You are in a dark, cold room. A white linoleum floor glitters beneath you, illuminated by the skylight above. You are standing in front of an electronic safe, protected with unimaginable firewalls, and impossible passwords.

You slide the bypass cover open, revealing the black hole of a USB port. In a few moments, you will hold the culmination of years of hard work. You will have the key to unlock wealth and prosperity. 

“Hand me the drive.” You whisper to your partner. The drive. A single USB symbolizing all the work that you have ever done. It is your Sistine chapel. The Mona Lisa of all your coding prowess.

He nods, and drops a hand into his pocket. Your hands hangs in the air. He frowns and checks another pocket. Then he opens his pocket and stares inside, then he begins patting down his other pockets, frantically searching.

“What are you doing?” You hiss.

“I can’t find it.” He says, “I can’t believe it. It was just here!”

You stare at him, not quite hearing what he says. Then, you smack yourself in the face. “You idiot.”

He starts to search around the room. “Have you seen it?”

“Yeah,” You say. “Yesterday, when I gave it to you!”


He’s still searching the room.

You groan, and slid your hands through your hair. “Do you remember the last place you had it?”

Your partner looks at you like you’re stupid. “If I knew the last place I had it, I wouldn’t be looking for it now.”

You slap your hands down onto the computer module. “Someone is going to realize that we broke in here, and call the authorities. And you lost the one thing that will get us into the safe.”

“Can we just move past the part where I lost it, and actually find it?”

You check your watch, not enough time. Not nearly enough “Did you leave it in the museum room?” You both had to crawl upside-down, using the pipes. He might have dropped it down there.

Your partner raises a finger. “I’ll go check.” He tears out of the room, shoes squeaking on the linoleum flooring. You race to the computer room, and shove aside the limp body of a security guard. A few frantic moments of typing, and you access the system’s alarms. You turn off the ones in the museum room, before you partner rushes in. He would have stepped into a laser and set this whole place buzzing with alarms, you muse. 

You access the security cameras, and watch him pacing across the floor. Head down, retracing the path that you both took across the ceiling. He pauses, and mimes the actions of crawling across the ceiling, then looks up at the poles, thinking.

Your eye begins to twitch, and Your partner scratches his head. You slam your head against the keyboard, buttons mashing against your scalp. 

“It’s not there.” Your partner says. You whirl around, staring at his wide-eyed face. How did he get back here so fast? You look back to the video feed. On the screen, your partner is still looking, then he turns and runs out of the room. “There’s a delay on the camera feed.” You mumble. 


You click off of the video feed and check the alarms. A light is blinking in the corner of the screen. You had only disabled the alarm after your partner had stepped through the lasers. It had triggered a silent alarm. A few moments of searching show that your fears are correct. The signal went directly to a police station, located ten miles down the street. 

You rush back into the room. You’ve gotten too far to give up the prize now. “Find that drive, or we’re dead.” You can try to break through the firewalls guarding the electronic safe, but the code on that USB was months of work. You can only hope that there is a hole in the programming you can find under last minute pressure.

“I have an idea.” Your partner says, sitting beside you. He has his phone out, “Hey Google, how do you find something you lost?” You try to ignore him, and pull out your bag, removing the laptop. It’s booted and ready to go, so plug it into the USB port of the safe, and load up your programs.

“Here we go, ‘How to Find Misplaced Objects’ Step 1:” Your partner is saying. “Check the messiest parts of your house/area first.”

You stare at him. He shrugs, “It’s iHow. You can’t go wrong with them. That’s how I figured out how to slice a mango.”

You could throttle your partner, but you take a deep breath, and plunge yourself into the code of the safe. You know that there is no hope trying to start from the beginning, so you blindly jump from section to section, searching for a weak spot.

“Studies show that objects tend to get lost in the most cluttered areas of your house, where there is more stuff for them to get lost in. I’ll go check at the reception desk.” 

You curse under your breath, and start slicing at the code again. That USB was everything. You and he had worked tirelessly on the code on that drive. He had even risked capture by scanning the contents of the electric lock, before you and he got your hands on it and hacked the code, devising the perfect electronic lock picking tool.

Footsteps sound in the hallway. You glance out of the corner of your eye, and see your partner running up with his phone still out.

“I checked the police radios,” He says, “They’re sending out a cop out to check a silent alarm out. How did we miss that?” You give him a blank look. “Well,” He says. “They’re going to be here soon, we need to get out of here.”

You turn back to the code, but your partner grabs you by the shoulder. “We need to go!”

You shake out of his grip, “We aren’t getting out of here till we get this safe open.”

He sighs, and holds out his phone. “At least try this first.”

You look down at the phone. On the screen is the border for iHow, the screen is filled with, what looks like a script. “What is this?”

“Guided meditation for retrieval of lost objects.”

“That’s stupid.”

“It’s actually Feng Shui.”

You feel a sob building in your throat. This was not how today was supposed to go. Your stupid partner wasn’t supposed to lose the drive, you weren’t supposed to trigger the alarm, you weren’t even supposed to get a mocha before you left, because that makes you very emotional.

