"You should have let me at 'em. I'd have given him a left, and a left, and another left…" the drunken man said as his buddy pulled him out of the building and into the alley. He continued to throw mock punches as he boasted, knocking his lodge hat off in the process.
"Just calm down, Fred. I'm going to take you home," said his sober friend.
"I don't need you to drive me home, Barn. I'm perfectly capable of getting back on my own," he said as he tripped into a trashcan.
"If you can't walk with those feet, how are you supposed to drive with them? You just stay here and I'll get the car," Barney said as he headed around the corner to the parking lot.
"Yeah, I'll just stay here," he slurred as he got back to his feet. "Man, I've got to drain the old brontosaurus."
Fred lifted his shirt and relieved himself against the building. "Oh yeah…too many gin and tectonics tonight…"
He never heard the man creep up behind him, unaware of the syringe entering his cerebral cortex (less aware he even had a cerebral cortex.) Once the syringe was full, Fred dropped to the ground. His assailant chuckled softly as he injected the fluid into his own brain. For a moment his face morphed into that of Fred before returning to the more familiar visage of one Colonel Angus Rickman.
He picked up the discarded headwear of the Loyal Order of Water Buffaloes. With a smile, he placed it on his head and said, "Wilma, I'm home!"
Sliders! Meet the Sliders!|
Every writer is a worthless hack
Remmy wants to go home
But the timer's always out of whack
Someday maybe Quinn'll get it done
'Til then, Wade will pray for death to come
Sliders! Oh those Sliders!
They're condemned to chase this bad guy
Cause Arturo died
Hear Maggie's plaintive cry…
Yes, it's a gay old time!
"Jeez, you try to have a quiet lunch in the park and the next thing you know, the natives are trying to kill you," said Maggie as she climbed up another branch.
"That's because you stole their lunch!" retorted Wade, a few branches behind.
"I told you to grab the pic-a-nic basket and scram, but you just had to linger," said Rembrandt, pulling Maggie up to his perch in the big oak tree.
"So I made a boo boo. How was I know to this world was run by grizzly bears?" she asked.
"Oh I don't know, I'd have thought President Smokey the Third might have tipped you off," said Quinn, as he brought up the rear. Below, a grizzly bear was growling and shaking its fisted paw at them.
"Do you think we'll be safe up here, Q-ball?" asked Rembrandt.
"We'll be fine," assured Quinn. "Grizzly bears can't climb trees."
"Oh yeah? Well tell that to him!" exclaimed Wade as the bear began his ascent.
"Stupid parallel earths!" muttered Quinn. "Go! Go!"
Up the tree they scrambled until the branches were no longer solid enough to support their weight. "This is as far as we can go. There's no way that grizzly can get this high. He's a lot heavier than us," declared Quinn, as he looked back down. "Say, where did he go?"
"I don't know. I can't see him through these leaves," said Maggie. "Hold on a sec."
Maggie wrapped her legs tightly around her branch, squeezing it hard. She then leaned back and hung herself upside down to see below the foliage. As she did so, her shirt slowly slid toward her head, revealing her tight abs and her firm, voluptuous…um, where was I again? Oh yeah, bears.
"I see him!" she declared. "Uh-oh."
"Uh-oh?" asked Wade.
"He's got a ladder!"
"He must be smarter than the average bear!" cried out Rembrandt. "What are we going to do? Q-ball! Q-ball?"
Quinn was entranced with Maggie and unable to speak or move. Wade grabbed Maggie by the bra strap and hauled her back up to the branch. "Huh? Where am I?" asked Quinn.
"Bear. Ladder. Need to get the hell out of here," summarized Rembrandt.
"Guess we'll just have to slide from here," announced Quinn as he took out the timer.
"Wait a minute. If we slide from here, won't we fall to our deaths on the next world?" asked Maggie.
"You'd think that, wouldn't you?" said Quinn nonchalantly as he opened the vortex. Wade and Rembrandt dove through without hesitation. Maggie gave Quinn a questioning look, but the moment of logic had passed, and she blindly jumped in.
