When Worlds Collide -- REALLY Collide
Monday, August 12th, 1991
Hill Valley Humor
Consciousness returned in a flood of pain for Marty-4. It felt like he was being stabbed all over with needles. At least the knife’s out, he thought weakly, hissing through his teeth at the sheer agony.
“Awwww, poor baby,” a voice said nearby. “Look at you, trussed up and helpless as a Christmas turkey.” Marty-4 felt hot breath on his cheek. “Makes me want to throw you to the ground and have my way with you.”
Marty-4 jerked his head away, ignoring the pain that resulted. Opening his eyes and getting his bearings, he saw that he appeared to be inside the train he’d seen before. His arms and legs were tied up, the rope knotted multiple times. There was also a rope around his chest, pinning his wings to his back. He was sitting on some sort of bench against one of the side walls, next to three other versions of himself. The other Martys were gaping at him. “Holy shit, you’re still alive?” one said, eyes huge.
“Doesn’t really feel like I am,” Marty-4 admitted, wincing. “What happened? Where am I?”
“Hell,” the second Marty said, looking around the train in disgust.
The man who’d been speaking to him – Marty-4 recognized him as Jack – burst out laughing. “You think this is Hell? Oh, poor naive Martin! This isn’t anywhere near Hell!” Jack walked over and tousled the Marty’s hair in a “friendly” manner. “Though I’ll do my best to make it as close as possible once we’ve gotten a few more of you. And managed to shake off our pursuit. Can’t have your ‘friends’ playing the big damn heroes, after all.”
The blonde woman from before walked over to Marty-4. “Disgusting,” she muttered. “Absolutely disgusting. Who turned you, you blood-sucking abomination?”
“None of your business,” Marty-4 growled, letting his fangs show.
The woman slapped him hard across the face. “Don’t get smart with me, you jackass. It was Dr. Brown, wasn’t it? I should have guessed he’d take any excuse to infect another with the disease. Even someone he supposedly cares about.”
“Oh, he cares about Martin all right,” Jack said. “You can’t deny that, Sandra. He just has a very odd way of showing it.” He smirked over at Marty-4. “Such as turning his best friend into a monster that can’t even eat normal food anymore.”
“I was dying!” Marty-4 protested, eyes flashing. “It was the only way--”
Marty-4 suddenly got a cold chill as he realized something. There was something very important missing from his chest – his Doc’s heartbeat. What – Dad? Can you hear me? Dad? Dad?!
. . . Daddy?
Marty-4 felt his eyes start to well up. “What the hell did you do to him?” he demanded, trying to ignore the break in his voice.
Jack chuckled. “Look at that. One threat against his precious Emmett, and he starts bawling.”
“Tell me what you’re trying to pull! Tell me what you did!” Marty-4 said, angrily pulling on his bonds. The rope was tied well, however, and in his current weakened state, he wasn’t much of a match for it.
“Unfortunately, I didn’t get a chance to do anything to him,” Jack said. “Emmett’s fine, as far as I know.”
“Yeah, too bad,” the blonde grumbled. “He’s free to go around creating more monstrosities in that world, like you.”
“He only changed me to save my life!”
“So he turned you into an abomination against Allah and creation,” the Middle-Eastern woman said, smiling coldly at him from her position next to Jack. “I would have picked death myself.”
“Don’t listen to them,” the third Marty said. “They just like seeing us getting all wound up.” He paused. “That said, what the hell is going on with you?”
“Judging from the way they’re talking, he’s a vampire,” Marty-2 spoke up. “I know about these things. Don’t worry, bud, most of us here are pretty weird.”
“You can say that again,” said Biff Tannen, leaning up against the wall.
Marty-4 felt his stomach turn. “What are you doing here?”
“They told me about their plan, and I decided to sign up,” Biff said casually. “I’ve wanted to punch either you or Brown for months now. Vampires, huh? How were you managing the whole sunlight thing? I mean, I know you don’t fade away or anything like that, but shouldn’t you keel over asleep or something?”
“It’s none of your business,” Marty-4 snarled. “What the hell were you doing in the woods with a gun, anyway?”
“That’s none of your business,” Biff retorted.
“I’m glad he was there,” the blonde said with a slight smile in Biff’s direction. “Otherwise taking you down might have taken a lot longer, and our company might have caught up.”
“Company?” Marty-4's head was starting to spin. “What the hell is going on here?”
“Basically? These psychopaths have got it in for Doc, and they’ve decided the best way to get revenge is to kidnap as many of us as they can find,” Marty-1 said.
“We’re actually traveling through different dimensions,” Marty-2 said. “Wild, huh?”
“Different dimensions? You guys know how to do that?”
Jack grinned. “Emmett’s not the smartest of us.”
“You asshole, the only reason you figured this out was because of Doc,” Marty-1 snapped. “If I hadn’t been around to tell you--”
Jack left the controls, walked calmly to Marty-1, and slapped him hard across the face. “I would have figured something out,” he said, backhanding the teen the other way. “You just aided my quest enormously.”
“What – you told him--” Marty-4 stammered, horrified.
“He forced him to,” Marty-3 said. “Would he be tied up if he’d gone along with this shit willingly?”
Marty-4 had to admit, that was true. “Jesus Christ. So – where are we now?”
“Don’t know – he seems to be choosing places at random,” Marty-3 said.
“No, he just doesn’t know how to pick a dimension yet,” Marty-1 corrected him, wincing as he spoke through his now bruised lips.
“Which doesn’t bother me half as much as it did when I first started out,” Jack said, looking disturbingly pleased. “Meeting all of you – it’s been a thrill.” With a sultry grin at the Middle-Eastern woman, he added, “In more ways than one.”
Marty-4 looked at the floor of the train. “This is heavy,” he whispered.
“Tell us about it,” Marty-2 said.
Jack returned to the controls. “And I’m sure it’s going to get heavier. Somewhere out there is a Martin, and I intend to collect him as soon as possible.”
“How many are we gonna get, old man?” Biff asked.
Jack gave him a bit of a look. “I’m not that old. And as many as we can.”
“Oh.” Biff looked a little disappointed. “I’m just looking forward to, you know, smacking them around.” He glared at the assembled Martys. “They’re not their father, but they’ll do.”
“Well, you can smack them around a little right now,” Jack assured him, smiling again. “And once we get the one I started this trip to find, we’ll take a nice long break and work them all over properly.” His smile widened. “Maybe I’ll be able to whip up some of my old devices. I miss my lovely rack.”
“Whatever you decide is okay with me, so long as the vamp-boy and the partial go first,” the blonde said, giving Marty-4 and Marty-2 disgusted looks.
“Second and third, I’m afraid,” Jack said smoothly, piloting the train around. “My Martin will be the first in. I want him to scream for me again.” He sighed. “They’re such delicious screamers.”
“I know,” the Middle-Eastern woman purred, hugging Jack’s side. “And I know you’ll extract only the best.”
Marty-4 shut his eyes tightly. Oh God. I didn’t think anything could be worse than Hell Valley, but. . . . Please, please, let me be dreaming. Let this all be some stupid nightmare. I want to wake up safe and warm in my own bed. Let me wake up.
