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 The Raven's Last Flight

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Posts : 526
Join date : 2013-09-02
Location : Nacogdoches, TX

PostSubject: The Raven's Last Flight   Mon 02 Sep 2013, 22:34

The air felt unusually cool for a Texas summer night.  The waves crashing against the rocky Galveston shoreline gave the air a moist, salty scent.  Lightening intermittently lit the area as thunder rumbled in the distance.  With each flash of light more details of the nearby home became visible to the three young onlookers.  

The house was built on wooden stilts with a retractable staircase leading up to the wrap-around porch.  Upon the stilts sat a two-story, octagonal log cabin with a few windows on the first story and only one or two on the second.  The roof was impaled by three chimneys, one of which was currently pouring forth a white cloud of smoke.  A strange-looking boat was resting underneath the house with a number of indescribable contraptions attached to it.  

Raven’s observation of the house was cut short with a shove by the red-headed boy known as ‘Shorty.’  He and his fraternal twin brother, ‘Talls,’ never passed up an opportunity to boss the younger, black-haired girl around.  

“Alright, kid.  You know the routine: you get us in the house and into the safe and we do the rest.  And if trouble finds us, you’re on your own, got it?” Talls asked.

The olive-skinned child nodded her head slowly as her eyes raced to gather as much current information about the house as she could before she approached.  

Not a single tree provided cover for the three as they made their way through the yard.  The stairs were operated by a simple crank wheel on the lower porch.  The pillars were nothing more than tree trunks burrowed into the ground to which the foundation of the house was attached.  

Raven and the twins had scouted out the house the day before, which gave her time to modify a pair of stolen spurs so that the rowels stuck out the inside arch of her boots, allowing her to climb the pilings without issue.  At the top, she quietly lowered the stairs to allow the twins access to the porch.  

At first glance, the lock on the front door looked to be a simple single-key lock.  She had picked countless locks in her years of living on the streets with the twins.  As far back as she could remember, such devices just always made sense to her, whether it was a door lock, a padlock, or a safe.  

Her earliest vivid memory was that of being chased out of a meat shop by a half-dressed butcher in the middle of the night.  She and the twins had broken in – technically, she had broken in and they had followed – to get some food to bring back to Rosco, who was the oldest of the group.  One of the twins knocked over a tray of knives, sending them clanking and clattering to the floor.  The three grabbed what they could, but not before the butcher arrived and chased them out.  Raven’s steak dropped from her hands as she dodged the butcher’s meaty grasp.  Rosco was furious and made her sleep outside that cold winter night.  

Upon closer observation, Raven noticed that the lock protruded out from the door much further than what was normal.  She carefully felt along the sides of the lock and noticed two melded seams, as if attaching three separate pieces together.  Quickly she deduced that the lock was in fact a series of three separate locks, which she suspected were rigged to trigger an alarm if not opened exactly as they were designed.  No careless lock picking would do tonight.  

Raven closed her eyes and took a deep breath as she gently pressed the two pieces of the locksmith’s pick set into the key hole.  One of the twins sneezed behind her, causing her to jump.  Her eyes flew open as she froze, listening for any sounds inside the house, and more importantly inside the lock.  Satisfied that their cover was not blown, she then proceeded to coax the first lock open, exposing the second lock.  

This lock had two keyholes in it.  As she drew her fingers across each hole, she noticed that the faceplate surrounding the keyhole on the left was perfectly smooth, while the one on the right was fairly scratched and nicked.  She smiled to herself, realizing the left lock was simply a decoy that would likely alert the home’s occupant to her arrival.  Fortunately, she was again able to spring the second lock and lay eyes on a deep hole in the door.  

As the lightening flashed again, she noticed a third and hopefully final lock buried about five inches into the door.  Another flash of light allowed her to catch a reflection of a metal ring just inside the body of the door.  As she gingerly felt the metal ring, she realized it was a cuff of some sort, rigged to trap one’s hand if the lock were tampered with in any way.  She braced the cuff with one of her spurs just in case the trap was sprung, though her skills made that highly unlikely.  

