PART 18: DANCE DANCE REVOLUTION
“Luci, I didn’t expect to see you here,” Frank remarked. As a member of the school business club, he had volunteered to help man their coat check/concession booth once again this year. “You don’t normally come to dances, do you?”
“No,” Luci admitted. “They’re not my thing. I’d much rather be at your place.”
Frank blinked. “My place?”
“Oh, I don’t mean… that is, it’s to do with the… you know,” Luci attempted to clarify, glad no one else was in earshot. “Don’t think that I… that is, to change the subject, has Carrie said anything to you recently about Julie?”
Frank shook his head. “No. Should she have?”
“No. Maybe not. Never mind. I’ll see you later,” Luci finished, turning and hurrying away. She knew she was blushing now and she hated herself for it. It was hardly appropriate. She found herself wishing, not for the first time, that she could be a couple of years older.
“What was that about?” Joe Drew asked, returning to the counter next to Frank after hanging up a jacket.
Frank shrugged at his fellow business club member. “Nothing. Luci being herself,” he remarked.
On the other side of the cafeteria (which had been cleared of benches and tables for the dance), Lee leaned up against the wall next to Chartreuse.
“Sooooo, glitter girl, feel up to a dance?” he inquired with a grin. He tugged on the lapels of his well-worn jacket, then gestured towards the middle of the room, where a handful of people were swaying in time to the beat.
Chartreuse adjusted the straps of her sparkling green gown. “Maybe later, Lee, ‘k?” she said with a half smile.
Lee snapped his fingers and pointed towards her. “Gotcha,” he confirmed with a wink. He immediately turned away as a couple other girls passed by. “Ladies! Care to dance?” he inquired, following them.
Chartreuse turned her attention to Luci and Tim as they approached. “Okay guys!” she whispered excitedly, still managing to be audible over the music that had started up nearly a half hour ago. “Any news?”
Luci shook her head. Tim merely shifted his weight back and forth uncomfortably. “Tim?” Chartreuse prompted encouragingly.
Tim ran a hand back through the soft curls of his blonde hair. “I-I-I haven’t talked with Clarke since this afternoon. Sorry. He’s seemed more worried about Julie than usual. I didn’t want to upset him.”
“No news then,” Luci summarized. She sighed, feeling very conspicuous in her T-Shirt and jeans next to Chartreuse’s sequinned outfit. “This is silly. We shouldn’t have come. There’s always next week.”
Or if it really came down to it, convincing Frank to use the time machine as a more effective alternative.
“No, no, this is the turning point,” the pink-haired girl insisted, reaching out to clasp Luci’s hands. “We must do this, for the good of everyone.”
Chartreuse looked up as she heard a familiar murmur run through the crowd. “Ooh! Sounds like Corry and Laurie are, like, here now. That should provide a clue. How about you two dance together or something while I check it out?” She smiled brightly at them and ran off.
Luci exchanged a glance with Tim. He was approximately the same height as her, despite their age difference. “I don’t dance,” she said quickly.
“Yeah, me neither,” Tim echoed. “Uh, medical reasons.” There was a pause, then the two teenagers leaned back against the wall next to each other.
“Chartreuse,” Laurie said happily, catching sight of her friend exiting the cafeteria. “Golly, you look great, that dress really suits you though you know you don’t have to dress up for these things, it’s not like they’re formals, except of course I bought new shoes so who am I to say anything anyway and we’re probably not the only ones to do stuff like that, so at any rate who’s all here and have you danced with anyone yet?”
As Laurie and Chartreuse moved off together, Corry reached into his pocket and flipped a loonie to one of the guys standing near the doors. “Hey, Tommy,” he remarked. “Go buy me a pop, would you? The usual.”
Tommy willingly went inside to purchase the item in question as Corry turned his attention to another student. “Quick, what comes to mind when I say improv singing?”
“Screw you,” the student shot back sullenly.
“Mmmmm. Say ‘hi’ to Julie for me, would you? I do hope she’s ‘bearing’ up,” Corry concluded.
