PREVIOUSLY: Chartreuse sensed trouble between Julie and Glen. Tim said he would ask Julie about it.
PART 76b: NEW RECRUIT
The brunette turned from her scrutiny of the swords hanging on the wall of the sitting room. “Yes, well, some other things are on my mind too,” she admitted. “I’ve heard every word though. Chartreuse getting impressions, so-called problems with Glen, whether it relates to time travel.” She regarded him silently for a moment. “Do you think there’s any truth to it? That is, you personally?”
Tim shifted uncomfortably. “I know that Clarke thinks Glen and his mind abilities is part of the reason you initially broke up. B-But then, I haven’t seen any evidence of problems between you two. Of course, you hardly speak to anyone n-now.”
A ghost of a smile flickered across Julie’s face. “Except to you.”
“Uh… yeah. I guess.”
Julie crossed her arms. “I’ve been meaning to thank you for that, Tim. At first I didn’t think it would be so bad, returning to my old reclusive ways. But the first time through, in Grade Nine, I still had people to talk to. Carrie and Clarke, from day to day. This time… this time, I couldn’t risk that.”
She turned away from him. “And yet, he found out. Damn it, I’m still not sure how.” She glanced over her shoulder. “Oh, Tim, no worries with us, I doubt it was you. Whether Glen caught me in a moment of weakness, or had Clarke’s place bugged that time I spoke with his sister, or… something else. Point is, he knows, and more to the point, his best chance of stopping me is tonight.”
Tim blinked twice, trying to keep himself from fidgeting. “S-S-S-Stopping you…?”
Julie tucked some hair behind her ear. “Yes. Stopping me from rebuilding the time machine.”
“Chartreuse was RIGHT?!” Tim gasped.
Julie smiled, genuinely this time, turning back towards him. “Oh, yes. I honestly have been funding a sort of top secret research project. To construct a single microchip. Because while the majority of the time travel device was salvageable from Carrie’s trash, there is one particular component that has required weeks to recreate. I couldn’t even do it in town, it’s being sent in by professionals thanks to some plans I gave them. And given the friction in my family, I don’t think I’ll have the pull to get the specialists to do that again.” She exhaled. “So. If Glen gets his hands on this chip? It’s game over. That must be what Chartreuse sensed.”
Tim shook his head. “Now you’re j-just making fun of me,” he protested. “How could anyone in this era, l-let alone you, reassemble a future device l-like that?”
“Funny thing there,” Julie said idly. “Seems our present state of technology isn’t that far off from making these things. Understanding them, yes, but not physically making them. So, thanks mainly to Frank’s plans, which had been stored down in Linquist’s lab, I was able to reverse engineer the necessary component. Granted, I’m not a hundred percent sure it will all work, and there is NO way I’ll be able to fit all the reconstructed circuits back into that black box…”
She shook her head. “But that’s a problem for next week. First things first, I need that chip. And Carrie – a future Carrie, at any rate – wants me to have it too. Once it’s here, everything else should fall into place.”
“B-But… uh, if Glen doesn’t want you to have it… what will keep him from using his Jedi-like power to take it away from you?”
Julie set her jaw. “This mansion is a very secure place. Jeeves doesn’t know what I’m doing, or where I’m keeping things. And I know a few things about Glen’s mind power. Like with Shady, it works best one on one, and against the weak willed, and I’m always careful not to show weakness around him. I’ve also taken to muttering a particularly annoying pop song if we end up alone together, which I’ve discovered makes it hard for him to get a foothold. Or even want to be around me. No, once the chip is here, it will be safe, and I will have won.”
Her eyes narrowed. “And I’m sorry, Tim. Now that I’ve told you the truth… I’m going to have to kill you.” She interlaced her fingers and cracked her knuckles.
Tim’s eyes went wide, watching Julie as her eyes flicked over to the swords on the wall and back at him. It had happened. He’d pushed her, and she’d actually snapped! He had no hope of running away! How could he possibly defend himself?? He opened his mouth, his throat dry, wondering if screaming would even do any good…
Only to see the brunette collapse down to her knees in a fit of giggles. Which, in it’s own way, was almost more disturbing than the threat. In the weeks Tim had been coming here, he’d never seen such an outpouring of emotion from Julie. Certainly not laughter.
