The Path Not Taken
A Quantum Leap -- Dark Shadows '91 crossover
By Sandy Adams
No copyright infringement is intended.
The Path Not Taken
A Quantum Leap-Dark Shadows '91 Crossover
By Sandy Adams
Sam stumbled as the quantum effect released him, orienting on his new environment. His eyes adjusted to the gloom and he found himself staring down at the peaked lid of a stone coffin. In one grimy hand he held a crowbar, in the other, a length of chain.
Frozen with indecision, he could only stand and stare, wondering why anyone would want to put chains on a sarcophagus. After all, it wasn't as if anything could get back out...
Then he realized: he wouldn't need the crowbar if he were trying to put the chains on.
Closer inspection revealed the iron chains to be thick with rust and an ancient shroud of cobwebs. There were quite a few choice examples of bat guano as well, if his nose wasn't mistaken.
Sam dropped the crowbar, then winced at the deafening clang of metal on stone, made worse by the confined space. When his ears stopped ringing, he stepped back for a better look at his surroundings, only then noticing that the flickering light came from a torch guttering in an iron cresset on the rear wall of the chamber.
And now it was obvious that he had been breaking into the coffin; it was swathed in more of the rusty chains and bound with an equally ancient lock. That explained the crowbar, at least.
He sighed. Graverobber would not have been his first choice of occupation, but from the looks of his "equipment", and the ratty clothes he was wearing, archaeologist was out of the question.
Some small sound reached him, then -- a scrabbling sound, like claws scraping against unyielding stone. He shivered, recalling the droppings. Bats?
Instinctively ducking his head, he spotted the crumpled piece of paper lying near his shoe and bent to retrieve it. The uncertain light made deciphering the scrawled writing all the more difficult, but by squinting, he made out the words.
"Three Graces dance, high above/The lion looks at the dove..."
Poetry? He couldn't immediately reconcile that with either his attire or his apparent vocation, but then nothing had made much sense so far. Why should it start now?
And where was Al? Sam's mouth twitched involuntarily. Oh, yeah... Al was going to love this!
Picturing the Observer's likely reaction to finding himself standing in a moldy old tomb, complete with creepy, chain-wrapped sarcophagus, Sam laughed aloud.
The scratching sound came again -- very close.
Suddenly Al's aversion to tombs lost its amusement value. Some dark corner of his mind, way down deep in the reptilian brain, whispered the unwelcome thought... What if it isn't the bats, shifting restlessly in their high perches? What if it's something else?
Sam shook himself sharply. He was multi-degreed scientist, not some superstitious lout afraid of things that went bump in the night. Then he remembered another Leap... and a man who cast no reflection.
He bolted from the chamber, fetching up against a massive crypt which blocked his flight. Pulse pounding in his ears like roar of the surf, he made a cautious survey of the room. He seemed to be in the mausoleum-proper and, he drew a steadying breath, alone.
The door through which he had fled was one of several panels set into the walls, though it alone gaped open like a hungry mouth, revealing the concealed room beyond. Above the panel which served as the door, an ornamental stone lion glowered down at him, snarling around the iron ring clenched in its frozen jaws.
On a hunch, he slipped his fingers into the ring and tugged. The harsh grinding of stone on stone as the panel closed was the most welcome sound he had heard this Leap. It drowned out other, more disturbing sounds -- like the cold voice which clawed desperately at his mind, a voice like fingernails on stone. Urgent. Hungry.
More than a little mad....
Shivering, Sam backed away from the resealed tomb. The fine hairs on the backs of his arms and neck were standing at attention; he could feel the light-headed rush of adrenaline hitting his system.
Where the heck was Al?
"...Loomis! Are you out here?"
This time the voice came from outside -- his head, and the mausoleum. It was angry, but there was a reassuringly human quality to the anger. Sam decided to take his chances with whoever was out there. It certainly beat taking his chances with whatever was in here.
Turning, he ran up the steps leading from the chamber, out into the fog shrouded night --
-- and Leaped.