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  • Writer's pictureA.N. Tipton

"Everybody Get Down!"

A tale of a takedown robbery amidst a psychotic break…or was it?

Ari always imagined how she’d react in certain situations, but when something traumatic happened, reality told a different story. She imagined she’d be calm and collected, with a little of badass thrown in while being held at gunpoint, but that’s not what happened.

Six minutes left on the clock on Friday night at the bank she worked at, and there were still seven customers left in the lobby. Her coworker, and friend, Gretta, gave her a look that clearly said WTF as Ari stifled a snort.

They just wanted to go home, people.

Gretta was funny, sassy, and had no problem telling it like it was, to anyone. On the floor between them was a bag of snacks sat nestled inside a plastic grocery bag. Even though they weren’t allowed to eat behind teller row, their manager quietly ignored Gretta’s tendencies, probably afraid of the verbal lashing he’d receive by bringing it up.

Ari was more reserved, shy and kept to herself. She was always aware what the outside world perceived and made sure she was as unassuming and normal as possible. A lesson well learned growing up.

“Have a nice night, Mrs. Alverson,” Ari said, handing her the deposit receipt.

“You too, dear,” her customer replied, walking out the front entrance.

The branch they worked in was considered an in-store branch, but it had a unique layout as they had two entrances. One entrance led to the grocery store near the checkout aisle and the other entrance led to the parking lot, making for a lot of unnecessary foot traffic. Gretta reached down and popped a pretzel in her mouth between the lull of customers. Ari hid a small smile, preparing to call the next customer.

“Everybody get down! a voice rang out.

Everyone stopped, uncomprehending.

“Everybody. Get. Down!” shouted a man by the outside entrance, brandishing a gun.

“Shit,” Gretta hissed, but Ari barely heard her as her world shifted.

Literally shifted.

It felt as if she was having an out-of-body experience, except she was somehow still inside her body, taking a backseat to the events happening around her. The world exploded into sharp colors and sounds, expanding into extrasensory flashes. Was it happening again? Was she having another psychotic episode? All she could think was, Not now, Goddess. Please, not now.

And all she knew was the event came in and out of flashes of jagged memories. Ari became aware that she was kneeling on the ground, holding onto the counter and Jenny, the personal banker, was mouthing to her to hit the alarm. Oh yeah. The alarm. So, she reached up and pressed the two buttons together.

And then she panicked because what if the guy saw her? She yanked her hand back, looking up. Realizing the guy was at her window, Ari stood up, not knowing what to do. Somewhere in the background of her mind she realized Gretta was standing next to her, but the world faded away as she looked into the robber’s eyes, being pulled down into a sense of oblivion. His dark obsidian eyes held hers, and she couldn’t breathe, couldn’t move.

He wasn’t a man; he was a monster. She couldn’t tell what he looked like, because over imposed on his human self was something different. Something she grew up pretending didn’t exist, that she didn’t see. She spent years of therapy and numerous cocktails of prescribed pharmaceuticals to erase hallucinations such as this.

Crappity-crap, she was having an episode, right in the middle of the freaking bank robbery. That thought kicked her into reality as she realized that his gun was pointing at her stomach as he held it close to his body, almost hiding it in his jacket. Why wasn’t he holding it to her head? Ari wanted to laugh hysterically at the thought that if he was trying to be inconspicuous, yelling “Everyone Get Down” in a room full of people wasn’t the way to do it. Was anyone even on the floor? They stood there in silence, looking at each other, as if he didn’t know what to do next.

“What do you want?” Gretta finally asked.

“Put the money in the bag,” he barked, coming to himself, looking at her.

“Bag? What bag? You don’t have a bag,” she smarted off. See? Sassy.

“Get one!” he ordered.

Something was off in his voice. It sounded inhuman, but Ari ignored that too as Gretta and her looked around for some sort of bag. Ari spied the grocery bag on the floor holding the bag of pretzels. Her and Gretta’s eyes met at the same time. Gretta’s silent answer to Ari’s question, was, Oh, hell no. He is not getting my bag.

Ari didn’t even stop to consider how she knew what Gretta was thinking in her heightened state. They both just simply turned away to look for something else as Gretta started opening drawers behind them and pulled out an interoffice envelope, shoving it at Ari.

What? Oh yeah, Ari thought, donkey-balls, the money.

Ari observed her hands grab the money out of her till as she stuffed ones, fives, tens and twenties into it. It wasn’t much, seeing how most of the money was in her bottom drawer. She went to hand him the envelope, when he shook his head.

