Vote for the best Short Story!

Poll closed Jun 11, 2013.
  1. Gretaj134 - Rush

  2. CanadianBoson - The Bill of Wrongs

    0 vote(s)
  3. shlunka - The Good, The Bad, and the Incompetent

  4. TimHarris - Damned if You Do, Damned if You Don't

    0 vote(s)
  5. Sargon of Akkad - The Greatest Heist

  1. minstrel

    minstrel Leader of the Insquirrelgency Staff Supporter Contributor

    Jul 11, 2010
    Likes Received:
    Near Los Angeles

    Voting Short Story contest (134) Theme: The Heist

    Discussion in 'Bi-Weekly Short Story Contest Archives' started by minstrel, May 28, 2013.

    (Note: Lemex is short of time right now, so I volunteered to put up his short story contest threads. I've never done it before, so if I screw up, please let me know! Also, if anyone knows what the next theme is supposed to be (theme 135), please PM me!)

    Voting Short Story Contest (134) Theme: The Heist

    Thank you for all your entries. The winner will be stickied until the next contest's winner is crowned(maybe). No more entries are allowed in this contest.

    Voting will end Sunday 9th of June 2013 to give you all a chance to read the entries. Also as an apology.

    It is possible to vote for yourself, but I would hope in the name of good sportsmanship that you would only do so if you have read all the other stories and given them your honest evaluation. You gain nothing if you base your vote solely on how you feel about the author or whether you have personally invested time and effort in the story. In the end, your conscience is your only judge.

    Any entries under or over the suggested word limit will be flagged as such - they are still entered in to the contest. It is for you to decide whether they are still worthy of your vote.

    Any entry not in accordance with the theme will be dealt with on a case by case basis to determine eligibility. Consider how the author has responded to the theme in making your decision.

    Good luck to everyone!
  2. minstrel

    minstrel Leader of the Insquirrelgency Staff Supporter Contributor

    Jul 11, 2010
    Likes Received:
    Near Los Angeles
    Rush (1,550 words) – Greta J Ernst

