TT4.85b: Closing The Loop

PREVIOUSLY: The time machine has been rebuilt into a car. We know events will send Frank (et al) back in time to pick up Laurie.

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PART 85b: CLOSING THE LOOP

“Coin goes in here,” Julie said, indicating the slot on the Cavalier’s dash, where a radio might once have been. “The silver box thing from the old machine – which was a pain to install, by the way, but is one of the few items we can’t reproduce yet – is back there. It’ll auto-set the year and ultimately flash fry the currency. Keypad here is for entering the other coordinates, namely month, day, and time.”

“So you’ve fixed that random variance thing?” Corry mused.

Julie shook her head. “Nope, still a factor. If you arrive an hour or even a month off from the time you input? Don’t blame me. Now, when you hit the hashtag, or rather pound key, it routes the entry through the assembly on the floor of the passenger side. Including Luci’s old modified circuits, meaning the pocketwatch you see here should also display your actual time of arrival.”

“Wait, you kept the pocketwatch?” Luci asked, reaching to tap where it had been mounted in the dash. “Why not use the digital time display from the car itself? Still an overheating problem?”

“Because the watch belonged to Carrie,” Mindy interjected. “Or rather her mother. From when she was left at the orphanage. Right?”

“I think so,” Frank agreed. “It never actually kept time, but in Luci’s first reparations over a year ago, Carrie insisted on trying to hook it in. So we did, to humour her – and it’s somehow synched up accurately upon arrival.”

“Mmm hmm. Thought so,” was Mindy’s final word about it.

“As to the DNA,” Julie continued, undaunted, “this blank looking panel here is actually a thumbpatch. It will pinpoint your geographic location. Hold part of your body there – presumably your thumb – for three seconds with the switch in the ‘on’ position. That’s the signal for the time jump to activate. Have two people press against it if you’re going for a point between them.”

“What about rematerializing ten feet in the air?” Corry demanded. “I still remember that from my first trip.”

“It… shouldn’t do that,” Clarke offered, hesitantly. “That’s part of the new stuff we’ve been hooking into the undercarriage. But it’s also one of the things we wouldn’t mind having a fresh set of eyes on.”

“The licence plate and registration are also for Ontario, and next year,” Luci pointed out. “How will that play out in the past?”

“Look, I’d be much happier with hologram technology and three years to perfect this,” Mindy admitted. “But you play with the cards you’re dealt, okay?”

“Just show us the schematics then,” Frank stated. “We’ll see if we can offer any input.”

“Well, show those two tech wizards anyway – why did you want ME here so early?” Corry wondered.

Julie opened the car door. “So that you’d know how close we were to bringing your sister home, partner.” She smiled. “Oh, also I need your help hauling the briefcase of coins up from Linquist’s lab. It’s damn heavy.”

“So I’m like the hired help. Fun,” Corry grunted.

***

“You know,” Corry mused, as he closed the secret passage behind the china cabinet. “Since my ankle’s healed, what’s to stop me going back with Frank and Mindy so that they don’t need Laurie?”

Julie shrugged. “The fact that you didn’t do it, so you can’t?”

“Yeah, I’ve always hated that logic. What’s the REAL reason?” He hefted the briefcase, and the two of them headed for the hallway.

“I guess it has something to do with the future situation…” She paused as Jeeves strode towards them, looking worried. “That’s about to happen?”

“Mr. Waterson called for that waitress, Theresa,” he stated. “She’s on the phone with him now, and she sounds agitated.”

Julie dropped the electronics she was carrying, hurrying towards the phone in time to hear Mindy say, “Sir, this is important, did either of the two have red hair?” A pause, then, “Don’t worry. I was expecting this. We’re on it.”

“What?” Julie asked as Mindy hung up the phone.

“Two suspicious people at the Waterson house looking for Carrie,” Mindy replied curtly, already heading for the front door. “They held Hank at gunpoint and searched the place. Beth wasn’t home, perhaps fortunately, however she forgot to bring Carrie’s cell phone along. Hank told me – and them – that ‘Carrie’ had gone to the public library.”

