When Worlds Collide -- REALLY Collide
Saturday, May 12th, 1990
Hill Valley Trilogy
“Woo! Just one more month!”
“Technically, it’s just two and a half weeks.”
“Yeah, I know, but one more month sounds better.”
“Doc” Emmett Brown chuckled. “I suppose that’s true. Are you all prepared for it?”
“Oh yeah. I’ve been studying my ass off these last few days.” Marty McFly brushed some of his hair out of his eyes. “I had to take a break today, my brain was melting.”
Doc nodded. “I remember that feeling from my own college days. I was one of those rare few who actually kind of enjoyed doing my homework and writing papers, but even I had moments of burnout.” He turned back to his computer. “Of course, if you really want to be a teacher, this won’t be the end of your educational experience.”
“I know, but it’s still a pretty big milestone.” Marty leaned on the desk next to his best friend. “Though I think Jennifer’s almost forgotten graduation’s coming up, what with all the prep work for our wedding.”
“How’s that going?” Doc asked, curious.
“Pretty well – we’ve got colors and stuff all picked. Jennifer’s having her dress altered today.” Marty grinned. “She keeps teasing me about it – saying I’m not gonna be able to say my vows because I’m going to be too busy staring at her. I told her she could be wearing a garbage bag and I’d probably still have trouble saying them. Got one hell of a kiss for that.”
Doc laughed. “Ah, yes. Clara’s quite enthused about the process herself. Our wedding was a bit of a shotgun affair due to our short courtship, so I get the feeling she’s using yours to make up for it a bit.”
“I think my mom’s the same way a bit,” Marty said. “She’s having a ball helping Jennifer out. Though she’s gone a little overboard a couple of times – tried to get us to have pink dresses for the bridesmaids.”
“What’s so wrong with that?”
“The style and shade she picked out could have doubled for her ‘Enchantment Under the Sea’ dress.”
Doc winced. “Oh, I see.”
“Yeah, thank God Jennifer talked her out of it.” Marty looked curiously at Doc. “Have you got your clothes for the big day yet? Jennifer and I have been looking at tuxes for a while now.”
“Oh yes, Clara would never let me procrastinate on that,” Doc assured him. “We found a serviceable tuxedo a few days ago. Clara’s making a few minor alterations to it, and I think I’m going to switch out the vest for one of my 1800s ones.”
“That’s cool. I bet you’ll look great.”
“I certainly hope so.” Doc frowned. “I’m still a little nervous about the potential friction caused by me being your best man. I know not all of your extended family, or Jennifer’s for that matter, cares for me.”
Marty waved a hand dismissively. “If they’ve got a problem with it, they’d better learn to keep their mouths shut. You’re my best friend, Doc, and the only one I’d ever consider for the position. I mean, if I’d been there back in 1885, you would have let me be best man, right?”
“Of course!” Doc looked sad for a moment. “I wish you had been back there sometimes. My wedding to Clara was a wonderful day, but I would have liked to have shared it with you directly, instead of just through pictures.”
Marty grinned cheekily. “Well, I could always grab the DeLorean and drop by. . . .”
Doc gave him a look. “Relax, Doc, I’m just kidding. I know it would be kind of awkward for me to attend your wedding, what with me being ‘dead’ and all.”
“Not to mention the possible ramifications to the timeline. My own time back there still worries me.”
“Why? I mean, everything was the same once you came back.”
“As far as we can tell. It’s possible that whatever possible havoc I wreaked upon the world could have affected areas outside of Hill Valley. Remember, the Biff-ruled 1985 had the entire world changed, not just our hometown.”
Marty nodded, frowning. “But you’ve been doing all sorts of research on that, haven’t you? Has anything weird turned up yet?”
“Not as far as I can tell,” Doc admitted. “Granted, it’s difficult to really know – changes could be minuscule, and thus harder to find.”
Marty shrugged. “Well, the world hasn’t blown up and Biff Tannen’s not in charge, so I say we’re cool. I’ve got other stuff to worry about.”
Doc couldn’t help a sarcastic smile. “College graduations and wedding woes trump possible alterations to the space-time continuum?”
“For me, yeah.” Marty glanced over at the computer screen. “So, what are you doing on that thing? Running programs that won’t be invented this century?”
“Essentially – I’m just modeling some blueprints for my next invention. It’s a lot easier than sketching it all out by hand.”
“Cool.” Marty noticed another program running in the background and leaned closer to the screen. He frowned, puzzled. “What’s The Sims 2?”
Doc blushed faintly. “It’s for Jules and Verne, mostly,” he said. “It’s a simulation game – you control families of people called Sims. It’s quite fascinating, really.”
“Why Sims 2, though?”
“Well, it’s the second generation of the game. I would have gotten the third, but it would have broken our budget – designed for a much higher powered system. This version is adequate for keeping Jules and Verne amused. And it keeps Clara happy too – the game is decidedly nonviolent. Unless you decide to wall up your Sims and watch them starve.”
Marty blinked. “Who the hell would do that?”
“I did it by accident once – I was fooling around with the game, and managed to trap one of the Sims. They have some rather funny complaint animations. I guess I’m too soft-hearted though – I let him loose before the Grim Reaper could come for him.”
“I thought you said--”
“Well, Sims can die – drowning, starvation, even plain old age. There’s just no way for them to kill each other messily.”
“Oh. Sounds like one hell of a weird game.”
“It’s pretty fun. You can try it if you want once I’m done here.”
“Maybe later.” Marty consulted his watch. “Damn, I gotta head out. I’m supposed to meet Jennifer for lunch at Burger King so she can tease me more about her dress.”
“All right. I’ll see you later, then.”
“Yeah, you’ll probably be hearing from us tonight when Jennifer calls Clara about something or other. Man, weddings are complicated!”
Doc chuckled. “Only if you let them be. Clara and I had one of the simplest on record, I’m sure.”
“I wouldn’t mind heading off to Vegas or something myself, but Jennifer wants something kind of big. I’m not gonna deny her that. Especially since I remember how upset she was that we got married at the Chapel O’Love in that first future.”
Doc nodded. “Women can be very touchy about that sort of thing. It makes me wonder if there’s any males in the world who want big, flashy weddings.”
“Maybe,” Marty shrugged. “I think it’s mostly a girl thing, though. As long as I know where to stand and what to say and I get my cake at the end, I’m good.”
“The mantra of all grooms,” Doc said with a laugh. “Have a good lunch, Marty.”
