Chapter 1

CAST of Characters

Martin McTavish - me, 58

Linda Bigelow – my married sister, 55

Lorraine McTavish – my mom, 77

George McTavish – my dad, 76

Jennifer McTavish – my wife, 54

Susan Robbins – my divorced aunt, 72

Dr. Hubert H. Huckabee – the Doc, 52

Dave McTavish – my married brother, 51


It's Complicated – Boy, is it Complicated!

On TV or in the Movies, they always have the character say those words when it would take way too much exposition to really explain the situation. It's code for 'We don't know how to make any sense of it?' and we don't think it's worth the time to rehash all of that again just to bring the audience up to snuff

I don't either!

Hello - My name's Martin McTavish, everybody calls me Marty except my mom, who insists on calling me by my 'Christian' name at all times.

I don't feel very Christian at the moment!

Its 2012, I'm 58 years old, married with no kids. I run a business out of my home, but that's not important. My wife Jenn is off at a Mary Kay convention. What's important is what happened a few days ago, when I went to my old friend Dr. Huckabee for a quick medical check-up...

Dr. Hubert H. Huckabee is a GP, a General practitioner - 52, with a smallish office in his home. He actually has a shingle that says "Open For Business" – he's a neighborhood doctor in the strictest sense of the word.

"Marty, come downstairs, I've got something I think that you'd find interesting in my basement!" he said to me after my twice a year check-up was over.

"Sure thing – Doc!" I followed him downstairs.

The room was full of odds and ends. With a great deal of flourish he pointed his key fob at it and a very high-tech looking golf cart seemed to appear out of nowhere?

I looked it over, it still had the tassels and the big oversized wheels, but that's about all that there was that still resembled a traditional golf cart.

It had a large TV style screen, about 25 inches tall by 35 inches wide, where the steering wheel should be. That sprouted out of a large block of concrete that glowed a little bit yellow on all four of the sides I could see. I also saw two sets of seat belts on it.

"Doc, I see two problems – how the hell are you going to get it out of the basement, and how can it go anywhere as heavy as it looks?"

"Marty, it doesn't need to ever leave the basement, so how heavy it is doesn't really matter!" he replied as though I had pointed out something really stupid.

"What it is exactly Doc?" I asked.

"A Time Machine, Marty!"

I laughed so hard I almost fell over. After a minute or so of chuckling and snorting, I got it together and saw Doc Huckabee sit in the seat showing me the controls. He buckled up and told me to - causing me to laugh again. What a kidder!

"This display shows the date where you're starting from, including hour and minute – below it is the place to input the date and time you want to go to. Its all touchscreen technology based. Mac OS – really easy!"

Letting him have his fun, I asked, "How's it powered, what's the source of that yellow glow?"

"It's an Electron-Neutrino Based Engine – it collects Neutrinos and they're bombarded with traditional electrons, creating an unlimited supply of electrical power!" he said with a straight face.

"It powers the electrical circuit for the Touch Screen and by running it through a Gamma radiation filter, it creates an unlimited series of Gamma Radiation Bursts (GRBs), thereby creating the Stable Time Relative Event Sequence Separator, also known as STRESS Engine."

"What about the yellow glow, Doc?" I asked.

"That's the result of the extra neutrinos mixing with the excess Gamma radiation – It's completely safe, don't worry?"

I started to laugh again, this time even harder. Doc unbuckled his seat belt and got up at the sound of his front door bell. I unbuckled my seat belt and moved over to in front of the "Time Machine's" touchscreen.

For a piece of silliness it did look pretty good – the wheels were shiny. It looked like it had all of the bells and whistles as Doc came back down with a box in his hand.

"This is all really cool, Doc – have you tried it out yet?" I chuckled.

"Just yesterday Marty. I went back 30 days, purchased and sent myself a box of electrical components. Take a look?"

I looked at the box in his hand and it had a postmark date of just under a month ago. Nice trick Doc!

"So, you've got a Time Machine and you've only been back 30 days in time?" I asked.

"Oh, Marty, I've been testing it for a while now, working out the bugs, checking on the hard parameters I set in place!"

"Such as?"

