Involuntary Theft

I awake to find myself...where, exactly? I sit up and bang my head on a close ceiling of splintered wood. Boy, did that ever hurt. But I bite my tongue and don't make a sound. I check the place where I am lying: wooden boards, a grungy blanket, a sac of paper.

Why the hell did I sleep here? I try to remember the previous night; no clear memories arrange themselves in my silently ringing mind. I feel along the boards to my right and soon jolt back as my hands slip over an edge. I feel for the edge with more care and wave my hands through the dark beyond. Then I spot a light. It is some distance away, giving me a chill to now realize how large the room is. I must be within a mere alcove up near the ceiling. The light must be at least thirty meters away.

I stare at the light. It's a single, red, beady eye. Then a yellow light calmly flashes beside the red one. A motion detector perhaps?

I climb from my 'bed' and hang my feet over the edge. Then I look down. A faint glimmer below is all there is to represent the floor. I take the risk and hop from the ledge. I land softly enough on the linoleum floor and then peer around through the dark. Now I can see the ominous red glare of an EXIT sign.

I head for the EXIT, but apparently, without knowing it, I also brush through a sensor because an incredible blaring alarm is suddenly triggered, and two enormous yellow lights on the ceiling begin to whirl in their glass boxes.

Dashing for the EXIT, I hear a faint click ahead of me as the door automatically locks. Turning desperately on my heels, I begin a sprint down the following hallway. But then, to my dismay, a metal grate falls from the ceiling ten feet in front of me, clanging against the ground with a solidity that shakes my bones. Well, that direction is certainly blocked.

I turn to give my options a scowl, and another metal grate falls at the beginning of the hall where I had started. I can't believe this! Trapped so easily?

I look from side to side. A single display case is all that is with me in this section of the hall. I put my face up to the glass. A skull looks back at me out of hollow black eyes filled with soot. I pull back sharply out of fear but then give it another look. It's not just a skull. There's also a cheery display card beside it.

This skull is approximately two hundred years old. It belonged to a man by the name of...

"Is this a bloody museum?" I cry. "What the hell am I doing in a museum in the dead of night?"

No one replies, but if they had, they would probably have voiced the same question. Of course, their tone would have been icy and authoritative, like the final sentence from a ruthless judge.

"Sh*t," I murmur. "I'm going to be in a lot of trouble."

And then I realize what I'm wearing.

I pat my clothes in silent dumbfounded shock. "Jet black like a bloody ninja," I whisper. Then I feel my belt. There are a few interesting instruments on my belt.

"What's this?" I ask, pulling an odd metal rod out of my belt. I stare at it for a moment of stupidity and then realize it's a lock-picker. "And this?" I ask, pulling a glass-cutter out of it's holster.


I pause. The alarm continues to blare through the entire building. The lights continue to whirl. In the distance, the sound of a siren drops in and out of hearing.

"Think!" I murmur. "I don't know how I got into this mess, but I've sure as hell gotta get out of it!"

Then I look at the display case again. The skull is grinning at me. What is he saying? He's saying: steal me.

I blink. "What would I want with a bloody skull?" But now he's mocking me. I let my gaze fall from the skull's eerie eyes. My eyes land upon a lock. The lock is for the cabinet beneath the display. Well, from a grubby little alcove I came, and into a little cabinet I go.

But first, I have to take that skull with me so he doesn't tell anyone where I'm hiding. I pass a quick circle with the glass cutter, pop the cut glass out of the way, and grab the skull from its place.

Then I hastily yet efficiently pick the lock.

I close the door behind me just as voices are heard. Then I sit silently in the dark and wonder what will happen to me.

And the skull continues to grin.

The End

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