The four exited the wormhole about two feet off the ground into a gravel pit. Little bits of rubble sprayed out beneath them as they made painful contact. "I can't take these landings anymore," declared Rembrandt. "You have got to fix that damn thing, Q-ball!"
"Yeah, yeah, I'm working on it," said Quinn, shaking the stones out of his pantleg.
"Is Rickman still here?" asked Maggie, who arbitrarily decided that this slide she'd pursue him.
Quinn looked at the timer, even though there was no screen or LED that would tell him anything about Rickman's status. "Um…sure," he said with authority.
"Forget about Rickman, check this out!" said Rembrandt. The four turned to look where he was pointing. Standing before them was a large red and orange dinosaur.
"Been there, done that, ripped off the movie and passed it off as our own…twice now, by my count," shrugged Quinn.
"Yeah, but the CGI on this dinosaur looks downright prehistoric," argued Rembrandt.
"And why is it wearing a hardhat?" asked Wade. In response, the dinosaur tilted over and lifted some rocks, depositing them on the other side of the pit.
"Hey, look at this!" said Quinn. Slightly off stage was a large sign reading: "Slate Construction Co.: A Proud Business of San Francistone! Established 317000 B.C."
"317000 B.C.! But I thought we couldn't slide back in time! How is it we ended up over three hundred thousand years in the past?" asked Rembrandt.
"It could be a number of things," Quinn postulated. "Maybe this world has a different calendar. Or maybe a slower revolution around the sun."
"Or maybe the prop guy just screwed up," muttered Wade.
"D'oh!" said a voice off screen.
"In any event, we're going to be here awhile. I should see if they're hiring," suggested Quinn.
"You do that," said Maggie. "I'm going looking for Rickman."
"How do you expect to find him? He could be anywhere…" charged Wade.
"Look, Wade. I'm a trained solderer…"
"Soldier," corrected Quinn.
"…and I know when Rickland is around."
"You mean Rickman," Quinn pointed out.
"It's my seventh sense."
"Sixth," said Quinn. "It's a sixth sense."
"No, my sixth sense is something completely different," Maggie said seductively. "Anyway, you losers get jobs and housing or something. I'll be back after I suck Rickman out."
"You mean smoke…you know, never mind," said Quinn, trying to shake out the imagery from his head.
"Well, with Maggie doing the Rickman chase thing, I suppose one of us must form the character arc of this episode," said Rembrandt.
The three remaining sliders looked at each other. Wade spoke up, "Don't look at me! I should be exempt from any more character development after that stupid vampire incident!"
"All right, we'll split up the duties," said Quinn. "Remmy, you go suddenly biblical and quote random lines of scripture. Wade, you go and on and on about having children, even though you couldn't care for a pet salamander."
"What are you going to do?" asked Rembrandt.
"I'll complain about how I'm wasting my best years being responsible while bossing you guys around," replied Quinn, adding as an afterthought, "and maybe hook up with a hot chick. We good?"
"Yeah, all right," the other two grumbled. As Quinn headed inside Slate Construction Co. in search of a job, Rembrandt profoundly uttered, "The end is not yet."
"Matthew?" asked Wade.
"No, this episode," said Rembrandt. And so they went to find housing. And it was good.
"Wow," remarked Maggie as she walked the streets of San Francistone. "This is just like that cartoon, the Jetsons, except everything is prehistoric instead of from the future."
Though everything seemed to be made out of rocks and wood, the society appeared to be rather advanced. A bus filled with men heading off to work rumbled by as they furiously peddled their feet against the ground while a mailman carried what had to be a 2-ton bag of tablets. Maggie took note of how everyone was wearing animal skins and remarked, "This'll be just like my days at the military academy. Well, my nights anyway…"
"Well, young man, you have a very impressive resume," said the balding Slate from behind his desk. "Bachelor's in quantum mechanics, three years of on the job experience sliding from dimension to dimension, and you've even blown the head off of a T-Rex."
