What would you do if terrorists walked into YOUR post office? Would you try to be a hero, or just survive?
I tapped my foot and clicked my tongue as I stood, otherwise silently. The line still hadn’t moved, and I was beginning to regret the decision to mail this letter to my parents.
They were holidaying in London this year, and Charlotte had written her first letter to them. I could still see the smile on her little face when she handed me the finished letter and asked me to send it out to ‘Grammy’ and ‘Pop-Pop’.
Snail mail. That child still loved the idea of snail mail. I sniggered and tried not to let out a small snort of laughter in the small post office. She was one of a kind. Fortunately, she’d inherited more of Dale’s qualities than my own.
A sudden burst of wind indicated another person had entered the post office, and I avoided the instinct to turn and look at who it was. Before I had a chance to grab a sneaky glance, I heard something being shoved in front of the door, and the woman behind me in line screamed.
This time, I allowed my instinct to take over and whirled around, bending down to cower as I did so. There were four men wearing black cargo pants, black t-shirts, and masks over their faces. The most important thing that I’d noticed, however, was the large machine guns that they all held.
The one in front grabbed onto the woman who had screamed and threw her towards the ground, aiming the gun directly at my face. He was towering above me, but the only thing I could see through his mask – and the blurring of my own tears – was the eyes. They were dark and cold. No life in them.
“Everyone just do as we say, and we’ll leave you to your business,’ he said. His voice was strong and commanding, but he hadn’t raised it to a shout. The scream would have gathered interest outside, however. His attempt to keep this quiet was going to be fruitless.
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The four men moved towards the tellers behind the screens, and protective doors. Behind them, packages and people’s personal mail is hidden in the back room. I do my best to remain at my place on the floor, but somehow – even through the haze of panic and fear – I’m still curious to see what they’re doing. My daughters letter is still clutched in my hand, and I readjust myself so I can peek up behind the person in front of me.
The men had ordered us to all remain on the ground, and were currently having a hushed conversation with the post office employees. I managed to get words like ‘our package’ and ‘let us in there’ before the employees shook their heads and tried to explain something.
Clearly not happy with the answer, the man in charge aimed the weapon he carried and told them to open the doors and let him back there.
“I’m sorry but we don’t have the code for the back room anyway. The manager was out for her lunch break, and she’s the only one with it,” the bravest staff member said.
The man in the mask straightened his posture and raised his voice this time. “I don’t believe that only one staff member has the code. Give me my property – my package – now. Or things will get messy in here.”
Before anyone could reply, sirens from outside grew closer. They were coming for us. For them.
Sensing the falling apart of their plan, all four men simultaneously looked at each other, then moved as a unit towards the back door. Ignoring the electronic code lock, they shot at the keypad instead. The noise was deafening in the small space, and I reached up to shield my ears the best I could. It was too late though, all I could hear now was ringing as the sounds around me sunk underwater.
Shock started to overcome my senses, and I watched the scene in slow motion. The men started to make their way into the back room, shoving aside the post office employees. Almost at the same moment, the police had decided the only way to deal with things. A distant metal clinking sounded as the door to the post office opened, and a canister was thrown into the room.
I didn’t know how long I’d been there. On that floor with those men aiming their guns. It could have been five minutes, it could have been fifty. The only thing I knew in that moment, was that I needed to move out of the way.
The canister exploded into a puff of smoke, and my senses were once again thrown into overdrive. It must be one of those flash grenades I’ve heard about. But I don’t actually know.
I reach up to my ears again, trying to shield my face from whatever would happen next.
I close my eyes and scrunch into a ball as I hear the screams, wailing, and sounds of gunfire and bodies falling to the ground.
It feels like an hour before I finally feel a hand on my arm. I try to swat it away, but as I open my eyes, I see that it’s a policeman. They’re here to save me. To save us all.
As I’m led out of the post office, I check for a sign of what had just happened. It had all gone through so fast. In a blur of shock, and fear.
Three of the four men are being led into a large, black police van. The other seems to have been shot, and is being wheeled into an ambulance.
I let them look me over and see if I’ve been hurt. When the paramedic smiles at me, she asks something, but I don’t hear her. Noises are still a blur. When she asks again, she points to my lap this time. I look down. I’m still holding Charlotte’s letter.
The woman holds out her hand for it, and I wordlessly stare down at it, before finally handing it out to her. Maybe next time I’ll convince Charlotte to email instead.
Did you enjoy my short story? I’ll be posting another one next month, so keep an eye out!
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