PREVIOUSLY: They need what Julie has, to help Mindy travel back. But Luci tried to throw Julie out, after some uncomfortable truths were revealed.
PART 91b: REWRITE THE FUTURE
Julie had pulled her glasses back out. The way she tapped at the arms and blinked very deliberately helped Frank realize that they were some sort of technological device; maybe she was using them to read the daily news. Or to communicate with someone?
Then again, Luci didn’t seem to be concerned by Julie’s actions. The asian woman merely glared at her house guest from across the dining room table, as Julie continued to stare at her lenses. Deliberately ignoring everyone present. With a sigh, Frank made sure Tim and Laurie were okay on the sofa, the blonde boy doing his best to console their redheaded friend, then he returned to the table.
“Okay,” Frank sighed. “Julie. Here’s the thing. What you’ve got? Luci thought it would make this mission safe for us. Or safer, at least. Knowing that, why would you willingly take those items away, increasing the danger?”
“Because obviously Luci doesn’t need them after all,” Julie said dryly. “Besides, if she truly cared about safety then her resistance friends wouldn’t be–”
“I have been trying to FIX that, Julie! I was making an effort, and I’ve redoubled my efforts since losing–”
“Oh, I’m sorry, you want points for better late than nev–”
“Okay, stop,” Frank said, cutting between them. He drew in a long breath. “Look. I obviously don’t know the whole history here. But I DO know you two – or knew you – when you were my age. Back when Julie tended to work on her projects all by herself, while Luci had a habit of speaking her mind regardless of the consequences. Back when, despite those differences, you both cared. About each other, and about what was going on around you. So, know what? I think that means you still care. Both of you. Somehow, you’ve simply blinded yourselves to that reality over the last thirty years.”
Julie’s posture went rigid, and she reached up to pull her glasses back off. Luci bit down on her lower lip, turning away from Julie to face the wall. For a moment, neither spoke.
“People are dying, Frank,” Luci whispered at least. “You of all people MUST realize that! And when you care too much, and then people die, it hurts that much more.”
“I’m not about to die,” Julie muttered. “Your resistance could at least care a little bit about how much I stick my neck out.”
“You questioned what we were doing!” Luci said, turning back and smacking her palm against the table. “ALL the damn time!”
“Because you were blinded by vengeance! Sorry,” Julie immediately amended. “I don’t mean you, Luci. Some of your group were though. Still are. I couldn’t be a party to that.”
“Oh, why, because you’re such a saint?” Luci sniped.
“No, precisely because I’m NOT a saint,” Julie said. “And what I didn’t enjoy seeing was my darker places reflected in your resistance group! Hence, my trying to clean them up for you – leading to my getting attacked for those efforts. Damn it Luci, if you’d only listened to me back then, then maybe…” Her voice trailed off.
Luci sat back, looking tired. “Corry wasn’t my call. You know that.”
“I know, I just…” Julie shook her head, staring at the ceiling. “I don’t know. Maybe Frank has a point. Maybe, in the end, I was looking for a reason to wash my hands of the whole thing. And I finally got it.”
“And maybe I didn’t like you showing us what we were becoming,” Luci admitted. “I won’t deny my ethics have become… flexible these days.”
Julie rubbed her forehead. “Tell you what.” Her gaze swung towards the couch. “I’ll stick with you for this one, if you’ll have me. Because I want to guarantee young Laurie’s safety.”
Luci nodded. “You have that guarantee. And your acquired immunity to mind control makes you a useful asset for us. Not that I only see you as an asset here,” she amended. “I do care. At least a little.”
Julie chuckled. “So, suddenly friends again?”
“I wouldn’t say that. But I’d say we’re not adversaries.” Luci shook her head. “We never should have let that happen.” She hesitated, then stretched her arm across the table. Julie regarded the hand, then reached out to shake it.
“Thank goodness,” Frank sighed. He winced as both ladies turned to look at him – he hadn’t meant to say that out loud. “Um, yeah, so what’s the plan then?”
