Posted on June 6, 2008 by Matt-M-McElroy
Beneath the dim light of a full moon, the population of Cincinnati mutates into huge, snarling monsters that devour everyone they see, acting upon their most base and bestial desires. Planes fall from the sky. Highways are clogged with abandoned cars, and buildings explode and topple. The city burns.
Bestial: Werewolf Apocalypse is the new horror novel written by William Carl and published by Permuted Press. You can order this twisted tale at Amazon.com.
We have two previews of Bestial lined-up here on Flames Rising. Permuted Press has provided us with the entire first chapter of the book. See how the story begins today and tune in next week for the rest of the chapter.
Bestial: Werewolf Apocalypse by William Carl
September 16, 6:59 p.m.
“Good evening, everyone,” Rick Morrison yelled. “My name’s unimportant, but I’ll be your bank robber on this fine evening. I want to see everybody down on the floor! Nobody tries to be a hero, nobody gets hurt.”
Christ, he thought, what a cliché.
He fired a round from his Glock into the nearest surveillance cam-era, showering a howling bank teller with shards of glass and plastic. The woman dropped to the floor, her hands covering her head to protect herself from the debris.
Pausing while his associates completed their assigned jobs, Rick grinned beneath the pantyhose that smashed his features into a Halloween grimace. The damn pantyhose were hotter than hell, but quite effective.
Jones scurried around the room, spray-painting the lenses of the thirteen remaining cameras. He laughed in his coarse, horsy manner, pausing for a moment to decorate a bare wall with a smiley face while he made his way to the back.
Rick said, “Hey, Jones. We can do without the artistic flourishes. Just get the job done.”
Jones nodded, making his way to the next camera, which hung perpendicular to the tellers’ booths in the Cincinnati First National Bank. He passed Jack Browning, who was forcing the tellers to their knees in the far corner behind the tall booths and ascertaining if anyone had pressed a silent alarm. Two of the three women and both of the men were crying, but a middle-aged black woman was glaring at Jack. A wannabe hero always seemed to rise from among the victims of every robbery, and Rick feared he’d have his hands full with this large-framed woman with an afro. Her attitude belied years of discrimination or abuse. She’d been around. Her nametag read, “Chesya.”
Behind Rick, Saul Wiseman locked the front doors at 7:00 p.m. exactly, the hour the bank typically closed. He placed a gun against the temple of the elderly, bald security guard, walking him to the corner where the tellers knelt. The veins throbbed blue on the old man’s head.
“Not a word, Pops,” Saul said in his nasal voice. “I’m itchin’ to try out this new revolver. Any excuse will do.”
Visibly shaking, the old man handed Saul his nightstick, the only weapon he carried. The robber threw it across the room, striking a desk at the far end of the bank; the guard flinched as if struck.
Rick moved towards the little cluster of people, his eyes resting on Chesya’s contemptuous, slightly yellow gaze. Scratching his head with the barrel of his gun, he asked, “Anyone else in here? Officers or vice presidents?”
The defiant teller maintained eye contact, her chin held high. She looked as though she could spit in his face.
Saul, breaking off from the group, said, “Lemme have a look, boss.” He ransacked the side offices, and from the last one, he hauled out a fat man wearing glasses. “Found him behind his desk,” he said, slapping the man’s sweaty face.
“Bring him out here to join the party,” Rick said. “We wouldn’t wanna neglect anyone.”
When the man was positioned on the floor, hands clasped behind his head like the rest of the bank’s staff, he began to sob, big, belly-shaking sobs that threatened to unravel into hysteria at any moment.
“Stop your crying,” Rick warned, holding his Glock so he observed the man down the sights.
“I… I…can’t… I can’t.”
“Aw, shit,” Rick said. He pistol-whipped the back of the man’s skull. There was a soft thunk, and the corporate drone dropped face-first to the tiled floor. Three bright drops of blood spattered Rick’s hand, and he wiped it on his jeans. He checked the man’s pulse and exhaled with relief; the fat man would be fine for now.
“Jones, you get all those cameras? You didn’t miss any?”
“Hell, no.” The man began to giggle again, aiming at a blonde’s pretty head. “I got ’em all, boss.”
“Good,” Rick said, pulling the suffocating stocking from his head and dropping it on the floor.
