A Hitch In Time

Written by:
Linda Kay


BILL & TED characters are trademarks of Nelson 1991 Inc. The motion picture BILL & TED'S EXCELLENT ADVENTURE & © 1989 Nelson Films Inc. All Rights Reserved. The motion picture BILL & TED'S BOGUS JOURNEY © 1991 Orion Pictures Corporation. All Rights Reserved.

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Bill coughed noisily, trying to clear the dust from his throat. No matter which way he turned, he was still confronted with the clouds he'd kicked up with the broom. He vigorously waved his hand in front of his face, turning his head away with a smirk. He hated cleaning out the garage, especially on a lazy hot Sunday like this one, but since it was about the only thing his father asked of him in exchange for free rehearsal space he didn't like to complain. Instead he stepped out through the open garage door and took a deep breath of clean air.

"How's it goin', dude?"

Bill turned with some surprise as Ted approached. "Whoa, Ted! I wasn't sure if you were coming over today or not."

"Yah," Ted nodded. "I decided I needed some fresh air."

"I can understand that," Bill remarked, eyeing the dusty garage with some disdain. "So, how're you feeling?"

"Better," Ted stated with a nod of the head. "I dunno why, but I just can't seem to totally shake this flu."

"Bogus," Bill sighed, moving into the garage with Ted following. "At least your dad didn't make you go to the doctor."

"Naw, but he did say I have to go back to school tomorrow. He doesn't want me missing any more of my classes."

"Too bad you can't milk it for a few more days," Bill said with a slight laugh.

"Yah, but it's no fun when you really are sick. Besides, I'm well enough to come over here, so I don't think my dad would buy my staying out of school any more."

"Feel up to rehearsing?" Bill asked, resuming his sweeping as Ted leaned against the table behind him.

"Whenever you're ready." He smiled at the way Bill picked up the pace after that statement. Obviously he hadn't been the only one who missed their rehearsals while he was sick.

"I just gotta finish cleaning up," Bill said over his shoulder. "We oughta work on that number for the school dance audition next week."

"What're we going to do about special effects? I mean, Rufus said we should visit that scientist dude to borrow some outstanding electrical effects gizmos. What was his name? Teflon?"

Bill thought about this a moment, trying to remember as he set the broom aside. "I dunno. Rufus marked the page in the Time Directory. We'd better do that sometime soon before we forget again."

"We could go right now and then rehearse after," Ted pointed out, getting to his feet.

"Guess we'd better," Bill agreed. "It shouldn't take very long anyway. I'll finish the garage when we get back."

"Well, let's go then!"

Ted walked out of the garage as Bill crossed to the button on the wall. Preparing himself, he pressed the switch and then raced furiously, ducking down to avoid the closing garage door as he dashed out. He then led the way to the side of the house where the phone booth was sitting. Bill swung the door open, allowing Ted to step in first. Bill then spent a moment consulting the Circuits of Time Directory.

"Here it is.... Nikola Tesla."

"Excellent!" Ted replied excitedly.

Bill picked up the receiver, then paused a moment to eye Ted with some concern. "Are you sure you feel up to a trip through time?"

"It's okay," Ted assured him. "My stomach isn't nearly as bad as it was before. I can handle it."

"Okay," Bill nodded, then punched in the correct number plus the two consecutive buttons to complete the sequence. Ted closed the door to the booth and in a moment they had disappeared with a loud, "Whoooooaaaaaa!!!!!!"

* * * * * * * * * * * * *

His polished shoes clicked softly on the smooth floor as he made his way down the corridor to the large domed room. Straightening his jacket, he entered the chamber with an air of humble confidence. Slowly he approached the three floating personages with great respect, pausing to gesture a slow air guitar, which they graciously returned.

"How's it goin', your most esteemed Importances?"

"Greetings, Rufus," the Head Most Important Person announced warmly. He hovered just slightly above the others to signify his rank, although he never spoke down to anyone that Rufus had ever heard.

"You summoned me here on some urgent business?" Rufus ventured to ask.

"Not exactly urgent, but important nonetheless. It is time for you to return to the past to warn Bill & Ted of the most non-excellent event destined to come up in their history.... I mean future."

Rufus thought for a minute, trying to recall, chronologically, the major events in the lives of the Two Great Ones, as all students were requested to do in their early education. Once he placed the last event he'd taken part in, the rest was easy. "Oh, is it that time already? But surely this isn't an emergency situation."

"No, the hovering woman before him agreed. "But it has been assessed as a possible trouble-spot in their lives. It's better to play it safe."

"Agreed," Rufus hummed. "So I should just go back in time and fill them in on what's going on."

"Yes, Rufus," the middle Important Person confirmed. "We'll trust you to break the news in a fashion which will not prove to be alarming."

"I'll do my best, your Excellences. Is the booth ready for my use?"

"We shall summon it now." The Most Important of the three Most Important People held his hand out flat in front of him as a small ball of light appeared, hovering above his palm. The glowing obelisk suddenly flew forward, circling a gigantic crystal in the center of the room several times before forming it into the familiar shape of a telephone booth.

Once the booth had stopped glowing, Rufus turned back to the others. "Be Excellent to Each...."

