Chapter 40. You promised me
Shining among Darkness
You promised me
The three-hour drive from Boston to Chamberlain felt like forever for Matilda. She crossed the New Hampshire state line a little after 9:00, and twenty minutes later, she was entering Maine. From then on, she drove down Highway 95 like a madwoman, at a speed she was definitely not used to at all. In fact, a quick self-test would have revealed without a doubt that she was out of control. Still, she only became faintly aware of it the second time her vehicle nearly spun off the road when cornering too fast. Only then did she question herself if perhaps she should turn around and go back because, in reality, she had nothing concrete that could indicate that something was wrong. Or, at least, not something so bad that it warranted such a sudden trip.
However, that vision had been so horrible, and the accompanying feeling so overwhelming that she couldn't get it out of her head. She didn't even know what it meant or if it was something that had happened or was about to happen. But whatever it was, it kept her driving. He felt like he should go and make sure Carrie was okay; only then could she be calm.
At some point around 11:00, the psychiatrist's vehicle flew past the sign displayed in large, colorful letters: "Welcome to Chamberlain." Shortly after that point, she forced herself to slow down since she was already entering an urban area, and the least she needed at that moment was for a patrol to stop her. But it didn't take long for her to realize that no one had fined her, even if she had gone sixty miles per hour.
When Matilda entered the town's main avenue, she had to stop short when she saw a stampede of people running in terror down the street. Behind them, there was an orange glow that stood out over the buildings, as well as a dense smoke that was beginning to cover the sky. The screams and howls of the people were accompanied by the sound of sirens. An ambulance abruptly passed by the side of her vehicle, so close that it almost took away the side mirror. The emergency vehicle had to slow down a bit ahead and began to sound its horn insistently to get people to step aside and let it pass.
It was all too sudden. Matilda had gone from the silence and the almost numbing stillness of the road to plunging into a confusion of madness. She quickly got out of her vehicle. People ran around her, passing her as if they didn't even see her. They all looked scared, or at least quite confused. What was causing such hysteria?
Matilda began to move in the opposite direction from which the tide of people was heading. As she turned a corner onto another of the main avenues, she stared in amazement at the almost unreal scenery that loomed before her. Buildings on both sides of the street were on fire, light posters were down, and at least three cars were overturned. The pavement had cracked, creating long ruts in it. Chunks of stone, glass, and metal were scattered everywhere. And among all that rubble, she also managed to see several people lying; some moved and twisted in pain… others didn't.
The police officers were trying to drive people away from the place, and some paramedics were doing their best to get closer and help the injured. Three fire trucks were trying to put out the fires, but Matilda saw that they could not cope at first glance.
It was like a disaster scene from a movie, but it was totally real.
Matilda forced herself to advance a little further, getting close as she could to a policeman helping a woman advance. The woman had a tremendous blow to the forehead, and the blood flowed from the wound bathed her face.
"Let me check her; I'm a doctor," she said with impetus. The officer stopped, and then Matilda took the woman's face and checked the blow and her pupils. "Can you hear me? Follow my finger…" She extended her index finger and began to move it from side to side in front of the woman's face; she followed it, only moving her eyes at the same pace. She was stunned and shocked but seemed relatively fine, although only X-rays could confirm it. "Take her to the paramedics, let them treat that wound, and take her to the hospital."
"If there is still a hospital to take all these people to," the policeman replied in a tone of frustration. However, that was perhaps one more comment to himself.
As she pulled her hands away from the woman, Matilda realized that they had been stained with blood. She had an involuntary urge to wipe them against her pants, an act she regretted a second later.
"Officer, what happened? Tell me," she asked the policeman.
"We don't know for sure," he replied, just before walking along with the woman again. "They say there was an explosion in the school, and now the whole town is a fucking hell."
"In the school?" Carrie's prom came to mind immediately, and this thought was followed by several much worse ones. "It was an accident? A gas leak?"
"No, it was… it was…" It seemed for a moment that the officer wanted to say something. Still, he abruptly hesitated as if he was having trouble putting his ideas into shape.
"What? What was it?"
The officer stammered doubtfully. He turned away as if searching for the answer from the crowd around him.
"Carrie White," the woman he was carrying suddenly blurted out, catching the psychiatrist off guard. The woman was staring absently at the ground. "It was her... it was Carrie White..."
Matilda felt a knot in her stomach at hearing that.
"What are you talking about? Are you sure of that? Where's Carrie?"
"I ... I don't know ..." she murmured doubtfully, turning her to see slowly. "I don't even know who Carrie White is..."
Matilda was dumbfounded upon hearing that. She looked at the officer, and he said nothing but seemed convinced to support the statement.
