Author's Note: Hello, everyone. This is the first fic I've started on in a long time, so I hope you enjoy it. Basically this is Now and Then, Here and There from the viewpoint of an original character as he tries to figure out how to escape safely from Hellywood. Please let me know if there are any grammatical and/or continuity errors, as I would greatly appreciate the help in keeping this as close to the original source as possible.

Part I: This Good Day

Chapter 1

They used to say that the world was supposed to end at the beginning of the new millennium thanks to the Y2K bug, but I never found out, seeing as how I didn't make it past September 1999 in my world. For all I know it did end the world.

It was just any old day, you know: I got dressed, went to school, and decided to finish the day by taking Sara out to dinner before she had to pick up her father and head home for the night.

Sorry for the poor introduction, my name is Matthew King. Call me Matt, though, it makes me happy. I'm the heir to the Royal King Cigarette Company. Well, at least I was the heir, until I got dragged away from home with my girlfriend to the far-flung and desolate future of what I assume is Earth by a sadistic madman's personal flunky in an attempt to find a mysterious girl who's been on the Earth for a very long time because she possesses a pendant that holds water which is quite valuable in a world where the Sun has dried up the majority of the planet's water supply.

Trust me, it makes sense in context.

And there I go rambling. You'll have to forgive me; sometimes I start off on one path and end up fifteen minutes later on some tangent.

Maybe if I try to wind things down a bit this will all make sense.

Once again my name is Matt and I was born and raised in San Diego, California with my family. Along with my girlfriend, Sara Ringwalt, I was taken thousands—most likely millions guessing by the coloration of the sun now—of years into what I can only guess is the future of the planet Earth and this is my story of how it happened.

Like I was saying earlier, it was a simple day with nothing out of the ordinary happening. Well, actually, now that I think about it, there was something unusual. You see, I'm two years older than Sara and, at the time, she had just turned sixteen, while I was about to head out of high school and into college. The date was supposed to be in celebration of her sixteenth birthday, and, like usual, I was going to drive her to wherever we were going and then drop her back off at home. However, today was a different story, seeing as she'd skipped school in order to get her driver's license, and her father had bought her a sweet red '00 Ford Mustang GT, right off the assembly line, which she wanted to drive over to meet me at the restaurant I'd gotten reservations for that day. I was surprised to say the least, but kind of intrigued at the prospect on being near a brand-new Mustang, so I told her it was fine and that I couldn't wait to meet her there.

I had some news of my own to tell her, but I wanted to keep it a secret until we met that night, because it was something I was immensely proud of. I also had a gift I'd later regret giving.

So, at six-thirty that evening, I waited patiently at the House of Blues right on 5th Avenue for Sara to arrive, which she did, looking as dazzling as the first day I'd met her. Myself, I'm a simple guy, and dressing up isn't exactly my forte. I always look pathetic compared to her. Sara's sixteen years old, has amazing blonde hair, shimmering blue eyes, and is about three inches shorter than me. She's quite beautiful, but I'm biased, so I'll let you decide for yourself if she is or not.

I smiled at her and asked, "How was the drive?"

Sara beamed at me and said, "It was amazing. I know I had my learner's permit for a while, but that's nothing compared to riding around by yourself."

"Oh yeah, I remember when I first got my license. I had the same feelings."

"Thanks for letting me come by myself, Matt. I know you like driving me around, so I really appreciate it."

"No problem, sweetheart," I said. "It's not like I own you or anything; you're free to do whatever feels best."

And so it continued for a small amount of time, with us discussing her upcoming plans on joining the swimming team at the school and how her friend had gotten a free ride to UCLA.

At the mention of UCLA I grinned, saying, "That's great, Sara. I'll bet she'll have a great time there."

"What are you smiling about?" she asked.

"Oh, nothing, just the thought of UCLA made me remember something I've been dying to tell you."

"And what was that?"

"You know how bad I've wanted to go to Stanford because I wanted to be a part of the engineering section, right?"

"Yeah, you were afraid you wouldn't get in, family ties or not."

I produced an envelope from my pocket and gave it to her. Sara opened and then cheered, "You got accepted! That's wonderful, Matt!"

"Why thank you. But that's hardly the reason I'm so happy tonight."

Sara furled her left eyebrow. "Why are you so happy then? What could be more important than this?"

Once more I gathered something from my pocket and placed it in her hands. Sara, seeing it was a small case stereotypically associated with jewelry, took it and smiled, as she opened it, finding an aqua pendant. Overjoyed, she thanked me and let me place it around her neck.

