An Unlikely Rescuer



Scene Title An Unlikely Rescuer
Synopsis A warehouse roof collapses under the snow, and the rescuer doesn't stick around for thanks.
Date March 23, 2018

Ridge Produce Warehouse

Jackson Heights

Spring in New York is a wonderful thing. It brings warmer weather and, with the weather, a sense of optimism as residents shed their heavy winter coats. Even in the wreckage of the city, forgotten botanical gardens have started to bloom, bringing signs of life to the battered city. Unfortunately, weather can be unpredictable and, with the promise of what is colloquially referred to as "a Nor’easter" barreling in, the residents of the New York Safe Zone batten down the hatches and tuck in to wait out the cold.

The snow started early in the morning on the 20th of March, stopped for a little while around noon the next day, and kept falling until late Thursday evening. Snow, by itself, doesn’t seem like much, but spread twenty inches deep over a rooftop adds a lot of weight. And when the snow stopped, it was replaced by a slow drizzle that added more weight to weakened roofs.

The western edge of the safe zone is outside a lot of the safety net that the Safe Zone is known for. ‘Safe Zone’ at the edges is more of a concept than a reality. You have the zip code that matters, but none of the amenities, like reliable electricity and water. People outside the safe zone sought what shelter they could find, crowding into buildings that weren’t entirely safe.

The Ridge Produce building has been abandoned for years, the contents removed in the opening years of the war, anything of value ripped out of the walls, floors, and ceilings, and even a few support beams to be sold for scrap. It wasn’t in good shape to begin with, but adding 20 lbs per cubic foot of snow on the roof… things start to buckle.

It’s a little after the rain starts that the warehouse begins to creak.

The screams start a few seconds later.

The Warehouse sags in the middle and then, without much fanfare, collapses shortly after, trapping several families in the wreckage….

It's raining now rather than snowing, and it means that Eimi has ventured back out. The teenager isn't a fan of being stuck indoors, and she's wrapped a bright yellow poncho over her usual attire against the wet.

She uses the rooftops as her own mostly personal highway above the roads of the safe zone, and today is no exception to that. It cuts the distance going across and around by far, gives her a better line of sight. Especially when one is leaving the safe zone, and not via the regular gates. The teleporter is almost a half a mile away, standing on a fire escape, and it's not the sound that gets her attention. It's just seeing the actual collapse as it happens when she shifts her focus from a building that she was looking at beyond the fence, and her palm tightens around the scope that she holds.

There is a moment of thought that follows. A moment of brows furrowed, of looking back and behind her in the direction of Phoenix Heights while she turns the scope in her hands.

And then she lifts it to look again, disappearing and reappearing several seconds later on a nearby rooftop from the one that has collapsed, and looks at the situation more closely. From a rooftop toa fire escape, a fire escape to ground level, Eimi makes her way around the building as much as she can, just looking for the moment. "Hold on," she says, but not necessarily loudly enough that anyone inside can hear.

It's one of those sights that you never really expect to see outside of a controlled demolition. A building is there and then, a few moments later, it isn't, replaced by a pile of rubble with smoke rising from it. And as Eimi draws closer to the building, the sounds can be heard. A fire alarm blaring out a warning, the static of a radio, the crackling of a barrel fire knocked over, hissing in the snow, and most stomach-churning of all, a baby crying, frantic, at the sudden darkness surrounding it.

The building collapsed like a soufflé would fall, the edges tall and rigid, the middle fallen like someone pushed a great fist into the middle. Every door in the place is open, with a fire escape leading to the ruined roof, a garage door off its tracks, crumbled, and several steel doors swinging wide.

No sirens can be heard. No-one can call for help. Cell service here is nonexistent, and someone is already mounting a bike to ride to call for help.

If he'll manage to get there in time? Remains to be seen.

The easiest entrance is the steel doors, and those are the ones that the teenager goes for. Half running, half teleporting as far as she can see and then running until she can see the next jump.

"Hold on," she repeats, careful in her choices of where to step or teleport. "Who's in there?"

This time the teenager is louder and calls out to anyone who can hear her, as she looks around to try to find a direction to be able to find them.

The steel doors are heavy, originally used for personnel to go into and out of the warehouse, but now were used to secure the warehouse at night against anyone who wasn't supposed to be there. Inside is darker than outside, but with the roof collapse, spiderwebs of light criss-cross the floor, showing passages that go to nowhere and putting other places into pitch darkness.