"Get away from here, miss," the policeman told her, starting to walk away. "There may be more explosions!"
The brunette stayed in place for a few seconds, lost in her own thoughts. After a few moments, she managed to move and began to move quickly back to her car.
The reaction of that woman and that policeman was unintelligible. What had they seen or heard to be in that condition, and what did Carrie have to do with it? Could that horrible scenario really have been caused by her, as those two individuals seemed to suppose? She understood at least one of those points just as she sat back in the driver's seat of her vehicle: they were having implanted thoughts.
She hadn't treated Carrie enough to know whether or not she possessed telepathic abilities, but she knew it was quite possible. And suppose her abilities had gotten entirely out of control. In that case, she could be implanting her thoughts on the people around her without notice it. But, to that magnitude? All those people at the same time? What had happened to upset her so much? And all that destruction?
A part of her still refused to believe that Carrie could be responsible for such a disaster. But... hadn't she seen it herself? Hadn't she witnessed the amount of violence she was capable of? If something terrible enough had happened at the dance, she couldn't be sure of what might and might not occur. The truth was that if Carrie's telekinesis was as strong as she supposed, she could potentially be able to do all that... and more...
No, she couldn't get carried away with that thought. Whether or not Carrie had to do with all that, she had to find her first and see that she was okay. Then she would help her get through all of that.
Matilda pressed her hands carefully against the steering wheel, closed her eyes, and took a deep breath. Being a tracker wasn't her thing, but if Carrie found herself relaying her emotions and thoughts with that intensity, maybe even she could detect where the girl was. After all, that vision had come to her for a reason. There must be some open channel through which she could find her.
It took a while, but in the end, she could see something: the wobbly image of a house slowly approaching her.
Matilda opened her eyes abruptly and realized in those moments that a couple of tears had escaped from her and slid down her cheeks. That reaction… She guessed it wasn't really her. But didn't have time to think about it too much. She had recognized the house, and it was the obvious place to start looking.
She started the vehicle, reversed looking back to make sure no one was in his way, and then turned into the streets to go to the place she had seen.
— — — —
After driving for a few minutes, Matilda realized that she had almost entirely moved away from the chaos that reigned in the center. Unlike the main avenue, Carrie's street was on was quiet and totally alone. Even so, the damage was not entirely absent. As she moved on, she came across two other overturned cars and some fallen posters. There was no light in any streetlight or in a house, so her only guide through all that gloom was the headlights of her car and a little of what the stars and the moon managed to light.
In the distance, however, she managed to see a small illuminated point. It was candlelight, filtering through the windows of a particular house. Matilda parked right in front, not caring at all about doing it the right way as she even ended up on the sidewalk. As soon as she turned off the engine, she heard a loud scream from inside the house, which made her shudder in amazement, followed later by a high-pitched cry.
She hurried out of the vehicle, not even bothering to close the door behind her. She ran from the sidewalk to the front door of the house, which was obviously open. Halfway there, she stopped when she noticed something visible, thanks to the fact that she had also not turned off the car lights. Barely noticeable footprints had been painted on the concrete floor leading to the house's porch; red footprints.
Matilda kept going, hurrying up the porch steps and then throwing the door wide. The air inside seemed overwhelmingly heavy. The whole place was lit by candles placed in different parts of the house. She heard the crying again; it seemed to come from the living room. She had to take only a few steps in that direction to see what would be up to that moment the most horrifying image she had seen that night... or perhaps in her entire life.
Margaret White's body lay in her daughter's arms. Her white nightgown was completely soaked in blood, turning almost entirely red in the torso area. The woman had at least five objects embedded in her chest and abdomen, among which Matilda distinguished knives and some scissors. There were more similar objects with their red-stained edges on the ground. Margaret's eyes were closed, and her face looked calm and peaceful.
She was dead; Matilda knew it the moment she saw her. The high-pitched, heartbroken sobs she'd heard came from Carrie, holding her mother tightly to her. Matilda simply knew it was her, perhaps a little due to the implanted thoughts that still came from her since, in reality, Carrie was practically unrecognizable at the moment.
Her entire body was painted brown and red, from her hair to her feet. The blood had started to coagulate, clinging to her skin to the point that it was difficult to tell when these two were splitting. Her dress was dirty and tattered. Her feet were bare; the footprints Matilda had seen outside were indeed hers. Her hair, matted and hardened with blood, fell over her face. And on her right shoulder, a thick butcher knife was fully embedded, and fresh, red blood was pouring from this horrible wound, soaking her arm and chest, and further staining her mother's nightgown.
