PREVIOUSLY: Carrie went back in time to save her mother. Glen and Mindy said that wouldn’t work, and a group of Carrie’s friends have gone back to find her.
PART 86a: MIAMI IS NICE
The waves lapped quietly against the shoreline until shortly after midnight. At which point the waves found themselves lapping up against a set of car tires as well. Inside the car, the redhead who had her thumb on the dashboard slumped forwards unconscious. Another redhead, in the driver’s seat, winced as she looked through the windshield.
“Brilliant, Mindylenopia,” came Glen’s voice from the back. “Hey, let’s make the time machine into a car! Then you can ride in it! Except you can’t drive on water!”
“Shut up, Glinephanis,” sighed Mindy. She put the car into reverse and eased backwards towards a beachside boardwalk on the compacted sand.
Next to Glen, Frank turned to regard Tim, who had also fallen unconscious. It would probably be one of the last times Tim would succumb; this arrival in Miami marked his third time trip. Frank thought back to the first time the blond boy had regained consciousness after time travel, back in the 1950s.
Tim had seemed nervous, so Frank had brought him along as they had gone to track Beth, leaving Mindy alone with… well, Beth. To make their Carrie stand-in think that her prior weeks in the future had been a dream of sorts.
“Sorry we didn’t get a chance to talk before leaving,” Frank apologized. He attempted to split his attention between Tim, and the tuning of Julie’s tracking device. It was hard to be sure which building on this block contained Beth. “It all happened so fast. Are you sure you’re okay with this, Tim? I mean, what did Chartreuse say to you?”
“She s-spoke to me about how Laurie would end up going to Miami,” Tim answered, trying not to fidget. “And she s-said that her friend might feel better having someone along who also had little actual time travel experience. Even if I’d only be g-guarding the car when you and Mindy go off to convince her.”
“Ahhh.” Frank frowned. “You’re not saying Chartreuse coerced you?”
“Oh no!” Tim assured. “I’d already s-said I wanted to help. That is, actually help for once, s-since keeping myself at a distance has only allowed me to b-be manipulated by Glen and Mindy. And here, I can keep them from chatting in s-secret in front of you! Finally do my part, s-since I do understand Temporal better than Luci. Um, no offence to her.”
“No offence assumed.” Frank started walking, eyeing his screen. “Though, Tim? You said some of that as if you were still trying to convince yourself.”
“I…” From the corner of his eye, Frank saw Tim rub his forehead. “M-Maybe. It’s a lot to take in. But I care about Julie and Carrie and all Clarke’s other friends too, so… yeah. I’m committed. Really.” He swallowed. “One other thing though… there was a point when Chartreuse said my language skills would be needed in the future. Not the past. The future. Do you know what that meant?”
“Likely your personal future, no matter how the timeline wraps.”
Tim frowned. “Maybe. But it didn’t seem like that. She back-pedalled, said her tenses were all wrong.”
Frank eyed Tim uncertainly, then shrugged. “Well, the furthest we can go with the coins we have is back to our present – plus a day, to the 31st – so I’m not sure what Chartreuse meant by that.” He smacked the side of the tracking device. “Huh, that’s better. Okay, I’m going in. Tim, maybe you could look over that list of things we figured we’d need, for when we bring Beth back to our present year? We were thinking big, like the temporal gun, but maybe you’ll spot something more, I don’t know, linguistic.”
Tim nodded. “S-Sure. Uh, and actually Chartreuse s-said something about the gun too… ah, you don’t need a hand with Beth in there?”
Frank shook his head. “Not initially – Beth knows me, not you.” He looked up at the front of the apartment building. “I really hope this meeting goes well.”
Frank was pulled out of the memory as the rear wheels of the time vehicle sank in the sand, accompanied by the sound of spinning car tires. “Damn!” Mindy cursed. She tried to edge forward and back, to no avail. “Uh, so,” she concluded, turning to the back with a smile, “good thing we included a shovel and a couple planks of wood with the rest of our supplies, huh?”
It took them an hour to get the car back to a roadway. Laurie then suggested they drive a short distance away to park, because they were close to her old house, which was a little unsettling for her. And then Frank suggested they catch some sleep in shifts; for him, Tim and Mindy, it had been the equivalent of a whole day already.
By the time they got together for their breakfast (dinner?) in a park, it was nine o’clock in the morning. Laurie handed out the sandwiches, which had been packed in her present. Frank unwrapped his, finding his thoughts wandering yet again. They had made it, and the reality of the situation was fully dawning on him.
“We’re back on the date of my first ever time trip,” he remarked aloud. “I suppose I always knew I’d return here, given Carrie’s insistence… but thought it would be under different circumstances.”
