Itís quiet out. Or at least as quiet as the suburbs can really get. Traffic rushes past me, unheeding of the lone woman. What little foot traffic there is at this hour is easily avoided, couples and families too absorbed in themselves and their own lives to pay me any heed beyond absently making sure that they avoided a collision course. None but the moon pay me any notice, are aware of my existence. I glance up at the moon, picking out the face of the Ďmaní as I used to do so often as a child. A full moon. Both a blessing and a curse for my intentions. Blessing in that it provided enough light that, coupled with the streets, I wouldnít need to use the small flashlight in my jacket pocket just yet. But that same light meant that I myself was more noticeable.
ďCalm, Anna,Ē I tell myself, as I so often do despite my years of being in myÖ particular line of work. ďCalm. Donít rush. Donít look down. If you look like you belong, then no one will notice you.Ē Advice that I donít need anymore. Advice that I always make sure to give myself. I donít dare allow myself hubris. If I start to, then that means that Iíll get sloppy. And I donít want that. Iím not even doing anything wrong, and I canít help the wry chuckle at that thought. No, no thereís nothing wrong with what Iím doing. Itís only a little thieving.
The house is up ahead. Iíve spent the past few weeks observing it; studying the security system, the habits of the owners, I know the yard like the back of my hand, and Iíve never even stepped foot in it. Glancing briefly around me to ensure that, yes, I am alone at the moment, I grab the top of the low fence, vaulting over it and landing silently. Those years of gymnastics classes that my parents forced me into despite my complaints coming in handy yet again. The owners of the house are on vacation, a detail I hadnít known before seeing them pack a few bags in the trunk of their car, but one I plan on taking advantage of.
I walk towards the front door quickly but quietly, and then stop ten feet away and veer off. I know the security system of this house. If I had stepped any closer, it would have triggered. Itís a solid system, having sensors buried in the ground that the owners can temporarily turn off long enough to open the door, with more sensors connected to the lock. If the door isnít unlocked before thirty seconds have passed, the first stage of the system triggers. In another ten seconds if the door isnít unlocked, the silent alarm goes off, alerting the authorities that something is wrong. Reaching into my right pants pocket I thumb a signal jammer, but donít turn it on. I donít need it. The signal jammer is insurance, not something I depend on. If I canít pick the lock in the time limit, Iíll turn it on. Reassured that itís in a position to be easily turned on should I need it, I walk towards the door. I now have thirty seconds before the first stage triggers. So much time, and hardly any time at all.
My lockpicks are out before Iíve even reached it, a mental clock running down in my head. I hiss in annoyance when I see the lock. Itís an impressive model, and one not easily picked. I can get in, but I canít be certain that I can do it in time. Knowing that the longer I stall, the less time I have, ten seconds have already passed as I deliberated, I crouched down in front of the keyhole, bringing my tools to bear. Lockpicking isnít an easy task, one that requires patience, dexterity, and the ability to feel minute changes in the tumblers that are translated across the lockpicks and into my fingers. Itís why I never wear gloves when Iím doing it. Even thin gloves interfere with those signals. Twenty seconds pass and Iím still not in. My heartbeat picks up as adrenaline courses through my system and itís with focused concentration that I keep my breath even and my hands steady. Iíve heard that surgeons need to have steady hands at all times. I canít help but wonder if any of them moonlighted as thieves. After all, equally steady hands are required to pick locks. Twenty-five seconds pass and I let out a hiss of frustration, having to force myself to not rush. The usually unnoticeable signal jammer in my pocket gaining weight as the seconds tick by, turning from something I donít even feel into a small stone. Not pausing in my efforts, I forcibly remove it from my focus, reminding myself that I donít need it. Even if I canít get this open in the initial thirty seconds, Iíll still have an additional ten seconds of leeway. My mental clock ticks down to zero just as I hear the satisfying click of the lock opening. Letting out a relieved breath, I slip on the pair of gloves that are next to my flashlight as I open the door.
Closing it behind me, I flick on the small light, glancing around. Going to the first door on my left, I open it. From the cradle in the corner and the bright, cheerful paintings of clouds and rainbows, this is obviously a nursery. From the fact that the room isnít ready for an infant, itís obviously still in progress. Thereís nothing in here thatís worth stealing, but I still glance around the room, taking a moment to gaze at the cradle. That thing is the reason Iím here, after all. I deserve to see it for myself.