“If you’re praying for all this to be some dream, you can stop,” Marty-3 said in a weary voice. “I can tell you right now it doesn’t work.”
Marty-4 sniffled. “I want my Dad,” he said softly.
“Yeah, I wouldn’t mind seeing George McFly myself,” Marty-1 said, glaring at Biff. Biff just smirked back.
Marty-4 thought of correcting him, then looked at Jack and decided against it. He had no doubts that if this lunatic knew that his Doc had all but adopted him, he’d exploit the connection mercilessly. He pulled again at the ropes. Still no luck. “My family’s gonna be sick with worry,” he said.
“Don’t worry, the Docs are coming after us,” Marty-2 said, trying to sound hopefully. “They’ll save us. Doc always finds a way.”
Jack shook his head. “Not this time, Martin,” he said, his voice far away. “Not this time.”
Monday, August 12th
“Not this time, Marty! Not this time!”
Marty desperately hit the B button as many times as he could. “Come on, come on – yes!”
“No!” Verne said, watching as his fighter fell to the ground.
Jules, watching behind them, chuckled. “I believe that makes five straight games he’s trounced you in, Verne.”
“It’s not fair!” Verne said, glaring at the animation of Marty’s fighter exulting in his victory. “I’m younger! I’m supposed to have the faster reflexes!”
“Sorry, Verne,” Marty said, tousling the kid’s hair. “But I’ve had at least five more years of practicing my video game moves than you.”
“I thought that was with stuff like ‘Wild Gunman!’ I already know not to try and challenge you with that!” Verne pouted. “One of these days, I’m gonna get you, McFly. You wait.”
“I’ll do that.” Marty got up and stretched. “Oof, I think I’ve been sitting too long. What time is it?”
Jules checked his watch. “5:24 and 15 seconds.”
“Oh, jeez. I’m gonna have to head home soon for dinner.”
Verne blinked. “I thought you didn’t live with your Mom and Dad anymore.”
“No, but I live with my girlfriend and my best friend after your dad now. They’re almost as strict about eating on time.”
“Well, it’s a waste to let food get cold,” Clara said, looking up from her sewing. “I’ve always been very strict about getting to the dinner table on time.”
Marty smirked at her. “With your husband? It couldn’t have been all that hard.”
Clara couldn’t help a smile back. “Well, yes, true. I’m lucky these two have picked up his tendency for punctuality.”
“I’m hoping it’ll rub off on me one of these days,” Marty admitted. “I try to be on time, it’s just – stuff always seems to come up.”
“You never seem all that late to me,” Verne said.
“Which I suppose means it’s rubbing off,” Jules joked.
Marty laughed. “We – and my teachers – can only hope.” He put his controller next to the NES. “Anyway, I guess I’d better get going. Jennifer’s got her dad’s meatloaf in the freezer, and I definitely don’t want to be late for that.”
“Yes, we’ll be having our own dinner in a bit too,” Clara said, noting the time.
“Pizza?” Verne asked hopefully.
“Sausage and pepper sandwiches, actually.”
“Oh, that’s good too.” Verne hopped off the couch and hugged Marty. “See ya later, Marty.”
“Goodbye Marty,” Jules nodded, also giving the young man a hug. “Will you be coming over tomorrow?”
“Dunno – Jennifer and I might be going out with Amy and her new boyfriend – Dick? Dirk? Something like that. I’ll probably drop by to say a quick hi, though.”
The boys nodded. “Good. That means I can get ready to beat you the next time you come over,” Verne grinned.
Clara rolled her eyes. “Boys and video games. . . .”
“Aw, come on, Mom. You’ve gotten great at ‘Monstrux.’”
Clara turned pink. “Well – some of them have a certain appeal, I admit.”
The boys sniggered. “We won’t tell anyone, Clara,” Marty assured her. “Want me to tell your husband to get inside and clean up?”
“Please.” She patted his shoulder. “Have a safe trip home.”
“Thanks. See you later.” Marty headed outside to the Brown’s garage, where he’d last seen his friend. “Hey, Doc?”
Doc was sitting at his computer, typing something. He didn’t look up from the screen until Marty coughed. “Oh, hi, Marty,” he said, obviously a little distracted. “You aren’t leaving yet, are you?”
“Actually, I am – it’s almost 5:30, and I need to get home for dinner on time so Jennifer and Rick won’t give me ‘the look.’” Marty walked over to his friend and peered over his shoulder. “Whatcha writing?”
“Rough draft of something new I want to add to the DeLorean.”
“Something new? Doc, you’ve stuck so much stuff on that car I’m surprised it can even fly anymore.”
Doc chuckled. “Sometimes, so am I,” he admitted. “It’s really nothing special – just some updated door locks. I was thinking a thumbprint system, like from 2015.”
“Oh, hey, that’s neat.” Marty smirked. “Getting a little sick of Jules and Verne trying to borrow it?”
“Maybe.” Doc finished up and saved the document. “I’m a little more worried about possible joyriders. The crime rate’s gone up somewhat recently.”
“Eh, not that much. Hill Valley’s never been much for bad guys. Unless they’re surnamed Tannen.”
“True,” Doc said. “But it’s still something to think about. We’ve already seen what unauthorized, unchecked time travel can do to the space-time continuum. I’d rather not have a repeat of Hell Valley.”
Marty winced. “Yeah, me either. Good luck with the doors then.”
“Thanks.” Doc put the computer on standby. “You and Verne have fun playing ‘Ultimate Fighter?’”
“Yeah – I kicked the poor kid’s butt five times in a row.”
Doc couldn’t help a snort. “He’s going to be complaining about that all night, thank you very much.”
“Hey, I can’t help that I have good reflexes. Besides, that kid always clobbers me in ‘Pac-Man.’ I have no idea how the hell he does it.”
“He’s always had a talent for mazes,” Doc shrugged. “Plus it was the first video-game we allowed him to play. Just like you and Wild Gunman.”
“Yeah, good point. Anyway, Clara said you’d better get inside and get washed up too – she’s making dinner for you guys.”
“Ahh, right.” Doc stood up and stretched. “I’ll be there directly. I suppose I’ll see you later, then?”
“Yeah, I might stop by tomorrow. Probably won’t see me for a real visit until the weekend, though. Pinheads and I are doing some serious rehearsing for our club date.”
Doc grinned. “Great. I’m glad you boys got another gig there.”
“Us too. I’d really like us to hit the big time, Doc. It’s been one hell of a road getting there.”
“Well, if you put your mind to it--”
“You can accomplish anything,” Marty finished for him. “I know, Doc. I can recite it by heart now.”
Doc playfully ruffled the teen’s hair. “Just making sure you remember. Good luck, Marty.”
“Thanks, Doc.” They embraced. “I’ll see you later.”
“Take care, Marty!” They exited the garage, Doc heading up to the house while Marty hopped on his trusty hoverboard and headed off.
