This is a Tomorrowlands universe story; they are listed at http://www.tomorrowlands.org/story/stories.html.
© 2002, Tchjdaedn
Snow Outside, the snow fell, piling a few inches on the ground and streets, covering all in a soft blanket of white. The night was still, with no breezes pushing at the falling snow. Streetlights pierced the darkness, illuminating circles of snow below them. It was dark, though not overly late, and the blurred hues of television screens could be seen pushing through the closed curtains in the windows of various houses. Through the darkened streets moved a single vehicle. A drab old station wagon with missing license plates laid furrows in its wake. Inside, two figures discussed matters of business. "So what place are we hitting tonight, again?" Bill asked, looking to the passenger seat. "Some old guy's place," Tom replied. "And keep your eyes on the road, we don't need no mishaps." "Right," Bill turned his attention back to his driving. "So what's the scoop?" "I've been casing this geezer for almost three weeks now. He's got a coin collection worth a mint in itself, and we're talking doubloons here ... turn left at the stop sign. ... We pull this off, it'll pay better than the last few jobs." "Sounds good. What kind of security does he have?" "Adequate, though as far as I can tell, nothing electronic. Locks, and perhaps a safe or two, nothing we can't handle," Tom replied as he looked over his shoulder at the various sledgehammers, crowbars, and other tools in the back. "There, the third house on the right. Drive past and pull over near the corner." "Pets, tenants?" "He lives alone," Tom replied. "That house is empty." And outside, the snow fell. Tom pulled the car over and turned off the engine and headlights. The two sat in the darkness for a moment, pulling on ski masks and tightening their gloves and coats against the cold. Tom spoke up, though at a whisper, as if expecting something to happen. "So what's our time frame like?" "It's bingo night at the fogies' home a little ways from here. He goes there every week to whoop it up with some of his old friends." Bill pulled the edge of his glove away to check his watch. "I'd say we've got an hour and a half, maybe less." "Then let's do this," Tom said as he opened his door, proceeding around the side of the car. Tom opened the back door and took a crowbar and a hammer in one hand, holding the door open with the other. Bill got out the passenger side and pulled out the industrial drill from the back seat, sliding a small crowbar through his belt, and grabbing a miniature propane torch in his free hand. Tom grabbed a flashlight and closed the door. The two proceeded to the front door of the small, single-story house, their tracks in the snow ever so slowly filling once more. Bill watched either end of the street while Tom jimmied the door with his crowbar. After a minute or two, Tom finally sheared the deadbolt and pried the door open. the two burglars slipped inside, pushing the door closed behind them. And outside, the snow fell. Tom flicked on his flashlight. "Okay, where to?" he asked. Bill pointed down the corridor to a door on the left. The two moved down and through the door. Tom glanced about the room with the flashlight. A desk, a recliner by the window with a reading lamp and end table with a few things on it, a few shelves of books. "You sure, Bill? I'm not seeing anything," Tom whispered. "I know it's in here," Bill answered quietly. "I've watched him, through that window, pull portions of it out and fiddle with them. Maybe there's a hidden safe or something. Start looking." The two started rummaging around the room when suddenly Tom stopped by the window and turned his flashlight off. "What's wrong?" Bill asked. "Neighbors just came home," Tom replied. "We gotta be extra quiet now. Put the drill down." Bill slowly placed the drill on the carpet, at the same time noticing a reflecting glint from what little light came through the window. He smiled wryly from his new vantage point and looked up at Tom. "Jackpot." And outside, the snow fell. Tom moved quietly to where Bill was kneeling. There it was, a strongbox set into the wall right below the desk. Hearing a noise behind them, they turned around at the sound of growling. A small, fuzzy dog stood in the doorway of the room, teeth bared at the two. "Awww, how cute. We woke the guy's little Pomeranian," Tom whispered, "acting like he's a big mean guard dog." Bill rolled his eyes. "Yap dogs ... I thought you said the guy didn't have any pets." "Guess I just never noticed it," Tom replied. "Look at the pipsqueak. Not exactly something to get noticed if you can't see the floor." Almost on cue, the Pomeranian started barking in a high-pitched yip. "Shit! It'll alert the neighbors!" Bill exclaimed in a hushed voice, clambering after the dog. "I'll get the dog," Tom said to Bill. "Sneak out to the car real quick and pull some of the duct tape off the driver's seat." Bill put his tools down and quietly left the building. Tom chased the barking dog around the room, eventually cornering it. He picked it up with one gloved hand, slapping the other around its jaws to hold them shut. The small dog wriggled in his hands, growling. He sat down in the reading chair and looked around, adjusting his hold on the dog to free up a hand. And outside, the snow fell. "What have we here?" Tom queried the dog, looking between it and the items on the table beside him. He reached over with his free hand and rummaged through the things atop the end table. A candle, long since melted to a puddle; an empty wine glass; a book in some weird script; a wide coin with markings similar to those on the book; a decorative circlet of some sort with a large embedded jewel. Tom couldn't tell if it was a large bracelet or a small choker. "Well, well." Tom bit into the coin and looked at the dog. "Should fetch a fair price down at Jay's Pawn, eh?" Tom flipped it in the air and caught it, tossing it into his pocket. The Pomeranian growled, the tone considerably deeper than before. Tom held the dog under an arm while he grabbed the circlet and slipped it around his wrist, where it hung loosely. "Think you're a big mister tough guy, eh?" Tom joked quietly at the dog. A moment later, Bill returned with a strip of duct tape. They wrapped it about the dog's short muzzle, laughing quietly as Tom set it down and the dog tried to pull the tape off with its front paws. Bill lightly kicked it across the floor, sending it scrambling just outside the doorway and out of interfering distance as Tom hunkered down over the door to the strongbox with his flashlight. Bill retrieved his mini-torch and joined Tom on the floor. "Hey, where'd you find that?" Bill pointed to the circlet around Tom's wrist. "Don't matter. Finders keepers," Tom whispered. "Bullpucky!" Bill said as he grabbed Tom's arm. "Let me see it." Tom pulled back, yanking Bill along with him. Bill refused to relinquish his grip, and the two wrestled on the floor for the bracelet. Bill twisted his body over Tom and got him in an arm lock. "C'mon, let go!" "Screw you!" Tom said. Bill tightened his grip on Tom's wrist and began beating Tom's hand against the dial of the safe. Tom tried to twist his arm to escape the lock, and Bill ended up bringing the bracelet down onto the corner of the dial instead of Tom's hand. The two of them heard a metallic "POP" as the gem broke out of its fitting. They stopped wrestling when that sound was followed by a deep guttural growl. They looked silently at each other, and then both looked toward the doorway. Standing in the shadows was a large creature on four legs, five feet at the shoulder, its muscles rippling in what little light crept into the room from the outside. It continued to growl as it stared at the burglars, a sliver of duct tape hanging off its muzzle. The two froze as the growl turned to a snarl, and the beast leapt toward them. And outside, the snow fell ...
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