Carrie Chapter Eight

Carrie Chapter Eight

She lay on her bed, looking at the ceiling, sweating.

‘Carrie! Supper!’

‘Thank you,

(i am not afraid)

Momma.’

She got up and fixed her hair with a dark-blue headband. Then she went downstairs

From The Shadow Exploded (p. 59):

How apparent was Carrie’s ‘wild talent’ and what did Margaret White, with her extreme Christian ethic, think of it? We shall probably never know. But one is tempted to believe that Mrs White’s reaction must have been extreme …

‘You haven’t touched your pie, Carrie.’ Momma looked up from the tract she had been perusing while she drank her Constant Comment. ‘It’s homemade.’

‘It makes me have pimples, Momma.’

‘Your pimples are the Lord’s way of chastising you. Now eat your pie.’

‘Momma?’

‘Yes?’

Carrie plunged. ‘I’ve been invited to the Spring Ball next Friday by Tommy Ross-‘

The tract was forgotten. Momma was staring at her with wide my ears-are-deceiving-me eyes. Her nostrils flared like those of a horse that has heard the dry rattle of a snake.

Carrie tried to swallow an obstruction and only

(i am not afraid o yes i am)

got rid of part of it.

‘-and he’s a very nice boy. He’s promised to stop in and meet you before and-‘

‘No.’

‘-to have me in by eleven. I’ve-‘

‘No, no, no!’

‘-accepted. Momma, please see that I have to start to, to try and get along with the world. I’m not like you. I’m funny – I mean, the kids think I’m funny. I don’t want to be. I want to try and be a whole person before it’s too late to-‘

Mrs White threw her tea in Carrie’s face.

It was only lukewarm, but it could not have shut of Carrie’s words more suddenly if it had been scalding. She sat numbly, the amber fluid dripping from her chin and cheeks on to her white blouse, spreading. It was sticky and smelled like cinnamon.

Mrs White sat trembling, her face frozen except for her nostrils, which continued to flare. Abruptly she threw back her head and screamed at the ceiling.

‘God! God! God!’ Her jaw snapped brutally over each syllable.

Carrie sat without moving.

Mrs White got up and came around the table. Her hands were hooked into shaking claws. Her face bore a half-mad expression of compassion mixed with hate.

‘The closet,’ she said. ‘Go to your closet and pray.’

‘No, Momma.’

‘Boys. Yes, boys come next. After the blood the boys come. Like sniffing dogs, grinning and slobbering, trying to find out where that smell is. That … smell!’

She swung her whole arm into the blow, and the sound of her palm against Carrie’s face

(o god i am so afraid now)

was like that flat sound of a leather belt being snapped in air. Carrie remained seated, although her upper body swayed. The mark on her cheek was first white, then blood red.

‘The mark,’ Mrs White said. Her eyes were large but blank, she was breathing in rapid, snatching gulps of air. She seemed to be talking to herself as the claw hand descended on to Carrie’s shoulder and pulled her out of her chair.

‘I’ve seen it, all right. Oh yes. But. I. Never. Did. But for him. He. Took. Me . . .’ She paused, her eyes wandering vaguely toward the ceiling. Carrie was terrified. Momma seemed in the throes of some great revelation which might destroy her.

‘Momma-‘

‘In cars. Oh, I know where they take you in their arms. City limits. Roadhouses. Whiskey. Smelling … oh they smell it on you!’ Her voice rose to a scream. Tendons stood out on her neck, and her head twisted in a questing upward rotation.

‘Momma, you better stop.’

This seemed to snap her back to some kind of hazy reality. Her lips twitched in a kind of elementary surprise and she halted, as if groping for old bearings in a new world.

‘The closet,’ she, muttered. ‘Go to your closet and pray.

‘No.’

Momma raised her hand to strike.

‘No!’

The hand stopped in the dead air. Momma stared up at it, as if to confirm that it was still there, and whole.

The pie pan suddenly rose from the trivet on the table and hurled itself across the room to impact beside the living-room door in a splash of blueberry drool.

‘I’m going, Momma!’

Momma’s overturned teacup rose and flew past her head to shatter above the stove. Momma shrieked and dropped to her knees with her hands over her head.

‘Devil’s child,’ she moaned. ‘Devil’s child. Satan spawn-‘

‘Momma, stand up.’

‘Lust and licentiousness, the cravings of the flesh-‘

‘Stand up!’

Momma’s voice faded her but she did stand up, with her hands still on her head, like a prisoner of war.

Her lips moved. To Carrie she seemed to be reciting the Lord’s ]Prayer.

‘I don’t want to fight with you, Momma,’ Carrie said, and her voice almost broke from her and dissolved. She struggled to control it. ‘I only want to be let to live my own life. I… I don’t like yours.’ She stopped, horrified in spite of herself. The ultimate blasphemy had been spoken, and it was a thousand times worse than the Eff Word.

