The Wild Wild West
The Night of the Time Travel
Notes: The characters from the show (and any other shows) are not mine. Any remaining characters and the story are mine! This is a direct sequel and continuation of the timeline I started with The Night of the Lazarus, so that story probably needs to be read first. It ended with Jim, Arte, and an assorted collection of canon antagonists from the show being sent to Los Angeles in 2012. Aside from Jim, Arte, and former enemy/current ally Coley Rodman (from The Night of the Sudden Plague), the other main protagonist is a oneshot character from the Hear No Evil episode of Cannon named Ray Norman (long, long story, which you likely know if you've come from reading Lazarus). The main antagonists are Lucrece Posey and her gang from The Night of the Poisonous Posey. Expect to see many denizens of other shows set in Los Angeles to make cameo or supporting appearances, most especially the Perry Mason cast.
Los Angeles, California, late autumn 2012
Two weeks ago
He crashed hard into the grass and laid sprawled, not quite able to gain his bearings. The world was rocking, even though he was still.
At last he struggled to push himself upright, groaning under his breath. "Where is this?" he mumbled. "What the he- . . ."
One minute he had been tackling Secret Service agent James West to the floor. The next, he had been hit by the beam that he had tried to protect West from. And now he was here, dizzy and bewildered in what looked like a park.
He got to his feet, stumbling and flailing for balance. Finally he limped forward, muttering curses under his breath at the horns and engines and other annoying sounds that apparently populated this place. What a noisy . . .
What was this place? He stopped at the edge of the grass, steadying himself against a lamppost. Metal, wheeled objects were racing down the street at unheard-of speeds. Buildings towered high above him, ominous and imposing in the night. Lights shone and flashed up and down the street, from buildings, signs, and even above the street.
"It's like I've died and gone to a world run by Gordon and his scientist friends," he decided.
But he . . . wasn't really dead, was he? He was breathing. His heart was beating. He had to still be alive.
He staggered forward, raising a hand to his head. He still hadn't fully healed from those rough knocks he had taken yesterday, when he had shot the man trying to kill Arte. Maybe that was why he was so disoriented now. That, and crashing out of thin air into this place couldn't have helped.
He paused at a newspaper stand and bent to look through the window at the paper. "2012?!" he burst out in utter disbelief when he read the date.
He had the window open in the next instant and was going through the paper under the bright lamplight. Everything he was reading was foreign to him. Oh, he understood descriptions of crimes (most of them, anyway; what was this 'identity theft'?) and economics (he had always considered himself a businessman, after all), but names and objects and technologies utterly bewildered him. He turned the paper back to the front, fixated on that date.
"This is the future," he whispered under his breath. "That crazy doc's machine sent me to the future."
Was he here alone? Had the others come as well? If not, what did they think had happened to him? Killed? Vaporized?
Would they care?
No one other than West and Gordon would care, if even they would. After he had worked with Arte on that case for the past several days, he had thought that they had started to warm up to each other. But then, almost invariably, Arte seemed to revert back to the idea that he was still untrustworthy. Such as how Snakes Tolliver had managed to trick Arte into thinking that he had abandoned them just a few minutes ago.
Well . . . it was a few minutes to him, anyway.
Eh . . . regardless, Arte wouldn't want to see him killed. He was a good guy that way. Even if they had never associated other than the infamous Dr. Kirby case, he felt sure that Arte would be disturbed by his death on some level—even if it was just to regret that he had lived a wasted life.
Then there was the whole method of his "death". If they thought he was dead, they would think it had happened while saving West's life. If he was asked why he had done it, he was not sure he could answer. So he was not as bad as some people thought. He was not that good, either.
All that he could really say about it was that he had certainly not intended on dying.
Or ending up almost 140 years into the future.
He took the newspaper with him, not bothering to leave a coin in the slot. All he had was money from his time. And he had to wonder if it would still be accepted in 2012.
He could not let anyone know that he was displaced. They would think him insane. He would have to study on everything to do with this time so he would be completely knowledgeable and able to look out for himself until he could get home.
Could he get home? Or was he here to stay?
He looked out at the city, his eyes narrowed. He would find out.
An arm snaked out of the darkness, hooking around his throat. Gasping in shocked surprise and pained desperation, he reached up to loosen it. Instead it held fast.
