TT3.62b: Fragmented Plans

Previously: Mindy visited Mr. Waterson. The temporal teenager group are plotting to capture Mindy, using the time machine. Meanwhile, Carrie tries to understand timeline theory with Glen.

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PART 3.15b: FRAGMENTED PLANS 2

MiniBannerGlen shook his head. “Carrie, you’re forgetting your immunity to paradox. You can send me back in time to make sure your powers don’t overwhelm you or kill you now, in timeline three, and yet still have it be the same timeline where I wasn’t here – because that’s not a thing. I was always here. It’s all the same timeline.”

Carrie dropped her head down onto the table. This was really bugging her. Not because it didn’t make sense, rather because it did, and yet she felt like it shouldn’t. “Okay, fine. You also said there’s a faction within the Temporals who disagree with our – their – policies, which is the reason the Mundane we call Shady was able to get a time machine and come back to activate my powers in the first place.”

“Starting our timeline three,” Glen agreed.

“Mindy is ALSO a part of this faction, and she came here to finish the job that ‘Shady’, her future blow-up-the-hospital friend started. Which potentially starts timeline FOUR. Which is what we now need to prevent.”

“There you go, you’ve got it!” Glen agreed.

Carrie sat for a moment. “It’s LUNACY,” she decided. “Can’t I give Frank a call? He’s a lot better at following this time-space junk.”

Glen reached out to grab Carrie’s arm before she could retrieve her book bag. “No phone calls. I meant that, Carrie. Not to Frank, not to your father, not to anyone. We don’t know how many people Mindy has compromised.” He smiled. “Don’t worry. No one is better at wrestling with temporal mechanics than you.”

Carrie pulled her arm free of his grasp. She tugged hard on a strand of her hair. “Come on, Glen, you really think my own FATHER is going to give me up to Mindy? I mean, he’s probably so worried, after what happened at school!” Glen said nothing, merely shifting his weight back and forth uneasily in his seat. “Fine then, I’m calling.” She reached for her bag again.

“Wait,” Glen sighed. “Fine. There’s something I haven’t mentioned. Mindy has these… mental powers.”

“Oh, of course,” Carrie sighed. “Everyone who wants me dead HAS to have THOSE.” But she felt too weary, too mentally drained to continue with an argument, so she gave up on her book bag in favour of looking expectantly at Glen.

“If she chooses, Mindy’s voice can make people do things they might otherwise be unwilling to do,” Glen explained. “And being an actual Temporal, she’s damn good at it. Better than this Mundane you previously encountered. Granted, the power works best on adults, or on people who are emotionally vulnerable, but, given access, Mindy could eventually convince even the President of the United States that he was a rodeo clown.”

Carrie felt a chill run through her. “Glen? Your description feels very personal. Something in your tone tells me you’ve got an inside track on this mental ability too.”

Glen smiled wryly. “Can’t put anything by you, hm? You’re right, Carrie. How else do you think I managed to set myself up here so quickly? Obtain all the required school documents? Deflect questions as to where my parents have been for over a month? I can do it too, if I choose.”

“Fine,” Carrie said. “Then you use your mental powers to go and deal with Mindy. I’ll be home, in my bedroom, drawing up a new cheerleading routine.” She moved to rise, only to have him reach out and take her arm again.

“I’m sorry, Carrie,” Glen said. “It doesn’t work like that. Even setting aside that I’ve only used my mental power very sparingly here in the past, me and Mindy, we’d be locked in a stalemate. The only one who can deal with the temporal threat right now is you.” His grip tightened. “Mindy needs to be banished from this time period. It’s okay, I’ll show you how to do it.”

“Why? Why ME!?” Carrie protested, banging her free hand down onto the table. “I’m just a girl! All right? A senior student trying to juggle her offbeat social life with her studies! I never asked for these temporal powers!”

“No,” Glen agreed. “You didn’t. You were born into them. But remember timeline one? Without these powers, you wouldn’t have been born at all.”

Carrie bit down hard on her lower lip. She felt like screaming. Or throwing something, hitting someone, lashing out at whatever future forces were conspiring to make her present a living hell.

But there was no one to attack. Even if fate were some sort of living entity, Carrie doubted it could be punched in the face. No, the truth was, Carrie had been born – when she never should have existed. With no powers, there was no Carrie. Simple logic.

As such, there was only one outlet currently available upon whom Carrie could vent her frustrations. The person who had smashed up their school library in an effort to start timeline four.

She sank back down into the booth. For a few moments, she remained with her elbows on the table, her blonde hair clenched in her fists, staring down at the pathetic looking strawberry chunks floating in what remained of her shake. Her decision, when she made it, was the only one that could make sense.

