We crouched there in the dark for what felt like hours. I could never hear the breathing of the girl beside me, and she might have been rock, if, now and again, she would tilt her head to observe another member of the spa staff enter and search the room. We had heard many stomp through in pairs or threes, but none ever spoke out loud, merely mumbled incoherently.
Finally, one of the official security guards trod over to a telephone concealed at the side of the room, with the tiled words ‘staff use only’ printed beside it.
“Calling back all staff,” he said in a gruff, hoarse voice, “Abandon the search. They must have found a way to exit the building without our knowledge. I would advise looking over the security camera footage; it’ll give us clues as to how we can act at a better rate next time. Trust me, if I know that Mrs. Howard, there will be a next time. She is naturally curious and will want answers, so be prepared.”
He put back the receiver roughly, and waited. Half a minute later came the distinct ring of the phone.
“Yup? Oh, right, it’s you…”
He guard didn’t look pleased as he listened to the speech being made by the person on the other end of the line.
“Well, that’s not my problem, is it? You’ll have to speak with Thomas of management, he’s the one-”
More silence ensued, as the guard was interrupted.
“There’s nothing I can do, but I’m sure we’ll get our money. There’ll be other opportunities…
“Yes, Thomas knows his contacts, besides-”
The guard was starting to get very worked up at being interrupted, repeatedly every time. This next time, though, the guard became less aggravated when he learnt what the other person had to say.
“Yeah, it’s Minerva,” he said quietly (so quietly, in fact, it could have been called ‘deathly quiet’), “They all dress the same, don’t they? Great cloaks with floppy hoods, bright lipstick, agile frames… Typical vixen women. That girl must have just sprinted out as they do. They’re not like Tydeus, of course. We dress sensibly and deal in weapons of attack, we’re not sneaky, and we don’t use catty verbal abuse.”
He paused, nodding into the phone.
“Yeah, that’s what I was just thinking.
“Anyway, you deal with the CCTV and I’ll deal with the companies.”
And with that, he hung up and clomped out.
I was reeling.
“Tydeus has already got to the security here. Pitiful,” whispered the girl beside me, bitterly, spitting into a corner of the boiler cupboard.
“Minerva…” I whispered, still transfixed, and in a fuzzy state of mind.
“Yeah, I know…” The girl visibly rolled her eyes, “Now, let’s get out of here. I hate being stuck in small places.”
She gently pushed open the cupboard door and tiptoed out. I followed, but she gave me a look as though to say ‘stay back’.
“Can you see a camera…? We don’t want to give ourselves away. Oh, there it is!” And she jumped out of the view of the slowly rotating camera, concealed in a dusty corner.
Dust. Unusual for a clean spa…
The cloaked girl leaped up on the seat of a plastic chair and balanced herself precariously on the edge of the Jacuzzi, reaching up to tweak at the wires of the security camera. It seemed, to me, that she was used to doing reckless stunts like those.
From an interior pocket of her cloak, the young woman removed a pair of sharp shears and, leaning up (once again on tiptoes), she snipped diligently at the wires connecting the camera to the tiled wall.
First, she broke the green one, and nothing visibly happened, but second, as she snipped and broke the red wire in half, the little light glowing on the camera’s top beeped and faded out.
“Okay, let’s go!”
I stepped to her side, very wary.
“What about the other cameras?”
“I’ll deal with them, if they come,” she grinned, “Now, where’s the exit?”