"There's no point in trying to get away," an eerily familiar voice drawled. "I've got ya."
"Let me go," he hissed, still struggling with the arm. He was a strong fighter, but against Pinto he was all too evenly matched. Having been taken by complete surprise, he could not seem to gain the upper hand when he tried to flip Pinto over. Pinto was too prepared for it.
Instead, Pinto pressed harder against his throat, completely cutting off his oxygen. "I don't think so, Coley," he sneered. "You're mine now!"
Coley fought one last time, but it was in vain. He slumped back against Pinto, his consciousness lost. His sadistic counterpart dragged him into the shadows of the trees and brush.
"I bet there's all kinds of modern-day methods of torturing for information," Pinto grinned. "Let's see how many we can find."Now
"This is the future, Jim. I can hardly believe it!"
Arte spread his hands wildly as he and Jim wandered down the sidewalk of yet another Los Angeles street. People passed them frequently, but most did not even bat an eye. Apparently in this diverse city, dressing like you were from another time period was not always a sign that you were insane.
Either that or the people that bothered to notice had some specific idea of why Jim and Arte were dressed like that, Jim thought to himself. But he could not imagine what that idea would be.
"And this is Los Angeles!" Arte declared. "It's amazing! Remember how we thought it'd never really take off?"
Jim nodded. "I remember."
"Just look at it now. It's a sprawling metropolis!"
"It's something else, alright," said Jim.
"I knew my idea for individual transportation was a good one," Arte went on. "It seems that someone else had the same idea! Look at these vehicles!" He ran his hand over a black one that was parked at the curb. "They're beautiful, just beautiful!"
Jim nodded. "I wonder how they operate," he mused.
"I don't know, but I want to learn everything there is to know about them!" Arte declared. "And about this place. I can't say much for some of these people's fashion sense, but their technology is incredible!"
A ghost of a smile flickered across Jim's features. It was good to be with Arte again, to hear him so excited. He had hated when they were apart, with Jim held captive by Dr. Faustina and Arte afraid that Jim had been killed. They had only barely reunited when Faustina's machines had malfunctioned and sent them here.
Arte was still shaken over Coley Rodman's abrupt disappearance, too. He hadn't said anything for a while, but Jim knew it was heavy on Arte's mind. No matter how enthused he was over his discoveries, he would not forget that.
Jim himself was still confused and bewildered over what had happened. It wasn't every day that he was rescued by an old enemy. Arte had promised to tell Jim the whole story of what had transpired while they had worked together, but so far he had not gotten around to it. And Jim would not push it. He could wait.
Arte was determined to believe that Rodman was still alive, brought to this time as they had been. And that could very well be true. But where he was in this new world was another matter altogether.
"First things first, Arte," Jim said finally. "We're going to need some money. And from what we know of how often the styles of currency change, how much are you willing to bet that the money we brought with us isn't any good here?"
Arte paused. "That's a good point," he said. "What do you think we should do?"
"Well . . ." Jim glanced up the street. "I was thinking. Rare coins have always turned a profit. And coins from the 1870s are probably rare here."
"So we should try selling our coins to a coin shop and get paid with whatever is the current form of exchange," Arte finished. "Brilliant!"
Jim glanced at a strange sort of moving marquee that announced the time every few minutes, along with temperature and advertisements. "The only problem is, I wonder if any coin shops would even be open this late."
Arte followed Jim's gaze. "8:30?!" He shook his head. "We'll probably have to wait until tomorrow. Unless things are different here in that respect, too. The city certainly is lively."
"Almost like it's just getting going," Jim agreed. "If we pass a coin shop we can check its hours, but my guess is that it'd be closed and the owner out painting the town red with everyone else."
"You may be right," Arte conceded. "But if that's the case, what will we do tonight?!"
"It looks like the only choice is to rough it," Jim said. "Let's look for another park."
"I wonder if sleeping in a park would be acceptable to the local law enforcement," Arte said with a nervous glance over his shoulder. They had seen several vehicles go past stamped with Los Angeles Police Department. The city seemed to be well patrolled.
"You mean we might get arrested if they found us," Jim said.
"Exactly. And somehow I don't think telling them the truth would go over well."
"We'd need a believable cover story," Jim agreed.
