When Worlds Collide -- REALLY Collide
Saturday, July 21st, 1990
Hill Valley NonTrilogy
“How long have we been at this now?”
“Damned if I know. I joined up just a little while ago. Jack?”
“Frankly, I have no idea,” Jack admitted, maneuvering the train closer to the ground. “Hours, I suspect. I haven’t been keeping track.” He smirked. “Ironically, it’s hard to keep track of the time with a time machine.”
“Ha ha,” Marty Three muttered.
Marty Nine was still sniffling a little, eyes fixed on his shoes. Marty Eight bumped his shoulder against him. “Anything any of us can – do?” he asked, looking concerned.
“No,” Marty Nine whispered, voice choked. “We’re doomed. Done for.”
“You can’t give up so early,” Marty One said. “The Docs are right on his tail, you know. And it sounds like yours is gonna move hell and earth to get you back.”
“I don’t want him to. Not with him aboard.” Marty Nine bit his lip. “Damn it, I always swore I’d die before going back. . . .”
“What is about this Andrew guy that’s got you so freaked?” Biff asked, leaning against the wall with his arms folded. “You guys keep saying he’s not human, so what is he?”
Marty Nine shuddered. “He’s Fae.”
“. . .Oh, is that why Crazy Old Brown said he didn’t have a girlfriend?” Biff said, blinking.
Marty Nine glared up at him. “Capital F, a, e,” he spelt. “They’re – I don’t even know how to freaking describe them. They’re just – evil.”
“No wonder he gets along with Jack, then,” Marty Five said.
“You flatter me, Martin,” Jack said with a smile. “I’ve seen true evil. It’s not that prancing little smiler.”
“You haven’t seen him at work,” Marty Nine muttered.
Jack’s smile grew. “I will. Eventually.” He reached out and patted Marty Nine’s head, causing the teen to jerk away violently. “Perhaps we’ll take our first real break after this reality. After all, this will make ten Martin McFlys we’ve picked up. And room is getting rather cramped.”
“The boiler?” Amina purred, looking quite eager.
“Maybe. Let’s see how I feel after this stop.”
The Martys looked at each other in horror. “Heilige Scheiße!” Marty Seven gasped.
“What?” Marty Four said.
“Holy shit,” Marty One provided. “And yeah, I agree with you there. If the Docs don’t do something soon. . . .”
“Listen, is there anything special about your Doc?” Marty Two asked Marty Nine. “Anything he could do to, you know, reduce these guys to a fine powder?”
Marty Nine shook his head. “We’ve got – stuff – we can do, but I’m still new at using it, and Doc – Doc’s good with machines, not fighting people. . . . Fred and Allysin are okay, though. And Victor – he’s a big ball of nerves, but when it comes right down to it, he’s a great friend.” He sniffled again. “That’s why I don’t want them to come. Especially if Rosie is really around. I don’t want them to have to--” He stopped, unable to go on.
Marty Eight bumped his shoulder again. “You guys are really screwed up, aren’t you?” he said softly.
“Yeah, that about covers it,” Marty Nine admitted. “Comes with the territory. You get kidnapped and taken to some place that isn’t even on Earth and – have all sorts of shit done to you, you get kinda messed up in the head.”
That got some stares. “Not on--” Marty Six started.
“I told you, Andrew’s not human,” Marty Nine said. “He’s a Fae, and they’ve got their own special world. One where they can do anything they want, to anyone they want.”
“And Andrew’s the guy who – kidnapped you?” Marty Four said.
Marty Nine shook his head. “No, but he was friends – or something – with the guy who did. Andrew’s the guy who took Doc.” He shuddered. “You don’t want to know what he did to him.”
The other Martys shared another, unhappy look. “Shit,” Marty Eight grumbled. “I really wanna believe the Docs are gonna come and rescue us, but – are we all gonna be here by the time they do?”
“Well, they’ve got a freaking time machine,” Marty Two pointed out.
“So do they at the moment,” Marty Five replied. “And we know Jack’s got it bad for hurting Doc, which means. . . .”
A very gloomy silence fell on the group. “This isn’t fair,” Marty Four finally said. “Haven’t we all gone through enough shit already?”
“Probably not,” Marty Three grumbled. “I just hope we find the guy who’s dealt with Jack before soon. Otherwise, we might be screwed.”
Saturday, July 21st, 1990
Hill Valley NonTrilogy
Okay, why the hell am I here again?
Marty looked around at the gravestones surrounding him, frowning. He seriously couldn’t remember why he’d chosen to come to Oak Park Cemetery, of all places. For some reason, it had seemed a logical choice after that fight he’d had with Jennifer. Okay, brain, I don’t know what towels on the floor and me singing along to the radio have to do with graves. Unless I was singing along with Thriller. . . .
He sighed and idly kicked his foot. Honestly, he didn’t know why he’d stormed out of the apartment at all. It all seemed so stupid now. Jennifer had been lecturing him about leaving his towel on the floor after a shower, he’d gotten irritated and started listing all her annoying little habits, and somehow they’d ended up yelling. Guess Dad was right when he warned me my first married fight would be the stupidest one. Jeez, not even a month into it, either. . . .
