SEASON 1, EPISODE 2
RELEASE DATE: 1/25/2020
Liam meets the team. It starts to rain in New Candler.
VALENCE is a serialized fiction podcast meant for adult listeners. You can find more information, including our full cast list and transcripts, at VALENCEpod.com. You can support us on Patreon and get access to inspo images, bonus audio, and more.
- Depictions of panic attacks at 4:07 and 14:45
- Depiction of fictional aggressive oppression at 15:00
- Depiction of alcohol consumption and debatable alcoholism at 21:47
Performances by, in order of appearance:
- Josh Rubino as Liam Alden and Liam’s Inner Voice,
- Whitney Johnson as the elevator voice,
- Katie Chin as Grace Chen,
- Ishani Kanetkar as Mahira Varma,
- Jordan Cobb as Sarah Harris,
- Jake Rocco as the cab driver,
- Ross Papa as the interviewer,
- Aiden Kinsella as Jordan Gardner,
- and Giancarlo Herrera as Luis Acebo.
Special thanks to:
– Casey Trujillo
– Jordan Eagan
– Lindsay Holt
– Rachel Rauch
– Richard Kreutz-Landry
– Shelley Wermuth
– V Silverman
WIL: VALENCE is a serialized fiction podcast with discussion and depictions of struggles with mental health. You can check our show notes, or the transcripts on valencepod dot com for a full list of content warnings and their timestamps. It’s important to take care of yourself — especially here in New Candler.
INT. OFFICE BUILDING – DAY
LIAM walks towards a corporate office building on a somewhat-busy street. A storm is building–thunder rumbles in the distance.
LIAM’S INNER VOICE: Storm. Shit. That’s going to make getting back home tricky if it hasn’t already ended.
LIAM opens the door and walks down the hallway towards the elevator for his first day of work. Fluorescent lights hum uncomfortably. The doors ding open. LIAM pushes a floor button and the doors close.
LIAM’S INNER VOICE: This is fine. This will be fine. This is fine you will be fine this is fine.
ELEVATOR VOICE: Going down.
LIAM’S INNER VOICE: You are going to do this job, and you are going to have coworkers and it is going to be fine. You are going to do the job and take down Reilley and family and it will be good, and you will be paid, and it is fine. You will have a normal human person conversation with other normal human people and it will all be very fine and normal.
The doors ding open. LIAM steps out, goes to turn on his heel to leave, and the doors close. He starts walking towards the door for the stairwell.
LIAM’S INNER VOICE: No, never mind, actually fuck this. Stupid idea, really.
LIAM turns a corner too sharp, too fast, and almost runs right into GRACE.
GRACE: Woah! Mr. Alden! Goodness, you almost made me drop my coffee.
LIAM’S INNER VOICE: Run. No, don’t run, you idiot. Say something. Respond. She’s looking at you. You’re just standing there! Say something!
LIAM: Y–yes. This is, ah, this–this is true. Hmm. Mm-hm.
LIAM’S INNER VOICE: No. Not like that. Christ.
GRACE: Well! It’s good to see you. I’m glad you made it.
GRACE: Did you . . . get lost going to the right meeting room? It’s actually the other way.
LIAM: . . . lost. Yes. That is what I . . . got. Lost.
GRACE: Let’s go in together. The others should be there already, I’m guessing.
The two start walking.
GRACE: You’re actually one of the newer additions to the team. I’ve been working with Sarah and Mahira for a few years now. They’ve been doing great work, but I think having you here is going to be a big help.
LIAM: (Chuckles uncomfortably) Oh–oh, that wasn’t–oh. This was not a joke.
GRACE: Of course not, Mr. Alden. I wouldn’t have hired you otherwise.
LIAM: . . . Right. Of course.
GRACE opens the door and walks inside the meeting room.
GRACE: Good morning, you two.
MAHIRA: Morning, Grace.
GRACE walks over to a seat. LIAM stands uncomfortably in the doorway.
MAHIRA: This must be the new recruit!
