I tug down on my night-watchman’s peaked hat to make it sit more snugly on my head, and wriggle a little inside my jacket. It doesn’t quite fit. I stop at a mirror and give myself a quick once-over: ID card; torch; night stick; taser. All present and correct. I tug at my collar and scratch my neck under my shirt. Should’ve washed it first.
Stop fidgeting, I tell myself. I walk briskly down the corridor towards the next stop on my route: ‘The Pharoah’s Vase.’ It’s only on display here for two weeks, and even that took months of pleading by the Director of the museum.
I round the corner and almost jump in shock: the vase is gone! The case is intact, untouched. How? Who? When? I don’t hear any alarms. Was the vase moved? I didn’t hear anything about it. The rest of the display is still here, boards and all.
Was someone here before me? My client will not be happy. Not happy at all.
I’ve got to get out of here, quickly. I start to cross the room, heading towards my safe exit at the rear of the building. A man in a worn trench coat steps out from the shadows. Behind him, half a dozen constables.
“I knew you wouldn’t be able to resist this one,” he laughs. “We’ve been waiting for you since half past five.” He lights a cigarette. “It’s over.” He gestures at the constable holding the cuffs to come and get me.
“Three years of chasing and you haven’t caught me yet, Inspector.” I reach into my pocket and brace myself for the flash. “And you won’t tonight.”