“You too. Empty your drawer, both of them,” he motioned to Gretta.

His image rippled for a moment, showing a skinny, greenish-grey person, with long lanky hair and dark obsidian, almond-shaped eyes. A shiver passed down Ari’s spine as she tried to hold on to reality, while Gretta snatched the envelope out of her hands.

Gretta started stuffing money in the envelope, ripping the paper and for some reason it sounded like thunder in the quiet room. Gretta paused, surprised, but then just shoved the envelope towards the robber onto the counter and stepped back. He looked at her for a moment, then grabbed the envelope and ran out.

Monthly robbery trainings came back to Ari at that moment and her eyes looked at the height indicator as he left. His image rippled back and forth from human to not. She noted when he was human he was about six feet tall, but her mind saw the monster was shorter, like five feet four inches. Did she even pay attention to his eye color, or what he was wearing?

Jenny locked the doors, while Gretta and Ari locked their drawers and Gretta called 911. Ari grabbed the robbery packet under her window and Jenny grabbed a stack for the customers, instructing them to not talk to each other as they filled out their forms. Gretta was explaining to the 911 operator on the phone that the bank was just robbed.

“What the hell? Hello?” she said, irritated.

“What’s wrong?” Ari asked.

“They put me on hold,” she said incredulously.

“Fill out your packet while you wait,” Ari said, trying to ignore that she could see everyone’s auras flashing around them like she was on a bad trip of LSD. Most everyone’s auras looked like any normal person’s would after getting robbed, except for Mr. Coffee. His aura was silver, with flecks of violet at the edges.

He was mumbling something about this would have never happened in Canada, gun laws were different, his demeanor extremely agitated.

“Mr. Coffee. Calm down. Just fill out this packet and when the police arrive, you can leave,” Jenny instructed.

She was trying to calm him down, but at the mention of police, his aura spiked into full-blown dark indigo, and his eyes glowed in agitation. Ari looked around the room to see if anyone else noticed, but they didn’t, because of course, Ari was having a freaking psychotic episode.

“I’m not filling out your damn form, and you can’t keep me here. Let me out,” he demanded.

Jenny stopped for a moment, surprised, and Ari could see that she was going to argue with him, but his aura was expanding, and the air pressure in the room shifted. Something told Ari to intervene before things became dicey.

The next thing Ari knew, she was standing next to Jenny, facing Mr. Coffee, who suddenly didn’t look anything like Mr. Coffee. He looked taller, terrified and ethereal. His gray hair lengthened to a sheen of shoulder-length black, as his wrinkled skin smoothed out to an even coffee nut color. A sense of déjà vu or dizziness hit her, and she grabbed Jenny’s arm.

“We can’t keep him here,” Ari heard herself say from far away.

“But…” Jenny started.

“I’ll let you out,” Ari told Mr. Coffee with an uncommon authority.

Mr. Coffee moved with inhuman grace, but that could’ve just been her crazy imagination. Her hands were unlocking the door and it was like she was watching a movie, at someone else’s hands pushing the doors open. Mr. Coffee stepped through the door, but paused briefly and placed his hand on her forearm.

“Don’t tell them what you saw, Ari. Don’t ever tell them,” he whispered, too quiet for the others to hear. Something inside her recognized him, almost as kin and that didn’t make sense. Fear hit her system all over again in the form of adrenaline. His inhuman eyes glowed, a knowing look passing through.

“I don’t know what you’re talking about,” she whispered shakily. A small sad smile transformed his face before he was back looking completely human.

“Good, Ari. That’s good,” he said.

“Go,” Ari said, thinking that she’d never see Mr. Coffee again.

God, she hoped she never saw him again. Or any of the monsters that lived inside her head. Or did they?

By the time Gretta got off the phone with Emergency, the police had caught the robber by an unfortunate string of events. Each one precipitated a call to 911 giving the police a play-by-play of the robber’s unsuccessful getaway.

Ari barely remembered the police arriving, dusting for fingerprints and questioning the customers. All she knew was she was in a daze of an overstimulated environment. It took everything for her to not give in to the psychotic episode that hovered like a black cloud. She hoped she appeared rattled versus a crazy person on the verge of hysterics. Why wasn’t her medication working? It should be working.

Instead, flashes of color spiked off everyone’s auras, noises seemed too loud and nervous energy raced through her body, making her jump at every little thing. At some point the FBI arrived, going over the robbery packets and asking questions. She moved on auto pilot, silently telling herself she could fall apart at home, where her medication would take her to oblivion.

