1920s New York
The anomaly hunters are a group of highly trained individuals who are hired to track down interdimensional beings and objects who are wont to mess with the timelines and fabric of our reality. Every fall, the hunters select two applicants based on their performance in a difficult but just trial. This was the year that Camellia Dempsey was accepted onto the team, along with fellow newcomer Preston Jones. Considering what she had seen from Preston at the trial, Camellia had confidence she could be the most impressive new recruit — and she was going to do what she could to earn the title.
When she wasn’t out on an exciting mission, though, Camellia was stuck in the boring part of anomaly hunting — the history classes. They were taught by a hunter named Alf, who was a cool guy himself; he was even the designated cook on the team, but Camellia was never one much for sitting in a classroom and listening to people talk at her. She well preferred to be doing something. Luckily for her, one specific history class would lead her to just that.
“And when the hunters returned to their own time,” Alf was saying, “they had discovered that what they did back in 1932 had led to the invention of commercials!”
“Man,” said Preston, “we are awful people for inventing commercials.
“I hate commercials,” commented Whitehall, the oldest anomaly hunter who acted as a mentor to all. Though he had heard it all before dozens of times over, he quite enjoyed to sit in on history lessons. “They don’t help anyone. Infomercials, however . . .”
“Oi, Sadie!” Alf smacked a ruler off of Sadie’s desk. “Wake up!”
Sadie awoke with a start. She was an anomaly hunter closer to Camellia and Preston in age who liked to do things her own way. Oftentimes, her own way would include not listening to history lessons. “Yeah, yeah, I’m awake.”
“Don’t make me get my dingo,” Alf warned. “This commercial issue is all you guys’ fault, anyway.”
Preston sat up straighter. “Our fault? How is it our fault?”
Alf waved his hand. “Shouldn’t’ve gone back in time.”
“But we didn’t,” Preston said. “Not to 1932. At least Cam and I haven’t. We’re too new.”
“Don’t call me Cam,” Camellia snapped.
Alf pointed his ruler at Preston. “I won’t take back talk from you, mate. Whitehall, fetch my dingo.”
“Do you actually have a dingo?” Camellia asked.
Before she could get an answer, alarms suddenly started to go off. Sadie, who had already fallen back asleep, awoke once more in a slight panic. “Fire!” she yelled. “Everyone, get out! Sadies first, women and children second!”
“Calm yourself, mate,” Alf said, raising his voice to be heard over the alarms. “It’s just the anomaly detectors.” He moved to his computer and input a code, and the alarms shut off.
“What is it, Alf?” Whitehall asked, joining Alf at his computer. The younger hunters were quick to follow suit.
“A massive anomaly has been detected.” Alf scrolled through some information on it. “Says here whoever caused it left behind distinct anomaly hunter aura in the air.”
Camellia raised an eyebrow. “What does ‘distinct anomaly hunter aura’ look like?”
“Anomaly hunters’ DNA gets literally rewritten when they time travel, and it leaves a detectable ‘scent’ that can be picked up by hunter technology,” Whitehall explained.
“Can it tell specifically who left it behind?”
“Unfortunately, no. Where is the anomaly, Alf?”
“1920s New York,” Alf said. He reread the information, then nodded. “I think we’ve got this one. We kind of have to, since we’re the only hunters in today. Consider this the rest of your history lesson for today. Let’s move out, mates!”
Whitehall led the gang to the tech room, where they grabbed the necessary equipment and transported as a group to the source of the anomaly.
“Time to get this anomaly,” Sadie said, swinging the tip of her lasso, which she carried around with her at all times “in case she needed to use her cowgirl skills”.
They landed in New York in what Camellia could only assume was the 1920s. Everyone was certainly dressed for the part.
“Huh,” said Preston. “I thought everything would be black- and-white.”
“We should blend in,” Sadie said. She shouted into the crowd in a New York accent, “Ayo, I’m walkin’ here!”
“Yeah,” Preston joined in. “We’re walkin’ here!” He nudged Camellia with his elbow. “Come on, Cam, say it; have some fun!”
“We’re here on a mission,” Camellia said. “And do not call me Cam.”
“Why not? It’s your name; isn’t it?”
She glared at him. “My name is Camellia.”
“Well,” said Whitehall, “where is it?”
Alf was staring into a crowd of people who seemed to be all shaken up, a look of shock on his face. He pointed to the middle of the chaos, which looked to be a rabid dog. Only it wasn’t a dog — it was a dingo.
“Maybe I’m going out on a limb here,” Camellia said, “but is that your dingo, Alf?”
Alf hesitated. “It may be.”
“Don’t worry, guys; I’ve got this.” Sadie attempted to lasso the dingo, but it very easily escaped.
“Dingoes wherever dingoes,” Whitehall said wisely. “Gandhi said that.”
“Get back here, dingo!” Sadie shouted before she started chasing after it.
“Sadie—,” Preston started, but Sadie came to a stop before she got anywhere near the dingo. The dingo itself had frozen where it stood, as if somebody had simply pressed pause on it.
“Uh,” said Sadie. “Why did it freeze?”
“If the dingo is yours,” Preston whispered to Alf, “do you control it?”
“He’s a dingo,” Alf said. “No one controls him.”
Suddenly, the dingo started to emit weird, colorful lighting out of its mouth.
“Oi!” Alf shouted. “What’d you do to my dingo!”
Camellia took a cautious step back and expected the others to follow her, but Sadie took even more steps toward the dingo. And then, she was running at the dingo, ignoring her companions’ shouts for her to stop. She swung her lasso at the light, attempting but failing miserably to catch it. The dingo was moving again, and it was moving toward Sadie with its mouth hanging open, but she was still refusing to back down. The group feared she was going to get eaten, and they told her to run, but she didn’t listen, and so Preston took it upon himself to do something.
He ran at the dingo and leapt onto it; Camellia thought he must have had a death wish. But then he pulled something out of his pocket and fed it to the dingo — a bag of Swedish Fish. The light went away from the dingo, and, just like that, it was pacified.
Camellia blinked. “Don’t tell me that actually worked.”
Preston returned to the group with a look of triumph. “Swedish Fish can work wonders, Cam.”
“You know you like it.” He winked at her.
She grimaced. “Don’t be creepy.”
Accompanied by Sadie, Alf brought the dingo over to the others. It trotted along loyally at his heels. Before they returned to their own time, Sadie thanked Preston for saving her life. Camellia rolled her eyes behind their backs. She knew that, had she been prepared, she easily could have subdued the dingo. Besides, Sadie wouldn’t have nearly died had she not ran directly at the threat. If anything, Camellia was simply being more cautious, and she felt ultimately like that was the right move to make.
The five hunters, plus the dingo, were transported back to their HQ.
“Hey, Alf,” Preston said, “since I did so well on this mission, think I could get a celebratory grilled cheese?”
“Coming right up!” Alf announced, and he started on his way toward the kitchen with his dingo by his side.
“Way to stay humble,” Camellia mumbled.
“I deserve to celebrate,” Preston said. “Did you see me jump onto that dingo? That was awesome! You did well, too, Cam; don’t worry. I’m sure Alf’d make you a grilled cheese, too!”
She crossed her arms. “One — I don’t want a stupid grilled cheese. Two—”
Camellia was cut short by another alarm sounding.