“Master, we have received a report that the new resort on the beach has resisted our advances.” The hood on his robe was down, revealing a man in his mid thirties, starting to go bald, but the muscles in his face and the silence with which he moved showed that that was the only thing starting to go.
“Yes, I had thought that was going to be the case. Thank you Johann. In two days time, take a team and make the deposit for them.” The Master’s smile was not evil, but for a couple of beers or maybe a shot of really good tequila, it could have been. He had become the Master in the traditional sense, by waiting for the people in front of him to die, or retire, but in his line of work, that was the same thing. He was sixty two and was beginning to look it, even more, he was beginning to feel it. Maybe he should lead the team, he would not have many more opportunities. “On second thought Johann, I will take the team, how would you like to go with me.”
Johann’s eyes remained steady at the thought. In the five years since he had transferred to Santa Monica, he could not think of once when the Master had left the building, let alone lead a team. “Yes Sir, I would love to.”
“Good, get four more men. We will leave tomorrow night.”
The excitement in the van was palpable. Johann had not slept since the meeting with the Master, and by the sound of things, neither had anyone else since being told about the mission.
“Ok, Johann, you and I are going to take the Central Tower, Sebastian, you and Rowe can take the North Tower, and James and Noah, the East.” The Master, in the driver’s seat of the unmarked black van began handing out assignments. “Johann, give us a quick briefing.”
“Well, the uh,” he was jittery, the adrenaline was already coursing through his veins. “Each tower has twenty floors, and ten rooms per floor, so each team has two hundred rooms to see to.” Johann kicked one of the three duffle bags sitting at his feet, “In each bag there are 205, more than enough for what we need to do. There are wheels on each bag, so don’t hurt yourself trying to carry them. In the top of each bag are our standard keycards, one of them should work, at least that is what our contact said. Try the red one first. Any questions?”
Sebastian raised his hand tentatively and spoke up. “When does it open?”
“Tomorrow, but they had an invitation only event today so a few of the rooms might be occupied. “
The van slowed to a halt and that not so evil smile turned to face them. “Are we ready?”
The door slid open and each team grabbed their bag and headed to there respective towers.
“Well Johann, how would you go about doing this?” The Master asked.
“Well, Sir, I would start at the top and work my way down, each floor in turn.” Johann responded timidly.
“Well, yes, that would be the most efficient way to do it. What about the occupants?”
“I’d say we pull the fire alarm on the tenth floor and that should clear them out long enough for us to get in and out.”
“Is that how you do it? Where is the skill in that, why did we spend all that time and energy to train you?”
They had been walking into the Central Tower while talking. The elevator door opened and they rode it to the top, silently, Johann feeling rightly chastised. They exited the elevator near the eastern side of the building in time to watch lights coming on in the East Tower.
“Idiots,” The Master mumbled under his breath.
“What sir?” Johann felt he was already off on the wrong foot and did not want to mess up anything else.
“Nothing. Come on. If we are going to encounter anyone, it is going to be on this floor, the owners will want to show off this view.”
Johann reached into the pocket of his jacket and pulled out a stack of blank white cards. Shuffling through them he found the one with the red nail polish on the corner and slipped it into the reader mounted on the first door. The light went from red to green. “Our contact came through,” he said to The Master. The first two rooms went quickly and silently, a book placed in the nightstand drawer of each. The third room posed their first challenge. Once the door opened, Johann heard the sound of running water coming from the bathroom within.
Quickly, The Master grabbed the bag from Johann, along with the keycard and went into the room. Shocked, Johann could do nothing but follow him. Deftly, The Master reached into the bag and slipped a book into the nightstand right as a man, wrapped only in a towel, came out of the bathroom.
“Who the hell are you?”
The Master turned to Johann, “Really, the hotel managed to double book a room during the promotional event. They have the rest of this hotel free and they put us in the same room as someone else. I’m sorry, since you were here first, how about my son and I go down to the front desk and straighten this out.”
“Ok, you do that.”
The Master and Johann left the room without another word and proceeded to the next room, where the stayed, motionless, long enough to confirm that the stranger had not called the front desk. The walls were incredibly thin, and while they did not hear anyone talking, they could hear that the television was on. They placed their book and moved on.
After two more uneventful rooms, Johann finally worked up the nerve. “That was close Master.”
“No, it wasn’t,” The Master retorted. “Was security called?”
Johann cast his eyes downward, “No sir.’
“Then the training you should have had would have paid off. Fire alarms, bah!”
The rest of the trip down the Tower was uneventful, except for the one book they found with bent pages, but that is why Johann had packed extras.
Upon meeting back at the van, Johann and The Master found that in addition to a fire alarm being pulled in the East Tower, that Sebastian and Rowe had used the same method in the North one. As the door was shut on the black vehicle, The Master drove off, shaking his head quietly.
“Damn you Gideons… Damn you,” said the hotel manager the next morning, The Bible resting firmly in one hand, the reports from the fire department in the other.
“Sir, I don’t think that’s how it works,” replied the bellhop.
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