Phantom Thief


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Scene Title Phantom Thief
Synopsis Two members of the Safe Zone Cooperative's Citizen Watch makes a startling discovery.
Date March 2nd, 2018

Red Hook Market

The marketplace has been closed for an hour, though the activity at the Red Hook Market has not even begun to die down. Shopkeepers are still packing up their stalls, drawing down metal gates over their kiosks, and packing up from a successful week of sales. Every night, two members from the Citizen's Watch walk the halls of the marketplace to make sure the vendors aren't having trouble with their merchandise, and that no patrons from the day's activity have tucked themselves away to participate in petty theft. With the military police concerned with greater threats of violence and disorder, thing like small robberies and muggings often fall to residents to resolve.

Standing beneath an old brick archway in the basement market, Joanne Dair quietly sips on the last cup of coffee brewed for the night. With her back up against a concrete post, she watches the coffee shop's sole patron, a matronly old woman named Eleanor pack up for the night. Dark eyes square into the surface of her coffee, and Joanne is content to let the night's activity pass in relative silence.

"Did you know a police detective was murdered here once?" Sue Gandry is content to ruin Joanne's silence with chirping interest in historic events. Joanne slllllides Sue a side-long look and raises one well-manicured brow. "Detective Richard Myron," Sue notes, looking down into the pages of a book held in one hand. She flashes the cover to Joanne: Walking Among Us: Visitors From the Future - Fact or Fiction? "According to this, Myron was murdered by a time traveler who had come back to change the future."

"Mnhmm," Joanne vocalizes as she takes another sip of her coffee.

"See, right there." Sue leans over to Joanne, finger tracing a line from the book so Joanne can follow along. "Detective Myron checked out of Precinct 5 without indicating where he was heading. Myron was involved in an ongoing investigation about a man named Tyler Case, and had followed leads regarding Case's appearance in Red Hook!"

Joanne's dark eyes flick down to the book, then up to Sue. "The Case case?" He rlips purse, an amused smile slowly spreading across her mouth. Then, she returns her attention to her coffee. Sue wrinkles her nose at Case case and bobbles her head from side to side.

"I suppose that's a little goofy, but— it's real! Look!" As Sue goes to cite another passage about the mysterious death of Detective Myron, there's a riotous crash from further down the market. Sue and Joanne both look sharply in that direction, then to one-another with wide eyes. Joanne cautiously walks over to the coffee shop, setting her cup down beside Eleanor.

"Stay here," Joanne urges the older woman, and Eleanor's brows shoot up to her hairline.

"I didn't get this old by fucking around with mysterious noises in the night." Eleanor explains with a who the fuck do you think I am expression on her face. Joanne flashes a toothy smile and drums her hands on the bartop and she's hustling off after Sue, who is already taking trepidatious steps through the archway that leads to the source of the noise.

Sue's tucked her book away in her thigh-length sweater jacket, cell phone taken out and a wary look flicked over her shoulder to Joanne. What was that? is mouthed to the other woman, and Joanne shrugs a helpless response back. Suddenly, there's another loud crash that sounds like metal shelves falling over. Then, scrambling footsteps coming hurrying down a dimly lit section of the market that has already closed down completely.

Sue braces, back straight and body tense and Joanne moves to stand by her side, unclipping a folding knife from her belt and opening it with a flick. Sue's eyes divert to the knife, then back to Joanne who affects another helpless shrug. Eventually, the skip-stumbling figure running through the market comes into view, skidding to a stop and then falling backwards onto his ass. It's one of the market stock crew, a teenage boy Joanne can't quite remember the name of.

"Jack!" Sue cries out, startled by the boy's sudden appearance. "What happened!?" Jack looks at Joanne's knife, stuttering out half-formed words. Sue can tell what he's afraid of, and steps between Joanne's more intimidating form and kneels down to help Jack up. "Easy, easy. What was — " There's another, smaller, crash.

"Someone's in the food storage!" Jack's warning has Sue looking back with immediate concern to Joanne. The other woman, brows furrowed, steps past Sue and starts to walk into the dark of the corridor.

"Call somebody, I'll check it out." Joanne is brave enough to enter the dark alone, and Sue doesn't try to call out to her to stop. She's known Joanne long enough to understand the woman has likely survived worse. Quickly, Sue helps Jack to his feet and pulls him back a few steps, then pulls out her cell phone and curses when she sees no bars.

"Jo! Jo, there's no signal. The power to the tower must be in a brown out!" Joanne doesn't respond to Sue's call, and the tall woman has already disappeared into the darkness. Sue waits, silently, holding Jack's hand for her own well being. In moment's like this, the skin of her hand has hardened into a cocoa brown bark with fine cracks and fissures in its surface. Jack stares down at the expression of Sue's ability, unwilling or unable to form a comment.

For a while, there's just silence.


"Sue." Joanne's tone isn't alarmed, it's more confused. "Sue… get in here." At that second call, Sue lets go of Jack's hand and gives him a silent gesture to stay, then turns back and starts moving into the darkness. The flashlight on her phone is clicked on, and by its small light she navigates rows of closed merchant stalls and boarded-up kiosks. Her heeled boots make clicking report across the concrete floor, echoing across the vaulted arches overhead.

When Sue reaches the metal security door that leads into the food delivery storage, Joanne is standing in the doorway with her own cell phone out, light shining into the spacious room beyond. Joanne looks back over her shoulder, squinting against Sue's flashlight. "Sue…" her eyes are wide, confused, disbelieving.

Sue closes the distance, standing behind Joanne and looking into the room over her shoulder. There are metal racks toppled into one-another, scraps of torn cloth, plastic, and cardboard littering the floor with scraps of macaroni, rice, and other dry goods. This storage is normally full to capacity, representing long-term food stores for the Safe Zone that are a part of the rationing process that helps prevent long food lines and massive shortages.

It's empty.

"H-How— " Sue can't even fathom the effort it would take to empty a room of that size of food. One hand comes up to her mouth, eyes meeting Joanne's equally stunned ones. There will be trucks arriving in the morning, expecting food rations for distribution across the Safe Zone. Trucks that will go unfilled, mouths that will remain empty, charity and emergency services that will go without. Children in the care of the state who will find it harder to get a meal.

"Fuck!" Joanne screams before kicking the metal security door once, then three more times. "Fuck, fuck, fuck!"

They'll not only need to call an emergency Cooperative meeting. They'll need to call SESA.

Because there's no way an ordinary person did this.

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