“The public… Lee’s working there today,” Julie said. As Mindy strode out, Julie doubled back. “Call the library. Ask to speak to Lee,” she asked Jeeves. “Tell him to keep an eye on Beth, and anyone looking for her. That is, for Carrie. Oh, he’ll know what I mean.”

“Certainly,” the butler responded, heading back for the phone.

“Bad?” Corry asked.

“Is it ever good? We’ve got the coins and the electronics for tracking the hairband, let’s at least load those up while Mindy explains more precisely what it is that she was ‘expecting’.”

***

“We’ve reached a temporal crossroads,” Mindy stated, after getting everyone into the garage. “Today is the last day ‘Carrie’, aka Beth, will be seen in the present before ‘Future Carrie’ abducts her from the past.”

“But we’re going to recover Carrie and prevent that act!” Clarke protested.

“If we do, today becomes the last day me and Glen remain in this time,” Mindy countered. “Because I still hope to get him away from Carrie. It all paints a target on December 30th.” She shook her head. “I had hoped that the future war would leave our departure day alone, but it IS a potential kick they’ll have at averting a predestined outcome. At actually affecting the timelines. Must have been too tempting of a target.”

“Why not travel back sooner, and stop us then?” Corry wondered, as he loaded the trunk of the Cavalier.

“If they had, this day might not have occurred,” Frank reasoned. “Ripple effect.”

“Also, the fact that I kept things so quiet and controlled would cancel any earlier advantage,” Mindy added. “Acting before now, they’d merely have a greater risk of my snaring them into our predestined outcome.” She jerked her thumb at the car. “Frank, get in, we’re off to the library to get Beth.”

“Wait,” Julie protested. “What was the deal with red hair?”

“No time.” Mindy opened the driver’s side door.

Julie kicked it shut. “Make time. What if those two come here next, after you’re gone?”

Mindy muttered under her breath.

“Rude,” Luci observed. “Also, not yet in our Temporal dictionary.”

“All Temporals have red hair,” Mindy confessed. “It’s genetic. The two who pulled apart the Waterson house? Were blonds. So either they were Mundanes, or they were of your time, being influenced by a Temporal. Happy?” She yanked the car door open again. “Either way, if they do come here, lay low. My best guess is that the future travellers want to abduct Carrie or Glen for themselves; they shouldn’t do more than injure you. Luci, get out of the car.”

“Oh no, I’m going back with you and Frank,” Luci asserted.

“Oh, for… we’ll argue on the way,” Mindy groaned.

***

They reached the library in record time. “Okay,” Frank wheezed, as he released his fingers from their grip on the back seat. “I see now why your limit is five people – there’s only five seat belts. Mindy, do they relax some traffic laws in the future?”

“I’m not letting over a decade of time stuck here in the past come to naught!” Mindy snapped. “Which may be the case if we can’t shake these time travellers and restore Beth to our past, when she’s supposed to be. Now, any way to tell if that girl’s still inside? Or her pursuers?”

“I’ll send Lee a message,” Luci said.

Frank pulled out his phone as it buzzed. “I’ve got a message from Chartreuse. She’s on her way – one of the others must have called her.”

“Yeah, hey, NO phones on once we’re out of the present!” Mindy reminded, eyeing the two of them. “Also, your argument for bringing Luci was unconvincing. I can translate whatever Glen says.”

“But will you do it accurately?” Luci questioned.

“I don’t like your tone.”

Which was when the gunshot rang out.

“Okay, those are NEVER good,” Luci noted, her door open before she had finished speaking. Frank ran out after her, despite Mindy’s protests. They were met at the steps up to the library doors by a number of panic stricken people running out.

“Lee says go ‘round back,” Luci said, eyeing the message on her phone. They rounded the building. There was a small theatre entrance there, as part of the structure also housed a small stage for local plays. Frank reached the door first, only to find it was locked.

“Now what?” he asked.

Luci eyed the keyhole. “Now… we need lockpicks?”

The door opened out unexpectedly, causing Luci to stumble back and fall on the ground. This left Frank staring at Lee, who was dragging after him a very scared looking blonde. “I’m sorry!” Beth was wailing. “I know I shouldn’t have been looking up my own past, I couldn’t help it, please PLEASE don’t let them kill me!”