Well, it was probably inevitable. Not like he and Jennifer hadn’t had silly arguments before this. She probably realizes we were acting kinda crazy too. I oughta head home and apologize. He glanced around. And get out of this creepy cemetery. Seriously, what the hell was I thinking?
He shook his head and stood up. It wasn’t worth worrying over. He just wanted to get home, apologize, and get this whole stupid mess over with. Maybe I should pick up something for dessert as a peace offering? Just in case? She was really upset over those towels. . . .
Out of nowhere, somebody came crashing into him. Taken completely off guard, Marty was thrown to the ground. “What the – hey, what gives?!” he snapped, as the mystery person promptly pinned him to the ground with his arms behind his back.
“Just shut up,” a female voice hissed behind him. Marty twisted his head to see a youngish blonde woman kneeling on him. “It’ll be easier on all of us if you don’t talk.”
Okay, that wasn’t good. Marty felt a cold chill go down his spine. Was he being kidnapped? Damn it, I’m sick of that shit! It’s bad enough everything goes to hell on every time trip I take – I should be able to leave the freaking house without having to worry! “It’d be easier on me if you explained what you’re doing,” he retorted.
“If I did that, you’d just whine and bitch more,” the woman replied, her knee going into his kidneys. Marty winced. “But if you really want to know, my boss is coming over right now.”
Marty turned his head. Sure enough, someone else was walking up to them. For a split second, Marty thought it was Doc and he was the victim of some bizarre practical joke.
Then he noticed the eyes, and the faint smile.
Marty’s heart nearly stopped dead. No. . .no, it can’t be. . . . he thought, the color draining from his face. It can’t be he’s gone he’s – he’s – no oh please God no –
The man paused, noticing his reaction. There was a moment of silence as they stared at each other. Then Jack beamed. “Oh, hello! We have a winner!”
“What, finally?” the woman said, sounding surprised. “Huh.”
“Y-You’re dead,” Marty whispered, unable to think of anything else. “You’re dead.”
Jack grinned. “I got better. You, unfortunately, won’t.”
Marty stared up at him, too horrified to even think of struggling. How could this – this wasn’t even – Shit shit shit SHIT! No! No, this is not happening again! Doc! Doc, are you there?!
What – Marty? Doc’s “voice” was quite startled – and worried. Marty, what’s wrong?
. . . WHAT?!
I swear to God, Doc, it’s Jack! I don’t know how but he’s back and – Doc, you gotta do something!
Wait a minute, wait a minute, it can’t be Jack, he’s dead. It – it must be a look-alike, or –
No, Doc, trust me, it’s Jack. I’m over at Oak Park –
Marty’s thoughts were interrupted with another knee to the kidneys. “Ow!” he yelped. “Stop that!”
“Trust me, you’re going to get much worse later,” Jack said mildly, though he continued grinning. “Come on, Sandra, let’s get him back to the train.”
“Train?” Marty blurted, eyes wide.
“Oh yes. You’ll see shortly. Also, Sandra here has a good reason why you shouldn’t even think of trying to resist. Sandra?”
“Right.” With that, something very hard collided with the back of Marty’s head. His vision went white for a moment, fireworks bursting in front of his eyes. Then, slowly, everything faded into black.
Saturday, July 21st, 1990
Hill Valley NonTrilogy
Doc grabbed at his skull, hissing with pain. That had hurt – almost enough to knock him out. Judging from the sudden quiet in his mind, it had been enough to render Marty unconscious. “Shit,” he grumbled, rubbing the back of his head as the pain faded too slowly for his taste. “This is not good. . . .”
The door opened, causing Doc to look up. That turned out to be a mistake – the pain briefly spiked again, making him wince. “Damn it!”
“Emmett?” Gypsy put down the bag she was carrying and went over to his side. “Are you all right?”
“No,” Doc admitted, looking up at her – more slowly this time. “Marty just contacted me. He’s in trouble.”
“What?” Gypsy said, eyes wide. “What happened? Where is he?”
“He’s in Oak Park, but – honestly, I’m not sure what happened,” Doc said softly, frowning. “He – he said--”
Doc looked her in the eye, feeling a cold chill going down his spine. “Gypsy – he said it was Jack.”
Gypsy was silent for a long moment. “But Jack’s dead,” she finally said, eyes narrowed slightly in disbelief. “He’s been dead for three years.”
“I know! But Marty insisted it was him! And now someone’s knocked him out, so I can’t get any more information!” Doc made a fist, grumbling to himself. “I – I can’t believe it was actually Jack, but – is it possible some other lowlife could have been inspired to play lookalike?”
“I guess it’s not outside the bounds of possibility,” Gypsy admitted, looking sick to her stomach. “There’s been copycats of similar killers. Gives me a chill to think about it, though.”
