"We set?" John looked round the other four faces in the car, the other four navy-blue suits with slackened red ties and received only three nods. One man, the youngest, stared out the rear passenger window and gripped nervously at the black duffel bag in his lap. "Nate? Nathan. Kid! Snap out of it okay? Keep your head in the job."
"It's just-" Nathan clutched the bag tighter, his blue eyes nervously met John's for a moment before flicking back out of the window.
"None of us are happy about it kid," John turned his seat to talk more, "But we've been through the whole job a dozen times, more even. You know the layout, you know where to be and what you need to do. Just do that and we'll be back here in no time." The two men squeezed into the back-seat with Nathan joined John's pep-talk. Old salts, veterans of their field and colleagues of John for over two years (even more if you included time spent under).
Long into his forties, Martin had the salt and pepper hair of a stressed life and had to hold back his no nonsense attitude to gruffly say, "All you have to do is watch people and make sure we don't draw any unwanted attention. After that, you'll be doing what comes natural and you won't remember all the pre-match nerves. Do things right and you won't even need to use that."
The man in the middle simply nodded. Younger than Martin by some years, Roger had lost most of the hair from his head and attempted to make up for that with a full, dark and well-maintained beard. He also had a softer touch and always knew what to say even if he didn't mean it, "Hey Nathan, you remember the time we practised this in the driver's dream and everything worked out fine?"
Nathan half-smiled and his grip on the bag loosened, "It went right every time."
Roger mussed up the kid's hair, "Exactly."
The fifth man had glasses that magnified his sunken eyes and a black moustache that twitched and tickled his top lip. He was the driver and said nothing until he felt their eyes on him, "Don't look at me. I just drive. See you guys on the way out."
Out of the car and into the torrential rain. Going in all at once would have raised suspicions, drawn looks and John had them make the walk separately - some half a minute apart. He watched Martin cross the side-walk, hair already slick with rain to his head, and disappear into the revolving door. Water danced on the surrounding vehicles and the ground outside, the rhythm of it filled the car. Roger went next with a playful punch on Nathan's shoulder and the kid looked at John as he moved over to the door. He then arranged the duffel bag over his shoulder and clicked open the door, "I won't let you down John." A nod in reply and Nathan took a deep breath as he left. The mood changed as the door closed behind him, he jogged to the entrance and John was left with the driver. A man none of the four had worked with before.
"You screw us on this-" John began.
"I won't-" the driver squeaked.
"Listen to me," John didn't blink, "Remember when you told us that first day you met your wife? A snow-covered November day in Central Park."
"Back in ninety-five," the driver spoke without thinking, "Yeah we shared stories that first day in the bar, you and me."
"You screw us. I find your wife. I take her back to that snowy November in New York and instead of meeting yourself, suddenly all she remembers is meeting me. And suddenly she questions your entire relationship, that doubt eating away at her mind," John gave him one more look before reaching for the door, "You just think about that when the nerves set in out here."
The driver gulped, "I won't leave without you."
"Good man." John got out, slammed the door and took a moment to himself in the all-encompassing noise of the rain. He hated making threats and had never been forced to carry one out - wasn't even sure if he could do that - but the types of people in this line of work made a necessity of such things. He adjusted the shoulder strap on his bag and headed for the revolving doors across a side-walk empty in either direction. It could all still go wrong, there were many things even he simply could not prepare for. The mark himself was still the biggest unknown, inside the building and if he didn't know what they needed... John shook his head. We can adapt, he thought.
He pushed through the rotating panes of glass and into the polished marble interior of the bank. Wiping the rain (sweat?) from his brow with a sleeve, John surveyed the interior as he had a dozen times before and so far events went according to plan. The security guards were spread across the floor - one just inside the door, another by the tellers and the third toward the room of safety deposit boxes. Armed, as ever. Roger was over to the left of the main hall, pretending to fill in a deposit form close to the vault and boxes. Nathan and Martin were queuing amongst the dozen or so civilians in the bank. They nodded separately to John as he stood just inside the door and turned his left palm upward to check his watch. They waited for the signal, his first move.
