Chapter 2: Breathe

There is a dark mode button on the bottom right

-Catzzz




The man’s death brought an end to the stalemate but brought upon us a storm of metal rain. The bullets that shot forth created golden sparks that ricocheted off the walls and scattered debris over us. The police hoped to immobilize or kill the robbers before they could hurt the rest of the hostages.

My eyes darted around the room, but a blanket of smoke covered it. Something jerked me from behind. Rabbit had pulled me back into the condensed smoke, during the shuffle I stumbled and hit an unoccupied receptionist desk. He abandoned me to take proper cover. Each bullet fired with a fanfare of flashing orange, lighting up a path for me to take. On the other side of those sparks were the police. I ducked behind a flimsy desk and gathered my thoughts. 

Maybe I can rush to the police? No, I would be shot dead in the confusion. Can I run to the back? No, the bullets will hit me.

Those thoughts swallowed me. It was as if I had met a dead end.

“Why can’t I do anything? I’m so helpless. Why…”

A burst of light momentarily flared my vision. As soon as my eyes adjusted, I saw Puma eject a blue flame from her hands. Flicking one hand down, the flame was thrown out, creating a long line of fire reminiscent of a whip. She lashed out at the closest officer and cracked her whip in her direction. He screamed in agony as the fire instantly burned away three layers of clothing and searing an ugly mark onto his skin.

The thundering explosions and the rain of rubble stopped, and for a moment there was a ceasefire. Something that could only be imagined had manifested in reality. But the pained cries of the burnt man returned focus to the transgression at present. Once the smoke had completely cleared, everyone resumed fire at the robbers.

I looked around for better cover, but nothing else came into sight. As I was panicking, my eyes met with Fox who was hiding behind the left corner. He pointed his gun behind him, “Get in the back.” There was no time to hesitate. I lowered my body towards the ground and sprinted towards him. Bullets whizzed over my head; if I did not lower myself then, I would have died. I imagined the bullets penetrating my body, tearing through my flesh, and leaving it a bloodied mess as my life leaked out onto the floor around me. The thought of dying nauseated me.


Fox ushered me toward a dark green door with a backlit exit sign. Behind it was a narrow alleyway occupied by the 13 surviving hostages; most of them were unscathed. Only three of them had bullet wounds on their limbs.

A boom resonated from the building, scattering dust and debris, as I was forced onto my knees. Ringing reverberated in my ears. I shook my head, scrabbling to find my balance among the grit and rocks that bit into my palms. Dark figures cut through the smoke screen and clambered over the demolished portion of the bank wall. On the same wall, a familiar figure ran out of the still-standing doorway. It was none other than Rabbit.

“Take some hostages. We negotiate later!” 

Monkey and Puma glanced at each other then at me. Monkey then stomped over to me, grabbed my shirt, and lifted me from the collateral of mortar and brick. The floor swayed around me before I was dumped into a van half hazardly like a sack of potatoes. Soon after, that sheepish elderly woman was thrown in beside me, and the door was shut closed with a thud.

Rabbit floored the gas pedal, and the van jolted forward. “Tiger and Fox. You two really screwed us over today. Expect a cut from your pay when we get back to the base.”

Blaring sirens wailed in the distance. Fox constantly peeked out at the side view mirror, his eyebrows furrowing as the wailing grew in volume. 

“Rabbit…they’re coming clo–”

“Shut up!” Rabbit’s eyes were glued to the front. “Not if I can help it…,” he grumbled.

I rolled from one side of the van to the other. The old woman stayed put, stopped by Tiger’s outstretched leg, but he stared at me unrelentingly. I banged into the side of the van in tandem to the honking horns and the screeching of brakes on metal that rose up in disharmony around us. That woman could be heard whimpering in the corner.

“They’re coming in from the front,” Fox muttered. He warily glanced at Rabbit.

Rabbit sharply swerved to the left, the whiplash causing the entire van to scrape to the left, bringing me right behind the driver’s seat. The van tilted and lifted moments before it found solid ground again, and my phone slid out of Rabbit’s coat pocket. The sirens’ wailing grew in amplitude as I snatched my cell phone and pocketed it. In the mirror, I caught the sliver of panic that flashed across his face, while his eyes darted between the front glass and side mirrors. He will get what’s coming. It’s only time until we’re surrounded.


Rabbit turned his head, “Monkey, fix this.” 

