Vincent One-shot for October 21

Vincent fell out of bed.

It was about 9 in the morning. That wasn’t a bad time to be awake. Vincent looked out the window, and thought about the color pink, for some reason. He wandered around his room a bit, when his phone pinged. He required a headset.

“Vincent! Hey, it’s Director Wraith. We’ve got a situation in California that’s right up your alley.”

“I hate it when you say something’s right up my alley. It usually means ‘we’ve thrown everything else at it, and have no fucking clue what we’re doing.’ But that is kinda my specialty.”

“Yes, fine, whatever. You ready for a shift?”

“Yep.”

Vincent’s room blurred into a small courtyard park. He took a look around, taking in everything about his new location.

It was a nice looking town. There was a movie theater, some kids playing on the other side of the park, a few convenience stores. The Regional Director was to Vincent’s left.

“So, what’s the deal here?”

“We’re not completely sure. There have been random storms that seem to be completely isolated to just a few square feet. Not much bigger than a small car. They show up, then vanish completely moments later. None last longer than a full minute.”

“Have you sent anything into one?”

“We’ve tried, but never got to one in time to send anything like a drone in.”

“Fine, I’ll see what I can do.”

Immediately after finishing that sentence, there was what sounded like an explosion, and a small cloud appeared in front of them, glowing occasionally from what appeared to be lightning strikes inside it. Vincent shrugged.

“Well, then. That makes this easier.”

Vincent required a slice of bread, and threw it as hard as he could into the cloud. Wraith just rolled his eyes.

“Bread, Vincent?”

“Yeah, it’s soft enough to not hurt anyone, and solid enough to show any sort of effects, should anything other than being eaten happen to it.”

The cloud vanished, just as loudly and suddenly as it appeared. Vincent shrugged again.

“I suppose I’ll go look for more of these.”

“Let me know if you find anything out.”

“Will do, boss.”

The Director shifted away, and Vincent walked a few steps forward, heading out into the town to look for any sort of-

There was a soft thunk as a slice of bread hit Vincent in the back of the head. He poked his headset.

“Hey, boss, they’re apparently fluctuations in time.”

“How do you figure that? And how did you figure that out so damn fast?”

“I got struck by miraculous insight. Also, a third of a sandwich hit me in the head as I walked past where the cloud we saw was.”

“Shit. That can’t be good.”

“Yeah, no kidding. If Time’s messing around here, we’re in trouble. It could be anything, and we’d have to be five minutes ahead to even know what hit us.”

“Well, I’ll get some people on it. Meanwhile, try not to end up in the middle ages or something. I don’t even know how Time would react to you.”

“If I piss him off enough, ideally, he’ll just send me to the year I was born, and let me fuck up my own birth.”

“We both know that’s a lot more complicated than that.”

“Well, yeah, but I wouldn’t mind playing an original copy of Super Mario again.”

“Fair enough.”

“I’ll keep you updated in as real-time as I can manage. Hopefully, you won’t get a message from me any later than ten minutes ago.”

Vincent required a watch with the local time, and another watch set to Brisbane and Denver time. According to the local watch, it was 4:27 PM. He watched it count a few seconds to ensure it was working properly, then turned around to walk back to where he was shifted in.

“Huh, how’d I miss that?”

There was a clock tower taking up almost all of his view.

“Well, if Time’s fucking around in the area, you’d think a clock tower would be something he was trying not to target.”

Vincent, you’re forgetting something. Where are you?

“I’m in California. Nice place, really. Never too cold here. Shouldn’t be too far from a beach, now that you ment-”

There was another explosion, and this time, Vincent was flung onto his back.

He rolled backwards, recovering as quickly as possible, taking a good look at whatever caused the time fluctuation.

It was a car. A grey one. Vincent knocked on the driver’s window.

“Hi, I’m Vincent. I’m new around here, could you tell me where I am?”

“If my calculations are correct, you should be in Hill Valley, California, on Wednesday, October 21, at 4:29PM.”

“Thanks, Doc.”

TL;DR: Gimme your money

So here’s the deal. I’ve been out of work for two months now – I’m approaching somewhere in the vicinity of 700 jobs applied for (and that’s just the ones my email filter catches), and I’m reaching my panic point.

With the way the job market is, there’s 200-500 applicants for every job out there (so say my recruitment agencies), so no matter the amount of mad skillz you have, you’re likely competing against someone who is just a little bit shinier than you.

So, as it stands, begging on the internet seems like it’s going to bring me closer to paying the rent than sitting on the job sites for another two hours (who am I kidding? I’m F5’ing every five minutes to see what new jobs are available).

This, however, has given me a lot of writing time (in between sessions where I can’t stop freaking the fuck out) and going for interviews at jobs I’m overqualified for (who never want to hire you because they think you’re going to get bored).

Finding a Signal is nearly complete – there’s currently another 15 chapters scheduled and ready to go, and after I fill a small gap, there’s an additional 12 chapters ready to be scheduled. By early August at the latest, this whole book will be scheduled and waiting for Friday each week to hit your eyes. 🙂

This will, of course, give me time to get a head start on Ebb and Flow…of which I’ve already written 30k.

Book #6 – currently titled “The Golden Court” is going to be a tonne of fun – it replaces The Grey Edge as the first Mags-led book in the series, but instead of Magpie drama, our favourite violent duo get blown sideways into the Faerie equivalent of Atlantis – somewhere lost to antiquity and fiction.

But yeah, to get back to the money thing. Across the newsletters, Facebook and the main site, I’ve got a lot of people who…hopefully enjoy reading about a smelly hacker and her “I made it myself” family.

