h2g2 Storytime III - Chapter XV

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Chapter XIV

The captain of the armed response unit said, 'Check the vault!' Three guards with clear plastic goggles, dark padded armour and automatic shotguns left the security sub-station, came back up onto the main floor of the bank and approached the large circular door that led down into the vault where the safety-deposits were kept.

Back in the control room, the captain looked at the console and saw a timer counting down. He got on the radio. 'We got a timer here. Watch your step.'

The three armed men approached the door as the captain's message reached them.

Suddenly, the vault door swung close with loud clash. All around the outside, metal poles extended themselves and burrowed into slots that surrounded the door. The wheel at the centre spun on its own and locked. A portcullis appeared from overhead, in front of the vault door, and crashed down into the floor.

In Pfenigstohler's office, a computerised voice trilled,

'Emergency lock-down complete. Vault secure.'

smiley - biro

In the vault itself, Mary was busy clipping insulation off the ends of some electrical wire. Daltmooreby was carefully moulding some blasting jelly into the corners of an overhang in the corner of the room. Mary handed von Trapp the wire and he ran it over to Daltmooreby, who placed the firing wires into the putty.

'Get behind those safes!' he cried and then hurriedly walked backwards, unspooled the electrical wire and walked round the corner with the others. 'Cover your ears,' he said.

Daltmooreby wound the wire round two nodes on his wristwatch, then set the date to


It began to move on its own, like clockwork.








smiley - biro

The captain was coming up the stairs when he was thrown to his knees by a pressure wave. He scrambled to his feet and ran up into the main hall.

'What was that?' he said as his officers picked themselves up from the floor.

'Felt like an explosion, captain.'

'What the hell is going on down there?'

smiley - biro

Some rubble and shattered bricks fell from the roof and exposed electrical wires fizzed and sparked in purple. Daltmooreby emerged, coughing and waving dust away from his face.

'It worked,' he said, looking up at the gaping hole in the wall triumphantly.

'Where does this lead us?' Vandeveer asked urgently.

'It's an old abandoned water confluence,' Mary said. 'It was on the schematics in the original construction plans for a network of houses that were never built. It passes under the road outside. We can use it to get across the street and find a way out.'

Von Trapp said 'Everyone inside!' and hurried them all in. Their retreating footsteps made a clanging noise behind the walls as they fled into the subterranean tunnels.

smiley - biro

Andrei Sreaka, meanwhile, was on the roof. A skylight was wedged open and he stood on the edge, surveying the car park. He made his way to a place where the land, being uneven, was higher than at the front, and he leapt off the side.

He landed ungraciously and with a heavy grunt. Sreka stood up, dusted himself off and snuck out into the car park. He peered round the side of a van, and through the front of the glass atrium he could see many uniforms milling about. He approached the car the Cult had parked and opened the boot. Anna was not pleased to see him.

'Let me go!' she screamed. 'Let me go!' She kicked furiously.

The policeman beside her stirred. 'What the — hey!' he shouted.

Sreka reached in and pulled the struggling policeman out of the trunk and heaved him onto his shoulders. With his other hand, he slammed the boot closed. He carried the wriggling man round the front and used his massive bulk to overpower and force him into the driver's seat. The policeman continued to struggle, so Sreka grabbed him by the throat and yanked him upright. His head collided with the ceiling of the car and he gave a little sigh as he passed out again.

Sreka plugged in the seat belt, then went back to the boot of the car for a tyre iron. Anna was struggling to move, because her wrists and ankles were bound. Sreka tucked the gag back over her mouth ('Mmmg! Fmm!' she complained) then he lifted her out and placed her on the grass verge, where the she writhed like a caterpillar. Sreka obtained the tyre iron and went around to the driver's side once more.

Reaching across the slumbering policeman, he released the handbrake and, pushing against the frame of the door, wheeled the car on neutral out into the car park, turning the wheel to aim it directly at the front doors of the bank. Placing one foot on the footbrake, he leaned in and ripped the bottom of the ignition and quickly hotwired the engine so that it purred into life. He then placed the tyre iron down on the accelerator and wedged it into place. The back wheels began spinning furiously. He took his foot off the brake and the car shot away from him.

It barrelled through the parking lot, collided with a concrete pit plant, juddered onto the blocked walkway in front of the glass doors, hit a bevelled ramp and reared up and smashed through the glass front of the bank. The armed response team dived for cover and the car skidded to a halt on its side in the centre of the bank, scattering them amid shards of falling glass.

