The X Factor

Hello! For an explanation of my theme for this April A to Z Blogging Challenge, consult the sidebar. If there is no sidebar displayed on your device, check under the Comments section. Either way, my theme explanation is directly under my 2018 A to Z Badge.

The X-Factor


By Major Kinsey Stipend, Chief Accountant


The “X-Factor”: The differences between Agent life and civilian life, and the reason we pay you so bloody well.


I will now set before you what those differences are. Not that you can quit even if this document makes you want to (see #3), but it might be helpful for new Agents to know what they are now in for.


#1. The Actual Time Travel.


Time Travel does not hurt. Not physically. You walk through a door, and it is as easy as falling off a log, or through the gallows trap. However, it isn’t something that civilians do. It isn’t something they’re permitted to do. Now you’re an Agent, it is your job to do it. So we add a bit to your packet for doing it.



#2. The Mental Strain of Time Travel.


Time travel leads to certain problematic mental conditions. Like never being really convinced that the Present Day is really real. Seems improbable, when you see up close and personal how people used to live. When you’ve heard a pig scream as it is butchered, and shortly thereafter have been presented with a very fresh pork chop, SynthVat food seems impossibly humane. Hard to quite believe in it. You always feel that there’s a screaming pig, somewhere in the background.


There are other mental conditions besides the one I describe above, but it won’t do to list them here. One or two of them get you off the Active Agents list, and you might be tempted to sham. For now, all you need to know is that your compensation for all of it is already right there, in your monthly paycheck.


#3. The Fact That You Can’t Quit.


Once you’ve signed your contract, many of your legal rights are suspended. We do much to ensure that you do not know this until it is too late, because, quite frankly, we need new Agents, and it doesn’t do to be too scrupulous. For the fact that you’ve been virtually press-ganged, we shove a bit extra into your monthly envelope.


#4. Perils of The Past.


The Past is a dangerous sort of place. It was hard enough on the Residents, and they knew what they were doing. They knew which way to look when crossing the street, what neighborhoods to avoid after dark, and which eating establishments were least likely to poison them. They had an intuitive sense about who not to insult, who not to talk to, and who it was dangerous even to look at. And, and this may be the main thing, they fit. Each Resident came from somewhere and had a place in society (even if that place was “crazy-eyed guy laughing quietly in the back of the subway car”). You have no place. You don’t belong. You don’t even make sense. People are pretty good at sensing that. This makes you a target. This also makes you that much the richer on payday.


#5. The Whole Outer Entity Thing.


You’d be surprised how often Agents have to tangle with an Outer Entity. As a non-specialist, your contact with Outer Entities will probably be restricted to unobtrusive observation, detection, and getting back alive with a report. Or it will be until Scheduling buggers things up again, or until we get a bit desperate. Even if all you ever have to do is be in the vicinity of an Outer Entity for long enough to gather intel, you are still facing incalculable danger. We’ve done our best to calculate that danger, and to pay you accordingly.


#6. Restricted and Sudden Leave.


You may have noticed that your calendar doesn’t have any Leave marked on it. Yes, you’ll get some Leave, at some time. But we don’t like giving you lots of notice about when that Leave will occur. We sort of assume that, in order to get you back from Leave, we will have to come after you. We don’t want to give you lots of time to plan ahead, because it makes the job of retrieving you much more difficult. We don’t actually enjoy playing Hunt the Agent. We really don’t like playing Hunt the Agent Who Has Had Six Months To Plan.


We recognize that this Sudden Leave Policy will strain your relationship with friends and family, and we hope that you will use some of the extra money in your pay packet to buy ‘em expensive presents.

Bookmark the permalink.


  1. Hmmm, would I give up all those rights for the life of excitement that you offer?…

    • Hello Iain! Most people, it seems, would not. That is why most Agents are tricked into the job. Still, it is an exciting (though potentially very short) life! Now, personally, I like a fairly placid existence, with all Excitement kept strictly within the bounds of my imagination, so I’d be a very unhappy Lighthouse Agent.

  2. What a fun A-Z theme! I do wonder, regarding the annual leave, if you could extend your leave time by jumping back to the start of it, just before you got to the end?

    Time travel always does my head in (like the other day when trying to explain the time travel storyline in the last Terminator movie to my kids o_0)

    Returning your A-Z visit from

    • Hello AJ! Actually (shhh! Don’t tell anyone!) time travel does my head in, too. One of my goals for this A to Z is to world-build a time travel setting that won’t do my head in fatally.
      The leave trick might work, except that time travel is illegal for regular citizens (meaning that gaining access to time travel tech is tricky and shady for most people), and an Off-Duty Lighthouse Agent wouldn’t be able to use one of The Lighthouse’s time travel devices. Or at least not without lots of bother. Also, the actual Agent isn’t the one who sets the time travel co-ordinates for missions. Though there may be an interesting story in the idea… hm…
      Thanks for visiting!

  3. Oh the administrative headaches of running Agents!

    A-Zing this year at:
    Normally found at:

  4. Tsk tsk tsk, telling secrets!

  5. But wait! You said in the previous post that there are people who make illigal time travel. If travelling in time is so dangerous and difficult and unpleasant as you depict it, why wooudl people willingly doi it?

    I’m starting to think you’re not telling all the truth about this stuff.

    • Me? Not tell the truth? Surely not! But! Think of the advantages of time travel. I mean, you could go back in time and invest in that start-up company that turns out to do so surprisingly well, for example. So, though it is illegal, and dangerous, and difficult, greedy or desperate people would have an incentive to do it. And when they do do it, they cause the problems that The Lighthouse has to cope with.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *