3.05: TOPE SPRINGS ETERNAL
“Yeah, who knew?” Chartreuse replied. “She was heir to the Diamond diamond fortune. Of course, her mother Mother Diamond’s diamonds weren’t from the Dullsville Diamond Mine. They were mining coal instead.”
Carrie stared blankly at her house guest.
“Never mind,” Chartreuse decided. “Here’s the thing. Some people wanted to kidnap Tope and ransom her back for Diamond diamonds. Hence we Vermilions were, you know, asked to help in taking Tope someplace safe.”
“All right,” Carrie said slowly. “Assuming I followed that, when did this turn into a love story?”
Chartreuse blushed. “Right after my eyes locked with Tope’s.”
“Right after your eyes locked with Tope’s,” Carrie repeated back. “Chartreuse, this IS a girl we’re talking about here, right?”
“Yes. But when I was fourteen, I was, like, bisexual. In fact, I’m pretty sure I still am.” Chartreuse swallowed. “I guess that’s never come up. I don’t advertise. Does it bother you? Do you want me to go?”
Carrie thought about it for a moment. “No, you can date whoever you like. Though I can’t help but notice that this Tope Diamond does bear some resemblance to me.”
“Yeah. My sister’s remarked on that,” Chartreuse admitted. “Which is partly why she’s teasing me lately, what with you coming over. But of course, Tope’s hair was, like, longer, her skin was paler and she, you know, smiled more.”
“Ah,” Carrie said. “Just so long as this Tope doesn’t have odd temporal powers too. Because if you were writing me in, I’d have to stop listening.”
“No, no, Tope only had power over my heart,” the pink haired girl said, following the comment with another dreamy sigh.
Carrie’s eyebrow twitched. “Chartreuse, is this Tope about to convince you to use your powers and save the day?”
“Don’t be ridiculous,” Chartreuse accused. “I’ll have you know that I did NOT, like, use my powers during the trip. What happened next was Mom rode with the agents up front, Dad and Azure followed in our car, and I, you know, went with Tope in the camper unit itself.”
“So you can, like, see the future, and stuff?” Tope said, wide eyed. “Ohmigod, that is so cool, you know?”
Chartreuse shrugged as she finished dying the last few locks of her hair. “I can, but I’m not doing it any more,” she said. “It’s what I said, and I’m sticking by it. My Mom can consult her spiritual advisors to help in choosing a route for us instead.” She put her bottle of ‘Quik-Dye’ back in her backpack. “Now, I have to ask… has anyone ever told you that you have the most beautiful blue eyes in the world?”
Tope blushed. “Usually just, like, guys who, you know, want my money or my virginity or stuff. So I just tell them, ‘yeah, right, as if!’ and they, you know, totally get the picture.” She paused. “When you say it though, it feels different. Did you totally, like, mean that?”
“Of course I did,” the taupe haired girl said softly. “There’s something about you, your look, your voice, your perfume – it’s making my senses go crazy! I… I can’t believe I’m about to say this, Tope, but I’ve wanted to be close to you ever since the moment I saw you. Would you allow me to kiss you?”
“What? Me, kissed by a girl??” Tope squeaked. “Ewww! That’s like… like… well, okay, I guess I don’t know what that’s like. Hmmm. Gee, now you’ve got me totally curious. Very well, Chartreuse. You may kiss me!”
Chartreuse could feel her heart hammering in her chest as she moved in closer to that long flowing hair, those blue eyes, those luscious red lips… instinctively, she moved her arms out to encircle Tope’s waist. Tope Diamond looked up at her then with another shy smile, draping her own arms over Chartreuse’s shoulders, her perfume intoxicating her lover’s senses as their eyes closed and…
“Um, but you, like, totally don’t need to hear that part of the story,” Chartreuse realized, cutting herself off with a cough.
“Chartreuse, were you two about to make out??” Carrie said, wide-eyed.
