The sound of ticking clocks is heard, getting louder and louder. Not all of them are perfectly synchronized. After a few seconds of ticking, ticking, ticking, alarms start to go off. Some of these are simultaneous, but most are not. It’s unclear if they are meant to go off at the same time. As the various alarms reach a deafening cacophony of starting and stopping, the familiar opening logo of BACK TO THE FUTURE appears on the screen. It is quickly followed by the word AGAIN, which appears in almost the same font. CINEMA: Doctor Emmett Brown was standing in front of Marty McFly, the teenager who had broken into his house a few days ago. The man’s hair was high and crazy and he was grinning like a mad scientist. Marty could see his life ending right there on his parents’ front porch, or maybe rotting away somewhere behind bars like his Uncle Joey. His mother’s voice rang out from behind him, with the slightest slur of Popov, Marty are you inviting your guest in, or are you going to air condition the entire neighborhood? POPCORN: “It’s alright, Mom. It’s just a . . . Mormon bible salesman. I’m going to get rid of him.” CINEMA: With that, Marty stepped onto the porch, closing the door behind him. It must have paid off to be a mad scientist, for there was a shiny new DeLorean parked in front of the house. The old man said, for such an agile cat burglar, that was the clumsiest excuse I’ve ever heard. Then he extended his hand. Doctor Emmett Brown, he said, pleased to meet you. Marty warily took his hand. He was thinking of a thousand terrible b-movies from the Fifties and maybe just a little about Obi-Wan Kenobi. He was also thinking of robot arms, strange motorized parts, and a refrigerator that somehow made dinosaurs magically appear. POPCORN: “That’s one amazing lab you’ve got, Doc.” by Drew Struzan CINEMA: It could use some cleaning, Emmett Brown said, and I need an assistant for some of the experiments I’ve been working on. POPCORN: “What, are you offering me a job?” CINEMA: Even looking directly at him, the scientist’s eyes were like two wagons that wanted to go down separate paths. The answer in both eyes was that this was exactly why Doc Brown was here. POPCORN: “Oh, I don’t know . . .” CINEMA: Doc began to go on about the wonder of scientific discovery and the thrill of true experimentation. He talked about Jules Verne and the future and about the fate of all mankind, as if Marty could affect any of these things. He said that he was himself a student of all sciences. When it looked like he still had not hooked Marty, he mentioned that he had hundreds of records and he could listen to every one of them. Then he said, and I could pay you a hundred dollars a week. POPCORN: “Could you call me Igor, too?” CINEMA: Meet me at the lab tomorrow after school. Feel free to use the door to get in. If you decide that it’s not for you, you can get on with your life. Of course, Marty couldn’t resist. He told the Pinheads that he couldn’t make it to practice. They grumbled and said if he didn’t start taking the band more seriously that he was out, but he had to see what Doc Brown was doing in that lab. No one in Hill Valley had ever known as much about the old man as Marty would soon know. It was almost enough to get his mind off Jennifer Parker for most of the day. After the final bell, he found her in front of the school. With busses pulling away and students racing around in dilapidated old cars, showing off their new driver’s licenses, she was standing there like the calm center of a storm. There was never a better time for him to talk to her than now. He retrieved the skateboard from where he always stashed it behind a tree, ruffled his hair up to optimal coolness, and moved in with his heart thudding hard in his chest. She did the last thing that he expected her to do. Just as he almost reached her, still wondering what he might say, she turned around to face him. She smiled, those big brown eyes looking bigger and browner than ever, and said, well, hello, Marty McFly. POPCORN: “Marty, hi. It’s Jennifer. I mean, uh, you’re Jennifer. I’m hi, Marty. No, no, I mean, I’m Marty . . . uh, hi.” CINEMA: She did what she did almost every time Marty spoke to her. She laughed. He was starting to think that maybe it was hopeless for him to be with a girl like her. There was one other thing he figured he could do to restore his dignity in front of her. POPCORN: “You know, uh . . . Jennifer, I’d probably ask you out, but I’ve got this thing. I’m going to be a lab assistant. Yeah, that’s right, I’m working with Doctor Emmett Brown. Famous, you know, he