“Let’s Do the Time Warp Again (and Again),” by Roy Hudson
It was Halloween in the Wizard’s clubhouse. The earlier skirmishes between the regulars and the vampires had taken a toll on the area’s otherworldly beings, but with the original, now-deceased Wizard’s twin sister running the place, things were starting to get back to normal. Bobby Brinkley the werewolf, however, couldn’t shake the sensation that something was wrong.
“Hey, Witch,” he called, signaling the bartender/owner.
She got there and said, “I’m not my brother, you know. I don’t get my kicks from being addressed by title. Call me Esther, dear.”
“Sure. I’ve got a splitting headache, and the birds outside won’t shut up. It seems they’ve been chirping the same tune with some regularity for quite a while. Doesn’t that strike you as odd?”
Esther shrugged. “I don’t suppose I’ve noticed, dear. It does seem awfully bright outside for this time of night. We’re shielded by magic, but the outside world is not. You don’t suppose those crackpot scientists have done something they ought not have, do you?”
“I’ll check. Thanks, Witch.”
Bobby approached a lone scientist, who was using the wires from his now-dismantled digital watch to torture a mouse on his table. “Dr. Noodle,” he shouted. “Question for you.”
The visibly angry scientist scowled. “For the last time, you diseased mutt, my name is Dr. Nodhel, not Noodle!”
“Sure. Anyway, the Witch and I—”
“Her name is Esther.”
“Sure. We couldn’t help but notice some irregularities in the sky and bird chirping, and I have the splitting headache that comes with temporal anomalies. Your pals wouldn’t happen to be fucking around in the phone room at your castle, would they? Or is it you, with that weird watch?”
“It’s not weird. It’s just digital… and now it’s not good for anything except, ah, experiments.”
“I see that, Dr. Noodle. But you ignored my question.”
“I answered the one that I could. As far as I know, none of the other doctors are even at the castle. There’s a convention in Transylvania that they all rushed off to without me.”
“Aw, ain’t that a shame? So there’s nobody there?”
“Just the security guards. There’s a new one. I suppose he could have stumbled into the phone room.”
“Great. Thanks, Dr. Noodle.”
Before the scientist could explode, Bobby had walked away. He stopped beside a hulking yeti which was playing poker with another werewolf when Bobby said, “Hey, Jarnosh. I don’t suppose you want to visit Witney and her pups with me, would you?”
“Do they still have that pet cat?” asked the one called Jarnosh.
Bobby sighed. “They do. But you’d better not eat him.”
“Then why should I go?”
“The children need a sitter.”
“Where’s their human mother?”
“I need to borrow her.”
Jarnosh chuckled, a hideous sound. “I didn’t think she was your type, Brinkley.”
“She’s the brains of the team, Jarnosh. I need to get her to the castle to take care of the time warp.”
“Okay. I was losing, anyway. Werewolves cheat like hell.”
His opponent feigned shock. “No, we don’t.”
Bobby smirked. “You do, Vince. And when I play… so do I. Come on, Jarnosh. Let’s get out of here.”
“Can we take the tunnels? I want to scare the human woman.”
“If I let you do that, Witney probably won’t help me. So, that’s a negative.”
Jarnosh whined, but followed Bobby through the front door.
After a brief stroll through the woods, they found the shack that had once belongs to Bobby’s former partner, Hunter O’Helsin. Now, Hunter’s children and their mother lived here.
Bobby grabbed the door knob and pushed… breaking the lock. “Shit.”
Witney hissed from the living room, “Bobby, you’d better not have broken another lock.”
“Sorry. I don’t know my own strength.”
She walked through the room and paused when she saw Jarnosh. “Is… there a reason he’s here?”
“I need you to come with me to the castle on the next hill over, outside the enchanted forest. Are the kids asleep?”
“They’d probably be better off here with Jarnosh if they’re asleep.”
Witney cast a suspicious eye at the yeti. “You’re not going to scare them, are you?”
“Wouldn’t dream of it, human,” Jarnosh replied.
“How long is this going to take, Bobby?”
“That depends on how long it takes us to get to the bottom of things.”
“Fine. Let’s get this over with.” As she inched past Jarnosh in the doorway, she offered a benign smile and said, “Be gentle if the kids wake up, Jarnosh.”
“Of course, human.”
“My name’s Witney. I finally got Bobby to call me that, so is it too much to hope for that you’ll follow suit?”
Jarnosh grunted, which wasn’t the response Witney had been hoping for.
“Later, Jarnosh,” Bobby said as he walked out.
Witney pulled the door knob behind her, only to have it fall off in her hand. “You’re fixing this when we get back, Bobby Brinkley.”
“Sure,” he said.
After walking outside of the enchanted forest, Bobby’s headache intensified as Witney voiced her concerns. “I can’t believe I left the kids at home with Jarnosh as a babysitter. He’s not going to eat them, is he? He and their father never did get along.”
Bobby chuckled. “Yetis aren’t known for an appetite for human flesh, so don’t worry. Your pups will be fine.”
“I really wish you wouldn’t call them that.”
“Sure. But they’re O’Helsins. They’ll be okay… though, hopefully, Tiger has the good sense to steer clear of old Jarnosh.”
Witney scoffed. “You could’ve told me he might eat the family pet before we left him in charge of the house.”
“Yeah, well, if I’d done that, you wouldn’t have agreed to come with me.”
“Why do you need me? Couldn’t he have come with you?”
“I needed your brains. You’re the smartest human I know.”
Witney smiled. “Thank you, Bobby.”
“Of course, I don’t know a lot of humans.”
She grumbled, “Where are we going again?”
“To check on a hunch at Castle von Frankenstein.”
“You know, Witney, one would think that in all our time together, you’d stop saying that when I tell you about otherworldly things.”
“Some things are still hard to swallow, Bobby.”
“You’ve met mad scientists. Surely this one will come as no surprise.”
“Yeah,” Witney said slowly, “but Frankenstein? I always thought that was fiction.”
“In a sense, but you once thought Dracula was entirely fiction, too, until you fell for a descendent of the so-called Van Helsings.”
“You talk as if our fling lasted long enough to be called a relationship. Hunter’s been gone a long time.”
“And yet you’re raising his litter.”
“I keep telling you to stop referring to them using your own canine terms, Bobby Brinkley. It freaks me out.”
“Sorry. Old habits die hard.”
