The most excellent Damon Lindelof has kindly offered to share a serialized story with NextDraft readers to help us, and him, through the quarantine. Past chapters here.

Chapter Ten: Okay, I’ll Fucking Watch Tiger King. Jesus.

Grease is the time. Is the place. Is the motion.

You now know several important things about time travel, but you don’t know the most important thing, which is does it count?

In other words, how can you be asked to invest in a story where any character in that story can just go back and change shit at their whim? There are no stakes, no real consequences if mistakes can easily be corrected and undone.

Case in point.

Elizabeth grew up with an intense crush on John Travolta. She had first fixated on him in GREASE, sitting in the movie theater next to Kirin Pindar and Kirin’s mom, Mrs. Pindar. Elizabeth’s knees actually trembled when Danny first sauntered onto the screen. She was only nine years old, but that was old enough to know true love when she felt it and this was as true as it fucking got.

I will tell you more.

Decades later, working in her lab at Berkeley and encouraged by the beta testing, Elizabeth ingested a chronoceutical that was coded to transport her to Woodland Hills, California in the year 1976. Knowing the journey would only last as long as it would take for the pill to pass through her body, Elizabeth had only twelve to sixteen hours to bed her target.

Travolta was already a minor celebrity after half a season of Welcome Back Kotter and a memorable turn in Carrie, but this was before Saturday Night Fever and Grease at which point he would no longer be gettable. And so Elizabeth, then aged 36, appeared on the set of The Boy In The Plastic Bubble with perfectly feathered hair and denim separates. Travolta never stood a chance. He was the one that she wanted and the rest is history.

Except it wasn’t history. It was A history. An history? Whatever. You get it.

A series of catastrophic dominoes began to tip. Diana Hyland played Travolta’s mom in Bubble and despite being twenty years his senior, was engaged in a torrid romance with him. Her heart broke instantly when she walked into young John’s trailer as he was hopelessly devoting himself to Elizabeth, who took a dump shortly afterwards and disappeared back to the present, which we will get to presently.

First, the past. Diana, decimated by Travolta’s infidelity, broke off their relationship instantly. He begged her for forgiveness, unable to explain how he had so easily been wooed by the mysterious woman who had vanished from the bathroom in his trailer… she had known everything about him, his hopes, his dreams… she looked at him like he was a star instead of a high-school dropout from Englewood, New Jersey. She knew all the lyrics to GREASE, which he had done on stage in New York but nobody knew that really, except she did, and when she whispered “Tell me about it, stud.” gently into his ear, then bit it, just a little too hard, he was hers for the taking and take him she did, but now she was gone (seriously, did she climb out the window in there?) and he so desperately wanted Diana to take him back but it was too late.

And then Bubble wrapped (sorry) and a few months later, Diana Hyland was dead of breast cancer. Travolta never recovered, irrationally equating his infidelity with the tragedy of Diana’s untimely death. He retired from acting and eventually ended up with a severe drinking problem and a lifetime of teaching ballroom dancing in Sherman Oaks.

As such, Grease was still made, but with other stars (Richard Gere edged out Barry Bostwick for Danny, Susan Dey played Sandy) and the world moved on from 1978 with only one significant alteration, that being it was Travolta-less. So imagine Elizabeth’s surprise when she rematerialized in the present to find BERKELEY OVERRUN BY CANNIBAL MUTANTS RIDING MOTORCYCLES PLAYING GUITARS THAT SPEWED TOWERS OF FIRE AS IF FROM THE BOWELS OF HELL ITSELF!!!!

Just kidding. But Al Gore was president and that was almost as bad.

Do you need to know how a lack of Travolta led to Gore’s legal victory in Florida? You do not. Because it never happened. Or to be more accurate, it unhappened.

Elizabeth was the only human alive who remembered the previous reality, so it was incumbent upon her to simply code a new pill to go back six hours before the previous journey and intercept herself before she could bone Travolta. Which is exactly what she did. And when both Elizabeths took their respective dumps, they reappeared in the present exactly as they had left it, with George W. Bush as president and an absolute shitshow in Iraq. Travolta was once again an International celebrity in spite of Wild Hogs… and of course he had no memory whatsoever of his summer night with Elizabeth because she had erased it.

So does it count?

Why should you care about any of this if it was undone and negated and retconned?

Well… here’s one reason. When she returned to the present to find all was as she had left it, three weeks later she began to feel queasy and nauseated and even though she was confused by the paradoxical implications, she could not ignore the inevitable revelation that she was not Sandy at all, but Rizzo…

Because Elizabeth Rosenberg was pregnant.

To Be Continued…

+ This would be a good time to Draft Some New Readers.