Previously: Luci and Tim were busy translating Linquist’s notes. Carrie threatened everyone, and went for training with Glen. There’s a plan to capture Mindy when she reappears.
PART 3.17a: BANISHMENT 1
Julie didn’t reply. He waited a moment, then approached, touching her shoulder. She flinched slightly but otherwise didn’t react, continuing to lean on her arm, resting against the bars of the cage they’d set up down in Linquist’s secret basement lab. By placing the enclosure within the alcove at the base of the passage from the upstairs washroom, they’d only had to weld a grate with a door over the wall.
“We’ve got less than two hours left,” he continued softly. “When did you want to head out?”
“As soon as I hide the key to this makeshift cell,” Julie murmured after a moment. “You should leave the room first. No one but me can know where it is.”
Her tone was flat and tired, as it had been so often when none of the others were around. “Jewels, we’re doing the right thing,” Clarke insisted.
“Are we?” Julie challenged, turning her head to look at him. “Carrie doesn’t seem to agree. We haven’t seen her since that night. And she’s returned my one call with a terse ‘Leave me alone’.”
“Meaning she hasn’t objected outright,” Clarke noted.
“Or that what we do no longer matters.” Julie pushed herself back from the bars. “Phil, she summed things up pretty well with her ‘do whatever the hell you want, just hands off the time machine’ attitude on Thursday. Which we’d better take seriously. Unless you’ve got a mace and flail handy.”
“This Mindy business has been stressing her out,” Clarke soothed. “She’s on edge, saying things she doesn’t mean…”
“Oh no! She meant every word of that tirade. In case you didn’t notice, it was made… painfully clear.” She reached up to trace a hand across her cheek. “No, trust me Phil, somewhere in her mind there were bounds, and I overstepped them. Several times in that single day, in fact.”
“You only did what you felt you had to do,” Clarke said after Julie fell silent once again. “Give it a little time, let Frank talk to Carrie once things have settled down… Carrie will realize your intentions were good.”
“Were they? WERE they? Because in case you didn’t notice, Luci was bang on during her little rant too. In my haste to act, I made a right mess of things. Not only for Corry, Frank and Carrie, but indirectly for Luci, Laurie, Lee, even Joe and Tommy… hell, it’s starting to look like the only person who’ll come out of recent events completely unscathed is me.” She kicked at the iron grate. “But hell, isn’t that the way all my plans are supposed to work? With me on top?”
“There’s no need to be sarcastic.”
Julie strode over to lean against one of the lab benches. “Well, at least there’s one good thing that’s come of this. It’s taught me that I can’t be anyone’s follower. Since trying to ‘help’ has only served to awaken in me the desire to take firmer action. And doing THAT has put me in a position where I only know how to do what’s best for myself! So what’s left after all that?”
“Teamwork?” Clarke ventured.
Although he could no longer see her face, Clarke suspected Julie was grimacing. “I’m not like you, Phil. I’m no good at passing the basketball. In grade school, I was always the girl people wanted on the other team. For years, all I had driving me were my own selfish goals. Which weren’t even mine, in a way! I didn’t care who else got hurt, as long as I emerged victorious in the end.”
“You’re different now. Besides, it’s not like you can work for Mindy’s team instead of ours.”
A pause. “I suppose not.”
Clarke frowned. He’d been trying to make a joke. But something about her tone there bothered him. He wanted to follow up, but that’s when there came the sound of someone falling down the access chute. Clarke and Julie both turned in time to see Luci land awkwardly in the caged off section of the room. She immediately jumped up and grabbed onto the metal bars.
“Great! You’re still here,” Luci panted. “Tim’s upstairs waiting for me… let me out of this cage, we have to get into that safe of Linquist’s!”
“The SAFE?” Julie crossed her arms. “Luci, I’m not sure if you’ve been keeping up, but we’re preparing to chloroform and imprison a rather dangerous girl for questioning. Now is hardly the time for safe cracking.”
“You don’t understand. It’s not safe cracking. I know the combination,” Luci said breathlessly. “We found it in the same passage that stated ‘I have placed within my safe the gun for temporal freezing’. Well, either that or ‘gun for cool tempos’, but Tim’s pretty sure it’s the former.”
“Tim? Wait, why is he here?” Clarke asked.
“Uhhh, he’s kinda been helping me translate,” Luci said. “In fact, he’s still at it now, trying to fill in some rather key details.”
“So you never gave up looking at the logbook, huh?” Julie said dryly.
Luci sighed. “No, Julie, I didn’t. And yes, it’s the reason I was unreachable two days ago. You happy now? But listen, when Linquist was… was poking at me, he discovered that my DNA was ‘in temporal flux’. Which WE know was because of the time machine, even though he interpreted it to mean I was an alien. Remember?”