“We just, like, became distracted. Now, outside…”
“Oh my God, you did! You made out!”
“We got distracted!”
“When you were fourteen, you made out with a girl you’d just met? That’s… that’s… what the hell is that about?!”
The pink haired girl flushed. “Carrie, don’t fixate. Youth is for experimentation. Besides, must I, like, get into some the guys you’ve, you know, made out with? On a first date, no less?”
The blonde paused. She supposed she had gone to some questionable lengths in her first few years of high school, to get favours done for herself or for Julie. “Ugh. Fine.”
“So we got distracted,” Chartreuse repeated stubbornly. “As such we, you know, totally didn’t realize the battle was going on until the door kinda blew in.”
“Ohmigod! What was that?” Chartreuse gasped, poking her head out from around the drapes surrounding the camper bed.
“Oh, that was, like, sooooo good…! Do it again…!”
“No, shhhhhh, something’s happened! The camper’s not moving and the door is gone!” hissed the taupe haired girl.
Tope’s head appeared next to Chartreuse’s, a hand raking her long blonde hair back out of her eyes. “Whoa,” she murmured. “The Peeping Toms in this area totally don’t fool around, yeah?”
“Stay here.” Chartreuse ducked back behind the drapes for a couple of seconds, then jumped out, finishing buttoning up her blouse. “I’ll check it out.” She reached back into her backpack, pulling out a medium sized relaxation crystal.
The taupe haired mystic crept cautiously towards the door. Moments before reaching it, a man in a grey pinstripe suit stepped in, wielding a tommy gun and smoking a cigar. “All right, me and my boys, we’re taking over now, see?” the man said with a thick Brooklyn accent. “So if youse want to just toss that crystal aside and get your hands up, we can be through here nice and peaceful-like.”
Chartreuse blinked at the man, glanced down at the crystal in her hand, then proceeded to toss it at him with all the strength she could muster. Caught by surprise, it smacked him in the middle of his forehead and he went down like a sack of wet rocks. The taupe haired girl quickly grabbed the gangster’s gun and scrambled past him to glance out the camper’s doorway.
The stretch of road they were on was currently deserted – with some notable exceptions. To the right, Chartreuse saw an attack squad of ninjas surrounding her father. Straight ahead, a number of old west gunslingers were facing off against her mother. And to the left, a bunch of Scotsmen with bagpipes were advancing on her sister. Agents Queue and Eh were on the ground unconscious.
“Are you ready to die?” one of the ninjas was saying, his words not quite syncing up with his lips.
“I’m sorry to say that I’m not ready just yet,” Hugh Vermilion replied. Then with a yell of ‘Aiiiiiiieeeee!’ he leapt up into the air and took out a handful of his assailants with a seemingly impossible horizontal spin kick.
“Draw!” one of the cowboys shouted out.
“No!” Amber Vermilion retorted defiantly.
“Fine,” the gunslinger said, whipping out his own gun. Yet even as he did so, a beam of light rose from the small hilt Amber had in her hand. The amber beam neatly deflected the incoming bullet away, and she continued to deftly manipulate her light sword in order to avoid the other bullets which followed.
“About time you decided to help!” Azure shouted accusingly at her sister, drawing Chartreuse’s attention to her.
“Ach, there be none who can help ye now, young ‘un!” said one of the kilted men. “We’ll deafen ye an’ take our prize!”
“Oh brother,” Azure sighed. She pulled out the small pendant she wore around her neck and shouted out, “Release!” The small key expanded to form a long staff, which Azure then spun about in her hands while she simultaneously withdrew a card from her pocket, tossing it in front of her. “Fight Card!” Azure called out. The magic circle of Clow Reed appeared around her as she tapped the staff on the card. “Release and–”
“Oh, no, wait a minute,” Chartreuse said, furrowing her brow. “I’m getting Azure’s card powers mixed up with one of those classic Japanese anime shows Laurie likes to watch.”