Quinn nodded enthusiastically. Slate tossed the resume into his trash. "Rubbish. Here we do things the Slate way. It's my way or the rock way."
"What does that mean?" asked Quinn quizzically.
"I don't know. But I'm contractually obligated to slip words like 'stone', 'rock', and 'pebble' into every other sentence," he replied. Slate leaned back in his chair and continued. "It's fortunate you dropped by. I have an immediate opening. One of my foremen mysteriously passed away just yesterday. It's the damndest thing. He went to his meeting of the Loyal Order of Water Buffaloes. It's ka-rock-oke week over there. But he never made it home. They found his body this morning. It looked like someone had jabbed a needle into the back of his neck and drained his brain fluid…"
"Yeah, yeah, that's fascinating," bemoaned Quinn. "Look, do I have the job or not?"
"Can you break rocks?" asked Slate.
Quinn paused. "Well…yeah."
"Excellent," said Slate, chiseling a checkmark into his note stone. "You're hired."
"Yabba-dabba-doo!" exclaimed Quinn as he jumped into the air, clicking his feet.
The next day…
"Wade, honey, I'm home!" announced Quinn as he came through the door. "I hope dinner's ready. I'm so hungry I could eat an allosaurus."
"It's almost ready, dear!" shouted Wade from the kitchen as a small purple dinosaur charged through the kitchen door and knocked Quinn to the floor.
"Arr! Arr! Arr! Arr! Arr!" the beast barked as he slurped Quinn up and down.
"Down, down, Tracy!" shouted Quinn at his pet.
"I still don't know why you named your dinosaur Tracy," said Wade as she wiped her hands on her dishcloth.
"It's an homage," replied Quinn as he let Tracy out. As he closed the door, you could hear the sounds of feet squealing as a car slammed into the dinosaur.
"Oh my God! I've killed it!" was heard outside, but Quinn and Wade turned their attention to dinner.
"So how was your day, dear?" Wade asked as she set down a plate of ribs.
"Mr. Slate had me in the quarry all afternoon. It's always 'dig this' and 'unearth that.' I can't take all this responsibility. I'm in the prime of my youth! I should be passed out on the front lawn of the Kappa Delta house right now, but noooooo…" bemoaned Quinn. "How about you?"
"I tried swallowing as many pills as possible, but then I learned they hadn't discovered medicine yet," said Wade, trying not to think about what those pills were.
"Wonderful," said Quinn as he devoured his meal in ten seconds. "Well, I gotta go. Rembrandt and I are going to go bowling and then get trashed."
"Look Quinn, I'm kinda bored playing housewife all day. Could I maybe get a job…" pleaded Wade.
"No woman of mine is going to work! Now start cleaning up this dump," said Quinn to Wade. "And air this place out, will ya? Geez, an elephant vacuum cleaner seemed like a good idea until you think about emptying the bag, so to speak…"
"Quinn," Wade interrupted, the tears forming in her eyes, "I want to have a baby."
Quinn rolled his eyes and sighed. "I suppose I've got a few minutes…"
But before that awful scene could play itself out, there was a knock at the door…leading to an even worse scene.
"Hey, it's Maggie!" said Quinn, letting her in. Maggie was attired in tight leopard skin and high-heeled sandals. Her hair was disheveled and it looked like she hadn't slept in over twenty-four hours.
"How's the Rickman pursuit going?" Quinn inquired.
"Not so great," sighed Maggie, plopping down on the sofa. "I searched all over town for like ten minutes, but I didn't see him. But then I came up with a plan."
Wade laughed aloud, but Maggie apparently didn't get it and continued. "I decided I'd let Rickman come to me. I'd pretend to be a single gal looking for a good time and once he took me back to his cave, wham! And afterwards, I'd kill him."
"I'm leaving now," said Wade, but Quinn was clearly enthralled with the story.
