PREVIOUSLY: Frank, Laurie and Tim ended up in the future of “Timeline Three”. A timeline where Mindy never travelled back. But then Carrie got herself to destroy “Timeline Three”…
PART 93b: TIMELINE FOUR REDUX
Luci had just arrived at home when when she received the call. She pulled the device out of her pocket, blinking at the display. “Answer,” she told it. The call connected. “Phil? Something wrong?”
“Yes. No. I don’t know,” he said, his holographic face looking very frustrated.
Luci tossed her key fob on the side table and shut her front door. “How was the visit? Is Laurie okay?”
“Laurie’s fine. Luci, I’ve pulled my tow truck over to the side of the road.”
“I don’t know. But I feel like maybe it’s bleedthrough?”
She peered at his expression. He seemed sincere. “Can’t be. There’s no major operations planned in the area that would attract attention.”
“Luci, I’ve pulled over to the side of the road, and for no particular reason, I’m remembering that time I worked on a Chevy in… I think it was senior auto shop class.”
“Phil, I swear, we’re not up to anything.” Luci chewed her lower lip. “Want to meet though? At the small cafe on the outskirts of town?”
“Yeah. Yeah, for some reason you saying that makes me feel better.”
“Okay, good. See you there in an hour.” Luci hung up the phone, reaching back for her key fob, as well as the medical device she used to identify people in the database after swabbing them for DNA.
She stared at it. Why on earth had she picked that up?
“Luci, what in the hell are you idiots doing?”
Luci sat back on her couch, staring blankly at the angry holographic face of Julie LaMille. She was beginning to feel overwhelmed. “You too?”
“What do you mean me too?”
Luci shook her head. “Bleedthrough.”
“I know,” Julie snapped. “For some reason, I’ve been expecting you to call me for the last half hour. What operation are you people–”
“No operation. Julie, you don’t understand,” Luci insisted. “This is crazy, for some reason we’re experiencing bleedthrough on a massive scale, the likes of which we’ve never seen before. I’ve got techs talking about a car that isn’t there, an operative who says Mindylenopia contacted us out of the blue looking for help with her suicide mission, and plus I made way too much toast for breakfast this morning. NONE of which is connected to ANYTHING!”
Julie frowned. “Back up to the suicide mission thing.”
Luci sighed. “That’s just Mindy fulfilling her destiny. She’ll go back in time today, then get banished by Carrie. It never changed anything, remember? In the end, Glen still managed to snare Carrie, spiriting her out of town.”
There was the sound of Julie drumming her fingers on a desk. “So are your people helping Mindylenopia go back?”
“No. We explored the possibilities weeks ago, and couldn’t find a new lynchpin. Don’t spread it around, but the whole mission was deemed a predestined lost cause.” She grimaced. “We were WAY too cunning in our youth.”
“Is there a rogue faction within your ranks plotting something then?”
“Look, I’m serious. The phone call I was expecting? I feel like you wanted me to get you things.”
“‘Things’? What ‘things’?”
“Oh, well, let’s see. It was either party favours for Carrie’s birthday, or ‘things’ that could help Mindylenopia get access to the stationary generator.”
“Ha ha.” Luci shook her head. “Look, according to our intelligence, Carrie made a call yesterday demanding a DECREASE of security at the generator this evening. So Mindylenopia doesn’t need us anyway, it should be no problem for her to… to… wait. WAIT.” She seized the edge of the couch. “Julie, why would Carrie do that?”
Julie rolled her eyes. “You’re asking me? I presume it was to make sure Mindylenopia succeeds in taking the trip, predestiny and all.”
“No, no, there’s no need to make SURE she succeeds, we KNOW she succeeds,” Luci protested. “She’s in our past. That’s not a change Carrie has to make. So why are we feeling the effects of bleedthrough here? The only way it makes sense is if… oh no. I can’t believe I’m saying this, but could Mindylenopia have once FAILED to make it back? Are we now overwriting a timeline where she FAILED?”
“Luci, that would mean Carrie wanted someone to mess with her past. Worse, the implication is that, to fix things, we have to stop Mindylenopia from going on her trip.”
