SEASON 1, EPISODE 3
RELEASE DATE: 02/08/2020
Liam and the team track their lead. But those tables get turned.
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.
Content Warnings – – Depiction of marijuana use starting at 10:30, used sparingly through the remainder of the episode
Performances by, in order of appearance:
- Josh Rubino as Liam Alden and Liam’s Inner Voice,
- Ishani Kanetkar as Mahira Varma,
- Jordan Cobb as Sarah Harris,
- John Westover as Nico Salvai,
- Caleb Del Rio as Flynn Velasco,
- and Anne Baird as the voicemail.
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 discussions 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.
EXT. OFFICE BUILDING – NIGHT
LIAM stands outside the T.E.A. HQ, his coat wrapped tightly around him, his collar turned up against the wind. He’s shivering, and anxiously tapping his foot.
LIAM’S INNER VOICE: Stupid.
LIAM: (Under his breath) Shut up.
LIAM’S INNER VOICE: You’re going to get killed doing this.
LIAM: (Under his breath) Shut up.
MAHIRA turns the corner.
LIAM: (Noncommittal noise)
MAHIRA: You look nervous. No, you don’t need to grimace at me–that’s not on you. It’s not like they’ve given you any training. Typical Grace. I’ve done this before. We’ll be fine. For tonight, you can just shadow me, be my lookout, and observe. On-the-job training, yeah?
LIAM’S INNER VOICE: See? She knows you’re incompetent.
LIAM: Y-yes, certainly. Sure.
MAHIRA: Luis told me he lent you the Miriam Blackwood book – uh . . . Thaumaturgical something something. Have you had a chance to look through it yet?
LIAM: A–a bit. Only a little.
MAHIRA: That’s great. Have you practiced anything yet?
LIAM: (Mumbling) Only the, um . . .
LIAM clears his throat quietly.
LIAM: The ball of light. Is all I have been, ah–been able to practice. At present.
MAHIRA: Really good one to start with. Can you show me?
LIAM: What? Here? Just–just out in the open?
MAHIRA: It’s just something small. I can cover–
MAHIRA: No problem. You can show me another time.
SARAH comes into view from down the street. MAHIRA waves at her.
MAHIRA: Hey, Sarah.
SARAH: Hey. So. I guess we’re doing this.
MAHIRA: Seems so.
SARAH: You ready?
SARAH: I like the honesty. I’ve got the address, and I’ve got some supplies that should help us get into any of the shit he might have left there. He tweeted–well, I think it’s him, but he has, like, a pretty specific–anyway, he tweeted saying he was going to some show tonight so he shouldn’t even be there.
LIAM’S INNER VOICE: Oh, thank god.
MAHIRA: Do you think he’ll have a laptop there or something we can get into?
SARAH: I dunno. Hopefully. Either way, we’re wasting time just standing around here. Let’s get going.
EXT. WAREHOUSE – NIGHT
The group walks down a loud, crowded street.
SARAH: (Quietly) Okay, just around this corner.
They turn a corner, the crowd noise becoming more distant.
LIAM’S INNER VOICE: You’re going to fuck this up.
SARAH points to a door.
SARAH: That one.
MAHIRA: Okay, Liam, come close. Can you cover me?
LIAM shuffles over.
MAHIRA: Watch my hands.
MAHIRA’s hands start to glow and we hear her magic crackle softly. LIAM’S INNER VOICE starts speaking over her.
MAHIRA: I’m going to imagine that the inside of the lock is something I’m familiar with untying or unknotting or solving with my hands. For me, it’s . . . Liam?
LIAM’S INNER VOICE: They’re going to see you they’re going to take you they’re going to hurt you you have to pay attention why can’t you pay attention focus on her focus on the eyes on you everyone can see you they know where you are why aren’t you paying attention why are you so bad at–
LIAM’S INNER VOICE stops, and LIAM lets out a small gasp. MAHIRA stops using her magic.