“Sure, you’ve told us,” Clarke agreed. “But how does his logbook help us here?”
“Simply put, if Linquist could correctly identify my premature aging as ‘temporal flux’, I figured he might also have some technology we could use as a viable temporal weapon! And so his gun for ‘temporal freezing’ might be able to freeze Mindy before she hurts Frank or Corry! THAT’S why I doubled down, spending the last thirty six hours trying to translate this particular passage of his book! With Tim’s help. So, uh, kinda had to tell him some of the time stuff to do this. Don’t be too mad.”
“Hold on,” Julie protested. “Are you saying Linquist made a gun that actually freezes time in some way?”
“I don’t know, you haven’t let me out to have a look at it yet,” Luci said impatiently. “Plus there’s the fact that Tim’s still working on the translation. However, even if Linquist IS lying through his teeth about this thing – and I wouldn’t put it past him – it can’t hurt to check, can it? If this Mindy is half as bad as she sounds, we may need all the help we can get.”
Clarke and Julie exchanged a glance. “Fair point,” Julie admitted, pulling the key back out and approaching the iron door. “After all, if there is some weapon that keeps Mindy from getting away, I might be able to avoid more wrath from Carrie.” She half smiled. “Also, it’s not like we can keep Luci in the same cage where we’re dumping the redhead, right?”
“You’re gonna try tapping into a vision? Again? So soon?” Laurie began to fidget as Chartreuse moved into the circle of crystals on the bedroom floor. “Can’t I talk you out of this?”
“No. I have to do this,” Chartreuse sighed. “Something’s totally up surrounding the return of this Mindy girl and Carrie won’t tell me what it is. She’s blocking me off, too busy doing who knows what with Glen. However, the closer we get to Mindy’s return, the more things feel like they’re, you know, coming into focus… so I should have, like, better luck now than I did yesterday.”
“When you were sick in the bathroom for over half an hour! And that was after seeing only shadows! This Mindy stuff, it’s not good for you!”
“But it’s important. And you helped me out then,” Chartreuse said with a weak smile. “So if I see something even more unsettling this time, I’m counting on you to, you know, help me again.”
“Well, duh,” Laurie said. “Even if I don’t want you to do it, helping is the least I can do after you’ve helped me out so much the last couple days. Not to mention everyone else, running interference what with covering for my brother and for Frank… golly, if this goes on any longer my parents are gonna FREAK. And I told them Corry’s okay! S-So you DO think he’s okay right?”
“Laurie dear, please stay calm,” Chartreuse pleaded as she closed her eyes. “There’s barely an hour left and I need positive alpha waves.”
Ten minutes later, Laurie was helping a woozy Chartreuse stumble over towards her phone, where she began a frantic search for Lee’s number.
“I’m not ready for this, Glen.”
“Yes, you are,” Glen assured her. Carrie continued to pace back and forth in the middle of Willowdale Park. It was dusk now, the sun had set five minutes ago. “Remember, I was originally going to have you do this the day Mindy first arrived.”
“Which was before you found out that my time travel was occurring with the help of a time machine! Before two days of near constant training barely managed to push a thumbtack out of the present, let alone alter the flow of time or wipe out a memory! Before the only attempt to access my inner demon resulted in me knocking myself unconscious before I could fully let go!” Carrie spun to face him, placing her hands on her hips. “You REALLY think I’m ready to face Mindy?!”
Glen ran a hand back through his hair. “Well, um, the important thing is that you believe you’re ready.”
“My point exactly.”
“Look, you’re closer than you think,” Glen insisted. “And we’ll keep on with your training once we’ve gotten through this crisis.”
“If I’m still alive,” Carrie retorted. “Which reminds me, you’d better damn well kill me if it looks like I’m about to blow up all of time. If you don’t, I’ll haunt you to hell and back in the afterlife. Assuming there even IS an afterlife after I destroy our whole solar system.”
“Oh, Carrie,” Glen said, reaching out to touch her shoulder. “I am sorry it has to be you. I really am.”
She shrugged him off and stepped away. “Stop touching me. Look, we’ve got somewhere between ten and twenty minutes before Mindy reappears. I’m going into that trace thing. You know what to do to rouse me. Or rather, other me. Keep an eye out for Julie and her crew too, I’m sure they’ll be here any moment. You know what to do with them as well.”
That said, Carrie plunked herself down in the grass by the empty swing set and closed her eyes. A little over eight minutes later, Glen heard the sound of approaching voices.
-This is SURE to go well… hm, gun for cool tempos, any thoughts?