Eimi faces three choices - left, forward, and right. A soft cough can be heard down the rightmost passageway, in the darkness, while the central passage opens into what was once the warehouse main floor. Probably where all the people are.

First things first. Eimi puts the scope back into her pocket and rummages around inside the leather jacket until she comes out with a crank-powered flashlight, which she clicks on. It's better than nothing, casts maybe ten feet of dim weak light and pushes back the shadows indoors.

The light is flicked down each passageway in turn, but then Eimi heads to the right, light out in front of her and moving via her ability ten feet at a time, to the edge of the light her flashlight provides, rather than picking her way along in the half dark. Jumps that short are practically instantaneous.

Ten feet of light is better than no feet of light. As Eimi heads into the darkness on the right, she comes to an interior wall that's fallen over on top of someone, pinning them beneath several fallen boards that peeled away from the exterior wall.

The man groans at the light flitting around like a firefly, trying to push himself up. “Is….is someone there? Help me, please. My leg is pinned.”

"I'm right here." As reassurance goes it falls rather… well. Flat. Just like the tone of voice that the teenager maintains, but she walks the last few feet and then crouches down. First she cranks the light several more times so that it will last, and then she reaches out to set her hand on the man's shoulder. "Take a deep breath," comes the next instruction, and then, "Don't move."

A good look at the man follows, and her own deep breath in before Eimi shines the light back down the way she had came. Enough to find a patch of clear ground to go back to.

Enough to teleport him, out from under, and when they reappear a second later she says, "You probably still shouldn't move. I'll be back."

She isn't sticking around for conversation, or for another wall to fall onto them. One more quick glance at the man and then she goes back, to go down the central passageway.

“Don't move? I'm pinned beneath….”. Eimi’s teleportation happens in a blink, of a flash, moving the man instantaneously to a clear spot in the hall, the conversation going even after he arrives. “a ton of wall…..what the hell!!?” He turns over just in time to see a yellow rain-slicker vanish into the distance, almost faster than a blink of an eye.

The central passageway opens into the warehouse. The shelves have mostly been dismantled and sold for scrap, while others were used as makeshift bunks for people and families to sleep on. Thankfully, with the weather breaking, a large portion of the residents who call this place home were out doing other things and not being crushed by falling steel. One precariously balanced shelf system looms over a makeshift tent out of blue tarp and pipes, a woman and her baby blocked in by another fallen shelf.

“Come on, Maggie, give me Amanda and we’ll get you out of there.” An older gentleman stands close, his arms out to be handed his granddaughter. “Let's get her safe…”.

The shelf starts to shift as the snow on the roof slides lower, the roof pushing on to, like giant’s jenga stack.

This time Eimi pauses a moment, to think. The flashlight does less good as she tucks it into her pocket and walks over.

"I can help," she says. It's the same flat tone the teenager used before, quiet and the words still a little bit too fast to be actually calm. "Give him the baby, then take my hand."

No other explanation is offered, at the moment.

“W…what? How? Who are you?” The woman asks, clutching her baby close as the shelf starts to teeter, some of the planks starting to fall. The man, an older gentleman, lunges through the shelves, yanking the baby from her mother’s arms and backs away from the falling shelves…

“No!” Maggie screams, reaching out for her baby as the shelf starts to collapse on top of her and the tent. “Someone help me!!!”

Eimi moves forward, and grabs the woman's hand as she reaches out. And there's no more warning given, the teenager looks back over her shoulder and it's the first patch of light where they reappear.

"There," she says, turning back to the older gentleman. There's a pause and Eimi steps back, letting go. Lifts her shoulders in a shrug as she looks around.

"The man in the other hallway. He probably needs help. He was pinned down too." Was being the operative word, and Eimi pauses and asks, "Is there anyone else here?" She clearly expects one of them to know the answer, and there's a slow breath out that doesn't calm her quite enough for her ability to stop, so instead Eimi teleports nearly in place, flickering in and out for a moment. "I can get them out if they're stuck." But clearly she doesn't want to keep intruding, stick around. Talk to anyone, she's done enough of that recently.

