moreno, turned out to be crooked.  He was murdered
in the carousel in the park.  Slashed to pieces.  They arrested a
guy named Elliot Burch, who used to be Chandler's boyfriend, but
he disappeared while out on bail.  They finally got onto this guy
named..." Al paused and consulted his computer.  "...well,
actually he had a couple dozen names.  Nobody ever figured out
which was the real one, so, for simplicity's sake, I'll call him
Gabriel.  Anyway, they tracked him down and raided his house. 
They found him dead in a room with a crib, but no baby.  He'd
been shot.  Eventually they were able to link Gabriel with the
building where Catherine Chandler died.  There was a room with a
bed and a table, nothing else, covered with her fingerprints. 
Another room was a fully equipped delivery room, complete with
birthing chair.  More fingerprints were found there, evidence
that Chandler probably had her baby there.  Best guess is that
Gabriel kept her captive until the baby was born and killed her. 
Nobody knows why."
     "Whose baby was it?" Sam asked.
     "Nobody knows that, either.  She wasn't seeing anybody..."
     "Except Vincent..." Sam whispered.
     "Who?  You?  You gotta be kidding..."
     "I've been reading his journals, Al.  He loves her.  I don't
know when it happened, but this is Vincent's baby."  Sam got to
his feet.  "A phone call to the police ought to take care of it."
     "Don't be crazy, Sam.  You can't make a phone call looking
like that.  Besides, the security on this place is fantastic and
there's a helipad on the roof.  They'd kill her or have her out
of there before the police ever got close to her.  Anyway, some
of the police are probably in on this."
     Sam looked at Al in frustration.  "How do we get to her,
     Al looked inordinately pleased with himself.  "I have a
blueprint of the building and details on the security," he said. 
"One man, especially one who looks like you, might be able to get
past their defenses."
     Sam considered that for a moment before nodding his
unwilling agreement.  "If she dies tomorrow, we'll have to get
her out tonight," he said with determination.  "Where is she
being held?"
     Al whacked the side of his computer impatiently.  "1900
Sixth Avenue," he said.  "On the sixty-fourth floor." 
     "Where's that?"
     "Near 53rd," Al answered.  "I don't know how you're going to
get there, though.  You can't very well walk down Sixth Avenue."
     "No, I guess not," Sam agreed reluctantly.  "I'll have to
reach it from underneath.  And," he added more hopefully, "I know
just the guy to show me how to get there!"
     As if on cue, Mouse scurried around the corner.  He didn't
seem to think it unusual that Sam was apparently talking to
himself.  "Vincent, good, you're here!" he exclaimed.  "Looking
for you!"
     "For me?"
     "Pascal said Mirror Pool."
     Mouse was losing Sam rapidly.  "Pascal?.." he echoed weakly.
     "On the pipes," Mouse explained impatiently.  "Sentry saw
     "Oh."  Sam found it a little alarming that Mouse was
beginning to make sense sometimes.  Messages on the pipes, he
repeated silently.  That must be the tapping I keep hearing. 
They've devised some sort of code and use it for communication. 
     "Find Catherine?"  Mouse was already going on to other
     "Yes, Mouse, I did."
     Mouse's eyes widened.  "Found her!" he exulted gleefully. 
"Where is she?"
     "I said I found her, Mouse.  I know where she is.  I don't
have her yet."
     Sam gave the address and Mouse frowned.  "Know that place,"
he said darkly.  "Can't get in."
     "Someone I know has plans to the building," Sam explained. 
"Maps of the security setup."
     Mouse's face brightened again.  "Know how to work the
     "I think he means the electronic devices Gabriel has on the
doors and stuff," Al commented helpfully. 
     "Uh, yeah, Mouse.  Gizmos," Sam agreed.  "How do we get
     Mouse frowned quizzically.  "There last night!"
     Sam was incredulous.  "That's the building we were in last
     "Not there!"  Mouse's patience was wearing thin.  "Close. 
Block away."
