Hello, my Freaky Darlings!
Because I’ve been a little on the quiet front of late here’s an extra long story for you to enjoy – I hope …
Breaching the Tower
I watched and waited for the sentry to finish his chat with the guard. I couldn’t blame the guy for not wanting to get back to walking the perimeter when he could keep gabbing with her, but his chitchat was messing with my timetable. Thankfully the guard’s flirty smile turned to a frown as he pushed his luck too far. He’d made a rookie mistake when he didn’t take his eyes off her cleavage. Women, I have realised, like it when you make eye contact and don’t rush it. That tactic has won me many a fair maiden’s trust and gotten me into all sorts of exciting places.
The sentry beat a hasty retreat once she shot him down. Finally, I was clear to make my move. I just hoped the idiot hadn’t ruined my chances of catching her in an amenable mood. Once he was around the corner and out of sight, I strolled up, bold as brass, looking like I belonged there. It’s amazing how far a bit of swagger will get you in this life of crime.
“Good evening,” I said as I flashed my most confident smile.
“Good evening,” she replied, standing at attention and looking all business. Her hand rested on the butt of her pistol. Her holster was already unclipped. She’d be able to pull her weapon and fire in one clean move.
“You must be new,” I said. “I’m Jason.” I stuck my hand out. Perhaps it was a risky assumption that she was a recent hire, but if she’d been an old hand at the job, the sentry wouldn’t have tried his luck. He’d already have known he didn’t stand a chance. Plus getting her to shake my hand got her hand off her gun.
“Lori,” she said taking my hand and gesturing with her chin towards her nametag, strategically placed, making my eyes stray from her face to her chest, precisely where I didn’t want to look. Bugger! But I have to admit it was worth the glance.
I looked back up at her face as fast as I could, just in time to catch her smiling at my obvious discomfort. Her hand was warm, her grip firm and her smile held promise.
“Is it that obvious?” She asked. Her voice was breathy and would have made most men forget their assignments, but not me, I had shit to do and playing footsie with a pretty guard wasn’t really one of them, even though she was a pleasant distraction, but I had to get past her any way I could. I had to finish the job.
“Nah, not obvious at all,” I said with a grin as I let go of her hand. In the game of seduction, it’s important to be the one who let’s go first and leave them wanting more. “I’d definitely have remembered you if I’d seen you here before.”
“I’m memorable, am I?” she said with a grin of her own as she looked me up and down.
“Absolutely,” I said. “You also look like you can handle yourself in any situation.”
“I sure can,” she said with pride. She wasn’t cocky, just self-assured.
“So … Jason,” she said. “What brings you here at this time of night?”
“You know us working stiffs,” I said. “The job is never done. Got a deadline for a new acquisition and only have a couple hours before the deal expires.” Truer words had never come out of my mouth. I had to wrap things up with her and fast. Time was running out. I stepped past her, towards the door. I took it nice and easy, as though my walking to that door was the most natural thing in the world. There was no need to force my way in. As far as she was concerned, I was supposed to be there. “You going to be around later, Lori?” I asked.
“Why?” She asked with a cheeky glint in her eyes. “You wanna see if you can handle me?”
“Maybe,” I said with a wink as I pushed the door open and stepped inside.
“My shift ends in an hour,” she called after me. “If you’re done with your acquisition, you can buy me a drink at Mc Ginty’s.”
The door closed behind me, saving me from having to lie. There wasn’t a snowball’s chance in hell that I’d be meeting her at the bar around the corner when I was done robbing the place. As tempting as that particular proposition was.
The well-lit entrance hall belied what the Tower really was. I wondered if Lori knew what she was actually guarding. Would she run screaming for her life if she knew what was hidden in the lower basement? Most people would, but not me. I was going to steal something nice and shiny right out from under the monster’s snout.
Only one lift would take me to the level I wanted to be on. It was the very last one on the left-hand side of a bank of ten elevators. I pushed the button and waited for it to make it’s way down slowly. My foot tapped impatiently. The doors slid open. A barrel-chested guard stood at ease right in the middle of it. There was nothing else I could do except step inside and hope like hell I could come up with a plausible explanation for my being in that lift. If I didn’t, I was screwed and not in a good way.
As I wracked my brain trying to come up with something believable all I could think was that I should have known they’d have a guard in the elevator. It was a stupid, careless mistake. If I made it out of there, I was going to kick my own arse up and down some or other street somewhere far away from the Tower and remind myself to do better in the research department. I’m a professional for fuck’s sake. I should have known better.
Convincing Lori that I belonged in the building was one thing, but being in a restricted lift heading to a secret basement was a whole other story.
I pushed the button for the lower basement level, pulled my stollen access card out of my pocket, kept my thumb on the original owner’s photo, touched it against the card reader and said a silent prayer that the card still worked and that it hadn’t been reported as stolen yet. I should have had at least an hour before the guy woke up and realised his card was missing.
