Scene Title Detour
Synopsis Kara wasn't supposed to be taking one. But here we are.
Date December 2, 2019


New Haven, CT

December 2, 2019

It's weird, in a way, to be in a place you've only read about. This stop on her journey west feels suspiciously like tourism to Kara Prince, not that she'll admit it to herself. Or to her waitress for that matter, who's tried asking her twice what brings her in. She's sweet and all, but Kara isn't in the mood for smalltalk.

"Still good?" The young woman asks on her pass back, smiling warm. Her hair is tied back to keep thick locks from getting in her eyes, but it diminishes none of its character, like Kara's would if she were wearing hers up. It's something she considers complimenting the girl on, but she only shakes her head to indicate nothing's needed, and makes an exaggerated show of still chewing her food. Engaging her would be a foothold in polite conversation for her to ask more questions.

"Well, you just let me know," she says, scooping up Kara's mug to refill it with fresh coffee despite her not asking. Kara lifts her head in thanks anyway. The young woman bearing a stylized nametag labeled Asea turns away, calling into the back while she buses a table near the serving window. "Mami, sabes que me voy a las dos, ¿sí? Tengo clases hoy."

Looking down at her Caribbean brunch, Kara pauses for a moment, letting the scent of the meal and the feel of the atmosphere waft through her. Like the reviews said, this place really did have a way of making you feel like you were at home even if the experience here was the furthest thing possible from it. The little waitress, for all her probing, still made her feel welcome— as if she were just looking for a way to help.

A tropical-framed chalkboard decorated with bright handwriting declared that the special today was boliche mechado, and there were a few who entered that didn't seem like they were paying for it. She recalled from the article she read that the restaurant had a kind of charity system, where those who came in could pay a plate and a half to cover for someone who couldn't afford their own. It's a system Kara would donate to, if she weren't stretching every dollar she had earned, at the moment.

It's one she almost considers pitching in on regardless. Not doing so makes each bite harder, in a way.

Her gaze shifts to the door when the bell over it jangles, another customer coming in. New Haven police. The officer looks across the half-filled restaurant, gaze alighting on Kara briefly. She meets the look with a curt nod to acknowledge him, then back down to her half-finished plate. It had been so good, too. She was enjoying the pit stop.

The officer sweeps his hat off his head, smiling at the waitress as he greets her. "Hey, Asea. Just stopping in for a quick bite." After some pleasantries are exchanged, he starts to subtly nod in Kara's direction to ask if she knew anything about the unfamiliar, stern face…

But a second glance reveals only an empty table with a mostly-finished meal and two crumpled twenties.

Middletown, CT

November 16

Kara simply slips between the gap in the fence set up around the garage, the chain looped around the two swinging gates left loose enough she can just pry it open and duck her way through. She lets out low sigh regardless, glancing up immediately at the spot she knows a black video camera sits nestled in the underhang on the front side of the building.

It’s dark out here — it always is at night. Electricity didn’t run out this way in the evening, meaning the camera wasn’t active.

But still she looks.

Her breath materializes in front of her as she drags a gloved hand across the hood of the first car she comes across in the yard, looking across the rest in a moment of quiet contemplation. The light of the nearly-full moon casts down enough that she can see fairly well without pulling out the thin flashlight from her pocket. Her jaw sets as she maneuvers through the parked cars, heading for the building itself. She tries the front door, even knowing it should be locked, before heading around to the back.

The back door she had left unlocked purposefully before leaving for the day. It was less frequently used, and as a result, it looked as though no one had caught her ‘mistake’ during lockup. Once the door is pushed open, she finally turns on the flashlight, heading straight for the offices to find the workorders.

There were several cars out front that had been dropped off for maintenance as a part of a bulk order and wouldn’t be picked up for some time. That was good for her. What was less ideal was that these were dropped off as a part of a state contract, some goodwill being shown toward the smaller garage. A vehicle disappearing wasn’t going to be a good look for them, but hopefully they wouldn’t notice until long after she was gone.

She sifts through the stack of plastic covers, patiently skimming until she finds a vehicle that’s not a patrol car. “Sorry, Scientific Services.” Kara murmurs as she selects her mark, feeling confident the forest green vehicle won’t stand out nearly as much as some of the other vehicles in their care would be. Time to slide it closer to the top of the pile. She shakes the key out of the cover and looks out the office window to the lot and the quiet road beyond, considering the yard again in an extended period of silence. She tosses the keys lightly in her palm before heading out to move the vehicle forward in the line the same way she’d done with its paperwork.

This didn’t feel like her.

But it was better than the alternative.

1-95 W

Somewhere Near Norwalk, CT

December 2

New Haven was supposed to be a detour only. The last one.

But she had already practically been on this highway, one that promised a smooth ride West. She should be cutting back North now to resume her route to Rochester, to take 90 as far as it went before needing to work around the ruins of Chicago. But she doesn’t, ignoring every sign that would take her down roads of dubious repair in her climb northward. This way, she told herself, the way she was currently going— it was better maintained, and she could ride 80 to 70, maybe; avoid having to alter course around that grand dead city altogether, perhaps.

This was not a part of her plan.

Hands tightening around the wheel, she allows herself a glance down at her gas gauge. Greenwich was coming up. She should fuel up, then continue on 287 to take the bridge across the Hudson. At this point, she didn’t need a map to tell her that. She knew by memory, from trips to and from the Safe Zone.

But perhaps Greenwich wouldn’t have any gas worth buying. Prices outside of town could be even more exorbitant than prices inside town.

“Kara,” she warns herself aloud, since no one else is around to. “Don’t.

The 95/287 split had little traffic coming from her direction, though she can imagine the traffic on the other arms of the long-repaired interchange — traffic flowing to and from the New York Safe Zone. She watches it get closer in slow-motion, because she’s eased off the accelerator. Not because she was slowing to take the turn … but because she was failing to make a decision entirely.

The vehicle rolls to a stop directly in the middle of the exit to 287, several yards from orange construction barrels that indicate one shouldn’t go any further in this particular direction.

Kara closes her eyes for a long moment before she reaches into the passenger seat to pick up the license plates she’d lifted from an abandoned vehicle she’d seen on the side of the road after leaving New Haven. She opens the truck door slowly before hopping to the ground, screwdriver and plates in either hand.

A car passes, but doesn’t stop, while she changes out the plates. She doesn’t even turn to look, but can hear it continue on the 287 ramp regardless. After she’s done, the old plates are thrown to the asphalt, skittering to a stop near the traffic barrels.

When she gets back in the car, Kara pulls it into reverse and with no hesitation, spins the wheel to bring her properly onto the exit ramp. She doesn’t look back. She resolves to only move forward.

The truck comes up to speed and she merges onto the new highway.

For about 1000 feet.

Because there’s the exit ramp for 287 back to 95, complete with the green and white sign advertising:

→ New York Safe Zone

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