Thief

This place was perfect. Not too big to have cameras all over it, big enough that they must be rich. Far enough from the road to be quiet and dark. Not so far as to have guard dogs or flood lights.

He’d watched it for a few days, it was a quiet place and he knew everyone was in bed. He threw his hood up and slipped over the wall. Landing gently under a large oak that would help him get out if all went to plan. If the plan failed, he would get out the front gate at full sprint.

Mary’s voice was in his head. Had to get rid of it. No distractions.

He stole over the large lawn. His eyes on the windows on the top floor, zero movement, it was good. A quick try on the lock of the sliding glass door let him straight in to the kitchen. The door left slightly open behind him. He immediately crouched behind a large dining table and surveyed the scene, letting his eyes adjust. A gentle breeze stirred the net curtain to show him the exit.

He got to work. Silently sliding open drawers and doors in the dining room. Looking for anything small but valuable. His back pack filled slowly with the usual items. Satnav, mobile phone, a man’s wristwatch, all dropped softly into the towel and half wrapped, noiseless. A locked gun cabinet in the study opened to reveal a selection of handguns and rifles. He selected the two nicest looking handguns and closed it again. After 10 minutes the whole downstairs was gently ransacked. Time to go.

Back now through the large hallway to the kitchen and past the tall staircase. A light came on. He froze. It was upstairs. Tiny footsteps. He didn’t breathe. A large solid steel baby gate covered the top of the steps. A small boy walked past into the bathroom, another light on, an extractor fan hummed. Long thin bars of light leapt from the gate down the stairs to where he crouched. Time to go.

Slowly through the living room again towards the kitchen. The white net still waving him to the way out, to the night. He listened for the light clicking off, footsteps led back to the child’s room.  The fan stopped humming. Another sound was there. The front door. A key scraping? An explosion of splintering wood. Two black clad men like returning warlords, dark masks and shotguns. He dove to the floor beside the long couch. Heavy boots trooped straight up the stairs. Thundering into a bedroom. Two loud blasts shook the house. The neighbourhood would be awake. A woman’s scream. Another blast. The scream just stopped. Time to go!

Onto his feet and ducking from no one’s eyes he crouched and ran to the kitchen. The white net curtain ripped to one side and through. The large oak like a living ladder ahead of him. He was up in one two steps and onto the wall. Astride it he paused, risking a glance back. From here he could see a black four-wheel drive in the road, could hear the engine idling, a driver waiting. The pause led to thought. Dropping from the wall into the road would mean being seen. Staying on the wall would risk being seen. Going back in the garden would mean back towards the men but the cover of the trees… Details of such importance should not be agonised over such short seconds. His eyes never left the driver in the vehicle. Movement at the house. The little boy. He was standing on the inside of an upstairs window. No lights were on. The boy fumbled with the handle of the window. The thief slid back onto the ground.

Directly below one of the masked men stepped through the sliding door. The white net wrapping over his black mask turning him ghost grey. Shotgun by his side. The boy opened the window, stepping out onto the ledge. The murderer looked up. Stepped out onto the patio raising his gun. The thief dipped his hand into the bag, his fingers curled around the handle of a gun. The boy looked down, eyes widening.

They paused.

The thief watched, gripping the tree that was protecting him from being part of the scene.

“No.”  Hardly a whisper.

The murderer swung, looking directly at him. Their eyes locked. The boy looked too, leaning too far forward and slipping on the ledge, falling, falling.

The boy hit the concrete with barely a sound. The gunman ripped his mask off and fell to his knees cradling the boy. Sirens in the distance getting louder. The second masked man appeared at the door. Staring at the unmoving boy. Noticing the thief, barely acknowledging him by raising the gun so slowly.

The thief bounced up the tree, the murdering man picked up the unmoving boy and carefully carried him around the house. Holding him close. The other walked behind, watching the thief in the tree, he watched back.

He landed on the pavement as the car sped off.  Flashing blue lights exploded into the trees and he melted into the night. Mary was going to be pissed.