     "Okay," Sam said.  "Will you take me there tonight?"
     "Sure," Mouse agreed.  "Tonight."
     "Thank you, Mouse."  Sam was about to ask Mouse to accompany
him back to Vincent's chamber, but didn't speak quickly enough. 
Mouse had already scuttled out, muttering, "Gotta get ready.  Get
     "Strange kid," Al said as Mouse vanished around a corner. 
He looked back over his shoulder.  "Oops!  I gotta go..." 
     "Al!"  Sam's entreaty was too late.  Al had disappeared. 
Great, he thought in exasperation.  They've both deserted me! 
Two of a kind!  He spoke aloud.  "Now what do I do?"  
     Following his limestone marks on the tunnel walls, Sam made
his way back to where he had first become lost.  By trial and
error, he stumbled across Vincent's chamber and entered it
gratefully.  Tea must be a morning ritual, because the same china
teapot was again steaming on the table.  Sam downed a cup quickly
before opening another of Vincent's journals and stretching out
on the bed.  I need to know more about him, he rationalized.  I
need to know more about Catherine. 
     With his conscience twinging only a little, he began to
read.  He was tired from his long night and soon the words began
to blur on the page.  He drifted into dreams of knights and
tunnels and princesses held captive in towers. 
     In between periods of fitful, dream-filled sleep, Sam
worried about Mouse's reliability.  He didn't yet know how he was
going to get Catherine Chandler out of that building, but without
Mouse to guide him there, he'd never even have the chance to try. 
     Nightfall and Mouse arrived about the same time and tonight
he guided Sam through a different series of tunnels.  Al appeared
half-way through the trip.
     "Tell him to take you to the tunnels directly under the
building," he instructed.Sam did and Mouse stared at him.  "Can't
get up that way, Vincent."
     Al insisted.  "I know the way in!"
     "There is a way," Sam said.  "I'll show you."  In a hasty
aside to Al, he whispered, "I hope you know what you're doing!"
     "Trust me, Sam," Al said magnanimously.
     "Yeah.  Trust you," Sam muttered, and hurried to catch up
with Mouse.
     Mouse finally stopped in a square concrete passage and
shrugged.  "Here," he announced.  "No way up."
     Sam glanced around for Al.  Oh, great, now he disappears on
me! he thought irritably.  He turned to Mouse and opened his
mouth with no idea what he was going to say.  As he did so, Al
materialized in the passage behind Mouse.
     "Over here, Sam," Al pointed to a metal hatch set into the
top of the tunnel.  Sam moved closer and looked up. 
     "Won't open," Mouse announced.  "Tried."
     "Will," countered Al.  "If you know how."
     "Cut the chatter, Al, and tell me how to open it," Sam
muttered between clenched teeth.  "Hurry!"  The hatch was a metal
circle, not unlike a manhole cover.  It fitted tightly inside a
metal rim.  Both were covered with raised letters and markings.
     Al's smile was smug.  "First, line up the letter G on the
edge with the little arrow on the rim."
     Sam did so, surprised when the metal disc moved easily.  Al
waited until he had the arrow and letter aligned before
continuing, "Turn it exactly one and a quarter turns clockwise!"
     Sam did and Mouse voiced his disapproval.  "Tried turning
it.  Doesn't work!"
     "Now turn it one half turn counter-clockwise!"  Sam reversed
the direction of spin and Mouse frowned again.
     "Not that way, either!"
     "Clockwise one full turn and it should come out!"  Al said.
     Each time he had reversed directions, the disc had dropped a
little lower in its rim.  This time, with Sam following
instructions precisely, the heavy iron circle almost fell on
him."Wow!"  Mouse was amazed, coming closer to look up the newly
revealed vertical shaft as Sam propped the hatch cover against a
     "It's like a safe," Al explained.  "Gabriel has gadgets like
this all over.  The man's a security nut.  Go on," he urged. 
     Sam stood under the dark circle doubtfully.  After a moment,
he gathered himself and jumped, grasping the upper lip of the
opening and pulling himself through.  The aperture led to a
small, square room lit by a single bare bulb hanging from the
ceiling.  One wall was a mass of wires and electronic circuitry
and Sam realized why Al had brought them here.  This was the
heart of the security system.  Reaching down quickly, he held out
a hand to Mouse.  Mouse seized it and Sam drew him up.
     "Gizmos!"  Mouse's tone was reverent as he looked at the
complex system. 
     "Gabriel has the whole place on a closed-circuit monitor
system.  This is just about the only room in the entire place
that doesn't have a camera," Al advised, coming through the floor
as he spoke.  He pointed to the wall of circuitry.  "You're gonna
have to turn off everything... make 'em think there's a
     "Blackout?" Sam questioned, a little too loudly.
     "No lights!  Yeah!  Easy!" Mouse exclaimed, moving closer to
the wiring. 
     "If the lights go out, somebody's going to come see why,"
Sam said under his breath.
     "Well, yeah, but not more than two... well, maybe three. 
Take care of them, and you have the run of the building!"  Al
said cheerfully.
     "Two... maybe three?" Sam hissed.  "Armed, too, I'll bet."
     "Come on, Sam, where's your sense of adventure?" Al prodded
him with an enthusiastic verbal nudge. 
     "Left it in my other suit," Sam muttered back.  Mouse had
turned and was staring at him. 
     "Vincent talking to Mouse?" 
     "Uh, no, Mouse.  Just to myself.  Sorry."  Sam moved over to
the circuits, running a thoughtful finger from one to another. 
"Lights, lights..."
     "Here, Vincent."  Mouse pointed and Sam gave him a sharp
     "You're right," he agreed, wondering.  He had first thought
of Mouse as simple, but the boy was proving to be more and more
complex and capable.  "What we have to do, Mouse," he explained
carefully, "is turn off all the electricity to the building. 
Someone will come to see what happened and we'll overpower them. 
I wish I'd thought to bring some rope or something to tie them
up," he added to himself.
     Mouse dug into one of his many voluminous pockets and
produced a lengthy coil of stout cord.  "This?" he offered. 
     "Perfect!"  Sam accepted the cord. 
     "Lights," said Mouse, and reached out, pulling loose all of
the appropriate wires with one yank.  The room went dark. 
     "Oh, great," muttered Sam.  "Where's the door?"
     "Behind you, big fella," Al encouraged him.  Sam turned,
making out the darker outline of the door just as it swung open.A
flashlight beam cut through the darkness, wavering before
catching Sam's sleeve.  The man holding it stopped and the beam
travelled up Sam's arm and across his chest.  When it reached his
face, the man screamed and the light hit the floor, bounced, and
went out.  With one fluid movement, Sam reached the man, spun him
around and decked him with a solid right hook. 
     "Go for it, Sam!" Al cheered.
     Another figure shadowed the doorway.  This one had an Uzi
sub-machine gun cradled in his arms and he juggled his flashlight
frantically as he tried to bring the gun to bear.  Sam opened his
mouth, intending to let out a war whoop as he launched himself at
the man.  He was as surprised as his quarry to hear what sounded
remarkably like a lion's roar coming from his throat.  In panic,
the man dropped his gun and tried to flee.  Sam caught him before
he'd gone two steps and the man fainted in fear. 
     Sam crouched beside the fallen body, straining his ears in
the blackness.  The only sounds he could make out were the soft
moans of the man he'd hit, the erratic breathing of the man who
lay at his feet, Mouse's excited gasps and Al's non-stop
     "Shut up, Al," he said, rising to his feet with the second
man's unconscious body in his arms. 
     "Who?" questioned Mouse from the other side of the room.
     "Nobody, Mouse.  Help me tie these guys up."
     Mouse came quickly and soon both men were immobilized with
cord bound tightly around wrists and ankles.  Rags from Mouse's
pockets were pressed into service as gags. 