“Hurry up, Raven!  We don’t have all night!” Talls whispered urgently as he glanced nervously around the yard.  

She kept her cool and unlocked the final lock as the door creaked open before them.  The first floor opened up into a room that took up nearly the entire first floor of the house.  Strategically placed wall segments supported the second floor, which was accessed by a staircase that wrapped around the left side of the main room.  This large room was a combination of a living room, dining room, and kitchen with three doors leading off into what she assumed were a bathroom and a couple of bedrooms.  

Her eyes quickly darted about the room, assessing where the resident’s safe would likely be kept.  Shorty started up the stairs to the second floor when Raven’s wide eyes caught a significant detail.  

“Shorty, stop!” she hissed.  

He froze in his steps, his nose about two inches from a thin, iridescent thread draped across the staircase.  She bounded over to him and pointed out the thread.  She couldn’t tell what it was attached to, but she didn’t want to find out the hard way.  Ducking under the thread, Raven continued to the second floor, instructing the twins to remain downstairs until she called to them.  

If the first floor was where living happened, the second floor was where creation happened.  Raven saw all sorts of gizmos and gadgets that she had never seen before.  There were beakers of fluids of all colors and viscosities, some were bubbling, some were swirling, all were breathtaking and beautiful.  She immediately understood the purpose behind many of the devices, but others had her completely dumbfounded.  She stepped carefully around the room, marveling at the genius who had brought such things into being.  

“Raven, did you find it yet?”  Talls whispered from the top of the stairs.  She spun around, embarrassed that she had been caught off task and a little annoyed that the twins could not follow simple instructions.  

Based on the placement of the chimneys outside, she decided that the safe was likely in the fourth room without a chimney for greater protection from outside sources.  The room was sparsely decorated with paintings of pastoral countryside vistas.  Strangely, each painting was from the viewpoint of a spider on its web.  Even the wooden floor featured the carving of a spider’s web fanning out from the back wall about 5 feet in diameter.  

On the center of that wall was a simple black safe with a single dial combination lock.  Raven laughed quietly to herself, recognizing the safe as one she had cracked a dozen times before without effort.  As she approached the safe, she took a few steps into the center of the spider web carved on the floor.  

With one ear pressed against the safe, she closed her eyes once again as she listened for the telltale click of the lock disengaging.  Upon the final click, the door easily swung open, revealing the contents of the safe: a stack of $100 Republic bills, a bag of Republic coins, and a pocket watch with strange engravings on it.  She pocketed the watch for herself before calling to the twins.  

As she went to take a step back from the safe, she noticed that her feet seemed glued to the floor by a tacky substance.  Pulling one foot up and then the other, she found that she could not release herself.  

“Talls, Shorty, get in here!”  

As the boys rushed into the room, they noticed Raven pulling at her boots, trying to free herself from the web.  She managed to pull her feet free from the boots and stand on top of them.

“Don’t step on the web,” she called as they approached the safe.  

“Pass us the cash, Raven, and then we’ll help you get out!” Talls promised.  

She nodded nervously but knew that with their help, she would certainly be able to get the goods and get out before being noticed.  Using her boots to keep her feet from sticking back to the floor, she leaned in and grabbed the cash and the coins, tossing the items easily over the edge of the web.  

“Gimme your hands, you guys, and I can jump out of here,” she said with outstretched arms.  

“Sorry, kid, you’re on your own from here,” Talls replied, as they took the cash and ran, careful to avoid the trip wire on the stairs as they went.

Raven was trapped and, for the first time, she could not envision a means of escape.  She tried to jump free of the web, but her left leg from the knee down landed on the sticky surface with a squish as her bare foot and calf were stuck to the web.  

There was nothing left for this 10-year old orphan girl to do, but close her eyes, cry and await the return of the homeowner, all the while hoping and praying that he or she would have mercy on her.
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Posts : 526
Join date : 2013-09-02
Location : Nacogdoches, TX

PostSubject: Re: The Raven's Last Flight   Tue 03 Sep 2013, 17:53

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