As he zipped on back home, Marty couldn’t help a smile. Here he was, flying down the street on a bright pink, floating board, and not one person was giving him a second glance. It still stunned him, even years later. When Doc had first given him the hoverboard, he’d included a set of fake wheels so that Marty could use the thing in public. Marty hadn’t liked the wheels – they really slowed the board down – and had occasionally taken a trip without them. He’d finally taken them off for good after realizing that no one noticed if his “skateboard” flew. And those few who did (outside of Jennifer, of course) were satisfied with the simple answer, “It’s from Doc’s.” Doc had been disapproving at first, until Marty pointed out that you could say the same thing about his tricked-out DeLorean. There was obviously something going on with it, but no one cared. It was amazing what people could be oblivious to.
WHACK! Like, say, a guy stepping out into the street in front of you while you were daydreaming. Marty tumbled to the ground, landing hard on his butt. The hoverboard zoomed between the guy’s legs and down the street. “Ouch! Uh, sorry about that,” Marty started, looking up.
Then he groaned. The person he’d managed to plow into was none other than Biff Tannen. Perfect, just perfect. I thought he was still in jail on that “drunk and disorderly” thing. Oh well, let’s get this over with. “Hey, Biff,” he said, getting up and dusting himself off.
“Hey, McFly,” Biff said with an unfriendly smirk. “How are you doing?”
“All right. Sorry for crashing into you there.” Marty saw his hoverboard down at the end of the street, having run out of momentum. He hoped he could retrieve it soon – no matter how oblivious the townspeople were, someone was sure to notice it eventually and wonder where it came from. Doc would give him the lecture from Hell if he let his hoverboard get into “mundane” hands. “How are you?”
“Good, good. Got myself a new project lined up.”
“Oh, really?” Marty fidgeted. He really didn’t feel like talking about the car business with Biff. Not with his hoverboard sitting in plain sight at the end of the street, waiting for some curious kid to come and steal it. Besides, it was weird to have Biff be so polite to him. Sure, Biff was polite to his parents, but that was because they were his customers. He was decidedly less nice to their children, especially him, when they weren’t around. It was starting to make him suspicious, actually. What was Biff up to? “That’s – uh – great.” He started edging around the auto detailer. “Listen, I gotta go, my girlfriend’s making dinner and--”
Out of nowhere, there was a gun pointed at his face. “Sorry, McFly, but you’re staying right here with me,” Biff said, grinning widely.
Marty froze. A cold chill snaked up his spine as, unwillingly, his mind flashed back to that first crazy weekend of time trips, and the alternate Biff threatening him with that little revolver. Holy shit! I thought – I was hoping nothing like that would happen ever again. . . . “Biff?” he asked, voice a little shaky.
Biff quickly put the gun under Marty’s chin, looping a falsely-friendly arm around him as he did so. “Just shut up and start walking, McFly,” he said, pulling the teen forward.
Marty did so, trying to hide his shaking. Part of him wanted to try and wriggle free, or at least start screaming for help – but the muzzle of the gun biting into his flesh made him realize that was a bad idea. He was pretty resistant to damage, but a gunshot through the head? Definitely not something he wanted to experience. What the hell is going on here? Where is he taking me? Do I dare ask him?
Biff luckily seemed in a talkative mood. “I’ve got some new friends I want you to meet. One’s really interested in you.” He frowned. “Does Crackpot Brown have a brother here?”
Marty blinked, confused. “Er, no,” he said, still mindful of the gun pressing against his chin. “Just a sister he doesn’t see much.”
“Hmmm.” Biff looked thoughtful. It was such an odd look on him that Marty almost laughed. Almost. “Guess you’re one of the spares, then.”
Biff smirked at him again. “I don’t want to ruin the surprise. Now hush up.”
Marty fell silent again. He managed to kick his hoverboard out of the sidewalk as they walked by – Biff interpreted the move as a token struggle and pressed the gun harder against his skin. Shit, this is really bad, Marty thought, feeling his stomach start to churn. I hope someone figures out what’s happening and helps rescue me soon! Hopefully Doc can do something. . .or, maybe even better yet, J.C. There are advantages to having a hyperactive fangirl on your side. I just hope something happens soon.
Monday, August 12th
Clara didn’t even blink as J.C. Jones stuck her head in through the kitchen window. “Hello J.C. We’re just about to sit down to dinner.”
“Sausage and pepper sandwiches,” Verne said, hopping into his chair. “Wanna join us?”
“If your parents will let me,” J.C. said.
“I suppose we could,” Clara said with a smile. J.C. grinned back and started climbing through the window. “Er, but could you use the front door?”
“But I’m already here. . . .”
“Yes, but I’m afraid you’re going to get stuck.”
“She won’t get stuck, Mom,” Jules said, smirking. “Just watch – Dad! Supper!”
Doc came inside. “Yes, yes, I just finished washing up.”
A blonde and green blur shot into the room, headed straight for the scientist. Doc casually stepped over to the side, allowing it to smash into the wall. J.C. fell backwards onto the ground, birds circling her head as she looked dazed. Then she shook her head to clear both it and the birds away. “One of these days, you’re going to get tired of doing that,” she said, frowning up at him.
Doc grinned back. “No, I don’t think I will. Joining us for dinner?”
“Yeah, I guess.” J.C. got up and got a plate. “I think I preferred it when you were kind of scared of me.”
“Why? I ducked more often then.”
“He has a point,” Jules said.
J.C. rolled her eyes. “Remind me why I fangirl you again?”
“I was just in the garage planning on updating the DeLorean with amazing new technology.”
J.C. grinned stupidly. “Oh. Yeah. That’s why.” She giggled.
Clara shook her head as she put the finishing touches on dinner. “I still can’t believe we’ve actually become friends with you.”
“Truthfully? Neither can I,” J.C. admitted, in a rare serious moment. “I expected, at the most, tolerance. I mean, I hang around your husband and hug him at every possible opportunity, often making many innuendoes in the process. I’m shocked you didn’t have a restraining order slapped on me.”
“I was tempted occasionally,” Doc confessed. “But you proved to be more of a help than a hindrance.” He smiled. “You saving Clara’s life during that time trip to the Grand Canyon didn’t hurt matters either.”
J.C. smiled back, looking surprisingly shy. “Hey, I couldn’t let the love of your life get shoved over a cliff by some jealous idiot, right? I may stalk you, but I want you to be happy, first and foremost.”
“And occasionally grab me going at 500 miles per hour.”
“I’m an equal-opportunity glomper, I’ll have you know.”
“To be fair, she does do the same to Marty,” Jules nodded.
“And us, at times,” Verne said, making a face at J.C..
J.C. made a face back. “I love everybody. I just happen to show it at high velocity.”
“Which backfires on you, more often than not,” Clara pointed out, motioning to the dent in the wall.
“I’ll never change!”
Before anyone could say anything else, Einstein came running in, barking and whining. Doc frowned, concerned. “What? What is it, Einy?”
Einstein barked, bouncing in circles nervously. “Another train?” J.C. said, confused. “Who the heck owns a train around here besides you guys?”
“Was it my train?” Doc asked, getting more concerned. An affirmative bark. “Uh-oh. Most likely my future self has come to pay us a visit for some reason.”
