Kids Say the Darndest Things (catch up)

ME: Ooh, Jack is a rebel.
CASEY: Yeah, Jack is Rubble and I’m Chase!


Every time Dan would come home, he would throw the kids high in the air. He tried to teach them to say Buzz Lightyear’s catchphrase before he threw them: “To Infinity and Beyond!”. But for some reason both of them would cry, “Two Fifty and Beyond!”. So then Dan tried to switch to Woody: “There’s a snake in my boot!” But all he got was “There’s a sneaky in my boot.” and “There’s a stinky in my butt.”


CASEY: I don’t want a quesadilla I want a Jacky-dea.


JACK: *leaving to go to school* Bye! Have fun playing with the kids!


Caught my dang three-year-old trying to stick a screwdriver in an outlet. I yelled at him to stop, explained how dangerous that is, that he could even DIE. He literally scoffed, rolled his eyes and said:

CASEY: It’s fine, Mom. Then I’d just be a zombie.


JACK: I don’t like white popsicles because they taste like ants. Isn’t that icky?
ME: How do you know what ants taste like?
JACK: I don’t know but it gives me a headache to think about.


CASEY: *playing with Dan* Boom you’re trapped! I’m a police officer!
DAN: Did you read me my rights?
CASEY: Yeah I’ll do that. *pretends to hold a book* Once upon a time Daddy was trapped and went to jail.


JACK: *points to his Spaghettios* I call these “blowy basgettios”. You know why?
ME: Why?
JACK: Because you blow em like this *blows* like how you have to blow a mosquito.
ME: Like… blowing a mosquito away?
JACK: Not mosquito, I meant to say noodle.
ME: *laughs* what?


DAN: *to me* Hit the AC will ya?
CASEY: No, Dad! It’s B and then C. A B C.


JACK: Does grandma live on Earth?
ME: … yeah. Utah is on Earth.
JACK: Ohhhhhhhhh!


CASEY: (holding up a toy) Should I break this?
ME: No, you shouldn’t
CASEY: Well what can I break?
ME: You can break my heart when you grow up too fast.
CASEY: (imitates a breaking sound) Pssh! Your heart is broken!
ME: Yeah it is 😭

CHAPTER THIRTY

Que and my mom had literally just said goodbye to me from one side of the portal seconds before they watched me careen back out kissing a stolen historical figure. I went to detainment for a few hours, while my mother had to fill paperwork and work out bail. Finally, when the sun had nestled into the western sky, we rode to our house in complete and utter awkward silence.

“So…” Que was the first to break. “What happened?”

I rested my fist on my cheek and stared out the window. “I got too close,” I said.

Going home felt depressing. Everything felt depressing. The hyper sterile smell all around me, the convenience of every little machine that would ruin my mother’s entire day if it didn’t work properly.

I missed Liverpool. My heart ached for Liverpool. Not that I could travel with my pending legal troubles. But it wouldn’t have been the same anyway because my heart didn’t ache for just Liverpool, I also desperately pined for 1958. The cows in the roads and the starry skies. I downloaded a 50s world explorer app onto my VR set, but I couldn’t bring myself to play it. Because really, the heartache wasn’t just Liverpool and it wasn’t just 1958.

I became more of a hermit than I was before. Which is really saying something. You’d think someone who was probably facing a lot of jail time would want to do something other than lay in bed in their little room. But I couldn’t think of a single other thing to do. Everything reminded me of John. Everything. Even laughter. I didn’t know what I wanted to do with my life anymore if I still had one. Be single forever and become a cat lady?

Nope. Couldn’t do that. Cats were John’s favorite animal.

I waited anxiously, like I did every day, until 4pm when the news stream would hit my IND. I had it set that as soon as it became available it would automatically start playing.

Big block letters under the newscast read “Beatles Update”. And it was always the same footage. The video of the four of them confused and scared outside the steps of the time travel building. They never used anything new. I hated that footage. Especially, George. The video reminded me of how young he was and how beat up they must have gotten from the car chase.

This time they showed footage of hundreds of angry picketers.

“This all started, after a leaked IND footage sparked community outrage, whether or not figures from other timelines deserve the same human rights that we do. Now that these four musicians have crossed that portal successfully, that’s put a lot of pressure on the time council to change the way things are done.”

“Hundreds of protestors sit at the council building today, demanding that time relocation be implemented in the place of eliminations,” a woman news reporter added. “The inquisition continues forward with questioning on Friday. The council remains firm that eliminations are ethical, but the people are saying it’s time for a revolution.”

“Well, we all want to change the world, Mary.”

Mary chuckled. “That’s a good one.”

A knock echoed from my bedroom door.

“Honey? Someone’s here to see you.”

