Get Cartier - opening

reiver33

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#1
The bank vault slid from transitional blur into real-world shades of grey. Cool air covered my naked body with gooseflesh, but at least there was carpet beneath my feet. I released Simone’s hand and heard her gasp. This was her first transit and many found passing through solid matter disturbing, to say the least.

That was my singular talent – the ability to walk through walls, and to take someone with me.

The down-side was I could only move flesh-and-blood - nothing inorganic, like the fillings in your teeth. Not the best basis for grand larceny, but we had a plan.

Above us, in The City, it was 2:30am and raining. Down here, in the vault of Sneddon & Peel, Merchant Bankers, the only sound was our breathing and the slow tick-tock of a wall clock across the way.

A heavy-duty metal grill separated the vault from a dimly-lit corridor. Fortunately there was enough light for us to read the safety deposit box numbers, as working by touch alone would have been the proverbial pain in the ass. This level of illumination also allowed me to appraise Simone’s naked body, but the sight of it left me unmoved. Libido suppression is one side-effect of time-travel they definitely don’t tell you about. Not that I’d ever indulged in chronometic sex-tourism, but it must have come as an unpleasant surprise for those who did.

Despite my evident lack of interest Simone held an arm across her chest and turned slightly away from me. “Is it safe, Venn? There’s no obvious surveillance but what about infrared, pressure pads, motion sensors?”

I covered myself using both hands, if only to spare her blushes, and smiled. “It’s nineteen-seventy-one. Added to which this bank is so conservative they probably still equip the night watchman with a candle and billyclub. If you ever needed somewhere discreet in which to stash your ill-gotten gains then this, my dear, would surely fit the bill.”

She looked sceptical but nodded anyway. I moved over to the grill while Simone located the box we were after; 222. She placed both palms over the locks and closed her eyes, frowning slightly. That was her singular talent – micro-telekinesis. Or, to put it another way, psychic lock-picking. I kept watch, more for her reassurance than with any real expectation of being discovered.

Simone and I worked for the CIA, ripping-off the past to fund its future, but this little jaunt definitely came under the heading of ‘private enterprise’. As far as the world knew, time travel was limited to spying on past events, and there was a world-wide embargo on developing the technology further.

Yeah, right.

The past made for easy pickings when your body was a riot of bioware enhancement, and I already knew our theft would go unreported – or we’d vanish without trace. That’s the risk when you tweak causality, even the unknown can have a come-back.

A soft double click made me look around in time to see Simone step back, quivering. The concentration required to manipulate a complex mechanism like a high-security lock was akin to playing four Grand Masters at simultaneous chess, or so I’d been told. Although it had only taken a couple of minute’s effort there was a sheen of sweat on her high forehead, and we were only half done.

I padded over and pulled 222 from the wall. It slid out unevenly on dust-smeared runners – obviously the owner hadn’t paid a visit in some time. I supported the box as Simone lifted the lid. Inside, wrapped in a fold of blue velvet, lay the Patiala necklace; a Cartier art deco masterpiece comprised of De Beers diamonds and Burmese rubies. It had gone missing in 1948 and wouldn’t resurface – less the major gems – until 1982. It was only in our time-frame that it’s supposed location during this period had come to light, and it was simply too good an opportunity to pass up.

Hence our little off-the-books jaunt into the past, and who could blame us for trying?

We looked at each other and grinned. Simone lifted the necklace and fastened it about her neck, nudity seemingly forgotten. I slid the box back into place and was rewarded by the sound of both locks snapping shut. So far, so good.

I smiled. “There may not be a mirror in which you can admire yourself, but, take it from me, you look absolutely stunning. All you need to complete my fantasy is a pair of five-inch Christian Louboutin heels, as but he’s only eight years old at present, that will have to wait. Now, if you don’t mind…?”

“Killjoy.” She sighed and moved over to box 303. It took somewhat longer to open it and the effort really seemed to take its toll. Simone stumbled as she stepped back and I was just able to grab her arm and help her sit, rather than fall, down.

I slipped the necklace off my partner in crime as she slumped against the wall; eyes closed, hugging herself and shivering. It was a matter of moments to open box 303, insert the jewels, and seal them safely away.

The perfect crime is the one which goes unreported, and – as history told us - the owner of 222 was sh*t out of luck. We’d step forward to 1982, visit the bank as the legitimate owners of box 303 (paid for in advance), and retrieve the Patiala neckless. It was just a shame we couldn’t sell the damn thing intact, but the past is the past and you have to play by its rules.

I had the details of an 80’s fence who would break it up, and even a fraction of its real value would be worth millions. We’d lodge the cash with a financial institution known to still exist in our own time, and laugh all the way to the bank. As payback for impotence, well, I thought that was fair.

