PREVIOUSLY: Frank caught Carrie up on everything. Then Glen told Carrie why she can’t save her mother.
PART 87b: TRAPPED
“Carrie, when your mother was taken, she was pregnant.”
The water became deathly cold. Cracks formed in the scene around her, and then the image shattered, leaving Carrie standing back in the small airport lounge, staring at Glen. With a twisting in her gut. “No,” she whispered. A reflex word, because deep down, she knew it to be the truth.
Things were starting to make sense.
“I’m sorry,” Glen said. He looked around. “Carrie, maybe we can still run away together.”
That time in the hospital, when she had felt like she and her mother couldn’t both exist, because of a strain on the time streams… it had actually been because she and a sibling couldn’t both exist. One person with temporal powers was bad enough, to have two?! Insanity. Why had nobody ever told her this?
“My Dad… did he…”
Glen shook his head. “He didn’t know. Elaine was barely a month along, I’m not sure if she even suspected.” He continued to look around nervously. “Carrie, please, we need to get out of here.”
The repercussions continued to wash over her. If she saved her mother, all she was doing was pushing her fate onto her unborn brother or sister. Removing herself from the timeline as a child wouldn’t fix things either. The future could simply try again, with someone else. How could she do that? How could she make someone else suffer in the same way that she was suffering here? How could she make a SIBLING suffer that way? Was the path forwards with Glen truly the only one?
Glen pulled at her arm. “Carrie…”
She ignored him. There was something more to this. Why hadn’t she been able to pinpoint where her mother had gone, that time she had first tried to figure it out? Why hadn’t she ever been able to learn the fate of Elaine Waterson? The only one who might have been able to stop her would be someone with similar powers…
A rip began to form in the fabric of space-time.
“I did it to myself,” Carrie realized. “I can’t save my mama, because I’m the one who’s going to abduct her. Along with my unborn sibling, in order to stabilize the timelines. I do it because… because I was always predestined to do it. I’m the Chosen One, the ONLY one with the power to do it and hide the truth, so it has to be me.”
“Bloody hell,” Glen gasped.
A fifty year old Carrie Waterson stepped through the rip in space-time, dressed in a bright yellow gown, and looking royally pissed off.
“Glen’s up here,” Frank asserted, looking down at the tracking device as he ran. “In a room, it’s probably some lounge area.”
“Stop,” Mindy asserted, reaching out to grasp him by the shoulder.
Frank shrugged her off. But when he turned to look at the redhead, his feet stumbled to a stop, not having expected the look of horror on Mindy’s face. Tim and Laurie stopped also, looking back and forth between them.
“What?” Frank asked. “What, are we too late?”
“Maybe,” Mindy said. “Let’s approach cautiously, okay? Listen at the door first. There’s…” She shook her head. “You ever get the feeling that your past has finally caught up with you? Even if that past is the future?”
Carrie couldn’t move. She wanted to scream, wanted to run, wanted to lash out at the older version of herself – and she couldn’t. She was trapped. But then, in a way, they were both trapped, trapped by time, by fate, by the cosmic forces that refused to cut her a break. Insanely, the thought that popped to the forefront of her mind was how at least her present day three-year-old self was tucked away safely in bed – so which of them here in Miami should be adopting the middle-name tradition of becoming Elizabeth?
“You have irrevocably screwed up my past!” Elder Carrie said, glaring at Glen. “That’s NOT why I sent you back, Glinephanis!”
He winced. “You, that is, she– Carrie, your younger self was about to time slip, and mess with your mother. Telling her the truth, it was our last chance.”
“She wasn’t jaded enough for that knowledge. Not as this teenager! Even now, she’s trying to figure out a way out of this one.”
Glen swallowed. “Which you know, because you were once her?”
“Which I know because it’s taking considerable effort to keep myself temporally numb. Plus yes, it’s what I would be thinking in her position.” Elder Carrie bared her teeth. “You broke her, Glinephanis. Broke ME. She will still have been me though. I’ll now have to see to it personally.”
“I’m sorry,” Glen apologized.
