PREVIOUSLY: Julie cut herself off from everyone except Tim, as she’s secretly rebuilding the time machine. Luci and Tim have been translating Linquist’s old logbook.
PART 76a: BAD SIGNS
“You’ve suspected as much for quite some time now,” came Glen’s easy reply. “The question is, what are you going to do about it?”
Julie clenched her fists. “I’m not going to let you win.”
Glen shook his head before smiling back. “Look, Julie… this isn’t about winning or losing. It’s about what has to be. A time machine in this era makes the timelines too unstable. You’re on borrowed time as it is. Trust me, Julie, if you persist, you will be stopped.”
“It’s been over a month,” the brunette countered. “We’re nearly into December, and you haven’t managed to stop me yet. There are forces in the future working in my favour. Why not simply concede defeat? Then we can both get back to leading a normal life.”
Glen shoved his hands into his pockets, shaking his head. “You know I won’t do that. So unless you have anything sensible to say, I guess we had nothing to discuss here after all.”
The two of them continued to stare at each other for a moment, before Julie finally clenched her jaw, spun on her heel, and left Willowdale park.
“W-What’s on your mind, Luci?” Tim wondered.
The young girl jumped, as if realizing she’d been staring off into space. “Oh, uh… nothing, nothing. You were saying something about the dictionary we’re making?”
Tim set his pencil aside. “That was f-five minutes ago. I’d moved back into the passages themselves. Luci, are you… okay?”
Luci gestured dismissively, then seemingly changed her mind and pursed her lips together. “Mostly.”
Tim leaned his elbow against the desk. “What’s the r-rest of it about? Frank again?”
She grimaced. “Okay, I’m either becoming very transparent, or very single minded.”
Tim smiled. “You two were g-going out for over half a year. It’s only natural that he’s still on your mind when this time travel comes up.”
Luci shook her head, her small ponytails whipping back and forth. “It isn’t memories this time, it’s…” She sighed. “Honestly? I had issues. Emotional ones. And I’ve been chatting with the school counsellor, so I think I’m getting sorted out. Which is fine for me, but what about him? I made him fall in love with me, dated him as long as it suited me, then dropped him like yesterday’s news! How terrible of a person does that make me?! It’s even worse than how Carrie used to be, at least she didn’t spend months playing with the emotions of the guys she one-off dated!”
Tim stared. “You… you don’t really believe all of what you’re saying do you?”
“Kinda, sorta, almost,” Luci mumbled.
“I’m p-pretty sure you can’t MAKE someone fall in love with you. And that you didn’t have an end in mind while g-going out. Besides, couples g-get together and split apart all the time – and it’s not l-like you took private pictures of Frank and threw them on the internet, or spread rumours about him n-not measuring up or something.”
She looked horrified. “Tim, I would NEVER–”
“There, see? N-Not so terrible of a person. Human, like all of us.”
Luci slumped. “Maybe. But it’s still awkward somehow, when I see him. So I was thinking – should I tell Frank we’re a couple again? I mean, just because I’m not feeling it NOW doesn’t mean I WON’T, not if we… do couplish things again. Maybe.”
“D-Do you really believe that would be best?”
“I… no. No, I guess not.” She rested her head in her hands. “Tim, don’t ever fall in love, it’s a MESS.”
He chuckled. “Seems unlikely. The only girls I spend any amount of time with are Julie, who still likes Clarke, and you.” Luci turned, and lifted an eyebrow. “O-Oh, I don’t mean to imply anything! Like, you’re very loveable, even if I don’t love you! Or don’t love you yet, which, damn it, I’m making things even more awkward…”
She smiled and reached out to pat him on the leg. “Right, let’s drop it then, okay Tim? I do thank you for being a better sounding board than my cat. Now how about we return to whatever you were saying about the passages?”
Tim let out a breath. “R-Right.” Thank goodness. He pointed to the pages of information spread out on the desk. “Look at this part, which refers to Linquist’s initial plan to create that %gun of temporal freezing%.”
“Meaning gun of temporal freezing,” Luci translated, off of his attempted pronunciation of the actual phrase. “What of it?”
“He seems to credit the idea to someone else.”
Luci’s eyebrows shot up. “Let me see that,” she requested, pulling their notes a bit closer.
Tim pushed back to let her scan through, though he had no doubt that he was correct. Ever since the two of them had stopped focusing on the single portion of the book that referenced the inner workings of the gun – the selfsame weapon that had been used to return Carrie to normal after the so-called “Mindy affair” – they had been able to make better progress.
That was to say, progress with Linquist’s language, despite how it seemed to be murder on the tenses. Construction of the gun itself was still something of a mystery. They still knew little beyond how to charge the weapon up.
Luci turned back to him, even as Tim heard the doorbell of his house ring. “You’re right,” she agreed. “I think he’s referring to that same person we saw him mention elsewhere.” She frowned, picking up another set of notes. “But it’s still not clear as to whether this other person was an associate of his, a relative, or someone he saw as a specimen.”
Luci flopped back in her chair, staring at the ceiling. “Damn! If only we could get our hands on more than the one single book…”
Tim reached out to touch Luci’s shoulder reassuringly, thought better of it, then went ahead and did it anyway. “It’s alright,” he murmured. “It’s not like we’re under a deadline.”
