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Wednesday, 17 June 2015

The Pill Bugs of Time by Angel Martinez

(Part of the Offbeat Crimes series)

Vikash Soren, the perfect police officer except for his odd paranormal ability, never seems to lose his temper. Always serene and competent, he’s taken on the role of mediator in a squad room full of misfits. But on the inside, he’s a mess. Unable to tell his police partner that he loves him, Vikash struggles silently, terrified of losing Kyle Monroe as a lover, partner, and friend.

But life in Philadelphia’s 77th Precinct doesn’t leave much room for internal reflection. A confrontation with a stick-throwing tumbleweed in Fairmount Park leads to bizarre consequences involving pill bugs, statues, and...time travel?

If Vikash manages to survive the week and stay in one point in time, he might be able to address normal things like relationship problems. He just needs Kyle to have a little more patience. Maybe a few centuries worth...

Genres: Gay/Contemporary/Paranormal/Time Travel/Romantic Comedy/Action/Adventure/Series
Heat Level: 2
Length: Novella (24k words) 

Read a short excerpt...

...Between one word and the next, Kyle’s voice cut off. The park vanished and Vikash stood blinking in a place of blinding light and strange sounds.

“Kyle?” he called out in helpless anguish, choking on his fear. Something had happened. He was hallucinating as Vance had been. Stand still. Just stand still and let Kyle come and collect you. Don’t panic. This has to be temporary.

“Greets. Do you need help?”

Vikash startled and spun toward the voice. A vision in a loose flowing robe stood beside him, smiling, green eyes gazing at him with guileless compassion. Long red hair tumbled over the vision’s shoulders and though Vikash found himself unable to parse gender, the person’s face was achingly familiar. “Kyle?”

“No. I’m Cirrus. But I could be Kyle if you wanted me to be.” Cirrus laughed, and even the low, sensual sound was like Kyle’s when he was flirting. “Are you a reenactor? Did you get separated from your vid crew?”

“Ah. Hmm.” Vikash took in his surroundings now that his eyes had adjusted, feeling stupider by the moment. They stood on a gleaming white porcelain-like surface that moved smoothly under their feet. Huge spires of glass and chrome soared overhead, occupying most of the sky. What little sky he could see was an unrelenting blue even more painfully bright than the winter sky he had just left behind in the park.

“You’re really lost, aren’t you?”

“Lost. Yes,” Vikash murmured as they passed a window display of colored, porous blocks.

“Oh, you’re hungry! That explains the glassy-eyed look.” Cirrus’s laugh was brighter this time, happy and uninhibited. He…she…grabbed Vikash’s hand and hurried down the moving sidewalk. “You don’t want to eat there. The prots are way too chalky. I know a place where the food is to die for.”

Unable to come up with a good argument, Vikash allowed the towing. Other pedestrians stared, but they seemed more intrigued than hostile and their attention focused on his uniform rather than the joined hands. “I…where?”

“Where are we going? Just around the corner. It’s not far.”

“No, where…” I don’t want to ask this question. I really don’t. “Where am I?”

Cirrus stopped and considered him a moment. “You mean what street?”

“Am I still on Earth?”

The next laugh cut off on a shocked exclamation. “You’re serious, aren’t you?” Cirrus turned his hand over, stroking the skin of his wrist carefully. “Did you take something new today? You really shouldn’t take drugs from strangers.”

“No…” Vikash took in the people rushing past, some in simple robes like his guide, many in no more than what amounted to shiny Brazilian thongs. “I think I’ve been…displaced somehow. Philadelphia. That’s where I was last.”

“This is Philadelphia.” Cirrus’s eyes narrowed. “I bet I know what this is. You’re doing a historical piece. Twentieth, twenty-first century maybe? And they have some new skin tabs that’ll get you all the way in character. But you got away from your crew. Poor thing. No wonder you’re all disoriented.”


“That’s right.”

“What century is this?”

“Twenty-third, silly. No, I’m sorry.” Cirrus took his hand again and resumed their hurried pace. “That’s not fair. You don’t know that right now. Look, I’ll stay with you and if it doesn’t wear off in a couple of hours, we’ll get you to a care center. Look, you don’t have an emergency contact on your implants somewhere?”


“They were thorough, I’ll give them that. I’m going to have a few words for your crew when we find them.” Cirrus flashed him another unnervingly Kyle-esque smile before tugging him toward what appeared to be a solid pane of glass.

Vikash balked, pulling back until Cirrus’s leading hand and shoulder passed through the barrier. “How…” But how did you know that was a door seemed too ridiculous a question to ask, so he shut up in favor of observing. If he truly had slipped through time somehow, he needed to learn quickly, to cling to small familiarities, or go mad...

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