Back in Time
Rosalinda StMatthew


Everybody knows you can't make a time machine out of a DeLorean, but I wasn't about to let what "everybody knows" stop me. I didn't really know what to do about obtaining plutonium to power the flux capacitor, but I was an attentive (if idiotic) twelve year-old. According to Doc Brown, the sucker was electrical, not nuclear, which meant that once the was car properly outfitted, I should've been able to plug it into a powerful electrical source - like a house. I'd wondered why Doc Brown didn't just plug the car into the nearest outlet when I first saw the movie, but after rewatching it, I realized another basic, fundamental flaw in his original design that he couldn't have foreseen (even with his amazing intellect), because he hadn't seen Ferris Bueller's Day Off (since that came out a year later): you have to leave the car in park.

My plan was to put the car on a couple of blocks, rev the hell out of the engine until it had no choice but to go from 0 to 88mph once the car was put in drive. After all, it was a sports car. If it could go from 0 to 60 in a matter of seconds while the engine was idling normally, why couldn't it go get up to 88 in a couple of seconds? Still, I packed the extension cord from my dad's truck anyway, just in case it started to drive away from the outlet once in gear. I also packed his hard hat to protect me from any obstacles I might drive into once I arrived in the past.

I'd already built the flux capacitor at Dad's house by frankensteining parts from my brother Tom's busted Atari system and my evil step-sister's Simon with about five rolls of duct tape. It didn't look quite like the flux capacitor that Doc built (okay, it didn't look a damn thing like his flux capacitor), but I figured that didn't matter too much. See, the bathroom Dad gave up refinishing in his busted down old house didn't look like a bathroom fit for human use, but the toilet flushed down instead of up in the air like that thing in Mom's "private room," and if there was ever a place that things should all work the same, the bathroom would definitely be it.

I hadn't had a chance to test the flux capacitor yet, since Dad's only working vehicle was his work truck, which was loaded down with all his contractor's supplies, and could only ever manage about 40 on the freeway, but I was fairly confident my modified flux capacitor would do the trick, as long as I kept the Pole Position cartridge secured to both the cartridge port and the wire hanger that was taped to the battery contacts in Simon. I'd wanted to take the spark plugs and battery from Dad's busted Pinto, but I couldn't fit them all in the same grocery bag with the already assembled flux capacitor, and I knew Mom would have a fit if I got engine gunk all over the inside of my new suitcase.

I don't think I slept at all then night before going back to Weaselbutt's house that summer. I remember rushing Dad through breakfast so I could get back. I'm sure that hurt his feelings, especially since Weaselbutt had already stolen Mom from him, but I knew that if I tried to explain my plans he'd try to sit me down and explain about reality and fantasy, like I was still a little kid, and then he'd tell Mom, and she'd start bugging Weaselbutt about sending me to the same shrink Tom was seeing, and it would just be this big, stupid mess. Anyway, I figured it wouldn't matter, because if it didn't go well, I'd be explaining all this to St. Peter (either because Dad's helmet wouldn't work, or because Weaselbutt got his hands on me), and if it did go well, it wouldn't have happened anyway.

The biggest problem I had with my plan (since I'd so ingeniously solved the power problem) was getting a hold of the DeLorean. Weaselbutt had guards posted at the gates to the carport, and actually left instructions never to let me or Tom in unless we were accompanied by him. Not even Mom could take us in if Weaselbutt wasn't there. (Not that she drove us anywhere anyway. Tom had a motorbike she'd convinced Weaselbutt to spring for, and twelve year old boys are supposed to skateboard everywhere.) Her Most Royal Highness, Samantha The Evil could get into the carport, of course, but she was the ultimate enemy, like Soviet Princess Di or something. No way was I gonna trust her with my plans. But that didn't mean she couldn't help me out.

Little Miss Evil liked to pretend she was as tough as me and Tom. I guess she was, in her own way. (She was definitely more evil than us, that's for sure.) Anyway, as annoying as her toughness was most of the time, it came in pretty handy when I was ready to start putting the time machine together. See, I went to her room, all smooth and casual, and gave her my biggest, flashiest J.R. Ewing smile. "Playing with your Care Bears again, huh? I guess it's a good thing you got those, to protect you from the monsters when me and Tom are gone."

"As if!" She immediately threw the bubblegum pink bear in the corner of her room and scowled at me. "Get out of my room!"

"I'm not in your frilly, girly, sissy room." I leaned my head in just a little more.

"GET OUT ALEX!"

"Why, you gonna tell Weaselbutt on me?"

I swear she started frothing at the mouth. "STOP CALLING MY DADDY WEASELBUTT!"

"Make me. Oh, wait, you can't. You're just a girrrrl."

