[ Pocketwatch ]

"When the Slider Wakes"

by Recall317

It was a dark and stormy night. Lightning crackled in the distance, foretelling a downpour, but it was still dry out when the sliders entered a large, generic industrial complex. It was cold inside, a point illustrated by Maggie and Wade rubbing their bare arms.

Each slider carried a backpack reminiscent of the packs worn by the Ghostbusters but with a subtle non-copyright infringement difference - these were electron packs. They were even clearly marked as such in big, reflective lettering. Take that, Mr. Reitman, you and your greedy lawyers.

Maggie led the way across the floor, followed by the others. Wade labored under the weight of the pack and complained, "Is this really necessary?"

"What's the matter, Wade?" Maggie jabbed. "Too heavy for your fragile frame?"

"No, I just don't see how an electromagnetic disrupter beam will stop Rickman. He's not a robot."

"In a sense, we're all robots," Quinn said. "The human brain functions on electromagnetic impulses. If those impulses are blocked, the brain can't function properly."

"Won't that kill him?"

"If he dies," Maggie said, warming up her pack, "he dies."

Above them, a figure crept across a catwalk. The din of hissing pipes and clanking gears cloaked the sound of feet on metal.

Rembrandt's eyes darted here and there. "I've a bad feeling about this. What is this place anyway?"

"Looks like some sort of storage facility," Quinn said. He walked over to one of the many fogged tubes standing upright across the factory floor. He wiped his hand across the glass. Staring back at him from inside the tube was a human face. Quinn jumped back in horror.

"No wonder Rickman was drawn to this place," Maggie said, seemingly unfazed.

"I do like my brains freezer-locked. It preserves the freshness!" The voice echoed out all around them, and there was no mistaking that over the top delivery.

"RICKMAN!" Maggie fired her pack wildly into the air, trying to illuminate Rickman's hiding place. Quinn immediately restrained her.

"Are you insane?! This place is a time bomb and one misfire could light the fuse," Quinn angrily explained. "You have to make sure you hit your target."

"Yeah, Maggie," said Wade.

"Like this?"

For a moment, Maggie's blast lit Wade up like Luke Skywalker facing off against the Emperor. Wade dropped to the ground unconscious.

"Maggie!" Quinn yelled.

"Relax, I had it set to stun," she said. She cranked up the pack to full power. "Now this will hurt."

Rickman seized the opportunity to get the drop on Maggie and Quinn, literally. He was right above them now, his pistol in his shooting hand. Carefully he took aim at Maggie - and was sent sprawling by a flood of electricity exploding against the rail. Rembrandt to the rescue! Rickman scrambled back to his feet as Rembrandt recharged.

"You're too late! I win again!" Fumbling, he removed his timer from his belt and opened his vortex.

"NO!" Maggie yelled. She opened fire on him from below, quickly joined by Rembrandt.

"No!" Quinn shouted. "Don't cross the streams!"

His warning came too late. The two beams intersected in the precise spot as the open vortex. The entire building burst into light from the ensuing explosion, highlighted by a thunderbolt emanating from the vortex that enveloped Rickman. In agony, he screamed from the millions of volts of electricity tearing him apart.

"I can't believe it! I actually hit something!" Maggie exclaimed.

"TURN IT OFF!" Quinn screamed.

Rembrandt complied, but Maggie would not be stopped. Quinn had no choice but to wrestle her for control of the pack.

"I have to finish the job!" she stressed.

"He's dead already!"

"We can't be sure!"

Quinn fought her for control, but she was too strong. The beam remained on the vortex. "If you don't shut this off, you'll excite the exotic matter in the wormhole to a higher state, killing us too!"

"I think she already has!" yelled Rembrandt.

Energy bursting from the vortex tore the building asunder. Maggie and Quinn had just enough time to look up and see the remains of the catwalk raining down upon them.

What if you found a show to ruin about parallel universes?

What if you could plug the word 'slide' into a thousand different movie titles?

Where it's the same premise...
and Michael York still appears...
but everything else is inferior.

And what if you were too drunk every night to find your way home?

