Rain pours down around me as I trudge through the streets of New York City. By now my Converse and hoodie are soaked. My long two mile trek to the junkyard was pointless, as by the time I got there, I already had to head back. The others will be disappointed to hear I came back with nothing. Street lights light up the starless night and by now, I’m almost there. As I continue walking down the barren street, the warehouse comes into view. I remember when I founded our group five years ago. It had been a place for orphans with no place to go. This city is no place for kids like us. We won’t be able to survive on our own. Neon signs shine in the windows of run down stores. I’ve lived in this city all my life, but it wasn’t the best part of town.
When I arrive, my vice-leader Maude walks up to me excitedly. “So, what did you find?” she asks expectantly.
“Nothing,” I respond with a sigh.
“I guess I’ll have to tell the others,” she says glumly. I feel lousy for not bringing back any valuables, but I know there was nothing I could do about it. As the city gets poorer and poorer, so did we. Just as I begin to talk with Maude about our plans for food, I see Slade walk up.
“I heard we were running out of money and food again. Why is that?” Slade asks in his usual annoying manner.
“I don’t know, you tell me. Do you have any ideas?” I respond sarcastically.
“You are the leader here. Aren’t you supposed to be leading us?” When Slade first came to our warehouse, I thought he might be useful to us, but now I’m thinking otherwise.
“Look, we’ll handle it. We always do,” I respond reassuringly, not really believing my words. We’ve never gone through a food shortage like this. I’m beginning to think we might have to resort to drastic measures like bank robbing again. Last time I did that, I nearly went to jail.
“Well you better figure something out fast,” Slade retorts before stomping off.
“Maude, can you start decreasing food rations?” I ask.
“Evie, are you sure? We’ve already decreased the food rations drastically,” she prompts.
“It’s the only way,” I respond. “If we don’t start decreasing our food supplies, we’ll run out of food. Slade, announce a meeting at eleven,” I command.
I stand at the front of the room, with Maude by my side. Everyone else sat in assorted chairs and couches that we had found over the years. Seeing everyone here was a reminder of how much our group had grown in numbers. When I first found this group, there were only ten of us and our leader was Ace. Now there are about thirty of us! Just before Ace died of the disease, he had passed the leadership on to me. Things had been a lot different when Ace was the leader and people have been criticising me because of it. He was a compassionate leader, but things were still hard back then. I clear my voice and get ready for my speech. “As you all know, food supplies are running low. If we don’t do something fast, we might run out. This is why we are decreasing food rations. Maude and I have talked and finally decided that the best option for everyone is to start robbing banks again. We will need to split into groups. Slade, you will be the one stealing. Thomas and Axle, you will hack into the security database. Andrea, Robbie, and Jonathan, you manage the food supply and Madison, Lea, and Blaze can manage the money. The rest of you get odd jobs where ever you can.” Everyone ran off to do their assigned jobs. Now that everyone else was busy, I wondered what I would do with myself.
“So when are we planning on robbing the bank?” Axle questioned.
“To be honest, I didn’t think about that,” I reply. “I guess when everything is ready.”
“Okay, boss. I guess I better get started.”
“Make sure they can’t find our location.”
“Will do.” I don’t know why I was even telling him this. Axle was our best hacker and he had been with us for years. He had never failed me yet and I hoped he never would. This would be our most important robbery yet. I wanted to make sure that if we were robbing a bank, we would make a lot of money. As I think more about the bank, Maude walks up to me from across the room.
“Is there anything you need me for?” she asked.
“Just make sure everyone is on task and organized,” I reply. Maude was one of our first members. The reason she was vice-leader was because she had been loyal to us from the start. She was only ten, five years younger than me, but still, she had such a big impact on this place. I honestly think that our group wouldn’t have even made it without her. Hopefully she realized how grateful I am to her, and how much I respected her, even with her age. Now that I think about it, I was her age when I founded this group. I just wish she could enjoy her childhood. Most kids weren’t part of a secret group living in a warehouse.
Later that night, while sitting on a mattress in one of the warehouse storage rooms, I began to think about if we really could pull this bank robbing thing off, and what if we couldn’t. If Slade got caught, I don’t know what I would do. I would feel so guilty. Then I began to wonder if our hacker team was good enough. Of course they’re good enough, I thought. I just have to believe in them.
The next morning I walked into Axle and Thomas’s room where they were working on the hacking. “Have you been up all night?” I asked Thomas when I saw his disheveled hair.
“Yeah, and I went through ten cups of coffee!” he joked.
“How far did you get?” I asked. He showed me all of the progress he had made. “Wow, you’ve done a lot of work!” I exclaim.
“Well Axle has helped a lot too and I think we might be able to hack into the bank’s system soon.”
“Good, I’ll go see if Maude has any news for me.” Walking to Maude’s room, I find her bed empty. Its just like Maude to start working so early, I think to myself. I decide to go to the kitchen to see if I can find her there. Sure enough, there she is in our kitchen cooking eggs. Well, in our makeshift kitchen considering the stove is old and barely works. We were lucky that Slade knew enough about the wiring that he could get the stove and fridge to work.
