Bull Mayday, formerly magazine editor Daat Praen, has just received an envelope containing the instructions for his role in an upcoming airship heist. He had wittingly entered into this life of crime, but had it finally gone too far?...
I had done a little mountain climbing while I was a kid, and so I figured I would give the whole thing a go. It's not like we were going to by murdering anyone, the motley gang and I. It was a heist. And those lousy fat-cat bankers deserved it anyhow, right? At least that's what I thought then, anyways.
Along with my part in the plot came a list of supplies I needed to acquire: a harpoonshot, a length of cord two hundred feet long, two canvas sacks (reinforced, of course), a weapon of my choosing, and a disguise for our getaway.
The plan had me (really): shooting the harpoonshot from a high-rise window into the side of a banking airship named the Wind. Then, I was supposed to shimmy my way to the craft, get through one of the airship's windows, knock out a guard or two (you'd have thought mastermind Mary would have known exactly how many), sack two loads of goldquartz, and bolt. What happened before, that was up to Benny Two-Tone, and what happened after, that was that strange fella Gaunt's business. But the high-wire tricks were up to me. As I relayed all of this to three-legged Marv, I'm pretty sure I saw him shake his head in disapproval.
I got the two hundred feet of cord, the harpoonshot, the weapon of my choosing (a magnedecommissioner), and part of my costume at one of the several pawn shops on the south side of town. The harpoonshot was heavy, real heavy. I didn't have time to bulk up to carry the thing properly. I wouldn't have done it if I had time, anyways, though.
But I carried it as well as I could, inside a rolling viola case. The magnedecommisioner fit in my back pocket. I'd always heard it said that the weapon could knock a man out cold, instantaneously. To this day though, I've never seen one used.
For a costume, I had an over-sized brown cloak. I found a wig and fake beard at a barbers, which were as convincing as they were oily. It was like they had been shorn right off a face and into whatever concoction preserved them. Together with the cloak, and an off-kilter slouch, the disguise truly did change my appearance. I looked like a Northern Airyelian or something, all slick and creepy. I imagined skirting away after the heist, dropping off my score with Gaunt, then racing down a rusty stairwell as the sirens started to roar in the background. Off into the night I'd run, casting off my costume and waiting for word on where to pick up my share of the take.
I kicked around south Jaidour for the three days before the big event, spending my goldquartz like there was no tomorrow and having the time of my life. Believe it or not, I started to get tired of it. Too many thugs, too many hard dames. I really just wanted to go back to my apartment and start work on my next dog-centric editorial. The heist would be the big one, the thing to remember, and then it'd be back home safe and sound.
I sat in a bar avoiding the obvious advances of a young lady on the stool next to me. Benny Two-Tone was supposed to be by with the information on where and when I had to perform my circus tricks soon.
"You look nervous, you nervous?" the hot young broad asked, sipping at her drink. "Don't be nervous," she added with a slow wink.
"I'm not nervous," I said, wiping sweat off my forehead. "Not about you, anyhow."
"A tough guy, huh?" she asked.
"That's right," I said. She saw right through it, sure, but I didn't blink.
"What're you waiting for, then?" she asked as she slid closer.
"Nothing I can tell you about," I said. I was about to get cross, but then I saw Benny at the door. "Sorry, honey, gotta make time," I said. Really, I actually said that to her. I was loving it, just loving it.
"What's the score, Benny?" I asked the little man loudly as he walked towards me. Benny hushed me and passed off a piece of paper and then went to the men's room. It was an envelope, and it read, '3 hours'. Three hours until what? I had no clue. Three hours to do something? I flipped the envelope over: 'You've got 3 hours'. It made me laugh out loud.
I flipped the bartender a fat coin and ducked right out the door of the bar into the dirty street. I tore open the envelope and squinted to read it as my eyes adjusted. Looked like I was heading uptown, to the commerce district.
I saw the bulbous airships hovering all around the tall buildings to the north like lazy balloons, and swallowed hard as my fun-time fantasy met with the reality of what I was about to do.
NEXT TIME: HIGH-FLYING TWISTS