Samantha's cheeks were deep crimson, almost purple, but her scowl slowly melted away, leaving only one corner of her mouth tucked down in a crazy little twitch. She folded her hands in her lap and took a few deep breaths like she'd seen my Mom do when she was dealing with Tom. "Anything you can do, I can do twice as better."

"You can't drive a car."

"You can't drive a car, Alex!"

"My dad let me drive three times while I was at his house. You can't even get in Weaselbutt's garage."

"IT'S A CARPORT NOT A GARAGE AND I CAN TOO AND YOU DID NOT YOU BIG LIAR!"

"Whatever, you can't get in We-"

"STOP CALLING HIM THAT!"

"Wesley's 'carport' or whatever."

She narrowed her eyes and gnawed on her lip for a minute. "Yes. I. Can."

"Prove it."

"No!" She went back to her pink Care Bear and sat with her back to me.

"Cuz you can't."

I actually whispered a Hail Mary when she turned her head, because I just knew she was gonna spray split pea soup on me. "If I prove it, you have to stop calling my daddy Weaselbutt AND you have to stay out of my room ALL THE WAY OUT DON'T EVEN COME TO THE DOORWAY."

Hook, line, sinker. "Sure." I stood back from the door and gestured down the hall. "After you."

She glared at me all the way down the stairs, through the sitting room, out the side door and through the orange trees to the edge of the driveway. "Just wait here."

I watched her talk to the fat guard with the bad knees, and felt like a gaping hole was opening up in my stomach. What the heck were they talking about? Was she telling him what I'd said? Had she seen my stash when I first got back? Did she see my notes? But then he opened the door and she disappeared into the darkness of the carport.

I ran back to the house and crawled into the planter, groping blindly behind the bushes for the flux capacitor. I heard an engine start, and imagined her picking the DeLorean out of the six cars in the carport. I hadn't taken that idea into account, and mild panic turned into full blown paranoia. After what seemed like an eternity and a half, I got my hand on the plastic bag with my precious equipment and dashed back to the edge of the driveway.

I was not at all relieved to see that she hadn't picked the DeLorean. I nearly abandoned my plan when I saw Weaselbutt's cherry red Maserati come warbling out of the carport, screeching and chugging as Samantha struggled with the manual transmission. Still, she managed to get the guards on her tail, and out of my way. I lunged for the carport and slammed all the controls on the inner wall, until the door came smashing down between me and the inevitable car wreck out there.

I dashed to the glass case that held the keys to all the vehicles on the property, and nearly burst into tears. There were only six stupid cars, why the heck were there ten zillion keys?! How long was it going to take me to hook up the flux capacitor where the heck was the outlet what if the extension cord didn't reach was there enough gas in the car ARGH I FORGOT THE HARD HAT what the hell was that noise?

It didn't matter what the noise was. I was dead meat. The only way out of the situation was to see it through. I had to get back to the past, before Samantha wrecked Wesley's car, before I left Dad's house, before Mom remarried, before Dad gave up, before tried to write Wesley's biography, before Mom ever stayed in one of Wesley's hotels. I had to get all the way back, to when love was more important than the size of the house, to when she was Dad's partner, not his beneficiary. Mount the flux capacitor to the back of the car with more duct tape. Plug the Atari's power cord into the giant orange extension cord. Trail the extension cord through the other parked cars. Plug it in the wall. Try all the keys. Swing the car door up. Sit down. Start the engine. Push the pedal all the way to the floor.

I was suddenly dangling in the air by the pit of my arm, my feet swinging inches above the ground. I looked up into Weaselbutt's purple, snarling face. "I am going to murder you, you ugly little-"

We toppled onto the hot hood of the still running DeLorean, where I lay pinned under him. Some screeching bird seemed to be hovering over Weaselbutt's head, screaming noises like "dare," "baby," "divorce," and "idiot." Weaselbutt started screaming back about "therapy," "bastard," "golddigger," and "Rainman." Then Weaselbutt just screamed. He sorta slid off me, still screaming like a little girl, and I turned to see Mom with her arms tangled up in his legs, her teeth bared, nostrils flared, eyes glazed. I followed the line of her ramrod straight arms down to hers hands, which locked together in a white-knuckled double fist right at the seat of his pants. I looked back at the death mask that was her face, and her bottom lip slid up over the solid white wall of her teeth, just long enough to change her growling breath into a single word: "Run."

I lowered myself to the cool concrete floor and watched them both. Mom blinked and darted her eyes at me. "I said run, Alex!" But I stretched out next to my screaming stepfather and stared at the upside down world outside the carport and listened to Samantha howling from the pile of crumpled Maserati and wondered if Tom was on the phone with his therapist and tried to figure out just how the hell Admiral Kirk programed the computer to beat the Kobayashi Maru.

Fin


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