Suddenly, Witney watched as the scenery changed, as if they hadn’t come as far as she had thought. Before she could comment on this, she said, “I can’t believe I left the kids at home with Jarnosh as a babysitter. He’s not going to eat them, is he? He and their father never did get along.”
“Fuck,” Bobby shouted.
“What is it?”
“That’s the second time you’ve said that, and we’re no closer to Castle von Frankenstein. I really think the guards accidentally turned it back on.”
“Castle von Frankenstein? You’re kidding.”
Bobby turned, put his hands on Witney’s shoulders and said, “This is your first experience with the mad scientists’ time warp, so I want you to take my hand, close your eyes, and repeat out loud, ‘We’re stuck in a time warp,’ over and over.”
“That’s ridiculous, Bobby. I thought Frankenstein—“
“Was fiction, yes, I know. You’ve already said that.”
“But I don’t remember saying that.”
“Because we’re stuck in a time warp. Say it!”
She sighed. “Fine. We’re stuck in a time warp.”
“Again. And take my hand and close your eyes. We’re going to walk as fast as we can up this hill.”
“With our eyes closed? Won’t we trip?”
“My eyes are open, Witney. I’ve dealt with this before. Plus, as a werewolf, I’m immune to things like manmade temporal anomalies.”
“I can’t believe I left the kids at home with—“
“‘Jarnosh as a babysitter. He’s not going to eat them, is he? He and their father never did get along.’”
“How did you—“
“Because we’re stuck in a time warp! It’s taken me too long to explain. Just trust me. Take my hand, close your eyes, walk uphill fast, and repeat, ‘We’re stuck in a time warp,’ over and over. Now!”
Still somewhat incredulous, Witney decided that Bobby had never lied to her before, and he probably wasn’t about to start. “Fine. We’re stuck in a time warp. We’re stuck in a time warp. We’re stuck in a time warp.”
She nearly tripped going up the hill with her eyes closed, but Bobby caught her, and said, “Don’t stop saying it!”
Now convinced that his words were true, she continued: “We’re stuck in a time warp. We’re stuck in a time warp.”
After several more repetitions, Bobby finally said, “We’re here. Open your eyes and come with me.”
“Is it safe for me to stop saying, ‘We’re stuck in a time warp’?”
“Yes. We’re here. This castle exists in a vortex. At least, outside of the phone room, anyway. Anyone who wasn’t already here when the time warp began is immune. Those who work here, however, are probably the ones perpetuating the problem, so we have to stop them. Come on, the phone room is this way.”
“Is it necessary to keep holding hands?”
“No, but I don’t mind.”
She loosened her grip, and Bobby did as well.
“Sorry. I guess for a minute, I went on a time warp of my own, back to when you were still new to this.”
She smiled benignly. “It’s okay. In a sense, I am still new to this. I didn’t know Dr. Frankenstein was real.”
“He’s not. That’s just the name of the castle. Mad scientists were inspired by the novel, and when they pooled their resources to buy this old place, they named it after Mary Shelley’s protagonist.”
“Oh. Well, I guess that makes sense. Why are we going to a place called the phone room?”
“Because the so-called Dr. Theormann created a loop-inducing telephone that rings at random. He died perfecting it before he could answer it. He thought it was the key to immortality. The second the phone is answered, the warp begins. Come on.”
“Wait. If we go inside, and there’s someone in there answering the phone, how will we be able to stop it?”
He smiled. “That’s why I brought you, and not Jarnosh. You always were smarter than me, Witney, in spite of being a newcomer to the otherworldly. Fine. We’ll go to the surveillance closet first so we can see what’s happening from afar.”
They turned to the right and walked down a corridor. There, they saw a door marked, “Security personnel only.” They walked inside.
An old guard with white hair and thick glasses shouted, “You’re not supposed to be in here!”
“Relax, Pops, we’re here to help,” Bobby said as his hand morphed into a wolf paw, brandishing sharp claws. “But if you get in the way… I have to use these babies, and I don’t think you want that.”
The old guard reached for his gun, but Bobby lunged forward in a flash, and disarmed him, leaving him asking, “What do you want?”
“The phone was answered. Show me the screen for the phone room.”
Suddenly another guard’s shadow appeared at the door. “Is everything okay?”
Bobby narrowed his eyes and slowly nodded to the old guard, who simply said, “Yes. Carry on.”
Once he was gone, Bobby said, “The phone room.”
As the old guard began to pull up the video, the other guard walked back down the corridor. This was only his second week on the job. The veteran was training him for the inevitable day when the old man would die, leaving the position of security guard vacant. There hadn’t been much mad science lately, and the younger guard had wondered if any of the strange artifacts would ever be used. He stopped outside a door and peered inside. A corpse lay on the floor in front of a table, on which sat an ancient-looking rotary telephone. He drew his gun and carefully entered.
He couldn’t see the victim’s face, but he seemed to be wearing a security uniform, exactly like the one he himself wore. Before he could confirm the body’s identity, the phone rang. Thinking it was his superior, and that he could report the incident, he answered. “Hello?”
“Don’t come in here,” replied a familiar voice on the other end.
“Who is this?”
“I’m warning you,” answered a menacing growl. Afraid, he slammed the phone down, then picked it back up and dialed the castle’s number, hoping to reach his elder.
Suddenly, the floor boards creaked and he jumped, startled. He quickly spun around and fired his gun. As he did so, a bullet struck… himself, in the back. The phone in his hand was answered: “Hello?”
The mortally wounded guard said, “Don’t come in here.”
“Who is this?”
“I’m warning you,” he growled. Realizing it wouldn’t do any good, he slammed down the receiver, turned back around, stumbled, fell, and died.
Meanwhile, the guard approaching the door from the outside noticed the body, then walked in to investigate, and repeated the process over and over.
Watching from the security closet, Bobby said, “That’s it. That’s the warp. We have to stop him.”
“But how?” asked the elderly guard.
Suddenly, a shadow fell under the door before a voice called, “Is everything okay?”
Thinking quickly, Witney pulled the door open, grabbed the guard, and pulled him inside so that he might avoid his fate.
Before he could ask what was going on, he spied what was going on in the phone room. He said, “I’d better go warn that guy.”
“No,” Witney cried, but he was gone.
Bobby sighed. “You can’t stop him. He’s destined to die in there. One of us has to go into the phone room to disconnect the phone.”