“I know.” If she’d felt overwhelmed before, now she felt positively adrift. “So… I guess we better keep our options open. Julie, if you wouldn’t mind, please get us your ‘things’? Meanwhile, I’m going to organize an emergency strike force to take on the generator station… having them ready might mean we can stop Mindylenopia. If we have to. Hell, we might even manage a foothold, given the lower security – though I’m hoping it’s not a trap we’re falling for here either.”
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. “At least it’s almost over.”
“What is, my love?”
Carrie didn’t bother to turn to face the woman who had spoken, continuing to glare at her reflection. “This damn headache. Which a future me in a horrible sweater indirectly inflicted, for absolutely no good reason. I’ve spent the better part of a day looking into things, and the only conclusion I can draw from my latest experience is that I hate myself. A lot.”
“Is there anything I can do to make you feel better? A mass–”
“No,” Carrie snorted. “It doesn’t matter. Liz won’t be back, not in this timeline. Also, tomorrow, I want you to give me the name of that forum where they were talking about visions. I want it shut down.”
“Y-Yes, my love… I meant no disrespect…”
“Fine, good.” Carrie finally turned to regard the woman sitting on the edge of her bed, the one dressed in the elaborate purple gown. And Chartreuse’s eyes were cast down towards the floor. 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. “My love, I d-don’t want to go out there…”
Carrie tensed. “What?”
“Because if I do… I feel that… that I might be hurt…”
“You want to defy me, on my fiftieth birthday?”
Chartreuse shrank back, curling into a ball. “My love…”
“Well, you can stay in here then! With your pretty dress and your stupid visions!”
Raising a palm and twisting it in against her pounding head, Carrie stalked out of the room, slamming the door behind her.
“Lee? What’s wrong?”
He turned to look over his shoulder at Julie. “The bleedthrough, I guess?” he admitted. “I’m starting to feel dumb about sending Luci out to Carrie’s property. Yet I still feel like someone’s supposed to be stationed there, and reporting in.”
“Right.” Julie ran her fingers back through her hair. “Well, if there’s something to find, Luci can find it.”
Lee chuckled. “Kind words you have for the same woman who, just last month, you referred to as a–”
“We reached an understanding earlier today,” Julie interrupted. She furrowed her brow. “For some reason, it felt right.”
Lee raised his hands in the air. “Hey, I’m happy for you both.” He looked back at his monitors. “What I’m not happy about is the fact that I’m running out of time to pull the trigger on our forces at the generator. Do we storm in, or not? We still have NO intelligence on whether we can allow Mindylenopia go back in time.”
“We should let her go.”
Lee turned to the side monitor to look at Megan. Then he mentally checked himself – Megan wasn’t his redundancy for tonight’s mission. Theresa was. One of the oldest members of the resistance. “But Theresa, how can you be sure?” he protested.
She smiled quietly back at him. He was reminded of the knowing looks she’d had before, way back when she had been a simple waitress in their hometown cafe. “You’ll simply have to trust me,” Theresa said.
One moment, Carrie was reaching for an hors d’oeuvre. The next moment, she was on the ground, screaming. Her past – it was completely breaking apart. Carrie dropped her mental shields into place, and tried to pinpoint how things could possibly be going so very, very wrong.
She had never thought her temporal pain could be any worse than an ice pick to the skull – and yet now, on top of that, it was like her head was simultaneously in a vice, making the misery so much worse, even through the shielding. Making things hard to track.
The issue, it seemed, was that hadn’t left town with Glinephanis? Except she damn well HAD left! But no, she hadn’t. For some reason, it now looked like she had still been in town for Christmas during her senior year of high school. Then… wait, where the hell had her past self ended up? And how had Young Carrie become so… so BROKEN?
Carrie’s eyes widened, as she deciphered the key moment. In a time period when she should have been three years old.
Pushing herself back to her feet, and ignoring the concerned mutterings of all the people around her, Carrie tore open a rip in the fabric of space-time, and stepped through it. Into the lounge of a Miami airport.
Elder Carrie glared at him for a moment, then shook her head, brushing her hair off her shoulder. “Oh, it wasn’t your fault,” she assured Glinephanis. “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.”
Glinephanis 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.”
She growled. Cleaning up her history was going to be a real pain, huh? She hoped she wouldn’t need to mess with too many memories. “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.”
