The lights were flickering again.
Darcy rubbed her eyes tiredly and stared at the screen. You got this, Darcy. You can absolutely bullshit your way through this.
It wasn’t even totally lying about this, actually. She’d studied this crap, she knew her stuff. Of course, no one knew about it, but eeeh. Details.
In the background, her roommate was commenting loudly over new Hollywood darling Nicholas Richard’s latest escapade, that had once again made the front page. Well, at least there was nothing important to comment on.
She focused once again and slowly typed the answers to the questions in front of her.
Of all the things she could have picked for an internship, this was probably the last thing she imagined.
Well, not really, but chemistry, biology, heck, even maths would have been an easy, easy grade she could have totally gotten. But no, she wanted to try something new.
She chewed the inside of her cheek and tried one of the more difficult ones. Yeeah, you got this girl. Almost.
The lights flickered again, and this time the sound of static filled the air.
Darcy closed her eyes and tried to ignore the feeling of pressure building behind her lungs. It was the same squeezing sensation she had grown accustomed to, but didn’t really want to feel.
She pawed blindly into her bag and fished her notebook. She hastily read over the latest lines and waited for the feeling to pass.
The sky coloured vivid pink despite it being pitch black a mere second ago, the computer screen became blue and the TV restarted on itself rapidly.
All around Darcy Lewis, everything had changed and no one had was aware of it.
Her lungs were free once more.
She surreptitiously looked behind her.
Okay, her roommate was still here. “...Annie?” She called hesitantly.
“Yeah?” Came an absent murmur from her friend.
“...Nothing, don’t worry.” She could feel the memories piling up already. Nothing major had changed.
Nicholas Richards never existed. She wrote in the notebook. Who knew who else they’d lost today.
The first time Darcy Lewis witnessed a Rewriting, her uncle Robert forgot he was married and had four kids. Everyone but her did, actually.
As if that part of history hadn’t existed at all.
And for Darcy Lewis, four years, it had been the start of the Truth.
Indeed, 4 years old Darcy Lewis had always wondered about the strange dreams she had at night. Or the knowledge she seemed to possess (conflicting knowledge at that).
In fact, she dreamed about a world that couldn’t be, a life that certainly wasn’t and in the back of her mind, an older, much older soul acknowledged that yeah, a four years old really shouldn’t know about such things.
And yet, Darcy did.
However, no one else did. And Darcy wondered.
Darcy was eight (sixty six, an ever-growing part of her screamed ) when she watched the world Restart in a way that couldn’t possibly be ignored.
The entire news channel flickered and the headlines changed from ‘Madman kills three thousand people’ to ‘Madman kills ten in school shooting’.
Even the News lady had changed, and no one had noticed.
She had then looked up the name of the news lady, only to find out she’d never existed.
That had been weird .
Darcy was ten when she understood. She had by now realized she was the only ‘glitch’ in a probably misguided attempt to save the world.
Technically, sixty eight, she’d thought morosely.
She’d watched the world readjust and rewind under her own eyes, and despite the very proof that she was a ten years old kid, her memories and brain told her otherwise.
Her educated and much older mind had then promptly elaborated four possible answers.
One, she was crazy. That didn’t explain the innate knowledge, but discarding it seemed too naive.
Two, she was somehow stuck in a coma or weird dream and her body was somewhere else. Possibly with her wife. She must be worried.
Three, she had someone else’s memories, which couldn’t really be, because some differences in how things were done were staggering.
Four, the world was actually going back in time, much like the soft reset of a video game and no one was the wiser. She alone knew it was actually happening. That would mean that the world had actually reset once too many times, or something, and she was somehow reborn into another time and possibly universe. It was similar to the world in her memories, but not quite.
Well, if that was actually a possibility.
For the lack of a better option, because choices one and two were both too sad to accept and yeah, no, Darcy had started paying attention to everything surrounding her.
At twenty-two, she could say something for certain.
Unless she was spectacularly wrong, the world did soft reset and defragment like a computer, arbitrarily, without a care for who was forgotten in the middle of the defrag process.
History was rewritten like it was nothing, Presidents and Politicians changed.
Sokovia was actually bombed thrice in the span of six months before the last reset gave it a temporary government.
Wakanda had completely disappeared from the maps, officially a desert of poverty and criminals.
She’d watched silly things being overwritten, like a sentence edited by a drunkard writer that suddenly decided the dress of her character was blue instead of green, right beside big things like a woman President of France.
She had no idea what happened to the people deleted by the memory of the world, but she feared they were displaced in time much as she had been (because she was totally not born in 1990, yeah? yeah).
The realization that time displacement was a thing had been a hard pill to swallow.
She was out of her time, out of her body, out of her world.
