Thick as Thieves

June 2019 short story (Really late, but here it is.)

We took turns guarding the door, neither of us sleeping very much. Ricky looked nervous, and suddenly I felt bad about getting him involved. I shouldn’t have asked him to tag along. His mother would flay me if she found out. I didn’t have a choice though; I trusted Ricky. Even a no-good thief like me needed someone to count on. Besides, how many times had his mom warned him to stay away from me. It never worked anyway. We were thick as… well… thieves. I really hated that expression. It was accurate in our case though.

We’d been friends our whole lives, mostly because of proximity. We grew up in the same space port. Our quarters were down the hall from one another, and our mothers co-managed the best diner this side of Jupiter. Sitting here, watching the door, I started to think about stacks of buttery syrupy pancakes. I shook my head to snap out of it. I needed to stay focused. If all went according to plan, by this time tomorrow, I would be wealthy enough to buy my own space port. This was quite literally the opportunity of my lifetime.

But if things didn’t go to plan… Let’s just say I would have a lot more to worry about than Ricky’s mother. I would most likely never see freedom again. It was worth the risk though. And just to clarify, this is not a Robin Hood scenario where I am going to share my wealth with the poor. I was doing this to get rich — unbelievably, disgustingly rich.

You might be wondering what was worth risking our lives for. What could be worth so much money? What was worth sitting wedged in a derelict supply closet for almost 12 hours?

There is only one thing worth all this trouble, and it was a few steps away and sitting right on the other side of one last door. We couldn’t get to it yet. We needed to wait for the precise moment when the shift change began. It was the only time every four months that the object was left unguarded, and even then, it was only for a matter of minutes.

It was time for Ricky and I to swap, but I decided to let him sleep some more. I was too amped up. Just the idea that soon, very soon, not only would I be obscenely rich, but I would be a legend. Ricky and I were on the verge of going down in history as the greatest thieves to have ever lived. Maybe not for the same reason as Robin Hood, but we would be notorious.

After another hour, sitting in that position started to get the better of me, so I woke Ricky for his turn. I didn’t think I would actually get any sleep, but at least laying down would rest me a bit.

When Ricky woke me next, I could tell something was wrong. There was an urgency to his whisper that shouldn’t have been there. I sat up quickly and quietly.

“What?” I asked.

He motioned his head towards the door and then tapped his ear.

I scooted a little closer to Ricky and strained to hear what he thought he was hearing. After what felt like an hour, but was in fact, a matter of nanoseconds, I heard it. It wasn’t voices. It was… could that be right? It was sniffing? I could actually hear something repeatedly and quickly smelling the other side of the door.

I looked at Ricky, who was clearly alarmed by this, and I just shook my head and shrugged. Whatever it was, it hadn’t noticed us. I checked my watch. We still had four hours to go until the quarterly shift change. I sat back and tried to make as little noise as possible. I closed my eyes and steadied my breathing; I felt my heart rate start to slow back to a normal rhythm.

When I finally felt collected, I motioned for Ricky to take over the sleeping position. I was up now; I might as well take a turn at watch.

The next four hours passed uneventfully. I heard the weird sniffing sound at one point, but I dismissed it as unimportant because nothing ever came through the door. Besides, what could possibly be making that sound?

At the exact scheduled second that the guards were busy changing from active to off-duty, a computer virus that had been planted three weeks prior, launched and made all the cameras appear to be running fine, even though in reality, they were no longer detecting motion and Ricky and I were moving towards the object of this heist.

We made our way out of the storage closet that time forgot and made our way to the last door between us and our prize.

I took a deep breath. “Moment of truth,” I said as I swiped a card duplicated from a guard. The card alone had taken us six months of planning to acquire. All the time paid off as the door hissed open with a satisfying whoosh.

There it was. I was about to step into the room and make all my dreams come true when I heard that weird sniffing again. I spun towards the sound just as something hit me hard in the back of my head.

When I woke up, I was in a pitch-black cell. I couldn’t see much, but I could hear someone or something shuffling around next to me. “Ricky?” I asked hopefully.

“Yep, I’m here,” he said.

We took turns sleeping, but neither of us slept very much. Ricky was nervous, and I definitely felt bad about getting him involved. If we ever got out of here…

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