“Hungry?” Maude sets down a plate of eggs on the table in front of me.
“Yeah, I can eat.” I dig into my breakfast. Maude had been the cook around here for a long time. Good thing because she is the only one who knows how to cook. “So any news about Slade?” I ask. “I heard he was having a tough time coming up with a plan to break into the bank.”
“At first it was hard, but I think we’ve found a good entrance,” Maude states. “The security there is the worst in the building and they won’t be expecting us.”
“Oh really, why is that?” I ask.
“Um, because it involves going up the garbage chute,” Maude says hesitantly.
“Well, thankfully I’m not the one sneaking in,” I answer. Maude knows I’m a germaphobe even though I spend so much time in the junkyard. Just at that moment, Slade walks in.
“So, I was planning on…”
“Never mind, I heard all about it,” I say, cutting off Slade in the middle of his sentence. “So what date are we planning on doing this?” I ask.
“Sunday,” responded Slade. “It won’t be very busy that day.”
“This Sunday?” I ask. “It’s already Friday.”
“If we don’t do it soon, we’ll run out of food and money.”
“Well, I better tell Axle and Thomas to hurry up.” I walk up the steep metal steps to Thomas and Axle’s room. When I enter, I see them both typing away and staring at the screen. “So how is everything?” I ask as I step over to their computers.
“I’ve figured out how to turn off all power,” Axle responded.
“I can now control their security system,” Thomas suggested.
“Good, everything should be ready for Sunday,” I say.
“Sunday?” Thomas asks in disbelief.
“You should be ready to go, shouldn’t you?” I question.
“Yeah, I guess, but its just so soon!” Thomas exclaims.
“Of course, but remember to get some sleep for the big day!” I say as I walk out of the room.
Later as I lie in bed, staring at the ceiling, I began to worry. My last thought before I fell asleep was, hopefully Slade can pull this off.
The next morning as I walk into the kitchen for breakfast, I notice something different. “Where’s Slade?” I asked Maude, seeing the glum expression on her face.
“He’s ill,” she states.
“What? Will he be better in time to rob the bank?” I ask in disbelief.
“He might not be better for many weeks,” Maude said hopelessly. “I was thinking you could go instead.”
“Who’s going to be in charge while I’m gone?” I challenge.
“I could,” Maude suggested.
“But I’ve never done anything like this before.”
“Yes you have, before Slade joined our group.”
“That was years ago.”
“Well what other option do we have?” Maude demands. I’m shocked, though I know she is right.
“I guess I better prepare,” I reply sullenly.
I stand nervously in front of the New York City bank, trying not to look suspicious. A chip inside of my ear had Axle and Thomas giving me instructions. I look down at my watch. Its 23:59. It’s time to enter the bank. Silently, I climb into the narrow passageway. The walls feel as if they are closing in around me. My special boots help me climb up the metal walls. Eventually, I make it to the top and arrive in a room. “I’ve turned all the security cameras off,” I hear Thomas whisper in my ear. I walk out of the room and come to a hallway. “Go down the hallway to the right.” Quietly, I tiptoe down the hallway until I reach a giant vault. It reached from floor to ceiling and was silver and shiny. This must hold a lot of money! I thought. As I observed the vault, I began to get excited about how much money this vault must hold.
“Wow, this must be it!” I whisper.
“Yes, the code is 58255,” Axle says hurriedly. I type the code into the number panel to the right of the vault. Stepping inside the giant vault, I grab as much money as I can, stuffing it into the bag I brought. The money is stacked from floor to ceiling on shelves. Instead of tens and twenty dollar bills, I see hundred dollar bills. Suddenly, the alarms go off!
“What's happening?” I shout.
“There was a security camera in the vault that I didn’t see!,” Thomas admits. “You better get out of there fast! Security will be there soon!” I run down the hall and into the room I first entered. Quickly, I climb into the garbage chute, before any of the security could catch me. Once I was outside, I didn’t stop running until I was a few blocks away from the bank. I leaned against the wall in an alley and stuffed the money bag behind a dumpster. Luckily Axle had turned off all the security cameras on the outside of the building. As I sat in the alley catching my breath, I began to think about all the money I had and what I could do with it. Of course there wouldn’t be very much money left after food was bought and we repaired the warehouse. If I don’t go back I would have so much money, I thought to myself. I could spend it on a house, a car, I could be rich. Why should I go back? If they have Maude, they’ll be fine without me. Exhausted I lay down in the alley to take a nap. As I fell asleep, I thought about what to do with all of my money.
I woke with a start hearing police sirens in the distance. Suddenly I remembered what happened yesterday. How long had I been sleeping? I thought. The sun was starting to rise on the horizon. To make sure the money bag was still there, I checked
behind the dumpster. Good, its still there, I thought to myself. All of a sudden, I realized my last thoughts before falling asleep. Take the money? How could I be so selfish? I thought. They are the only reason I was able to take the money! After all they did for me?
I set off for the warehouse determined to make them proud with the hundreds of thousands of dollars we had gotten. Maude, Thomas, Slade, and Axle had worked hard to keep us alive and so would I. Once I got back, I would try my best to be a great leader. After all, what could matter more than friends? I thought.