A Day at the Museum


I’ve been contacted for a potentially lucrative job, but it’s a little bit… unusual. Generally I get a little bit more detail than “We have a job for you, meet us at this time,” so I was a little wary and ready to just not bother with it. But when the specified time is so precise - 10:14am! - I can’t help but be a little intrigued. I was as little surprised when I turned up for the meeting (precisely on time - I’ve encountered this type before) to find that there were two others present. Even more surprised to find that I knew them from elsewhere. Lily and Morgan are both regulars on one of the forums I run, and I’ve been lucky enough to have the opportunity to meet them both when they were looking for some relatively obscure information. At precisely 10:14am on the rocket clock (actually a gps-synced watch, but close enough), a lackey wearing a suit that just made him look ominous arrived to usher us into the meeting. He looked rather perturbed, and rumbled something about there being someone missing. About 20 seconds “late”, another surprise arrived. I also knew Hana in much the same way as the other two, and I found myself intensely curious about the nature of the job, given the apparent makeup of the group here for the meeting.

We were led up to the office of one Mr Fredericks, who berated us slightly about the tardiness of the group. Once we passed this little hiccup and got down to business, the job in question seemed simple enough on the surface, and right up my alley: move a piano from point A to point B. Success in this task would lead to further employment. There were a few complications though. Point B was easy enough: a carefully marked out area in Freddy’s office. Access to the room may have been difficult, but not insurmountable. Point A was a little harder, as the piano in question belonged to Napoleon and is currently on display in an exhibit in the Powerhouse Museum. To add to the difficulty even more, we have a limited time to liberate the piano, and there’s a second team who have a 6hr head-start on us and are tasked with preventing us from completing the job. This is one of the most highly-paid jobs I’ve ever been offered, but even that has a complication - any damage whatsoever to the piano or the rest of the exhibit would cost both teams dearly, and everyone would be informed who the responsible party was (in order to exact their revenge).

We were all pretty well certain that we were going to take the job, although it seemed to me (and also to Freddy, apparently) that we were an odd bunch for this task. Morgan may have made sense to help move stuff around, and Lily is an “explorer” of sorts, who as far as I can tell explores ancient ruins and liberates them of their contents. Hana is a bit of an academic, but would be perfect to verify that we’ve got the right piano. We had some time to ask any questions we could think of, and it became pretty obvious that Freddy was the kind of individual who prepared for everything; he had a multi-page flowchart with what appeared to be answers to most of our less-obvious questions. I was quite amused when I asked something that made him raise an eyebrow and turn five pages ahead… but we still couldn’t think of anything to ask at the time to learn more about our opposition. Probably should have just asked their names… damn hindsight. Also, it was fun to see that both Morgan and I made him very uncomfortable - Morgan because they have no surname to use with an honorific like “Mr”, and me because my gender is far too fluid for him to have any idea which honorific to use for me. I’m sure he’d also hate being called Freddy… so I’m going to continue doing that.

After we took the opportunity to discuss this amongst ourselves, we decided to accept the job despite all the complications. Our next step was to do some research, and we decided to split up: Morgan and Hana headed for the university to learn more about the piano itself, and Lily offered to accompany me as I checked out the museum to get a feel for the exhibit’s location, and how we’d get in and out. This should have all been pretty uneventful. Lily was a bit of a wildcard though; I was going to have to teach her how to case a joint unobtrusively as she’s never had to work in a place full of real live people before.

We got to the museum, and after a brief but excessively detailed instructions we headed in and tried to be unobtrusive. Apparently they have at least one excessively observant guard though - and he spotted my hidden camera remarkably easily. Either that or I messed up. Professional pride suggests that it was the former but my cynicism suggests the latter. Lily made it through undetected though. I put on my most apologetic voice and persuaded the guard that it was an honest mistake, and I even offered up my recording devices into his care to convince him to let me in anyway; I could always just memorise the place. Besides, I totally wasn’t lying about how much I wanted to see the space exhibit. I love that bit! Anyway, he took my camera, my phone, and my license and told me to collect them at the security desk when I was done. This suited me fine - the phone was a burner anyway, the camera had nothing else on it and could be replaced, and I handed him one of the fake IDs I carry for situations like these, just in case anything went wrong. Sure, it would have been expensive as hell to abandon it all, but if we pulled this off I could easily cover the costs.

Lily and I did a few rounds of the museum, in opposite directions, pretending we didn’t know each other. Lily was also keeping an eye on anyone who was watching me in particular, and managed to indicate to me that they all seemed to be just run-of-the-mill security goons and not likely our opponents. This was a relief. We did another round, and on her way past the security desk Lily apparently decided that she was going to attempt to retrieve my stuff. From behind the desk. In a drawer. With a security guard right in front of it. This was not going to end well. I’m going to have to break in here again after we’re done with all this so I can grab the security footage of what happened next.

I have not seen a distraction like this for a very long time. The goon at the desk immediately noped all over Lily. He called the other guards as he was grabbing her, but somehow he winked out of existence for a moment. He was gone long enough for Lily to get a tiny head start, and then literally every guard in the building was running to join the chase. I’m not entirely certain what came next though, because I figured I may as well attempt to make use of the distraction. I figure this will probably go horribly wrong anyway, but if I can pull this off then Freddy can have his piano this evening. I bet that’s going to mess up his ridiculously meticulous plans… either that or he’s been expecting this all along.

I can’t imagine Hana and Morgan will be having this much excitement…