At forty-nine years old, fifty in two weeks, Tim Phillips couldn’t believe he was going to rob a bank.
How had he got to this point? he wondered, knowing full well that the spiral started many years ago.
He’d married Tina, his college sweetheart, when they were both twenty-five. Kid came along a year later.
Life caught up, Tina and Tim talked less. His son started out well, before finding drugs in high school. He dropped out and left town. Tim hoped he was still alive but it’d been almost a decade since he’d heard from him, the last time James had called begging for money.
Then the final straw. Tina left him. Cleaned out their accounts, left a note on the fridge and was gone.
Booze followed, his firing from his job not long after.
And now, here he sat in the Ford, trying to accept that this was where he was in life.
“I am,” he said aloud to the car, “I am.”
He pulled the ski mask over his face, grabbed his duffle bag and made his way to the front doors.
Tim wasn’t familiar with this bank. He figured it wouldn’t be ideal to rob the bank he used and have a teller recognize his voice. He instead went to a bank in a section of town he avoided like the plague. It was run down, pot-holed and the smell of sewage and pot seemed to coat the air.
He kicked open the door, walked in and yelled “EVERYBODY FREEZE! THIS IS A ROBBERY! DON’T ANYBODY MOVE!”
Taking three long strides towards the teller directly in front of him, it was only when he got to it that he looked around and realized nobody else was in the bank.
No security guard or customers.
“Sir, may I help you?”
The bank teller’s delicate voice cut through his stupor. He was in disbelief that somehow he’d stumbled upon the lone empty bank. How lucky, he thought.
“Oh, yes, yes, sorry. This is a robbery, come on lady, put the cash in the bag, nobody gets hurt.”
He stuffed the bag through the opening and stepped back. He’d not even pulled his fake gun from his belt yet, deciding to leave it there until absolutely necessary.
“One moment, Tim,” she said, her use of his name sending shivers down his spine.
She bent down behind the teller and he panicked.
“Hey! Hey! What are you doing? Stand up! What do you have?”
He wanted to leap over and kick her square in the face. He knew she’d alerted the cops and was most likely pulling a gun on him.
“I’m sorry for worrying you,” she said, standing up. She hefted the bag onto the counter. The weight of it was enough that she struggled to hoist it onto the top.
“I was just filling this up for you.”
Tim’s eyes went wide seeing the bag stuffed with cash.
“You push a button for the cops?”
“No, sir. I don’t want anybody here to get hurt.”
“Good, good. You never saw me.”
He grabbed the bag, grimacing at the weight as he shuffled back to the door and out into the bright sunlight. He expected to discover a line of cops with their guns drawn, but instead found nothing. Just his Ford sitting by the sidewalk where he left it.
Tim unlocked the passenger door, putting the bag on the seat. He rushed around to the driver’s side and drove away from the bank as calmly as he could. It wasn’t until he was two blocks away that he remembered the mask was still on. He ripped it off and tossed it in front of the passenger seat.
The bag sat there. He wanted to reach over and stroke it, to feel the heft of the cash behind the zipper. But he waited. He had to have patience.
He drove for another thirty minutes before pulling into the dusty parking lot of an old community baseball field.
Tim rubbed his hands together with glee as he turned and slowly unzipped the duffel bag.
Something undulated beneath.
“What the hell?”
The end of a slim, purple-grey tentacle poked from the opening. Against his better judgement, he leaned in, pulled the zipper open wider. At first, he didn’t understand what he was looking at. The eye staring back at him blinked once before numerous tentacles burst forth from the bag and latched onto Tim’s head.
He didn’t even have time to scream before sharp teeth within each sucker punctured his skull and slurped the sweet juice from within.
Steve Stred writes dark, bleak fiction.
Steve is the author of a number of novels, novellas and collections.
He is proud to work with the Ladies of Horror Fiction to facilitate the Annual LOHF Writers Grant.
Steve has appeared alongside some of Horror’s heaviest hitters (Tim Lebbon, Gemma Amor, Adrian J. Walker, Ramsey Campbell) in some fantastic anthologies.
He is an active member of the HWA.
He is based in Edmonton, AB, Canada and lives with his wife and son.
You can follow Steve on Twitter @stevestred
You can follow Steve on Instagram @stevestred
You can visit Steve’s Official website here