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Leap of a Lifer

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Sam was in a leap.

It was a leap like any other: disorienting, confusing, hectic, dangerous--the usual life and death struggle of a day in the life of a leaper. Waiting for Al, who was, as usual, late arriving.

In the first moments of materializing, he'd been too disoriented and confused to avoid the vase that crashed into the side of his head, but he did manage to duck the frying pan that wanted to meld with his skull. The screaming banshee that he assumed was his host's wife slammed out the back door in a storm of curses, and he breathed a sigh of relief at being alive after yet another close call.

Leaping was dangerous business.

Sam looked around the room he was in, taking in the sight of the shabby brown curtains, sickly brown rug and tattered brown sofa, and decided the person he'd leaped into wasn't an interior decorator. Whom he'd leaped into, he wouldn't know until Al arrived and unless Ziggy decided to be not PMSing again. Not the best odds, in any case.

He looked down at the peanut butter sandwich on wheat bread that he'd had in his hands when he leaped in, grimaced, and tossed it down on the beige coffee table. Maybe the guy he leaped into had an obsession with brown.

Finally, the sound he was waiting for. The Imaging Chamber door, as Al popped in. The bright spot in Sam's dingy life, he was resplendent in bright purple pants, with a lime green shirt, and pink neon suspenders.

"Al, you look terrific!"

The hologram peered at him suspiciously. "Either you're being as nastily sarcastic as usual, or you got hit on the head again. Ziggy, what are the odds on that?" he asked, studying the hand-link.

"Al -- we have more important things to discuss, here."

"Sorry. How's it going so far, Alfonse?"

"Huh?"

"I said, how's it going, Alfonse?"

"What's going on?" Sam demanded.

"You tell me. I was just asking how you were."

Unraveling Al's puzzles were trying under the best of circumstances, and he was getting a headache. "Oh, I get it, I leaped into a guy named Alfonse."

"No, the guy you leaped into is named Bill Bailey."

"Then why'd you call me Alfonse?"

"Because that's your name," Al answered reasonably.

"My name is Sam!"

"You did get hit on the head, didn't you?"

"Cut it out, Al."

"You cut it out! Are you telling me you really don't remember your name? Are we back to square one again?" He rummaged around in his pocket, for a piece of string.

"My name is Sam, dammit!"

"No, your name is Alfonse Beckett."

"What the hell are you talking about?!" Sam yelled indignantly. "I know my own name!"

"This is weird. Usually your swiss-cheese holes stay empty, not get filled with bologna..." Al spent the next few minutes punching some buttons on the hand-link to Ziggy, making hmm hmmm noises. Finally, he looked up, shaking his head. "You did it again, you time-traveling terror."

"Did what?" Sam asked, wishing he could strangle a hologram.

"Remember the last leap? In early '53. Seems, somehow, you changed something we didn't realize you changed. What your parents named you. In this timeline, you were christened Alfonse Beckett."

"I did?!" Sam wailed. "Alfonse?!"

"'Fraid so, kiddo. It's not so bad, it's got an Al in it."

Sam ignored Al's attempt at making him feel better, wondering if he'd ever get used to the horrible moniker. "Alfonse," he mumbled. "Oh well. What does Ziggy have to say?" he indicated the room with a sweep of his hand.

Al winked at him. "April Fools, Sam."

 

the end

2/9/94