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Chapter Five:

The vibration of my phone woke me up. It stopped abruptly. It mustve been a text. I rustled a bit, my hand slapping around frantically, but all I felt was my comforter. I was finally forced to lift my head off the pillow prematurely. I was instantly blinded by the sun, hadn realized it was morning.

I heard it go off but it wasn in sight. I continued to look around still dazed. I clearly heard it go off but I couldn find it. I forced my eyes to open from a squint. The sun was shining through the blinds. I mustve passed out. I looked in all the obvious spots for my phone. I sounded like it was close by, but I didn see anything.

I sat up, just to ensure I wasn overlooking it. Still no luck. I fished through my pockets, and pulled it out. The screen was lit and the pop up message was there. I had seven unviewed texts and one on screen.

Hype was the first one to text me. His was just an update, he told me hed keep me posted if anything came up.

Called no answer

Squad linking @ 4 2mrw

I checked to see when he sent it. I received it at 9:16 last night. But what time was it now? My nerves calmed down a little after I saw it was only 12:45. I still had about three hours to get ready.

I tapped on the input box and replied.

Usual?

His message disappeared after I pressed send, and was instantly replaced with the next. Don text me too.

1600 meeting at the usual

I didn bother responding. The only time Don texted us was for updates and times. Unless he asked you a question there was no need to respond. And I figured the rest of the texts were about the same. But I skimmed through, just to double-check. I was right, with one exception.

Hype sent me a second text,

U trynna ride?

I thought it over, it was about fifteen til. It wouldn take long to get there. With traffic, we could be downtown in about twenty minutes or so. I figured it wouldn hurt. So I figured sure, why not?

Yea, come thru in about 1hr

I slid to the edge of the bed until my feet made contact with the carpet. I stood up and spread my arms wide. I felt my body reaching its limits as my eyes closed. I felt my jaw exerting as I covered my mouth to yawn. A moment passed and my body relaxed. Once I finished stretching I went on to the bathroom.

ΔΔΔ

Roughly fifteen minutes went by; I finished brushing my teeth and showering. Before I got out, I reached for my towel to dry my hair. I turned the water off so I could wrap it around my waist without it getting even wetter then stepped out.

I walked over to my nightstand and looked at the time on my phone. It was 1:15. I took my time getting dressed. I decided on some black straight cuts, a button down and a sleeveless hoodie. I rarely put much thought into what I was wearing. I was more focused on the agenda (yea it was all about the numbers, but we were talking different digits today).

I grabbed my phone and charger and went to the living room. Wondering how much longer before Hype came through I checked the time. I still had about thirty minutes before I was expecting him. I plugged my phone up after turning my volume up to the max. I was about to sit down when my stomach growled. I tried to think back to when I last ate.

I started drinking on an empty stomach last night. And it had been almost a day since I last ate. I went through the fridge, trying to find something to eat. I settled for a hot pocket.

It wasn long before Hype pulled up. I heard his car but I met him on my way out the door. He unlocked his door when he saw me approach. I nodded my head, while reaching for the handle. I got in and put my seat belt on by the time he had his car in reverse.

The ride was quiet; it normally was whenever we rode together. Something about the situation made the anticipation so intense, but the quiet ride absolved that feeling. I stared out the window, the music blaring but not a single word could infiltrate my train of thought. Nothing could, at least not when I was en route to our meetings.

It didn take long for us to arrive. The streets of downtown were pretty empty today. Then again it might just have been because it was after the lunch rush. But parking was a different story altogether. It took us a minute to find a space. But after about ten to twenty minutes we were finally stopped and got out the car.

We stopped at the crosswalk opposite from our rendezvous. I stood there staring at the building, waiting for the light to turn. The memories grew clearer and my chest grew tighter. I looked down at my phone to see how much time was left. It was 3:30; I looked up at the light right as it was turning. We made our way across the street before I stopped and admired it. This was it, we found ourselves here again.

There we stood in front of the place where it all started, the library. Not too far from this spot was my life changed drastically. And here I stood, in front of the threshold of my life. Here I was once again at my inauguration.

It was big as far as libraries went. The place stood a little over three stories. The first floor was known as the quiet area, where you could find majority of the books. The second floor consisted of computer labs, conference rooms, and work tables. I know there was a third floor but you had to use the elevator to access it. I always assumed it was for employees only.

I only zoned out for a split second before my chest constricting brought me back to the concreteness of my life. I wasn too far behind Hype walking up the stairs. We stepped through the door and into the spacious entrance area. It wasn too crowded, normally it never was. Ahead and slightly off to the left were the stairs.

We made our way through the open space and rose to the next floor. Our brief was usually upstairs in one of the conference rooms towards the back. Each room was a decent size with windows that dropped about waist high. The area was sound proof (for the most part) and had blinds. It was used for slideshows and presentations.

The room we used was specific. We used conference room number five. The exception to this room was the projector mounted to the ceiling and it was located back in the corner. But other than that, there wasn anything significant. If it wasn available it wasn problematic.