    It had been a quiet evening. My partner, Jess, slouched in the seat beside me, snoring peacefully. We were halfway between Seattle and the Canadian border. All we had to do was deliver the package to our contacts in Canada and we’d be through for the night.
    But the peace was shattered when a mid-eighties, boat of a Cadillac came roaring up behind us and smacked us right in the bumper. Our car jerked forward and Jess nearly careened into the windshield. I glanced in the mirror, saw them making a second run for us, and stomped on the accelerator. “Hold on!”
    Jess’s gun fell to the floor. “Jesus, Frank! You trying to get us killed?”
    I braced for impact just before the Caddy hit us again. As hard as I fought at the wheel, our car started skidding out of control. The tires screeched in protest when I hit the brake and swung the wheel violently to the left, trying to get away from the bastards behind us.
    A second car came in from the right, swerving in a tight arch to hang onto our tail. I looked at Jess and said, “That’s it! Time to get rid of these goons.”
    “Oh, no!” Jess protested. She forgot about her gun and grabbed onto the dash.
    “Oh, yes!” I tightened my grip on the wheel and kept my eyes on the rearview mirror.
    When the second car was climbing up our tailpipe I stood on the brake. The driver swerved to avoid us and collided with the front bumper of the Cadillac. There was a satisfying crunch of metal and I couldn’t help but smile.
    I floored the accelerator and watched their headlights disappear behind us. That’s when I noticed the guy in the back seat had started to pray. Loudly. I chanced a second look in the rearview mirror. Rollie’s eyes were as big as saucers. I shook my head and said, “Geez. Would you shut up?”
    Jess collected her gun and sat back, tightening her seat belt. She looked at Rollie. “See what you get for robbing jewelry stores around here? Stealing is bad enough, Rollie, but international diamond smuggling is a bad, bad thing. It tends to piss people off. Now we thought you were working alone, but in light of recent events, is there anything you’d like to tell us?”
    “Yeah,” I said. “Did you forget to mention you had partners?”
    “I don’t know what you’re talking about,” Rollie whined. “I have no idea who they are!”
    Jess shook her head. “Yeah. Right.” She checked her side mirror. “Think we shook them?”
    I shrugged. “Somehow I doubt it. Grab my piece and slap it on the seat, would ya’, babe?”
    Jess rolled her eyes. “The last time you used that line we were on a stakeout in a park, and we nearly got arrested.” She reached across and grabbed my Browning 9 mil out of the shoulder holster strapped under my left arm. She set it on the seat and said, “Good thing that cop had a sense of humor. Somehow I don’t think the Chief would have appreciated our unprofessional conduct.”
    “Yeah, but that was some stakeout, wasn’t it?”
    Rollie leaned forward in his seat and said, “This is all very interesting, Frank. But could keep your eyes on the road?”
    Jess and I both snapped a reply, “Shut up Rollie!”
    He slithered back in his seat and kept his mouth shut.
    “So, what do we do now?” Jess asked.
    “I think it’s time we got off the highway,” I told her. “I know a place up the road where we can hang loose and get some backup.”
    We stopped in a town about 30 miles from the Canadian border. It wouldn’t have been much of a stretch to make a run for Vancouver, but it was a pretty barren area, and if the Caddy and his buddies came gunning for us again, it was going to end in a nasty car crash or shootout. I preferred to play those games on my terms.
    Jess looked at me funny when I pulled into the parking lot of a small bar. We gave Rollie a jacket to cover his handcuffs and walked in through the back door. “This is a great little place,” I told Jess. “I used to hang out here after my divorce. Got me out of the city. Gave me something to do”
    “You think it’s a good idea to chance a shootout here?” She looked around the room. “There’s an awful lot of people.”
    I smiled. “Trust me, babe. These guys can take care of themselves. Isn’t one guy here who doesn’t cherish a decent fight.”
    A thick cloud of smoke hung in the air around the bar and drifted hazily towards the booths around the walls of the place. A piano and a pool table took up most of what was probably once a dance floor, and a large black woman sat at the piano pounding out an old blues tune.
    She had thick, salt and pepper hair, earrings big enough to hurt an elephant and a loud, polyester shirt. She was a good old girl, with a heart of gold. One of two women in the world who I knew I could trust.
    As she finished the song she kept her eyes closed, feeling the music deep in her bones. The final refrain hung in the air a long time and when she finally opened her eyes again she saw me and smiled. She got up and nearly crushed me in a long embrace. “Frank, honey! What are you doing round these parts?”
    I kissed her cheek and said, “I missed you, Snooky.” Then I turned and introduced her to my partner. “Jess, this is a dear old friend of mine, Snooky Graham.”
    They shook hands and Snooky gave Rollie a knowing look. “You wearing some heavy bracelets under that coat, no? You must be a bad boy if my Frank is making you wear those things in here.”
    “He, uh… He doesn’t like cops,” I explained.
    Snooky burst out laughing. “He’s in a tough spot, then, hey?” She hip checked me and nearly sent me flying over a barstool.
    “Looks like most of the usual crowd is still here,” I said. Snooky nodded in confirmation and I turned to Jess. “Why don’t you and Rollie go get something to eat? I need to talk to Snooks.”
    “Okay,” Jess said. She grabbed Rollie’s arm and pulled him toward the bar.
    When they were out of earshot Snooky asked, “What’s going on, Frank?”
    I picked up a pool cue and chalked it while we talked. “Jess and I are taking Rollie to the Canadian authorities. He likes to smuggle diamonds and I think his partners would like to get him back before we cross the border. We got into a game of highway tag with a Caddy and another car a few miles back. I’d be willing to bet that the bad guys aren’t too far behind us, so I figured we’d seek a little refuge.”
    Snooky nodded. “You’ve come to the right place. Where’s your car?”
    “Out back.”
    She flashed a big grin. “I’ll have one of the boys pull it round front where your friends will be sure to see it.”
    I checked on Jess and Rollie and then set up a game of pool to pass the time. Snooky worked the crowd like a pro and a happy atmosphere built in the room. I could tell a brawl was brewing.
    About twenty minutes later one of the local boys ran inside and said, “A beat to Hell Caddy just came limping in with another car on its heels.” He rubbed his hands and said, “This is gonna be fun!”
    The crowd kind of quieted when the boys from the two cars came through the front door. One of them spotted Rollie and headed toward the table that Jess and he had settled at. Hey eyed Jess and said, “This can go a couple of different ways, but if you let us walk out the door with Rollie here no one needs to get hurt.”
    Rollie cringed, but croaked out, “Kiss my ass, Al.”
    The guy made a move for Rollie’s throat, but a couple of the locals intercepted him and laid him out cold.
    His friends spread out and began to draw a variety of weapons. Luckily the local boys were quicker and were better armed. It was a tense stand off for about thirty seconds. Then the bad guys realized they were outnumbered and lowered their guns.
    Snooky stepped forward and relieved each of them of their weapons, handing them across to the bartender who lined them up along the bar.
    “Welcome to Snooky’s,” she said, as she relieved the last man of his gun. “This here’s the finest blues bar in Washington State. It’s also the only cop bar north of Seattle, you bunch of ass holes.”
    After the boys were cuffed and stuffed I gave Snooky a big hug.
    “Next time, make it a social visit, hey?” she said.
    “You got it Snooks.” I grabbed Rollie’s arm and headed for the door. “Let’s go, pal. You got a date with the Border Patrol.”
  3. minstrel

    minstrel Leader of the Insquirrelgency Staff Supporter Contributor

    Jul 11, 2010
    Likes Received:
    Near Los Angeles
    "The Bill Of Wrongs" by CanadianBoson
    (1117 Words)

    Bill passed me another beer from the tiny fridge in the corner. Bill is always serious and always attentive. Bill has a fridge full of beers that he only gives to friends. Bill doesn't drink. Bill listens to you when he is standing, but he really listens to you when he sits in his plaid recliner.