I gave Simone a few moments then held out my hand. “Time window, doll. We need to get going.” She wiped sweat from her face and I helped her up.

We faced the wall of the bank vault, hand-in-hand. “Do you ever get used to this, Venn?”

“Hell, no. The trick is a single deep breath and momentum. Ready?”

“Not in the slightest.”

“Good girl. OK, one and two and…”

We ran forward and jumped ‘into’ the wall. I took us out of phase with our surroundings but, unlike Simone, didn’t have the luxury of closing my eyes. Tiles and reinforced concrete gave way to earth and rubble. It looked wispy and insubstantial, but if our ethereal presence came to rest before reaching open space then we’d suffocate. If eventually discovered then our bodies would make for one hell of a mystery, but I didn’t intend to end my days as an archaeological oddity.

Stone and brickwork.

We burst out into the Waterloo & City tunnel, staggering to a halt as terra firma snagged the soles of our feet. Our clothes lay in two neat/untidy piles where we’d left them. Simone and I laughed and hugged, then her embarrassment returned and we dressed, facing away from each other. The Underground line was down for maintenance, so there was a risk of accidental discovery by engineering staff, but the surviving work schedules I’d scanned placed any activity south of the Thames. Still, it was nice when a plan comes together.

We’d barely returned to respectability, and placed the designator bracelets on our wrists, when the vortex swirled into being. Point-to-point jumps were more art form than science, but I had faith in the expertise (and greed) of the technician manipulating the chrono-stream.

Simone shook out her hair, “So long, Seventies, I barely knew ya.”

“Don’t think the fashions would have suited you, doll. Now the Eighties, that’s a whole different ball game. We’ll have three days there to set things up, more than enough time for you to sample the whole ‘power dressing’ chic. Tailored suits, shoulder pads, heels – very you.”

“In your dreams, Venn, in your dreams.”

I smiled. “A man can hope, right?”

She laughed and shook her head. Together we stepped into the shimmering sphere of chronomatic energy, from 1971 to 1982…

…and into the glare of an oncoming train.
 
Joined
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#2
I think it is all reasonably good, so I'll just pick some nits:

Do men fantasize about women in Louboutin brand heels, in particular? Anything is possible, but it doesn't read like straight man behavior to have a brand in mind unless you really want him to come off as having a very particular fetish.

Larger scope: You're giving away a lot of information here that would be more interesting to spread out into the story. I would be more inclined to describe the experience and events without explaining exactly why everything is just so. "Of course, I had no libido." "Simone stumbled away from the now-open deposit box, exhausted." But I like a little mystery to draw me into a book, and the rules and apparatus of super powers are something that you could milk out a bit.

But the scene is nicely done. I'm not sure how offended X-Men fans will be of stealing Shadowcat's phasing power, or whether you're going to make it clear enough why they couldn't time travel directly into the vault, but those problems are minor and easily addressed.
 

Shorewalker

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#3
This is pretty good...well done.

However, I would echo Onyx's thoughts that we don't need quite so much information. You seem to feel you have to explain how it all works, but I honestly don't think you do...it simply bogs it down at a few points.

One other small thing...it would seem that our pair is from the future, and yet Venn's dialogue is all rather 50s...'good girl' and 'doll'. Is there a reason for this?
 

reiver33

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#4
My thanks for the early feedback (I'm on night shift so have an excuse for being up at this hour).

This was started as a 'short' intended for Kraxon Magazine which has a 1,000 word limit, hence the semi-overload, but has since outgrown its origins.

Not being a fan of the X-Men (I watched the first film but that's all, unless Deadpool counts) I missed the similarity to Shadowcat. However, Venn's ability is technology based, rather than a mutant power.

The CIA fund-raising project being subverted here has been recruiting individuals who, historically, vanished without trace in their own particular time period. Thus if it does go pear-shaped on a mission, they won't be missed in the (future) present - or at least there will be fewer awkward questions. So, yes, Venn is somewhat of a temporal vagabond...
 
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#5
Not being a fan of the X-Men (I watched the first film but that's all, unless Deadpool counts) I missed the similarity to Shadowcat. However, Venn's ability is technology based, rather than a mutant power.
Shadowcat, coincidentally, calls her power to pass through solids "phasing", and she can take others by holding hands.

But I do like your no clothes and no traction variation.
 
Last edited:

Brian G Turner

Fantasist & Futurist
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#6
I really like this - as usual, from you, I think it's a great piece of writing.