It was a totally vomiting scene for Matilda, which left her practically petrified in the doorway of the room and unable to utter anything at all.
Carrie was apparently finally aware of her presence and slowly raised her haggard face to her. This one, too, was covered in blood, grease, traces of soot and, of course, tears that had traced their path in the brown stains on her face. Her eyes were irritated, but… they didn't look particularly sad.
"Oh God, Carrie…" Matilda said slowly, taking up too much effort to even say that.
Carrie stared at her in silence for a few seconds. She not seemed surprised, relieved, or bothered to see her; it was as if she didn't really see her. Then the young lady looked back at her mother in her arms.
"I wanted her comfort. I wanted her to tell me that everything would be fine," Carrie began to whisper something rambling. "I wanted her to protect me like a real mother would. But instead… she hurt me…"
Carrie released her mother abruptly, letting her body collapse to the ground and hit her head against it. Then she clutched her left hand against her injured shoulder, squeezing it as if that way she could ease the tremendous pain it was causing her.
"He hurt me like she always did! I didn't want to do it… or maybe I did… But it was all her fault, hers and all of them… They made me like that! Why couldn't they just leave me alone?! Look what they've turned me into!"
She turned back to Matilda, letting out more screams but not from sadness, but rather from despair and anger and frustration that had to come out somehow. Matilda then felt the windows shaking and the walls creaking.
"Carrie, calm down, please," Matilda whispered and slowly approaching her. "I'm here, and I'm going to help you..."
"I don't need any more help…" Carrie whispered sharply, fixing her cold blue eyes on her. "And less from you!"
Matilda's body was abruptly pushed back with force. Her back slammed into the wall, bouncing off it, then hitting the floor facedown.
"Carrie…" She muttered in a daze. She felt a sharp pain run through her body, though it subsided shortly after.
Carrie tried to get up while still holding her horrible wound. She staggered mid-process, falling back to her knees.
"You promised me," the girl began to said suddenly. "You promised you would help me! You promised everything would be okay! Do you think any of this is okay?!"
She held her hand out to the side forcefully, and some of the blood that had pooled on his palm separated from it, drawing a curve on the ground.
"Carrie, calm down, please," Matilda whispered calmly as she tried to get up again. "Don't let your emotions take control of your abilities. You can control this; the power is yours..."
Carrie was breathing hard. She looked dizzy and weak, possibly from all the excess she had done in the use of her abilities and the injury to her shoulder that could be life-threatening at first glance. Still, she tried again to stand up, and this time she did. She stood on her bare feet, staggering a little but managing to remain standing.
"Yes, it's true… I can control it… But I don't want to…"
The young woman suddenly pulled her hand to the side, and Matilda's body rose and flew through the air, across the living room to the dining room, and then fell on her back right on the table. The dishes and decorations that were there were demolished. The table's legs creaked, but it remained upright.
Matilda felt quite stunned by the sudden movement. She raised her gaze as best she could toward the dining-room door. She could see the dark, almost ghostly figure of Carrie advance towards her with slow steps. She was still holding onto her injured shoulder tightly.
"You're like everyone else," Carrie gasped. "Pushing and pushing until everyone does what you say... You told me to oppose my mother, you told me to go to that stupid dance. And all for what? For this? Maybe that was what you wanted to happen, wasn't it?"
"Carrie, you don't know what you're saying," Matilda muttered painfully, trying to get up from the table. "You are not thinking clearly..."
Matilda rose abruptly again, now straight up until almost touching the ceiling. Then she came back down with great force until she crashed against the table. Now the legs did give way, and she and the board fell to the floor. The psychiatrist let out a high-pitched groan of pain from the blow. She turned, lying on her right side, and stood there for a few seconds, trying to recover. She felt Carrie approach her until she stood right in front of her.
"Good girls loyal to God don't think," the young woman declared harshly. The loose pieces of wood from the table and chairs slowly rose, looming over Matilda and pointing at her like stakes. "They do and say what He dictates. And His will tells me that I have to destroy this town full of sinners and pagans, roadhouses and alcohol, where being good and pure is a cursed crime!"
The stakes shot straight at Matilda's body on the ground. However, they came to an abrupt halt and were suspended just inches from her body.
The brunette began to rise slowly, and those sticks did with her. She whirled straight toward Carrie, and in the same motion, the stakes she'd threatened her with flew to the side, and Carrie's body was pushed back; her feet dragged across the floor, and her back was against the wall. Carrie's body was paralyzed, and she was looking at the doctor with her eyes wide and wild; they didn't really look like the eyes of a conscious person.
Matilda was unkempt, and some of her clothes had also ripped, and she had some minor scratches. But her gaze was steady and hard, and she had it right on her sudden attacker.
