Today I’m delighted to take part in the blog tour for Parallel Lines, by Steven Savile. Each stop on the tour focuses on a particular character. Today the extract I have for you is all about Sasha Sumner. Sasha ’s love life can best be described as gossip worthy. She’s having a bad day. She has had a lot of them recently…
How far would you go to provide for your child? Adam Shaw is dying, and knows he ll leave his disabled son with nothing. His solution? Rob a bank. It s no surprise that things go wrong. What is surprising is that when another customer is accidentally shot, no one in the bank is in a hurry to hand Adam over to the police. There s the manager who s desperate to avoid an audit, the security guard with a serious grudge, and the woman who knows exactly how bad the victim really was… Eight people, twelve hours, one chance to cover up a murder. But it s not just the police they have to fool. When many lives intersect, the results can be explosive
As usual, the lights were out and the blackened façade offered no glimpses of life beyond the glass. She rang the staff bell and smiled up at the security camera. A few seconds later the door buzzed and she pushed it open. She was surprised to find that she was the last to arrive. The entire staff had gathered on the main floor and there was a soft but insistent buzz of conversation, with Richard Rhodes, the manager, at the center of it. She didn’t like the guy: he was needy and always tried too hard to be liked. She thought for one terrible minute she’d got her days wrong and was late for the staff meeting. She hadn’t and she wasn’t. The reason everyone had gathered around Richard Rhodes was obvious the moment she saw him properly. He looked like shit. The entire left side of his face was covered with purple-black bruising, his forehead was cut up with a mesh of small grazes, and his lips were swollen. The swelling made his voice slur.
“…followed me out of the bank last night. I didn’t notice him at first, then I heard his footsteps right behind me and looked back…” Rhodes looked up uncertainly, as though seeking understanding. His staff hung on his every word. He could have told them how he bumped into Mike Tyson and volunteered to spar a few rounds and they would have nodded and smiled encouragingly. “He was big.” Rhodes rubbed at his chin. “He was an animal, snarling and swinging his fists… I thought he was going to kill me.” Rhodes paused just long enough for that one to sink in. It was the one nightmare they all shared: a bank robbery with violence. “When I fell down he started kicking me, yelling about keys to the bank. I tried to explain that we have a time-lock on the night safe, that even I can’t open it, but he just wouldn’t believe me.”
Sasha looked at her co-workers as they absorbed his bullshit. And it was bullshit. It wasn’t even good bullshit. She’d grown up around liars, both good and bad. Rhodes was at best economical with the truth. She couldn’t understand why they couldn’t see straight through him; he was twitching and shifting, clearly going through a well-rehearsed speech. Worse, he kept looking for affirmation in their eyes. But why was he lying?
“Did you call the police?” she said, looking Rhodes straight in the eye, challenging him to try to brush her words away. “He could be out there now. And if not here, another bank in the city. You were lucky, Richard. Next time he might kill somebody.”
Rhodes looked at her. She smiled as he swallowed and rubbed hard at his right eye as though trying to make the bruise disappear.
“God… yes. Yes… I should. I didn’t even think…” he said sickly. He shook his head, his body language saying no, no, no. “I’ll do that now while you girls open up. Everyone be safe today.” He touched his cheek again, then shuffled away to his office across the lobby. That was another thing, he insisted on calling them “girls.” She really hated that.
They had the routines down, so when the little hand ticked over onto the hour they were ready to open the doors to the world.
The morning dragged on. She wasn’t a clock watcher. That would drive you mad in a place like this. She saw a guy with the twitch shuffling towards her counter.
She didn’t know what was wrong with him, Parkinson’s, maybe. She couldn’t help it; she pitied the guy. She knew she wasn’t supposed to pity people, that demeaned them and their fight, but how could you be human and not? She flashed him her most welcoming smile as he wrapped his left hand around his right elbow. His arm twitched almost like he was battling an uncontrollable urge to do the birdie dance.
Sasha kept on pitying him right up until he pulled out the Beretta 9mm.
Parallel Lines by Steven Savile is published by Titan Books. You can follow more of the blog tour and meet some of the other characters from the book here