It's A Yellow World (Jack and "The Simpsons")
Friday evening. Jack sighed, relieved to be sitting in his favourite recliner and opening a bottle of beer. After a few days "offworld" it was nice to be back in his familiar surroundings. He held the bottle as always with just two of his fingers, as he fished for the remote with his other hand. He always remembered to program the VCR to record his favourite program after that incident in Antarctica.
He pressed "play" and the familiar melody came to him. By the time the cloud with the title "The Simpsons" appeared, he already had an expectant grin on his face. During the rest of the credits he thought about why he liked this television series so much. When it had started in the early Nineties he had watched it together with Charlie. When he had been at home, anyway. That had been their little ritual. Charlie just like other kids liked Bart's tricks and Homer's misfortunes, but Jack always had seen more than that in it. By using humor (or Homer?) the writers could present some truths that were often not shown on TV. If he only could make that clear to Carter he was sure that she would like the series as much as he did.
After Charlie's death and his divorce from Sara, he wasn't up to watching the series for a long time. The emphasis on family life reminded him that he no longer had one. But as his interest in life came back, his cryptic sense of humour returned as well and he started to tape the episodes.
He settled back to watch the weekly episode. Meanwhile outside it became dark and a storm began to rage. But inside in front of the blazing fireplace, it was warm and comfortable. Jack slowly relaxed. All the tension of the past week fell away and he began to look forward to the weekend.
When he went to the kitchen to get a second beer the thunderstorm definitely caught his attention. The storm had increased and raindrops pelted against the windows. Lightning flashed from dark clouds and the time between strikes became shorter and shorter. Jack thought about turning off the TV.
But maybe he could finish the episode at least. He just wanted to know how it would end. Kawummm! Jack flinched. That was close! Now his decision was made. With a last regretful glance at the screen he got up to switch it off. When he touched it he felt a big surge of energy through his arm. He was unconscious when he hit the floor.
Sam sat comfortably at the table with a cup of coffee, a croissant and the morning paper intent on enjoying the Saturday morning when the telephone rang. She remained seated waiting for the answering machine to pick up. But as soon as she heard Daniel's excited voice she immediately grabbed the receiver.
„Sam, finally, I need your help!", was sputtered into her ear.
„Take it easy, Daniel, what's the matter?"
Daniel took one deep breath and then continued more calmly. „I can't get Jack on the phone. We were supposed to do hike in the mountains this weekend. I wanted to call to ask if we should cancel it after the thunderstorm last night. I'm sure the trails will be slippery. Actually I waited for him to call, you know how seriously he takes safety!"
Sam nodded. When she remembered that Daniel couldn't see her she said, „Maybe he is only getting some groceries or taking out the garbage?"
„Sam, I tried for almost an hour! There is something wrong! Call me paranoid, but I think we need to go over there! I know where he keeps his spare key but I don't want to go alone. There could be… people in his house."
Sam understood what he wanted to tell her. It was nothing they should be discussing over a public line. When someone like Jack was involved it was always important to be careful.
„Okay", she said. „We will meet in front of his house in…", she looked at her watch, "…half an hour."
An impatient Daniel waited for Sam to arrive. As she took up her position on the other side of the door, he saw her release the safety on her gun. Then she nodded to him to open it.
For a split second Daniel wondered if they should have informed
Hammond and brought some backup with. But on the other hand, if Jack was just sleeping in, they'd end up looking pretty foolish. Not to mention how pissed Jack would be at them. No, they were doing the right thing by looking for him on their own first he decided.
Cautiously they went through the hall, taking advantage of all available cover. All was quiet. "Sir?", Sam called. „Are you here? There was no answer. Sam quickly searched the other rooms. She began to worry. It was late and Jack usually was an early riser. Especially if he had planned to go hiking.
She hesitatingly opened the bedroom door. She felt like she was intruding. Nothing. The bed looked like it hadn't been slept in. She went back to where Daniel was waiting.
„Whatever happened, happened yesterday evening. The bed is still made and there's leftover food and two empty beer bottles in the living room."
Daniel couldn't help feeling anxious. "What should we do?" he asked.
„I think we need to inform General Hammond!"