Before he could finish the sentence, a small projectile entered the room, clattering across the floor before spinning to a stop a few feet from them. Collectively they eyed the small canister with surprise, unable to assess the situation quickly enough to react before the container spewed a cloud of noxious smoke into the room. Rufus tried to back away from the fumes, but found himself enveloped, and after only one breath of the stuff he felt himself slipping into unconsciousness. As he slumped to the floor, the Three Most Important People were also overcome, drooping over awkwardly yet remaining in a floating position above the ground.

As soon as no movement could be detected within the room, a thin, gas masked figure entered, looking around cautiously as the smoke began settling toward the ground. Approving the effects of the gas bomb with a nod, the figure scurried to the waiting phone booth and quickly opened its door to place an ominous device inside. With practiced care, a timer on the side of the device was set, then the figure consulted a piece of paper to enter a precise sequence of numbers. Once finished, the person stepped back, watching as the booth's antenna popped up on top, sparking with orange light before the booth was pulled down into the time circuit by electric hands.

The black-clad figure glanced about nervously, making sure no one had seen what had transpired before hurrying from the room.

* * * * * * * * * * * * *

The booth zipped smoothly along the Circuits of Time as Bill and Ted held on, peering out through the smeared glass at the intricate circuits stretched out all around them.

"That Mr. Tesla was a most outstanding dude," Bill commented.

"Yah, it was most excellent of him to lend us a working model of his impressive lightning ball machine," Ted agreed, holding his stomach. "I just hope we get home soon. My stomach is most egregiously unsettled."

"We're almost there," Bill pointed out. "We can get you an Alka Seltzer or something when we get back to my house."

Ted didn't seem to hear that statement, as his attention focused on something outside the booth. "Bill, what's that?"

Bill followed Ted's gaze to another time circuit which travelled up alongside theirs. They could barely make out a light zooming inside the other tube, which gradually moved closer. "It looks like another booth," Bill commented. "Maybe it's Rufus."

As they journeyed upward, the booth in the adjacent tube seemed to match their speed, drawing closer as they approached an impending intersection.

"Bill, it's coming up awfully fast," Ted pointed out nervously.

There wasn't time to do anything but cringe as the circuits raced up to meet each other. Their booth zipped through the intersection just as the other booth reached it, barely missing a collision. But a second later there was a tremendous explosion that sent a violent ripple through the surrounding circuits, tearing the tubes apart behind them as they twisted and whipped in reaction to the blast.

"Noooooooo waaaaaaaaaayyyyyy!!!!!!!!" Bill and Ted screamed, thrown against the walls of the booth as it jerked out of control.

The booth suddenly spun sideways, smashing into the sides of the time circuit with enough force to rip most of antenna away from the roof. The friction whipped the booth back into a vertical position as it fell into another time circuit and plummeted, out of control, toward an opening.

The next thing they knew they were falling; the ground rushed up to meet them. A somewhat mountainous forest below took on more detail as they got closer, until they could make out the individual trees. The booth crashed down violently into a clearing, throwing Bill and Ted to the floor as the glass walls cracked and shattered around them.

* * * * * * * * * * * * *

With great impatience, the huge man drummed his fingers on the table. He wanted desperately to know what was happening. If she didn't return soon, it would mean something had gone wrong. He couldn't bear to think of his brilliant scheme not working.... not after all the time he put into it. It had to succeed!

The sound of approaching footsteps drew his attention, and eagerly he looked up as the black clad figure entered the room, still panting. It took the woman a moment to catch her breath.

"Well?" the man demanded coolly.

The face looked up to meet his; only her bright green eyes were visible behind the hood she wore. "It's done," she breathed heavily.

An evil smile spread across the man's face. "Good." He laughed aloud, slowly and wickedly. "Those imbeciles are out of my way once and for all!"

* * * * * * * * * * * * *

Slowly Bill picked himself up from the floor of the booth. With a pained moan, he fell back into a sitting position against the wall, rubbing his head. Looking up, he saw Ted was likewise trying to collect himself.

"Whoa, dude.... are you all right?" Bill asked shakily.

"Yeah, I think so," Ted answered, looking around wearily. "You?"

Bill looked down at himself quickly. "I'm okay, I guess."

"Your arm's bleeding," Ted pointed out with some concern.

Holding his arms out in front of him, Bill could see Ted was right. He lifted his right arm up to assess the damage. "It's just a cut. I don't think it's too bad."

Hearing this, Ted looked around at the broken booth. "What happened?"

"I dunno," Bill replied. "I just remember some kind of explosion."

"Do you think that other booth....?" Ted grew pale, shooting Bill a shocked look. "Dude, what if Rufus was....?"

Bill eyed Ted with equal concern. "Aw man, no way! No.... way!"

Ted didn't want to think about it further himself. Instead he looked around. "Where are we?"

Knowing full well that neither of them had the answer to that question, they achingly climbed to their feet and forced open the bent door of the booth, looking around as they stepped out. It was obvious they were in a desolate, wooded area, surrounded by trees. A small outcropping of rocks stood nearby, but the rest was forest.

"This could be anywhere," Ted moaned in despair.

"And anytime," Bill added before turning back to the booth to check the damage. From the outside it looked worse than ever. "I don't suppose the booth works at all any more."