“Oh dear,” Clara said, looking worried. “If he’s using the train, that might mean he had to take all of us – you generally use the DeLorean if you’re going alone or with just me or Marty. That could mean--” She let her voice die, not wanting to talk about any of the possibilities she’d thought of.
Jules and Verne exchanged worried looks. “You don’t think it’s one of those ‘end of the world’ things, do you?” Verne asked, frowning.
“The least the end of the world could do is not interrupt dinner,” J.C. muttered, looking longingly over at the sandwiches. “The dinner table is no place for temporal paradox.”
“I agree, but we’d best check this out anyway,” Doc said, getting up and heading for the front door, Einstein next to him. The rest of the family followed, along with J.C..
The mystery train had landed on the lawn by the time they all got outside. The family eyed it nervously. “Sooo. . .who wants to be the one to initiate relations?” Jules asked.
“Maybe we should let them make the first move?” Clara said.
“Nah, let’s get this over with and save the world so we can eat,” J.C. said. “Yo! Who’s blowing up the fabric of the universe this week?”
The doors to the cab opened, and what appeared to be Doc looked out, surprised. “Josie?”
J.C. blinked. “Josie? Since when do you call me Josie?”
Out of nowhere, another Doc joined him. “That’s a long and complicated story.”
Now everyone was blinking. “Hoo boy,” Verne finally said. “This is worse than usual, isn’t it?”
“Quite,” the first Doc said. “We’ll explain momentarily, but first we need to ask you a question. Is Marty around?”
“He left roughly a half-hour ago,” Doc answered, frowning. “He didn’t want to be late for dinner.”
That caused the other two Docs to frown. “Damn,” one muttered. “We were hoping he’d still be here, that way we could. . . .” He shook his head, letting his voice trail off.
“Late for dinner?” what sounded like Jennifer’s voice asked from inside. “I thought it was 1991 here.”
“I guess not all of the Martys that old have their own apartments,” her own voice answered.
The group looked at each other, badly confused. “All right, what’s going on here?” Doc asked, folding his arms. “Why are there two of me in the train?”
“There’s actually four of us,” the second Doc said.
J.C. stared. “Fuh-fuh-four?”
“How on earth do you--” Clara started.
“This has very little to do with time travel,” the first Doc interrupted. “We’re actually all from different dimensions.”
“Different dimensions?” Doc raised an eyebrow suspiciously. “I studied dimensional travel during my initial time travel design period. The only version I ever really heard of that didn’t require the sum of the energy of the universe to work was the theory of ‘parallel universes’ time travel. And I think I disproved that quite conclusively with my original DeLorean.”
“Trust us, dimensional travel exists,” said a third Doc, joining the other two. “Two here and I have experienced it before.”
“Two?” Verne asked.
“We’re using a numbering system,” the first Doc said. “I’m Three. Four’s still inside.”
“One and I accidentally switched places in our 1987,” Doc-2 said. “It takes the energy of two time machines time traveling at the same instant to open a portal between worlds.”
“We haven’t gone time traveling today,” Doc said. Suddenly frowning at the boys and J.C., he added, “Have we?”
“Dad, you know we wouldn’t try and steal the train,” Jules pointed out. “The DeLorean’s easier to access and drive. And we swear, it’s still in the garage.”
“Somebody unsavory has figured out a way to duplicate the effect without a second time machine,” Doc-3 explained. “We’re following him through the portals he leaves behind.”
“Please – we know it’s hard to believe, but Marty’s life is at stake here,” Doc-4 said, coming up behind the others.
That got Doc’s attention. He frowned. “It still seems fairly fantastic. Can you give me any proof?”
“You ever visit New York 2005 in 1987?” Doc-3 asked. Then he frowned at J.C. again. “Well, maybe. . . .”
“I’m not from New York,” J.C. said, looking confused. “I’m from Rhode Island. I mean, some people think Rhode Island is part of New York, but trust me, it’s a separate state.”
Doc-3 nodded, looking thoughtful. “I see. It’s just – well, you resemble my adopted daughter a bit.”
J.C.’s eyes went huge. “Wha?”
“Adopted daughter?” Doc said, looking astonished.
“I have a pair of toddler twin girls at home myself,” Doc-1 said.
“What’s wrong with more boys?” Verne said, looking scandalized.
Doc-1 laughed. “Just like my boys. ‘You can’t stick us with a two-for-one, Papa!’”
“How about you two? Have any extra children I don’t know about?” Doc asked Doc-2 and Doc-4.
A black-haired woman and a blonde-haired woman came up. “How about two entirely different wives?” the black-haired woman said, draping an arm around Doc-2's shoulders. Doc-4 and the blonde kissed in an obviously affectionate way.
There was a brief silence. “Okay, I think I believe you now,” Doc admitted, astonished. “Great Scott. I never saw myself married to anyone besides Clara.”
“Neither did I,” said Clara, looking a bit shaken.
“Sorry,” the black-haired one said. “If it makes you feel any better, he does seem to prefer you. We’ve got two of you back in there.”
J.C. was shaking her head, still stuck on Doc-3's previous revelation. “Daughter. Jeez. This is going to ruin my fantasies for weeks.”
“Heh?” the blonde said, frowning at her.
“I suppose you lot don’t have a stalker, then,” Doc said, unable to help a smile.
“A – stalker?” Doc-1 repeated, blinking.
Doc-2 eyed J.C. “If she’s a stalker, why is she here on your property?”
“Never enough of a nuisance to call the police on,” Doc confessed. In a lower voice, he added, “Not that they would have taken me seriously if I had. . . .”
“I’m more like the wacky friend who keeps dropping by and instituting shenanigans now,” J.C. admitted with a grin.
“. . . . This is a very weird reality, isn’t it?”
“You have no idea,” Clara said. “But – why are you here? What’s going on?”
“Some lunatic named Jack stole my DeLorean and converted it to a dimension travel machine,” Doc-1 said, looking suddenly very weary. “He’s been skipping from reality to reality, kidnapping Martys.”
“What?” J.C. asked, suddenly looking concerned. “How? Why?”
“A lot of luck for the how, and we’re not quite sure for the why,” Doc-4 admitted. “He apparently feels Marty’s done him some sort of wrong, and he wants revenge on a very grand scale.”
“When we last confronted him, he made some rather – disturbing comments,” Doc-2 said, fidgeting. “He also threatened to throw one of them into the ravine.”
Doc went pale. “He--”
“He’s a psychopath,” Doc-3 said. “And he’s now got my train and a bunch of accomplices – including Amina Ali.”
Doc went even paler. “From the Libyans?” Doc-3 nodded. “Great Scott. . . . Who else?”
“A woman from an insane asylum named Sandra Rayben – she thinks I’m the epitome of all evil,” Doc-2 said.
“Are you sure he’s here?” Jules asked, looking distinctly ill at ease.
“We wouldn’t be here if he wasn’t,” Doc-1 said.
J.C. looked horrified. “And – and we let our Marty go off alone!”