“That’s right. She let him leave,” Jenny said in her clipped voice.

“Ms. Jacobs?” one of the FBI agents inquired to Ari. After a moment of silence, he tried again. “Arianna Jacobs?”

“Yes,” Ari said, her full name gaining her attention.

He appeared nondescript with short dark hair, cool greyish eyes and a masculine face. His facial expression was polite, if not a little reproachful, as he exuded a certain air of professionalism. His aura was a calm, light blue, Ari noted. Almost too calm. Something felt off, but she couldn’t pinpoint what. It seemed like he was an unmovable object in a chaotic sea of colors, and for some reason that made Ari hesitant.

“Ms. Jacobs, I’m Special Agent Stephen Wilkes. Your coworker was telling me you had another witness who fled the scene?” he inquired, finishing his statement as a question.

“Mr. Coffee?” she tilted her head as she thought, trying to block out Jenny’s agitation.

“Yes,” he confirmed.

“I didn’t think we could legally keep him here and he seemed insistent that he leave. We have his contact information and I thought it prudent to keep the other customers calm,” Ari explained, irritated with Jenny’s insinuation that she’d done something wrong.

“I see,” he frowned for a moment, and then his face smoothed over as if he was wearing a mask. “Why don’t we go over your statement?”

“Okay,” Ari mumbled as he led her away from Jenny.

They sat at one of the unused desks near the outside door.

“Can you tell me in your own words what happened?” he asked, pen ready. Ari thought he seemed almost bored while she explained what happened. He asked her about the robber’s appearance, glancing at her robbery questionnaire. His eyebrows furrowed at one of her answers.

“You wrote down he had almond-shaped eyes?” he asked.

“That’s right,” she answered.

He moved her questionnaire towards her.

“You drew them? His eyes?” he clarified.

She pulled the paper closer and looked at her unusually decent drawing. Those eyes. God, they were going to haunt her dreams. Slightly tilted, almond-shaped, but a little too big for his face, pitiless black orbs, pulling her down into things left forgotten. A shiver passed over her.

“That’s them,” she whispered so soft, as if afraid that speaking too loud, the robber might reappear.

“What did his glasses look like?” Agent Wilkes asked, a note of steel ringing in his voice. Ari ignored the slight change in his tone.

“Glasses?” she asked, distracted.

“Sunglasses, Ms. Jacobs?” he said, his voice coming out lower.

“Sunglasses? No these are what his eyes looked like,” she said with a determination she hadn’t shown before.

Agent Wilkes sat straighter, as his cool grey eyes assessed, a scary intelligence peering out. That caught her attention and her heart beat a little faster, Mr. Coffee’s words sliding through her head…Don’t ever tell them what you saw.

“I could be wrong. I…I don’t really remember much…” she recanted in a halting voice.

Ari looked down at her answers to the questionnaire, realizing that her answers seemed lacking. How could she focus on what she witnessed when all she could do was try to hold back the colorful world that was exploding around her?

“And his height?” he persisted and she suddenly felt as if she were being interrogated. She noticed that she’d put down two answers. The human height and the monster height.

“Huh,” she mused. “He was about six feet. I remember looking at the height indicator as he ran out. The other one is my height. Sorry, I don’t seem to be thinking clearly.”

Agent Wilkes looked at her, thinking. He finally nodded as if he came to some conclusion that she wasn’t privy to.

“I understand, Ms. Jacobs. It’s a scary situation to find oneself, on the other end of a gun. If we have any more questions, we’ll contact you,” he said in a kind manner, and yet Ari didn’t feel soothed.

His colleague came over and whispered something in his ear. Agent Wilke’s aura spiked, darkening to a deep blue and finally pitch black for an instant and his grey eyes turned cold, like arctic freeze. It happened so fast, in a blink of an eye, he was back to his calm blue aura and polite mask. Ari almost wondered if it even happened, except her hands were suddenly damp and her heart felt as if it wanted to escape from her chest. An unexplained fear bloomed inside her, almost as if something buried deep down recognized something it shouldn’t. Recognized danger, a predator in their midst.

Slowly closing her eyes, she chanted inside her head. Almost done and then you can go home. Just a little longer and everything will be okay.

Ari felt Agent Wilkes get up and move away while she sat and tried to keep it together.

Just a little longer.

“It seems the police have caught the perpetrator. They are going to bring him by for identification before taking him to the station,” Agent Wilkes told the room.