The way my mom whispered made my heart pound in my throat. He found me? I threw the blanket off myself and leapt to my closet. With shaking hands, I picked through my clothes. No, no, no. It had to be perfect. I mean, this was the only chance to impress him in modern, fitted clothes. It had to be good. Great.

I couldn’t find anything perfect, and I knew I was taking too long because my mother buzzed me on my IND.

“Emmeline?”

Okay, alright okay. I threw on one of my favorite tops, brushed through my curls with my fingers and then jolted downstairs.

In the front room, Dr. Greggs sat cross-legged on the couch. 

“Oh,” I said, not able to hide my disappointment.

“Emmeline,” he greeted me. “I have some good news.”

“Good,” I said, huffing onto the couch with a sigh. “I need some good news right now.”

“This is huge,” he said with a smile. “I mean, this inquisition is turning into a real deal. Ever since you did what you did, the whole world is tuned in. Everyone has opinions.”

 I pressed my lips flat. That was his good news?

“Well, just because it has people talking doesn’t mean it’s going to change anything overnight,” I said. “And even if it did, I’ll probably still have to spend the rest of my life in prison.”

“Well, that might not be true,” he said, his smile broadening. “I spoke with someone involved in the background of the inquisition. They said that if they do find time travel law to be faulty, they won’t be able to prosecute past travelers. Which means, they will have to exonerate all past travelers for what they’ve done in alternate timelines. Including you. You’ve done nothing illegal in this timeline.”

I stared at him a little dumbfounded. “That is good news,” I said.

“I’m telling you. It’s a big deal,” he said. “As your mentor, I’ll be helping to defend your mission at the trial.”

“What?” I shook my head. “But you’ll lose your job!”

“We’ll see about that.” He flashed me a mischievous grin.

I crossed my arms over my knees. “Greggs, how are they? How is John?”

“To my knowledge, they’re doing well. I’m sure they’re shellshocked right now, trying to understand and adjust to everything.”

I nodded and pursed my trembling lips. I felt like I was going to break down and sob any minute. But I didn’t know exactly why. Greggs must have been able to see my inconsolable inner turmoil because he got to his feet to leave.

“Thank you,” I barely got out.

“He’ll be there on Friday,” Greggs added. “They’ll all be there.”

He gave me a quick nod before he left me, my stomach knotted and my knees shaking

***

Friday came and I hadn’t slept the night before. I got up and dressed. This time, I was not going to think about John as much. I wore the same professional suit that I wore to my presentation with the council. I wanted to look like a traveler and a historian that had carefully calculated the first-ever time relocation, not like a little girl who fell in love with a rock star and kidnapped him into the future. Which, yeah, I was definitely the latter, but I just didn’t want to look it at least.

The car ride there was horrible and long. My mother was even more quiet and pensive than when she accompanied me to the portal. Que made unhelpful jokes from the back seat. I tried to push John out of my mind, but I had to keep pushing him out of my mind every thirty seconds.

When we arrived at the courthouse, hundreds of curious onlookers and news drones were there to greet us. I put on my best poker face. I didn’t want everyone to see how scared I was. But I also didn’t want to come off as cocky and arrogant. I probably looked dumb instead, but that’s what I was anyway.

Everything was a blur. People shouting questions at me. A few scattered cheers. Laughs too. I walked with Dr. Greggs into the giant court-style room where the questioning and trial were to be held. The entrance to the room was guarded by a security android.

As I took my seat, I saw the peppered grey on the back of Thorne’s head. We made eye contact and I turned away in fury. Weird seeing the man who shot a gun at you several times, sitting calmly and civilly in the same room as you.

 Mom gave me a squeeze on the shoulder and sat behind me with Que. A decent size audience of reporters and time travelers had assembled.

Judge McCoy took her seat. Her dark skin stretched tight with anti-aging mods. She didn’t look at me. Or anyone. All business, staring at the screen on her desk.

I kept wringing my hands in my lap. What had I been thinking? Sure, maybe I had saved John, Paul, George, and Ringo. But going rogue like that? I sure didn’t give alternate missions a good name.

“Be seated,” Judge McCoy commanded from her high desk.

I flashed an uneasy frown at Greggs who patted my knee under the table, his hands were clammy with stress sweat though, I could tell.

“This is a complicated case with a lot to go over, so I’ll make this easy on everyone,” Judge McCoy said, tenting her fingers. “I am looking for the answer to one question only… Was Emmeline Mor’s mission a success or not?”

Oh, Galactica. I buried my face in my fingers. Across the way, Dr. Thompson exchanged smirks with his snooty-tooty lawyer.

“The council claims that eliminations are necessary as they are the most effective form of time alteration,” Judge McCoy said. “But if Mor’s mission was successful, that would invalidate that claim and thereby become a violation of the Comprehensive Human Rights Act.”

