PREVIOUSLY: Someone named Mindylenopia called Julie, offering help. Chartreuse tried to get a mystic reading on Carrie, yet kept seeing Megan.
PART 78b: CONNECTING
“I suppose you’re wondering why I wanted to talk with you.” Julie ran her fingers back through her hair. “Honestly, it took a full day to decide to speak up at all. Then I had to figure out who to speak to. So, congrats Frank, you win. Namely because, since Glen thought you’d be my confidant last time, he probably won’t peg you this time around.”
“Um, Julie…” Frank glanced towards the door of the school library, then back to her. “Look, I’m afraid it’s rippled through the whole group by now. We know what you were trying to do, what Glen did to us in order to stop you, and how Carrie trumped everything. I’m not sure what more you could add, and right now I actually have a business club meet–”
“Mindylenopia’s back. She phoned me that night.”
Frank froze. “Okay, that’s new.”
“She didn’t say much aside from ‘being able to help me with the rebuilding’, and ‘not to lose hope’. And that she would be in touch.”
“Do you know where the call originated?”
“Pay phone. Frank, do you think Mindy’s truly back? Or could this be another attempt by Glen to confound me, to keep me from working on any circuit alternatives as I await a call that’s never coming?”
“Euh. Well, she could be back, in as much as might have she caught back up to us.” Seemingly reaching a decision, Frank beckoned Julie further back into the book stacks. “A couple weeks ago, I found a poem, in the local paper. It had been published five years ago, on the same date of Mindy’s arrival this year, and was signed by her. Moreover, read a certain way, it was an attempt to warn us about Glen.” He shrugged. “Naturally, after that, both me and Luci looked for more evidence. Except we didn’t find anything. So… I figured it could have been coincidence.”
“In our lives? Never.”
Frank sighed. “Did your caller sound old? Young?”
“Her voice was distorted. Frank, if Mindy’s TRULY back, and moreover if she’s influencing our lives the way Glen did… wait, do you think HE knows she’s here again?”
“I kind of doubt it, otherwise he’d be gearing Carrie up for another temporal banishment, right? They really didn’t get along. I’m more worried about the fact that ‘Mindy’ called you on that night, because it means she ALSO knew about the time machine situation. How could she?”
Julie crossed her arms. “I can say I’ve been wary of any memory gaps, given how I’ve been guarding against Glen. So I don’t think Mindy’s ever influenced me. And the original note was written by–” She stopped herself.
“Hell.” Julie lifted her gaze to the ceiling. “Oh well, not hard to connect the dots now. I got a note, in Carrie’s handwriting, after Mindy’s banishment. It’s why I took the parts out of Carrie’s trash, and tried to rebuild the machine in the first place. She said I was the only one who could. My question is, what’s Mindy’s angle on all this?”
Frank rubbed his forehead. “I don’t know, but… would this future Carrie have known that Mindy was back?”
Julie stared at him, then slowly nodded. “That seems likely. So, you think I should wait for another call?”
“I don’t know what else we can do. Aside from raise our alert level for redheaded women eavesdropping on us from the shadows.”
“She could get a wig or dye her hair,” Julie pointed out. “If it were me, I’d do that.”
“Right. Well, I’ll tell everyone to keep their guard up. For now, I should get to my meeting.” Frank turned away, then back towards her. “Oh, and thanks, Julie. For having the faith to approach one of us again.”
She grimaced. “It was never you that I was worried about.”
“What is it you’re worried about?” Megan asked, idly filing a nail.
“I don’t know!” Chartreuse shot back, doing her very best to rein in her exasperation. “It’s something to do with, like, the talent show. I know you’re involved.”
“Mmm hmm.” Megan blew on her finger, then replaced the file in her locker, reaching for her book bag. “Corry sent you to me, did he?”
“No, he did NOT. But I did speak with him first, and from the sounds of things, he’s been, you know, super co-operative with you all week. Putting your friend Claude in the band to replace Glen, getting Kim to be, like, the one handling the lineup for said show, and not voicing any objection to, you know, other things, like giving the junior students one of the two senior study rooms in the library… why would you even suspect him of sending me to you now?”
“Ugh. Why wouldn’t anyone suspect that guy… oh wait, you wouldn’t, because you’re part of his gang.”
She closed her locker with what seemed to like deliberate slowness, then adjusted her necklace with the cross before shouldering her bag and turning away. “Chartreuse, darling, quit while you’re behind. You’re going to give me a persecution complex.”