worked on the, uh, Manhattan Project, you know . . . over there in Manhattan, and, uh . . . ” CINEMA: The sound of a horn honking thankfully drowned out further laughter. Jennifer’s father had arrived to pick her up. She turned, motioning for him to hold on a moment, but when she looked back Marty was already on his skateboard. He deftly snagged the bumper of a passing car and was dragged away before she could say anything else. He waved at her as he receded further and further away from the school. by Vlad Rodriguez POPCORN: “Jeez, I’m so stupid. Doc, do you know anything about women?” CINEMA: They were standing in the middle of the garage, otherwise known as Doc’s laboratory, which was all that remained of the once majestic Brown estate. The rest of it had been destroyed in a fire in August of 1962, the same night that Erhardt and Sarah Brown disappeared. They were presumed to have died in the flames. These were all things that Marty had hoped to ask Doc about, but now he couldn’t get Jennifer out of his thoughts. Doc was busily climbing over different scientific apparatuses and digging through dusty boxes. I’ve always found science to be a more rewarding mistress, he said. Besides, there’s a certain kind of woman that they just don’t make anymore. Marty held up a robotic human arm covered in the least convincing human flesh ever. POPCORN: “Gosh, maybe you could make one. Maybe I should.” CINEMA: A-ha, Doc said, dragging something from an old box that looked like the crudest, largest skateboard ever. The only thing missing from it was wheels. He turned it over and flipped a switch on the underside of the board. It’s not much more than a prototype, but it should still work. He placed it on the ground in front of Marty. Go ahead and try it out. Marty stepped up on the board and immediately rose into the air. POPCORN: “Holy crap, I’m flying!” CINEMA: Hovering, actually. It’s activated by your body weight and shouldn’t get much more than a couple feet off the ground. You’ll have to work on getting it to go where you need it to – Marty was already moving around, more like a surfer than a skateboarder, and the contraption had begun to putter around in an arc through the lab – but it can move pretty fast once you get moving. Marty promptly dumped himself on the floor, the board dropping down beside him. POPCORN: “You made this, Doc? You’re a genius.” CINEMA: Doc said, there’s not that much genius required, really. All you need to do is put together a large superconductor plate and cool it with liquid hydrogen to achieve the Meissner effect. POPCORN: “Oh yeah, piece of cake.” CINEMA: Marty climbed back up and, in no time, was making another slow circle around the room. By applying pressure at just the right angle upon the back of the board he began to pick up speed. It was just about the coolest thing he had ever seen. You can mess around with that as much as you want, and check out the record collection too . . . as soon as you’ve finished cleaning up the garage. POPCORN: “You were serious about that? Hey, Doc, so what’s up with the refrigerator?” CINEMA: Don’t go near the refrigerator. Not yet. I’ve got some things to do around the lab, and beyond, but the fridge is the one thing that’s off-limits. I’m serious about that. You’ve got to promise me, Marty. POPCORN: “Hey, no problem. But I just gotta ask, where the hell did I go?” CINEMA: It’s not so much a matter of where, Doc said, as when. But we’ll talk about that later. by Rob Loukotka And so it went for many weeks. Marty told his parents that he was helping Doc clean out his garage, which wasn’t really a lie. He made it to band practice once in a while, with the Pinheads getting just a little angrier every time he bothered to show up. They would play a couple songs and then he would steal away for the Brown estate. Most of the time, Doc was there, tinkering away on this or that, taking apart pieces of the refrigerator. Other times, he would get in the DeLorean and venture into town for a while. Marty kept his promise to stay away from the fridge, but it was hard. Really, really hard. After a few minutes, he would stop sweeping or scrubbing and just stand in front of it. He would reach out to almost touch it, but then realize that Einstein was panting beside him. Watching. At this point, it wouldn’t have surprised him if the dog wasn’t a real dog at all. Sometimes Doc seemed like he wanted to talk. He might ask about Jennifer or about Marty’s parents. Or he might tell Marty to go choose another song on the jukebox and then talk about it for half an hour. For someone who looked