PREVIOUSLY: To figure out the Miami International Airport, the time group split up – Laurie, Tim and Mindy in one group, Frank and Glen in the other.
PART 86b: M.I.A.
“I don’t think we’re getting a boarding pass unless someone buys a ticket,” Laurie sighed, watching Mindy talk to the airline receptionist.
Tim poked her arm. “Or maybe it’s only…” He used both hands to slip on the sunglasses he was holding. “A matter of ‘time’. Yeeeeaaaaaahhhh?”
Laurie slapped a hand over her mouth to keep from laughing. “Tim! Ohmigod, no, we have to stay serious. Also, I hated that CSI show. The original was better.”
Tim pulled the shades back off. “S-Sorry, couldn’t resist. And you seemed really tense.” He glanced over towards Mindy, then back to Laurie. “Tense is not good. Understandable, b-but maybe you need to try to relax?”
Laurie pulled her hands back to her sides, her eyes again on Mindy. “No. Carrie’s in trouble. Frank’s trusted us to keep track of Mindy. I can’t screw that up. I can’t relax.” Her fingers curled.
Tim shook his head. “Laurie, if you wind yourself up too tight, you’ll crash, like you–” He winced, but couldn’t think of another way to end the sentence. “Well, like Chartreuse said you have before. I’m sure you’ll d-do your best, we all will, but if the unexpected happens… d-don’t beat yourself up, okay? If there’s one thing I’ve found out about our time group, it’s that n-nothing really goes according to plan.”
The redhead nibbled on her lower lip. “Right.”
“You’re d-doing good here,” Tim assured her. “Give yourself permission to smile at my lousy j-jokes.”
The corner of Laurie’s mouth twitched up. Which was when the walkie talkie she was holding crackled to life. Her arm jerked up. “Yes?” she gasped, mashing the talk button.
“Get everyone back to the car,” came Frank’s voice.
“Frank, what’s the problem, what happ–” She caught Tim’s look and checked herself. “Okay. We’re meeting at the car.” She released the talk button. “Tim, go get Mindy, okay?”
He nodded back, hoping for the best but fearing the worst.
“You let Glen get AWAY?” Mindy said, slamming her hands down on the car hood.
“I didn’t let him get away,” Frank countered, equal parts anger and sadness gnawing away at him. “Glen told me that if I didn’t let him leave, he’d tell security that I was some sort of terrorist. And with his power, they’d probably believe him. Pop the trunk, we need to get Julie’s tracking stuff back out.”
“Fine. Mess with her devices while I move the car,” Mindy sighed. “Glen knows where we parked, we don’t want him escaping with the time machine.”
“Y-You’re saying you put Beth’s tracking device on Glen?” Tim asked.
“Kinda,” Frank admitted. “The one Julie got off that hairband over fifty years later, at any rate. So, not ideal, but she’d charged it up and tested it. And since I kind of suspected Glen would try something like this, I slipped it in his pocket while we were moving the car off the beach.” Mindy handed the central device over to him. “I’ll just need to retune all this so that it reads Miami, at this point it’ll likely show Glen as being in our town library…”
“Why would Glen run away now?” Laurie piped up.
“What?” Frank asked, already messing with Julie’s device.
“Why do it now, while there’s still time for you to react?” Laurie pressed. “And not later, like when Carrie’s mom is about to land?”
Tim’s hand reached out to cover the display, forcing Frank to look up at him, then over to Laurie. She was biting down uncertainly on her lower lip.
“That’s… a good question,” Frank yielded. “Glen must have figured now was his best chance. What with being away from Mindy, who might otherwise advocate on our behalf. I shouldn’t have split us up.”
“It’s fine that you did, the decision seemed sound,” Tim assured. “But Laurie makes a good point – are you sure nothing happened right before Glen left?”
Frank thought back, slowly shaking his head. “We were looking for ways around security while you were checking out the boarding pass angle. We’d just agreed that even security outfits might not be enough to do it when Glen leaned in and told me he was leaving. He…” Frank frowned. “He did seem to be looking at something over my shoulder. I glanced that way, but I don’t know what he saw.”
“Something temporal,” Laurie concluded. “It had to be.”
Frank shrugged. “Maybe. Let’s see if we can figure out where he went before speculating.” It took almost thirty minutes to recalibrate the machine, by which point Mindy had walked back from re-parking the car. She glared at him.