“Math whiz, take her!” Lee said. He shoved Beth towards Frank. “I clubbed the guy who had the gun with a set piece shaped like shrubbery, but there’s another dude here somewhere. Go do whatever you’re supposed to do to prevent this from ever happening, I’ll keep them–”

“Lee!” Luci shouted in warning. Barely on her feet, she jumped past him, tackling the blond man who had been about to swing the piece of wood. The two of them fell to the floor as Lee spun back around.

“Luci!” he shouted, moving to help.

“Wait!” Frank cried, stepping around Beth – too late to reach the door before it swung shut again. After verifying that it remained locked on this side, he lifted his palm to pound on the metal.

“I’m sorry, I’m sorry, I’m so sorry,” came Beth’s tearful voice.

“It’s fine, it’s fine, it’s, you know, not your fault,” came another voice, making Frank turn. It was Chartreuse, looking winded as she ran up carrying a trombone case. She fired off a weak smile at him, before hugging Beth close. “It’ll be okay, our wonderful Carrie stand-in. As long as you, like, go NOW,” she emphasized. The last sentence seemingly meant more for Frank.

“But Luci’s in there…”

“I, you know, saw bits of this,” the pink haired girl assured. “Tim’s with Mindy back at the time machine. We’ve spoken, and he’s good to go instead. Oh, speaking of, cool car!” She gave a quick thumbs up. “Too bad I’ll never get to ride in it.”

“Tim?? But…”

“Frank, PLEASE, those guys are gonna charge out in less than four minutes!” Chartreuse said, finally releasing Beth. “Go! Go, go! Give Laurie my best.”

The door banged as if something heavy had hit it, but it failed to re-open. Frank hesitated only a moment more before grabbing Beth’s hand and heading back for the library parking lot. “Is this why you didn’t mind me knowing about the future?” Beth asked tearfully. “Is it because I’m going to die now?”

“Not if we have anything to say about it,” Frank answered. “You’ll only forget a few things.” He saw Mindy already had the car running, and Frank noticed Tim in the front seat. He helped Beth into the back, then ran to the trunk, slapping his hand on it.

“What are you doing? Get in!” Mindy said, poking her head out of the window.

“We need a coin,” Frank said. “Pop the trunk!”

“Let’s get to safety first, then… oh fine,” Mindy sighed, sensing Frank wasn’t going to budge. She hit the release, and with some effort, he pulled out the briefcase. The second shot rang out as he was climbing into the back seat again.

Mindy ceased her mumbling – it was English, so Frank caught something along the lines of “create a fully mobile time machine and they all just stand around it” – in order to step on the gas.

“S-S-Seatbelts?” Tim suggested.

Frank tried to ignore the effects of acceleration long enough to peer out the back window. A man was running down the front steps of the library. He waved his gun at another car that had been about to pull out, forcing it to stop. Oh no, he hoped this wasn’t going to become a car chase.

“Coin?” Mindy said pointedly.

“Oh, uh…” Frank fumbled with the briefcase, only to slide into Beth’s lap as Mindy turned another corner. “Can we slow?”

“No. I’m busy being ticked off about your group substituting Tim for Luci.” With one hand on the steering wheel, Mindy moved her other to hover over the keypad. “What date shall I set?”

Tim flinched. “I thought we’d be going three weeks back…”

“We have to drop off Beth first,” Frank said, managing to get his hands on the coin changer for the 1950s. “Not to mention pick her up. Hey, maybe that works as one trip – Beth, on what day did we find you?”

“I… uh… I…” the blonde stammered, gripping the seat in front of her, tears in the corners of her eyes. Then her eyes closed and she began to whisper a prayer.

Frank sighed. “Well, for continuity, use the same date as her arrival in our present,” he decided. He was reminded of what Clarke had said – this Beth would need to bury her blue hairband somewhere in the forest, so that no one would be able to track her down again.

Mindy’s fingers flew over the keypad, as Frank handed Tim the necessary coin. “Drop it in that slot,” he advised. Tim did so – after which Mindy flipped the time switch and reached out for the DNA trigger.

“Mindy!”

“I didn’t exist then,” she assured him. “My failsafe should ensure that we end up in roughly the same spatial–”

“Mindy, we’re in MOTION,” Frank insisted. “What if we appear in front of a wall back then?!”