    He got up again when he forgot to give me the bottle opener, and as he sat down, wiping chaff off his arms, he passed it to me. Bill had bad skin, and he wore white wife-beaters in the summer so he could rub his arms. Now that he was balding he had another patch of skin to rub when he got an itch. I noticed some stolen moisturizers and creams on a sturdy shelf above the fridge.

    Bill and I were big time thieves, there's no doubt about that. We've been in the game longer than you can imagine. Sometimes we do the petty crimes like drug stores when are skin gets bad or we need some more toilet paper, but overall we've had a damn good career in the underworld. You name it, we've done it. We've done more crimes together than any of the other duos in this town.

    First there were the Two-Time Twins; they were sisters that always hit the same place twice, sometimes even in the same day! They actually copied their name from the Jacob-Two-Twos, who are actual twin robbers. And who can forget the Old Sports? It's rumoured they met in high school while reading the Great Gatsby. The list goes on... the Couch Potatoes were computer hackers, the Show and Kills would show you how they'd kill you before doing it, the Rosetta Stones used to be linguistics students, but became thieves due to low job prospects.

    Then there's The Free Willies, so called because they're two huge men who escaped from the same prison. I think they're back behind bars now. Anyway, that's what I originally wanted to call our duo but Bill doesn't like crime names. If I had a choice now I'd make us the Kill Bills, like that Uma Thurman movie, but once again, Bill is always serious. That's why I was shocked he invited me over today for a surprise.

    Bill got up and started to pace the room, rubbing dandruff from his neck as he approached the window. "We've got to do something new Will. The only thing we've heisted this week is a giant carton of band-aids," and he kicked a huge box under the sill, denting it. He gave a long stare at the dawning sun outdoors. "The window of opportunity is closing, William, and we don't want to be the fly stuck in its cracks." He slammed it down with a swift jolt. "We want to be the cunning spider, always on the prowl for food to heist."

    "Spiders don't prowl though," I threw in. "They actually spend a long time waiting for their food, sometimes weeks." Bill looked irritated as he sat back down, but remembered something that gave him a big smile as the recliner gave a squeak.

    "We need to re-energize, and I have just the idea."

    I sprang from my chair, excited to finally get all my ideas out. "I'm so glad you're on the same page. Finally! So I was thinking Kill Bills, even though we only do heists, so what 'bout this. Ready? The Bill of Wrongs! Instead of the Bill of Rights, Because we do crimes. Or maybe..."

    He slapped a palm to his forehead. "Sit down William. For God's sake we're not doing crime names." He took a deep breath as I sat back down, dejected. "Remember what I said about the spider?"

    "Yeah?" He picked up my curiosity again.

    "Come with me," and he waved his hand as he got up from the recliner, heading to the garage. When we entered it looked the same as it always had. It's where we often hatched our most famous heists. The history museum, the national bank, Aunt Jemima's pancake factory.... My mind was jumping to a thousand possibilities for what Bill had in store. Certainly something more enlightening than band-aids.

    One thing in the garage was different. A giant white sheet covered something in the middle of the room. A bright light hovered over it for dramatic effect. This was very much unlike Bill. He's always serious.

    Bill walked up to the sheet, turning to face me. "Spiders are some of the scariest creatures on the planet, spinning webs to catch their prey, having eight..." I was getting impatient and pulled the sheet off for him, leaving him breathless, followed by me.

    I came face to face with a giant spider suit, large enough for Bill, which is pretty large. It was a full body outfit with a zipper riding up the torso, and giant spider eyes that one could see through. It even had thin hairs all over it, even on the squishy legs that jutted from its body. Without asking I started taking my shoes off to get inside. "With this you can get in the museum no problem," he said enthusiastically. He zipped me up.

    "This is incredible." I moved my weight around the costume. "How do you work the web?"

    "What are you talking about?"

    "The web, the spinny-thing, you know?"

    "I know what a spinny-thing is, thank-you-very-much." He looked, at least through my mesh-eyes, to be searching for the right word.

    "Aren't you going to use this to balance from the ceiling? Like Spiderman. Steal an amulet or the Coke recipe with your spidey-powers." I jostled the spider legs up and down to show my dismay. "How do you use the legs? Is there a button I can push..."

    "It doesn't have any powers!" he yelled. He shook me between my 3rd and 4th legs. "The point is to scare the security guards at the place we're heisting. Get it?"

    "No spidey-powers?" I lamented.

    "It's just a costume, Will."

    "Alright," I said dejectedly.

    "Hey! Cheer up, old sport. Are we going to do this heist or not? I was thinking the museum," saying the last word with gaiety.

    "I'm in!" and I showed my support with an extra-large jiggle of my squishy legs. He unzipped me as we went back to talk in our little cave about what we were going to heist, like we always had. That's why we were the city's most notorious duo, and the closest friends as well.


