Jump to content

Part One - The existential dread of the White Box Building


Recommended Posts

Great world-breaking events that shatter a person's world should happen in dramatically appropriate places, not the local DMV building! 


It wasn't even an exciting building, a square two-story building sitting squarely with space around it from parking. At least it was a nice shade of white, allowing it to maybe shine a little if the sun ever decided to come from behind the cloud, not even having enough drama to rain dramatically.


Still, the note you've received, that you're not quite sure how you came across, told you to be here at this place at this time and for once curiosity got the better of you...

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Michael spent all night staring at the computer screen searching for the bug, the reason the newest machine learning algorithm wasn't learning. DARPA wanted its program and he wanted to keep the contract, so he put in the extra hours and drank the extra coffee. He couldn't find the bug. He walked to the kitchen to refill his coffee mug and took a small break. Resting his coffee on the table, hands in his pocket, he leaned against the table feeling sorry for himself. What's this? He felt something in his pocket. Nothing should be there. A note. Another appointment he forgot. He checked the time. He had time. He hopped in the shower, got dressed in his standard black and white suit, and hopped into his car.


The DMV. This had better not be about a ticket. He walked into the building. He waited his turn in line at the window.


He said, "Hi my name is Michael Tanner and I have an appointment to see someone here, I didn't write down the name," when his turn at the window came up.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Jane hasn't been in mortal danger even once today, and accordingly, she's painfully bored. The only consolation is that at the DMV, she'll have that in common with absolutely everyone else there, and that's not much of one. Either way, she's against the DMV on principle, since their whole purpose is to take something cool and dangerous and fast-moving like motor vehicles and try to make them as boring and, well, pedestrian as possible. Now that's just wrong, by Jane's way of looking at it...


Still, a mysterious note offers at least some excitement. Maybe it will be from some deranged online stalker that she'll have to escape from in a daring race of inner-city parkour. Okay, probably not, but a girl can dream.


So far, though, she's encountered nothing more adventurous than being stuck in line behind some suit-wearing nerd type (albeit one who seems to be in considerably better shape than most of his pencil-necked peers). Jane sighs maybe a little too loudly and taps her foot against the floor in a restles rhythm. Come on, come on, come on, something happen already...

Link to comment
Share on other sites

It had sounded like a good idea, at the time...

Participate in the MREP - Military Reserve Exchange Program - then stay a couple weeks longer and use up some of the accumulated holiday and overtime compensation.

Do some sightseeing. 

Have a good time.


Thinking about it, it still sounded fine and probably would have been fine for most people. For an introvert - not so much.

Martin had done the local 'must see' sightseeing; he'd been to diners, shopping centres and even a theater. He'd taken rides on taxis and been to a farmer's market. He had two memory cards full of pictures to show (plus the MREP one, but that was work). In short, he'd done everything a tourist could do without getting in contact with strangers. And that was the crux. 

It wasn't that he had inhibitions to speak English; he had understood the waiters and tourist guides and had had done some small talk with them. He'd asked strangers for directions (which had made him uncomfortable but apparently, people expected tourists to be either a bit slow or just crazily 'foreign', so it had worked out) but that was all. Striking up a conversation - that was where he'd failed. 


Returning to his room, Martin planned to watch some TV (one of his biggest culture shocks; most everything else was largely familiar, albeit upscaled by a factor of two to five... or ten) and see if the tourist guide did have some compelling idea for the following day.

The note lying on the carpet made him frown; slightly too far to have been slipped under the door, on the ground instead on the table, so probably not placed there by the hotel staff.

Shrugging, Martin picked it up and read it before getting his phone, connecting to the hotel's WIFI, and checking the location.

Department of Motor Vehicle ? Grated, he'd rented a car for a couple days and would likely do so again but... shouldn't his Swiss driver's licence be sufficient for that ?


The prospect of navigating through pages upon pages of legalese on governmental pages didn't exactly sound alluring so Martin decided to just show up on the indicated time and see what was up. If necessary, he could play up his tourist status - aka play dumb - trying to get whatever it was resolved. 




Well, if all DMVs looked like that, it was no wonder Holywood usually chose different places for movies. A non-descript, two storey building that would fit into the scenery in Bern as well as all but in the tiniest villages. Mentally shrugging he walked in and looked around, taking a moment to try and make sense of the signs, queues and ticket dispensers before, somewhat hesitantly and with repeat checking of the note, approaching 'his'.