“Chartreuse, I’m pretty sure there’s a lot of other wires crossing here too.”
“Maybe I should, you know, skip the fight scene, it was all a little hazy,” Chartreuse decided. “Is that okay, Carrie?”
“Fine by me,” the blonde said, rolling her eyes. “In fact, I never thought I’d say this, but I preferred the love story.”
“Yeah… Tope totally catches one’s eye, doesn’t she?” Chartreuse sighed, clasping her hands.
“That’s not what I… look, never mind. Are we nearly done here?” Carrie inquired. “Because I feel another massive headache coming on.”
“Actually, yes, almost,” Chartreuse said. “Because, see, this is where things get particularly poignant. For it was while we were defeating our many enemies on the one side of the camper, that a group of midgets in trenchcoats broke in through the other side and successfully kidnapped Tope Diamond! My one true love had been taken from me! So I resolved to use my powers again, in order to locate Tope and get her back.”
“Are you sure you can do this? After all, an accurate read of her near future will require particular knowledge of Tope,” Hugh Vermilion reminded his daughter. “Did you get some in the time you were together?”
“Yeah. More than you think,” Chartreuse muttered, trying to dispel the afterimages of Tope’s gentle caresses. She set the last stone in front of her and closed her eyes.
“Remember not to push yourself too hard dear,” Amber reminded. “The forces have a way of drawing you in, if you let your guard down.”
“Yes, mom,” Chartreuse sighed, already sinking into the deep meditative state required as she focused on Tope and where the beautiful blonde was going to be taken. “Ohm, ohm, oh my… spirits from beyond, show me what is to come!”
Almost immediately her eyes snapped open, unseeing, as her spirit form left her and centred in on Tope’s immediate future. She saw a warehouse. Chartreuse flickered through the wall to verify, and sure enough, there was Tope, being tied up to a chair.
“You total idiots!” Tope was saying, her voice somewhat distorted due to the vision. “You were, like, only supposed to threaten to take me, not, you know, actually do it! I mean, do you have any clue what you interrupted?! There was, like, this really hot girl and we were totally working our way towards a…”
Sixty-nine, that was the number listed on the warehouse. Dullsville Warehouse No. 69. Chartreuse had the information she needed, and a part of her warned that it was time to return to the present. Yet what was Tope saying, had she been a part of the original conspiracy? Surely not! Still, the idea made Chartreuse hesitate long enough for the vision to pull her onwards, further into the future.
“Okay, I, like, admit it, I totally screwed up,” Tope said, her head bowed. “I’m sorry, Mom. I just wanted, well, a little adventure in my life. It was so totally dull here in Dullsville! I never, like, thought things would go so, you know, wacky.”
‘No, Tope, say it isn’t so!’ Chartreuse thought. ‘You set this whole life threatening affair in motion?!’ She tried to get a clearer read on where she was now, but the light reflections from the diamonds Mother Diamond was wearing were interfering with her sight. She couldn’t tune into the conversation properly while trying to orient herself either, so she strained her ears to hear what was being said instead.
“…totally learned my lesson,” came Tope’s voice again. “I won’t, you know, bother the government any more. Anyway, people out in the world are so, like, weird! It’s a good thing I didn’t, you know, get attached to any of them. Well, except the one.”
Chartreuse felt her heart jump. ‘Which one? Me?’ she wondered. The vision began to melt away. ‘No, no, I have to know more!’ Chartreuse thought desperately. And there was more. The lure was there, the path to the final outcome of this sequence of events… and since Tope was apparently going to be rescued, what was the harm in looking?
She was in a church. Chartreuse’s breath caught in her throat. A twentysomething Tope Diamond stood before her, absolutely radiant in her white wedding dress. “I, like, do,” Tope said quietly before turning to smile happily at the person standing beside her. Chartreuse shifted her gaze in that direction as well. Knowing full well that this information would be too much for her, yet she was unable to stop herself.