    Apparently it didn't go as planned. Explaining to the officers, laughing out loud, why I was in a giant spider costume was difficult, and it made for a mug shot that went viral on the Internet within minutes. I made one last exclamation as the cops removed my suit: "This isn't the last you'll hear of the Bill of Wrongs!"
  4. minstrel

    minstrel Leader of the Insquirrelgency Staff Supporter Contributor

    Jul 11, 2010
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    Near Los Angeles
    "The Good, The Bad, And The Incompetent" (1,603 words) by shlunka

    The Heist

    It was a jovial, warm, and unrealistically idyllic Sunday morning. The kind of morning you wish would never end, until you realize that very few stores are open on pleasant Sunday mornings. It was a common morning for the Johnsons, both Harry and Eva Long were enjoying this fact. Harry Johnson was sitting at the perfectly symmetrical kitchen table, eating a slice of unadulterated buttered toast.

    Eva Long Johnson was preparing another sumptuous batch of Godly toast, when something horrifying caught her gaze and arrested it. A small letter with the distinctive outward appearance of a bankruptcy notification. Suddenly, it started to rain outside, the toast turned stale, and the Nile ran red with blood. “Evicted?!” Eva thought, or actually thought out loud, and her husband somehow overheard through the loud crunching of his toast. “Evicted?!” he replied, reiterating the obvious and superfluously contributing to the terribly distraught atmosphere within the house.

    Eva opened the envelope, and frantically examined the paper contents within. Enduring a brutal paper cut, she read “Amount owed: $47,000” out loud. Harry gasped so violently he nearly caused his lungs to collapse.

    “How are we supposed to get forty seven thousand dollars!?” Harry was now reiterating the obvious habitually now.

    “Prostitution?” Eva asked, in the ambiguous tone that makes it difficult to infer if someone is joking or if they’re genuinely that ignorant.

    “Perhaps for you honey, but I couldn’t cheat on you for money.”

    “But you’d do it for free?”

    Desperately trying to find a validly plausible method for acquiring forty seven thousand dollars, Harry began reading the newspaper. His eyes browsed over the newspaper until becoming fixated on an article as if it were an attractive woman in a skimpy bathing suit. The article concerned a failed bank robbery at the local, and ironically named, “Bank of Opportunity.”

    “Honey, I have an idea. Although it’s a bit rash and incredibly illegal.”

    “I’ve already suggested prostitution.”

    "No. You know the Bank of Opportunity?”

    “Yes, they’re the pricks trying to put us out on the street because we overestimated our yearly earnings.”

    “Well, there was a failed robbery there. Second time’s the charm?” Harry assigned a suitable number to a common statement.

    “If it wasn’t that time of the month, I probably wouldn’t have agreed with you. But it is, so what’s the plan?”

    “Good thing I watched Point Break. We go in, pretending to have guns, and stick to robbing the tellers.”

    “I like it when you act like a dangerous man.”

    After a several minute long and thoroughly nauseating make out session, they began to work out all the little unimportant details about the heist plan.

    “We will need masks.” Harry suggested

    “Oh, like superhero masks?” Eva exclaimed dully.

    After a quick search of their disorganized clothes dresser, they found two pink ski masks with bobbing hearts positioned on top. It took Harry several minutes to realize it didn’t fit, and issue he’s had since he married Eva. So he grabbed a pair of his wife’s pantyhose and covered his face with them.

    "What will we use for guns?” Eva inquired.

    “We’ve got those squirt guns from the neighbor’s birthday party. They look realistic enough.


    “No, H two O.” Harry replied with a cheesy smirk.

    As soon as he came across the two pistols, an unfortunate reality crept up and kicked him in the crotch. Banks weren’t even open on Sundays. Rather quickly, the tingling sensation in Harry’s testicles subsided. The plan would have to come into fruition the next day. The Johnsons returned to their monotonous daily routines and headed to bed at a realistic 10:39 P.M.

    Immediately after awakening, Harry and Eva slip on their masks and place the squirt guns inconspicuously in their pants, although the bulge it put in Eva’s pants was a bit questionable.

    “We need nicknames Harry, even though we probably won’t use them, it’d be really sexy.”

    “I’ll be Scarface, you can be Fonzi.”

    “You’re so hot when you’re trying to be a criminal.”

    After another, and slightly more intense and sloppy face sucking session, the two galloped out to their vintage and terribly outdated VW Bug. Harry shoved the keys in like he was thrusting a dagger into someone, and then twisted the keys like he’d twist his high school bully’s nipples if he could go back in time. He shoved it into gear, and speed off at a brisk pace that’s well beyond the safe speed for most amateur cyclists.

    All along the terse but incredibly tense ride, the Johnsons discussed what they’d do with the money. Vacations, cars, investing, all sorts of things asides from actually paying the bill were theorized and fantasized about. It wasn’t very easy to have a nonchalant or otherwise casual conversation while the expectation based nervousness of robbing a bank made several sensitive body parts feel that caterpillars had metamorphosed into butterflies which then flew around sporadically until dying from exposure to bodily fluids. As the couple reached the ergonomically designed parking lot of the bank, the conversation became considerably more serious.

    You could cut the air with a rusted plastic spoon. Not that it was that tense, but because air molecules are fairly easy to split away from one another.