“Okay, everyone, pay attention. What we have here is your basic, everyday bank robbery. We’ll be taking any cash you have in your teller’s drawers as well as anything in the safe. If you people do what I tell you to do and nobody gets all courageous or heroic on me, we’ll be gone within an hour and you can all go home to your families. We’ve done this before, so I can tell if someone’s going to be a problem.” He looked pointedly at Chesya, and damned if she didn’t try to stare him down. “Now, did anyone press any alarms? Alert the cops in any way?”
They all shook their heads except Chesya, whose nostrils flared. Rick mused that she’d be extremely pretty beneath that mask of fury. She had deep, brown eyes with perfectly plucked eyebrows, a wide nose and a broad mouth, the lips especially full.
“No?” he asked. “Nobody’d better be lying. If I so much as hear a single police siren, there’s gonna be blood all over this nice white floor.”
He continued, “Well, I’ll need someone to volunteer.” Pointing his gun successively at each of the cowering tellers, he chanted, “Eeny, meeny, miny, moe…”
The blonde teller hid her face in her hands, shaking uncontrollably.
Rick grinned, adjusting his count as he said, “Catch a teller by her toe…”
Chesya looked as though she would launch herself at him at any moment. He was making this act of violence into a childish game, and she wasn’t about to play with him. Still, he wanted her to be intimi-dated, and most people reacted to this off-the-cuff casualness with utter horror.
“If she hollers, let her go…” Yeah, woman, mess with me. I’ve got the gun. I’m in control here, no matter how much you hate it. “Eeny… meeny… Miny… moe. Looks like you’re it, sweetheart.” The gun was pointed at the blonde woman.
Chesya rolled her eyes. He’s picking Gloria? She’ll fall to pieces the minute he cusses her.
Blondie shrieked when he lifted her by the hair and dragged her toward the vault. “Shut up,” he warned. “I said shut the fuck up.” Profanity was always a good way to keep people frightened, too, and it really seemed to work on the blonde teller. Perhaps too well. Her cries ceased, replaced by a muffled keening behind her pursed lips.
Meanwhile, Saul began emptying out the drawers at the teller’s sta-tions, stashing the cash in a couple of white garbage bags. His weird laughter echoed in the tomb-like silence.
“Hefty bags!” he said. “For those tough, tough jobs.”
As Rick reached the locked vault, he shoved the woman in front of him. She was thin to the point of emaciation, as though she were a victim of an eating disorder. Hollow cheeks, hollow eyes, probably a hollow mind. Her hands traipsed bird-like along the front of her sweater.
He’d seen her type many times in the past—someone scared enough to follow his orders without challenging anything he demanded, yet coherent enough to do the job. He didn’t think she’d try anything stupid and put her co-workers in harm’s way.
“Please,” she begged. “Please, don’t kill me. I’ve got kids at home.”
“Open the vault,” he said, “and you’ll have nothing to worry about.”
He recognized the repository as a Class III Bank Vault from Ham-ilton. He’d seen them before, marvels of brushed stainless steel with the huge dial of an operating wheel gleaming in the front along a regiment of locks. A tungsten plate surrounded the main lock to prevent anyone from drilling into it. It was a sight to behold, truly a beautiful thing. From his research and years of experience, Rick knew that this model was pre-constructed, modular, and welded together into a nearly inaccessible rectangle of fifteen-inch steel. The door alone was ten inches thick. Nobody could blast into one of these babies. This was why he required a bank employee to assist him in opening the vault.
But this particular teller still shook and cried.
“Get it open,” he said.
“I… I’m trying…”
“I suggest you try faster.”
Chesya thought, Sweet Jesus, she’s gonna get us all killed.
Gloria dropped the keys, letting out a small scream. Rick slapped her across the face, not very hard, but it stopped the sound. She seemed to lose her ability to stand.
When he was a child, Rick had owned a toy, a plastic figurine of a deer. When you pressed on the base, the joints would loosen, and the deer would sway, then fall into a heap, only to rise again when you released the button. The way the blonde slumped gracefully to the floor, the way her knees wobbled and buckled beneath her skirt, reminded Rick of this toy.
He had made a mistake choosing her. She was too fragile, too emo-tional. He’d have to pick someone else, and any deviation from his researched plans pissed him off. He pointed the gun at the blonde’s head.
“Wait!” Chesya shouted from the tellers’ booths.
Jones swooped down on her with his revolver. “You best shut your mouth!”
Chesya wasn’t cowed. “She can’t do it. Can’t you see? She’s on the damn floor, she’s so scared. I’ll do it for you.”
