Time & Tied

by

mathtans

Part 8b: Sound the Alarm 2

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TIME & TIED: AWARENESS

ARC 1.2 - Of Her Peers

PART 8b: SOUND THE ALARM 2

Julie stared at Clarke. "Carrie was in the drug store during lunch? What was she doing there?"

The tall blond shrugged. "Buying cough medicine, far as I could see. I said 'hi', she sort of blinked in my direction and then hurried away without speaking. Looked a sight worse than in homeroom too, guess the math test took lots out of her."

"Really? That's funny," Julie remarked, forehead creasing slightly. "Her condition seemed to have improved when we were talking in the cafeteria. What time did you see her?"

"Time? Dunno... slightly after noon I guess. 12:15?"

Julie shook her head. "That can't be right, she was talking with me about then," Julie refuted. "And, athlete or not, even Carrie's not fast enough to get from the school to the drugstore in mere minutes."

"Yeah? But I'm pretty sure it's right," Clarke countered, scratching his head. "Met up with some of the other guys from the basketball team about 12:30, so it couldn't be later than that."

"Phil, Carrie couldn't be in two places at the same time," Julie explained patiently. "Are you sure it was her?"

“Pretty sure?" Clarke replied. "Looked like her, blonde hair with a blue hairband and all. Different shirt from the morning though. And I guess I was a few metres away, plus she ran off without acknowledging me. So maybe not.”

Julie looked at Clarke for another couple seconds before turning her attention back to the game field. “You think she's got a long lost sister she's never mentioned before?" Julie mused idly. Heck, if the person in school today hadn't really been Carrie, it could explain the weirdness.

"What, you mean twins like Laurie and Corry or something?" Clarke said in confusion.

"I don't know," Julie said, drumming her fingers on the fence again. She was reaching a bit now, wasn't she. "Maybe I'm overreacting. But I have the feeling that there's something going on here that I don't know about. You know I don't like that."

"Yeah, well, you'll figure it out eventually. You always do," Clarke reassured her. "I can even make inquiries if you like."

"No, no," Julie said, gesturing dismissively. "After all, this could be nothing. I'll handle it myself. Not a word of these suspicions getting back to Carrie though, all right?"

Clarke shrugged. "Sure, Jewels. Any particular reason?"

Julie pushed herself away from the fence, turning to lean back against it as she crossed her arms over her chest. "Because. If I'm wrong about there being something up with Carrie, I don't want to have jeopardized what it is we have." Her eyes narrowed. "While if I'm right... well, if I'm right, I don't want her to be prepared for my reaction."

***

Frank walked up the street towards his house, rubbing his forehead with one hand. The day hadn't gone how he'd expected. Then again, what had he expected? Carrie to run up to him before first period and ask for his help in learning more about the time machine? That wasn't her style, and he knew it.

Still, he'd figured on some reaction from her, after she presumably discovered that she still didn't have a mother. Something more than just turning up at school as if everything was normal. Was it possible that Carrie was trying to forget all about the device and continue on with her life as if nothing had happened?

Frank paused in his walking. Boy, he hoped that wasn't the case. After two years of research, it would be nice to see it actually pay off somehow!

Then again, Frank mused, as he continued on his way, Carrie pretending nothing had happened wasn’t terribly likely either. And given the glance they had exchanged that morning in class, she now knew that he still knew about her trip, so they'd have to face off some time. Right? Though there had been something else in her expression, something Frank couldn't quite put his finger on... something that had seemed out of place.

He shook his head. Oh well. As he had conjectured yesterday, it was looking like any discussion between him and Carrie about the issues surrounding time travel might have to be initiated by him. Not something he was particularly looking forward to, but something he should do before Carrie got any wild ideas in her head. Perhaps this weekend.

Walking up his driveway, Frank noticed his mother's car was there.  She must have gotten away from work early. "Hello?" Frank called out as he opened the door and dropped his bookbag by the stairs. "Mom?"

His mother peered around the corner at the end of the hall. "Hello dear!" she said with a smile. "I'm starting on dinner. In the meantime, you have a guest waiting for you in the sitting room!"

Frank blinked. Guest? He never had guests. The only person he could think of who might have come over would be Luci, to ask about math problems or something. "Hello?" Frank repeated, advancing forward a few steps to look into their living room. "What's..." His voice trailed off in surprise.

Frank's guest stood there, a vexed look on her face. "I..." She cleared her throat and spun away from him to face the window. "You have to reset the damned device so that I can travel back to my present, this Sunday," Carrie stated crossly.

***

At that moment, some blocks away, Carrie stumbled back into her bedroom and, almost as an afterthought, glanced underneath her bed. There was only one time machine there. Her double from the future must have picked up the second one at some point during the day.

Who knows when though... could have been after her father went out, allowing her to shower and sneak down into the kitchen to make soup. Or while she'd been asleep that afternoon. Or perhaps it had been around lunchtime when she'd mustered up the strength to go out and buy cough syrup. She supposed it didn't really matter. Though, crawling back into bed, Carrie decided she felt well enough now to really think things through without the thoughts making her head spin.

It seemed like Frank would have some notions regarding how the past could change, which impacted on her attempt to save her mother. Hence Carrie herself would come back to change something at school and disprove his theories. Sensible enough. But what was it she had decided to change then? What had been due to happen at school on Friday?

It would need to be something Frank would take notice of, and recognize as having been changed. So what was he likely to be involved with? The lightbulb clicked on. Wasn't Friday the day that Julie was going to do something with chemicals to get Frank in trouble? As payback for his spying on her?

Carrie winced slightly. Now knowing what she did, doing something that mean... it didn't feel right. But this was perfect!

When Carrie felt better, she'd travel back to sometime this morning, and get Julie to postpone - or even call off - the whole affair. Which, knowing Julie, might be more difficult to do than it sounded... but she could work out the details later. Nodding to herself, and letting out one more series of coughs, Carrie pulled the covers back up over her head to get some more rest.

***

A short time later, a young asian girl with relatively short hair done up in two ponytails picked up her phone, dialed a number and waited for someone on the other end to pick up.

"Hello, Mrs. Dijora? It's Luci. I was just wondering, is Frank at home yet?” A pause, during which Luci raised one of her eyebrows slightly. "Oh, no, don't bother him then. If I might ask though, who's down in the lab with him?"

Luci almost dropped her phone in shock. She quickly recovered. "Did this Carrie have a blue hairband on?" Another pause. "Oh, no, nothing's wrong. I'll call back later. No message." Luci hung up the phone, frowning. Then, after a minute of thought, she dialled another number.

Two days later, early on Sunday morning, a girl with long naturally curly brown hair picked up her phone, dialed a number and waited for someone on the other end to pick up.

"Hello, Mr. Waterson? It's Julie. I was just wondering, is Carrie feeling better yet?” A pause, during which Julie raised one of her eyebrows slightly. "Oh, I just missed her? If I might ask then, do you know where she was headed?"

Julie almost dropped her phone in shock. She quickly recovered. "You're sure it was someone named Frank who called?" Another pause. "Oh, no, nothing's wrong. I'll call back later. No message." Julie hung up the phone, frowning. Then, after a minute of thought, she grabbed her bag and ran for the front door.

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About the author

mathtans

Bio: Residing at the intersection of "math teacher" and "serial writer".

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