Sliders: The Peck Way.

When Maggie awoke she was cold. No wonder, she was also naked and in some sort of transparent tube. It was hard for her to focus, but she was fairly sure she was surrounded by light. Even though she was disoriented, her natural instinct was to get out of this coffin. She pressed up against the lid, which opened with a hiss. Shivering, her arms wrapped around her chest, she sat up…

…and found herself living a stereotypical nightmare. She was naked in front of a room full of people.


Maggie wasn't sure what happened next in between all the screaming and panicked fleeing, but she was pretty sure she saw a man who looked remarkably like Elston Diggs, a fruity bartender they kept running into in their travels. She tried to leap out of the tube, but in her hurry banged her head against the open casing and blacked out.

When she came back to her senses, she found herself alone in a chair, a robe wrapped around her otherwise naked body. A cup of fizzy liquid was in her hand, and she tentatively took a sip. "Ugh. Moxie."

Diggs entered the room with a pair of large, boxy headphones. He placed a set over her ears and fiddled with an attached dial. Content with his work, he slipped on the other pair.

"Now you should understand me," he said.

"What are these?"

"This sucka be a universal translizzle, dig? I've set this motha off to put my words in the words of yo time, bitch."

"What did you just call me?!"

"Ain't nothin' but a g thang."

"I'm confused. Diggs, what the hell is going on?"

"Why you be sayin' dat? Ain't no one called this o.g. Diggs in a hundred years. Call me P. Diggy."

"A hundred years? Are you saying you're a hundred years old?"

"Ho, please, don't be trippin'. Diggs be the name of my posse. We ain't been namin' shorties since da bomb. You been out a long time, homes."

Maggie moved in closer, and the camera moved in closer to Maggie. "How long?"

"Five benjamins."


Diggs nodded. "A'ight. This is 505, or 2502 by your tick-tock. Shiz…"

Maggie shook her head. "This is impossible."

"You think I'm frontin'? You best check yo'self befo' you wreck yo'self." Diggs took her hand and led her to a grand picture window, revealing a futuristic cityscape. Cars, traveling in pneumatic tubes, were backed up in gridlock as far as her eye could see. Great airships moved about the sky, casting shadows on the glittering buildings of glass. A large billboard proclaimed PEPSI: THE CHOICE OF THE LAST 21 GENERATIONS.

"This isn't real," she said, taking off her headphones in frustration. "The cola wars can't be over."

"How do you think we feel? We never thought the day would come when the sleeper would wake," Diggs said.

"Wait a second." Maggie put her headphones back on. "Repeat what you just said."

"I said this is whack, dog. No brotha thought the bitch'd eva get outta her ho bed."

Maggie pulled her and Diggs' headphones off. "You can speak English."

"What were we speaking over the translator?"

"Never mind," she said, turning back to the window despondently. "Everything I ever knew is gone. Quinn, Rem, what's her name, they're all gone."

Diggs raised an eyebrow.

Two people in what appeared to be radiation suits entered a cold, dark walk in freezer where the walls were comprised of ice itself. One of the figures punched a button and machinery whirred to life. With each warm motion of a machine, steam exited only to be immediately frozen again. Large blocks of ice lifted by a metal claw were deposited on a conveyor belt. As the belt brought the ice blocks closer, human figures could be discerned inside. Figures we recognized. Sliders.

Quinn, Rembrandt, and Wade, fresh from their icy storage, sat groggy and disoriented. They were attired in futuristic jumpsuits and sneakers, all emblazoned with the Nike logo. Rembrandt held a current newspaper, whose headline blared:

Mars Premier - "I'm going to blow up the Earth!"; King Bush XXIII - "Bring it on"

"I thought you said sliding was never time travel!" Rembrandt barked at Quinn.

"It isn't. Someone must have frozen our unconscious bodies after the cryogenics warehouse blew," Quinn said.

"So we're really in the future?" Rembrandt asked. Quinn nodded. "Oh man. I'm NEVER gonna get my big comeback underway now."