"Please, Carrie," she began to whisper, trying to sound as calm as possible. "Don't make me hurt you... I don't want to ..."
Carrie watched her silently. She sucked heavily through her nose, and her lips were pressed tightly together. Again, the walls and windows began to shake.
"You must have turned away from me when I asked you the first time, Dr. Honey..."
The roar from every window in the house exploding echoed with great intensity. Chunks of glass streaked through the air like ravenous locusts in search of their prey. Matilda had to release Carrie and duck to dodge the deadly daggers. A glass tore her jacket on her right shoulder and made a superficial wound; almost immediately, one more did something similar to her leg. She ducked behind one of the dining room furniture in an attempt to take cover, but they still caught up with her; even a small one embedded itself in the back of his hand.
Matilda glanced at Carrie. Once she released her, the girl had fallen to the ground and was now staring at her from there with a wave of anger so incomprehensible to her. This horrible situation was not the young woman's fault, but if Matilda didn't do something, they would both end up like their mother.
Matilda closed her eyes for a few seconds, breathed slowly. In her mind, she drew an image quite similar to the one Eleven had shown her the first time they met. She saw the stove in the kitchen of her childhood home and the bluish flame of the burner barely visible. She reached her hand out for the knob and slowly turned it, little by little, while her breathing accelerated at the same time. She kept opening it until the flame of the burner rose strongly like a blazing blue flame.
Matilda abruptly opened her eyes again. Her pupils had widened, her jaw clenched, and the veins in her temples throbbed. The pieces of glass stopped one by one right in place until they were suspended around her like snowflakes frozen in time. Matilda rose slowly from her site, leaning on the cabinet behind which she was hiding. Her gaze passed passively around her, and one by one, the pieces of glass exploded, leaving only small traces of glittering dust that fell to the ground like a tiny dew.
Carrie looked at all of this with some fascination, but the anger that consumed her did not subside one bit. She leaned on her good arm long enough to sit up, and then the table came crashing down on Matilda. She raised her hands to it, and the table not only stopped hitting her but broke in two, each half falling to one side of the brunette.
Carrie began to throw anything at her with her telekinesis: cups, plates, pieces of wood, the chairs that were still intact, and the knives she had taken from her mother, everything she could throw at her like a deadly projectile. These, however, did not touch their target. Matilda moved slowly towards her, and whatever she threw at her would turn her around and fit into the walls or the floor without touching her; except for a pair of scissors that they did make a horizontal cut on her left cheek, but she didn't even seem to feel it.
All of this only made Carrie more and more enraged. She let out a loud scream that expressed all the frustration and anger he had inside. This act was accompanied by an explosion of energy force that pushed everything close in all directions: the furniture, the paintings, the fragments, everything flew. Even Matilda could not avoid being a victim of it, and she was dragged back by that blow but managed to hold her ground and not fall. She raised her hand to Carrie in an attempt to immobilize her with telekinesis before she tried anything else. However, the blonde managed to do the exact same thing, raising her only good arm towards her.
They both stood still, feeling how the energy that flowed from the other enveloped them, but at the same time, their own tried to repel it. Around them, and especially in the space between them, a heavy pressure began to be felt. The walls of the room started to crack at the same time as the floor. Small objects and pieces of paper began to shake as if a small tornado had formed around them. They both felt like they were being pushed back. Still, they were reluctant to give in. Matilda had never experienced anything like this. The energy that enveloped them was so intense that she felt that her body would be destroyed if she took the wrong step.
They both screamed at the same time they tried to apply all the forces they had left. That crash caused what was similar to an explosion intense enough to blow the dining room apart and push them both backward. Carrie flew back into the living room, falling not far from her mother and letting out a high-pitched scream as she felt a stabbing pain run through her entire body from her injured shoulder. On the other hand, Matilda was thrown into the kitchen, crashing into the refrigerator and then falling face down to the floor, splitting her lip in the process. She was so stunned after the blow that she lay there for a long time.
Carrie was the first to try to get up, but her state prevented her. The pain was already too intense, and that last blow had sapped all his remaining strength. Maybe this was how it should all end; faint there, lying next to her mother and letting everything just disappear. Her only regret, strange as it was, was not being able to die looking at the stars... She had never thought that this would be the way she would have liked to do it until now.
"Carrie?" She heard someone say near her, but it was not Dr. Honey's voice.