     Sam had an idea.  "Mouse, can you make the lights go back
on?" he asked. 
     "Lights on?  Why?"
     "Not on for good," Sam explained.  "But maybe on and off
once in a while, so they'll think someone's working on them?"
     "Good idea!" Mouse approved.  "Better than good!"
     "Gotta go, Sam," Al warned.
     "Coming," Sam said.  "Promise me something, Mouse."  Even in
the near dark, he could see Mouse's wide blue gaze.  "Promise
that if you hear anyone coming, anyone at all, you'll go back
down into the tunnels and get out of here, fast!" 
     Mouse didn't answer and Sam took his shoulder, shaking him
slightly.  "Promise, Mouse!"
     Mouse's voice, when it came out, was very small.  "Leave
     "Leave me, Mouse," Sam affirmed.  "These men are dangerous. 
I don't want anything to happen to you.  Promise me."
     "Promise," Mouse agreed at last, with obvious reluctance. 
Sam's grip changed from one of insistence to one of approval. 
"Good boy."
     "Come on, Sam!"  Al was already outside the circuit room,
calling impatiently. 
     "Find Catherine!" Mouse called after Sam.  "Bring her back!"
     "I will," Sam returned.  "I hope," he whispered to himself.
     Al was wending his way through a series of dark hallways and
Sam hurried to catch up.  Their convoluted path finally
terminated at a solid steel door.  The word "Stairwell" was
stenciled across it in shiny black paint.
     Without electricity, the door's electronic security deadbolt
was locked, but it was meant to keep people out of the basement,
not out of the stairwell, so the manual override was on their
side of the door.  Sam pushed it and pulled the door open.  Light
spilled out of the opening and he recoiled from it. 
     "Battery-powered safety lights," Al said matter-of-factly. 
"All buildings have 'em."  He leaned out the door to look up the
stairs.  "No one there.  Let's go." 
     The safety lights, floodlights mounted on gray metal boxes
attached to the walls on alternate landings, cast a barely
adequate light, creating eerily elongated shadows.  As they
climbed the stairs, noises from floors above echoed hollowly down
the steel and concrete stairwell.  Because of Vincent's natural
grace, Sam knew there were no sounds to betray his presence.
     "Closed-circuit cameras were what we were worried about,
Sam," Al explained, pointing one out as they climbed.  "You don't
want Gabriel to know you're here."
     Almost twenty flights of stairs lay behind them when they
encountered their first obstacle.  Al was a few steps ahead of
Sam, acting as scout because he couldn't be seen.  Pointing and
waving his arms, he whispered frantically, "Stop, Sam!  Don't
     As Sam eased forward silently, he peered through the stair
rails.  An armed guard, alert and ready, stood in the shadows of
the landing above.  Rocking back gently, Sam pondered the
problem.  Although he had the advantage of surprise and the
additional edge provided by Vincent's appearance, the guard had
the benefit of higher ground and the Uzi in his arms.  Somehow,
the advantages didn't seem to balance out. 
     He was still thinking a minute later when the guard
repositioned his gun and bent over to scratch his ankle.  Sam
used another of his advantages - Vincent's uncanny speed. 
Moments later that guard, too, was unconscious and tied with
lengths of Mouse's cord.  A torn segment of the guard's shirt was
used as a gag and Al and Sam resumed their ascent. 
     Two more guards were met on the way.  Each succumbed to a
moment of inattention and was left on his respective landing to
repent.  The building lights flashed on briefly twice during the
climb, showing Mouse was conscientiously executing his part in
the rescue.  
     At last Sam reached his goal - the sixty-fourth floor.  Al
put his head through the stairwell door to reconnoiter.  "This is
gonna be trouble," he said, pulling his head back.  "The
hallway's crawling with guards!"
     "Crawling?" Sam repeated in trepidation.
     "Well, maybe not crawling," Al conceded. 
     "How many?" Sam demanded.
     "Three... I think."  Al put his head through the door for
another peek.  "Yeah, three.  Only two have sub-machine guns," he
added helpfully.
