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Interludes Science Fiction Short Stories

Interlude: Smash and Grab

One good robbery deserves another.

A stiff breeze blew across the roof of the museum. The moonless sky cast no shadows that night, yet four moved silently across the roof to a control panel. One of the shadows held a silver tool beside the control panel lock.

A shower of sparks shot out of the lock. The panel swung drunkenly open. “Don’t waste time, Farris.”

The other man looked over the panel. A series of switches and circuit boards glowed blue around an LCD screen. “UNAUTHORIZED ACCESS DETECTED” was flashing on it.

“Looks pretty simple.” He pulled a small spool of wires from his coat pocket. He hooked two ends to various points in the board and jacked the last one into a hole below the screen. He flipped and held a switch at the bottom of the panel.

Something within popped and fizzled. The screen changed to “WELCOME, {$USER1}”. He pulled the wires back out of the panel. “There it is.”

“Good job.” The man turned to the other two. “Be ready to move as soon as the system goes down.” The two men nodded silently.

A series of rapid beeps issued from the panel a couple of minutes later. The light above the door to the emergency stairwell blinked out. “We’re lights out, Dobbs.”

“Good job. Let’s go. Straight to the exhibit.” The men dawned what looked like green sunglasses. “Stay on night vision.”

Farris stuck a pair of tools into the door’s keyhole. The devices whirred and clicked in his hand as they did their work. The door handle turned a moment later. “In.”

The four men poured through the door and silently ran down the emergency stairs to the main exhibit hall of the museum. They passed under a sign reading “JEWELS OF THE WORLD”. Dobbs stopped before a case in the middle of the exhibit.

Inside was a rough-cut diamond the size of a baseball. Dobbs signaled for Farris to join him. He extended two fingers out to the others and jabbed a thumb towards the front of the museum. They nodded, running off.

There were two guards in the main lobby. One was sitting at the security desk, staring helplessly out towards the darkened street outside. The other paced uneasily, phone in hand, arms half-crossed.

“I told you, it flashed something about diagnostic test and then everything went dark… Well it did do that and we need back-up.”

One of the men whispered “No you don’t.” He pointed a small pistol at the guard and squeezed the trigger. A glowing projectile shot out, striking the guard in the chest.

Electricity arced out of the projectile and across his body. He shook violently before falling to the ground unconscious. The other guard stood, reeling around and fighting with the clasp on his holster.

“Nope. Nighty-night.” The other man pointed his own small pistol and shot the guard in the head. Blood poured from his nose as he dropped to the ground.

“Damn, Jack! You probably just killed the poor bastard!”

“Better him than me, Bill.” Jack put away the pistol. “Let’s go.”

The two men returned to the jewel exhibit. Farris knelt at the bottom of the diamond display. Dobbs looked on nervously. He looked at the others expectantly.

“We’re alone now,” Bill said. “One sleeping…” He looked at Jack. “The other probably dead.”

Dobbs spit. “Damn it, we don’t operate that way.”

“Couldn’t be helped,” Jack said. “How close is Poindexter? One guard was on the phone with tech support already.”

“Almost there,” Farris mumbled. He poked at the screen on the device he had attached to the base of the diamond display. It displayed a closed lock icon.

He squeezed buttons on either side of the device. A series of clicks came from within the base. The closed lock became an open one. He turned off the device and retrieved it. “It’s free.”

Farris stood to one side of the display. Dobbs grabbed the glass box covering the diamond and looked to Farris. The man nodded. Dobbs lifted it into the air.

Farris grabbed the diamond and fed it into a black satchel. Dobbs set the glass back down. The museum lights snapped back on. A shrill alarm sounded.

“What the hell? I thought you said it was disabled!”

“It was! Somebody must have reactivated it from the security panel.”

“Let’s just smash out the front. Run for it,” Jack suggested.

Dobbs shook his head. “Police will be here any minute. Let’s get to the roof.” He pulled out a handgun. The others followed suit.

They emerged one by one onto the roof, eyes peeled for company. Farris brought up the rear. A black-clad arm shot out from one side of the doorway, its fist slamming hard into his throat.

His gun fired wildly as he fell backwards choking. A hand flashed out, snatching the satchel from him as he fell backwards down the stairs. A black-clad woman slammed the door shut and turned to the others.

Dobbs and the others whirled around. The woman held up a small device and activated it. The night-vision glasses the men wore suddenly fizzled and popped loudly.

They stumbled about, brushing the glasses off and cursing. The woman ran forward and kicked Bill’s gun out of his hand. She punched him in the stomach. He lurched over.

The woman grabbed his head and wrenched up and to the left. There came a sickening crack. Bill dropped to the ground.

Dobbs got off a wild shot at the woman as his vision cleared. She smacked the weapon to the side and drove her palm into his nose. He screamed, raining blood as he stumbled backwards.

Jack fired at the woman, grazing her side. She cried out. She spun around and grabbed the muzzle of the gun, hissing as the metal burned her flesh.

She wrenched it out of his hand and turned it around, shooting him in the face. He gurgled as he sunk to his knees. “Hold it right there, miss.” It was Dobbs.

She slowly raised her hands into the air. “Give me the diamond. Maybe I’ll let you live.”

She didn’t move. “Look, lady. Last chance. The cops gotta be downstairs by now.” The woman stayed as she was. “Have it your way.”

The woman dropped and rolled. Dobbs cursed, firing at her as she went. She returned fire, striking Dobbs in the arm. She ran to the side of the building and flipped down onto the fire escape.

“Stupid bitch!” He chased after her, firing wildly through the fire escape. He pounded down the stairs, eyes peeled for the slippery woman.

He stood on the ground below, scanning the dark alley around him. The lid of a trash can clattered to the ground behind him. He spun around, firing at the noise.

The woman stood up behind Dobbs and punched him in the nape of the neck. His trigger finger jerked, wasting his last shot. The woman ran off down the alley and toward the street.

Dobbs ran after her, growling. He slowed at the sight of a gathering crowd outside the museum. Flashing lights and a series of whoops came from police cruisers approaching from the far side.

The woman used the distraction to spring around the corner and jab a silver dagger deep into the man’s eye socket. The siren wail of a third police cruiser muffled his dying cry as he slipped to the ground. The woman wrenched out the dagger and unceremoniously wiped it off on Dobbs before pocketing it.

She rounded the corner, her clothes and face rippling like a heatwave. She melded into the crowd, now clutching a purse against her tan trench coat. She nodded politely to a passing police officer as she went.

The woman made her way across the street. She spotted a man in a blue blazer and red-tinted glasses at the back of the growing crowd. She stood quietly beside him and gazed back towards the museum. She handed the purse off to the man.

“On time as usual.” The man tucked the purse under one arm. He held out a small pad to the woman with the other. She pressed her thumb to its surface. A female voice drifted up from the device. “Balance transfer complete!”

The man tucked the device into his coat pocket. “Until next time.” He turned to look at the woman, but she was already gone. He smiled. “As usual.” He turned and walked into the open night, whistling quietly.