“Um,” came the distracted reply. “Maybe not, but when things start to happen around here? They tend to happen real fast. And unfortunately, we have no sure fire way of predicting that future.”
“Tim!” Mrs. Whitby called out from downstairs. “Friend to see you by the name of Chartreuse!”
Tim exchanged a glance of surprise with Luci. She frowned. “I said no sure fire way,” she clarified to no one in particular.
“…so, like, from that impression I got off of Julie regarding Glen, it’s obvious that their situation is going to explode,” Chartreuse said. “We’ll have to, you know, work together to make sure it won’t cause–”
“Chartreuse,” Luci interrupted. “Why are you telling us this?”
The pink haired girl eyed her. “Technically, I’m telling Tim this,” she pointed out. “But, you know, it’s great that you’re here too! It’s almost like fate in a way… the original group, the 2 DEGS, back together, one year later! A reunion tour!” She beamed.
Luci sighed. “Setting that aside, I meant why are you telling us this, and not Carrie? She still talks to you, so if the sensations you got from Julie related to a conflict with Glen, isn’t she the more logical choice?”
Chartreuse hesitated. “Well, there’s also the fact that I, like, tailed Julie after school. Which led to me, you know, eavesdropping on a conversation she had with Glen in the park. Which, while I didn’t catch everything, did have something to do with, of all things, the time machine.”
Luci sat up straighter.
“W-Wait,” Tim protested. “I thought that the machine had been destroyed. By Carrie. Over a month ago.”
“Yeah. Which is why I’m, you know, talking to you first,” Chartreuse stated. “All I can think is that Julie’s using her cash to fund some sort of top secret research project to build a new one, which Glen is now countering using an army of mind controlled people. I can’t bother Carrie with that, not without being sure! The poor girl has enough on her mind, what with juggling three different timelines.”
Luci blinked. “I’m going to pretend that made sense, and move on to asking why you think me and Tim would be able to offer anything beyond more wild speculations.”
Chartreuse pointed. “Tim spends time with Julie.”
Tim jumped. “O-Only because I’m close to Clarke!”
“But you’re also Glen close,” Chartreuse insisted. “Because of, you know, being in Corry’s band. Julie and Glen, they must have been asking about each other last week! This situation feels too big, I can’t believe it came out of nowhere.”
Tim shook his head. “They said n-nothing! Or at least, n-neither of them have said anything around me.”
Chartreuse reached out to seize his hand. “Nono, seriously Tim, think harder about this! It could be, you know, critical!”
“Chartreuse,” Luci broke in, “even assuming we buy into this, if Tim says they’re not talking about each other, I’m sure he’s right. They’re both pretty cagey. Besides, are you sure you heard time machine and not, I don’t know, juice machine?”
The teen mystic cocked her head to the side, releasing Tim. “Luci, why would Julie meet with Glen in secret to, like, talk about a juice machine?”
Luci shrugged. “The… the school talent show is coming up in a week’s time. Maybe they’re putting together an act, only it’s not going so hot.” Okay, that sounded lame, even to her.
“Oh, w-we’re playing at that show,” Tim offered up, apparently seizing the change of subject. “Corry’s band I mean.”
Chartreuse rolled her eyes. “Look, I’m 90 percent sure it was time machine,” she countered. “But even if it wasn’t, strong impressions like the one I got from Julie have always, like, come true in some fashion! A fashion of the not good type! You totally have to grant me that much.”
Luci sighed. “Fine, point granted. Tim, ignoring what they’ve been actually saying, have you maybe SEEN anything weird?”
“No! Why would I even be looking for anything??”
“You’ll need to start now,” Chartreuse decided. “Maybe even fish for extra information from Julie if, you know, you can.”
“About what?? Glen? Some mystery time machine? Why would she tell me anything at all?” the blonde boy protested.
“Because!” Chartreuse began, only to allow her posture to slump slightly. “I dunno. You just seem like the best lead we’ve got. You’re SURE you haven’t, like, seen or heard ANYTHING?”
Tim shook his head, then sighed at Chartreuse’s crestfallen expression. “H-How about this though,” he suggested. “It’s almost the weekend. I’ll be meeting again with Julie. I’ll tell her you’re worried, while keeping an eye out for anything weird.”
Chartreuse grimaced. “Tip our hand? I don’t think Julie would be thrilled to know I was spying on her, you know?”
“I w-won’t mention that part,” Tim assured. “I’ll only mention your impression, and see if I can figure out w-why she’s at odds with Glen.”
“But what if she clams up?” Chartreuse objected. She began to pace. “Still, you’re right, aside from trying to sic Corry on her, I’m not sure where else to go with this. Alright, try the talking thing. Call me as soon as you get home that day to, you know, update me.”
“What about Carrie?” Luci wondered. “Do we bring her into this?”
Chartreuse began to look pained. “The way Glen sticks by her side these days? No. As much for Julie’s own safety, I think we shouldn’t approach Carrie until the point where we have some concrete proof regarding… whatever this is.”
NEXT: New Recruit