MAHIRA: Did you hear what I said?
LIAM: Yes. No. No. Please say it again. I’m sorry.
MAHIRA: It’s okay. Nobody’s watching. We’re going to be just fine.
LIAM’S INNER VOICE: Pathetic. Coward.
MAHIRA: So, I was saying that as I light up, I’m going to imagine solving something familiar with my hands. For me, it’s one of those wood puzzle toys I had as a kid. For you, it might be–
MAHIRA: Headphones! Yeah, that’s perfect. So, just imagine that the lock is tangled up headphones, and you’re going to untangle them. I’ll do it this time, and I’ll get you a practice lock for later. Okay?
LIAM: (An affirmative noise)
MAHIRA energizes her magic again. There is a clank, and she’s magically picked the lock.
SARAH: Let’s go.
MAHIRA slowly, very quietly, opens the door.
MAHIRA: Light’s still–aw, shit.
MAHIRA runs inside, followed by SARAH.
SARAH: Come on!
LIAM follows. Inside the large, open, industrial warehouse, MAHIRA and SARAH are running off to the right.
MAHIRA: He went this way!
The two outpace LIAM, but then there’s a quiet clatter to the left. LIAM wheels around and sees a streak of something going up the stairs in the opposite direction.
LIAM: Ah, but, I–I think–
SARAH: Come on!
LIAM’S INNER VOICE: Listen to them, idiot!
LIAM’S OTHER INNER VOICE: You know what you saw.
LIAM sighs, frustrated with absolutely everything, and runs in the opposite direction.
LIAM runs up the stairs to the second floor awkwardly. There’s footsteps running ahead of him. He keeps running, but then trips over a chair he couldn’t see.
LIAM’S INNER VOICE: Fuck. Fine. But only because I can’t see.
LIAM takes a quick, sharp breath in and then energizes his crackling, sparking magic into a small ball of light.
NICO: Oh shit?
LIAM almost laughs in excitement over his success, but keeps running.
Still running, NICO turns around and holds up some finger guns. His whistling magic starts energizing, as if to shoot at LIAM. LIAM gasps, his heart rate getting quicker, his magic becoming unruly.
LIAM: No, don’t–
LIAM’S magic bursts, creating a flashbang out of his ball of light, momentarily blinding them both.
NICO: FUCK, MY EYES! OW! THE LIGHT SWITCH IS RIGHT BY YOU!
LIAM stumbles over to the light switch and turns it on, still rubbing his eyes.
NICO: WHAT THE FUCK?!
LIAM: Yes, I know!
NICO: WHAT DOES THAT EVEN MEAN?! You’re fucking awful at being a cop!
LIAM: Oh, god–I’m not a cop!
The two start recovering their vision.
NICO: Yeah I guess I can kinda see that now, because my fucking eyeballs are functioning again, you rude bitch! Even if you’re not a cop, you’re awful at being whatever the fuck you are!
LIAM: Yes, I am aware! I just–ugh–I just need to ask you some questions.
NICO: Sounds like something a cop would say, buckaroo.
LIAM: No, I’m not–”buckaroo?”
NICO: I SAID WHAT I SAID.
LIAM: Oh my god . . . Listen. I’m not a cop. I’m with–ugh–I’m with a government–
LIAM: Will you please shut the fuck up for two seconds and let me talk?
NICO: (Laughs) No!
NICO starts nonchalantly walking away.
LIAM: We’re trying to put a stop to Reilley.
NICO: I stopped dealing to Riley like a year ago, buddy!
LIAM: Morgan Reilley.
NICO stops in his tracks and does a perfect 180 on his heel.
NICO: Okay, Rude Bitch, consider me curious.