We reached the top of the stairs. We looked around. About six or seven steps short of the top you had a hidden view of all the rooms. Sure enough I saw Duke, Bishop, and Knight. They were all waiting, and with the two of us approaching that meant our six man crew was only short one, Don.

I walked in the room first and Hype was on my tail. Knight was leaning against the wall to the far end of the room, arms crossed, and eyes closed. Duke and Bishop were sitting at the table; we took our seats next to them but across from one another. The only sound in the room was the ticking of Bishops watch. It was about three minutes il.

Our attention was drawn to the wall as the projector came on abruptly. The loading screen didn take long to up and vanish. The previous screen was replaced with an image of a bank.

”This, gentlemen, is the Metro City Bank. As Im sure you
e all aware its about three cities over, ” Don spoke calmly as he stepped inside and continued to close the door. He looked over at Bishop and gave a nod. Unuttered but understood, Bishop turned around and began pulling the strings to all the blinds. ”It holds more or less twenty mill. And if we pull this off well be looking at $3.3 hundred thousand each. We
e not cleaning it out, just enough for each of us to carry. ”

He swiped left on his phone and the next slide showed. The interior layouts as well as the blueprints appeared side by side.

I sat back, taking everything in like a wet sponge. In this business knowledge was power. To miss anything could mean losing everything from the money to our lives, and our success was evident.

”There are four guards posted during the day, but by night security is practically tripled. Our best shot, take it by force in the middle of the day. ” Don spoke calmly.

”Tactfully, or brass blazin, ” Duke inquired.

”Tactfully. We don want any unnecessary risks. If we can avoid firing, we might have an more time to get away. Refrain from drawing any unnecessary attention. ”

He slid left on his phone again and the screen changed. Before our eyes was an image of our objective from a central view. As if it was taken in the middle of the bank, with a 360 view of the surrounding. As he continued to rotate every angle he pointed out everything: camera locations, entries, exits, and suspected panic button vicinities.

”So what exactly did you have in mind, ” questioned Knight.

”Execute sedation through the ventilation system. Load the A/C unit with nitrous oxide. During the right time of day combined with an accretion of the heat, we could hasten the process. Once everyone is inhibited, we step in, empty the tellers stations, and force someone to let us in the safe— ”

My mind started racing. I was taking everything in just as fast as I could come up with deficiencies. This entire plan was jeopardy. Are we supposed to let everything air out before charging in? Or we are going in through the mist of it all? If we are, any kind of malfunction could happen: gas masks, a smoke detection system, even the fact that a bystander walking by witnessing random bodies lying, and etcetera.

”What if, just hear me out, we go in a different way. Almost as if it were misleading, like a divergence? ” I spoke up without thinking about what I had just done. It was my first time speaking up in one of our meetings. I shouldn have interrupted, especially while Don (of all people) was talking.

”Who…gave you permission to speak?! You lil disrespectful bitch, ” Duke stood up as vehemently as his voice gave off. His seat toppled over as his palms came slamming onto the table top, it tremored beneath his force. Duke was practically towering, leaning over half the table. His fists clenched, the right was drawn back and struck the table with such speed and rabidity. We weren half an arms span from him. I could feel Hype next to me flustered, and probably quivering.

My heart skipped a beat. I wasn expecting such a reaction. But I wasn anticipating such an outrage. I remained unmoved, tranquil. My composure was tangible, and my face reflected it. My posture unaffected, my head still, but my eyes were glaring up. The aloof was etched on my face, and Im sure my nonchalant attitude irritated him. ”Are you done? ”

That did it.

With unreal speed, Dukes left hand gripped my collar and forced me up out my seat. He jerked me towards him. My thighs took the impact of colliding with the table as he continued to reel me closer. I could feel my toes suspended a few inches above the carpet.

”DUKE! ”

And with the sound of Dons domineering voice filling the room, any and all hints of hostility ceased. The malice in the atmosphere disappeared, and Duke lowered me to the ground and let go of my collar. His scowl never coalesced as he half squatted and reached behind him for his chair. He sat it back on all four a little more abrasively than necessary, and took his seat.

I remained standing and straightened out my shirt, fixing the fresh dinginess bestowed upon me.

”You had some to say, Ayden? ” There was something about the way Don said it. Even from halfway across the room, his words still sent chills trembling down my spine. His eyes were frigid and emotionless, piercing through me. I knew whatever left my lips better not had been a waste of time. I had to think of something to say that would prove of importance for interrupting our brief.

”As I was saying before, your plan, ” I fumbled for the right words. ”Had too many X-factors, anything that could go wrong, and if it did… It would be a domino effect. But, what if we could go about the heist and leave everyone left astray all together. Get out completely undetected, like hiding in plain sight. ” As the words were leaving my lips, the plan was forming.

Dons face settled. I had everyones attention. Great. Now all I needed a plan that would minimize any risk. I thought hard thinking of what to say next, preparing for the question coming.

”So, what would you propose? ”

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