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by Mr.RMA

Mr.RMA A short prelude to my player character in an old campaign of Monster Of The Week. Terry, a mundane customer service clerk, goes through the menial tasks of his somewhat troubled life, all leading up to a singular event that would fling him into the dealings of a rather dangerous, albeit quite fascinating, world of the supernatural.
“… Here’s your full refund sir. Once more let me apologize for your dissatisfaction with your purchase…”

“Dissatisfaction?! I’m never coming back here again you little rat! You people always say the same damn thing with your meaningless apologies, well, I ain’t putting up with it anymore. You’ve lost yourself a customer for life! Go get a better job and learn some respect, you damn bum!” A particularly temperamental man shouted, having turned a deep red whilst sweating profusely as he snatched the money from the store clerk’s hand and stormed off.

“Thank you for… shopping at Walget, sir…” Terry Rincewind said just as the man was out of hearing range, not wanting to get another outburst, but… also following the store protocol of saying those very words after every exchange with a customer… or ex-customer in this apparent case. He seemed to shiver just a bit from the outburst, never exactly enjoying such vitriol coming his way, but it wasn’t the first time. Wouldn’t be the last. People had a habit of having a problem with one thing or another and expecting immediate gratification for it. Of course, being in charge of customer service, he was the one they aimed all their complaints towards, as if he were the very foundation of this big-box store. These days they weren’t too far off the mark, to be fair…

What had started as a part-time stint for a young high schooler to learn the value of a dollar ended up becoming full time work just to get by, all thanks to that bothersome inconvenience of losing both his parents at once. They’d called it a car wreck when he pressed the authorities about it. “Wasn’t pretty” becoming the favorite phrase of the day. He remembered that afternoon before the accident painfully well. His folks had needed to go shopping, it was going to be quite a haul so they asked if Terry could help them out. He’d been a lot more… whiny at the time, blame that on that awkward phase between adolescence and young adulthood, or perhaps he was simply stressed that day, either way he’d made it clear he didn’t want to help out and they resignedly left without him. He might as well have said “I hate you,” just to really send home just how regretful this last exchange became. Not a day went by afterwards when Terry thought about how things might have been different had he been present. Whatever happened… maybe it could have been avoided… if only he were there to help…

Since then, helping was all he ever tried to do, and… as it happened, his job was all about that sort of thing. Suddenly in the face of tragedy he was at least finding the motivation to move his way up the ladder a little, not in any managerial sense but, he was getting more hours and slightly higher pay… which was good, because his family home was history, and suddenly his extended family had nothing to offer him. There was the old Rincewind loyalty for you… On his own, he’d at least managed to scrap up enough with his persistent working to make payments off of a studio apartment… and there was always the family van. Oh yes, the old Volkswagen LT… A venerable van that made a pretty decent emergency home or at least sleeping area, especially when apartment-searching. Its paint-job was… distinct. Many a time it had been re-painted, but the exact paint available at the time was never the same, leaving a blob of green, yellow and violet masquerading as a vehicle. The chaotic splash of colors led Terry to nickname it “The Pollock”.

Driving back home after that unpleasant work shift, Terry stumbled into his apartment in an exhausted stupor. Everything about him seemed to change outwardly in an instant. His attentive, approachable expressions became sunken in and depressive, his well-kept hair suddenly looked to have weathered a hurricane, and his clothes even seemed more wrinkled and tattered. The façade was gone, his actual feelings brought back to visual prominence. He thought back about the loud-mouthed complainer from earlier that day and felt the frustration of the moment creep back in, leaving him to debate whether to punch a pillow or punch the wall… Looking over at the wall, he saw the fresh coat of paint he’d applied only a week or so ago. He’d had one too many moments and it had started to chip… Much as it felt more cathartic, he couldn’t afford doing any more damage… lest he cause something he couldn’t so easily cover up from the landlord. As such, the pillow sufficed.

