Written in a few hours with the story developing as the words fall to the page.
Benn Knight runs. He doesn’t know where, only that the people chasing him, the people who just fired-bombed the shop he was in are close. Footsteps grow louder. Looks behind and sees the building explode and feels an intense heat on one side of his face. The leather shoes he bought not two minutes earlier are sliding on the cobblestones…
That’s how the story started in my head when I saw the photo of the dumbbells. Not sure how it’s going to end. This is all I have. Let’s continue and discover it together…
Grabs a lamp-post turning a corner and runs pumping arms down an alley. How many? He can’t tell. One is enough in his condition. Nearly crashes into a man taking out garbage and has to jump over the plastic bag. They’re gaining with every foot he covers. He used to be a good runner, back in high school, was on the team and won a few races: had a few ribbons hanging from his bedpost, but that’s long ago, ten years. Now he’s lucky to run up a flight of stairs without puffing and pausing half way. Life in the City is full of long lunches and late night booze ups. It’s why he’s wearing leather shoes, an expensive suit, and why he’s not dropping the briefcase his father bought for him. You have to look the part. It was a present for his promotion. Be buggered if these twats are getting hold of it.
Benn can see the alley ends up ahead. Beyond is a steady stream of traffic framed between two buildings either side. “Traffic.” He didn’t count on being caught this early. “She’s not going to like this.” He’s usually more careful.
The cars remind him of that frogger game you have to jump on logs to get to the other side. Only now it’s a wall of cars and not some make-believe river he has to get past. And the other side, a park, freedom. Stops and looks back. It’s a known death behind, or taking his chances with better odds ahead. “Should know the odds.” He thinks to himself. One second he was tying shoelaces, the next he saw the flaming plastic container sailing through the window.
“Give us the suitcase Knight.” A voice yells, a shot half a second later. Benn squats placing hands on his head hearing the bullet whistle past. Decision made. Runs full-pelt accelerating toward the cars. Cars that swerve and crash. Closes eyes hoping. Doesn’t know if they’re shooting with all the noise. Tyres screech. And he screams as loudly as he can expecting to be hit. Is pelted with glass, and stops knocking into the side of a spinning car.
“How did I get here?” he asks himself in the moment before death, when time buggers off to leave you alone, to let you smoke that last cigarette. White-collar crime is supposed to be victimless. “Hear that you bastards.” Keeps running and slips on…grass.
He stands and sees three Middle Eastern men pointing and trying to get past the mangle of cars. One stuffs a gun in the small of his back and tugs down on his jacket. Benn recognises one of the men, a man he’s had many of those lunches with over the past few years. Benn gives them the one finger salute. “Victimless crime you idiots. So if it’s a white-collar crime, you can’t be victims now can you?” Rubs eyes mock crying. “Why be babies about it?” Laughs and calculates the odds. “12,000 to 1, go on, run, take you chances.”
It’s his ability to crunch numbers and make creative solutions that got him into this position. A quant and creative specialist at a boutique investment bank, he was tasked with coming up with a solution to by-pass the corrupt taxation system of an African country’s dictatorship for new clients. It didn’t help they’re also known arms smugglers, so all payments were made in person. The solution was a brilliant one. It had been working now for three years without a problem. Benn got his promotion and his annual bonus recently increased to USD2 million because of it.
Brushing himself down walks quickly to the road across the park and gets in a mini cab. “The 24/7 gym near Waterloo station,” he tells the man handing him 50 quid. “Get me there in twenty and I’ll give you four more of his brothers.” Takes out his phone and calls. “She should be packed and ready.” The cab pulls out from traffic and travels one hundred feet on the wrong side of the road.
“Tell me you’re packed.” Benn asks Sabrina, his girlfriend. “There’s been a complication.”
“Yes. Don’t tell me we’re not leaving.”
“It’s good, I have it with me.”
“So what’s the complication?”
“We need to push the deadline forward fractionally.”
“I’m on way now. Get tickets for the 12:38 express. The early train. See you at the station.”
Sabrina waits eagerly at the station while Benn is busy at the gym. He opens the briefcase and takes out the key to the supply cage. Inside is a new order of dumbbells destined to be shipped to a gym in Leeds. He loads as many as he can into a suitcase he had specially fitted with a heavy-duty trolley to make it look like any normal suitcase. It is heavy, but he manages to cover the distance to the platform with six minutes to spare before the train is due to depart. His plan was to make two trips. One will have to do.
Sabrina fans the tickets for his attention. They board the train with the suitcase next to them. However, there was a hole in the suitcase and a dumbbell fell out and dropped onto the tracks. The next day a maintenance worker walking the track notices an object wedged between the platform wall and a signal. He bends down and picks up a dumbbell. It is heavy, really heavy and part of it is gold. He rubs it down with his shirt and smiles.
Also published on Medium.