     "Oh, that's good.  Only two sub-machine guns."  Sam's
sarcasm was completely lost on Al.
     "Hallway's not long - about forty feet.  The guards with the
Uzis are about twelve feet from the door, standing on opposite
sides of the corridor."
     "Where is the other one?" Sam asked, wondering desperately
how he was going to get past two guards with automatic rifles. 
     "He's at the other end of the hall."  Al disappeared through
the door.
     Sam tried the handle tentatively.  It was locked.  After a
moment, Al's face emerged from the door.  "What are you waiting
     "The door's locked," Sam pointed out.
     "Look at you, Sam!  A locked door should be no problem! 
Break it down!"
     "Break it..." Al vanished again and Sam's voice trailed
away.  Break it down.  Sure, why not?  He took a step back and
gathered himself.  He was just about to launch himself at the
door when Al appeared once more.  His face, full of anticipation,
remained in the center of the door.
     "You're going to have to move, Al."
     "Why?  I'm not really here.  You won't hurt me.  I gotta see
     "I don't care.  I can't break down a door if your face is in
the middle of it," Sam said patiently.
     "Oh, all right."  Al grumbled and withdrew his head.
     Taking a deep breath, Sam launched himself at the door with
a roar, feeling only vaguely surprised when the steel buckled and
burst away from its hinges.  As the door came to a spinning,
precarious stop against a wall, he sprang.  There was no time to
subdue his opponents one by one... he had to be sure anyone who
went down stayed down. 
     Letting out another of Vincent's spine-chilling roars, he
slammed the first man back against the wall.  The man went limp
and slumped to the floor.  The sound of his fury seemed to
confuse his adversaries and Sam roared again.  Spinning, he
caught the barrel of the other gun, deflecting it as it went off,
spraying bullets into the wall and ceiling.  He brought his other
hand across in a vicious swipe, experiencing a moment's horror at
the bloody slashes he left across the man's chest. 
     There was no time to inspect this unexpected result,
however.  The third man, the one at the end of the hallway, was
aiming an automatic pistol at him with trembling hands.  Sam
lunged and the first shot went wild.  He felt the breeze of a
bullet pass his cheek as he hurled himself onto the man, bearing
him to the ground.  Two or three well-placed punches rendered the
man unconscious. 
     In the sudden silence, the rhythmic chopping of helicopter
blades could be clearly discerned overhead.  "Oh, no," Sam
gasped.  He took two quick steps toward the stairwell, stopping
only when he heard Al calling him.  Turning, he found Al, in the
disconcerting way he had, leaning through a white door at the end
of the hall. 
     "She's in here!" Al called.  "Gabriel's in the helicopter. 
Hurry up, Sam!  There's another woman in here with a hypodermic
     Al retreated into the room; Sam stood outside, studying the
lock.  Keys, keys, he thought ruefully.  Where will I find keys?
     "What's taking so long, Sam?  She needs help!"
     "I need keys," Sam replied, bending to feel through the
pockets of the unconscious guard at his feet.
     "Sam," Al's voice was unnaturally gentle.  "The door's not
     "Oh."  Sheepishly, Sam reached out and turned the knob. 
     Two women were locked in a struggle in the middle of the
room.  When the door swung open, the one nearest, a dark-haired
woman in nurse's white wielding a hypodermic needle, was
distracted by the sound.  As she began to turn toward it, the
other woman, the one largely blocked from Sam's view, swung
clasped hands in a fierce, desperate blow.  The nurse went limp
and slid to the floor.  
     Catherine Chandler stood motionless, staring for a moment at
the unconscious woman at her feet before looking up at Sam.  He
had only a fleeting impression of expressive, wide-spaced eyes
and regular features before she flung herself into his arms.  Any
doubts Sam might have had about the identity of her baby's father
were dispelled by the intimacy of the embrace in which he found
     Al's commentary continued non-stop.  "Did you see that, Sam? 
