"What are we going to do?" Otto asked.
Tuddrussel happened to look over at a cart that was left in front of someone's house and saw that there were a few open crates filled with junk. In one of them, there appeared to be a piece of rope. Smirking, Tuddrussel had an idea on how to catch him. He stole the rope and proceeded to make a lasso out of it.
"Tuddrussel, this is no time to play O.K. Corral," Larry said.
"Ha, ha, very funny. But just you wait, I'm gonna make sure Mr. Writer over there gets down nice and easy." Tuddrussel said, swinging it around expertly.
The Time Squad carefully made their way to Charles Dickens, who stood there on the bridge's ledge looking down at the icy river below. He seemed lost in deep, troubling thought and didn't notice the sound of other people joining him.
"Mr. Dickens?" Larry waved his hand, trying to call his attention. Dickens did not budge.
"I don't think he knows we're here," Larry said quietly to Otto.
Otto nodded. "Man, he's really out of it!"
"I'll fix that," Tuddrussel said.
He swung the lasso, and for a brief second the guys held their breath as the lasso flew into the air. With luck, the lasso dropped right on top of Dickens.
The man broke from his daze to notice the rope pulling, and jerking up to his neck. "What's this- " Dickens muttered, trying to touch the rope that began to constrict.
"Now reel him in!" Larry said anxiously, gripping at Tuddrussel's arm in anticipation.
"I would if you'd let me!" Tuddrussel said, jerking his arm away quickly. He yanked at the lasso and dragged the man off the ledge and into the snow and mud.
"Hey! What do you think you're doing?" Dickens shouted. He struggled to get the lasso off as Tuddrussel pulled.
"Sir, it's come to our attention that you're in direct violation of historical continuity," Tuddrussel said. He pulled Dickens up to his feet. Dickens removed the rope and threw it on the ground.
"What in blazes does that mean?" Dickens asked.
"It means as Time Squad officers, we're here to make sure you don't go doing anything stupid that might alter the future and such and such," Tuddrussel replied.
Dickens stared at him like he had three heads. "Well, it was nice meeting you gents, but I should be getting on with my business," Dickens said curtly. He began to walk away, but Tuddrussel effortlessly blocked him with his hand. "What sort of business are you doing, anyway?" Larry questioned. He eyed him closely, suspecting the worst from Dickens.
"The kind where you leave me alone," Dickens said.
"Mmm hmm- I'm sure you were about to do plenty of important business matters while on that ledge," Larry said.
"What do you care?" Dickens asked. He moved abruptly from Tuddrussel, trying to back away- but Larry and Otto blocked him just as fast.
"Please, Mr. Dickens, we're just here to help," Otto said, trying to be the one friendly face here as he attempted to keep a smile. "What's got you so down? Why did your wife say you were acting crazy?"
"Down? Down? If you want to know so much, I'll let you have it," Dickens snapped. "I'm through with writing! I'm through with the long, boring hours slaving away at the desk writing hundreds of pages a month for magazines that expect you to come something BIGGER and more SENSATIONAL than the last chapter you wrote! And you don't even get the recognition for it! Not really, you're just the "guy who wrote about poor people with the silly names."
"But you're one of the most celebrated English authors of the 19th century!" Otto said urgently. "People love your work, even if it is sensational at times. That's what makes your stories so captivating!"
"Yes, and with that," Dickens said, backing away. "I've had a fun time conversing with you gents, but I've got the Thames to catch."
"You can't be serious," Larry said, walking closer to him. "You're just going to give up because the work is too hard and you have a few too many rude fans? That's going to be hard to explain to your family, isn't it?"
"It's more than just that," Dickens rolled his eyes. "I'm all out of ideas, I'm at my wits end on what I could write and what my publishers will agree to sell. They want a new novel out of me soon but with my last book being a complete failure, I'm in danger of succumbing to financial ruin. And if this next book is a dud, well, I can kiss my house and family's well-being goodbye. And Charles Dickens isn't going back to the poorhouse…" Dickens shuddered at the thought.
Tuddrussel frowned, letting the depressed man walk past him sluggishly. Dickens sighed, looking upward at the gray sky and letting snow drift onto his face.
"The world would be better without me, and my stupid stories. Sure some people out there think they're fine, but what's fine today is tomorrow's garbage. You think that I don't know what happens to the magazines my serials are published on? People read a chapter for a day and then it gets used for toilet paper." Dickens seethed.
"You really think that the world is better off without you?" Otto asked.
"I do!" Dickens said.
"Geez Louise," Tuddrussel grumbled to the guys, leaning over to them close. "What are we gonna do with this guy? Get him strapped to a desk and make him write?"
"Don't be absurd!" Larry quietly scoffed.
Otto sighed, wondering how he could possibly help fix this situation.
"Larry, what's the EXACT date here?" Otto asked.
Larry checked his computer, and after a moment of searching, he found some useful information. "It appears that today is December 17th, 1843."
Otto nodded and thought about the date with keen interest. There was something important coming up around today, but what?
"Merry Christmas!" A voice called out.
Otto's concentration broke at the person who shouted. He looked up and saw a woman carrying a basket filled with baked goods, who was waving at another couple in front of her. "Merry Christmas, Mrs. Turner."
"Christmas?" Otto said, the word resonating with him as Charles Dickens came back to his train of thought.
"It's 1843, he should be past being the editor of magazines, and should have already had The Pickwick Papers and Oliver Twist published. So, if he were to stay on the correct path in life, he should be writing A Christmas Carol now." Otto said confidently.
"Great. But why is that important?" Tuddrussel asked.
"Well for one, A Christmas Carol was supposed to skyrocket Dickens' career as a writer, it's probably his most successful book out of all of his works, which is saying something! And it's certainly one of the most influential too! Without it, we probably wouldn't even have the modern traditions that we associate with the holiday like Christmas trees, presents, caroling, and the themes, of peace, hope, and good will toward men."
"What?! No presents?" Tuddrussel interrupted.
"But how are we going to get him to feel those pesky feelings of "Peace, hope, and good will toward men" when he's pining for the complete opposite?" Larry asked.
"We've got to make sure that Dickens knows that he has made a difference to the world, somehow. . ." Otto said with uncertainty.
"I dunno, maybe remind him that it could always be worse?" Tuddrussel asked. Otto raised an eyebrow at the suggestion.
"I got an idea!" Otto exclaimed. "Larry, what if we took Dickens back in time to his own past?"
"Like what we did to Paul Revere?" Larry asked.
"Sort of, but actually show Dickens his life, make him see that he has left an impact on others. Maybe it could inspire him to write again if he could just be reminded of where he came from."