By: Emma Scott

He squatted beside the woman. “Am I a liar?”


“And you would know.” He patted her on the head and that was almost as repulsive as breaking her fingers. He rose and resumed strolling. “Time?”


Cory met my eye, as if he were checking in with me. I managed the slightest of nods. We lay facing one another, not daring to move though I wanted to see if the woman on my left was okay. I guessed she was. Her hyperventilating had stopped. In fact, a fragile calm had descended over the bank. The robbery was occurring somewhere behind the scenes and I thought it was nearly over, that we’d all get out of this with minimal injuries and no casualties.

I was so wrong. So very, very, wrong.

“Drac! Yo, Dracula!” Another robber, this one with a smaller automatic weapon—an Uzi, maybe—and wearing a mummy mask—jogged between the prone customers. “The manager tripped the alarm, and Frankie—the stupid fuck that he is—knocked her out.”

“Three minutes,” the timekeeper called, panic tingeing his muffled voice. The sound of sirens could be heard, faint but growing louder. “Aw shit.”

“All right then,” Dracula said. “Plan B. Tell the others.” He addressed the bank as the mummy loped back to the rear offices. “Hear that, ladies and gentlemen? Change of plans.”

I flinched and bit back a scream as the lights went out. A chorus of frightened cries erupted along the prone people on the floor. The werewolf at the door dropped the blinds while another ran up with a ring of jangling keys. The front doors were locked, blocked, and the sirens that had been distant were loud now, but on the other side.

The fragile calm shattered. I felt the panic run through the people, streaking through our clutched hands and huddled bodies like an electric current. My grip on Cory’s jacket tightened and the woman on my left found my hand and squeezed. Her panting breaths began again, and I squeezed back.

Cory jerked his chin, and I tore my eyes from the masked men and their guns to look at him. He shook his head—the smallest of movements—and a flicker of a crooked smile touched his lips. Be cool, he mouthed.

I nodded almost imperceptibly and fought for calm again. Keeping my gaze locked on Cory’s brown eyes helped.

The leader shoved his Dracula mask up onto his head, leaving his face bare. He strode among the people, his voice clearer but just as emotionless as before. When he turned my way, I saw a man in his late thirties, rather plain of face, and with blue eyes that were as flat as his voice. I had never seen anything more frightening in my life than those dead eyes.

“Listen up,” he said. “Everyone’s going to get on their feet, stay low, and move to the back. Anyone tries anything stupid and we will not hesitate to end you. Got that? Up! Now! Move!”

Five or so men began barking, kicking, and prodding as the people got off the floor. Cory took me by the hand, and in turn, I helped the Indian woman to her feet. The three of us followed the rest as we were herded past the desk area to a narrow hallway that ran behind and parallel to the tellers. We were ordered to sit, backs to the long wall of the hallway, facing conference rooms and small offices.

I sat with Cory on my right, the young woman on my left, along with fifty or so other people who’d also picked the wrong day to visit United One. The wall didn’t stretch long enough. The robbers ordered half the people to sit on other side of the hallway, facing us, strangers cowering and clinging to one another under the fluorescents, as here the lights remained on.

Dracula strolled between us casually, as if half of the Los Angeles police force and probably a S.W.A.T. team weren’t outside the bank’s walls right at that moment.

“So here’s what happens now. Things are going to get a little more personal. I wear the Dracula mask but remember old Drac’s real name? Anyone? Vlad the Impaler. Keep that in mind, why don’t you, especially if you get the stupid notion to fuck with me.

“My associates are similarly named. You’ll be introduced soon enough. Right now, Wolfman and Frankie are circulating among you. You’re to drop your wallets and cell phones and any pretty trinkets you think we might enjoy into their bags with absolutely zero bullshit, because that is precisely the amount of bullshit that will be tolerated: zero. The situation has changed. My monster squad and I are a little tense. A little twitchy. It’s not going to take much fuckery for one or all of us to lose our patience with you, so do as you’re told and maybe you’ll keep the gray matter between your ears right where it belongs. Do not test us. Are we clear?”