3.03: CARRIE ON
“I don’t care. I know what I saw, Chartreuse!” Carrie finished off her glass of water. “There was smoke billowing out of the back and flames spreading into the dining area. I didn’t simply imagine it!”
“I’m not suggesting you did,” Chartreuse assured. “But is it possible you were no longer seeing the present, but some other time period?”
Carrie shook her head. “I don’t see how. It’s not like I made an effort to leave the present.” She frowned. “Though now that you mention it, I didn’t notice Frank and Luci any more…”
“Cosmic forces can be kinda unpredictable,” Chartreuse admitted. “I mean, I know your abilities are fundamentally different from mine, but there’s probably similar rules that apply. I remember one time I wanted to learn the outcome of a football game at school, but when I tried to do a vision quest forwards I saw–”
“Chartreuse, I’m here so that I can gain control over my powers,” Carrie snapped, cutting her off. “I’d rather not have you tell me they can’t be controlled, all right?!”
Chartreuse stopped. “I’m sorry,” she said softly. “I’m just telling you what I, you know, have discovered though my own experiences.”
Carrie pressed a hand to her forehead. “I know. I know, I… I’m the one who should be sorry, it’s… look, maybe we should call it a day. All right? We’ll pick things up again some time next week.”
“If you think that’s best?”
“I’m not sure what I think. All I know is I’m no longer in the mood to deal with this right now!” Carrie rose and marched for the bedroom door, only to stop and turn back. “Chartreuse, you were watching me the whole time I was in that vision, right? My eyes, they… they didn’t turn golden at any point, did they?”
“Not that I saw, no.”
The blonde let out a breath she hadn’t realized she’d been holding. “Good. Good, okay. So, see you in school tomorrow then?”
Chartreuse nodded. “Of course. Here, let me at least come with you to the front door.”
The next few days passed without incident – unless you counted Glen’s continuing attempts at getting closer to Carrie. She discovered that even Phil Clarke had started taking notice of it, when he asked her about it over lunch that Friday. Carrie had decided to spend the time with him and Julie, to give Frank and Luci some time for themselves.
“Then you’re sure it was Glen who left those flowers on your desk this morning?” the tall blonde inquired.
“Only origami flowers,” Carrie clarified. “But yes, who else?”
“The origami looked pretty,” Julie acknowledged, fingering the flower brooch she was wearing. “And it takes time to do something like that. Glen must really like you.”
“I’ve been getting those vibes, believe me,” Carrie sighed.
“But you don’t like him?” Clarke wondered.
Carrie paused. “It’s not that,” she admitted. “I mean, I don’t dislike him, he’s courteous and everything. There’s just something about him…”
“I bet he’s trying too hard,” Julie offered. “You never did like guys who came on too strong.”
“Maybe,” Carrie acknowledged. “But then, he backs off on request, and it’s not like he’s ever invaded my personal space or anything. More to the point, it’s not like I’m seeing anyone else.”
“So you don’t want to reject him, but you don’t want to go out with him either?” Clarke said, looking confused.
Carrie grimaced. “I guess? Sounds stupid, doesn’t it. Glen’s been pretty quiet about his past and about his family though, I think that’s part of the problem. I’ll be talking with Corry later today, hopefully he’ll have come up with some data.”
“Maybe Glen simply has family issues,” Julie murmured, looking back down at her salad.
Carrie flinched. “Oh, gods! I’m sorry Julie, I was speaking without thinking. H-How has your family situation been?”
Julie offered up a wan smile. “No worries, Carrie. Jeeves has been like a father, and he’s great at handling all the legal stuff. My parents have backed off, and my counselling sessions are down to once a month now.” She sighed. “And while it’s hard, reinventing my very understanding of myself and my goals, let’s face it, life’s never been easy for me.”
She continued on before Carrie could speak. “I’d rather talk about something else, okay? For instance, aside from Glen, what else have you been up to? We didn’t get to speak much over the summer, I was trying to make up those couple credits I lost due to – you know.”
Talk then shifted to a trip which Carrie’s father had arranged for both Watersons during the previous month.