MAHIRA stands up and goes over to LIAM, extending a hand to be shaken. LIAM takes it hesitantly.
MAHIRA: Come on in, take a seat, take a seat.
LIAM walks in and takes a seat across from GRACE, closest to the door of the conference room.
GRACE: Everyone, this is Liam Alden. He has some history and background into Reilley Industries that I think will be a real asset to the team.
SARAH stops typing for a moment. Then, she starts typing more quickly.
MAHIRA: Welcome, Liam! We’re really glad to have you here. Having someone with some experience is definitely going to help.
SARAH: Hm. Son of Richard Alden, Reilley’s right-hand man? Weird choice.
Liam’s heartbeat starts quickening, as do his breaths.
LIAM: I, ah–
LIAM’S INNER VOICE: Run. Get out of here. Run.
SARAH: But it looks like he doesn’t show up in any pictures past about 2004. No mentions of him at all after that. Has a sister, though, and she’s in plenty of pictures–Noel? It looks like he just sort of stops existing after that–oh, until like, six years ago. Identity theft, huh, Mr. Hume?
GRACE: There was some minor identity alteration for some very valid–
LIAM’S INNER VOICE: Get out of here get out of here now run they’ve found you out run you need to run–
MAHIRA: Hold on, kids, let’s let Liam speak for himself.
GRACE: (Clears her throat)
SARAH stops typing.
GRACE: Let’s all take a moment to remember why we’re here and who brought us all together. I promise I wouldn’t have hired someone I didn’t have faith in. Sarah–
SARAH: Yeah, I know. Sorry.
GRACE: So. Liam. Let me introduce you to the team. This is Mahira Varma.
GRACE: Mahira has worked for the Thaumaturgical Energies Administration for, what, five years now?
MAHIRA: Coming up on four.
GRACE: She’s a very valued magic user–
MAHIRA: You can really just say “muse,” Grace.
GRACE: — in our ranks. She’s a major magic user like you are, pulls from heat energy and has a great predilection for stealth magic.
MAHIRA: Nice to meet you, Liam. Really glad to have another muse here. What’s your focus?
LIAM’S INNER VOICE: “Glad”?
LIAM: It–I didn’t–I didn’t know that focuses were, um . .
MAHIRA: Hey, no worries. It’s really hard to find any resources on learning more about your abilities–trust me, I know. When you cast, what sort of energy does your casting usually have?
LIAM: Um. Electricity–like–like lightning.
MAHIRA: Exciting! You must be feeling all jazzed up with this storm brewing then, huh?
LIAM: Something like that.
GRACE: Well, Liam, let me introduce you to Sarah next. Sarah Harris is our information specialist, though I’m . . . sure you put that together.
SARAH: Yeah, hi. So I’m kind of wanting an explanation at this point. It’s weird because there wasn’t really any identity theft; it looks like, just making up a name and some bio/demo data. The sister is still Noel Alden, plain as day, so it’s something–
MAHIRA: Liam, why don’t you introduce yourself.
LIAM: Um. I–yes, ah. It’s. It’s complicated. I don’t–my family, ah–we’re not–we’re not–
SARAH: Well yeah, duh, if you’re a muse. Name change was to hide out from them?
LIAM: Ah. Yeah. I–
SARAH: Got it. Enough said. Sorry for putting you through the wringer.
LIAM: I, uh–
GRACE: The combination of his abilities and his insider information should help us find some more leads, maybe confirm some of the knowledge we already have about Reilley Industries.
MAHIRA: Maybe we should start there: get everything out on the table, and see where Liam can fill in the gaps.
LIAM’S INNER VOICE: Fuck.
GRACE: So, first: we know Morgan Reilley of Reilley Industries is planning on some new product to be released in the early second quarter. We’ve got a tip that it’s something other than a new version of the Halo, some new product.
LIAM’S INNER VOICE: More products? To do what?