“I will. See ya, Doc.” Marty headed out of his friend’s garage-slash-laboratory and over to his truck. Pausing briefly to give a goodbye wave to Einstein, who was chasing squirrels, he hopped inside and drove off.
He was halfway to his destination when, suddenly, his engine started sputtering. “What the – oh, don’t do this!” Marty begged the truck, feeling the vehicle’s forward momentum start to decline. “Shit, shit!”
He managed to get the truck to the side of the road before the engine quit entirely. Grumbling to himself, he got out and popped the hood. “What the hell is going on here?”
“Need a hand?”
Marty nearly jumped out of his skin, hitting his head on the hood on the process. “Ouch! Jesus Christ, don’t sneak up on me like that!” he said, turning around.
“Sorry, Marty. It won’t happen again.”
Marty blinked a few times. “Doc?”
At least, the guy looked like Doc. The clothes didn’t match up with what he’d seen his friend wearing only minutes earlier – this guy was wearing a long-sleeved yellow shirt and plain brown pants, and what looked like a brown cloak of some sort – but the face and hair were the same. Marty frowned and leaned in closer. “Are you future or past?”
“Doc” blinked. “Pardon?”
“Well, I know you can’t be from now, I just saw you back at your house. Come on, Doc, it’s me. You can tell me if you’re here on a mission or something.” He glanced back at his engine. “And maybe help me fix this stupid thing. I don’t want to be late to lunch, and it’s gonna take a while if I have to walk.”
“Doc” frowned, lifting an eyebrow. “Don’t you recognize me? I was hoping for at least one scream.”
Now it was Marty’s turn to lift an eyebrow. “Uh, what? Doc, what’s going on? Is this some sort of prank or something?”
Without any warning, “Doc’s” hand shot out and slammed Marty against the front fender. The other hand pulled a switchblade out of his pocket and put it to the young man’s throat. “Maybe this will jog your memory,” “Doc” hissed, his face twisted into a terrifying scowl. “It’s me, Martin. Jack.”
A thrill of terror went through Marty’s body. What the hell is going on here?! “What – who – who are you?”
“I just told you, you imbecile! I know you’re certainly not one for brains, but surely you must recognize me! It’s only been four years!”
“Four years since what?”
“Since I nearly killed you!”
“What? What the hell are you talking about?” He went pale. “Wait, are – no, can’t be, you’re not babbling to some invisible psycho version of me. . . . What did you say your name was?”
“Jack. Jack Merridew Brown.” Jack leaned into Marty’s face. “Emmett’s twin brother?”
“Doc doesn’t have any brothers. Just a sister. Emily.”
Jack stared at him for a long moment. “You – honestly don’t recognize me?” he finally said, his scowl melting into a mask of confusion.
“No! Let me go!” Marty snapped, starting to struggle.
Jack pressed the knife tighter against Marty’s throat. “Recognize me or not, I have nothing against slitting your throat.” Marty stopped. “I doubt you could have deliberately forgotten me. Localized amnesia, maybe?” he continued, musing out loud. “And I’m sure my dear brother wouldn’t want to traumatize you further by forcing you to remember.” Jack smiled. “Perhaps we should call on him. . . .”
Marty’s blood turned to ice. Whoever this guy was, he was definitely not any version of Doc. He’d pretty much realized that at the knife, granted, but this just sealed the deal. That smile – that smile was the coldest, most frightening smile he’d ever seen. Did we mess up the timeline again or something? Who is this psycho? “Listen, buddy, I--”
“Don’t bother trying to weasel your way out of this. I have a mission here, and I’ll be damned if I’m turned from my course.” Jack looked over at the engine. “Guess I’ll have to be nice and help you fix this, though,” he said, sounding utterly disgusted. “I don’t want to have to walk all the way over to JFK Drive.”
“Why do you want to go there?” Marty asked quietly.
Jack favored him with a “are you a complete moron?” look. “That’s where my brother lives, dummy.”
“Not anymore. He moved when he got married.”
“Married?!” Jack almost lost his grip on the knife. “When did he – Holly! I knew that was more than friendship. Oh, I’ll make them both pay for that. . . .”
“Not to Holly, to a girl named Clara.” Marty shook his head. “If you’re his brother, shouldn’t you know all this?”
“Why the hell are you talking back to me when I have a knife at your throat?” Jack snarled.
“It’s just something I do,” Marty said, shrinking back a bit.
“Fair enough, the version of you I remember mouthed off to me in the beginning. How long has Emmett been married?”
Jack was completely discombobulated. “1985? But – that’s impossible! He was single when I – and when--” He pressed harder, watching beads of blood grow around the blade. “Are you telling me the truth?”
“Yes! I swear to God, yes!”
Jack thought hard. “Come on,” he finally said, pulling Marty back up straight. “You’re taking me to the library. There’s a few things I need to research. That’s in the same place it’s always been, right?”
“Yeah,” Marty said, trying to bite down on his fear. “But do you really think you’ll be able to just march me down the street with a knife to my throat? I’m not being sarcastic, really, I’m just saying. . . .”
Jack smiled again. “Well, like I said, I am going to help you fix your truck. Do you have any idea what’s wrong with the engine?”
“No, just died on me.”
“Hmmm. Let’s have a look. And incidentally, if you try to punch or kick me, or struggle in any other way, I’ll cut your fingers off and force-feed them to you. Understood?”
“Yes,” Marty said, shuddering. Holy shit. I really shouldn’t have gotten out of bed this morning. . . .
Saturday, May 12th
Fixing the engine proved to be a rather simple repair – the radiator had overheated, so they had just let the car sit for a bit. Then Jack had forced Marty to drive him to the library at knifepoint. The young man had been very cooperative after his threat, staying very quiet and keeping an eye constantly on the blade. Jack had enjoyed faking him out every so often, making like he was going to stab the young man. Part of him did wish Marty had put up more of a fight – he would have enjoyed bringing the little upstart to his knees. After all, no pain a puny kid just out of teenagerdom could inflict could possibly compare to what he’d gone through in Hell.
They arrived at the library without any fuss. Marty stopped right in front of the large grey building. “Here we are,” he said, trying to keep a quiver out of his voice. “Can I ask what you want to look up?”
“You’re not going to get an answer, so don’t bother,” Jack said, opening his door. He grabbed Marty’s arm tightly, letting the boy feel how strong he was. “Let’s go.”