"We could try," Ted suggested, already wishing they were back home safe and sound.

Bill stepped back inside and lifted the receiver, pushing several buttons before shaking his head. "Dude, I can't even get a dial tone."

Ted looked to the top of the booth and eyed the mangled antenna with trepidation. "The antenna's completely destroyed, dude," he pointed out sadly. "Looks like we're stuck here."

They stood together in silence a moment.

"What should we do?" Ted finally asked.

"I wish I knew, Ted. I mean, they always say when you're lost that you should stay where you are and let someone find you. Then again, we don't know that anyone knows where we are."

"We could try hiking out," Ted suggested with reservation.

Bill looked at the booth again, then back to Ted. "Yeah, but we don't know which way to go. I think maybe we should stay put. Maybe there's a way to fix the booth, like we did that last time we got stranded."

Ted nodded in agreement. "Yeah, but we don't know what time it is here. It might get dark soon, and we don't got no place to stay."

Bill studied their surroundings, then pointed to the outcropping of rocks nearby. "Maybe we can find some shelter over there. Come on."

Obediently Ted followed Bill, grateful that his friend had made the decision to stay put instead of trying to hike out. He didn't dare say anything, seeing their situation was so grave, but his stomach was hurting worse than ever.

* * * * * * * * * * * * *

The large assembly hall was filled to capacity. Looking around the room, Rufus couldn't remember ever seeing so many distinguished and notable faces in one place before. It only eased his worry a little. It was impossible to ignore the air of sheer desperation shared by everyone present.

"My fellow dudes and babes!" the Most Important Person stated loudly, catching everyone's attention. "The situation before us is most heinous."

"Totally egregious," chimed in the other two with dark seriousness.

"We have consulted with our leading scientists in time travel, and they are now ready to share their findings."

A smartly dressed woman, followed by a short but handsome man, stepped forward. The woman motioned to someone in a glass booth behind the room to begin a hologram program, which hovered above the group as the scientists spoke.

"There has been a serious rupture in the Time Circuits," the woman announced, as an accurate recreation of the damage floated above. "This was apparently the work of an unknown terrorist. The hopeful news is that only the remains of one time machine have been found."

The male scientist waited for the anxious rumblings of the crowd to die down. "Yes," he echoed their sentiments, "This, coupled with the fact that we are all still aware of the Two Great Ones' history, would indicate that Bill and Ted have indeed survived the blast."

"We now face, however, a most urgent crisis," the woman continued. "The Two Great Ones are probably trapped on the other side of this damaged Circuit. Thus far we have been unable to reach them."

"We have already started the process of repairing the Circuit. We have sent electrical impulses through the passage which will, in a short amount of time, restructure the tube adequately for travel," the man continued as the hologram display impressively recreated his description.

"There is a prototype of a new booth we have been working on," the woman announced. "We must now ready it for time travel. All people working on this project need to report to us immediately."

"Time is of the utmost importance," the Most Important Person reminded them. "We must reach Bill and Ted as soon as possible. I am sure we are all aware of the dire consequences, should we fail."

Rufus glanced around the quiet room, observing the impact the Important One's statement had upon them. He sighed quietly, torn apart inside. He knew they were genuinely concerned, but he couldn't help but think that, to them, Bill and Ted were figures out of a history book. For him it was different. They were his friends, and he shuddered to think of the hardships they unsuspectingly faced in the next twenty four hours.

* * * * * * * * * * * * *

Bill glanced up at the darkening sky, noting the ominous clouds which were quickly moving in. He was grateful they'd found a dry cave within the rocks nearby, but still wished he could piece together the antenna so they could return home. With renewed fervor he threw himself back into his work, trying to figure out some way to bend the tattered wire remains into a usable shape, despite the throbbing pain in his arm.

Ted approached him from the woods nearby, carrying an armful of sticks and twigs. "I got some wood, dude."

Bill threw his hands up in frustration. "It's no use! There's not enough antenna left to work with! Looks like we'll have to wait for someone to rescue us."

Ted dropped the sticks at his feet with a sigh. "Bogus," he moaned quietly.

The pessimism with which Ted mumbled that sentiment made Bill look up. It was a tone Bill wasn't used to hearing from his friend. Looking down from the top of the phone booth, he noticed that Ted was holding his stomach with a somewhat pained expression. When Ted realized that Bill was looking at him, he tried to act like nothing was wrong, but he couldn't quite pull it off.

"You okay?" Bill asked worriedly.

"Yeah," Ted answered with no conviction.

"You're still sick," Bill stated matter-of-factly. "Maybe you'd better sit down and relax."

"We'll need more wood if we have to start a fire tonight," Ted pointed out, turning to walk back toward the trees.

"Yeah, well, you better not overdo it," Bill called after him, looking over the antenna one more time. "Last thing we need is for you to get sick all over again."

Finishing that sentence, he looked up to see Ted had stopped walking and was standing, somewhat slouched forward clutching his stomach. Bill immediately jumped to the ground and ran over to him, grabbing Ted's arms gently. "Ted, what is it? What's wrong?"

"I dunno," Ted gasped with some effort.

"C'mon. Sit down." Bill maneuvered Ted into a sitting position, squatting down in front of him as Ted rocked slightly with his eyes closed. After a moment his body became less tense and he looked up, exhaling loudly with a shudder. Bill was taken aback by how pale Ted's face was.