Carrie raised her face weakly. Standing on the threshold of the room was the blurred figure of a person. She had come through the open door of the house, and now she was standing there, looking at her with disquiet and fear. The young woman's sight cleared, and she was able to make out Sue Snell's beautiful face and her shiny blonde hair falling to her shoulders. The gorgeous Sue, the girl of Tommy's eyes, and Chris Hargensen's inseparable friend. The who that must indeed have been the true queen of that filthy dance. She looked so flawless and clean… while she sure looked like an absolute mess. But… hadn't it always been that way?
"You…" Carrie whispered hoarsely, and suddenly she had strength out of nowhere, or at least enough to sit up and look at her more closely.
Sue gave a little cry and covered her mouth with her hands; her eyes seemed to be on the verge of tears.
"Carrie… I'm so sorry," Sue gasped, then dared to approach her cautiously. "I didn't know…"
"You sorry?" Carrie snapped with too much aggression in her voice. Sue's body stopped, and she could not move even a finger from one moment to the next. "What do you sorry? Didn't you laugh enough at me? Not throwing tampons at me at the dance too?!"
Sue felt a fear greater than she had felt before. She could barely breathe; she felt like she was going to suffocate at any moment.
"No, Carrie," she cried as hard as she could. "I had nothing to do with it. Chris, she alone..."
"I saw Chris tonight," Carrie interrupted abruptly and then raised her hand to her. Sue's body began to slide across the floor towards her without her being able to do anything to prevent it. "She's not laughing much anymore... And neither will..."
Sue knew immediately what those hideous words meant.
"Please, Carrie… don't hurt me…" she whispered pleadingly between tears as she continued to approach that ghostly figure covered in blood.
"Why not? You all hurt me my whole life..."
Matilda staggered into the room now, dazed and in pain but still standing.
"Carrie, no…" She murmured in alarm when she saw Sue. She tried to react to pull her away from the newcomer with her powers. However, an instant before she could do something, Carrie turned her gaze directly towards her, and Matilda's body flew again, now towards the stairs that led to the second floor. She collided with the railing with so much force that it broke.
Matilda rested against the steps, her right hand gripping her left arm. She had hit it right against the railing, and it seemed to have hurt it or even broken it.
With Matilda immobilized, Carrie turned her attention back to Sue. Turning back to her, she was so close that her fingers lightly touched her abdomen.
And then she felt it; as soon as her fingers touched Sue's body, Carrie managed to handle it throughout her being. It wasn't a beat, it wasn't a thought, it wasn't a voice. She couldn't put a name to it, but she felt it. She looked surprised, and even a little frightened, at the belly of her former schoolmate.
"What…?" Carrie whispered slowly, still unable to fully process this. She then raised her face slightly to Sue, who was still in horror. She didn't know exactly what gave her the clue she needed, but as soon as she saw Sue's face, she knew it immediately. "Is it... Is it Tommy's...?"
"What?" Sue questioned, confused.
Carrie looked down at her belly again, and now she dared to place her palm entirely against it. By doing that, she saw it much more clearly.
"It's a girl," she whispered very slowly, but enough for Sue to hear.
That made Sue's body tense even more, and her mind practically went blank; even his fear had faded a bit. She lowered her stunned gaze to his own belly. Although she didn't feel it like Carrie, she knew what he meant...
"Oh my God…" Sue murmured, dumbfounded at the revelation.
It had an effect on Carrie, an almost destructive effect. And for the first time in that horrible night, she was able to think clearly about something: Tommy… Tommy was dead. He was going to have a baby with the girl of his dreams... and now he would have nothing. He was dead, just like everyone else, just like her mother...
She dropped her arm with a bang, releasing Sue at the same time, who no longer being supported by Carrie, fell to the floor as her legs gave out. Carrie turned slightly to the side, gazing at her mother's sleepy, peaceful face. Little by little, her mind cleared, her pupils and her heartbeat normalized, and all the anger that flooded and blinded her faded. But that turned out to be no good, for little by little, the horrible reality in front of her became more and more tangible, just as the pain from her injuries grew more intense.
"What have I done?" Carrie whispered slowly to herself. "What have I done…?"
Sue stopped being afraid of Carrie. Perhaps the shock she had just felt had caused it, or possibly Carrie's volatile thoughts were affecting her as well. She tried to approach her, not really knowing what he would do. Would she comfort her? Would she say something to make her feel "better"? What could she do or say at a time like this?
Sue stopped when she heard the house creak. She looked up and noticed long fissures beginning to form on the walls and ceiling like exposed veins.
Sue tried to say something, but her body rose a few inches at that moment and began to float gently toward the front door. Her first thought was that Carrie was doing it. Still, before she crossed the threshold, she could see this other brown-haired woman, whose left arm hung limply at her side, but her other hand was raised firmly in her direction. Sue walked through the door and then sat in the front yard of the house. From the outside, she could see that the state of the house was even worse. The creak was even louder, and the entire upper floor seemed to bend and about to collapse against the lower floor.