Witney nodded. “If I go in there, will I be affected?”
The old guard said, “Oh, yes. Once in the room when the phone has been answered, there’s no way out.”
“Unless,” she said, looking at Bobby, “you’re immune to manmade temporal anomalies. Like werewolves.”
Bobby grumbled, “Should’ve known it would be up to me.” He handed Witney the guard’s gun and said, “Keep it on him.” Without another word, he left the security closet and headed for the phone room.
As he arrived, he met the guard, who was about to investigate the body on the floor. Bobby remembered that this man was beyond saving, so instead of stopping him from entering, he simply followed him inside and ran to the phone.
Just as the bullet struck the guard, Bobby reached to unplug the phone. A stool flew from seemingly nowhere and struck him. Bobby looked around, and saw a familiar face as the guard died… the face of a ghost.
Dr. Theormann said, “I knew someone would try to stop it. I always knew this would be the secret to coming back. Immortality, at last!”
Bobby stood, shaking his head. He wondered, What would Witney do? He came up with a plan. “You’re just a ghost, Doc. That’s not immortality. You can’t even leave this room. It’s just one place. If you really wanted to live forever, you’d possess someone who’s immune to time warps. Like…” He then morphed into the wolf man form and said, “Me!”
Anticipating what would happen next, Bobby knew he wouldn’t have much time. He saw triumph on Dr. Theormann’s ghostly face as his foe realized that Bobby was right. The mad scientist’s spirit believed that once he possessed the werewolf, he would truly be immortal. Bobby spun forward as the spirit entered his body… just as Bobby had anticipated.
Bobby’s wolf face beamed with delight, even as the momentum from Bobby’s spin pulled him forward… directly into the path of the guard’s bullet. Though Bobby was immune to bullets, the mad scientist had not been. He groaned his death throes as his victim’s newly-freed claws reached out and cut the phone line, silencing the ring once and for all.
Bobby morphed back into his human form and stood up. “Well… thinking like Witney helped. She must also be smarter than a mad ‘doctor’s’ ghost.” The bullet wound still stinging, he turned around and looked down at the dead guard’s body. “Well, dumb ass… your death wasn’t in vain. So, thanks.”
He then walked back through the door and to the security closet. He stepped inside to find the old guard in tears. “Uh, what’s going on?”
Witney replied, “Gramps here was just lamenting that with the other guard dead, he can’t retire early.”
“How old are you now?”
“A hundred and six,” the old man moaned.
“Well… I’ll put in a word with Dr. Noodle to start hiring again. Maybe if you’re lucky, you won’t die on the job, like your supposed replacement.”
“Who do you think has been keeping me alive all these years?”
Bobby shook his head. “That little bastard. Don’t worry, old man. I’ll fix this.” With a quick flick of his wrist, the old man was dead.
Witney asked, “Was that really necessary?”
“Yes. Dr. Noodle doesn’t exactly have much in the way of mercy, and his buddies are off in Transylvania. This means he has to hire someone soon… or, get off his ass and do the job himself. I’d better go back to the Witch’s place and tell him.”
“It can wait,” she said. “We’re going home, and you’re fixing that doorknob. I need to make sure Jarnosh hasn’t eaten the cat. Or the kids.”
“Another one of your fine ideas,” Bobby said with a grin. With that, they left the castle and headed down the hill toward the enchanted forest.
"Another Moonlit Halloween," by Roy Hudson
It was the day after Halloween, and the O’Helsin pups had finished their trick-or-treat candy. Belly aches aside, they wanted more candy. The kids pleaded with their mother, Witney Turner, but she adamantly refused.
A voice from the door answered, “More Halloween candy? You should’ve mentioned it before I went to the store to look at clearance Halloween decorations. I’m glad I went, too, because it looks like the old stuff got stolen while I was gone,” said their friend, Bobby Brinkley, as he set down an overflowing sack of goods.
“Wait, someone stole the Halloween decorations on November first? What sense does that make?”
“Who knows,” he said with a shrug. “But yeah, the candy’s super cheap at the store right now.”
Witney chastised him and her children at the same time, a talent she had perfected long ago. “I don’t care if it is cheap at the store now, we’re not getting any more candy. You kids are hyper enough as it is. And Bobby, don’t undermine my parenting by supporting their bad behavior!”
Bobby shrugged and wandered over to the couch, where he picked up a newspaper. “Whatever. Sorry, pups. You’re on your own.”
Witney muttered, mostly to herself, “Dammit, Bobby, I have repeatedly asked you not to call them ‘pups.’”
Their mother busy tidying up the kitchen, the kids huddled together to hatch a plot. The first one to emerge from the womb, and as such, the eldest, turned to her siblings and said, “Hey, I’ve got an idea. Let’s go to the Castle von Frankenstein.”
“Halloween’s over, so we don’t want to get scared. We’ll pass.”
“No! Listen… Dr. Noodle is there, and he can probably send us through time to get more candy.”
“What, back to last night?”
“No, next year! Think about it, if we go in the past, we can change something and mess everything up… but if we go forward, what’s the worst that could happen?”
“Good idea. Come on!”
As they crowded the door, Bobby stopped them. Being a werewolf, he had super-sharp hearing that allowed him to listen in on their plot. “Time traveling for candy? That’s not something your mom would approve of, pups.”
“You won’t tell her, will you, Uncle Lobo?”
He sighed. “You know I’m a sucker for that nickname. Fine, go. I’ll think of a lie to keep her from worrying. Just remember… be nice to the future kids.”
“We will.” And with that, they were gone.
Bobby walked over to Witney and said, “Just so you know, your pups are going to Castle von Frankenstein to travel into the future.”
“Stop calling them—Wait, what!? And you let them go!? What if something happens next year?”
“Don’t worry… They’ll be back.”
“Yeah, with enough candy to keep them wired for the whole year!”
“Nah, I’ll take care of it.”
“I’ll give them a good scare.”
“Well, you’d better go now if you’re going to beat them there.”
“No, I didn’t mean I was gonna do it now.”
“You’ve got to be kidding me. What if you forget?”
“I won’t. A wolf never forgets.”
“Pretty sure you’re thinking of an elephant, Bobby.”
“Well, I won’t forget, either.”
