May 15, 1986
Doc and Marty, still stunned at the turn of events, waved goodbye as Edna Strickland—or rather, Edna Tannen—got into her husband’s car. With a cheerful wave goodbye from both of them, Kid Tannen drove them away.
“What do you think, Doc?” Marty said at last.
Doc slowly walked backwards. “Don’t say anything,” he said. “Let’s just walk quietly into the lab and hope there are no more surprises.”
Doc soon turned around and headed swiftly towards the garage. Einstein looked at Marty, tilting his head in confusion.
“Like he said," Marty told the dog. “Let’s hope there aren’t any surprises."
Marty picked up the dog’s leash and followed Doc into the lab.
Thankfully, there were no surprises—or there didn’t appear to be any. Doc looked briefly around the lab and summed up the situation nicely: “It looks almost empty,” he said.
“Well, you had me sell a bunch of stuff,” Marty said. He took the leash off Einstein, who then went to his dog bed and lied down.
“Yes,” Doc said, “and I’m grateful for that. It will make the transition to 1994 much easier.”
Doc quickly ran about the lab, quickly inspecting some of the remaining items. When he saw the amplifier, he grimaced. There was some damage to the speaker—not as intense as when Marty blew it on the morning of October 25, but there was still noticeable damage.
“Did you crank it up all the way again?” he asked.
“Only the overdrive,” Marty said. He walked over and indicated the dial in question. “Biff had gotten a hold of your notebook, and he was fiddling with my guitar, so I turned it up and it knocked him back. I had to do it, Doc.”
Doc sighed. “Well, the damage doesn’t look too serious. Do you think you could fix it on your own?”
”I’ve already done that, Doc,” Marty said. “How long are you gonna be staying here?”
“I’d like to leave tonight. Now, Marty,” he said at the teen’s sullen look, “I understand that it’s been a long time from your perspective—.”
“Six and a half months,” Marty said.
“Right. But it had been only a few weeks between when I last met with you in 1985 and when we ‘reunited’ in 1931. One of the perils of time travel is this sort of time dissonance—as I’m sure you know by now! If I was to stay here, I’d be gone from my family for eight years! I think I've been gone long enough already."
“Right, Doc,” Marty said. “I get it.”
Doc put a hand on the youth’s shoulder. “Don’t worry, it won’t be long. Oh, I almost forgot why I was planning to come here in the first place. Wait just a minute!”
He ran outside to the DeLorean and returned a minute later with a large, leather-bound book. He handed it to Marty.
“Your graduation present,” Doc said. “I know it’s a bit early, but I need to give it to you now.”
The book bore the title The McFlys of Hill Valley in gold leaf. Marty began flipping through the book.
“Whoa, this is great, Doc,” he said. He smiled. “I mean it. Is this why you were in ‘31?”
“Yep,” Doc said. “I could find very little information on your grandmother Sylvia, which is why I went there -- to see for myself.” He laughed. “I think we both got a bit more than we wanted to know.”
“No kidding,” Marty said, thinking of the ‘artistic’ nude postcards of his then very young grandmother that he had seen in 1931.
“I imagine you’ll enjoy it more than you would have ordinarily,” Doc said, “seeing as how you’ve now met most of your ancestors in person!”
“Yeah,” Marty said, looking at a page dealing with his great-grandfather William. Pointing to his picture, he said, “Holy shit, he was the mayor?!”
“For one term, yes.”
Marty shook his head in disbelief. “Strickland always says that the McFlys ‘never amounted to anything in the history of Hill Valley.’”
“Doesn’t surprise me,” Doc said. “I imagine he would say that even if one of your ancestors had become President of the United States.”
Marty grinned at that. “So does this talk about Seamus?” he asked. “How come he ended up dying in 1968? You know, I still don’t have any memory of that.”
To Marty’s surprise, Doc looked flustered. “I’m not sure,” he said at last. “I don’t know why it happened, but it’s covered. Turn to page 38.”
Marty did so, and saw a reproduction of the front page of the Hill Valley Telegraph for June 22, 1968. The front-page, banner headline read: SEAMUS MCFLY DEAD: Hill Valley’s Oldest Man Passes Away at Age 108.
“It’s pretty heavy,” Marty said. “It’s like he knew who I was and wanted to live long enough to see me again.”
“Uh, I suppose it would seem like that, yes,” Doc said. “Though that would be a fairly mystical explanation.”
Marty stared at Doc for a moment. He began to wonder if Doc had something to do with Seamus’ unusual longevity in the most recent timeline. He opened his mouth to ask about it, but then Doc sighed and said, “I suppose we should face the music and check the rest of Hill Valley.”
”Yeah,” Marty said. ”I haven‘t seen the real Jennifer or my real family for days.”
Doc nodded. “Your truck’s out front. Help me get the DeLorean into the lab, and then you can check on your family and Jennifer.”
“Okay,” Marty said.
Ten minutes later, the DeLorean was safely inside the garage/lab. They had some difficulty moving it, as they first had to move a table that blocked the garage door from inside.