Once Sue was outside, Matilda tried to get closer to where Carrie lay. Her arm hurt a lot, and she had several scrapes on her face and knees. Also, the wounds that the glass had done before began to burn and bleed more. Carrie, by her side, had sat down beside her mother's body and held her weakly against herself. Little sobs of pain and sadness came from her mouth, accompanied by the creaking of the house. A beam went off the ceiling suddenly, falling right in front of Matilda and cutting her off to get to where Carrie stood.
"We have to get out of here, Carrie," the psychiatrist whispered loudly, reaching out to her. "Please, let me help you."
"I don't want any more help…" the young woman whispered very slowly, turning slightly towards her. Her gaze was dull; there was almost no life left in her body. The last of her physical strength was being applied in the impending destruction of that house. "Getaway..."
"I won't, I won't leave you..."
"Getaway! Getaway and leave us alone!"
Matilda was abruptly pushed back as if she had been hit by a horse. Her body went directly against the window of the room, crossing what was left of the wooden frame and scraping with some pieces of glass stuck to it. She fell back against the ground outside, feeling, even more, the pain in her arm as she practically fell on it. This pain left her immobilized.
"Are you okay?" She heard Sue's question as she approached, but Matilda was unable to answer anything.
The house was beginning to collapse in itself, accompanied by the creaking of wood, metal, and stone breaking. And among all that symphony of destruction, Carrie's voice was subtly hidden, whispering from within, embraced by her mother as the puny strength of her body allowed it. The candles had fallen out of place, and part of the ground floor was already on fire.
"The Lord is my shepherd; I lack nothing. He makes me lie down in green pastures; He leads me beside quiet waters. He refreshes my soul and guides me along the right paths for His name's sake. Even if I pass through the darkest valleys, I will fear no evil because you are with me..."
Yet another beam detached from the ceiling, falling abruptly toward them. Carrie made no attempt to stop it. She just closed her eyes and let it all end once and for all.
"Your rod and Your staff comfort me… You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies…"
And then her voice fell silent.
The house contracted into itself. The entire upper floor collapsed, causing a great rumble and a cloud of dust.
"No! Carrie!" Matilda exclaimed in horror. Her first instinct was to stand up, but the pain and her imbalance nearly caused her to fall again until Sue took it upon herself to hold her.
Matilda stared in astonishment at what little was left of the ground floor walls, the only thing left standing, and how some fire began to spread through the ruins. Her ears were ringing, unable to hear anything clearly, not Sue's voice, not the sound of police and fire sirens approaching down the street, not even her own thoughts. For a few moments, her brain went totally blank.
— — — —
No one slept that night in Chamberlain. The fire in the center spread throughout the morning, even reaching residential areas. Only ruins remained of the school. By the time the sun rose, the total fatalities were in the hundreds, and they were still growing; the injured were many more. The material damage was simply incalculable. It was as if a tremendous tornado had struck them suddenly, and no one had prepared in the least for it. And in part, perhaps it was so: an uncontrollable force of nature had struck them. And as the fires were put out, the wounded were treated, and the dead identified, all that remained were questions, the most critical being: why?
Matilda wouldn't have a clear answer. She was sitting in her vehicle, still parked in front of what was once Carrie and her mother's home. The paramedics had treated her; her arm was not broken, but she was injured enough to carry it deer and hang from a sling. She also had some gauze covering the cuts on his face. Except for her arm and a few other blows, everything else was superficial.
She was doing nothing in particular right now, other than staring at the police coming and going. The street had filled with dark vans and uniformed officers, almost to chaos. Some had already started going through the rubble, but Matilda did not want to see what they would get out of it.
They had let her sit in her car to rest after treating her injuries. However, a detective asked her not to leave since he would take her statement as soon as she was ready. He wanted to know who she was and what she was doing there exactly; fair enough questions. She should have used that time to think carefully about what she would say and put together a statement that would not compromise her or the Foundation. But she just couldn't think of anything other than the image of Carrie White wholly covered in blood, staring at her full of hatred and yelling at her:
You promised me. You promised you would help me! You promised everything would be okay! Do you think any of this is okay?!
Yes, she promised that. She told her that even if everything was so bad at that time, sooner or later, everything would be different; it would be better. That happened with her, and she was convinced that it would be so with Carrie. But it wasn't, and it never will be; Carrie White will never be better or worse again.
She had failed miserably as how she had never done it. All that disaster, all those deaths, including Carrie's, were due to her being a total failure...
