Marty couldn’t believe this was happening.
He kind of figured he’d outlive Doc, but not so soon. Not while Doc had so much more time left. He had a family to look after and care for, he couldn’t be gone now. Not when his two sons who weren’t even teenagers needed him. Not when his wife needed him. Not when his best friend needed him.
He could remember every detail from that phone call. He’d been reading a comic book when the phone had rang. He’d answered it, automatically assuming it was Doc.
“Hey Doc, what’s up?”
“Marty,” the voice on the other end of the line was certainly not the one belonging to the scientist. “It’s me, Clara.”
“Oh, hey Clara,” Marty corrected himself. “Sorry, it’s usually Doc who phones me,”
“Marty, honey, I’m afraid…” Marty could hear her voice crack in a way that indicated she had been, or still was, crying. He immediately dropped his comic book and held the phone tight.
“Clara? What’s wrong? Is Doc okay?” His heart was beginning to pound hard in his chest. If something had happened to Doc, he needed to know. He’d been Doc’s friend for eight years, and if something happened to the scientist, Marty had to know about it.
“I really don’t want to tell you this but… Emmett… one of his experiments went badly wrong and it... “ a sob escaped her, hitting Marty’s ear like an arrow. “It exploded… he’s dead…”
Marty nearly dropped the phone. He felt like he’d been slapped. “Wh-what…?” This couldn’t be right, could it? Doc? Dead? No way, he must have misheard her. He may be hurt and in the hospital, but surely he wasn’t dead?
“Doc’s dead, sweetie,”
Those three words stabbed Marty in the chest. He managed to croak a “goodbye” down the phone and he hung up. He couldn’t help it as tears began to flow down his cheeks, accompanied by sobs and soon full on howling. He pulled his knees up to his chest and buried his face in them, shaking violently. Doc couldn’t be dead. Doc shouldn’t be dead. Doc can’t be dead.
The door opened slowly and Lorraine walked over, frowning. “Marty? What’s wrong?”
“Doc’s dead!” Marty wailed, refusing to look up. He didn’t want to be seen crying, but he just couldn’t help it. He couldn’t stop it. The tears were flowing down his face, freely and quickly. His best friend was dead. He continued to tremble, shivering, despite the fact he wasn’t cold.
Lorraine gasped before pulling her son into her arms, stroking his back and whispering softly, sitting on the bed with him. Marty wrapped his arms round her and sobbed into her shoulder. It felt as though someone had ripped his heart from his chest and was playing soccer with it. His best friend was dead. His best friend was dead. He couldn’t believe that he’d never see Doc again, never help him with another project, never help him at all.
Lorraine stroked his hair, keeping him close. She wasn’t going to tell him that everything would be okay, because she knew it wouldn’t be, not for a very long time. The kid had just lost his best friend, of course he would be upset for quite a while. She rocked him gently, like she had when he was a child (little did she know that Marty actually remembered none of that), stroking his back.
George soon walked in, frowning at the sight of his sobbing son in his wife’s arms. Lorraine quietly explained the situation and he quickly joined them on the bed, wrapping his arms around Lorraine and Marty. He had never seen Marty so different from his usual self. Normally Marty was cheerful, slightly sarcastic, energetic and just generally happy. Seeing the boy in front of him, crying his eyes out, was a shock.
Eventually Marty’s sobs quieted into the occasional sniffle, and George left him be. Lorraine too left soon, leaving Marty alone and asleep on his bed. The teenager was still curled up into a ball, trying to wish for any higher being to tell him Doc was okay. He wasn’t superstitious, but anything right now would be better than knowing Doc was dead.
It was now Doc’s funeral. Typically, it was raining, as it always seemed to do in movies. Despite his parents’ encouragement, Marty wasn’t using an umbrella, or a raincoat. He was slowly being soaked in his clothes, but he didn’t care. Doc wasn’t using an umbrella, so why should he? Why should any of these people be using something Doc wasn’t? His wet hair clung to his face, but he did nothing to move it away. The rain was useful for one thing: hiding the tears still running down his face.
Naturally, Clara was the first one to give a eulogy. Her words were quiet, simple and punctuated with sobs. She wasn’t talking for very long, and soon rejoined the crowd, standing beneath the black sea of umbrellas. Jules and Verne went up together, the two young boys not having much to say either. Marty admired their bravery - giving a speech at their own father’s funeral was surely a very daunting task.