GRACE: The problem is that when we try to go through official channels to inspect their R&D facilities, they keep getting out it. I’ve tried to get this higher up on the docket in the department, but they’ve been lobbying and–
GRACE: So, we’ll need to be . . . particular about how we get in.
LIAM: . . . “Particular”? . . .you want us to break in.
GRACE :Well, not exactly break in. We’ll need some sort of reasonable suspicion–
LIAM: You want to break in with three people?
LIAM: You’re not supposed to be doing this, are you? Does your department know about this team you’ve assembled?
GRACE: Sometimes things just . . . slip under the–
LIAM: No, no, you misunderstand. This makes sense to me. This isn’t–this–this helps ease some of my doubt. I didn’t expect any government branch to actually care about investigating Reilley.
GRACE: So, Liam, any gaps you can fill for us?
LIAM: Well–I–uh . . . It . . .
LIAM’S INNER VOICE: You have to tell them. You can’t be useless again.
LIAM’S OTHER INNER VOICE: Can’t. Can’t can’t can’t I can’t, I can’t.
MAHIRA: Grace, you know, we completely forgot to introduce Liam to another important member of the team.
SARAH: Mm, mmhm.
MAHIRA: Liam, you should meet Luis.
GRACE: Ah–yes. You’re right, Mahira. Liam, Luis Acebo is one of our medical workers here at the T.E.A. He’s a great asset–he’s a muse, too, and his focus is healing. He helps when traditional medicine doesn’t work as well as we need it to. He’s also an LPC, working towards his PsyD.
LIAM: Oh, what an interesting group of letters. A what?
GRACE: Licensed Professional Counselor.
LIAM’S INNER VOICE: Ugh. Shit.
LIAM: (Noncommittal noise)
GRACE: If you ever find yourself in need of–
LIAM: I’m fine.
GRACE: Well, his office is just down the hall. Room 112. All services are, of course, covered completely by your health plan here. It’s in our best interest to keep our team well.
LIAM: Really, I’m fine.
LIAM’S INNER VOICE: “Fine.” Good joke, you fucking mess.
SARAH: Okay, so–lead we have is Nicolo Salvai, part of the Salvai crime family–pretty standard smuggling and theft, but with the added bonus of being really strong muses. The lead’s dad is in charge, and most of the previous charges on Nicolo are pretty whatever, other than being like, trashy. And I mean, like, trashy as hell–more public indecency charges than I’ve ever seen, plus some burglary and shoplifting. The NCPD’s been trying to grab this guy for years, so . . . we’ll see. But apparently he tweeted a while back that he’d been kidnapped by Halo people before that twitter account was deactivated.
MAHIRA: What, for tweeting that?
SARAH: No, looks like for . . . DMing a local bakery 134 times over the course of two days. Wow, he was, um, fucked up went he sent these.
MAHIRA: Ok, did he just really want cake, or–?
SARAH: Somehow worse? He was calling them criminals for using boxed cake mix.
GRACE: He was calling them criminals?
SARAH: So, um, now it’s just a matter of pinning him down, really.
LIAM: And what do we do if that occurs?
MAHIRA: We’ll just ask him some questions.
GRACE: And then turn him in to the proper authorities.
MAHIRA: Unless he’ll only talk if we don’t.
GRACE: (Sigh) Yes, our priorities are clear–but we do need to respect the proper regulations when speaking with known and wanted criminals.
MAHIRA: Even though we know how they treat–
GRACE: Well, I think that should be enough for today. Why don’t we let Sarah work on finding Salvai, and Liam, you can get yourself acquainted with the building. We’ll have an office ready for you soon. You can return with some notes written for us all on what you know tomorrow. Mahira, you can head back home until we have more news on this lead.
MAHIRA: If we’re both heading out early, why don’t we go grab a cup of coffee, Liam?
LIAM’S INNER VOICE: No. Absolutely not. You cannot. This has already been far too much of anything for one day.
LIAM: I–I should get–I should get back to my apartment.
MAHIRA: You sure? It’d be nice to know who we’re working with.