They returned to the living room and in a last attempt to understand what had happened, gave it a thorough once-over. Yet everything seemed as it should be, there was no indication of a struggle. Jack had obviously watched "The Simpsons" just like every Friday night. In fact the TV and VCR were still on.
Sam sighed and was about to switch them off. She paused. That was odd. No tape was longer than six hours. And on top of that something about the figure on the screen looked familiar. A man was lying at the street, motionless, and yet… She did not know exactly what it was. Maybe her mind was playing a trick on her?
At that moment a street sweeper came down the street and the man on the sidewalk got wet from the overspray. Sam saw with astonishment how the man stirred, then placed an arm over his eyes, turned on his side and curled. All of these movements she had seen countless times before when Colonel O'Neill regained consciousness.
„Daniel", she said. Then a little louder, „Daniel!" He turned and came next to her. Speechlessly they watched a man with yellow skin, grey hair, and table-tennis-ball eyes with an unmistakable stagger.
Then they looked at each other. They had found Jack.
Jack moaned and tried to figure out where he was. The surface under him felt hard and cold. So it wasn't a soft bed, wasn't the infirmary. He didn't know yet whether that was good or bad. In any case he was wet. Did he fell asleep in the shower again? Carefully he opened his eyes and saw the blue sky. No shower then. A street. How the hell had he gotten he get here? The last thing he remembered was sitting in his recliner at home. Did he have one beer too many and end up spending the night in the street? That could have happened some years back, but certainly not now.
He sat up slowly. The houses looked unfamiliar, but looked like the homes in a typical small American town. Well, sitting here any longer made no sense. If he wanted to get home he had to find someone who could tell him where he actually was.
As Jack went down the street he noticed something odd. Though the sun shone brightly in the sky, he cast no shadow. Did that mean that he now was a vampire or what? His head began to throb.
There were few people on the street which Jack attributed to the early morning hour. Jack looked for someone who could help him. A yellow-faced woman with lilac hair came toward him. Obviously she had bought groceries. She looked somehow familiar but he did not remember where he might have seen her before. But before he was close enough to ask her, she dropped her sacks and yelled so loud that someone could have heard it 3 miles away. "MACGYVER!" Then this crazy woman headed straight for him.
Surely she wasn't talking to him. He turned around to make certain there was no one behind him. When he turned back, she was standing right in front of him.
"Are you talking to me?" he asked. "Because my name is…"
„Oh, sorry!" the woman with the very prominent upper jaw said. She continued, "Of course I do know that your name actually is Richard Dean ANDERSON!" The last part of the name she again yelled out loudly. Jack sighed. Of all the people he could have met, why did it have to be this crazy woman?
Nevertheless he tried again, „No, I don't know anyone by that name. I'm Colonel Jack O'Neill and I somehow… well, got lost. Could you please tell me if this is still Colorado Springs?"
„You aren't?", she asked disappointedly. "But you sure look like him! – Colorado Springs? I never heard of that before. No, this lovely town is called –"
At that moment Jack noticed the familiar towers of the atomic power plant. Now he knew where he was.
He completed her sentence, "…Springfield".
Sam and Daniel had listened in silence. If they had doubts before, now they were gone. It was certain: Jack O'Neill had become a cartoon figure!
Daniel shook off the numbness. „What do we do now?" He looked to Sam for help.
She didn't think for long before responding, "We'll find a way of getting him out of there. If you'll call the General and let him know what's happened up to this point, I'll do some investigation."
She went over to the table where a laptop laid. Although she had never seen it before, she wasn't surprised that Jack had one. It hadn't taken her long to see right through Jack O'Neill. She knew exactly when he was faking his slow uptake and when she was talking over his head with astrophysics.
He wasn't as dumb as he wanted to let others think. One didn't make it to Colonel without some smarts and it offended her somewhat that he continued to play the role for her, Daniel and Teal'c as well. Obviously he always hid the telltale computer when they visited him.
But there it sat, waiting for her to start. While Daniel was on the phone with Hammond, she considered "googling" "The Simpsons". Instinctively she knew that only the writers of the show would be able to help Jack.
