PREVIOUSLY: An older Carrie abducted her teenaged self, took Glen, and killed Mindy. Leaving Frank, Laurie and Tim stuck in the past.
PART 88a: GETAWAY
Laurie felt like she had become the most stable person of their tiny time group. That in itself was freaking her out, and yet in the same way that Tim had said that focussing on her had helped him, it was by focussing on Tim and Frank that she seemed to be able to quell any panic attacks over Carrie’s abduction and Mindy’s apparent demise.
They had made tracks after the car explosion. Found their way to a Miami hostel, pooled their money (admittedly Canadian funds, with only some of it valid in this time) and pleaded their case. Anne, the desk clerk, had taken pity on them, and given them some beds.
Laurie had heard Frank crying for the first time that night. He’d kept quiet about it the following day, but it seemed to her that he was becoming emotionally unstable. Pinning all his hopes on whatever note Mindy had given him, though as per her instructions, he was waiting the requisite two days before looking at it. To honour what may have been the Temporal’s last request.
By contrast, Tim was shutting down. Resigning himself to the fact that they were trapped out of their time. He had initially brought along enough of his medications to last four days, yet he was now looking into ways of getting those over-the-counter drugs while stuck in the past. Along with investigating how they might find jobs. His practicality was becoming a counterpoint to Frank’s desperation.
Laurie felt stuck somewhere between them. She had to believe there was a way out – she HAD to! – because time travel existed. She couldn’t even completely accept Mindy’s death, because again, time travel. Yet at the same time, Laurie was reluctant to place all of her faith on Mindy’s note.
To that end, on the morning of the second day, Laurie travelled back to her old house. It occurred to her that, if she could somehow send a message forwards using her younger self, at least Luci or one of the others would eventually know about the situation. How would that help? She wasn’t sure. In fact, in the end, she hadn’t been sure how to manage it.
“So what d-did you d-do?” Tim asked her.
Laurie finished chewing her half of the granola bar, which was effectively their dinner, and swallowed. “Nothing,” she answered. “I stared at our Miami house, then walked away.” She looked across the street, to where Frank was staring into space. “I’m telling you because, well, maybe suggesting it to Frank is an option? Tomorrow morning, after whatever fallout he feels from that note?”
“C-Could do,” Tim yielded. “Might help keep him going. Yeah, that’s a good idea, Laurie.”
Laurie bit down on her lower lip. “I mean, I’m not delusional, am I? There… there IS a way out of this, right?”
Tim sighed. “I don’t know. I haven’t felt this messed up since Julie sprang her whole ‘get the chip’ mission on me.” Tim reached out to pat her knee. “But know what, Laurie? I’m glad you’ve got a plan. Your hope helps give me hope.”
Laurie felt a smile flicker across her face. “I just want to get home.” She squirmed. “Or failing that, at least get into a change of clothes. These ones are getting gross.”
Tim nodded. “I hear that. Pity our car blew up. You were the most prepared of any of us, what with having a whole art camp bag packed.”
Laurie slumped. “And now I’m gonna need to buy new coloured pencils when we get home. The good ones aren’t cheap.”
“Right. Sorry for bringing that up.” Tim withdrew his palm.
“No, it’s fine,” Laurie said, reaching back to grasp his hand. “Speak your mind. Be true to yourself! That’s what I’m trying to do here.” She forced a smile back out. “It’s only, the thing that’s making this all feel so weird? Is that you’re the ones who came into the past to recruit me. So I feel like you should kinda be the smarter ones in terms of figuring out how to resolve this kind of situation. You know?”
Tim shook his head. “Intelligence and wisdom are two different things. You are wise, Laurie, in your own way. Seeing the best in people and situations. In fact, your optimism reminds me of Clarke’s… except it’s somehow a lot more infectious than it is with him.”
Laurie nodded, then as an afterthought squeezed Tim’s hand, until he smiled back at her. The both of them then turned their attention back to Frank, who remained staring at the darkening sky.
“It’s time,” Frank said. He looked away from his watch, which synched to local time now read 11:30pm, and towards his two time travel companions instead. Their faces were partially illuminated by the streetlight above. “I… I just want to say, if this note thing doesn’t work out, I really am SO sorry to have dragged you both into–”
He blinked at Laurie. “I’m sorry?”
“And AGAIN you’re sorry,” she pointed out. She stepped closer. “Stop saying that. It’s actually beginning to bug me! You’ve been like this for the last 48 hours, talking to us like we didn’t want to be here. Sure, it’s not what we expected, but golly, no one ever held a gun to my head. We came here for Carrie. We did our best. This trip is what it is, Frank, and if you apologize again for something so obviously outside of your control, I’m gonna… gonna slap sense into you. So help me, I will!”
Frank gaped at her for a second, not sure how to respond. He looked over towards Tim, who smiled and shrugged back. “Her Veniti attitude is coming through, Frank. She’ll do it.”
“Um. Well, okay then. No apologies. Only this note.” He thrust his hand into his pocket. He felt the paper there, hesitated, then slowly drew it out. He fingered the edge of the sheet. “Dammit, I feel like this is Mindy’s last will and testament or something…”
“So let’s see what she wanted us to have,” Tim soothed.
Frank nodded. Carefully, he unfolded the page and smoothed it out on his leg. The other two leaned in to see. The scrawled handwriting read: ‘Tim has the coin. Laurie has the key. Frank, set March 25, 7pm.’ It was followed by a string of ten digits.
They stared for a moment.
“The coin?” Frank murmured, looking to Tim.
Tim stared back, then reached for his back pocket. “I r-remember what Mindy said to me now!” he gasped.
