3.04: THE VISIONARIES
“The popcorn?” the young asian guessed, entering the Dijora house and looking at him in amusement. “I mean, that was our arrangement, you get the popcorn, I get the movie…”
“Yes, yes, but look what I received in the way of change,” Frank said, fumbling in his pocket for the money. He held six coins out for inspection.
Luci stared. “They… overcharged you?”
“The dates,” Frank said patiently. “Look at the dates.”
Comprehension dawned. “Oh! Two more from the current year.”
“Yup,” Frank affirmed as he pocketed them. “It’s weird, for whatever reason, we haven’t had as many recently minted coins in circulation this year. I don’t know why, but it could be a problem for when we resume time trips.”
“When? Not if? But Carrie hasn’t authorized more time trips.”
“Well, no,” Frank admitted. “But she can’t hold out indefinitely, can she? In particular, now that she’s gone out with Glen, we may want to use the time machine to investigate…”
“OKAY, stopping that train of thought before it leaves the station,” Luci interrupted. “No Glen tonight. Movie tonight. Yes?”
“Yes, right,” Frank agreed. “What did you find?” Luci smirked as she held up the casing. Frank’s eyebrow went up as he read it. “Stephen King’s ‘Carrie’?,” he questioned. Luci nodded.
Sunday afternoon found Chartreuse ringing the doorbell at the Waterson residence. Carrie’s father answered it for her moments later. “Um, hi!” she began. “Is Carrie in? I think we, like, have something that we need to talk about.”
Hank Waterson shook his head. “She is here, but she’s not feeling very well. Could you come back another day?”
Chartreuse pursed her lips. “I could. Except I think I know what her problem is, why she’s been so, you know, withdrawn all weekend. And I think I can help.”
“Really?” Hank said. “What’s wrong? I know she doesn’t have a fever, but it seems to be more than an upset stomach…”
“It’s related to our weekly sessions,” Chartreuse hedged. “Can I please talk to her?”
“She refuses to speak with anyone. Insisting only aggravates her – I had to turn away both Frank and Luci when they came by. In fact, it’s all I can do to get her to say anything to me.”
“Carrie doesn’t have to speak to me, only listen,” Chartreuse pleaded. “Please, Mr. Waterson? I know what I’m talking about.”
“Well… all right. Come in,” Hank Waterson decided, moving aside. “I do hate to see my daughter like this and I’m at a bit of a loss as to a solution. You sure she won’t mind seeing you?”
“Go away!” Carrie shouted through her bedroom door.
“Carrie, hear me out!” Chartreuse protested. “You’re upset because of the fire at the cafe, right?”
No reply. Chartreuse knew she was right. The pink haired girl motioned with her hands for Carrie’s father to depart.
He looked at his daughter’s door, then back at her. “Call me if she starts throwing things,” Mr. Waterson said at last, before heading back downstairs.
“Look, I understand some of what you’re going through,” Chartreuse continued, once she was alone. “I’d like to tell you a story about the time my abilities caused trouble in my life too. Can’t I, like, say it to your face?”
“Fine, I’ll talk through the door,” Chartreuse continued stubbornly. “It all started three years ago, when I was fourteen. I’d received a disturbing vision. It was a vision of death…”
“There has to be something we can do!” Chartreuse said desperately, nibbling on a lock of her violet coloured hair. “I don’t want Fluffy to die! Not like that!!”
Her mother sat down on the bed next to her. “I’m sorry, Chartreuse,” she said softly. “We can warn her, but I’m not sure she’d understand us. Fluffy’s always enjoyed playing in traffic, it was just a matter of time.”
“But… but it’s not right!” Chartreuse objected. “Can’t she be kept in her house? Can’t we prevent things that way?”
“She’d find a way out,” Mrs. Vermilion sighed. “You know her, she’s sneaky that way. There are some things you can stop, Chartreuse, and other things that are inevitable. You have to let this one go, dear. Fluffy’s death is meant to happen.”