“You’re not the only one,” Doc muttered. “Damn it, this whole situation was--” He struggled to come up with a euphuism damning enough, failed, and just shook his head. “Never mind! Copycat or no, Marty’s obviously in real danger.”
“Right,” Gypsy said. “Shall I call Jennifer?”
“Probably be a good idea,” Doc nodded, grabbing his coat. “Tell her to meet us at Oak Park. That’s where he said he was.”
“Right.” Gypsy grabbed the phone and dialed as Doc paced nervously in the doorway to the garage. “Hello? Jennifer? Oh, trust me, I can make this quick. Can you meet Emmett and me in Oak Park as soon as you can? Because Emmett just got a message from Marty, and – you were – you two had a fight? Well, that explains why he wasn’t in your apartment, at least. Well, Marty’s apparently been knocked unconscious and – there was a mention of Jack. We know he’s dead! We’re thinking it’s a lookalike, as unnerving as that thought may be. We’ll call the police once we’ve visited the site – yeah, hon, I know, but telling them we’re sure Marty was attacked because my husband has a psychic connection to him. . . . Exactly. All right, we’ll meet you over there in a few. Try not to panic, all right? We’ve been through plenty of this craziness before. Right. Bye.” She looked over at Doc. “Well, apparently she was on her way out the door to find him anyway. She’ll meet us over there in a few minutes.”
“Good. Let’s get going.” Doc raced into the garage and hopped into the van, Gypsy following close behind. Doc started it up, backed out of the driveway –
Both Doc and Gypsy jerked in their seats. “What the – what the hell did we hit?” Gypsy asked, peering backwards out her window. “I don’t see anything.”
“Me either!” Doc opened his door and got out. “Perhaps I just hit my garbage cans.”
There was a sudden flicker in the air behind the van, and out of nowhere what appeared to be an antique, rather reworked black steam train appeared at the end of their driveway. “. . .Perhaps not?”
Gypsy got out, staring at the train. “What the hell?” she whispered.
The door to the train opened, and out stepped another Doc, looking mildly horrified. “Great Scott! Sorry about that,” he apologized. “We weren’t expecting you to pull out.” He looked at the slightly-crumpled bumper. “Luckily it doesn’t seem to be too much damage. Could have been a lot worse.”
There was a brief silence. “. . . When the hell do we acquire a train?!” Doc finally asked, eyes wide with shock. “And what are you doing here, anyway?”
The other Doc sighed deeply. “I wish there was a shorter way to sum all this up. . . . Technically, I’m not you,” he said, waving a hand. “I’m a Dr. Emmett Brown from another universe. That’s why I have the train. And the reason I’m here – let me ask you a question first. Have you either seen Marty recently, or gotten some sort of communication he’s in danger?”
Doc and Gypsy shot each other a nervous look. “The latter,” Doc admitted, frowning. “But how – why – What’s going on?”
Another sigh. “There’s this psychopath named Jack who’s somehow found a way to travel between dimensions, and he’s got a grudge against us and Marty. He’s been kidnapping the local Marty in every dimension he’s visited, and – and. . . .”
The other Doc trailed off, looking at Doc’s pale face. Doc stared back, unable to comprehend it for a moment. No – no, he’s supposed to be dead – how could it be – “This Jack,” he whispered. “He – he doesn’t happen to look near-exactly like us, does he?”
The other Doc went dead silent. “No way,” he finally muttered. “We didn’t actually hit the right dimension for once. . . .” He shook his head and looked Doc straight in the eye. “You know him?”
Doc swallowed. “He’s my twin brother,” he admitted softly.
“Yes, of course, because what we need in our lives is an evil twin of ourselves,” the other Doc muttered, looking both angry and sympathetic. “We really feel for you, Emmett Brown. We’ve only had to deal with him for a few hours, and already all of us hate him. I can’t imagine what it was like having to grow up with him.”
“Fairly hellish,” Doc confirmed. “I tried to keep to myself.”
“Was Elias at least decent?”
“No – I think he preferred Jack.”
“. . . You’re kidding.”
“Jack can be quite the actor when he wants to be,” Doc said, wincing a little as painful memories reasserted themselves. “He acted like a normal person in public. It was only in private that he showed his monstrous side.”
“He’s certainly had no compunctions about showing it to us.” The other Doc waved at the train. “You’d better come with us. We’ve actually been hoping to run into you – we want to know if you know of any way to stop him. Our own attempts have met with – less than stellar results. And from what he’s said, you managed to rescue your Marty before. . . .”
“Not without the unthinkable almost happening,” Doc mumbled, but nodded. “Yes, of course we’ll come with you.” Glancing over at Gypsy, who was still looking rather stunned, he added, “Assuming this is a ‘we’ situation. Who else is in that train?”
“Multiple versions of ourselves, plus wives and friends – is this your wife?” the other Doc said, looking over at Gypsy.
Gypsy nodded, finally regaining her voice. “Yes. Gypsy Robinson Brown. Nice to – meet you, I suppose.”
