"Feel the burn, feel the burn; my legs are on fire, but this is supposed to be good," Greg Kitchens panted as he ran on the treadmill inside his bedroom.
Suddenly, out of the corner of his right eye, he saw a red light flashing on a device lying on his bedside table. "Oh, thank God," he exhaled, jumping off the treadmill and reaching for the device. Pushing his wet brown hair out of his eyes, he watched the LED screen scroll the words for his next assignment. Being the apprentice of a computer/technology guru had its ups and downs, but at times like this, he felt more like a secret agent than a lackey. Everything was so hush-hush. So much so, in fact, that even Greg himself wasn't sure where his fearless leader resided. The only directions he was given was to do whatever the device stated and do it in a timely fashion. At least this one was fairly easy. All he had to do was pick up the telephone and make a call. Not an average call, however; a call using a strange gadget born in the nineteen-eighties but not perfected until nineteen ninety six. A gadget that could transmit messages to any phone in the past, present or future. Today it had to be a phone number listed for Chicago in the year nineteen eighty seven. "And to think I wanted to be a musician," Greg said aloud before he typed in the message on the computer to be sent via phone line.
Balki Bartokomous watched helplessly as his cousin Larry Appleton paced back and forth the living room of their apartment, muttering to himself. Less than half an hour ago, Balki had witnessed their friend Bianca Pierson being kidnapped by some strange man and a hologram while Larry had been conveniently absent. He was still sore at his cousin for going off on some wild adventure without mentioning to Balki where he was going. Both he and Bianca had been frantic not knowing where he was and having to deal with their own problems. Balki had been repeatedly seeing the hologram of a girl Bianca knew, hearing her scream as she was shot each time. He still couldn't quite shake her image out of his brain. Bianca, on the other hand, was not only trying to comfort him, but worrying about Larry and dealing with her own resurfaced childhood trauma. Now she was kidnapped and taken in her time machine to wherever, whenever.
Suddenly, the phone rang and both Larry and Balki snapped to attention.
"That could be the kidnapper; Balki, you answer it and ask them how much they want in ransom money," Larry ordered, eyes wild.
Balki rolled his eyes and answered the phone. "Hello?"
Balki held the phone away as loud static filled the line before the noise died down. "Bianca….held….London….two thousand thirteen….Long Horn….careful…" a voice stated, the line cutting in and out.
"I'm sorry. We have a bad connection, Bianca," Balki stated calmly.
Instantly, Larry grabbed the phone from Balki. "Bianca? Where are you? Are you hurt?" he asked in a hurried panic. "Hello? Hello!"
"Cousin, that wasn't Bianca," Balki told him matter-of-factly as Larry slammed down the phone. "They just said her name."
"What?" Larry cried. "What else did they say? How much do they want in ransom money?"
"Cousin, take a chill pillow. They said nothing of money, handsome or otherwise. They only said few words."
"Well, tell me, Balki; what else did they say?"
Balki tapped his chin thoughtfully before shrugging. "I don't remember, Cousin."
Balki started to walk away, but Larry grabbed him by the lapel of his collar and pulled him forward until they were inches away. "Balki! You have to remember! Focus and remember," he growled.
Balki teared up. " I can't remember under this pressure, Cousin. Besides, you're choking me with your bandaged hand," he gagged.
Larry instantly let him go and shoved him on the sofa. "Okay, okay, then Balki. Just relax," he said soothingly, fluffing the headrest of the sofa and massaging his temples. "Just relax and think back to the message. They said Bianca's name and what else did they say?"
"Oh, wait; I'm getting something," Balki closed his eyes. "I'm remembering something…"
"Yes, yes?" Larry asked eagerly.
"I forgot to let the cat out," Balki replied.
Suddenly, Larry's body pounced on the couch and he grabbed Balki again, pinning him down. "We don't have a cat, Balki. What…did…the…message…say?"
"Held! It said held!" Balki cried, his voice at an octave he didn't recognize. "Bianca held."
"Bianca held where?" Larry snarled, still not moving from his position.
"Bianca held…Bianca held…. London!"
Finally, Larry sat up and let Balki go. "Bianca's held in London?"
"In two thousand thirteen, Long Horn and careful," Balki rattled off with ease.
"Anything else?" Larry finally asked, hopping up from the sofa.
"I said 'I'm sorry. We have a bad connection, Bianca', and then you grabbed the phone and said-"
"Never mind!" Larry cried. "Come on! We need to use the other time machine to travel to London in two thousand thirteen and look for a place that says Long Horn!"
"And be careful," Balki reminded him before Larry punched in the information and hovered his finger over the red 'Power' button.
"Wakey, wakey, Sleeping Beauty!" he sang happily as he splashed a small cup of water over her porcelain face. "Come on and give me a smile."
She coughed and sputtered before she clutched her throat and gasped for air.
"There's my girl! Welcome to the land of the living again. Sorry I had to take you out like that earlier, but it hurt me worse than it hurt you. I think I sprained my wrist."
"Where am I? Where have you taken me? And where's Balki?" she asked, sitting up. "What have you done, Jacob Langley?"
Jacob grinned so wide, his teeth shown. "You remember my name. How sweet. Sweet; get it? Cause I work at a candy shop? I'm hilarious. Seriously, though; I was wondering if you would even remember who you were. I tapped you pretty hard back there."
"I'm Bianca Pierson and if you did anything to hurt Valeena or Balki, I swear-" she barked, trying to stand.
"Whoa, now; no need to run before you can walk," Jacob said, extending his hand to help her, but was quickly shrugged off. He watched as she slowly stood, albeit she was bracing her back against the wall as soon as she was upright.
"Where are Valeena and Balki?" she asked, wincing in pain.
Jacob smiled down at her. "Valeena is fine and I'm assuming this 'Balki' you refer to was the other man in the room when I escorted you away? He's fine, too. I left him with that look of horror on his face like this," he told her, imitating Balki's expression. "Is he your boyfriend?"
"Shut up and just tell me what you want," she said coolly.
"What do I want? Other than to just be loved and accepted for who I am? I want you to know how much you ruined my life!" Jacob screamed, his demeanor changing to one of a psychopath as he lunged for her, pinning her to the wall. "As much as this sounds like a movie quote, I coulda been somebody! It should have been me; not you!"
"What are you talking about, Jacob? I just met you a few months ago," Bianca replied shakily.
"The name's Jacob, sweetie, but I'm sure you remember me better as your dearly departed cousin J.J.," he grinned wickedly, watching her face turn ashen and her mouth form a small 'o'.