Luci dropped Julie’s hand, standing back up. “The plan? Is to follow Mindylenopia’s plan, until she travels back. At which point we storm the stationary generator, so that the Temporals are facing chaos both inside and out. That gives us our best chance ever to obtain time travel… as long as Carrie doesn’t rewrite everything. That’s the key. We cannot attempt this without that piece in place.”
“Right. Well, we should have a few tricks in store for Carrie,” Frank said, glancing back towards Tim and Laurie. “Mindylenopia’s weapon will help.”
“Hold on,” Julie said. “What’s going to stop Temporals from using the stationary temporal generator in the States next week? Or the one in Japan, or Ireland, or any of the other sites around the world? They could travel back from then to yesterday, and be here to mess with Canada now. After all, they’ve already got their representatives in town for Carrie’s birthday celebration.”
Luci shook her head. “Temporals may have the better grasp on time travel theory, but without Carrie, they’re as locked into predestination as we are.” She grinned. “Meaning we long as we can take the building in the present, we’ll HAVE it.”
“Just one loose end remains,” Frank said. “What did Mindy say, when you told her she could be tortured and killed on her mission to our past?”
He shifted his attention back to Luci, only to see that she was frowning. “Frank, I mentioned she calls us, we don’t call her, yeah? Well, we know where you and Laurie need to be positioned – but when you meet her? I’m afraid you’ll have to give Mindylenopia that information yourself. At which point… well, yeah, I guess she could abort the whole thing.”
Frank stood by the side of Highway 19 that night, south of Ottawa. Luci had dropped him off there, before driving back in to monitor Laurie; Julie had offered to take Laurie and Tim to their necessary locations in advance. Frank took a moment to mentally review what he knew of that part of the mission.
Carrie apparently had residences in many capital cities around the world – but she preferred Canada, where she had grown up. So her fiftieth birthday was being held locally. And Mindylenopia had been invited. Luci had hypothesized that the invitation was a test of the redhead’s fuzzy allegiances, or simply a way to keep an eye on her… either way, Mindylenopia had RVSPed. To the tune of ‘I’ll stick to lurking outside, not unlike the spy you take me for’.
So Laurie would lurk in her place. And as long as the Temporals thought Mindylenopia was there, they wouldn’t be looking for her to storm the building housing the stationary time machine. The building that Frank and Mindylenopia would soon be inside, so that he could get the prototype temporal gun… and then, assuming sending a message was possible, he would cue the resistance to storm in. Piece of cake.
Assuming Mindylenopia had no problem with dying in Miami, years later down her timeline.
He checked his watch – almost nine thirty.
“Bernard, why are you wearing that ridiculous disguise?” came a voice from the darkness.
Frank jumped, absently reaching up to touch the blonde moustache and wig he’d put on. “Uh, I thought it would help fool the video cameras.”
“Right. Because they only use video to identify people,” Mindylenopia said, coming close enough for Frank to see her rolling her eyes. “Oh well, it’s low tech, so it can’t hurt. Maybe you’ll buy yourself time because they’ll be so busy laughing. Come on.”
“Mindy. Mindylenopia, wait,” Frank said. “You have to know something first. About what’s liable to happen to you if you succeed in going back. I promised someone I would tell you.”
“Uh huh, sure. I already checked the history books, there’s no record of me,” she objected.
“Right, true enough.” Frank drew in a shaky breath. “Thing is? I’ve got very good reason to believe that you’ll end up temporally banished by the Carrie you meet in the past. And that, although you’ll survive, and rebuild many of your memories, you won’t survive what comes after that.”
“Speak the truth, please,” Mindylenopia grumbled.
“I did,” Frank said, speaking automatically.
In the process of turning away, Mindylenopia froze. She slowly swivelled her head back. “Are you one of those vision mystics?”
“But you’ve spoken with one.”
“Not as such.”
“Yet somehow, you think past Carrie knows that I’m coming for her?”
“Not that either.” Frank shook his head. He sighed. “It’s complicated,” he yielded, using the word Chartreuse had with Tim.
She stared at him. “Part of me wants you to spill everything now.” She licked her lips. “But the sensible part of me only wants to know one thing. This future for me, which you seem to be forecasting – will that Mindylenopia change things? Will her ripples eventually kick this timeline in the teeth, or preferably somewhere even more painful?”
