Route Not Found



Scene Title Route Not Found
Synopsis Last thing I remember / I was running for the door / I had to find the passage back / To the place I was before
Date November 8, 2020

The clock on the wall reads three minutes past eight. The city outside partly-blinded office windows has gone dark and glitters with the twinkle of city lights. A light snow is beginning to dust the ground, turning everything into a near picturesque image of the holiday season approaching.

«I just set Kat and Dean down for dinner.»

Phone held to her ear, Abigail Muldoon may be watching the snow fall, bathed in the glow of her open laptop and an unfinished investigation report, but her attention is more focused on the voice of her husband on the other end of the line.

«I left early today, so it’s fine. It’s a shit-show at the office, Mr. Faulkner is being his usual self and taking loss extremely maturely.»

James Muldoon is nothing if not a loving husband, but his career puts him at odds with his new employer. Ever since Daniel Linderman passed away and Isaac Faulkner was given the reins of the Linderman Group, Muldoon has been unsatisfied at even the best of times. But he has a second job, one that takes priority when his wife is forced to work late hours. James Muldoon is also a loving father.

«Leftovers, admittedly. I didn’t have time to prepare anything when they got home. How much longer will you be?»

The answer to James’s question is whether Abby will finish writing the report on an ongoing investigation now, or give up and take it home with her.

«There’s a bottle of pinot with your name on it waiting for you.»

NYPD 18th Precinct
Detective Muldoon’s Office

Manhattan, NYC
November 8th

8:06 pm

There’s a bottle of Pinot with her name on it. Abby’s looking at the clock, chewing on her bottom lip as the silence likely plays out over the line and James knows that she’s thinking. The screen garners her attention, then the window and the snow falling.

“Nothing wrong with leftovers. Put a plate to the side for me. Gonna come home. I can make it in time to give them a bath and put em to bed if the roads aren’t bad. Then we can eat together. Not like the world will end if I do this from my livingroom instead of my desk. “ She’s got her phone pinned between her ear and shoulder and he can hear the click of her laptop and the casters on her chair as she pushes back.

“Then you can tell me how ungraceful your boss is and we can figure out how to polish up your resume and get you working some place you’re happy again.”

There's a smile on her face at the next thought. “And then I can slip into something and cheer you up.” The laptop is slipped into the bag that serves as purse as well and starts the dance of getting her coat and scarf on while not hanging up on him.

«You always know just what to say,» Muldoon offers over the line. «I’ll see you then. Drive safe. Love you.»

That he doesn’t stick on the line to hear it back isn’t surprising. It’s something they’d adopted over the years, if they’re apart in order to say I love you back, they have to promise to talk again. Whether it simply be an unspoken contract to make it home safe, or to call again when one or the other is on the road for an extended period of time. It is a part of their dance, and Abby knows the steps well.

With her laptop packed and phone tucked into her jacket, Abby exits her office to the otherwise quiet halls of the 18th precinct. The light is off on her partner Isabelle’s door, she must have gone home for the night by now. The precinct is surprisingly quiet, though the detectives and staff on later shifts give their usual farewells to Abby on her way out and into the parking garage.

By the time she’s in her car, it’s only a matter of time before she’s homeward bound. The route between her precinct and home is etched into memory, a day-to-day drive that should take no more than thirty minutes down 9A to get downtown. Familiar. Practiced. Mundane.

The laptops tossed gently onto the passenger side and the cars turned on. Seatbelt, music turned on once Bluetooth connects, badge laid on the dashboard, she’s taking a moment to enjoy the silence before she’s off.

The song that starts her off is familiar and as she’s pulling out of the lot in the gently used and ridiculously well cared for car with its car seats in the back, she’s raising her voice to sing along with it to kill the time on the drive home and get her in the family frame of mind instead of work. There's a smile at the thought of putting the kids to bed as she turns onto the 9A and fingers drum on the steering wheel. Bottle of Pinot indeed.