However, I do have one big caveat - the potential sexism. I appreciate you're aiming for a 1950's style narrative, but IMO to appeal to a modern audience you need to tone down the cultural values you're carrying with this.

For example, the whole being-naked-while-passing-through-walls:

This level of illumination also allowed me to appraise Simone’s naked body, but the sight of it left me unmoved. Libido suppression is one side-effect of time-travel they definitely don’t tell you about. Not that I’d ever indulged in chronometic sex-tourism, but it must have come as an unpleasant surprise for those who did.

Despite my evident lack of interest Simone held an arm across her chest and turned slightly away from me. “Is it safe, Venn? There’s no obvious surveillance but what about infrared, pressure pads, motion sensors?”

I covered myself using both hands, if only to spare her blushes, and smiled.
If this is normal and expected, then it should receive little comment. Being naked - sure, mention that. But don't effectively state "I wanted to act creepy toward a woman, but the side-effects of phasing wouldn't let me".

Additionally, if you want to focus on the character experience, show any embarrassment he might feel.

The potential for sexism also comes across in the language:

Time window, doll.
It's plausible that the CIA in the future will become riven with sexism. But I suspect most people aren't going to buy this premise. In which case, while you do have an enjoyable style and tone clearly influenced by classic detective noir, IMO you need to challenge some of the values you're inherently bringing in with this to help give you wider appeal.

2c.
 

Joshua Jones

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#7
I really enjoyed this piece as well, though I do agree that there is a bit too much information packed in here for a longer form writing. It makes sense for a 1000 word limit, but you can space some of that out in a longer work, as you seem to recognize.

I didn't catch much sexism present at a first read; I saw that he had no interest in sleeping with the rich, famous, and attractive, and the libido effects would be a surprise for others considering such escapades. As Brian notes, there were a couple of terms which could be taken that way, but I took them as somewhere between verbal oddities he picked up in time travel and playful banter between two people who clearly have some chemistry between them (assuming, of course, the libido effects aren't permanent, I expect them to be sleeping together by mid-late story from this exerpt). The question of how an audience may respond is important, but there is also some opportunity for Simone to get sick of it and call him out. Personally, as changing the dialogue parts up wouldn't take much work, I would leave it in for a bit and see what the betas say (and, as I am curious where this goes, please let me know when you are ready for betas!).

Overall, I think you did a great job. I definitely want to read more.
 
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#8
Nice work!

I agree that you can tone down the "this is really weird" comments because they would not be weird to the narrator. Indeed, treating them as obvious could make them "pop" all the more. ("I'd had my fillings removed the day before to avoid...")

Just curious: what happens if you try this with fillings or a pacemaker? Who was the lucky cuss who found this out? (I hope he didn't have a plate in his skull.)

This passage confused me:

I already knew our theft would go unreported – or we’d vanish without trace. That’s the risk when you tweak causality, even the unknown can have a come-back.
-"and we'd vanish?"
-The following sentence confuses me, but I've not read a lot of time-travel fiction, so if this is the lingo, ignore.

As far as the relationship goes, I need to know a bit more. You don't have to go on at length at this point, but how long have they known each other? (I know this is their first heist, but what is their relationship in the real world? Was there sexual tension there?)

Does the libido-killing nature of time travel have a larger purpose in the story? If not, I think it hurts more than it helps because it means you can't let him react to their nudity. Let him keep his libido, and then deal with the awkwardness.

Again, I really like it!
 

reiver33

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#9
My thanks for the continued interest and comments!

Venn and Simone are minor characters from an earlier story 'Lazy Money Blues', which appeared in an issue of Nebula Rift (as was). The CIA are using illegal time-travel to exploit historical unsolved robberies as a source of covert funding. However, this heist is off-the-books private enterprise so the full range of singular talents aren't available - such as the guy who usually disarms the security systems (way easier from the inside) such that Simone can simply walk in, or the one with telekinesis who can spirit the loot away.

Although their team has pulled off several (official) jobs, this is Simone's first 'transition' through solid matter, hence the description of something familiar to Venn, to highlight how she reacts.

I wasn't aware of writing in an overtly sexist fashion, the speech mannerisms are due to Venn being originally from the 1950s.

The lack of libido means there's no femme fatale effect, even though Venn has a thing for women in high heels.

The line;

I already knew our theft would go unreported – or we’d vanish without trace.

By this I meant there was no historical record of a theft at the time and place they've visited, so either they pull this off, or it all goes horribly wrong and they're never heard of again.

The time vortex becomes distorted when trying to penetrate chromium steel (purely a plot device), meaning the team usually have to be 'inserted' outside a bank (or similar) and make their own way in - otherwise it would be way too easy.