“Nice to meet you too,” the other Doc said, trying a friendly smile. “Interesting – someone new. Wonder what the other girls will make of that.” He suddenly frowned. “Did you contact Jennifer before we arrived?”
“Yes, we were on our way to Oak Park to meet her when--” Gypsy indicated the back of the van.
“We’d better pick her up then, too. As we’ve been wont to do in practically every universe we’ve seen so far.”
“How many of us are there?” Doc asked, approaching the train.
“You’re the tenth,” the other Doc replied, deadpan. “I should warn you, some of the others look a bit unusual. We’ve got a teenage version of ourselves in there, as well as one fused to four sentient metal arms.”
“The tenth?! And – what?”
“Just come inside and see for yourself,” the other Doc said, boarding the train again. “We seem to explain things better as a group anyway.”
Doc and Gypsy looked at each other for a moment. Then they followed the other Doc in. The scene that greeted them was rather chaotic – sure enough, there were eight other Docs inside, along with an almost-equal number of Jennifers and a lot of people Doc didn’t know. “Great Scott,” Doc breathed, eyes wide.
“Hi,” one of the other Docs said with a sardonic wave. “Welcome to hell. I hope you’ve got your boarding passes.”
“A redhead?” one of the other women, with long black hair and unusually pale skin, said, arching an eyebrow. “I was seriously expecting another Clara at this point. What’s your name?”
“Gypsy,” Gypsy said, fiddling with her glasses a bit. “Former last name Robinson. Who are you?”
“Mysteria, former last name Jones,” the woman said, holding out a hand to shake. “The blonde here is Josephine, and the rest of the brunettes are collectively Clara.”
“Hello,” one of the Claras waved.
“Hi,” Josephine nodded. “We’re the – other choices.”
Doc stared around, astonished. “So if I hadn’t married Gypsy, I would have married one of you? Incredible. . . .”
“Almost uniformly,” another of the Docs nodded. “We’ve got one version of ourselves who isn’t married at all.” The appropriate Doc raised his hand. “I – well, I hope that doesn’t bother you too much,” he added to Gypsy.
“Can’t say it makes me want to break out into song, but I can deal,” Gypsy said, straightening her glasses. “Good lord, ten other versions of you. . . .”
“Did you give him the speech?” one of the Claras asked the first Doc.
“Yup,” the first Doc nodded. “The very short verison, anyway. Guess what, folks – I was right. This is the reality we wanted.”
There was a brief moment of silence as the other Docs stared. “What?” one of them finally said, sounding stunned. “Seriously? This is the unfortunate bastard who had to grow up with Jack?”
“That would be me, yes,” Doc confirmed with a sigh. “This is utterly incredible – how on earth did he make it to your dimensions?”
“We don’t know, and I think it’s a mystery we can save for later,” yet another of the Docs said. “All I want to know is, how on earth do you stop him?”
“With extreme force and a lot of luck,” Doc responded. “Both Marty and I were incredibly fortunate the two times we managed to defeat him.” His face sagged a bit. “I never thought we’d have to go for number three. . . .”
One of the Claras gave his back a sympathetic pat. “We’re very sorry to drag you into this. We unfortunately haven’t had the luck necessary to stop him ourselves.”
“Our main problem being, we can’t get to him before he kidnaps the Martys,” the first Doc added. “And then once he has them. . . .”
“He’s threatened them quite a few times already,” another Doc said, shoulders slumped. “Mostly to stop us from trying to get them back. In fact – he’s already shot one. Not fatally, it appears, but still. . . .”
“Not to mention he nearly tricked us into driving the train into a building in my dimension,” yet another Doc said.
“I’m not surprised,” Doc said, looking disgusted. “That’s more than typical behavior for him. I swear to God, I think he was born twisted.”
“I’d believe it,” Josephine said, matching the look on his face. “I’m thankful we never – I shouldn’t finish that, it sounds mean.”
“Oh, no, go right ahead,” Doc told her. “I won’t take it personally. I’m a little surprised none of you had to deal with him – but I’m glad too. One of him is enough for any multiverse.”
“Amen to that,” Gypsy agreed, scowling.
“You’re taking this whole ‘there’s multiple different universes’ situation well,” one of the Docs noted as the first Doc brought them into the air. “Have you traveled between dimensions before?”
“In a minor capacity,” Doc nodded. “There’s something strange about our clock tower – whenever the weather generates enough electrical charge, the top room becomes a conduit to another dimension. Three people from it visited our world once, and Marty and I visited theirs once.”
“Really? That puts you even further ahead of most of us,” another Doc admitted. “Where did you go?”
Doc frowned a little. “I’m not sure – it’s pretty fantastic.”
The other Doc held up a hand. “Beware when you say that. We’ve got two vampires, two ‘Mad Scientists’ – not that that may mean much to us–”
“– one version with four sentient tentacles welded to his back, one electricity-controlling mutant, one version who was kidnapped by faeries, apparently, and I myself am apparently some sort of living cartoon. There’s only one truly normal one among us – well, two, I guess, including you.”