The prosecutor next to Thompson stood from his seat.

“I couldn’t agree with you more, Judge McCoy,” he said in a smarmy voice. “Emmeline Mor’s mission was indeed a disaster. A timeline that a quick elimination could have easily altered without the thousands of consequences inflicted by this farce. And to accurately demonstrate these consequences, I would like to present a timelines expert, Mr. Forlin. Mr. Forlin has reviewed the footage and the damages done by Ms. Mor and compiled a list for this inquisition.”

Mr. Forlin, a man with a face too small for his head, sauntered to the stand. Everyone sat at attention as he activated his IND and began to read his prepared statement.

“Damage to the Brighton fair, closed the grounds for the rest of the week,” Forlin read. “Minor repairs to the Queensway Tunnel, caused hundreds of people to be late to work.”

I sank into my seat. 

Forlin went on. “One disappearance of a meat truck, caused the driver to quit his job and pursue his dream as a florist.”

Greggs gave me his typical top of the eye stare.

“The police officer that witnessed the disappearance of the truck, quit his job and became…” Forlin swiped his screen. “A delivery driver for the aforementioned meat company.”

Que raised a brow at me from behind.

 “After Lennon made a phone call to the school regarding an internship, Professor Barrell was dismissed due to sexual misconduct on campus. He was not supposed to be caught.”

I tugged anxiously at the ends of my hair.

“Ms. Mor left a plate of cheese behind a potted plant, which caused Mimi Smith to hire a cleaner,” Forlin said. “This cleaner was supposed to hit a stray cat on the other side of town and the cat lived.”

“Well, who cares about that?” My mom’s voice whispered loudly.

“I have 753 other changes directly involving Ms. Mor… Each one of those changes has several dozen impacts as well.”

The judge asked Greggs if he wanted to add anything. He shook his head. The council’s expert lumbered off the stand and sauntered to the audience. 

I hung my head, but Dr. Greggs gave me a reassuring smile.

“Your honor, would it be possible to call in our expert witnesses now?” he asked.

The judge scratched at the corner of her mouth and then nodded to the security android at the back of the room. “Alright. You can send them in now.”

There was an immediate commotion from the hallway. Gasps and cheers. The entire courtroom swiveled in their seats toward the doors. The android opened the entrance and in walked an entourage of more security bots, followed by four young boys. Camera flashes lit the entire scene like a strobe light. I practically swallowed my own tongue.

 It was the most bizarre thing to see the four of them all modernized and decked out with body mods. They looked good. He looked good. He looked perfect. My heart was doing double time trying to pump blood to my brain. We made eye contact as he passed and I felt paralyzed. He gave me a little closed mouth smile and waggled his fingers. I stiffened and slid as low under the desk as I could go.

The prosecutor and Dr. Thompson shared a hushed side conversation before the lawyer approached the four kids squished into the stand.

The prosecutor held the opening of his jacket and pulled his mouth to one side as if he thought this was the biggest waste of time.

“Has the kidnapping changed your life?” he asked.

George leaned into the microphone. “Yes.”

The courtroom burst into stifled giggles. A weighted tension lifted in the room. Except for the prosecutor whose expression soured.

“Yes, of course, it has,” he mumbled to himself. “But how? I mean negatively. Do you miss your family?”

“As opposed to what?” John asked. “Touring the world and never seeing them?”

“Or being six feet under and never seeing them,” Ringo added.

“Yes,” the prosecutor said through gritted teeth. “But your family is mourning you, terribly aren’t they?”

“Not mine, I’m sure Mimi’s finally glad to be rid of me,” John said. A few more laughs sounded from the audience. “It’s happened to me before. I’ve been taken away from me family to a new home. So I’m probably a bit more used to it than the rest of the lads.”

The prosecutor clutched his jacket a little tighter. “Doesn’t that make you unhappy, angry for what Ms. Mor did?”

“No, not at all!” Ringo said.

“She saved my life,” Paul said. “She saved all our lives!”

I could feel my shoulders relaxing. I was so glad they felt that way. Pursing his lips, the prosecutor stepped directly in front of Lennon.

“John, you proposed to Emmeline,” he said. “But then you left her to audition? What happened? Didn’t you swear away your music to her?”

“We never auditioned,” John said. “We were too busy trying not to get shot.”

“Ms. Mor told you about the fame and success you would have had, isn’t that right?”

“That’s right,” he said, imitating the prosecutor’s voice.

“Didn’t that entice you? Motivate you?”

“For what? Not dyin’?”

“I mean that if she hadn’t kidnapped you, would you have continued on and pursued the life she described to you?”

“Yes,” he admitted. “But I would have anyway, with or without her.”