like such a mad scientist, Doc really knew his rock ‘n roll. Chuck Berry was his favorite. He said that he didn’t have a good head for dates, but he could tell Marty when every one of those songs was released and knew how long they were without even looking. But, other than that, he rarely said anything personal, and Marty couldn’t bring himself to ask. Finally, after Marty had swept and swept, taken out more junk than he could ever have imagined, he knew that the cleaning had come to an end. It was time for whatever Doc had really brought him here for. He was flying around on the prototype hoverboard behind the house, working on getting around trees and over fallen logs. Doc called him into the garage. Marty, what do you think happened when you were inside of that refrigerator? POPCORN: “I think I must have hit my head . . . really hard . . . because I could have sworn that I saw a pterodactyl.” CINEMA: That’s exactly what you saw, Doc said. When I checked the controls, it seems that you sent yourself back to the Cretaceous era. It’s a good thing that you scrambled back inside when you did, because it would’ve been bad news if you’d stayed outside of the fridge for very long. POPCORN: “Wait a minute, Doc. Are you saying that you made . . . a time machine?” CINEMA: It’s more like a time door. What I’ve made doesn’t remain in the alternate timeline like an actual, successful time machine would. It can stop there and remain open for a very short duration. Even with the best calibration, the longest I’ve gotten it to go is five minutes. POPCORN: “Whoa.” CINEMA: Marty, I have something to ask you, and I want you to take as long as you need to think about it. Then he began to tell Marty more than anyone in Hill Valley had ever known about himself, his family, or even about science in general. Emmett Brown had learned a great many things when he worked on the Manhattan Project. The greatest of these was that the main threat to the future was humanity. He realized, as did many of the other brilliant people he worked with, that men would develop the technology of destruction much more eagerly than that of progress. When the best scientists in the world understood that they could now bring about the end of that world, they backed away from their volatile discovery. Some of them, like Emmett, returned from New York wishing that they could go back and change what they had done. That’s when Emmett knew that he would have to build a time machine. He moved back into his childhood home, turning the vast basement under the Brown estate into his laboratory. His parents were pleased to have him with them again, especially his mother. She never tired of baking tasty treats and would often distract him from his work with the sounds from her Victrola. She loved Big Band music and Glenn Miller was her favorite. When she put “Moonlight Serenade” on the old record player, she would sway alone across the room like she were still a little girl. Emmett’s father was more reserved. Emmett knew that his old man hadn’t forgotten about when he was twelve years old. He had read the work of Jules Verne and decided to dedicate his life to science. Inspired by JOURNEY TO THE CENTER OF THE EARTH, the young scientist employed a series of shovels connected to the engine of an old Packard in his attempt to dig just such a hole in the back yard. He never got to the earth’s core, but he did get in a lot of trouble. Emmett described what he had seen in Manhattan to his father and passionately explained what he hoped to do. The old man nodded his head solemnly, repeating what he had told his son as they sat staring into a thirty foot hole in the yard all those years ago: there are consequences for all the things we do. Still, Emmett pushed his experiments further and faster than he was truly ready to go. Leery of handling nuclear elements, he had found a way to use the kinetic force of contained explosions as a kind of non-atomic bomb. Building a lead-lined vault in the basement, complete with a mess of highly scientific dials and levers, he believed that he had created a chamber that could navigate and withstand the rigors of time travel. One night, while his parents slept, he climbed inside and closed the door behind him. He set the controls and closed his eyes, pulling the switch. When he opened the door to his presumed time-travel machine, he found that most of the house had vanished. In the process, his parents had actually been hurtled into another time. Following a moment of both horror and elation, he knew that he would have to hide what had happened until he