Tuesday, March 8, 2011

STARDUST #3 "The Thief Revealed" - pt. 1

“I'm playing Runescape here.”

Roger watched Sean, in a T-shirt and jeans, sitting at Roger's computer. "So... no fresh ideas on how to find the thief?”

“I'm waiting for an e-mail back from the superheroes I know online. I'm hoping someone can come up with something for me because I'm tapped out. I tried staking out the comic book store. I tried hanging out in the store to flush out the thief. I tried learning what I could about the issues that were taken to see if there was something they all had in common a collector would want them for, but they all seemed to be random thefts.”

“Are you giving up?”

Sean sighed. “I'm a superhero, not a private investigator. I'm no good at this. What I'm good at is helping newbies on Runescape. These kids are trying to do the second quest now.”

“Is that really as important?”

Sean pushed his chair away from the computer and let his frustration show in his voice. “Well, what do you want me to do, Rog? Have you got any ideas?”
Roger just shrugged. “Just seems like we ought to be doing something.”

“I know,” Sean said. He still sounded frustrated, but not with Roger. “I know.”

Unsure of what else to say, Roger stepped into the hallway when his cell phone rang. They both recognized it as Lauren's ringtone. “Hey hon!” Roger said into the phone.
“Uh-huh. Yeah, Sean’s here. The Daily Herald? No, we don't get that here.”

"Who reads newspapers anymore?” Sean asked.

“Lauren says there's an article you need to see in the local news section.”
Sean perked up. “Would that be on their website?” he asked, pulling his chair back up to the computer.

Roger asked Lauren. “She says she doesn't know.”

Sean started typing, but stopped abruptly. “You know who gets the Herald – Jim! Hold on...” Sean said and he jumped out of his chair and sprinted down the hall for the front door. He flung open the front door and confirmed what he had remembered from earlier that morning – their next-door neighbor had not picked up his Herald yet. It still sat at the end of his driveway in its plastic sheath.

“We owe Jim a newspaper,” Sean said as he came back inside with the paper. He dumped the contents onto the floor and pulled the sections apart until he found the local news. He scanned the front page in a second and shouted, “Rog, come on!” as he ran back to the front door with the paper in hand.

“Whoa!” Roger cried in surprise. “What did it say?”

“No time!” Sean said as he paused at the door. “You can read the article in the car! Come on!”

With that, Sean was gone. Roger could hear him already out in the driveway. Sean stood at the driver's side door of Roger's 2000 Ford Taurus, shouting, “Toss me the keys! I'll drive! You read!”

Roger surrendered to Sean’s sense of urgency and complied. He slumped down in the passenger seat just in time to get the newspaper thrust in front of him.
Sean squealed the tires as he peeled out of the driveway. “Did you read it yet?” he asked.

“You know you’re not insured to drive this car,” Roger answered.

“Just read it, will you?” Sean asked as they left Jill’s street, heading west for Elgin.

“I’m reading, I’m reading…” Roger said. “For the fourth night in eight days…” he read out loud, “…a graffiti artist has been taunting Elgin’s resident superheroes.” Roger read more intently now, as the importance of this began to dawn on him. “Following three nights of challenging Captain Amazing to catch him, last night’s challenge was instead to… Stardust.”

“Have you told anyone I changed my superhero name to Stardust?” Sean asked.

“No. Well, Lauren, but nobody else. And I don’t think she likes to talk to anyone about you.”

“The bridge the last graffiti was on is under Route 20. If we’re lucky, they haven’t painted over it yet.”

They drove for a few minutes in silence. Roger thought about something and then asked, “You read the whole article that fast?”

“Yeah,” Sean said. “I’ve been reading a lot faster lately. Maybe that’s another superpower. Have you got the number for Tony’s store on your phone? Call him and ask if he’s told anyone about Stardust.”

There were several places where Route 20 was supported by bridges. One such place was where it passed over Route 25. There were residential houses on the north side of the intersection and businesses on the south side. Sean parked on the south side, in a gas station parking lot, and then they both ran up to the bridge.

“No sign of it on this side!” Sean said. He raced ahead, balancing on the curb of the road where it ran under the bridge as cars drove past him.

Roger followed more slowly, raising a hand to his uncovered ear so he could hear Tony on his cell phone better.

“It’s on this side!” Sean shouted.

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