Blog Tour: Incognito ~ Katie Delahanty

Guest Post

Please provide a deleted scene

I ended up cutting the first ten pages of Incognito because I spent too much time detailing heist logistics. This is part of what ended up getting cut from the very first draft of the book. Sometimes it hurts to cut that much, but I believe none of that work goes to waste. It’s all information I needed to know to write myself into the story and it was handy to refer back to it when I needed to add small details in later drafts.

Once I’m certain no one is coming, I duck into the alley. It being Sunday night, the other building that lines the alley—with offices overlooking my planned entrance—should be empty. Plus, my earlier surveillance revealed that the windows are augmented to display whatever view the office inhabitant prefers, so it’s unlikely anyone would be watching the alley anyway. I’m alone and as I suspected, the sole alley-camera is concentrated on the Warhol’s freight entrance, recording the roll-up metal doors that lead to the loading dock. Behind the camera, however, about ten feet up the side of the brick facade, are two metal grates. A door just for me. Satisfied I won’t be photographed, but still wanting to take all precautions, I lower infrared safety goggles over my eyes to disguise my face, and collapse the scrambrella, folding it into a small square that will double as my handbag. Feeling naked without my shield, I quickly take out the 12” collapsible grappling hook I wear strapped to the tool garter on my thigh, release the retractable paracord rope, and launch it up to the grates. The hook catches on the top grate. After testing my weight, I wipe my sweaty hands on my skirt, and climb up the side of the building, grateful I remembered to add traction tape to the bottom of my high-heeled boots.

Lifting the a-symmetrical hem of the low-cut black dress I wear—the longer half of the gown covers my tool garter, while the shorter half exposes plenty of skin—I remove my Dremel from my thigh-kit with trembling fingers. No time for nerves. Equipped with a diamond blade, the saw easily slices through the grates. Sparks fly and I fight to keep my hands steady as I cut through the metal, but I quickly sever the four bottom strips.  Once the metal panels are loose, I collect them in my right hand, and hoist myself through the opening, swinging my left leg over the threshold. Straddling the ledge, I adjust my grappling hook so I can hang on the inside of the wall. As soon as I’m in, I unzip my boots, tuck them under my arm, and inch down the wall. Tossing the metal strips into a nearby compost bin—where they land silently in the food scraps—I retrieve my grappling hook and jump the rest of the way to the cement floor. I land silently on my feet, using my hands to brace myself, and my sinuses instantly clear, a signal that adrenaline is kicking in. Finally.

I check my watch. Elapsed time: two minutes thirty-seven seconds. Not bad.

Retracting the paracord into my grappling hook, I collapse it into a small cylinder, and tuck it into my tool garter. I keep to the walls, silently crossings the dark warehouse until I reach the electrical panels that power the solar energy for the entire building. After cutting the padlock on the electrical cabinet with my bolt cutter, I flip open the door, and pop the breakers to the air conditioner. The whirring fans continue rotating until I cut the wires that lead to the AC units from both the solar system and the backup batteries. The rotating blades slow to a stop and I’m confident I’ve killed the cooling system. Several years ago, the Warhol replaced their traditional security guards with gallery attendants; aspiring artists, like Tyson, who could act as docents in addition to chaperoning the works, and my plan is to distract them by making the guests sweat on this hot August night.

Satisfied the air conditioning is sufficiently broken, I head to the door that leads to Underground level of the museum. I know from surveillance that there is a camera waiting on the other side. Once it scans me, the clock will really start. Wanting to avoid facial recognition as long as possible, I keep my goggles in place and raise my umbrella. The pattern on the umbrella will scramble the camera’s signals, but the door opening will be recorded by the AI security system. When the system is unable to reconcile who opened the door, the discrepancy will be noted in a report. But that’s one downfall of the security at the Warhol, as I learned during my two weeks casing the museum; it ultimately relies on human intelligence. The AI security system does its best to recognize everyone in museum, but it’s not perfect, and the inconsistency reports are monitored by humans. Humans who will hopefully be distracted by their very rich—and increasingly sweaty—guests.

Using my umbrella as a shield, I take a deep breath, and open the door. Stepping into the hallway, I hurry past the windows that open to the conservation lab and head straight to the restroom. If I run into anyone, I plan to pretend I’m tipsy and searching for the bathroom, but fortunately I remain alone. Once I’m inside the restroom, I lock myself inside a stall, and fold the umbrella back into a handbag. After removing my goggles and LED hat, I tuck them inside the purse. Smoothing the short, jagged bangs of black wig I wear, I make sure the choppy layers fall into place, framing my face and finishing at my jaw. I straighten my dress, double checking that my tools are tucked away before exiting into the main bathroom. I am relying on Disconnect make up to keep the cameras from placing me—or recognizing me as my real identity; Influencer Ella Karman. Before I officially allow my likeness to be scanned, I give my appearance a last look in the bathroom mirror, making sure my straight black eyebrows are in place, and that the orange bars painted above my right eye and below my left haven’t smudged. Satisfied everything is in order—and that I look nothing like the old me—I swipe gloss across my temporarily full lips, letting them stretch into a knowing smile as I slip into character. Something wild enters my eyes and Willa is reflected back at me. I straighten my spine, my nerves forgotten, and head for the door.

Checking my watch, I note the time. 8:23 PM. Game on.

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