She decked her with one punch!  This is some woman, Sam!  And
she's beautiful, besides!"
     His mission accomplished, Sam half-expected to leap out at
any second, but in the meantime, he had to act as Vincent would. 
Ignoring Al, he put his arms around Catherine and held her
     "Vincent.  Vincent."  She whispered the name over and over,
clinging to him as if she feared he would disappear. 
     "I'm here," he said softly.  "It's okay."
     "I was afraid I'd never see you again," she whispered.  "I
was afraid you wouldn't find me in time."  She lifted her head to
look at him, bringing her hands to his face, touching it gently,
reassuring herself of his solidity.  "I knew you'd find me. 
     Vincent is one lucky guy, he thought, taking in the love
shining from her eyes as she looked up at him.  Al's right, she's
beautiful, he added to himself.  Briefly, his gaze shifted
downward and she moved back from him, biting her lip. 
     "I'm pregnant," she said unnecessarily.
     Not knowing what Vincent might say to that, Sam remained
     "I was coming to tell you... the day I was kidnapped..." 
His continued reticence seemed to unnerve her and she stumbled
on, her words tripping over each other.
     "It's our child, Vincent.  Yours and mine."  She stopped,
her eyes pleading with him. 
     Sam was suddenly very glad he had read more of Vincent's
journals.  He felt now as if he knew him, and he knew absolutely
that Vincent would accept and love this child because it was
Catherine's, no matter who its father was.  That Vincent himself
was the child's father would probably be harder for him to
accept, but Sam was certain Vincent could come to terms with
that, too.  For now, though, reassuring Catherine was the only
important thing.  Sam put as much tenderness and compassion as he
could manage into his eyes and voice.  
     "With love, all things are possible," he told her softly and
she smiled.  He held out his hand and she took it, her trust
complete as she followed him into the hallway. 
     Outside, Al was lounging against the wall.  Of course, what
he was really lounging against was a wall of the imaging chamber,
which explained why he seemed partially buried in the wall.  As
Sam and Catherine appeared, he straightened.  "About time," he
said impatiently.  "Sam, we've gotta get out of here.  It isn't
     Keeping a firm grip on his hand, Catherine allowed Sam to
lead her toward the stairs.  She did not seem surprised at the
unconscious bodies of the three guards in the corridor.  Her
expression at sight of the first of the stairwell guards as he
lay bound and gagged was one of bewilderment but she did not
comment as Sam helped her past the man's semi-conscious body. 
     Because of Catherine's advanced pregnancy, their descent was
slow.  Despite Al's constant barrage of entreaties, begging Sam
to hurry up, Sam could not be rushed.  He was beginning to feel a
little possessive of this woman who trusted him so completely. 
After all, he hadn't gone to the trouble of rescuing her only to
allow her to tumble down a flight of stairs in a moment of
     While they were still in the upper portion of the building,
Catherine pulled away from Sam's grip and stopped, standing
tensely with her hands on her sides.  Her eyes were wide and
unfocused, her mouth slightly open.  Her breath came rapidly,
     "Catherine?"  Sam returned quickly to her side.  Slowly she
relaxed and looked at him.  "Are you all right?"
     "I... don't know.  I think so."
     "Can you walk?"
     She nodded, taking his hand.  They resumed their slow,
careful progress down the seemingly endless flights of
stairs.Suddenly, the lights flickered on and off again, quickly. 
Catherine jumped, looking back fearfully.  "What's wrong with the
     "It's Mouse," Sam explained.  "Creating the illusion
somebody's trying to fix them."
     She smiled.  "Mouse.  I've missed him and his gizmos.  I've
missed everyone."  Her gaze fell on the next landing and the
guard, bound and gagged like the one above.  She stopped, viewing
him with more than curiosity.  She shot a quick glance at Sam but
again said nothing.
     A moment later she stiffened again, leaning against the cool
cement wall for support. 
     "She's in labor, Sam," Al offered cheerfully.  "Looks like
you got her just in time." 