Then it was Marty’s turn. He looked at the folded piece of paper in his hands. He’d spent a week trying to make it sound believable, but no matter what he wrote, it didn’t seem like the truth. He screwed it up into a ball and shoved it in his pocket, before making his way up to the podium.
“Where do I even start?” He murmured, but the microphone projected his words for everyone to hear. “Doc was… he was just so incredible. He was like nobody else I’ve ever met,” a sob escaped him, but he kept going. He wasn’t going to let his best friend down with a half-hearted attempt at a speech. “He was quirky, intelligent, funny, enthusiastic and sometimes just plain crazy,”
A couple of people in the crowd chuckled, and Marty instantly hated them. How could they laugh at a funeral? “But he was also kind, caring, wise, thoughtful, sympathetic, understanding and… and like family to me. Because that’s what he was, family. He helped me out when I was having problems, encouraged me when I felt down, cheering me up when I just wanted to jump off a bridge. He felt like my dad. He shouldn’t have gone out this way. He should have lived until he was a hundred. He deserved to see his kids grow up. He deserved to travel round the world. He didn’t deserve to have his life cut so short. It’s not fair,” Marty had hot tears streaming down his cheeks, and the fading rain couldn’t hide them, but he didn’t care. Another sob escaped him and he kept talking. “It’s not fair that he was killed like this. It’s not fair that the universe decided to end his life so suddenly. It’s not fair that he died alone. It’s not fair…” Marty sobbed again.
“But I’ll tell you this. He’s not gone. He will never be gone. He will only really die when everyone forgets him, and I’m determined to never let that happen. I will never forget him. He’s made such a difference to my life, more than any of you could ever imagine. He’s forever taught me that if you put your mind to it, you can accomplish anything.” A harsh sob left his mouth. “I’m never, ever, ever going to let the name Emmett L Brown die out,”
Marty lowered his head and stepped down from the podium, returning to his place next to Clara. The woman looked at him, tears of her own running down her face. “Marty… that was beautiful. How long did it take you to write that?”
“I didn’t,” Marty responded.
“DOC! DOC YOU CAN’T BE DEAD! DOC!” Marty was still screaming as he sat bolt upright in bed. His throat was dry and he felt sick. Tears were pouring down his face and the top of his pyjama shirt was soaked.
The darkness of the room was suddenly broken by a beam of light flowing through the open doorway, and a very much alive Doc rushed over. Marty had been staying the night at the Browns’ place on account of the fact that he was helping Doc with a project that was taking a while. In the doorway, Jules and Verne poked their heads in, only to be ushered back to bed by Clara. She must have gone with them, as she didn’t reappear.
“Marty! Great Scott, what’s wrong?!” Doc sat on the side of the teen’s bed, looking him over with worry. He took in the teen’s red eyes and the way tears still ran down his face. “What happened?”
Marty suddenly jumped up and wrapped his arms round Doc firmly, proving to himself that the scientist was really there. He was shaking again, and his tears were soaking Doc’s shirt. The scientist wrapped his arms around the young man comfortingly, holding him close. Marty’s crying eventually ceased and he became aware that Doc was rubbing his back.
“Sorry,” the teen mumbled, sitting back on the bed. “Didn’t mean to wake you up,”
“It’s alright, Marty,” Doc smiled a little. “You had a nightmare?”
“Yeah, you… you died… one of your experiments went wrong… I was at your funeral,”
Doc looked rather taken aback by that. “Marty, I can assure you that I’m not dead,” he said, a small smirk on his face. “I feel pretty alive,”
“Yeah, I figured,” Marty chuckled a little, his voice hoarse from crying. “Either that or I’m hallucinating,”
“I doubt that,” Doc chuckled. “Now why don’t you try and get some more rest? You look exhausted,”
“I feel exhausted,” Marty replied as he laid down again. Doc got up and headed back towards the door. He smiled a little, noticing Marty seemed much more relaxed than he had been five minutes ago.
“‘Night Doc,” Marty replied as the door was closed again. He settled back into the pillow and tried to forget the whole event. Soon the clouds covered his mind and the horrible nightmare slipped from his memory. He smiled a little in his sleep.
Doc was fine.