Ari remembered a robbery training they had once. The consultant talked about personal safety, stories of bad men coming to people’s homes to take them hostage and to be cognizant of the personal information at one’s station. Things like not displaying personal photos, drawings the kids drew or business cards. That was Ari’s worst nightmare, someone coming into her home. It wasn’t a nightmare so much as a past reality, so the training seeped deep into her psyche.

The only thing she had at her station was her business cards that displayed her first and last name. It wasn’t much, but she was definitely feeling paranoid enough to casually walked over and put them behind her window. Somewhere in her brain she knew it was probably too late, but logic was taking a backseat to everything else.

Slight tremors rolled over her body at the thought of seeing the monster again. Was it a monster or just her imagination creating hallucinations again? If so, then the hallucinations were plenty that night.

Her breaking point was approaching fast. She could feel it like a slow-moving train gaining speed, ready to slam into her with destructive results. A dull ache started at the base of her skull as the world around her looked like a Van Gough painting.

“Ms. Jacobs?” she heard.

Agent Wilkes stood next to her with a peculiar look on his face. Were his grey eyes more like mercury, shining something malevolent in their depths? She blinked, his eye turning to a dull grey.

“Sorry, what?” I whispered.

“Are you feeling okay?” he asked, his voice calm, but why did it seem fake to her? No. She was far from okay.

“I’m fine, just a little shook up. Delayed reaction, maybe,” she lied.

“It’s the adrenaline. It’s almost over. I need you to stand over there facing the door. They’re going to bring the perpetrator back for identification,” he explained.

She nodded and removed her nametag, setting it next to her business cards before following his instructions.

Time floated by, coming and going as if in snapshots. Ari became aware of the complete silence as one of the officers spoke quietly into his radio.

“Okay, people, just stand still and be quiet. The officers are going to bring the perpetrator just outside the door. Take a good look and we’ll talk when he’s gone,” Agent Wilkes explained.

Ari’s mouth dried up and small tremors shook her hands, so she fisted them by her side. The robber appeared outside the glass door, his hands behind his back flanked by two men in uniform. He was a big guy, perhaps Polynesian or Samoan, with almond-shaped eyes. He shifted on his feet, arriving with an air of insolence or maybe boredom.

Then he noticed Agent Wilkes.

He stiffened, his face losing color as his humanity bled away like paint melting off a statue. Before her, stood a monster. The world fell away, except for her, the monster-robber and Agent Wilkes. The robber’s obsidian eyes widened. An invisible wave of fear burst from him, passing through the glass and soared through the lobby like a tangible force. It crashed through Ari, making her heart flutter, her limbs freeze, and her mouth became even dryer than before.

Frozen. She was frozen in sheer terror, but it wasn’t her terror. No, it was the man standing outside the glass doors.

Time slowed down, or just became irrelevant and all she could think was, it’s not my fear. Keep it together. Oh God. It’s not real. Is it real?

Some hidden part of her screamed to not react in any way so that neither the robber, nor Agent Wilkes would suspect she felt or saw anything out of the ordinary. It was apparent to Ari that nothing was as it seemed, and the robber’s reaction to the Agent confirmed Ari’s suspicions that he was more than he seemed.

She closed her eyes.

It’s not real. It’s not real. It’s not real, she chanted in her head. God, please don’t let it be real.

“Ari,” Gretta said, placing her hand on Ari’s shoulder. Ari jolted, her eyes snapping open. They stared at each other for a moment and then Gretta told her quietly, “He’s gone.”

“Was that the man who robbed you?” Agent Wilkes asked, but all she could feel was the terror the Agent inspired in the robber.

“Yes,” Gretta and Jenny answered.

Ari didn’t know how to answer definitively as she couldn’t really trust what she saw or experienced. The world was moving and flashing and morphing into a strange collection of clarity and mishmash of colors. She was afraid that she couldn’t separate reality from fantasy, or if the fantasy was the reality.

So, she slowly turned to Gretta and said, “I’d like to go home now.”

Home, where oblivion waited.


While the names (and possible species) are fictional, this piece was inspired by true events that happened to me back in my teller days. As a writer, how do you take real life experiences and use them to create and mold stories? Is fiction just a form of life events and imaginings of real people, real feelings and possible scenarios that we, as humans, can relate to? In one of my writing groups we’ve explored this idea of auto-fiction. Taking our reality, but shaping it into how we imagine it to be, or how we remember it or perceive it and creating something unique out of it. I wrote this piece years ago, hiding it away in the proverbial drawer. I’m now letting it out, just revising it a little for my Medium community and my first fiction posting. Hope you enjoy.

Previously posted on in June 2022.

© 2023 A. N. Tipton

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