by Andrew Busch

The gravity felt like it doubled as Joi approached the front door of the bank.

“You ready?” Ant asked. A gas mask hung around his neck where the edge of a tattoo curled above the shoulder strap of his armored vest.  

Joi glanced through the spotless glass at the two tellers and a guard positioned inside. They were huddled in front of a screen in the corner of the room, watching the Kato Clan’s fighting broadcast. The tellers in their gray suits shouted at one another as one of the glistening fighters landed a flying haymaker in the temple of her opponent. 

Joi used their distraction to move to the other side of the front entrance, becoming a part of the elongating shadows as the sun fell lower behind the city. With her back against the granite façade of the building, she pulled her gas mask over her face. She extracted a silver canister from the pack. Her heart was beating in her ears like the whir of skiff traffic high above the city streets. 

She watched Ant reveal a canister of his own, removing the pin. With a silent nod, he opened the door and they both released them into the center of the room. Joi could hear a muffled shout stifled by the hollow pop with a flash of bright light. In seconds, a thick gray smoke enveloped the space. The men collapsed as the gas overwhelmed them.

Ant moved inside and Joi followed behind him. As Ant veered off to disable the cameras, she beelined for the safe and removed a flat device from her pack. She placed it on the exterior of the vault to the server room and pressed the button on her holo. The pad buzzed and pulsed as it modulated through a series of signals, crackling with static until the magnetic lock was forced to cooperate. The vault door swung open.

Joi ducked through the opening and passed into the blank, white room beyond the impenetrable steel with Ant trailing her like a shadow. At the center was a computer terminal fitted with a rack of cryptodrives humming along as they worked to harvest new tokens from out of thin air. It was the kind of magic that only money could buy. Ant held the bag open and as Joi unplugged the devices, she placed them inside. Joi could feel her palms sweating inside her black gloves.

“This is at least enough for two rigs,” Joi said.

“So, drinks on you then?” Ant said.

“I think you still owe me from last time.” She slung the bag over her shoulders. 

He approached her, grabbing the straps of her plate carrier and pulling her closer. “I would kiss you if I could.”


Three weeks before the hit on the Kato bank, Joi stepped into a darkened pool hall clouded with the sweet scent of vapor pens. Joi’s right eye was practically closed shut from the shot she had taken in the temple and the nubs of new sutures were like a single line of stubble beneath her chin. She saw Roach at the back of the place in his booth beside the pool tables—grease smattered leather jacket sewn with patches and dyed blonde hair where the roots were starting to show brown. A guard standing idly at the back of the room moved to intercept her, but Roach waved him off, allowing her to approach his booth. 

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Author Bio

Andrew is a graduate of DePaul University and a third-year MFA candidate in Emerson College’s Creative Writing Program. He is obsessed with horror movies and lives in Cambridge with his fiance.