Funny Fiction

Marcel's patience began to wane after thirty-six hours of being confined to an eight-by-four box. His joints ached, begging for the freedom to stretch. He hoped the delivery would come sooner than scheduled, as he was now dangerously low on his meager water and food supply. Also… he didn’t know how much longer he could stand the smell of dust and chemicals emanating from the other body with which he shared the small space. 

Marcel cursed as the box suddenly lurched, jostling him and causing the body to fall onto him. Gagging, he gently pushed the mummified corpse away.

“Amun-Ra, my friend,” Marcel whispered. “I’m at my wit’s end here, and I really need you to stay on your side of the sarcophagus.” He resisted the urge to sigh lest he inhale more dust and residual embalming fumes. He had already made that mistake earlier in the trip, and it took every bit of control to stifle his coughing fit. As the minutes ticked by, he distracted himself by telling his travel companion his plan. Again. 

“Have you ever heard of The Midnight Sonata, my mummified friend?” Amun-Ra did not respond. “Of course you haven’t since you’ve been dead for quite a while. Well, as I’ve mentioned before, but I will kindly remind you, it is a priceless painting that was recently discovered to be the original work of Jean-Antoine Watteau! Can you believe that? Since the day the piece was gifted to good ‘ole Jean’s parents, the painting has remained a priceless heirloom, passed down from generation to generation! That is until the last living descendent finally kicked the bucket. That’s when then the painting was found. Isn’t that splendid? It’s a little selfish, though, if you ask me. Art like that should be shared with the world, not kept in an attic where it cannot be adored. Don’t you agree?”

Amun-Ra again remained silent. It was just as well. Marcel wasn’t sure he’d be too happy if the dead pharaoh responded. He was fully aware that it might be a little crazy to talk to the corpse, but who could blame him after so many hours with only the mummy for company? Another bump in the road caused Amun-Ra to fall against him. 

“Yes, yes, I’ll continue with my story. Patience, my friend.” He gingerly pushed the mummy away from himself. “Patience and personal space, please. Anyway, since the last descendant passed, the painting was authenticated and put up for auction. Who else could afford such a treasure besides Paris’s museum, The Louvre, home to some of the world’s most priceless artwork and exhibits? Very few, I’m sure. That’s where we are headed, in case no one informed you.” 

Little did anyone realize that the work was soon to be rehomed. After a brief stay in his own personal collection, he would sell it to the highest bidder. The starting bid would be higher than even The Louvre had paid. 

“Oh, just think of the money people will pay to get their hands on such a piece! I’ll be wealthier than I’ve ever imagined! I’ve already got a list of potential buyers lined up.” He sighed in wonder as he daydreamed about the different ways he would make use of his impending wealth.  

Although this wasn’t Marcel’s first heist, this would be his most challenging. With the recent developments in security, with which The Louvre had spared no expense, Marcel was forced to get creative, an endeavor that took over six months to plan and put into motion. What better way to gain access to the museum than to be hand-delivered? That brought him to his current situation, sharing a tight space with Amun-Ra, a five-thousand-year-old pharaoh. He knew every inch of The Louvre, having spent countless hours wandering the exhibits. All he had to do now was wait for the shipment containing artifacts for the upcoming Ancient Egypt exhibit to be delivered. 

Marcel was startled awake, horrified to find that Amun-Ra had lent a shoulder for him to rest on. Though the mere thought of touching the ancient being made his skin crawl, he kept that opinion to himself lest he offend the mummy. Indeed, that would cause some repercussions in his own afterlife. After stretching as much as he could in the cramped space, he pushed his ear to the side of the sarcophagus. He no longer felt the truck's vibrations, so he assumed they had either stopped or he had slept through the delivery to the museum. 

He waited in silence, listening for any clues. Hearing nothing for a long while, he risked popping open the sarcophagus lid to peek at his surroundings. As the lid creaked open, he took a deep breath. Cool air raced into his lungs, carrying a myriad of smells—old parchment, wax, cleaning supplies, rubbing alcohol, and dust. 

Moonlight filtered into the large space from small windows spaced around the top floor of the warehouse he had been loaded into. It seemed his impromptu nap had lasted more than a few minutes. 

Rows upon rows of massive metal shelves took up half of the warehouse space, each section clearly labeled and containing boxes, wrapped bundles, and glass cases of every kind. The remaining space of the warehouse was broken into grid-like sections blocked off with colored tape. Each square contained a different exhibit of artifacts, including Ancient Egypt, which he now stood in. 

After a quick yoga session to get his aching limbs back in working order, Marcel gathered his supplies from the sarcophagus, said his farewells to Amun-Ra, and headed toward the far end of the warehouse, where he hoped to find the entrance to the museum. Perhaps it had been too much to hope that they would deliver him directly to the sectioned-off corner of the museum reserved for the new exhibit, as he had planned. But no matter, he was used to having to improvise. 

While searching for the correct door, he found himself distracted more than a few times by the items lining the shelves or stacked in neat quadrants. Seeing so many priceless artifacts and antiques in one place, it was lunacy not to stop and admire. No respectable art thief could blame him for doing so, and he doubted he’d ever have such an opportunity again. 

He meandered through the Renaissance era, perused through the contemporary section, and puzzled at a few pieces of impressionist paintings. As he wandered, occasionally remembering that he had a job to do, he committed many of the pieces to memory so that he might add them to the list for future heists. 

