Bills to Pay
The marble is cold against my cheek the icy temperature numbing my face to anything else, the cracked pattern is all I can see. I’m trying to stop my teeth from chattering but soon realise it’s all in vain, my whole body is shaking and has been since that first gunshot. It was exactly how witnesses in TV shows describe it, it all happened so fast. They were already in the bank, the first shot echoing from the far corner by the cash machines, the door shut and bolted, people screamed dropping to the floor and the rules were explained.
I just wanted to pay in a cheque then maybe treat myself to a Starbucks and a slice of cake. If that money doesn’t go in the bills won’t get paid. How trivial and British to be worried about the bills instead of the life-threatening situation I now find myself in. I try to move my eyes around the room curling myself into a more comfortable position as though we’re a classroom of children playing sleeping lions. And just like children, I hear two men somewhere behind me arguing in that whisper you do when drunk and trying to be quiet. I can’t make out any words over the woman lying opposite me who is crying so intensely that one of her false lashes dangles precariously from her face, but none of us comforts her and the criminal element in the room seemingly aren’t interested in any of us.
One of them keeps pacing passed me so I risk a glance at him, the lower half his face is obscured by a mask with a skull’s jaw on it and a hood hides his hair. His eyes still shine through a brilliant blue that despite the pacing seems calm. I wonder if he would appear normal without the mask and hood, would he be someone I would speak to? Maybe idle chit-chat in the queue for Starbucks? I begin to wonder why he’s doing this, why does he need money this badly? Or is he simply here for the thrill?
Coming out of my pondering I realise it’s gone very quiet; the woman has stopped crying her lash long since fallen off and the men in the back have stopped whisper-yelling. The phrase “calm before the storm” comes to mind before the crack of another shot and the thud of something heavy hitting the floor. Whimpers and squeaks echo around the cavernous room, I’m not stupid enough to turn around as the sound of a scuffle emerges from behind me. My fellow hostages, that I can see, start squirming on the marble, one guy tries for the door only to get shot by the guy pacing in front of me. I glance up at him again, he looks positively bored as he lowers the gun. He catches me staring at him and aims his weapon at me, a strange calmness washes over me as I simply gaze back at him, he quirks an eyebrow then turns to watch two of his comrades run out with heavy holdalls.
I can see them all clearly now, there are only four of them all kitted out in black tactical gear, certainly not amateurs. Not friends either judging by the argument that breaks out between them, the only one not saying anything is Mr Bored. No one dares breathe or move until the sound of sirens wailing in the distance is heard, I’d be relieved if I wasn’t watching the stand-off between the armed robbers. My bills aren’t going to get paid and I’m going to need more than coffee and a cake after this. They yell and scream to Mr Bored in front of me but he says nothing, just calmly shoots the heavyset robber who’d begun to run at him. Blood splatters the floor as well and sprays my face as he drops to the marble eyes open but dead. I’m shaking more violently now as I watch the blood pool inch toward me, my flight instinct kicks in and I sit up scooting away from the offending liquid.
No one is interested in me though or the other witnesses trying to prise the wooden door of the old bank open, my eyes are transfixed on the three remaining men ready to kill each other over money. Everything seemed to be frozen in an eternal staring contest, all parties willing to shoot but waiting to see what the others will do. There was no luck with the door but the sirens were getting steadily louder, one way or the other this would be over soon. But in all the chaos I couldn’t help but wonder, who gets the money?