In A More Complicated Universe
In A More Complicated Universe7 mins 319 7 mins 319
“Come on, Dan!” I whispered, shaking Dan's body in order to wake him up. “It’s 1 am. Time to go.”
Daniel, or Dan, as his friends liked to call him, opened up one eye, still clutching his blanket. “Are you sure you want to do this?”
I nodded in apprehension.
“The warehouse is extremely secured.”
“Don’t worry, bro. I have everything figured out. The electronic alarms are hackable from close range.” Dan did not look convinced, so I continued, “We gotta take the risk, man! Don’t you want to retire? Or are you enjoying the life of a small-time thief? Think. If we get this one, we are done for ten years, at least,” I stressed on the last part.
“Look, I am more than content by being a small-time thief. I don’t want to get killed by a watchman.” Perhaps, the frown on my forehead was visible even in the dim light of the zero-Watt bulb, since Dan added, “But if you are confident enough, we are good to go.”
“That’s the spirit,” I fist-pumped as Dan got rid of the blanket and started dressing up.
We reached the warehouse at exactly 2:40 am. The warehouse belonged to a wealthy businessman whose name I neither knew nor cared to know. What I cared about was how many guards were deployed and the configurations of the alarm; and it had taken me precisely two hours to retrieve that information.
“How do you know so much about this junkyard?” Dan asked me as I assembled some equipment in the back of the truck, which Dan had stolen a day earlier.
“Alcohol – Man’s greatest weakness,” I smirked. I had followed the head of security to a local bar and befriended him over drinks. After getting inebriated, he had provided me answers to all the questions I asked. The best part: He wouldn’t even remember about the interaction a few hours later.
“What’s taking you so long?” Dan complained after watching me fidgeting with the hacking equipment for the better part of the last half-hour. “Guys in movies take five seconds to do stuff like this.”
“Shut up. Do you think we live in a movie world?”
After twelve more minutes, I was done. The electronic alarm had been switched off, albeit only for half-an-hour. “Let’s go,” I ordered, hunching a black school bag over my shoulders. Dan did the same and followed me out of the truck.
We tiptoed over to one of the walls of the campus. I took out pliers from my bag, carefully using them to cut the barbed wires positioned on the top of the wall. They were connected to the alarm in such a way that if tampered with, the sirens would go off. Not anymore though.
I hand-springed Dan on top of the wall, then took a couple of steps backward to generate momentum for my leap. I managed to reach my stablemate’s hands on the jump, and he pulled me up. Making sure to minimise the noise, we cautiously jumped down.
I slithered over to the back of the warehouse, using the shrubbery to hide from the three guards patrolling. On the other hand, Dan had climbed up on one of the trees, from where he could keep an eye on the first floor courtesy of a window. There was only one guard inside the warehouse, who usually liked to sleep on duty on a makeshift bed he had made on the first floor. If the guard had awakened, Dan would drop a leaf from the tree as a signal.
I saw no leaf, so I proceeded with my plan. Keeping in mind the patrolling periods of the three guards, I took out a rope with an iron claw at one end and propelled it upwards, aiming at the balcony wall on the first floor. I had been practicing it for the last two days, and hence, when the claw clamped the wall on the first attempt, I wasn’t surprised. Slowly but steadily, I climbed up.
Now, it was my turn to keep watch while Dan made his ascent. In two short minutes, he was up too. The next part of the job was his, and he made no wasted motion. Taking out a xenon glass cutter from his bag, he started chipping away a hole in the window of one of the rooms.
Meanwhile, I pulled the rope back up to avoid the risk of getting caught lest the guards noticed it.
Once Dan had forged a hole large enough, we stealthily entered the room, which was completely devoid of anything, living or non-living. We made our way out the door to another, larger room, where, as I had expected, a guard lay sleeping soundly. We tiptoed across the room, opening the door slightly, just enough for us to squeeze through.
We were now looking at the staircase that would lead us to the ground floor, where most of the valuables were kept. We descended slowly, keeping the sound of our footsteps to a minimum.
One of the stairs made a high-frequency hiss, and I heard a faint “Huh” in the distance. “Fuck,” whispered Dan. “Fuck,” I followed.
In a second, we both could hear the sound of distinct footsteps coming our way. “Fuck,” we both whispered in a chorus.
We ran down the stairs, all of which made a creaking noise under the pressure of our weights and entered into the first room we found. We hid behind a sofa as the creaking continued, signaling the guard’s descent.
The footsteps continued to get louder, and then, got fainter. After counting to ten, I peeped from behind the sofa. No one. “Where did he go?” Dan asked.
I crept out from our hiding place towards the door and glanced outside to see the silhouette of a man on the window of the adjoining room. “Next room,” I answered back, pointing my thumb and index finger in the required direction.
“Let’s take him down. Two-on-one advantage.”
“No. He probably has a gun. If we miss, he will hit. And when he hits, he won’t miss.”
“But we can’t just –” Dan stopped abruptly as he saw me running towards him.
“He’s coming this way.”
“I know you’re in there. Get out and raise your hands or I’ll have to open fire.”
Dan almost got up from our hiding spot. Almost. I grabbed his head in a vice-like grip and pushed him down. Odds were that the guard was bluffing since I was confident that he hadn’t seen us. Yet.
I did nothing. I hoped he would think that he might have imagined the sound, or that a stray cat had entered, and leave the room. But if he came in…
As if on cue, I heard the footsteps getting louder again. “Is anyone here?”
Ah! So, I was right. He wasn’t sure of us being there.
But none of that would matter pretty soon. ‘Cause he would spot us if he kept coming our way. The footsteps were not stopping.
I looked at Dan, signalling him to go for his legs if he emerged from his side of the sofa and to go for his abdomen if he emerged from my side. Dan nodded, though I was certain he hadn’t understood a single thing.
I braced myself for the attack, swinging my face left and right in order not to miss the guard.
The guard never appeared. I looked at Dan. He shrugged. I counted to ten, then peeped. There it was. The rifle that the guard had been holding was now on the floor of the room. Evidently, the sonorous metal of the rifle had produced the sound that we had heard.
“Where did he go?” Dan echoed my thoughts as I came out from behind the sofa.
“Did we just get lucky?” I spoke, though I couldn’t believe it. I looked at Dan with a wide grin on my lips; the widest a man could grin.
But my smile vanished as soon as I saw Dan. I still shudder when I think of that moment; the unforgettable sight will remain with me until I die.
The lower torso and both the legs of Dan had magically disappeared, and the rest of his body was following suit. He had an ominous expression on his face, as the entire room was getting filled was a million tiny fragments of flesh, floating around in the air. “What the fuck is going on?” I heard the voice of a guard on the outside.
“What…” I couldn’t complete the question.
“I…” Dan whispered, barely audible to my shell-shocked ears. “I don’t feel so good…”