“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.
As she did so, she leaned down to whisper to him. “I have something for you.” She pressed the coin into Tim’s hand. He blinked in surprise, looking down at it. “Put that in your back pocket,” Mindy continued. “Do NOT spend it. In fact, forget all about it until Frank mentions it. Our survival may depend on it.”
Tim shook his head. “Mindy, HOW? This c-coin is from–”
“Shhhh!” Mindy cut in. “I know. Fun fact, the guy you call Shady, the one who activated Carrie’s powers? I managed to steal his future currency. And for over three years now, I’ve kept that coin on my person – now you must do so in my place. Okay?”
“Now seriously, stammer something.”
“B-B-B-But,” Tim began anew, that request becoming a tired refrain.
They had reached the businessman, and Mindy quickly negotiated for some sheets of paper and a spare pen from his pocket. She began to scribble on the sheet as she walked back. “Hey, I thought the kid needed it to communicate!” the businessman protested, before giving up and returning to his phone call.
Frank felt his heart rate quicken as Tim explained. “So when Mindy says the key,” Frank decided as Tim finished, “did she mean a literal…”
He turned to look at Laurie, only to see that she was staring at him, a surprised expression on her face, and a car key dangling from a loop of wire in her fingers.
Mindy grabbed Laurie by the arm, maneuvering her out of the room, leaving Tim to deal with Frank kneeling on the ground.
“Laurie, I’m giving you something very important right now,” Mindy said, pressing the object into her hands. “Don’t look at it, simply carry it with you. Secretly. You’ll know when to bring it back out. In the meantime, you’ll have to be strong – but I know you can be. And no matter what anyone says, for the next couple days, you will never lose hope. You understand me?”
“Ah, s-sure,” Laurie said, taken aback by the urgency of Mindy’s tone. “But Mindy, it feels like you handed over–”
“Shhhh!” Mindy smiled. “Turns out it’s a good thing I swapped licence plates to throw Glen off our trail. Now, forget for two days, since as of right now, we’ve got to move.”
Frank and Tim quickly caught up to the two of them in the corridor.
Laurie gasped. “That’s why it felt wrong. When Mindy was going for the car. Because back then, I was the one with…”
“Don’t say it,” Frank broke in. “Not out loud. Objects back in pockets.” He shoved the paper back into his own pants. “We play it casual, like Mindy wanted. We can check this out tomorrow.”
“What? Frank, why wait??” Tim protested.
“We might only have one shot at this,” Frank explained, forcing his mind to shift back into gear. “And even if Mindy drew Elder Carrie’s attention, maybe the future is still tracking us. Expecting something like this, something to be triggered two days later. So we don’t let it play out tonight. We can’t make this easy for those future trackers.”
Laurie nibbled on her lower lip uncertainly, exchanging a glance with Tim, who shrugged. “He’s the time expert,” the blonde boy yielded.
They made their way back to the Miami airport the following afternoon, all of them hungry and tired. “Mindy’s choice of a Chevy was fortunate,” Frank murmured as they regarded the parking lot. “There were a bunch of them in the States around this time. I only hope we haven’t been towed.”
It took about ten minutes of searching, but a shout by Tim brought them running. The Ontario plates had been swapped out for Florida ones – of course, since it had been an Ontario registration that had blown up over two days ago now – but through the driver’s side window, the interior looked just as they remembered it. The time machine was intact.
The trio stood there for a moment, letting it sink in. Frank slowly exhaled. “I guess it could be booby trapped, but there’s no point leaving it here. If you want, you two can head back to a safe distance while I start the car up.”
“Don’t start it,” Laurie suggested. “Use my key to unlock, you set the date, drop Tim’s coin in, and we go.”
Frank blinked. “Good point.”
Tim fished Mindy’s coin back out of his pocket. “Do we really use this though? Our stuff must still be in the trunk, including our coins. We could use one of them to return to the present. To recruit more help.”
Frank shook his head. “If Elder Carrie is the one gaining control over things, the only hope we have against her is OUR Carrie. And in order to get to that Carrie before the older version can solidify her position, I think we go straight to the date Mindy’s provided. No side trips.”
“Right.” Tim rubbed his forehead. “At l-least Chartreuse saying I’d be using Temporal in the future m-makes sense now.”
“Frank, how can you be so sure OUR Carrie will be at that date?” Laurie pressed.
Frank exhaled. “I can’t be. But the date Mindy said to set? Coupled with the coin, it’s the night before Carrie’s fiftieth birthday. That can’t be coincidence.” He turned. “If you’d prefer to wait here though…”
Laurie shook her head. “I didn’t say that.”
“L-Let’s do this,” Tim agreed.
Carefully, the three of them piled into the time machine. Laurie in the driver’s seat, Frank tapping in the coordinates from the passenger side, and Tim in the back. They dropped in the future coin. Then they all eyed the DNA pad. Frank cleared his throat. “So, which one of us…”
Laurie reached out, pressing her thumb against it. “Like riding a bicycle,” she breathed.
Three seconds later, there was a popping sound, the car vanished… and it immediately spun, as if it the front had been struck by a heavy object. Frank grabbed for the dashboard, despite that not making sense, because he couldn’t move, couldn’t grab, they were being dematerialized in a wormhole, and how could they even be in a car accident there?
He opened his mouth to shout, but he couldn’t do that either, and for the first time in over a year, Frank felt himself losing consciousness on account of a time journey.
NEXT: A Future Darkly
ASIDE: Hope that didn’t feel like a cheat – you knew as much as the characters did. Now, to the future…