Grand Theft

The Thieves had set their sights high–the dinosaur skeleton in the foyer of the Natural History Museum. The Thieves had carefully selected their target, searching for something high profile and elaborate. This would be the prank of the century, if not the millenium.

The Thieves prepared together, strapping on ski masks and donning black, skintight suits. Bags for bones and grappling hooks were strapped onto belts, along with a sinister collection of knives varying in size from a kitchen cleaver to a surgeon’s scalpel. Preparations complete, the Thieves silently crept through the midnight streets of a snowy New York. They melted from ally to bench to building corner, slithering along through the shadows formed by Central Park’s trees. The group ghosted past the homeless man on 68th street and slunk by the late night Fed-Ex man without a single rustle.

They stopped their silent march in front of the Natural History Museum. Moving as one organism, they looked left, then right and crossed the street, j-walking expertly across the avenue. They snuck to the back of the museum, standing near the planetarium’s glass dome. With the well rehearsed actions of a thousand repetitions, the Arms of the Thieves attatched grappling cords the group’s belts. The Head essayed a single nod, confirming that they had all been clipped in before the Thieves shot their piton cords toward the glass dome. The cords arched into the night before latching onto the glass in a curved circle. The Thieves began to hoist themselves up, clambering like black spiders across the glass. If the single security guard had so much as glanced up, the Thieves would have been in plain view.

With the same efficient and practiced movements, Arms of the Thieves pulled out blowtorches. Masks flipped down in front of the black ski masks, hiding their already anonymous faces. The glass melted and the Thieves leaped through the gently smoking circle.

A security guard shouted on the planetarium floor, reaching for his walky-talky. The Leg of the Thieve’s group landed on his shoulders, efficiently halting the motion. It pulled out a silver knife, holding the blade to the guard’s throat. For the first time since the operation had commenced, a sound was uttered.

“Freeze,” the Mouth muttered into the guard’s ear. The guard froze immediately, nonplussed by the quiet threat in the syllable. An instant later, the Arm of the organism smashed a knife onto the guard’s temple. The Thieves watched as the man’s eyes rolled up in his head a second before he collapsed onto a model of the sun.

The Eye of the group walked up to the map and silently memorized the route to the main hall. The Thieves slunk out of the Planetarium, leaving only a smoking circle in the Planetarium’s dome and the unconscious security guard laying prostrate on the sun.

After disabling two Pentagon-worthy alarm systems, shattering four glass doors and stunning three more security guards, the Thieves emerged into the grand entrance to the Natural History Museum. Glancing around, the Thieves surreptitiously crossed the hall, instinctively blending into the shadows. The Fingers of the group stood sentry at the entrances to the hall while the rest of the organism approached the dinosaur skeleton. With a single jerk of its fingers, the Head of the group began the arduous process of dismantling the skeleton. The Thieves efficiently dismembered the dinosaur, stuffing bones into the sacks they held on their backs. Then, with another set of gestures, a second process began. The Arms of the Thieves produced spray cans and rubber gloves and scrambled onto the stone dais. With structured movements, they stencilled out a series of letters.

Moving steadily, the Thieves slithered back across the room, carrying their heavy bags of bones silently. With another sharp movement, the Head of the group exited the hall. Slipping through the marble corridors, the Thieves crept back into the planetarium. The Head stood motionless in the center of the room, while the Arms lifted the bones out of the cleanly cut dome. The Head of the group turned to gaze at the security camera, noticing the flashing red light. It executed a sharp bow before rejoining the relative anonymity of the group and stalking out into the snowy night.

The Head of the New York Police Department surveyed the empty entrance hall, gaping open mouthed at the lime green graffiti sprayed across the dinosaur’s pedestal.

“Gotcha?” he roared. Turning his accusatory gaze to the museum curator, he continued his tirade, slowly flushing as the speech progressed, “And then he BOWED? What were you thinking?! I was told that the Museum of Natural History has a spotless record because of its state of the art security system, and yet you managed to lose a DINOSAUR? It’s an election year! Do you realize how badly this reflects on my office? I will personally be finding your successor, sir!”

The Head, Eyes and Ears of the Thieves pressed themselves against the wall as the suitably chastised curator and irate Chief of Security passed within inches of them. The Head gave a single nod, and the Thieves exited the building, this time through the brass double doors.

Emily Malpass, Age 13, Grade 8, Trinity School, Gold Key

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