Chartreuse hurried to block Megan’s way. “Megan, I can’t quit. Not when someone I love is in trouble, and I can’t, like, get a bead on her because of your plans. You know, it’s not a complex when you really ARE at the heart of everything!”
Megan’s eyes narrowed. “How dare you. Unlike your friend Corry, with his fingers in every event happening around us, my policy is merely to suggest. Not demand.”
“Yeah, well, some people can’t tell the difference. PLEASE Megan, call off whatever you’ll, like, be doing at the talent show!”
Megan held up both hands, palms out. “I’M not doing anything. My followers make their OWN decisions. Now get OUT of my way!”
Sensing that she wasn’t going to get anywhere productive, Chartreuse reluctantly stepped aside, slumping back against the row of lockers as Megan marched off. She moaned. Her last chance had been that direct confrontation. What was she going to do now?
“Megan’s being honest there, Chartreuse. She has no idea what will happen at the talent show.”
The mystic girl turned to see a girl with short brown hair and overlarge glasses approaching her from across the hall. “Kim? What do you, like, know?”
Kim Carpenter looked to see that Megan was really gone before answering. “I know that Megan suggested to Claude that he deliberately play the wrong chords during Corry’s favourite song. To Bill that he make fun of Mrs. Willis during his comedy routine. To Amy that Tommy’s slideshow should get put into the wrong order backstage. That someone replace the middle of Kelly’s dance number with a slow jazz track, and there’s probably even more things I don’t know about. Thing is, all of those things might happen – or none of those things might happen. Who’s to say? Certainly not Megan.”
“But that’s… she… how can Megan, you know, get anything DONE that way?!”
Kim smiled, reaching up to adjust her glasses. “Oh, Megan can get serious, if she chooses. She’s simply been more inclined to say whatever off-the-cuff remarks come into her head this week. I think partly because Corry’s been increasingly backing off.”
Chartreuse groaned. “But I, like, TOLD Corry to back off! I figured it would give me a better sense of what Megan was, you know, planning – and now you’re saying his nicer attitude has only made it worse??”
Kim nodded. “Haven’t you noticed? Megan’s philosophy is that people will eventually make the right choices by themselves. So she nudges at people – actually, sometimes shoves them with great force – to see how well they truly understand themselves, and the people around them. Not knowing how her influencing of events will pay off can be a gamble, sure, but it’s also how Megan’s been able to recruit so much support this year. And the more Corry backs off, the more she figures she can take the initiative.”
Chartreuse rubbed her forehead. “Kim, what would it take to get Megan to tell all the people she’s influenced to for sure NOT do anything at the show?”
Kim shook her head. “A miracle.” She began to move off.
Chartreuse pushed herself off the bank of lockers. “Kim, wait. Please. Megan must have, like, a weakness. Something I can, you know, leverage here.”
Kim turned back. “Chartreuse… you looked really upset. And I heard that you and Corry stood up for my chess skills that time she, uh, kind of used me without my permission in order to test you in the music room.” Her brow furrowed at the admission. “So anyway, I thought I’d cut you a break. But you have to understand, I’m with Megan now. Sure, she makes missteps, we all do, but her philosophy is the first one in this school that actually makes sense to me! Don’t you see that?”
Chartreuse swallowed. The longer the week went on, the less forthcoming Carrie was being with her. A knot was forming in her stomach, one she couldn’t get rid of, and yet couldn’t properly interpret, not with the forces fixating on Megan. “Well, you know… if people are gonna do whatever they like in the end, it doesn’t, like, matter what you tell me about Megan’s weak points. Right?” Chartreuse smiled.
“Yes, well, there’s also the philosophy ‘Stupid is as stupid does’,” Kim countered. Except she didn’t turn away, so Chartreuse clapped her hands together in a prayer pose.
Kim’s response was to roll her eyes. “Oy. Look, I’ll give you this much,” she decided, before spinning on her heel. “Corry’s biggest weakness? Is becoming Megan’s too.”
With that, the brunette strode off down the hall. Leaving Chartreuse to figure out how to use that knowledge to the best of her abilities.
NEXT: Truth and Consequences. Do you see Megan’s weakness? Remember, Voting for T&T is an option.
ASIDE: My personal blog hit 300 posts, so I wrote a short fantasy story called “A Bunny’s Tale“. Magic is weird. Feel free to check it out.