“What?” Glen asked. “I couldn’t hear you.”

“I said,” Carrie repeated, still barely above a whisper, “Tell me what I have to do to banish Mindy.”

She felt tired. So very, very tired.

***

“I must admit, I still don’t get why you two need me,” Lee said. Julie had sent Chartreuse to corner their classmate after his shift was up at the library, getting him to come to Willowdale Park. Where he was now standing, giving them a puzzled look.

“I swear, we’ll explain everything,” Julie assured. “But for right now? It might be better that you don’t understand. That way, if something goes wrong, you’ll have deniability.”

“You do understand the plan?” Chartreuse asked.

“Well, yeah. I lure this Mindy girl over to that place in the ravine where Corry and Frank are hiding. By pretending that Corry is Glen, given the similar hair. Pretty straightforward. You sure this Mindy will show?”

“Pretty sure,” Julie sighed. “I mean, I called Glen’s room at the Clayton and left a message on his answering service for her. It makes sense that she’d be monitoring. But remember, Lee… if Mindy pulls her gun on you, or does ANYTHING to make you think she’s dangerous – or even inexplicably friendly – we abort. Your safety is paramount.”

“Cut and run, yeah,” Lee agreed. “No problem there.”

Julie grimaced, starting to have second thoughts. After all, what if Mindy saw through the facade before Frank and Corry could link up with her and use the time machine? Was dusk enough to mask what was going on, or should they have waited longer? What if Mindy hurt somebody? Was using Lee even necessary, or just mere paranoia?

All objections voiced by the others, all objections Julie had countered in her drive to make sure they disposed of this Mindy girl. But, Julie wondered, was she truly acting out of concern for Glen, Carrie and everyone else? Or, as she had done earlier in the day, was she doing it more in the hopes of regaining some of her former glory? Or worse, of being the one who was in control, when faced with a person so similar to the man who had manipulated her in the past?

Julie hated when she started questioning her motivations. She no longer liked what she found. However, she had at least been up front with everyone this time. That is… almost everyone.

“Look, Lee, this really could be dangerous,” Julie said, speaking before she could think about it. “Mindy has these… okay, know what? Never mind. I’ll talk to Mindy instead of you. Sorry to bring you all the way out here for nothing. You should go.”

“Hey, if you went to the trouble of getting me involved, I’m sure you had a reason,” Lee countered. “Besides, I’m good at dodging. Plus I really do feel indebted to you and Carrie and everyone for finding Sing’s necklace. It meant a lot to her – just as this seems to mean a lot to you guys.”

“But…”

“Too late now anyway,” Lee said. “I wager that approaching shadow is your Mindy.”

Julie spun to see where Lee was looking, then with a curse, flattened herself down onto the ground and rolled under the evergreen shrub, next to where Chartreuse was already hiding.

Lee moved away from Julie’s position, towards the person that, Julie had to agree, looked like Mindy. It occurred to her now that they could be playing real havoc with the timeline – would Carrie double over in pain somewhere as soon as the time machine was activated? Why the hell wasn’t she answering their messages?!

Well, Clarke and Laurie were out looking for her. As well as looking for Luci, and even Glen. What more could they do? After all, it wasn’t Julie’s fault that time girl had gone AWOL. Or been kidnapped. Maybe tortured. Julie grit her teeth. She would fix this. She would.

She felt a hand reach out for her own, and she squeezed Chartreuse’s palm back in response. Not certain which of them was reassuring the other.

***

Frank resisted the urge to pop the top of the time machine open, to check the controls for the umpteenth time. He knew they had been set correctly. The coin was in, the only thing left to do was pull the handle. Which he would do as soon as Corry reached out and grabbed hold of Mindy.

Julie had made it all sound so terribly easy… as she had with her plan in the computer lab before lunch. Of course, that train of thought took him to Luci. Where HAD she disappeared to after that class? If she was upset with him, why hadn’t she at least called someone else?

“Hold tight, we’re up,” Corry muttered. Frank felt his heart rate increase as the sound of Lee’s voice reached their ears. He gripped Corry’s ankle even tighter.

“Yeah, well, as I say, Glen’s always bugged me,” their dark haired friend was saying. “So when I heard you wanted him, I decided to ambush him and tie him up in the woods for you. I’m getting decent pay for this, right?”

“I’m skeptical!” Mindy retorted. “He’s sneakier than you’re making him out to be.”

“Well, check it out, he’s gagged back there behind that tree,” Lee continued. “See the red hair?”