"Is that all you can think about?" Wade shouted. "Our parents, our families, everyone we ever knew…they're all dead! We'll never see any of them again."

Wade started to cry. Then something occurred to her. "Wait. Why was Maggie out here while the rest of us were in the meat locker?"

"Maggie is the Sleeper," Diggs explained.

"The sleeper?"

"The Sleeper is the Guardian of the Holy Relic which counts down the days to Judgment. She gave her own life to protect us from certain doom," Diggs explained.

"Talk about your revisionist history…"

Maggie snarled at Wade. "I MIGHT have done that."

"Holy relic?" Quinn interjected. "What holy relic?"

"Come, I will show you," Diggs said.

The five trudged along a spotless, anti-septic hallway that was the size of a cathedral. Modern art, or should we say post-modern art (hey, we're in the future!) occasionally broke up the monotony of columns and picture windows.

"Just how big is this place?" wheezed Rembrandt.

"I don't know, a few miles," Diggs said. "Most government centers need at least this much space to contain all the things they'd implausibly contain, like a cryogenic storage warehouse. Ah…here we are."

Diggs led them into another massive room where a pedestal was lit up by an overhead spotlight. On that pedestal sat an object encased in bullet-proof glass. Wow, whatever could it be? What relic 'counting down' to Judgment could possibly be there AND have some sort of significance to our sliders?

"I knew it!" Quinn declared. Yeah, took a lot to brains to figure this one out, Quinn. Even Maggie probably guessed it; she just didn't feel the need to show off.

"Holy crap! Is that the timer?" Maggie yelled.

I stand corrected.

Act Two

By the time we returned from commercials, the timer was out of its glass casing and into Quinn's fumbling hands. For a five hundred year old artifact, it was in exceptional shape. Say what you will about parallel Egyptian culture, but they knew how to craft a timer.

"And you've never had to replace the batteries?" Quinn asked.

"Never. It just keeps going and going and going…"

Wade raised a hand. "Question. If it's been here five hundred years, surely you've noticed that it resets every thirty years or so. So how have you avoided judgment?"

"In order to avoid judgment, we must appease the Sleeper with offerings," Diggs said. "If she finds the offerings acceptable, she resets the clock."

"So that explains why I was surrounded by all those cans of asparagus and Bisquick formula," Maggie said.

"Eh, yes," Diggs covered. "They're rare delicacies in the future."

"It doesn't matter what they were emptying their cupboards with, we have the timer back," Quinn said. "And with the window serendipitously opening tomorrow, we can try and get back home."

"To what?" Rembrandt asked. "Look, Q-ball, I don't mean to rain on your parade, but what's the point? We're five hundred years in the future. There's nothing left for us back there. We might as well just stay here and live off Maggie's fame."

Maggie and Wade shrugged in the affirmative.

"I can't believe I'm hearing this. After five hundred years, you're just giving up? Without home, we have no premise! It's in the opening credits!" Quinn declared.

"But Quinn-"

"Do what you want. I don't have a choice." Quinn took his timer and stormed out.

"You just going to let him take off with your holy relic?" Wade asked Diggs.

"D'oh!" Diggs exclaimed, slapping his forehead.

"Enough about Bisquick and never going home, we're in the future!" Rembrandt said. "C'mon, Diggs! What say you take us for a look around?"

One Star Wars-esque swipe cut later…

The four returned from their trip, exhausted from their thrilling tour of the city, none of which was shown to the viewers.

"Man, we saw everything!" exclaimed Wade. "The Golden Gateway Bridge, the Lieutenant Commander Wharf and Phil Collins' Pre-si-si-sidio."

"Don't forget about the church and the steeple, the laundry on the hill, billboards and the buildings--" paused Rembrandt. "The memories of them still keep calling. And calling."

"Forget your stupid buildings, this is the real deal," Maggie said, carrying shopping bags. "Three for one sale on shoes!"

"Oh yeah? Check out this iPod shuffle thingy," Rembrandt said, holding a small speck of dust up into the light. "Over two billions songs! Oops. Damn, I think I scratched it."