They walked inside, Jack keeping a tight hold on Marty and keeping the knife within easy reach. The library was quiet, with only a few older patrons sitting around reading books. Jack pulled Marty over to where the bound newspapers were kept and started rifling through them until he found the years he was looking for. Marty watched in mixed confusion and fear as he took the volumes dealing with the 1920s and 1980s. Jack shot him another look to keep him quiet, then sat him down roughly as he started flipping through the latter book.
There was absolutely no mention of what he’d done to Marty in 1986, nor of his escape attempt in 1987. Jack frowned, leaning his chin on his free hand. That didn’t make any sense at all. Given what he’d done, it should have been front page news. He remembered that the event had been all over the TV the first time – it should be in the papers too. A niggling fear grew in him. Could it be. . . ? He flipped open the volume on the 1920s and started searching through it. If such things were preserved, it would be near the beginning.
Finally, he found what he was looking for. A birth announcement. Jack’s eyes followed the words:
Mr. and Mrs. Elias Brown would like to announce the birth of their son, Emmett Lathrop Brown, 8 pounds, 3 ounces. Emmett was born at St Daphne’s Hospital on October 22nd, 1920, at 7:42 A.M. The couple already has one child, Emily Carmichael Brown, aged one year and six months.
The scientist leaned backwards, feeling cold. There was absolutely no mention of a second boy. Of a twin.
“I don’t exist,” he muttered, shaking his head. “Again. This doesn’t make sense. I could understand it in that other world – we were all just movie characters there. But this is Hill Valley! I should be here!”
He looked over the birth announcement three times before he finally accepted it. He slammed the book shut and glared over at Marty. “Well, it appears you were right – for once. I obviously didn’t do it to you. Though that begs the question, what the hell happened so I didn’t?”
Marty risked a shrug. Jack rolled his eyes. “Yes, of course, you’d be worthless for--”
A thought hit him. The portal he’d escaped through – it had been labeled Back To The Future Trilogy. Why would it be named like that? Shouldn’t there be only one Back To The Future universe? Jack had only heard of one when he’d crossed over into that other world.
But that didn’t necessarily mean there was only one. Jack was a scientist like his brother, and though his interests tended more toward the medical side of things, he did dabble in physics and the like. He’d heard ideas stating that there might be literally hundreds of thousands of worlds, each having evolved differently. One small change, and the entire world was completely different. And given that he’d been stuck in a Hell that was apparently originally for a world where people had been replaced by anthromorphic animals, Jack could totally believe that was true. So why couldn’t there be a slew of different universes all based on his hometown? Trilogy. . .maybe there’s a separate universe for each movie in the series? Or maybe it works more on the ‘for the want of a nail’ principle. He frowned. Though, why don’t I exist in this universe? Martin obviously thought I was Emmett, and if we weren’t twins, I don’t see why he’d look the same. Unless I died at birth. . . . He scowled. Oh, there’s a pleasant thought. Wonder what might have happened to cause that.
He felt Marty starting to squirm and squeezed harder to remind him that was a bad idea. Then another thought hit him. What had Marty been talking about with asking him if he was from the future or past? He remembered that article where he’d first seen Marty with Emmett – his brother had been talking about temporal physics and the feasibility of time machines. Good Lord, had Emmett really – He yanked the young man’s arm so that Marty was facing him. “Did Emmett build a time machine?” he hissed, pulling out his knife again.
The way the color drained from Marty’s face was answer enough. “Shit! I am such a moron,” the kid whispered.
Jack chuckled. “Look, I don’t even have to insult you. You do it for me. How kind of you.” Then his smile faded away. “So what happened? Did my brother go back in time and murder me so everything would be erased?”
“I have no idea,” Marty said, eyes darting from side to side. “I really can’t see Doc murdering anybody, though.”
Jack looked thoughtful. “You’ve got a point. That weakling brother of mine is squeamish. When he was very young, he used to faint at the sight of blood.” Jack grinned and chuckled again. “I used to take advantage of that. His expressions were hilarious. But yes, I doubt he could do in even a helpless infant. I must have died from other causes. Damn.” He frowned, absently running a finger along his blade. “Do either of you know anything about alternate universes?” he suddenly asked.
Marty went stiff. “No,” he said carefully, not looking Jack in the eye.
Jack very calmly pressed the switchblade to the base of Marty’s index finger. “What was that?”
Marty didn’t answer right away. Jack began to press harder. “Okay, yes!” Marty finally yelped, as the blade bit hard into his skin. “We saw a couple!”
Jack put a finger to the young man’s lips. “Shhh – we’re in a library,” he said with a malicious grin. “Now, tell me about how you got there.”
Marty hesitated, looked at the knife blade still at his finger, then swallowed. “I guess the first doesn’t really count – that was a time machine screw up – but the second. . .Doc created this portal thing and ended up in an alternate universe, while the Doc from there ended up here. It was complicated.”
“I see. How did he create this ‘portal thing,’ as you so elegantly put it?”
Marty gave him a bit of a look, but continued. “He said it happened because the time machines were traveling in synch – they both time traveled at the exact same second as the other. We don’t know any other way to make it happen, we’re not interested in dimension-jumping.”
Jack nodded, chewing his bottom lip thoughtfully. “What was different about that other universe?”
“Doc married another woman, and he’d done some different stuff with the DeLorean,” Marty replied, obviously not wanting to give away too much.
“Did he mention a twin?”
“No, but it really wasn’t on our minds at the time.” Marty looked away, eyes looking a tad watery.
“Are we going to cry now?” Jack mocked. “Come on, show me some tears.”
Marty suddenly turned to face him, eyes still watery, but angry now too. “I – I don’t want to be a traitor! I don’t care what you do, I’m going to stop you! Go ahead and cut my Goddamn fingers off, I--”
Jack slapped a hand over Marty’s mouth. “I somehow doubt that. Call for help, do anything to try and hinder my plans, and I’ll cut your fingers off – after I force you to watch me do the same to Emmett.” He smiled, feeling a happy thrill as the scene played out in his head. “Don’t think I won’t. I despise my brother with all my being, and it would make me practically orgasm to see him in so much pain.”
Marty had turned very white at this, looking frankly ill now. “You’re a monster,” he said against Jack’s hand.
“No, I’m a superior being. None of you can properly appreciate my genius, my talents. Not that it matters to me. All that matters to me right now is getting revenge on the people who sent me to the horrors of Hell.” Marty blinked. “That’s the only reason I haven’t started hurting you in earnest. You may be Martin, but you’re the wrong Martin. I’d certainly get plenty of pleasure out of hearing you scream, but--” he sighed deeply. “It just wouldn’t be the same.”