At long last, Marcel found the entrance to the museum. A large sign above the double doors indicated that it was the entrance to the East Wing. The Midnight Sonata was displayed on the second floor of the West Wing, which now meant he had to navigate across the entire building and up a level without tripping any of the alarms or being spotted by the cameras. 

After checking his pack and taking stock of his supplies one last time, he was ready to begin. Slowly, Marcel moved to push one of the large doors open. 

It didn’t budge. 

Marcel stepped back from the doors, puzzled. As realization dawned on him, he snapped his fingers to emphasize the apparent issue. 

“Of course!” He dropped his pack on the ground and began shuffling through it. “What respectable museum wouldn’t lock their doors at night? Clearly, the doors would be locked! All I need is… ah! Here they are.” Triumphantly, he pulled out a small lock-pick set and got to work on the tiny keyhole. Moments later, a satisfying click indicated his success. 

As he prepared to push the door open again, Marcel felt the tingling sense of adrenalin creeping through him. This was why he loved his craft. The excitement, the exploration, the hours spent planning and strategizing and then seeing your hard work pay off. The money wasn’t anything to scoff at either. 

Marcel’s thoughts came to a sudden halt as the doors once again remained closed. It was evident they weren’t locked anymore, as there was enough of a give that light peeked through the two-inch gap when he pushed the handle. It seemed odd that they would leave the lights on overnight, but perhaps it was another security measure. 

Search as he might, he found no other locks or contraptions holding the doors shut. Frustrated, he gave the door a hard push and was rewarded by the distinct sound of jingling on the other side. He crouched so his eyes were level with the handles and peeked through the gap. As he suspected, chains connected by a padlock wrapped around the handles on the other side. 

Frustrated, Marcel leaned against the doors and slid down to sit on the floor. He may be used to improvising, but nothing was more frustrating than uncovering kinks in his plans that he hadn’t accounted for. A locked door was one thing; cutting through chains was another. Even if he had brought his bolt cutters, it would not have fit between the small space. 

There was only one thing he could do: pick the padlock. 

“You can do this, Marcey. You’ve faced worse situations and came out on top. Don’t give up now!” Reinvigorated, Marcel retrieved his lock-pick set from his pack. It was amazing what a pep talk could do! 

It took over half an hour to pick the lock, not due to lack of skill but because of the small amount of room he had to work with. And if anyone ever asked, he definitely did not do a small victory dance when the padlock finally clicked open and fell to the floor. Thankfully, the floor must have been covered in carpet, for the lock made a dull thunk as it hit the ground, followed shortly by the chains, which were a little louder. 

Marcel paused, listening to ensure the sound of the chains hitting the ground hadn’t drawn the attention of the night guard. When no one came to investigate, he slowly pushed the door open.

He came face to face with a small crowd of people, watching him with wide eyes. Marcel froze. He stopped moving, didn’t breathe, and couldn’t even formulate a single thought. He might as well have been one of the statues in an exhibit. 

Several people stood across the hall from the door he had just opened. They all wore suits, tuxedos, and dresses. Most had a small glass of alcohol in one hand, and others carried a small platter of finger foods. Every single one of them stared at him with wide eyes. Some were confused and shocked. A few even looked amused. 

“Are you… lost?” 

Marcel jumped as one of the men in the crowd spoke. He was one of the few who watched him with barely contained amusement as if he knew exactly what had happened. They had all witnessed some fool trying to break into The Louvre.

“Uh…” Marcel snapped up, trying to come across as if he belonged there. It was painfully evident that he didn’t blend in with the formally dressed patrons in his black body suit and matching ski mask bunched on his head like a beanie. He cleared his throat and glanced left and right, taking note of even more fancily-clad party-goers watching him. “Yes, why I am. I was looking for the… bathroom, and it seems I was somehow locked inside that room.”

Marcel could feel his face blazing under the heat of his embarrassment as a few people in the crowd laughed. He was sure they did so at his expense. 

“Is that so?” The man continued. “How terrible. I guess it is a good thing you could pick the lock and escape.” A giggle escaped the woman standing beside him with her hand on his arm. “If you follow the hall there, the restrooms should be on your right.”

Marcel nodded in thanks before pivoting and walking steadily away. He wanted desperately to run, but doing so would only draw even more attention to himself, not that he didn’t already have the attention of everyone within earshot. True to the man’s word, the restrooms were just down the hall on the right. He bypassed them, heading directly to the lobby. He would have to start from square one on his plan to lift The Midnight Sonata. 

As he reached the marble lobby and headed to the front doors, he noticed a large sign with bold letters printed across the top. It read, “Welcome, extinguished guests, to the 75th annual Art Gala.” 

Of all nights to have planned a heist, he couldn’t have picked a worse one. 

March 18, 2024 19:32

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Elaine Elliott
17:31 Mar 30, 2024

Delighted by the ending! An enjoyable story and good suspense from the very beginning making it necessary to find out what will happen next...


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Veronica Quinn
20:43 Mar 28, 2024

Really loved Marcel's one-sided dialogue in this with Amun-Ra - you crafted a great character there :) only suggestion would be adding a bit more of a backstory on Marcel's motivations. That said, a fun story and end! Enjoyed reading!


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