I didn’t go back home. That would have been stupid with all the stuff. I’d come across a solution after browsing the internet
About two blocks away from the flat I met the guy at the address he’d given me in the email. I handed him an envelope with 4,200 dollars in. It pained me to spend so much, but it was just as important as actually getting the stuff.
I signed his electronic tablet in the box and gave him the address of a free email account I’d made at school through a proxy server. I’d get a copy of the contract through that.
6 months rent.
He led me through the door and into the room, my room. Ok, technically it was an underground garage. It had just enough room to fit a smallish car and still be able to open the doors. The front was a heavy steel shutter, like the ones you see on the front of shops. The only amenities it had were some steel shelves, a utilitarian tap near the back and a shared toilet in the complex somewhere.
But it was mine.
I shoved the bags on the floor and he handed me the keys, one for the side door, one for the shutter and an electronic fob to let me into the building.
I’d chosen the place for two main reasons; it was under a large multi-story flat complex that had a lot of entrances and exits that I could get to from the side-door in the garage. It was also an old building with no security cameras except for the main vehicle entrance – which I wasn’t going to be using.
The guy left. I waited five minutes just in case he forgot something and came back.
Satisfied, I took out my bags and laid out the contents on the floor. Ok. step one was to get some kind of armour sorted; it was going to be a pretty big task.
I’d gone to a DIY store and got a decent Stanley knife and two different types of saws – I had no idea how hard this was going to be to cut. I’d also gone and got a load of black polyester material, some needle and thread, some ‘fabric glue’ which I figured might be useful and a second hand sewing machine from a craft shop I’d found.
Seriously, I’d just bought a sewing machine. A small one.
The easiest thing would be to make the vest fit. All I really had to do was cut down the sides and trim the bottom and readjust the straps on the sides. Simple right?
As I suspected the armoured material was too tough for a knife but I could saw through it with a bit of effort. It was made of pretty solid plates embedded in a kind of squishy foam stuff. I had to destroy most of the foam backing except for under the large front and back panels. It took a lot of small modifications and repeated fittings before I got it down to the perfect size.
Stitching it was tricky. Strangely enough I’d learned how to sew in school. They ran weird classes like sewing and cooking that you could apply to do after school. I’d taken cooking because they supplied the ingredients and I could eat what I made. I applied for sewing because my clothes were pretty tatty and I might as well – it wasn’t like I had anything better to do. It hadn’t been much use to me at the time and I never really got any good. I did learn how to use a machine though.
It was fiddly and I’ve never been good at things like that. I made a mess of it and had to re-run everything at least once but in the end I got it looking acceptable. It wasn’t as neat as the proper vests but it didn’t matter. It fit me. I re-attached the straps with the glue and as much stitching as I dared to put on and slipped the armoured plates back into the vest for a final trial fitting.
It felt odd having it hug my body tightly. My movement wasn’t as restricted as I feared, it was just resisted. I could bend forwards and touch my toes but I could feel the extra force it took to flex the plates and the lower part dug into my midriff a little. But crucially I could still reach.
It wasn’t even that bulky. I could easily wear a jumper over the top of it except for the collar section – which luckily I hadn’t had to modify – but that was detachable.
I did wish I had a mirror to see how much of an idiot I looked though.
In celebration of completing the first stage of my planned equipment I had a quick run around the small room, waving my arms and stretching trying to find anywhere it snagged or didn’t feel right.
Or in case anything fell off.
Nothing did, which was good.
Glad I was alone with a good lock on the door I moved onto trying to make some protection for my arms. This turned out to be a lot more difficult than just modifying the vest where I had a basic shape and most of the work already done.
After a lot of cursing, starting from scratch and sore fingers I had a two-piece shoulder and upper-arm guard that had two straps round my arm plus one to the chest and one to the back of the vest. I had to make a couple of modifications after trying it on. When I was eventually happy with it I mirrored it for the other arm.
The last thing was where to keep the batons, or Tonfa as the guy, Jim, called them. I’d had an idea that they could strap to my thigh. I’d got a gun holster that belted on just above your knee. I attached one of the smaller baton sheathes to it and a smaller loop on one of the belts. It worked really well at keeping the weapon on my leg. Too well, I could run around and move well enough but getting it into my hand was a massive pain, I had to feed it back through the loop.
It also meant I had a really good handle on my hip. If anyone grabbed it I would be stuffed.
Maybe I could use Velcro or something for the top loop?
I experimented with it until I got something I wanted, two straps of Velcro and a little two inch fabric cup at the base. I could rip it off quickly if I needed to use it and If I was running and it got caught or something, or an enemy happened to grab it I wouldn’t get yanked about It would just fall out. I did consider that it would be providing my enemy with a weapon. Better to be able to run away from an armed enemy than stuck with one that was probably going to be armed anyway.
I’d wanted to carry both in case I lost one but it really didn’t work with them on one leg, they kept clanking together and it made it awkward to get only one of them off. But hey, that’s why you have two legs right? I mirrored it for the other side.
Time for a full dress rehearsal! I got out the last carrier bag I’d purchased.
A plain black t-shirt, jumper and cargo pants. New. The only new clothes I’d ever had in my life. They smelled funny and were so… clean and neat. I had a quiet giggle to myself; I hoped they didn’t stay that way, it clashed with my messy DIY concoction for everything else.
I pulled everything on and stood there. With my armour on and batons strapped to each leg I had to say; it was kind of cool.
In a nerdy way.
I wanted to go out right then and there; I was giddy with excitement I never normally felt. I wanted to feel that rush again.
I knew I couldn’t though. I hadn’t slept since Wednesday night. I’d gone out Thursday night and it must it must be early Saturday morning by now.
I didn’t feel tired but I was going to seriously crash in a few hours. I had to get home and sleep.