Marty didn’t say anything to this – just shook. Jack took his hand away and resumed his previous train of thought. So – opening a portal to another universe requires the power of two time machines time traveling at the exact same instant? That limits my options, to be sure. I can’t steal Emmett’s time machine and just start time traveling willy-nilly, hoping to hit the jackpot. He shook his head. I still can’t believe he actually invented a time machine. That inferior little cretin always has to try and show me up. . . .
An idea occurred to him. But maybe I can do him one better. If dimensional travel requires the power of two time machines, doubling the power on the current machine should work. Jury-rig up an appropriate system after seeing Emmett’s pathetic attempts, and – yes, it could work! I wouldn’t be able to control my leaps, unfortunately, but I could make them. I’d be sure to hit paydirt eventually. He looked over at Marty, who was eyeing the library worker as if trying to figure out how to subtly get her attention. The coldest, most evil smile yet graced his face. And even if I have to go through dozens of alternate dimensions before getting to the correct one, I could make it worth my while. . . .
He stood up. “Come on, you,” he said to Marty, pulling him up. “We’re paying a visit to my brother.”
Marty looked horrified. “No! Please, he’s my best friend, don’t hurt him!”
“I’ll hold off on it if you do exactly as I say. Get moving.”
Saturday, May 12th
Marty couldn’t believe he was actually doing this. Stealing the DeLorean right out from under his best friend’s nose. What the hell was he thinking? What kind of friend was he, to be doing this?
The kind of friend who doesn’t want Doc to end up dead, Marty thought, making sure the garage was empty. He knew that, if he didn’t go along with this lunatic, neither he nor Doc would live to see his graduation and wedding. The way Jack’s eyes had lit up when he talked about murdering Doc had convinced him of that. Marty felt his skin crawl. Whoever this guy was, he was pure evil. That smile of his was straight from the bowels of Hell. I can’t believe he looks exactly like Doc. This is worse than that whole Psycho-Doc thing. At least with Psycho-Doc, we knew he wasn’t in his right mind. This guy. . . . Marty glanced back at Jack. Well, he’s probably not all there either, but he’s a lot more controlled about it.
Luckily for his and Doc’s continued well-being, the garage was empty – Doc must have packed up his stuff and headed inside. Feeling rather sick to his stomach, Marty waved Jack in. “All clear.”
Jack walked in, looking around. “Fairly low security for a garage that contains a time machine,” he noted.
“Well, it’s not like anyone knows what he’s done,” Marty shrugged. “There’s really nobody around here to see him time travel, which means nobody around to steal the machine.” He had already decided not to mention Doc’s kids – he was half-certain Jack would try to kidnap and hurt them too. Bad enough he was mixed up in this. Jesus, Doc, I hope you forgive me. “Hill Valley has a low crime rate anyway.”
Jack nodded. “The better for us.” His eyes fell on the DeLorean, parked next to the van. “That it?”
“That’s it,” Marty confirmed, feeling another wave of sickness. You really are a lousy friend, McFly.
Jack went over and examined the car. “Hmmm. Interesting, very interesting. Where’s the main power source?”
Puzzled, Marty pointed at the Mr. Fusion. Jack frowned at it. “What is it?”
“Future technology. Mini fusion generator, I guess? Doc needed a nuclear reaction to get it going in the first experiments.”
Jack blinked, looking astonished. “Nuclear power? Emmett’s always hated that. So much for his principles, I suppose.” He looked back at Marty. “How much energy does it need?”
Jack hissed in annoyance. “Of course. Nothing can ever be easy.” He tried to open the door, only to find it locked. “Case in point. . .where’s the keys?”
“Doc has them on him most of the time – there should be a spare set in here,” Marty hastily added, seeing Jack’s eyes light up again. “Though that’s not going to help you get in the door.”
Marty went over and pressed his thumb to the plate on the driver’s side door. The thumb-lock there scanned him in, then opened up, greeting him cheerfully. “Welcome, Marty.” “You can see why he doesn’t really have to lock the garage,” Marty told Jack.
“Oh. More future technology, I take it?” Marty nodded. “Can you get me in?”
“Don’t have the proper authority.” For a moment, Marty thought about diving into the car and locking himself in. It would certainly free him from Jack – problem was, it left Doc and his family vulnerable. Marty was definitely not going to be responsible for Clara, Jules, or Verne being hurt. And without the keys, he wouldn’t be able to go back in time and stop him. God damn it! Why does the universe hate me today?
“Hmph. Well, I’ve got you, so that’ll do. Help me find the keys.”
Marty reluctantly started searching. Damn it, McFly, do something! he scolded himself as he looked around the garage. Tackle him, get his knife away, anything! You’re twenty-three, which is a hell of a lot younger than him! You have to be stronger! Get him! Sic him!
Unfortunately, Marty wasn’t sure of that. From what he’d felt when Jack was dragging him around, the guy worked out or something. And the way he handled that knife suggested he had a lot of experience with them. Marty thought maybe he could get one over on the guy if he could get the drop on him, but that was looking very unlikely. Jack always seemed to be on the alert. And if he failed, it wouldn’t be just his life he was risking – it would be Doc and his family’s too. Marty hadn’t gone through all the shit he had with the time machines just to see Doc die now. There’s gotta be some way to stop him. Some way to make him leave us alone.
They found the keys hidden under a loose floorboard. Marty’s eyes darted to the trapdoor set into the floor in the far corner as Jack grabbed them. Oh, shit, did he notice that? If he gets into Doc’s secret lab, we could be in major trouble. What if he decides he wants the train instead? He paused and thought that over. Actually, considering how big, bulky, and noisy the train is. . . .
Jack seemed only interested in the DeLorean, however. He cheerfully tossed the keys into the air and caught them. “Beautiful. All right, Martin, let’s get going. I have a lot to do, and I’m not sure how much time I have to do it in.” Suddenly, he laughed. “What am I saying? I have a time machine now! I have all the time I want!”
There was a sudden loud barking at the door. Both Marty and Jack turned to see Einstein standing there, growling at the intruder. “Einstein!” Marty said, feeling a stab of fear. If Jack had no compunctions against killing a human, he’d most likely kill a dog without even thinking about it. “No, boy! Sit!”
Einstein gave Marty a puzzled look, but sat. Jack looked at the dog, fingering his knife. “Hmmm. That mutt will probably raise the alarm once we go. . . .”
