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: Marty McFly was more or less a regular teenager. He lived in a regular suburban neighborhood with his parents and his brother and sister. He went to a regular high school and had a crush on a regular girl named Jennifer. He was in a regular band that played in many of the garages in Hill Valley, though everyone knew they were too regular to really go anywhere. He had the regular hopes and fears of a regular teenage boy from the suburbs in the spring of 1983. The most irregular thing about Marty was his fascination with the local mad scientist. No one in Hill Valley knew much about Dr. Emmett Brown, who lived in the remains of his family’s estate out on the edge of town. Some folks knew that in the early ’30s young Emmett had frequently been seen in Courthouse Square – his hair already high and crazy – in search of the latest science fiction books and magazines. Almost everyone knew that he dug a massive hole in his family’s backyard when he was twelve, though none of them could have said exactly why. Everyone knew that Emmett had gone away to work on the Manhattan Project when he was just twenty years old. But, other than these few facts, the man was still pretty much a mystery. by Soltari Though Emmett’s father had been a judge at the Hill Valley Courthouse, everyone who remembered the Browns said they had mostly stayed to themselves. Every once in a while a neighbor would knock on their door, asking for a cup of sugar or to borrow some hedge clippers. It was invariably just an excuse to speak with them or to get a peek inside of their strange and spacious home. They were always nice enough. Sarah made the most delicious pies and would not hesitate to offer a piece to anyone. Erhardt was quiet but thoughtful, and eager to offer his hand in affable greeting. But otherwise, they remained strangers to most everyone in Hill Valley. After Judge Brown retired, they were hardly ever seen at all. Then, in August of 1962, the once great mansion was destroyed by a fire in the middle of the night. All that remained was the large detached garage, which Emmett promptly moved into, selling off the rest of the Brown property for a hefty price. No one ever saw his parents again and they were presumed to have perished in the blaze. As always happens in small towns like Hill Valley, the craziest stories persisted about their disappearance, from rumors that Emmett had killed them to speculation that they had been called home by the alien mothership. As it turned out, the truth was even stranger. Marty was in the middle of practicing with his band, the Pinheads, when his thoughts turned, as they often did, to the mysterious garage at the edge of town. He finished playing the same untitled song they had been working on forever, something like a cross between Chuck Berry and Huey Lewis. As his fingers plucked out the last few notes, he turned to Paul, the bassist, and said . . . hey, wake up, he turned to the bassist and said . . . POPCORN: My bad, dude. He said, uh . . . “I wonder what kinda toys he’s got in there.” CINEMA: The bassist looked back at the drummer and the keyboardist, sighed, and reminded Marty that they hoped to record a demo someday. This fascination with that old man is nothing but a waste of time, Paul said, and, honestly, it borders on downright strange. But Marty laughed him off and said – POPCORN: “Hey, there was some serious noise coming out of that place one night. He could have the biggest damn speakers you’ve ever seen in there.” by Vlad Rodriguez CINEMA: His band mates muttered among themselves, shaking their heads as they packed up their gear. But Marty was already reaching for his skateboard. Strapping the guitar across his back like a gunslinger, he figured there was no time like the present to do some snooping. He said goodbye to the boys in the band and hopped on the skateboard. In his hurry to leave the garage, he skated right into Jennifer Parker as she walked past on the sidewalk. Hey, where’s the fire? she said. POPCORN: “Sorry, Jennifer. Are you alright?” CINEMA: These were probably the most words that Marty had ever spoken to Jennifer. He was not someone who lacked confidence, but every time he saw this girl he kind of went blank. Standing so close to her now, with those big brown eyes gazing back into his own, his legs felt weak and rubbery. She had just said something else to him, which probably meant that he was expected to say something in response. He was afraid that he might start stuttering, so he just stood there, making this sound – POPCORN: “Uh, uh, uh . . .” CINEMA: Your name is Marty, right? Marty . . . She was asking for his last name – POPCORN: “McFly.” CINEMA: – but, when he said his own name, the last part of it rose and stretched out like it was actually trying to take flight. This made the girl laugh, of course, but who wants to make a girl laugh when you’re not trying to? Rather than attempting to come back from that, Marty figured the best choice of action was a hasty retreat. He looked at Jennifer Parker, said – POPCORN: “Something suddenly came up.” CINEMA: – and quickly skated away. He grabbed the bumper of a passing car, as was his style, and shrugged at her sheepishly. She stood on the sidewalk, watching him with some confusion, as he was dragged further and further up the street. Reaching the outer gates of the Lyon Estates community, Marty expertly let go of one car and latched onto the bumper of another. Then another, and another, until he was out at the edge of town. The old Brown estate hunched quietly a little ways back from the road. Marty watched it for signs of life like he normally did, and then slipped around the back of the building as usual. He left his skateboard and guitar at the base of a large oak, in case he needed to make another quick getaway, and shimmied up the tree in a familiar way. Everything was the same as it was every other time, except for one small detail. This time there was an open vent on the roof of the old Brown family garage. It was