Monkey cracked his fingers and stood up, his head touching the roof of the van. With two fingers, he signaled Puma to follow. She slinked from her seat and grabbed Monkey’s blazer. Feeling her grasp on him, he pushed the doors open, and the gust came rushing in and smacked our cut faces. Outside, multiple police cars trailed closely behind us with more flashing lights coming in from the distance. 

Rabbit made a sharp right, and I heard a loud crash and the squeal of metal on metal. The scent of burnt rubber assaulted my nose. Despite having faster cars, the police struggled to catch up due to the incoming traffic…especially now that they needed to bypass an accident.

Monkey paused for a moment, admiring the game of cat and mouse. Though, it was clear that the mouse had outplayed the cat. He hummed and lifted his hands up, slowly, as if a conductor would begin a performance. It looked to me like an act of surrender, but his arms stretched out toward the police cars and rammed them in together.

The two frontmost cars careened into each other, then lost control and spun out. It was completely unexpected. One car smashed into a pedestrian-car parked on the street, and the other took out a flower shop by the sidewalk. There were only three police units left chasing us.

A red light at an intersection. We ran through, barely escaping the traffic coming in perpendicular. The cops weren’t so lucky. One unit collided into the left door of a civilian car where another had hit the rear. The cop unit immediately behind stabbed into the first, totaled the former unit, and flipped over it before sliding across a short distance. The resulting traffic jam made it impossible for the last unit to chase after us. 

“You…what are you?” I stared at Monkey. No normal person could command disaster as he had simply by lifting his arms. A mixture of awe and fear filled me, but I couldn’t tear my eyes away from that figure before me. 

“In 15 minutes,” Rabbit interrupted my thoughts, “I’ll stop the car. Drop off our hostages then.” His eyes came off the wheel, and he slightly turned his head. Puma burst out laughing as if she had discovered something good. Whatever it was, it eluded me, but then an odd tune escaped her lips.

“If you steal something small, you are a petty thief.

But if you steal millions, you are a gentleman of society.

Steal a little and they’ll put you in jail, steal a plenty and they’ll make you king.”

She breathed in, seemingly to sing another round, but this time a deep baritone joined her. And after, the rough voice that belonged to Rabbit, and then followed by another. The light reflected in her eyes was full of mirth, and the voices in chorus grew more robust once the faint sounds of the siren had faded away.

“Okay, Fox,” Rabbit said, “go down and release the two at the end of the alley. We only needed them as a last resort.”

The engine sputtered to a stop. A small hand tried its best to lift me up by the collar, but I stood up in protest. It’s been miserable, but I couldn’t let a kid rough me up. Regardless, Fox pushed me off the van, and I landed face first. Shortly after, a warm weight fell on top of me. By the sound of that whimpering, I figured it was the old lady and that she had to be alright.

BANG

I flinched and threw my gaze back. Did they shoot the woman? Instead, Fox’s body toppled to the ground, revealing Rabbit who had stood behind, gun smoking.

“When I said this was the last time, I meant it.” Rabbit sneered down at Fox’s body. 

My jaw clenched harder with the two extra shots he fired into Fox’s back. His body quaked with every impact. The other three held their silence, but Tiger trembled with his fists held tight. Rabbit turned away and lifted his hand, waving at the others to close the door behind him. Puma rushed forward and yanked the door closed. The van rumbled to life, and the exhaust spat out obnoxious fumes, filling the narrow alley and clouding my vision of them. When it had cleared, they were gone. 

Meanwhile, blood pooled around that small body. I stumbled up to him and pressed my hands against those wounds. I need to apply pressure, right? He’s bleeding too much. I swiveled my head to search for that old woman. She laid not too far from us, mumbling and unresponsive. My hands fumbled into my pocket and pulled out my phone. Dark red smeared the buttons and made the numbers hard to read.

“911 operator, what’s your emergency?”  A voice calmly answered.

“I need paramedics, I don’t know where I’m at…and I was a captive of the bank heist earlier.  Someone was shot and is bleeding out.”

“Okay, sir please remain calm.  What is your name and phone number?”

“My name is Sona, and my phone number is xxx-xxx-xxxx,” I replied.

“Are you in any immediate danger?”

“No, but someone is bleeding out! What should I do?!”

“Find some kind of bandage or a cloth and apply pressure on the wound, keep doing this until the paramedics arrive.”



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