PREVIOUSLY: Tim retrieved a computer chip from the train station for Julie. Clarke tried to take it from him, then Luci threw Tim’s package into the ravine.
PART 77b: TIMELINE FIVE?
As the package containing Julie’s microchip spiralled down into the darkness of the ravine, Tim’s shocked look met an identical one on Luci’s face. “What… what did I just do?” the young girl said, shifting her gaze from him to her hand to the ravine.
“You tell me!” Tim said, allowing a wave of anger to rise up to the surface.
The young girl shook her head, stupefied. “I was overcome by this strong impression that you were carrying something really dangerous.”
“Dangerous how, Luci?”
“I… I don’t know. I simply couldn’t control the impulse to…” She blinked. “I… I’m so sorry, Tim, I don’t know why…”
“I do.” Tim shook his head, turning away from her. “Never m-mind. It doesn’t m-matter right now. Go back home.”
Luci reached out to touch him on the shoulder. “Tim…”
Part of him wanted to stay with her at that. He forced himself to keep moving. “Just go home. I’ll call you later to explain.”
Out of the corner of his eye, Tim saw Luci’s hand fall back to her side, where it clenched into a fist. He fancied that he heard her mutter “Glen?” through clenched teeth. Either way, she didn’t follow him, which was good… it seemed more important than ever now that he get this chip to Julie.
The one he had removed from the package and placed in his pocket not long after leaving the train station. Good thing he’d tested Luci with the package on his own terms, rather than on hers. ‘Trust yourself,’ he repeated mentally. ‘The one person you can still trust is yourself…’
There was definitely someone following him. No matter how much he tried, Tim couldn’t shake that feeling. So as soon as he rounded the corner and got a good view of the LaMille mansion, the young boy let out a sigh of relief, sure that the crazy trip he’d been sent on this evening was almost over.
The breath caught in his throat. Glen was standing out front, leaning against a street lamp. For a second, Tim hesitated, wondering if there was somewhere else he could go… but in that moment, Glen’s eyes fell upon him, and he knew it would be futile.
He wouldn’t be able to run fast enough to get away. Besides, it’s not like he was prepared to spend the rest of the night on the run, suspecting everyone of being out to get him. So even as Glen pushed off and made to approach, Tim continued walking towards him.
The redhead stopped and stood his ground. “I must say,” Glen remarked as Tim came within earshot, “I never thought anyone would get this far. Maybe it wouldn’t have been a waste of time to give you a post-hypnotic package suggestion too. Did you honestly make it back here, with the chip, by YOURSELF?”
Tim decided not to answer. He stopped a couple of paces away, looking up and down the street again. “Where’s Julie?”
Glen shrugged. “I stopped tailing her fifteen minutes ago. I think she was headed to the post office. It felt like a setup. I was pretty sure she’d put someone else into the real danger. Wondered if it would be you, but alas, I’d put my money on Frank.” He stepped forwards. “Doesn’t matter now, of course. Hand over the package.”
Tim stepped back. “W-What package?”
“Oh, let’s not do this,” Glen sighed. “It’s been a VERY taxing weekend on my brain already. Do I really have to put the so-called whammy on you as well?”
“No, I think maybe you don’t,” came a new voice.
An angry look flashed across Glen’s face, as Julie stepped out from behind some cover across the street. “Damn it! LaMille, you are really starting to TICK ME OFF.”
“Good!” the brunette retorted as she approached them. “Because the way you’ve been interfering with my efforts over the last month has been ticking me off too!”
“Why can’t you just see reason?” Glen sighed, throwing his arms out to the side. “What you’re doing here is WRONG!”
“Hey, this wasn’t completely my idea,” Julie fired back. “If you know what I’m up to, you probably know that too. Meaning the reason behind this is that you’re going to screw something up, leading to Carrie thinking the only way forward is with us having a time…”
“Oh please!” Glen broke in. “Carrie knows what’s at stake here, there is NO way she would authorize…”
“A-HEM,” Tim cut in, now holding the chip aloft in his hands. Both Glen and Julie turned to regard him, falling silent. “Thanks.”
“Now, I didn’t want to be in this situation,” he continued. “But since I am, here’s how I see it. Glen, whatever your feud is with Julie? You’re now dragging other people into it. A-Against their will. That… that’s all kinds of wrong.” Tim shifted his attention to Julie. “While you? You’ve done the opposite. Closing everyone off. It’s making you crazy, Julie, and if you get this chip, I don’t think any of that is going to change.” He lowered his hand. “This… this situation… it can’t go on. Not like this.”
“So destroy the chip.”
“NO! Tim, you can’t believe…”
“Oh, STOP!” he shouted. “I’m not going to destroy it. But I’m not going to hand it over either. Not until the two of you work this out!”
The two teenagers turned to look at each other. “I don’t think so,” Glen said dryly, at the same time as Julie countered, “Not gonna happen.”
“Then n-neither of you gets it,” Tim said, shoving it back inside his jacket.
“But if it’s not in the mansion, what’s going to prevent Glen from using his power to obtain it through you, or anybody else?” Julie objected.
“ME? Seems YOU’VE been a lot more cunning up until this point,” Glen countered.
Tim sighed. “I’ll simply have to find s-someone else to give it to! Someone who won’t be influenced by either of you.”
“Someone like me,” Lee stated, tossing back his hood. Tim jumped, not having paid much attention to the fourth person walking up.
“Lee!” Julie said in surprise. “I thought you told me…”
“That I didn’t want to be involved this much, yeah.” Lee shook his head. “But when I turned you down for this mission, it seemed likely that you would recruit elsewhere.”