"No givesies-backsies!" Diggs said.

"The future is a paradise," Maggie said. "I'm so happy I'm the cause of it."

"I'm so glad to hear that," Diggs said, "because unless you do something quick, we're DOOMED, DOOOOOOOOOMED!"

Wade turned white; whiter than usual. Rembrandt's face was dark; darker than usual. Maggie tried on her new shoes. "Did they change the sizes of the future? I'm definitely a seven."

"Damn it, Maggie, are you listening?" Rembrandt growled.

Diggs began bawling. "I haven't been telling you the whole truth. The future isn't as great as the cartoons would have you believe. It's all a fraud! Ninety percent of the world's wealth is held by one percent of the population! We've let the social safety net go completely to hell. All the good jobs have been outsourced to Robot-opia, formerly known as Sri Lanka. At least before we had the Sleeper. Maggie had been a plug on some of that resentment, a noble figure tragically tethered to their own suffering. But with even her getting up and walking, nothing could stop the fury waiting to be unleashed."

"Do you guys still have TV?" Rembrandt asked.

Diggs sniffled, "Yes."

"Then everything will be fine!"

"But it's all reality programming!"

Rembrandt and Wade shuddered audibly.

"It doesn't have to be like this," Maggie said. "I'm some big shot, right? Maybe if I talked to the people, they'd calm down."

"I know I'm always calmed by the sound of your voice," Wade deadpanned.

Diggs scratched his chin. "I suppose it's possible the people would listen to you. You are a national icon. If you told them to follow your example of suffering for the good of all, it might be enough to keep the city from erupting."

"Then I'll do it," Maggie said, striding forward. "I'll do it for the huddled masses yearning to be free but would upset the social order if they did so, I'll do it for the working man who can barely afford to feed his family so the rich can own three luxury space shuttles, but most of all, I'll do it for-"

"Your dead husband?" Rembrandt volunteered.

"The Professor?" Wade suggested.

"Me?" Diggs pleaded.

"No, this one's for Rickman. He'd have loved to see this world fall into chaos, and since he can't be here, I'll make sure that doesn't happen!"

Diggs raised an eyebrow. "Is this guy frozen too?"

Down below, in the subbasements of the municipal building, a figure entered the cryogenic warehouse without proper authorization. The sophisticated security system immediately sounded the alarm, setting off horns and klaxons. While the system had done its job, the workers were intent on not doing theirs.

"Hey, Sal, alarm's going off," the first worker said.

"Who cares? Wees union. I'm goings out for a soma break. Yous coming?"

His buddy shrugged and followed him out. Once they were clear, the figure slipped past them into a ghastly chamber of humans frozen in great blocks of gray ice. A press of the control panel started a process in one, completely different yet somewhat similar to Han Solo's emergence from the carbon freezing in Return of the Jedi. C'mon, George. If you don't have enough money by now, go sell another line of action figures based on characters from deleted scenes. We're making a TV show here!

The figure stepped back as the man emerged from the carbon, collapsing to the floor in a heap. In the dim light, the unfrozen man was revealed to be…Golden Globe winning actor Ed Harris!

Ha! Gotcha. For a second there you thought we'd done something unpredictable. Nah, it's Rickman.

Act Three

Angus Rickman lay disoriented on the cryogenic storage floor. For dramatic effect, let's imagine we're Rickman. We try to look around and see what's going on, but our eyes won't focus. Everything is blurry and there's insufficient light. We're also shivering our tail off and our legs won't work. Then we hear something.

"You have to relax a moment. You are free of the carbonite. You have hibernation sickness."

"I can't see," we say.

"Your eyesight will return in time."

"Where am I?"

"Five hundred years in the future."

"Who are you?"

"Someone who ought to kill you."

And then we wet ourselves.

Way upstairs, alarms were sounding throughout the municipal building. Diggs rushed to an intercom to get the scoop. "Oh my God. There's been a breakout in the carbonite ward."

"And that's bad because…" Wade said.