LIAM: We know you were t-taken by them at some point. We believe you. Ah, believe that–believe that you were taken. For reasons. For things they’re-that they’re maybe still, ah, doing, and we need to–we’re trying to–
NICO starts walking back towards LIAM
LIAM: –to investigate, so as to make sure we can give evidence enough for them to be shut down or, at least, investigated further, and we know that you’re–
NICO gets closer to LIAM. LIAM takes a step back.
LIAM: –a, ah, a source who’s been w-wronged by them and hasn’t been given, um–given–
NICO takes a Sharpie out of his pocket. NICO uncaps the Sharpie.
LIAM: What are you doing–
NICO: Give me your hand.
LIAM: Absolutely not.
NICO grabs LIAM’s hand and starts writing on it.
LIAM: That’s permanent marker!
NICO: Jesus Christ it’s INK stop being a BABY! There. Them’s my digits, for. Y’know. Now. I’ll get a new one in like, 24 hours or, y’know, if I get bored. You’re gonna let me leave here, ‘k? This is what you’re gonna do. And you’re gonna wait for ten seconds before you tell your friends that I left. And then you can tell them that the double they’re chasing isn’t real, and that they are real stupid.
LIAM: How do I know you’re going to respond?
NICO: I mean, you don’t.
LIAM: You expect me to trust you.
NICO: Ah, yeah. You seem pretty fucking dumb. So . . .
LIAM: That–wait . . .
NICO: Look, you got two choices. Either you trust me to respond to whatever you send me, or I don’t trust you ever at all and you get jack shit from me.
LIAM doesn’t respond.
NICO: Now, how long are you gonna wait until you tell your friends to stop chasing little Puppet Me, sweetheart?
LIAM: (Through gritted teeth) Ten seconds.
NICO: That’s right! And I mean full M-I-S-S-I-S-S-I-P-P-I’s.
NICO turns on his heel and starts walking in the opposite direction.
NICO: And don’t follow me!
LIAM sighs and watches NICO cross the room, open a door on the opposite side, and close it behind him.
LIAM’S INNER VOICE: One Mississippi. Two Mississippi. Three Mississippi.
LIAM opens his palm and manifests another small ball of light.
LIAM’S INNER VOICE: Four Mississippi. Five Mississippi. Six Mississippi.
LIAM closes his palm and tries to extinguish the light, but it doesn’t disappear. He shakes his hand frantically, and it slowly dissipates. LIAM sighs.
LIAM’S INNER VOICE: Seven Mississippi. Eight Mississippi.
MAHIRA and SARAH start running up the stairs LIAM used.
LIAM’S INNER VOICE: Nine Mississippi ten Mississippi.
LIAM: In here!
MAHIRA opens the door and runs inside.
MAHIRA: Liam! Why are you up here?
SARAH: Are you okay?
LIAM: The two of you were chasing a double.
MAHIRA: Ahhh. Well, shit. Jeez, he had enough energy to sustain a double for that long? He must be exhausted . . . I wonder if we could still find the real–
LIAM: I found the real one.
SARAH: Where is he?
LIAM: He–he left.
LIAM: He’d only agree to give information if I allowed him to leave. He–here.
LIAM holds up his hand to show them. MAHIRA laughs.
MAHIRA: Is that his number?
MAHIRA: Well, I–I guess it’s, um, it’s something!
SARAH: How are we supposed to trust that this is even real?
LIAM: I don’t.
SARAH: Oh, cool. Great.
LIAM: But. . . this seemed like–like the best option at the time.
MAHIRA: No, you did good! You trusted your instincts and you got what is hopefully useful intel.
LIAM: “Useful.” Hmph. We’ll see.
INT APARTMENT BUILDING – NIGHT
LIAM walks down the hallway towards his apartment. Inside, there are sounds of something on the TV. LIAM, hands shaking, gets his keys out of his coat pocket. He unlocks the door and walks inside the apartment, where Flynn is sitting on the couch, playing a video game.
FLYNN: (obviously high) Oh, hey! Whassup?
Flynn pauses the game. LIAM walks into the room and sits down in the armchair.