Lee turned to Tim. “I’ve been shadowing you since you left the station. Sorry, Tiny T. It wasn’t my intention to have you, or anyone else, getting into trouble in my place.” He smiled. “Also, congrats. I’ve been listening, and you’ve made some excellent points.”
“I knew it,” Glen said, clenching his jaw. “I KNEW you were involved with this time traveling group, Lee! After all, how could they possibly have passed up an asset like you?!”
Lee jerked his thumb at Glen, while looking at Julie. “And this is why I wanted to stay out of it. However, it makes sense that I keep the chip.” He turned to Tim. “I’m immune to whatever mental gifts ‘red barren’ has, and I’m not about to hand it over to our resident rich witch without a damn good reason either.”
Tim nodded slowly. “That… makes sense.”
“Unacceptable,” Julie and Glen chorused together.
“Cool, you’re both in agreement,” Lee observed with a wry smile.
“No, look,” Glen insisted. “As long as that chip exists, the chance that the time machine will be reconstructed is…”
“Remote,” Lee interrupted. “Because you need a lot more than a chip to make it work.”
“Exactly!” Julie cut in. “And if I’m not allowed to fit it properly…”
“Your work stalls,” Lee finished. “And we get as close as we can to this being a win-win situation.”
“But I was told to do this for a reason,” Julie continued doggedly. “What if an emergency situation comes up? We might not have the time we need to assemble things then!”
Lee shrugged. “If it does, we’ll simply have to deal, and trust that our redhead here knows what he’s doing with the track tease.”
A sullen silence fell over the group. “W-Well, I think it’s as close to normal as we’re going to get,” Tim piped up at last. He reached again into his pocket, pulled out the chip he found there, and handed it over to Lee. The taller boy grasped it, holding it up.
“Truce?” Lee said.
Julie’s hands closed into fists. Glen clenched his jaw.
“Fine,” the brunette said after a moment.
“Whatever,” the redhead offered up in turn.
“Good,” Lee concluded. He moved to pocket the chip, only to have a hand grab his arm.
“Mmmm, not so good.”
“C-C-C-Carrie,” Tim stammered out in shock.
There was nowhere Carrie could have come from. Somehow, she had simply been standing right next to Lee. And before Lee could react, she had plucked the chip from his hand, dropped it to the sidewalk, and crunched it underneath the heel of her boot.
For a moment, no one spoke. Tim wondered if it was because the others were realizing the same thing as he was. Namely, that Carrie’s eyes were flickering from blue to gold and back. Was this a future Carrie who had managed to balance her powers? Because she didn’t look any older than the Carrie of their time.
Glen broke the silence by clapping his hands together. “Oh, good one!” he said appreciatively. “This means you’ll be accepting–”
“Shut UP!” Carrie fired back. “I didn’t do this for you. You KEPT things from me. I am NOT pleased.”
“This… this doesn’t make sense,” Julie protested, barely audibly. “Carrie, you were the one who told me… that I… I was the only one who could…”
Carrie ignored her, having spent the last few moments pulling an object from her pocket. A photograph of some sort. As Julie’s stammers trailed off, Carrie eyed the photo, closed her eyes again, and her long blonde hair began to trail out behind her despite the lack of a strong wind. Then, with a whispered “Goodbye”, there was a flash of light. Tim blinked out of reflex, and when his eyes reopened, Carrie was gone.
However, the chip remained. Ground into the pavement.
Tim looked up towards Lee. “I-I-Is this good or bad?” he wondered, swallowing.
Julie lay in her bed, staring at the ceiling. She couldn’t sleep. She needed answers.
On the one hand, it seemed like the chip had been destroyed by a Carrie from the future, and not the one in their present… but was that Carrie even further in the future than the one who had written the note? If so, why not just stop herself from sending the damn note in the first place?
Yet, if Carrie had written the note AFTER traveling back and stopping Julie, shouldn’t she have warned Julie that this was something that would happen? It didn’t make sense! None of it made sense! Had all of her work, all of her time away from the others – had it been for nothing??
There was a part of her that wanted to scream, but Julie knew that losing control of her emotions would only make her susceptible to mind control again. As it had that time she’d broken down over her parents. More pragmatically, it wouldn’t accomplish much either. So she simply lay there, fists clenched, wracking her brain, certain she’d missed something, and wondering what it was… until her phone rang.
Julie lifted an eyebrow as she looked over at the clock – almost midnight – before stretching out to answer the mystery call.
“What?” she said sharply.
“Julie LaMille?” The voice on the other end of the phone line was distorted, making it difficult to identify, but it seemed to be female.
“Yeah?” Julie shot back. “Who’s calling?”
“Someone who might be able to help you. With what you’re trying to rebuild.”
Julie snorted. “Right. You’re a few hours too late on that.”
“Don’t be so hasty,” the unknown woman soothed.
The brunette frowned. “Seriously? Look lady, I’ve had a hell of a day, and at this point, the only way you can help me out is if you know something I don’t already know about altered timelines, or crazy future technology! Is that the case? IS it? Because I doubt it. I mean, who the hell do you think you are?!” She paused for an answer, fuming internally.
“My name is Mindylenopia. I believe you know me as Mindy.”
The phone dropped out of Julie’s hand, bouncing once on the bedspread.
NEXT: Cheer Up
ASIDE: This ends ARC 4.1 (Separated); the timelines may start to get messier now. Consider the usual vote for T&T, to help attract others for analysis?