just about Marty’s size. He looked to the left, looked to the right, and then he smiled. POPCORN: “Well, you only live once.” CINEMA: Without another thought or any hesitation, he leapt from the tree to the roof. It was a leap that he had practiced many times in his mind. Of course, in his mind he often didn’t clear the six foot space, landing with an undoubtedly painful splat on the ground below. This always led to the terrible explanation that he would be forced to give his parents and the Hill Valley police. He need not have worried, for he scrambled across the coarse shingles and easily propelled himself the rest of the distance up the roof. He only came to a rest when his hands grasped the edge of the vent near the roof’s peak. Marty pulled himself up and peered down into the Brown estate for the first time. POPCORN: “What the hell?” CINEMA: What he saw in the shadows below could only be described as the eclectic work space of a truly mad scientist. There were laboratory tables and robot arms that seemed to be moving by themselves and huge hulking shapes that could have been anything lurking in the furthest corners. There was a jet engine, piles of circuit boards, a workbench with welding equipment, a short-wave radio, an old Packard that was partially covered by a dusty tarp, and enough scattered parts to build at least two more cars. There were scientific items that Marty didn’t even have the words for: electrical spark resonators, induction coils, a huge Tesla coil of more than 500,000 volts, a static electrical influence machine, and dusty piles of incomprehensible failed experiments. And, right there among all of these very scientific things, was the thing that would be Marty’s undoing. POPCORN: “No way. Is that . . . it couldn’t be . . . does this crazy old man have his own jukebox?” CINEMA: That’s when Marty saw the other unlikely item in a sea of unlikely items, situated in exactly the most convenient location possible. There was an unusually large refrigerator almost directly below the vent in the garage’s roof. POPCORN: “Rock and roll!” CINEMA: There was approximately an eight-foot drop from the vent to the top of the refrigerator. Marty made the jump look almost effortless. The fridge did not even wobble as he landed and then climbed down onto the floor of the lab. Something crunched beneath his feet, a combination of broken light bulbs and various detritus. Whatever else Emmett Brown might have been, he certainly was not a neat-freak. Marty hoped that he also wasn’t the kind of scientist who assembled new creatures from old body parts. As his eyes adjusted to the relative dark, he began to see more and more strange artifacts, compiled with no apparent rhyme or reason. There was an incredibly huge speaker amp against the furthest wall – POPCORN: “I told those guys.” CINEMA: – and, across from that, a wall that consisted of nothing but clocks. There must have been at least fifty of them, ticking, ticking, ticking, and not all of them set to the exact same time. His eyes were drawn to one in particular, which depicted a familiar scene from those old Sunday morning silent films. It showed Harold Lloyd clinging to the side of a building from the hands of an immense clock. Before Marty could take another step into the lab, he heard a low growling from behind him in the shadows. Images of Frankenstein’s monster filled his head. He turned to face the sound, finding that the monster was right there in front of him. It was a massive, ferocious sheepdog, and it was coming for him. Of course, there’s no way that such a lab would have been left unguarded. He began to back away, slowly, wondering where he could possibly hide or what he might use as a weapon against a beast as ferocious as this. That’s when he glanced at the robot arm he had seen moving in the dark. It was the penultimate destination of a series of pulleys, belts, and other such arms, with the entire sequence ending in an opened can of dog food. The bowl where the food had been dumped by the arm had the word Einstein emblazoned across its surface. POPCORN: “Einstein? Einstein . . . hey boy, hey Einstein, it’s okay. You’re a good boy . . .” CINEMA: Then the dog was upon him. Licking, whimpering, and wagging its tail. It was like Einstein already knew Marty, and somehow he felt like he already knew the dog. They greeted each other now in a flurry of ruffling fur and dog-kisses. But then a voice from the shadows said, Einstein, is that you? POPCORN: “Oh shit.” CINEMA: Marty spun around, looking for somewhere to hide. The unusually large refrigerator was the only thing that offered refuge, so he went for it. For something that looked so old, there certainly were some new-fangled controls on the outside of it. Marty ran his hands across them, randomly, desperately trying different switches, assuming one of them might control the cold. Since he was just a child, his mother always told him to never crawl inside an abandoned fridge. He thought she was just being foolish, but here he was. The voice in the shadows said, is there someone there? He pulled the door open and slipped inside. He felt something against his legs and, before he could stop him, the dog was pushing into the refrigerator too. POPCORN: “Einstein, no. Not now.” CINEMA: – he whispered, but the dog was already there. Marty yanked the door shut and hushed his new friend. He looked around the faintly lit interior of the fridge, wondering why there would also be a handle on the inside. Maybe this old guy was actually working for Frigidaire, coming up with safety features that – The fridge thrummed loudly and began to rock. And to roll. Something whined and hummed and Marty suddenly felt as though he were being lifted up. His arms and neck erupted in goose bumps. He felt lightheaded, everything spinning around him, though he braced himself against the walls of the refrigerator. Einstein whimpered beside him, pressing against his legs. Then it all stopped. POPCORN: “Einstein, I think I might get grounded for this.” CINEMA: Marty sat silent and