If everyone chipped in $5/month on Patreon…we’d be laughing. I’d be able to write full time, move the release schedule up to two (or even three) chapters a week and look at releasing a new short or novella each month.

There’s also other things I’d love to be able to do – bring back the RP (though take a step back from it, so that I’m not active in every thread); do Chracter Q&A days; write Cookieverse history pieces; and maybe even pay the other idiots who are wanting to write Cookie-related stories (I have three people waiting in the wings who have their own awesome stories to share).

The dream: Cookie content every day of the week.
The current reality: desperately hoping I can make September’s rent.

The incentives for you:

  • You feel good.
  • You help me.

Hm…not good enough?

Every Patreon sponsor will get all ebooks we release for free.

And more things are coming via Patreon, once we get the hang of it.

There’s your carrot, now come and donate. Plz?

Donate Now

08 – New Home

Within five minutes, Jones had confirmed Raz was happy with the lab coat and had issued him his first set of goggles.

Hands shaking with all the fear, excitement, and trepidation his body could manage, Raz followed Jones through one of the tech floors – this one dedicated to the laboratory work.

‘Technically you can use any of the labs. They’re like hot desks that way,’ Jones said. ‘But it’s always a courtesy to let people use their favourite lab, as it means you don’t have to load your settings each time.’

‘Huh?’ he asked, then cursed himself for his lack of eloquence.

Jones turned, held up a small billfold, and flipped it open, and Raz found his own face staring back at him. ‘This is your ID, by the way.’

Raz accepted it and looked at the picture inside – one they’d never asked him to stand for.

It was definitely him, and he looked all sensible and ready for work.

One thing struck him, however, and it slid straight into his heart. He was primarily identified as “Recruit Raz”. He looked up at the agent. ‘Um, Jonesy?’

‘Here,’ Jones said, ‘we go by the names we respond to.’ He waved his hand vaguely.

‘Except in rare circumstances, agents, for example, are born with one name. A lot do tend to pick up either a first name or a last name, depending on what they feel is appropriate. Hell, in some naming schemes, one is expected to have multiple names, so in those cases, they tend to take on the names of senior agents around them, further proving the idea that we are to be family. For recruits…’ Jones smiled. ‘You now have reasonable authority to order most Australian citizens around, up to and including the prime minister, if the circumstances warrant.’

The agent’s face pinched. ‘Don’t do it unless you have to – we don’t want the ramifications of that. But until it gets to some stupid point – you’ve got the ID, you’ve got the authority, so who cares if some muggle wants to argue about your name?’

Raz nodded, grateful that it wasn’t a problem.

‘Now,’ Jones said, ‘how are you with crowds? We like to have a welcoming party, but if that’s too much for you, we’ll forgo it in favour of a small orientation group.’

‘I’m okay,’ he said slowly, ‘so long as I don’t have interact too much.’

‘My kids don’t eat people,’ Jones said, ‘I’ll introduce you, then they tend to break into their own groups.’

‘Okay,’ Raz said with a nod, ‘then I’ll try.’

‘Oh,’ Jones said, holding out a name tag. ‘Just require the appropriate–’

‘I can’t require yet,’ he said quickly, if reproachfully.

‘Oh, right,’ Jones said, looking embarrassed. ‘Name’s easy. Pronouns?’

‘Male.’

‘Any pride flag you want to pledge allegiance to?’

Raz scuffed his feet against the floor. ‘I’m gay, so the full rainbow,’ he said. ‘But is that going to cause a problem?’

The agent made a dismissive noise. ‘It’s hard for queerphobes to last in here.’ Jones slapped the label onto Raz’s chest – all his pertinent information there for everyone to see.

Socialisation. He could do this.

Jones led him to a large room. There was no attempt at surprise – the sounds of people chatting and music could be heard all the way down the hall. When they walked in, there was some semblance of quiet.

The agent raised his hands. ‘Raz, this is everyone. Everyone, this is Raz.’ He pointed.

‘Sacha, you just need a Milla, and you’ve got the full team.’

A tall, good-looking black man in a skirt stepped forward. Raz quickly looked at the man’s tag and saw the genderqueer flag, along with “He?” in the pronoun box. Sacha smiled.

‘Welcome, Razputin.’

‘Raz will be joining the lab team. I’ll mostly have him doing blood work to start with, so lay off the vampire jokes. Remember rule eleven: don’t break the n00bs.’

The assembled recruits gave shouts and waves of greeting, and unceremoniously, everyone broke apart and began to swarm the buffet tables.

Sacha, however, stayed. ‘You look…a little overwhelmed,’ he said, a definite touch of a German accent in his voice.

‘I am,’ Raz assented as Jones entered the fray, aimed at a large cake. ‘This is all– I didn’t believe in magic a week ago.’

‘I’ll tell you,’ Sacha said, handing him a plate, ‘the wonder never truly goes away. I’ve been a recruit for fifteen years, and I still get pwned by it every so often.’ He offered a hand. ‘I’m the overall head of the phone bank teams, which sounds slightly better than saying I’m the call centre manager. Stop on by during the afternoon. It’s usually pretty quiet, and I can help with the newbie jitters.’

‘You don’t get him all to yourself, Sach,’ said a bright voice – a voice attached to a fat, twenty-something white girl, who was coming over with a plate of spring rolls and cake.

Raz couldn’t take his eyes off her bright purple hair.

‘Screen,’ she said, pointing at the name tag that was stuck to her generous chest. ‘Operator extraordinaire, and some minor R&D. You need cake. It’s fucking brilliant.’

He didn’t argue as the girl and his fellow Psychonaut pulled him into the food swarm.