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Deep Within the Heart of Thieves

horror by Angel Zapata

Something was after them. Calvin had his arm around Kenny’s shoulder and was doing his best to stay conscious.

Kenny couldn’t believe it. The bank teller had somehow reached over the counter and sunk her fingernails through Calvin’s leather jacket and into his chest.

“I knew it was too good to be true,” Calvin huffed and tasted blood. “What was that?”

Kenny twitched. “Don’t know. Don’t care. We ain’t stopping for nothing or nobody.”

“And what happened to Mike?” He coughed and screamed in pain. “He was supposed to be waiting outside. I don’t want to die.”

Kenny didn’t answer.

The sky above them was dark. The few shops along both sides of the deserted street were closed for the night.

He couldn’t understand how it all went wrong.

Two weeks earlier, he’d run into an old acquaintance at a neighborhood bar.

“Jesus, Mike. It‘s gotta be ten years?”

“Longer than that, Kenny.” They patted backs. “Hell, I got twelve years for armed robbery. Been out four months. Been trying to line up a job.”

“Damn.” Kenny shook his head.

“How ‘bout you? Working?”

“Laid off again. Third time this year.”

“Maybe I can help.” Mike swallowed his beer, leaned in. “You interested?”

“What’s the take?”

“Six figures.”

“Shit.”

“Yeah, man.”

Mike knew a guy, who knew a guy, who served time with another guy. The ex-con told Mike about a small bank in a rural town across the state line. Easy money.

“They’re the only bank open ‘til midnight, five days a week,” Mike said. “And supposedly, the vault is busting at the seam.” He winked and elbowed Kenny’s ribs.

“Why they open so late?”

“I heard they got a bunch of coal mines out there. They work late hours. And get this. No security.”

“No guards? That’s really strange.”

“Them inbred, country hicks are some damn trusting fools.” Mike lifted his bottle and smirked. “How ‘bout we show them the error of their ways?”

Kenny fingered the rim of his shot glass. God knows I need the cash, he thought.

“Whaddya say?” Mike prodded.

“Let’s do this thing.”

“Amen, brother.”

A week later, Kenny rounded up his good buddy, Calvin, and met Mike at his apartment. Plans were developed and guns purchased from a local fence. Mike had a sedan. The following Friday, they drove through the night.

They set up shop in a rundown motel two miles off the Interstate and a mile from the bank. Mike handled recon. He disappeared for days at a time and turned up late one evening with his digital camera.

“They’re two women tellers and one manager in the whole damn place. Hardly anyone comes in.” Mike smiled. “This job is cake. And the icing is no security cameras.”

“Impossible.”

“I’m a hundred percent sure. These yokels are still living in the Dark Ages.”

While Calvin smoked a joint in the bathroom, Kenny reviewed Mike’s pictures.

The images captured every angle inside and outside the building in perfect clarity. The three employees were an elderly, harmless-looking lot.

Something caught Kenny’s eye in one of the photos. A cold shiver gripped his spine. “Thought you said there weren’t any guards?”

Mike stared at him. “There ain’t.”

“Then who’s that?”

“Let me see.” Behind one of the wrinkled tellers was a tall, black silhouette. “That ain’t nothing, man. What, now you seeing ghosts?”

Calvin came back into the room and overheard the exchange. He leaned over Mike’s shoulder. “Sure looks like a guy. A real big guy too.”

“You’re both nuts,” Mike snorted. “Get some sleep. We’ll talk more tomorrow.”

But Kenny couldn’t sleep. While his fellow thieves dreamed of fortune, he stayed awake and reviewed the image of the shadow. He was certain he could see facial features; flashing sharp, white teeth.

The big night came the following Friday.

Mike parked out front. Calvin and Kenny pulled stockings over their heads and clicked the safety off their guns. They waited for the sole customer to finish his transaction and exit.

Then they burst through the front doors.

“This is a robbery!” Kenny directed. “Get your hands up!” Although clichéd, it worked. He held the gun steady while Calvin approached the closest teller and handed her a bag.

“We don’t want to hurt any—” Kenny stopped short. The fluorescent bulbs above his head had gradually dimmed. Behind the old woman stuffing the money bag, Kenny spotted the shadow. It grew darker and filled the space behind her. Kenny wanted to warn Calvin, but was too late. The thing crawled over the smiling woman’s head and seeped in through her eyes.

“Hungry,” she squealed and stabbed her fingernails through Calvin’s chest.

I guess Mike was wrong about the security guard, Kenny thought crazily and fired his gun in a blind panic. He grabbed up Calvin from the floor and fled.

“I don’t want to die,” Calvin sobbed.

They were running for their lives. Behind them, the streetlights began to blow out like birthday candles and bone-chilling laughter echoed in the darkness.

Suddenly, a car careened around the corner.

“It’s Mike!” Kenny said excitedly. “C’mon, Cal! We can make it!”

Mike screeched to a halt. “Get in!”

Kenny threw Calvin in back and rode shotgun.

“Sorry, Kenny,” Mike said and gunned the engine.

“Don’t worry about it. I’m just glad you—”

Mike slammed hard on the brakes. Kenny hit his head on the dash.

“I meant, sorry about this,” Mike said.

Kenny was dazed and nauseous.

“They caught me snooping around,” Mike confessed and jumped out of the car. “They said if I brought them fresh meat, they’d give me all the money I wanted. I’m sorry, guys.”

Kenny looked up. The possessed teller sat down in the driver’s seat. “They won’t even find your bones,” the ancient vampire inside her said.

Calvin screamed like a frightened girl.

Kenny sat frozen in terror as the black shadow squeezed out of the woman’s eyes and tore out his heart.

Copyright October 2009 by Angel Zapata

Angel Zapata lives just outside Augusta, Georgia. He blogs about writing at A Rage of Angel.

[Return to October 2009 stories]

9 Responses

  1. Calvin, Calvin, Calvin. He made me laugh. First smoking a joint before a bank robbery and then screaming like a girl. It really wasn’t his moment, was it? Great story. Also liked the ‘knew a guy, who knew a guy’. That’s how it happens, eh.

  2. a grand story with oh-so-fine dialogue. love the finger nails – well crafted mr. z.

  3. Excellent story, Angel! I like the little old lady squealing ‘Hungry.’

  4. Yikes!

    ““Hungry,” she squealed and stabbed her fingernails through Calvin’s chest.” ~ Might as well been stabbing my heart.

    Mr. Zapata, you haven’t improved my insomnia. Definitely a horror treat during the pumpkin season. Thanks for the read!

  5. I love the hungry old lady. Great image.

  6. Yowser! An idea worthy of the King himself. Nicely told, I love the whole idea of the dark figure seeping into them. You know any artists? This would make a good comic… sorry, graphic novel.

  7. Love it when a character turns bad like Mike did – really adds to that “I’m screwed…” feeling. Also enjoyed how the story begins with action and the backstory you’ve included has all the necessary details about character, setup, and the hint of terror awaiting them at the end.
    Nicely done.

  8. This played out so well, and I loved the ink dark feel seeping through the whole piece.

  9. The line about the fingernails through the leather jacket is the most interesting image I’ve seen in any of these stories.

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