Her previous life was gone . Forever.
Accepting her death would have probably been easier.
She’d cried over her loss for days. Mourned the loss of her wife, her friends, even the bloody cat she’d been almost coerced into taking in because ‘he’s so lost and cold, we can’t leave him out like that’.
Then had come the apathy.
But then she’d gotten up.
Because she hadn’t studied for med school for over twelve years to become a field medic to let go at the first obstacle. Because she was a fighter and she didn’t let go. And yes, fine, maybe she wasn’t born Darcy Lewis, but she was now and crying over spilt milk was not how she was going to live the rest of her life.
She’d taken to carry notebooks in which to sign the names of the people she saw disappear, to keep track of who and what changed, and wove stories in order to never forget them.
She liked to think her people, wherever and whenever they were, cheered for her.
Yes, it's short.
So so so short. BUT, it's also a prologue and the next chapter will follow very soon so yeah.
I've got also news on paper bird, which WILL update by next week (is that an angel gospel choir? it is) unless tragedy strikes (by tragedy I mean of course my train being late).
Notes on the world and its building.
I'm actually planning on writing a more fully extended explanation about this world by next chapter, but I'd love to hear what you think about it so far and what you might have gleaned from here?
Like, really really curious.
I hope you liked it, or at least this got you intrigued? Like, a tiny bit?
If it did, please do leave a comment and make my day?
Chapter 2: Jane
Or how the heck did Darcy land an internship she was hardly qualified for? By being the only applicant, of course.
Thank you so so so so much for the great response. I'm like, overwhelmed with feels okay?
10 comments was a great thing. The greatest. Thank you so much.
Special thanks go to Aunbrey because she listens to my mad ramblings <3
The chapter is not betaed, so mistakes are mine (sorry!)
I hope you like this chapter, you make my day!
(See the end of the chapter for more notes.)
At age twenty-four and sitting in front of the acceptance letter to her Astrophysics internship, Darcy Lewis had a pretty clear idea of what ruled her world, in spite of the wool put over everyone’s eyes.
It had to be the dumbest, blindest Luck in the whole Universe.
Oh, my God, I got the spot? Darcy couldn’t quite believe it. There was bound to be someone more qualified than she was for this kind of job. She read the email quickly; apparently, she was the only applicant.
That had to be a mistake. Okay, some requirements were sketchy (‘must be able to use a microwave for PopTarts’ was her personal favourite) but as far as she could see, the research was genuine and Dr Foster seemed kinda cool…
‘You start next Monday, we leave for New Mexico on Wednesday…” She inhaled sharply.
“Annie!” She scrambled to the door, hitting her roommate’s door with impatience.
Annie’s face peeked from the room, sleepy. Oops. “What?”
“I got the spot!” Darcy exclaimed, excitedly. Hey, it was still a great achievement.
Annie’s face brightened, “that’s great!” She exclaimed, and then sneezed. Her eyes widened and inched closer to the door.
Darcy took in her friend’s face at once. “That cold has been going on for like three weeks, Annes.”
Annie shrugged, “I’ll live, I’ve got aspirin with me… somewhere.”
Yeah, no. Okay, Aspirin was cool if you ignored the thinner blood, so yeah, but three weeks for a common cold was plain stupid. “I’m going to make you something for that.”
She could feel her blonde friend’s head hitting the door in resignation.
“So, repeat that again?” Annie blew on her mug, curling her lips in distaste.
“New Mexico.” Darcy stared pointedly at the still warm liquid until her friend had taken a very long sip. “Me. Internship. Two days from now. Drink that thing or I will force feed it to you.”
Annie took another gulp of it, “man, thirty-six hours of warning is sooo stupid. You’ve got like, two days to pack and pray you don’t forget anything.” Her eyes widened, “you don’t expect to move your greenhouse, do you? Because that thing is huge and it took us three days to set up.”Darcy winced. “Oh God, you are. ”
“...In my defence, most of those plants are extremely valuable and I can’t replace them so…” Technically irreplaceable, actually they were unique. Some she had literally grafted herself and others, like Frank, she had been growing and experimenting on since she was twelve.
Annie’s mouth opened and closed a few times. “We’re going to need sooo much help, dude. Is your new boss even okay with this?” Darcy nodded quickly and Annie shrugged.
She took the last of the red sparkly liquid and put the mug back in the sink “I don’t know why you stress with your old-timey grandma remedies, one pill of paracetamol will fix me right up in a week or so. And this one tastes like death.”
“Humour me.” Darcy smiled. “You’re the best, Annes.”
“I know.” Annie waved a finger carelessly. “I’m calling my cousins, and Ethan. He’s got a truck we can use to store your green loving shit in.”
