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Back to the Present

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Eiffel sits down on the sofa. He looks at the blank screen in front of him. He doesn’t know what he will be watching today. It’s a surprise. It’s always a surprise.

They had gotten off of the Urania seven months ago and ever since, Hera and Minkowski, or Renée, or whatever he was supposed to call her, had been trying to return his memories to him. He started with the tapes but finished them quickly. He couldn’t understand half of what the previous Eiffel was talking about at the time and so his friends decided to bring him up to speed on over thirty years of pop culture.

Movie nights like this were frequent. Sometimes Lovelace and Jacobi would join if they were interested in the film and/or in the area but tonight it was just the three of them.

“I’ve got popcorn!” Minkowski announces as she moves into the room. She sits down next to Eiffel, handing him a bucket of the salty snack. “Hera, will you turn on the TV, please?”

“Of course, lieutenant,” the sentient AI replies. The television flickers to life, displaying the brand logo before switching to a DVD menu screen.

Eiffel reads the title. “Back to the Future, huh? Some sort of time travel movie?”

“Yes!” Hera proclaims. “I chose this one this time.”

The group had long since finished Star Wars, Star Trek, Indiana Jones, and several other action-filled franchises of various genres. Today they were starting the 1980’s time-travel trilogy that, as always, Eiffel knew nothing about.

Minkowski presses play on the menu and the movie begins.

The movie opens with the ticking of dozens of clocks and Eiffel settles into the sofa with his popcorn.

The characters seemed interesting enough to Eiffel. Marty, the teenager with a knack for music, was the run of the mill high schooler. Eiffel wondered what high school was like. Where was he on the social ladder at that age? And Doc Brown, the eccentric scientist of unknown origins whose mind was on a totally different level than his peers. Was that what this Hilbert guy was like? Probably not. The Doc never killed anyone. Probably.

Eiffel watched with attention as, through a series of mishaps, Marty ends up in 1955 with no way back.

The mentions of aliens brought Eiffel's thoughts to Lovelace. 

"'It's mutated into human form', huh? Remind you of anyone?" he says.

"Eiffel, do you have to make a Lovelace joke every time we watch a sci-fi movie?" Minkowski asks, pausing the movie.

"What? Come on, they're funny!" Eiffel exclames.

“No they’re not, Eiffel,” Hera chimes in. “Now shut up, I’m trying to watch.”

Eiffel scoffs, “Can’t you know this whole movie instantly?”

“Well yeah, but that goes against the whole point of movie night,” Hera sighs. “So I set my television processing power down to your human brain levels.”

“Alright, fine. Let’s keep watching then.”

Minkowski rolls her eyes and resumes the movie.

The trio sit in comfortable silence as the film continues. Well, Eiffel and Minkowski sit. Hera exists as a large house. 

As the movie progresses, George gets beaten by Biff, George gets beaten by Biff again, and, you guessed it, George gets beaten by Biff a third time. Eiffel dedicates his full attention to the movie, determined to learn the secrets of his past.

His attention returns to the world around him when he hears Minkowski snicker to his left. He glances over. “What’s so funny?”

Minkowski hides her face. “What? Nothing.”

“Hang on, wait. You’re actually enjoying this?”

“Of course not. I would never enjoy something as cheesy as this.” Minkowski scoffs.

“Come on,” Eiffel prods, “what was it? The Darth Vader reference?”

“What? No.”

“The Vulcan reference then.”

“Absolutely not.”

“She’s lying,” Hera chimes in. “It's definitely the Vulcan joke. Her Command Authentication Code was literally Vulcan.”

Minkowski flushes. “Hera! Who’s side are you on?”

Hera laughs. “I’m on my own side.”

Minkowski sighs. “Fine, it was the Vulcan joke.”

“Wait a minute,” Eiffel starts. “Is this why we watched Star Trek first? Are you that big of a Spock fan?”

“No…”

“Lieutenant,” Hera warns.

“Fine!” Minkowski bursts. “Fine! I'm a Spock fan. Is that what you wanted to hear?”

“Minkowski! That’s so cool! Why didn’t you say something before?”

“Eiffel,” Minkowski sighs, “the last time I brought up one of my interests, you laughed at me.”

Eiffel’s face falls. “Oh,” was all that he could say. Did he really laugh at her? At his friend? What had she confided in him that he just blew off like that? Mocked her for? His past self must have been a real asshole.

Minkowski notices Eiffel’s change in demeanor. “Eiffel…” she starts. “Doug. You were a different person back then. You’ve more than made up for it by now. If it weren’t for you, we wouldn’t even be here right now. On Earth. You made the biggest sacrifice of us all and I’m…” she hesitates, “I’m sorry for hiding this from you.” 

“No Renée, I’m sorry. I’m sorry for everything I did to you. Back then. I was a real dick, wasn’t I?”

“Doug, you don't have to apologize. You were a different person. You don’t have to apologize for things you don’t even remember.”

“But that doesn’t excuse what I did. I was—”

“But you’re not anymore. You are a new person now. You’re my friend and nothing is going to change that.”

“Are you sure?”

“I’m sure,” Minkowski smiles. “Are you ready to keep watching?”

“Yeah. Let’s go.”

The movie resumes and everyone continues watching in silence.

Everytime Doc brings up not wanting to know his future, Eiffel cannot help but to think of his past. Who was he, really? The tapes only covered the last three or so years. He was never going to be able to get the rest back. All he knew from before the Hephaestus was what he said in the tapes. Besides his daughter, there wasn't much else there. He didn't even know how he ended up on a space station to begin with. He somehow got out of his prison sentence and that was all he knew.

His train of thought is interrupted when Lorraine begins trying to make out with Marty. “Woah, woah, woah! That's his mom. Is this guy really kissing his mom?”

“Technically, his mom is kissing him,” Hera answers. “But it doesn’t really make it that much better.”

“It really doesn’t,” Minkowski agrees.

Eiffel nods. “This is weird, even for me.”

Hera laughs in agreement. It was indeed weird, even by Eiffel’s standards.

“Hey, you picked it,” Eiffel points out.

“I’ve never seen it before!” Hera argues. 

“Well that's fair, I guess,” he says, returning his attention to the screen.

Marty was fading from existence. His actions were causing him to be erased from history. Eiffel begins to think how that is going to affect Marty going forward. To almost die. To almost lose yourself forever. 

Well, for Eiffel, it wasn’t an almost. The old Eiffel did die. The new Eiffel did lose himself forever. There was nothing left for him to remember, no matter how badly he wanted to.

Eiffel returned his attention to the movie once again. If he missed parts then he’d have to watch it again, which would slow the whole process down. So he paid attention again.

Marty safely arrived back to the future. He and all his friends were alright. The Doc survived. His family was happy. His girlfriend loved him. 

Eiffel had arrived back on Earth in much the same fashion. His crew was alright. Almost everyone had survived. His friends were happy. And he had people who loved him. Everything was going to be alright. 

He would never get all his memories back and that’s okay. He had his friends and they were going to help him. They would do what they could but ultimately there were always going to be blanks.

This was his chance to start over. To be better. For Hera. For Minkowski. For himself. For Anne.

He would fix his past for a better future. Just like Marty McFly. 

The credits began to roll and Eiffel sighs, "So when are we gonna watch the next one?"