2019 NYC Flash Fiction competition Challenge 1! (Group 54) - CRIME CAPER. Well I immediately thought of a Great Great World, then A Shot in the Dark, but how would I emulate the greats??
Well... it didn't grab any points, but its got some potential for a future short story ... Crime Caper; A library, sprinklers
A ‘Fichey’ Tale
When Gary finally gets a chance to look for a relative’s treasure map his enthusiasm can't be dampened.
"I am the Champion of the wooorrrrllldd!" He belted out to Queen's blast from the stereo, and turned off the car’s engine. Today, Gary would find it. His uncle’s legacy; the metaphorical holy grail - the Barnard Treasure Map. Bounding into the building, earning a sharp look from the harridan who ruled the roost there, he nearly bumped into Brin. Brin gave up on pretending to read and frowned at the man. It was nearing the time. People should be leaving, not bashing into him. Nodding to Rachel, he slipped into the backroom. She checked around, then followed him; Old Peabody glaring in the opposite direction at a group of kids giggling over books in human biology.
Red set off the fire alarm as planned. Twenty or so people looked up, looked at each other and then back at their books. He was about to shout ‘Fire’ when the second stage alarm kicked in and it rained. That started the patrons moving; screams, books everywhere. “Damnit!” Red had forgotten that the sprinkler had just been installed. Peabody was looking upwards, startled; he homed in on her as directed.
“Rachel, you’re with me, Red, you know the layout so you’re diversion and taking care of Missus P.” Brin had grinned slyly. Red didn’t like the implications of taking care, even if he thought his boss was evil. He would make sure she left, otherwise… He left that thought hanging, gently escorting the pillar of Minton Library from the building. “But the fire, the books!”. She tried to shake him off. “Its ok, its probably a false alarm, but I’m afraid the damage is done with the water. I will go back and check” he patted her arm as she left. Returning to the check-in desk, he found Brin and Rachel staring blankly at the microfiche drawers. --- Gary slipped from behind the shelves where he was lurking, hiding from old Peabody. It was even better than he had hoped; he didn’t need to wait until closing time. Even the sprinklers couldn’t dampen his spirits. He moved back slightly on hearing voices over the loud hiss. “OK, the sheet number is top left, they should be in year order, but we don’t know what year. Its sheet 115, Record 3a., Go year by year”. Red flicked through the first drawer. The sprinklers were an annoyance. It made looking through the card stacks difficult. They quickly pulled drawer after drawer looking for the elusive microfiche.
Someone else is after the map? Gary would need to take care of them. He was no Starsky but he figured he could knock someone out with a book. Quietly pulling the heaviest he could see from the shelves, he found himself hefting Gibbon’s Rise and Fall. Ironic, his life had been like that until today. He knocked the book against the metal shelves. They didn’t even look up. Intent on the fiche, and with the noise of the sprinklers, they didn’t hear it. Darn! Gary hit the rack again. The water was running down the inside of his jacket and his long dark locks clung to his face hindering his vision. He needed that map. Brin looked questioningly at Red. “Thought we were clear?” “Probably the cat”, said Red. The eponymous cat slunk into view, drenched and complaining at them until Red opened a drawer and the cat jumped in to escape the mist of water still raining down. Although, library noise had always been an irritation to him, Red was finding the hiss of the sprinklers soothing. But even Red knew the next noise was no cat, which was still curled up in the drawer. Brin motioned Red to investigate the stacks. --- Brin looked up from the fiche at the loud splash breaking his concentration. Frustrated, he moved, knocking the drawer he was looking through and next thing it wasn’t only the sprinklers raining down. Hell! He nodded to Rachel to keep looking and moved towards the noise. Mini waves lapped at his sneakers as he sloshed over to the book cases. Water lapped at a pair of feet sticking out from human biology. He kicked at them, whispering, “Red...hey Red...”. “Who’s there” he said stridently. Nothing. The hiss of water drowned out everything else. He cautiously stepped into the shelved area and bent to look at his fallen friend. That’s when Gary struck. The book came down like the hand of Zeus. Ironic that it was Roman not Greek history thought Gary. Gary only realised Rachel had followed Brin when he felt something in the small of his back. “Freeze...or I’ll shoot.” Raising his hands, Gary desperately tried to think of an out. He could see this gang wasn’t burdened with intelligence. Deciding on distraction, he hedged. “So… wanna help me find my uncle’s map?”. “Old codger? Used to come in here and talk about a map? Your uncle, you say?” “Yeah. Maps real, he used to work here, but you need the key. Left it to me when he died. Said I was to come to the library and look up in the microfiche.” A groan from Brin on the floor; Gary took the distraction and turning, belted away the ‘gun’ with the Gibbons. “Ow! You broke my fingers, you idiot!” yelled Rachel. Something about her bedraggled appearance tugged at him. “Well I thought you had a gun!” Gary shot back at her. He took a moment to slam the book down on Brin’s head again. “Look…” Gary took her hand gently to look the break. She glanced up and smiled. He forgot what he was going to say next. “Your uncle huh? So all above board and legal then?” Gary waggled his head “Well… almost, will’s contested.”. Rachel continued. “I found the fiche.” “I have the key.” said Gary. They went to the reader and Rachel inserted the microfiche. It was impossible to read in the mist and rain. Just then the sprinklers stopped. They both looked at the map. “Oh maannnnnn!”