Carrie tried not to give Glen any more thought until she encountered Corry at the end of the school day. “So?” Carrie said pointedly, when he didn’t look up. “What’s the story, do I rate a few facts?”
“You mean with respect to Glen Oaks?” Corry inquired, finally turning away from his locker.
“No, the Easter Bunny. Of course Glen!”
Corry made a face. “Funny you should ask that,” he said. “Because as much as it pains me to admit this, you may well know more about the guy than I do.”
That brought Carrie up short. “What?”
“The information I get is all conflicting,” Corry explained. “He’s from Calgary, or Halifax. His parents are both doctors, or they’re artists. He’s allergic to strawberries, or they’re his favourite food. About the only thing my sources can agree on is that Glen has the hots for you. He hasn’t even tried to hit on anyone else. Which indicates to me that this is one seriously disturbed individual!”
“I see. That’s it?” Carrie said dryly, allowing Corry’s last remark to slide for the moment.
“Aside from the standard stuff, yeah. He’s seventeen, a good runner, he’s got a permanent room in the Clayton Hotel until such a time as his parents finalize their house deal and get here – though again goodness knows exactly when or where that is – am I telling you anything you don’t already know?”
“No, you’re being utterly useless, thank you.”
“Anytime for you, Carrie. Though hey, if you ever do take this guy up on an offer and learn something useful, I might reward you for it. Okay?”
“Right. Whatever,” Carrie said, waving at Corry over her shoulder as she continued on her way down the hall. She wasn’t about to start dating the guy simply to get some future favour from Corry! Hell, she’d never entertained thoughts of being in a serious relationship in her life!
Carrie froze mid-step. That wasn’t the problem here… was it? ‘Oh no. Is my problem with Glen?’ she wondered. ‘Or is it with… me?’
“Okay Frank, this is the point when I start getting jealous.”
“Shhhhh, Luci, he’ll hear you!” Frank whispered. He poked his head out from behind the bushes to glance down the sidewalk.
“Frank, this is the third day in a row that you’ve followed Glen home from school,” Luci continued in a quieter tone, toying with her phone, not bothering to look herself. “Do you really think you’ll learn anything about him that Corry Veniti can’t?”
“I don’t know. But you’ve seen how interested he is in Carrie! We can’t simply ignore that!”
“Can’t we?” Luci muttered.
“No, think about it, Luci!” Frank insisted. He moved ahead a few paces to another hiding spot before continuing. “We have here a transfer student with a clouded past who shows up out of nowhere and starts hitting on a girl who holds within her the temporal power to destroy a solar system. Why, they even have the same course schedules! How is that mere coincidence?? The whole world could be in danger again!”
“Or, how about this? The guy is a normal teenage male with an eye for female beauty who appreciates Carrie’s various ‘assets’,” Luci quipped, adding air quotes. “I mean, it’s not like Glen’s done anything shifty. We should be cautious, sure, but we can’t make a preemptive strike against everyone new in town.”
“Plus schedules are schedules. Laurie’s classes are identical to Carrie’s too. And she also admires Carrie,” Luci continued. “Do you think Laurie Veniti poses a threat?”
“Well, no, but…”
“No, because we’ve had time to get to know her. AND Carrie told me over the weekend that her hesitation might not be about Glen. It might be a mix of fear over who she really is, coupled with an inability to put old commitment issues behind her. You DO remember why Lee refers to Carrie as the ‘track tease’, yes? It’s not merely for the running.”
“Okay, valid points, all of them,” Frank yielded. “Still, if Carrie eventually DOES go out with Glen, we should know more about him, right?”
“IF. This gets back to my jealousy. You’re not Carrie’s father, Frank. Not unless there’s been some severe temporal warping going on! So until Carrie asks for help, let’s let the girl live her life.”
Frank sighed, then glanced out towards the redhead once more. “Okay, look, he’s going into the cafe today. Nowhere near his hotel. Let’s at least see what he’s up to there! Okay?”
“Fine,” Luci said, rolling her eyes. “But this weekend, I’ll pick the movie. No more James Bond for you.”
“So. I heard you’re finally going out with him,” Frank said. “Carrie, is that wise?”
