By: Emma Scott

Before anyone could answer, a phone rang from one of the offices farther down the hall.

“Excuse me,” Dracula said, “but that’s probably for me.”

He went to the phone while two of the robbers walked over and among the people, relieving them of wallets, watches, rings, and cell phones. I quickly spun my engagement ring around so that only the slender gold band was visible. I thought Cory would see and disapprove—though God knew why such a consideration could bother me at a time like this. But he was watching the masked men approach with a grim, determined expression.

“Whole bag, princess, let’s go!” whooped a guy wearing a Frankenstein’s monster mask. Frankie, I presumed. He offered an open white trash bag to the Indian woman. I noted the pocked skin of his neck above his shirt was spattered with a small amount of red—someone’s blood—and his eyes behind the green mask were wide and full of malicious glee.

The Indian woman dumped her Coach bag into the trash bag. “Your gold too,” Frankie said and cackled. His wide, dilated eyes darted to me. “You too, Red. The stones, the bag, all of it.”

I took off my watch, multi-colored gemstone earrings and necklace and dropped them into the bag, Frankie leering at me obscenely the entire time. My bag—with my cell phone in it—followed.

Job done, the Indian woman gripped my hand again, nearly making me yelp, but she concealed the fact I was still wearing my engagement ring. The huge diamond on the underside of my hand cut painfully into my middle finger but Frankie didn’t notice. He now squatted in front of Cory, bouncing up and down like an eager little kid. Drugs, I thought. He’s flying high on drugs and armed with a deadly automatic weapon to boot. I clutched Cory’s arm as Frankie sneered and gabbled at him “You wanna give me a hard time, big guy, don’t you? I can see it in your eyes.”

Cory said nothing but put his worn leather wallet into the bag. His watch and cell phone followed.

“That’s all you got?” The glee in the Frankie’s eyes dimmed. The voice behind the mask turned ugly in the space of a heartbeat. “You gotta face that makes me think violent thoughts, you know that? Watch yourself, asshole.”

Then he cackled again, a loose, unhinged sound that set my teeth on edge, and moved down the line.

Dracula stepped back into the hallway, his plain face passive. “Bad news, ladies and gentlemen. It seems the powers that be aren’t going to let us stroll out the front door with hundreds of thousands of their dollars. Imagine that. That means there’s a price on your heads. It means that they don’t think you’re as valuable as their precious money. It’s possible we’ll have to make an example out of one or more of you to show them the foolishness of their ways.”

A ripple of panic surged up and down the hallway and Frankie cocked his weapon. “Shut the fuck up!”

“Sad but true,” Dracula continued as if without interruption. “But the more cooperative you are, the better your chances of making it out of here in one piece.”

Another masked man—a zombie— approached and muttered something to Dracula who nodded and said, “Okay, let’s break them up. Get Frankie, Wolfman, and Swampy to babysit, you get with the others on the frontlines. Where are we on our exit strategy?”

“Dan—uh, Mummy is working on it.”

“Keep me posted.” To the three that were to guard us, he said, “Move’em now. Anyone gets out of line, make’em bleed but no shooting. Not until we have to.”

Not until we have to.

Not unless. Until.

I squeezed Cory’s hand. It was either that or scream.

Chapter Five


The three of us were ushered into a small meeting room along with five other people: a younger woman—probably no older than twenty—two older men, and two women of middle years. The eight of us were made to sit against the back wall on the floor, on the thin, commercial carpet. The front wall had a long window showing the hallway we’d come from. Men in monster masks stomped back and forth, while the other bank customers were broken up and ushered into other rooms or offices.

My stomach lurched to see that the blood-smattered junky in the Frankenstein mask was assigned to be our guard. Dracula oozed a frightening, calm danger. Like a snake basking in the sun, about to strike. Frankie was like a ticking time bomb, ready to blow at any second.