By Flaming Trails
A BTTF: NonTrilogy Story
Disclaimer: I don't own BTTF. If I did -- well, currently, I'm thinking of miniseries based on Doc's life before BTTF. (Or, the film version of RevisonDoc.)
Sunday, April 6th, 1986
"So take me away, I don't mind, but you better promise me I'll be back in time!"
Marty couldn't help but smirk as he listened to the end of the song. His favorite band, Huey Lewis and the News, had released the single shortly before his own time-travel adventures, and he was always amused by the parallels to his own trip to 1955. It's like they released the song just for me.
He pulled up to Doc's house just as the last new notes faded. Humming the tune to himself, he got out, locked his truck up, and knocked on the front door. "Yo, Doc? I'm here. Ready to start working on the inventions?"
The door swung open to reveal a tired-looking but grinning Doc. "Actually, Marty, I'm ready to test them. I just finished them up last night."
"Hey, great!" Marty grinned, coming in. "I mean, we've been working on them for a while now."
"I know. However, these are extremely important additions to the DeLorean, so I had to make sure that they were made to my exact specifications."
"Yeah, although I still don't really understand why we had to build them. You never really explained their purpose."
"An oversight on my part, which I fully intend to rectify." Doc motioned for Marty to follow him. "Come into the garage and I'll explain everything."
As they walked into the garage, Marty frowned. "Hey, Doc, I gotta say, you look pretty beat. Late night last night?"
"Inspiration knows no hour, Marty. I was up all night finishing up our inventions."
Marty smiled a little at Doc's "our," but lapsed right back into concern. "Is it safe for you to pull an all-nighter, Doc? What if you messed up something in the car?"
Doc gave him an encouraging look. "This isn't the first all-nighter I've done, Marty, and it certainly won't be the last. I caught a quick nap this morning, and I made sure to double-check all my work. Nothing's wrong with the car. Trust me."
"I always have, Doc."
Doc smiled. "Although, I will admit to needing more sleep if your coat really isn't too big for you."
Marty blushed. "Yeah, well, my old one has all these rips in it, so Mom's got to sew it back up, and this was the first one she yanked out of her closet this morning. It was my Grandpa Arthur's -- Dad wears it sometimes when it's cold." He jokingly did a twirl. "You like?"
"I do, actually. Cut down to size, that would make a very nice coat on you." Doc opened the door to the garage and led Marty up to the DeLorean. "Now, first things first," he said, going into lecture mode. "If we should ever find the need to leave the car in an unfamiliar place, even in our current temporal period, we have to be certain that no one will steal it. To prevent that situation, I've installed a thumblock system on the car."
"A what system?"
"Thumblock system. Circa 2016," Doc explained. "Future technology is a wonderful thing." He pointed to the door. Next to the handle, where the lock should have been, was a smooth disk of metal, with two lights. "Most locking devices in the future work on fingerprint activation. By installing thumblocks in place of the ordinary door locks, I've theoretically assured that no one except for myself can get into the DeLorean. Watch." Doc pressed his left thumb firmly against the metal plate. The light on the side blinked green, and the door opened with a, "Welcome, Dr. Brown."
Marty nodded, impressed. "That's really cool, Doc. Kinda reminds me of KITT."
Doc smirked. "Glad you approve. The device comes with a siren in case someone else tries that trick. However, if someone does manage to bypass the door locks, I've installed a similar system onto the time circuit controls. That way a car jacker won't be able to travel through time at least." He winked at Marty. "Or that a nervous kid won't accidentally bump them on while driving."
"Hey, I wasn't the one who decided to put that handle right between the seats. And I was being chased by Libyan terrorists."
"Fair enough," Doc nodded. "That's actually part of the reason for these new inventions. After your trip to 1955, and that situation with the Clock Tower and learning 'what could have been' with us, it occurred to me that, in my initial excitement over my invention working, I had overlooked a number of mishaps that could befall a potential time traveler. Such as, getting stranded in a foreign time. I know your own trip worked out for the best, but I doubt that you want to repeat the experience."
Marty nodded. "When I time travel, I like to have a way to get back home fast."
"Exactly. These inventions will ensure that we will never become lost in time."
"Or anybody else will, either," Marty added, referring back to the locks. He suddenly frowned. "Hey, wait a minute Doc. If somebody gets past the thumblocks on the outside, doesn't that mean they can probably get past the one on the time circuits too?"
"It's likely," Doc said. "The system isn't foolproof. But if our thief does manage to bypass both sets of locks, that's when this device comes in." Doc held up his left wrist, revealing a calculator watch.
Marty frowned at it. "My old calculator watch?"
"This is no ordinary watch, Marty. I've -- well, we've modified it into a small remote control for the DeLorean. The readout always displays the current temporal signature of the DeLorean -- where exactly it is in the space-time continuum. If the time should change and I know neither of us is in control of the time machine, I'll know there's a problem and will be able to summon the DeLorean back remotely."