"It's bad because that's where we keep criminals, talk show hosts, and other assorted riffraff. You see in the future, we've abolished the death penalty. We just freeze them instead," he explained. "Frigidaire has a powerful lobby."

"Wait a minute. A criminal has escaped from your cryo-carbon rod asylum?" Maggie said. "It can only be one thing. Rickman!"

"Rickman's dead, Maggie. You electrocuted him and got us all sent to the future. You remember that?" Rembrandt pointed out.

"We can't be sure he's dead. We never checked for his special tattoo that shows up only when he dies," Maggie snapped back. "Diggs, you need to take us to this crayon ward. I'm the only one that can stop him."

"If he's as horrible as you make him out to be, you may be right. Here in the future, we have no violent crime. We don't even have what you would call conventional weapons."

"What do you have?"

"It's this pack that you wear over your shoulders, and this hose emits a stream of neutrons. We call them neutron packs," Diggs said.

"Saddle me up," Maggie said.

Rembrandt and Wade started laughing. "Saddle them up too," Maggie ordered.


A cutaway later, the three sliders and Diggs were in the lower levels of the building. I suppose we could say something about a society that keeps its dregs below ground, frozen in either ice blocks or carbonite while the wealthy live in beautiful skyscrapers, but since that doesn't involve explosions, it's not something we dwell on.

As they reached the cryonic level, they were surprised to find Quinn coming from the opposite direction. "Guys, I've been looking all over for you! You'll never believe what's happened!"

"Rickman's alive and has escaped from carbonite?" Wade asked.

"How the f-"

"It didn't make sense to us either," Rembrandt said, "but something just felt right about it."

Maggie stepped into Quinn, her chest knocking him back a pace. "So what's it going to be, Mallory? Are you going to throw another tempter tantrum and run off like Wade? Or are you going to help me finish this?"

Quinn got a sanity-be-damned look in his eye. "Where do I sign up?"

It had become a dark and stormy night aboveworld. Lightning crackled in the distance, foretelling a downpour, but it was still dry out when the sliders entered the underground cryogenic storage facility. It was built like a meat locker, but had far more hissing pipes, chains, and metal lattice work than was really necessary or utilitarian.

Each slider carried a backpack, reminiscent to the packs worn in the teaser but with a subtle taped-over difference - these were neutron packs. They were even clearly marked as such in big, black marker.

Maggie led the way across the open floor, followed by the others. Wade labored under the weight of the pack and complained, "Is this really necessary?"

"What's the matter, Wade?" Maggie jabbed. "Too heavy for your fragile frame?"

"No, I just don't see how a neutron beam will stop Rickman," Wade said, pausing. "Anyone else get a sense of déjà vu?"

"In a sense, we're all robots," Quinn said. "The human brain functions on electromagnetic impulses. If those impulses are blocked, the brain can't function properly."

"What the hell are you talking about?"

"If he dies," Maggie said, warming up her pack, "he dies."

"Hold on-"

"Not this time, Maggie!" Rickman shouted from his perch on a catwalk. A beam of neutrons cleaved the ground between them, sending the women in one direction and the men in the other. "Unlike Hungry Hippos, FIVE can play this game!"

"Where did he get one of these packs?" Wade asked, now safely behind a freeze locker.

"You don't know?" Rickman chuckled. "Perhaps you should ask Mr. Mallory."

All eyes went to Quinn. "Hey! You said you wouldn't tattle!"

"I'm a brain-sucking fiend who endorses slavery! Do you think lying is beneath me?"

"Quinn…why?" Rembrandt asked.

"I had to do it, Rembrandt. Without Rickman to chase, you'd have given up on sliding and we'd never get home. I couldn't allow you to give up your dreams," Quinn said.

"So you did this for us?" Rembrandt said, putting his hand on Quinn's shoulder. "That's the biggest bunch of bull you've ever shoveled down my throat!"

Rembrandt punched Quinn in the jaw, sending him to the ground. Not content, he began kicking at his fallen friend. "That's for the Professor! That's for my car! That's for my fans back home! That's for the fans forced to watch this!"

