Home > The Serial Box > Day One Hundred and Five: Foolproof

Day One Hundred and Five: Foolproof

The air in the bank smelled like gunpowder and fear. A security guard was already bleeding out next to the shattered glass front doors, and fifteen customers were huddled in a corner behind a well-used sofa in various states of terror. Except for the sound of sobbing from behind the tellers’ windows, the bank was absolutely silent once the last echo of the gunshot vanished.

The shooter, a powerfully-built man who was obviously the leader of this gang of robbers, pulled a pack of cigarettes out of his jacket pocket and took one through the hole of his ski mask. “Here’s what we’re gonna do,” he said, handing the gun over to one of his teammates, a shorter woman whose red ponytail stuck out the back of her mask. The man lit the cigarette and took a long pull from it. “We’re gonna kill each and every one of you poor, sorry bastards, one by one, until our demands are met.” Smoke wisped up from his mouth as he spoke. “And if we run out of people…” He glanced over at the team working my the vaults. One of the men, wearing a bright blue ski mask gave him a thumbs-up before going back to the large aluminum case they’d brought. “If we run out of people, then we’ll just have to start getting mean.”

He took the gun back from his assistant and strode over to the group of hostages. He counted them off silently, and then reached out for a middle-aged woman who looked like she cleaned floors for a living. The woman screamed and scratched at him and a couple of the other hostages tried to help her, at least until the redhead and another robber, one who carried a large shotgun, held them at gunpoint. The other hostages shrank back, but the one in the leader’s grip continued to struggle.

He pulled her ear close to his mouth. “Hey,” he said. “Hey, hostage.” She froze for a moment, her hands still wrapped around his arm. “Keep it up. A long, painful death will probably get me what I want faster than a quick tap to the head, so you go right on pissing me off.” He jammed the gun up against her spine. “I’ve got all day.”

“You gonna kill me anyway,” she growled at him. “Why I should give a damn what you want?”

The man seemed to think for a moment. “Because,” he said, “while you’re laying there, gut-shot and unable to move or breathe or think for hours on end, I’ll do the same to these people. One at a time. And leave ’em with you, so you can feel good about how you stood up to the big bad bank robber.” He smiled, flashing bright teeth against dark skin. “How’s that sound to you?”

The woman slowly released her grip on him, but her eyes were shining with hate. “That’s good,” he said. “Good work.” He shoved her forward, where she was caught by the redhead and the man with the shotgun. The redhead pulled her to the front doors, taking care not to step in the pool of the security guard’s blood. She looked out at the line of police cars, media crews and onlookers that had gathered outside the bank in the short time since their robbery had begun. Redhead turned to the leader and nodded.

The man flipped open a cell phone and dialed. A moment later and, “Good afternoon, can I speak with Sergeant Caleb Dussealt please?” He listened a moment. “I see, and when do you expect him back?” He nodded. “No, no, that’s okay. Can you have him call me back? Yes, I’m at 555-9238, I can take his call any time.” He listened a moment more. “Message?” He tapped his finger against his chin. “Sure, I can leave a message.” He held the phone out and nodded to the redhead, who nodded back, took a step away from the middle-aged woman, and shot her in the head.

A roar went up from the crowd as the woman fell, her own blood mingling with the blood that was already there. The redhead quickly stepped back inside the bank as the leader put his phone back up to his ear. “That’ll be all,” he said. “Thanks.” He snapped the phone closed and started to whistle quietly to himself as he watched the hostages try not to break out into hysterics.

A few minutes later, his phone rang, playing the opening bars of “Ride of the Valyries.” He dropped his cigarette, grinding it into the worn carpet, and answered the phone. “Hello?” he said, leaning up against the tellers’ counter. He listened for a moment and nodded. “Okay,” he said. “Okay, calm down lieutenant…?” He beckoned over one of the men working on by the vault, a short guy who excused himself as he stepped over the tellers that were curled up on the floor. “Okay,” the leader said again. “Here’s what we’re going to do, Lieutenant Tannen. You’re going to provide us with a bus to get out of here, and a bump-free ride to the airport.” He gestured over to the group of hostages and held up a finger. The man nodded and walked around the counter. “In addition, you’ll have a jet waiting for us, all gassed up and ready to go.”

The man pulled up another customer, a young man in an ill-fitting suit, who immediately started weeping loudly. The leader gave a thumbs up and started to walk over to them. “You give us all that, lieutenant, and everyone will get out of here safe and sound. You don’t, and this poor sack of shit-” He held the phone up, and the young man started yelling for someone to come get them, please, for the love of God HELP. The leader took the phone back. “Pathetic, isn’t he?” He laughed. “Anyway, this guy gets it next. And then another, then another.” He gestured, and the short man let the hostage drop.

There was a moment where the leader just listened, nodding his head. “An excellent question, Lieutenant. As we speak, my boys are fixing up a bomb.” He shrugged. “Nothing too exciting, just your average block of C4, a fancy remote detonator and about a quarter kilo of depleted uranium.” She grinned. “Yeah, I thought that’d get your attention.” He glanced over at the crew by the vault. “We get our plane, the bomb doesn’t go off, everyone goes away happy. You interfere with us in any way, and this whole neighborhood becomes a ghost town.” He strolled over to the redhead, who was keeping watch out the front door with the man who had the shotgun. “Well, that’s very helpful of you, lieutenant,” he said. “You have one hour.” He stopped short and held up a hand. “No, no, you listen. You have one hour. That’s all you get, lieutenant.” He started to put the phone away, and then brought it back up. “Oh, and lieutenant? If you see Sergeant Dussealt around? Tell him I said he had his chance. Yes. Yes, he’ll know what that means.” He snapped the phone closed and stood by the man with the shotgun. “How’s it look?”

The man shrugged. “Looks okay,” he said. His accent slurred words together, made him sound slow. “I still don’t think this’ll work.”

The leader grimaced. “I know what you think,” he said. “Don’t worry. It’ll go off fine.” He glanced at the redhead, who smiled briefly at him before going back to scanning the crowd outside the bank.

“Okay,” he called out. “The clock is running.” None of his crew looked at him, but rather continued what they were doing. He felt proud. They were professionals. “They know what we want, they know what we’re capable of. I’d say we’re already halfway home.” He checked his gun, lit another cigarette, and took a seat in a chair, facing the hostages. “So. How about we all be patient, nobody try to be a hero, and we can all be out of here by lunchtime.” He pulled back on the slide of the gun and let it snap back. “Sound good?”

The whine of an angle grinder filled the bank as the vault crew got to work, and the air began to smell of hot metal. While they worked, the leader of the gang hummed under his breath, looking from hostage to hostage, wondering which one he’d have to kill to get anything done.

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