First try, „The Simpsons". Well, maybe not a good idea. Obviously she underestimated the fascination with this series. The search engine had a lot of results; there were a lot of creative fans out there. But at least some of the web pages had facts for her so now she could look for names like Matt Groening, James L. Brooks and Sam Simon. She needed a town, an address, something.
Daniel was still on the phone with Hammond. Now he held his hand over the receiver and asked, "General Hammond wants to know how he can help us!"
„Just a minute!" Impatiently Sam waited for the page to load. Finally, the address of the production place.
„We have to go to Los Angeles!", she called to him and heard Daniel repeat it for the General, "Yes, we need a flight to Los Angeles as soon as possible."
As Daniel turned, he caught sight of Sam closing the lap-top and reaching for the television.
„Wait, don't turn it off!"
Sam froze in the middle of the movement and then drew back her finger cautiously as Daniel said, "General, could you please send Teal'c over here? We need someone to stay with Jack. Well, thank you. We'll call again when we know more."
Then he replaced the receiver and looked at Sam. "The television is the only connection to Jack at the moment", he told her tiredly. "Maybe we'll lose him if we switch it off."
„I'm Selma", the woman with the lilac hair explained, somewhat belatedly. "Selma Bouvier. Actually Selma Bouvier-Terwilliger-McClure, but who counts the husbands anyway?"
Jack held back his ‚I know' and said absent-mindedly „Nice to meet you." His head swam. He couldn't think straight. How had he gotten himself in such a mess? While he might have yearned to visit the world of the Simpsons, he certainly didn't intend to make it home.
Selma apparently wasn't bothered by his lack of conversation. She prattled on, "You poor man, you're all wet. It will be the best when you come with me. I still have some clothes from Troy McClure. He conned me into a sham marriage and I should have get rid of them long ago. But they sure look like your size and you need something dry to put on!"
So she babbled on and on and pulled Jack to her car. The promise of dry clothes had convinced him so he came along. But deep down he had the suspicion that Selma did not believe him and still saw this guy – Richard what's his name? – in him. But she wanted to help him and that was all that mattered at the moment.
Sam got herself coffee from the board-kitchen and took another one for Daniel. They were in a military airplane on their way to Los Angeles. Now when they found time to think over the whole situation for the first time, they realised how difficult it could be.
Daniel watched her over the rim of his cup. "And we will be able to help Jack exactly how?"
Sam thoughtfully stirred her coffee and shrugged. "Honestly? I don't know, Daniel. I'm familiar with natural laws. Something like this shouldn't happen, but it did!"
Daniel thought about her last sentence. It reminded him of something. When was the last time that events seemed to make no sense at all? Suddenly his face brightened.
„I think I have an idea! Isn't this just like virtual reality? All we had to do back then was to go through a door. Hidden exits were everywhere, we just didn't know it."
„And Jack has no idea that he has to find such an exit", Sam completed his thought. "So we need a gate, a door, something like…"
„But we do have a gate!", Daniel interrupted excitedly. He got out his notebook and opened to a drawing of the Stargate.
Sam looked at him questioningly. "We can't reveal anything about the Stargate, that's for sure."
„What about that fact we're military? Can we tell that? Maybe then they'll be more cooperative?"
„I think a little back up from the general surely can't hurt. On the other hand it shouldn't go too public, it would be just what some people would want, to have a USAF colonel go missing."
Daniel nodded, he knew the person she meant: Kinsey.
„Nevertheless", he said slowly. „I think it is necessary that we show them this." His index finger traced the curves of the gate almost lovingly.
„Of course I have no idea if it will work", he continued. "There is no Stargate in Springfield. So we must convince the illustrator to draw one. We don't have to tell them what it is exactly. They draw it, Jack goes through it, and that will be that!"
He looked hopefully at Sam. She watched him amazed. "That really could work! How did you get this weird idea, Daniel?"
He smiled self-consciously. "Well, as a child I used to watched a cartoon series, I don't remember what the name of it was. But there was a little boy, pretty smart, that always invented crazy things. He had a magic drawing pen. Every time he needed something to solve a problem he only had to draw it onto the wall and it became real. Do you understand?"
Sam watched him with wonderment. And they say you can't learn anything from cartoon series!
To be continued in part 2/4