At Castle Frankenstein, the eldest child quietly tapped on the enormous door. Frightened on the inside, she’d halfway hoped that nobody would hear them and they’d have to go home feeling satisfied that they had tried. However, the door creaked open. She gasped, then took a deep breath and said, “Hello? Dr. Noodle, are you here?”
A voice called back, “It’s ‘Nodhel,’ not Noodle! But yes… I am here. Come in. You’ll catch your death out there.”
The septuplets entered and noticed that it was just as damp and drafty on the inside as it had been on the outside… if not more so.
“How may I help you, children?”
“Do you have a time machine? We want to go to next Halloween and get candy.”
He sighed. “If you want candy, I can give you some. I went to the store and got several bags for half-off. Of course, the creature has eaten most of it… It likes chocolate.”
“We’re not supposed to take candy from strange people,” the eldest said. “But trick or treating is okay.”
“Oh,” said Dr. Nodhel, disappointed. “Very well, time travel it is. This way.”
The children stepped into a room with a broken telephone and one asked, “Is this the time warp room? Mommy says this room is dangerous.”
Dr. Nodhel smiled and said, “It was. The apparatus we need is in the next room… It’s a shame the phone was destroyed,” he said dreamily, as though lost in fantasy. “And also that Bobby cost me my security guard. I still haven’t hired a replacement.”
Once they arrived, Dr. Nodhel picked up what looked like a laser gun, and pointed it at the wall. “When do you want to go?”
“Halloween night, next year, please.”
“Very well.” He turned a dial, aimed at the wall, and fired. A portal opened.
The children peered through. “It looks the same.”
“What did you expect in one year? Flying cars?”
“I guess not. Come on, gang.”
As the kids marched single-file through the portal, with the eldest in front, Dr. Nodhel glanced through the open door at the broken telephone. “Oh, what terrors you could have inflicted.” A thought then occurred to him and he looked at the time ray in his hand. “Hmm. If I go back and stop Bobby Brinkley from destroying the time phone…”
A punch landed on his arm. He looked down at an angry looking O’Helsin child. “Don’t even think about it, buster,” she said.
He chuckled. “Yes, of course not. Go get your candy, young one.”
With that, she ran through to join her siblings.
The kids stepped onto the street and marched up to the first house on the block. Before they could ring the doorbell, a snarling, foaming werewolf jumped from the bushes, roaring at then, frightening them enough to turn and stampede back through the time portal.
The kids knocked Dr. Nodhel back and ran through the castle entrance. Hearing the sound of hysterical laughter, Dr. Nodhel looked out and saw Bobby Brinkley transforming back into his human form. “Doc, the next time those kids ask for mad science to help them do something against their mother’s wishes, do us all a favor and just say no.”
Dr. Nodhel smiled. “Of course, Bobby. Whatever you say.”
Before the scientist could take his finger from the time portal ray’s trigger, Bobby reached through with a claw and grabbed it, barely pulled his arm back through before it was cut off. Seeing his hopes vanish as the ray gun was dragged into the future, Dr. Nodhel exclaimed, “Damn you, Bobby Brinkley!”
Back at the O’Helsins’ home, they ran through the front door and mobbed around their mother. She said, “Kids, what happened?”
They all pointed at Bobby, who was reading a newspaper on the couch. “He scared us!”
“No,” she said. “He’s been sitting right there since you left. Or is there something else you want to tell me?”
They all glared at the eldest. “Um, no. I guess it was a different werewolf.”
“Or,” Bobby said, “a mean, older kid in a realistic werewolf costume. Just because Halloween is over doesn’t mean people stop scaring kids.”
Feeling glad that he seemed not to have blown their cover, the kids calmed down and wandered back toward their bedrooms.
Witney looked at him. “You waited a whole year just to scare them?”
“I told you I’d stop them from getting more candy.”
Suddenly a knock came at the door. Witney opened it to see a furious Dr. Nodhel. “Bobby Brinkley, you owe me a new time ray!”
He stood up and walked toward the door as Witney stepped away. “What did I do?”
“You pulled It through a time portal!”
“Not that I recall. When?”
Bobby smiled. “Well, now that you’ve told me, I guess I have to do it, don’t I?”
Dr. Nodhel froze, realizing what he’d done. He stood there steaming until Bobby slammed the door in his face.
Witney shook her head. “That was rude of you, Bobby.”
“He was just gonna use it to stop me from destroying the time warp phone.”
“I meant slamming the door in his face. Besides, how do you know that?”
“He’s a mad scientist. It’s what he does.”
“Oh… In that case, thank you. That time warp room was dangerous.”
“You’re welcome. I just have to remember to do it.”
“I thought a wolf never forgets?”
He wore a puzzled look. “Who the hell says that?”
She paused, then laughed. “I guess you forgot, huh?”
Nearly One Year Later
It was Halloween morning, and Bobby Brinkley was lamenting over the fact that TV channels had already started showing Christmas movies. Not only that, but as if it weren’t bad enough that Christmas décor was already in stores, they had begun playing holiday music, as well. “And not the right holiday, either,” Bobby griped to Witney.
“I like it,” she said. “We deal with monsters and magic every other day of the year. I could use two extra months of Christmas. It was always Mama’s favorite time of year.”
“But it’s NOT that time of year yet,” Bobby moaned.
“Soon enough,” she muttered.
The kids walked into the room, where Witney was unloading her grocery bags, which were full of Christmas decorations. “Oh boy,” the youngest declared. “Christmas!”
The eldest whined, “In October? It’s Halloween!”
“That’s what I’ve been trying to tell her,” Bobby said.
“You’re forgetting something,” Witney said.
“Tomorrow is November first. Pretty soon, we’ll see Santa Claus on TV, riding in the Thanksgiving Day Parade.”
“I don’t care what tomorrow is, today is Halloween!”
“That reminds me,” Witney whispered to him, “tonight you have to scare the children.”
“They’ve gotten older, Witney, I don’t think they’d be afraid of me now.”
“Not now… the children from a year ago. They traveled through time to tonight, remember?”
He paused. “Oh, yeah.”
“And you said a wolf never forgets.”
“Pretty sure I didn’t,” he replied. “That’s elephants.”
“That’s what I said,” Witney remarked as she left the room.
Knowing he had lost the argument, Bobby said to the empty room, “No, you said ‘wolf.’ Just a couple minutes ago! Who’s the forgetful one now?”