Rick said, “If this is some sort of trick…”
“Then I’m just a stupid bitch who doesn’t deserve to live. Listen, you want the money. I wanna go home and take a long, hot bath. I don’t wanna die, and I don’t want my friends to die. I’ll get the vault open, and you can leave us be. How’s that sound?”
Cocking his head, Rick admired the woman’s audacity. “Okay,” he said. “Get over here. Blondie, you get your cute little ass back there with the others.”
The skinny woman crawled back on her hands and knees, and Rick felt her humiliation with every timid step she took. It wasn’t a good feeling, and he had to force his attention back to the brash teller that had dared to stand up to him.
Chesya grabbed a set of keys off the unconscious manager, holding them up as she stood, so that the robbers could see they were only keys.
“You need both sets to get it open,” she explained. “Manager on duty has one set, and I have the other. I’m the head teller.”
Rick nodded. She walked to the vault door, her stride confident and a little sassy. When she passed the blonde teller, who was still crawling, she looked down at her.
“Gloria, you get on back now,” she said. “We’ll get this over with, then me and you will go grab a couple of margaritas at Universal Cafe.” Gloria nodded, but her face registered little more than shock. Turning, she continued her creeping until Saul grabbed her by the back of her sweater and tossed her into the corner with the other tellers. An olive-skinned man wrapped his arms around her, and she cried into the shoulder of his suit. The way he held her, Rick wondered if they had some relationship besides co-workers, a little loving on the side.
When Chesya reached him, Rick said, “Get to it. I want that vault open quick as shit.”
“Lovely phrase,” she drawled, working the big dial.
“Careful, you don’t wanna piss me off.”
“I imagine it’s pretty easy to do.”
Rick bristled, wanting to hit her, but she had finished the combina-tion, and he could hear the sound of the big security bar withdrawing from the floor and ceiling. She was already working on the locks, inserting the various keys, when the hair on the back of Rick’s neck stood up. Something was wrong.
Glancing around the bank, he saw that Saul had nearly finished emptying the drawers. The garbage bags bulged with the weight of the money. The idiot had even grabbed the rolls of coins, which would only weigh them down in the end. The hostages were still kneeling obediently, his men were still in charge, the manager was still unconscious. Outside the front windows, he could see the sunlight dissipating between the drawn blinds. It would be dark soon, and Jason was waiting outside in the getaway car. Everything seemed fine, so he turned back to the woman and the vault.
She shivered for a second, turned her big eyes to him. “Someone just walked over my grave.”
Surprised, he wanted to say that he’d just experienced the same sensation, but he kept quiet. It wouldn’t do to show weakness. Any kind of weakness.
As she turned another lock, he asked, “You got a last name, Chesya?”
“Why? You have some sick need to know who you’re holding a gun on?”
“I like to know who I’m working with.”
She laughed, then said, “Work? You call this work? Ha!”
“You know what I mean.”
“Mister, all I gotta do is open this here door for you. That’s it. I don’t plan on making nice with just any man who’s pointing a gun at my head.”
“Oh, come on, we can be civil, can’t we?”
There was a clank of keys, and a moan. Then the lock’s pins fell into position with a click, and the huge stainless steel door eased open about a half inch.
Rick turned to the woman. “Thank you,” he said.
“You know, this attitude isn’t helping matters, lady. How about you grab those garbage bags and get your fat ass in here with me.”
“You got another five or six minutes before the time lock deactivates,” she said. “Every night, 7:15 sharp. Didn’t you do your home-work?”
“This bastard’s got a timer on it? I didn’t think a Class III would…” He began yanking on the heavy door, but it didn’t budge any farther than that half-inch opening. Tugging harder, he realized it was useless.
She nodded. “Yeah, it’s a new model. It only opens three times a day. Eight a.m., three p.m., and seven fifteen. Then, you still need the two sets of keys and the combination. If you’d robbed us at, say, 5:00, ’stead of now, you’d only get the cash from the teller drawers up front.”
“Jesus… okay, then. Shit! Okay, Chesya, you going to tell me your last name? May as well chat if we aren’t getting in there yet.”
“Johnson,” she answered. “Chesya Johnson. And I’m still not going to be your friend.”
“Fine with me.”
“Just being neighborly.”
And maybe keeping myself alive a little longer, she thought.
To read the rest of the chapter, check out our second Bestial: Werewolf Apocalypse Preview.