The man wearing the black tuxedo and dark sunglasses looked back at Tope. “Eh?” he said.
Chartreuse fell over the cliff.
“SNAP OUT OF IT ALREADY!” Azure’s voice screamed.
Chartreuse felt like she’d been pulled back into her body by an elastic band. She blinked her eyes a few times, only to realize she couldn’t see. “Ohmigod, I’m, like, blind!” Chartreuse gasped out.
“Chartreuse?!?” Azure yanked the two jokers off of her sister’s eyes.
“Ow! Oh, that’s, you know, totally better,” Chartreuse said. She glanced around only to find that she was seated in the middle of the coffee table back at their home, surrounded by several houses made of cards, arranged in a pentagram shape.
A lock of her hair was swinging in front of her face. Chartreuse reached out to grab it. “Say, when did I, like, dye my hair orange-violet-silver-fushia-green-taupe-candycane-cyan?”
“I did it! Oh thank goodness, I did it and it worked!” Azure said, reaching out to grab Chartreuse in a bear hug.
Chartreuse patted her sister uncertainly. “Um, yeah!” she agreed. “Though I think, I’ve, you know, missed something. What happened with, like, Tope Diamond?”
Azure pulled back. “Oh, that? I was able to get a reading of the past from the fedora that one gangster was wearing,” she explained. “It was left behind in the camper. Seems he’d been recruited for the mission exactly one week ago by this con, Venient Plotwist. Mom got the location of Venient’s warehouse from one of his recent victims, then Dad organized a strike force to retrieve Tope.”
“Oh,” Chartreuse said, nonplussed. “Then I was, like, no help at all. I totally messed up.”
“Ayup,” Azure affirmed. “That’s what you get for mixing business with pleasure.”
Chartreuse coughed. “Um, pleasure? Like, what pleasure?”
Azure rolled her eyes. “Sis, please. It’s taken me five days to restore your consciousness to the state it was in back in the past, before you zonked out. And the vibes between you and Tope were so strong that at first, I couldn’t even isolate the two of you! Even now, I think there’s been some leakage… I mean, have you noticed you’re talking like some valley girl here?”
“Like, what?” Chartreuse said in surprise. “Oh, that’s, you know, totally ridiculous.” She paused, reaching up to hold her throat. “Like, no way. I mean, like, no way. No, I said, like… ohmigod, I totally can’t stop!”
“I am genuinely sorry,” Azure said sadly. “But it was either that, or have my sister become a table centrepiece for the rest of her life.”
Chartreuse tapped her throat again gently before letting out a sigh. “It’s, like, okay. It wasn’t, you know, your fault,” she murmured. “Though, wait, did you say it’s been five days?!”
Azure nodded. “We’ve explained your disappearance by saying you’re off with Mom at Aunt Fluffy’s funeral. It’s kinda tragic, she died saving this kid. Seems a tree was going to fall on him, but she pushed him out of the way.”
“My vision,” Chartreuse realized. “Oh, wow. You mean, if I’d tried to stop it, some innocent child would be, you know, dead instead? I never saw that part!”
“I guess. All I care about is that you’re back!” Azure said, giving Chartreuse another quick hug before moving to retrieve some of the playing cards on the table. “I mean, without you, who would I have to annoy?”
“I’m, like, touched,” the orange-violet-silver-fushia-green-taupe-candycane-cyan haired girl said. She paused to pull at a lock of her hair again. “Though seriously, what is it with all these shades??”
“Oh, I wasn’t sure if your frequent hair colour changes would impair my abilities to home in on your past self,” Azure said. “So I redyed it. I mean, if you WERE going to be a centrepiece, this way we’d at least have a colourful one.”
Chartreuse frowned. “You know, I’d totally have a good retort for that, if it weren’t for one thing.”
“The fact that this experience has, you know, turned my stomach inside out,” Chartreuse said, lurching off the coffee table and sprinting for the nearest bathroom.
