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26 December 2010 @ 10:12 pm
[one ♠ currency.]  
/end ; chronictedium


[s m a r t
²p e o p l e] ¹


  Fifteen wooden crates containing eighty-five one-ounce gold bars each, surrounded by frozen fish and tin foil are flying over the Atlantic on a small freighter plane powered by the crudest fuel available, and bribery.


  A subway train going to the airport at three in the morning is bound to be roomy.

  He tried to go light on the packing. There’s nothing much to indicate that he’s moving; a hockey bag, a briefcase. He can buy the rest later.

  He counts, seated in his subway car, a group of young adults, five of them (no doubt returning home from a party), a man reading a book with an arm around a bag (who perhaps works in public transit on the edge of town), a man or woman (or something) which appears to have slept there and still is, and an old lady (he’s not sure why she’s here). They won’t remember him.

He’s left nothing at his house, a quaint little place where he’d lived alone for nine years. They’ll call there first, then they’ll search it. They won’t find anything.

  He finds it a little amusing that the underground train has no qualms about running aboveground.
  At three in the morning, there’s not much to look at outside, and it’s very close to the biggest holiday of the year. The sun won’t really be up for nearly five hours.

It started the June of five years ago, but the actual theft was slow and boring. In June, he’d started to plan it.
  He’d always worked alone; he didn’t trust, he didn’t want to share. He’d started the plan by himself and he’d never looked back.

  He readjusts his scarf so it covers half of his face and rubs his leather-gloved hands together as if he’s cold. The other passengers take no note of him. It’s the best he could have asked for.
  They’ll find him, or at least his route, and they won’t need to rely on any transit workers or partying grad students. But he has to be careful.

They’ll notice the money eventually, since it’s missing and people just seem to be more inclined to want something when it’s gone.
  But it’ll be a hell of a job incriminating anyone with hard evidence. He’s covered his tracks, which is to say that he’s cemented his tracks and steamrolled them over; there are now
new paths he’s never stepped on.

  He looks out the window anyway, and he’s a little pleased that there is a line of light pinpricks passing by, a highway, probably, and car headlights, which are amusing for the moment.

  As they re-enter a station, the train slows, dings, and the five grad students clutch each other and laugh, getting out, leaving the (already unpopular) last compartment on the train emptier. The train dings again.

  There are four of them left.

He'd worked at the firm for a while, and it seemed that raises didn't come by often.
  It is his job to know crimes, and he would call this embezzlement if he was in the courtroom. He’d call it
about time if he was in his house.

  He doesn’t know what the lights inside the subway tunnels really do (of course they’d have applications in emergencies but they just sit there most of the time); he watches them flicker past.

It had taken five years to accumulate over a million dollars but those years were also spent learning how to keep the record clean and what he’d do once he had a sizable sum. It had been slow, yes, but over time he found shortcuts that were just as clean, new pockets to dig into. Income increased exponentially, and it shaved years off the amount of time he’d decided he would need.

  He finds his palms are sweating a little, but just places them on his thighs, wondering if he’d overdone the black, which is the sole colour he's wearing besides a white dress shirt. But it's what he was going for; he only hopes he looks boringly business-y enough. Less than suspicious, less than memorable.

He can see them already prying into his personal life (nonexistent), his family (estranged or deceased), his friends (of which none know him past Sunday football get-togethers and New Years’ poker games).
  They might even pull some tricks – identifying the numerals on the bills he’d gotten away with, for example, but he’s already gotten rid of them, and by the time they realize to warn foreign gold traders, he’d have new cash in his hands, laundered.

  A ding, and the lady exits, and good thing too, he was starting to question who would let grandma out so late and why.

  There are three.

He’s learned from the good criminals he’s defended, made good contacts, sometimes. It’s from the ones he’ll never need to see again that he had taken from, and these are the lousiest, the meanest, the most cocksure.
  He’s not trying to effect punishment or do anything noble, he’s a criminal himself, after all, but the properties were
res nullius. They were stolen, never repossessed, and now it wasn’t really his either, but that won’t stop him from spending it.

  He can see trees and snow and not much else; they’re aboveground and out of the metropolis. Almost, almost there.

He had supplies at hand; he’d change, like a magic act, into someone completely different.

  The train is shaking on these rails, these rails in disrepair because very few go out this far, and the ambiguous character, nomadic and homeless, probably, has clued in. They’re gone at the next ding.


He’d set the decoys – false shipments, false leads, false documents. He’d booked a ticket in his name to a place he’s not going, and some others under aliases. He’d scattered any physical proof around the city in pieces, even sent a virus to machines he’d worked at. A virus that he’d designed himself, one which will target proof and destroy it and any signs that it had been there.
  He’d even gotten his hands a little bloody, he’ll admit it was the worst part of the job, but even then, it is metaphorical – his hand had never been on the gun.

  They’re approaching the terminal, they’ll be there quite soon. It’s flat, empty outside, but industrial. They’re approaching the airport.

  The last man jams a baseball cap onto his head, packs away the book and leaves, not a glance at him.