Elder Carrie glared at him for a moment, then shook her head, brushing her hair off her shoulder. “Oh, it wasn’t your fault. You did your best. I know who’s really to blame – it’s these stupid Mundanes and that damnable Mindylenopia! They’re all dooming my childhood.” She peered at him. “Perhaps you can still be a bright spot in my younger self’s life though? Will you come with me now? Some of my memories could remain valid, not be inserted by force.”
Glen nodded slowly. “I’m with you to the end. But Carrie, there are more time travellers here in Miami. Mindylenopia and a number of your old classmates. We all came in a time car. They might still try something.”
A growl came from the Elder Carrie’s throat. “Fine, I will deal with them as soon as I get my younger self here restrained back in my present. Grab hold, we’re leaving.”
Carrie felt her future self (or alternate future self, maybe, somehow? Oh God… so trapped…) grab her by the collar. And Glen latched onto Elder Carrie’s arm, and then they were all being pulled back towards the rip in space-time…
Which was when the door burst open. “Carrie!” Laurie shrieked.
“Carrie, fight it,” Tim called out. “Whatever is going on, fight!”
Frank charged in between the two of them.
“Frank, don’t get close!” Mindy shouted, grabbing onto him by the waist, slowing him down. Not that it mattered.
“Carrie, FUTURE Carrie, it doesn’t have to be this way!” Frank shouted, looking from her to her Elder Self. “You don’t have to do this, not to yourself…”
And Carrie felt the time streams pulling at them, and there was nothing her friends could do, she was being pulled away, pulled off into the future, down a path that had no turns…
Wait, could she move? Was Elder Carrie losing her grip? Carrie twitched her fingers, but no, that wasn’t enough, she was unable to pull away… a single tear trickled out of the corner of her eye, as Carrie Waterson, the future Temporal Weapon, surrendered herself to the inevitable.
Frank pounded the floor where they had disappeared.
“This is bad,” Mindy murmured, her face pale. “She’ll be monitoring us from this point on… oh no, no, no. Tim, get Frank. Laurie, you’re with me. We’re heading back to the Chevrolet. NOW.”
“B-But…” Tim began. However, Mindy had already grabbed Laurie by the arm, and was maneuvering her out of the room. So Tim looked towards Frank, who was now kneeling on the ground and looking like he’d just lost his best friend. Which, Tim supposed, might not be far from the truth.
“Frank,” he ventured, moving to touch his companion’s shoulder. “We’ve gotta go.”
“I shouldn’t have waited,” Frank said numbly. “We should have tracked Glen right away. We could have stopped this.”
“Maybe, maybe not. Frank, Mindy needs us back at the Chevy,” he said, tugging on the other boy’s arm.
“And what did the older Carrie even mean?” Frank said, turning his head. “The bit we heard, about Glen having broken her… damn it, what were they even talking about before that?!”
“Frank, time machine. We still have a chance to do something. Come ON,” Tim said, surprised at the force of his own voice.
Frank swallowed. “Right.” He scrambled to his feet. “Right. And we still have Mindy, she might tell us more now. Let’s go.”
The two of them quickly caught up to Mindy and Laurie in the corridor. They all hurried out through the arrivals section, pausing only when Mindy started snapping her fingers. “Paper, I’ll need paper… Tim, come with me, stammer a lot and make writing motions. We’ll ask that businessman to lend us his pad.”
“B-B-But,” Tim began again.
“Good, like that,” Mindy asserted. “Frank, wait here a moment with Laurie,” she added, practically dragging Tim towards the guy in the suit who was scribbling something in a book as he talked on his cell phone.
“She’s scared,” Laurie said to Frank, as they watched. “She’s trying to act in control but… but in seeing that future Carrie… golly, it really freaked Mindy out.” She shook her head. “That… it IS what we saw, right? That was a future Carrie abducting… herself?”
“I think so,” Frank answered. “But we’re not finished yet. We can’t be. Mindy must know somewhen we can go. Or have some future knowledge we can use.”
Laurie shifted her weight back and forth. “Really? Or are you only hoping that, because we’re kinda out of other options.”
Frank didn’t answer, which Laurie supposed was answer enough. Mindy strode back towards them then, scribbling something on her newly acquired piece of paper. The man briefly called something out to them before getting pulled back into his phone conversation.