“You are,” Witney shouted from down the hall.
“You must be turning into a werewolf with hearing like that,” he muttered.
“I’m a mother,” she called. “I have to hear everything.”
The children approached and asked, “Bobby?”
“I miss when you used to call me Uncle Lobo,” he said.
“That was a long time ago,” the eldest said, exaggerating every syllable.
“Not at my age,” he laughed. “What is it, pups?”
“We were wondering if you’d let us meet ourselves from last year tonight instead of scaring us.”
“That’s not how time travel works, pups. If I scared you last year when you time-traveled to tonight, I have to scare you tonight when the past versions of yourselves get here.”
“According to Doc Emmet Brown, doing otherwise could create a paradox in the time-space continuum that could destroy the entire universe.”
“Poor, deprived children,” Bobby lamented. “You can’t meet yourselves. That’s final!”
The kids grumbled and walked away, single-file, shuffling their feet all the way.
Suddenly a knock came at the door. As Witney was nowhere in sight (and seemingly did not hear the knock), Bobby answered it. There stood Dr. Nodhel. “What’s up, Doc?”
“That joke was never funny, Bobby,” the mad scientist replied.
“Fair enough. Why are you here, Dr. Noodle?”
“’Nodhel,’ beast. And I’m here with a simple request… Tonight, you’re going to acquire something that belongs to me. I’m here to make sure I get it back.”
“What is it?”
“You can’t be serious.”
“Why does everyone think wolves are elephants all of a sudden?”
“What?” The doctor shook his head and said, “Never mind. It’s my time portal ray. You’re going to scare the children of last year.”
“That’s what I told them, but they want to meet themselves.”
“Yeah, they asked me not to scare them so they can meet their past selves. I told them they can’t.”
“And why not?”
Bobby mumbled, “Time-space continuum,” but then fell quiet.
“Bobby, this is a unique opportunity for a science project! If you fail to scare the children tonight, we’ll finally see what a paradox looks like!”
“And you’ll get your toy back, because if I didn’t scare the kids, I didn’t take your gadget. That’s the real project, isn’t it?”
Bobby sighed. “Witney wouldn’t like me endangering her children, Doc.”
“They’ll be fine! What’s the worst that could happen?”
“That time warp room from two Halloweens ago was pretty bad. What if we create another loop?”
“I don’t like that devilish look in your eye, Doc. Forget it. Those kids are getting scared.”
The scientist huffed. “Fine. But then can I have my ray back?”
Bobby thought for a second. “I’ve got an idea, Doc. You can have your gun back, but only after you complete a mission for me.”
“A mission? What is it?”
“You have to go back to last year. The morning of November first.”
“And then what?”
“Steal my Halloween decorations off of Witney's house and yard and bring them to me. But do not let Witney know.”
“What kind of mission is that?”
“She’s putting Christmas in my Halloween. Turnabout is fair play. I want to put Halloween in her Christmas. She won’t be suspecting the decorations that were stolen last year.”
“And they were stolen… so you assume it was I who stole them, for this ridiculous mission of yours?”
“It makes sense to me,” Bobby said.
“Of course, it does,” the scientist grumbled. “Very well, I accept this mission. But if I do, I get my time portal ray back. You promise?”
“Sure. It’s a deal, then. Be here tonight, with the Halloween decorations. And remember, Witney cannot know it was me behind the theft.”
“You keep your end of the bargain and I’ll keep mine,” Dr. Nodhel replied.
That’s what I’m worried about, Bobby thought, but dared not say.
That night, the children pulled on their costumes… the same ones from last year. “Whoa, whoa, whoa,” Bobby said. “You pups can’t wear the same costumes as last year.”
The eldest, wearing an innocent expression, asked, “Why not, Uncle Lobo?”
“Okay, now I know you’re up to something. You’re planning to take the scare from your past selves so you can meet them, aren’t you?”
“We wouldn’t dream of it, Uncle Lobo,” she said.
“Stop that,” he snapped.
“Bobby,” Witney said, appearing from nowhere. “Do not yell at my children.”
“Where did you even come from? I swear, this ‘parent’ stuff is turning you into an otherworldly being.”
“Sometimes it scares me, too,” she admitted. “But seriously, don’t yell at the kids. And don't call them pups.”
He took a deep breath, then said in a low voice, “Pups, please do not go out in those costumes. Dr. Noodle and I made a deal earlier, and I have to scare past you to keep up my part of the bargain.”
“Dr. Noodle is mean,” the runt of the litter said. “I think he wants to do the time warp again.”
Witney had to stifle a laugh. Bobby glared at her for a second, then back to the child as he said, “No one is doing the time warp again if I can help it.”
“But Bobby,” Witney said, “It’s just a jump to the left,” and then she fell down, laughing hysterically.
“What’s wrong with Mama?”
Bobby shook his head. “Your mother is the rarest of creatures, pups.”
“A were-unicorn?” the runt offered helpfully.
“No… a black nerd.”
This only made Witney laugh harder.
Bobby knelt down to the kids and asked quietly, “Does your mom seem… different to you, pups?”
The eldest put a hand to her chin and said, “The only time I’ve seen her so protective, but happy, is at Christmastime.”
“Dammit,” Bobby exclaimed. “I am going to nip this early Christmas spirit in the bud if it’s the last thing I do!”
“Tomorrow’s November,” the runt said. “It’s practically here!”
Bobby was about to say something, but then the alarm on his phone went off. He looked at it, and it was a note he had made almost a year before: “Kids are coming. Scare them.”
“Uh, that was… a text. From… Jarnosh. He wants me to meet him at the Witch’s.” Without further explanation, he darted through the door and vanished.
The kids huddled. “Jarnosh is a yeti. Yetis don’t have cell phones,” the eldest said. “I think that alarm told him that we’re on the way.”
“Where are we going?”
“Not us, us. The past us from last year. We have to go back to where we saw Bobby last year.”
“You mean this year,” one of her brothers corrected her.
“Whatever! Let’s go!”
They finished pulling on last year’s costumes and hurried out the door. Witney stood up, brushed herself off, and wondered aloud, “Huh, where’d everyone go? Oh well… I’ve gotta get started on these Christmas decorations!”
Two blocks down, Bobby paused to catch his breath. “I think I’ve lost them,” he said to himself. “Now… where exactly were they when I was supposed to scare them?”