“Please don’t kill him,” Marty said immediately. “I can make him leave if you want--”
Jack laughed. “Why, Martin – you’re acting like I don’t want Emmett to be worried about you.” He patted the young man’s head condescendingly. “He can raise the alarm if he likes – just not before we go.” He pulled Marty back over to the DeLorean, ignoring Einstein’s renewed growling. “Show me how this works – we have a lot to do!”
Saturday, May 12th
Doc looked up as he heard barking and scratching at the door. “Guess Einstein wants in again,” he said, setting down his book and getting up. “Some days that dog really puzzles me. . . .” He opened the door to see his faithful dog sitting on the front stoop. “All right, come on in. Hope you did your business, because--”
Einstein barked loudly and stood up. Doc frowned. Something about the dog’s body language seemed – frightened. “What is it, boy?”
Einstein barked again, then padded down the steps. Doc followed. “Timmy stuck in the well?” he joked, smiling –
Just as his DeLorean came screeching out of the garage.
Doc, startled, leapt backwards. The DeLorean took a sharp turn out of the driveway, seemed dangerously on the verge of fishtailing, then the driver regained control and sped off down the road. “Hey! HEY!” Doc yelled, starting to run after them. He knew it was a stupid and utterly useless move, but it seemed to be the thing to do when your car had just been stolen. “Great Scott!”
“Emmett?” Clara appeared in the doorway, still holding her needlework project. “Emmett, what happened? I heard this screeching noise, then you yelling. . . .”
“Someone just stole the DeLorean,” Doc said, turning to face his wife as Einstein barked at the departing car.
“What?” Clara almost dropped her sewing. “But – that’s near impossible! The DeLorean has those special locks you got from the future. The only ones allowed in are me and you--”
There was a pause. “And Marty,” Clara and Doc said in unison.
Doc shook his head. “But it doesn’t make sense for him to have stolen the car either. It’s completely opposite to his personality. Besides, I caught a glimpse of who was at the wheel – whoever it was, he was definitely taller. Didn’t get a good enough look at whoever was in the passenger seat.”
Clara frowned. “Do you think they could have broken the thumb-locks?”
“Maybe – it’s not impossible, at any rate.” Doc checked his modified watch. “The DeLorean’s still registering as being in this time period, so our thief either doesn’t know it’s a time machine, or has no interest in time traveling yet. I somehow doubt the latter is a possibility – I’ll have to keep a close eye on this.”
Clara sighed deeply. “Oh, and today was going so well too. Jennifer, Lorraine, and I had such a lovely time at the dress shop. I didn’t want anything like this to happen.”
“Neither did I,” Doc said, heading back up the steps. “But it has, and we need to take action. The sooner we call the police, the sooner we can get all this over with.” He headed for the phone. “At least there’s one good thing about having a highly-recognizable car – it’s very hard for someone to steal it and get away with the crime.”
Before he could pick up the receiver, though, the phone started ringing. Doc regarded it in surprise for a moment, then picked up. “Hello, Brown residence.”
“Hey, Doc, it’s Jennifer. Is Marty over there?”
“No, he isn’t. He left shortly before one o’clock to meet you for lunch.”
Something about her tone made Doc frown. She sounded both annoyed and worried. “Jennifer, did Marty not show up for your lunch date?”
“Got it in one, Doc. I don’t know where the hell he is. I’m getting kind of nervous. I mean, I know he’s not exactly the most punctual person on earth, but he’s rarely ever this late.”
Doc’s frown deepened. Marty not showing up to lunch with his fiancee. . .the DeLorean getting stolen. . .a mystery person in the front seat. . . . Great Scott, I hope I’m wrong, but – what if Marty was kidnapped and forced into stealing the time machine for someone else? “Jennifer, you might want to come down here,” he said. “I’ve got a theory about where Marty might be.”
“My DeLorean was just stolen by an unknown person. I think I saw two people in the car.”
There was a sharp intake of breath from the other end of the phone. “Doc, you’re not saying that--”
“I don’t know yet, Jennifer. But he does have access to the DeLorean. If someone knew about the car and wanted to take it, kidnapping him would make a lot of sense. Of course, there could be a more mundane explanation, and the DeLorean being stolen right now was a coincidence.”
“I’ll keep my fingers crossed for the latter. I’ll be right there, Doc.”
“All right. I’ll start looking for clues as to Marty’s whereabouts. I’ll see you shortly.”
“Yeah, see ya.”
Doc hung up the phone. Clara watched him nervously, setting her sewing aside on a nearby table. “Emmett? Do you really think someone kidnapped Marty to get at the DeLorean?” she asked, coming up to stand behind him.
“I don’t know,” Doc said. “Like I told Jennifer, it does make sense. And it’s not like him to completely blow off an appointment. He may be tardy, but he rarely outright misses anything.” Doc winced. “If he has been kidnapped – well, I just hope we can catch up with the perpetrator before he comes to any serious injury.”
Clara squeezed him lightly. “Marty’s a smart kid, and quick on his feet. If he has been kidnapped, he might escape before anything happens.”
“I hope so.” Doc felt a cold chill as an old memory came back to him, unbidden – Marty held hostage by the psychopathic version of himself. “Give me that bitch Clara and I’ll let him go. Maybe. My real Marty may not want me to make the trade.” His knife nibbled at Marty’s flesh, causing beads of blood to rise to the surface. . . .
Doc shook his head. This is not a repeat of that situation, he told himself firmly. Even if Marty has been kidnapped, I’m sure it’s by an ordinary human being, not some insane other version of myself. Concentrate on finding out where he is and how to get the DeLorean back as quickly as possible, before the space-time continuum decides to collapse in on itself. “Come on, let’s look for clues. If Marty was taken to get to our car, it’s probable either his truck or the kidnapper’s mode of transportation is nearby.”
Sure enough, they found Marty’s beloved Toyota 4x4 sitting down the road from their house. Doc let Einstein in to sniff while he and Clara examined the car visually. Everything appeared to be in order – it was like Marty had just parked and decided to walk the rest of the way to the house. Doc somehow doubted this was the case, however. “What do you think, Einy?” he asked, looking at the dog.
Einstein woofed, then sniffed the passenger seat and growled. Doc sighed. “Well, we know now Marty had someone strange in his car, at least. Einstein knows the scents of a good number of his friends at this point – he wouldn’t growl at any of those.”
Clara shook her head. “He rarely growls at anyone. I think your kidnapping theory was right. But how did whoever it was find out about the time machine?”