“Y-You were here before?” Tim asked.
“Oh, not in Miami,” Frank clarified. “In Ontario. Carrie tried to keep her mother from boarding her first plane, to come down here. Which reminds me, if we end up talking to Elaine? We’ll want to make sure she doesn’t think we’re part of a setup by her coworker… uh, oh damn, I forget the name. It was either Bob or Doug.”
“How can you be so sure we needed to travel to Miami then?” Laurie asked. “I mean, Miami is nice, but what’s to keep Carrie from picking up in Ontario, wherever she left off last time?”
“She has a better understanding of how to handle the timelines now,” Mindy asserted, swallowing her bite of sandwich. “Carrie’s own personal history is based on Elaine Waterson disappearing after being in Miami at this time. The closer she can get to that event, the easier it will be to leverage without causing headaches or something worse.” She frowned. “That said, I suppose Carrie could decide to arrive even later. On Elaine’s plane, after it leaves the airport…”
“No,” Glen offered. “Young Carrie is neither experienced enough, nor disciplined enough to be able to hit a moving target like that.”
“The Earth itself is a moving target,” Frank reminded him.
“Pedantic much?” Glen said, annoyed. “I mean moving relative to the Earth. Besides, Carrie can’t risk popping into existence right beside her mother, and scaring the hell out of everyone around. She’ll need space, a geographic margin of error.”
“So she’ll appear at the Miami airport,” Tim concluded. “Tonight.”
Frank nodded. “Seems likely. Elaine reaches Miami around 11pm. She’ll then switch to a smaller corporate plane to take her the rest of the way to Bermuda. That’s the window of time where Carrie’s liable to turn up, and thus why we brought along those relevant maps.”
“So, what do we do?” Laurie asked, wringing her hands. “I mean, Carrie’s never talked about specifics of where her mother was – has she?”
“No. I did speak with Mr. Waterson,” Frank admitted. “During those few weeks when the time machine was being reconstructed. But he couldn’t add much. It doesn’t seem like there was any layover to check out the plane, as Carrie had suggested on our first Ontario trip, but her father didn’t know if that was because a request was denied, or was never made. Elaine meets someone from her company after getting her bags, that’s all we have.” He looked to the two Temporals. “I don’t suppose you two can add anything about ‘the dangerous true circumstances’?”
Mindy pursed her lips. “Let’s just say we know Carrie won’t be changing anything here and leave it at that.”
“%They wouldn’t understand the ramifications even if we told them.%”
“Hey!” Tim protested, looking to Glen. “Frank, Julie, Chartreuse… they’ve all f-figured out a lot already!”
Glen sighed and rolled his eyes. “Oh, right, that one vaguely understands us. I hate you all.”
“Okay, well, when we’re done eating, let’s pick out key locations in the Miami airport where Carrie is liable to appear,” Frank concluded. “Then see how hard it is to gain access to those spots. Presumably we can do it by obtaining disguises or allies, which is part of the reason we aimed to give ourselves the whole day here, rather than only a few hours.”
Glen nodded. “So, we drive to the airport and then split up?”
Frank shook his head. “We shouldn’t split up. For one thing, we’re not all seasoned time travellers.”
Laurie looked briefly chagrined, until Tim reached over and touched her arm. The both of them shared a quick smile.
“For another, you don’t trust us Temporals,” Mindy added.
Frank frowned, then nodded. “True. But if you were me, would you?”
“No. That’s why I said it,” Mindy chuckled.
“Okay, except the five of us wandering around together? That’s going to stick out like a sore thumb,” Glen complained, rolling his eyes. “We need to be sneaky, we need to gain access to restricted areas, and we need to talk our way out of situations. Easy enough for me and Mindy, damned impossible with you Mundanes cramping our style.”
Frank rubbed his forehead. “Two groups then,” he decided. “With regular check-ins via our walkie-talkies. Me and Glen will be one group, the rest of you can be another.”
After all, Mindy had been nice enough to this point – Glen was the bigger problem. Right? Frank frowned. Unless his personal feelings about Glen’s motivations were clouding things?
He looked around at the others, who either nodded or shrugged in response to the assertion. Glen added a snort of derision, but also didn’t complain. Frank looked back at his sandwich. They were certainly an eclectic group. He hoped he wasn’t making a big mistake here.
Glen got away from him later that afternoon.
NEXT: M.I.A. (Pun! Get it?)
ASIDE: I wrote an article yesterday for the “time2timetravel” website, where Paul talks about methodologies and does book reviews. Check it out: Models of Time and Fate explores various fictional models and their impact on free will. (Can you spot this story’s model?)