Welcome to Sunday Scribbles!
I’m keeping it short this week because I’m doing a rebel Nanowrimo (The Notebook Project) and I have university deadlines. This week’s story is lifted from my Nano notebook, with edits and additions.
Hidden between a rock and a hard place, in this case the sheer stone wall of the museum and a dumpster, was not the way I expected today to end. Heart pounding, I peered around the edge of my hiding place and sucked in a breath. There were more of them now, four up from two, and as my heart thudded in my ears I knew I’d never escape. Not without help.
Frantic eyes darted around the courtyard. Nothing. No access to the rooftops. No underground passages, and my planned escape route, the bridge over the river, was swarming with robotic guards. Their flashlight eyes scanned the edge of the river and laser sights danced above where I crouched. I tucked a stray strand of hair under my hood, trying to calm my harsh breaths. Could I wait them out? Distract them? I squeezed my eyes shut. How had it come to this?
I knew how. My biggest weaknesses: The thrill of the hunt and the promise of reward. That single slip of paper, slipped inside a fortune cookie from Zei Cháoxué’s takeaway, lured me here, but even if I asked they’d never help me. Once I accepted a mission I was on my own. The amount of zeroes clued me in to the difficulty of the heist, but I wasn’t prepared for this… I shook my head and clenched my metal fist. I’d taken a chance, as I did with every mission.
It should’ve been simple. Hit the back entrance, slip past the robotic guards, take out the ones inside with an EMP, and break into the display cabinet. My plan worked like clockwork. I’d slipped off the wall, where I’d hidden in the shadows of a battered flag, and landed in a crouch. When the door opened on schedule, and the, oddly human, guards left to patrol, I’d stuck my arm inside the doorway to stop it from closing and slipped inside.
Inside the corridors were a maze, but I’d visited as a tourist earlier in the week and mapped it out. Easy. I’d crept towards the end of the hallway and thrown an EMP to disable the robot guards. One blinding flash later, and they’d crackled and spluttered to a stop. Down and out.
I remember punching the air above me and grinning as I approached the door to the artefact room, but my joy was short-lived. I dropped my lock picks when I glanced up and realised the case was empty. After that it was a bit of a blur. Alarms blared. I’d tore back the way I’d come. Dodged robots and lasers and calls of ‘Intruder Alert,’ to end up in the ventilation system, and, inevitably, behind the dumpster where I was now, trying to plot my escape.
My pounding heart refused to calm, but this? It’s what I live for. Still, I couldn’t get caught again. Last time I lost a hand. There’s no telling what they’d do if they caught me this time. Maybe they’d let me go, if they realised I were empty handed? I shook my head. Stolen property or not, I was still trespassing.
As my mind raced, a swarm of robots rolled past from the direction of the bridge. Was it clear? I frowned, and, keeping close to the walls, moved towards it. The sight that greeted me was disappointing. There were still too many of them. There had to be some other way out, something I’d missed. The walls? No. I couldn’t scale them from this side. The main gates? I shook my head. Too fortified. I was-
Wait, was that… My head shot towards the river as an engine rumbled to life. A motorboat! Perhaps I could get to it before it left? I eyed the distance between myself and the boat. Doable, but the aching chasm of open space between me and the dock? Not so inviting.
No time to think. I took a chance. One foot after the other I willed my shaking legs to move. The boat began to move too. A beam of light whizzed past me and singed my hood. I didn’t falter. My feet pounded on the metal gangplank of the dock, and I threw myself off the end. My limbs flailed helplessly for a moment, before I hit the deck with a thud. We sped away from the museum, the robots, and the chaos I left behind me, me and my unknown saviours.
I plastered an overly cheerful smile on my face and looked up.
The driver glared at me. ‘Who the hell are you?’
A second man stepped forward, tossing the artefact I was after from palm to palm as his companion steered us to safety. ‘Relax Mick. She’s one of us.’
I lifted defiant eyes towards my saviour and gasped. The men from the museum, the human ‘guards’ I’d spotted! Thieves, just like me, their escape made all the easier because of the chaos I’d caused. I smirked and nodded at the artefact. ‘So, do I get a cut of that, or what?’
Thanks for reading!
This story developed a mind of its own, and somehow related itself loosely to a really old story I wrote about criminals and robots based on Snart and Rory from The Flash. It’s the first 1st person story I’ve written in a long time where I had a female character in mind.
Share lines with #sunscribbles every week on Twitter, or write a short story based around one of the prompts. The prompts for November are:
One word not enough? I post expanded prompts on Pinterest:
Hidden beneath the floorboards, I knew there was only one way out. I’d fight, or I’d die trying.
If you use one of the prompts feel free to share your story links in the comments.
See you next week, for an update on university and my Nanowrimo challenge!