Fiona sat in the Handy Pavilion break room, using her powers to make whirlpools in her orange juice. Whirlpools were easy and she soon tired of them. Water spouts were a little more fun, but only a little. She sighed deeply let the juice fall back into the cup. She concentrated for a minute, and then the tiny figure of a man rose out of the cup, a sculpture in orange.
She concentrated a little longer, and the details of the figure became more focused, more precise. From a rough outline of a human form it transformed into the figure of a man. Wellsey, with his bald head and apron. Fiona made the figure as perfect as she could, willing the molecules of water into polymer chains, willing the chains into solid forms. The shape of Wellsey gave way to a figure of Norman. Then Ms Shan, Norman, Zorbar, Nalda, Donna, dear old Adam, Sadie and Angela.
The last one broke her concentration. She hadn't meant her figure to be either of the MacGregor twins specifically, but somehow she found her little water sculpture breaking into two. Annoyed, she stopped and let the juice resume to the shape of the cup.
She needed more sleep. That much was certain.
She also needed to decide whether to stay or go. It was a decision she'd been trying to make for months. Chasing the mystery of the Phantasm had kept her too busy to think – which perhaps had been the point in the chase. But the Phantasm seemed to have gone to ground lately. There were various theories on why this was, but all Fiona knew was that the Phantasm's absence left her mind free to consider.
Fiona was a robber. A payroll robber. It had seemed fun, silly, like a big prank. But since then, all the tension between the Handy Pavilion and the DIY Barn had just snowballed…
Sadie McGregor entered the room. Fiona squinted. What was up with the lights? Were they running brighter than usual?
"Fiona," Sadie said.
"Sadie," Fiona said.
Sadie took a seat across the plastic table and opened a copy of Modern Lighting magazine. Fiona sighed. She considered moving, but what did it matter? She could be just as lost in thought with Sadie present.
Where was she… Oh, yes. Should she leave? Well, was leaving even really the issue? The issue was surely one of responsibility. She had done wrong. It was only right that her deeds should be exposed. She should do what she wanted to do before and go to the authorities…
The door opened again and in walked Sadie's twin sister, Angela McGregor. Fiona noticed that the lights had gone back to normal. Sadie shifted a little in her chair as her sister took a seat in a shady corner behind her.
Angela picked up a copy of the newsletter and munched on an apple. Fiona shut the noise out and returned to her quandary. Of course she couldn't go the authorities. She might deserve her punishment for her role in the heist, but what about Norman? The poor guy was just as much under Axel's influence as she'd been. And Axel… in spite of everything, he was on parole. Fiona could claim 'first offense' and maybe she'd be out in a couple of years, but Axel…
Sadie grunted, laid aside her reading and attacked a Women's' Weekly crossword with a mechanical pencil. The light flickered. What did it matter if Axel got in trouble? The man had once kidnapped Santa Claus and held him hostage for a fortnight. For most people, an armoured car heist doesn't look good on their resume, for someone with Axel's record, it almost seemed benign.
"'Overreaching," Angela called.
"Huh?" Fiona said.
"Twelve letters, fifth is an r," Angela said, pointing to Sadie and her crossword.
Fiona sighed. Ultimately Axel had made his own bed. What he did was between himself and his conscience. And that was the issue, wasn't it? Conscience? After all, Fiona had hurt no one, and the money lost by the Barn had been repaid by their insurers. There were no practical issues that needed addressing. It was all just about Fiona's conscience. Just a token gesture to sooth her feelings, and wasn't that kind of selfish?
"'Sophistry!'" Sadie called. "Ha, that was a tough one!"
Now the Barn/Pavillion conflict. That was a practical issue. As long as it was being fought in the dark, the treacherous Barnlings had the advantage. If the heist were to become a police matter and argued in a court of law then who knew what Barnish atrocities might be brought to light?
"'Pathetic,'" Angela said.
Of course that wouldn't happen. If the matter came to court, it would reflect badly on the Pavilion and the Barn would come off Scot free. The armoured car company were only contractors. There was no reason for Barn personnel even to take the stand. Ah, forget what would happen in court. The question for Fiona was: stay or leave?
"'Cowardish?'" Sadie said. "No, of course not. No such word. It's 'cowardly'."
Maybe it was. Maybe if Fiona wasn't going to the authorities, she owed it to her friends at least to stick it through. Even so, she couldn't just keep what she knew to herself. She couldn't really talk to Axel, either. Or Norma, or Wellsey, both of them were too pally with Axel. Who did that leave? Nalda? Too scary. Laura? She still wasn't sure about Laura. Ms Shen was too senior. Maybe Carol and Zorbar? They didn't care for the Barn, but Fiona hadn't seen either of them around for a while.
"'Christian,'" Angela said. "'Adherent of major world religion,' starts with C. Christian."
Christian? Maybe… Fiona didn't know him well. He wasn't in Axel's orbit, but he was a bit of a—
"'Sphincter,'" Sadie said. "Tight ring of muscle controlling flow through digestive system."
Yeah, he was one of those things. How about Gwen? No, she had gone and no one seemed to know where.
"Spanish lady, five letters?" Sadie said.
"No not that one, you don't have enough letters," Angela said. "Try 'male deer'. It only needs four letters and you already have a…"
Fiona scraped her chair loudly on the tiles as she stood. "You know, you two aren't the only ones in the break room," she said, tossing back the last slurp of juice. "Did you think other people might like to hear themselves think?"
And even though she had a whole two minutes left, she stomped out of the break room and into plumbing.