“But Mom, she’s your own sister-in-law!” the violet haired girl sobbed. “If this is what it means to see the future, I don’t want to see it any more!”
“Chartreuse, she may have married your uncle, but me and Fluffy weren’t that close,” her mother insisted. “Now, please, try to work through this. You can take all the time you need.”
“Hold it!” Carrie interrupted. The lock clicked, and the door of her bedroom opened a crack. “Are you telling me Fluffy was your aunt?!”
“Yes,” Chartreuse sighed. “It was so horrible. She died when a tree fell on her.”
Carrie glared at Chartreuse with one eye. “You’re making this up.”
“I am not!” Chartreuse said indignantly. “Our other aunt, Emerald, was quite broken up about it! I think maybe my Mom was too, but of course since she can see, like, astral projections, she could still talk to Fluffy after her sister-in-law’s death.”
“But… if a tree fell on Fluffy, what did playing in traffic have to do with anything?”
“If Fluffy hadn’t been in the road, the tree would have, you know, missed her,” Chartreuse said patiently. “Now, are you going to keep asking questions, or can I continue my story?”
Carrie hesitated, which Chartreuse took to be a yes.
“All right, Chartreuse,” Mr. Vermilion said, entering the room. “I’m sorry, but we can’t afford to give you any more time to grieve.”
“But Dad, it’s been less than an hour!” the orange haired girl wailed. “Can’t I at least–”
“Stop! You said your hair was violet a minute ago,” Carrie interrupted again.
“You did! How can it be orange less than an hour later?”
“Maybe you, like, misheard me through the door. Can I come into your bedroom already?”
Carrie glared at Chartreuse again before finally opening the door wide enough to allow the other girl inside. “Thank you,” Chartreuse said. “Ooh, you have a nice room here, Carrie. Nice pyjamas too.”
“Don’t try and change the subject,” Carrie said, closing the door and moving to lie back down on her bed. “Now, skip to the part where your story has something to do with the fire I was in.”
“Oh… were you actually in the cafe when your vision occurred?” Chartreuse said. “I didn’t realize. Maybe this isn’t the most appropriate story after all.”
Carrie sat back up. “I knew it! You’ve been making it up.”
“No way!!” Chartreuse objected. “You want to know what, like, happened next?”
“Okay,” Carrie retorted. “What happened next?”
“Honey, I’m sorry,” Mr. Vermilion said. “But we may need you to use your abilities–”
“I’m not ever using them again!” Chartreuse countered. “I’m renouncing my powers! I don’t wanna know anything more about what might be happening around me!”
“But the Prime Minister of Canada has a very important job for us to do,” her father insisted. “Won’t you at least listen to what he has to say?”
The orange haired girl eyed him. “Well… all right, I’ll listen. But I won’t do anything I don’t want to!”
“That’s my girl,” Mr. Vermilion said with a smile. He reached out to twist the bedknob on his daughter’s bed, which caused the mirror on the vanity to rotate 90 degrees. The two of them jumped into the tunnel now visible behind the mirror, sliding down a chute and falling into the couch at the bottom. Mrs. Vermilion looked over and smiled at them as she reached out and clicked on a small remote. A large wall screen lit up with an image of Jean Chretien.
“‘Allos!” the Prime Minister said. “As I was saying, I am having a very important jobs for you Vermoothians!”
“Oh, what now?”
Carrie pressed a hand to her forehead. “You expect me to believe ANY of that actually took place?!?”
Chartreuse sighed. “Fine, I didn’t give in quite that easily, but I’m, like, embellishing a bit in the interests of time. Do you really want me to go into every little detail?”
“That’s… not my problem! What about all that other stuff? With the bedknob, the chute and Chretien?!”
“Oh, that! See, I was going through this secret agent phase, which is partly why I kept re-dying my hair. My parents were nice enough to humour me by doing some, you know, remodelling. As to Chretien, we, like, have a filter set up so that all communications coming in from the Houses of Parliament look and sound like Chretien, no matter who the Prime Minister actually is. Jean was my dad’s favourite prime minister, you know, even if the guy could never pronounce our family name properly.”