"Well, the person operating it, doesn't just go back in time, they get younger the farther back they go, so I configured it so even if you were to go back before your own birth, you would appear to be 18, regardless of how far back you went. The other direction, the future, you stay your current biological age – you get no older. The Time Machine never moves from where it is right now, it has a EPS underneath the seat."

"An EPS, Doc?"

"An Earth Positioning System, based on the magnetic core, other wise, if you go back to when this house wasn't here yet, you'd find yourself fifteen feet underground. The Time Machine knows where it should be, unless if where it should be doesn't exist yet."

"Wow, Doc – you've thought of everything, haven't you?" I said, "Can you take me with you on a short trip?"

Figuring we had come to the end of the 'show, ' Doc surprised me by getting in the Cart next to me. He buckled up, and gave me a look for not already being buckled up.

"OK Marty, set the dial for any date you want, and press the Green GO Button!"

June 29, 1968 – the day I met my wife Jennifer was the day I inputted, pressing the green GO button.

Our surroundings appeared to change instantly to an empty residential lot and it was very dark.

"OK, Doc – really cool special effects, what happened?"

"Marty, you didn't enter a time, so it defaults to midnight - my house wasn't built yet, not until 1983 – so we're on the surface of the same exact plot of land my house 'Will be' built on. Let's get out - take the key that has the string on it with you. See the clock display that just came up? It knows exactly what time it is, and it constantly pings the NIST-F1 Cesium Fountain Atomic Clock in Colorado to keep perfect time."

We got out and instantly the Golf Cart disappeared!

"OK, what really happened to everything Doc?"

"Marty – We've gone back in time 44 years. While the 1968 you is 14, you still never look younger than 18, due to the limitations I built into the STRESS Engine and the software that controls it. We retain all of the memories from when we started. The moment we sit back in the Cart, we will return to our 2012 likenesses!"

Wait a minute – Wait just one fucking minute!

"HOLY SHIT! You invented a Time Machine?" I shouted.

"Quiet Marty, it's midnight! When you don't input an hour and minute, it defaults to midnight," Doc repeated, in a softer voice.

"So we 'both' look 18 years old again, although there is a 14 year old version of me running around out there somewhere?"

"Exactly, and an eight year old version of me too? I did that so we couldn't get so young we couldn't operate the Time Machine."

After pushing the fob, it rematerialized and Doc and I climbed back into the Cart. We again looked our real ages to each other.

"Where! Excuse me, when do we go next Marty?" Doc asked now sporting a great big grin!

Thinking for a minute, I punched in April 12th, 1954 at 4am – and pushed GO!

Again, instantaneously very little seemed to change, except there were fewer houses than before. We got out - the Cart again disappeared!

"What day is this, Marty?" Doc asked.

"Almost three full days after my birth - My mother Lorraine once told me I was home two days after I was born. We're less than two blocks from the house I grew up in, let's go! Oh, do we have any limitations, on distance from the machine, or not running into our 'other selves?'"

"Marty, you watch too many movies - just enjoy yourself - this is a blast. I went back and met my own granddad a while back and talked to him for a while, filled in a lot of my family history," the doctor said.

We got to my old house and walked around back, looking through windows. I saw my Dad - boy did he look young, holding his newborn baby boy. I heard my dad softly singing, "So close your eyes on Hushabye Mountain – wave goodbye to cares of the day, and watch your boat from Hushabye Mountain, sail far away from Lullaby Bay."

"Is he asleep?" a young girl's voice was heard.

I looked up and it was my mom's little sister, Susan talking to my dad.

"Finally, can you hold him for a minute?" he said.

She must've been only 14 years old – wow, she was pretty, still is at 72. Dad was 18; Mom was 19 when I was born. What a simpler time it was for everyone!

1954

Average Cost of a New House $10,250

January – Marilyn Monroe married Joe DiMaggio

February – mass polio vaccination begins in Pittsburgh

April – Rock around the Clock is first 'Rock and Roll' hit song and the McCarthy Hearings begin

June – 'Under God' was added to the Pledge of Allegiance

September – Miss America Pageant was on TV for first time

October – transistor radio developed

December – First Burger King opens in Miami

"Doc, let's go back!"

"OK Marty!"

We sat back down in the Time Machine and metamorphosed back into how we really looked.

Doc was some smart man, instead of spending his spare time playing golf or tennis; he developed a Time Machine in his basement!