“So whatever it is you saw, we can take it,” the girl in green standing by the other Doc’s side said with a nod.
Doc looked between them, astonished. “Really? Great Scott. I had no idea so many different variations – which one of you is the normal one?”
“That would be me,” the Doc at the controls said. “No special powers to speak of.”
Doc nodded slowly. “So I’m guessing they’re about you.”
“The what? What are you talking about?”
“Let me ask you something first – have any of you heard of an actor named Christopher Lloyd?”
The other Docs all shook their heads, looking extremely puzzled. “I didn’t think so. You see, technically – he’s us.” Doc sighed and smiled at them. “The other reality is one where Marty and I are the fictional stars of a hit trilogy of movies, Back To The Future Parts I through III. We don’t exist except as national entertainment.”
“. . . Is there some sort of unwritten law that each new reality has to top all the others?!”
“Maybe,” said the girl, looking kind of worn out. “Holy shit. . . .”
“Yes, well, that’s why I’m taking this so well,” Doc nodded. “Though really, I wasn’t expecting vampires or mutants. . . .” He looked between all the other Docs. “How on earth are we keeping each other all straight, anyway?”
“Numbering system,” the Doc at the controls said, still sounding a bit stunned. “I’m One, he’s Two, then Three, Four, Five, Six, Seven, Eight, and Nine. You’re number Ten.”
“Do I need a number?” Gypsy asked, looking at the other women.
“We’re just using them for us,” the Clara beside Doc One explained. “Mostly because so far there’s only one Mystie, Josie, and you.”
“Fair enough.” Gypsy closed her eyes and shook her head. “This is the absolute last thing I expected to be doing today.”
“It was the absolute last thing any of us expected to be doing,” Doc Seven said, leaning against the wall. “I’m used to adventures at home, but this is bordering on ridiculous.”
Doc eyed him curiously. “I don’t think I knew Marty at that age,” he said slowly. “Unless something happened with our birthdates. . . .”
“Technically, something did,” Doc Seven confirmed. “I’m actually from 1897, from a place called Europa Wulfenbach. The rest of them said it was called Germany in your world. I’m actually speaking through a translation device.” He grinned, suddenly looking a bit – crazed. “It’s really all quite fascinating.”
“Try to ignore the voice – it seems to be a natural variation whenever he or Eight starts seriously plotting on a new invention,” Doc Five counseled as Doc and Gypsy both blinked.
“I think it’s sexy,” the girl in green purred, grinning at Doc Seven in an almost predatory manner.
“Ignore her too,” Doc Five added, giving her a look as Doc stared at her, openmouthed. “She’s got an awful crush on me.”
“I wouldn’t call it awful,” the girl said with a grin.
“Who the hell would have a crush on me?” Doc demanded, one eyebrow threatening to disappear into his hairline.
“Ahem,” Gypsy coughed.
“I think he meant someone my age,” the girl said, snickering. “I really ought to tell you guys my name, shouldn’t I? J.C. Jones, at your service.”
“Nice to meet you,” Doc said, though he continued eying her dubiously.
“As for the crush at her age, damned if I know,” Doc Five admitted with a shrug. “You think she’d be going after Marty, but nope.”
“Marty’s cute, but you’ve got that whole superintelligence thing going on,” J.C. said. “Though I gotta admit, that other Marty sounded kinda hot when he was doing his Spark-voice or Mad-voice or whatever you want to call it.”
“I think you’re breaking his brain, J.C.,” Jennifer Five commented, looking at Doc’s stunned face.
“Mine too – one of you has another Marty seriously interested in science?” Gypsy said, looking both surprised and intrigued.
“Ye – what do you mean, another?” Doc Eight said, eyebrows shooting up. “Do you people have the Spark or Mad Scientists?”
“No – Marty just seems to have picked up on my own love of physics,” Doc admitted. “I blame overexposure to me and my time machine.”
“Marty interested in – no, wait, that doesn’t sound right in my head,” another blonde girl commented, tapping what looked like a flamingo-shaped walking stick on the floor next to her. “I mean, he’s always played little helper with all your projects, right guys?”
“True, but he’s never really shown an aptitude for invention on his own,” Doc Seven said, frowning. “He’s always been more interested in music. . .but then again, Eight, didn’t you say your own Marty was a sound Spark? That his work included mainly creating new sorts of music?”
“That’s correct,” Doc Eight confirmed. “Extremely good at it too. Though if that’s his Mad talent or just years of normal practice coming through, I couldn’t exactly say.”
“Maybe a little of both,” Doc Seven theorized. “After all, I was reading Jules Verne and attempting inventions on my own long before I properly broke through.”
“Jules Verne still exists in your world?” Doc Three said, looking both surprised and pleased.
“Yes! He’s quite the inspiration to young Sparks, as you can imagine. A lot of people suspect he’s secretly one himself and he’s simply chronicling his own adventures. Either way, they’re wonderful stories.” There was a chorus of “Yeahs” and “Definitelys” from the other Docs.