     Sam had just figured that out for himself.  He steadied
Catherine for a long minute until she relaxed.  "I don't suppose
you know how far apart they are?" he asked out loud.
     Catherine looked startled, gazing at him quizzically. 
     "'Bout eight minutes," Al said.  "You should still have
plenty of time to get her out of here."
     Good, thought Sam in relief.  The last thing I want to have
to do is deliver this baby in the stairwell.  He looked at
Catherine more closely.  Was it his imagination, or was she
becoming pale? 
     Sweeping his cloak off his shoulders, he spread it on the
landing.  "Sit down.  We'll rest."  Sensing her reluctance, he
added, "It's safe.  We have time."
     Gratefully she lowered herself to the floor and sighed. 
Leaning back, she closed her eyes tiredly; a second later, they
snapped open again in alarm as Sam took a step down.  Reaching a
hand toward him, she said, "Don't leave me."
     Seeing the apprehension on her face, Sam returned to the
landing, sinking down to sit beside her.  "It's all right," he
assured her, wrapping a protective arm around her shoulders. 
"I'm really here." 
     As she leaned against him, he felt some of her fear drain
away.  He held her until Al materialized on the landing below.
     "Are you going to sit there all day?" Al demanded.
     Throwing him a look of annoyance, Sam got to his feet and
helped Catherine to hers.  Dusting off the cloak, he swung it
over his shoulders again.  His arm went around Catherine, lending
solid support as they travelled downward to safety.
     The lights flickered one more time and they stopped twice
for contractions before reaching the safety of the lower level. 
Suddenly, as they started down the first of the dark basement
hallways, the lights went on.  Sam and Catherine froze, waiting,
but they did not go out again.
     "They're on to us, Sam!"  Al sounded more excited than
     "Where are they, Al?"  Like everybody else he'd encountered,
Catherine probably thought he was cracking up, talking to air,
but it had to be done. 
     Al peered cautiously around the corner ahead of them.  "Get
back!" he hissed.  "Hide!  Two of them!  With guns!"
     "Vincent?"  Catherine was staring at him but time didn't
allow for explanations, even if there had been one he could offer
     Spying an open doorway, he dragged her through it and
pressed her into a darkened corner, shielding her from view.  As
the careful tramp of footsteps grew louder, he tensed, ready to
protect Catherine at any cost.  The footsteps passed without
slowing and he heard the door to the stairwell open and close. 
     Al stuck his head in.  "One's gone, Sam.  The other went
down another hallway."
     Sam didn't like the idea of making their way back to the
tunnel entrance with an armed man on the loose, but there didn't
seem to be much choice.  Catherine's hand on his arm gave him
courage as he cautiously led the way back into the corridor. 
     Al was already at the corner and he waved them on.  "Hurry
up, Sam.  The coast is clear."
     Catherine was barefoot and Sam had Vincent's easy grace so
they made no sound as they crept down the now brightly lit
corridors.  Al checked around each corner as they approached it. 
"Bad news, Sam," Al announced as they neared the final corner. 
"The room with all the wires is guarded now.  There's a man
outside the door."
     Sam gave a mental groan.  The door to the circuitry room was
a good twenty feet down the corridor and he'd faced all the guns
he wanted to for one night.  Still, there was no other way. 
     A finger to his lips, he motioned Catherine against the
wall.  She understood and obeyed instantly, her eyes wide with
apprehension.  As he started to turn away, her hand caught his
     She looked as if she wanted badly to say something but
instead, she reached up, taking his face in her hands and rising
on her toes to kiss him lightly on the lips.  Her gaze was
intense as she stared at him.  "Be careful," she mouthed
     Feeling as if he had cheated Vincent out of something
precious, Sam nodded before moving noiselessly to the corner.  Al
was halfway down the corridor, offering enthusiastic advice on
how to deal with the guard.  Ignoring him, Sam decided to use
what had been so successful thus far; Vincent's fearsome
appearance and ferocious roar, coupled with his incredible speed
and strength. 