FLYNN: You’re back so early. Did everything go alright?
FLYNN: What’s on your hand?
LIAM: It’s a– (pained laugh) It’s a long story.
FLYNN: Oh, well, I don’t know, Liam . . . I’m like . . . really busy right now . . .
LIAM: (Chuckles) Alright. Fine. So, as you know, tonight we were supposed to track down this criminal. Try to see what information he had on everything. When we arrived at the headquarters, though, Sarah assured us that he wasn’t going to be there at all.
FLYNN: Oh, good.
LIAM: Patience, my young padawan.
FLYNN: Oh, bad.
[[over-the-top spy music plays]]
LIAM: When we arrived, it turned out he was in. Sarah and Mahira went in one direction; I, in the other. And then I see him there–criminal. Murderer? Perhaps. Thief? Absolutely. He sees me, and, terrified, tries to shoot magic at me, but alas, he isn’t quick enough; I block him.
FLYNN: Wow! How?
The music stops abruptly.
LIAM: Ah, well, I–hmm. So,
The music starts back up.
LIAM: I, ah, I held up my, my hand, and I, ah . . .
FLYNN: Did you fuck up a little?
LIAM: I fucked up massively, yes.
FLYNN: But you lived!
The music stops again.
FLYNN: (Sighs) C’mon, don’t. So what happened?
LIAM: Well, I spoke with him, and then–um. . .
LIAM holds up his hand
FLYNN: And then he . . . gave you his number?
LIAM: Yes. So I could reach him. Professionally.
FLYNN: . . . Uh huh.
FLYNN: (Teasingly) Well, we both know your dumb bi ass has made some, um, we could say interesting choices in women and men and enbies before, but–
LIAM: What? No. This–this isn’t for that. This is for an investigation. This isn’t for . . . you know–no.
FLYNN: I’m just messing, I’m just messing. I’m glad it went well–wait, like, how do you know it’s a real number?
LIAM: (Sighs) Oh . . . ah, I . . . aw, man. I don’t.
FLYNN: Well you should probably, like, try it, right?
LIAM: . . . Oh. With–with my phone?
Flynn looks at LIAM.
FLYNN: No, with the fuckin’ refrigerator.
LIAM: Yeah. Fair. With my phone. Yeah.
LIAM gets his phone out of his pocket, but as soon as he grabs it, a spark of NICO’s magic runs down his hand from the Sharpie ink to the phone, shocking LIAM in the process.
FLYNN: What was that?
LIAM: That was this criminal’s magic. He must have done something to the ink before he wrote on my hand, because of course he did. I’m an idiot.
FLYNN: Well, shit.
LIAM starts furiously dialing. There’s a quick dial tone.
VOICEMAIL: We’re sorry. The number you have dialled is not in service.
The call ends.
LIAM: Mm. Mmhm. Mmhm.
LIAM’s phone starts ringing.
LIAM: Oh no.
FLYNN: Answer it!
LIAM: No no no no no no. I do not want this.
FLYNN: (chanting) Answer it! Answer it! Answer it!
LIAM answers the phone.
NICO: (Laughing) You dummy! You goddamn dummy! I mean come onnnnn, amiright? That’s the fuck–that’s the fucking, come onnnnnn
LIAM: So I take it you’re not going to give us information, then?
NICO: Well, well, hold–hold your horses, Vamps, I never said that.
LIAM: Wouldn’t “buckaroo” have worked better here than “vamps”?
NICO: You bet your ass it would have. Anyway so like, shut up, I’m on my way. So don’t be naked or weird when I get there or anything.
LIAM: How do you know where I–
NICO: Come onnnnn, Vamps, I thought you weren’t boring!
LIAM: (scoffs) That was your mistake.
NICO: Whatever see you soon don’t be weird!
NICO hangs up.
FLYNN: Bro. “Buckaroo”?
LIAM: I don’t know! I’m, like, 60 percent sure he might come out of my phone!