"Can we go back to one more event Doc?" I asked.

"Sure, when is that?"

"May 24, 1975 8am – I was 21, my sister Linda 18, was graduating from high school later that day. I missed it."

"Can you go by yourself this time?" Doc asked. "You seem to understand how it works – go ahead, you can't break it. If something happens you'll immediately come back to the present – you won't get 'stuck in time' forever!"

"Thanks, oh – do I need to change, what is the perception of what I'm wearing to the people around me?"

"Intuitive question, Marty ... your clothes will change to an appropriate equivalent to the era you're heading. All clothes are is atoms put together in an exact sequence, don't worry?"

"Yeah, I flunked Chemistry and Intro to Science my first year in college, I don't understand most of the stuff you've told me, I just want to see my kid sister graduate. See you later?"

I got back in and punched in the date and pressed GO.

I got out and started walking to the football field at the high school both my sister and I graduated from. It was a beautiful day as the crowd filled the stands. I found a place to stand out of the way as the events started.

I remembered that I had a big test that day that my college professor wouldn't let me reschedule, so this was a real treat for me.

The speakers had the usual things to say, as the celebrity speaker was a thirty-year-old actor named Robert Balaban, who would become a motion picture character actor later in life, having already been in Catch-22 and Midnight Cowboy. His speech was quite inspirational, although he was rather monotone in his delivery. He still was.

The perfunctory applause occurred, then the reading of the names of the graduates started. I sort of tuned it out until they got to the 'M's!

" ... William Manning III, Robert McArthur, Linda McTavish..."

I clapped real loud seeing my doll-faced little sister Linda, crying her eyes out as she was handed her diploma. She stopped and waved and walked back to her row. I was clapping loud enough she turned towards me and smiled real big, waving at me. I waved back and she was grinning so much, as the rest of her graduating class was called. The weather stayed nice for the rest of it.

It broke up and she walked towards me, suddenly her face went sour, as she got nearer.

"What's wrong, why the sour face?" I asked.

"I thought you were somebody else, sorry?" she responded.

"Lucky him! Who did you think I was – I can be anybody you want?" I said.

Giggling she said, "You look a lot like my older brother. He told me he couldn't make it to my graduation. When I first saw you, I thought you were him, I'm sorry?"

"So am I, my name is Danny – Daniel Hilts."

The only name that popped in my head was the stupid character name of Steve McQueen in THE GREAT ESCAPE?

"So, who are you here to see today, Danny?" my sister asked with a lilt in her voice.

"I think the smart answer to that would be to say 'I was waiting for the first pretty girl who would talk to me' and that was you," I said.

"You're hanging around a graduation to pick up girls?" she said.

"Not really, my buddy Marty from college had told me about his cute sister who was graduating, and since I went to school with your brother, I decided to come and see your big day," I said.

She grabbed me by the arm and said, "You know my brother, Danny?"

"Yes, very well – but he never told me just how pretty his sister was. Do you have to be anywhere, I can take you ... no I can't! I was dropped off here, so I need to bum a ride."

"I have a car here," she said, "My parents had to leave right after my name was called, so I have plenty of room in my car for a handsome stranger."

I sure didn't remember my sister being such a flirt, but I was three years older than her and we ran in different circles back in 1975.

1975

Average Cost of a New Home - $39,300

January – Watergate 'burglars' were found guilty.

March – Rocky Horror Show open in theatres.

April – Bobby Fischer was stripped of his World Chess Title.

April – US forces pulled out of Vietnam.

July – Apollo and Soyuz linked up in orbit.

October – US Supreme Court ruled that teachers could spank their students, regardless of parent's approval.

November – Ronald Reagan announced candidacy.

December – Tiger Woods was born in Cypress California

After spending a couple of hours talking to and laughing with my little sister, I told her I had to get back to my family. She came towards me to give me a kiss on the cheek, but I turned and we made contact.

What's that expression about 'kissing your sister?'

We kissed for a bit, before she pulled away and said, "When will you be back, Danny?"

"I don't know for sure, but you'll be the first person I find when I do!"

We kissed one more time as 'our' parents were pulling up in the driveway.


I appeared back in Doc's basement, where he was sitting reading the paper.

He smiled at me as I got out asking, "How long was I gone, anyway?"