You take a deep breath, and look down at the script. “Close your eyes and take a deep relaxing breath.” Your partner closes his eyes, and breathes in deep. “Feel a warm sensation in your heart area— this is idiotic.”

“Keep reading.”

“Fine,” You scroll down the page. “Take a deep breath, and feel a warm sensation in your heart area, you are at peace with the situation.”

The text indicates a pause, you wait for a moment, nerves sensed waiting for sirens. You continue trying to keep your speed slow and relaxing. “Now, visualize what you have lost, try to feel a connection with the object.”

Your partner takes another deep breath, smiling a goofy grin, that exudes comfort and contentment. I am going to throttle him, you think, but if he actually finds it… “Visualize the object, what it means to you, the emotions, concentrate on the feelings. What does the object feel like. How does the sensation of it in your hand make you feel?”

The clock is ticking, the computer hums, you could be hacking and coding, but you have to see if this works. You glance at the time on the phone, 3:26 A.M. the authorities would arrive in under three minutes.

“Look back on your history with the object, the first time you saw it, the first time you held it. Was it a year ago? A month? A week?”

Sweat beads on your brow and trickles down your nose. Your partner looks completely at rest, calm, but focused. “Now move forward through your time with the object. Let the months and years fly by.”

“We finished three days ago.” Your partner murmurs. 

“Now,” You say, “Fast-forward, let the days pass by in a blur. Then, when you are ready, stop at where you last saw the object.”

The script is almost done. “I’m going to count to five. When we count to five, you will open your eyes, feeling fresh and wonderful, rested and energized You will be ready to find your lost object. Five...Four…You will open your eyes feeling refreshed and ready to retrieve you object. Three…Two…One. Now open.”

Your partner’s eyes snap open. He looks, peaceful. “Well,” You say, your pulse pounding in your ears. “Where is it?”

Your partner furrows his brows. “I’m not sure. I feel wonderful though, have you thought about making guided meditations?”

Your hands clench around the phone case.

“Maybe we could—um—try it again?” He says, and smiles..

You let out a strangled cry and smash the phone against the safe. You smash it again and again, until your partner’s hands wrench you away. You feel the shards of the phone clatter to the floor. You make a fist ready to pound it into your partner’s face, but he’s staring at something else. You follow his gaze and see the safe handle lying broken on the floor.

Your partner reaches into his pocket, and puts on a glove. He extends his hand and tugs on the empty socket where the handle was. The safe door pops open.

“Huh,” He says. “That’s a design flaw.”

You shove him aside, and pull out a silver box. You check the lock, and see the MasterLock logo. You feel as if you could sing. You raise the case over your head, and bring it down on top of the safe. The lock shatters, and clangs to the floor. You snap open the case and remove the single vinyl, covered in a faded sleeve, your prize and your key to wealth and prosperity. Your ticket to live wherever you want, do whatever you want, be whatever you want. “Get the stuff in the bag,”

Your partner nods, and stuffs the laptop into the bag. He zips it up, and kicks the shards of the pone underneath the safe. You both race out of the room, not caring about silent alarms, the police would know about a break in already. This took way too long, and was way too close. This was risky but it was worth it. Your employer would pay you well for this, you might even charge an extra hundred thousand for the difficulties. Nothing matters anymore. You have the prize: Elvis Presley’s ‘My Happiness’.

Recorded in the days long before the popularity of Elvis Presley, it was the last of its kind. All other copies had been lost, broken, or simply worn out. The starting bid for this record was three million dollars. Tomorrow, it would be sold to the highest bidder. Today, it would go with you.

You try not to imagine what you will buy with your riches, as you turn down a side passage, and run past a dinosaur. You’re almost there. Almost to the broken door and freedom. 

“Freeze!” a voice shouts. You jerk to a stop, and your partner yelps as you both go skidding off the red carpet. The record slips from your fingers, and flies through the air. It slips from its faded case and crashes to the ground, crumbling into a dozen pieces.

You stare in dumbfounded shock. “I said, freeze!” You turn to see two officers standing with guns raised. “Now,” The first one says. “Get your hands in the air.”


“One laptop computer, one Taser, one baton, two rolls of duct tape, one round of rope, one USB cord, one ball peen hammer, two wireless transceivers.” The officer drones on as they rifle through your bags. You stand handcuffed next to your partner. An officer grips your arm tightly around your bicep, and your partner is held the same way. Your heart is steadily sinking into your stomach. 

You are going to jail. Breaking and entering, Attempted grand theft, and destruction of personal property. It didn’t help that your partner tripped on the way out and broke a penguin skeleton on display. Your benefactor won’t help you. You haven’t even seen his face. Maybe in ten years you’ll get out and track him down, get compensation— 

“—And here’s a USB we got off of this guy.” The man holding your partner says, handing the officer a small drive.

You stare at the USB drive in the officer’s hand. It’s the drive. The drive. You turn and glare at your partner. He gives a sheepish smile, and a nervous laugh. “I guess it must have been in there the whole time.”

December 07, 2019 04:54

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RBE | Illustrated Short Stories | 2024-06

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