In Time After Time, H.G. Wells used his time machine to chase after Jack the Ripper who was on a killing spree in 1979 San Francisco. After H.G. met Amy Catherine Robbins, the love of his life, and banished the serial killer to the indefinite future, H.G. and Amy returned to 1893 London, believing they could live happily ever after.
But that wasn’t the end of the story. In Jaclyn the Ripper, Amy returns to the present to tell her parents what happened to their missing daughter, accidentally freeing Jack from his prison in the far future while also transforming Jack into a woman. Jaclyn the Ripper sets out on a new killing spree in 2010 Los Angeles, vowing revenge on H.G. and Amy.
H.G. follows Amy to modern L.A., but neither he nor Amy knows Jaclyn is on their trail. In the brave new world of the new millennium, H.G. must navigate a world of cell phones, the internet, and identity theft and find his wayward wife . . . before the Ripper slays her. With the panache, excitement, and thrills that made Time After Time so popular, Karl Alexander has penned another winning tale of Wells: author, inventor, and unlikely hero.
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KARL ALEXANDER is the author of the novel and film Time After Time. A screenwriter, he lives in Los Angeles.Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.:
4:53 A.M., Sunday, June 20, 2010
The West Pavilion of the J. Paul Getty Museum exploded silently from within, obliterating the darkness, rendering the night instantly translucent like an overexposed negative. A millisecond later, the .ash receded, and everything looked as it had before. But it wasn’t.
Teresa Cruz, temporarily blinded, jumped up from the small desk in the lobby, and was blinking for her vision to come back when her walkie- talkie crackled.
“What’s happening over there?” said Peterson in the security room. “I lost all my monitors!”
She jerked her radio up from her belt. “I dunno.... Lightning, maybe?”
“Check it out, will you?”
If it had been lightning, it would have been lightning with no meteorological disturbances, lightning with clear skies. Lightning with no thunder. It wasn’t lightning. What was it, then? Teresa did a three- sixty, taking in the exhibition posters, the signs, the literature racks, the h. g. wells— a man before his time banner spanning the back wall of the lobby. She swallowed hard. The .ash had come from one of the galleries, from inside, yet even the night outside had lit up. She tried to convince herself that it had been an electrical short, but knew in her heart it wasn’t. There was no burning smell, no smoke, and the night-lights were still on. She straightened her blue blazer and charcoal- gray slacks, was aware of her heart pounding.
“I’m jonesin’ for a gun, Peterson,” she said into her walkie. “They ought to let us carry guns.”
“You need backup, sweetie?” he said sarcastically.
Angry, she snapped off her radio. Peterson had always been on her case, saying she was “too gutless” to be a security of.cer and that management had only hired her because she was a female Hispanic. I don’t need him or his abuse. Yet she paused, looked outside and was afraid. Her eyes lingered over the fountains and pools, the rectangular museum courtyard that stretched to the rotunda splashed yellow by recessed lights, then the other pavilions framing the courtyard, their travertine stone faces ghostly white under the soft moon. Then she frowned, shook off her fear, squared her diminutive shoulders and strode to the galleries: those large, tasteful rooms delineated by archways so that one gallery framed another as if they themselves were works of art. In the .rst room, she stepped around display cases of memorabilia, faded manuscripts and original editions of books, then moved past stark black- and- white photographs that documented the turbulent life of H. G. Wells. None of it registered, so drawn was she to a strange light emanating from the center gallery where they had installed his time machine.
Roped off, the time machine sat alone in the room. An intense bluish glow was fading from the engine compartment, leaving it silhouetted against the gray gallery walls. The tapered, steel- plated cabin rose eight feet above the engine and resembled a primitive space capsule. When she’d .rst seen the machine, Teresa had found it squat, ugly and askew, reminding her of those monolithic stone sculptures carved by her Mayan ancestors. Of course, The Utopia had never been known to work, the brochures all said. Regardless, she was frozen in the archway like a lower mammal caught in the headlights of an onrushing car, held spellbound by the time machine’s inexplicable glow of energy.
And then— behind its small windows oxidized from age— something moved. The cabin door opened. A .gure stepped out, ignored the ladder and sprang lightly to the gallery .oor, landing in a crouch and looking around warily, its chest heaving.
Disbelieving, Teresa shook her head slowly. She couldn’t stop staring, couldn’t deny what she was seeing. Not only had something alive emerged from the time machine, but in the darkness, that something glowed a toxic reddish green. Distracted, the .gure turned back, reached up on tiptoes and took a prism- shaped device from inside the cabin, shoved it into a slot beneath the door.