Ethan arrived the next day before it was even a decent hour to be awake. Darcy had known him since she started at Culver. He was a no nonsense guy with a heart of gold.
He came with the old van and with at least five more people that were all apparently related to Annie and despite being burly and intimidating were all unfailingly polite and managed to eat everything Darcy cooked for them without complaint.
It was the kind of company that got the job done and quickly, thankfully.
They had managed to get every plant under control, put Frank in a lot of red strings and tape so that its brittle, sparkly blue leaves wouldn’t be knocked all over ( ‘That is one weird looking plant, dude!’ ) and even wrestled Brad out of the ceiling (well, he was a little overachiever, that ivy plant was).
And then, of course, came the problems.
Because no matter how much she called and how many requests she was filing, no company was willing to ship the plants to New Mexico. Of course, Darcy herself had been hesitant to let people tag and prod her very experimental and possibly frowned upon stuff, but there was no other way to ship something from Virginia to New Mexico.
So, with disappointment, she was forced to admit defeat and just leave them there.
At least until Ethan actually offered to take her and the whole shebang to New Mexico with the plants. They would leave on Tuesday with the truck and be in New Mexico by Friday if they didn’t take turns with driving.
Dr Jane Foster was understanding, if a bit disappointed they couldn’t get to work right away. Darcy liked her more than she already did for this.
As they packed the last of Darcy’s unmentionables, the woman looked around her room with pursed lips. She would miss this place. By the time she came back, Annie would probably have graduated and left.
She’d been the bestest of friends, really.
Even if she got to keep Bruce.
“You’re absolutely certain you can spare him, right?” Annie asked for the tenth time. She was holding the tiny pot containing a single, ugly stem with no leaves.
“Absolutely, Annes. Keep it, Bruce the Brussel Sprout is yours.”
“...It’s not a real Brussel sprout plant, is it?” She eyed the thing dubiously.
Darcy laughed. “No, not really, but as long as you don’t try to eat it you’ll be fine.” Her lips wobbled a bit. “I’m going to miss you so much.”
“I’ll miss you too, Miss ‘What day is this wait are we still a Democracy?’ weirdo.”
Darcy grinned unrepentantly “I need to keep you on your toes.” And keep me from losing it too much.
“You ready to go, Miss L.? ” Said Ethan, dropping noisily the last of her boxes in the back.
“Yeah, sure, thanks. Take care Annie, yes?”
And yeah, maybe it wasn’t, but this felt like it was the last time they’d see each other.
Three days in a van were as close a nightmare as she could imagine it.
It wasn’t even Ethan’s fault, as he was really good company (fun, didn’t comment on her stuff and had a very deep voice so they could sing along the radio, despite being both almost completely tone deaf).
No, it was the cramps and the headache that had started on the second day.
The world had to be sentient, or something . Unless Someone was pulling the strings, that was possible too.
Earth was essentially an asshole that reset the moment something threatened Armageddon. A bomb was a tad too close to destroying the planet? Reset.
The president was about to press The Button? Hard pass. Hard pass, see you later.
History would be rewritten up to thirty years or so, sometimes more, without anybody being the wiser.
And then, there were the ones she called soft resets. They were nothing special or impressive and yet the story would be edited and tailored to suit different needs. She didn’t know why these lesser movements were even a thing, since no strong menace could be stopped in a reset of merely fifteen seconds or heck, even four hours, but they were and the nausea that came with them wasn’t consoling.
Unfortunately, the bigger the change, the most physically painful it was watching it happen. It was just like the world really didn’t want her to know or understand.
I get it dude, me neither. She grumped, as she massaged the sides of her chest, trying to discreetly ease the discomfort.
“You okay, L.?” Asked Ethan, without taking his black eyes off the road.
“Yeah, I am.” She laughed nervously. “I just had this… weird nausea thing out of the blue.”
“Ooh boy, don’t I know it. Must have been the tacos.”
“...Yeah, must have.” She would check the news as soon as they stopped for the night.
So, Darcy didn’t think she could ever hate anyone at first sight.
Donald Blake was proving otherwise.
He’d come to fetch her (out of the goodness of his tiny dried up heart) and Ethan at the Bus Station.
He’d been completely unapologetic about dissing Ethan because of his skin’s colour, dismissed her right off the bat because it was clear that she wasn’t a professional ( excuse you? ) and he’d refused to help her carry her plants, despite having a very big truck at his disposal.
So, in the end, it was Donald alone in his van, guiding Ethan and his own van, carrying Darcy’s plants, to the Gas Station that was apparently their Base.
He’d then proceeded to say hello to Dr Foster and leave without helping or a backward glance.
What an asshole.