"Are you okay? What is it?"

Ted continued to breath heavily, not answering right away. "Oh man. I dunno. It just really hurts."

"Like the flu?"

Ted shook his head vigorously. "Naw.... I just felt sick before. This hurts!"

"Your stomach?"

Ted nodded, closing his eyes and dropping his head somewhat. "Aw Bill, I can't be sick now! Not when we're in so much trouble!"

Bill leaned forward, placing a hand on Ted's knee. "Well, there's nothing you can do about it now. Don't worry. We'll just deal with it, that's all."

Ted took a deep breath and looked up again. "I think it's going away. I'll be okay in a little bit."

"Okay, well you just sit here and relax for a while. Is there anything I can do?"

"I'm really thirsty," Ted admitted quietly. "But we don't have any water."

"There must be water around here somewhere," Bill thought aloud. "I'll go look. You stay here and rest."

Ted was too drained to argue as Bill got up and walked to the booth to look for something to gather water in.

* * * * * * * * * * * * *

Rufus wandered aimlessly through the Halls of Excellence, passing various rooms of harried activity. Everywhere around him people were busy working toward the same end. He wished there were something he could help with, but his part would come later, after their job was done. The agonizing suspense was becoming too much to bear.

Unable to stand having nothing to do, he turned and walked to one of the busiest rooms in the complex; the Time Circuit Central. The entire wall of the domed room was covered with panels showing the intricacy of the Circuits and their status. One area was now the focus of attention of a large group of noted scientists. A pulsating red glow showed where the damaged Circuits were healing. Despite this progress, the ambience in the area was still one of great frustration.

Seeing Rufus approach, one woman turned to greet him. "We still can't accurately locate them," she answered before he could ask.

"What's the prospect of finding them in time?"

The woman looked as if she really didn't want to answer that question. "Right now.... not good. With the Circuits damaged and their booth inoperative, there's no way to find out their location."

The increased look of concern on Rufus' face prompted her to grasp his shoulder. "We're doing all we can. There's always hope. Maybe you should rest. That way you'll be ready to do your part when we need you."

Rufus gave her a brief smile of thanks, then shrugged. "I couldn't sleep if I wanted to. Mind if I hang around a bit?"

"You're always welcome here. You know that."

* * * * * * * * * * * * *

It was hard to believe the world around him was real when everything had changed so quickly. As the runoff from the downpour outside slowly filled one half of the metal ball he'd taken from the Tesla Coil, he prodded the smoldering fire set up near the front of the cave. It was in immediate danger of going out, but he'd found it impossible to start it any further back without filling their shelter with smoke. The world outside appeared completely dark. Night had fallen within hours, and with it came the rain. Now everything seemed unreal.

Seeing the metal bowl was almost full, he lifted it carefully, carrying it back into the cave with him. He set it down carefully next to where Ted was lying. It seemed like he'd been lying in that same position for hours; on his back with his legs bent, his knees pointing straight up. The only time he'd managed to get up at all was to vomit, but fortunately that had stopped for the time being. Bill knelt down next to him and studied him in the dim light with great concern. From the moment Ted first complained of the pain he didn't seem to have a second's respite from it. And, although Ted hadn't said anything about it, Bill could see it was only getting worse as time went on.

"Lucky thing it rained," Bill commented as cheerfully as he could muster. "At least we got water now. You thirsty?"

"Kinda," Ted replied wearily. With Bill's help, he managed to push himself into a sitting position long enough to take a few sips from the container. Once finished, he dropped back down, moaning slightly and pulling his jacket, which Bill had laid over him, up further.

"We're gonna get out of here, Ted," Bill commented, although he wasn't sure why.

Ted shifted slightly, as if uncomfortable. "It's so hot in here."

That statement took Bill by surprise, as he was just thinking to himself how cold it was. He could barely see Ted's thin frame shivering in the faint glow of the fire, but when he reached over and pressed his palm to his friend's forehead he was surprised at how warm it felt. Thinking a moment, he pulled at his own t-shirt, then grabbed a large piece of it tightly and worked to rip it loose. He managed to tear off a suitable amount of material and folded it over before dipping it into the water. Ringing out the excess water, he gently wiped the perspiration from Ted's brow. Ted hummed softly in appreciation, looking up at him with dark, sad eyes.

"Bill...."

"C'mon, Ted, just relax. It's okay."

Ted closed his eyes, exhausted. Bill continued to dab with the cloth until it didn't feel cool to his hands any more. He sat back on his haunches, fingering the damp material and watching as Ted seemed to finally fall into a light sleep. A quick flash of light illuminated the cave for a quarter of a second, revealing the pained look on Ted's face even as he slept.

By the time the soft rolling of thunder reached Bill's ears, he knew he had to do something. He couldn't just sit there and let Ted suffer like this. Something had to be done, and it was all up to him.

* * * * * * * * * * * * *

The phone booth rocked unsteadily as it journeyed through the dark, damp Circuits. He clung to the side, his body inexplicably tired and sore. Bright lights wrapped themselves around the tubes, causing them to glow intermittently. He could make out another booth across from him, and could just barely see Bill inside, trying to get his attention.