The prosecutor gave Judge McCoy a curt nod. “I rest,” he said and returned to his seat.

Greggs took his place.

“What do you think of the year 2109?” he asked the boys.

“It’s great,” Paul said. “Very nice. Thanks. World cleans up nice.”

“Are you glad you’re here?”

The boys burst into a Liverpudlian chorus of “yeah”, “of course,” “it’s great”.

Greggs gestured to Thompson and the council lawyer. “These people are suggesting it would have been better for them if you had died. But where do you stand on the issue?”

“About 5’11,” John quipped.

More laughter rang through the courtroom, even Judge McCoy couldn’t hold in her chuckle.

“Oh, he’s really cute, isn’t he?” My mom’s voice again from the peanut gallery. I blushed hard. Greggs grinned ear to ear at the audience’s reaction.

“And you’re all alive? Your hearts are beating?” he asked them.

“You can call a doctor to testify for that,” John said.

“You’re four very real people, aren’t you?” Greggs asked.

“As far as I know, no one’s told me otherwise,” John said. “But then no one’s told you otherwise either have they?”

“You could be a hologram or a robot for all we know,” George added. More raucous laughter followed. The prosecutor clenched his jaw.

“I think we’d all like to hear this from your perspective,” Greggs rested his arms on the stand. “Wouldn’t you like to have basic human rights like ‘not be murdered’?”

“Why don’t you ask the other me that got popped off in the late 19th century?” John asked. “Seems to me that’s what the other me was all about when he was alive. Maybe if you had listened to me about peace then, you wouldn’t have to be listening to me now.”

A silence fell over the courtroom.

“Thank you,” Greggs said to Judge McCoy and sat beside me.

As the boys were led off the stand and everyone watched them in complete awe, the prosecutor called from his spot, “We’ll ask Dr. Thorne to testify now.”

Everything inside of me froze in complete dread. This was the end of the line. I was going to prison. Travelers would continue murdering people in the name of “science”. And nothing would change for the better. I mentally prepared myself for Thorne’s testimony and for everything I was about to lose. At least I had saved a few lives along the way. I would never regret that.

Dr. Thorne, the council’s star witness, got to the stand and cleared his throat.

“After the subject went over the cliff into the portal, I stayed for the next five decades, studying the effects of a Beatles-less world from 1958-2008,” he said, his hands dropping to his lap. “Though most of my studies focused on changes in music style and composition, there were many significant cultural changes as well. During that time, I studied those involved in the counterculture movement, otherwise known as “hippies”. I spent time with them… got to know them. And got to know their ideals and philosophies… Turns out… fifty years is a long time for a person to reflect on their past actions and values…”

I furrowed my brow in confusion. Greggs had a similar reaction next to me.

“I’ve been waiting a long time to read this statement,” Thorne opened an old parchment paper from his coat pocket. “During her stay, Emmeline Mor has violated more than seventeen laws and rules, compromised our identities, endangered the portal structure. However…”

Dr. Thompson flared his nostrils.

  “In the absence of John Lennon, Paul McCartney, George Harrison and Richard “Ringo” Starkey… the impact on the world was significant. Nearly immeasurable, though I did the best I could.” He looked up from his paper.“Her mission was successful. This timeline was altered without a single assassination.”

There was a collective audible gasp followed by scattered murmurs. My jaw dropped. Never in a million alternate timelines would I have imagined that Thorne would testify on my behalf. Not long ago he had shot me point blank in the chest. 

I turned to Greggs, “Why would he do that?” I asked flabbergasted.

A stunned Greggs shook his head. “He violated laws as well, he must have betrayed the council for his own exoneration.”

Thorne took his seat behind the fuming council’s lawyer. But there was something about his expression, the lifted brow, and crinkles at the side of his eyes. It seemed softer to me.

“Either way it’s over,” Greggs said in relief.

“Objection your honor.” The prosecutor stood, his chair scraping against the floor. “It’s preposterous to declare that the mission was successful when no components of the mission were actually completed! This timeline was meant to be altered because Mr. Lennon fell in love and gave up music. Not because he was kidnapped and dragged into a new century! Did he fall in love with her? No. Therefore it is not a success.”

“There was a proposal!” Greggs scoffed.

“Oh sure, a proposal that Ms. Mor coerced,” he said leaning his weight on the table. “A proposal that he clearly had no intent to follow through on.”

“He proclaimed his love in the sand dunes,” Greggs argued. “Didn’t you watch the footage?”

“I saw it. So what?” the prosecutor said. “Any boy could say anything to a girl that he’s planning to take to his friend’s bedroom after.”

I twisted in my seat to see Lennon, who looked at me with arched brows.