    “Ready honey?” Eva asked, her body shaking as if she was trying to entertain her husband with a belly dance while in the seated position.

    Harry decided that he had been sitting in the car plenty long enough, and with one last retention of the vomit trying to say hello in his throat, he nods, and the couple gallops to the bank.

    Harry flings the revolving door as he enters, which then clips Eva on the nose, breaking it and temporarily stunning her.

    “Sorry babe. Everybody get down!!!” Harry exclaimed, reaching into his pants to whip out the gun, but accidentally ends up whipping out something else.

    Stunned, the bank tellers and customers all grabbed their cell phones, and proceeded to call their friends and inform them that they’d just been flashed. Though, the moment Eva whipped hers out, all of them tried to cleverly obfuscate their phones by shoving them into various body crevices.

    “Everybody open their ATMs!!!” Shouted Eva, a wild gaze slowly building up in her eyes.

    “She meant the tellers!” Harry quickly corrected her.

    “Yes, open the tellers too!” The dull witted Eva proclaimed.

    The tellers happily obliged, and the customers even surrendered their fake diamonds. Lacking any place to put the cash, Eva and Harry shoved it down their pants. Pseudo Bonny and Clyde thanked them all for complying, and promptly galloped out to their VW Bug. Immediately after entering the vehicle, they begin to vehemently kiss each other clumsily. Harry once bumped her nose and she punched him in the face, giving him a black eye which distorted his depth perception. Their terse celebration was ended abruptly by the ominous flashed of blue that suddenly appeared in the mirrors.

    “We didn’t plan on a car chase, but I’m ready baby!” The tingling sensation had returned with friends to Harry’s testicles.

    Harry slammed on the gas pedal, but in all the excitement, he had left the car in neutral. He looked down, shifted it into drive, and slammed on the gas again. Harry remembered a small country road that he used to drive on as a teenager to satisfy his testosterone and lackluster daily life. There they went, quickly losing the police, he had a very lackluster adolescent period which gave him a near muscle memorization of the back road. It was only a few minutes before the police lost the VW, and the hardened criminals, well actually Harry was the only hardened one due to anatomical capacity, stopped in a pull off that would sufficiently conceal the VW.

    The couple stepped out ecstatically, the anticipation of counting the money was overwhelming them.

    “We’re so filthy rich now!” Screamed Eva jovially.

    The excitement would soon die down, however, upon pulling the money out of their pants.

    “Dammit, I can’t believe I got that excited.” Harry exclaimed.

    Both of them had urinated on the money in all the excitement, causing the inks to mix together and rendering the money useless asides from bribing the blind. After only a few brief but terribly moments, a police car careened into the area of the hiding spot. Obviously inebriated, the officer stumbled out, and promptly renders himself unconscious by stumbling into a large and also aesthetically pleasing oak tree.

    The couple looks at each other briefly, then jumps into the police cruiser, and proceeded to drive away from the scene. As Harry drives the cruiser, he recalls a friend he had as a teenager who obsessed over the movie “Gone In Sixty Seconds” and wanted to be the most infamous car thief to ever have lived. Harry tells Eva to google his name, and after a few minutes of searching she provides him with the number, and he proceeds to call him.

    “Hello, is this Jerry?” Harry inquires.


    “This is Harry Johnson, wondering if you were still into hot cars?”

    “Like, hot rods?”

    “No, the other kind of hot.”

    Jerry explained how he painstakingly worked his way up in the criminal world. Then Harry asked what the going price of a used police cruiser was.

    “About fifty thousand I’d say.” Jerry responded

    Harry grew very excited, dropping the phone. As he reached down to grab it, the car suddenly jolted. The air bags deployed, and as they deflated, Harry looked up to see that he had careened into a car, a car with flashing blue lights.
  5. minstrel

    minstrel Leader of the Insquirrelgency Staff Supporter Contributor

    Jul 11, 2010
    Likes Received:
    Near Los Angeles
    Damned if you do, damned if you don't by TimHarris
    (922 words)

    I have known Eddie the longest. You can say he is our groups leading figure, but not because we appointed him. He thinks he has good qualities when it comes to keeping the group together, but the honest truth is that Eddie don't trust anyone else to be in charge of anything. Our choice was always either stick with him, or to find someone else to to jobs with.
    Yet for all his faults, he is the kind of person you just cant stay away from. I have heard this is pretty common with sociopaths, and that is probably what got us in this situation in the first place. That, and Eddie's talent for violence. He once told us his great philosophy of life while beating up some fucker whose only crime was being a few minutes late to a drug deal. “The world will suck you dry,” he said, sending a bloodied fist into the poor guys jaw. “You have to bring the pain to keep it at bay.”
    Personally I'm more of a 'What goes around, comes around' type of guy, making Eddie's whole philosophy appear like a bizarre misinterpretation of some long lost words of wisdom.

