TT3.63b: Blame Game

Previously: Luci and Carrie independently decided to resume contact with Julie and the others. Glen told Carrie that she would return to him, and that she should destroy the time machine.

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PART 3.16b: BLAME GAME 2

MiniBannerLuci shifted her attention from Chartreuse to Laurie to Clarke and then back to Chartreuse. “What do you mean,” she began, “when you say that Frank is now somewhere in the FUTURE?”

The young girl listened with half an ear as Chartreuse launched into an explanation of Julie’s plan. Internally, she wondered why the wealthy brunette hadn’t returned home yet. This all made no sense. What did they mean the car crash was related to a supposed visitor from another time?

I mean, sure, car accident, lockdown, but that had only been one of a number of things which Corry and the other student factions had done to each other that day. Right? RIGHT? So… so why did the three of them look so serious?

“Ok, whatever,” Luci said as Chartreuse finished. “Julie’s theories aside, have any of YOU seen this Mindy character??”

“I have,” Laurie piped up. “I was in the library when she arrived.”

“And did she look like she was some time traveler with mental powers?” Luci challenged.

“I… I don’t know. She had a gun with her. She ran after Carrie. I was scared.”

“Well… well…” Well, why didn’t someone tell me this sooner? That was what Luci wanted to say. Unfortunately, she already knew the answer was ‘we tried’, a response which she knew would only further aggravate her.

She really had become too obsessed with that log book. To the point of putting the rest of her life not merely on vibrate, but on total silent mode. As a result, Frank – and Laurie’s brother – had become stuck two days in the future. How could she have let this happen?!

“I’m back. Oh, good, you found Luci,” came Julie’s voice from the sitting room entrance.

“She arrived on her own,” Clarke noted, which was all anyone had time to say before Luci launched herself towards the new arrival.

“WHAT DID YOU DO TO MY BOYFRIEND?!” she shrieked, grabbing onto a handful of Julie’s sweater. “How could you send him off on such a rash, inconceivable, unprepared whim of a temporal mission?!”

“They went of their own volition,” Julie replied quietly.

It was her tone that brought Luci up short. She’d expected Julie to snap back at her, perhaps engage her in a shouting match – not reply in that soft, sad tone. As such, she offered no resistance as Julie pulled her sweater free from the shorter girl’s clutches.

“Now,” the brunette continued, “I suggest we modify our plans in order to incorporate a smokescreen with respect to Frank and Corry’s location over the next forty six hours. They’ll be back on Saturday night, that much is certain.”

There was the briefest of pauses before Laurie Veniti broke down in tears. “This is all my fault, oh God I never should have suggested that stupid idea to you, I didn’t know enough, I should have kept my stupid mouth shut, why didn’t I realize this would happen, oh God I’m so stupid, stupid, stupid, oh God, oh Corry, oh Frank, oh Corry….”

“Laurie! Laurie!” Chartreuse said, hurrying over to grab the redhead in a hug. “This isn’t your fault! You hear me? It’s not anyone’s fault!” She rubbed Laurie’s back as her friend buried her face in the crook of Chartreuse’s neck. “All this means is that something totally freaky happens in a couple days that will, you know, prevent Frank and Corry from time traveling back to us. That’s it! They’re not dead or anything! They’re only, you know, potential hostages, maybe.”

“At least Mindy is out of the way for now, right?” Clarke noted, after casting a worried glance at Laurie himself.

Julie nodded. “Yeah. We learned as much from Lee, who said Mindy vanished in a flash of light. I was going to explain more to him, but he decided I’d been right. If he doesn’t know, he won’t have to lie about it later.”

“Well peachy as all THAT sounds,” Luci cut back in, hoping to reassert herself, “exactly what did you mean by ‘modify the plan’, Julie? Seems to me it’s been shot all to hell. You have no more knowledge of this Mindy than you did BEFORE your unauthorized use of the time machine stranded our friends in the future!”

“Frank authorized it. And two days hardly qualifies as a stranding,” Julie countered. A measure of her own assertiveness was creeping back into her tone. “And as far as capturing Mindy goes, we can still do that, as per the plan. We know that she’ll be arriving along with the machine in the vicinity of the park, we even know roughly when, we simply need a way to ensure that redhead stays knocked out once she arrives!”

“Oh, sure, piece of cake,” Luci fired back.

“Look, we’re not debating this any more!” Julie said, throwing her hands up into the air. “Okay, fine, so my track record today has been lousy. So Megan’s running the school and we don’t have the time machine. So what?? I’ve always been better at the long term game! I can do a lot in two days! At least I’ve been actively involving myself here! Where the hell have you been since lunchtime, Miss Lucille Isabella Primrose??”

For a moment, Luci wasn’t sure if she wanted to get right up into Julie’s face again, or simply break down like Laurie. Neither option felt palatable. So with the simple response of “None of your business”, Luci quickly spun on her heel to stare over at the wall. She tried to ignore the lump in her throat.