"But then a thought occurred to me. Rickman had the ability to change his face! He could be any one of the men in the bar…"
"Hey, hey, what's up?" yelled Rembrandt as he entered the room.
"Quiet, Remmy, Maggie's telling a story!" blurted out Quinn.
"I thought we were going bowling…" Remmy innocently continued.
"Not now, dammit!"
"Anyway, long story short, I didn't find him," finished Maggie, rubbing her legs. "Man, am I sore."
"Eerrrggghhh!" Quinn shouted in frustration.
"Maggie still hasn't found Rickman," said Wade, re-entering the room.
"That's too bad, Maggie," Rembrandt said, patting her on the shoulder. "But remember— It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle, than for a rich man to enter into the kingdom of God."
"Thanks, Remmy," Maggie said appreciatively. Then she noticed something in Rembrandt's hand. "I just noticed something in Rembrandt's hand."
"Oh, this?" said Rembrandt, holding up a funny looking hat. "This is an official Loyal Order of the Water Buffaloes cap. I figured I'd join so we could better fit in with this world."
"That's funny," said Quinn. "Mr. Slate was telling me the guy I got my job from was last seen at one of their meetings. They found him dead with his brain fluid sucked out."
"What a coincidence!" exclaimed Rembrandt.
"I'll say," agreed Quinn.
"WAIT A MINUTE!" exclaimed Maggie as she rose to her feet. "No one told me about any dead guy! That could've been Rickman! Come on, we need to dig up his grave just to be sure!"
"But how will we know which grave to dig up?" asked Quinn.
"Good point, Quinn. That's why I like you. You're a thinking kind of guy," said Maggie.
"As opposed to the alternative," muttered Wade beneath her breath.
"Here's what we have TO do," declared Maggie as she slipped into military mode. "We need to inFILtrate this society of armadillos and learn the name of this dead guy."
"There's just one problem," said Rembrandt. "This club is for men only."
"Ugh! I am appalled!" screamed Wade, her latent feminism making a sudden reappearance.
"Don't worry. I have an idea," said Maggie with a sly grin and a cocked eyebrow.
Five minutes later…
"You sure this will work?" asked Wade, a pencil mustache on her face.
"Positive," said Maggie as she completed her magic marker goatee. "Hmmm…what's 'indelible' mean?"
"You know, it says something about the relationship we've built when the two of us can dine comfortably without saying a word," Colonel Rickman said to his dinner companion. His lodge brother sat with his head face down in his 'minestone' soup, a telltale puncture mark in the back of his neck.
They sat in the meeting hall of the Loyal Order of Water Buffaloes, which was starting to hop. The Rolling Rock beer was flowing freely from the tap as the house band—'Stoner'—began its first set. To Rickman's right, some of the boys were engaged in a spirited game of darts. Except instead of throwing sharp, pointy bits of metal, they were throwing woodpeckers.
"Excuse me," announced a tiny elephant as it vacuumed up the peanut shells around the colonel's feet. Rickman could not suppress a smile. He was having himself a jolly good time this slide. And why shouldn't he? There was good food and fine loincloths, not to mention a vast collection of morons to sustain himself off of.
"Hey, is your friend all right?" a short, blond lodge member asked Rickman.
"Oh, he's fine. The bloke just has a little trouble holding his rum and coke," the colonel said with a grin. "Say, could you turn your back to me?"
"Um, OK," the stubbled caveman agreed.
Rickman jabbed him in the base of his skull with his trusty syringe, casually dropping his hapless victim to the floor. "I love this world!" the colonel exclaimed as he injected himself. He laughed cruelly, but suddenly found he could not stop. "Heh heh heh! Hee hee hee! Hee hee hee! Damn, this was a jovial fellow, hee hee hee!"
"I don't see why you had to draw a goatee on my face. I'm already a man!" shouted Quinn in disgust.