Suddenly, a portal opened a few feet away. He ducked behind some bushes and looked. He could see Dr. Nodhel from the past… and from the present, a few feet behind the portal. “What are you doing here?” He whispered to the present doctor.
“Making sure you keep your part of the deal,” the doctor whispered back, so as to not be heard by his past self.
“Fine, whatever. Here come the kids.”
As the children approached the nearest trick-or-treat target, Bobby transformed into the werewolf, and jumped out, snarling and foaming. The year-younger children screamed, turned, and ran back through the portal. Bobby walked toward it, laughing as he morphed back into his human form.
The present Dr. Nodhel then stepped forward, pushing Bobby aside. He looked at the year-younger version of himself and said, “I did it! I’ve changed time! This didn’t happen last year!”
Bobby grabbed the time portal ray from the year-younger Dr. Nodhel and pulled it away, closing the portal. Present Dr. Nodhel seemed triumphant. “I know it’s possible now,” he beamed. “I can change the time stream with no danger to the present!”
Bobby frowned. “You’re an old man. How do you know that didn’t happen last year and you just forgot? I had to set an alarm last year to remind me to scare the kids, and I still forgot until the phone went off!”
Dr. Nodhel’s face brightened. “Phone? Ah, yes. I can fix the time warp phone now.” He cackled maniacally.
“Aren’t you forgetting something?” Bobby asked.
“What might that be?”
“We made a deal. You have to go back a year and steal the Halloween decorations.”
“What makes you think I have to do that?”
“Because they got stolen last year… It must have been me behind it, right?”
Dr. Nodhel cackled again. “Foolish Bobby Brinkley. You think everything happens because you planned it that way?”
“Well, that line of thinking certainly seems to apply to you, Doc.”
At this moment, the present children arrived. “Are we too late?”
“Yes,” Bobby said. “Now go home before I tell your mom you tried to alter the fabric of time.”
“Yes, children,” Dr. Nodhel chimed in. “Altering the fabric of time is my job.”
Bobby punched the scientist in the face, knocking him unconscious. “Okay, pups. Did any of you see how he got this thing to work last year?”
The runt of the litter took the ray, and turned the knob back a bit. “This is what it looked like last year before he changed it and zapped the portal open. I guess that means that was last year’s setting. If we move It just a little past that, we should go a little before he sent us back.”
“That is so stupid,” the eldest exclaimed, exaggerating every syllable. “That could just be the off switch!”
Bobby shrugged. “Only one way to find out.” He adjusted the knob as the runt had said, then aimed at a tree and pulled the trigger. Suddenly, a portal opened… into Castle von Frankenstein. Year-younger Dr. Nodhel jumped back, asking, “How did you get my time portal ray? I have it right here!”
Bobby frowned. “You’ll see.” He repeated the punch that knocked out the present Dr. Nodhel. “I’m stealing last year’s Halloween decorations!”
The kids looked puzzled. “Uh, why would you do that?”
Bobby thought about his reason, then admitted that it sounded silly. “You’re right. I should just destroy this thing.”
“Wait,” shouted the eldest. “He said he can alter the fabric of time without messing stuff up, right?”
“Yes, he did say that… but he’s mad.”
“He could still be right, couldn’t he?”
Bobby thought about it. “I don’t know… maybe?”
The kids, and Bobby, gathered in a huddle “Okay, Uncle Lobo, here’s what we’re going to do. You go to the store where Past You is getting Halloween decorations. You buy candy, and sneak it into Past You’s bags.”
“Past Your,” the know-it-all said.
“Whatever! While you’re doing that, we’ll steal the Halloween decorations.”
Bobby thought for a moment. “You kids haven’t changed much over the past year.”
“We wanted candy then, Uncle Lobo, and we’re going to get it!”
“Have gotten it,” the know-it-all corrected her.
“Dude, shut up!”
“I just have one question,” Bobby said.
“How am I supposed to hold the portal open and step through it at the same time?”
The runt of the litter said, “I’m scared to go back. I’ll stay here and point the gun.”
Bobby paused. “You know you should never pick up a real gun, though, right? At least not until you're twelve, minimum.”
“Okay. As long as we understand each other.”
He handed the child the ray, and then stepped through the portal, followed by the other six children.
“Alright, troops,” Bobby said, “We reconvene back here in one hour. Got it?”
“What does ‘reconvene’ mean?”
Bobby rolled his eyes. “Just be back here in one hour. Got it?”
He looked at the child holding the ray. “You can let go of the trigger, you know. Just don’t forget to open it back up again in one hour.”
“What if he wakes up?” asked the child, gesturing to the unconscious Dr. Nodhel.
Bobby hummed. “I hadn’t thought of that. Hang on. He stepped through the time portal, swept up the unconscious scientist’s body, and stepped back through the portal. “I’m gonna tie him up here, so that he doesn’t try anything funny.”
“What about Past Dr. Noodle? Won’t he wake up and untie himself?”
“I’ll tie them both up,” Bobby said. “What’s the worst that could happen?”
Once the two scientists were thoroughly tied, Bobby gave the runt the thumbs up. “Okay, kid, just aim and shoot that thing into the tree in one hour.”
“We’ll never make it,” exclaimed the eldest. “It took so long tying them up, Past You won’t be at the store much longer!”
“I’ve got a plan,” Bobby said. “Look over there.”
The kids followed his finger. “Oh, Dr. Noodle offered us some candy last year. He said the Creature liked chocolate. There’s a whole bag of it!”
“Exactly. Finders keepers. Come out, let’s go.”
As they exited Castle Frankenstein, candy in tow, they went their separate ways: Bobby to plant the candy in his past self’s grocery bag, and the children to steal the decorations.
Not a full minute after Bobby Brinkley and six of the O’Helsin septuplets left, a loud growl shook the room, rousing the two dozing doctors. When they saw each other, they jerked into full consciousness. “Well, this is not something I was expecting to see,” the Dr. Nodhel who was in his own time said.
Future Dr. Nodhel cackled. “Oh, you handsome devil. We’re going to make such grand plans together!”
Dr. Nodhel looked around and saw that the candy was missing. “Oh, no. Bobby must have stolen the creature’s candy!”
“Why would he do that?”
“He had Witney Turner’s children with him. I assume they’re on some sort of mission?”
“Oh, yes,” the future Dr. Nodhel said. “The idiot wanted to go back and steal his own Halloween decorations.”