Marty was suitably impressed. "This is heavy-duty, Doc. How does it work?"
"You input different addition and subtraction combinations to create certain effects. For example, four plus seven minus three would be go straight for a mile, turn left and start hovering." Doc pulled a small notepad out of his pocket and showed Marty almost 20 pages of different codes. "For obvious reasons, I didn't take advantage of multiplication and division codes."
"Yeah, I can see. Uh -- you're not expecting me to memorize that, are you?"
"Of course not! I don't think even I would be able to memorize it all."
"Heh, good. What else?"
"Do you remember those walkie-talkies I bought?"
Doc opened up the glove compartment, his grin getting bigger. "Well, besides extending their range tremendously, they now are capable of functioning even if one unit is in a different temporal period. It was a lot of complicated electrical work, but I finally figured out how to get it to work last night. One will always be locked in the DeLorean's glove compartment, the other in the drawer of my desk. If something should go wrong while one of us is time traveling, he can contact the other for help."
"But we've only got the one time machine," Marty pointed out.
"True, but the other party can at least offer some advice. And it's always comforting to hear a familiar voice in an unfamiliar place."
Marty had to agree with that. He peered inside the car, looking for more new additions. "Seriously, Doc, this is all pretty heavy-duty stuff. Definitely worth the wait."
"I'm glad you feel that way, Marty. I was hoping that you would assist me while I ran the field tests with them. Are you willing to time travel with me?"
"Definitely," Marty grinned. "I've kinda been itching to take another time trip -- a real one, not a panic-induced accidental one. Where are we going?"
"When are we going, you mean," Doc corrected. "I'm not sure yet. Is there any particular time period you would like to see?"
"2015?" Marty asked hopefully.
Doc pondered that for a moment. "I'm not so sure I want to visit the future to perform a field test. For one thing, I get the feeling you'd be too distracted to help me much." Marty blushed. "And there's also the issue of your future self and your future son. . . ."
"What do they have to do with anything?" Marty asked, puzzled. "I mean, we're going to be there for a few minutes max, right? To test the machines?"
Now it was Doc's turn to blush. "Well, I suppose I should tell you now, rather than later. In order for me to successfully test the time talkies, I'd have to leave one of us in our chosen time period -- just for a hour or so," he hastened to add.
Marty frowned, lifting an eyebrow. "So you're going to drop me off in a strange time and have me wander around for a while?"
"It doesn't have to be you, Marty. You can take the DeLorean back and I'll stay in our chosen era. I expected you might not be keen on the idea after your experience in 1955. I just thought I would give you the choice."
Marty thought about that, leaning up against the DeLorean. The idea of being alone, even for a little while, in the past or future both intrigued and terrified him. He's right, my accidental trip to 1955 gave me some willies. . . . But with the time talkie, I'll be able to talk to Doc whenever I need to. . . . My relatives won't be a problem, I know enough to stay away from them now. Still, I might end up changing history again in the past -- and who knows what might happen to me in the future? I mean, I'd love to check out 2015, but not on my own! Especially if my son really does look like my clone, and I get shanghaied by a bunch of people I don't even know. But if the DeLorean starts acting up again? I don't know that much about how cars work, and I certainly can't show the time machine to Spydo!
"Earth to Marty! Terrestrial sphere to Marty!"
Marty snapped out of his trance. "Sorry, Doc. Weighing the pros and cons."
"Come to a decision yet?"
Marty nodded. "Yeah, I think so. I'll be your guinea pig, Doc. If anything goes wrong with the DeLorean, I want you to be the one with the car."
"I told you, Marty, I've double-checked all of my work."
"I know, but shit happens. The car itself might decide to break down or something. You never know."
"That's true," Doc admitted with a frown. "DeLoreans have gained a notorious reputation as being unreliable. I certainly wouldn't want to stick you with a problem you couldn't fix."
"That's what I thought. And now I think I see why you don't want to take me to the future for this. It would probably rock, but I'd freak if I was there all alone." He frowned for a moment, then brightened. "What's a time period you've always wanted to visit, Doc?"
"The Old West," Doc admitted. "That's an era you don't visit lightly, though. I'm definitely not leaving you there to get shot or something." Marty rapidly nodded his agreement. "This is more complicated than I thought it would be. Perhaps we had better postpone the test run for a few days. . . ."
"Why don't we just pick some time at random?" Marty suggested, unwilling to give up on his potential adventure just yet.
"I suppose we could. Although I'd prefer to plan ahead. . . ."
"Doc, it's a field test! How much planning do we need?"
"Space-time continuum, Marty! I don't want to drop in on any historically important dates!"
"Well, we're studying the 1930's in school," Marty said, frustrated. "Late 30's, actually. Why don't we go to 1938 or something?"