Regards,

Martin
 

The Big Peat

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#10
The problems that immediately struck me - too much explanation too quickly - have already been touched on.

A minor detail but if you're man has his libido suppressed (and knows it), I feel like his reactions/thoughts about naked women are going to be either a lot quieter, or a lot more frustrated.

You mention that this is freelance a few times - is he worried at all about that? Would he think of that when doing the robbery?
 

TheEndIsNigh

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#11
Hi Reiver - You know my methods (even if it has been some time)

The bank vault slid from transitional blur into real-world shades of grey. Cool air covered my naked body with gooseflesh, < too complex IMO It was cold, but at least there was carpet beneath my (our?) feet. I released Simone’s hand and heard her gasp (just because you'd let go of her hand?). This was her first transit and many found passing through solid matter disturbing, to say the least. (many? is this a universal talent or only one he can do - in which case this jars to me)

That was my singular (see above) talent – the ability to walk through walls, and to take someone with me.

The down-side was I could only move flesh-and-blood - nothing inorganic, like the fillings in your teeth. Not the best basis for grand larceny, but we had a plan. (having trouble with the fillings etc. aren't hair and fingernails, eyelashes all dead - I get you want the arrive naked scene in, but actually pointing out the teeth opens up questions IMO)

Above us, in The City, it was 2:30am and raining (so why no wet skin?). Down here, in the vault of Sneddon & Peel, Merchant Bankers, the only sound was our breathing and the slow tick-tock of a wall clock across the way.

A heavy-duty metal grill separated the vault from a dimly-lit corridor. Fortunately there (lights were left on for the security patrols maybe) was enough light for us to read the safety deposit box numbers (how?), as working by touch alone would have been the proverbial pain in the ass (<It is proverbial). This level of illumination also allowed me to appraise Simone’s naked body, but the sight of it left me unmoved. Libido suppression is one side-effect of time-travel (whoa! pass through walls has suddenly been put in the shade - yet time travel not mentioned before) they definitely don’t tell you about. Not that I’d ever indulged in chronometic sex-tourism, but it must have come as an unpleasant surprise for those who did.

Despite my evident lack of interest Simone held an arm across her chest and turned slightly away from me. “Is it safe, Venn? There’s no obvious surveillance but what about infrared, pressure pads, motion sensors?”

I covered myself using both hands, if only to spare her blushes, and smiled. “It’s nineteen-seventy-one. Added to which this bank is so conservative they probably still equip the night watchman with a candle and billyclub. If you ever needed somewhere discreet in which to stash your ill-gotten gains then this, my dear, would surely fit the bill.”

She looked sceptical but nodded anyway. I moved over to the grill while Simone located the box we were after; 222. She placed both palms over the locks and closed her eyes, frowning slightly. That was her singular talent – micro-telekinesis. Or, to put it another way, psychic (telekinetic) lock-picking. I kept watch, more for her reassurance than with any real expectation of being discovered.

Simone and I worked for the CIA, ripping-off the past to fund its future, but this little jaunt definitely came under the heading of ‘private enterprise’. As far as the world knew, time travel was limited to spying on past events, and there was a world-wide embargo on developing the technology further.

Yeah, right.

The past made for easy pickings when your body was a riot of bioware enhancement, and I already knew our theft would go unreported – or we’d vanish without trace. That’s the risk when you tweak causality, even the unknown can have a come-back.

A soft double click made me look around in time to see Simone step back, quivering. The concentration required to manipulate a complex mechanism like a high-security lock was akin to playing four Grand Masters at simultaneous chess, or so I’d been told. Although it had only taken a couple of minute’s effort there was a sheen of sweat on her high forehead, and we were only half done.

I padded over and pulled 222 from the wall. It slid out unevenly on dust-smeared runners – obviously the owner hadn’t paid a visit in some time. I supported the box as Simone lifted the lid. Inside, wrapped in a fold of blue velvet, lay the Patiala necklace; a Cartier art deco masterpiece comprised of De Beers diamonds and Burmese rubies. It had gone missing in 1948 and wouldn’t resurface – less the major gems – until 1982. It was only in our time-frame that it’s supposed location during this period had come to light, and it was simply too good an opportunity to pass up.

Hence our little off-the-books jaunt into the past, and who could blame us for trying?

We looked at each other and grinned. Simone lifted the necklace and fastened it about her neck, nudity seemingly forgotten. I slid the box back into place and was rewarded by the sound of both locks snapping shut. So far, so good.

I smiled. “There may not be a mirror in which you can admire yourself, but, take it from me, you look absolutely stunning. All you need to complete my fantasy is a pair of five-inch Christian Louboutin heels, as but he’s only eight years old at present, that will have to wait. Now, if you don’t mind…?”