“Why on Earth would he want to do that?”
“He’s a werewolf. Thinking is not his strong suit.”
The creature roared again.
“You don’t suppose it can break through its restraints, do you?”
“I certainly hope not. If we’re both tied up and it manages to escape…” The future Dr. Nodhel looked up and smiled. “Hello,” he said.
“What is it?” his past self asked.
“I see your time portal ray. The one Bobby Brinkley hasn’t stolen yet.”
“A lot of good it’ll do us if we’re tied up.”
The visitor from the future looked up at the clock and said, “True, but I know something you don’t know.”
“And what’s that?”
“In about twenty minutes, we’re going to have seven visitors. It’s not going to go exactly as I remember it, but it should prove to be… interesting.”
“Yes,” the past version said. “For science!”
His memory failing him, Bobby had a hard time finding where he had been stopped by a traffic light the year before. When he finally spied his car, he quickly walked by, holding one hand over his face. When he passed the passenger door, he dropped the candy into the open window. Suddenly, a voice called out, “Hey, what are you trying to do, dropping stuff into my car?”
He panicked. “Uh, it’s a charitable donation. If you have any children in your household, give them that candy.”
“How do I know it’s not poisoned, you freak?”
Future Bobby paused. “Fair point. I did steal it from a mad scientist.”
“Hey, wait a minute. That’s the voice of my answering service!”
The two Bobby Brinkleys looked at each other. “Oh, crap,” the visitor from the future said.
“Is this gonna mess up the time-space continuum?” asked the incredulous version in his own time.
“According to Dr. Noodle, no. But he’s mad, so… how should I know?”
“Get in… I don’t want to get hit by a car traveling into the past… in the future?”
“It’s okay. I’m confused, too.” The time-traveling Bobby Brinkley got into the passenger seat of his own car. “So, if you must know, this was the pups’ idea.”
“And you listened to the pups’ ideas? How old are they from where you came from?”
“Dude, look at me. They’re one year older.”
“What is this about?”
“For them? Candy.”
“The candy you stole from a mad scientist?”
“When you put it that way, it does sound like a poor decision.”
The past version of Bobby pulled a quick U-turn. “Hey,” his passenger moaned, “What are you trying to do, kill us?”
“No, but Witney will kill us both if we give her kids poisoned candy. We’re going back.”
“Back to the future?”
“No. Back to the Walmart. And on the drive, you’d better explain what’s got you meddling in the time-space continuum.”
As the two Bobby Brinkleys drove away, the six O’Helsin children sneaked into their own front yard. “Do we have to not be seen by our past selves?” asked one of the kids.
The eldest asked her brother, “You’re the know-it-all. What do we do if we come outside and we’re looting the Halloween decorations?”
The know-it-all looked at his phone to get the time. “Well, we didn’t leave until after Bobby got back from the store… And according to this, we still have 35 minutes until we meet Bobby back at Castle Frankenstein. We can hide in the back yard until Past We leave.”
With that, they shoved each other through the back gate. Just then, seven children ran through the front door and headed toward Castle Frankenstein without looking back. “Hey, wait a minute,” the know-it-all shouted. “Bobby’s not back yet. The timing is off!”
“Never mind that,” the eldest said. “They’re gonna walk in on those two mad scientists!”
“But how are we supposed to stop Past Us without being seen?”
“And if we do stop Past Us, will any of this have happened?”
The know-it-all clutched his small skull. “I don’t know!” He pointed at two of his siblings. “You guys go stop them,” and at two others, “You two go find Past Bobby, he should be on his way back from Walmart. I have a hunch if you find Past Bobby, you’ll find our Bobby.”
The other brother asked, “What do I do?”
“You help me get these Halloween decorations!”
“Wait a minute,” the eldest said, halting everyone in their tracks. “We’re not supposed to split up. In scary movies, the victims get killed when they split up.”
“If you don’t stop Past Us, they’re gonna mess up the time-space con… thingy!”
The eldest sighed. “Fine. Come on.” They split up.
On the way to Castle von Frankenstein, the eldest said, “I’ve got an idea.”
“We’re still in our Halloween costumes. Maybe we can scare Past Us away from the castle without them knowing it’s us.”
“That’s a good idea!”
“We have to take the short cut to beat the other us to the castle.”
“But the short cut is scary!”
“Our Daddy was a monster slayer, from a long lines of monster slayers. You think he was scared to take a short cut?”
“Come on, you coward.”
Meanwhile, two of their siblings had their arms full of Halloween decorations. The know-it-all whined, “Why didn’t Bobby give us a bag or something to put these in?”
“Mama says he’s got fleas-for-brains.”
“That’s not nice.”
“Never mind. We’ve got all the decorations… Now what?”
“Well, we can’t stay here. If we do, Past Mama might see us and—”
He was interrupted by a familiar voice. “Aw, how sweet! You’re surprising your Uncle Lobo by taking the decorations down for him. Do you guys need a bin to store them in?”
“Um… sure, Mama. Thank you.”
After she disappeared through the back door, the know-it-all exclaimed, “What’d you do that for!? Now she’s gonna know what happened to the decorations! Bobby said she wasn’t supposed to find out!”
“Dude, it’s Mama. I can’t lie to her.”
“You lie to her all the time!”
Just then, she came back out. “Hey, wait a minute. Why are you still wearing your Halloween costumes? And… are you taller than you were this morning? What’s going on?”
The know-it-all’s brother was about to crack when Bobby’s car pulled into the driveway. “We’re saved,” the know-it-all exclaimed.
“Um, excuse me?” Witney asked. “What is going on here?”
“The kids already left, didn’t they?” asked the time-traveling Bobby Brinkley, who didn’t even notice Witney in the back yard with the two kids.
“Yep,” moaned the know-it-all. “We’re busted. Did you find the two siblings I sent to find you?”
“Nope. Pretty sure we’re boned.”
Witney looked at Bobby. “You were wearing a different shirt this morning… and is that bald spot bigger, too?”
From around the corner came Bobby’s voice shrieking, “I have a bald spot!?”
“Shut up, dummy,” time-traveling Bobby growled.
The know-it-all cracked, “It was all Alpha’s fault!”
“I’ve told you not to call her that,” Witney said. “Aside from that… what did she do?”