"Less than three minutes in real time - time is one of those things that we've labeled incorrectly," Doc answered. "I've calculated a 97th of a second drag in current time for every hour traveling through time!"

Not understanding what he meant, I handed him the key fob but he said, "Keep it - I have more of them. So, who did you meet at your sister's graduation anyway?"

"Why do you ask?" I responded nervously.

"You've got lipstick on your face, so who did you meet?"

"Nobody special!" I sloughed off.

"You go back in time to see your little sister graduate - and you find the time to pick up a girl while you're there?"

"Not ... exactly! I, uhm sort of 'kissed' my sister!"

Now, Doc was doing the laughing as I sat down.

"Doc, something funny happened. I think she saw me as Marty for a split second before she'd said that 'I looked like her brother.' Could there be some kind of delayed morph attributed to the Time Machine engine?"

"Actually Marty - that's very probable. The same chemical reaction that causes the yellow glow could be slightly altering how people perceive whoever is traveling through time. Perhaps, it's a kind of energy bubble that protects the true identity of a mild-mannered ex-tennis player. Time itself is converting how you really look to anybody looking at you," Doc theorized.

"Anyhow Doc, I can't remember having such a good time just talking to a girl. I told her I had to leave and she went to give me a peck on the cheek, but I turned - and the most wonderful and horrible moment happened. Her folks pulled up, giving me an excuse to leave."

"If I go back - will she remember me?" I sheepishly added.

"Why do you ask?" Doc answered, having a good time at my expense.

"Just asking!" I mumbled.

"Where is your lovely wife today?" Doc asked.

"Off for five days to a Mary Kay Cosmetics Seminar," I answered.

"Come by anytime, I'll leave the key under the mat for you," Doc said. "Be careful of the Butterfly Effect, Marty!"

"I don't really know what that is Doc?" I admitted.

"Well, you weren't there originally, now you were. That could affect anyone you interacted with. For example, you met your sister, she tells someone about you, and that person may tell some one about her, changing a course of action from what originally happened when she graduated and never met you that day. It's more theoretical, but given the proper set of circumstances, people and their world could significantly change, dependent on the original interaction."

"I actually understood that - maybe you're finally rubbing off on me Doc."

"It couldn't happen to a nicer guy ... who kissed his own sister today," he replied.

"I actually kissed her 37 years ago, didn't I?" I asked.

"Yes, you're right of course, but if you called her and asked, would she remember you?" Doc exposited.

"Wow, this is filling my brain - I'm going home to fix myself some dinner," I replied.

Back at my house, I couldn't keep from thinking about what Doc Huckabee said so I prepared a bit then called my sister Linda.

"Hello - this is Linda?"

"Hey sis – it's big brother Marty!"

"Hello Marty, wonderful to hear from you again. It's been too long!"

"I know sis, I just got off the phone with an old buddy I went to school with, Daniel Hilts!"

It got real quiet for a moment.

"Sis – Linda ... you there?" I asked.

"Yeah, I just had a memory from a long time ago. Whatever happened to Danny anyway?" she asked sounding a bit melancholy.

"He told me he was coming back into town, and if I could put him up while he stayed. I told him sure and he'll be here in about three weeks for about three days or so. He wasn't real sure. He said he met you a long time ago, do you remember him?"

"Yeah, actually – he showed up at my high school graduation, unlike a certain older brother who had to take a test or something."

"Linda, you've beaten me up about that for a long time. What's going on in your life these days?"

"Not much - William is off at some convention somewhere. How about you Marty?"

"I've got a great idea – let's meet up and talk, it's been a long time since we've talked about stuff. I'll take you to dinner if you'd like?" I said.

"When do you want to do that, Marty?" she sounded interested.

"How about right now – see you in 15 minutes, wear something sexy!" I said hanging up.

I actually did that?

I changed and went back to Doc's – no one was home so I got the key and let myself in.

I went down to the basement, and got in the Time Machine, buckling up. Doc had left me a note "Be Careful" as I put in the same day again, only two hours later than before.

I knocked on the front door of the house I grew up in, hoping against hope that things might just go smoothly.

I heard a voice saying, 'I'll get it' and the forty-year-old version of my mother was a sight for sore eyes.

We had a moment, where she started to say something, but I started.