Suddenly the other booth exploded in an incredible blast of light and sound that shook all around him.

"No, Bill!!!!!"

Ted shot up with a start as the flash of lightning flooded the cave, along with the immediate crash of thunder. The rain was now whipping into the rock opening with a fury. Ted grasped his stomach, which became more aggravated with his sitting up, and looked around desperately, but Bill was nowhere in sight. Alarmed, he forced himself up, albeit slowly. "Bill?" he called out, hoping for a reply which didn't come.

Stepping to the mouth of the cave, Ted squinted into the darkness of the storm, trying to make out the world around him. Just ahead he could barely see what looked like a faint light, confirming what he feared might be true. With labored movements he stepped out into the rain, making his way toward that light.

Undaunted by the fact that he could barely see through the night, let alone the rain, Bill worked to attach the long stem of the Tesla Coil to the broken antenna with the piece of wire he'd salvaged. The light from inside the booth helped a little, but not enough, and his swollen arm made the work more laborious than it needed to be. The wind whipping around him also didn't help matters any, but he refused to be deterred from the job at hand.

Above the din of the storm he thought he heard someone calling his name, but ignored it, assuming it was just his imagination. It wasn't until he heard it again, more clearly this time, that he looked up as a streak of lightning revealed the world around him for a brief moment, and he caught the sight of Ted stumbling toward the booth.

The same bolt of lightning had shown Ted that Bill was, indeed, on top of the phone booth trying to fix it, and he stopped in his tracks, shouting to be heard above the storm. "Bill....!"

"Go back to the cave, Ted!" Bill yelled back before Ted could continue.

"No! Not until you come back, too!"

"I gotta fix the booth, Ted! It's our only way outta here!"

"Bill, this is crazy, dude! The storm's too bad! You gotta come back in where it's safe!"

"Ted, just go back in, now! I'll be done soon!"

"No way, Bill! Not until you come with me!"

"I can't! I gotta fix the booth!" There was no immediate reply, so Bill opened his mouth to reiterate his point when another flash of lightning lit the area below. To his shock he could see Ted was now slumping down onto one knee, bent over in pure agony. Without hesitation, Bill lowered himself from the roof of the time machine and ran to Ted, who was collapsing as Bill slid down next to him, wrapping his arms around Ted's chest from behind to hold him up in a sitting position.

"Ted...." Bill had barely spoken his friend's name when, with a loud crash, a bolt of lightning shot out of the sky just above them, slamming into the top of the phone booth with all its fury. Bill had to turn his head away from the painfully bright light and overwhelming noise, but managed to look up just in time as the booth glowed with electricity and suddenly vanished downward with a flash.

In the flickering remains of electricity, Bill could see the smoke rising from the ground and the travelling square of light which was quickly extinguished by the rain. He sat gaping at the darkness before him, trying to take in what had just happened. He didn't snap out of this stupor until he felt Ted's weight leaning in against him and realized his friend had lost consciousness.

* * * * * * * * * * * * *

"There's activity in the Time Circuits!"

The announcement brought about a great deal of excitement in the Time Circuit Central, as everyone's attention turned to the wall where a pulsating light travelled rapidly around the walls, heading toward the main Circuit connection.

"It's coming here!" one scientist pointed out with great relief. "Quickly!"

Without another word, everyone in the building seemed to converge on the Three Most Important Persons chamber where they donned their sunglasses and waited with great anticipation as the room became aglow.

With a crash and a clatter the tattered, smoking remains of the phone booth landed in the center of the room. Several people gasped at the horrific state of the machine, fearing the worst. After the electrical charges settled, several scientists stepped forward wearing protective gear and began to rummage through the tangled, melted pieces.

After a few suspenseful moments, one scientist turned to the waiting observers. "There's no trace of them. They weren't on board."

A collective sigh of relief passed through the crowd. One scientist stepped back from the booth, having extracted a small, black box from the coin box portion of the machine. He carried it in front of him at the end of a long pair of tongs past the onlookers and out the door.

The woman scientist approached Rufus. "At least we have the travel information. We'll be able to find them now. Once the booth is ready, you can go."

"I just hope we're in time," Rufus said worriedly.

* * * * * * * * * * * * *

There was only the combined sound a thousand drips from the outside world and Ted's heavy breathing. Bill sat against the rock wall, watching the dim light that slowly illuminated his view of the forest framed by the cave, bathing the trees and glistening drops in a soft, blue haze.

Moaning slightly, Bill let his head drop back against the stone, wishing that it weren't so damn cold. He finally felt dry, but a strong enough wind persisted to occasionally sweep out any warmth the cave might have offered. He looked down at Ted, who was lying curled up beside him. With the slight curve of the cave and Bill sitting between him and the opening it was probably the most sheltered spot, but it hadn't helped to get their clothing wet. At least Ted had left his jacket inside, so there was something to cover him with, and he seemed more relaxed now, like he was just sleeping.

Folding his arms around him against the cold, Bill winced, wishing he had crossed them the other way. He examined his arm again, but it was pretty much the same; swollen and discolored around the long gash. He laughed quietly, thinking how strange it was that something that hurt so much had taken up so little of his attention. The cut was obviously infected, but there wasn't really anything he could do about it.

