TIME & TIED: ESCALATION
ARC 2.4 - From the Future
PART 45a: FULL CIRCLE 1
"Uhhhnnn," groaned Clarke, gradually regaining his senses. He looked around to find that they were in the somewhat familiar environs of Willowdale park.
Corry was struggling to his feet, Frank was looking over the time machine, and Julie, still unconscious, was lying next to him. The bikes and the rest of their gear was in a heap nearby. “Uh, hey, when are we?" he asked uncertainly.
“One day late," Frank replied. "Either bad luck or I wasn't able to properly recalibrate the chips. Should be an easy fix though, and we can always write off the missing day as us searching for Julie.” He looked up. “On the bright side, I guess this confirms some kind of geographic failsafe if we have no doubles around.”
Clarke nodded, looking back down at the young brunette girl. "I'm going to take Julie home then."
"You do that," Frank agreed. "I'll get the time machine and our other supplies stowed away, then go to the hospital to check on Carrie."
“And I'll head right there,” Corry remarked. He shrugged at the other two as they stared at him. “What? I'm rather hoping to learn that our four day trek into the past wasn't all for naught.”
"All right then, I'll see you shortly," Frank concluded. The three of them turned to go their separate ways. Completely oblivious to the fact that the world would soon be ending.
"Carrie... ohh, Carrie,” Chartreuse choked out. She squeezed her eyes shut, shaking her head to clear it before opening them again. Luci was now crouching down next to her.
"Um, Chartreuse... is this what you were trying to do?" Luci whispered.
Their friend was now sitting up in bed. Carrie’s eyes were glowing yellow, and her blonde hair was rippling out behind her in waves. A remarkable feat considering the lack of any wind.
"No," Chartreuse answered. "She's... she's hurting, Luci, but I don't understand it. I’m not sure any of us can."
The two girls watched as Carrie scanned the room. Her golden eyes alighted upon the man sitting next to her, who had been momentarily stunned into silence.
"Carrie?" Hank Waterson now said. "Carrie, is it you? Are you all right now? What--"
"Freeze," Carrie said calmly, reaching out to touch her father in the middle of his forehead.
He froze. Literally. It was as if he were a mannequin, suspended in time. Carrie then turned to face her classmates.
"Whoa, Carrie... Carrie, you, like, don't want to do anything rash," Chartreuse said, nervously. She managed to struggle to her feet with Luci’s help.
"I'm not going to do anything rash," Carrie replied, her voice far too calm. "I am merely going to make all the hurting go away. For everyone, forever."
“Kinda sounds rash.”
"How will you do that, exactly?" Luci murmured.
Carrie paused. “Still working that out," she admitted. "Perhaps I can shift everything a few milliseconds into the past." The blonde extended her palm out towards a small glass sitting next to her bed. The glass shattered into a hundred pieces as it tried to coexist with itself, the water spilling everywhere - the same way Carrie had done it less than two weeks earlier.
Both girls jumped. “Or perhaps I can come up with something else," Carrie countered.
"Carrie, you totally don't want to do this," Chartreuse pleaded. "We can fix up this present for you. For Julie too. I know we can.”
Carrie laughed hollowly. “You really think so? Because for the past few weeks, I have been trying to cope with knowing that in the first timeline, the original one - I never even existed. Do you know what that feels like? Being aware of a timeline where you had never been born?”
Chartreuse shook her head, not sure how else to respond.
“Not only that,” Carrie continued, “but this timeline where I AM alive has been coming apart ever since Julie pulled that trigger. We can’t even change that, because if I was never shot, I sense that my powers would now awaken regardless, and pull me apart.”
So, Shady hadn’t been lying about that then? Damn.
Carrie shook her head. “This must end,” she finished, dispassionately. “I will end it. It is, after all, the only reason for my even being here.”
"Carrie, wait,” Luci insisted. "Give us a chance to restore things first. Okay? To fix the present, make it better for everyone - including you and Julie! You won’t need to destroy our timeline then, right? Right?"
Carrie stared at the younger girl. She didn’t agree. On the other hand, she didn’t disagree either.