“Clara, quick, call Jennifer and Rick and ask them if Marty’s there!” Doc said, eyes wide with fear. Clara rushed back into the house. “Jumping Jigowatts, if anything’s happened to him. . . .”
“Jumping Jigowatts? That’s a new one,” the black-haired woman noted. “Kind of cute.”
“Picked it up from the boys,” Doc admitted.
J.C. walked up to the train, curiosity over their origins briefly overpowering her nervousness over Marty. “So, uh, who are you guys?” she asked the two strange women.
“Mysteria Brown – yes, my parents were crazy when they named me,” the black-haired woman said as J.C. raised an eyebrow in disbelief.
“Josephine Brown,” the blonde introduced herself. “I take it you’re a Josephine too?”
“Josephine Caroline,” J.C. nodded. “But almost everyone calls me J.C.”
“Just like with my daughter,” Doc-3 noted.
“Please stop saying that!”
Doc-4 looked over at his counterpart, confused. “How does someone like us get a stalker?”
“Blame George McFly,” Doc said. “He suggested some paranormal researchers check out my house, thinking the time travel activity had something to do with UFOs. I managed to hold them off, but my picture still ended up in one of their magazines, and she saw it.”
“And whoosh! Here I came to meet my man,” J.C. grinned. “What can I say – you’re hot.” Looking at the startled Mysteria and Josephine, she added, “And at least three other women agree with me, so don’t start.”
“You willingly put up with this?” Doc-3 asked Doc disbelievingly.
“He and Clara know how to fight back, trust me. Besides, I wouldn’t do anything that would get you in trouble with your lady love,” J.C. said, holding up a hand. “I like it when you’re smiling, not unhappy.”
Before anything else could be said, Clara came rushing back out, looking pale. “He didn’t show up for dinner. Jennifer was just about to call us about it, actually.”
Doc-1 and Doc-2 exchanged nervous looks. “This is unpleasantly mirroring our own situations,” he muttered. “All right, we’re going to have to try and find him and Jack’s motley.”
“It won’t be easy, will it?” Doc asked, feeling a sick stab of fear in his stomach.
“I doubt it. Though hopefully the vehicle he’s using should stand out – he traded One’s DeLorean for my version of the time train,” Doc-3 explained. “We’re banking on him not caring about the invisibility switch.”
“Well, let’s go then!” J.C. said, immediately trying to get into the train.
“Who invited you?” Doc-4 said, startled.
“He’s my friend too!”
“She’s actually quite useful in these situations,” Doc admitted as he and his family hurried forward. “I’m thinking of hiring her as a bodyguard.”
“What about the kids, though?” Doc-3 said, looking with concern at Jules and Verne. “I don’t want them getting hurt.”
“We can take care of ourselves!” Verne insisted.
Doc, however, looked worried. “I think my other selves have a point,” he said to Clara. “If this Jack person is as dangerous as they seem to think he is--”
“Emmett, I think you already know I’m not going to let you go through this alone,” Clara said, pointing at Mysteria and Josephine. “And I don’t think we’re going to convince J.C. to babysit.”
Doc-1 waved his hands. “We can sort that all out later. If past performance is any indication, we’re going to have to pick up Jennifer as well anyway. How much did you say over the phone, Clara?”
“I really only said we had an unusual situation – of course, considering what passes for an unusual situation around here, she’s probably imagining the apocalypse.”
“Well, if the situation gets any worse, her fears may be well founded,” Doc-2 admitted. “Where does she live?”
“Knight Apartments,” Doc said. “We’ll have to be careful though – she and Marty share an apartment with Marty’s friend Rick. I like the Pinheads enough, but I’m not sure I want to share the secrets of time travel with them.”
“We can make this time machine invisible too – you can just run up and collect her yourself if you wish,” Doc-1 assured him. “We can take everyone for this, then we’ll sort out who looks after the kids.” The Docs cleared the stairwell. “So come on, everyone in!”
The group immediately boarded the train. Clara couldn’t help but stare as she saw her alternate selves. “Golly. . . .”
“It’s just as weird for us,” Clara-1 said.
Jules and Verne looked over at Mysteria and Josephine, looking a bit ill at ease. “I dunno how to feel about dimensions where we don’t exist,” Jules admitted.
“Well, actually, you do in mine,” Josephine said. “Not in quite the same form, but you do.”
Jules frowned. “How is that possible if Dad didn’t marry our Mom?”
“We actually live with another version of me,” Doc-4 said. “It’s very complicated – we’ll explain more on the way to Jennifer’s.”
“Sorry I can’t say the same about our reality, kids,” Mysteria said gently. “Though if my Emmett and I ever have children, we’d want to name a boy Jules or Verne.”
“I thought that was a given if you got married to Dockie-Wockie,” J.C. said with a grin at Doc.
There was a long moment of silence. “I did not just hear that,” Doc-3 finally said.
“Dockie-Wockie?” Doc-4 repeated, now looking unsure of J.C.’s sanity.
Doc rolled his eyes. “Now is not the time to break out the so-called ‘cutesy’ nicknames, J.C.”
“Sorry – it’s really mostly reflex.”
Doc-1 shook his head as he fired up the controls. “I get the feeling this is going to be one interesting ride.”
Monday, August 12th
The trip to Knight Apartments was blessedly uneventful. Doc took his family and J.C. up to the shared apartment as the rest of the group waited. They returned with Jennifer and minus Jules and Verne. “Rick actually offered to watch them,” Doc said in explanation as they boarded again. “He said he could obviously see this was important to us, and he wanted to help out however he could.”
“And since Rick apparently owns his own Super NES, it didn’t take much to convince them to stay behind,” Clara added, rolling her eyes. “Verne and his video games. . . .”
“What’s your high score on ‘Bravelord and the Demon Monstrux’ again?” J.C. asked with a mock-innocent smile.
“Never you mind,” Clara retorted, blushing, as the other Claras, Mystie, and Josie hid grins.
Jennifer gaped around the train, briefly making eye contact with her other selves before looking away. “Other – realities, huh? I get confused enough with just regular time travel.”
“Same here,” “Us too,” “Tell me about it,” the other Jennifers replied.
Jennifer-4 frowned at her current other self. “What happened to your hair?”
“My hairdresser convinced me to try life as a blonde,” Jennifer said, fingering a lock of lighter brown. “It didn’t come out very well.”
“I can see that,” Jennifer-2 said. “At least it looks like she didn’t bleach it.”
“Yeah, I stopped short of that.” She chuckled a little. “Poor Marty didn’t know what to make of it when I showed it to him.” She felt a stab of fear. “Oh, Jesus, I hope he’s okay.”
“Us too,” Jennifer-1 said. “I’m planning my wedding, and I’m not going to be short a groom.”
“You are? Us too, actually.”
Jennifer-1 looked a little surprised. “Just planning? I thought you would have been married already.”
“We’re from different time periods as well as different dimensions – whatever Jack’s rigged up is triggered by time travel, apparently,” Doc-1 explained as the train took off again. “My group is from 1990.”
“1989,” Doc-2 said.
“1987,” Doc-3 nodded.
“1988,” Doc-4 added. “Yours is the furthest we’ve gone into the future.”