“We’re going to the central cafe after school today,” Carrie answered, twirling the cafeteria’s spaghetti around her fork. “Barely a date. Why? It’s not like you’ve seen him do anything suspicious during your little investigations this past week, have you?”
“Well, not as such…”
“Fine. Then this encounter will give me the chance to finally make up my mind about him,” Carrie concluded. She brought the noodles to her mouth.
“But what’s the rush? If he really likes you, he can wait,” Frank insisted.
At first, Carrie could only lift an eyebrow, her mouth full of pasta. “The RUSH?” she said after swallowing. “Frank, it’s the cafe. We’re not making out behind the bleachers.”
“Frank, sweetie, I love you to pieces, but give it a rest already,” Luci sighed, having swallowed her own bite of sandwich. “There is NO evidence that Glen is anything more than what he claims to be, yeah?” She turned to Carrie. “So go. Enjoy yourself. And if Glen does anything uncomfortable, walk away!”
The young girl smiled, then pursed her lips. “Though, okay, maybe fish for more information from him too. Because… yeah. Just in case?”
“Um, okay,” Carrie agreed. “Will do.”
Glen swung the door of the cafe open and held it there for Carrie as she entered. “We can sit at the counter, if you like,” he offered. “This is meant to be informal, after all.”
“Right,” Carrie agreed, moving to take a seat on one of the stools. Glen sat next to her as a waitress approached. Her nametag read ‘Lita’; Carrie supposed Theresa had the day off.
“Can I take your orders?” the server asked brightly.
“Um, strawberry shake for me,” Carrie replied.
“That’s it? Whatever you want, it’s on me,” Glen assured her.
“Yeah, a shake’s fine. I’m not really hungry yet.”
“Make it two then,” Glen concluded. Lita nodded and headed off.
There was a momentary silence. “So, a strawberry shake. You’re not allergic to strawberries?”
Glen fired off a smile. “Of course not. Where did you hear that?”
“Oh, well, you know, around,” Carrie said, reaching up to twist a few strands of hair about her finger.
“You shouldn’t listen to rumours,” Glen admonished. “Particularly with respect to me, since I’ve been spreading disinformation around the school.”
Carrie blinked. “What? Why?”
Glen leaned his elbow on the counter. “Because I figure to really know a person, you should come out and speak with them, one on one. Word of mouth is not to be trusted! Heck, if I went by the rumours, I would have to believe that you’re a self-centred individual who enjoys using guys and tossing them aside like last week’s laundry. But that’s not the case, is it?”
Carrie felt her cheeks growing warm. “No!” She turned her interest to the nearby napkin holder. “Not lately, anyway.”
“There you are then. Too often, rumours get way out of hand – for instance, I find it hard to believe that ANY girl could have slept with the entire football team.”
“WHAT?! I’ve never even… who said THAT?!”
“Nobody. I didn’t say that was a rumour about you. Could you please let go of my shirt?”
“Oh, uh… yeah, sorry,” Carrie said, releasing her grip on Glen and sinking back into her stool. He was doing this deliberately, right? Was he trying to be funny, or was it to keep her off balance? She studied the countertop.
Glen smoothed out the wrinkles in his shirt. “Has anyone ever told you that you’re beautiful when you’re indignant?”
Having no idea how to reply to that at ALL, Carrie was thankful that Lita chose that moment to deliver their shakes. After thanking the waitress, she sipped in silence, trying to figure out how to turn the conversation around. “I think I see a problem with your philosophy.”
“Oh? What might that be?”
“If you assume that everyone you speak to is merely passing on rumours, you’ll never tell anyone the truth. Which means you get a legit reputation for being a liar.”
“Aha, but one can be honest about certain things, and it’s the people who’d trust the liar reputation that I’d want to keep off balance,” Glen countered. “Still, I see your point. So how about this? I’ll answer any ONE question you have completely, utterly, one hundred percent honestly. Fire away.”
Carrie blinked at Glen in surprise before regarding her shake again. Only one question? Okay – then should she ask about where he came from? About his relatives? His most important memory? “All right,” she said, turning back. “Why me? Why have you set your sights on me?”
