Tuesday, February 1, 2011

"The Day of the Silent Death" by: Derrick Ferguson

"The Day of the Silent Death"
A Fortune McCall in Sovereign City Adventure
by: Derrick Ferguson

PRO SE PRESENTS Fantasy and Fear #3


Sovereign City, 1935
The First Amalgamated Savings and Trust Bank


It had been said for many years that The First Amalgamated Savings and Trust Bank is the only bank in the Unites States that one would rather dine in rather than do business. And that sentiment is well deserved. Tourists to Sovereign City visited the bank in record numbers as the interior reminded one more of a grand building of the Italian Renaissance rather than that of a financial institution.
On this particular morning, the bank was unusually busy, even more so than usual for a Monday. The bank guards nodded pleasantly at familiar customers that queued up to conduct transactions or were ushered to the desks of various bank officers. There was certainly nothing different or unusual in anything any one did.
When the first body dropped to the Cosmatesque floor, two of the bank guards quickly moved in to give aid to the young woman that lay as still as if she’d been shot in the head.
“What do you think is wrong with her, Joe?” the younger bank guard asked his older co-worker.
“Dunno, Smitty. Do I look like a doc to you? I hope she’s just fainted. Maybe she didn’t eat breakfast. Help me get her to the break room and we’ll call- “Joe Burke stopped as several more bodies dropped. Hearing meaty thuds and thumps behind him, Joe Burke turned to see even more bank customers and employees dropping to the floor as if some celestial hand had flicked their OFF switches.
“What the-“Joe Burke started to say but stopped as Smitty also fell. Joe Burke dropped to one knee, feeling for a pulse. Smitty had none. Neither did the young woman. They were dead. Just that fast.
Joe Burke stood up slowly. Dead bodies surrounded him. Dozens of them. On the floor, slumped over desks. In the space of a little over a minute, everybody in the bank was dead. Except for Joe Burke. Who now was the only living person in the building. Seemed like as good a time as any to go insane.
So that’s exactly what Joe Burke did.

The Chrysler Airflow Sedan stopped at the police barricade set up a full city block away from the bank. The police were taking extraordinary methods of crowd control and with good reason. This was an extraordinary crime. Enough that word had spread and the mob gathered behind the barricade had grown to alarming numbers. Family members that had loved ones who worked in the bank or did business there came from all over the city to find out for themselves what was going on.
The Chrysler parked right next to a small fleet of police cars as if it belonged there. The thick necked copper who bustled up to the driver’s side bellowed; “get this thing outta here! Police only parking! Your boss ain’t doin’ no bankin’ here today!”
The driver, who looked barely old enough to drive, jerked a thumb over his shoulder at his unseen passenger. “My boss isn’t here to do banking. He’s been asked to help in the investigation by Mayor Byles himself. So if you’ll just move that barricade-“
“I’m not movin’ anythin’!” the copper shouted wrathfully. “If your boss is who I think he is then he can get out and walk to the crime scene like the rest of us!”
The driver started to say something but the cultured, resonate voice from the back said calmly; “Don’t, Ronald. It is well. Tracy and I can walk. You stay here with the car and we’ll meet you back here when our business here is done.”
The rear door opened and a rapier thin man of average height climbed out. Handsome and dapper in his black business suit with colorful paisley vest, a black fedora cocked jauntily over one eye. He pointed his walking stick at the copper. “No problem against my man waiting here is there, officer?”
The policeman mumbled something inarticulate and turned away to help his fellow officers keep the rest of the crowd back as the slim man ducked under the barricade and walked toward the bank. A diminutive woman also clambered out of the car to follow him. Dressed in riding jodhpurs, sheepskin aviator’s jacket and aviator’s cap, she looked as if she were ready to jump in a plane and attempt to cross the Atlantic at a moment’s notice. She looked equally ready to jump on the police officer. She caught up to her companion who walked as easily as if he were taking in the afternoon air along Bishop Boulevard and wasn’t on his way to a horrific crime scene.