"And without knowing how things are done here, I'm not sure we could come up with one," Arte frowned. "Let's wait on the park, Jim. Let's see if we can get a better idea of what this future is like."
"Works for me," Jim said. "Where do you want to try first?"
"Well . . . there's a bookstore." Arte pointed across the street. "And judging from all the lights and the people inside, it looks like it's still open. What better way to learn about a people than through what they read?"
"Barnes and Noble Booksellers," Jim read. "Lead on, Arte."
Arte could not help breaking into a grin as they crossed the street. Yes, he was worried about Coley. He was concerned about how he and Jim and anyone else here were going to get home.
But that could not curb his anticipation at visiting what looked like the largest bookstore he had ever seen.
Ray Norman parked the golf cart in back of the Oak Bridge Golf Club's main building and got out, then crossed to the passenger side and tried to gently lift his unconscious visitor. Getting an arm around his back, and carefully draping the other's limp arm around his shoulders, he started to ease the younger man out of the cart. The wounded fellow gave a violent start, trying to pull away.
"No, no, it's alright," Ray protested. "You came to me for help, remember?"
He groaned, going limp again. "You're not Pinto?"
"No. My name is Ray Norman." Finally, with his guest's stumbling help, he had him out of the cart. Ray started to walk him towards the building. "I'm not hurting you, am I?"
"No. It's fine. Just . . ." He flinched. "Be careful of the arm."
Ray involuntarily shuddered at the memory of the cruel cuts and the burn on the right arm. "This Pinto isn't coming after you, is he?" he asked in concern.
"I don't think so. I knocked him senseless and broke out. He liked messing with me, but I can't picture him going to the trouble of getting me back."
"Why did he want you so badly?" Ray asked in horror.
A weak shrug. "He thought it was funny how we look a lot alike but we're nothing alike otherwise. He wanted to figure out what makes me tick."
Ray nearly stopped walking. "That's sick!" he cried. "It's just like . . ." But he trailed off. He could not bring himself to mention the name of the person he feared so greatly.
"Nevermind. Come in here." Ray opened the back door and helped the injured man inside. "Your name is Coley Rodman, right?"
"Yeah, that's right."
Trying to think how to keep the semi-conscious Rodman awake, Ray went on, "I don't think I've ever heard the name Coley before. Is that a diminutive of Cole?"
"No." Rodman's voice was flat and matter-of-fact, but still slurred. "My name is Coley. Always has been. I hate nicknames. Don't try to use one on me."
"Alright, I won't. I was just wondering. Coley must not be a very common name these days."
"It never has been. Ray's always been pretty popular, though. It's usually short for something."
"Not in my case," Ray said.
Coley gave a weak shrug. "So we have that in common, anyway."
Ray managed to get him into the back lounge and to the couch. "Lay here." He lowered Rodman to the couch and watched him sink into it with a shudder. Ray bent over him, surveying the badly torn shirt and the bruised and tattered flesh through the openings. "I . . . I'll have to take what's left of your shirt off," he said apologetically.
Ray unbuttoned it, but then abandoned the effort and tore the sleeves the rest of the way to free Rodman's arms. A chill went up his spine.
"Your arms seem to be damaged worse than anything else," he exclaimed.
"I was trying to protect myself," Rodman mumbled. "And you're right, the worst damage is to them . . . except for that electric shock to all of me."
"What?!" Ray cried. "Why did he . . ."
"He tried to kill me just to see if he could bring me back to life. I showed him, though. I didn't die." Rodman smirked, but it was filled with pain.
Ray gaped at him. "I didn't think it was possible that there could be more than one person as evil as that woman."
"No one you would know. I hope," Ray added. "But for you to have been electrocuted like that . . . oh, you need to go to the hospital." He shook his head in horror. "It's a miracle you're alive, to say nothing of being able to walk."
"No!" Rodman clutched Ray's wrist. "I'll be alright with some rest. Just bind up these wounds." He tried to press the previously offered 1874 coin into Ray's hand. "Take this to a coin dealer. What you get for it will pay you well."
Ray took the coin and slipped it into his pocket. "I'll worry about that later," he said. "I'll get a first-aid kit."
Rodman nodded and slumped back into the couch. He looked like he was slipping out of consciousness again.