Carrie stared. “Chartreuse. This is a stretch. Even for you.”
“Well, whether you believe it or not, that doesn’t change what, like, happened!” Chartreuse said petulantly. “Now, are you going to listen to me, or are you going to interrupt every five seconds?”
“Fine, fine. Continue the story,” Carrie sighed.
The image of Jean Chretien cleared his throat. “So’s if you Verminions could handles dat little problem for me, da government would be grateful. Until da next times!” His image clicked off the monitor.
“I can’t believe that guy won even one election,” eleven year old Azure muttered from her own seat on the couch. Her father shot her a look of annoyance.
“That’s beside the point,” Mrs. Vermilion stated. “Now then Hugh, how do you figure we should handle things?”
Mr. Vermilion stood. “Well Amber, the best way to protect this Tope Diamond while it’s en route would be to choose what seems to be the safest path, and then have Chartreuse tell us if she foresees any impending danger. If she does, we can change our plans and try another reading.”
“Good!” Azure said, standing up. “Then you don’t need MY ability!”
“Wait, I’m not helping out here!” Chartreuse protested, also rising. “Have you forgotten that I was only here to listen? My powers are still renounced!”
Azure blinked over at her sister. “Really? You finally came to your senses? What caused the sudden turnaround?”
“It’s personal,” Chartreuse said, crossing her arms.
“Don’t be an idiot,” Azure countered. “If you don’t tell me, I’ll simply go scrying into your past and find out for myself!”
Chartreuse turned her back on the blue haired girl.
Rolling her eyes, Azure pulled a deck of cards out of a pocket of her jeans. She closed her eyes, murmuring a quick incantation as she shuffled, before dealing eight cards out onto the coffee table. She then flipped over the next card, the ace of spades. “A vision and a death,” Azure mumbled, after a cursory examination.
She proceeded to cut the deck and turn over the top card, which listed upon it the rules for playing draw poker. Her eyes went wide. “Oh no, Auntie Em! Uncle Henry! And their little dog too!”
“Emerald and her family will be fine, Azure,” her mother soothed. “The imminent death Chartreuse foresaw was Aunt Fluffy’s.”
“Oh, right. I knew that,” Azure said, gathering her cards back up.
Chartreuse stamped her foot on the floor. “How can you all take that news so casually?!” she said angrily. “This is a human life we’re talking about! And you haven’t even given me an hour to deal with that yet!”
“Chartreuse, people die every day,” her mother soothed. “I know, because I’ve seen a lot of them after it happened. We’re not being cruel, dear, it’s simply that we accept death as being a part of life.”
“Besides,” her father chimed in. “Even if you don’t actively use your abilities, you’ll still get flashes and pick up random impressions from people. Isn’t that right, dear?”
“It is,” Amber Vermilion confirmed.
“I don’t care!” the orange haired girl said. “I’ll be a hermit if I have to! I don’t care about my powers, I don’t care about this Tope Diamond, and I will not be bribed with a peach sundae, so Mom, put that money back in your purse!”
Amber replaced the bills, abashed.
“You go, girl!” Azure said. “Don’t be fooled by the old ‘just this one time, it’s so important to the general population’ trick either. I cannot BELIEVE we keep falling for that…”
“This IS important to the general population though,” Hugh Vermilion pointed out. “After all, most people have never heard of the Tope Diamond’s existence. But they will, unless we can get it safely to the required destination!”
“Would it be so bad if they did find out?” Chartreuse challenged.
“We can’t know that until we see this Diamond for ourselves,” her father replied. “There’s no school tomorrow, so how about we all travel to Dullsville to check it out? A day trip. A family outing!”
“Oh no, this is how it starts,” Azure moaned.
“It will also give you more time to come to grips with what you’ve seen, dear,” Chartreuse’s mother added. “I mean, you don’t want to make any hasty decisions tonight.”
“Don’t listen to them, sis, don’t listen!”
“We can always have peach sundaes for dinner tonight too,” Hugh finished. “Though if we spend much more time arguing, I won’t have a chance to get to the stores before they close.”