“Damned if I know,” Doc said, scowling. “Ever since that initial incident with Biff, I’ve tried to be a lot more careful about going out in public with the DeLorean. Not to mention the new security measures I’ve taken with the new car. Maybe it’s time to start upgrading the locks on the garage as well. I thought our isolated position was protection enough in that regard, but it appears I was wrong.” He shook his head. “Well, if worse comes to worst, I suppose I can always use the time train to skip back an hour or so.” He generally didn’t like pulling out the machines to try and fix any sort of problem, but in this case, he felt it would be justified. Marty was his best friend, and he was damned if he’d let the kid come to any harm. Especially so close to his college graduation and wedding.
Clara looked a bit surprised. “You’d risk changing the time-line?”
“I’d probably just observe, but if Marty turned out to be in serious danger. . . . He’s risked the space-time continuum for me. I should be willing to do the same.”
“That’s true,” Clara nodded. “I hope it doesn’t come to that, though. You always get so tense if you think you’re about to risk a paradox.”
“Well, the possible destruction of the universe would make anyone tense,” Doc said, attempting to smile.
They searched the car again for clues, then the surrounding area. There was nothing to suggest a struggle of any sort, which confused Doc a bit. If Marty really had been kidnapped, wouldn’t there have been signs of force? Unless he was unconscious or in grave danger, he thought with a shudder. I don’t see any signs of anyone being dragged either, so. . . Damn! He’d better be all right.
Jennifer arrived a short time later, as they walked back to the garage. “I saw Marty’s truck – did you find anything?” she asked as she got out of the car.
“Not really, no,” Doc admitted. “Einstein did pick up an unfamiliar scent in the car that lead to the garage, so whoever did this is unknown to us.”
Jennifer nodded. “Yeah, I doubt one of the Pinheads is gonna steal your time machine.” She patted Einstein’s head as he sniffed her shoes in greeting. “Too bad he can’t talk – might make things easier.”
“I’ve toyed around with human/animal communications in the past,” Doc said, looking thoughtful. “Problem is, working on an appropriate system would take more time than we have.”
“Yeah, really.” Jennifer looked at the inside of the garage. “Why don’t you just bust out the train and go back to see who took Marty?”
“We can’t be certain it was a kidnap attempt yet – the evidence does suggest it, but it’s all circumstantial. The train is also rather slow and cumbersome – that’s the whole reason I recreated the DeLorean, it’s easier for shorter trips. I’m not opposed to pulling out the train, but let’s keep it as a last resort. We may still be able to work through normal channels regarding this.”
“Normal channels. Right. Have you called the police yet then?”
“I’ll do so right now.”
Saturday, May 12th
Marty sat in the front seat of the DeLorean, watching as Jack finished building whatever it was he was making. Part of him still couldn’t believe this was all happening. Kidnapped by an alternate dimension evil twin of his best friend – that was high up on the weirdness scale, even for him. At least he’s been so involved in whatever he’s been doing that he hasn’t tried to hurt me anymore.
After speeding out of Doc’s garage, Jack had taken him on a wild ride around the outskirts of Hill Valley. Marty wasn’t sure if it was because Jack had a secret weakness for fast cars, or if he had been trying to make Marty throw up for his own amusement. If it had been the latter, he hadn’t really succeeded – Marty had thrown up all right, but all over Jack’s shoes. Jack hadn’t been happy – Marty now had the bruises to prove that.
After getting themselves cleaned up, Jack had taken them back into town and to the local hardware store. Posing as Doc (and keeping the knife pressed against Marty’s ribs to make sure he didn’t alert anyone to the deception), he’d bought a truckload of stuff, most of which Marty didn’t really recognize. He’d also bought a long coil of heavy-duty plastic rope. Once they were safely near the woods again, he’d tied Marty up and set to work building his thing.
Which led to now, where Jack had just finished putting in his last screw. “There! That should do it!” he said, looking supremely pleased with himself. “Probably would have been easier to go to the future, but I just know the distraction factor would have killed my plans. Plus, I’m sure law enforcement is far more efficient,” he added, rolling his eyes.
Marty just nodded, wishing Jack had succumbed to the urge to experiment. If he’d time traveled, Doc would have been alerted, and maybe he’d be out of this mess. Man, I really don’t know how I’m going to face him after all this is over. Guess I’ll just have to get on my knees and beg for forgiveness. He’s gotta understand – this guy’s crazy!
Jack grinned over at Marty. “What, no questions on what I’ve built?”
“Didn’t think you’d bother to tell me,” Marty admitted.
“I’m not above a little bragging,” Jack said, standing up and wiping off his hands. “What it is, is simply a amplifier for the power. Specifically, I’ve rigged it up so that the moment I attempt time travel, the power running to the flux capacitor automatically doubles. This should simulate the experience of two time machines traveling at the same instant. Result? Automatic portal to another world.” Jack smiled as he patted his odd-looking setup. “Right now, the result is completely random as to what world you end up in, but I don’t have time to rig up my own system for specifics. Besides, random might be best for getting away from this version of Emmett.”
“Great,” Marty said with false cheerfulness. “So you’re going off after that other Marty?”
“In essence,” Jack nodded. “It will most likely take me a few tries to get to the dimension I want, but that doesn’t bother me.”
Marty nodded back. “So, now what? Abandon me to get eaten by wolves?” Please, please say yes. Then Doc can rescue me, and we can figure out how to help this other Marty you’re going after.
Jack looked at him for a moment. Then he threw his head back and laughed. “You really think – oh, Martin, you are just adorable,” he said, smiling like a shark about to strike. “You honestly thought I was going to leave you alone once I was finished?”
A cold chill snaked down Marty’s spine. “Uh, yeah,” he said. “You got what you wanted, why keep me around?”
“Because you’re Martin, my dear boy,” Jack said, patting Marty’s cheek.
“But – but I’m the wrong Marty!” Marty cried, starting to panic. “You said so yourself!”
“That’s true – but you’re still Martin,” Jack said. He leaned into Marty’s face, eyes glittering with evil joy. “And why just take my revenge on one Martin – when I can take it on multiple Martins? And torture multiple Emmetts?” His smile grew wider, showing far more teeth than Marty had thought possible. “After all, pleasure can and should be multiplied.”
“You’re nuts,” Marty whispered, feeling the beginnings of tears burning in his eyes. “Doc’s gonna stop you.”
“Let him try,” Jack smirked. “It should be interesting, watching his feeble attempts to rescue you. I certainly don’t intend to let him get close enough to land a punch again. And just knowing he’s worried sick about you, knows I’m hurting you, and can’t do a thing about it--” He sucked in a breath and shivered. “Makes me tingly all over.”
