3.02: NEW ARRIVAL
“Welcome back to school!” the teacher announced. “I am Mrs. Haye, and this is senior English.” She came around her desk. “Now, many of you already know each other, seeing as our scheduling algorithm tries to synch you up based on your homeroom from last year. But it’s been a whole summer, and I don’t know all of you! So, as I call out your names, please tell me about something that interests you.”
Carrie Waterson tuned out the glorified roll call, choosing instead to look around the room. She noted that everybody who knew of the existence of the time machine remained in her homeroom, which was kind of nice. Though none of them had made any time trips since last year. Well, as long as Carrie ignored whatever the hell had happened – would be happening? – back on her birthday.
When the first present day minted coins had started to appear in late June, allowing for a round trip return to their present, Carrie had shut down the idea of time travel. She’d been keeping the machine under her bed since last December, wanting to be able to escape with it, if anyone came after her. Like, someone from the future, wanting to tap into her lurking demonic temporal powers.
The very thought of those powers caused Carrie to shudder involuntarily. This despite her mounting familiarity, due to the sessions she’d ended up doing with Chartreuse over the summer.
More to the point though, what was the point in making any temporal trips? The future was inaccessible without coins, and the past was the past. Carrie couldn’t even use the time machine to study up for her history class, as working out where they might end up geographically would be problematic as soon as they were looking at a trip outside of their own lifelines. Real life – it was more complicated than “Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure”.
Mrs. Haye finally reached ‘W’, so Carrie gave her name, remarking on her athletic skills. She started to zone out again, only to have a knock at the classroom door pull her back. “Oh yes!” Mrs. Haye said. “And I would like you all to welcome Glen Oaks. He is a new student from out of town who will be joining our homeroom.” She gestured for the boy with the short red hair to enter. He did, smiling amiably at everyone in the room, though Carrie fancied his gaze rested a little longer on her.
“Glen, there are still a few desks free, so if you’ll take a seat I can pass around the course syllabus,” Mrs. Haye said.
Glen nodded, then headed straight for the empty desk next to Carrie. He turned and smiled at her again as he sat. She offered him a quick smile back, even as something about him struck her as being a bit unsettling. Why? What was it? She resisted the temptation to stare, lest he get the wrong idea.
‘I’m overreacting. Can’t blame him for taking an interest in me, after all. Merely shows I’ve still got it,’ Carrie mused to herself. Mrs. Haye began to talk about senior level English.
“You know Luci, it’s not too late for you to switch into Physics,” Frank Dijora remarked, as he joined both Carrie and Luci at the lunch table. “That would give us an afternoon class together.”
“Hey, I like Drama,” Luci Primrose protested. “Besides, you could always switch out of Business and into Biology with me.”
“Touche,” Frank observed. “I guess we’ll have to live with mornings.”
“If you ask me, the both of you could stand to have some time apart at school,” Carrie Waterson interjected, resting her chin on her hand. “After all, didn’t Frank’s marks slip last year, after you two started going out?”
“They did not!” Frank objected. “That is… I should have studied a little harder for June exams, I misjudged the difficulty level.”
“Uh huh, suuuure. And what were you two doing instead of studying? I bet I can guess…”
“Carrie!” Luci hissed, glancing to see if they were being overheard.
“You were inventing some new thingamajig, right? What did you think I was going to say?” Carrie finished innocently.
“Carrie, enough,” Frank sighed.
“All right, all right,” the blonde laughed, raising her hands in surrender. “Apologies. But you’ve been dating since, what, last December? It’s not like your relationship is some big secret here.”
“That’s still no reason to turn it into a newspaper headline,” Luci grumbled.
Frank leaned in a little closer to the young girl. “Carrie can’t help it, she’s jealous I picked you over her,” he whispered. At that, Luci smothered a laugh.
Carrie reached out to flick her fingers at the back of Frank’s head. “My hearing is still excellent, you know. So let’s not pretend that I ever asked for our friendship to turn into anything more, okay?”
“Fine, fine,” Frank remarked, still grinning.