I felt the guard’s eyes on my neck. I swallowed my nerves as I waited for the green light on the reader. But instead of the green light, it flashed red setting off an alarm. He must have woken up sooner than expected. I was beyond fucked.
“May I see your card, sir?” the guard asked, his hand on his holster, ready to pull his weapon.
“Of course,” I said as I turned to face him.
I had two choices. I could try and talk my way out of it, but to be honest, I had absolutely no clue what possible excuse I could come up with for having a stolen card with some other guys face on it. I’m just not that good of a liar and considering the situation I was in, I had serious doubts about my skills as a thief. It was one of those am I in the right line of work moments. My second choice was to fight my way out of it, but looking at him, I realised I was outmatched in size and muscle tone. I could tell from his broken nose, bull shoulders, and bruised knuckles that he was obviously the sort of man who spent a lot of time boxing.
I decided to try option one before I risked having my face rearranged.
“My card doesn’t seem to be working,” I said trying to sound as innocent as possible under the circumstances.
The guard gave me that no shit look.
“I have to check on our friend downstairs,” I said. It was all I could come up with under the circumstances. “We’ve had some unusual readings, and the boss sent me down to have a look. I don’t suppose your card is working?”
“My card is working just fine, but I really need to see your card, sir,” the guard said. He put his hand out and gestured for me to hand my card over. I still held my thumb over the photo as I showed it to him. I had no intention of actually handing it over. He cocked his eyebrow and tried to pull the card out of my grip. I knew the jig was up. I was going to end up fighting for my life. My body would probably be found in a dumpster in some alley on the other side of town, so I did the only thing I could. I let go of the card and hit first. I hit hard. Punched him right in his throat. That punch would have felled an ordinary man, but not him. He just smiled.
Instead of pulling his pistol and shooting me, he came at me swinging. He actually seemed to be enjoying himself. I guess I was the entertainment for an otherwise dull evening. I managed to block most of his jabs and hooks, but a couple got through. I felt one smack my ribs and heard a nasty crack. It didn’t bode well for me. Then he landed a hard gut punch which had me doubled over and gasping for breath.
“Come on pretty boy,” he said as he gripped my hair and pulled my face up. “This dance isn’t even close to being done yet.”
“What happened to calling me, sir?” I asked as I put every ounce of strength I had left behind my fist and punched him in the nuts. He would be singing soprano for a while. It was a dirty move and one I felt guilty about, but a thief has to do what a thief has to do. I didn’t have time to go twelve rounds with him. I also wouldn’t have survived those twelve rounds, let alone one. As it was, just one of his jabs had probably broken one of my ribs.
While he howled and cupped his balls, I took his card off his belt and tapped it against the card reader. The elevator started its slow journey down. His crying annoyed me, so I did what I had to do. One well placed, swift, kick to the face, and he was lights out. I got to enjoy the rest of the ride down in silence, even if my own groaning and gasping for breath interrupted said silence.
The real fun awaited when the doors for the lift opened and the magnificent creature they kept in the basement glared at me with burning eyes – quite literally. My prize rested inches from its toothy grin. Its jaws could snap me in two or devour me in one gulp. I guess it would depend on whether or not it wanted to play with its food.
I hoped it had already been fed for the evening, I really didn’t feel like being dinner. I tried to judge the distance from the lift to the target and realised I would need a distraction. The burly guard was starting to regain consciousness but was still groggy enough for me to drag him out and place him on the opposite side of the basement.
The beast kept his flaming eyes on me but didn’t budge from his perch. I wondered if he was waiting to see what I would do.
“You really need to lose some weight,” I said to the barely conscious guard as I dragged him across the floor. He just groaned in reply.
“Just stay there, like a good boy,” I said as I propped him up against one of the pillars and slapped him a little just to wake him up.
I have to admit, that I did something I’m not entirely proud of, but I had to give the beast something other than me as a target. It was the guard or me. The guard was already bleeding from his nose, from when I kicked him in the face. It’s not my fault that the monster is attracted to the smell of blood, and if the guard had just let me do what I needed to do instead of trying to fight me, he would still be alive. So I may have made him a little more appetising to the beast when I took the guards knife from his utility belt and cut his hand. I’ve already said I wasn’t proud of my actions, but a guy’s gotta do what a guy’s gotta do.
I ducked behind another pillar while I waited for Beasty to take the bait. I didn’t have to wait long. It was clearly hungry. Maybe they hadn’t fed him yet. While Beasty devoured the screaming guard, I scampered for the treasure.
I made it out and past Lori’s replacement just in time to make it to my Midnight rendezvous with my client who paid me for a change without any kind of haggling. It was a good night’s work. Well except for my broken ribs and a guilty conscience which would be appeased with a really stiff drink and some serious rationalisation about it being about survival. I’d get over it eventually, especially with the next job coming up.
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