The great map heist

‘Knock, knock’ Came the sound intruding through his hotel door.
Marsh grunted and rolled off of the bed to open the door. Outside was a hotel employee. “They dropped a letter off for you sir.”
Surprised, Marsh accepted the envelope, which was addressed to a Mr M. Mallow. Curious about the content, he quickly opened it.
It was a begging brief from some obscure charity company. “Djeez what kinda scam is this?” He spoke out loud and tossed the letter on the desk. And returned his attention to the tv.
A few hours later, he found his eyes wondered over to the mirror. The letter could be seen. Something was wrong with it.
He picked it back up and scanned the page. It was signed by: Y.B. Bob.
Marsh held the letter in front of the mirror
boB.B.Y
“What the hell?”
With renewed attention, he looked at the letter, but the text was just the beg for money. Where was the secret message? Or was he imagining things?
Then he spotted the decorative edge on the vertical side of the paper. It wasn’t decorative, that was morse code!
Quickly Marsh grabbed a notebook and transferred the code to translate it.


.--. .. .-. .- - . / .-. . ..-. ..- --. . / .---- ..--- / ..--- .--. --


Marsh looked at the calendar. Today was the 10th so he had two days to figure out what or where pirate refuge was. With that information in his mind, he took the letter, envelope and his little scribbled note, and tossed them into the small wood burner that was in his hotel room. Gotta love ancient British buildings with a stove in every room, he thought while lighting the paper on fire and watching it reduce to ashes.

Bobby wandered through the museum. Marsh had been there two days before him. They made sure never to be seen together since their meeting in the pub. He was checking all Marsh his notes, adding on to them and expanding. So far marsh had been right about everything, the security was basically non existing.

There were plenty of pretty things, much prettier than the one they were here for, if Bobby was concerned. But his client was paying for this one painting. Granted, it was a huge painting of the world, a map, showing the continents and the oceans, with pictures of boats, ships, and marine wildlife scattered around it.

The artist was someone who Bobby never heard of, didn’t even know what the letters stood for. AP. Well, that wasn’t his concern. He just needed to relieve the museum of the burden of owning it.

 
Red Sunrise World Map
Artist: AP.
 

The map was painted on canvas, two meters ten centimetres high and two meters ninety seven centimetres wide. And it was just hanging freely, not even stretched and fastened on a frame. It was suspended by about twenty small clips hanging from wires on a rail on the ceiling.
The land was creamy and simple, but the oceans were magnificent with all kinds of shades of blue, indicating different depths.
The compass with the outwards radiating lines was a piece of art on its own. Bobby liked that one, he decided. The map had a border of twisting rope, which wasn’t painted on it was embroidered!
And on closer inspection Bobby noted that the coastlines, little waves, mountains and rivers were all stitched on. Damn, that must’ve taken ages to make.
Now he understood why his client was willing to pay two million euro for them to collect it.

Marshmallow had bought the museums catalogues, which they had flipped through in the hotel. It listed the map only in a footnote, with the sizes mentioned. They didn’t even care to say how old it was, or what was the value. Just that the canvas was fine woven linen.

It was the 25th today, and both Bobby and Marsh had left the hotel at different times to go out to eat dinner in the quirky French town. Marsh had complained relentlessly about the absence of proper food. Bobby had just laughed.

23:48 they met in the park behind the hotel. And because of the energy saving regulations imposed by the local green loving governments, that meant that all the streetlights had gone out 3 minutes before. People were supposed to be sleeping. And judging by the surrounding silence, they were.

Both men were dressed in black, god what would that old Abyssablack fabric they had on the Sunset Dawn be handy now, but alas it was still in the wreckage. They observed the museum from a distance. There was no-one there, a lone car passed by on a street nearby.

And midnight the premises lights of the museum went dark too, the staff had joined the local government in the lights out policy.

They jumped the chest high fence and soon squatted against the wall, where bobby quickly screwed open a connection box and disabled the telephone wire. The museum was equipped with a silent alarm, which contacted the police via the telephone. But to not generate false alarms, there was a delay of 90 minutes in case telephone signal was lost. The things you could find on the internet were marvellous. The sticker on the door of the hotel with the name of the security company had told them all they needed to know.

A small crowbar was enough to force the latch of a side window, and it easily slid up. Both men climbed over the windowsill and closed the window behind them. They had chosen the window carefully, and were standing next to the map.

The map was not protected by any alarm, other objects were, but they were not interested in those. Quickly bobby went to work disconnecting the map, and Marsh took from his backpack a flat piece of cardboard, the box the catalogues had come in. He refolded the box, and together they folded the fabric to fit neatly inside.

Now marsh quietly walked to the reception, where a pile of similar boxes was waiting, all neatly labelled with addresses, a similar label was on his box. He placed their box inside the pile and smiled to himself. This was silly easy. Why this place didn’t have any CCTV with recording was beyond their comprehension. They fully trusted the silent alarm that was supposed to alert the police when a window or door was opened.

By the time Marsh came back to their window, Bobby had actually repaired the antique window latch, and adjusted it so that it would fall shut when they closed the window behind them.

It took them seven minutes from getting inside to be back outside next to the connection box, Bobby reconnected the wires of the telephone line. And a few seconds later, they hopped the fence again and disappeared into the park, immediately splitting up. Marsh pulled his ski mask off and flipped his jacket the other way round, so now he was wearing a high-visibility jacket and started to jog. God, he hated jogging, but his soon sweaty appearance would explain his being in the park to anyone he accidentally met.

It was two weeks later when they met again in the Pirate Refuge to split the profits. The package had been delivered to their client, and they had payed them as agreed. It was then that they unexpectedly ran into Rose, the former Captain of their lost pirate ship the Sunset Dawn.

Bobby had followed the news, but the disappearing of the map was only local news. According to the town's police force, there hadn’t been a break in. And they thought it was misplaced somewhere in the museum’s storage.



Cover image: by Johannes Plenio

Comments

Author's Notes

This article was written as a repsonse to Kefkejaco's Art challenge


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17 Mar, 2022 11:11

Hehe I enjoyed this article! That map does sound rather lovely if it was hand stitched on fine linen! Love how the map was left in a box in the museum rather than the boys taking it with them. And thanks for the little link to my page there too! Much appreciated. :)

17 Mar, 2022 16:16

Thank you AP.

17 Mar, 2022 21:02

Great article :) enjoyed it

18 Mar, 2022 02:40
21 Mar, 2022 17:34

Great article with some nice prose throughout ^^ That must have been one hell of a map to make and I can see why it is so valuable! Pretty fun how the article is actually about the heist of the map itself :p

Feel free to check out my latest challenge article the Avaronian Empire if you want to see what I am up to!
22 Mar, 2022 03:17

Thank you!

That made me think, what is actually the art here, the map or the heist...