The headlights on the van flicked off as it drove along the dark street. The van carried on driving for a another block. Without indicating it turned into a narrow alleyway. The driver cut the engine and let the van drift quietly until it came to a rest.

‘Anyone see us?’ the driver asked the two men sitting alongside him in the front.

‘Not a soul on the street,’ the younger man replied.

‘Okay, let’s go.’ The driver opened his door and slipped out. The other two men exited from the passenger side. They circled round and met at the rear of the vehicle. The driver unlocked the rear doors and opened them.

The woman inside the van looked up. The driver nodded.

‘Good,’ she said. She tucked her handgun into the waistband of her pants. ‘Keep an eye on him.’ On the floor of the van lay another man, tied up by his wrists and ankles and a black bag covering his head.

Putting a baseball cap on, the woman jumped down and walked to the end of the alley. She peered round the corner. The street remained empty.  She waved back to the van, signalling the others to follow her.

‘Okay, Timmy, bring him down here,’ the driver said to the younger man.

‘Why do I have to be Timmy? Why can’t he be Timmy?’ he pointed at the other man, who smiled at him.

‘You got a choice. You can be Timmy or Anne? Which would you rather?’

‘Enough,’ the driver snapped. ‘They’re only names. It doesn’t matter who is who. We don’t fight. We’ve got better things to do tonight. Let’s get going.’

Timmy rolled the tied-up man out the van. He dropped to the ground. The driver began untying his ankles. Timmy took out a gun and pressed it into the prone man’s temple.

‘Caps on,’ the driver told them. They each put a baseball cap on and pulled them down low. ‘Now, listen,’ the driver spoke to the man lying on the ground. ‘I’m going to untie your wrists. Timmy and Julian here have got loaded guns pointed at your head. You try to run or make a sound and they will shoot you. Understand?’

The black sack nodded, accompanied by a whimper.

‘On your feet,’ the driver instructed him, pulling him up by the arm. He guided the man along the alley.

‘All set?’ the woman asked as they approached.

‘All set,’ the driver answered.

The woman moved to join them standing behind the hostage. She drew the bag off the man’s head. ‘Don’t even think about turning round to try and see our faces,’ she warned him. ‘Go.’

Julian jabbed the gun into the man’s rib cage and nudged him forward. They walked along the front of the building, staying close to the wall and in the shadows. Julian kept his head down as they passed the security cameras that pointed at the entrance.

‘Unlock the doors.’ The man did as instructed. Julian gave him another jab with the gun when he fumbled the keys. Timmy made his way along the wall towards them. When he was underneath the camera he took out a spray can, reached round, and covered the camera lens. The driver and woman now moved and joined them at the door.

‘In you go,’ Julian said, pushing the man ahead of him. The alarm started beeping as the doors opened, waiting for the code to be entered to disarm it. Julian pushed the man over to the alarm panel in the vestibule. ‘Make sure you get it right.’

The man, sweat pouring down his brow, hands shaking, punched in six digits, then hit ‘enter.’ The alarm stopped beeping.

Timmy had followed them in. Keeping his head lowered he walked around the lobby and, using the spray can, covered two more cameras. ‘All done, Dick.’

The driver, Dick,  stepped forward. ‘Thank you for your help,’ he said to the terrified man. ‘Sorry about this.’ He struck the man hard across the back of his head. The man collapsed in a heap.

‘Tie him up,’ the woman said, stepping over the unconscious body. ‘Five minutes. Get to work.’

They split up and headed across the polished floor. Each knew their specified area. Dick finished securing the man and then stood covering the door. He kept an eye on his watch.

‘Four minutes,’ he hissed.

Timmy and Julian went into identical offices on either side of the lobby. Each had a small safe built into the wall. The woman opened a secure door at the back of the lobby with the keys. She disappeared inside.

‘Three minutes,’ Dick said.

Timmy was the first to emerge, stuffing a sheaf of paper into a satchel. ‘Easy.’ Julian emerged thirty seconds later with a similar sized bundle. ‘What took you so long, old man?’ Timmy said.

‘Enough,’ Dick snapped. ‘Two minutes.’

They stood waiting for the woman to reappear. There was the sound of silenced gunshots and bullets clanging into metal.

‘One minute, Georgie,’ Dick hissed, staring at his watch. Georgie emerged carrying two bulging satchels.

‘More than we expected,’ she grinned, moving past them to the door. She checked that the street was empty, then darted out. The others followed. Dick came last and locked the doors behind them.

‘Computer?’ Dick asked.

‘Destroyed,’ Georgie replied.

He got back to the van. Georgie was sitting in front, Julian and Timmy were in the back with the bags. Dick started the engine and backed out of the alley. The road was still deserted. He drove two blocks before hitting the headlights on. ‘Clockwork,’ he smiled at Georgie.

