Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 - Advanced)
Topic: On the Telephone (11/18/10)
TITLE: To Serve and Protect
By Colin Nielsen
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<i>Remove the numbers from your cell phone. Do it now before you change your mind. You can never go back my love.</i>
He spoke with gentleness and filled her with courage and hope. He had been her companion for the last twenty years. Sometimes she listened to him. Sometimes she didn't.
Fishing around in her handbag, she pulled out her Nokia and walked through the imposing automatic glass door into the Bank.
She removed her husband's name from her phone first. This man she loved unconditionally. This man she married. Over the years he had changed.
With that done she removed his family, friends, and co-workers. She severed all ties. No backing down. No changing her mind. Her life depended on it.
"Can I help you Miss?" asked the teller.
She wandered to the counter, mobile still in hand, lifted her head and smiled.
"I'd like to make a withdrawal please."
"You have to take off you glasses, love. Branch policy."
A slight tremor ran down her hand as she put her phone on the counter and pulled out her key card.
"Please miss. Can't I just have my money?"
Her phone beeped. She'd finally removed all of the numbers.
"Sorry, miss. Can't help you unless you remove your sunglasses.
<i>I know it's hard. Just remove your glasses my love. Everything will be okay. Trust me as you once did.</i>
Anna slowly raised her hand to the frames. Her hands shook uncontrollably.
"Are you okay, miss?" The teller asked, concern etched in her voice.
The glass doors slid open. A balaclava-covered man, armed with a shot gun sprinted inside. He fired two shots into the ceiling. One round shattered a florescent light dropping shards on Anna's blond hair. She instinctively grabbed her phone.
"Everyone on the ground. Now!"
The thief forced the nearest teller into an empty manager's office. A shot rang out followed by a thud. Anna closed her eyes and lay on the floor. A conflicting sense of peace and fear washed over her. She knew her husband was near.
She clutched the phone.
The thief exited into a room with everyone on the tiled floor.
"You! Get up and give me money from the tills. Everyone else, empty your pockets into this black bag I'm sending around. Money. Phones. Jewellery. Anything of value. Don't be a hero. You'll end up like that lady in there."
Anna knew this man. Knew his type well. Cold. Controlled. Dangerous.
<i>Call him Anna. Call your husband now!</i>
What? She thought. I'm running away. He's an animal. Beats me every night. You told me to go. Remember?
<i>I will be with you. Trust me. Make the call.</i>
She slid the phone keyboard open and dialled the number she knew by heart. Immediately he answered. She placed the phone down and waited. He followed her everywhere and would not be long in coming.
The robber wandered past and stopped. He must have noticed the muffled electronic voices and booted the phone, sending it flying into the office.
The thief grabbed Anna in a headlock, dragged her into the manager's office, and shoved her hard into the corner. Her head bounced hard off the bookcase. Blood dripped out of her mouth onto the cream carpet. The sunglasses fell off her head.
He bent over and screamed into her ear, "Stupid woman, do you want to die?"
She faced her attacker and smiled.
"Any last words?"
Anna glanced at her reflection in the full-length mirror standing beside door. The bruising had subsided. Only a slight mark remained. She returned her gaze to the man she knew so well.
"You're a dangerous, pathetic, man. But I forgive you. You crave power. Over the years I've watched it destroy you. I can't do this anymore. Kill me if you like. I will not be intimidated. I'm leaving and I'm not coming back."
"What? You're not going anywhere, crazy woman," said the thief.
A single shot echoed through the office. Anna jumped. The thief grabbed his balaclava and ripped it off
Shock and pain flashed across his face. The thief lurched forward and revealed the policeman she knew would come.
Anna picked up her phone, stepped over her fallen captor, and brushed past her husband, standing in the doorway, without saying a word. Anna was finally free.
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