Ted stirred slightly, then rolled over, stretching as he did so. Bill leaned over to him as he sleepily rubbed his eyes and looked around. "Is it morning at last?" he asked tiredly.

"Yeah," Bill answered, then somewhat reluctantly asked, "How're ya feelin'?"

Ted thought about this a moment, still lying down. "I dunno," he finally sighed, struggling to push himself up on one elbow. "It doesn't hurt like it did, but I feel so worn out."

"That's only natural, isn't it?"

"Yeah," Ted agreed, attempting to sit up. "How're you?"

"Okay. That was some night, huh?"

"Sure was," Ted answered emphatically, then grew quiet. He looked over at Bill with concern. "The booth's gone, isn't it?"

Bill nodded. "'Fraid so."

"What're we gonna do?"

Bill realized he hadn't given the predicament much thought, as he had spent all his time worrying about Ted being so sick. Now he could see this was a real problem. "I guess we gotta hike outta here and find a city or village or something. We can't stay here."

"But how do we know which way to go?" Ted asked.

Bill looked outside. "It's light enough now. I'll climb to the top of the rocks and see if there's any sign of civilization out there. You stay here and rest."

"Okay," Ted agreed and struggled to get to his feet as Bill got up. Weakly he followed Bill as far as the cave entrance and then sat down clumsily to wait. "Be careful!"

Taking a deep breath as he stepped outside, Bill couldn't believe how clean the morning smelled. Everything was damp and shiny and the earth was soft beneath his feet. He studied the rocks carefully and soon chose what looked like the best way to ascend. It took some time to reach the top, especially with his sore arm and the still slippery rocks, but before long he was standing high atop the outcropping, overlooking miles and miles of forest all around. The view was spectacular, but he found it difficult to truly enjoy the scenery, realizing that there didn't seem to be any sign of human life out there.

He stood above the landscape, checking and rechecking in each direction, trying to figure out what looked like the wisest way to go. He decided downhill would be best, since Ted was still so weak. Besides, it looked like there could be something beyond the slope of the trees hidden from his view, and if there were anyone living in this forest he figured it would be down there.

The climb down took a little less time, and he spent it trying to decide the best way to explain to Ted about the situation. He didn't want to make it seem too grim, but at this point it was getting hard to remain optimistic all the time. He was just so grateful that Ted was doing better.

When he reached the bottom he ran around to the front of the cave, stopping short once he got inside. Ted was still in the same place he'd sat down to wait, only now he was lying on his side, and Bill could tell by his pale appearance and vacant look that something was terribly wrong. He ran to him and knelt down, but Ted didn't make any move to get up.

"Ted....?" He placed a hand on Ted's shoulder, which only solicited a weak gaze upward. "Does it hurt again?"

"Hmmm.... no," Ted replied with no energy in his voice at all. "I just...." The sentence trailed off.

"What can I do?" Bill asked desperately. "Is there anything I can do?"

Ted gazed up at him sadly. The complete look of resignation there turned Bill's heart cold, and he couldn't stand the feeling of helplessness any more. Gently he reached down and lifted Ted into his lap, horrified at the way his friend's body seemed so lifeless. Ted managed to lean into Bill a little bit, apparently grateful for the action. For what seemed like a long time there was silence; the two just taking comfort in each others' presence.

"Dude.... I'm sorry...."

Surprised by the sound of such a tiny voice, Bill looked down. Ted's eyes were vaguely focused on him. "What for?"

Ted just stared at him a long moment, as if wanting to convey his emotions through thought alone. Finally he managed to mumble an answer. "For leaving you."

Bill felt his emotions creep up his throat, and tried hard to suppress them. He didn't want to believe what was happening, but it was getting harder to ignore. He swallowed hard, determined to remain strong. "Don't...."

Ted's eyes clouded over, trying desperately to examine Bill's face. "What're ya goin' to do?"

Even though he managed a smile, he couldn't hide the tears. "I'll be okay. Don't worry about me, Ted."

The look of concern in Ted's eyes gradually faded into a unfocused gaze as his head slowly dropped back. After some time his eyelids closed and his body grew heavy in Bill's arms.

Bill felt like his heart was being ripped from his body, and he clutched Ted closer to himself as if it might somehow keep him there. He didn't want to be alone in this place, or any place for that matter. The thought of Ted being gone was just too much to bear. He began sobbing loudly, pressing his face into Ted's shoulder.

A familiar sound from outside barely attracted his attention, and it wasn't until he heard footsteps approaching and was aware of a shadow falling across him did he look up to see the silhouetted figure against the morning light. He stared up at the apparition, not really believing his eyes but praying with all his might it was real.

"Rufus?"

The sight which met Rufus' eyes made his heart sink into his stomach. Coupled with Bill's tear-filled eyes looking up at him and the way he'd spoken his name, pleading him to somehow make everything better, filled him with a sadness he had never known. He quickly crossed to them and knelt down, reaching over to check Ted's pulse.

"I was afraid of this," he muttered softly, motioning for Bill to let him take Ted.

Bill jumped to his feet as Rufus lifted Ted and started carrying him outside. "What's goin' on? Is he dead?"

"Not yet, thank goodness," Rufus explained as they hurried to the newer model phone booth. "I'm afraid his appendix has burst. Hopefully we're not too late."

