The city was enveloped in a light drizzle and the chill that went with it. But the wind had died down as though in deference to the late hour when most people were supposed to be in bed, lost in slumber.
The black-clad figure that crawled upside-down on the brick face of the building was likewise quiet, moving inch by slow inch, black gloves gripping the knotted rope that connected to a tiny conveyor belt up in the building’s awnings. The rope was thin but strong. It had to be. He was about five stories above the ground.
If the fall did not kill him…
For a second, the figure paused as though trying to mull over a particularly difficult maneuver between the ledge over the wide glass windows and the terrace a few feet below.
A parting in the clouds revealed a full moon in the sky and the sweat that glistened on the brow, disappearing quickly as the figure swung its long legs, using even ankles and supple wrists for balance, and landed squarely on the balustrade.
Three floors below him, inside the grand ballroom of that stone-built mansion, a party was in full swing and every once in a while a sound – the tinkling of glasses or somebody’s laughter – broke through the muted silence.
After that pause, the figure began walking along the balustrade, then bent, and dropped to a half-crouch on the terrace floor. No sound escaped and even if there was, it was muffled by cloth-padded feet and one-and-a-half feet of concrete.
The figure straightened and calmly walked towards the door, dropping to a half-crouch again. From a small leather bag around the waist came an even smaller toolkit.
Now there was only the lock to contend with. Everything else had been taken care of. Hour upon hour spent on the drawing board and calculations on the computer. It was all down to this: a simple lock. An illusion to safety.
Just a few feet away, behind a collection of Byron and waka-poetry anthologies, the safe waited.