Vector Verification

This is the third of four excerpts from Displacement, which hits the shelves February 11, 2020. Come back next Saturday for more!


“What is it?” Lizzie wanders in, towel in hand.

“This email.” He turns the computer and she hunches over it.

Information verification request         Dec. 7 (1 day ago)

To: me


Please verify these vectors and inform me of any changes:

1. John Slade-Woodman (fWfFifmW2ifmF2)(live/running:6320@i6184)

2. Elizabeth Chelsea Goldmark (QN)(live/running:6077@i6184)

3. James William Goldmark (mfFcfWimfF2=>BN)(term:5926@i6127)              

4. Alice Evelyn Goldmark (kQ)(term:4821@i5022)

5. Leigh Aiden Goldmark (BN)(live/running:56@i6184)

“What the hell…?”

“Right?” Leigh leans back in his chair.

“That’s…us. Who’s it from?”

“No idea. Some spam address. I was just cleaning out the filter when I saw it.”

“What’s all that stuff after our names?”

“Dunno. But I’m a little concerned that the phrase “live/running” doesn’t show up after Alice or, you know, the old me.”

“And that it does show up next to the three of us that are, you know, alive and running.”

They stare at the message in silence until there’s a knock at the door. They both jump.

“I’ll get it,” Lizzie says, and wanders over.

At the door is a girl who looks, well, to be honest, she looks like a tiny clone of Amy: rosy cheeks, chestnut hair. The difference, aside from the mini-me thing, is that she’s so quiet she’s almost perpetually fading into the scenery. Lizzie squints at her in her jeans and baggy flannel shirt.

“Hey, Tina. What brings you here?”

Tina, who’s in ninth grade but looks even younger, peers sideways around thick-rimmed glasses and down the hall like she’s being watched, then shoves out a crumpled piece of paper toward Lizzie and stares at the carpet.

Lizzie takes the paper, smooths it out and looks it over. It’s a crappy, photocopied flier that looks like a ransom note gone wrong. It reads: QUEER YOUNG PUNKS OF THE ACADEMY, SIT UP AND TAKE NOTICE: BASSIST NEEDED FOR THE BEST PUNK BAND FOR A HUNDRED MILES. GIRLS’ DORM 102, ASK FOR LEIGH. Lizzie blinks, reads it again, looks at Tina, then calls back into the room.


“Yeah?” His voice wafts forward from the half-darkened interior.

“I think it’s for you.”


Displacement comes out February 11, 2020! You can pre-order it in hardcover online at Prospective Press, at, and at If you haven’t had the chance yet, check out the two previous excerpts, “The Test,” and “The Jenny Q Rule,” and check back for another excerpt next Saturday (and for other posts on Tuesdays and Fridays)!

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