The route west to 9A is brisk, Abby hits every green light on the way. Once she hits 9A it’s a breeze to drive along the west coast of Manhattan and much of rush-hour traffic has abated. It’s stop and start for a little, but once she’s past the bridge it’s clear sailing down toward Battery Park City, with the paired monoliths of the Twin Towers acting as an obvious landmark.

Seven minutes into the drive, first song ending, there’s yellow lights flashing up ahead. The snow has picked up a little and she can see all of the traffic being directed down West 44th Street. Tail lights glow red in the dark, bloom bright amid the falling snow. The Eagles come on the radio, good driving music.

On a dark desert highway

Cool wind in my hair

Abby turns left onto 44th street following the rest of the flow of the traffic. It looks like there was an accident on the 9A, police lights up ahead in the snow. Probably someone going too fast and breaking too short in the inclement weather. Even a dusting of snow is enough to cause a major accident in a city like this.

Warm smell of colitas

Rising up through the air

The snow starts picking up, heavier now. Tail lights are bright against the flurries. At night, it feels like driving through one of those old starfield screen-savers.

Up ahead in the distance

I saw a shimmering light

Traffic starts to diverge at the next intersection, some people going straight, others taking a right to try and cut around the accident by going on 11th. That is the way home, and the onboard GPS even suggests it as the fastest route.

My head grew heavy and my sight grew dim

I had to stop for the night

Turning on to 11th with the flow of traffic, Abby loses sight of the exact buildings around her when the snow picks up again. It feels like a violent squall, the kind that come in off the Atlantic and hammer the city for twenty or thirty minutes before disappearing entirely. But it’s swallowed up visibility beyond the car ahead of her.

There she stood in the doorway

I heard the mission bell

There’s a chirp from the car’s GPS. A warning flashes red on the screen, ROUTE NOT FOUND. But it’s 11th ave and New York City is a grid. It shouldn’t matter. Doesn’t.

And I was thinkin' to myself

'This could be heaven or this could be hell

“H E double hockey sticks” She mutters, hitting her warning lights as she goes to a crawl. She wrinkles her nose at the gps but it's fine. This will be fine. Worst comes to worst she can pull over and wait it out. James can bathe the kids and she can tuck them in.

Then she lit up a candle

And she showed me the way

But she drives, laying the grid out in her head and looking to the right for side streets to gauge how far down she is by cars on the side of the street and intersections, signs, careful to account for other drivers who might be idiots.

There were voices down the corridor

I thought I heard them say

She reaches out to tap her phone in its holder and tells her phone to call James and wait for it to connect. Warn him she’s going to be late.

Welcome to the Hotel California

No Signal

Such a lovely place (such a lovely place)

Looking up from her phone, Abby can’t see the tail lights of the car ahead of her. In fact, she can’t see any of the city lights through the snow. There’s just heavily falling diagonal snowfall and the dark gray and yellow stripes of the road ahead of her. She can barely see past the hood, headlights blooming bright in what has become a whiteout.

Such a lovely face

Eyes back down at her phone, Abby sees 🚫 where her phone’s signal strength should be. Same as the GPS signal. In her rear view she sees no headlights behind her, just snow. Just dark.

Plenty of room at the Hotel California

No service.

Any time of year (any time of year)

Manhattan’s full of tall buildings, it’s not a complete oddity that now and then you hit a dead spot. It’s far less uncommon these days. It’s a little worrying. But the squall, because that’s what she thinks this is, can screw around with things like this. Woe to anyone who has satellite TV right now. But she can’t see a car in front of her. Lights are flipped to high and she frowns.

You can find it here

“What in god's name…” She’s been in squalls but this ones taking the cake with the waterfront effect. Looking in mirrors, she opts to creep to the right. Find a place to pull off and stay put till there’s a signal or this passes. She can work on the report. There’s a grimace at the thought of needing to do it but better safe than sorry and just stopping in the road is bound to get her rear ended and then insurance, well, anything to get out of paying.

Her mind is Tiffany-twisted

She got the Mercedes bends, uh

“Sorry James.” She murmurs, both hands on the wheel. “I’ll make it up to you.” As if he could hear her.

