Story & Cast Back to Main


May 16, 2008 - In the span of a single day, Amal calls off his arranged marriage, comes out to his conservative parents, promptly gets disowned, goes on a bender... and wakes up the next morning to find TJ, a lanky, dreadlocked vagrant, frying eggs and singing Paul Simon in his kitchen.

TJ claims that the two have made a drunken pact to drive all the way from Berkeley to Providence. As it happens, Amal promised his sister he'd be there for her graduation from Brown University. And TJ, well... TJ has his own reasons.

The agreement is simple: Amal does the driving; TJ pays the way - but a 3500 mile journey leaves plenty of time for things to get complicated.



24 years old. 5'8"~5'9", 180lbs. Black hair with premature gray streak; dark brown eyes.

Beneath Amal's athletic, clean-cut exterior is a person he doesn't show to just anybody: a sci-fi nerd, a passionate student, a boy still reeling from high school insecurities, a man still shaping his own identity.

Amal has a tendency to avoid conflict until an inevitable breaking point, which has caused him a lot of trouble and cost him more. Up until the story's beginning, his life was split: closeted at home, out at Berkeley.

He's on a good path, but sometimes stumbles and lands on clueless, insensitive, dense, or all three. Given time to think, he usually comes back around with a little humility, surprising insight, and his eyes just a little more open.



Age unknown (early-mid 20's). 6'2", 155lbs. Straw-blond hair with dark roots; blue eyes. Those yellow lenses are actually prescription - he's a bit nearsighted.

His personality and history are both pretty colorful pieces of patchwork, but he'll never show every part at once. First glance only reveals a fast talking stoner-comedian, which... well, yeah, that's true. In fact, he tends to depend too heavily on his ability to entertain - even when it just makes a situation worse.

TJ is a creature of contradictions: streetwise and naïve, joker and philosopher, a disillusioned man and a wide-eyed kid.

Amal's younger sister, and the middle child in the family. Literature major at Brown University, and on the verge of graduation. 21 years old. She and Amal are very close, so naturally they give each other a hard time. Has something of an addiction to fine loose-leaf teas. Cooks when she's anxious, annoyed, or bored.

Way more than you want to know about the
(in order of appearance)


Amal's (ex-)fiancee. The two are still close friends, and the break-off was mutual, but things didn't go quite so smoothly with Amal's parents.
26 years old, new media/web culture blogger for the LA Times, editor of a few women's short fiction and nonfiction anthologies. Her drive, enthusiasm and ambition sometimes overrule her more practical needs, leading to the occasional burnout. She likes 60's/70's inspired fashion and is usually seen wearing bell bottoms or wide sleeves.


Bartender and co-manager at The Derrick, a laid-back gay bar in Berkeley. Has a few debts to repay, and TJ is not helping his situation.


Amal's youngest sister. 17 years old. Junior in high school. Lives with mother and father back in Seattle.



A good friend of Amal's; they met in Gross Anatomy. Fellow SF/F nerd; a bit of a prankster, but a true friend who's always there. He's the bearded fellow on the right in this picture, and the one in the middle here. (Both of these are from about 2005 or 2006, which is why Amal's still got that super-short haircut.) The other two are Clarissa (Steve's girlfriend), and Doug.






Despite his appearance, he's a pretty upbeat guy. The design on his t-shirt is the cover art of Threshold's album Dead Reckoning.