"Nothing of this is your fault," she suddenly heard a voice say right next to her, causing her to shudder in her seat with fright.
She turned stunned to the side, suddenly glimpsing the image of a woman with curly brown hair, thick glasses, and a blue suit, sitting right in the passenger seat. She was looking at her with almost overwhelming seriousness in her eyes.
"Eleven…" Matilda whispered slowly once she could get out of her initial astonishment. "How do you…?" She was going to ask how she got there so soon, but the answer followed when that question was finished in her head. "You're not really here, are you?"
That woman, or rather the projection of herself she was sending for sure from her home in Indiana, nodded slightly.
"This wouldn't be necessary if you answered your phone."
A nervous laugh escaped from the psychiatrist.
"I don't even know where it was…" She dropped her head at that moment, hitting her forehead against the steering wheel. "I can't believe this is happening…"
Eleven sighed heavily.
"I wish you had never had an experience like this. But it was inevitable if you got more involved in this kind of thing. And I'm afraid it might not be the worst you go through."
"Thanks, that helps," Matilda replied remarkably defensively.
"I'm not trying to discourage you but to show you the truth. Everything in this world has a dark side: love, friendship, family... and the Shining too. Not everyone has such a good time when they find out what they can do. Many of us suffer as you cannot imagine, and we need more than words of encouragement to move forward. That's what you should keep from all of this. The rest, let it go."
"Let it go...?" Matilda asked incredulously, pulling her face away from the wheel to look at her.
"You must not regret this. There was nothing you could do in such a short time to prevent it. Nothing of this was your fault, did you hear me? Nothing."
"How can you say that?" The psychiatrist snapped, almost as if the comment offended her. "I saw that anger in her; I saw what she might be capable of. But I didn't do anything; I didn't want to react because…" She hesitated for a few seconds. "I don't know why… I was just too much of a coward. To have done something before, to have decided..."
"Nothing would have changed," Eleven interrupted harshly. "This was meant to happen, with or without you. It is evident that the girl had much more severe problems than you thought, and the damage she had suffered after all these years was much more profound. We're late, that's all. You did everything you could."
Matilda was breathing somewhat agitatedly. She seemed to use all her willpower to keep from crying; she'd been doing it pretty much all night, but at that point, it became almost untenable.
"I can't say that to myself... I can't..."
"You must. If you don't, this guilt will stay with you for the rest of your life. And the only thing you will cause is to affect all the cases that come to you from now on. Let it go. Not now, not tomorrow, but when you're ready."
"Is that what you do when something like this happens to you?" Matilda questioned in a hushed voice, looking uneasily at her former mentor. "You just… let it go…?"
That question seemed to leave Eleven defenseless. She shifted her gaze to the side with a thoughtful gesture, as if looking out the window, although it was difficult to say if she was capable of doing such a thing while being only a projection.
"I know more than anyone in this world that this is easier said than done. But it's necessary."
Quite a practical answer, even a bit cold, undoubtedly inspired by everything she had lived through in her years dealing with such matters. And perhaps if she had seen and lived the same thing as her, she could have done such a thing. But not now, not after she had seen that night. Not after failing Carrie so badly.
She ran her hands over her face and mostly her eyes, wiping away any tiny trace of tears that may have spilled from her.
"I can't do such a thing; I can't ignore what happened," she murmured more decisively, focusing her gaze straight ahead. "I'll never let this happen to another child again. Nevermore…"
* * * *
The black helicopter hovered over that forest in western Maine, lost in the shadows of the moonless night. Its destination was not visible to the naked eye, but on the cockpit GPS dash, the point was clearly marked in front of its current location. Built on the less visible side of a mountain, the helipad they would land was located. As he circled the mountain, the runway became visible to the pilot and the indications that the personnel on it transmitted to him with their signal lights. The helicopter slowly descended towards the surface, stirring the wind with its rotating shafts.
Once the machine was stable on the ground, one of the runway workers rushed to the door so that the only passenger on it would get out. An African American man with a shaved head and a white coat practically jumped out of the helicopter. The propellers still in motion waved his gown, but this gradually subsided after the pilot switched off the engine.
The newcomer calmly walked toward a young man waiting for him at the side of the runway. He was slim and tall, with dark blonde hair cropped at the sides and his presence barely noticeable on top. He was wearing a dark blue military-style suit with black boots, and he stood firmly in place with his hands placed behind his back.
"Welcome, Dr. Shepherd," the man welcomed him in a firm, stoic voice.
"How are you doing, Frankie?" greeted with much enthusiasm the man who hours before had been presented to Lisa Mathews with the name Russell. "How is everything around here?"