The orange haired girl shifted her weight back and forth uncertainly. “Well… all right, I’ll go, but I still won’t use my powers,” she decided.
“You traitor!” Azure shouted. “You know I can’t stay here all by myself!”
“Oh come on, sweetie, it’ll be fun,” Amber said, reaching out to hug her youngest daughter. “We’ll have some blueberry ice cream tonight as well, how about that?”
Azure made a face. “FINE,” she decided. “I’ll be bribed, but I won’t like it.”
“I can skip ahead now, right? I mean, you’re not, like, interested in the dinner itself are you?”
“Chartreuse, I’m not really interested in any of this,” Carrie mumbled. “You’ve gone from the ludicrous to the bizarre, and none of it has any bearing on what’s happened to me.”
“Not that you can see, but wait for it. There is totally a point here,” Chartreuse insisted.
“What, that peach ice cream heals all wounds?”
Chartreuse winced. “Peach *sundaes*, and can I help that I like them so much? Anyway, they’re, like, not important to the story. Let’s pick up again as we were waiting outside the Diamond Mine in Dullsville the following afternoon. Or that’s what I’m calling the town, anyway. National security, you know how it is.”
Chartreuse fidgeted absently with the ribbons in her fushia hair as she looked around. “Maybe no one’ll show,” she said.
“We should be so lucky,” Azure mumbled.
“Oh, look, here comes someone now!” Amber said brightly.
The Vermilions watched as a camper pulled into the mine site and parked in front of them. Two men wearing dark sunglasses got out, trying to look inconspicuous despite the overcast day. One of them glanced casually about the area as the other stepped forwards. “The strawberries are not yet in season,” he remarked.
“Oh, was there a recognition code?” Hugh said, looking troubled.
“No, but this is a good place to pick them in July. My name is Agent Queue.”
“Cue as in pool?”
“I don’t swim. Queue, for Vowels.”
“Ah, four vowels,” Hugh realized.
“Yes, Vowels couldn’t make it. Here’s my associate Eh, part of the vowel movement.”
“Then it’s a Queue & Eh session?” Hugh verified.
“How’s it going, Eh?” Amber inquired.
“Eh?” the second agent said, turning to them.
“Hearing problem, he takes my cues,” Queue noted.
“I thank Queue,” Eh said.
“Now, you?” asked Queue.
“Hugh, with who?”
“My wife Amber.”
“Amber’s a nice hue,” Queue remarked.
“Say what? Amber is Hugh?”
“We are not Hugh, Eh,” Amber assured him. “He is Hugh, and these are my daughters Chartreuse and Azure.”
“Missed Queue’s cue, eh, Eh?” Hugh said.
“Eh,” Eh shrugged.
Queue pulled out a sheet. “I’ll denote your party the Hue Continuum,” he decided. “For simplicity.”
“Azure, as you’re aware, we receive code names,” Amber reminded her daughter.
“But why Queue’s Hue, I like when you and Hugh pick too!”
“Two won’t do, blue,” Queue remarked. “Too bad for you.”
“Well, sofa Queue!” the blue haired girl retorted.
“Never mind,” Queue said, waving off his partner. “That language was too colourful. Chartreuse, do you have anything to add?”
“She’s beautiful,” the fushia haired girl breathed.
Everyone turned to see who it was Chartreuse was referring to. By the door of the camper, there now stood a girl of about fifteen years of age. She wore a small frilly pink dress, white stockings, white shoes, and in her blonde hair there was a violet hairband. Chartreuse’s breath caught in her throat as she pictured how that long hair might shimmer in the sun, were there any sun around. However, Chartreuse’s eyes were soon drawn to the enigmatic blonde’s blue eyes and shy smile.
“Hello,” the strange girl said with a little wave. “I’m, like, Tope Diamond.”
Chartreuse sighed happily at the memory. “And, you know what? It was right then that I knew I wanted this girl to be my wife,” she said dreamily.
Carrie fell off her bed.
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