“Anyway, I’m happy for the two of you,” Carrie finished, reaching out to pick up the apple from her cafeteria tray. “Plus, I could still get any guy I wanted. Were I to actually try.” She took a bite.
“Like that new guy in our English class, for example,” Luci noted. “Glen. He seemed to be taking an interest in you.”
Carrie nearly choked before managing to swallow. “So that wasn’t my imagination?”
“He tried to hide it, but I noticed,” Luci remarked.
Carrie frowned. “You would, you see everything. He’s in my history class too… I’m not quite sure what to make of him.”
“Well, here’s your chance to find out,” Frank said. “He’s coming this way.”
Carrie turned as Glen approached. The redhead waved in greeting. “Hello! Is this seat taken?” he inquired, indicating the one next to Luci and opposite Carrie. When Carrie shook her head no, he sat down.
“I hope I’m not intruding,” Glen continued. “Still trying to find my way around. You’re all in my homeroom, right?”
“Right,” Frank confirmed. “I’m Frank, that’s Luci and that’s Carrie.”
Glen smiled. “Of course. Actually, I’m a little surprised to find Carrie here with the two of you.”
Luci arced an eyebrow. “Oh? Why?”
“Because – forgive me for being blunt – Carrie, you strike me as being more a athletic type. Less intellectually inclined.”
“Are you saying I’m a dumb blonde?!” Carrie said, narrowing her eyes.
“And I’m not athletic?” Luci chimed in, equally annoyed.
“Oh, no, I don’t mean that!” Glen corrected. “Just that Carrie’s athletic talents appeared superior, compared to Luci’s. Was that incorrect?”
“Well, no,” the blonde admitted guardedly. “But that doesn’t mean I can only hang around with jocks, does it?”
“Certainly not. I’m sorry, I’m getting off on the wrong foot here, aren’t I,” Glen sighed. “I fear my higher reasoning has left me, it does that on occasion when I am confronted with such overwhelming feminine beauty.”
“Oh brother,” Luci mumbled under her breath.
“I’m not excluding you from that remark, Luci,” Glen assured. “For while you seem to have skipped a grade or two, and present as more cute than beautiful, you also strike me as a most captivating young woman. You are bound to make someone very happy some day.”
Luci opened her mouth to respond, only to look over towards Frank, seeming flustered. “Ahem,” Frank offered. “Not to be rude myself here, Glen, but is it your intention to hit on every girl in the cafeteria?”
“No, merely the most beautiful and intellectually stimulating ones,” Glen assured him with a grin. “Which is why I chose to sit with Carrie, who I now realize is the best of both worlds. But if I am intruding on your group, you have only to say the word, and I will go.”
“You’re not intruding,” Carrie said quickly, before Frank could speak up. “But when we know so little about you, can you blame us for being skeptical as to your motives?”
“Understood,” Glen said. “I shall more formally introduce myself. My name is Glen Oaks, I’m seventeen, and I’m here now because my parents are planning on taking up residence in the area. I enjoy skating, acting and I am an excellent long distance runner.”
“You run?” Carrie asked.
“Indeed. Perhaps we should have a race sometime.”
“Perhaps,” Carrie agreed, her curiosity spiking again. “You say you like acting too, are you taking Drama?”
“Last period,” Glen confirmed. “Right after Art.”
Carrie blinked. “We have identical schedules then.”
“Is that so? Well, what a happy coincidence. I suppose we’ll be seeing a lot of each other this term.”
“Yes, it does seem that way,” Carrie agreed, not quite sure how she felt about that.
She still wasn’t sure at the end of the lunch period forty five minutes later. Glen had managed to sidestep a lot of the questions asked of him, while learning more about the rest of them in the process. It reminded Carrie a lot of the way Julie LaMille and Corry Veniti interacted with people.
Which gave her an idea.
“Corry! Hey, Corry!”
The redhead turned towards Carrie, arcing an eyebrow. “Something I can do for you, Waterson?” he asked.
“Actually, yes,” Carrie said, as she reached his locker. “I’d like information on the new student in our homeroom, Glen Oaks.”