She got a lot of pretty, pretty boys

That she calls friends

As Abby pulls over to the side of the road, there’s no parking spaces. No rows of meters, there’s not even sidewalk. She feels the soft sink of the car going off the shoulder of the road, as if she were on some backwoods rural route, and the vehicle sinks into the snow. The front-wheel drive engine whirrs loudly as she tries to correct and the right tire spins helplessly.

How they dance in the courtyard

Sweet summer sweat

Squinting through gaps in the snow, Abby sees something just past the edge of her hood. Darkness at first, something dusted with freshly fallen snow. Her eyes adjust to the dim light, no headlights of cars coming in the other direction, nothing just…

Some dance to remember

Some dance to forget


So I called up the Captain

"Please bring me my wine"

There’s pine trees lining the side of the road. No buildings, no sidewalk, no city. She’s in a road in the fucking woods.

He said, "We haven't had that spirit here since 1969"

And still those voices are calling from far away

One of these things is not like the other. There’s tree’s on Manhattan for sure. But not with that density. “Fudge.” A hand comes up to scratch at her brow and for a moment she wonders if she’s just tired. Maybe she’s just tired. She’s had to put in more than a few late nights and that’s not necessarily a bad thing but it’s not a great thing. Not when you have two young children. But pavement should be sandwiched between cement curbs and meters and the odd tree in its concrete prison and someone flipping her off for having her high beams or a dog lifting its leg to pee on a hydrant.

Wake you up in the middle of the night

Just to hear them say

But the tire is stuck, there’s no signal and because of that, there’s no triple A or warning James, apologizing to James. The car is eased into park, a glance to the dash to look at how much gas she has to determine whether she’s turning the car off or can leave it running before deciding to just leave it running. The radio is glanced to before she’s reaching up to press on the overhead light and sets about to getting out her laptop.

Welcome to the Hotel California

Such a lovely place (such a lovely place)

She can make up time right now. Work on the report till whatever the hell this is finishes and she can get to James and the kids.

Such a lovely face

They livin' it up at the Hotel California

When Abby hits the overhead light it fills the car with illumination, but it’s like something changed the second she did that. It’s alarming, because in her rear view mirror she sees headlights. Out the windshield she sees 11th street, she’s parked in a bus only lane out front of an Old Navy storefront.

What a nice surprise (what a nice surprise)

Bring your alibis

Most startling of all, there’s no snow. Not just that there’s no snow falling from the sky, but there’s no snow on the ground. The sky is clear and dark, the city is lit up brightly. A car up the street is honking, there’s people bundled up against the cold walking down the sidewalk.

Mirrors on the ceiling

The pink champagne on ice

Abby’s heart skips a beat, and the sudden juxtaposition has her head swimming in confusion. The GPS in the center console shows the way home. The radio hasn’t stopped playing. Everything is normal and yet — absolutely nothing feels right.

And she said, "We are all just prisoners here of our own device"

That’s just… wrong. Everything about the last three or four minutes is wrong. No, what’s right now happening is right. This makes sense, somewhat. Save for the lack of snow. She’s looking in her mirrors, taking a moment to orient herself before with a shake of her head, the car is put back into drive and she eases back into traffic, tense.

And in the master's chambers

They gathered for the feast

Her hands are a little tighter on the steering wheel as she looks to the phone to see if there’s a signal again or not. “Call James.” She orders her phone if there is, and even if there isn’t, she’s still telling her phone to do that. She’s feeling uncomfortable. Uneasy. Holding her breath.

They stab it with their steely knives

But they just can't kill the beast

It only needs to ring twice for things to feel normal again.

Last thing I remember

I was running for the door

«Hello there, beautiful.» Robert’s voice, smooth and calm, comforting like a familiar blanket wrapped around cold shoulders.

I had to find the passage back

To the place I was before

Abby’s hands tremble on the steering wheel and the night city spreads out before her on the road. There is no snow on her car, no snow in the sky, no sign of anything that she just experienced as having actually happened.

"Relax", said the night man

"We are programmed to receive

Except the song…

You can check out any time you like

…and the dread.

But you can never leave"

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