“All right,” Mindy concluded, folding up the sheet. “This is for you, Frank. Put it in your pocket, and wait two days before looking at it, all right?”
He blinked as he took it from her. “Um, okay, but why…”
“We’re going to hang around Miami for at least two days, acting normal, see?” Mindy continued. “Blending in. Acting passive. We time jump, we enter her domain, whereas so long as we’re here, she probably won’t bother to trace us closely. Not for any length of time. She’ll jump ahead instead, and if she focusses on anyone, it’ll be me. If we get separated, remember, she can use time as a weapon, but she’s not omniscient. She can miss things. Details. Be covert.”
Laurie didn’t like the resignation in Mindy’s tone. When her brother planned things, he never sounded like that. “You’re talking as if we’ve already lost,” she murmured.
Mindy grimaced. “Now that Carrie’s Future Self is involved? I guess I am. But there’s still a chance. Maybe. To that end, you might as well know the truth about why Carrie couldn’t succeed with her mother – I’m pretty sure Glen spilling the beans is what created this mess. But if I tell you, it’s on condition that you all agree to let things play out normally for two days. No matter what! You all cross-your-hearts promise that?”
“Of course!” Frank blurted.
“O-Okay, if it helps Carrie,” Tim said.
“Are you sure we can handle it?” Laurie squeaked.
Mindy flashed her a smile. “Oh, Laurie. Don’t worry, a lot of my earlier reluctance was a fear that one of you would tell Carrie. Which, if she already knows, is no longer an issue. But know what? On your few visits to the cafe this past year, I’ve seen you really coming into yourself. Emerging from the shadow of your brother. Yes, I believe you can handle this.”
Laurie nodded back, feeling a newfound confidence. “Okay then.”
So Mindy told them. And while the thought of Carrie, faced with the choice of either inflicting her own destiny onto a sibling, versus one day removing her own mother from the timelines, made Laurie feel sick to her stomach… she wagered the temporal truth of the situation was even worse, given the way Frank reeled.
“So there’s no way to get Carrie’s attention through her mother,” Frank said. “When Elaine’s plane leaves the airport shortly…”
“Oh, Gods, do NOT mess with that,” Mindy said, eyes widening. “Remember, you do NOT want Carrie’s attention. Not the one who’ll be looking now. Rather, we need to do everything we can to AVOID her attention.” She glanced around. “We’ve spent too much time talking in one place. Wait out front, I’ll go get the time car, we can take it to a hostel for the night.”
Mindy began to stride for the exit, the teenagers hurrying to catch up. “Wait, Mindy,” Laurie protested. “Why take the car?” Something about that felt wrong.
“Glen’s still with HER,” Mindy said. “Since Glen knows about it, we can’t hide it, but we CAN make her think it’s broken or something. So stay back, okay? Also, two days, acting normal, no matter what. You all promised!”
“Sure,” Frank said, exchanging a glance with Tim.
“Good.” She paused, a ghost of a smile flickering over her face. “One last thing. If this all goes south as fast as I think it will – in the end, know that I’m glad I could make an impact.”
Mindy ran off. The knot in Laurie’s stomach tightened. “Frank, no. Something’s wrong. I wonder… I wonder if this is maybe how Chartreuse feels sometimes?”
“F-Frank, she’s right, we’re missing something,” Tim said. “Was Mindy maybe mentally influencing us? She wouldn’t try to time travel without us, would she?”
“No, I don’t think so,” Frank said. He blinked. “But we did miss something. Mindy moved the car. Glen wouldn’t know where it was, not right away. All she’s doing here is leading him and that Future Carrie right back to it. Why?”
“So that Future Carrie’s not watching us?” Laurie whispered.
“But if she’s watching Mindy instead…” Tim murmured.
They all exchanged glances, then Frank took off at a run. He’d barely made it outside before there was the sound of loud explosion from out in the parking lot. By the time the teenagers got there, they were unable to even approach the flaming, burning wreckage of the Chevrolet Cavalier. Or it’s lone occupant.
ASIDE: That went to hell pretty quick, hm? Any feelings about it, or what’s next? There’s also that vote for T&T, perhaps.