“Okay then. He’s a new student in our homeroom,” Corry said. “Oh, and he also has red hair. You really should pay better attention.”
“Corry, come on. You know what I mean.”
Corry crossed his arms. “Sure I do. Just like YOU know I’m not inclined to help out all of Julie’s old associates, simply because she’s no longer the active force around the school.”
“Hah! I’m a little more than THAT to you,” Carrie countered. “Not to mention how you’ve spent months helping out Julie herself!”
“Julie actually NEEDS the help,” Corry said pointedly. “Heck, it’s partly my fault she does, after I turned so many against her.” His gaze turned wistful. “There’s a part of me that misses the rivalry too… but that’s neither here nor there.”
He lowered his voice. “You know how I feel about you, Waterson. That doesn’t change simply because of what you may or may not become in the future. So why should I do anything for you? For that matter, what help can I possibly be to someone who has the power within her to destroy the world?”
Carrie winced. “Corry, please. I’m trying to put that behind me. Moreover, I haven’t asked you for any special treatment since those events – and all I want here is a bit of information! Is that so hard?”
Corry paused, sizing her up. “I’ll think about it,” he yielded. “After all, I was going to look into Glen myself. Come back in a few days, and I’ll decide then whether what I have will cost you.”
Carrie nodded, deciding that was probably the best she was going to get from the male Veniti twin. She proceeded down the hall towards her own locker.
That evening found Carrie Waterson knocking on the door of the Vermilion residence. She and Chartreuse had decided to continue their temporal sessions despite the end of the summer. After all, despite how much Carrie wanted to simply banish the strange forces raging inside her, she knew they weren’t going anywhere. And keeping those powers in check was the only way to avoid another incident like the one last November, which had nearly cost the lives of… well, everyone on the planet.
Actually, Chartreuse had accepted Carrie’s explanation of those events with remarkable poise, despite the later memory wipe. Maybe the pink haired mystic would have put the pieces together herself, given enough time? Carrie sighed. It was more likely she wanted to rationalize getting Chartreuse involved, after that conversation with herself last March.
Carrie reached up to knock again, but before she could, a young girl with short blue hair opened the door. Carrie offered up a tentative smile. “Hello Azure, is your sister here?” she inquired.
Azure peered at Carrie, then turned and shouted, “Chartreuse, your girlfriend is here to see you!” She stepped back, allowing Carrie to enter the house. “Go easy on her tonight, okay? She was all dizzy the morning after you two bunnies had your session last week.”
Carrie frowned. “I beg your pardon?”
“Oh, like I don’t know what you two do in my sister’s bedroom for hours at a time. I’m fourteen, I read about these things.”
“Azure, I know it’s a strain for you, but pull your head out of the gutter when you’re, you know, talking with my friends, okay?” Chartreuse sighed, coming down the stairs. “Sorry Carrie, I was just in the washroom.”
“She’s all pretty for you now,” Azure noted. “Be sure to compliment her new perfume.”
“I’m going, I’m going,” the blue haired girl said. “Just don’t be too loud, I have homework to complete. On the first day! Seriously, what’s the deal with high school anyway?!”
Chartreuse sighed and shook her head as her sister went upstairs. “Really sorry about that,” she said, closing the front door. “Honestly, just when I think she can’t get any more annoying, her hormones explode all over the place.”
“Sounds messy,” Carrie remarked.
“I’m hoping it’s just a phase,” Chartreuse said. “Anyway, my sister’s not the reason you, like, came here. Let’s get upstairs. I have everything we’ll need laid out on my bed.” She paused. “Which, come to think, is not at all as dirty as it sounds.”
Carrie seated herself across from Chartreuse. “Okay,” the pink haired girl said, passing a cleansing crystal around Carrie’s head. “Remember what we’ve been talking about. Relax, and let the sensations, like, come to you.”
“They already have,” Carrie murmured, as all of time coalesced around her. The best description Carrie could give for the phenomenon was that it was like she was standing in the middle of a swiftly flowing river, being gradually pulled along by the current as the seconds ticked by. The separate drops of water, they represented the millions of people and other objects moving through time. By looking upstream, Carrie could see the events of the past. By looking downstream, Carrie could see different branching paths of the future. The metaphor wasn’t perfect, but it was serviceable.