“It’s odd, what remains common to some worlds and what doesn’t,” a very thin, very pale man commented from next to Doc Nine. “You all seem to be roughly the same person, yet there’s so many differences.”
“Besides the obvious, you mean?” one of Doc Six’s tentacles said, a bit playfully.
“Well, of course,” the young man replied. “It’s – hard to describe.”
“Different life circumstances – if we ever get a chance, we should compare histories and see how they hold up,” Doc Nine said, glancing over at Doc. “Though I don’t suppose you know any of my friends?”
“Never seen them before, sorry,” Doc said with a shrug.
“It’s okay – there’s the chance I’m – well, not around anymore in other worlds,” the girl with the walking stick – or was it some sort of weird mallet? – said, grimacing a little. “I’m Allysin, and the other boys are Victor--” the tall, pale man waved “– and Fred.” Another guy, a tall man with a rather large nose, nodded.
“Hi,” Doc said, then frowned a little as something hit him.
“Something wrong, honey?” Gypsy asked.
“I – it just occurred to me I have no friends my own age.”
“I take exception to that,” Doc Seven said, giving him a look.
“You are the exception to that,” Jennifer Five pointed out.
“Well, most people your age don’t have the energy you do,” Josie pointed out. “You’re unique, Emmett.”
“A fact I’m sure we all know well,” Clara Three added with an amused grin.
Doc Six looked around, frowning. “You know what I find unusual? That three of us married completely different women. You don’t even look alike.”
“Yes, we’ve got four distinct hair colors and three distinct eye colors,” Jules agreed, examining each woman in turn.
“I dunno – I think the two green-eyed girls’ eyes are different enough shades to be considered distinct,” Verne said.
Mystie, Josie, and Gypsy looked at each other. “I suppose you’ve got a point,” Mystie said slowly. “But there has to be something we all have in common. Otherwise why would Emmett fall for us?”
“We all do seem to be on the taller side,” Clara noted.
“I think it’s a little more than physical attractiveness, though I’m sure that plays a part,” Gypsy said. “As Doc – Six, was it? – Six noted, we don’t particularly look similar. Are we all science wonks?”
Josie grinned suddenly. “I think it’s we’re all science-fiction wonks,” she said. “Let me guess – our favorite author is Jules Verne too, isn’t it?”
Mystie laughed. “Yup! I think that would do it.”
“Me too,” Gypsy giggled.
Doc smirked. “I think we can all agree on that. I just hope none of you have the mother-in-law problems I do.”
“Well, we don’t have mother-in-laws,” Doc Two said, indicating himself and Doc Four.
“And actually, we get along pretty well with Clara’s parents,” Doc One said. “Which was a surprise, as they seemed to be the type who only cared about having a properly-married daughter. But apparently throwing her out for wanting to be a schoolteacher made them rethink their ways.” There were corresponding nods from the other Docs.
“Lucky,” Doc sighed. “Marie Robinson hates me. I’m too old and too crazy for her daughter.”
“It’s really not just you, Emmett,” Gypsy said soothingly. “To put it indelicately, Mom’s got a stick up her ass.”
“Whatever makes you say that?” Clara Five asked, frowning.
“Oh, she just seems to have a entitlement complex,” Gypsy sighed. “Thinks the town owes her something because one of her ancestors fell into the local ravine in 1885.”
There was silence. “. . . . That ancestor wouldn’t be a schoolteacher named Clara Clayton, would it?” Clara Eight said slowly.
Gypsy stopped, her eyes going wide. “What – you mean – you’re Clara Clayton?!”
“Yes! Emmett stopped me from going over the edge in our worlds!”
“Well, except in mine, where I had to save him,” Clara Seven spoke up. “We were being chased by monsters – it’s a bit of a story.”
“Wait a minute, wait a minute!” Mystie said, waving her arms. “Clara One, didn’t we already establish I’m some great-great-aunt of yours?”
“Yes!” Clara One said, looking just as shocked. “And now I’m a great-great aunt of Gypsy’s. . . .” They looked at each other for a moment, then everyone turned to face Josephine.
Josie fidgeted. “Er – well, I’m a vampire, which means we’re practically immortal,” she said. “I was born in Ancient Rome. And I never had children of my own – though I had a brother who had plenty, and a sister who had a couple before getting vampirized herself, so. . . .” She shrugged. “I have no idea where my genes could have ended up.”
Gypsy studied her up and down. “That may be – but you know what? You look an awful lot like my sister April.”
The Docs shared a stunned look. “Maybe we have a weakness for girls from the same bloodline,” Doc Four theorized after a moment. “Though I’m not sure how much sense that makes, given the relationships involved are all aunts. . . .”
“Time to table this discussion,” Doc One suddenly said, a new look of seriousness on his face. “We’ve arrived at Oak Park – and I’ve got the other train in our sights.”
The Docs immediately crowded around the front of the train, the previous discussion forgotten. “Should we even bother trying to hail him?” Doc Seven asked, frowning. “It never seems to go well. . . .”