"Hello, Mrs. McTavish, Linda told me you were pretty, but..."

"Do I know you?" she asked.

"No, not exactly. My name is Daniel Hilts, I met Linda earlier in the day and..."

"LINDA, come to the front door please? There is a young man to see you." I saw my little brother Davey peeking through the doorway; he'd be 14 or so. He looked at me funny for a minute too?

Linda came up and stopped and blushed a little saying, "Hello Danny, come on in. This is my little brother David, you've just met my mother Lorraine - Martin isn't here!"

"I came to see you again, Linda – if that's OK with everyone. I can come back after you've had dinner, or tomorrow..."

Linda grabbed me by the arm and pulled me inside, "You can stay if you want. We have dinner at six-thirty every night, and it's not yet six. Sit down, please?"

I waited for the ladies to sit before I did. I sat on the same sofa as Linda, but Davey sat down between us.

"So, how do you two know each other?" Lorraine asked.

"It's the cutest story ever mother, Danny came to my graduation. I thought he was Martin for a split second. But we talked and he needed a ride ... so I brought him home with me. We talked for a couple of hours before he had to leave."

"That's it exactly Mrs. McTavish!" I said.

"Oh, you can call me Lorraine if you'd like - Hungry? We always have too much food, especially with Martin at college. I haven't gotten used to cooking for one less person yet."

"If it's not too much trouble, I'd love to stay Lorraine."

Linda pulled Davey from between us and scooted over closer to me, but not touching me.

Mom stood up to leave, and I got up as well. After she headed to the kitchen, Linda pulled me back down and moved her hand to mine.

"Davey, what do you do all day with school out?" I asked turning my hand over hers and grasping it.

"I like to make models; rockets, spacecraft, aircraft carriers – that kind of stuff," Davey said.

"Cool," I said causing them both to laugh at me. "Pretty soon, they might be able to make a computer that you can have in your own room."

Davey was listening raptly and said, "You really think so, Danny?"

"Danny is joking with you David, we all know computers take up too much space to have one in your room - he's just playing with you," Linda said.

"It could happen, who knows?" I replied.

Davey left for his room. Linda scooted over so our legs were touching.

"You really shouldn't fill his head with that kind of stuff, Danny," she said.

I picked up her hand and kissed it, causing her to grin at me. I'm in way too deep, but this feels so wonderful.

My 51-year-old brother David, invented a new way to distill oil directly into plastic, and retired a millionaire at the age of 45.

"So, how long are you in town for Danny?" Linda said looking better and better.

"Two days, if I can find a place to stay – I'm down to my last $30 bucks," I said lying through my teeth.

"Oohh, I'll ask my Dad, maybe we can find room for you somewhere, this sofa seems comfortable – doesn't it?" she said biting her lip.

"Even more with a pretty girl by your side!" I said pouring it on very thick.

"Do you have a suitcase?" she asked.

Busted, oh boy – think?

"No, I'm traveling real light!"

"Do you know anyone in town?" she asked moving her lips closer to me.

"The Huckabee's?" I said. "I've recently gotten to know them."

"I don't know who they are, but I'm sure that my Daddy will help you all he can," she said as we touched our lips to one another. She could really kiss!

I pulled her up on my lap as the front door opened and Linda scooted off me as I got up to meet the 39-year-old version of my father, George McTavish.

Linda pulled my face over, wiping my lips with a handkerchief really fast as George dropped his briefcase into his chair and put his hat on the wall rack.

"Who is this young man, young lady?"

Linda was a little flummoxed so I stood and said putting my hand out to shake his, "Daniel Hilts sir, you can call me Danny."

"Well, Danny, you seem to have impressed my little girl which doesn't happen easily. She's been something of a late bloomer..."

"DADDY!"

"Are you staying for dinner, Daniel – my wife is known for her cooking?"

"Absolutely Sir, Mr. McTavish. I met your lovely wife earlier, as well as David, I go to school with your son Marty, we know each other casually - a few classes together - that sort of thing. I met this heartbreaker earlier today and I may just never want to leave ... this wonderful town of yours. The people here are just soooo friendly!" I said looking at Linda, who giggled.

"Enough of that 'sir' business - call me George, please?" dad said to me.