Once inside the booth, Rufus instructed Bill to sit in the corner to hold Ted steady during the trip. When they were in place, he dialed the number and said a prayer under his breath as the booth took off.

* * * * * * * * * * * * *

He couldn't help but notice how much smoother this booth travelled through the Circuits of Time, since keeping Ted comfortable was his main concern. He felt relieved when the curved, brown walls of the circuit disappeared and the booth landed with a bump. Through the windows above he could see the familiar huge, domed walls on every side.

Rufus carefully opened the door of the time machine and stepped out. When Bill looked up he could see the Three Most Important People hovering before him. Without a word, the Most Important Person leaned forward, holding out his hand to form a glowing obelisk, only this one glowed with a bright, intense white light. Slowly it floated from the man's hand toward them. As it drew closer, Bill had to shade his eyes with one hand. The light seemed to expand from its source in all directions, enveloping everything around them. Unable to stand its strength any longer, Bill clamped his eyes shut and was surprised to find that the brightness even cut through his eyelids, leaving him in a strange, orange world.

The next thing he knew he felt Ted being lifted from his arms. The brightness seemed to dim a little, so he ventured to look and was surprised to see the light had completely enveloped Ted and appeared to be lifting him gently into the air. Bill sat stunned, watching with amazement as Ted slowly floated out of the booth and stopped, suspended about four feet off the ground. Several people in light gray uniforms stepped forward, surrounding him. Bill couldn't see exactly what they were doing, but it looked as if they were placing their hands on his body; not examining him, exactly, just touching. One of the people motioned to their left and together the group moved in that direction. As they disappeared from his sight, Bill got to his feet and leaned out of the booth, watching as they exited through a large door.

Once Ted was gone, Bill looked around the room and realized the people gathered there had now focused their attention on him. He felt extremely uncomfortable, faced with the many expressions of sadness that were sympathizing with him. He looked to Rufus, who was still standing next to the booth.

Rufus motioned for Bill to follow him. "Come with me."

Bill walked alongside Rufus past the many people who stood solemnly aside. One woman, also clad in a light gray uniform, stepped out of line and followed behind them as they entered a long hallway.

"Is Ted going to be all right?" Bill asked softly once they were out of the chamber.

Rufus sighed deeply. "I hope so. They'll do everything they can for him."

"I wanna be with him," Bill stated seriously.

They stopped in front of an open door and Rufus indicated silently that Bill should step through, which he did. He was disappointed to see the room unoccupied. A large, comfortable-looking chair was in the middle of the room and, except for a small table nearby, it was the only piece of furniture in the room. Turning back to Rufus, Bill realized the woman had followed them into the room as well.

"Sit down, Bill," Rufus instructed in a warm voice.

Bill did as he was asked, but leaned forward as the two approached. "I wanna be with Ted!" he reiterated.

"I think it would be better to take care of yourself first," Rufus advised.

"But I'm okay!" Bill insisted, moving to get up, but the woman had stepped forward and pushed him gently back into a sitting position.

"Just relax," she insisted. "Everything will be all right."

Bill didn't know who this woman was, but he didn't have any urge to fight her. She had such a strong presence about her, but it was comforting, not threatening.

"Just lean back and let your body relax," she said softly, lulling him into complete trust. As he did what she asked, she reached over and placed a hand on his forehead. He was surprised at how warm it felt, and it seemed to gradually become warmer, but not so much that it hurt. He suddenly felt an incredible sense of well being come over him, and he sensed his body fully relaxing. The feeling remained even when she took her hand away, and through this fuzzy stupor he could feel her lifting his right arm and wrapping her hands gently around the painful area. As the heat from the palms increased, his body relaxed to the point where he allowed himself to fall asleep.

* * * * * * * * * * * * *

Slowly consciousness came over him, and the more he tried to fight it the more awake he became. He opened his eyes, unsure of his whereabouts for a few seconds. He yawned deeply, enjoying the way the soft, deep chair cradled him. He was in no hurry to get up, and since no one else was in the room he figured he should just stay put.

His solitude didn't last long, however, as the door to the room slid open and the same woman from before entered, smiling when she saw he was awake. "How are you feeling?" she asked in a very friendly manner.

"Most excellent," Bill answered gratefully.

"And how's the arm?"

Bill looked down to check and was amazed. "My arm! It's okay!" He inspected it even closer, gasping with surprise. "Whoa.... there isn't even a scar! But how....?"

The woman smiled. "Let's just say there's been some advances in medicine since your time."

Before Bill could reply, Rufus entered the room, and the woman turned to face him. Everything came rushing back to Bill and he lurched forward in the chair. "Rufus....?"

Apparently the woman was wearing the same look of concern, as Rufus turned to her and nodded slightly. Her body relaxed somewhat as she let out a little sigh. Rufus then turned to Bill. "Feel up to taking a little walk?"

Bill jumped up and crossed to him anxiously. Rufus turned and walked out of the room with Bill close behind.

After covering a good length of the hallway, they approached a door similar to the one they'd passed through before. Two gray uniformed people were leaving the room, and they stopped and nodded to Rufus before walking away. Rufus stepped through the doorway then stopped, waiting for Bill to enter.