Carrie stared at her companion in silence for a short while.
“So, that’s it?” Carrie said at last.
“Yup,” Chartreuse confirmed back. “Understand now?”
Carrie passed a hand in front of her eyes. “Chartreuse,” she began. “Couldn’t you have summed up that WHOLE STORY by simply telling me, ‘I once had a vision of my aunt’s death, but it turned out that she was saving someone else in the process, so it’s good that I didn’t try to prevent it’??”
“Of course not! You, like, miss all the nuances that way!”
Carrie threw herself back onto her bed with a groan. “Chartreuse,” she repeated with exaggerated patience. “I have been lying here all weekend, unable to keep down any food, with my insides feeling like they’re stuck in a vice, all because there is some part of me that now feels like it can twist free and display home movies of death and destruction in my mind. Movies that I can’t control, and that I can’t shut off.
“The ONE HOPE I’ve been trying to hold onto, is that if I experience another vision, I can FORCE myself into doing something to change the outcome. And yet now you’re telling me that, by making such a change, I could cause events to be even worse than they otherwise would be?!”
There was another protracted silence.
“You didn’t understand then,” Chartreuse concluded.
“I understand that you have a weird family.”
“No, listen,” Chartreuse insisted. “You experienced an unsettling vision of the future. I get that. But now that you’ve, you know, worked through any physical discomfort, it’s time for us to deal with the mental side of things. Because even though you can’t always control your powers, you can’t let them control you either. If you do, you won’t see something you could have seen, like me with Tope’s kidnappers. Or you’ll, like, push yourself until you see something you’re not meant to see, as I did with Tope’s wedding.”
“Gee, thanks Chartreuse. What other option IS there, aside from me being in control, or my powers being in control?!”
“Isn’t that obvious?” the mystic replied. “Find the balance. Life goes on, Carrie. You can’t obsess over everything these weird forces throw at you, or you’ll never be able to enjoy yourself. Trust me, I know. All too well.”
The pink haired girl smiled sadly, then began to back away, towards the bedroom door. “Anyway, I’ve probably overstayed my welcome. So I’m gonna, you know, head back home. But I hope you feel a bit better? I am looking forward to our next session! See you in school tomorrow, okay?”
With that, Chartreuse slipped back out of Carrie’s bedroom.
Carrie listened as her guest headed downstairs, said goodbye to her father, and then left the house. She continued to lie quietly on her bed for several long minutes before finally standing and moving to look at herself in the mirror.
“Find the balance?”
Carrie dragged her hair back off her forehead and pursed her lips. “Because I have been letting my fears of the future get the best of me,” she realized. “Worse, I’ve been doing it for months. No wonder it feels like my head is trapped in a washing machine stuck on spin. Thank you, Chartreuse.”
She turned away from her reflection. It was very clear what she had to do now. Namely get Frank to explain to her about setting the time machine, so that she could travel back to her last birthday. To have that talk with herself about Chartreuse. If nothing else, it would be one less future event for her to be concerned about.
Wait, hadn’t Frank already been by this weekend? Carrie marched out onto the upstairs landing. “Hey, Dad?” she called out.
“Yes, Carrie?” she heard him call from the bottom of the stairs. “Are you feeling better?”
“I think so. What’s been happening this weekend, anyone leaving messages for me?”
“Someone named Glen called for you twice,” her father said. “And Frank and Luci dropped by. Actually, Frank seemed more nervous than usual, and when he heard you were ill, he asked me if any knives had been flying through the air. I’m not sure what he meant by that.”
Carrie’s eyebrow twitched. “It means my first call today will be to Luci instead,” she decided, before spinning on her heel and heading back into her room. It was time to get their time travel group back together.
- End Arc 3.1 – next Arc begins next week!
- Consider voting for Time & Tied at WebFictionGuide. Eternal optimism; I’ve had a couple clicks in from their “Fantasy” page.