“You should probably go ahead and see your family and Jennifer,” Doc said. “I’ll wait here; check the TV and newspaper for major changes.” He got a far-off look in his face. “I wonder if I could create a database of newspaper articles that could automatically detect changes to the timeline. Of course, that would require some way to isolate a collection of articles from changes. How this could be done…”
“Doc, you’re losing me,” Marty said.
“Never mind, Marty, never mind,” Doc said. “You get going. We can meet back here in, oh, two hours.”
“Right, Doc,” Marty said as he left.
Marty arrived in his truck at Jennifer’s house ten minutes later, only for her father to tell him she was out at Lone Pine Mall with her friends.
Marty shook his head as he got back into his truck.
“Damn, I wish she had one of those portable phones,” he muttered to himself. His father had one; it was shaped like a brick and weighed just about as much. George found it more of an inconvenience than anything else, and usually didn’t carry it with him. Marty felt that defeated the whole purpose of having the thing, but he supposed the four thousand dollar brick was a status symbol more than anything else. He didn’t know anyone else who had one. He didn’t even know of anyone else who had one.
Marty sat behind the wheel of his truck for several minutes, pondering his next course of action. He had gone to Jennifer’s house partly because it was closer to Doc’s. However, while his house was on the way to the mall, he wondered if he should check on Jennifer first.
He decided he just had to see Jennifer, so he drove directly to Lone Pine Mall. After all, he reasoned, there were two ways to get to the mall from Jennifer’s house, and the one that did not go by his house was probably quicker.
When he got to the mall, he saw the beat-up hatchback belonging to one of Jennifer’s friends, Michelle Poole, parked near the Lone Pine sign. The mall’s lot was surprisingly packed for a weekday. Then again, it was spring break, and enough of Hill Valley’s teenagers had remained in the town to pack the place.
Marty parked his truck—luckily for him, he found a spot close to the door of JC Penney—and then checked around the crowded mall for almost half an hour before he spotted Jennifer and her friends outside Circuit City.
“Jennifer!” he shouted, getting on his tip-toes to see over the crowd. Fortunately for him, Jennifer heard him. She spotted him and waved. Marty rushed over.
Jennifer and her two friends—Michelle, who she had known since elementary school; and Lisa Hossfeld, who was the girlfriend of the Pinheads’ drummer, Steven—each had a shopping bag.
“Marty, what are you,” Jennifer began, but she was cut off when Marty kissed her. She was so surprised she dropped her bag on the floor.
“Are you okay, Marty?” Jennifer asked, confused.
“Oh, I’m fine!” Marty said, with enough force that it probably sounded unconvincing. He smiled at the other girls awkwardly. “Hello.”
“Is Steve with you?” Lisa asked.
“No,” Marty said. He noticed that Michelle was visibly relieved by this. She had recently been dumped, and he knew that she would definitely not want to be the fifth wheel between two close couples.
“I was, uh, getting you something, actually,” Marty said to Jennifer.
“What’s the occasion?” she asked.
“There doesn’t have to be an occasion!” Marty said. He bent down to pick up her shopping bag. While doing so, he whispered, “Doc’s back in town. Something happened.”
Jennifer nodded ever so slightly, and then flashed a big fake smile at her friends.
“That’s very sweet of you, Marty,” she said. “Actually, there’s something at Robinsons I liked. Would you mind getting it for me?”
“Not at all,” Marty said.
Jennifer turned to her friends. “Can I meet you at the food court in, oh, fifteen minutes?”
Lisa and Michelle exchanged looks of exasperation.
“Sure,” Lisa said.
“Thanks,” Jennifer said. She then grabbed Marty by the arm and the two quickly left in the general direction of Robinsons.
“What do you mean, ‘something happened’?” Jennifer hissed. “You messed with things again?”
“Yeah,” Marty said, looking around. He wasn’t eager to talk about time travel in public. He couldn’t help but think of the time Old Biff overheard them. He grabbed her wrist.
“If we‘re gonna talk about this, we should do it somewhere private,” he explained.
“And where would that be?” she asked.
After looking around, Marty led her to the small hallway that led to the bathrooms. It was long and empty.
“This should work,” he said. He sighed. “I’m not sure we should talk about it now. You know, in detail. But the gist is that I went back with Doc to 1931 and messed history up twice.”
“Twice?” Jennifer laughed. “You’re trying to top yourself?”
“Very funny, Jen,” he muttered. “Point is, I wiped you from existence the first time, and then I created this warped, Orwellian version of Hill Valley, with Doc as the dictator.”
Jennifer stared at him for a moment as she took this in. Finally, she barked, “Wait, what?!”
“I broke up your Grandpa Parker and grandmother before your father was born,” he said. “Did you know he was the bodyguard for my Grandpa?”
“No,” Jennifer said, waving her hand dismissively. “What the hell do you mean, ‘Doc was the dictator’?” She frowned. “And what do you mean by ‘bodyguard’?”