“Tell me about it,” J.C. said. “It’s like this is all some sort of bad science-fiction story.” She paused, then rubbed her arms. “Er, anyone else get a cold chill when I said that?”
“Just you,” Doc said, shaking his head.
“How come you guys aren’t married?” Jennifer-2 asked. “I figured it was sort of a given, this far in the future.”
“College expenses – Marty took a couple years off to try and get something going with the Pinheads. One guy seemed really interested in them for a while, but then he just dropped them and disappeared off the face of the earth.” Jennifer looked at the ground, sighing. “He was really upset.”
“Yeah, I can imagine,” Jennifer-3 said sympathetically. “Music means the world to my Marty. I bet it does for all of them.”
“Well, mine doesn’t have the rock star dreams, but he does love playing guitar,” Jennifer-4 said. “Loves writing songs too.”
“Mine’s actually given up the rock star thing – he wants to teach,” Jennifer-1 admitted, garnering herself a few surprised looks. “After that crazy weekend with the first time machine, he told me he decided he didn’t want to get into a career that meant he’d been spending most of his time away from his family.”
“Awww,” Jennifer-2 said, smiling. “That’s sweet.”
“Yeah, I thought so too.”
“I think mine’s still working on the rock star idea,” Jennifer-3 said. “I don’t mind, I’d gladly go on tours with him.”
“We know mine ends up as a solo artist,” Jennifer-2 said.
Doc-3 looked at Doc-2, startled. “You told them something?”
“They wandered into a music store on a future trip and found one of his albums,” Doc-2 admitted. Quietly, he added, “He’s actually gotten a second career, but I’m not telling them about that. I want it to be a surprise.”
“What happened to the Pinheads?” Jennifer asked, frowning.
“Broke up, I guess – we’re seeing signs of it already,” Jennifer-2 admitted. “I don’t think it was a nasty breakup, Marty’s friends with all of them, but. . . .” She shrugged. “It happens.”
“Yeah, I guess.” Jennifer sighed deeply. “Of course, if we don’t do something now. . . .”
J.C. patted her shoulder. “Don’t worry. We’ll kick these guys’ asses from here to Siberia.”
“I hope so.”
Clara frowned at Doc-1. “This is what I don’t understand – you said on the way here that Jack is supposedly your brother, but you’ve never heard of him. So how did he get into your dimension?”
“I haven’t the slightest idea,” Doc-1 admitted. “I’m hoping we can get more answers once we get to his home dimension. We have to hit it eventually.”
Doc-4 shuddered. “I pity the version of us who actually had him as a brother. I can only imagine the abuse he went through.”
“All the more reason to kick these peoples’ asses!” J.C. declared, raising a point-making finger.
“Protective of you, isn’t she?” Doc-3 noted.
“She makes an excellent bodyguard,” Doc nodded. “So, where do we start looking for the train?”
“I’m going to take us high up and make a wide sweep of the town,” Doc-1 said, manipulating the controls. “Hopefully he hasn’t left yet, and we can do something about this.”
“Yeah, but what?” Jennifer-1 wondered. “We already know he’s not going to hesitate on hurting Marty if he thinks it’ll make you back off.”
“That’s a problem, yes,” Doc-1 admitted. “And steam trains don’t make the best vehicles for sneaking up on someone.”
“Negotiations?” Jennifer asked.
“I don’t think we’d get through.”
“You didn’t see this guy before,” Jennifer-2 said. “He was smiling all the way through the last time we got in front of him. Even when he was threatening to kill one of the Martys. He looked like he was having fun.”
“Ram him!” J.C. proclaimed. “Knock him out of the sky!”
“What, and risk hurting them in a different way? Not to mention damaging the trains,” Doc-3 said, frowning.
“We might have to consider it as a last resort,” Doc-2 said, wincing. “We know this man isn’t going to listen to reason.”
“Let’s hope it doesn’t come to that, then. I really don’t want to spend the time fixing the trains.”
They flew high over Hill Valley, scanning the ground below for any sight of another time train. “What do we do if they have turned invisible?” Jennifer-3 asked, leaning out a window.
The Docs looked at each other. “I suppose wait and see if we can catch them going through the portal,” Doc-3 said. “So far, we’ve been lagging behind them by roughly – a half-hour or so?”
“Something like that,” Doc-2 nodded. “On average, I’d say. We went after them fairly quickly in my world, but we experienced a major delay in yours.”
“Well, being threatened with seeing your best friend die unless you back off would result in a significant delay.”
Jennifer-4 wrung her hands. “You – you don’t think they’ve seriously hurt any of the Martys, do you?” she asked, voice low.
“God, I hope not,” Doc-1 said, feeling a shudder go through him.
“We can find out – I think I see something!” J.C. called, pointing out the window. “Yeah, that definitely looks like – EEEK!”
Doc-4 was rather startled to find J.C. suddenly clinging to him, shaking. “Great Scott, how in the name of Sir Isaac H. Newton did you move so fast?”
“It’s like she teleported!” Jennifer-2 agreed, amazed. Behind her, Doc and Clara shared a somewhat-puzzled look.
“Never mind that!” Doc-2 said. “J.C., what did you see?”
“That the ground is very far away.”
“You can’t fall while you’re in the train,” Doc said soothingly, prying her off of Doc-4. “Sorry, she’s a little acrophobic.”
“Did you see the other train, though?” Doc-3 asked, looking hopeful.
“Yeah,” J.C. said, starting to calm down a little. “It’s to the left or port or whatever you call it in a train. That was definitely a smokestack I saw before – how high are we?”
“If I tell you, will you have another panic attack?” Doc-1 asked.
“Then let’s leave it alone,” Doc-4 said, feeling his ribs. “Great Scott, you’ve got a tight grip.”
“Sorry – I’ve been known to crush ribcages with hugs,” J.C. said with a blush.
“Couldn’t use that on our villains, could you?” Mysteria asked, only half-jokingly.
“I don’t know. None of them sound worth hugging.”
“Well, if you can pull that teleportation trick again, try it,” Jennifer-2 said. “Seriously, how did you do that?”
J.C. looked over at Doc, who shrugged. “You – eh, I just move fast,” she said, smiling. “And when I’m scared, I move even faster.”
“I suppose. I guess the stress is probably getting to me too.” She turned back toward the window as Doc-1 headed to the left.
J.C. took the opportunity to get in close with her Doc, Clara, and Jennifer. “Er, what the hell? She doesn’t know about the teleport trick? I thought most everybody could pull that off.”
“In our universe,” Doc pointed out, voice low. “Things may not work the same for them. It seems odd that there would be universes with entirely different laws of physics, but I suppose it’s not impossible.”
“They don’t look too different to me – except that the colors are a little muted,” Jennifer said.
“Yes, but – look at him, for example,” Doc said, motioning toward Doc-4. “When J.C. jumped on him, she wiped something off his face. It looked to me like he’s using makeup to cover a scar.”
That got everyone blinking. “Scar? But – doesn’t that only happen after really bad stuff?” J.C. said, confused.
“Pardon?” Doc-4 said, apparently overhearing.