“I’m going to go with yes,” Frank said. After all, how could he even be here otherwise?
Mindylenopia considered that. “Good. Come on.”
Frank hesitated. “Mindylenopia – are you sure?”
She looked over her shoulder again. “No, of course not. Where’s the fun in being sure? Even with the effects of time travel being globally predestined, nothing’s ever sure, not really, not until it’s happened. So, since I’m not in the history books, I’m banking on your predicted past future being flexible. Heck, this mission to get me back could still fail somehow.”
“But if it succeeds, and it leads to banishment and death…”
“Everybody dies, Bernard,” Mindylenopia observed. “The question is what sort of footprint you want to leave behind. Sounds like I’ll go out making an impact.”
She began to stride away. “Look, I appreciate the warning, but don’t bring it up again. Because even if we assume a Carrie-esque banishment leads to me forgetting about this conversation? No one should really know too much about their own destiny. Otherwise, there’s a chance it’ll become someone else’s.”
Frank felt a tension in his shoulders relax. He felt like he’d legitimately held up his end of things, and their plans hadn’t been aborted. “Okay then. I’m right behind you.”
Carrie glared at her reflection. She didn’t enjoying seeing the lines on her face, the hints of grey in her hair, or even the bright yellow gown that she had chosen for her birthday celebration. But her displeasure went deeper than that. “There is an anomaly.”
“There is? What is it, my love?”
Carrie didn’t bother to turn to face the woman who had spoken. She continued to glare at her reflection, her eyes flickering from blue to gold and back, hoping to pinpoint the problem. Annoyingly, if there was a source behind things feeling not-quite-right, it remained elusive. “I don’t know,” she said at last, spitting the words out. That was a three word chain she spoke very infrequently. “Probably just a sign that I’m going to need to rewrite the timelines, and go through this day again with a massive headache. Stupid Mundanes, don’t they know that messing with today will simply make me ANGRY?”
“Is there anything I can do to make you feel better? A massage? Bring you some chocolate? Do a vis– I mean, a massage?”
Carrie snorted. “No.” She pushed herself away from the vanity, clenching her hands into fists. “Wait, were you about to say vision quest? Did you get back into those while I was out of town?! I thought we’d cured you of all that mystic nonsense, along with that silly accent!”
“N-No, I m-mean yes, I mean… my love, I only stumbled into an online forum where they were discussing it…”
“Stay off that forum. Better yet, tell me about it tomorrow, we’ll shut it down.” Carrie felt her fingernails digging into her palms. “I’m the one and only authority on what DOES or DOES NOT happen within the time streams. Is that understood?”
“Y-Yes, my love… I meant no disrespect…”
“Fine, good.” Carrie finally turned to regard the woman sitting on the edge of her bed. Like Carrie, she was dressed in an elaborate gown. However, her’s was purple, to complement her hair, which had for years now been dyed a bright red. When in Rome, and all that. Carrie smiled, seeing that the woman’s eyes remained cast down, towards the floor. In obedience. As it should be.
“It’s time I got out there,” Carrie decided. “Moreover, if you perform well tonight as my pretty Canadian eye candy, I’ll allow you to give me a special birthday gift after everybody has left.” She grinned. “Would you like that?”
Her companion swallowed. “Oh yes, my love,” the woman repeated. She started to look up.
“Excellent. Eyes down. Remember your place.”
Carrie’s first ever female paramour immediately complied. Honestly, there were times when Carrie wondered why she had even bothered to track down and recruit Chartreuse. But the girl had been so fond of her in high school… and then so malleable because of their history together. Even now, Chartreuse still had her uses, for instance in identifying illicit online message forums.
Snapping her fingers at her old high school friend, and with the hints of an anomaly still tickling at her senses, Carrie strode out to meet her birthday guests.
NEXT: Storming the Castle
ASIDE: Remember the April Fools entry? “Elder Carrie” is back, and meaner than ever. Meanwhile, the fourth person in that Tuesday graphic… will be Chartreuse. She turns up everywhere. If you’re enjoying, take 5 seconds to vote for T&T?