John held the watch to his ear and made a confused face as he approached the guard to the right of the door, who reached for his side-arm. "Calm yourself buddy, what's the time? Think my watch has stopped." The second the guard's hand left his gun to lift a sleeve and check, John rushed him, put a leg behind his and over-balanced him to the ground with an arm twisted behind his back. By the time John looked up, Nathan and Martin had the guard at the cash desk on the stone floor and were restraining him with plasticuffs. The third guard hurried over, weapon drawn, pointed at John and completely unaware of Roger to his right. Their bearded colleague had opened his duffel bag, removed an M4 carbine and calmly walked over to hold it against the guard's head. The team's assumption was the bank's silent alarm would now be tripped. "Seven minutes!" John shouted, "You know your jobs."
The other three retrieved their own firearms, kept the three restrained guards separate and collected the bank tellers and patrons together in a loose group. All lay flat on the floor. Nathan and Martin watched the hostages, John and Roger headed through the back with one bag to the manager's office - the mark's office. They kicked down a locked door to find the overweight manager cowering behind his desk, "I- I- I- don't have access to the vault," his breathing was excessively laboured and John placed his bag on the walnut desk.
"Good," the team leader smirked, "Because I want access to a deposit box."
"Whi- oh my god!" There was a single shot, a thud that shocked the two robbers as much as the manager and they looked to each other.
"Watch him," John left the office to find Martin with a confused expression and Nathan clambered atop the cash desks, "Nathan, what the hell have you done? I said no unwanted attention!" He couldn't see the floor on the other side but from the screams and cries of the hostages, John could put the pieces together.
Nathan was terribly calm and almost shrugged as he said, "It's just a projection, what's the harm." Martin gave John a shocked glance, who in turn looked round to Roger at the entrance to the office. Roger physically slumped, Martin cursed and John tried to explain.
"Nathan, kid," John paused before he said, "We're awake. This is reality, you just killed a person with their life ahead of them and kids and a mortgage and all that other shit. These aren't projections!"
"But John," Nathan was incredulous, near-screaming, "They were all looking at me, they know that it's my dream!"
"They're staring at you because you're a man, with a gun, robbing a bank!" Martin couldn't hold it in, "You jackass! I'm not going down for murder just because you can't keep track! Where's your totem?"
"I lost-" he stopped, realised it was too late, "I lost it."
"Jesus," Roger sighed from over John's shoulder.
John checked his watch, "Five minutes. Nathan get in the office! Roger, watch the hostages. Take that bloody gun away from him!" Martin did so, John shoved Nathan into the office and took the dream-sharing equipment from the bag on the desk. "There's still time kid, you remember what you have to do? Kid!" He shook Nathan's shoulder.
"Yeah John, yeah," he was in shock, "I never meant to k- I thought we were-"
"Forget it," John hurried, pulling out needles and drips, "You will be in a few seconds. We only have about half an hour down there. You just do your thing and forget about what happened."
"Sure th... thing..." he waited as John ignored the bank manager's protests and inserted a needle into the flabby forearm. He did the same for himself, sat down in the third chair and depressed the button to pump the sedative. Two minutes would pass without incident in the bank, the hostage's blood would spread across the smooth floor and the guards would curse their own slovenly attitude to security. But down one level, Nathan and John had work to do.
A/N: This is an idea that has been floating around in my mind since I first saw Inception at the movies last year. The idea of a world in which this dream-sharing technology and the types of career criminals that would use it for their own ends. Even the characters in the film itself are morally ambiguous and engage in corporate espionage. It will eventually come to put extractors against each other. I am the first to admit that my writing is OC-centric but I can promise you that Eames will definitely appear later as a character (a few chapters in). But this opening has been left purposely short and rather open so that I can gauge your opinion and listen to any ideas you have.
Hopefully I got across the idea of likeable guys working in a morally bankrupt situation and my plan was make it seem like they were performing a dream heist before revealing it to be an actual heist. Kind of hoping you guys fell for it. So read, enjoy? and review. Looking forward to any and all reviews.