Link to comment
Share on other sites

Telly had been having a rough day.  His dreams had been rough, with what he couldn't remember.  After hitting the off button on his alarm, he'd accidentally fallen back asleep and woke up later than expected.  He'd had enough time to struggle into a set of rumpled clothes before rushing out the door and into morning traffic.  If he skipped his morning coffee run, he'd be able to barely make it into the office in time.


He got to his desk, barely avoiding the supervisor's surly gaze.  Mr. Pellen looked angry today, but then again he was always angry and the techs in office were incessantly gossiping about why.  Today's speculation revolved around a suspiciously new dent in Mr. Pellen's brand new BMW.  Telly knew better than to cross paths with his infuriated manager.  He just wanted to get through the day and go home and play video games.


Before sitting down, the technician emptied his pockets onto his desk.  He dumped everything into a small box he kept for the express purpose of keeping his stuff together.  Then he sat down and began taking calls.


It was almost an hour later that he noticed the crumpled up piece of paper on top of his wallet.  Had that been in his pockets?  He smoothed it out in front of him while simultaneously affirming to his customer that her product had indeed shipped, and that delivery would take several days and not "just a few minutes".  Telly had to read the message a few times before the contents finally broke through the mental barrier he'd erected over the course of the monotonous day.  Oh crap, when did I make this appointment?  I don't even remember why I have to go to the DMV...


He set his status so that calls wouldn't be routed to him and sprinted to his manager.  He knew Pellen wouldn't agree to a day off on such short notice, so he needed a different excuse.  "Mr. Pellen, sir.  I'm not feeling too well.  I've got a bit of a sore throat coming on..."


Pellen didn't even look up.  "That's okay, James.  We'll move you to chat support and you won't have to do any talking."


Exasperation.  "I meant, I think I need to head home for the day."

"I know what you meant, Mr. Tellerheim.  Now get back to your desk.  We have..."  At this, Pellen looked at his computer for a second, then went back to filling out paperwork on his desk.  Not once had he made eye contact with Telly.  "... eight chats awaiting pickup."


Telly knew when Pellen was in a mood that he could be intractable.  So he did the only thing he could think of: he grabbed the wastebasket and faked dry heaving into it.  Pellen was on his feet in an instant, backed into the corner with a pale face.  "Get out of here then!  Go!"


* * * * *


Within the hour he was at the DMV, staring at a slip of paper that said E1038.  He wasn't sure how long he'd be stuck here, waiting for them to call his number.  Bored, his eyes roamed over the crowd before latching onto a blonde girl waiting in line.  Was... was that Jane Singer?  He was subscribed to her YouTube channel.  Her adventures all looked so fun and exciting, he couldn't help but stare in surprise and amazement.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

The coffeemaker in the kitchenette sputtered and spit out a thin black bile into the mug below. Rachel stood at the counter, the odd note in her hand.  She was putting on the her Madame Rostova outfit this morning, getting ready for a scheduled reading with dear old Ms. Shufflett, when she found it in the inside pocket of her knitted vest.  She didn't remember when she got it, but it felt like something she shouldn't ignore.  It was just an address and a time, yet she had the same tingling deep in her gut that usually was a prelude to moving on to the next town before the heat came down.  She drank her coffee and made up her mind.


Forty minutes later she sat outside the official yet boring looking building.  Her Rostova makeup and wig sat on the passenger seat next to her in a makeup bag.  She wasn't sure whom the note had been for, but seeing that it was an official building she knew that it had to be Rachel.  This caused the bad, twisty feeling in her stomach to grow even worse.  There was a never a good reason to need an appointment with authority in her experience.  With reluctance she tucked the note into the front pocket of her overalls, slid her sunglasses on top her head and strode into the building.  There was already a notable line and with a sigh, Rachel took her place in it.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

spacer.png Akhtar knew the intricacies of bureaucracy better than most people, and while he could have sworn he had properly managed the papers related to his foreign driver's license, obviously some twist of fate had thrown a wrench in his plans, or so he thought as he glared at the note he found in his correspondence. Cursing the fools that had probably "lost" his papers, he sighed, and resigned himself to attending the appointment. Depending on the embassy's services for mundane travels was just too much of a bother, he really needed his own freedom.