“Killjoy.” She sighed and moved over to box 303. It took somewhat longer to open it and the effort really seemed to take its toll. Simone stumbled as she stepped back and I was just able to grab her arm and help her sit, rather than fall, down.

I slipped the necklace off my partner in crime as she slumped against the wall; eyes closed, hugging herself and shivering. It was a matter of moments to open box 303, insert the jewels, and seal them safely away.

The perfect crime is the one which goes unreported, and – as history told us - the owner of 222 was sh*t out of luck. We’d step forward to 1982, visit the bank as the legitimate owners of box 303 (paid for in advance), and retrieve the Patiala neckless. It was just a shame we couldn’t sell the damn thing intact, but the past is the past and you have to play by its rules.

I had the details of an 80’s fence who would break it up, and even a fraction of its real value would be worth millions. We’d lodge the cash with a financial institution known to still exist in our own time, and laugh all the way to the bank. As payback for impotence, well, I thought that was fair.

I gave Simone a few moments then held out my hand. “Time window, doll. We need to get going.” She wiped sweat from her face and I helped her up.

We faced the wall of the bank vault, hand-in-hand. “Do you ever get used to this, Venn?”

“Hell, no. The trick is a single deep breath and momentum. Ready?” (but where does the upward momentum come from. Why not a ground level vault?)

“Not in the slightest.”

“Good girl. OK, one and two and…”

We ran forward and jumped ‘into’ the wall. I took us out of phase with our surroundings but, unlike Simone, didn’t have the luxury of closing my eyes. Tiles and reinforced concrete gave way to earth and rubble. It looked wispy and insubstantial, but if our ethereal presence came to rest before reaching open space then we’d suffocate. If eventually discovered then our bodies would make for one hell of a mystery, but I didn’t intend to end my days as an archaeological oddity.

Stone and brickwork.

We burst out into the Waterloo & City tunnel, staggering to a halt as terra firma snagged the soles of our feet. Our clothes lay in two neat/untidy piles where we’d left them. Simone and I laughed and hugged, then her embarrassment returned and we dressed, facing away from each other. The Underground line was down for maintenance, so there was a risk of accidental discovery by engineering staff, but the surviving work schedules I’d scanned placed any activity south of the Thames. Still, it was nice when a plan comes together.

We’d barely returned to respectability, and placed the designator bracelets on our wrists, when the vortex swirled into being. Point-to-point jumps were more art form than science, but I had faith in the expertise (and greed) of the technician manipulating the chrono-stream.

Simone shook out her hair, “So long, Seventies, I barely knew ya.”

“Don’t think the fashions would have suited you, doll. Now the Eighties, that’s a whole different ball game. We’ll have three days there to set things up, more than enough time for you to sample the whole ‘power dressing’ chic. Tailored suits, shoulder pads, heels – very you.”

“In your dreams, Venn, in your dreams.”

I smiled. “A man can hope, right?”

She laughed and shook her head. Together we stepped into the shimmering sphere of chronomatic energy, from 1971 to 1982…

…and into the glare of an oncoming train.
Yep, the usual good stuff from you. Obviously, I've been really picky. If I hadn't been the critique would have been the usual.

That was great. What would be the point of that :~)

I think the mixing of time travel and mutant powers is a bit hard to take and I can't see the need (because this is just an excerpt) why not have him able to do both?

Liked the ending, nice set up for the next scene.
 

reiver33

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#12
Coming to the end of a 9.5 hour night shift, so a wee bit tired...

Venn isn't a mutant, his body is laced with grafted organic technology that uses bioelectrical energy, as is Simone.

The freelance aspect comes up as this is his first private venture, and if caught - in any time period - he won't exactly be flavour of the month.

I know the title of this piece is a terrible pun, but points to where he's heading...
 

tinkerdan

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#13
Just food for thought.
Initially I thought that he had both the power to walk through walls and to walk through time. I think that that stems from too many watches of the Terminator and the reference to nudity.

However, more importantly, I think the references to nudity in the bank could be clipped tighter--they are on the job and it should be cut and dry quick and efficient.

Perhaps it should be left to the reader to figure out:
By that I mean you could have them go through and have her say something like 'I think I wrecked my ear."
' Did you forget to take something off dear?' He replies and perhaps he can go into an explanation of how it might not have been such a good idea for him to promise not to look at her before they lept into the vault.

Then when they exit the bank he can use the excuse that he is checking her ear for damage while he checks her out and you can go through the process of everything including the libido stuff.

Just my two cents--Ramp up the excitement of the heist and do the other later.
 

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