A tear started running down Julie’s cheek as she unsuccessfully clamped her hand over her mouth to stifle her uncontrolled case of the giggles. It took several long seconds of Julie fighting for breath before she could speak again.
“I’m sorry! Oh, I’m sorry,” she gasped out, biting down on her lip. “But I’ve been holding it all in for SO long, I simply couldn’t resist saying that at the end, and your expression became so damn SERIOUS, I can’t…” Julie took in another long breath, wiping off her cheek. “Gods, I haven’t been this amused since…”
And her expression immediately became more reserved. She cleared her throat. “Right. Sorry.” She pushed herself back up onto her feet. “In fact, the real reason I’ve told you everything is… Tim, I need your help.”
“M-My help.” He was no longer sure how much of Julie’s ranting he could believe.
“That’s right. As I said, the chip couldn’t be made locally, it’s being brought in. Tonight. If you’re willing, I need you to meet a particular guy at the train station, get that chip, and bring it back to the mansion for me. Okay?”
Tim swallowed hard, working up the nerve for what he had to say next. “Y-You’re nuts.”
Julie blinked. “You think?”
Tim nodded wordlessly.
Julie clapped her hands. “Good on you for speaking your mind! Alas, I’m all too sane. More to the point, I think it’s finally time to speak with you about the day you crept down into Linquist’s lab, while Glen had me busy on the phone.”
Tim flinched. “What? I’ve n-n-never…”
“Of course, you don’t remember it. His mental powers seem to be able to block, perhaps even erase memories that people don’t want. And you didn’t want to remember betraying me, and by extension, Clarke.”
Tim eyed her, until Julie seemed to sense that more explanation was required. Raking her hands back through her hair, she sat down in a nearby chair. “Okay. It was during our very second meeting here. As soon as you were left alone, you went down to have a look in Linquist’s lab. I know this, because you tripped a fine string I was keeping across the entranceway. I also half suspected that’s why Glen had called me in the first place, so I let it happen. It was fine, my keeping anything vital down there would have been way too obvious, so you couldn’t have reported anything useful. Meanwhile, it gave me a chance to observe his abilities in action.”
“J-Julie, I swear, I n-never…”
“Then why are you glancing towards the china cabinet? I’ve never mentioned that the entranceway to the lab was behind it.”
Tim felt a chill run down his spine. “L-Luci. She must have mentioned it.”
“Did she? I mean, I suppose it’s possible, but DID she?”
“I… I don’t know,” Tim realized, with mounting horror.
Julie leaned forwards slightly. “Now, part of me wants to use that act of espionage then, to insist that you owe me now. But despite the corner that I’m being backed into, this really does need to be voluntary on your part. Otherwise I’m stooping to his level.”
“W-W-Why can’t you…”
“Go myself? Glen has figured out that today’s the delivery day, and so he’ll be keeping an eye on me all evening. All he’ll need is a moment of weakness on my part to grab the chip, and destroy it – and since I’ll be busy throwing up my mental guards, I’ll be physically vulnerable to exactly that.”
She smiled again. “But you? This is a normal visit on your part, it won’t arouse suspicion. And he won’t expect me to take you into my confidence, not after showing me how he can get to you. So, while I believe I have him convinced that I’ll be meeting with someone coming into town by car – you can be the real recipient. Down at the train station. Sound like a plan? Or should I settle for a Plan C, which is much less of a guarantee, but won’t involve you at all?”
Tim swallowed. “You really don’t think Glen will target me?”
Julie’s smile faltered. “I didn’t say that. He might. In fact, he could have anticipated my recruiting you. But these meetings between us? It wasn’t all about passing information to Clarke. I know you better now. I have faith in your ability to run under the radar. Only thing is, I’ll need your answer before you leave this house today. Since we can’t talk after you do.” She paused. “So, will you help me get that chip?”
Tim found he could only stare, his mind reeling with the implications of what had apparently been going on right under his nose, yet without his knowledge. Given that, did he really want to play a larger role in the midst of all this insanity?
NEXT: Double Blind. Want to vote for T&T?