Which was when they heard an unexpected voice coming from the doorway. “Holy... what the hell is going on here?" Corry Veniti demanded.
Clarke blinked in surprise at the person who had opened the door of the LaMille mansion. "Tim?" he said. "What are you doing here?"
"L-Lee called me," Tim explained shakily. “Luci asked him to, when she and Chartreuse left to go to the hospital. To have someone else here. But even so, me and Laurie, we didn’t get here in time.”
“In time? In time for what?”
“To stop their t-t-temporal refugee from escaping.”
Not sure exactly how to take that, Clarke decided to ignore it for the moment. "Can you help me get Julie into the house?" he requested. The brunette was now semi-conscious, and standing upright, but she was using him as a support post.
"Allow me to assist also," Jeeves said, approaching from behind Tim. Between the three of them, they were able to get Julie inside. Laurie gasped as they came into the sitting room.
“CLARKE! Then, my brother? Is he back too, is he okay, why isn’t he here with you??”
“He went to the hospital to check on Carrie,” Clarke explained.
Laurie proceeded to dance nervously back and forth from foot to foot as they lay Julie down and covered her with a blanket. Apparently torn between wondering how she could help them, and wanting to ask more about what had happened.
“Go to Corry,” Clarke suggested once Julie had been settled in. “I’ll stay with Tim.”
Laurie looked to Tim, who nodded, and then with a grateful smile, she dashed out of the house, nearly forgetting to grab her jacket in the process.
"Now, what's this about a temporal refugee?" Clarke asked, looking to Tim.
"S-Some guy from the future," Tim explained. "Lee didn't seem too clear on it himself, but apparently this ‘Shady’ was responsible for Carrie being shot. She’s now gained mystical time powers.”
“Wait, back up - this guy is the one who blackmailed Julie into doing the shooting?”
Tim shook his head. “Not blackmailed. Lee said the Shady guy can do mind tricks like some J-Jedi," he clarified. “And Lee is the only one who’s immune.”
Clarke fumbled to sit in a chair. “And given Julie’s mental state that day... easy target. Damn. How could you let this guy get AWAY?”
"I'm afraid that was my fault, sir," Jeeves spoke up. "I untied him when Mister Lee’s back was turned. In retrospect, I'm not certain why, but he must have said something to me.”
“Lee headed out to look for Shady once Laurie and I got here,” Tim noted. “I should maybe call to tell him that J-Julie’s back...?"
“Yeah, do that,” Clarke agreed. He sighed. “We’re not out of the woods yet, huh?”
"Luci?" he said in surprise. He watched as she ran down the road, then barely managed to avoid falling down as she charged full tilt into him, throwing her arms around his body.
"Frank, thank god you're here and still alive,” Luci said. Not sure what else to do, he gave her a quick hug back. The small girl finally pulled away, only to reach up and give his cheek a smack. "Now that's for making me worry you were gone forever,” she accused.
"Ouch," Frank protested. "Geez Luci, maybe you have been hanging around Carrie too long. But what’s been going on? My mom was on me about skipping school today, saying something about police coming by? She almost wouldn’t let me leave the house again!”
"It's all become very complicated," Luci sighed. “That’s why, when I learned from Corry that you'd returned, I knew that I had to find you. You see, Carrie's conscious, but Chartreuse believes she's going to destroy the Earth with her time powers unless we can make everyone around here forget about how Julie shot her.”
Frank blinked. "Run that by me again, please?"
"I'll explain on the way back to your lab," Luci said. "The time machine, I hope it can handle one more trip?"
"Yeah - maybe more than that, we got the circuits back from Julie. It needs a bit of fine tuning though, and there’s maybe another hour before it's recharged. Why?"
Luci gave him a quick summary of the day.
“But if we can force Shady to explain when he tipped off the police,” she explained, “we can go back and try to stop him then. To undo this. I’m not sure what that means for our present, but with Julie back now, her parents should remember her and the house - and with no police questions, her life is liable to fix itself! I mean, her family will simply be happy to have her home after she was gone for more than a week, right?”
Frank pursed his lips. “No. Unfortunately, Julie’s family situation is a lot more complicated than we first suspected..." He began to explain quickly about his own trip into the past.