She grabbed her teenaged self by the collar. Apparently, that Carrie had dressed herself up in a blue business suit, almost like she was pretending to be their mama. Good grief, how had she EVER been so STUPID? Glinephanis took her by the arm, and she pulled them back towards the rip… with her younger self still trying to break free of the freezing. Apparently, this was going to be a long trip home.
The lounge 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!” Mindylenopia 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 right at her for a change, rather than at her broken teenaged variant. “You don’t have to do this, not to yourself…”
Carrie did her very best to ignore them all, busy concentrating on getting a foothold on the time streams, without losing her mental hold on the Younger Carrie. It was surprisingly difficult. It occurred to her that maybe that’s why the old “Liz” version she had encountered in the generator hadn’t tried this genre of persuasion? Preferring to snare herself in the “Mindylenopia Catch-22 scenario” instead? Which had, she now realized, somehow precipitated this entire situation.
Well, she would soon set everything right. Young Carrie was weak, and no match for her.
Pulling Glinephanis and her younger self forwards into the time streams, Carrie soon realized that the time trip, which should have taken seconds, would instead drag on for close to a minute. Because Young Carrie continued to wriggle against her hold, at one point whimpering out, “Chartreuse?”.
Carrie decided that her best plan would be to arrive in the future at the stationary temporal generator outside Ottawa. There were dampening fields in the displacement room which she could activate, ones which might help her to control her younger self long enough for a memory implantation, or removal, or whatever else she’d be forced to do to get history back on track.
As such, they emerged from the time streams in the main control room of the Ottawa generator facility.
Where a teenaged Frank Dijora immediately shot her with a prototype for a temporal gun.
ASIDE: If it all makes sense, please vote for T&T at Top WebFiction. If it doesn’t make sense, drop a comment before the vote for T&T. Three weeks left.
It’s not really making sense to me, but I was ok with that, expecting that you’ll provide some exposition soon – I only commented because you asked us to if it didn’t make sense.
The main bits that don’t make sense are:
– why Liz interfered with Carrie stopping Mindylenopia, but I don’t expect we’re meant to know that yet;
– how an old Theresa could be in the future if Mindy didn’t go back, but I don’t expect we’re meant to know that yet;
– how Frank got into the future, but I don’t expect we’re meant to know that yet;
– in general, how to understand the paradoxes that arise when trying to figure out the consequences of Mindylenopia going back or not, but I expect that’s not entirely meant to make sense.
So as you can see, various things don’t make sense but as far as I can tell, they’re not meant to make sense, so I’m not worried. Hope that helps.
That’s actually really helpful, thanks Mez. I suppose I was thinking more if the parallels between Timelines Three and Four made sense, so you’re right that the Liz interference and Frank appearance will be dealt with in Part 94 (and you’ve helped me see a way of clarifying one of those a bit better now too, thanks). The old Theresa thing is also a loose end, but not in the way you asked.
Old Theresa can be in the future of Timeline Four because Mindy DID go back. Even though she hadn’t left yet. It’s the same logic for why Theresa was in the story from Book 1, even though Carrie didn’t get around to banishing Mindy until Book 3. Carrie *would* banish her, Glen would see to it, hence Theresa existed the whole time. In Timeline Four, Carrie *would* allow Mindy to go back, so again, Theresa exists the whole time. (In fact, she kind of becomes necessary so that Luci et al don’t stop Mindy, and yeah, that’s where the possible paradoxes creep in.) I bring this up here because I’m not sure that there’s a place to explain it in the unfolding storyline. (If any readers out there are so inclined, let me know if you spot something over these final weeks.)
That said, there is a different question about Theresa’s existence. Which will be raised by the characters in Part 94, so I’ll bite my tongue on it for now (maybe it will even serve to clarify things). Thanks for the comment, and I do appreciate the faith you have in my storytelling!
So you’re saying that Theresa’s presence in the future is based on a timeline where Mindy travels from the future to the present (and is banished a short time into the past so returns to the present as Theresa through the normal passage of time) but then either (i) does not travel to the past or (ii) travels to the past but does not die there? Because as far as I can tell we’ve seen no indication of such a timeline occurring.
You’ve got it now, yes. That’s the “different question” which will be referenced in under a week’s time – though maybe by “go back” you’d meant to the past, not to the present… so I did jump the gun after all. Oops, sorry. (Time travel gets weird.)