“Grandpa was going to testify against Kid Tannen. Biff’s father; he ran a speakeasy,” he explained. “I’m surprised he’s never mentioned that. Well, I got my grandpa to run away, so your grandpa lost all confidence and ended up not arresting Kid Tannen like he was supposed to. And to top it off, his girlfriend left him, meaning you were never born!
“Anyway, I fixed that, and then there was this weird world. Doc had married Strickland’s sister, and she really warped his mind. They’d taken over Hill Valley and turned it into a mini Big Brother kinda thing. I was a total tool there, but you were this punk rocker who was dating Leech.”
Jennifer’s eyes got wider and wider as Marty continued his tale. When she finally found her voice, she asked, “Wait, Leech? Needles’s friend?!”
“Yeah,” Marty said, “but that’s not really the point.”
Though Jennifer had to agree, she wanted to know more about her ‘other self.’
“And a punk rocker?” she asked. “What, with pink hair, like Tiff Tannen?”
“Purple hair,” Marty said. “Well, more multicolored. Tattoos, short skirt, piercings...”
“Oh?” Jennifer asked innocently. She came close to him and put an arm around his neck. “Was I hot?”
“Eh, sorta.” Marty smiled. “Though you reminded me a little of that girl Needles goes out with, what’s her name?”
“Her name’s Lauren, I think.”
“Yeah, her. It creeped me out a little.” He kissed her. “Do me a favor.”
“Don’t change anything about you, okay?”
Jennifer smiled slyly. “Only if you do me a favor.”
“Don’t muck with my family history anymore, okay?”
Marty laughed softly. “Sure.” He looked over his shoulder. “I should probably check on my family now. Do they seem any different to you?”
“Marty,” Jennifer said, both annoyed and amused, “if you changed history, I wouldn’t know it happened, because I would have changed with it.”
“Right,” Marty said. His brow furrowed. “How come you get this time travel stuff so easy, anyway?”
Jennifer shrugged. “Michelle, I guess. You know she’s a huge sci-fi fan—.”
“I know,” Marty said. “You had my Dad meet her and give her an autographed book.”
“Anyway,” Jennifer said, annoyed at being interrupted, “she had me read this book she was really into that was about time travel, and it made it pretty easy. And there was that Paradox movie last summer; she just got it on tape and we watched it yesterday.”
“Right,” Marty said. “Well, then Dad’s still a famous sci-fi author, Mom’s still a homemaker, Linda still works at the boutique, and Dave’s still at Harvard Business School?
“Yes, yes, yes, and yes,” Jennifer said.
Marty sighed in relief. “Thank God. I guess I’ll go back to Doc’s. I told him I’d be back in two hours. Come on.”
They held hands and began making their way towards the food court.
“Hey,” Jennifer said, “Are you gonna get me something at Robinsons now?” She winked at him. “You said you would.”
Marty chuckled. “Was there really something there you wanted?”
She smiled. “No.”
“Then I’ll get you something.” He kissed her. “I love you, Jen.”
“I love you, too.” She let go of his hand. “I’ll call you tonight, okay? You can tell me more about… you know.”
“I will,” Marty said, and she disappeared into the crowd.
Marty drove home after that, feeling much more at ease. He could tell that Jennifer hadn’t changed, and it seemed unlikely his family would have, either.
He was nonetheless relieved to see that his father’s BMW was still parked outside their house when he drove up in his truck. As he parked, his father came out of the house and unlocked the BMW’s passenger door.
Marty left his truck and called, “Dad!”
George McFly turned to look over his shoulder. “Oh, hi son,” he said. “I left some housing papers in the car.”
“Is Mom home?” Marty asked.
“Yes,” George said. “We just got back from looking at houses.”
Marty nodded. Since George had made a lot of money off of A Match Made in Space, he and Lorraine had decided that it was time to move away from Lyon Estates and into a larger, better home. Marty felt a little funny about that. He had lived in the house in Lyon Estates his entire life; indeed, his parents had bought it just after they had gotten married, in 1958. But he knew things would be much better in a larger home, especially since both he and Linda were likely to be living at home for the foreseeable future, and Dave would be back over the summer.
George picked the papers off of the seat and closed the door. Quietly, he asked, “Were you with Doctor Brown last night?”
“With the…” He hesitated. “The you know?”
“Yeah,” Marty said. “He’s over at the garage now, actually.”
George smiled. “That’s great! Your mother and I are a little busy right now; we’re signing the final papers for the sale of the house. Could you have him call me with a good time to stop by?”
“Yeah,” Marty said. He hadn’t actually told Doc that George had figured out that he had built a time machine. He wasn’t sure how Doc would take the news.
George seemed to notice. “Something wrong, son?” he asked.
“Uh, not really, no,” Marty said. “Everything looks fine.”
George looked at his son. “Did you do something again?”
“It’s fine, Dad,” Marty said. “Listen, I’m gonna go back to Doc’s. I’ll give you a call. Okay?”
“Yeah,” George said. He looked a little disappointed, as if he didn’t want to wait. He held up the papers he was holding. “We’d like your input about the houses we’ve looked at.”
Marty nodded. “Don’t worry. I should be back in time for dinner.” He returned to his truck. “Later, Dad.”