Synopsis: When Doc installs some updated circuits to the train and recruits Marty for a quick test run, the musician figures why not? It's been the first time in weeks he's had the chance to visit his old friend, and the date couldn't be more fitting -- November 12, 1995.
The test seems to go fine, and the duo return home -- but it's vastly changed, and their repeated attempts to get back simply drop them into a variety of parallel universes. There's the one where Marty is a seedy rock star. The one where Doc never read Jules Verne, or devoted his life to science. And the one where the two find themselves the subject of a... film?!
With the machine exhibiting no obvious, outward signs of malfunction, the travelers can only hope to run into a version of Doc with another working time machine and knowledge of parallel universes who might be able to help -- before time catches up with them and they become permanently stuck in a world not their own....
|Length: Approximately 176,000 words|
|Written: July 2002 - January 2003|
|Revised: February 2003|
Author's Notes: Cripes, it's a complicated thing to explain The Moment Of Conception with this particular tale. Let's see, I suppose the seed was planted one night in late June 2002 as I tried falling asleep -- and, yeah, funny how many of my ideas come then. (Maybe because it's the only time I can think uninterrupted.) As I think I mentioned before, one of the ways I try and relax myself is to envision random scenes and then work outward from that, concocting a story to explain how the character got to... wherever. Just for my own entertainment value -- not with trying to dig up a story. I was doing this one of Marty, and saw him in Doc's lab, and then Clara coming in worried because her husband was missing. But why? And how? The mind went off.... Over the next few days, things started trickling, then gushing, to my brain. It didn't help that I had just started going to school full-time once more, and I have a sadistic Muse who enjoys giving me ideas during lectures when my mind wanders off. (I actually got two the same day -- this idea and another that I will pursue later, perhaps.) As you can see, the final product is pretty different from that odd little mental picture I played with back in June. (Which, incidentally, isn't even in the story.) Once more, I can only attempt to explain the strange twists my brain takes me with story ideas.
This was also complicated, yet simple, to write. Complicated in that I brainstormed literally dozens of different realities, narrowing it down to about twelve for the final product, then I set it all up in an outline before starting the first sentence. At times, though, the twists that you see in these little worlds were extreme last minute revelations and took even me by surprise. This happens in all the stories I write, but seemed to happen a lot in this particular one, maybe because I left a lot of room for elaboration in the outlining. Yet the story came about painfully easy at times, because after ten years of writing this fanfic, I've got a fairly good grasp on all the characters, and no complicated historical research had to be done. (Generally things move faster in the writing process if I can skip the latter -- which begs the question, why the hell do I put myself through that?!?) The thing that slowed production down the most? My insanely busy schedule. Some days I would have only an hour to write. I suppose this is what it'll be like for me when I teach full-time and write published fiction on the side of that. But when I sat down to write, I did write; after the frantic pace of the summer, I seemed to knock out one new chapter a week, each one averaging out to about 10 pages.
I also spent most of the time writing this story as dog tired exhausted as the characters get in this story, from ungodly early rising hours and long hectic days. Ugh.... I even brought it with me in mid-December when I went to L.A. for the BTTF DVD events, and got about 8 hours of sleep over those 4 days. (I was penning Chapter 23 at the time, I recall, but the writing I did on that trip was all on the airplane on the flight down. Inspiration wasn't a problem as much as a lack of time and energy; I mean, it was a once in a lifetime vacation. Who could sleep?) Then there was the weather issue -- most of the time in this story, the weather is fairly foul and raining. Yet during the bulk of writing, the weather in the real world was warm and sunny. I had to keep reminding myself about that little fact....
The alternate realities were both creations of my own, natural variations to the films, and ones that I (purposely) swiped from various screen play drafts. I actually tried to incorporate every screenplay variation that I've read in this story, though some were more blatantly different than others. And there are some obvious variations that I also played with -- i.e. the fact that Fox, although first choice for Marty, wasn't the first to be cast as Marty, and the fact that Lloyd, although cast as Doc, wasn't originally the filmmaker's first choice. (Although he certainly was after the filmmakers met him.) It was kind of fun alternating these little worlds with some of my own -- and challenging at times, too. Since this is ten years (or more) after the time travel events that are in the screenplay drafts, I had to do some projection as to where the characters would be by 1995.
This story may come across as dark in some respects, but I tried my best to balance out the really grim stuff that the characters deal with with some equally lighthearted stuff. Though, granted, my sense of humor is weird and sometimes sarcastic; like, for some reason, I really dig writing slapstick. Why the hell I'd want to write something like that when it's not acted out before me is anyone's guess.... (Although I, personally, do see it acted out in my head like the films.) But, anyway, I did try to lighten up in some places deliberately, even with a couple of the reality twists.
My apologies to Mary Jean Holmes, though. A few of my realities bore odd resemblances to ones she covered in her "Running Out of Time." It wasn't intentional; sometimes things would seem to logically happen in similar ways. Regardless, I had her full permission and approval with this tale.
This story has probably the greatest number of in-jokes in it, for some odd reason. Names of some locals, or streets, or just some specific event or line can be recognized by those who know me very well. To go into them here would be to spoil a few things in the story. So, if you wanna know, ask, but I can't promise you will find it as amusing as I or someone else might. One of the weirder ones that is really just a coincidence -- the clothing that Michael J. Fox wears during the commentary he does for the DVD is pretty much identical to what Marty McFly is wearing in most of this story. I did not write it that way at all; it was really seriously something that just happened. Boy, did I laugh later....
Oddly enough, I was deluged by titles before even typing the first sentence. That is very unusual. More unusual was that, in spite of the variety and selection, it still took me weeks to settle on something, and the story was already pretty far along by then. I finally decided on "No Place Like Home" because shades of this story seemed to have a Wizard of Oz vibe to it -- visitors dropping into a completely foreign world, in search of a person that might help them get back home, meeting odd variations of people they knew at home along the way.... Oh, and the fact that there literally is no place quite like their home.
This story also seems terribly long and bloated to me -- it just went on and on and on -- but my beta readers seemed to like it all, so here it stays. Maybe 'cause it's the first (almost entirely) Marty & Doc tale I've done in a while. Maybe because the possibilities were really endless, when it came to the alternate worlds. It could've been even longer, though -- my notes are quite lengthy on this tale. As it stands, this story has the current distinction of being my longest solo project ever -- and written in about six months at that. As Marty might say, that's pretty (and literally) heavy.
Finally, I suppose this is my odd little sequel to "When Worlds Collide," written with Mary Jean Holmes. (And which I would suggest to anyone who hasn't read it yet that they might want to do so now, before reading this story; you might be really confused, otherwise.) Aspects of that story play an important role here, and without the events in that tale, the events of this one would not be playing out. I sound cryptic, but s'okay. I suspect that it'll all make sense to you when you've finished the story.
And for those interested in a prequel/sequel once you finish, may I direct you to a side project/experiment I'm working on: "The Hill Valley Chronicles"..... I do suggest you read NPLH first before venturing over here, otherwise this may be a bit confusing to follow and understand. Then again, if you're inclined to alternate history stories, maybe you'd be interested regardless. Shrug. The choice -- and learning spoilers -- is in your hands.