There is a knock at the fire escape window in LIAM’s room. There is a pause, and then LIAM walks to the window. NICO is looking into it, crouched on the fire escape. NICO knocks on the window.
NICO: Hey, Vamps, let me in. It’s fucking cold!
There is another pause, but then LIAM sighs and opens the window. NICO crawls inside.
NICO: Uh, a place you got here.
LIAM: That’s, uh. Ok, I guess? “A place.”
NICO saunters around LIAM’s room.
LIAM: Hm. Living room. This way, please.
NICO: You own like . . . zero shit. You know that, right? Like none shit. Your quantity of shit, for most people, is, but in your case, is not.
LIAM: Yes, thank you, what a wonderful assessment. Living room, please, now.
LIAM and NICO walk to the living room, where Flynn is still sitting, eyes wide. When NICO sees Flynn, he stops walking for a second. LIAM takes a seat in the armchair.
LIAM: This is just my roommate–
NICO: Nah I don’t care I don’t care. They’re cool.
NICO takes a seat at the couch, by Flynn.
FLYNN: Yo am I high or did this motherfucker climb in through the window? Also like . . . He? By the way?
NICO: Yeah. I knew he was cool. Got it. Same, mostly.
FLYNN: Cool cool. Ah, Liam too, always. Also you like want a hit, or?
NICO: Yes PLEASE. But he’s got a name?? Look at you, Vamps, you have a name and shit! Hey that’s like, wait . . .yeah! One whole shit you own!
LIAM: (Huffs) Can we please just discuss the information you have?
NICO takes a hit from FLYNN’s bong.
NICO: (To Flynn) No manners, huh?
NICO: (To Liam) Yeah, okay, okay. So, what do you know and what do you want to know?
LIAM considers the question.
LIAM: Mmm, to be frank, Mr. Salvai–
NICO: Fuck, nope, no no no. Veto. Nico.
LIAM: Right. Nico. To–to be frank, Nico, we have . . . ah, we have very little. We know that you, um, you tweeted about having been taken by who you believe to be representatives of Morgan Reilley at some point, and it–it didn’t seem as though you, ah, received much–much validation or, um, support. But, um– we believe your claim.
NICO: Uh huh.
NICO: Wait, a tweet? That’s it?
LIAM: Um. Y-yeah. It–it–it’s all we–yeah.
NICO: Dandy. Real dream team, huh?
NICO: Ok, ok, ok. So here’s how it went down.
NICO leans forward in his seat. Over-the-top spy music begins (again).
NICO: So there I am, middle of New Candler, middle of the night. I’m supposed to be meeting a contact for some, uhhhhhhhh, some uhhh business.
NICO looks at Flynn. A beat.
NICO: Crime. So there I am, waiting, minding my own business like a goddamn cherub when I get some real bad fuckin vibes. And that’s when it all comes together : it’s a setup. And one of my pals is a mole. Gave me bad intel even though I trusted them. You know how it goes. The crime.
LIAM: (sighs) Is this really necessary?
The music stops abruptly.
NICO: Wow, yes, fuck off.
The music begins again.
NICO: –out of the shadows comes this like uhhhhhh this like thread. Dark blue. Glowing and shit.
LIAM: Dark blue?
NICO: Yeah, dark blue. So then I’m all wrangled up and I’m thinking, “Oho okay well this might still get kinda fun huh?” but then, from out of those same. Goddamn. Shadows. This ominous motherfucker walks out, looking all fucking prim and proper. Like uhhhhhh like too prim and proper. And he reels me in with that thread, and then shoom, we’re fuckin’ gone. And I don’t know where the fuck I am but I’m all tied up and whatever.
NICO: But I know what the fuck I’m doing. So then I look around, and I notice some shit: first off, a whole bunch of syringes, filled with, y’know, shit. Second, a fuckton of servers. A metric fuckton. Third: this fucker’s putting on a goddamn lab coat, and it’s got the Reilley Industries logo, and–here’s the kicker–it’s got a nametag.
