TIME & TIED: ESCALATION
ARC 2.1 - From the Past
PART 30a: SEARCH AND RESCUE 1
Luci dropped her pencil to flex her fingers slightly. She glanced down at the floor but Taimu had wandered off somewhere else. Noticing the clock, she realized her parents might be back soon. Her foster parents - they had left a note upstairs indicating that they were out looking for her. As to her real parents, who knew? Maybe they really had been aliens.
Luci grimaced. Geez, what was she thinking? “Let’s get through the rest of this," she decided. The twenty year old scanned back over what she had written. "Though it looks like I'll need to backtrack first." She resumed her writing.
''However, something I didn't know at the time: When I didn’t show up for dinner, my parents contacted the Dijoras and the Vermilions. Then later in the evening, the police. A search was started, which as of Sunday morning, included Frank, Carrie and Chartreuse, all out looking for me.''
"We're getting nowhere," Carrie stated.
Chartreuse ventured a smile at the blonde. “Not true. We, like, know that Luci made it to the store, and that nothing happened at the store. So whatever happened, happened after."
"Brilliant," Carrie said dryly. "Peered in your crystal ball this morning, I see."
"Carrie..." Frank said.
Carrie sighed in exasperation. “Okay, I’m sorry, but come on. Wandering the streets is not helping at this point. We need a plan of attack. For instance, wouldn’t it be great if we could travel back in time a day to witness events ourselves?"
Frank coughed. “Too bad we don’t have access to a working time machine," he said, looking pointedly between Carrie and Chartreuse. "Oh, um, offering to help us look around was very nice of you, by the way. It's appreciated,” he added to the more heavyset girl.
Chartreuse adjusted one of the bows in her pink hair. "Hey, least I can do, you know? Luci's my friend too. Still, I fear Carrie's right. This doesn't seem to be, you know, helping. Maybe we should, like, directly question people around here?”
She reached out to tap the shoulder of a man passing by. "Excuse me, sir, do you know anything about..." The words froze on Chartreuse's lips as her hand made contact with him. A wave of emotion blasted through her, making her snap her hand back with a gasp. She stumbled and might have fallen if Frank hadn't caught her.
The wide-eyed white haired man turned. "What? Are you saying something?" he inquired.
"No. Nothing. Carry on," Chartreuse gasped, trying to regulate her breathing. He blinked at her a few times, glanced at Frank and Carrie, then shrugged then continued on his way.
"Okay, what the heck was THAT drama about?" Carrie inquired, after the pedestrian had moved off a little ways.
"That guy, the one I tapped, who came out of the library – he knows something about what happened to Luci," Chartreuse explained breathlessly. "I got this sensation that somehow, he, like, knows where Luci is.”
"What? Where is she??” Frank asked.
"I don't know. This was an impression thing, you know, not a vision thing," Chartreuse said, still trying to regain her equilibrium. “Don’t ask him though. Something’s off. It's as if he knows WHERE she is but not WHAT she is, if that makes any sense."
Carrie peered closer at Chartreuse. "Oh yeah. Lots of sense happening here."
"You have to believe me! I mean, remember back when I, like, knew about the drugs in your locker?" Chartreuse reminded. Carrie flinched back.
"Okay, it's our only real lead so far," Frank concluded, looking up to see the man turning the corner. "Come on, quick, before we lose him.”
''So they followed him, out towards the wooded area north of town,'' Luci continued. ''They lost him there, trying too hard to be unseen I suspect, and at that point split up to relocate him. Just my luck that Carrie was the one to stumble upon his cabin.''
"You can allow me to have a direct look at your brain." He turned the scalpel around in his hands. "Alas, at this point, that's the only way for me to be certain."
Which was when Luci heard a door behind her burst open and a familiar voice shout out, "Freeze!"
The man was instantly on his guard, crouching slightly. "Who are you?" he demanded.
"I'm... the one telling you to freeze," Carrie’s voice said. "Luci, is that you?"
"Oh please, tell me you have backup," Luci groaned, her eyes fixated upon the twitchiness of her abductor. She watched as he circled around towards the right, sensing that Carrie was moving in from the opposite direction. Soon they were both in her peripheral vision.
"Luci?! What has he DONE to you?" Carrie gasped as she finally got a good look at the asian’s eighteen year old body.
"Waiiiiit, wait, wait,” the man said. "Are you another of THEM? Come to take this one back to the mother ship?"
Carrie quirked up an eyebrow. "Um. Yes, in fact, I am one of them."
"Carrie!" Luci hissed. What the hell was she hoping to accomplish by provoking an insane person? The blonde merely waved her off, intent on her original target. The crazy man.
"I should have known,” he said, growing visibly agitated, beginning to wave his scalpel around in the air. "I won't let you win. I'll kill you all!"