No hesitation, no smugness in that guy’s tone; if Julie had plans against him, the news hadn’t filtered down to some of her more well known supporters. Corry hadn’t really expected it to, but it never hurt to check. He proceeded into the cafeteria himself.
Larry Fisk monitored Corry’s arrival with a sour expression on his face. Kids these days, the science teacher mused. Hard to tell what they were getting up to half the time. But Corry Veniti and Julie LaMille? They were the worst.
Of course, given their place in the social hierarchy, few other students risked doing anything that might annoy them – which paradoxically kept the school relatively peaceful. Meanwhile, the mutual (if guarded) respect that Corry and Julie seemed to have for each other kept their own disagreements from escalating too high.
Regardless, Larry had told the principal, Dell Hunt, that some teachers should intercede. But Dell seemed to believe that, as long as the faculty didn’t take sides, the teens would eventually work things out themselves. Was that possible?
Larry had his doubts, and the dance chaperon knew he wouldn’t be able to keep from grimacing whenever he saw either one of the two ringleaders. It disturbed him to think about what might happen if the tenuous balance between them ever changed.
Inside the cafeteria, Phil Clarke was having similar misgivings. All that he’d been able to get from Julie about the dance was that she would be taking steps towards dealing with Corry once and for all. She hadn’t elaborated on how this related to her problem with Carrie and Frank. It felt like Julie was aiming for a diversionary tactic. But why?
It came back to her ultimate goals. Clarke had never thought that figuring out why Julie was so bent on her plans would come under a time constraint, but he was realizing now that time played a factor. Ironic in a way, if Julie’s claim of a time machine was true.
Scanning the room to try and otherwise occupy his mind (even if only temporarily) Clarke caught sight of Tim. That surprised him. Tim had never been one to come out to social events.
Heck, Clarke had befriended the boy after realizing how much Tim tended to be socially shunned. In retrospect, perhaps Tim’s earlier question to him, regarding whether Julie was likely to do anything troublesome tonight, made some sense?
Then again, it didn’t, because Clarke had admitted that there was a very good chance for something to happen. So why would Tim pick tonight as the first dance he would attend? Clarke then noticed Luci standing next to him. Was she the reason? A date?
The tall basketball player turned to see Laurie standing next to him. “Er, yeah?”
“Would you… are you… that is, you’re not dancing at the moment, but…” The redhead stopped, unable to complete her thought.
“Was I planning to?” Clarke attempted to finish for her. Laurie nodded mutely.
Her request didn’t surprise him. Laurie had previously indicated an interest in him. Except, given his current ties with Julie, he couldn’t afford to be connected to Corry’s sister, even casually. Besides, the redheaded girl had a tendency to talk a lot, something Clarke had trouble dealing with.
Yet even as he tried to think of how to turn her down gently, he realized that Laurie had been curbing her babbling tendencies of late, at least around him. And Julie wasn’t here yet.
Clarke opened his mouth to respond – when the word rippled through the attendees. Julie and Carrie had arrived outside. “Maybe another time,” he apologized, turning to head for the cafeteria door.
“Yeah, okay, right, sure, no problem, I’m fine with that… just fine…” Laurie murmured, even after Clarke was out of earshot. Her eyes fell down to her fingers, where they began to twist around the folds of her skirt.
Chartreuse, for her part, had left Laurie in order to check in with Luci and Tim.
“Okay guys,” she said eagerly. “Laurie says there’s, like, some singing thing which Corry might be doing tonight. That’s so likely to be when Julie strikes! I think Julie’s arriving too, so let’s split up and give a scan of the DJ’s stage area right quick.”
Despite the undercurrent of escalating tension, an hour and a half later, everything was still normal. Chartreuse was baffled. “I know I’m not wrong,” she murmured. “Something is starting here. I can almost, you know, sense it about to happen. But if Julie’s going to start it, how is she going to DO it?”
“Stage area’s unchanged,” Luci offered up as she approached.
“Are you, like, SURE?”