"We can't risk any mistakes," said Maggie as they approached the club from the outside. "All right, here's the plan, just in case any of you forgot from three minutes ago. We'll go inside, we'll find out the name of that dead guy, and then it's back to the tar pits to dig him up."
"Maggie, you can't dig through tar," corrected Quinn, stroking his pretend facial hair.
"Oh yeah, well do you have a betTER plan?" she scoffed.
"We could just look for Rickman—alive," he suggested.
"Rickman would be expecting that," she dismissed. "Come on, we better get moving before more people end up dead—like your pal, the professor."
At the mention of her departed friend's name, Wade began to sniffle. Quinn immediately went to her, wiping a small tear from her cheek. "There, there, Wade. You don't want your mustache to run."
A bouncer guarded the entrance to the lodge of the Loyal Order of Water Buffaloes. As Maggie approached, he held out his hand. "Hold it."
"What are you looking at?" said Maggie in a faux deep voice.
Maggie was still wearing the skin-tight leopard ensemble.
The bouncer looked her up and down. Then he pointed inside to a three hundred-pound man dancing by the stage. "Ted's wearing the same thing."
"Dammit! Now I'm going to have to change!" she exclaimed in her normal voice before remembering her cover, "I mean, huh huh, I guess our wives shop at the same store."
"Come on!" muttered Quinn as he pulled Maggie past the bouncer and into the lodge. "Maggie, you go check the bar for info. Remmy and I will work the game area. Wade, you go wander off by your lonesome and try not to get captured or held hostage thereby forcing us into a climactic showdown with Rickman."
"Okey-dokey," Wade said before disappearing into the crowd.
Getting information on dead people would not be as simple as just walking up to the first person they met and asking, "So, anyone die lately?" First, they'd need to establish a connection of sorts. Quinn and Rembrandt decided the best approach would be to challenge some of the locals to a game of pool and then work their way into their confidence.
"You any good at this?" Quinn asked Rembrandt.
"Are you kidding? Back on tour they used to call me the Cryin' Shark," said Remmy as he casually twirled the pool cue in his hand…which struck the table and went skipping out of his hands and through a window. Fortunately, this world hadn't invented glass.
"Um…so, pretty amazing that this world even has billiards, don't you think?" asked Rembrandt, abruptly moving on.
"Oh, pool's been around for over three millennia," answered Quinn. "Developed by the Etruscan civilization, billiards was originally just a lower form of nine ball used for ceremonial burial purposes. It wasn't until the Romans took over did the standard fifteen balls become the norm."
"It scares me that you know that," said a shocked Rembrandt.
"It scares me that you're that gullible," responded Quinn.
"So, anyone die lately?"
Maggie posed the question to the bartender without blinking an eye.
"First, I get you your drink. Afterwards, we talk pleasant, got it?" the gruff man replied.
Maggie sighed. "FINE, give me a Bloody Mary."
"One Mary dashed upon the rocks, coming up," the bartender announced as he poured the mixture into a nearby bird.
"Eww…you use a flamingo for a blender?" Maggie exclaimed.
"Hey, I'm a pelican, lady," the pelican slurred. "I ain't no prancin' <hic!> pink flamingo…."
The pelican poured the concoction out of its mouth into a nearby glass and promptly passed out.
"Lightweight," the bartender sneered as he placed a new, sober pelican on the bar. "Now, as to dead people, I see lots of death. Cave-ins at the quarry, triceratops stampedes, NASCAR racing…."
"I'm looking for people with their brains sucked out," clarified Maggie.
"Oh. Third table on the left," he said, pointing toward the bodies littered around Rickman's table. She raced over, but Rickman wasn't there…he was at the next table. And he had Wade. And a woodpecker.
"Very sloppy, Maggie!" sneered Rickman. "You colored outside your soul patch!"
"I was never good at coloring inside the lines…just like you'll be!" Maggie threatened.