"Happy birthday, Sara," I said, grinning.

So sue me for being a sap, but I love my girlfriend. Have for a long time. Her happiness is key to my life and I was getting worried that we wouldn't work out once I headed off to college, so I at least wanted to give her something to remember me by if things between us just didn't work. It cost me a lot, but that pendant was more than worth it, seeing as how Sara really seemed to appreciate it.

"You shouldn't have," Sara said, looking at me.

I returned the gaze. "Well of course I didn't have to, but I wanted to, sweetheart. I saw it one day when I just happened to be looking for jewelry for a certain someone, and immediately thought she'd like it. Looks like I was right."

Sara opened her mouth to speak, but then her watch started to beep. She sighed and realized that it was getting close to eight o'clock.

"I'm sorry, Matt, but I've got to go," she said. "I promised my Dad I'd pick him up from work and I can't drive past nine now."

I shrugged. "Don't worry about it, Sara. A promise is a promise. I wanted to see the new car anyways."

I'm an easy-going guy; I don't get worked up over the little things in life, so if I'm with someone and they need to go somewhere else, I don't mind. World doesn't revolve around me, as much as I'd like to think it does sometimes.

Sara led me outside after I paid the bill and brought me to the car, which didn't disappoint. Man that thing was awesome. I touched the hood, felt how smooth it was and smiled, as I turned to see Sara, who was immensely proud of herself.

"Nice ride," I said simply. "Makes me wish my dad didn't stick me with the old Lamborghini."

Sara laughed. "Oh, come on, Matt, you know that Lamborghini looks a million times better than this."

"Maybe you think so, but Lamborghinis are completely impractical. It's just a rich person's car. This on the other hand will get you places. If I didn't have to worry about a premature heart attack I'd take this Mustang out for a spin."

I laughed, but Sara didn't return the sentiment. She'd never approved of my brand of morbid humor. You see I suffer from a rare disorder that would have never shown up in my life if it hadn't been for a massive amount of stupidity on my part. The medical term for what I have is cardiac arrhythmia, or a fancy way of saying that my heart no longer acts the right way and now either beats too fast or too slow that depends on what I'm doing at the time. Chances are I won't live a very long life, but, once I found out about that fact, I pushed it aside, took my medicine, and joked about it to calm my own nerves. Sara doesn't appreciate my lack of discretion and, if I were a better man, I'd drop the subject entirely, but unfortunately I'm a jocular guy and I pretend to not even know what the word discreet means.

"Sorry, Sara," I said to cool things down. "I didn't mean to ruin your birthday by bringing that up."

To her credit, all Sara did was roll her eyes and say, "It's fine, Matt. If anything I think I'm getting used to it." She paused. "Not that I want to." She added.

"And you'll never have to sweet—" I started to say, but then I noticed something strange behind Sara: A bird completely motionless in the air.

"What?" Sara asked. "What's wrong?"

I pointed to the bird and she gasped upon seeing its stillness, while I was busy looking across the street, wondering what the heck was going on. Two passersby were locked in a state of suspended animation that looked immensely uncomfortable. Next to them was a streetlight that was halfway between turning from yellow to red.

"What's that noise?" Sara asked, breaking me out of my stupor.

I listened to figure out what she was going on about and felt an odd sensation go up from my legs to my spine. I wondered if I was facing some new form of heart attack I'd yet to witness, but then I found Sara responding in much the same way. Reaching for my pills just in case I was wrong, I was blinded by a massive flood of bright whiteness. Instinctively, I reached around for Sara and found her near me, and I grasped her arm. Opening my eyes a moment later, my vision returned and I witnessed the beginning of the end of my old life: Right in front of Sara and me were two serpentine robots with two men inside each one guiding their motions. Beneath the robots was a woman with purple hair, military fatigues I didn't recognize, and a gun in her hand.

"We've finally found you, Lala-Ru," she said, offering a satisfied smirk.

"What in God's name is going on here?" I asked. "And who the heck is Lala-Ru?"

"Seize her!"

Before either Sara or me could react, the closest serpent machine reached for Sara and grabbed her. She squealed in response and hit the metallic robot, but nothing she did halted its assault. Gathering my senses, I reached for my taser—a gift from my father—and, not fully understanding why, I pointed it near an opening on what I assumed was the cockpit of the snake and fired, with the end of the wire ricocheting off the glass I'd forgot to compensate for and ending up inside the cockpit where they shocked its occupant. The robot shook for a moment and eventually let go of Sara, who was nearly fifteen feet in the air. I jumped to her and managed to soften at least her impact. Mine, on the other hand, had a little more incidents involving cement. Very hard cement I might add. I landed face first in the sidewalk, ruining the skin of my left cheek.