“If there’s one thing I’m good at,” the young girl shot back. “It’s observation. There’s nothing out of place.”
“Can I-I-I go now?” Tim lamented. “I haven’t done any good. I can’t even talk to Clarke now that Julie’s here.”
Chartreuse fell back against the wall, a frustrated look on her face. “But… oh, sure,” she said, defeated. “Look, guys, sorry if I dragged you out here for nothing. I mean, I know I’ve been, like, wrong about mystic stuff before. I just never dreamed I could be THIS wrong.”
“Your attention please,” came a voice from the stage as a song wrapped up. Everyone in the cafeteria turned to look at Corry, who was holding the microphone.
“Some of you know that I’ve been trying to start up a band to perform some cover songs at upcoming school events.” Corry grinned. “And while you’re equally aware that I could exert some pressure to make this happen, I’ve been trying to acquire musical support on a voluntarily basis. After all, you’d be giving up your free time to be with me, and it’s not like I’ll be paying you, no matter how well you drum.”
There was a smattering of laugher before Corry continued. “As you may also know, I’ve declared myself the lead singer. If that’s what’s making you hesitate, I thought I’d take this opportunity to demonstrate how I’m more than a simple choir member.” He turned to say something to the DJ.
“Oh, and Julie?” he added, turning back. “If you’re thinking of trying something here…” His face darkened. “Don’t.”
Moments later, the tune of a relatively recent song began – karaoke version. Corry tossed the microphone back and forth briefly between his hands before starting to sing…
To have such a power seemed really sublime
But I never imagined the problems I’d face
So now I’m lost in time and also in space.~
~I’m three days older than I was last night
Wondering if I put wrong what once went right
And I would hit rewind but time’s being unkind,
Destinies intertwined now I’m losing my mind!”~
Tim lifted a brow. “He’s pretty good,” he noted.
“Interesting song selection,” Luci murmured. She tried to remember which group had made it popular.
“Short stuff?” came the voice of Lee. “Hey, it is you. You’re fast, I just saw you out in the hall.”
Luci turned to Lee, feeling her heart rate increasing. “What?”
~”I can speak of tomorrow but not yesterday
For when history changes your past goes away
I altered one thing that was causing me strife
The tapestry tore changing everyone’s life.
Maybe that’s fine, maybe it’s not,
Who draws the line, who calls the shot?”~
“I’ve never been able to make sense of this song,” Carrie grumbled. “Pretty lame selection, huh Julie? Julie?”
Carrie was sure Julie had been within earshot a couple minutes ago. Where had her friend gone?
~”Is there some higher power involved around here?
I don’t know if they helped or are something to fear.
I see now that these forces can’t be understood
I’d return things to normal if only I could,
But the ramifications have damaged my brain
It won’t be long now before I’ve gone insane.”~
“Tracked down where’s that ringing’s coming from then?” Joe inquired.
“Yeah, a cell phone,” Frank said. “In Carrie Waterson’s jacket.”
“Well, answer it,” Joe concluded. “It’s not going to voicemail, and whoever’s calling, they don’t seem to want to hang up on their own.”
~”None of this should have happened, I know in my gut
Yet our future is hist’ry, and I’ve lost what’s what.
We must now beware, time is not playing fair,
I would solve this crime it’s just I’m…
outta time… outta time… outta time…”~
Corry concluded his song. There was a brief pause, then the silence was broken – not by applause, but by the voice of Laurie Veniti coming through the sound system.
“I’ve figured out where the test papers are,” she stated. “They’re in the bottom drawer of Ms. Adams’ desk in the math office which she keeps locked but Chartreuse heard from Katie that George said she keeps a spare key at the back of her pullout drawer in class in the event that she forgets her key ring because I guess it happened once a year ago and they had to force the drawer and it was a real pain and stuff but anyway that’s where you can find the math tests!”
“That… that can’t be me,” Laurie cried out from the back of the room, feeling the blood drain from her face.
“Oh, I won’t find them there,” Carrie’s voice retorted through the speakers. “You will. After all, I don’t need them as much as you do. Plus you’ve come this far, why not prove yourself by going all the way?”
