The Shadow

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The Girl

Caeli

“Shit,” I whispered as I looked through the entrance hall. Three guards… I had expected one, maybe two at most, perhaps on a shift changeover.

They had to have known of the break-in at the other museum; I told Vincent that this was a bad idea, to hit two museums in the same city. Syrus and I had only broken into the other one two nights ago. But the fact that the guards had known about it and hadn’t recognised our faces was a good thing. If they didn’t know what we looked like, then it meant our identities were still a secret… the pride of middle-aged men is shatterproof. The fact they were beaten by two teenagers would embarrass them. We would be safe to hit this place as well if we could work out how best to tackle this building.

“Two tickets please,” Syrus spoke to the girl at the front desk where I saw a spread of pamphlets, information booklets and books intended to sell.

“For you and your girlfriend?” The girl asked, and I scoffed at the assumption. Me dating the American idiot? What an outlandish concept.

“No, that’s my cousin...” Syrus stated, leaning his elbows onto the table to get closer to the girl. They were possibly the same age. The girl was working here as a part-time job, probably while studying. I assumed the girl was a history student to have any interest in working here. Syrus kept talking to the girl in a quiet voice... He was chatting her up. At least that’s what I guessed when the girl let out a giggle. I knew that form of a laugh.

“Come on, cousin, we’re on a time frame, and I know how much you want to see the Incan statues with their naked tits,” I stated, using my American accent since I was supposedly family to him. My words made the girl’s eyes widen, and Syrus immediately snapped his head to look at me, his eyes wide, his anger clear. Or maybe it was embarrassment…

I wasn’t sure but, either way, it was entertaining. So was what followed.

“That is not what I’m here for.” He said a bit too quickly.

“Um, here are your tickets...” The girl stated, handing the tickets to him. He turned to look back at the girl and smiled, I knew he was going to try to recover. I also knew he would fail.

“I’m more of an ass man myself.” He shrugged as he spoke, and the girl’s disgusted look spoke volumes. Sensing that he was being rejected, he walked to me and gave me a ticket before we walked into the first room past the guards.

“Did you really have to do that?” He asked me, I smiled sweetly as I looked at the pamphlet I had grabbed from the table while Syrus had failed to recover his dignity in front of the girl.

“Yes, I did,” I replied, still holding an American accent as I spoke in case the guards were paying any kind of attention... Judging from the bored and blank looks on their faces, I assumed they weren’t.

“I could’ve gotten a date. She seemed to like me.”

“Oh sweetheart, sometimes girls just have to act like that when a guy cracks onto them at work so the man will leave them alone. Unfortunately, it’s how the world works.” I told him, I knew I was right from the giggle the girl gave, I had heard it before, I’d had to use it before. It was hollow and an attempt to get the man to move on. It rarely worked.

“What? No, she...” He trailed off as I started walking through the rooms to get to the Incan exhibit.

“How often do you chat up girls who are working?” I asked next. He seemed to get a bit confused by the question.

“What does that have to do with anything?”

“Curious, it’s just... Women don’t want men to hit on them while they’re working, it’s awkward, and if they reject the man, it can get verbally abusive, very fast. You can be nice, but if you respect women, you shouldn’t hit on them at work unless they flirt with you first. Did she flirt with you?”

“I mean, she smiled and asked me how my day was...”

“Never mistake niceties and politeness for flirting, you’re making me question if you’re actually a decent human being at the moment,” I told him as we reached the exhibit, my eyes locking onto the guards as I counted them.

“I’m a good person, and I respect women very much.”

“Good for you, but it’s not really your view that matters on the subject. The women you talk to decide if you respect them or not, and it’s the people you interact with that decide if you’re a good person. So, unless that is feedback from other people you just quoted, I might need more time to see if I’ll believe it.” I told him, beginning to walk around the exhibit as he walked close to me.

He was strangely quiet. I might have given him a bit to think about.

I looked carefully at the pieces we planned on stealing, checking for any sensors or other security measures. Aside from the locks on the case and the guards, there were none.

This would be reasonably easy for them.

“I can easily pick these locks,” I whispered to him. He nodded in response.

“Don’t need a key, then?”

“No, these won’t take long for me to do,” I told him, I heard a jingle of keys before I looked at the source of the sound. We were in a corner out of view of guards, for the number they had, they were terribly placed. The keys were unfamiliar to me as I looked at them.

“We won’t need these then?”

“When did you...” I trailed off, realising that his quietness must have been because he had gone to steal the keys. I then realised how he and his sister had survived on their own until recently. “You’re a pickpocket then?”