They both began to walk side by side towards what appeared to be an elevator door, practically placed on the mountain wall as if it were an object totally out of place. There were five others equal lined up beside it. Once close, the blond man passed his badge over an electronic reader located to the side of the door, and it opened automatically, revealing the interior of a spacious, clean elevator with an almost blinding white light.
"We have heard that the deployment of agents in Portland continues because of what happened at that the hospital," Frankie commented in a slightly belated response to his last question.
"Oh, that," Russel muttered, not really showing much interest in the comment. They both entered the elevator, and inside Frankie swiped his badge over another reader. Then, in the board's options, he pressed the button for Level -5, and the elevator began to travel a long way down. "That isn't our business; let our handsome armed friends take care of that. We are only interested in science."
"As you say, sir," Frankie replied without much enthusiasm, to which Russel only snorted in resignation.
They didn't talk much until the elevator reached its destination, mainly because Frankie was not the slightest bit of a suitable contact person. Upon reaching Level -5, the doors opened. Both men entered a long, white-list corridor, with numbered doors on each side, each with its respective electronic reader to one side. They walked down the silent hall; the sound of Frankie's heavy boots against the shiny, freshly polished floor echoed loudly. They stopped at the door a little before the middle of the hall, with large black numbers on it: 5016. Frankie once again swiped his badge across the reader, and the door latch was heard unlocked.
Russel Shepherd entered first. The room was large, square, lit with more white fluorescent light from the ceiling. In general, it appeared to be a simple hospital room, with its modern gurney, its lectern with its bags of saline and medicine hanging down, and its electronic devices for measuring the vital signs of the patient lying on the gurney. There were some couches and a couple of chairs, and even a television that was broadcasting a baseball game at that moment.
However, the appliances around the gurney were much more sophisticated than those in a conventional hospital room. On the different screens, they could monitor practically everything: heart rate, brain activity, oxygenation levels, and everything seemed to be stable. There was also a mirror on the left side wall, clearly double so that the room could be seen from the next, plus four cameras, one in each corner of the room.
The baseball game on television was not for the patient. She lay totally unconscious and had been so for a very long time. The one who saw it at the time was a man with Asian features, sitting in one of the chairs to one side of the gurney. He wore a white coat and thick black-rimmed glasses. On his legs, he held a support board with some papers hooked to it. As soon as he heard the door open, he turned his gaze slightly to it, recognized the two men entering, and almost automatically looked back at the television.
"Good evening, Dr. Takashiro," Russel greeted him with the same enthusiasm he had greeted Frankie. Still, he received a somewhat similar response in return.
"Good evening, sir," the man in the chair murmured in a muffled voice.
Russel approached the gurney while Frankie stood in front of the door, again standing firm and his arms behind his back.
"And how is my special girl?" Russel asked, looking at the patient with a wide smile.
Takashiro shrugged while still watching the game.
"Same as always, no news."
"It was a rhetorical question… or something," Russel commented with slight annoyance. Then he looked at both the man in the chair and Frankie accusingly. "Do you two share a sense of humor or what?"
No one answered anything.
He leaned forward a little to better see the person who was resting there, face-up, totally still, with her eyes closed and her breathing barely perceptible. She wore a greenish hospital gown that covered her slim body. Her lips were a bit dry, and her reddish-blonde hair was a bit matted and greasy. Her face looked pale but calm as if she was just taking a nap, a long nap of more than four years.
"Good night, Carrietta," he whispered slowly, as if afraid of waking her if he raised his voice too much. "I have good news for you: I think I just found you a new friend. I hope you both get along very well..."
The girl on the gurney did not react in any way. She stood as still as she had been, ever since she was pulled from the rubble of what was once her home in Chamberlain, Maine.
END OF CHAPTER 40
Hello everyone who reads this translation. Sorry for the long wait to publish this chapter. It has been a complicated few months, and many of my energies and time have gone to continue the Spanish version, which with great emotion, I inform you that it is about to reach its Chapter 100. I want to thank you too because it is also thanks to the support and interest of all of you who read the English version that I have been able to go so far. I hope one day to be able to share with you all these most recent chapters as well.
Like the previous chapters, this chapter relied heavily on the three film versions of Carrie (mainly the one from 2013), also taking on some aspects of the original novel. As you can guess, the last scene is an addition of my pate, accompanied by a surprise that we will develop and explore more in later chapters, including the new characters that were introduced in it. But for now, we'll let Carrie White rest.
In the next chapter, we will return to the present (although the last scene already occurs in this one). We will continue with Matilda, Cole, and Cody right where we left off.