“Fine,” Julie sighed. “So I propose we do phone tag with the Dijoras and the Venitis. Say that Frank and Corry are staying here tonight for whatever reason. Laurie can stay too, to add credibility. Luci too, maybe. That buys us twelve hours.”

“Perhaps more than that,” Clarke put in. “They said school would be cancelled tomorrow. Structural reassessment. We can drop by to visit our lockers if we need something, but otherwise school is out until Monday.”

“Fine, good,” Julie repeated. “So, does anyone else want to bitch at me here?”

The only sound was that of Laurie’s quiet sniffles. Until, from down the hall, there came the loud crash of someone slamming open the mansion’s double doors. It was followed by the loud scream of “JULIE!”, in a voice easily recognizable, even from within the sitting room. Then, “Julie, why the HELL can’t I sense Frank Dijora anywhere in the present?!?”

The time travellers in the room exchanged glances. “Well, on the bright side, she’s no longer Mindy’s hostage!” Chartreuse offered up.

***

Carrie stomped up to her house, clenching and unclenching her fists. The last words she’d spoken at Julie’s house still ringing in her ears.

“If any of you interfere with the time streams again, I’ll banish you all to the middle ages!”

Yeah, that had quietened down the lot of them. She wondered fleetingly if it was really an idle threat. After all, maybe a day or two stuck in history would convince the others that they shouldn’t muck about with time travel until AFTER consulting with time’s “ultimate weapon”!

Carrie froze, her hand a short distance from the doorknob. Oh no, what was she even thinking?! After all, the conclusions Julie and the others had drawn had been accurate. And the idea itself had been a pretty good one. Honestly, THAT was what irked Carrie the most. If only she’d been there, working with them… but she hadn’t been. She’d been working with Glen instead.

And because of that, they had no time machine, and Carrie would HAVE to return to Glen, not only to learn about banishing Mindy, but about how to keep Frank and Corry safe, while making sure Mindy didn’t get her hands on the portable time machine permanently, and of course Laurie and Lee were ALSO back in the mix, confusing things…

Carrie looked down at her hand. She swallowed. She wasn’t sorry about slapping Julie across the face. And yet, she realized now that she’d derived no satisfaction from it.

The blonde teenager reached out again open her front door, but this time before her hand could touch the doorknob, the door was opening from the inside. “Carrie!” her father shouted. “Where have you been?? I have been worried sick!”

“I… I was out with Glen,” Carrie said truthfully. “Something came up at school, and we had to have a talk about it.”

“I’ll say something came up at school! It’s all over the news!” Hank Waterson retorted. “Your friends Frank and Julie called, not knowing where you were, and some female police officer in plainclothes came by indicating to me that you were one of the people this escaped lunatic was shouting about… Carrie, I’d started calling the hospital every fifteen minutes, asking them if any unidentified girls had been brought in!”

“Oh, for God’s sake, Dad…”

“You watch your mouth young lady!” he interrupted. “Now, I realize you want to be free to live your own life, and I’ve been trying hard to accommodate you in that respect… but on a day when the school library gets demolished by some girl who refers to you by name, you should at least give me the courtesy of a phone call!”

Carrie paused. Her father was interpreting her momentary outburst as ‘let me live my own life’ rather than ‘as if I didn’t have enough to deal with’ – which was probably for the best.

“I’m sorry, Dad,” she replied, switching gears. She tried to bring a few tears to her eyes and found they came with alarming ease. “I was scared, and I didn’t know what to do.”

“Oh, Carrie,” Hank sighed, softening his tone. He reached out to pull his daughter into an embrace. “I know we’ve had our differences, but I thought we’d reached an understanding. I want to be here for you. I want you to feel like you can tell me anything. The thought that I’ll receive another phone call like the one I had last year, it scares me to death.”

“I know,” Carrie murmured, instinctively reaching out to hug her father back. “I really am sorry. SO sorry. But honestly, there’s nothing I can tell you. I don’t know why Mi– that girl was after me today, so I just got scared and Glen happened to be nearby and I lost track of time.”

Her father led her inside the house. He pulled back slightly from the embrace, closing the door, and looking to meet her gaze. After a moment, he nodded. “All right then,” he said. “For now, I’m just happy to see that you’re okay. But we will have another talk about responsibility, mark my words. Now, take off your shoes and come into the kitchen. I’ve kept dinner warm.”

Carrie nodded, wiping her cheeks dry. It occurred to her then how much in character this was for her father of late – Glen must have been overreacting when he had said Mindy would influence her father and friends in some way. Unless this was all such a carefully engineered plot that even Carrie couldn’t see through it, in which case Mindy probably deserved to win.

However, deep down Carrie knew Glen was still dead right about one thing… in the end, she was the only one who could deal with Mindy. And so, she was going to have to sneak out tonight, and go back for training. Because she had less than two days to figure out how to release her temporal self… safely or otherwise.

*

-Next Episode: Banishment.

-Happy Thanksgiving Weekend to fellow Canadians! You may recall these episodes take place mid-October, in the week following that holiday. So this time next week, we’ll be temporally in synch – and caught up to Frank! Care to Vote? Or speculate in comments?

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