     A moment later the guard lay motionless at his feet, the
barrel of his rifle smoking faintly.  Sam stared down at him,
still shivering inside from the narrowness of his escape.  This
time, he was sure he had felt the bullets whizzing past his head. 
A soft sound behind him drew his attention.Catherine stood at the
corner, her face full of concern.  "Are you all right?" she
whispered, coming closer.
     "I'm not hurt," Sam replied.  The door to the circuit room
had no lock and he wrenched it open, dragging the guard's
insensible body through before holding his hand out to Catherine. 
She took it and followed him inside. 
     The metal disc that separated them from the tunnels below
had been replaced and Sam hoped fervently that Mouse had made
good his escape.  Kneeling beside the hatch, he worked the
opening combination in reverse and the disc fell away from him,
clanging loudly as it dropped to the concrete floor below. 
     "Come," he whispered.  "I'll help you down."
     He went first, dropping easily to the tunnel below and
reached back up.  As Catherine lowered herself carefully through
the opening, he steadied and guided her, finally catching her
gently but securely in his arms.  Setting her firmly on her feet,
he replaced the solid iron disc for the last time. 
     It was much colder down here than above and Catherine hugged
herself, shivering slightly.  All she had on was a simple cotton
gown that buttoned down the front.  Berating himself for his
thoughtlessness, Sam removed Vincent's cloak and draped it
tenderly around her shoulders.  Her bare feet were another
problem and he solved it by scooping her up in his arms. 
     With her arms around his neck and her forehead resting
securely against him, he carried her down the tunnel with long,
purposeful strides. 
     As usual, there was no warning; one moment he was Vincent
and the next... he had time for only one frantic, regretful
thought.  Oh, no!  I wanted to see what the baby...

About the Author

Lee Kirkland is a pseudonym for Sue Hernandez and Becky Bain. 
(Denver-based group) meeting in December of 1988 and began
writing together shortly after that.  Altogether, Lee has
written four B&B 'zines (WHERE THE RAINBOW ENDS, Vols. 1-4),
three B&B/Quantum Leap crossovers (QUANTUM BEAST Vols. 1-3), and
several short stories.  Writing alone, Becky has written three
'zines, ETERNITY,  ETERNITY 2: I Shall Emerge,  ETERNITY 3:
Collected Dreams, and some short stories.  In addition, working
with Beth Druhan, she helped produce (and has a story in) a B&B
'zine called THE HAT ON THE BENCH IN CENTRAL PARK, in which each
of five writers wrote a story using that image.

Lee's 'zines are all now out of print.  All will eventually be
available via Father's Online Library.

Lee's short stories, The Catnip Caper and Sleeping Beauty, are
available via Father's Online Library.  Her story Absolution
appeared in the TUNNELCON II con 'zine; Vincent, I Don't Think
We're in Verona Anymore, appeared in MacWombat Press' OLD SOULS.

Becky's individual work can be ordered as follows:

ETERNITY and ETERNITY 2 are now out of print.  ETERNITY 3
is $17 USA, $19 FC or CAN, $24 Europe.  THE HAT ON THE BENCH IN
CENTRAL PARK is $14 USA, $16 FC or CAN, $20 Europe.  Order from:
Becky Bain, 16845 Hightree Drive, Elbert CO 80106, or Email
rbain@clsp.uswest.net for further information.

Becky's short stories have appeared in WITHIN THE CRYSTAL ROSE
Vols. 5 (Star Light, Star Bright, under the pseudonym Anna
Gerard), 6 (Riches, also under Anna Gerard), 7 (Little Boy
Lost), and 8 (The Choice) all available from Mountain Rose Press,
MacWombat Press' BEST MIRRORS (Not Ever), in the GREAT
EXPECTATIONS con 'zine (Fairy Time), the TUNNELCON III con
'zine (Green Eyed), the REFLECTIONS con 'zine (Forsaken), and THE