Suddenly, the .gure noticed itself and saw what Teresa had seen. Emitting shocked little cries, it held its arms away from its body and tried to back away from itself— its aura— then desperately tried to rub the colors off, but the glow came from within as if an X-ray.
Teresa had seen enough for a lifetime and backpedaled out of the gallery. The .gure spun around, saw her moving, came for her at a fast trot. Cowering in the archway, Teresa brought her radio up to her mouth. As she keyed it to call Peterson, the .gure ripped it from her hands and hurled it across the room. Teresa ducked instinctively. The walkie hit the wall and shattered. Astonished, frozen, she watched the .gure detour around her and disappear in the lobby, heard the door close behind it.
Suddenly angry— more with herself than with this creature— Teresa balled her .sts, reminded herself that she was a security of.cer, and a damned good one at that. She sprinted after the .gure, pushed against the glass doors of the entranceway, burst outside.
Running up the courtyard, little feet whisking on stone, the .gure saw that under the moonlight the toxic glow had faded from its skin— its normal .esh color returned. Perhaps the glow was merely a harmless fourth- dimensional residue, it thought. Then it realized that it was wearing rags and needed clothes or whatever the human condition cloaked itself with these days. Except that was the least of its problems. Something was wrong— terribly wrong. The .gure couldn’t run as fast as it remembered from the streets of London and then San Francisco. Its stride was shorter, its breath not as quick and easy, its hair too long and falling in its face. And these things kept slapping up and down— what were these things? Distressed, the .gure was about to stop and examine itself when it heard footfalls and turned. The security guard— that pathetic little bitch with teresa cruz on her nameplate— was in hot pursuit. Normally, it would confront this Teresa Cruz, but in this here-and- now nothing was normal, nothing at all. Fearing the worst, not knowing where or even what it was, the .gure ran faster, ran gasping for breath, .nally veered toward the rotunda. It went inside, looked around wildly, didn’t appreciate the graceful sweep of glass and stone. It gravitated to the darkness, where it huddled, a wounded beast, under the curved staircase. As it worked to catch its breath, it wondered if it had eluded the security guard or if others were on the way. Then, in the absence of light, it saw that glow creeping back in its skin. It recoiled, tried to brush the glow off again, but then Teresa Cruz was coming into the rotunda. The .gure bolted from under the stairs, not so much running from Teresa as from itself. It raced for an alcove, read men’s rest-room, rushed inside the well- lit space and went to the mirror.
The .gure shrieked with horror, had to hold on to the sink to remain upright. It wasn’t the glow it saw, for that had disappeared with the light— it was something else entirely. “Good God, no,” the .gure moaned. “Please, God, no!” The .gure shut its eyes tightly, willed itself to see a different re.ection— the familiar dark, forbidding countenance with thin lips, long nose and beady, hooded eyes that it loved and remembered— but when it looked again, the image was inevitably the same.
The .gure saw a dark- haired woman with wide- set almond eyes, full lips, cute upturned nose, and smooth ivory skin— a woman comfortable with a worldly, bemused smile no matter where or when— a woman in the shredded remains of a late- seventies leisure suit. Even with the agonized expression she was wearing at this moment, even in
rags, the woman was undeniably and classically beautiful.
Instinctively, she felt between her legs.
Nothing was there.
Sobbing, she covered her face, turned away from the mirror, sagged against the sink, numb with questions. She had been a man before, a formidable, dark shadow of a man. This is a joke, a cosmic mistake of some kind, this is unacceptable. I hate women, I unequivocally hate them, I— She straightened up and noticed her body re.ected in the brushed aluminum wall adjacent to the stalls. Like her image in the mirror, it was perfect— so perfect, in fact, that she was reminded of her sister, Penelope, teasing and posing before their .rst indelible moment of passion behind the caretaker’s house. Hyperventilating, the woman clutched the sink for support again, then turned back to the mirror, recalling that she had forgotten the special key— she had left the damned key in the time machine. She was about to scream at her exquisite re.ection that she had to get the key and go back to a time where she would recognize herself when Teresa Cruz banged into the restroom.
“What in the hell do you think—”
Growling, a blur of movement, the woman grabbed and propelled Teresa forward, slammed her head.rst into the mirror.
“Don’t you know who I am?!”
Stunned, Teresa staggered back, but the woman jerked her forward. Windmilling her arms and kicking, Teresa tried to free herself from the iron grip, but was no match for the woman’s strength.
“Don’t you know who I am?”
The woman slammed Teresa into the mirror again, then grabbed her by the hair, forced Teresa to look into her eyes.
“Don’t you recognize me?!”
Teresa tried to say something to save herself, but the woman rammed her into the glass twice more in quick succession, splitting her lip and breaking her nose. Blood sprayed on the mirror, the sink, the .oor.