"Dinner's almost ready!" mom yelled from the other side of the kitchen door.

Linda grabbed me and took me to the bathroom where we both washed our hands and kissed a little more. She cleaned me off again and fixed her lipstick.

I saw Davey getting my chair for me. I thanked him and pulled out a chair for my sister, then my mother - before I sat down.

"What a gentleman, thank you Danny – you do remind me a little of Martin around the eyes, but you might be a little more muscular than our son, don't you think so Linda?" Lorraine asked.

"U-huh," was all Linda could say.

Dinner was delicious and went well, as we all talked about things. Dad complained that the price of gas went up again to 45 cents a gallon, as I just held myself in check to keep from giving him my opinions on such things.

I helped clear the table as Linda went up to her father and asked, "Danny has no place to stay while he's in town. Our sofa seems soft enough."

"Linda, that's OK - I'll go find a real cheap hotel somewhere. I don't want to put anyone out," I said walking to the door.

"Nonsense, son – you feel right at home for as long as you need. I personally know how comfortable that sofa is, for when I'm on the outs with my better half," dad said.

Mom gave him a slap on the shoulder and a peck on the cheek.

"You folks remind me so much of my family, I have an older sister, little brother and a Mom and Dad who might just be the best parents ever!" I said my eyes moistening up a little. "My mother has a sister who lives with us as well, a younger sister."

"Well, isn't that just the most amazing coincidence? I have a younger sister, named Susan. She lived with us when we first started out here, helping with our babies," mom said.

"Oh, and what's happened to her?" I asked.

"She finally found a guy who fell head over heels in love with her. They met, dated and were married all in about a month," she added.

"And where are they now?" I asked.

"I don't rightly know at the moment. I haven't heard from them in the longest time," mom said.

"That food was remarkable, Lorraine – my own mother couldn't have fixed it any better. Linda, do you cook?" I asked.

"I've only just started to learn how to cook, Danny," she said.

"If you've got the fixings, I could show you how to make a kind of cookie?" I said to Linda.

Lorraine said, "What are the ingredients?"

"Butter, brown sugar, white sugar, eggs, and ... vanilla extract!"

"Got all of that!" Lorraine said.

"And all-purpose flour, salt, baking soda, uhm, baking powder, some rolled oats, corn flakes and some flaked coconut!" I finished.

"Got it! What is this recipe called Daniel?" mom asked.

"Ranger Cookies – I'm not real sure why – it takes 20 minutes to prep, 10 to cook, and it's ready in an hour," I replied.

"If you don't mind, I'll join in with the two of you tomorrow when you're preparing it?" mom said.

I saw Dad give her a look and she said, "Oh you two would have more fun baking without an old fuddy duddy like me in the kitchen."

I walked up to my mother and gave her a hug, saying "Lorraine, we would love you to help us tomorrow. I'll be gone most of the morning, but I can be back by 3pm – how's that sound?"

She looked at me, giving me the same look from when I first walked into the house and said, "Thank you Daniel, your mother would be so proud of you right now - I just met you and so am I!"

The sofa was prepared for me, and Linda and I just held hands for a while as first David, then Mom and Dad went upstairs.

"Don't keep Daniel up all night Linda, he has things to do in the morning?" Lorraine said as she grabbed Dad's hand as they scooted off to bed.

"Am I keeping you up, Danny?" Linda said sitting down real close to me.

"No, not at all," I said picking up her hand and kissing her palm real lightly.

"That feels real nice, Danny! You're the nicest boy I've ever met. I'm going to miss you when you leave in a couple of days."

"Linda, there's something I need to tell you?" I said.

"What?" she said her eyes were glistening - ready for me to make my move.

"I like you more than I should, I have a girl back home, but she isn't as pretty or as good a kisser as you are," I said putting my hand high on her leg.

"I've gotta go to bed, see you in the morning," she said practically running up the stairs.

My stupid hormones and me have always gotten in the way of my happiness. My god, my sister is so damn pretty. I could fall all of the way in love with her very easily. I got up to turn out the lights, then went back to the sofa and fell asleep.

I got up early writing a note and putting it on the front door. I slipped out and got back to the Time Machine and went back to the present.

I surprised Doc as I appeared, said "See you later," as I jogged home and drove to pick up my sister Linda for dinner.

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