could find a way to bring them back. Removing only the most vital equipment to the garage, he set fire to the remains of the estate. He also managed to save his mother’s Victrola. It was only through a few fluke discoveries and dumb luck that he was able to figure out not so much where, but when they had gone. But, over twenty years later, he had still been unable to retrieve them. I made very careful calculations, recalibrations, and then, finally, attempts to reach them, but . . . POPCORN: “You need me to help you get them back.” CINEMA: Yes. POPCORN: “I don’t need to think about it, Doc.” by Matt Taylor CINEMA: Over the course of several weeks, Doc and Marty discussed how to operate the time-traveling refrigerator and devised a plan for getting the Brown family back to the present. Marty asked if this weren’t some kind of violation of time-travel law or something, but Doc seemed unwilling to even address the matter. He knew the old man must have already been puzzling over these questions for years. So he continued to practice with the hoverboard, which was to feature prominently in the rescue operation, and silently hoped that he wouldn’t have to dodge any flying dinosaurs. On the afternoon that they planned to go back in time, Doc asked again if he still wanted to go through with it. Marty had enjoyed a hearty breakfast that morning and surprised both of his parents by hugging them before he left for school. He had even made a point of saying goodbye to his thoroughly unlikable brother and sister. The only regret he had was that Jennifer had not been in school, due to being sick with the flu, though he wasn’t sure what he could have possibly said to her. He was as ready as he would ever be. Despite having already covered everything numerous times, Doc went through it all again. The door could only remain open for five minutes. In addition, it could only stop at any given time if it had not already been there. The machine could only be stopped in increments of a minute, which greatly reduced the number of opportunities to enter a particular time. Unfortunately, in his efforts to determine exactly where in time his parents were (and in a few solitary attempts to retrieve them), Doc had used up almost every time slot. There was only one left, which opened up a minute before their own door opened. POPCORN: “So, really . . . I’ve only got four minutes?” CINEMA: Correct, and there is approximately a 150 foot stretch of space between where your door opens and where my parents ‘door will open one minute later. POPCORN: “And I can’t stop at the same time because . . .” CINEMA: Because of the alternative polarities in the continuum. POPCORN: “Which means . . .” CINEMA: Well, I’m not exactly sure, but the machine could vibrate into non-existence and tear apart the fabric of all space and time. POPCORN: “Okay, good tip, no stopping at the same time.” CINEMA: According to plan, Marty stepped inside of the fridge alone. He checked the watch that Doc had given him one more time, then secured the hoverboard at his side. Doc stood in the doorway with a solemn, appreciative look, with Einstein at his side. If at any time you change your mind, or if anything we haven’t prepared for should happen, get right on the com-link and let me know. POPCORN: “Yeah, yeah, I got it.” CINEMA: With a deep breath, he nodded at the old man. Doc nodded back and shut the door. From inside the insulated confines of the refrigerator, Marty could not hear Doc mutter a small prayer. He did not hear him adjusting levers or setting the controls. All he heard was the sound of his own heart pounding in his ears. When the entire compartment thrummed to life like a massive robotic beast, he reached for the com-link. POPCORN: “Hey, Doc, how are you powering this thing anyway?” CINEMA: The crude speaker crackled back at him, then Doc said, there’s a very small nuclear reactor in the fridge’s motor. Marty laughed nervously, hoping like hell that he hadn’t been wrong in trusting the old mad scientist. The refrigerator began to rumble. TO BE CONTINUED . . . – j meredith POPCORN CINEMA will return with the conclusion to this timely saga. Meanwhile, feel free to drop a comment, share, or click a ‘Like’ . . . it makes the guys feel good. Check out all our previous editions on PSYCHO DRIVE-IN. John E. Meredith and Psycho Drive-In do not own the rights to Back to the Future or any of the characters from it. No money is made from the writing of this story. Share this:TweetShare on TumblrLike this:Like Loading... Related Leave a Reply Cancel ReplyYou must be logged in to post a comment.