Previously: Mindy was banished by Carrie, but left a warning message about Glen, via her father. Carrie was knocked out by an energy gun… in fact, most people were knocked out by something.
PART 3.18a: MAKING THE ROUNDS 1
“Hey Phil! What’s new little brother?” came the voice of Clarke’s sister on the other end of the phone line. “Mom said there was some high drama at your school last Thursday. Something about a car crash?”
“Yeah, right into the library,” Clarke admitted, lying back on his bed as he held the phone receiver up to his ear. “But we’re… we’re all fine here.”
“You don’t sound sure of that,” Mary remarked. “Look, sorry I didn’t make it back for Thanksgiving – Doug wanted me to meet his family – but I’ll be making it up to everyone by coming to your first basketball game of the season in a few weeks. Okay?”
Clarke found he was unable to hold back a smile. “That’s great news, Mary! Just… just great!”
“Uh huh. Okay Phil, even if I weren’t majoring in psychology? I’d know something was wrong. Out with it.”
“What? I… uh…” Clarke shook his head. “I swear I’ll manage to bluff you one of these days! Though seriously, the family’s fine. School’s fine. The only issues are, well, between me and a number of my friends.”
“Yeah? You want to talk about it? I’m speaking as your sister here, not as the family shrink.”
Clarke passed his hand in front of his eyes. “Actually,” he sighed. “It seems like I’ve already spent this whole Sunday talking…”
It had made sense for him to visit Carrie first. She had been the last to regain consciousness the previous night, and she hadn’t spoken to anyone at Julie’s place, except to ask Glen to take her home. Yet even though she had looked normal at the time, blue eyes and all, Clarke was worried. Not only about Carrie herself, but also at the rift that was again forming between her and Julie.
Mr. Waterson answered the door when Clarke knocked. “I’m afraid Carrie is unavailable to speak with friends today,” he said immediately. “She’s been acting too irresponsibly of late.”
“Oh, well… she kinda has information I need for a group project,” Clarke hedged. “It’ll only take ten minutes.”
“She’ll be at school tomorrow,” Mr. Waterson pointed out. “This can’t wait?”
“Not really. It’s sort of extra curricular. A lot of us are involved in it,” Clarke explained. He disliked skirting the truth like this, particularly around someone like Carrie’s father, but he really did want to speak with her. Though as it turned out, while Clarke’s reasoning was enough to get him an audience, Carrie wasn’t in much of a talking mood.
“Did Julie send you?” the blonde questioned. She marched across the living room, heading for the window, arms crossed. She didn’t even look his way.
“No. But that’s just it, I am a little concerned about the friction building up in our little temporal group…”
“Then you’ll be glad to hear it’s not a group any more,” Carrie cut back in. “There will be no more use of the time machine. If you’ll take that message back to the others, I think we’re done here.”
Clarke winced. “Look, Carrie… I know having your powers released again must have been rough…”
“Rough? ROUGH?!” Carrie spun away from the window to face him now, her blue eyes blazing with anger – yet there was something else there too. Fear? “You have NO idea, Clarke, NONE at ALL, all right??” Carrie shot back. “Suffice to say, there’s going to be nothing more going on that’s even remotely temporally related until Glen and I can balance these forces inside me!”
Clarke waited until some of the tension had drained out of the air. “Then you didn’t change over willingly last night,” he stated, in a tone that invited comment.
“No, I… well, yes,” Carrie said. Her gaze slipped away. “It was a plan me and Glen devised to deal with Mindy. I was to give myself up to that inner demon when I heard Glen say the words ‘swan song’. I chose those words myself, because I had this crystal swan three years ago that… oh, why am I even bothering to explain this to you?!”
“Because sometimes it helps to talk about stuff?” Clarke offered.
“Yeah, that worked out SO well on Thursday, when me and Julie were at cross purposes,” Carrie shot back. Clarke winced, recalling the slap. She jabbed a finger back in his direction. “I’m done. With the group, even with Chartreuse. Glen is the only person who can help me now.”
“You’re sure we can trust him, then,” Clarke said, again not quite phrasing it like a question. “Even with his apparent mental abilities.”
“Yes!” Carrie said forcefully. She drew a shaky breath. “Yes, I have to trust him. Because he’s all I’ve got. It doesn’t matter what Mindy put in that letter she left with my father, I can’t simply…” She stopped. “Scratch that. You never heard that, there is no letter.”
“In fact, I don’t ever want to hear Mindy’s name again,” Carrie went on. “I don’t know what time I sent her to, and I’d rather not think about it. You can tell that to the others too!”
