Olle dragged his bleeding leg behind him as we rushed towards the silver pickup Karin had parked in front of the park. The Echo itself had been easy enough to deal with, but the old man hadn’t been too happy about Cawo finding out his little murder hobby that had brought the Echo to life in the first place.
Inside the car, Cawo started looking online for a friendly doctor to help Olle, who was clearly getting worse by the minute. As the engine roared to life Karin made an off-hand action movie reference and laughed. For a second I was certain we had made it to safety. Only a second, before the sound of a second shot rang in the air and shattered glass sprayed everywhere. I saw Karin let go of the wheel and felt how the ground let go of our wheels as the car swerved left into the river. The night wasn’t over for us quite yet.
You’re one of the Quick. It means that somehow your life ended up tangled with the Dead, the Echoes and the rest of the weirdness that surrounds them. And not only that, but against all rational impulse to run or hide, you’ve decided to continue dealing with them, protecting our reality by closing the Echoes you encounter. Some of the Quick call this the Great Work, but in reality, it’s much like trying to fight the rising tide with sandbags.
The Quick is really just a term you use for other people like you. There’s no membership card or a secret handshake – if you work with Echoes, you’re one of the Quick. You often do this with other Quick as there is safety in numbers and the cases often require a variety of talents. And to be honest, it’s also a lot easier to hang around with other people who understand what you’ve gone through.
And it’s a lot. Dealing with the Echoes means constantly looking into murders, suicides, tragic accidents – Death that’s not tranquil. Crime and injustice are leading causes for Echo activity, so being one of the Quick inevitably ties you to the worst in humanity one way or the other. Experienced Quick wear a lot of scars from everything they’ve seen and done.
They say that once you’ve broken down a door, it stays forever open. For you it’s painfully true – The world is a strange, violent place with broken people and unquiet dead, and you cannot un-know the fact. Just being aware of it changes a person. Trying to explain the situation to outsiders is at best awkward, as they tend to dismiss your crazy claims immediately. Or it can be worse – the cautionary tales of members of the Quick ending up in mental institutions for trying to bring the truth to the people are very common amongst you.
This is not a job that gets you paid. But there are Quick who are well enough off and have friends in higher places who try their best to make sure you don’t end up worse financially or legally for what you do when doing the Great Work. You can probably find someone who can fix your car without questions when there is a bullet hole in the engine block, or get you a few hours of head start to investigate a scene before the authorities really get involved.
And you do what you can to help your fellow Quick when they need help – a spare bed for someone passing through, go buy a 20kg bag of salt and deliver it to the harbor, or come assist in a surgery of a grown man even if you’re only a veterinarian. You help each other the best you can.
You are one of the Quick, the counterbalance to the Dead.