Year 17

Chapter 3
Making a withdrawal

by E.Escher - 12th Dec 2016
He followed Brian into the bank, pausing at the last moment to pull the mask over his face. Grinning maniacally, the younger man projected a very mixed image: waving his gun like a lunatic while speaking calming and rationally. For the moment, the words were working, and the customers appeared to be following his instructions.

Colin could only stare in amazement as a blonde assistant took the sports bag and started collecting the customers' money. He tried to catch Brian's eye, but all his attention was on the victims. He supposed he should pay attention as well, it'd only take one slip and somebody would be playing hero, and then there'd be shooting, and screaming, and panic. He didn't want the situation to escalate into something worse.

As though armed robbery wasn't bad enough. If he remembered right, the charge would still be armed robbery even if the weapons were replicas. He was pretty sure the gun in his hands wasn't a replica, but he could have claimed he thought it was.

He'd handled guns before, several times during his extraordinarily long life. If the authorities caught up with him he was doomed. His carefully-created identity would fall apart like a house of cards, and he wasn't good at telling lies. He'd had close calls before, and if it came to the crunch he was perfectly capable of killing policemen to protect himself.

Not happy about it, but perfectly capable. Assuming the ammo was real. It probably was, but he had no good way to check.

Surprisingly soon, Brian apparently decided he was done and it was time to go. Colin was a bit confused, there wasn't a lot in the bag, certainly not what he'd have called 'robbed a bank' money.

There was a moment of confusion as both men realised they'd somehow failed to notice a woman stood in the middle of the room. Brian challenged her, but she didn't seem to have any money, so he left her alone and made a hasty exit.

Colin followed, a dozen questions on his lips.

'What the blazes was that? Have you lost all semblance of reason?'

'We just robbed a bank, mate, and now we're gonna make our awesome getaway. Come on!'

'Awesome getaway?' He hurried to catch up as Brian jogged away, tearing off his mask and tucking the MP5 into his jacket. 'This city has those damned cameras on every corner! Our faces will be on national television by lunchtime!'

'Aye, that'd be cool. We'd be famous. Here, slow down, keep it casual, nearly there.'

'Nearly where? Is this all part of some deranged plan? Just what the devil are you playing at?'

Brian stopped and rounded on him. 'Trust me, mate, whatever happens from this point on, there's a good reason for it. I'll explain it all, I promise, but for now you've just got to follow my lead, okay? I need to know you've got my back, yeah?'

Colin blinked, a little stumped. 'Uh, yes, I suppose.'

'Promise me, and I promise everything's going to be okay.'

'Okay, fine, I promise. Just get us out of here.'

'Done and done. Behold.' He pivoted neatly on one heel and gestured down the road with a flourish. Parked at the side of the road was a pair of sports cars. He didn't know a lot about cars, but the red one was most likely a Ferrari, and even he could identify the silver one as a Porsche - the shape hadn't changed a great deal since the first models.

He raised a brow. 'We're stealing a car?'

'Wrong on two counts. I've already got the keys, and we're taking both cars.' He tossed a keyring over, and Colin nearly dropped his gun as he fumbled to catch it. He turned it over in his hand to figure out which badge it bore, but Brian was already letting himself into the Ferarri, leaving him the Porsche by a process of elimination.

The red car roared, a not-so-subtle suggestion that Colin should get in the car, so he did. Thankfully it wasn't one of the new-fangled models, and he was able to start it up like a normal motor vehicle. Belatedly he wondered how Brian planned to drive fast cars through Manchester's permanently-jammed traffic.

The answer, just as he feared, turned out to be a combination of bus lanes and pedestrian areas. Brian led the way at a breakneck pace, horn echoing from the storefronts as the terrified people scattered in all directions. The path was blessedly empty for Colin, though for all he knew Brian could have been mowing them down to clear the way. He should have been angry, or horrified, or something, but the sheer lunacy of the situation seemed to have numbed him to the unreality of the situation. He concentrated instead on controlling the vehicle and staying close to the red lights up ahead. He'd lost his bearings almost as soon as they'd got moving, unaccustomed to driving in the city centre. Other cars screeched their brakes and honked their horns, drivers cursing at what they imagined was a pair of irresponsible boy-racer idiots tearing up the town.

If only they knew.