“This was her mission from the beginning. This was the mission that she herself proposed to the council,” the prosecutor said, making giant sweeping motions toward me. “He did not fall in love and therefore this mission can not be considered a success.”

Judge McCoy rubbed her chin, deep in thought. Then after a moment, she spoke.

“Could John Winston Lennon return to the stand please?”

I bolted upright. Thompson and his lawyer shot each other sideways glances. From the back of the room, John slowly stood and made his way by himself to the front of the room. Photography bots clicked away as he sat on the stand.

“Mr. Lennon,” Judge McCoy said. “From your perspective and experience do you believe that the mission was a success by the council’s given definition?”

John shifted his eyes.

“Well, I ended up here and I don’t think that was supposed to happen,” he said.

 I closed my eyes and grimaced.

“Let me clarify my question,” she said. “In the 87 days that Ms. Mor was present in 1958, did you find yourself to have fallen in love with her?”

A tense pause filled the room. I cupped my hands to my nose. The entire audience bowed forward; their ears perked.

John leaned into the microphone.

“Completely and irrevocably, your honor.”

The audience erupted in titters, happy sighs, and relieved words. A bursting smile spread across my face, which John mirrored at me from the stand. Judge McCoy nodded to herself.

“This inquisition finds current time travel practices to dissatisfy the Comprehensive Human Rights Act of 2025 and laws involving time travel are hereby to be reexamined and rewritten. Because of this, this inquisition also finds Emmeline Mor to be innocent of these antiquated laws, and petitions for her acquittal. Thank you.”

The same second we were dismissed, I left everyone behind and ran up to John.

“You’re not mad at me for taking you into the future?” I asked.

“Are you kidding? Look at me I have all the new features! I’m like an upgraded model!” He dipped and bowed, showing off his new mods. “They even put something in that’s made me feel better. I don’t feel so angry anymore.”

“A mood stabilizer,” I nodded. “That’s great, John!”

“There is still so much about this technology that I don’t understand or know how to do.”

“Well, you just aged 200 years,” I said.

John put his hands on his hips. “I’m a wee 169-year-old I’ll have you know. A spring chicken!”

I laughed, bit my lip, and looked away. It was so good to see him, better than I could have imagined.

He bent down to catch my eye. “When this time travel stuff gets sorted,” he said. “I’m gonna petition to go back and get my mum. Bring her back here before her accident.”

Tears welled in my eyes at the thought.

“Will you come with me?” he asked.

I wiped the tear from the corner of my eye. “I’m pretty sure they are never going to let me time travel ever again.”

“So, you’re out of a job?”

“Completely and irrevocably.”

John smiled so big his nose wrinkled.

“Not for you though,” I said tugging at his elbow.

“Signed us fresh out of the portal,” he said.

“Of course they did! That’s like opening a bottomless bank account.”

“We’ve been trying to learn all the songs we’ve already written, but there are hundreds and hundreds of them!” John shrugged. “It’s alright, but Paul and I think we want to write some new things to play as well.”

My eyes widened. “That would be amazing!”

“They’re sending The Beatles on a world tour. Can you imagine that? People want to see these 200-year-old dead guys play music. And you know…” He touched my hand. “I told them I wouldn’t sign or tour nothin’ if I couldn’t pick who gets to be our opening act.”

My voice caught in my throat.

“Since you’re out of a job and all,” he said with a knowing half-smirk.

I sprang on my heels and wrapped my arms around his neck, he caught me and pulled me in close. Camera flashes went off around us like a light show.

“I love you, John Lennon,” I said.

He swept me off my feet, spun me in a tight little circle and carried me over the threshold of the courtroom like an old-fashioned bride.

“Thank you and good night,” he said to the room of laughing journalists and camera bots.

We stepped into the harsh sunlight of the future. Our future.

THE END

CHAPTER TWENTY-NINE

I ushered the four pre-rock stars across the narrow road toward the truck. The buildings on either side of us darkened the road, peppered with a thousand windows and a thousand eyes ready to stop us. But the truck had gone through the portal. It had somehow! That key information in my back pocket piqued my confidence.

 “Won’t someone tell me what the bloody hell is going on?” Ringo hissed from behind us.

“I’ll explain everything once we’re safe,” I whispered. “We just have to get out of here in this truck.”

“What? All five of us crammed into the cab at once?” George asked.

“No, you guys will be hidden in the back,” I said, bouncing on my feet. “C’mon, let’s go!”

The Beatles exchanged worried looks between themselves.

“You’ve done it before,” I reassured them.

 “What does she mean by that?” Paul whispered harshly to John.

“Just trust her,” John said, turning Paul around by his shoulders. “We don’t have much time.”

The driver unloaded the last box and then left his truck unattended as he spoke to the plump shop owner accepting the delivery. He took off his cap and wiped his brow.