    It was two days ago, and we were on a job for some rich guy from London whom Eddie apparently knew from way back. An ancient pearl necklace belonging to some Chinese empress was to be transferred from the museum into a safe vault somewhere. Motives unknown, the rich guy wanted it, and he had hired us. This was to be our highest paying job as of yet, and also the easiest. The necklace would be in temporary storage in the museum basement until it could be picked up the next day, and security was lax. Three security guards, cameras connected to the general power grid, and best of all, the storage vault would be located right next to an old closed down restaurant where Gregory and myself had spent the past three weeks digging a tunnel from the kitchens to below the museum staff toilet. It would be an easy in and out.

    At first everything went according to plan. We cracked open the last remaining piece of floor that separated the museum from our tunnel, and Eddie, Gregory and myself climbed out of the hole while our man on the outside, Timothy set off the charges placed in the transformer station down the street. Success. The lights flicked a few times before going dark, and in the short time span before the backup generator took over we had two of the three guards tied up with plastic strips and duct tape. We had expected all three to be there, at least that was what the stolen guard schedule had said, but things don't always go as planned.

    “Freeze,” we heard someone call out. The third guard stood in the hallway, hands shaking, holding a 9mm pistol with both hands, sweat pouring down his forehead. “If you move I will put holes in all of you.” I cant speak for the others, but I froze. At least for a moment, until I realized how shaken up the guard actually was. “You arrived just in time it seems, Fred,” I said, looking past the guard's shoulder, intending for us to rush forward and disarm the guard once he turned to have a look.

    There was a loud bang. The guard looked at us with wide eyes, blood pouring from where the bullet from Eddie's concealed pistol had left a hole in his skull, before falling to the floor like a sack of potatoes in slow motion. The other two guards screamed.
    “What the fuck did you do that for?” Gregory yelled, before Eddie put a bullet between his eyes also. I kept my mouth shut. What happened next I cant recall exactly. Eddie must have had one of those anger outbursts that if seen by the best of therapists would cause them to shake their heads and hand the case over the nearest loony bin. I know this because the newspapers used words like 'Museum Massacre' and 'Basement of Blood'. Whatever I did in there I attribute to duress.

    The day after, I bought a new car with my stashed money, gave the keys to my apartment to my nephew, and set the course for anywhere not here. I had spent two grand on a fake identity, but in hindsight I should have spent more. During border control, that is where you guys caught me.

    The police woman scribbled down the last of what I had just said, and looked up from her papers. “Okey,” she said. “It seems everything you just told me confirms what our investigation concluded. Everything except one thing.”
    I was not surprised. The chaos of that night had probably made me forget several things. “What might that be?” I asked.
    “The camera's,” she said at once. “Turns out they were drawing their power from the backup systems as well as the general power grid. We got everything on tape, and it would seem that Eddie indeed threatened to blow your head off unless you murdered those two security guards.”
    Now I was surprised. For all his faults, Eddie usually checked these things thoroughly. “What does that mean?” I asked the investigator.
    “You will probably get three years tops, given that you testify against Eddie in court.”
    When she left the room I cried. Three years in the same prison as Eddie. I should have let him kill me.
  6. minstrel

    minstrel Leader of the Insquirrelgency Staff Supporter Contributor

    Jul 11, 2010
    Likes Received:
    Near Los Angeles
    The Greatest Heist by Sargon of Akkad

    "What we are going to do is, in effect, steal the kingdom," Lord Kolm, Third Baron of Ebene said. He looked around the table at the grave faces of his co-conspirators. Each man looked back at him. After a protracted period of silence, one of them spoke.

    "This plan is…audacious, to say the least," Lord Devin, Second Count of Olmon said, and slumped back into his chair and rubbed his wrinkled face. "I just cannot believe we can do it, and even if we do, what follows? We have not even asked ourselves if we should do it."

    "We must do it!" Sir Allin blurted out. "There is no other choice! If we do nothing, the whole kingdom will be lost. I was with Lord Holver's embassy to Catura, and I am telling you they are amassing an army to invade. I am sure of it."

    Lord Kolm raised his hands in a silent appeal for calm.

    "Nobody is doubting what you saw, Sir Allin," he said, "My fellow lords and knights, we have prepared for this--"

    Sir Bern snorted. "That one is common! How can we know he can be trusted?" He pointed across the table at Hanf, Sergeant of the Guard and at thirty-five, the youngest man in the room.

    "I am as loyal to my lord as you are to yours!" Sergeant Hanf shot back. His cheeks quickly reddened. "My honour is not in question here!"

    "Why do we even need this peasant?" Sir Bern said and looked to Lord Kolm. "He is a liability."

    Sergeant Hanf looked thunderstruck.

    "I command fifty guardsmen!" he shouted, and shot to his feet. "What does a landless knight provide, beside his ability to murder children?"

    "There is no need--" Lord Kolm began.

    "We cannot steal a kingdom that has legitimate heirs, you uneducated fool!" Sir Bern shouted back and rose to his feet. "Will you do it? Will any of you do it? No! You are all spineless and I am the only one among us who is prepared to do the butcher's work."

