Mike glanced around the dark house. He put his hand into his bag again, and this time pulled out a pair of night-vision goggles. Putting them on, Mike felt much more confident. He remembered the first time he had used these. He’d already had a lot of experience, but the goggles just made him feel so professional.
Looking around the first floor, it was clear Maddy had been quick. Her shoes were thrown by the stairs, and her clutch bag was on the second step. Mike walked to her shoes and put them neatly under the coats. He wouldn’t like to trip on them coming back down. Then he reached into the clutch bag and took the mobile phone he found in there. He didn’t like that part of the job. He’d have to be quiet, he realised – the daughter may have woken the parents. He started to check the jackets by the stairs, and the second one yielded what he wanted. Car keys.
Before going upstairs, Mike began checking each room in turn, starting on his left. First the living room, then what looked like an office. He could see what he was looking for. Mike padded across the tidy, clean room to the phone docking station. He reached into his inside pocket, and pulled out a large pair of serrated scissors. He cut the line to the phone. Then he found the modem behind the computer. He looked at it and decided not to cut anything. Soft, Mike thought. Stupid, fucking soft. Mike told himself to shut up.
He decided it was time to get a move on. Mike moved silently back to the stairs. He started to climb them very slowly, checking each one for creaks with his hands as he moved up. As he climbed, he checked for lights. There were none. When he reached the top, he looked around once more. This was a big house, and there lots of rooms. Mike realised these used to be the kids’ rooms, until they moved out. Now there was just Maddy.
Once again, Mike checked each room in order starting from his left. He hoped he would find Maddy first. This time, though, he was more careful. He reached inside his bag and pulled out a small, thin black wire. He walked up to the door and threaded the wire through the keyhole. Then he took a small camera screen from his bag and attached it to the wire. An image of the room flashed onto the screen, and Mike could see a bed with a person in it, laying on their side. He needed to know if one or two people were in the bed. He tried the night-vision and thermal modes, but the bed was side-on to the door. Hanging his head, he noticed a ‘Princess’ doormat at his feet. Idiot, Mike thought to himself.
Mike put away his camera. He then pulled out a small can of oil, and began to oil the hinges of the door. He did the same to the door handle. Then he put away his oil, and took out another small container, this time an aerosol. He reached in the left pocket of his jacket, and pulled out a pack of tissues. He sprayed a little of the liquid in the container onto one of the tissues, and turned the handle of the door.
There she was. Sleeping like a log. Mike could hear her breathing. He could hear his breathing. He could hear the sound of the skin against his clothes as he moved. He didn’t like this. Looking around the room, Mike saw a picture of Maddy and her mom on the wall, and one of her with her parents and sisters. Mike noticed that there weren’t any pictures of her alone with her daddy. Maybe she doesn’t love him, Mike thought. Maybe I’m doing her a favour. She’ll get rich from the insurance claims. She’ll do fine, just her and her mom. She’ll be fine. Mike was still telling himself this as he held the tissue to her mouth and nose. She didn’t stir. Once he had finished, Mike told himself he had been soft. He berated himself for not having looked at what he was doing. Anything could have happened. Idiot.