By: Emma Scott

“What are you doing…?”

The glass doors of the bank shook on their hinges and I turned to watch with a shocked, detached fascination as six or so armed men streaming inside. They wore dark, non-descript clothes, their faces hidden behind Halloween masks. Each had a huge, black, automatic weapon strapped around his shoulder and gripped in his gloved hands.

A scream—the first that set off a chorus—echoed in the cavernous heights of the bank as one man drove the butt of his weapon into the security guard’s midsection.

Time slowed, and it felt as if some spell had been cast turning summer to winter. I felt I’d been suddenly submerged in ice-cold gelatin. My heart crashed hard against my chest like a wrecking ball, and I clutched Cory’s arm in a vise grip. I could feel the coarse denim of his jacket against my skin. Tangible. It helped to battle the surreal scene that was unfolding before me.

Cory turned to me. I saw fear spark bright in his dark eyes, but they held a grim determination too. “Get down!” he shouted, breaking the strange slow-motion spell.

Time shot forward and I heard screams, tromping footsteps, and cries. But I couldn’t move. I felt rooted in place. Cory grabbed me and suddenly I was on my stomach, my face pressed to the cold floor, my hands still clutched around his arm. My heart was now pounding so hard I could hardly distinguish one beat from the next.

It had only taken seconds—seconds stretched and warped by a terror I hadn’t thought it possible to feel—and I sucked in air to calm myself as above me and around me, armed men infiltrated the bank, brandishing their enormous weapons, shouting, swearing, and striking people who didn’t move or obey fast enough.

“Ladies and gentleman,” said one, shouting through his vampire mask in order to be heard, pacing among the masses of cowering people. “In the event you have any lingering confusion, this is a fucking robbery.”

Chapter Four: Day 1


I calmed my racing heart with deep breaths. Enough, at least so that it didn’t feel as if it were about to explode in my chest. My hand left hand was shaking and my right was clenched around Cory’s arm so tightly I thought I’d never be able to pry it loose. As the initial screams subsided to low cries, I heard panicked breathing to my left, probably from the young Indian woman, though there was no chance I was going to move my head and look. I felt pinned to the bank floor by bone-cold fear, as if an unseen hand were pressing down on me, squeezing the air from my lungs so I could scarcely breathe.

The armed men in Halloween masks had fanned out. Shouts and curses could be heard from behind the teller bank, while other men wandered among those cowering on the floor, shouting for no one to make any stupid moves, to not be the hero. I cringed and screams erupted as one robber delivered a punishing kick to a man near the desks. Behind the teller bank, another woman screamed and there was angry shouting. I had limited vision but I saw another guy in a werewolf mask standing with his back to front door, barring entry and standing lookout.

The man in the vampire mask who’d announced the robbery strolled among us.

“If I see anyone texting, calling, or otherwise doing anything stupid to alert authorities to our presence, I’ll break your hands. Don’t make this any more difficult than it has to be.” Even through his mask—Dracula, with pale rubbery skin and bloodstained fangs—the man’s voice sounded calm, cold, almost bored. He jerked his head at another gun-wielding man in a swamp creature mask who was staring at the huge wall clock’s second hand above the door. “Time?”

“Forty-eight seconds.”

Dracula nodded and I watched, bile rising in my throat, as he walked to a woman lying on the other side of Cory a few feet away. He brought his combat boot down on the woman’s hand, and I heard the crunching of breaking bone a split second before she screamed.

The man kicked the shattered cell phone away and the woman curled into a ball, holding her hand and writhing in pain.

“I told you,” Dracula said. “I told you what would happen if I caught you doing something stupid. Now it has to get worse. The next person does something I don’t like gets a bullet. If you don’t believe I mean what I say, ask this dumb bitch right here.” He said all of this with a cold, dead voice. Even the insults were delivered with a detached boredom.