    "Enough, both of you!" Lord Kolm roared and slammed the table as he rose to his full height. "People are starving, the city is filled with refugees and a great enemy is preparing to attack us! Our idiot king is letting the kingdom fall into ruin! Find solidarity or find silence, I care not which!"

    Lord Kolm glared at the knight and the sergeant who stared at each other for a tense moment. Sergeant Hanf slowly sat down. When he was half-way, Sir Bern sat down as well.

    "Remember that we are doing this for the good of the realm. Put aside your emotions, we must be disciplined if we wish to have a chance of success," Lord Kolm said. He sat down and took a slow, deep breath.

    "Lord Kolm," Lord Devin said calmly, "what preparations have you made?"

    Lord Kolm looked to the aged, white-bearded man on his right. "Please, seneschal."

    Seneschal Eryle, Lord Treasurer of Arassa cleared his throat.

    "We have known for some time that we would have to take action against King Johan. After our Lord Kolm saved the kingdom when the Caturan army had been at the gates of Escova itself for three long years, with such a magnificent victory and the death of Talen the Short, we thought we would finally be safe. When his son came, we lost thirty five thousand men before, again, our king gave command to Lord Kolm and again we were delivered from destruction." The seneschal stared into the middle distance as he spoke.

    Sir Bern, Sir Allin and Sergeant Hanf, the soldiers at the table, nodded grimly. "Kolm the Bastion," Sergeant Hanf said, and the knights repeated it in unison.

    "The indemnity we paid after the war was back-breaking and King Johan would not listen to me," Seneschal Eryle said, "he would dismiss me and then announce to the court plans for a lavish banquet or tourney. I insisted we used the majority of tax revenue to pay for our safety, and he insisted I borrow the money. When we needed to repay our loans, the king ignored them and commanded that we began construction on a new palace across the river. We could not afford to repay our loans, and we have defaulted."

    Seneschal Eryle gave a weary sigh. "And now we cannot afford to pay the indemnity. Three of our king's most important vassals have pledged their loyalty to the bastard king of Catura, and took with them their lands, a full quarter of the country lost in a day. We are watching the kingdom unravel before our very eyes."

    All around the table watched the old seneschal in silence.

    "The siege caused a famine, and the debts prevented any relief. Refugees from the war fill this city and they starve and die in the streets," he choked. He wiped his eyes with a gnarled hand. After a moment he regained control of himself.

    "I know that you know all of this, but I want you to remember it. I have had to do things that I would never have dreamt that I'd do…things I have nightmares about it. My wife tells me that I shed tears in my sleep."

    Lord Kolm looked up from the table at the venerable treasurer. The man looked tired, hoary and drained. Black bags sagged under his watery eyes and his hands trembled.

    "What have you done to let us remedy this, Eryle?" Lord Devin asked, kindly.

    The seneschal took a moment to compose himself.

    "I have halved the pay for the city guard. Captain Kehad complained bitterly, but in the end there was no choice. We now have less than two hundred guardsmen in the city. The grain dole can no longer be afforded for all, so I have stopped it in all but the capital. Escova is now eating the grain for the poor in the surrounding towns. In two days from now, the markets will be empty."

    "Guardsmen will have to be sent to keep order," Sergeant Hanf said.

    "Yes," Lord Holm said, "I have no doubt that Captain Kehad will send you and your guardsmen out to secure the unwalled towns. If all goes as planned, this will leave the city with a skeleton crew of perhaps a hundred men. I expect there to be fewer."

    "I could bring enough bondsmen to take the city myself, then," Sir Bern said with a grin, and leant back in his chair, "but you're forgetting about the king's bloody Witch. We'll never get past her, she sees everything that happens in the palace, and you know what she did to the last man who crossed the king."

    "We are not forgetting about the Witch," Lord Kolm said.

    "She'll flay the skin from our bones before we get within a hundred feet of the king," Sir Allin said, "She can see everything that happens in the palace."

    "She can," Lord Kolm said, "but only when she is in the palace."

    "You're saying she won't be in the palace?" Sir Allin asked.

    "We are," Seneschal Eryle croaked, "she left today to commune with whatever dark spirits she speaks to. She will be gone for a week, which gives us enough time to operate without her knowing it."

    Sir Bern laughed incredulously.

    "So what? When she returns, we'll all be dead men."

    "She will not return," Lord Kolm said, "we have seen to it."


    "I am given to understand that when the witch begins the ceremony, she enters a trance," Lord Kolm said with a sideways glance at Seneschal Eryle, who nodded, "she is alone and defenceless in the sanctum, and one of her bodyguards is my man. He will take care of her."

    "What if he doesn't?" Sir Allin asked.

    "He has my full confidence."

    "So what are we to do?" Lord Devin asked, "It would seem that you have everything in order. Why do you need us?"

    "I need you to bring men," Lord Kolm said, "I cannot be seen bringing my own bondsmen near the city, Captain Kehad already suspects me and will be spurred into action if I approach the city with anything more than my own personal guard. These are not enough to overcome what little guardsmen that will be left. How many men can each of you bring into the city the day after tomorrow?"