FLYNN: Oh shit.
NICO: Yeah oh shit.
LIAM: What did the name tag say?
NICO: Said “Richard the fuck Alden.”
The music stops.
LIAM’S INNER VOICE: What? No.
LIAM: No, no. That can’t be right.
NICO: Um, excuse your unbelievable ass, how the fuck would you know? You weren’t there.
LIAM: Richard Alden doesn’t have any magical ability.
NICO: Uhhhhhhh okay well then explain how he magic ability’d my whole ass yoinked straight to a whole nother place then, Vamps.
LIAM’S INNER VOICE: There’s no way. There’s no way.
LIAM: You–he–he must have–it must have been someone else’s ID.
NICO: Wrong again, kid! You think I didn’t Google that motherfucker after? That was him.
LIAM’S INNER VOICE: He wouldn’t have done this to someone if they were like him. He wouldn’t have done this to me if I were like him.
LIAM: I, ah . . . Um.
NICO: Anyway so I was like, “Fuck this, who the fuck do you think I am,” and then I magicked so hard I busted through his weak-ass string and got myself out. First, got myself out of the building–it was in a different borough somewhere, but definitely not like that far. Then got myself back to–a place. Which is none of your business so don’t ask.
LIAM’S INNER VOICE: He’s wrong. He’s crazy he’s wrong. You’re wrong. He locked you up because he hated you. Because you’re wrong. Fundamentally. With or without magic.
LIAM: I’m–I’m fine, ah. Thank–thank you, Nico. That’s . . . helpful.
NICO: Yeah whatever. I mean, I spent some time doing other things in that place, but I was bored tonight anyway, so I’ll just tell you that part.
NICO: What were you playing here, my guy? What is that, MarioKart or some shit?
FLYNN: This–this is PS4, bro.
NICO: So what like Sonic and Knuckles or some shit?
FLYNN: . . . No.
LIAM: Thank you, Nico, you’ve been v-very–well, you’ve been . . . helpful, I suppose. We’ll–we’ll contact you if anything else is, ah, needed.
An awkward silence.
NICO: Oh. Got it. Yeah, got it. Got it got it got it. Yeah, I’ll just be on my way. Wouldn’t want to keep you cool kids up all night, what with your respective Sonic Party Four and your Shitty Cop LARPing. I’ll be on my way. Contact me fucking never.
NICO stands up.
LIAM: I–wait–I’m sorry, I just–
LIAM: Richard Alden is my father.
NICO: (Manic laughter) No! Oh fuck this! Extremely never fucking contact me again or, and I want you to take this very seriously–I’ll slap you apart, got it?
LIAM: It’s not like that! He–we don’t–we don’t exactly get along. I–I did what–I did what you did. I fled too.
NICO: Fuck you, I didn’t flee, Vamps. I escaped.
LIAM: Y-yes. Well, so did I.
NICO: Hmm. Yeah, okay, Vamps. I guess text me if you need shit or whatever. But don’t think that we’re pals now just because you have some fucking daddy issues or whatever. Who doesn’t.
He turns to FLYNN.
NICO: Nice to meet you, Flynn.
NICO: Kay peace out.
FLYNN: Uh . . . you–you can use the door this time? Or . . .
NICO walks back to LIAM’s room, opens the window, climbs out, closes the window, and walks down the fire escape.
LIAM: What the fuck?
FLYNN: You’ll have to be more specific.
LIAM: All of it. All of it what the fuck.
FLYNN: Oh, yeah. Hella.
END OF EPISODE 3
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:
- We’d like to thank some of our Indiegogo backers who helped fund our first season:
- Collin Gifford
- Kim Dauber
- Leah Bibby
- Mallory Vance
- Michael McKenzie
- Nick Douglas
- Travis Whitehead
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.