Sreka collected Anna from where she lay and hoisted her onto his broad shoulders as he had done with the policeman. He walked towards the busy roadway, with cars speeding along at close to insane speeds. Without a second thought, Sreka walked out onto the road with Anna slung across his back. Cars swerved to avoid him and Anna screamed as one by one they slammed on their brakes and skidded past on either side. Sreka approached the centre of the road, paused and turned to face the oncoming traffic.

First in line was a lorry with an articulated trailer — one of those big beasts that dive across the Mid-West states in the US, delivering merchandise from around the globe, paying neither heed nor hindrance to local road ordinances. From out of his waistband Sreka took out a silver revolver with a long barrel, cocked the hammer and, pointing the gun straight up into the air, pulled the trigger.

The shot was like a thunderous cannon blast. It echoed off the hillside and around the car park in front of the bank in a rolling echo. Sreka brought the gun level again and pulled back the hammer: the revolver painstakingly deposited another bullet in the chamber. This time the bullet pock-marked the windshield of the truck as it thundered towards him.

There was a squeal of brake discs being mercilessly applied to the tyres and the hulk of the vehicle shuddered to a stop inches from Sreka. The edge of the gun barrel went clink on the radiator on the front of the lorry. The truck driver's door flew open.

'What in the hell do you think you're —'

The man stopped his rant when Sreka's massive bulk approached him. 'Get out,' Sreka said.

'The hell I will! You're —'

Sreka grabbed the man by the leg and dragged him out of the cab, where he smacked on the concrete of the roadway and curled up into a painful ball. Sreka pushed Anna into the seat opposite and clambered up onto the step into cabin. Holding onto the bar, he turned and looked down the length of the truck. He could make out sirens and lights approaching fast in the distance. Sreka grunted and climbed in, slamming the door shut. Putting the lorry into gear, he began to reverse fast, down towards the oncoming police cars. They broke formation and passed either side of the advancing truck.

The dispossessed truck driver saw the chaos that was approaching and jumped the central reservation just in time, as a police car careered into the spot where he had been standing. The police cars spun around, sending up smoke from their tyres, and came back directly at Sreka. Now they advanced towards the retreating truck.

Just then, an explosion in a sewer that ran underneath the road lifted off a manhole and sent it spinning like a tossed coin through the air. It came crashing down on the front of one car, flattening the engine, and sent it skidding to one side, driving it into the side of another. Both then rolled and flew up into the air and came crashing down on their roofs, splitting open the revolving light casing and crushing the sirens so they distorted and then wound down.

Mary, Von Trapp, Vandeveer, Slepp and Daltmooreby clambered out onto the chaotic scene of the main road. They stared wide-eyed at the carnage the truck had left as it jack-knifed backwards across the road. There was an audible grinding of gears, then the truck started to come towards them.

'Sreka,' Mary said, smiling.

The truck pulled past the group and came to a stop. The back doors sprung open and the bank robbers climed in and were surrounded by crates of snowglobes. Slepp and Daltmooreby grabbed the tassels and pulled the doors to. A bolt was slid across from the inside. Sreka revved the engine and pulled the cord on the horn, which blasted out from a salvaged organ pipe on the roof an angry bass growl. The truck's huge tyres ground over the shattered glass and twisted metal of the wrecked police cars.

In the cab, Anna, despite having her wrists bound, managed to pull down her gag. 'This is suicide,' she urged.

Sreka pressed harder on the accelerator and took a turning onto a road with a steep decline.

.'They'll have a barricade up ahead! A road block! Are you listening to me?'

Sreka glanced across the cabin. 'Strap in,' he said, and reaching across, pulled the belt tight through the buckle. He changed up a gear and the needle on the speed counter crept further round the clock face.

Anna managed to peer up and over the dash. Through the bottom of the cab's windows, she could make out more flashing lights and police cars parked across the entrance ramp onto the motorway. The needle crept into the red and the truck thundered down the hill towards the barricade.

A brief moment of megaphone diplomacy followed, but was cut short when the truck, carrying an insane amount of momentum crashed through the barricade of police vehicles, sending them scattering like bowling pins across the road. The decimated local police units were ruined; the meagre amount of cars available in this quiet local had been totalled. Smoke was rising steadily over the Pfenigstohler bank when the Cult made good their escape.

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