Marty blinked hard, trying not to cry. “He’ll stop you,” he repeated. “He won’t rest until he has.”
Jack shook his head. “I let my native version of Emmett beat me twice. I will not let it happen a third time.” He gently cradled Marty’s face in his hands. “Face it Martin – you’re doomed. Though don’t worry. I’ll give your body back to him so he can bury it.” He burst out laughing. “In the meantime, though – let’s take a ride!”
Marty didn’t bother to stop the tears anymore. He couldn’t believe this. Just about a month away from his college graduation – and his wedding – and he was going to be murdered at the hands of a lunatic. It wasn’t fair. It just wasn’t fair. “You’re gonna get yours someday,” he said as Jack closed up the car and got into the driver’s seat.
“Already did. Didn’t take,” Jack grinned. “Let’s see, when should I go – back past 1987? No, let’s keep the element of surprise, let them think I’m dead. Let’s say – July 3rd, 1989, at 7:30 P.M. Don’t want to strain my eyes from readjustment, after all.” He punched in the date on the keypad. “Everything working?”
“Guess so,” Marty mumbled.
“Excellent.” Jack gripped the steering wheel tightly. “Let’s be off.”
Saturday, May 12th
Doc sat on the front steps of his house, staring at the sunset but not really seeing it. His mind was occupied with other things. He, Clara, and Jennifer had spent most of the afternoon searching for Marty. After calling the police, they’d started driving around town, asking people if they’d seen the young man. Most replied in the negative, but a couple had given him strange looks and said they’d seen Marty with Doc himself and the DeLorean. Apparently the two had gone to the hardware store to pick up parts at about 2:30.
Hearing that had given Doc a case of the willies. Although Clara had assured him that she and his psychopathic counterpart of four years ago had only made the one time trip together, he still couldn’t help but think Psycho-Doc had returned. And he knew from experience how dangerous that version of him was. Great Scott, if he somehow made a second time trip without Clara’s knowledge, then the timeline is in a dangerous state of flux. We may have won the first time, but if he manages to kill this Marty now, or do something that prevents his return to 1986, then –
Luckily for his continued sanity, something was off about the Psycho-Doc theory. From their limited experience with him back in 1986, it was clear that the insane version of Doc was openly crazy – babbling to an invisible version of Marty and walking around covered in blood, regardless of who might see him. This alternate Doc seemed to be far more controlled, successfully impersonating the real version. The trio had doubted Psycho-Doc could have pulled that off. Doc was sure he’d have a nightmare or two about Psycho-Doc’s return now, but at least the nightmare wouldn’t be reality.
That still left the question of who was this person who looked so much like him. The investigation had gone rather cold after talking to the hardware store owner. The alternate Doc had picked up a variety of parts designed for amplifying power outputs, then left with Marty. After that, he hadn’t been seen in town again. The police had caught up to them then, and they’d had to spend some time detailing what had happened with the theft of the DeLorean and their ideas on Marty’s possible kidnapping. Doc was glad the police were taking this so seriously – he’d had problems with his complaints in the past. Probably because George McFly’s son is involved. Never thought I would say this, but thank God Marty changed the future so his dad became a minor celebrity!
After finishing with the police, they’d come home to consider their options. Doc considered it extremely fortunate that their children were safe and out of the way. Jules, Verne, Martina, and Johanna were all staying for a couple of days with their grandparents in 1899, to give their parents a short “vacation.” Doc was glad Clara had made up with her parents after her wedding to him – he was always a little sad that his own relationship with his parents, especially his father, hadn’t been better. Daniel and Martha had turned out to be decent people (if a tad class-conscious) and neither Doc nor Clara wanted to deny them access to their grandchildren every once in a while. Not to mention it helped keep up the illusion that they were living in the same time period. It certainly helped in this situation. Clara had taken the train out briefly to contact the kids and explain a bit of the situation (Jules and Verne were old enough to probably notice something was amiss once they got home), while Jennifer had returned to the apartment she and Marty shared, hoping against hope that he had come home. For the moment, Doc was alone.
Einstein came up to him and put his head on the scientist’s leg. Doc gently scratched the dog behind the ears. “This has turned out to be a very rough day, huh Einy? I never thought that I’d end up having to deal with anything like this when I woke up this morning.” Einstein whined. “I know. Jennifer’s right – if you could talk, perhaps we wouldn’t be in this mess.” He sighed deeply. “Damn it, why do they always target Marty? Not that I particularly want them targeting Clara or Jules or Verne, but that kid’s gone through enough shit in his life.” He glanced upward. “He’s going to be married this summer. I want to see him start off on a life that will lead to success and happiness. I want to see him find a good job, start a family, all of that.” He lowered his head again. “I want him to come home.”
Einstein licked Doc’s hand. Doc managed a small smile. “I bet you feel the same way. Well, I’m not going to give up. Come Hell or high water, we’re going to find this kid.”
Just then, his watch beeped.
Doc’s heart gave a leap. Finally, his mystery twin had used the time machine components! That made tracking them down a bit easier. He got up, shooing Einstein off his leg. Time to–
Then he stopped. Something was wrong. Generally, when the DeLorean traveled through time, his watch beeped until he deactivated the alarm. This time, it had only beeped the once. Puzzled, he checked the display.
Flashing back at him was the word “ERROR.”
Doc’s blood went ice cold. Error? That was not good. Had the watch suffered a malfunction of some sort? No, impossible! I just gave it a tuneup and replaced the batteries last week! That means the error is coming from the DeLorean’s systems. . . Damn, damn damn! If he can travel through time without me being alerted, we are in serious trouble!
Clara exited the garage just then. “Emmett? Any news?” she asked, brushing a little dust off her dress.
“Nothing good,” Doc said, showing her his watch.
Clara paled at seeing the error message. “Oh no. What happened?”
“The watch beeped as if transmitting the time travel alert signal, then ceased proper operations. It appears that our perpetrator has either damaged the security functions of the DeLorean, or found a way to bypass them.” Doc started toward the garage. “Which means it’s time to break out the train. The risk of us changing things is negligible compared to the risk of whoever stole the DeLorean changing things.”
Clara nodded. “Do you think we should call Jennifer first, though?”
Doc paused. “Yes,” he finally decided, turning back toward the house. “Depending on how things go, she should probably know.”
Jennifer answered the phone on the first ring. “Marty?”
“It’s Doc, actually. But hopefully we’ll have Marty with us soon.”