“A bloody good one.”

“Hmm, well, I suppose the actual keys would be useful...” I trailed off, nodding slowly. He put them back into his pocket. We would take them and return them later. Maybe.

“Alright, let’s look around the rest of the museum and then head back. We have a plan to make.”

***

I made Syrus dress in all black in hopes it would help his stealth; I wore all black, so he didn’t feel singled out. We both agreed no guns would be the best option, they would be too loud and if it came to needing them, then we could take some from the guards.

We had a black backpack each as we stood by a window, waiting for the guards to walk past before we would sneak in. The keys had already proven useful since they had locked the entry to the roof. The keys solved that issue quickly.

We both climbed around the small ledges and uneven brick on the side of the building to get as close to the right room as possible, always looking through windows to see where the guards were and how many were present. As soon as our entry point was clear, we entered and stalked to the Incan exhibit.

Syrus unlocked the cabinets, and I grabbed the items. Most were small, but there was a larger item that spoke to me... It wasn’t on our list of artefacts to steal, but I knew I had to take it, and so it went into my bag as well. I made sure I wiped our fingerprints from all surfaces, and Sy placed the keys on the floor under a cabinet as if someone had dropped them.

“That thing wasn’t something we’re supposed to take.” Sy pointed out as we walked back to the window, overly cautious of how quiet the museum was.

“Shut up and get out the window,” I whispered back. He followed my instruction, and we began the climb back to the roof and then to the locked ladder that had brought us up.

It all seemed to go smoothly until we met a guard on the roof. I hid in time, but they spotted Syrus, a torch on his form as the guard spoke.

“What the... hey, what are you doing up here?”

“Just looking at the view, it’s nice up here...” as Syrus responded, I smirked. He was the first to get caught, and he would have to find a way out of it himself.

“What’s in the bag?”

“Oh, nothing, just a lunchbox, drink bottle...”

I heard the safety being switched off of a gun, the weapon then clicking as the guard primed it.

“Put the bag on the ground and get on your knees, hands behind your head.”

Shit. I would have to be the one to save his arse. Going to jail wasn’t an option, at least not in any situation that involved me. I began walking next to the air conditioning units that were providing decent cover and got a visual on the situation.

The guard had a gun pointed to Syrus as he put the bag down on the ground and knelt slowly to be down next to it. I had to get to the guard before he alerted anyone else.

I kept moving silently along the units before I reached the end and drifted beyond them. At worst, I was in the guard’s peripheral vision, but if I moved correctly, he wouldn’t spot me. And I always moved correctly.

I rounded behind the guard as Syrus saw me. He lowered his eyes to the ground in front of him as the guard moved to get his radio. I ran silently towards him and jumped onto his back, an arm locked around his throat to make him lose consciousness. The man fought back, forgetting about the radio he had on him, and dropped the gun to get me off of him.

“Just sleep already,” I told him. The shock that the person attacking him was a girl was enough to make him stop trying to get me off for a moment. A moment that I used to strengthen my grip as the man finally lost consciousness.

He fell down quickly; I pulled away from his body as Syrus picked up his bag.

“Run, it won’t be long before they realise they’re a man down,” I told him. We reached the ladder and made it down to the street before they raised an alarm. We were long gone when it finally was.

“You going to tell me why you grabbed that bloody thing?” Syrus asked as we ran back to the hotel. We would climb in through the window, so we didn’t bother changing.

“I wanted it,” I told him bluntly.

“It’s too big to go unnoticed. The whole point of grabbing small stuff was to hope that they wouldn’t notice for a while.”

“Yeah, well, you were the one who got caught by a guard and almost blew the entire heist, so there’s that. We both screwed up. Now we’re even.” I told him, keeping an ear out for sirens. “Besides, you’re just upset that you lost the bet. Now, you have to convince Sinclair that we don’t work well together and never will.”

“You know, he’s just going to see this as a success, plus you saved me so he’ll think of that as teamwork,” Sy told me, I groaned.

“I know.” I snapped, annoyed at how it looked. It had gone well, very well, but there had been plenty of opportunities for it to go badly. It took a lot of glaring to make him listen to me on multiple occasions. He had almost gone in through the window while guards were still in the hallway because of it.

If for some bloody reason we continued to work together, he would have to learn to listen to me. After all, I was the one who has never gotten caught. From what I knew, he had been in jail multiple times.

I would make him listen.

He wouldn’t have a choice.

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