“What the hell?” Carrie gasped in response to hearing her own voice.
Laurie’s voice returned. “But… I thought… it’s been sort of fun to this point but to actually steal…?”
‘That’s pre-recorded,’ Corry realized, shaking off his momentary paralysis. He spun to the DJ. “Turn off all your audio equipment,” he snapped.
“Oh, feeling a little chicken? Well, maybe your brother would be more willing to do this instead,” Carrie concluded.
“No! Don’t tell him about any of this. I’ll… I’ll take the papers if you really want…”
“SOMEONE TURN THAT GOD DAMN RECORDING OFF!” Corry yelled.
The power all around the stage immediately went dead. For a moment, another complete silence descended upon the room. No one seemed to know what to say. Though many looks automatically went to a couple of specific faces.
“I never cheated,” Laurie murmured. Her face was a deathly white and she seemed to be in danger of hyperventilating. “That, that was over a year ago. Okay, I… I did take a copy of the test. But I never looked at it. Never, ever! I would never… never… oh God… I… I’m so sorry!”
The redhead buried her face in her hands and sprinted for the door.
“Laurie!” Corry cried out from the stage. He quickly started shoving his way through the crowd of still shocked spectators towards the back, only to find himself face to face with Carrie. As if sensing that they were in a danger zone, everyone standing nearby immediately took two steps back.
Corry’s hands balled into fists. “You and Julie have crossed the line this time,” he seethed at the blonde. “Don’t think you’re getting away with it.”
“You think it was MY idea to be portrayed that way to the entire school?” Carrie fired back. “I didn’t know that conversation had ever been recorded.”
“Then you admit it happened?” Corry barked. “Sounds like you’ll be spending a little extra time at home this term.”
Carrie’s eyes narrowed. “If you’re implying that some sort of suspension is coming my way, be aware that your sister sounded a LOT guiltier than I did.”
“Are you threatening me, Waterson?!”
“You’re smart, you figure it out! For that matter, you were the one up at the stage, with the equipment. How do we know you’re not playing innocent here? Trying to create more trouble for me and Julie?”
“How DARE you try to pin the blame back on me,” Corry shot back, face going as red as his hair. “Waterson, I’d be VERY careful about what actions you take over the next few days.”
With that, Corry shoved his way past her, charging towards the door through which Laurie had exited.
Carrie resisted the urge to respond to Corry’s shove with a tackle, instead taking a few deep breaths before calling out, “Julie?” She turned to look about her, finally grabbing onto the shirt of the person standing closest, decorum be damned. “Did you see where the hell Julie went??”
The kid shook his head several times, returning the expression on Carrie’s face with one of abject terror. Useless. The blonde shoved him back out of the way, deciding she’d have to look for the brunette herself. Because Corry had been right about one thing: Julie had crossed the line.
Whether Julie had been the one to play that recording, or whether it had been Corry – her friend had apparently sensed what was about to happen, and made a quick exit. However, instead of offering any warning, or even returning to back Carrie up, Julie had left her high and dry. Carrie was not pleased by that. Not one bit.
The blonde stalked out of the cafeteria through a different set of doors than those used by Corry.
As murmurs began to spread through the crowd, Chartreuse could only stare in horror at the door through which the Veniti twins had departed. “We’ve failed,” she realized. “The 2DEGS have totally failed. Now, it’s… war.”
The steadily increasing sound of student mutterings was cut off by the sound of feedback from near the stage, power having being restored. It was followed by the voice of science teacher Larry Fisk at the microphone. “This dance,” he stated, “Is over. Please clear the cafetorium as soon as possible.”
In a dark, abandoned classroom, the brunette girl smiled to herself. She collapsed the antenna for the remote she was carrying. It sounded like everything was working out more or less as anticipated. Thus phase one was complete: the revolution at the high school had begun.
Julie found herself shivering in anticipation, but she forced herself to stay focused. There was still work to be done… so much work to be done…
ASIDE: New Commentary Post