“I really don’t know,” Doc One said. “Let’s pick up Jennifer first. The poor girl’s probably worried out of her mind.”
“Yeah, we can confirm that,” Jennifer One agreed, the others nodding along.
Jennifer was waiting by the entrance to the cemetery, looking rather stunned all told. “Do I want to know the stories behind the flying steam trains or no?” she asked as they touched down in front of her.
“The story behind the steam train is actually pretty interesting,” Doc Three said with a small smile, standing in the doorway. “It’s the story behind who’s currently flying mine that is giving us so much trouble.”
Doc disembarked, followed closely by Gypsy. “How are you doing?” he asked, genuinely concerned.
“Wondering what the hell’s going on,” Jennifer replied bluntly. “I really didn’t expect this when I started yelling at him to keep his damn towels off the floor.”
“Yours does that too?” Jennifer Five called out the window. “We really have to find a way to train him out of that.”
“Who cares anymore?!” Jennifer Six snapped. “I just want him back alive, towels and all!”
Jennifer stared up at the train’s windows. “Other versions of me, too?” she squeaked.
“Yes – apparently this has been going on for a while,” Doc sighed. “Apparently Jack’s found a way to universe-hop, and he’s been kidnapping Martys from every world he’s visited. He’s only just made it back to ours.”
“I – okay, there are so many things wrong with this, but I’m going to focus on the big one,” Jennifer said, shaking her head. “How the hell can this be Jack?! I mean, there’s no freaking way--”
“If he came from a different point in our timeline, maybe!” Doc interrupted, shuddering. “Though I don’t see how that’s possible myself, honestly.”
“I don’t think we can rule out even the impossible now,” Gypsy said. “We’ve all seen too much.”
“What are you talking about?” Fred asked, coming to the door. “Why is it so impossible for it to be Jack? And I’m speaking as an impartial observer, here.”
Doc looked back at him. Here came the tough part. “Because he’s dead,” he said quietly, straightening to his full height. “He got the electric chair some years ago for multiple homicide.”
There was dead silence for a long moment. “. . .What?” Doc Three finally said, eyes wide.
“Back up and let us on, and we’ll try to explain,” Doc said.
The pair did so, still staring in shock. “Did I hear right?” J.C. said as they brought Jennifer on. “Jack’s supposed to be dead?”
“Yes,” Doc confirmed, really wishing they didn’t have to have this conversation. “Back in 1987, the police finally captured him and executed him for all his murders. Well, technically, they had him in custody in 1986, but he escaped and we had to bring him back – he’s actually done this before, on a smaller scale. Started causing havoc in the reality where we’re all movie characters.”
“Great Scott,” Doc Six breathed, shaking his head.
“Yes – we brought him back in before he could cause too much damage, thank God,” Doc sighed. “But the main point of this is, he’s been dead for three years. So you can imagine how much of a shock it is to see him now.”
“A little,” Doc Two said, tilting his head. “Of course, I’m used to people coming back from apparent death, but never anything quite like this.”
“Perhaps he’s from between the two events?” Clara Three suggested.
“Perhaps, but how the hell he managed to get to another reality altogether without me noticing is beyond me,” Doc said, frowning.
“You’re sure you don’t have the Spark here?” Clara Seven said. “They’re very good at doing the impossible.”
“The idea of him as a Spark or Mad sends chills down my spine,” Doc Eight muttered. “He’d probably be worse than Narbon the first. And that’s saying something.”
Doc Six and his tentacles were looking rather disturbed. “He’s mentioned some odd things about escaping from Hell,” Tommy said. “Maybe he’s a zombie?”
“If he were a zombie, he’d be rotting,” Doc Four pointed out. “And can you really escape from the afterlife?”
“Let’s not jump to conclusions,” Doc Nine said. “We’ve all seen our share of absolutely impossible things. I’m willing to entertain the idea he somehow made out of Hell.”
“Which means he might be even harder to take down,” Doc Five grumbled. “Should we stop and get a priest or something, just in case?”
“Later – right now, we have a train to catch up with,” Doc Three said, indicating the train still in front of them.
“Hang on, he’s slowing down,” Doc One noted, frowning. “It looks like he may want to hail us. Probably to brag, the bastard. . . .” He started maneuvering the train so they’d have a better view of each other. “Do you want to talk to him?” he asked Doc, frowning sympathetically. “We’d understand if you didn’t. Whenever we tried confronting him, it ended badly.”
“Really badly,” Doc Five agreed as J.C. winced.
Doc shook his head. “I don’t particularly want to, but I should make contact. He’s probably expecting me to – wouldn’t want to disappoint him. And we can check to make sure he hasn’t killed any of them yet.”
“What if he just lies?” Victor asked, voice trembling slightly.
“Jack has many faults, but he’s actually quite honest about his depravity – at least to his victims,” Doc said, gritting his teeth. “He feels it makes him ‘better’ than the rest of us somehow. I don’t pretend to understand his mind.”