I gave the signal and we snuck around the side keeping an eye on the driver. John held the doors of the meat truck open and turned to the other boys.

“Alright. In you go, then.”

“Now, hold on just a minute!” Paul grabbed John by the elbow. “I’ve followed you this far, but this all seems very wrong to me. Stealing a working man’s truck like this, it’s no good.”

Down the street The Cavern doors burst open with a loud crash and Thorne hobbled out holding his gun.

 “After you, George.” Paul gestured to the open truck.

“Much obliged,” George said, piling into the back.  

Ringo stepped in, still as confused as ever of having casually breezed into a perilous getaway. John tried to follow them, but I yanked him by his shirt collar.

“Wait, not you,” I said. “I need someone to drive the truck.”

His eyes widened. “I’ve never properly learnt to drive, Em. You’ll have to do it.”

“I’ve never driven a car in my whole life!”

We stared at each other in shock for a minute or two, until my IND buzzed sharply.

I grabbed him and ran to the right side of the truck where there was no steering wheel. I opened the door and not so politely shoved John all the way over to the driver seat. In the rear-view mirror, I watched Thorne pull a helpless motorist out of their car and get in.

“Start the car! Go!” I said shutting the door behind myself.

John whimpered to himself, started the car and hit the gas.

We rolled down the street at the same pace as a bicycle. Maybe slower.

“John! Drive! Get out of here!” I yelled.

“I’m trying! I’m trying! I’m trying!”

The car made a series of crunching sounds as John slammed repeatedly on the gas, still we went no faster than fifteen miles per hour. Thorne was closing in on us.

“Let out the clutch mate!” Paul yelled from the back.

John pumped the clutch and shifted gears. The truck pitched forward with the forced momentum. A collective loud bang came from inside the truck as three young bodies slammed against the wall.

“Oy!” Ringo yelled, followed by a string of expletives that I couldn’t hear over the roar of the accelerated truck.

John now had more of the speed but navigating the narrow Liverpool streets wasn’t an easy task. Thorne caught up quick and bumped into the back of the truck. More expletives sounded from the boys.

A police officer was directing traffic ahead at a roundabout. He whistled for us to stop. John didn’t stop.  He whistled harsher. John didn’t slow down.

“Clutch mate!” Paul yelled again.

John took a deep breath closed his eyes and blew into the roundabout. The cop dove out of the way, with screaming staccato whistles as he went. A car honked and veered as Lennon cranked the wheel and fishtailed into a lane.

Thorne followed after, nearly knocking over the same policeman who had barely gotten back onto his feet. He swerved sharply around an elderly couple in a Buick and got on our tail.

“Go to the dock!” I cried. “The portal is across the river at New Brighton!”

“Cars don’t swim yet, Em,” he said. “We’ll have to go to the Birkenhead tunnel.”

John made another turn past the irate policeman, starting a second lap around the roundabout.

“There! To Birkenhead!” I cried, pointing to the exit sign as it sailed past. “You missed it!”

John growled as we made yet again another turn on the roundabout. Thorne was still hot on our trail trying to get around the side of the car. The policeman ran for the blue telephone booth across the way.

“Right… There!”

John pulled the steering wheel, starting to exit one turn too soon.

“Not that one! The next one!”

“Grr! Em!” John wrenched the steering wheel around and flew over the sidewalk into the next exit. More thuds, bumps and expletives sounded from the boys in the back. Thorne got off on the too-early exit and slammed his breaks so hard they screamed.

We swung around and dashed for the Birkenhead tunnel. Right into the log jam of motorists in line to pay their dues at the toll bridge. John slammed on the breaks which choked and stalled the engine stopping us just before we crashed into the car in front of us. Thorne’s breaks squealed as he came to a sudden stop somewhere in line behind us.

“Oh, come onnnn,” I urged the other cars under my breath as Thorne opened his door.

John started the engine, ducked around the line of cars and pulled up to the window of the only lane that was closed. The toll operator leaned out the window with a frown under his bushy mustache.

Thorne leapt back into his car to follow us. When the other motorists saw our truck in the other lane, they too tried to jump behind us, nearly knocking into an erratic Thorne and honking at each other.

“You’ll have to go around son,” the toll booth operator said to John. “This gate is closed.”

“Right, sorry. It’s just we’re a bit tied down at the moment. Car chase and time travel stuff. Very serious business.”

“Eh?” The operator reared his head. “What’s all this about? How old are you? Is this even your truck?”

Ringo’s voice piped from behind. “This isn’t even me band.”

The operator’s mouth seemed to drop to the street at the mysterious passenger voice from the meat compartment. John banged on the back of the cab with the side of his fist.