With some hesitation, Bill passed through the doorway and walked in front of Rufus, who stood back. The room was as strangely vacant as the other one, except instead of a chair there was a good-sized bed. Slowly he walked across the room, stopping when he reached the bedside. Ted was lying on his side beneath the covers, apparently sound asleep. It was amazing how different he looked now that the color had returned to his face. After a minute, Bill realized Rufus was standing directly behind him.

"He's going to be just fine," Rufus assured him, placing his hands on Bill's shoulders.

Bill exhaled loudly and turned around. "Thank you, Rufus."

Rufus smiled with a slight nod. "You can stay here, if you like. Ted needs to sleep for a while."

Bill looked back at the bed, then carefully sat on the edge, pushing himself up carefully so he wouldn't awaken Ted. He was surprised how incredibly soft the mattress was, and the sheets were smooth and cool, like silk. Once settled, he reached over and pulled the covers he had displaced up around Ted's shoulders. Ted stirred slightly, burying his head deeper in the large pillow. Bill smiled at the content look on his friend's face and leaned against the wall. The events of the previous twenty-four hours played through his mind. Thinking back on all that they'd been through he felt so grateful they were finally safe.

* * * * * * * * * * * * *

The roomful of people buzzed excitedly until the Most Important Person raised a hand to call for silence. Everyone's attention became focused on the main entryway and the combination of several happy sighs and quiet exclamations heralded Bill and Ted's entrance, with Rufus following right behind.

After walking to the phone booth, Bill and Ted stood, air guitaring to the crowd slowly, which the admirers respectfully returned. Once this ritual was finished, Bill cleared his throat.

"Most outstanding future dudes and babes.... my esteemed colleague Ted and I wish to thank you, most sincerely, for everything you've done for us."

"Yeah," Ted chimed in. "Rufus told us about the great effort that went into our rescue. If it weren't for every one of you, our outlook would've been truly bleak."

"In return," Bill continued, "we're gonna return to our time and do our absolute utmost to create the most excellent music which will assure this most triumphant future."

Everyone smiled and laughed among themselves, pleased by these words. Rufus took advantage of this time to lean over between Bill and Ted. "Gentlemen, it is time to go."

"We'll catch you later, future people!" Bill promised. "Continue to be most excellent to each other!"

"And continue to party most triumphantly!" Ted added.

They air guitared once more before getting into the phone booth with Rufus. The crowd of people donned their sunglasses and in a flash of light the phone booth had disappeared.

"Thanks for everything, Rufus," Ted stated as they travelled through time.

"Yeah, we were most relieved to know you weren't in that other booth," Bill sighed.

"Who would've done all that anyway?" Ted asked with a confused look.

"I don't know," Rufus said quietly. "But something tells me we haven't heard the last from them."

With that the phone booth landed outside the Preston's garage. Bill and Ted stepped out then turned to say goodbye to Rufus.

"Amigos, I'm sure you'll understand why we won't be leaving another booth with you."

"Sure thing, Rufus," Ted answered. "Seeing there's now only one booth, and that time travel can be most hazardous to your health, anyway."

"Yes, well, at least you won't be getting appendicitis again," Rufus smiled. "Let's just hope no doctor asks you to explain what happened to your appendix!"

"Will we see you again, Rufus?" Bill asked.

Rufus replaced his sunglasses and smiled. "I think you may safely assume that we will."

"Excellent!" Bill and Ted cheered, performing an exuberant air guitar duet.

Rufus closed the door to the booth and after watching it disappear into the ground they walked around to the front of the garage.

"Bill! Ted!" Mr. Preston's voice came sharply at them from inside the garage.

"Hey, dad!" Bill greeted his father cheerfully.

"Don't give me that! Where have you been? You were supposed to clean out this garage today!"

"Oh yeah.... well, I um....."

Mr. Preston ignored his son's attempted reply. "And Ted, your father has been calling here looking for you. You were supposed to be home hours ago!"

"Yes, Mr. Preston," Ted replied humbly.

Bill's dad stepped forward, shoving the broom into Bill's hands. "It'll be dark soon. You'd better have this garage cleaned up before the sun sets, or you'll be spending another week without any allowance!"

"Yes, sir," Bill sighed, watching his father storm into the house.

"I'd better get home," Ted remarked, turning to walk down the driveway.

"Yeah, see you tomorrow at school," Bill called after him.

"Yah!" Ted called back over his shoulder. "I don't think my dad's gonna let me spend another day at home, seeing I was gone all day." He reached the end of the driveway and stopped, turning to look back at Bill, who had already busied himself sweeping out the garage. He glanced around a moment before running back up the driveway.

"Bill?"

Ted's voice startled him, as Bill didn't realize Ted was standing behind him. He turned around, holding the broom aside. "What?"

Ted fidgeted, looking at the pile of dirt at Bill's feet. "Thanks, you know.... for being there."

It was Bill's turn to fidget, smiling slightly. "S'okay. Thanks for getting me off the booth."

"No problem."

They smiled broadly at each other until Bill's dad's voice rang through the air. "I don't hear any sweeping going on out there!"

Ted turned to leave as Bill got back to work. "Catch you tomorrow, Bill!"

"Yah," Bill answered with a smile. "Tomorrow."

THE END