Ray hurried to the nearest rest room and dug the first-aid kit out of the cupboard. He had it open and was going through the contents before he had fully made his way back.
"So you still say you're from the 1870s?" he asked as he returned. Removing the antiseptic wipes, he set the rest of the kit on the table and knelt to cleanse the cuts and that horrific burn.
Rodman flinched at the sting. "Yes. It's the truth."
"Don't you know people will think you're insane if you say that?"
"I haven't been saying it. I just told you."
Ray blinked. "Why?"
"I don't know." Rodman looked confused, then annoyed. "I'll probably hate myself in the morning."
Ray swallowed. It was probably because of the delirium. He was sick and weak and pale.
"Do you think I'm crazy?"
Ray drew a shuddering breath. "I don't know what I think," he admitted. "It's certainly the most logical assumption, and yet . . ." He shook his head. "Oh, I'm the wrong person to ask. I've been crazy myself. I'm not any judge of a man's sanity."
He blinked in stunned shock. What was he doing? It was not like him to go blabbing about what had happened to him and how it had affected him. It had even been difficult for the doctors to drag it out of him. Had he felt comfortable saying it to Rodman because of the anguish they had each come through?
"You don't act crazy."
"That was before," Ray said. "I'm better now. At least, that's what they tell me." He reached for the gauze and began gently wrapping it around the worst wounds.
"You don't believe it?"
"I . . . oh, what's the matter with me? I shouldn't be telling you this."
Rodman opened one eye, then the other. "It's not every day I meet someone who thinks he's off his chair. And since you're taking care of me, maybe I need to know why."
Ray's hands shook. "Yes, I suppose you do, but I . . ." He trailed off. "I was tortured too," he admitted quietly. "For two years I was slowly driven out of my mind."
Rodman's glazed eyes widened. "By that woman you were talking about," he realized. "And you came back from it enough to be as you are now." He wearily closed his eyes. "What's two weeks compared to that?" he muttered in disgust.
"It looks like it was a horrible two weeks," Ray said.
"It was," Rodman conceded.
"You've been suffering too. You still are." Ray moved to start on the burn. "Don't discount that."
"If you say so."
The burn really looked bad in the light. "How long ago did this happen?" Ray gasped. He could hardly stand to look at it, yet he could not bring himself to look away. He had hallucinated so many burns on his own skin, when Dr. Portman had simulated burning in Hell, but this was the real thing.
"Maybe a week ago," Rodman mumbled. "I don't remember. He didn't get to that for a while, not until he discovered the thing that made it. What's it called, an iron?"
Ray set his jaw. "It was this Little Pinto who did this?"
"Yeah. With the way it's healing, I guess it's probably here to stay."
Ray shook his head. "I don't think I can do much for this. You really should go to a doctor."
Rodman tried to jerk his wrist away. "No."
"If you're worried they won't believe you, just don't say anything about where you're from," Ray countered.
"It's not that simple," Coley replied.
Giving up, Ray tried to gently cleanse and treat the burn. "What do you mean?"
"All the hoops they put you through before they'll treat you. Asking how it happened is just the beginning."
"You know quite a lot, if you really aren't from this time," Ray noted.
"Some things haven't changed much. Look, suppose I tell that I was tortured. Or even if I don't, they'll probably guess. And they'll have to call the police. If I tell them about Pinto, they'll think I'm nuts. If I don't, they'll keep hanging around to learn more, thinking I know more than I'm saying."
"Just tell them about him, but not where either of you are from," Ray said.
"That wouldn't work. See, then they'd try to find Pinto in their files to see if he's a known criminal. And just what if some old file is lying around and they find out he's from the past? Then I go straight to the crazy house."
Ray sighed. "I can't blame you for worrying about that. It would be terrible to go there if you really aren't out of your mind."
Ray leaned over farther, to start on Coley's left arm. "How about a compromise? If you don't seem to be doing better in the morning, I'll take you to the hospital."
"You have to be stubborn to get things done."
Those were Coley's last fully coherent words that night. For the next few hours he teetered in and out of consciousness, sometimes dreaming, sometimes rambling in his delirium.
Ray stayed by his side, tending to him, listening to his slurred tales of the Old West and outlaws and mad scientists in towers.
And, he found himself realizing, he believed him.