“Really?” Jennifer asked hopefully. “Are you taking the train out then?”
“Yes – I just received the alert that the DeLorean traveled through time, but apparently something malfunctioned. We’re going back to earlier today to see if we can abort whatever happened safely – or at least figure it out.”
“Great. I’ll be there as soon as possible.”
Doc blinked, startled. “What?”
“If you think I’m not coming along, you’re nuts. He’s my fiancee, Doc. I can’t just sit here and wait around.”
Doc supposed he could understand that. “Well, all right. Though if all goes well, this timeline will change and you won’t even remember that he was missing if you stay.”
“I don’t care. I gotta be a part of this, Doc. I’ve been sitting here worrying for hours. If I can help, I’m gonna help.”
“Fine then. We’ll be waiting outside the garage for you.”
“I’ll be there as soon as I can.”
Fifteen minutes later, Jennifer arrived. “Think I broke some landspeed records getting over here,” she said, half-joking. “I’m surprised I didn’t get a speeding ticket.”
“Me either,” Doc admitted, looking at his watch in surprise. “Though I am grateful for the promptness – I don’t want to delay this for too long.”
“Oh, me either, me either. Let’s get this show on the road.”
The threesome headed into the garage, down the trapdoor, and into Doc’s secret lab. Doc made sure the train was fully stocked with emergency equipment and that all systems were functioning as Clara and Jennifer strapped themselves in. “How far are we going back?” Jennifer asked as Doc went to the controls.
“I don’t think we’d have to go to before noon,” Clara added. “Are you planning on catching Marty right when he leaves, or do you want to leave a buffer time of sorts?”
“Best to have the buffer,” Doc said, programming the time circuits. “If there’s anything I’ve learned from our time travel accidents, you always need that extra time to do things properly.” He fired up the train. “Hold on to your seats, ladies.”
The locomotive quickly picked up speed as they proceeded down the tunnel. Soon they reached the end, flying out into Clayton Ravine. Doc activated the invisibility circuits and did one final check of the time circuits. “All right, everyone, prepare yourselves for--”
Doc stopped as something caught his eye. Something looked – off – in the air nearby. Frowning, Doc went to the left window, leaving the train to hover. Just up and to the left, near the lip of the canyon, there was an odd sort of – shimmer. Sort of like what’d you see on a very hot day over the pavement, where the fake puddles of water formed. Doc studied it, confused. Was it an optical illusion of some sort? That was the obvious explanation, but somehow, Doc didn’t think that was the answer. The shimmer had an odd solidity to it. And it looked familiar, like he’d seen something like it before –
And that’s when it hit him. His jaw dropped. “Great Scott. . . .”
“Emmett?” Clara unbuckled her seat belt. “Why have we stopped?”
“Yeah, Marty’s still in trouble!” Jennifer said, also getting up. “I thought you were all gung ho to rescue him!”
“I – I think our situation has just become much more complicated,” Doc said, pointing out the shimmer.
The girls looked at it. “What is that?” Jennifer asked, lifting an eyebrow.
“I don’t expect either of you to recognize it, since you’ve never seen one in person – but that’s a rip in the fabric of the space-time continuum.”
Clara went pale. “Oh, my. That can’t be good.”
“Indeed.” Doc looked at it, shaking his head slightly. “If I don’t miss my guess, we’re looking at a portal to another universe.”
“A what?” Jennifer said, eyes widening. “I thought ours was the only universe!”
Doc shook his head. “There’s at least one other, and I wouldn’t be surprised if there were more. You weren’t around when we had our experience with our other-dimensional counterparts, but I imagine Marty told you something about it. Three years ago? Back when I invented the Temporal Displacement Locator?”
Recognition dawned in both Jennifer and Clara’s eyes. “Oh, yeah. Marty said something about another version of you arriving back in your place. Who saved your wife and kids from being beat up by Biff’s twins.” She frowned. “I wasn’t sure if I believed him, he mentioned something about vampires. . . .”
“He was telling the truth,” Doc said. “I saw the fangs with my own eyes. Incredible, to be sure, but true.”
Jennifer shook her head. “I guess I really shouldn’t be that surprised, considering you invented time travel. Still pretty out there, though.”
“You don’t think they’ve somehow come back, do you?” Clara asked, looking around the canyon. “Or perhaps another alternate Emmett has come here?”
“Maybe.” Doc looked down at his watch. “It could explain why my watch is malfunctioning. If the DeLorean’s in a different dimension, the signal wouldn’t get through.”
“So, what do we do now?” Jennifer asked, frowning at the ripple. “Do we go back and see if any alternate versions of you have showed up? Do we keep to the time travel plan?”
Doc was silent for a long moment, staring at the shimmer. Then, very softly, “You know, I don’t think our car thief would willingly come back to this dimension on his own.”
“You want to follow him?” Clara said, startled. Her eyes narrowed. “Is this worry over Marty’s safety, or your scientific curiosity kicking in?”
“A little of both,” Doc confessed. “We’re going to need my time machine to close the rift, and of course I want to get Marty back. And yes, I’ll admit to being somewhat curious about what lies on the other side. Aren’t you?”
“Well – a little,” Clara said, blushing. “I’m just worried you’re rushing into a decision.”
“I don’t think I am. If worse comes to worst, we can return here as long as the rift stays open – which it should, without more temporal interference to close it – and proceed with our original time travel plans.”
Clara looked over at Jennifer. “What do you think?”
“You two are the time travel experts,” Jennifer said, raising her hands. “I’m just along for the ride. But I guess I agree with Doc – if there’s a chance we can get Marty and the time machine back, we should probably take it.” A half-smile appeared on her face. “And yeah, I’m kind of curious myself about what’s on the other side of that shimmer thing.”
“You can stay here if you want,” Doc told Clara. “If there is another version of myself, you could explain things to him.”
Clara considered that a moment, then shook her head. “I’d be too worried about what was happening with you. Not to mention if the alternate you turned out to be like--” she shuddered. “You know. . . .”
Doc winced – he’d been trying not to think of that. “I do indeed. All right then – we’re all in this together?”
“Yes,” Clara nodded.
“Let’s do this,” Jennifer said.
Doc clapped his hands. “Then let’s get going. You’d better buckle up again, you two – traveling through dimensions is rather rough.”
The girls quickly resumed their seats. Doc reoriented the train so that it was lined up with the ripple. “Here goes nothing,” he said softly, and accelerated toward it.
Moments later, the train exited the Trilogy world.