“Oh.” For the first time since Carrie had met him, Glen finally seemed unsettled. “Are you sure you wouldn’t like to know about my favourite sports celebrity or something instead?”
“No,” Carrie said. “Me. Why me, Glen? The truth!”
Glen shifted his attention to behind the counter. “Fine. Here it is. The first time I saw you, I sensed something. Not love at first sight or anything so trite, but I sensed that you possessed some sort of… extraordinary ability. That was enough to get my attention.”
He turned to regard her again, leaning his cheek against his palm. “From there, I realized you’re a bit of a… paradox. Athletic but still studious. Reserved yet outspoken. Atypical, yet not someone who stands out. Rumours and history aside, I can’t believe you don’t have a steady boyfriend here. So I thought, what the heck, I’ll try my luck.” He raised an eyebrow. “Plus, I can’t deny it, you have a sizeable chest. Which also counts in your favour.”
“You were doing so well.”
“Hey, I said I’d be one hundred percent honest. Feel free to smack me for– okay then. Feel better now?”
“Much,” Carrie said, shaking out her hand. He was still trying to keep her off balance. She took another sip from her shake, contemplating the first part of his answer. “You say you sensed an ability in me,” she said. “What ability, exactly?”
“Aha, well, that’s a second question, isn’t it?” Glen remarked. “Though I must confess, I’m still trying to figure things out here. And it’ll probably take me more than one date to do it accurately.”
“So you’re hoping that I let you…” Carrie’s voice trailed off. She felt the hairs on the back of her neck stand up. Something wasn’t right here. It was like deja vu. Something was… Carrie leapt out of her seat. “Out! Everyone, get out of here!!” she shouted.
As heads turned towards her, there was an explosion in the kitchen. Smoke began billowing out from the back room, along with a few licks of flame. People screamed as customers began to run for the doors.
“Okay, everyone stay calm, let’s exit in an orderly fashion!” Glen called out, standing up next to Carrie. A cook stumbled out of the back, coughing, his face streaked with soot.
It was in the middle of the chaos that Carrie went numb. As she looked around her, all she could think was how she’d seen this before. In that vision she’d had with Chartreuse over a week ago. Except now, it was actually happening. What she’d seen was actually coming true! No, no, how could it possibly be so REAL?!
“Carrie, come on!” Glen called out. The curtains near the kitchen had caught fire. Yet still, Carrie couldn’t move. Was she going to start seeing these sorts of things regularly? How could she possibly deal with that?!
Glen marched back toward her. “Carrie, if you don’t move right now, I’m going to carry your ass out myself!” he shouted.
His words finally broke through. Carrie began to run for the door. She and Glen were the last two to exit, the sound of approaching fire engines reaching their ears as they collapsed onto the ground outside. Carrie knew she hadn’t inhaled that much smoke, yet she felt sick to her stomach. Because she’d had a vision of the future. A terrible vision – that had come true.
“Well, ten out of ten for foresight, minus a few points on reflexes,” Glen said, coughing next to her. “Are you all right, Carrie?”
“I need to go home now.”
Glen blinked. “Hey, I know this hasn’t been the best way to end our first informal date, but…”
“It’s not you,” Carrie interrupted, fighting to keep the sensations of nausea and panic in check. “But I have to go home now! I’m sorry. I’m sorry!” She stumbled to her feet and began to run away, back to the safety of her house, as fast as she could go.
“Can we take another stab at this sometime in the future??” she heard Glen call out after her. Carrie didn’t reply.
She managed to make it home before she threw up. She told her father she didn’t want dinner, and went to bed early.
She then stayed in her room all day Saturday. Ignoring attempts at communication. Fearing that another vision would happen. And worrying about what to do if it did.
On Sunday, she had a more persistent visitor.
- GOLLY – got my first 2016 coin today, a quarter as change at a Canadian Tire. The time frame is about right.
- Consider voting for Time & Tied at WebFictionGuide. I tend not to bother when it’s only me.
- More next week, with some of my favourite bits of writing ever, featuring said “persistent visitor”!