Laying back on his mattress, about half a size too small for him, he turned his head and stared at the closet on the other side of the room. Behind all the clothes hanging within, there was one other object of note, and his tired mind ran amok thinking about it.

‘You really shouldn’t have that, you know.’

He could hear his conscience scolding him as it did almost every night.

‘You’re only gonna end up hurting yourself if you keep it around.’

It wasn’t an irrational fear… After all, a hunting rifle of any sort could cause a lot of unwanted damage, to put it mildly. Sure, he might have had prior experience, he’d been a scout for a while, shooting was one of the few things he did well in those formative years… but he wasn’t going to be going on any target shoots, and certainly not on any live expeditions, the thought of killing animals for fun made him sick to his stomach… yet he still had that rifle.

‘What are you afraid of? Whatever it is, do you think you’ll even be quick enough to deal with it? What’s the point?’

He’d been so afraid about nearly everything after his parents’ demise. Even after the crushing depression and heartbreak mellowed out just enough for him to be functional, he still carried that fear, fear that someone could pose a kind of threat that he’d be forced to defend himself against. Walget made it pretty easy to go through the registration process… and the employee discount was a decent motivator to boot.

‘You’ve gotta get rid of it… You know you do.’

The thoughts were incessant tonight… Enough to force Terry out of bed and open the closet, ruffling through his clothes to find the rifle carrier, possessing the weapon in question within. Scowling at it, he brought it over to his van, opening the back door and tossing it onto the floor of the vehicle. He’d find a place to get rid of it another day… but for now at least it was out of the house. Walking back into the apartment, his mind at least temporarily cleared, he laid back down and let his mind wander to another old standby… “Wonder if Quinn will finally drop by again tomorrow…”

Terry didn’t really know much about this Quinn character, they were sort of an enigma, or at least the sort that dedicatedly kept their hand close to their chest. To say Terry knew much about them was a falsity of course, but that didn’t matter all too much to him. The point was, this ambiguous individual, clad in what seemed to be the same purple shirt and jeans every day, and usually carrying a fairly blank look on their face, was someone to talk to. Every other person in the store either turned to him for a refund or a call to the manager, or just a good old-fashioned rant, and co-workers were all too busy being fellow drones and soulless husks to find time for a chat. Quinn, strangely enough, not only passed by one day to talk, but came back on a number of occasions. It was a pleasant break away from the norm for Terry, to have someone around to talk to about nothing important in particular… Took his mind off work, off his anxieties, off his trauma especially in the earliest meetings. Quinn offered a sympathetic ear, and ultimately became a highlight of his day, whether they knew it or not.

Then there came the day when Quinn didn’t show up at the usual time… or at all. Slightly disappointed, Terry nonetheless figured they were probably just busy, that can happen… and then another day passed. Okay, they’re probably just away or something, that’s fine, in a week or so they’d probably come back around. Two months later he realized maybe that wasn’t so likely… Were they okay? He genuinely had no way of knowing. They never really gave a last name, nor did he ever spot them anywhere else beforehand. For all he knew Quinn could’ve just been a figment of his imagination… and that possibility didn’t do his fragile mind any favors. Work had gotten more cumbersome after that, occasionally his sunken in features would break out of the cheerful business façade, not that anyone really seemed to care. His passion for helping others had dulled drastically. Yet all the while he was still hoping the closest person he had to a friend would stop by again, just once more… Hell, even if they were all in his head, at least a mind-breaking delusion would be better than nothing. He’d take it. Just… something to get him out of this rut…

The next day, after about a half-hour of eventually convincing a customer that they couldn’t get a refund off a television monitor they had smashed with a hammer, no matter how badly the Raiders played that week, his manager called him over to his office, saying he had a new job for him. Fairly uncommon situation, but, not without precedent. He probably needed him to make a quick delivery, a new gimmick they’d come up with lately to compete with the online stores, instant delivery or whatever the term was... That or he was on flyer duty… He really hoped it wasn’t flyer duty.

