This story is by Garrett Mickley and was part of our 2017 Spring Writing Contest. You can find all the Spring Writing Contest stories here.
This is the last time I tried to bang a chick on the roof.
This is my thing: I take girls downtown to do some urban exploration. I tell them I’m going to show them the city from an angle they’ve never seen before. We get there, park the car in an abandoned parking garage, avoid the homeless people living there, and then go through some back alleys.
I’ve scoped out a few buildings I can get to the roof of, and I take them up there. I bring something soft to kneel on and after looking around at the city lights, we usually get all romantic-like and, well, you know. Doggy style looking over the town. An angle she’d never seen before.
I’ve used a few different buildings, but I usually don’t call the girls again and I don’t want to run into them up on a roof they already know how to get onto. Who knows, maybe they sit up there waiting to catch me coming back.
This chick tonight was a little too excited if you ask me. When we reached the top of the stairs, she ran through that last door and straight out to the edge of the building. Standing there on the edge, with her toes hanging over, she looked straight down at the street below.
I didn’t count each floor we passed, but we were probably thirteen or fourteen stories up.
I don’t know this girl too well so I thought she might actually run right off the edge of the building, and I chased after her. I forgot to jam the door and sure enough, the door closed and locked behind us.
No problem. As soon as I bought my phone, I wiped it and installed a custom operating system with tons of security intrusion software. Most locks are opened wirelessly with a phone app or some sort of token. I have software that can get into that.
I stood with her for a few minutes up on the roof, looking down. The people were pretty small.
I was kinda nervous that close to and edge without a railing or anything so I stepped back and pulled her away.
I went to check out the lock to make sure I could get it open, and she followed me with an expression like she didn’t understand why I was walking back to the door already.
“I think we’re locked up here,” I said.
“Shit,” was her only response, but she said it like she wasn’t really concerned.
All I could say was “shit”, too, when I checked the lock. This building was so fucking old that it has a pin tumbler lock. It requires an actual fucking metal key. I checked downstairs before we climbed up, and there were modern locks on those doors. I guess they didn’t upgrade the roof since it’s likely only maintenance comes up here to fix shit.
Great. Awesome. Fan-fucking-tastic. We were stuck.
“Think, Seye, think. You got this. You’ve been in worse situations,” I said to myself.
I remembered learning old school lock picking a few years back at DEF CON 2020. Every year this same guy shows up and teaches old school lockpicking. I guess he had been doing it for a long time. Long before I ever went to a DEF CON or even knew what they were. This guy was kinda old.
He showed us all sorts of cool lock picking tools but the one that was going to come in useful now was a hair accessory. The bobby pin. Been around forever; those never go out of style.
“Hey, you got a bobby pin?” I asked.
“What? Are you going to pick the lock?”
“Yeah. You got one?”
“I don’t know, let me check.”
She dug through her purse for a few seconds.
“Oh, there’s one in my hair.”
Remember that old TV show our parents watched called The Office? That one character used to always look at the camera and make a stupid face. Pretty sure I made that face at that moment. It felt like I did, anyway.
Now that I had a bobby pin I just needed to wiggle it in there and adjust the tumblers in the right way.
Easier said than done. It was taking what seemed like forever. Didn’t help that the girl wouldn’t shut up.
She was trying to coach me from over my shoulder like she’d picked a lock before. I guess she had.
She said she did it years ago when those Escape Room puzzles were really popular. She said she worked at one. They had some locks in the waiting room people could play with. On slow days, she would work on them and eventually she learned how to do it.
That was her story, anyway.
After a while I got frustrated and handed her the bobby pin.
“Alright. Give it a go.”
She knelt down and started fiddling with it. I sat down Indian-style next to her and watched her work at it.
After a bit of silence she turned and said, “Well, this might take me a minute. Tell me about one of those ‘worse situations’ you mentioned a few minutes ago.”
I thought for a few seconds and then told her about this time I got paid to steal a client list from a hotel. I played the long game and got a job there. Hotels have high turnover rates so it was easy to get a job running the front desk during the graveyard shift.
Around four in the morning, there wasn’t a whole lot going on in the lobby. Bars had closed and all the drunks stumbled back to their rooms. Early arrivals wouldn’t start showing up for about another hour or two. The manager on duty was in her office doing paperwork. I had time to poke around in the computer.
First idea I had was to check the room key maker. We still handed out plastic card room keys, but they only needed to be tapped on the door lock to open. We wiped the keys and assigned them to a new room every time a guest turned the key in after their stay.
Yahtzee! I had found an option to create a skeleton key. It could open any of those locks in the entire hotel.
I pulled out a wiped card and went to create my key, but got a prompt for the manager password. The touch screen had a number pad and enough space to type in four numbers.
When people are asked to make a four number passcode, it’s almost always a date. Their birthday, anniversary, or something.
I pulled up our employee database and looked up Suze, the manager on duty tonight. If there were any recordings of who made what keycards and when, I wanted it to be someone who was actually here so it would at least be a little believable. Sorry, Suze. It’s nothing personal but I gotta get paid and this client is big.
I got her birthday and tried the month and date.
Month and year?
How about just year?
Yahtzee again. The skeleton key was made.
All I had to do was get the manager out of her office long enough for me to get into hers and download the client database. All the rest of the computers were locked from downloading the list; I could only view it from my terminal.
I decided to feed her some bullshit about a guest being really disappointed with the cleanliness of their room and that they demanded a manager come up there right away to see how disgusting it was. I needed it to be an empty room so that when she went up there, knocked, and got no response, I could just shrug.
I “checked in” some fake people and set the time to about thirty minutes prior. That way the record shows someone in there and that they had enough time to look around, call me, and complain.
Looks like room 420 is empty. Nice.
Did the thing, sent her up, and watched her lock the office door behind her. They’re pretty serious about that office.
Once she was gone, I got in, sat down, found the database, and opened it. The database requested a manager password, of course. I just typed Suze’s in again and there it was. Downloaded and pocketed.
Everything else went according to plan and I got the payment a few days later. Quit the job: no call / no show style.
So, that was the end of the story, and right as I finished telling it, she tackled me with the force of someone who clearly knows what they’re doing. I mean, I was sitting on the ground and totally not expecting it, so it’s not like it was really difficult to just push me backwards.
She pinned me to the ground, turned me over, and handcuffed me.
“Yeah, they knew it was you. Pretty obvious, to be honest, but you were good at covering your tracks outside of the hotel. It wasn’t easy to find you, but I did.”
“I guess you’re going to take me to the police, then?”
“Nope. I’m going to take you back to the hotel. What you stole is sensitive data. So sensitive that they might not want the police involved. What they do with you is up to them. I’ll collect my payment and leave before they decide what to do.”
And then she brought me here. She probably had the door unlocked long before I finished the story.
So, since I confessed and haven’t put up a fight, you’ll go easy on me, right?