“Get on the floor. This is a fucking robbery,” the deep voice boomed across the Victorian high-ceiling bank, sending the customers and staff scattering to the tiles.
Screams echoed as they dropped, each cowering at the sight of a man in a black balaclava standing in front of the wide-open double doors, a sawn-off shotgun pointed toward the furthest of two lines. Open-mouthed, they looked on, stunned as more men with covered heads piled in.
Each of the gang carried a weapon, either a sawn-off or an old revolver. Fanning out across the room, their eyes and lips were the only part of their faces seen through the woollen face coverings.
After a couple of seconds, the shocked customers were down on their knees or flat on their bellies, peering up, their expressions full of alarm.
The first man to enter called out clipped commands, referring to each of the men by the colours of their shirts. His gun quickly turned to a young woman still standing. With long strawberry blonde hair, an athletic figure in a tight-fitting black top and jeans, he stared, tipping his head to the side. She seemed to be an island of calm in the chaos.
Only as he strode towards her did she raise her hands in the air, but no higher than her shoulders.
“I said get on the floor,” the guy spat, his volume growing as he jabbed the shotgun toward her whilst flicking the safety on the side.
Carrie Harris glanced away, noting that each of the men wore a different brightly coloured t-shirt and carried large black rucksacks sagging on their backs.
A gunshot jolted the air, sending plaster raining down from the ceiling and she bent her knees, lowering to the tiled floor whilst watching his every move.
He looked away only as her stomach touched the floor, calling out to the tellers behind the bulletproof glass to open the security door.
The room fell silent, the electric atmosphere only broken by the agitated voice of another of the group rushing toward the protective glass.
Carrie watched the man in jeans and a yellow t-shirt, the clothes matching the weather outside, even if the woollen face-covering didn’t. He tapped the end of his sawn-off against the armoured door to the side of the thick partition.
“Get up,” he yelled. “Every moment this door is closed, I’ll execute one of these cunts,” he screamed, glancing to those at his feet whilst sweeping the gun across each of them in turn. “Who are you going to kill first?” he shouted, glaring at the teller who stood behind the glass.
Carrie strained to look up, raising from the floor as much as she dared, but she could only see the wide-eyed black female holding her hands up as she shook her head.
Yellow Shirt opened his mouth and mimicked the sound of a gameshow buzzer. “Wrong fucking answer.” Then he bent down, grabbing the collar of the man on the floor, pulling the bald, overweight guy up by his casual shirt to his feet.
“One last chance,” he called out, but sighed and shook his head at the sight of the woman’s grey trousers darkening around the crotch. He turned to the bald man, pushing him away, watching him stagger back before raising the gun and pulling the trigger.