LIAM’S INNER VOICE: I have no interest in being known. Stop talking to me.
LIAM: No, I really–I really should be, uh–
MAHIRA :No worries! Another time, then.
LIAM’S INNER VOICE: Oh, thank god. Get out of here. Get out of here now.
EXT. NEW CANDLER STREET – EARLY EVENING
LIAM is walking quickly back home. Thunder rolls, once softly, and then once much louder.
LIAM’S INNER VOICE: Fuck. Need to beat the storm–
Rain starts falling.
LIAM’S INNER VOICE: Fuck. Fuck, I need to get home, I–
LIAM’s magic crackles slightly at his hands. He gasps and tucks into an alley.
LIAM and LIAM’S INNER VOICE: No, no no no no no no–
LIAM’S INNER VOICE: Be quiet! People are going to hear you! Just call a cab. Call a cab and it’ll be quicker, you can get back home faster before the worst of it, before anyone sees you, just–
LIAM walks back to the street and hails a cab. The car pulls up at the curb and Liam gets in, quickly.
LIAM: 78th and Rosemary, please.
CAB DRIVER: You got it.
There’s another rumble of lightning, followed by another small crackle of magic. Liam gasps and shoves his hands into his pockets.
LIAM’S INNER VOICE: Just focus on the screen. Focus on the screen.
The program on the screen in the back of the cab switches to a talk show.
INTERVIEWER: And we’re back with Jordan Gardner here on The Evening Show. He’s joined us to talk about his return to men’s hockey. Jordan, let’s just jump into it, yeah? Can you tell us a little bit about your time away from the ice, and what brought you back?
JORDAN GARDNER: Sure, yeah. So, I’m guessing you remember when it came out that I–uh–
INTERVIEWER: That you’re a muse?
JORDAN: Yeah, I don’t really like that word.
LIAM’s breath quickens. There’s a muffled crackle from his pockets.
JORDAN: It’s not even accurate, y’know? Can you really be a magic user if you don’t use the magic you’ve got? I like to call myself a MAVEN–a magic haver, not a magic user.
INTERVIEWER: I can imagine why, after what you’ve been through!
JORDAN: Lotta wrong ideas out there about people who have it and don’t use it or want it–whose lives are messed up by it.
LIAM’s breathing gets more intense.
CAB DRIVER: Eh, you okay back there?
JORDAN: That’s why I was kicked out of the league. There’s been a push to kick out all players with magic, and it hurts. It hurts knowing I wasn’t wanted by my teammates.
INTERVIEWER: But you’re back now…?
JORDAN: Yeah! The official ruling came that I couldn’t play if I was able to use magic, but my lawyer told me that that meant I could go back and play if I stopped being able to use it, which is where this comes in.
JORDAN holds up his wrist to show his Halo. LIAM’s breath gets more intense, launching him into a full panic attack. The magic at his hands crackles more, and he winces in pain.
JORDAN: I got a Seraph-series Halo and now I can play again!
LIAM’S INNER VOICE: Calm down. Look at you, you’re volatile, you’re dangerous, you’re a threat you’re a problem you’re a problem you’re the problem. You ruin everything you are the problem they’re going to find you they know who you are they can see you you’re the problem–
JORDAN: It is! Hockey is more than just my job–it’s who I am. Halo didn’t just give me back my career. It gave me back my identity.
There’s a loud crackle of magic. LIAM and the CAB DRIVER yell in shock and fear.
CAB DRIVER: What the–!
The CAB DRIVER pulls over with a screech.
CAB DRIVER: Nu-uh, you get out of here RIGHT now!
LIAM: I’m sorry, I–
CAB DRIVER: I don’t want to hear it! I’m not driving around with one of you freaking out!
CAB DRIVER: Shouldn’t even be outside without a Halo on! Get out of here right now!
LIAM: I can pay–
CAB DRIVER: NOW!