“Then you’re sure none of us can–”
“Damn it Clarke, there’s no US! No group, not any more!” Carrie interrupted. She pursed her lips. “Except… okay, maybe answer me one question? What was it that pulled me out of doomsday-Carrie mentality last night? Because somehow, I know that wasn’t Glen.”
Clarke accepted the change of subject, explaining to Carrie about the gun that had been discovered in Linquist’s safe. “Great, I was a weapons guinea pig,” the blonde moaned, pressing a hand into her temples. “You probably should have killed me outright, who knows what long term effects will plague me now.”
“Well, if it looks like you’re growing a third arm, you let somebody know, all right?” Clarke responded, venturing a smile. Carrie was hard to read, but she seemed to be calming down. “I mean, time travel or not, we want to help you. That’s all we’ve ever been trying to do.”
Carrie moved her hand to rub the bridge of her nose. “I know,” she murmured. “I know. But here’s the sad thing. None of you can help me, at least not safely.” Her gaze fell upon Clarke once more, and this time he was pretty sure that she was trying not to cry. “Look. We’re still done, but tell Julie I’m sorry for slapping her the other day, all right? Her idea was actually a good one.”
Clarke began to respond that it would be better for Carrie to tell Julie that herself, but the blonde cheerleader was already brushing past him. Before he could get out half a sentence, Carrie was out of the living room and running upstairs.
“So you say Carrie has major emotional issues owing to some burden that’s been placed on her?” Mary mused. “I hate to tell you this bro, but emotional issues are typical for teenagers.”
“Yeah, but this is the sort of burden no one should ever have to carry alone,” Clarke countered, switching the phone to his other ear. “So given Carrie’s pushing people away because of it, that can’t be healthy.”
“Probably not,” Mary agreed. “But even so, I wager there’s one or two people who can still get through to her. If not you, any other candidates?”
“Well, Glen. Or the next best bet would be Frank… I actually ran into him in front of the house, after talking with Carrie.”
“You might have trouble getting past Carrie’s father,” Clarke cautioned. “I think she’s sort of grounded.”
“Oh.” Frank frowned. “I really think we need to talk about that whole temporal plan I authorized though, and she isn’t answering her phone.”
“Try saying it’s an extra curricular group project,” Clarke offered. “That got me past Mr. Waterson. Getting Carrie to talk at all though… that may be the real challenge. I didn’t exactly soften her up. If anything, I did the opposite. Sorry, Frank.”
“Well, historically speaking she’s had more experience through high school using people as tools versus being their friends,” Frank observed. “A bit like Julie. So it’s a matter of us working around that, right? I mean, would she be able to ignore me indefinitely if I was heaving rocks up at her window?”
“Depends on how good your aim is.”
Frank grimaced. “Well, there’s that oak tree, I can get reasonably close if I have to.”
“Maybe you and Luci could tag team on it?” Clarke suggested.
There was a pause in the conversation then, awkward enough for Clarke to realize that he’d accidentally hit a nerve. “Julie explained to me about the log book and the gun Luci found,” Frank said at last. “While we were waiting for her to regain consciousness. I think… that is, it feels like me and Luci have issues there. We barely talked when I was walking her home after. Maybe I’m trying to avoid that situation now, by coming to see Carrie instead. I don’t know.”
“Relationships do generate issues,” Clarke agreed. “If nothing else, it’s good that you’re acknowledging one.”
“I’m not sure I am. Girls are a mystery. I don’t know how you and Julie manage to keep it all together. Say, do you think Carrie would let me travel a week into the future, to see how I handle things with Luci?”
Clarke pursed his lips. “Frank, I’d strongly recommend avoiding any talk of time travel with Carrie today. Even jokingly.”
Frank let out a long breath. “That bad, huh? Guess my work is cut out for me then.” He shook his head. “I’m starting to feel like I should have gone to see Chartreuse this morning instead. As girls go, she at least feels approachable right now.”
“Well, whatever you decide, let me know if I can be of any help,” Clarke said, clapping the other teen on the shoulder.
“I will,” Frank replied, reaching up to touch the bandage on the side of his head. “Thing is, the relationship stuff? I think I’ll have to work it out by myself.”
“Do you think Frank was able to help Carrie then?” Mary asked.
“I really don’t know,” Clarke sighed. “It became the least of my worries. See, I wanted to check up on Tim today too, because of how he got involved in recent events. But before I got to his house, there was this other encounter. When I passed by the local cafe, I saw Glen. He was talking with Lee. So I went in to find out what that was about.”
-Who remembers Mary Clarke from Book 1, Part 11? Some main characters do have siblings. Thoughts on character reactions so far?