He’d picked this destination about two years in advance, had made a detailed report of the area he’d disappear into, there’s nothing he doesn’t know about the city.
  This particular route hadn’t been planned until four months ago, and he was quite pleased to learn that the city subways ran right into an airport.

  The train rolls on, he’s further away than he thought, and listens as the PA announces where he is, even gets up to check how many more stops there are to ride through.

They’ll find it, though. A non sequitur, a piece that doesn’t fit, the itch they’ll need to scratch and they’ll find the one fact they can use to sniff him out, the one rat who knows more than he thinks. He’s underestimated something, of course, of course. He’s hopeful it will take them years, decades, that this will take their lives to find him, to drag him away, but the plan looks flawless. He wants to believe it is.

  There is no one in the compartment left to impress, to fool, but he’s still wearing his courtroom face so adamantly. He has to fool himself, yes, that’s the litmus, he’s outsmarted great minds before, if he can’t see a way past his blueprints, past his disguises and his masks, there’s not a police officer, not a detective who can. Or not right now, there isn’t.

But one must always be cautious, veritas odit moras. One mistake made at this stage, or in fact, at any stage, is one mistake too many.

  They’ll find him, one day, but he can’t put a timer on it. Time is nothing, is only relative to the events in between.
  But that one day will come, and he’s sure that if he’s still alive, still able, that they’ll be in for the chase of their lives.

  His face wants to smile; he’s done it.
  But a bit longer now, since time is nothing.

  They’re heading for the last stop. He takes one last look outside, thinks this is the end of this, and gathers his things.

  His shoes clack out into the airport, his coat jacket and suit pants unmemorable, and he takes from his breast pocket his fake passport.


  Fifteen crates land in Athens before he does.


  His hair is dyed a different colour, the bridge of his nose is taller, he’s dressed now like a tourist (ugly shirt, ugly pants, camera at hand) with a tourist expression of excitement on his face although he hasn’t arrived in tourist season. He asks to be dropped off at a hotel (he’ll never actually go inside). The cab driver complies.

  It’s all a game from now on; the last blockade, the only barrier was a game of twenty questions with the Immigrations officer.

  It’s a city like any other city, where night is not dark but lit up by storefronts and streetlights. It’s cold, but he’s got an ugly jacket on. Everyone is up and alive, although it’s close to midnight.

  He’d gotten rid of the hair dye.

  He’s arranged for someone to fly back in a week under his alias; someone who wouldn’t show up on the radar of any cops after that.

  He’s got friends here from working with immigrants, some of whom have moved back, and they’ll be good security points, good references. They’ll help him fade into the city, the culture, and he’ll disappear.
  He would get a gun, first thing, then the gold, then a house in the city, then another on an island.

  He chuckles at a thought.

I think I’ll be eating Greek for a while.


res nullius - (legal term) lit. nobody's property
non sequitur - lit. it does not follow
veritas odit moras - truth hates delay

Embezzlement is a crime a little out of my jurisdiction (I'm usually playing around with homicide, manslaughter and more extreme white-collar); it requires lots of time, gradually digging into the funds of someone who has allowed you into their money.

I based the flighttime on a Toronto-to-Athens trip, but it's all very approximate. I never meant for the city he comes from to be anywhere specific, but doing the math, it would have to be in the Eastern Time Zone.

Allow me to answer your mathematical questions about the gold.
One kilogram equals about 35.3 ounces, so in each crate, there is about 2.27 kg. of gold. There are 15*85 or 1 275 bars in total.
I took it that 1 oz. of gold was worth about $1400 if we are working in USD, so the bars have a worth of $1275*1400 or $1 785 000 USD.
The exchange rate is currently 1 USD = 0.766 EUR, so upon selling in Europe, our friend should have €1 367 310.

Nothing like math to ruin the holidays.

And many large cities (though not ours) have subways that take passengers directly into an airport (hem, like London). There is one in NYC, so it still works to assume that he comes from the EST.

AN: The first line sounds like the beginning to a very boring question your math teacher might ask you.

You are a meticulous beta reader, and this scares me because this is so far from perfect. Pretty far from good, too, actually, hm.
But (I'msosorry) I left yours until the veryvery end.
So if it makes negative sense and/or you are greatly not amused, massive apologies.

I know that he's probably not a cool criminal the likes of which you are no doubt accustomed, and I planned for it to be like that. But he's a lawyer. Lawyers are kind of not very badass. -excuses-

The part with the detective, where he's kind of challenging them? That was the part I breathed "L" to myself. I didn't mean to make it fit (and it's not canon) but damn.

The take home message: lack of effort on my part don't kill me please. Instead, read number three. Which has all kinds of HoYay subtext yum.

N Gibsonchronictedium on December 30th, 2010 03:19 am (UTC)
You can breathe easy, man. You actually kind of worried me with the whole 'ohmigod you're gonna hate it' bit but, actually, I don't. Congrats, you've won over more of my approval and respect as a fellow amateur author. (orsomethingthatsoundseaquallypretentious)
n²planetnotfound on December 30th, 2010 08:41 pm (UTC)
;__________________________________; thanks bro.
This was causing me so much grief, my god.