The shelf collapses in a shriek of grinding metal, sending a shudder through the weakened structure, Maggie’s tent obliterated under tons of steel and wood. The people watch Eimi dart in, Maggie screams and then the screams come from behind them about twenty feet. There, in a nimbus or light, Eimi and Maggie stand, the woman crouching down, her hands over her ears, still screaming, sure she was going to die. It's only after Amanda is brought over that she stops screaming, pulling the little girl into her arms and sobbing. “Thank you…thank you…” she says, over and over again. “I thought I was going to die…that she was going to die.”

“Young lady…thank you ..l.” The old man, Vince, trails off, motioning for someone to check the hall. He will cry later, but for now, he reaches out to shake Eimi’s hand, shaking his head in the negative. “Most of the families are out scavenging the city outside the walls. Maggie and Amanda were here because Amanda just arrived.” No hospital would take them without payment, so the family did it the old fashioned way. “The Garison family lived in the middle, under the main collapse. I don't know if any of them were there. If…if we find people, can you get them out? We…we will pay you what we have to help.” He sounds extremely worried that this might not be the case, that their rescuer is mercenary enough to take from the starving.

Eimi returns the handshake awkwardly, shakes her head.

"If you look," she says, trailing off, pointing over at the main collapse. "One person looks, or I can't get them out too." She lets out a breath, "No. I… you don't need to pay me." It's only that last sentence where her voice isn't flat, carries any emotion at all, and she sounds sincere. "Just…"

She pulls her jacket tighter around her shoulders, pulls the yellow poncho tighter over that, and looks at the old man for a moment before shaking her head once again. "I'll help, though." Her own scavenging is put aside, ignored in favour of helping here. "Books." This is the price she finally comes up with and offers. "If you have any books, I'd like one. Just one. I'll leave the one I finished," she brandishes a worn paperback copy of Lord of the Flies, "but it'll settle. You don't owe me."

“That's….yes. Yes, we can find you a book. Just…thank you for helping. Joseph!” Vince calls out to another man who peers in from outside, covered in dust. “Get everyone to look. This lady…she can move people, as long as we don't watch. She saved Amanda from the stacks collapsing. She can help more. For books!” Vince sounds amazed at that - someone willing to help.

Joseph and his crew scatter around, digging through rubble, listening for cries of help. A few are found, trapped, and Eimi easily gets them out, the people not much worse for wear age for a few injuries, but the last one… the most difficult one, is the Garrett family in the middle of the warehouse, buried beneath tons of rubble. A small crew stands there, shouting into a hole dug with hand tools and, when Vince rushes over, the situation becomes known.

“They're pinned in there.” The guy in charge of this rescue explains, mostly to Vince. “They can see light, they can move, and can see a hollow, but they can't get to it thanks to wreckage. I've got someone looking for a cutting torch or a saw, but it's not looking good.”

The more light there is, the easier it is for Eimi to teleport people out of the wreckage. She works quietly, standing back and waiting while people are located now that the effort is more organised and the initial shock has worn off.

But the last one, she pauses and shakes her head and looks at it for a while. "Which piece is on top?" Pointing to the rubble that is nearest to the hole that has been dug. "I don't want it to… to fall in."

She waits a moment as they identify pieces that can be moved, and then instead of grabbing a person and teleporting, this time the teenager grabs the topmost two pieces of the pile of rubble. And once again, teleports about ten feet, moving them off the pile. She does this several times and then crouches there. Enlarging the opening so that she can see down as well as they can see up. "I… give me a second. I think I know what I can do, but." She's waiting for confirmation from one of the people working there rather than just keep going and doing this time.

There’s pointing and discussion, but the piece on top is generally believe to be that one. The residents of the warehouse point to show Eimi exactly which one they mean. And, as she starts teleporting chunks of the roof off of the pile, there are murmurs from the gathered group. Not bad murmurs, of course - just sounds of wonder as huge chunks of stuff are moved from A to B in the blink of an eye.

As the teleported pile grows, the opening enlarges, shifting a little so Eimi can peer down into the depths of the tomb that contains the Garretts. From what she can see from her vantage point, a shaft has opened that leads to the floor, illuminated by the sunlight from the missing roof above, and then another passageway leads to the Garrett’s makeshift home. Movement can be seen, but only just - fingers pushing out from behind a grate in an effort to get out.

Eimi keeps working on moving pieces until not far from the opening, there's a bit of a platform, a place to return to that's not a bean or a perch.

