GentleGifts' Workshop

The garbage truck rolled its way through the morning haze that can only come from a continuous spread of suburban city three hundred miles across. Gerry and Nick listened to the dated rock music drifting from the cabin- immortality had given Jon the worst taste in music- as they meandered past piles of garbage and half-collapsed shacks. Gerry and Nick's bright neon vests clash with the dull tones of the rusted buildings, and the upbeat tunes clash with the sombre silence of the deep poverty around them. The truck slows to another regular stop, and the men drop carelessly from the back to load stinking bags into the back. Grey bags smelling of used diapers, black bags stinking of rotted food, and clear bags full of pink blobs of meat. They toss them all in, and move from stop to stop chatting about the football from last night.


Gerry glances up as the figure runs towards them, out of breath, face half obscured by a hood. He looks like he has been chasing them for a few blocks- though he would have to be a hell of a sprinter to do so.

The man motions towards the back of the truck. "There's a bag in there. I want it."

"Fuck off."

"I'll pay you."

Nick's eyes dart up at the stranger as he pulls a few notes from a pocket deep within his clothes. Gerry shrugs and holds out his hand.

"Be quick about it."

The man passes them the wad of cash- it's not a miserly amount for a garbage collector- and begins to dig through the back of the truck. He quickly finds what he's looking for- a clear bag full of pink meat- and passes them another wad of notes.

"I wasn't here, right?"

Gerry grins, raises his hand to tip a non-existent hat to the stranger, and watches him wander off into the maze of alleyways. He will think of him exactly once more, as he spends half of his share on some flowers for the wife, and the other half on beer for himself, and then consigns him to being just another unimportant oddity of an uncaring ageless world.

Jye lugged his load back home, taking care to meander and loop around a few times where he knew there wasn't cameras, ensuring he wasn't being followed. It was getting riskier to keep this up- he'd almost been spotted last time, and the lack of a consistent schedule from Fendrel and Dain made it even harder to take his prizes. Chasing the garbage truck was easier and safer, but if they went under the compactor…

He pushed his thumb against a scanner to let himself inside, blinking as the fluorescent lights flickered on, then took the bag over to a large tank in his spare room. He carefully slipped the already stinking contents into the warm liquid, taking care to space them out and give them room to float, then went and manually bolted the steel bars across his door.

Officer Morales perked up slightly as the radio flickered and dispatch sent through a fresh set of instructions, but otherwise kept most of her attention on her bagel. She hadn't had a break in sixteen hours and by *God* she was going to take this one. Next to her, Officer Stacey took down an address in his notebook.

Morales pushed the last of the bagel into her mouth. "What've we got?"

"B and E at an electronics place."

"Ugh, *again*? That's three since yesterday."

"You think it could be a pattern?"

"Knowing this city? I doubt it."

Officers Morales and Stacey turned down their car down another identical side street. There was no need to bother with a siren- no one would give way to the police anyway these days, and their old engine wasn't built for speed anyway. So much for 'West Virginia's Finest'.

The shopkeeper stood anxiously outside his store. The left side of his face was a mess- an old gaping wound that evidentally hadn't been enough to incapacitate him and he had then lacked the funds to get fixed up properly. Morales thought she could see some bone poking out in there. The right side was scruffily bearded and malnourished. He waved them over as they pulled up.

"I found it when I got in this morning. Back door was forced open."

Stacey picked around the store, mentally noting the dusty piles of unsold screens, phones, and tablets. "Doesn't look like much is missing."

"Mostly the cables and wiring. They damn near cleaned me out. And all of my switches, too."

Stacey glanced up at Morales. The other two stores had been the same- leaving the obviously valuable gear in favour of scrap DIY materials.

Morales carefully took the man's statement, taking his name and every detail of the missing goods that she could muster. She offered her sympathy, and assured him that she'd do all she could to get to the bottom of the case.

Then their radio squawked about some stabbing three blocks down, and then there was a three car collision an hour after that, and *then* some idiot tried throwing themselves off a tall roof and only made a mess of themselves for their trouble, and the little robbery mostly got forgetten in the mess that was life without death.