When he entered the building and noticed the crowd, the diplomat wondered whether he should try to use his status to get a preferential treatment, but turned down the idea. If he did it, he would probably aggravate people needlessly, which in the long run never gave good results. Thankfully he had picked a very thick book on the US Customs and how to navigate that administration. He was set for ours of waiting if needed...

Link to comment
Share on other sites

The DMV and the IRS, twin pillars of order in a world largely subsumed by chaos. Tim was intimately familiarly with the latter, but his acquaintance with the firmer was limited to agonizingly tedious pilgrimages every few years, and for that he was thankful. Of his many ordinary traits, a casual displeasure with the DMV was perhaps the most milquetoast. Still, today he was here for a different reason. Tim had that strange note, and he feared he was being sent on an ADVENTURE. Adventures belonged in stories about other people, he knew, yet somehow this morning had found Tim on his bicycle heading to the DMV, his very choice of locomotion a casual flaring of rebellion against the natural order of the universe. Tim took a ticket (Q1325) and waited. Waiting there was natural at least. He pulled out the NYT crosswords and got to work. He knew a guy who filled out those puzzles with only "meat" and "bone", but Tim thought that wasn't in the spirit of the puzzle and also more than a little disturbing.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Linda was a fairly average woman working an average job at the bank across the street, if it helped she put little hearts over her i’s on the few times she gave a signature. At least in this universe.


Crossing the threshold into the liminal space that was the DMV she began to change into the version trying to get into this world. High heel shoes became cloven feet as her legs shifted to be more like that of goat, adding a few feet as she drew herself to her new height. Her already pale skin took on an ashen-grey sheen as her nails grew into some wicked looking claws. And finally a pair of magnificent backward sweeping horns grew from her head.


This Linda did not put little hearts on her signature.


Whilst those of you in the queue had felt… something… change when she began to transform, some of you might have witnessed this transformation, but everyone else hadn’t noticed until there was an apparent demon in there midst. A few braver security guards tried to attack this demon to be quickly taken down by “Linda” without much effort.


At least the majority of the DMV stood between the window you’d all happened to end up at, though here things were about to get weirder. There was a subtle shift in the woman manning the window, her bored lack of interest tome seemed to shift as she spoke with a different voice.


“Quick through that door, you don’t have much time!”


She pointed to a Staff Only door not that far from you all.



We're working on computer game logic here, any named character is more important than the unnamed masses. You can attack Linda but she has Paragon stats so for now you will loose, she not killing anyone yet so you'll be fine. You'll get you chance with Linda, but not just yet...

Link to comment
Share on other sites

"Holy crap!" Jane exclaims, halfway stunned and halfway excited. This is terrible and all, but at least it's terrible and new, there's no denying that. Big horned demons attacking the DMV? She sure did not see that coming!


She is just about to run over and try some kickboxing moves - she doubts she'll win, but getting yourself killed trying to kick the Devil in the face would get you the most badass eulogy ever - when the woman behind the counter suddenly speaks up. And not to scream and wail and beg God for mercy like one might expect, but calmly and authoritatively and like she knows what she's doing. And, while it would surprise most people to hear it, Jane is actually not very assertive. She'll happily brave danger, but she'll follow her instructors' rules to the letter while doing so, which might in fact be the only reason she hasn't gotten herself killed yet. Disregarding confidently given instructions isn't really in her nature.


And since she's also not prone to overthinking things, she quickly throws herself at the indicated door.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Dear God, the people. Michael looked at the two guards that bravely tried to engage the demon. He looked at the demon from hell, and he was afraid. He didn't know what to do. He listened as the woman behind the DMV counter changed her voice and assertively told them to run to the door. Michael couldn't just leave these people to the mercies of the beast. Looking at the woman he screamed, "the people!" With that he made the dumbest move of his short life. He ran to the downed guard. He checked him to see if he was alive.


"Be alive ... be alive ... Be Alive!" Michael chanted again and again.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Rachel's mouth dropped open in shock at the towering monstrosity that had seemingly just appeared in the lobby of the DMV.  She rocked lightly as it battered two guards, especially as one of them slid through the abettor maze of ropes before the counter towards her.  A young man rushed to him almost seemingly in slow motion and Rachel could faintly hear someone giving directions.  She looked up and met the demons gaze for the length of a slow blink and felt her abdomen go watery. She felt a warm trickle spread down her legs and the shock of the realization snapped her out of whatever dumbfounded stupor had overwhelmed her. 