The redhead spun the wheel one handed, throwing Frank into Beth as the car swerved into an alleyway. She immediately stomped on the brake, thumb on the pad. “I was ABOUT to get us out of the–”

There was a bright light and a popping noise as the car disappeared.

*

NEXT: Miami is Nice

ASIDE: The next scene? You already saw in Part 84a (picking up Beth), followed by Part 83b (picking up Laurie). Which brings us to shortly after Part 4 (Elaine at the airport). You follow? How about a vote for T&T?

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5 comments

    1. Ooh, yay, speculation! Hm, did I ever give a time frame on the future? (Outside of musing on the original writing in my commentary posts, that is.) I feel like I haven’t, but if anyone out there wants to point me to something noting 20 years (or other), please do. Things can slip through edits. Which doesn’t mean Mez is wrong about 20 years (there’s definitely a “window” which contains that possibility), I merely didn’t recall saying anything yet.

      As to the “all Temporals are related” idea – I assume that comes off of Mindy’s “it’s genetic” remark? (Correct me if not.) Interestingly, it turns out that red hair comes from a quirky gene (the MC1R)… and it’s recessive, meaning two dark haired parents can produce a redhead (assuming they’re carriers), and a redheaded parent may have a child without red hair (assuming the other parent isn’t a carrier). So it’s not that simple to track relationships. But maybe there’s something more to the red form of that MC1R gene that we don’t know about?

      Feel free to call me out on this stuff if it seems off the rails, because I admit biology is the weakest of my sciences. (For instance, there are supposedly some other genes that can cause red hair as well?) I mention it here because there WILL be an explanation in the next Arc about the origin of Temporals, and I want it to make sense (in at least the same SciFi way that a working time machine makes sense). I’m glad you picked up on that “throwaway line” foreshadowing things, Mez, thanks so much for your comment!

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      1. I don’t remember where I picked up the idea that the future events take place about 20 years in the future but I vaguely recall it being based on something to do with Glen’s age.

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  1. I found the posts where I got the impression that the future events take place about 20 years in the future – Commentaries 21 and 24. I won’t say any more about them in case some people read the story but avoid the commentaries.

    Also, I have a genetics degree. I’d be happy to help you out in that department, although I’m pretty rusty, since it’s a while since I graduated and I’m not practising in that area.

    When Mindy said it’s genetic that all Temporals have red hair, I assumed that meant they were related because I thought that being Temporal or Mundane was a matter of choice ie whether they were pro- or anti- time travel. I assumed that their preference in that regard wouldn’t be so strongly genetically correlated, so it made more sense to me that all the Temporals were actually descended from one family, which didn’t make sense to me to have occurred over such a short time frame, hence my query. But if being a Temporal is about some sort of in-built genetic ability relating to time travel, and the responsible genes are linked to the gene(s) for red hair, then that makes sense. It raises some interesting questions if humans have all along had a gene which relates somehow to time travel but it’s somehow lain dormant yet been conserved until the invention/discovery of time travel.

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    1. Very thorough searching! (I haven’t had a 70+ pageview day since before Christmas. O.o ) Thanks for taking the time to do that. If the 20 years was just in the Commentaries – and I’m guessing is from my old Timeline files – that’s not canon, due to later edits. (If there’s something more, feel free to email.) That said, I’m glad those posts are adding to the experience (and prompting comments).

      In fact, I’m pretty terrible at dates (recall I got ages wrong for when people enter high school… and did I ever give Glen’s age?), so this brief exchange convinced me to go back and actually create a new post-edits timeline file, to make sure I haven’t contradicted myself. I don’t *think* I have. Everyone: Stay tuned for that explanation next Arc, and call me out on any inconsistencies.

      Also, Mez, thanks for the genetics help! The explanation of your thinking is great, and helps me realize just how much world building I’ve done behind the scenes that hasn’t actually appeared yet… yes, there is that stronger genetic tie. And yes, there are some interesting questions there. I hope you (and others?) will tell me if it comes together properly when we hit the “exposition” part down the road. (And if it’s not sensible, perhaps suggest how I can tweak my scifi appropriately.) I appreciate the comments here either way.

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