Latest Flash

Sleeper

Life is one long hustle. 

Eventually, the hustle claims us all.

Sleeper by GJ Hart


Located on the corner of Haskers Street, couched in the shadow cast by the monolith housing Crest and Crescent Global Financial Services, Eastminster Bank was, as usual, as good as empty.

This scene—the bank staffed by a temporary teller and six gleaming  ATMs— was a concise summation of what London had become. Nothing but acres of steel and glass poised above lonely walkways lined by deserted cafes and automated sales points.


***

London

How Den hated it now. Hated the endless days patrolling abandoned streets and the nights of abuse administered by snide fund managers ramped on coke and flaming amaretto.

Sitting alone in his patrol car, in the grotty darkness of a half-built car park, Den dreamed things differently.

If it weren't for the fucking debts....


Den was stuck fast between angry and not angry enough. He needed to excel, but how could he when the only crimes ever committed were perpetrated around glass tables in offices high above him and all of them?

Den locked his patrol car and headed out toward the high street to Derick's, his favorite café; a rare independent run by real people selling real food to real people. 


As he passed Eastminster Bank, a woman stepped from a Ranger Rover Sport and entered without urgency. Once inside, she pulled out a debit card and pretended to slot it into one of the dispensers. When sure there were no other customers, she whipped a Kimber from her handbag and aimed it between the teller’s eyes. “Fill it,” she said, throwing him a hold-all.

When done, she motioned for him to lie down. “If you move,” she drawled in an accent redolent with bygone garden parties and spite. “I'll shoot your fucking nuts off.”

Exiting as casually as she’d entered, she climbed into the Ranger Rover and eased away.

Den was about to take his table when he saw the teller in tears, staggering through the bank's doors. Standing, he clicked on his radio. “Suspected bank robbery... am in pursuit…. will update.”


He ran into the road and flagged down the first car that passed, flinging open its door. “I’m PC Den Allan,” he said, “and I need you to follow that car.”

The old man gulped for air.

It was Den’s first follow that car and it felt damn good. “What’s your name?” he said, squeezing into the tiny, egg shaped car.

“Malcom,” the driver said.

“Well, Malcom, I need you to concentrate. Stay focused.”

“Okay, okay.”

“What kind of car is this?” Den said, trying to force his legs into the narrow foot well.

“A nineteen sixty-seven Fiat five-hundred. Restored it myself. Every nut, bolt, and spot weld.”

“Impressive.”

“Guess its name,” Malcom said, his initial fear now superseded by his enthusiasm and adoration for his car.
“What?”

“Its name - guess.”

“No idea - Thor, The Impaler, Terminator,” Den said, smirking.

Den noticed an odd expression cross Malcom’s face. 

“Wrong, my friend,” said Malcom, poking play on an eight-track dangling beneath the choke. 


Den moaned as Hawkwind’s Silver Machine dribbled from the car’s only speaker.

“Jenifer.”

“Jenifer?”

“Yes. Jenifer.”

With that, Malcom hit the accelerator and somewhere something exploded.

What the fuck?” Den said.

The speed was abrupt and terrifying, the little car's engine roared and snarled like an escaped beast atop its tormentor. Outside, the world swirled, diced, and blended.

Den wasn't in London any more. “What is this thing?” he screamed as his head jack-hammered the sunroof.

“Like I said,” shouted Malcom, “She's a nineteen sixty-seven Fiat five-hundred. But with one difference. I replaced the four seventy-nine C.C. two-cylinder engine with a five-point-five liter, twin-turbo V-twelve. It produces four twenty-four horsepower. Zero to sixty in less than five fucking seconds.”

Den winced as the seat springs pierced his back.

Seeing the tiny car in her mirror, the woman laughed and switched on the radio. Checking again, she was confused to see it gaining ground. A few moments later, its relentless, incongruous trajectory had brought it inches from her bumper. Panicking, she stamped on the gas and the Range Rover’s mighty engine heaved as if struck by a wave.

“How am I doing?” Malcom said, bouncing in his seat.

“I'm sorry,” said Den.

“Sorry?”

“Yes, sorry.”  Den pulled a snubnose knife from his breast pocket and jabbed it into Malcom’s side. 

As Malcom slumped forward, Den grabbed the wheel and guided the car to the kerb.

Ahead, the Range Rover pulled over. 

Den nodded.

After dragging Malcom’s limp body into the passenger seat, Den climbed behind the wheel and drove Jenifer down into the grotty darkness of a half-built car park.


GJ Hart currently lives and works in London and has had stories published in The Molotov Cocktail, Jersey Devil Press, The Airgonaut, The Harpoon Review, The Jellyfish Review and others. He can be found arguing with himself over @gj_hart.