Georgie turned and looked behind her. ‘We get it all?’ she asked.

‘And more,’ Julian answered, scanning the papers.

‘See what a little teamwork can achieve?’ Georgie took her baseball cap off, her long dark hair unfolding. ‘You two get changed. Leave everything apart from the bags in the van to burn. This time tomorrow you’re in Monte Carlo. We’ll meet you there as agreed when we’ve been paid.’

Dick pulled over at the side of the road. Julian and Timmy jumped out and crossed the road to a bus stop. The X22 bus, direct to Dulles International airport, picked them up ten minutes later.

‘Amazing what lengths governments will go to to protect their interests,’ Dick said, pulling away from the sidewalk.

‘So long as they pay us, who’s caring?’ Georgie replied.

They left the bright lights of Washington D.C. behind them as they headed out onto the George Washington Memorial Parkway.

‘You don’t feel sorry for them? A lot of hard work went into all this data.’

‘You suddenly grown a conscience? Since when did you care about the future of the planet?’

‘It’s just we could change the world with this information.’

‘I’d rather take the money and stay out of it.’

‘What if a few of the documents weren’t delivered, just a page here or there? What if they ended up in the hands of someone else. Maybe a newspaper, or that new group in San Francisco that cares about the environment so much?’

Georgie smiled at Dick, a mischievous glint in her eyes. Ahead of them the sun broke over the buildings of Langley.


Written as part of Friday Fiction Challenge, hosted by Simply Marquessa. The challenge is to write a fiction story based on the selected song lyric.

This week’s lyric comes from ‘She Wants To Dance With Me,’ performed by Rick Astley: “When we’re together, we never fight…we’ve got better things to do tonight…” More details here: ‘She Wants To Dance With Me’.

Little bit of background – in 1975 a US scientist, Wallace Broecker put the term ‘global warming’ into the public domain for the first time in a scientific paper – although the link between CO2 levels and rising temperatures had been theorised, researched and known about for decades earlier. Around 1975, Greenpeace, which had up until then been a small band of protesters, was officially formed in San Francisco. Also in the mid-1970s, home or office computers were just beginning to appear in the workplace.

A bonus for anyone who knows where the cover names used by the characters in the story come from…

20 thoughts on “ROBBERY

  1. I have no idea where the names come from but in the 1970s, most of the news about climate seemed to indicate a global cooling period, though information was very confused back then. Also, and all this is personal history, I don’t recall the first PCs being available until the early to mid-1980s, though I suppose some businesses might have used early, expensive models.

    Oh, check out my story based on the prompt, which is quite a bit different from yours.

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    1. Thanks James, obviously I’m going on a bit of research as I wasn’t around in the 1970s! But as I say in the footnote, there had been quite a bit of research already done that showed the link between CO2 emissions and a warming of the climate, as far back as the 19th century. It wasn’t until the later ’70s and ’80s that the public seemed to become more aware of this. My story hints at a possible attempt to keep the public in the dark about global warming, which I think could be argued is still happening to this day with a lot of misinformation and selective data analysis… Computers weren’t widespread until the ’80s in offices, but the odd one was around from the mid-’70s (Intel’s first micro-processor came along in 1974), so a state of the art, scientific-based office might have got their hands on an early one. As for the names – we’ll see if anyone else knows. Look forward to reading your story.

      Liked by 1 person

    2. Yeah, my dad had a PC Jr (I think it was a Hewlett-Packard) that he upgraded to a PC in 1974 — the year my mom died. They were available, but pricey, and definitely not ubiquitous. I don’t know who the “Famous Five” were, but I was hoping for a Sneakers reference, lol.

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      1. Thanks Sue, good to know my research paid off. The Famous Five were a group of teenagers who used to spend school holidays finding treasure and catching criminals, written by Enid Blyton. Massively popular in the UK among younger readers ever since they first appeared in the 1940s. Wasn’t sure if many of my blog readers would be aware of them!

        Liked by 1 person

  2. Excellent Iain. At first I was expecting a shorter story and thought you might surprise us by revealing that the gang were on their way to do some guerrilla gardening or knitting. Then things got grimmer and I became really engrossed in a “proper” thriller.
    Although I’m more of a Swallows and Amazons/Arthur Ransome fan, I sussed the Famous Five references. Maybe Enid would have written stuff like this if she’d been born later.
    By the way, I’m slightly worried about the amount of thought you’ve obviously given to planning a criminal escapade like this one. What did you say your day job was?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Haha, well done on getting the Famous Five! My sister used to read those books. I wonder what Enid Blyton would make of the modern world. My day job is nowhere near as interesting as this, I’m afraid. Thanks for reading and commenting 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

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