LIAM stumbles over himself getting out of the cab as fast as he can. As soon as he closes the door behind him, the cab speeds away. LIAM’s breathing is still heavy, and the rain starts pelting him. LIAM takes out his phone and shakily dials FLYNN’s phone number.
FLYNN: (Over voicemail) Hi! You’ve reached Flynn Velasco. Sorry I missed your call! Although honestly, if you’re calling, you’re probably, like, Liam. Or the government or something. Because only normal people text. So, Liam? Text me, you freak.
LIAM’S INNER VOICE: Get out of the rain. You’re just standing there in the rain like some pathetic child. You should–
LIAM’S OTHER INNER VOICE: You need to get somewhere safe before it happens again. You need to talk to someone. You’re not okay.
LIAM’S INNER VOICE: –just turn yourself over, what’s the point if you can’t even be outside? Of course you’re not okay, you’ll never be okay, you’ll always be like this–
LIAM’S OTHER INNER VOICE: Just shut. Up.
LIAM starts walking quickly through the rain back to the T.E.A. headquarters. He opens the door, his breath slowing down, and quickly goes back to LUIS’s office. He knocks on the door, quickly, three times. After the door opens, there’s a short pause.
LUIS: You must be Liam. It’s nice to meet you! I’d been wondering when we’d find the time to–oh! You’re soaking wet! Come on in, it’s warmer in here.
LIAM walks into the office, and LUIS closes the door after him.
LUIS: Go ahead and have a seat.
LIAM and LUIS sit down across from each other, each one in a chair on opposite sides on LUIS’s desk.
LIAM: I’m sorry for not, um–not having–
LUIS: No worries at all. My evening is actually really open today. Your timing couldn’t have been any better.
There’s a short beat. LIAM shifts uncomfortably.
LUIS: So, I’m sure Grace told you a little bit about me, but I’d still like to actually meet you. So: my name is Luis, and I’m here to help in whatever ways I can at the T.E.A. Usually, that means medical treatment for people who are hurt by magic, people who over-exert their magic–and actually, it looks like you’re in a little bit of a bind right now, huh? Don’t worry–most people wouldn’t be able to tell. It’s just me.
LIAM: (A noncommittal noise)
LUIS: Is it okay if I–
LIAM: Yes. That’s–that’s fine.
LUIS gets up, walks over, and puts his hand lightly on LIAM’s shoulder. Sound of LUIS’s magic making LIAM calm down a little.
LUIS: Easy fix. I can help calm your nerves a little right now, if you want. Grace also wanted me to give you something to help keep any unwanted traces off of you–as in, anything someone could use to track you if you didn’t want to be tracked. I could do that right now, too.
LUIS: I’ve done it for a few of the others. I’m happy to do it for you, too.
LIAM: Yes. Please. Yes.
There’s a hum of magic over LIAM. LIAM take a deep breath in and out.
LIAM: Oh. Yes, I–much. Thank you.
LUIS: Happy to help. You can always come to me for things like that.
LIAM: You can just–you can just do that whenever? Untangle someone like that?
LUIS: Ha, untangle is a good word for it, yeah! Not all the time–it requires some energy, but not too much. I’ve gotten pretty good at it over the years.
LIAM: I didn’t . . . I didn’t know that magic could do that.
LUIS: Magic can do a lot of good for a lot of people if we let it. Grace tells me that your family is the same Aldens that work with Reilley, right? I can’t imagine–
LIAM: I didn’t come here for that.
LUIS: For “that”?
LIAM: Talking. I just–I just needed something to keep me solid for the walk back home.
LUIS: Oh, but you didn’t–
LIAM: I don’t do this.
LUIS: Do what?
LIAM: Talk. To people.
LIAM: Not unless I absolutely must.
LIAM stands up.
LIAM: I should go. Thank you, really, for that. It was, um, helpful. Thank you.
LUIS: Of course, Liam. I’m glad you were willing to make an exception for me. You know I’ll be here whenever you need someone to talk with?
LUIS: Oh! Liam! One last thing before you go.
LUIS turns around and pulls a textbook from his shelf.
