Locks are like this: to break their purpose you must know them fully, as you would know certain faces. You must understand the flick and tick of tumblers, the swivel of nooks in metal. I did not know how to pick a lock. I tapped the first small silver circle. I peered at it. I wondered how long it would be until someone came into this room and found me tampering with boxes that did not belong to me. I had no time for failures. The lock was just a complicated thing that would come undone, like so many complicated things had come undone. I tapped the lock again. I imagined other locks I had seen, the greased fit, and I evaluated the size and style of the mechanism before me. In my hand were my two pins, my lock picks—one like a flattened piece of steel, hooked; one like a strong wire, bent. I considered the way these tools could be used. I took the first and I jammed it into the lock. It remained there, wedged. I fitted the second above it. This movement had no sound. I pushed inside slowly, softly, feeling for a skirting touch. Tiny grooves, sensitive places. The tools were loose in my hands. I found the faintest ridges at the top of this channel. I stroked these ridges with needle-tip. I felt hidden and very strong.
Sean Michaels’ Us Conductors (2014)
He closed his eyes and pictured the inside of the plug, the three pins, the cleave in the pins, and the cylinder. There was an angle he wanted to achieve, and after a moment he knew what it was. Then he opened his eyes, twisted his wrists in opposite directions to place some torque on the plug, and slammed the cuffs down hard on the workbench.
The cuffs leaped open and clattered to the floor. Both Houdini and Deakins stared at them. The hooves of a horse clopped by out on the street, and the wind creaked at the door. Deakins nudged the cuffs with his foot as if they were a dead animal. “Huh,” he said.
Houdini didn’t say anything for a while, unsure of what to do. “We shouldn’t tell anyone how this happened,” he said.
Steven Galloway’s The Confabulist (2014)