Frank heard Mindy take a step closer. Then another. Then… “Hey, that’s not–”

“NOW!” Corry shouted, making a dive for Mindy’s leg. Without even thinking about it, Frank yanked down on the time machine’s lever with his free hand.

He felt the usual effects of the time distortion, dimly aware of the fact that he’d kept hold of Corry’s foot. Then he was forty eight hours in the future. Back in the park. With Carrie Waterson standing no more than a metre away, her blonde hair trailing out behind her in waves, her eyes glowing a brilliant gold.

“Oh, GEEZ!” he choked out, letting go of the time machine and stumbling to his feet. Some sort of electricity sparked at Carrie’s fingertips. It helped him make out the forms of Corry and Mindy, unconscious on the ground – and that of Glen Oaks, who was also lying on the ground nearby.

“Frank, get DOWN!” Luci screamed from somewhere behind him in the dark. “You’re spoiling my shot!!”

“Oh look, more people here I can banish,” Carrie said with a smile. Electricity lanced out from her fingertips, Frank was knocked back off his feet, and everything faded to black…

*

Cliffhanger! Theories? New Commentary coming this Sunday, including a preview. Voting remains a weekly option.

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7 comments

    1. Indeed! Actually, one of the reasons comments are great is how ideas can come up that I didn’t originally think about. Thanks Lightdefender, that’s a handy variation on banishment for me to consider. (Which I suppose is a bit of a spoiler, in that it means I was aiming for something else… or maybe I’m simply trying to encourage more theorizing? 😉 )

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  1. Banishing is an interesting word. With demons it usually suggest back from whence they came. Maybe here it refers to the multiple timelines?

    When a timeline is created by someone using a machine, is the them in the new timeline the same them who used the machine?

    I’m having an Old Man Logan headache. (Have you ever discussed X-Men time travel in a post? Are you familiar?)

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    1. Another interesting notion! I’m more hesitant to discuss the story’s timeline theory, since it was only recently presented (in the form of timeline one-two-etc), and I want to see whether my later in-story explanations make sense. Any other readers are certainly welcome to add their voices and theories to that one though.

      As far as X-Men time travel, the only one I’m really aware of is “Days of Future Past” on account of the movie. (I know the film changed things, I did some reading when I found out Kitty was involved, she’s one of my faves.) I did look up “Old Man Logan” just now, and it seems to involve an alternate timeline where the villains rule? Ouch. If there’s more to it, feel free to elaborate. Thanks for the comment!

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      1. In the current Marvel U, Old Man Logan is in the current day, trying to kill the people he views as instrumental in his bad timeline, even though it seems clear that things are already headed in a different direction. I think you’d enjoy it. The other relevant story is someone brought forward the original X-men kids at one point, hoping it would give pause to modern Cyclops who’d lost his way. They never go back, but somehow that didn’t undo the existence of the current X-men. Everyone is confused, except Beast, who seems unable to explain it so that anyone else can understand.

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  2. It’s convenient now that Lee owes the Time Trippers a favour, but it’s never been clear to me why they decided to help his family out in the first place. With time travel being such a risky and uncertain venture for them, I always found their decision to time travel to find Sing’s necklace to be an oddly mundane use of time travel compared to most of their other excursions, which had some degree of emergency. I thought at first we were meant to assume that they’d done it specifically so Lee would owe them in case they needed his apparent ability to resist mind control, but then in the previous post they argued about whether to bring him on board and it didn’t seem like they’d previously considered or planned for Lee owing them. I’ve flicked back and forth a bit to see if I missed something but I don’t think so. Or did I?

    Otherwise, I’m still really enjoying this.

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    1. It’s possible I didn’t explain that too well. There’s two reasons why they were angling for a more “mundane use” for time travel, in terms of the trip on Lee’s behalf:
      1) Julie’s state of mind. They wanted to bring her on a trip, but one with fairly low stakes.
      2) Carrie’s prior experience. The last time she’d used the device, it had been to the start of the Book, and essentially an ice pick to her head. So when Glen brought up Lee’s focus issues, she saw a way to take a trip that likely wouldn’t activate her “temporal conscience”… or if it did, she’d have Chartreuse along to help.

      Granted, in theory, those two things could have been accomplished with a random test trip, not that mission… but with the more limited coins, and the fact that a friend of theirs was having family issues anyway, why not help out? Plus, speaking as the author now, yeah, it WAS convenient that Lee owed them a favour (and I wanted to do more with his family). But that wasn’t meant to be a conscious thing on the part of the characters. More happenstance. I’ll think about ways of clarifying. Thanks for letting me know, glad you’re continuing to enjoy! 🙂

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