“I think I exposed something on your cheek there,” J.C. said. “You okay?”
Doc-4 touched his face. “Oh, this. I might as well let it show, not like I have to pose as my other self right now,” he said, wiping the rest of the makeup off his cheek to reveal a long, thin vertical scar.
The other Docs also noticed the action. “Where did you get that?” Doc-2 asked, frowning.
“During my initial escape attempt from Southdale Asylum,” Doc-4 confessed. “I made a break for it before one of ‘therapy’ sessions, and collided with a cart. Someone had put an actual glass cup on the cart – it shattered and sliced open my cheek.”
J.C. raised an eyebrow dubiously. “You got that just from having your cheek cut open?”
“It was a fairly deep cut,” Doc-4 said. “I required stitches.” He winced. “That was the first time they gave me the electroconvulsive therapy too. I didn’t attempt another escape for a long time after that.” Josephine patted his back comfortingly.
J.C. frowned, then leaned back toward Doc. “So, do we tell them that we’re kinda-sorta made of rubber?” she whispered.
“Not right now,” Doc whispered back. “We have much bigger things to worry about, and the possibility that they’d consider us freaks would detract from our goal of getting Marty back. We’ll bring it up later.” He looked forward. “Right now, we have to concentrate on getting my best friend to safety.”
As they continued to the left, the second train rose out of the woods bordering the town. Doc-3 frowned at it. “I wish they’d stop landing there. They’re going to get branches caught in the outside circuitry.”
“Then don’t say you want them to stop landing there,” Doc said. “If they cripple your train, we have a better chance of catching them.”
The other train crew quickly noticed it had company. Jack stuck his head out the cab door window. “Come back for another try, then?” he called, smirking.
“We’re not letting you get away with this!” Doc-3 yelled back. “Let our Martys go!”
“You really think you can just come up on me and demand their freedom?”
Doc-1 looked around. “It’s a longshot, but do any of you carry a weapon?”
The other Docs looked at each other awkwardly. Doc-1 sighed. “Damn, damn damn!”
J.C. joined Doc-3 at the window. “Hey, jackass! Let them go, or face my wrath!”
Jack frowned. “And you are. . . ?”
“Your worst nightmare!”
Jack looked her up and down. “My worst nightmare is a blonde in a cheerleading outfit. I believe that.”
“Stop getting sarcasm all over the train.”
“J.C., this is no time for theatrics!” Doc snapped, going over. “Damn it, what the hell do you want Marty for?”
“Your Martin, or all Martins?” Jack asked, leaning on the windowpane.
“All of them! What did he ever do to you?”
“Beat me. That’s unacceptable. No one beats me.”
“None of us even knows really who you are,” Doc pointed out. “So why take our Martys?”
Jack smirked. “Why not? They’re all, essentially, Martin Seamus McFly. They’re all versions of the boy who dared think he could get one over on me.”
“But they’re not! Not one of them had any clue you existed!”
“Doesn’t matter to me. Besides, I kind of like reintroducing myself to them.” Jack’s smirk widened. “They’re absolutely beautiful screamers, you know.”
Doc felt his blood start to boil. “Listen here, if anything’s happened to Marty – any of them – I will personally--”
“Biff? I think the doctors need a reminder about who’s in charge,” Jack said casually, looking inside.
“Biff? You sprung him out of jail?” J.C. asked.
Jack looked confused. “Jail? He was wandering in the woods.”
“Which means he’s probably from my reality,” Doc-4 said, looking disgusted. “Doesn’t surprise me that you two are working together!”
“I know,” Jack said easily. “I wish I’d met him the first time. We could have had a lot of fun, I think. He despises the McFlys – though he’s pressuring me to kidnap one of Martin’s fathers.” He looked thoughtful. “Tell me, how does George scream? Be completely honest. I like high-pitched, but not too high. Dogs howling rather ruins the mood.”
“If you don’t release the Martys, we’ll – we’ll plow into you if we have to!” Doc-2 said, as Doc-1 readied the controls.
Jack laughed. “Oh, really? Biff! How many bullets have you got in that gun?”
“Three at the moment, but I’ve got two more clips in my pocket.”
“Good. Come over here and help take them out.”
Biff appeared at the window, gun in hand. Doc-4 growled as he saw him. “I always knew you were bad news!” he yelled.
“So did I!” Biff yelled back. “Sandy there told me all about you! Freakshow!”
“Don’t talk about him like that!” J.C. snarled, looking like she wanted to punch something.
“I’ll talk about him any way I like!” Biff suddenly fired at the girl. J.C. yelped and quickly ducked. “Who are you, anyway?”
“Guess that proves you’re not from here – I’m a friend of theirs!”
“Another teenager? Need something on the side, do we?” Jack taunted Doc, who fumed.
“He never let me get into his pants,” J.C. pouted. “You don’t think there’s an unattached, desperate version of you lurking around somewhere, do you?”
“J.C.,” Doc groaned, putting his face in his hand.
Both Jack and Biff seemed rather unbalanced. “You – honestly think – you’re nuttier than I thought, aren’t you?” Jack finally said.
“Hey! I’ll have you know that your ‘brother’ is smokin’ hot, and you don’t deserve to look like him at all!” She scowled. “That freaky smile of yours completely ruins his face.”
“This state of affairs we’re in just keeps getting stranger and stranger,” Clara-3 muttered.
“I don’t have time to deal with this,” Jack said, shaking his head. “I have Martins to catch. Biff? Take them out.”
“Sure thing!” Biff started firing again. Everyone shot away from the windows. “Get low!” Doc-3 commanded, pulling Clara-3 close.
“Wait – he doesn’t seem to be firing at us,” Doc-2 noted, puzzled. “It looks like he’s firing at the train itself.”
Doc suddenly felt a thrill of fear. “He’s aiming for the circuitry! He’s trying to cripple us!” He raced to join Doc-1 at the controls. “Don’t let him hit the flux capacitor!”
“Right!” The two Docs quickly started on evasive maneuvers. “Though that brings up an interesting point – do we need to time travel to follow them? I’d be more afraid of them hitting the flight circuitry.”
“I’ve experienced what happens when someone does something to the time travel circuits,” Doc said firmly. “It was a pleasure trip gone wrong in Egypt – we had to make a quick exit after being chased by some of the pharaoh’s guards. One of them managed to hit my flux capacitor, and we got randomly transported through space and time by the explosion. Ended up in Salem.”
“Little town in Scotland, actually. Luckily I managed to make a small, one-use time machine out of the remains to contact Marty to bring me some proper tools and parts.” Doc looked nervously back at his other selves. “I know that, all of us working together could probably conquer that problem – but do you really want to let him get any farther ahead?”
“Definitely not,” Doc-4 agreed.
There was a break in the firing as Biff had to reload. J.C. rushed to a window, face red with anger. “I have half a mind to try and leap over there and kick all your asses!” she roared.
Jack burst out laughing. “A little girl like you?”
“I’m twenty years old!”
Biff stared. “Twenty?! And you – want to – ewww,” he finally settled on, making a face.