"Guys! Look out!" Wade shouted. Rickman fired his pack at the ceiling above them, sending a shower of snow and debris around the two squabbling sliders, effectively taking them out of the action.

"NO!" Maggie fired her pack in Rickman's direction, but missed wildly. Rickman returned fire, also off by a good twelve feet. They continued to exchange fire, with horrendous accuracy, leaving both of them alive and well but the storage facility in shambles.

"I need to get to higher ground," Maggie said, rapidly ascending a ladder to the catwalk. Wade followed from below until she was stopped by a giant open vat of super cooled liquid nitrogen that suddenly appeared in front of her. She looked up to see both Maggie and Rickman standing perilously above it.

"This ends now," Rickman snarled.

"This ends when I say it ends, and it ends now!" Maggie retorted.

Both went for their packs, firing past each other. Maggie's shot went way wide, but Rickman's split the catwalk behind her. The catwalk broke apart, lurching down toward the deadly liquid nitrogen. It stopped at a 40 degree angle, leaving Maggie hanging on for dear life by one arm.

"Fire!" Maggie yelled down at Wade.

"I can't!"

"She's right, Maggie. There's no way of getting to me without killing you too. I've won again," Rickman said.

Maggie looked down at the calm and peaceful liquid below her. Her eyes steeled with resolve as she took one last glance at Wade. "Maggie, don't!" Wade yelled.

"I have to do it, Wade. Don't you get it? This is why I'm the sleeper and you're not. Also, I'm way hotter." Maggie turned to Rickman. "Hey, Rickman. Time for you to chill." With her free arm, she fired her pack at the catwalk behind him.

"Oh no! No! AIIIIIIIIIIIEEEEEEEEEEE!" Rickman screamed as he and Maggie plunged into the liquid nitrogen below.

Wade stood there dumbstruck at the surprising nobility of Maggie's last action. Quinn and Rembrandt, covered in snow but otherwise all right, rushed up behind her. "She's gone. I don't believe it, but she's gone."

"Maggie made a choice," Quinn said. "A choice to die by super cooled nitrogen."

"That's beautiful, man," Rembrandt said, sniffling a little.

"No, no it's not! Maggie's dead and she's dead because Quinn sold us out!" Wade said.

"I did it for you, Wade. I knew as long as Maggie was in the picture, we could never be together," Quinn said. He got down on one knee and removed a ring from his jumpsuit. "Wade, will you marry me?"

"What?" Wade said. She looked over at Rembrandt, who was suddenly replaced by Ed Harris.

"Hi, I'm Ed Harris," he said.

"Ed Harris? What are you doing five hundred years in the future?"

"Oh, just hanging out."

Wade backed away. "What's going on here? Something's not right?"

"No," said Rickman, emerging from the tank of liquid nitrogen. "Something is definitely not right."

Wade screamed.

Wade continued screaming.

"Wade! Calm down, it's all right," Quinn said. "It's all right."

Wade looked around. She was back in the nondescript industrial warehouse from the teaser. Maggie, Quinn, and Rembrandt were standing over her. "What's going on?"

"Maggie shot with you her electron pack. It knocked you out," Quinn said.

"Yeah, and while these two were busy fussing over you, Rickman got away," Maggie said.

"Oh man. I just had the wildest dream that we were in the future and Maggie died," Wade said, sitting up.

"Maggie, don't you want to apologize to Wade?" Rembrandt suggested.

"Apologize?" Wade said. "Are you kidding? That was the happiest I've been in months. Hit me again!"

"If you insist," Maggie said, blasting her with another beam.

"See? I knew if we gave them enough time, they'd become friends," Quinn said. The three standing sliders had a laugh, and Wade drifted back off into sleep, blissfully dreaming of Maggie being torn apart by wild raccoons.



  • In addition to H.G. Wells, whose novels were once again butchered, thanks go out to the many movies that homage was paid to, primarily Return of the Jedi, Demolition Man, and Ghostbusters, as well as the television show Futurama.

  • Ed Harris did not actually appear in this story.

[    <<< The Otherworlds   |   <<< Earth 5260    ]