“Neither do I, and I get paid to do just that,” Gypsy said, gently gripping his arm. “Megalomaniac and sociopath don’t seem quite adequate for his mental disorders.”
“Nothing would be quite adequate for his mental disorders,” Doc muttered, putting a hand over hers. “Sometimes I get the feeling he was simply born without a soul at all.”
“That really would explain a lot,” Allysin said, tapping her mallet against her leg.
The other train finally stopped with them in view. Jack grinned at the Docs through the window. “Well well, so lovely to see you again!” he called. “Is my dear brother on there with you?”
Doc stalked over and glared at him. “Hello, Jack. I thought you were rotting away in the Underworld.”
“I got better,” Jack said, smugness dripping off each word. “Oh, it’s good to see you again, Emmett.”
“The sentiment is not mutual, trust me,” Doc spat. “Where’s Marty?”
“Tied up over there with the rest of them,” Jack said, with a casual jerk of his thumb over his shoulder. “We had to try ten times to get him, did you know that?”
“Yes, and – we?”
“Oh yes!” Jack replied cheerfully. “I’ve picked up a number of compatriots.” A Middle-Eastern woman came up next to him, smiling in a rather snakelike manner as she put her arms around Jack. “I believe you’ll recognize Miss Amina Ali.”
“Unfortunately,” Doc said, feeling his stomach clench. This was just perfect. “Who else?”
“Biff Tannen, Stanley Carlyle, Andrew Sparks, Sandra Rayben – any of those names sound familiar, or do I get to spring some surprises on you?”
“Just Biff,” Doc confessed, raising an eyebrow. “Though I suspect they’re all wonderful specimens of humanity.”
“They are indeed,” Jack nodded. “Though perhaps Stanley’s a tad overenthusiastic. And we have to keep Andrew locked up on his own for the moment, for some reason he doesn’t seem to care for the train.”
“Do us a favor and shove him against a wall,” Allysin called, eyes narrowed in rage. “Get rid of one of your allies and a disgusting blight on our Earth.”
“Never,” Jack said pleasantly. “Not until I’ve had a chance to see just what it is he does.”
“I’d like to know how you plan to do that with us on your tail every moment,” Doc retorted angrily.
“I’ll find a way,” Jack replied. “After all, this is a time machine. And I’ve been very good at evading capture so far.”
“That’s going to end very soon, buster,” J.C. snarled, coming up to stand beside Doc. “I oughta just jump over there and punch you until your face turns into hamburger!”
“Hah!” An unfamiliar, rather fat man appeared, looking just as smug as Jack. “You guys are all talk and no action!”
“I know, Stanley, I know,” Jack nodded.
“Really? I seem to recall bringing you to justice twice,” Doc said coldly. “The first time while severely sleep-deprived, no less. I was probably about ready to start hallucinating, and yet I still managed to, if you’ll excuse the colloquism, beat the crap out of you.”
Jack’s smile faded. “A fluke,” he hissed. “I wasn’t prepared for you. And you nearly came too late, didn’t you?”
“I still came. And how can it be a fluke when we took you down a second time?”
“How was I supposed to know you knew about that rotten world?!” Jack snarled, losing his composure. “Damn it, Emmett, how did you keep getting ahead of me?”
“Simple. I’m smarter,” Doc said with a rather un-Doc-like smirk.
“Not this time,” Jack said, pointing a finger at him. “This time, I have all the advantages. I have ten versions of Martin McFly to torment. And I promise you – by the time you catch up to me again, one of them will be dead. I’ll leave him posed somewhere for you to find. Maybe set up a camera on an automatic flash so we can have pictures.” He smiled again. “I can’t wait to carve one of them up and feed him to the furnace.”
“You’re not doing anything of the sort,” Doc hissed as the other Docs bristled. “I’ll kill you myself before I let you touch Marty – any Marty – again.”
“Oh yeah? How do you plan to do that, Mr. Bigshot?” Stanley said, still looking smug. Doc really wanted to wipe the smile off that piggish face of his. “You guys think you’re so amazing. Well, you’re not! You’re just a bunch of freaks! Biological mistakes! And you can take my word on that, because I’m a doctor!”
“Were a doctor!” Doc Six called, the tentacles hissing. “You’ve been barred from practicing!”
“Whatever!” Stanley yelled, waving his arm. “The fact is, we are in control here! We have your best friends! We’re going to kill them! And you can’t stop us, no matter what you do! We’re better than you! We’re better than everyone!” He grabbed a nearby lever. “We are INVINCIBLE!” he cried, yanking it upward with a dramatic flourish.
There was the distinct sound of something important powering down. The other train hung in the air for a moment. Then it plummeted straight down. The group watched in horror as it fell faster and faster toward the earth, screams of shock, terror, and anger emanating from it. For a moment, it appeared that it would crash into the ground, digging Hill Valley’s first mass grave in the process.
Then, just as suddenly, there was a flash of light – and the other train disappeared.