A shot rang and echoed as it pinged the side mirror of the truck. The operator leapt into his booth in fright.

“Ope. Sorry. Gotta go. See ya.” John accelerated and smashed through the flimsy arm of the gate.

Lennon sped into the tunnel, shifting correctly for once.

The lights on the Birkenhead tunnel swished past one after another. Swoosh. Swoosh. Swoosh. John messily wove in and out through cars so sharply it made me feel sick. Or maybe the stress of what was happening made me feel sick. Either way, I was holding a churning puke.

Thorne was a much better driver than poor John learning to shift in a meat truck and he caught up to us with ease.

John swerved in front of a double-decker bus that honked loudly at him. “Where is the portal Em? I don’t know where I’m going!”

“It’s off the cliffs just beyond the funfair.”

“Oh, brilliant. Would’ve been a whole lot easier if we had gone then.”

“Hindsight, Lennon.”

A familiar sound filled and echoed through the tunnel. That old European siren. WEE OH. WEE OH. WEE OH. Red and blue lights flickered on the tunnel walls.

“Uh, oh.”

“Is that for us?” George asked from the back.

“Keep. Driving.” I told John.

PING. A bullet punched a hole through the middle of the windshield. John yelped. 

“That one nearly had my name on it.”

I leaned my head out the window and yelled. “Dammit, Thorne! Don’t you know ‘assassination requires a healthy dose of subtlety’?!”

Thorne sped up and re-aimed his gun. I reached over and grabbed the steering wheel, jerking it hard.

“TURN NOW!”

We veered into a separate tunnel on the side. The truck lost control and slid until John could regain control with the steering wheel again. But it was too late. The quick and sudden turn had killed the engine and sent us spinning and sitting backwards.

We heard brakes screech loudly from the tunnel. Car lights approached as Thorne spun around and drove head on through the stream of traffic toward us.

“Where does he think he is? America?”

“Just get us out of here!”

John turned the key into the ignition and straightened the car. A loud rev burst into the side tunnel followed by the growing sirens in pursuit.

We rushed through the tunnel and out the side exit into the sun. Four men in business suits cross the road in a line right in front of us. I covered my eyes and screamed as John cranked the wheel and turned sharply.

There was a significant crunch and thump that threw us forward. John’s glasses knocked off his face and clattered to the floor. Suddenly, we were on the pier.

“Em, my glasses!” he said leaning over the steering wheel. “I can’t see!”

“Oh, John!”

Pedestrians shrieked and ran. One man with a bulldog on a leather leash almost didn’t make it and had to pull his dog out of the way at the last split second.

The same crunch and Thorne had followed us onto the pier. Two more crunches and the cops followed close.

John squinted desperately as he drove. I leapt to the floor to feel for the glasses with my hand. A woman screamed from outside and the truck swerved, throwing my head into the bottom of the dashboard. I may have had an armor mod, but my head still throbbed and the welt from the bullet stung under my collarbone.

“Em! Help!”

I felt the plastic frames under my fingertips, grabbed them by the lenses and hopped up by John. I tried to stick them on his face but somehow jabbed him in the eye instead.

“Watch it!” he yelled.

“Sorry,” I said. “I don’t know how these work! We don’t have them in 2109.”

“They sit on your nose, it’s not brain surgery.” He grabbed the glasses, flicked them open with one hand and put them on.

Around the bend, a tall and menacing shadow came into view. A dark structure akin to the Eiffel Tower loomed over the colorful attractions of the fairground.

“There’s the Ballroom Tower and the fair!”

“But how do we get to the portal?”

“John!”

Right in front of our path was a giant cement barrier marking the end of the board walk and the beginning of a sharp drop into the sea. John twisted the wheel and dodged the barrier but not soon enough and scraped the side of the truck.

We crashed through a wooden fence right into the fun fair. The dense crowd of fair goers shouted and parted as the meat truck slammed into a tent. The canvas ripped off and draped across the windshield. More people screamed as Thorne in the second car careened into the fair. One of the cops didn’t quite get the sharp turn and the Wee Oh of his siren crashed with a sad groaning “woop”.

The tent canvas completely covered the windshield and sounds of crashing and gasping were all around us.

“Get it off, Em!” he yelled.

I leaned out the window and reached for the canvas. The tent edge was flapping wildly in the wind and I barely grazed it with my fingertips. I had finally grabbed it when suddenly the truck smashed through a planter box. The bump knocked the canvas off but also knocked me further out the window. The glass of the window dug into my hips, as I was face to face with the rolling tire.

Thorne took another shot at the truck and the bullet dinged against the metal siding.

I hoisted myself back into the cab of the truck and huffed a lock of hair off my face.

“Gee thanks for the help,” I said to John.

“I don’t dare take my hands off the wheel!”