Doc lifted an eyebrow. "Actually, that doesn't sound too bad," he said. "The end of the Great Depression, and just before World War II. A fairly quiet period in history." He grinned. "1938 it is. Any particular date in mind?"
"I dunno. September 2nd."
For a moment, Doc paled. Then it passed, and he shrugged. "Why not. September 2nd, 1938. We'll arrive mid-afternoon, over one of the larger farms."
Marty frowned. He hadn't liked the look on Doc's face when he had mentioned the date. "Something wrong with that day, Doc?"
"No, not really. Nothing of cosmic significance, anyway. I -- I just had a really bad day on that particular date."
"Oh." Marty had a sudden thought. "Holy shit, you'd be my age back then!"
Doc laughed. "Is it that hard for you to believe that I was once a teenager?"
"Well -- yeah. Before 1955, I never thought about what my parents might have been like when they were 17. And you almost never talk about your childhood. What were you like at 17?"
"I really haven't changed that much over the years, actually. I was rather bookish as a teenager. Most of the time you could find me in the garage, either reading Jules Verne or working on an invention. I didn't have very many friends -- I was just getting ready to graduate college, so most of the kids in my classes were older than I was, and weren't interested in associating themselves with me. In fact, I think my only two real friends were my sister Emily and our friend Holly." Doc chuckled. "I had some of the best times of my life with them. . . ."
"Who's Holly?" Marty asked, intrigued. "Some old crush of yours?"
"No, not a crush. Great Scott, I never told you about Holly Handlen?"
"Well, not really. I mean, you've mentioned her a couple of times -- I know she's an old friend of yours that lives in Oregon -- but, like I said, since you talk so little about what you were like when you were a kid. . . ." Marty shrugged.
"A grievous error on my part. I suppose since she's so familiar to me, I don't think that other people might not know about her. No matter. Holly is Holly Danielle Handlen -- well, Thurston now, she's married. My best friend since I was 13." Doc smiled. "She was definitely a character. Holly loved practical jokes and was always trying to make us laugh. And she claimed to be a practicing witch as well -- which led to a number of interesting arguments between her and myself."
Marty lifted an eyebrow. "A witch?"
"Yes, a witch. Only Emily and myself knew the full details of course -- Holly had the sense not to really advertise it to the school. She was ostracized enough for her all-black clothing and somewhat wicked sense of humor. But when it was just us -- the stories she told. . . . Oh, she was great. Here, let me show you." Doc walked back into his home and searched through his bookshelf for a few moments, finally pulling out an ancient-looking photo album. "I wish we had had color film back then," he said wistfully, plopping the album on a nearby table and flipping it open. "Black and white doesn't do her -- or my sister -- justice."
Marty looked at the photos he was presented with. The first one featured a young man with long curly hair -- obviously a much-younger Doc -- sandwiched in between two girls. The girl to his left had dark hair that hung to her shoulders and dark eyes like Doc, wearing what looked like a light summer dress. The girl to his right --
Marty did a double take. The girl to Doc's right looked like a modern Goth, of all things. Thick black hair hung past her shoulders, spilling onto a black dress. Around her neck was a chain with a pentagram on it. She was smirking at the camera, arms folded. "Uh -- I assume the more normal-looking one is Emily."
Doc snorted. "You assume correctly. I told you Holly was a character. Don't be fooled by her looks -- she had a wonderfully bubbly personality. She often liked to greet me at high velocity." Doc pointed to another photo that showed what looked like the young Doc being tackled by a black blur. "And she was always willing to lend a shoulder to cry on. Great Scott, I miss her. She and her husband John moved to Oregon in 1943, so I don't see her much anymore. We still exchange regular letters, though."
"You talk about me?" Marty asked, giggling at a pic of young Doc being viciously tickled by Holly and Emily.
"Of course. I'd love it if you two could meet. I know you'd like each other."
"Yeah, I think so too." Marty closed the photo album and got up. "So, are we gonna do this?"
"Let's go," Doc nodded, putting the album back on the shelf. The pair walked back into the garage and got into the DeLorean. Doc pressed his thumb against the plate on top of the activation handle, then switched the time circuits on. With lightning speed, he entered the date:
SEPTEMBER 2ND, 1938, 2:45 P.M.
"I remember the day as being gloomy, so that should provide us with some cover," Doc commented, putting the car in gear and pulling into his driveway.
"Good. Last thing we need is another generation of Peabodys seeing it." Marty shuddered as he remembered his experiences with the farmer family.
It was the usual busy day at Burger King, thus preventing them from lifting off right away. Undaunted, Doc took the streets and drove around until he found a nice quiet spot on the road to the lake. Checking carefully for witnesses, he activated the hover conversion and promptly gunned the accelerator. The DeLorean shrieked into the sky, a silver blur --
And with a loud sonic boom, it was no more.