“So, I got a couple flyers here I need delivering…”

Son of a bitch…

“Specialty stores, you see… gotta try and give us a better reputation with the smaller shops. I’m sure I don’t gotta tell you how we’re perceived in that regard. Gotta show them some goodwill or some shit like that to keep some of the heat off our backs.”

“Yes sir… I’ll get right to that,” Terry said, doing his best to hide his disdain for the job and turning to head out before quickly getting stopped.

“Woah woah, just a sec, kid. While I got you out there, I also have a package delivery I need you to do. Should be the last stop on the way back so you can just clock out afterwards. Some crazy occult shop or something wanted this knife we got shipped in… was supposed to be a mistake, never ordered it, but, hey, we’re gettin’ rid of it with cash in pocket, that’s a win if I ever saw one,” the manager said as he placed a box on the desk, which Terry carefully balanced on the flyer pile. “I know I can rely on ya, kid. Got another Employee of the month plaque comin’ your way I’m sure,” he made sure to say as Terry finally left the office, biting his tongue before he could let out a “big fucking deal.”

Taking the Pollock out as his personal mail truck, he began tossing flyers out to every door and car windshield he could find. The work was a pain, but, hey, at least he was outside, and it was a nice California day, the shores all looking quite pleasant from a distance, even if it was hit or miss if they were so nice up close. The hours passed and eventually the last flyer and the accompanying package were ready to be dropped off at this shop of peculiarities… He may have seen it on his path to work before, but never had he worked up the gall to go in. The place gave him the creeps, and sometimes he thought he could smell the incense burning within through his sealed car windows. Even now he thought he could sense something hair-raising going on, but his fears weren’t valid right now… He had to get someone to sign for the package, so… in he went.

“Special delivoH SHIT!”

What triggered this sudden sharp turn in demeanor? Well, more than likely the giant anthropomorphic wolf monster standing between him and the shopkeeper had something to do with it. Apparently he had timed his delivery quite poorly…

What happened next is part of a greater story than Terry’s own… but in summation, the shopkeeper managed to keep what would’ve been a very short-lived scuffle at bay, and, in no uncertain terms, explained to Terry that he’d stumbled into a rather secretive reality hidden beneath the one he thought he knew so well… one of monsters… and this one, the vicious wolf-creature… apparently he was one of the ‘good guys’. Go figure…

Terry walked out of that shop making the delivery as intended after the quick lecture over just what he’d uncovered, being told to keep what he’d seen on the downlow. Considering the kind of power this shopkeeper had at her disposal, he was more than willing to comply… He went back to the Walget, clocked out, and went back home, sitting there on his bed, not intending to get the least bit of sleep. He’d been told he would get a call from that occultist shop owner, at some point she’d need his services, and he’d have no choice but to accept the job when it came around. He’d gotten himself in too deep to back away. Perhaps without any coincidence, the voice in his head stopped hassling him about the gun…

The next few days he looked incredibly shaken, keeping his eyes out, looking about ready to crack at any moment, but nothing happened. No call. No favor… Maybe she’d forgotten… maybe it was just a really good hoax… Maybe there was something rational to cling to out of all this… And then his phone rang… She was calling it in…

He drove up to the shop, his rifle still at the floor of his van, though he kept at the ready a multitool with a comparatively large knife within it. Walget certainly prided itself on its variety of goods after all… He hadn’t even had the chance to change out of his work clothes, but he wasn’t thinking about his looks for very long, not when he made his way in, seeing the werewolf, a fellow by the name of Randall, next to the shopkeep, Cassandra, and beside the two of them… Quinn. Of all people. They were real after all apparently… and as he was starting to realize… plenty more things, far less believable, were just as real as well… and now he was smack-dab in the middle of it. He wanted out of his rut… this wasn’t what he’d had in mind.