Welcome to Sunday Scribbles!
This story’s based on the #sunscribbles Twitter prompt, View, and a character from a story I wrote 2 years ago about a young boy who vows to become a criminal mastermind. Enjoy!
Hands of Fate
In a noisy pub, where feet squelched in sticky beer stairs and patrons squinted in the dim light, a man in his early thirties perched on the edge of a chair, surrounded by goons and sharpening his blade. Blaise, expert thief.
A younger man appeared, as if from nowhere, and moved through the crowd with tentative steps. He grabbed a beer from the bar, downed it, and approached the corner. ‘Excuse me, can I talk to your boss?’
Blaise sheathed his blade. ‘What can I do for you, kid?’
The kid’s eyes darted left and right. ‘I need you to steal something for me.’
‘Straight to business. I like that.’ He shoved back his chair and stretched languidly. ‘Come on, we’ll talk in my office.’
The job the kid, Leo, outlined was laughable. A simple B&E that, compared to robbing a bank or planning a museum heist, would be a piece of cake. Normally he wouldn’t bother with such a trivial assignment, but business was slow and it’d be good to stretch his skills, however little.
Underestimating the job was his first mistake. The mark was home, guarded by two police officers posing as a happy couple next door, and she’d paid for it when he’d disabled their cameras and broken in. His second mistake was letting the phone ring, and he cursed under his breath as voices filtered through from next door.
‘We know she’s home, so why isn’t she answering?’
‘Maybe she’s in the shower?’
‘I’m going to check it out.’
Blaise inwardly cursed his bad luck. For an expensive apartment with a stunning view of a sparkling ocean, where a single fishing boat rocked on the waves, the walls were unexpectedly thin. He snatched the phone from the receiver. ‘Hello?’
‘Hello, may I speak to Dawn please?’
‘She’s unavailable at the moment,’ Blaise said, keeping his voice low and his eyes trained on the unconscious woman sprawled across the kitchen floor.
No one came to the door, but the person on the other end of the phone was not so easily deterred. ‘Are you the man of the household?’
‘Not exactly.’ He pulled a picture from the wall, looking for a concealed safe, and frowned. Her son was his client? But why did he want to steal the Hands of Fate from his own mother? The air beside him shimmered, and he rubbed his eyes. For a moment he swore Leo was right beside him, but that wasn’t possible. He was alone, barring the unconscious woman of course.
‘We’re not interested,’ Blaise interrupted, and he hung up before the caller could start a sales pitch. He pocketed a jewellery box on the way to the bedroom, a little bonus for his client’s deception, and emptied the wardrobe. At the back he spied the safe. Perfect. He reached for the keypad and had it open within a minute. Prize in hand, he left the bedroom.
As he made his way across the kitchen-diner, the phone rang again and pierced the silence. Blast. He shoved the Hands of Fate under his arm and answered it. ‘What?’
‘I see someone finally got past security, and you got the artefact too. Bravo.’
Blaise turned in a slow circle, but, except for the occasional shimmer in the air beside him, nothing stirred. He’d disabled the security cameras. No one could know. Unless- The boat. They were watching from the boat.
He plastered himself to the wall and crept to the window. The sun glinted off a reflective surface on the boat. A telescope, or something more sinister? What the hell was this artefact worth?
The person on the phone chuckled. ‘Don’t worry, we won’t ice you. In fact, we’ll pay you handsomely for the Hands of Fate.’
‘I already have a client.’ He caught a flicker of movement as the woman in the kitchen stirred, and he gestured for her to stay down. She ignored him and fumbled open a cabinet.
‘Oh, someone didn’t do a very good job. Looks like we’ll have to finish her.’
‘Get down!’ Blaise yelled.
The window shattered. A bullet flew past his head. Leo’s mother hit the floor. A scream, and Leo appeared from shimmering air to drop to his knees beside her. Blaise shook the glass off his thick coat. Where had he come from? No time. He ran towards the kitchen in a low crouch and pushed Leo to the floor behind the breakfast bar.
Leo whimpered. ‘Did they… Kill her?’
Blaise shook his head and pointed at the cabinet: The bullet was wedged in the solid oak door. ‘She must’ve hit her head on the way down. When did you get here?’
‘I’ve been here the whole time.’
Leo shrugged. ‘Invisibility’s my superpower. I wanted to make sure you stuck to your word.’
The door banged open, and two gun-wielding women stood on the threshold. ‘Is anyone hurt?’
‘My mother, but don’t come any closer: There’s a sniper on the boat!’
The shorter officer waved them towards the door. ‘Keep low, we’ll cover you.’
Leo strained to lift his mother. Blaise sighed, pocketed the artefact, and hefted her onto his back. ‘Lead the way.’
They crept across the kitchen and into the hallway in suspicious silence. Not a shot was fired. Blaise handed Leo’s mother to the taller officer and turned to leave.
‘Wait!’ The officer said, arms full of unconscious woman. ‘We need to take your statement, and I’d recommend protective custody- Hey, where’d her son go?’
The air shimmered at the end of the hall. Leo had vanished.
‘I can take care of myself far better than you can, and I don’t have time to make a statement,’ Blaise replied. It was true. They’d seen his face, and, judging by the lack of shots fired after the first, they were likely on their way here now. He needed to disappear.
He waved and stepped away, through a door and down a narrow staircase. In the underground parking lot he boarded his bike and secured his helmet. A warm weight settled behind him, and the air shimmered as Leo flickered into view. ‘Following me home?’
Leo nodded. ‘You still have the Hands of Fate, and I need your help to get rid of it.’ Blaise opened his mouth. Leo cut him off. ‘Not to one of your buyers. I don’t want anyone to get hurt when those guys go after it. I know you have contacts. Just put me in touch with someone who can destroy something that seems indestructible, and I won’t mention the jewellery box in your pocket.’
Blaise sighed and handed him a spare helmet. ‘Put it on, and hold tight. I think I know a guy.’
Leo bit his lip and nodded. Blaise gunned the engine, and they sped out into the night. What had he gotten himself into this time?
Thanks for reading!
I seem to be revisiting older stories a lot lately. Part of this story was inspired by the prompt ‘a robber breaks into an apartment and answers the phone to a cold caller mid break in.’ I might write more about these guys some day!
Share lines with #sunscribbles every week on Twitter, or write a short story based around the prompt and share a blog link.
Next week? I’m talking about Good Omens for the Author Toolbox blog hop 🙂