Carrie now knew that she had the ability within her to travel this time stream under her own power, not to mention affect it in other ways, but usually she was more than content to simply let the current pull her along.
“Oh,” came Chartreuse’s voice, reminding Carrie of where she really was. “You know, it never ceases to amaze me how easily you do that lately.”
“Yeah, I find it quite unsettling myself,” Carrie murmured. “What now, Chartreuse?”
“Well, as I recall, we were working on finding individuals who aren’t in physical proximity to you. Want to, like, try for anything in the past or the future yet?”
“No, let’s stick with the present for now. I’m going to see if I can locate Frank again. It’s easier to pick up former time travellers, they feel a little out of synch with the rest of the world.”
“All right,” Chartreuse agreed. She reached out to take Carrie’s hands. “Visualize him then. Imagine that he’s standing right in front of you. Then, once you have that image, see where it takes you.”
Carrie nodded, taking in a deep breath, concentrating on Frank and on where he might be in the torrent of water rushing around her. “He’s… he’s with Luci,” Carrie realized as a picture of the girl swam up before her eyes. “That will make it easier. They’re not at his house though… or her’s… it’s… the cafe. They’re at the central cafe.”
The scene practically leapt out of the water at her then, and it was like she was standing in the cafe herself – except her body had no substance. A spirit body, as Chartreuse called it. Able to see things, but invisible to them, and incapable of interaction.
“Carrie, what’s happening?” Chartreuse’s voice inquired, sounding like it was coming from the bottom of a well.
“I’m now here too,” Carrie replied, forcing down a feeling of panic. “In the cafe. There’s a lot of people around. It’s so much more chaotic than any of my previous experiences!”
“Stay calm,” Chartreuse said. “Just centre in on Frank and Luci, you’re not there for anyone else.”
“Right… right, okay,” Carrie said, taking in a few deep breaths. “They’re in a corner booth together. They’re… aw, they’re sharing a basket of fries. That’s so sweet.” She paused. “Luci would kill me if she knew I was eavesdropping like this.”
“You’re not really eavesdropping, it’s a public place.”
“I guess. But they can’t see me. And last week when I centred on Frank, he was inventing stuff in his basement.”
“Look, Carrie, if you’re this concerned about spying on them, just don’t, like, centre in on them in future.”
“Well how the heck am I supposed to know when they’re together?” Carrie grumbled. “But whatever. Now that I’m here, do you have any recommendations?”
“How about this – pick out someone else there that you could, you know, shift your attention to instead,” Chartreuse proposed. “You don’t have to take it in all at once, just scan the room.”
“Okay,” Carrie called back, turning her spirit form to do a slow pan. “It’s mostly kids from school. Looks like Theresa’s the one waiting tables, like usual. Oh, wait a minute…” She hesitated.
“What?” Chartreuse asked.
“It’s him,” Carrie said at last. “Glen Oaks, that new boy in our homeroom. It… it’s weird, it feels like he’s looking directly at me. He can’t see me, can he?”
“I doubt it, my mom’s the only one I know of who can see spirit forms,” Chartreuse replied. “Maybe he’s looking at something behind you.”
“There’s a wall behind me. I don’t think that… OH!!!” Carrie shrieked. “NO, NO, GET ME OUT, GET ME OUT OF HERE!!!”
All at once, Chartreuse was kneeling in front of her, shaking her shoulders. She was back in the bedroom. “Carrie! Carrie, calm down, it’s all right!!” the pink haired girl was saying. “You’re all right, you’re safe now, you understand?” Carrie nodded wordlessly, struggling to regain her breath. “Thank goodness,” Chartreuse breathed. “What, like, happened?”
Carrie felt a shiver run down her spine. “I… I saw… oh god, I was in the cafe, and suddenly I saw… fire. The place has caught on fire, Chartreuse!”
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- Feel free to speculate on this “New Arrival”, or anything else, in the comments!