“Don’t start,” J.C. said through clenched teeth.
The other Docs were similarly startled. “Twenty? But – that means--”
“It has never stopped her, so don’t bother bringing it up,” Clara said. “I thought it was a little strange too – but after all, we’re all younger than Emmett, right?”
Clara-1 lifted an eyebrow as Mystie and Josie struggled to hide grins. “Sort of. We were born in 1855.”
“I was speaking purely in the chronological, not timeline-wise. That’s more complicated than I care to get into.”
“I wonder if this is what I can expect if Marty gets groupies,” Jennifer-3 said, eyeing J.C. as she made rude hand gestures at the other train.
“I suspect they’ll be a little less insane,” Jennifer said, unable to hold back a slight smile.
“Twenty years old and lusting after my brother. And they put you in the mental ward, Sandra?” Jack said, addressing his cohort.
“Bet she’d stick by him even if he was the source of all evil,” Sandra called.
“I think that position has been filled,” J.C. snapped, glaring at Jack.
“You flatter me,” Jack said, preening. “Though I certainly wouldn’t mind being the ruler of Hell. Some of the souls seemed to get off a little light, to me. I’d make sure all of them suffered in particularly amusing ways.”
“Like what you plan to do to the Martys?”
“Of course!” Jack suddenly took Biff’s gun and aimed it inside the train. “For example, we could play a game of Russian Roulette. I fire randomly at the group, and we see if it hits your version of Marty or not.”
“Er, careful Jack, bullets ricochet,” Sandra said, voice nervous.
“Indeed,” another voice said. The hair on the Docs’ neck rose as they recognized Amina. “Perhaps we should throw my knife instead?”
“Your knife is a little big – probably better to keep it for when we have to start cutting them up for parts.”
“Cutting them up for--” J.C. spluttered.
“Well, we’re eventually going to run out of fuel for the boiler, aren’t we?” Jack said with an almost innocent grin. “And since I plan to keep collecting Martys until I’m physically unable to, it only makes sense to reuse and recycle. Why waste perfectly good body parts?” Jack’s smile became the epitome of playful cruelty. “By the time I’m done with them, they’ll probably be begging me to cut them up, just to end the pain.”
The entire group felt very cold. “Don’t you dare,” Doc-4 finally said, eyes glowing faintly from rage. “If you even think about it again, I’ll--”
Jack fired the gun. Moments later, there was a familiar scream from inside the train.
Everyone froze. “Oh God, oh God, oh God,” J.C. whispered, clutching her shirt right above her heart.
Jack smirked. “Relax. It only nicked one of them. But tell me, wasn’t that a delicious scream?”
“Only – let me see them,” Doc-2 said, face pale.
“Sorry, can’t do that. We’ve tied them all to the bench, and I don’t feel like bothering with the knots.” He held up a hand. “I give you my word, on my love of pain and killing.”
“I wouldn’t trust your word if you gold-plated it and handed it to me on a silver platter,” Doc-3 snarled, though he was just as pale as his counterparts. “Let us see them!”
“Go ahead and get close enough to peer in the windows,” Jack dared. “I won’t do anything.”
The Docs wavered. Jack chuckled. “Guess they really don’t care enough about you to make sure you’re all right,” he said to the Martys inside.
“Screw you!” one of them yelled back.
Jack aimed the gun again. “As long as they’re standing over my shoulder, breathing down my neck, you’re expendable,” he said calmly, though he was looking at the Docs as he spoke. “And trust me, I’d make your death hurt.”
There was a long moment of silence. Jack cocked the gun. “I guess we’ll just have to see your brains splattered across the wall.”
Doc’s hands clenched. “God help you if I get my hands on you,” he hissed.
“I can help myself, thank you very much. Are you going to back off? Or do I undo the knots to show you your best friend with his head blown off?” His smile widened. “Would I make you cry?”
“Too late,” Doc-4 muttered, wiping at his eyes.
“How – how far?” Doc-1 asked, trying to swallow back his bile.
“Let me get a head start of ten minutes,” Jack said, glancing at the time circuits. “Then we can resume our little game of cat and mouse.” He giggled, a very odd sound. “I haven’t had this much fun in years!”
“You heard the boss – get back!” Biff ordered.
Doc-1 fell back. Jack, looking a little disappointed, gave the gun back to Biff, who fired on them a couple more times, encouraging them to keep back. Then the other train chugged into the distance.
The group watched it go in silence. Then J.C. slammed a hand against the cab window frame. “I – I – GOD DAMN IT!”
Jennifer was dead white and shaking. “Oh my God, Marty. . . .”
“Do – do you think he--” Jennifer-3 started.
“I hope not,” Doc-3 replied. “Otherwise--” He looked at the floor, trying to control his emotions. “Great Scott, did we just provoke him into killing one of them?”
“I – I’m sorry,” J.C. suddenly said, her own eyes wet. “It was my fault, I was the one who got him all pissed off. . . .”
Doc went over and hugged her. “It’s okay, J.C.”
“No it’s not! Thanks to me, one of the Martys is at least hurt, and – and might be – we have to do something!”
“But what?” Josephine said, obviously shaken. “Do we stop and get weapons somewhere?”
“I – I don’t know,” Doc-1 said, looking very old and tired. “Every possibility I’ve come up with keeps running into the fact that he has Marty with him, and thus he has the advantage of emotional blackmail. That’s twice we’ve been unable to do anything in the face of him getting hurt.”
“Not to mention he’s got his own train and a bunch of lunatics who don’t care who they hurt, as long as they get what they want,” Doc-4 said. “Who knows what a mind like his could come up with?”
“I’m afraid to find out,” Mysteria whispered.
They waited in silence for a while, everyone feeling keenly the possibility of a major loss. Then, finally, the ten minutes were up. “So, do we go?” Jennifer-2 asked numbly.
“Of course we do,” Doc-1 replied, heading in the direction Jack’s train had gone. “We have to at least keep following him until we get to his home dimension. Then we can procure the services of that Emmett Brown and learn his weak points.” He sighed deeply. “Though I hate to think what damage he could wreak upon the Martys in that time.”
“Can’t you – I dunno – go back home and time travel to before all this happened and stop it?” J.C. demanded. “I mean, screw paradoxes, don’t you want Marty safe?”
“He’s got a time machine of his own, that’s the problem,” Doc-3 said, feeling sick. “I’m not entirely sure his entire plan isn’t to go to the past in one reality and kill all the Martys there.”
“Don’t talk like that,” Clara-3 said. “We have to keep thinking that we’re going to win.”
J.C. nodded, her sadness slowly being replaced by determination. “We do what we can,” she said. “And when we finally catch up to them – we bash Jack’s worthless face in.”
“I normally frown on violence, but amen,” Doc agreed. “Let’s find the next portal and see what we can do for the next Marty.”
Finding the portal was a little harder this time – Jack had obviously wanted to make sure they were delayed even further. Finally, Jennifer-4 saw it hovering between two trees. Doc-1 headed straight for it at full speed. “We’re coming to get you, you bastard,” he hissed.
A few minutes later, the Humorverse was short one Dr. Brown.