    "That is not much time at all…" Sir Allin said, "I think fifteen and my five men-at-arms."

    "Perhaps ten to twenty, in addition to my retinue," Sir Bern said, "thirty at most."

    "Lord Devin?" Lord Kolm asked the old count.

    "Thirty, if I can get the word out before tomorrow. It is market day tomorrow, they will leave too early in the morning for me to gather them," he said.

    "That is enough. I have twelve of my own already in the city," Lord Kolm said, "that makes ninety-two men, at most.”

    "We can't steal a kingdom with less than a hundred men!" Lord Devin said, "Even if Sergeant Hanf does take all fifty of his men out of the city there are still a hundred and fifty left!"

    "We have surprise," Sir Bern said, "when a hundred men turn up at the palace, there will be, what, perhaps twenty to thirty men there, with probably ten of them at the main gate. We can easily take the palace, and once we have the palace, we can sweep through it before anyone else knows what is going on."

    "I agree," Sergeant Hanf said, "the guards will not be prepared and scattered across the city. They will not be able to resist you."

    Sir Allin nodded. "So how will we organise?"

    "Each man must wear a red sash tied around his left arm," Lord Kolm replied, "On the morning of the day, bring your men to the market and tell them to browse. When we have all arrived, I will sound a horn and we will make with all haste to the palace. Once there, we will storm it, and capture the king. He is hosting a banquet tomorrow, and he has a tendency to drink so much wine he does not stir until the midday meal. He will be in bed. I will take my men straight to his chamber and deal with him there. Sir Bern, you will go to the children's rooms. Sir Allin, you and your men will hold the gates of the palace. Lord Devin, you and your men will search the palace for any armed men who might oppose us. When the king and his family are all dead, the kingdom will be ours."

    They all looked at Lord Kolm in silence.

    "Are we agreed?"

    Each one nodded their consent.

    "Remember, we must take action if we wish to save our kingdom. It is not going to be without pain and strife, and I am sure that many will die before the deed is done, but it must be done. The Caturans have demanded King Johan's head. We shall deliver it to them, and take the kingdom for ourselves. I will see you all at the market the day after tomorrow. Be sure to give each of your men a red--"

    A knock at the door stopped him, and they all jumped.

    "Who could it be?" Sir Allin whispered, wide-eyed.

    Lord Kolm put a finger to his lips and motioned for Sergeant Hanf, sat closest to the door, to answer it. Sergeant Hanf stood up slowly and walked over to it. He slid the deadbolt to the side and opened it a crack. A voice on the other side whispered something.

    "I'm sorry, we don't need anything," Sergeant Hanf said, and closed the door swiftly. He turned around to walk back to his chair.

    "Who was that?" Sir Bern growled.

    "A servant," Sergeant Hanf replied, but he didn't move. He stared at Sir Bern with a fixed gaze.

    "Why did he whisper?" Lord Devin asked.

    "Perhaps he was being polite," Sergeant Hanf said. He still stood motionless at the door.

    "Lock the door," Lord Kolm commanded. Sergeant Hanf hesitated for a moment.

    "He's a spy!" Sir Bern roared and leapt to his feet.

    Sergeant Hanf immediately turned on his heel and wrenched the door open as Sir Allin and Lord Kolm stood. Sir Bern drew his sword as he raced around the table, but Sergeant Hanf had already fled through the door.

    "Get them both!" Lord Kolm cried, and drew his own sword as Sir Bern and Sir Allin rushed out of the door.

    The two knights pounded up the stone corridor. Dark corridors flashed by as they chased after Sergeant Hanf and the man who had knocked at the door, now running just ahead of Sergeant Hanf. Sir Bern could see he was in armour.

    The corridor ended in bright daylight, and the two knights burst out into it. They paused as their eye grew accustomed to the intensity of the light, to see a dozen armed guardsmen in a semicircle around them, all with weapons drawn. In the centre stood Sergeant Hanf, still panting from the run, and Captain Kehad. The captain looked at the knights sternly.

    Sir Bern and Sir Allin readied their weapons and stood shoulder-to-shoulder, prepared to fight. Lord Kolm rushed out of the passageway behind them. When he saw the guardsmen assembled, he let out an audible moan.

    "We are unmade," he said.

    "Lord Kolm," Captain Kehad barked, "You are charged with conspiracy and high treason against the crown. I order you to lay down your arms and be judged in a jury of your peers, or receive the king's justice."

    "Why don't you come and administer it?" Sir Bern said, and adjusted his stance.

    Lord Devin appeared behind them, followed by Seneschal Eryle. Lord Devin shrieked.

    "Be calm, Lord Devin," Seneschal Eryle said, and the old man drew his own sword, "they may kill us, but that does not make our cause less righteous."

    Lord Devin whimpered. The dirt around his feet was wet.

    "What is your answer?" Captain Kehad demanded.

    "Eroth alone can judge us," Lord Kolm said, "we will take the justice of the gods over the 'justice' of the man you call king."

    "So be it," Captain Kehad said. "Take them."

    The guardsmen attacked.

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