“I could’ve rolled to my death!”

“If I take my hands off the wheel you will.”

We exited the funfair on the other side of the Tower Ballroom and around the coast to the cliff where the portal secretly hung in the sky. Thorne followed us. The police followed Thorne. An old man in Wellingtons stood on the beach, puffing his pipe, and calmly watched the parade of frantic drivers.

“There, there! Turn!” I yelled.

Another whip of the wheel. The Beatles in the back were complaining less and less, I hoped John’s desperate driving hadn’t knocked them all unconscious.

We drove up the hill the truck straining with the sand and the grass. Thorne followed and at least two other cop cars, their lights whirling and spinning. I activated my IND to get the exact coordinates for the portal.

“Alright, stop!” I yelled. The car came to a jolting halt. “Now back up a little.”

“I- uh…”

John shakily put a hand on the gear shift, keeping an eye on the fast-approaching Thorne. He started backing up.

“Okay! Stop, stop, stop!” I yelled.

Another slam of the breaks.

“Right here! Perfect!”

“It didn’t work, Em!” he yelled. “We’re still here! Where’s the portal?”

“Yeah…” I grabbed the steering wheel and yanked it a full 90 degrees. Twisting the wheels until they faced the edge of the cliff.

“Are you completely mad?!” John asked.

CRUSH! We both jolted forward. In the side mirror I saw the hood of Thorne’s stolen car crumpled under the bender of the truck. Then his door opened, and he got out, gun in hand.

“Get down!” I took John by the shoulders and pushed him further into his seat. “Drive! Drive!”

Thorne power walked to the driver’s side. I climbed into John’s seat and sat right on his lap. I put my foot on the lever thingy that I assumed was the gas. The truck, still in reverse, whirred against Thorne’s car, the wheels sinking into the muddy hillside.

“Make it go forward!” I screeched, grabbing John’s hand, and trying to get him maneuver this machine I didn’t understand.

“You mad woman! You’ll kill us all!” he said resisting me, pulling, and fighting.

As Thorne got to the window I laid my entire body across John covering at least the most vital parts.

“Get off!” Thorne yelled at me gesturing with his gun.

I opened the truck door and smacked Thorne’s arm. Ping! A bullet, which I hoped was the last, shot through the roof of the car.

A megaphone sounded from behind. “Lower your weapon! The lot of you, get out of the car!”

I kicked the gun out of Thorne’s hand, and it clattered to the floor of the cab. He growled and grabbed me by my shirt sleeve.

“John drive! He’s going to kill you!”

Finally, John shifted the truck and inched slowly to the edge of the cliff.

Thorne kept pace, jogging next to the car pulling me by my shirt. I tried to roll the window up on him, but it was one of those stupid hand cranks that I had to wrench around while struggling out of his grasp.

“Stop! Get out of the car!” The megaphone shouted at us.

“John! Go!”

He shut his eyes tight and shifted again. The car sped toward the cliff. Thorne couldn’t hold on. He dropped off the car and rolled behind us. Closer the edge of the cliff came into view. My stomach pitched, as I hoped to Galactica that the portal would catch the entire truck. And not just half of us.

“No, no, no, no, no!” John screamed, each ‘no’ more panicked than the last.

The wheels sailed off the edge and we were in free fall. The last thing I remember was a half a yelp from John, cut off by a blinding light.

Again, the feeling of slow motion. John’s arms raised slowly to the roof by his wrists. Everything inside the car seemed to float up with us. Papers from the floor of the truck. A hot dog bun from the fair. The weight of three more Beatles that I couldn’t see.

My neck slowly cranked to the left. Where in the void and the light and the space I saw myself. A fresh nervous self. Mid jump, clutching to the straps of a parachute with Thorne at my side.

Clunk! Smash! The wheels hit the hard floor of the sterile travel room. I slammed on the brakes, but it wasn’t in time. We skidded, fishtailed, and slammed into the wall.

A low blaring alarm rang and scientists from all around ran for us. I saw Thorne sitting on the edge of the hood. He wore an entire padded suit like what a crash dummy would wear. He wasn’t chasing us anymore, he was calmly undoing the strap from his helmet.

John lay limp against the driver’s seat, his neck stretched back. I didn’t even know my heart could beat any faster, but when I saw him, I really thought that he hadn’t made it. No one had ever brought a live person through the portal before and I wasn’t sure if it were possible to live through that.

I grabbed him by his shirt and shook him, until finally he let out a loud shuttering breath and opened his eyes.

“I went out,” he said quietly.

I couldn’t help but laugh and pulled him in for the hardest smooch I’ve ever given anyone.

“We did it,” I got out frantically. “I love you!” The door opened wide and a team of travelers snatched me away from John