LUIS: I’d like you to take this. Even if you don’t read it. It’s a resource on how to practice in a way that’s safe. It helps explain some of the theory behind magic, making sure you’re not accidentally casting in a dangerous way by letting your fear take the wheel. It helped me a lot when I was young, and it helped Mahira when we first met. Here, take it.
LUIS: Please. Even if you don’t read it.
LIAM sighs and takes the book.
LUIS: See you soon, Liam. I hope you get home fine in the storm.
LIAM: Thank–thank you.
LIAM leaves, closing the door quietly behind himself.
INT. LIAM’S APARTMENT – NIGHT
LIAM is playing a piano song off of his phone, drinking wine. The rain can be heard on his window, the thunder mostly died down. He sighs. He takes another drink of wine.
He leans forward and opens the book he was given. He flips through the pages and then groans.
LIAM: Ugh. Fine. Fine. One small ball of light. Small. Doable. That’s doable, certainly. Light. Little ball of light, doable.
LIAM takes a deep breath in, holds his palm out in front of him, and then takes a deep breath out. A ball of light starts forming, but then crackles with electricity, like a lightbulb burning out. Liam winces in pain, but then takes another sip of wine and tries again. This time, the ball of light solidifies.
LIAM: Ha. Ha-ha! Ha! I did it. Small of light. No. Ball of–small–regardless. It is done.
I hate it.
LIAM extinguishes the ball of light and then takes another long sip.
The song is interrupted by his phone ringing. LIAM lets out a surprised yelp. He picks up the phone and answers it.
GRACE: Oh, Liam. I didn’t expect you to answer. It’s two in the morning.
LIAM: You’re still working.
GRACE: . . . Are you drunk?
LIAM: No. No, noooo no no no. Just tired. It’s two in the morning, Ms. Chen.
GRACE: Hm. Well, I just wanted to keep you in the loop–we’re going to have to move into action quicker than expected. Don’t come into the office tomorrow morning. Instead, you’ll meet Mahira and Sarah there in the evening before heading off on a job. We tracked down Salvai staying in an empty apartment in Lower Candler. The three of you need to see what information you can get from him.
GRACE: He changes location constantly. We have to move fast.
LIAM: I just started working with you all.
GRACE: You’re sure you aren’t drunk, Mr. Alden?
LIAM: Liam. It’s Liam. And no, Ms. Chen. I’m tired. It’s two in the morning.
GRACE: (Sighs) I know it isn’t ideal. We’re doing the best with what we have.
LIAM takes a drink of wine.
GRACE: Okay. Well. It’s two in the morning, Liam, as we’ve established. I’ll call with more details tomorrow–I just wanted to make sure you could wake up to a message so you didn’t have to come in to work in the morning. I’ll let you get back to . . . sleep. Have a good night, Mr. Alden.
GRACE hangs up the phone. Liam takes a deep sigh, and then a long drink of wine.
END OF EPISODE 2
WIL: VALENCE is a Hug House production. You can find more of our work at Hug House dot Productions.
- VALENCE is edited and sound designed by Julia Schifini.
- This episode was written by Wil Williams.
- This episode was performed by, in order of appearance:
- Josh Rubino as Liam Alden and Liam’s Inner Voice,
- Whitney Johnson as the Elevator Voice,
- Katie Chin as Grace Chen,
- Ishani Kanetkar as Mahira Varma,
- Jordan Cobb as Sarah Harris,
- Jake Rocco as the Cab Driver,
- Ross Papa as the Interviewer,
- Aiden Kinsella as Jordan Gardner,
- And Giancarlo Herrera as Luis Acebo.
- We’d like to thank some of our IndieGogo backers who helped fund our first season:
- Casey Trujillo
- Jordan Eagan
- Lindsay Holt
- Rachel Rauch
- Richard Kreutz-Landry
- Shelley Wermuth
- V Silverman
You can find our full cast list, and information on how to support this indie audio drama, on valencepod dot com.
Until next time: protect your magic.