Quinn and Rembrandt, suddenly aware of the situation, tried to advance from the left. "Don't step any closer," ordered Rickman. "Or I'll have my little friend here turn poor Wade's head into a cribbage board."
"Heh heh heh HEH heh," the woodpecker laughed maliciously.
"Go ahead! Take him out! Don't worry about me!" yelled Wade.
"Do it and the girl dies!" shouted Rickman.
"I don't care! I welcome death!" she declared, practically fighting her way toward the woodpecker.
The colonel acted quickly. "I need a better hostage, preferably one with a healthy fear of dying." He tossed Wade aside and grabbed Rembrandt. Rembrandt immediately began to scream like a teenage girl at a 'Christona' Aguilera concert.
"Help me! Save me! I'm too young to die! What about my military pension?"
"Now that's more like it," smiled Rickman.
"Oh yeah, well TWO can play at that game," declared Maggie, sweeping up one of the tiny elephants working the floor.
"Maggie, are you crazy?" yelled Quinn. "He'll kill Rembrandt!"
"With a woodpecker?"
"Well…maybe mess up his hair…"
"No, not my hair!" squealed Rembrandt.
"Take one for the team, Rem!" Maggie cried out as she opened fire. Peanut shells spewed forth from the elephant's snout, sending patrons diving for cover. Rembrandt closed his eyes and awaited the pecking of a lifetime or rich, peanut buttery death.
And yet, Maggie hit nothing. Rickman never even flinched.
"Good old, Maggie. Couldn't win a novelty comb at a carnival ring toss," he said. "That's why I made you a fighter pilot! The ground is a difficult thing to miss!"
"You'll be missing more than the ground when I'm through with you!" she screamed, her eyes ablaze with fury, her lips pouting with rage, her legs trembling with desire…uh, where was I again?
"Oh well, maybe next time!" said Rickman. "My time is up."
Rickman tossed Rembrandt into Maggie and opened his vortex. "God, I'm going to miss this world. Aw heck, one for the road!"
He pulled out his syringe and jabbed a passerby before jumping into the great beyond.
"NOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!" bellowed Maggie as Rickman's vortex closed. The others gathered around her. Rembrandt offered words of comfort.
"Don't worry, we'll find Rickman again. A city that is set on a hill cannot be hid," said Rembrandt gently.
"Rem?" asked Maggie.
"Shut the f$*@ up."
The next morning…
They were scheduled for an early morning slide, but Maggie had gone into town for a few extra skins (tiger stripes brought out the highlights in her hair). As dawn broke, Wade heard a thump at the front door. Cautiously, she opened it.
"Special delivery," the stork announced with a saluted wing, before taking to the air again.
Wade took the bundled package and slowly lifted the blanket.
"Quinn! Rembrandt! Look, the stork delivered me a baby! Ooooo, can I keep it, please, please, please!!!" she whined.
Rembrandt gave Quinn a dirty look. "I swear, I never laid a hand on her. Honest," Quinn declared.
"Then why is there a baby on your front step?" Rembrandt said accusingly.
"Hey, you live here too! It could be yours or…or…"Quinn began before Rembrandt interjected.
"What the hell is that?"
"Looks like Maggie," said Quinn at the approaching figure.
"I mean, behind her."
"Oh my God…" the three said simultaneously.
"Open the vortex! Open the vortex!" screamed Maggie as a dark swarm of storks rose up from the horizon. They blotted out the sun in their horrible descent. Just as it looked like certain doom for the Sliders, a red curtain closed on them proclaiming:THE END
But then that evil woodpecker poked his head out from behind the curtain!
"Heh heh heh HEH heh! Heh heh heh HEH heh! Heh heh heh HEH heh!" the woodpecker cried as he pecked away at THE END. "Heh heh heh heh heh heh heh heh heh."
- First and foremost to the readers who put up with the one month lapses between segments. Thanks for the replies!
- But mostly to Josef Anderson and the man himself, David Peckinpah, for "Stoker" and "Dinoslide." This woodpecker's for you, Dave!