Sara managed to end up landing in the mulch surrounding the palm trees outside the House of Blues. She suffered a couple minor scrapes, but nothing compared to what I went through.

Somehow I ignored the pain coursing through my face and stood up to face our attackers, as I restored my taser in case I needed to fire it again. "I don't know who you are or what a Lala-Ru is, but what I do know is that you better stay the hell away from my girlfriend!"

The woman seemed quite amused at my outburst and somewhat impressed by my attack on the serpentine monolith. "What bravado in the face of King Hamdo's might," she said, pissing me off at every word. "You would make an excellent soldier, but to do so you must return Lala-Ru to us now or suffer the consequences."

Sara, recovered from her fall, stood beside me, and tried to beckon me to flee with her, but I was so filled with rage at the assault that I wouldn't listen to reason. "Please, Matt, let's go," Sara pleaded. "We've got to find the police; they'll handle this."

"That's right, Lala-Ru," the woman said. "Go ahead and flee like you did before, but we will just find you again."

"I'm not Lala-Ru!" Sara shrieked. "You've got the wrong person! Leave us alone right now!"

I began to wish that I had a better idea of what was going on right now. I figured that these strange futuristic machines handled by even stranger soldiers were being led by this woman to find some girl that apparently looked enough like Sara to cause a case of mistaken identity. All I knew for sure, though, was that I wasn't going to let them take Sara away to wherever they came from to find that out, nor was I going to let them find the person they were looking for either.

"Nice try, Lala-Ru, but the pendant gives you away," the woman declared. "Get her."

Then I heard a loud thump as something landed behind us. It looked like the thing that Sigourney Weaver had used to kill the alien queen in Aliens, except a whole lot more menacing. The right arm swiped at me and I fell to the ground in response, all the while starting to feel telltale signs of a heart attack.

No, not now! I thought. Anytime but now! Please don't happen now! I've got to get Sara out of here first!

My body, however, refused to agree with me, and I realized I'd die if I didn't swallow some pills. Hastily I gathered them from my coat pocket and gulped them, just in time to hear Sara's pleads for help.

"Matt!" she cried out. "Help me!"

I rose up, ignoring my assured demise at causing my heart to fluctuate and then charged the behemoth, intending to stun its pilot just like I'd done earlier. Unfortunately, my adversaries had learned from their past mistakes and the other serpentine craft, which I'd all but forgotten about, grabbed me from behind and started to crush me. Gasping for air, I continued to hear Sara begging for help, and barely noticed her taking a swipe at the driver of the machine holding her. Her blow connected, but hit the man controlling the robot on his helmet, doing little to no damage. Yelling at my inability to get out of my predicament, I placed my taser in the one hand I had that was relatively free and fired at the woman in charge of this godforsaken operation. Surprised at my tenacity, she barely got out of the way in time to miss my taser, while I cursed my poor aim. The driver of the machine holding me prisoner moved it towards the woman in an attempt to keep her safe, and loosened its hold on me, allowing me to slip through.

The moment I landed on the ground following a five-foot drop, I clutched my chest, knowing that none of my actions were helping my anti-arrhythmic drugs from doing their job, but I also knew that I'd rather let them fail to save me than for Sara to get taken away against her will.

I dashed toward Sara, who had finally landed a damaging blow to her captor in the gut, and fell to the ground, hurting her right leg. However, the moment I reached her, I heard the sound of a gun cocking and it was pointed straight at Sara's head. Stopping, I accidentally dropped my taser and looked in horror as the woman with purple hair stood over Sara with her gun pointed in a surefire way to kill her.

"You have fought valiantly, boy, but you must learn that no one may oppose King Hamdo for long," she said, grabbing up Sara by the hair. "Take us back now!" she ordered her fellows.

I mulled over my options, trying to find a way where at least Sara made it out of there okay, but every scenario I found ended with Sara dead. My body slowed down in response to my inability to move freely, letting me at least know that I would not have to face a heart attack now.

Sara looked at me, tears in her eyes, and said, "Just leave, Matt. Save yourself."

Noble as she wanted my escape to be, I refused to accept that outlet of freedom, mostly because I felt that if I did, I'd never see Sara again. I stood still, waiting to figure out what exactly "Take us back now" meant. I was rewarded with a flash of whiteness, the same from before, and then I entered a world far removed from my own.