‘Witch,’ Momma whispered. ‘It says in the Lord’s Book: “Thou shalt not suffer a witch to bye.” Your father did the Lord’s work-‘

‘I don’t want to talk about that,’ Carrie said. It always disturbed her to hear Momma talk about her father. ‘I just want you to understand that things are going to change around here, Momma.’ Her eyes gleamed. ‘They better understand it, too.’

But Momma was whispering to herself again.

Unsatisfied, with a feeling of anticlimax in her throat and the dismal rolling of emotional upset in her belly, she went to the cellar to get her dress material.

It was better than the closet. There was that. Anything was better than the closet with its blue light and the overpowering stench of sweat and her own sin. Anything. Everything.

She stood with the wrapped package hugged against her breast and closed her eyes, shutting out the weak glow of the cellar’s bare, cobweb-festooned bulb. Tommy Ross didn’t love her, she knew that. This was some strange kind of atonement, and she could understand that and respond to it. She had lain cheek and jowl with the concept of penance since she had been old enough to reason.

He had said it would be good-that they would see to it. Well, she would see to it. They better not start anything. They just better not. She did not know if her gift had come from the lord of light or of darkness, and now, finally finding that she did not care which, she was overcome with an almost indescribable relief, as if a huge weight, long carried, had slipped from her shoulders.

Upstairs, Momma continued to whisper. It was not the Lord’s Prayer. It was the Prayer of Exorcism from Deuteronomy.

From My Name Is Susan Snell (p. 23):

They finally even made a movie about it. I saw it last April. When I came out, I was sick. Whenever anything important happens in America, they have to gold-plate it, like baby shoes. That way you can forget it. And forgetting Carrie White may be a bigger mistake than anyone realizes …

Monday morning: Principal Grayle and his understudy, Pete Morton, were having coffee in Grayle’s office.

‘No word from Hargensen yet?’ Morty asked. His lips curled into a John Wayne leer that was a little frightened around the edges.

‘Not a peep. And Christine has stopped lipping off about how her father is going to send us down the road.’ Grayle blew on his coffee with a long face.

‘You don’t exactly seem to be turning cartwheels.’

‘I’m not. Did you know Carrie White is going to the prom?’

Morty blinked. ‘With who? The Beak?’ The Beak was Freddy Holt, another of Ewen’s misfits. He weighed perhaps one hundred pounds soaking wet, and the casual observer might be tempted to believe that sixty of it was nose.

‘No,’ Grayle said. ‘With Tommy Ross.’

Morty swallowed his coffee the wrong way and went into a coughing fit.

‘That’s the way I felt,’ Grayle said.

‘What about his girl friend? The little Snell girl?’

I think she put him up to it,’ Grayle said. ‘She certainly seemed guilty enough about what happened to Carrie when I talked to her. Now she’s on the Decoration Committee, happy as a clam, just as if not going to her Senior prom was nothing at all.’

‘Oh,’ Morty said wisely.

‘And Hargensen – I think he must have talked to some people and discovered we really could sue him on behalf of Carrie White if we wanted to. I think he’s cut his losses. It’s the daughter that’s worrying me.’

‘Do you think there’s going to be an incident Friday night?’

‘I don’t know. I do know Chris has got a lot of friends who are going to be there. And she’s going around with that Billy Nolan mess; he’s got a zooful of friends, too. The kind that make a career out of scaring pregnant ladies. Chris Hargensen has him tied around her finger, from what I’ve heard.’

‘Are you afraid of anything specific?’

Grayle made a restless gesture. ‘Specific? No. But I’ve been in the game long enough to know it’s a bad situation. Do you remember the Stadler game in seventy-six?’

Morty nodded. It would take more than the passage of three years to obscure the memory of the Ewen-Stadler game. Bruce Trevor had been a marginal student but a fantastic basketball player. Coach Gaines didn’t like him, but Trevor was going to put Ewen in the area tournament for the first time in ten years. He was cut from the team a week before Ewen’s but must-win game against the Stadler Bobcats. A regular announced locker inspection had uncovered a kilo of marijuana behind Trevor’s civic book. Ewen lost the game – and their shot at the tourney – 104-48. But no one remembered that; what they remembered was the riot that had interrupted the game in the fourth period. Led by Bruce Trevor, who righteously claimed he had been bum rapped, it resulted in four hospital admissions. One of them had been the Stadler coach, who had been hit over the head with a first-aid kit.

‘I’ve got that kind of feeling,’ Grayle said. ‘A hunch. Someone’s going to come with rotten apples or something.’

‘Maybe you’re psychic,’ Morty said.