And then once she's satisfied, the teenager teleports down and to the floor, flashlight in hand and a hard swallow as she walks towards the bit of movement. "Hold on just a little longer," she offers. "One… one at a time is better right now." She takes the fingers of the first person, and this time she takes time for instruction.

"Take a breath and hold it. Close your eyes." She pauses and adds, "Don't let go," although she's the one holding on to them and not the other way around. She only takes them back to the cleaning that she originally teleported to, into that small pool of sunlight, and then asks, "How… how many people are trapped?" Another swallow as she looks at where she just rescued the person from, the dark, and enclosed, looks up towards the sky and waits for an answer.

It’s tight down there - enough room for Eimi to move and maybe get one other person at best, so one-at-a-time will be the best thing to do. Once she frees the first of the Garretts - Melanie, a girl about fifteen years old that barely comes up to Eimi’s chin - she gets the story once the panic-stricken breathing has calmed down. “Mom and Dad are in there with Luke. So besides me, three more in the bedroom. Dad’s got his legs stuck under the roof.” She hugs Eimi tight, squeezing her desperately. “You ain’t gonna leave them are you, miss?”

There’s a mesh grate, half-crushed, with a space beyond where Melanie was, used to be the Garrett’s kitchen with another collapsed space that can barely be seen through where the family’s bedrooms were. The smell of burning something is starting to fill the space, as well as the tell-tale scent of gas from the crushed stove.

Eimi holds Melanie's hand, listens, makes a few squished noises during the hug, and then looks up. "No, I won't leave them," she agrees, before quickly teleporting up to her little landing pad and then up to the space beyond to deposit the girl so that she can go back down there.

The first thing Eimi does when she returns is simply teleports the grate (and herself) a few feet to the side, dropping it to the ground and getting it out of the way so that she can get through. "I'm going to get you out of here," she offers to them, "The… her dad first," she adds, listening to pick out the direction and there's a moment where she stops moving towards the Garretts and simply stands there, almost hyperventilating in the small space until she can get the flashlight clicked back on.

When she finds them, it's the same routine as before. Grab someone's hand, teleport out to the first space, over to the landing pad, up to those waiting in the main area outside the collapse. The dad first, then Luke, then the mom, and when she and the mom are standing on the little landing pad she waves hurriedly at one of the others, points at the space, says, "It's… it smells like gas down there. You should get everyone out."

The girl teleports in place again, blinking to one side and then the other, and then to another patch of sunlight and again, and she asks one more time. "Anyone else stuck? Not found yet?" There's another deep breath, and she glances up. From her new vantage point she can see a neighbouring rooftop through the collapsed roof. But for a moment, she stays put.

There’s a muted hiss that rises from the pile, along with some wisps of smoke as the gas starts to violently vent from it’s sealed container. It’s only a few seconds before the flammable gas unerringly finds a spark and then *whump* A muffled explosion that shakes the pile, sending a few bits of masonry falling. Everyone is out of the way, thankfully, and the growing flames are quickly put out by some scavenged fire extinguishers. That explosion would almost certainly have been the death of the Garretts.

“, I think that’s everyone…” Vince steps forward after a moment, staying well away from Eimi, his hat clasped in his hands. “I…I just want to thank you. You really made a difference here. You saved all of those people.” He looks over his shoulder at Mr. Garrett, being seen to by one of the few people with a little experience in first aid. Sirens can be heard in the distance. Apparently the guy on the bike reached someone with a cell phone. Emergency services are coming. “So…I’ve got some books coming. We actually have a small little library for the kids to read, but we’ve got some other books, too. Are you sure that there’s not anything else we can do?”

There's a tiny shake of her head, and as the sirens are heard in the distance, it's quite possible that Eimi doesn't hear any of the rest of the words that Vince says. She crouches, picking up her flashlight and satchel from where she'd most recently put them down.

When she straightens, there's a slight huff of breath before the girl just disappears again. There is a pop — nothing nearly as significant as the explosions but still perhaps startling — as the air rushes in around the space she was just standing in, and she reappears on the rooftop of the neighbouring building and then disappears again, trying to put as much distance between her and the collapse as possible. It's only when she's on a rooftop some miles away, well outside of the fence, well outside of the safe zone, that she sits down with a wall behind her, pulls her knees to her chest and tries to catch her breath.

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