“Is it a good time to point out that I never wanted Glen along in the first place?” she asked.
“No,” Frank grumbled. “Here’s the weird thing though. Unless I’ve done something wrong here, it looks to me like Glen’s left the airport entirely.”
“That is weird,” Tim agreed.
“So Glen knew you were bugging him, and thus put the tracker on someone else,” Mindy suggested.
Frank winced. “Possible.” He frowned, then finally directed his attention back to the three of them. “Okay, well, I think Glen’s already told us all he was going to about the limits of Carrie’s abilities. Is it practical to still chase him down? Or do we resume our efforts inside?”
Their eventual consensus was to make sure they had an airport plan before getting sidetracked looking for Glen. Laurie even pointed out that if things went badly that evening, they could time travel back to now, so that they could follow Glen instead… which Frank suspected would cause larger issues, but he made a note of how Laurie’s simpler way of looking at time travel might prove useful later on.
“I think Frank sees me as a nuisance,” Laurie sighed. “I was the wrong person to come. It should have been my brother.”
Tim shook his head. “D-Don’t say that. From what Clarke told me, when Frank was with Clarke and Corry back in the past, your brother was a bigger n-nuisance than you could ever be.”
She frowned. “Except my brother saved Julie!”
“Just as you’re helping to save Carrie.”
Laurie poked her fingers together. “But I can’t understand things, not the way Corry can! I’m only here because it’s Miami. So Frank’s been dismissive, and I’ll probably end up tensing up like you said, and then we’ll all have to try again somehow, which we wouldn’t need to with Corry and what if in the end I’ll have spoiled our only chance to save–”
“Laurie,” Tim broke in, stepping closer to meet her gaze. “Breathe. First, Frank’s not being dismissive, he gets p-preoccupied by technology. P-Plus he’s concerned about Glen, and he’s f-focussed on Carrie.” The blond boy smiled at her. “Second, being aware of tensing up means you’re less likely to do it. And f-finally, you’re more connected to Carrie than Corry could ever hope to be. Don’t lose sight of that.”
Laurie swallowed. “Chartreuse tell you to say some of that?”
“That last bit,” Tim admitted. “Honestly though, I’m making up a lot of this as I go along. In f-fact, focussing on you is kinda helping me not f-freak out myself. So thanks for that.”
The corners of Laurie’s mouth twitched up again. “You’re welcome.” She took in a long, slow breath. “I wish this wasn’t a life or death situation for the girl I idolize.”
“It’s not. Not yet, at least,” Tim said.
“Hey,” Frank said, approaching them with Mindy trailing along behind. “So, we’ve now got clothes that can have me pass for an airport worker. Don’t ask. I figure we grab some dinner, then have Mindy liberate us some boarding passes.”
Laurie’s partial smile faded. “We’re sticking with that plan then?”
“Unless you’ve come up with a better one.”
Laurie dropped her gaze to the ground. Corry would have come up with a good plan, she reasoned. She wasn’t the planning type. “No. But try and make sure you don’t disrupt anyone’s vacation, okay?” she murmured.
“Being choosy about our targets would draw more attention to us,” Mindy countered. “And time will smooth out minor changes.”
“Laurie’s right though, individuals are still important,” Tim put in. “Don’t you agree, Frank?”
“Yeah,” Frank agreed. “Yeah, let’s be choosy on the passes we grab. Thanks guys, keep acting as my conscience check whenever I lose perspective.”
Mindy let out a noise of exasperation, which made Laurie want to cringe. But then she felt Tim nudge her arm, and she looked up in time to catch Frank’s grateful smile towards her.
They had all been through security now. Mindy had ‘convinced’ the ‘donors’ of their boarding passes to stay in the main airport until after 11pm. Which wasn’t too much of a stretch, since Frank and the rest of them had gone through security at only half past ten. Frank glanced at his watch. Elaine Waterson’s plane would be on the ground by now.
“Check, check… we set? Over.” Frank clicked the button on his walkie-talkie.
“Clear at customs,” came Mindy’s voice.
“Um, all good here!” Laurie reported, situated at the entrance to the baggage claim area.
“N-Nothing on my end,” Tim reported. “And no way to tell who might be here to pick up Mrs. W for her transfer.”
“All right. From this point on, report on any sighting of Glen, Carrie, or Elaine,” Frank concluded. While the others were stationed at points that Mrs. Waterson would logically have to pass, he was mobile, able to go wherever he was needed. For now, he paced around the baggage area, pretending to look for misplaced luggage.
Slipping his walkie talkie away for the moment, Frank reached down to adjust his belt. Pity that the room Mindy had located hadn’t had any pants in his size. But he wasn’t going to quibble over something that helped him to blend into the background.
“Excuse me, sir?”
Frank whirled. “Could you tell me where the washrooms… oh, never mind, I see the sign,” the woman in the purple dress finished. She smiled at Frank. “Thanks anyway!”
“Ma’am,” Frank said, nodding as she sauntered off. He quickly made for an area with fewer people, deciding there probably was no such thing as a perfect disguise.
Ten minutes later Mindy made the first report. “W’s clearing customs,” she reported. A pause. “She’s through, and heading for a red haired man who went through right ahead of her. They seem to know each other.”
“Is he from her company? Or a Temporal agent?” Frank asked.
“How should I know?” Mindy said crossly. “I’ll follow in a moment. No sign of Carrie or Glen.”
The seconds seemed to stretch out longer than before, until Laurie’s frantic voice came onto the channel. “Ohmigod. That’s my DAD, guys! Carrie’s mom, she’s with my dad, and they’re coming this way, do I run and hide?!”
“What?” Frank nearly dropped the walkie talkie.
“He must have been on the plane! What if I’m somewhere else in the airport too? Or what if I’m not, but something happens here with my dad that screws up my future?!”
“You won’t, it’s all predestined,” Mindy broke in.
“Laurie, you’ve got this,” Tim added right after.
Frank was busy making for Laurie’s position. A couple paces away he was brought up short at the sight of Elaine Waterson. Looking eerily the same as she had during Frank’s first time trip, right down to her clothing. Which made sense. Oh no, she wouldn’t recognize him from that encounter, would she?
Realizing that Laurie had turned away, inspecting the wall, Frank turned too, so that he was only seeing Elaine out of the corner of his eye.
“Hello?” Mindy said over the system. “Update?”
Frank brought the walkie-talkie back up but Laurie’s voice came over the channel first. “I tried to look casual – they walked right by me! Saying something about town. Because, golly, it makes sense, Dad’s older brother lived there. That’s how we ended up – will end up – moving.”
Frank frowned. “Was your uncle friends with the Watersons?”
“Um… I dunno. Our families don’t mingle these days,” Laurie said.
“M-Maybe they m-met on the plane,” Tim suggested. “Sitting next to each other.”
“Focus!” Mindy said sharply. “Carrie. Glen. Anywhere?”
Damn it. Frank angled his way back towards Mrs. Waterson and Mr. Veniti, looking around for any trace of the other time travellers. “Not yet,” he reported. “Laurie?”
“I didn’t see either of them,” Laurie said.
“Nor me, and I’ve been scanning en route,” Mindy said. “Could Carrie have arrived earlier, outside the airplane from Ontario or something?”
“I hope not,” Frank sighed. He approached Carrie’s mother, trying to keep his back to her. She was still talking to Mr. Veniti, saying something along the lines of ‘good luck on your genetics project’.
“Nothing my end yet,” Tim offered.
“We’ll be headed your way soon, Tim,” Frank muttered into the walkie-talkie. “If we have to, we can regroup and…”
He almost missed her.
Something told Frank to look left; maybe it was intuition, or perhaps there had been a flash of light out of the corner of his eye. But when he looked, there she was. Carrie Waterson, dressed the same way she had been the night of the talent show. Gripping a photograph. She looked around, seemingly disoriented – and their gazes met. And her eyes widened, briefly flickering back to gold.
Then she turned and ran, shoving her way back through a few people.
“Frank? You trailed off,” Mindy pointed out.
“We’ve found Carrie,” he gasped. “I’m in pursuit.”
NEXT: The Plain Truth
ASIDE: It took six parts (weeks) but we’ve caught up to Carrie. Any speculations on why she can’t save her mother before the big reveal? There was some interesting talk in last week’s comments about genetics. And any desire to vote for T&T?