Inside Man

Sitting in a dark, cramped cell he waited. There was a lot of difference between a prison and a tiny cell. As he waited, his mind drifted back to how he had come to be here . . .

No one noticed the four painters as they slipped through the huge, glass door of the bank. No one even gave them a second glance. So no one realised when they barred the doors of the bank. The security cameras had already been disabled and guns had now silently been slipped out of the pockets into the hands of the painters. They signalled to each other. A shot was fired into the air. Everyone froze. Then the screaming started.

“EVERYBODY GET DOWN ON THE FLOOR NOW! YOU HAVE FOUR SECONDS. IF YOU’RE STILL STANDING WE SHOOT!”

Within an hour the people in the bank- customers, employees, security guards now all hostages- had been gathered into several different rooms. The painters had changed into grey jumpsuits that covered every inch of their bodies. Their faces were covered by latex masks, their eyes hidden behind dark sunglasses. Identical clothes had been shoved into each hostages face. “Take off your clothes and put these on. Put any keys, weapons, mobile phones, any forms of communication into this bag NOW. Listen to us and no one gets hurt.” ordered the leader of the bank robbers. His voice was calm but laced with menace.

Hands shaking, the hostages began to strip off their clothes. Only a few had refused to do what the robber had asked but then had obligingly- and wisely- followed instructions when one of them had been dragged through the door, kicking and screaming and the others had hand guns pointed at their heads. None of the hostages knew what had happened to the man that had been taken out. Two hours later, a phone had rung. The robber had picked it up. They had heard a sickening gunshot. Silence filled the room. The gunshot echoed off the walls. They could guess.

Outside, a cluster of people- police, firemen, paramedics, reporters, gathered around the building. All of them wringed their hands and wiped their brows in desperation.

“Detective Frazier is there any more news?” asked a young officer. He was inexperienced. It showed in the way he moved from one foot to the other, agitatedly and by the nervous expression he wore on his face. “No. We only have the note the robbers have given us. We have to be careful in a situation like this. There are lives at stake.” Detective Frazier replied evenly. He looked calm and he spoke calmly but inside he was in turmoil. If this ended in disaster he would get the blame. The young officer nodded and backed away. As he turned, he glanced curiously behind his shoulder, at the detective. Detective Frazier was staring grimly at the bank. Worry tinged his grave features. Sighing, he took out his phone. He would have to cancel his plans. It was going to be a long night. . .

The phone rang. The lead robber picked it up.

“I’m surprised you didn’t call sooner,” he said.

“We’ve been a little busy,” Detective Frazier retorted on the other end of the line, “How do you plan to pull this off? How are you gonna escape?”

“I’m going to walk straight out of this door.” The robber replied coolly.

“Huh. We’ll see. So far you’ve let out four hostages but you haven’t shot anyone. One of our men tried to get in, you didn’t kill him either. I don’t think you’re a killer.” Frazier surmised.

“Only if provoked. Why don’t you turn around?” said the robber. Frazier did not like the sinister edge in his voice. He spun round. One of the disabled surveillance cameras was working again. The robber waved. In front of him was seemingly a man, bound up, with a bag over his head. Frazier’s colleges looked at him in panic.

“Now let’s be rational about this.” Frazier said into the phone. There was no one on the other end. The detective’s heart raced and his stomach sank. No. It was too late. He closed his eyes as he heard the gunshot. He didn’t want to look at all the blood and brains strewn across the floor, so he kept his eyes down, away from the screen. . .

Detective Frazier sat, studying he written note the robbers had given him. A tall man barged through the door.

“That’s it. I’m going in. I’m not gonna stand here and watch innocent people get killed.” he roared.

“Case, don’t. We don’t know what we’re dealing with here. You can’ even tell the difference between the bank robbers and the hostages.” Frazier warned him.

“I don’t care. I’m taking the team in. We’re using rubber bullets and we’re knocking everyone out, bank robber or not.” Case shouted hotly. He stormed out. Frazier’s heart skipped a beat as he noticed the microscopic transmitter attached to the paper. They had heard everything.

“Russell, they’re getting an ESU team into action. They’ll be here in less then five minutes but we’re ready.” a female bank robber said to their leader.

“Alright. Everybody assume positions.” he ordered. He reached for the smoke bombs.

The ESU unit rammed through the door. They tensely held their guns and their breath as they tried to squint through the veil of thick smoke. They heard a faint noise, it grew louder and louder. Five hundred hostages or robbers rushed through, straight at them, running frantically to the doors. They burst outside, screaming, tear-stricken.

“GET DOWN NOW! HANDS BEHIND YOUR HEADS ON THE FLOOR!” screamed a commander aiming his gun.

Two weeks later the case was dropped. The bank robbers had swapped with the hostages at different intervals during the robbery so no one had been able to be identified. Nothing had been stolen.

Russell glanced at his watch. It was time to escape. He slid the fake wall open and slipped through the crack. Russell walked down the passages and hallways of the bank. Then, with a small sack off priceless diamonds in his pocket, he stepped straight through the front doors.