At last they found mostly-clear roads, and could open the throttle a little more safely. Colin marvelled at Brian's driving skill as he threaded his way around the other vehicles, taking astonishing risks with casual ease, anticipating which drivers would startle and over-react. Colin did his best to keep up, taking the safer route where possible, sticking to his own side of the road when there was oncoming traffic.

It was hard to keep his eyes on the road, they kept flicking to the mirrors, on the lookout for flashing blue lights.

Where were the police?

Even if they hadn't just robbed a bank, in broad daylight, they were causing enough mayhem with their escape to rate a whole new slew of offences.

Was that a siren he could hear? Over the roar of the engine he couldn't be sure. The door windows didn't have handles to wind them down, and he looked down, just for a second, seeking a switch or button.

It was a second he didn't have spare. There was a bang, a shock of impact that slung him sideways against the seatbelt, and suddenly the car was out of control. He didn't have hold of the steering wheel, the tyres were squealing, and the world outside zipped past the windows in a direction that made no sense.

There was another crunching impact, he was sure it was a car moving in the opposite direction. His car reversed momentum, spinning him up against the door and smacking his head into the glass. He lost his bearings then. The world was a swirling nightmare of motion and sound. He figured the car had rolled over, and was still rolling. The windscreen cracked, and then simply vanished, dropping out of sight. He may have screamed, or more likely cursed a blue streak. He had a mental image of the Porsche spiralling through the air, rolling over the tops of other cars. How much damage had he caused? A collision at this speed, he'd almost certainly killed somebody, and that bothered him far more than the sense of his own peril.

After all, it was just a car crash, and knowing his luck he'd probably walk away comparatively unhurt. He'd heal, given time, but Brian would be severely vexed about the wrecked car.

He still didn't know why he was even doing this. What a stupid way to go.

The careening vehicle slammed to a sudden halt, bounced away, and slowly settled. Slumped in the low bucket seat, Colin was stunned by quiet everything seemed after the bedlam of his unplanned flight. The dashboard lights were out, all the windows were broken or missing. The steering wheel was buckled in his grip where he'd tried to hang on for support. His monstrous strength always seemed to come to the fore in moments of stress, and this certainly qualified.

The car had ended up on its wheels, which seemed comically unlikely. It seemed unfair that the engine had died; he'd cheated the odds to land on his wheels, surely he should be able to drive away. Of course, the car was utterly destroyed around him, and he couldn't say for sure how many of the wheels were still attached.

He had to get out. He couldn't just sit here and wait for the emergency services. He tried the door, but it was buckled out of shape and wouldn't open. He gave an experimental shove, but it was hopelessly jammed. He released the seatbelt and clambered out through the missing windscreen.

'What the hell have I done? Damn you Brian.'

There were at least two dozen cars snarled up on both sides of the road. He could hear screams and sobbing, at least one car horn stuck in the 'on' position, and the piercing whine that suggested he'd suffered a head injury.

He jumped down from the car and looked himself over. Nothing felt broken, but his ribs hurt, and his head was ringing after hitting the window, probably more than once. He felt around for a bump, and back of his head felt distressingly soft and mushy. His hand came away slick with blood, and he grimaced. It wouldn't be fatal, just painful, and soon that would fade. He'd be fine.

He picked a direction and started to run.
The curious tale of Colin Campbell
Part One - How did it come to this?, Chapter 1, Earlier that day
Chapter 2, Earlier still
Chapter 3, Making a withdrawal
Chapter 4, August 18th, 2362
Chapter 5, Angel of Death
Chapter 6, Welcome to 2016.
Chapter 7, Denmark, July 2358
Chapter 8, After the crash
Chapter 9, Music of the Spheres
Chapter 10, Denmark, July 2358
Chapter 11, Harbinger FM
Chapter 12, Denmark, July 2358
Chapter 13, Excuses and lies
Part Two - So here we are, Chapter 14
Chapter 15, Quite a ride
Chapter 16, Talking the talk
Chapter 17, Leisurely pursuit
Chapter 18, Dinner Date with Destiny
Chapter 19, Chips with everything
Chapter 20, Harbinger
Chapter 21, Time to leave
Chapter 22, Manchester
Chapter 23, Colin's House
Chapter 24, On the road
Chapter 25, Chateau Harbinger
Chapter 26, Showdown
Epilogue, Debriefing
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