I shake my head to clear it. I donít have time for delays. Thereís no guarantee that no one saw my breaking and entering. I need to hurry. Walking out of the room, I play my light over everything, looking quickly but carefully at the items. Still, I almost miss it, spotting the shadow just as my light started moving away. Quickly bringing the light back over it, I very nearly let out a surprised cry. How could I have missed the video camera? Looking around again, I spy several more, well hidden but easy to find once I knew what I was looking for. This was incompetent of me. I know how the security system that I saw works. I should have looked for the cameras immediately when they werenít readily visible but theyíre not usually so well-hidden. Someone at that company deserves a bonus for the job they did. The cameras cover virtually every angle, and are nearly invisible unless you know what to look for. Luckily for me, the cameras donít trigger until the silent alarm has gone off. The lack of any flashing lights from the cameras confirms what I knew, they arenít on. Walking towards the central power source of the cameras, I double-check this information, knowing that a few moments of delay to make sure is a wise decision in the long run. The wires are silent. The cameras are almost definitely not running. To be safe, however, I flip the switch to turn them off. No harm in making sure that I have a little extra insurance.
I still donít have anything to show for my efforts, though. Inexcusable. I walk through the rest of the house, looking at everything. In the master bedroom, my light plays over a jewelry box. I grimace at being reduced to something so typical - after all, I am not a typical thief, I shouldnít be reduced to typical items - but I walk over to the box nonetheless and look at its contents. Perhaps there would be something worthwhile to show for my efforts besides ordinary jewelry.
I spy the object immediately. Itís not special. Itís not valuable, but it is sentimental. I pick up the locket and observe it for a few moments, flicking it open and looking at the smiling couple inside. Well, I did hope for something out of the common. The thought has me chuckling again in amusement as I pocket the item.
Movement out of the corner of my eye has me whirling around, wondering what I could have missed and if it was going to lead me to get caught. Iíve been sloppy tonight. Made too many mistakes. Apparently Iím not so immune to hubris as I thought. I breath a sigh of relief when it was merely a picture falling, the frame being too old to support its weight anymore. I have what I need. Time to leave.
I again thumb the signal jammer in my pocket as I walk back towards the video cameras and turn them back on. I donít turn it on, but I keep one hand on it and my eyes trained on the camera easiest for me to see. Any hint of a flash, and Iíll be ready to jam the signals, making sure Iím not spotted by them. After all, Iíve gone through a lot of trouble to keep the owners of the house from knowing I was here. Wouldnít want to give myself away at the very end. Once outside, I again crouch at the keyhole, special lockpicks in hand and a smirk on my face. Any thief can unlock something, but how many can relock them? Relocking the door is a tricky process, and a time consuming one. Fortunately for me, I donít have a time limit for this task. As the lock secures itself with a soft click, I stand up and quickly look around to make sure that, as it was when I entered, only the moon is my witness in the night. Satisfied that Iím alone, I dart across the lawn, again vaulting over the fence before quickly - but not too quickly - walking back to my home.
The inhabitants of the house had been gone for a week, but finally theyíre back. Walking up the driveway in a more common fashion, I ring the doorbell, hoping that the door is answered quickly as the flashing lightning and rolling thunder are going out of their way to let me know that, on the one day I walk out without an umbrella on me, itís about to pour. Fortunately for me the door is opened readily and a pleasant woman answers, pregnancy only just starting to show.
ďAnna. How wonderful to see you!Ē is the happy exclamation. ďSo, was I right? I was right, wasnít I? You couldnít do it.Ē Her grin fades slightly as I hold up the locket triumphantly.
ďIíve told you countless times, Amy, I am a master at this.Ē Walking inside and sitting down at the kitchen table, I put a piece of paper on top of it, the locket next to it. ďThese are all the holes I saw, though your systemís better than most. Fix these, and you shouldnít have much to worry about.Ē My old friend is looking carefully at the notes Iíve written down and nodding.
ďIíve gotta admit, when you told me that people pay good money for you to break into their houses and steal something to prove that you really did do it without getting caught, all to test their security systems, I didnít believe you,Ē she shakes her head in bemusement as she says this, and I let myself grin in amusement and share a laugh at her expense.
ďWell, thatís your problem. Youíre lucky weíre such good friends or Iíd charge you for this. If it wasnít because youíre worried about the baby and want to make sure your house is safe, I wouldnít have bothered.Ē
ďThank you again for this, by the way. Iíll fix the holes you mentioned, and I feel better already now that I know theyíre there and can be fixed.Ē
ďYou do realize that all I did was point out a few holes that I saw, right? I didnít burglar-proof your house. Thereís no such thing as a perfect system.Ē I give this speech to every Ďclientí I get, but never so earnestly as now. Amyís a sweet girl, but sheís a little too optimistic. Iím worried that sheíll think that once the few holes I saw are plugged that her house will be invulnerable.
ďRight, right, I know. You said that already,Ē she assures me absently. I sigh. I donít know what the womanís thinking, but I hope sheíll take me seriously. Standing up to leave, borrowing an umbrella at her insistence, I pause at the door, one last thing needing to be said.
ďIíd better be invited once that kidís born. I did a lot of work to make sure itís safe here.Ē
Instead of going home immediately, which was the wise choice despite the weather, I walked down the street in the opposite direction. I had another job in this area and needed to start scoping it out. A thiefís work is never done.
< Message edited by Gingkage -- 7/13/2014 20:47:19 >