Falling In Periphery - Josiah's Tale


Twyla Jane

Disclaimer is and always has been I don’t own ‘em and never made a plug nickel off ‘em. This is the second story in my Periphery AU and response to Nuttiegirl’s October 2002 M7 Challenge. Every author has their favorite character. But, on occasion some of the less popular of the seven get left behind. Hence, I challenge you to write a fic featuring one of the seven that you do not normally write as the main character in your fiction. Think of it as a learning experience where you get to grow as a writer. Of course, if you want to add some fun and frivolity to it all, feel free to throw in a missing mummy, a vampiric baddie or a cadre of werewolves carting contraband! After all, it is Halloween! 10/19/02

2:30 p.m.

His head still reeling JD sank heavily down on the park bench to wait. He hadn’t known Buck Wilmington for more than thirty minutes already the tall affable man with dark blue eyes and easy laugh was already trying mother him. The young man took a deep breath at least his wasn’t there alone. Of course wasn’t exactly sure just where that was as he sat there rapt watching a barely transparent hot dog vender serve up his wares to equally translucent customers. He was in the midst of wondering whether or not he could actually devour one of the savory tube steaks when two strange things happened, as if being suddenly invisible to an entire populace wasn’t enough, all the vibrant visual colors around him within a blink of an eye were replaced with a variety of deep yellows and somewhere in the close vicinity he thought he heard some one scream.


Seconds later a low almost subsonic tone began making his teeth ache and leaving him feeling slightly nauseous. Just as he squeezed his eyes shut and tightly gripped the edge of the bench a massive hand grasped his arm roughly pulling up. For a brief instant JD managed to feebly resist before being forced onto his feet, he dully blinked up with burning eyes at the hulking form that loomed over his own.

“JD… I think it might be best if we moved from this place…”

“Who are you?” Was all he managed to sputter out more than a little disturbed by the proximity of the face obscured by thick goggles when he tried to pull away the older man’s feature’s softened as he spoke. “Don’t worry Buck sent me…” Frightened more by the world visually distorting around him abruptly giving up his struggle allowing the stranger to grasp his elbow and drag him bodily from the park.

12:35 p.m.


The word didn’t quite cover the affliction that seemed to overwhelm all comers to Periphery brought on by the constantly alternating environment. Grimacing as he hefted JD off the bench Josiah half supported half dragged the boy as they moved farther away from the shift. When they reached the edge of the park the big gray haired man stopped quickly scanning the street allowing Dunne to lean heavily against his side as the world twisted and warped. The building and cars rapidly fluctuated in and out of focus the metallic golden hue drowned out the spectrum as it flooded out into the street. Sanchez grasped the boy tighter and bolted down the sidewalk JD’s shorter legs barely able to keep up as they fled through the outer edges of the shift. The pair passed by a haunting specter that remained seemingly unaware of them as it lurched towards the park clad only in ragged rotting strips of cloth that barely covered the remnants its petrified flesh.

The ghastly vision caused the bewildered young man to misstep. A foot caught, the ankle wobbled and turned. Flailing wildly for a second before a knee connected solidly with parking meter but Josiah hauled him up before JD hit the ground pulling them both inside the relative safety of a parking garage just as a loud enormous snarling brown blur thundered by. Two were-beasts were fighting, lunging at one another, growling and snapping, both trying to gain possession over what looked like a tattered bolt of soiled material. It took a second for Sanchez to realize what it was, the Mummy’s torso. Thankful their attention was elsewhere the big man dragged his companion into the stairwell and allowed the door to slam shut.

12:39 p.m.

Slowly sagging down onto the steps. Josiah eased JD back against the steel door crouching down in front of him as he gazing at the boy’s pale features as snot ran unhindered down a trembling lip and tears continued to stream across flushed cheeks. He waited a moment, taking the time to fish a faded red piece of fabric from the pocket of his fatigue jacket liberally dousing it with water from a battered canteen strung across his chest enough time to allow the bewildered brown eyes to completely flutter open before handing the young man a wadded up wet bandana.

“You all right son?” As he spoke Josiah plucked the bulky goggles off, letting them dangle around his neck.

“Oh god…” The youth raised a shaky hand to his head making a feeble attempt to wipe the mess from his face.

“Nasty huh!” A slightly bemused smile momentarily tugged at his lips, the distant memory of his first day came to mind and the smile quickly faded. “If you are going to survive here you are going to have to learn the rules…”

“What rules?” JD squinted at the gray haired man hunkered down in front of him.

“Perhaps I should start from the beginning…. Josiah Sanchez.” Josiah stuck out his hand.

“John Dunne, but you already….” JD hesitated slightly before he reached out and shook the proffered hand then sank back against the cool steel of the stairwell door.

“Knew that? Yes Buck sent me…” Sanchez reassuringly patted the bewildered college student’s knee.

“Where is he?” The simple statement jerked the dark haired youth out of his daze and he tried to bolt up but firm hand kept him in place.

“Like us inside…” Relaxing his hold on the boy Josiah sat down next to him.

“Why didn’t he come back?” JD looked at the stranger sitting beside him, his fine mind came back on-line overriding his fear. He needed to know about Buck.

“We’re in mid-shift he had to wait it out…it’s one of the rules!” The big man let out a quiet sigh as he tried to explain.

“But you were...” Disbelief sparked the words that flew from the young man’s mouth.

“Out there?” Josiah waved towards the door. “Yes, I am one of the few that does not get effected by certain types of dimensional shifts and I also was prepared.”

“The goggles?”

Sanchez nodded, running a callused hand over his grizzled face remaining silent, trying to decide the best way to explain. The best he could supply started with a simple question. “Do you know how you got here?”

“No, not exactly I woke up late and everything was different.” Dunne shrugged and shook his head.

“When exactly did it become different?” Josiah carefully prodded the young man’s memory.

“I don’t know… wait…the elevator… there was a light when I got off it.” JD furrowed his brow, thinking back on the bizarre day his widened as he remembered.

“Bright white.” Josiah supplied quietly as an idle thumb rubbed across his chin

“Yeah it filled the elevator.” Dark bang hung in his eyes as JD answered the question not entirely sure what any of it meant.

“An Influx shift.”

“A what?

“An Influx shift glows white, a heralding sign for all arrivals to Periphery.”

“All arrivals?” JD was beginning to feel like a parrot repeating Josiah’s words but implications were terrifying. “There are more people, I didn’t see…”

“No you wouldn’t have seen them, they were sheltered for the shift.”

“How… how did you get here?”

“I entered this realm nearly ten years ago…” JD sat slack jawed listening as the older man continued. “Back then I was in Peace Corps. Working in the Central America. One minute I was off loading crates from a truck the next…” Josiah paused for a moment before continuing. “For a while I thought I had gone mad…”

“Someone find you too?” JD quietly asked.

“No… there weren’t many of us back then… I eventually came across some others after a year.” The big man’s words were matter a fact but they struck home. Images of the morning flooded JD’s mind, leaving him immensely relieved he had run into Buck He didn’t realize that Josiah was still talking and only caught the last bit of what the man had said.

“…should be safe now.”


“To go find Buck…”

1:02 p.m.

“You mentioned rules?” JD asked as they slipped out the door.

“Yes, first being what ever could kill you in the world…” Josiah’s deep voice rumbled through the parking garage as the made their way to the street.

“It can kill you here!” The college student piped in as he lengthened his stride to keep pace with the older man. “Second would be not to caught out during a one of the shifts….”

Even though he sure what was happening wasn’t a dream, that the nightmare was real JD prayed that he would wake up and be back in the world.