She would have probably ranted more, possibly straight in his face, but then she met her new boss and her mentor, and she opted out. Out of respect for the woman. For now.
As different as her boyfriend as possible, Jane Foster was the nicest being in the universe and Darcy was just about ready to declare herself a die-hard fan of the tiny woman.
Jane Foster was clearly the better half of the two.
She’d helped Darcy move all of her stuff, even offering the empty room on the roof to improvise a greenhouse. And man, could that woman move heavy stuff around.
Darcy was no slouch, but the tiny woman could outspeed Ethan while moving the heavy stuff like it was made of paper.
Then Ethan left, and it took Darcy about two hours for the tinted lenses to come off.
Three days in and the tinted lenses were long forgotten.
Jane Foster was by no means perfect.
First, she had the worst taste in boyfriends, of course.
Second, she was a terrible, terrible terrible cook. Her entire repertoire was composed of microwaved Pop-Tarts (that were just about her whole diet, because preservatives made for the best nutrients) and sometimes omelettes. She could, however, mix the coolest drinks (and could even do flips and twists with the bottle. ‘ It’s just a tiny flair, Darcy, it’s nothing special…’ Yeah sure.).
Third, she and Dr Selvig were extremely… passionate about their job… well, they were actually incapable of taking care of themselves, if given the chance. She watched them take no breaks whatsoever for thirty-six hours. Then Erik had crashed on the desk, while Jane had feverishly kept checking her instruments. She probably hadn’t even realized she was alone, as she rambled aloud about Spectrometers.
Darcy, or well, past her, had gone through med school, she knew what it was like to desperately look for answers and not finding any. She could relate Jane and her Science!Benders, but enough was enough, at least for today.
“Bosslady?” She called from upstairs.
She peeked out of the designated plant room and suppressed a giggle.
Jane Foster, astrophysicist extraordinaire, had crashed much like her mentor, and was now sleeping on the chair she was sitting on.
It became painfully obvious that it would fell on Darcy to keep the two alive, if she wanted her credits and graduate.
She didn’t exactly mind. Annie had been just as hopeless in the kitchen, even if she didn’t have to nag her about going to bed or actually eating.
So Darcy’s job became mostly cooking and running around with coffee mugs, mostly.
At least until Erik noticed that, despite having no complete understanding of physics, Darcy could instead do equations and some of the work needed- and thus be employed in the calculations involved.
And so the intern did graduate from Pop-Tarts machine to Smart Pop-Tarts machine, which was a plus and now she could actually start familiarizing with the subject (and collate the data, which prompted more questions than she thought possible).
Jane had a limited amount of patience she could abuse with stupid questions, and it was usually condensed around meal times, when she was paying attention. Erik Selvig, however, was one of those people who had learned ‘slow’ instead of Genius Pace, and was happy to help her with understanding the subject.
She understood why he’d gotten honours as a physic professor, he was extremely patient with her, even if she was just a Poli-Sci major, and knew his stuff from top to bottom.
She resolved to learn some Swedish dish to repay him of the help.
After a while, the reading they had compiled were finally translated into something they could work on, and thus driving in the middle of the night while basically Stargazing became a thing. They would pack a few instruments and drive around the desert, looking for the ‘perfect spot’.
Of course, so far they were only getting false positives.
“Jaaaane, where do I put Bobby?” She whined. For a better understanding, all the equipment had been properly name-tagged. It was much easier to ask for Bob than the thingamabob or whatchamacallit for the readings, right? She had just started on astrophysics, sue her.
“Back in the van,” grumped Jane, disappointed. “I was so sure we’d find a storm today… The readings…”
“...Will be there tomorrow?” She offered cautiously. “It’s almost four, Janey, we’ve been driving for hours… We’ll be back here tomorrow first thing, yeah?”
“You’re right. Yeah, tomorrow.” Jane didn't sound convinced, but relented.
They drove back in tired silence, both struggling to keep her eyes open and very thankful there was no soul they could barge into in the desert.
When they came back, the sun was rising.
Darcy took some time to open the windows of the rooftop, and went straight to sleep.
By the time she woke up, the sun had almost set.
Notes, yes notes! Moar notes.
I feel like the worldbuilding is becoming bigger, but no matter, hopefully, I haven't lost you so far because we're just getting started!
I'm acutely aware that my science makes no sense.
Unfortunately, I'm an English Major with Slavic and Germanic languages studies on her back, who studied latin and greek at school and Maths was a myth... so I'm keenly aware I fail at physics.
I am however familiar with grafting and plants, at least somewhat familiar, so I think I got those parts right.
I hope you'll forgive my mistakes.
If you liked the chapter, please consider making my day and leave a comment? Please?
Stay fabulous! <3