Wednesday, February 3, 2010

1 - Reluctant I: Don't Get Caught

Don’t get caught. The best advice an old thief can give, and the old thieves are the ones to heed. It’s easy to say, less easy to do, especially when the guards are coming and the lock picks just aren’t working. It’s a time to consider whether this is a good life path. The door is very ornate, very imposing, and very solid. Wood may seem old fashioned, but when it’s centuries old oak it might as well be cast iron. Coupled with an unexpected state of the art lock it is impregnable to the opportunist thief.

A kick only results in a sore toe and a muffled swearword. Being found isn’t an option – this is not the time to get caught, that’s for sure. The windows on either side of the corridor are starting to look more tempting; falling twenty feet seems a better alternative than having my kidneys used as bongos.

The imposing pillars that line the corridor also provide a little cover for anyone trying to open the window. It’s a small comfort, but in this situation it’s better than nothing. The latch is, naturally, sealed shut, but it is less of an obstacle than the heavy wood of the uncooperative door.

The task is a fiddly one, but doable. The voices are getting closer, but obviously these guards are more easily fooled than some. Doubling back or hiding in a cupboard would seem amateur to an amateur, but in the right situation it can provide those few extra moments to evade capture.

The window finally opens with a noise that could be interpreted as a sigh of relief by those of a fanciful nature. The night air is cold but welcome, like a scent of freedom on the wind.

The drop is enough to give pause, but only for a moment. Whoever designed the gardens planted a shrubbery for this very purpose, or at least never considered a flower bed under the window a security risk. They were foolish, but they earn a quick murmur of gratitude.

Edging out through the window and onto the ledge is the easy part: closing the window again from outside is more difficult. Clearly the architect was less fond of criminals than the gardeners are. It’s necessary, another ruse to give a few moments before the escape route becomes clear to those in pursuit. All those moments add up, eventually equaling a successful getaway.

It’s impossible to close the window entirely. A rush job will have to do. So far these guards have not proven the most observant, and it might just be enough.

Decision: wait and hope they don’t notice the window is ajar, or risk them hearing the rustle of the greenery below? The chill breeze makes the decision – even the stupidest guard will have more trouble ignoring a draught.

At arms length hanging from the ledge the ground still seems a long way away, but it is too late to second guess. Footsteps which have been getting steadily closer for five minutes are now too close to ignore.

A deep breath, a reluctant unclasping of fingertips, and the deed is done. A bush doesn’t provide much cushioning, but it’s better than the cold hard ground. Bruises will have to be ignored for now, a stealthy creep through the shadows stands between me and freedom. The gardener has earned his thanks with an avenue of trees that provide excellent cover, and the outer walls are no barrier to one experienced in burglary.

A moment to brush off the leaves, and a thief becomes an ordinary citizen emerging from an alleyway into the light. Hiding in plain view is another trick the old thieves will teach the young. It’s one of the best ways of following their favourite piece of advice. What was that again? Don’t be afraid to ask – a proud thief is a dead thief in this city.

But always remember. It’s simple. Don’t get caught.


  1. Hiya Floot,

    Welcome :) I was thrilled to see your post about the 3 am epiphany challenge on your blog. It's good to have you - and I think you're our first international member! Hopefully you will find us a relaxed and slightly bizarre group of people with whom to share your writings :)

    Feel free to introduce yourself if you'd like to(we've been doing introductions as comments on the post 'And now for something completely different), or to discuss the challenges.

  2. The great thing about this blog is looking at the approaches everyone else takes to a challenge.

    I've been trying to figure out what makes this response so unique - I think it's the fact that the story really is about the narrator, whereas most of us had a narrator who was focused at least equally on someone else. It seems to me that this style draws the reader in by making them feel closer to the narrator - like it's a private conversation.

  3. Hey Floot!
    Great work with this first one. I agree with iconoclast, it is really cool to have an exercise 1 focused on the narrator while still fulfilling the 'less than two 'I's'. I look forward to reading some of your other posts :)
    - Ani

  4. Thanks guys :-D

    It's finally letting me comment *shhhh*

    Hope that lasts...

  5. PS I actually felt like I was cheating a bit on that - I don't think it's the object of the exercise! But the idea came to me so I wrote it anyway. I'll definitely try another that more closely follows the original guidelines!