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Descent Into Panic

By maddersahatter

Scifi / Drama

Prologue

Leaping always left Sam Beckett with an unsteady feeling, but this time it was as if he'd landed in the middle of an earthquake. He struggled to maintain his equilibrium, feeling as if the floor was vibrating beneath his feet. It took a few moments for him to register that it actually was!

Looking around he realized that he was in a large and luxurious elevator along with a half dozen other people, including an attendant in a fancy uniform.

Having made eye contact with the young lady standing nearest him, he smiled casually.

Sam felt uneasy, as if his host had been upset or alarmed when he'd leaped in, and he was picking up on the residual adrenaline. He hoped that he was imagining things, and that it was just the unexpected motion of the elevator that had unsettled him.

Nobody was chatting, not even about the weather or the Dodgers game, so Sam assumed they were probably all strangers. This was something of a relief to the leaper, since it meant he wouldn't be expected to answer to a name he didn't know, or even worse, have to address another in familiar terms. The only sounds came from the elevator music, which in keeping with the setting was a classical piece. Sam recognized it, but couldn't recall either the title or the composer.

The deep pile carpet on the floor was a rich ruby red. Both sidewalls were highly polished mirrored glass, making the compartment seem much larger than it actually was, although it was by no means cramped. Illuminating the car - and probably responsible for the higher than average ceiling - there hung a miniature chandelier, in addition to a delicately decorated lamp on the back wall.

Sam concluded that the elevator was almost certainly housed in a grand and expensive hotel - one with 20 floors of rooms according to the numbered buttons on the control panel. The moving pointer over the doors indicated that the elevator was currently descending from the 18th floor toward the 17th.

Figuring that the next couple of minutes while they headed down to the lobby were likely to be uneventful, Sam took the time to look at his companions, and at his own reflection. There was no way of knowing if someone here with him now was the object of the leap mission, but it didn't hurt to be prepared.

Sam's new host was a tall and slender gentleman looking very dapper in an expensive three-piece navy blue pin stripe suit over a pale blue shirt and navy tie. He looked to be in his late fifties or early sixties, his black hair and beard liberally flecked with gray. His shoes were gleaming, and the handkerchief protruding from his breast pocket was crisply creased at just the precise angle to convey elegance and style. There was a pocket watch on a silver chain nestling in the waistcoat pocket. Sam was not in the least surprised that his host was holding a silver-tipped, ornate handled ebony walking cane.

The other occupants were all similarly attired in clothes that spoke of wealth and privilege.

As Sam started to study them each in turn, he became aware that another passenger had surreptitiously sneaked into the car, though the elevator hadn't stopped, the doors hadn't opened, and the new arrival didn't reflect his outrageous orange and ocher outfit in the mirrors.

Al stood close at Sam's shoulder, knowing it would be hard to converse subtly in an enclosed space. He had a panicked look on his face, and every inch of his body language suggested the urgency of his message.

Sam felt a sinking feeling in the pit of his stomach. It was going to be one of those leaps, he thought, with his usual "Oh, boy!"

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