"But wait,” Carrie continued. "I am not here for this girl. I am defecting! That's why I'm here now, to warn you - there's thirty of the others tracking you down at this very moment. You've got to get away, before it's too late.”
His mouth twitched. "You're lying."
"Yeah, they're counting on you thinking that. It means they'll finally be rid of your interference.”
His eyes flicked back and forth. "I... I can take them."
"Yeah, they're counting on you thinking that too. Geez, get going while the going is good! Here, I'll help you gather up your notes." She moved backwards.
"Hey... DON’T you TOUCH those!"
With both Carrie and her captor now out of view, Luci only heard him running, a loud THWACKing sound, and the noise of someone falling onto the floor. Then, heavy breathing. Luci squeezed her eyes shut. "Damn it Carrie, why don't you think before you act?" she whimpered.
"Because if I did, he might have your brain in a jar by now," Carrie panted. Luci blinked her eyes back open as she felt her classmate start to undo the ropes keeping her in the chair.
"Carrie! What... what just happened?"
Carrie finally caught her breath. "Fortunately, our friend here had pretty copious notes, and they made for 'heavy' reading. But what did he do to you, Luci? You look older than me!”
"This wasn't his doing," Luci explained as Carrie undid the last of the ropes, allowing her to rise to her feet. "It started before I saw him. This has something to do with the time machine."
She could now see the rest of the room, including the apparent owner of the residence face down on the floor, a heavily bound book by his head. There were a number of other papers scattered about.
"The time machine? You're from the future?" Carrie said in confusion.
“No.” Luci took some tentative steps towards the prone figure as she fought to regain her sense of equilibrium. “It's from when I touched those wires yesterday. In fact, I’m still tingling... this guy seemed to think my DNA was in flux." As she said that, Luci stumbled and fell, but she was close enough now to reach out and grab a few of the loose sheets.
"Well, I hate to tell you this Luci, but this guy is a first class NUT. We'd better get out of here before he wakes up. I’ll call in the police and let them deal with him."
Luci shivered slightly as she saw what had to be a lot of her vital statistics listed on one of the sheets she was holding. She wondered what had happened while she'd been unconscious. Still, it was the name at the top which quickly caught her attention. “Report by Professor Linquist," she said slowly. "I know that name."
"Linquist?" Carrie frowned. "Yeah, wait a second. That's the guy who lived in the LaMille mansion. Before they came to town."
"I think you're right. Wasn't he supposed to be a reputable scientist?"
Carrie shrugged. "He might have won a local award or two, but the guy was mysterious, solitary and I’d say only slightly less whacked than he appears now. I mean, deciding to sell your mansion, in order to live out of a cabin in the woods? Hardly an upwards career move."
Luci stared at the page. "But..." Then she froze as her stomach lurched. Oh no. Collapsing onto all fours, the buzzing noise returned.
Luci squeezed her eyes shut, gasping for breath, crying out in pain and confusion as her surroundings shrank and her body experienced another time jump forwards.
When the feeling passed, the first thing Luci became aware of was Carrie shaking her shoulder and calling out, "Luci? Gods, Luci! What the hell happened? Are you all right?”
"The tingling. It's finally stopped," Luci realized.
"Okay, that actually sounds bad. Come on, we're going to see Frank," Carrie decided. She must have taken off her jacket, as she now draped it over Luci’s shoulders. "I'll carry you if I have to. Though... maybe not, you've gained some weight with your age. But still, come on already!"
“We have to gather up all the papers about me first," Luci insisted. "I don't want anyone else to have this information." She grabbed for her ID and personal effects, then any sheets which seemed to relate to her in any way. Carrie helped her scan through the pages.
"Why are you helping me here anyway?" it occurred to Luci to ask, wishing the pounding in her head would subside the way the tingling had.
"Because you're another of Frank's friends," Carrie answered. Papers dealt with, she helped Luci back to her feet, grunting a bit with the effort. “Also, I’ve learned it's not good when bad things happen to semi-decent people. Now, pull yourself together and let's get a move on! Oh, incidentally, Chartreuse is around here too. We'll have to pass you off as your own long lost cousin, okay?”
Luci stared at Carrie, trying to wrap her head around that response, before nodding and allowing herself to be led out the door. Carrie filled her in as they headed out of the woods.
''In retrospect, Carrie's actions were nice. In a Carrie-esque way. Is it possible some of my prior opinions of her were coloured by her associations with Julie? And her apparent grudge against me, which came out of nowhere after that as-yet-unexplained missing second day of high school?''
Luci nibbled briefly on the end of her pencil. She shook her head. ''Anyway. Carrie sent a message to Frank. We all got back together, and then, to let me regain some more of my strength, Carrie and Chartreuse went off to handle talking to the police. This left me alone with Frank... all alone, with him sixteen, and me four years older than that.’’
Her grip tightened. ‘’That's when everything went horribly, horribly wrong.''