“Don’t you know who I am?!”
Again, she slammed Teresa into the mirror, this time with such force the glass cracked. Teresa went limp.
“An eternity ago that bloody little fool your museum is celebrating sent me to the end of time!” the woman shouted. She pile- drove an unconscious Teresa into the mirror until it .nally shattered and shards of glass rained on the metal sinks and tile .oor. “For an eternity, yours truly has been— has been—”
Has been what? Where? Her chest heaving, she stopped, let go of Teresa, watched her crumple to the .oor. Her last conscious memory was of that fateful day in 1979 when H. G. Wells pulled the declinometer from the time machine and everything exploded into an oblivion echoing with one last agonized scream. Mine. She had no clue how many years had— or hadn’t— passed since then.
Has been what? Where?
She hadn’t known that on the event horizon of the black hole once called Earth were trillions of entities: other- universe forms that resembled protozoa in a variety of shapes, colors and designs. She hadn’t known that one in par tic u lar possessed the seed of her resurrection— at least in part— and that this one elongated entity was thin enough to move easily in the dense yet vast gravitational .eld. It looked like a scaled pennate diatom, was both unspeakably ugly and beautiful in its symmetry, and possessed X and Y chromosomes that spiraled within its frustules, those indicators some three billion years old in the universes. More important, the entity had instincts, and when the time machine materialized in the endless sea of forms, this thing slipped eel- like between the door and the cabin and festooned itself to the chair, at long last insulated from the silent, profound blackness that stank of burnt plastic.
Had it been three hours ago or four?
She hadn’t known that there was no time in that cesspool of nothingness, that residue of life squandered, so the question mattered not. Then the entity had sensed movement. Consciousness. Life. Even purpose.
Inexplicably, a mind had been reborn in the time machine’s chair, then
senses. Instinct had given way to reason and, alas, feelings.
Except she had been a “he” then.
And then the machine had tumbled end- over- end in an endless, colossal limbo. He had no clue that in this black hole once called Earth he and the machine had already been crushed by gravitational force to specks .oating in a molecule- sized solar system. He had no clue how that had changed him from an unspeakably ugly and beautiful entity— or if it had at all. That he and the machine remained whole at all was due to the indifference, the dark energy that ruled the universes.
The Current Year Indicator had read 2353. If that were the end of time, then in the year of our Lord 2353, the human race had .nally blown itself up. Moreover, the fact that the machine had traveled on its own to in.nity meant that somewhere in time Wells had made a grave error.
The “he” was aware of the chair in the cabin, the crumbling switches and cracked dials, was aware of his existence again and wondered what sublime Omnipotence was behind his rebirth. Then his form had brushed something. He had assumed it was one of those sludge- crabs Wells wrote about that supposedly existed at the end of time. If true, he was famished and would eat it, but no, instead of a crab it was the prism- shaped device sparkling from within— that nasty, elongated de-clinometer. Some fool had pulled it and not put it back in its proper place, so indeed, there it was, resting on something dark like a pillow. Had he smiled then? Of course. Instead of sustenance, the mistake had been his salvation, for if the declinometer had been in place, the time machine would not have traveled to in.nity.
Entities outside the craft had fallen away, dissolved, and the blackness became a temporal gray mist. His memory had come back, and he vaguely recalled the diagrams in Wells’s laboratory from that fateful night in 1893— that unless one overrode the Rotation Reversal Lock, the time machine automatically returned to its home hour after a ninety- second delay. But only if the declinometer was in place. Without that “rudder,” the machine could only travel to when it had come from, and the Time- Sphere Destination Indicator read: year, 2010; month, June; day, 20; time 12:01 a.m.
The machine gathered speed, spun into a sea of quantum foam, was vaporized and hurtled along the fourth dimension. Years later, as traveler and machine took on substance and form, as their mass expanded, the “he” had savored the ride, con.dent of a smooth transmogri.cation.
Trucido ergo sum had been his .rst coherent thought. He imagined Wells as a bloody, eviscerated corpse, and— though he was no devotee of Shakespeare— he mused: All’s well that ends badly.
Then something had gone horribly, horribly wrong.
She stole a glimpse of her lovely face in the mirror, turned her back on herself again, still numb with unanswered questions. She didn’t know about reformulation errors. She didn’t know that no one had ever come back from in.nity before, and that given the length of real time traveled, the quantum foam had altered his chromosomes. In ge ne tic terms, a pitifully weak Y chromosome from his foppish father had been mysteriously trampled by a full- blown X chromosome from an yet- to- be- identi.ed source. A classic Turner syndrome. No, she hadn’t known that on Sunday, June 20, 2010, shaped by the mysteries...
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