The Red Rose Caper

Ishan Saleh '25

 

The clock strikes near eleven-thirty, and the time to put the plan into action came. I walk
through the museum exhibition in my waiter outfit, the ceiling towering over us. Hundreds of
trinkets, pieces of art, milestones in technology, and statues are all up for display on the most
important day of the year, bio day. The steam-powered automatons patrol the party, human
guards mingling and blending into the crowd, and the founder and mayor sitting with his big
group of cabinet members. The exhibit is breathtaking, with a large stage in the center of the
room, banners advertising what will soon be up for display, and an abundant amount of
spotlights sweeping over the crowd and stage. A woman makes her way onto the stage which
prompts the entire museum to turn silent. She opens her mouth and what escapes is a rough
yet calming voice, as if she was an angel with smoking addiction. “The exhibit will be ready to
be presented in thirty minutes, thank you for your patience and cooperation.” And she leaves as
abruptly and quietly as she entered. My heart does a flip. It’s almost time. I weave my way
through the museum and hand drinks out to the guests to keep up appearances. I excuse
myself to the restroom and start to prepare. My hands feel clammy, my breath labored, sweat
dripping down my brow. This is it. The day you’ve been waiting for. The day you’ve been
planning for. It’s finally here. You just have to stay calm, not make a mistake, and be pixel
perfect. No pressure right?

 

I slip up to the third-floor bathrooms and find the bag inside the stall that has my gear
stored in it. Thank you handler. I untie my bow tie, unbutton my shirt, uncuff my cufflinks, and
undo my trousers. I quickly rummage through my bag, a bubble of stress slowly rising in my
chest. I find the balaclava, thieves guild issued chest piece and pants, and all the tools I need to
pull this off. I quickly put it all on and kneel next to the vent. I start to unscrew it with the bag
slung over my shoulder before I hear a crackle in my bag. I look inside to find a small black box
with an antenna and a voice saying “Copy, you there?” I smile and reach for it. “10-2, I repeat
10-2, I hear ya,” I respond while I put the transceiver on my chest as I return to the vent. They
sigh in relief and say “There you are S-” but I quickly interrupt. “Hey, no real names on missions
remember?” I ask. “Yeah, yeah, right. Sorry, Garnet.” He says. I roll my eyes with a smile. “What
have you got for me, Handler?” I finally remove the vent and slide inside. I slide down, one knee
pointed up, as I make my way above the stage. “Nothing you already don’t know,” He tells me
while I land at the end of the vents. I start to unscrew the grate, which leads me to an unfinished
construction site on the roof.”Just came here to say… good luck kid.” He says, the warmth of his
words filling me with a sense of motivation.

 

“Thanks, Handler. I’ll see you soon.” I say while I jump up to a piece of rebar. “10-4
Garnet, 10-4. See you soon.” And he signs off. Now it’s just me. I take a deep breath as I
balance myself on the rebar. Let’s do this. I jump up to a platform above me and scamper my
way up it. The last hurdle is a big gap I need to swing across. I ready myself and get a running
start, jump the ledge, and grab the pole. I use my momentum to power my swing and make it
across the gap with ease. I land on the other side with a sigh of relief. I scamper up the dome
above the museum’s center overlooking the stage. I stare down at the stage, the exhibit about
to be revealed any minute. I lay on my back, book in hand, and read till the announcement. The
sound of a mic crackle perks my ears up, and I quickly look back down. The mayor is on stage,
announcing the exhibit’s opening. History of the city, progress of technology, blah blah blah. I
grab the glazier device and slowly remove a part of the glass.

 

The glass nearly drops, but I catch it just before it does. The rope device is attached to
the edge of the hole, and I slowly rappel down just out of sight of the crowd. I radio Handler to
shut the power off on my word. The veil is lifted and there it is. The last rose on earth. I signal
handler, and the room is plunged into darkness. Shouts, screams of terror, and gasps ring out.
Everyone starts to panic, the mayor trying to calm everyone down furiously telling the guards to
fix it. I seize the moment and repel down to the class casing, the rose sparkling even in the dark.
I gently lift the case, not wanting to break anything, and gingerly grab the rose. The stem
brushes my hand, and a chill is sent down my spine. It’s so… alive. I put the glass down and
quickly climbed back up. Just as I reach the roof, the power is restored and I hear the aftermath
of my theft. The mayor barks orders at the guards as he reassures them that he’ll find the rose.
He won’t. I climb down the side of the building and land on the ground. I inconspicuously enter
my car, which is only parked a few blocks away, and drive off. I take many twists and turns, the
airships overhead blaring ads, steam guards patrolling the streets, the holographic trees
shimmering overhead, and billboards blinding me. I reach the edge of the city and enter the
small forest beyond. I park outside and stroll through the forest as the moon shimmers in the
sky.

 

The river nearby shines an unnatural silver in the corner of my eye, the trees barely
natural. After the small stroll, I found a large tree with a small patch of grass under it. I put my
back to the tree, a hollow thud reverberating inside of it, and slide onto the ground. I look up, the
moon and stars shining above. I forgot how beautiful the world could be. I take a deep breath,
punch away the plastic underneath, dig up a patch of dirt, and place the rose in the dirt. I stand,
take one last look at the red flower, and head home.