still for a while, expecting some terrifying, crazed old scientist to fling open the door at any moment. But that moment did not come and did not come. Einstein licked Marty’s face. POPCORN: “Alright, then. I guess I’ll go for it.” CINEMA: But Marty saw the last thing he expected to see when he opened the refrigerator door. The laboratory was gone. There were no more pulleys or engines or robot arms. What he saw instead looked like rubble, like dirt and rocks and barren earth. Had there been some kind of explosion? Was the damn thing some kind of bomb shelter? Fingers on the outside edges of the fridge door, he peered out from the compartment. No, it didn’t look like destruction at all. There were no demolished buildings or clouds of smoke. As a matter of fact, it looked like nothing had really ever been here at all. At least not anything like . . . civilization. Marty shook his head. That just couldn’t be right. Slowly, he stepped out of the refrigerator and looked around at an entirely different world than the one he knew. Einstein watched him from inside the fridge, whimpering, unwilling to move. Then, from the sky above, came the loudest shriek Marty had ever heard. He looked up and up to see . . . well, he wasn’t sure exactly what he was seeing. At this distance it almost looked like some kind of bat. But there couldn’t possibly be a bat that large, and the way that it was sweeping in . . . they only thing Marty had ever seen that looked like this was on those old science fiction movies, the ones where . . . where some cavemen had to fight for their survival against – POPCORN: “Holy shit, it’s a pterodactyl!” CINEMA: Marty had never moved so fast in all of his sixteen years. He was back inside the refrigerator, slamming the door shut, before his heart could even knock out another hasty beat. From outside, the screeching was louder, louder, filling up the sky. The damn thing must have been right on the other side of the door. A pterodactyl. He must have bumped his head. And now the fridge was shaking again, like it was being torn apart. But the cries of the flying dinosaur were suddenly fading, fading, then gone. Like they had never really been there at all. Everything was spinning again and Marty slumped down to the floor. His heart was pounding, pounding. Einstein’s tail thumped against the fridge wall. He licked Marty’s face. Everything was still. Silent. A few minutes later, when he felt like things had changed outside the fridge, Marty reached for the handle. He opened the door, just a crack at first. Peering out. Then he realized that, whatever had just happened, he was back inside the Brown estate again. He turned and put a hand on the dog – POPCORN: “Sorry, pal, but I’m outta here.” CINEMA: – and he was gone. He didn’t see a dinosaur, or a crazy old scientist, or anything else. He found the door, as quickly as he could. Hoping that it wasn’t hooked up to some elaborate alarm system that would trigger a bunch of robot guards, or that when he walked outside again he would still be in the suburbs, he turned the knob and flung it open. He was greeted by nothing but the fading light of early evening in Hill Valley, 1983. Marty had never been so glad to be in the same old predictable town. He found his skateboard and guitar beneath the old oak tree, right where he had left them, and then finished making his getaway. For once, he thought his curiosity might have finally been satisfied. That was it, no more mad scientists for him. A few days later, Marty was in his room. Jennifer Parker’s face was looking out at him from the Hill Valley High School yearbook. His fingers were gently strumming the guitar strings while he fumbled around with the words of a song he was working on. POPCORN: “. . . it’s a curious thing, make one man weep and another man sing, change your heart to a little white dove, more than a feeling, that’s the power of . . . aw, forget it, this song’s crap.” That’s when he looked up to find George McFly in his doorway. He had been standing there for a few minutes, goofily nodding his head to the music. His eyes peered out, super-huge, from a pair of Coke-bottle glasses. POPCORN: “Jeez, Dad, can’t a guy have a little privacy?” CINEMA: Gosh, I’m sorry, son, he said, I just like your music so much. Sometimes it reminds me of this guy I knew back in high school. Did I ever tell you about Marvin Berry and the Starlighters? POPCORN: “Yes, only about a million times. But let me ask you, Dad, how do you get a girl to really notice you? I mean, enough for her to . . . you know, fall for you.” CINEMA: George McFly smiled and said, well, I had to get hit by a car to meet your mother, but I wouldn’t really recommend that . . . Almost as if on cue, Lorraine’s voice rang out from the other room. Marty, you have a visitor, she said. Marty felt his heart thud excitedly, imagining that it was Jennifer at the door. He dropped the guitar on his bed, ruffling his hair. George smiled at his son and stepped aside. Marty scrambled from the room, rounding the corner toward the living room. His mother was there. It was noon on a Saturday and she was already into the Popov, making his spirits drop just a little. At least the lovely Ms. Parker would be waiting for him . . . But it wasn’t Jennifer. Marty immediately wondered why he thought it would have been. He also wondered exactly how much trouble he’d gotten himself into, because when he stepped up to the front door there was an old man with high and crazy hair standing there, smiling at him. It was Doctor Emmett Brown. by Pat Carbajal POPCORN: Dude, I don’t have any more words written down here. CINEMA: No, you don’t, because that’s the end for now. POPCORN: Naw, man. You mean this is one of those to-be-continued deals?? CINEMA: It sure is. POPCORN: Man, I hate when they do that kinda stuff to me. You totally suck, dude. I can’t even tell you how bad you suck right now. TO BE CONTINUED . . . – j meredith POPCORN CINEMA will return with more of BACK TO THE FUTURE AGAIN. 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.