From The Shadow Exploded (pp. 92-93):

It is now generally agreed that the TK phenomenon is a geneticrecessive occurrence – but the opposite of a disease like haemophilia, which becomes overt only in males. In that disease, once called ‘King’s Evil,’ the gene is recessive in the female and is carried harmlessly. Male offspring, however, are ‘bleeders.’ This disease is generated only if an afflicted male marries a woman carrying the recessive gene. If the offspring of such union is male, the result will be a haemophiliac son. If the offspring is female, the result will be a daughter who is a carrier. It should be emphasized that the haemophilia gene may be carried recessively in the male as a part of his genetic make-up. But if he marries a woman with the same outlaw gene, the result will be haemophilia if the offspring is male.

In the case of royal families, where intermarriage was common, the chances of the gene reproducing once it entered the family tree were high – thus the name King’s Evil. Haemophilia also showed up in significant quantities in Appalachia during the earlier part of this century, and is commonly noticed in those cultures where incest and the marriage of first cousins is common.

With the TK phenomenon, the male appears to be the carrier.. the TK gene may be recessive in the female, but dominates only in the female. It appears that Ralph White carried the gene. Margaret Brigham, by purest name, also carried the outlaw gene sign, but we may be fairly confident that it was recessive, as no information has ever been found to indicate that she had telekinetic powers resembling her daughter’s. Investigations are now being conducted into the life of Margaret Brigham’s grandmother, Sadie Cochran – for, if the dominant/recessive pattern obtains with TK as it does with haemophilia, Mrs Cochran must have been TK-dominant.

If the issue of the White marriage had been male, the result would have been another carrier. Chances that the mutation would have died with him would have been excellent, as neither side of the Ralph White – Margaret Brigham alliance had cousins of a comparable age for the theoretical male offspring to marry. And the chances of meeting and marrying another woman with TK gene at random would be small. None of the teams working on the problem have yet isolated the gene.

Surely no one can doubt, in light of the Maine holocaust, that isolating this gene must become one of medicine’s number-one priorities. The haemophiliac, or H-gene, produces male issue with a lack of blood platelets. The telekineticn or TK-gene, produces female Typhoid Marys capable of destroying almost at will …

Wednesday afternoon.

Susan and fourteen other students – The Spring Ball Decoration Committee, no less – were working on the huge mural that would hang behind the twin bandstand on Friday night. The theme was Springtime in Venice (who picked thew hokey themes, Sue wondered. She had been a student at Ewen for four years, had after two Balls, and she still didn’t know. Why did the goddam thing need a theme, anyway? Why not just have a sock hop and be done with W): George Chizmar, Ewen’s most artistic student, had done a small chalk sketch of gondolas on a canal at sunset and a gondolier in a huge straw fedora leaning against the tiller as a gorgeous panoply of pinks and reds and oranges stained both sky and water. It was beautiful, no doubt about that. He had redrawn it in silhouette on a huge fourteen-by-twenty-foot canvas flat, numbering the various sections to go with the various chalk hues. Now the Committee was patiently colouring it in, like children crawling over a huge page in a giant’s colouring book. Still, Sue thought, looking at her hands and forearms, both heavily dusted with pink chalk, it was going to be the prettiest prom ever.

Next to her, Helen Shyres sat up on her haunches, stretched, and groaned as her back popped. She brushed a hank of hair from her forehead with the back of her hand, leaving a rose-coloured smear.

‘How in hell did you talk me into this?’

‘You want it to be nice, don’t you?’ Sue mimicked Miss Geer, the spinster chairman (apt enough term for Miss Mustache) of the Decoration Committee.

‘Yeah, but why not the refreshment Committee or the Entertainment Committee? Less back, more mind. The mind, that’s my area. Besides, you’re not even -‘ She bit down on the words.

‘Going?’ Susan shrugged and picked up her chalk again. She had a monstrous writer’s cramp. ‘No, but I still want it to be nice.’ She added shyly: ‘Tommy’s going.’

They worked in silence for a bit, and then Helen stopped again. No one was near them; the closest was Holly Marshall, on the other end of the mural, colouring the gondola’s keel.

‘Can I ask you about it, Sue?’ Helen asked finally. ‘God, everybody’s talking.’

‘Sure.’ Sue stopped colouring and flexed her hand.

‘Maybe I ought to tell someone, just so the story stays straight. I asked Tommy to take Carrie. I’m hoping it’ll bring her out of herself a little … knock down some of the barriers. I think I owe her that much.’

‘Whom does that put the rest of us?’ Helen asked without rancour.

Sue shrugged. ‘You have to make up your own mind about what we did, Helen. I’m in no position to throw stones. But I don’t want people to think I’m uh …’