"Shit!" she yelled and ran towards the indicated door in sheer panic.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Idly fanning himself with a folded-up piece of paper, Martin shuffled along with the line's slow progress. The Swiss' eyes were starring sightlessly at the back of the person in front of him, his mind having gone into standby maybe fifteen minutes ago; observing people standing in a queue was interesting only so long - and apparently, bureaucracy (and standing in line) easily transcended any cultural differences. 


Martin's nose twitched, tickled by a sudden (and unexpected) waft of lilac and... burnt liquorice ?

His free hand flashed to his hip pocket and grabbed the pack of tissue handkerchiefs he kept there while to one still holding his impromptu fan rose to his face... "Aaa--choo"... just in time to screen the other people from his sneeze. Unfolding the handkerchief he'd fished from the packet with a flick of his wrist, Martin turned sideways and began to lift the tissue to his face. It never reached its destination; instead, it flutter-floated to the ground, having slipped from the suddenly loosening grip of Martin's fingers for he was staring, somewhat slack-jawed, at the demon (!?) suddenly standing in the DMV. "Was i drü-tüüfels..." he muttered under his breath. Was this some kind of candid camera show ? The set of some movie or... documentary or something ?

If it is, it is DAMN realistic he thought, as he witnessed one of the guard attacking the... demon - and being put down with frightening speed and efficiency.

And a shocking amount of blood.


Martin hardly noticed the panic that crashed through the waiting people, his gaze following, with stark clarity and focus, a drop of blood soaring in subjective slow-motion though the air to splatter against his half-raised hand. The warm liquid against the suddenly cold skin somehow made the whole surreal experience... reality.

Someone bumped against him. Many someones, actually, and not for the first time; people, screaming, jostled past him in either direction; some trying to get to the doors, some trying to get as far from the impossible creature as possible. Going with the past of least resistance, they hadn't tried to shift Martin, only get past him.  


<<“Quick through that door, you don’t have much time!”>>

Martin's head whipped around at the first two words, something in the tone of the voice cutting through the surreality of the situation with a subtle ring of both sanity and authority. While the former was something he could really use, it was the latter that caught Martin's attention. His gaze swept over the mass of people until it found the speaker - the clerk behind the window. His gaze followed her pointing finger to the "Staff Only" door but before he could begin to move, somebody close by screamed <<"The people!">> before rushing past and towards the downed guard.

Trained - drilled - behaviour kicked in.

Martin tried to grab the passing man's arm to keep him from approaching the danger but was too slow. Mentally cursing, he shot a quick glance at the demon - who seemed content to rip into another security guard, unfazed by the sidearm being unsteadily pointed into... her ? its ? direction - before following the wiry man. Mass and inertia meant that by the time Martin caught up, Wiry was partially bent over a downed guard and checking his vitals, muttering or chanting something lost in the sudden, panicked din the DMV had become. The Swiss' gave the downed guard a quick once-over before bending down and grabbing a fistful of trousers, shirt and - luckily - belt. "Belt. Grab it. And PULL !" he yelled at Wiry in the very carrying command voice he'd used for years to get recruits moving. He didn't wait to see whether Wiry obeyed; instead, he headed his own order and began to pull the guard back towards the "Staff Only" door.


Link to comment
Share on other sites

Michael, after trying nervously to find a pulse, and failing because of his trembling hands saw a heavyset man appear. The newcomer barked orders in the midst of chaos. "Belt ... Grab it ... And Pull!" Michael nodded and grabbed the guards belt and within seconds they made considerable progress to get the guard and themselves to the staff room.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

spacer.png One of the perks of his upbringing was that Akhtar had developed a very proper stiff-upper-lip that no Victorian gentleman would deny. So when the demon appeared in their midst, and mayhem ensued, he remained dignified and stoically walked toward the door indicated by a woman of no little interest herself. Then heroic civilians started doing shenanigans that his noblesse-oblige attitude nearly condoned, but that his survival instinct overrode. Instead, he walked close enough to the door that a single step would put him through, and turned to observe the situation, trying to capture details about the demon. If given the time, he would even pick his phone and start taking pictures. Who know, they may prove useful later...



Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • The topic was locked
This topic is now closed to further replies.
  • Create New...