"Let me explain." Time-traveling Bobby took a deep breath. “You told them they couldn’t have any more candy this morning, so they went to Castle von Frankenstein to time-travel to next year so they could trick-or-treat some more, and I scared them into coming back empty-handed, but then next year, you buy Christmas decorations in October, and I wanted to nip the Christmas spirit in the bud by stealing the Halloween decorations that turned up missing while I was at the store and hiding them in your holiday displays next December, and so I made a deal with Dr. Noodle that if he stole the decorations, I’d give him back his time ray, but I really had no intentions of giving it back in one piece, but then he double-crossed me, so I knocked him out, and then the kids showed up, hoping to meet the past versions of themselves, and… this has all been one big series of bad decisions leading to this moment.”
Witney held up a hand, silencing him. She looked at the know-it-all. “Let me get this straight… You’re from the future, yes?”
He gulped. “Yes, ma'am.”
“And you went to Castle von Frankenstein without my knowledge—”
“I was gonna tell you, but we got held up,” offered past Bobby, walking up next to his time-traveling self.
“It’s true,” time-traveling Bobby said. "I think I remember doing it."
“Shut up… Bobbies.” She turned back to her two children. “And your siblings… where are they now?”
“Um… which versions of them? I am so confused right now it isn’t funny.”
Witney put her hands at her temples. “I am so angry, and I don’t know who to direct it at.”
“I’m to blame,” came a spectral voice.
They all looked at a being who very much resembled Charles Dickens’s Ghost of Christmas Present.
“Um… and you are?”
“I’m the Christmas Spirit. I… I’ve been trying to influence people in October for the past several years now. Christmas is such a wonderful season, I thought people would be kinder to each other if it lasted all year long… so I spread my influence a little. First, we took over Thanksgiving, then all of November…”
Time-traveling Bobby frowned. “Then you had the nerve to try to take over Halloween. Otherworldly beings love Halloween. You should be ashamed of yourself!”
“Believe me, I am! And I’ve caused this whole mess with the time stream…”
“What? Dr. Noodle said you can alter the fabric of space and time without causing any harm to the future? Or… present. Whatever your perspective of where I come from.”
“When you come from,” offered the know-it-all.
“He’s mad, Bobby,” the spirit said gently. “If I don’t use my own brand of magic to fix this… the entire universe could unravel.”
“Great Scott!” Bobby shouted.
Time-traveling Bobby laughed. “Oh, man. That’s such a good movie.”
Witney said, “Uh, Bobbies? Focus?”
“Sorry.” To the spirit, Bobby said, “Okay, do your magic.”
“I’m powerless here. Nobody feels enough Christmas joy to really—”
“Oh, my God!” came a voice from behind them. They turned and saw… Witney Turner from a year ahead. “It’s the Christmas Spirit!” She exclaimed. “I knew you were real!”
Time-traveling Bobby looked at time-traveling Witney and asked, “How did you get here?”
“You left my baby holding a gun, Bobby. I found him, and he explained what had happened. I told him to turn that ray on right this minute so I could fetch his brothers and sisters.”
“Fetch?” Time-traveling Bobby said. “You really are turning into a werewolf.”
“You wish. So how does this Christmas magic stuff work?”
When they looked back at the Christmas Spirit, he was glowing orange, and growing larger. “You really do feel the Christmas spirit, Witney Turner!”
Past Witney smiled. “It was Mama’s favorite time of year.”
“I know, right?” said time-traveling Witney. “I’ve already started decorating back home. I got out the Santa Claus clock that Grandpa gave me—”
“Oh my God, I love that clock!”
With both versions of Witney geeking out over Christmas, the Christmas Spirit had enough power to change the fabric of time.
Seeing themselves glow, the time-travelers asked, “What’s happening?”
At Castle von Frankenstein, the seven O’Helsin children arrived just in time to see two of their time-traveling selves jump out to scare them, glowing orange.
They screamed, turned and ran back toward the house. Behind them, and at home, the time-travelers all vanished.
Inside Castle von Frankenstein, Dr. Nodhel from the future had also vanished. “Hrmph,” the still-tied-up Dr. Nodhel of the present muttered. “Where are these visitors he promised?” Just then, the sound of restraints being snapped caught his attention.
“Oh, no,” he groaned. “The creature!”
Suddenly, Bobby Brinkley appeared before him. “Oh, no, you don’t,” he said, as he grabbed the time portal ray and sent the charging creature back to the age of the dinosaurs, where it was immediately crushed by a Tyrannosaurus Rex’s foot.
“Um…. Thanks?” Dr. Nodhel offered.
“Don’t mention it,” Bobby said, as his wolf claws crushed the ray. “Don’t mess with the fabric of time, Doc.” He then turned to walk back home.
“Hey, wait a minute,” Dr. Nodhel said. “You’re not going to leave me tied up here, are you? For something I haven’t even done yet!?”
“And you never will,” Bobby called as he disappeared through the door. "You really should've hired a new guard by now, Doc!"
A year in the future, Bobby awoke with a start. “What a crazy nightmare,” he said. He looked around and saw the entire living room of Witney’s home decorated for Christmas. Looking at the calendar, he exclaimed, “What the… On Halloween? Seriously?”
Witney appeared, wearing a red-and-green sweater. “The Christmas Spirit saved us last year, Bobby. And so, just to be prepared, I’m going to keep Christmas in this household every day, all year, every year!”
Bobby stood up, and hugged the children. “Goodbye, pups. I’m afraid I won’t be coming back to visit again… at least, not until Thanksgiving.”
The know-it-all huffed, “Lousy Christmas Spirit!”
The eldest whispered, “Don’t worry. I know Mama. She’ll grow tired of this holiday the tenth time she hears that George Michael ‘Last Christmas’ song… so, next week.”
Bobby paused on his way out the door. “Hey, wait a minute… Whatever happened to those missing Halloween decorations I tried to steal from myself?”
Far away, on the spirit plane, the Christmas Spirit was getting ready to bid Halloween adieu. Taking down the giant spider from his roof and placing it in Witney’s bin, he said, “It sure was nice of Ms. Turner to give me these Halloween decorations. I guess Tim Burton was right: Halloween and Christmas can coexist!”
Having overheard this exclamation, the Spirit’s weary neighbor, an Angel of Death known to Witney and her friends as Worm Face, shook his head. “That was not the moral of that story at all, child.”