1 Chapter 1

The door of the bank crashed open and two masked men armed with assault weapons came charging through like two wild bulls. One ran to the first window, shoved a bag in, pointed his weapon, and shouted, “Fill it up!”

The second man pointed his gun toward the customers and yelled, “Get down, now!”

Women screamed while men scrambled to the ground, their searching eyes looking around in fright while nervous mumbles, whispers, and sobs filled the confined space.

The first robber aimed the gun at the teller who shook with fear. “I gave you an order. Are you hard of hearing?” When the man didn’t answer, he said, “Move it, or fuckin’ die!”

The man’s trembling lips parted. “I don’t need to be afraid of you, t-the p-power of the L-Lord will save me.”

“That’s it, you fuckin’ weirdo, you’re screwed!” He pointed the assault weapon at his head. “I ain’t tellin’ you again. Fill it up or on the count of thr—”

All at once the sound of sirens came from outside, the high-pitched screeching sounds getting closer and closer. “It’s the fuckin’ cops!” one of the robbers yelled out. “Quick! Get the hell out!”

While the robbers were running for the door, Reny Stark saw his chance, and began rolling along the floor until he was close enough to the robber to reach out and grab his foot, causing him to fall. When he did, Reny grabbed his gun and was about to scramble to his feet and use it to blast his way out when the police came rushing, their weapons drawn, hate etched on their faces. Armed with an assault weapon he knew they would never believe him if he tried to tell them that he had nothing to do with the robbery, so he looked around and saw a hallway leading to the back. Clenching the gun in his hand, he quickly got to his feet and ran. He began looking around for a back door, but didn’t see one. He did see an open door with daylight flooding in and rushed toward it. A window! He ran in and tried to open it, but it wouldn’t budge. He looked around, realized he was trapped, so he bent his arm and hit it with his elbow, shattering it.

The sound was like a bomb bursting.

“It came from this way!” one of the cops yelled. “Hurry!”

He could hear their footsteps moving down the hall, so he scrambled and jumped down on the ground and ran.

He stayed close to the buildings, hiding in recessed doorways and behind dumpsters until he saw them closing in. He didn’t move. Tried not to breathe. When he saw that the way was finally cleared he turned, bolted out of his hiding place, and ran around corners, and in front of skidding cars, but they spotted him, and stayed right on his tail. The searing heat from the bullets whizzed past his head. So close. He had ducked into another alleyway and got lost in among the boxes of trash and debris when he heard the pounding of feet again. He didn’t know how close they were, so he took a chance, crawled out of his hiding place, and took a quick look around the corner. A loud crack made him duck when a shot almost took off his ear. He shot back, but his hand shook.

These men in black were only shadows, blending in with the late afternoon gloom, and almost as transparent as the wind. Every time he thought he had them they would dart away, and his bullet would go wild. But he couldn’t stop, he had to keep going until he reached the familiar territory of Gangland. The cops wouldn’t dare follow him there, at least not on foot. Anything in uniform was shot on sight, no questions asked, so after winding around behind buildings, into alleyways, and splashing through puddles, he finally found himself surrounded by the familiar graphitized walls, decaying buildings, crumbling curbs, cracked asphalt, and winding streets. Finally, he lost them.

Slowing down, he fell against the side of a building for a quick breath. He squeezed his eyes shut while perspiration rolled down his face. He was scared. He’d been out of prison just a couple of months, and to go back now would be the end for him. They’d throw away the key. At this point he was desperate enough to do anything he could to keep himself clean, especially when he remembered how it was in prison.

If he hadn’t been so fuckin’ hungry back then. He hadn’t had a decent meal in…who knew how long? Hell, it looked so easy. Almost boring. Like taking candy from a baby. The friggin’ target was just another schmuck with lots of dough, and no protection, but by the time it was over it gave him a one-way ticket to a lonely cell, a creaky bed, and a springy mattress. Man can live without freedom, man can get lost in his fantasies, tell himself stories, create his own fantastical realities. He can even fly, soar in dreams, and he can jump off the tallest ledges and survive—in his imagination. But man can never escape, no matter how hard he tries because he can never outrun his conscious thoughts. They haunt him constantly, they yell and scream in the back of his mind, until they blur and mix, leaving him to rip out his own hair for relief.

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