Mark is sweating bullets. Not real bullets, like the ones in the gun he’s holding, but they might as well be. He deserves to die. Here he is standing in the lobby of Irvine’s First National with a loaded gun from the holster of the cop he just killed and he’s demanding money from the tellers. Sloppy, but not bad for an ex-Green Beret. He’s robbing a bank, but that’s small change compared to the laundry list of felonies Mark has committed in the past 24 hours. And it’s not even his fault. It’s all Bill Gates’ fault. Let’s go back to yesterday and Del Taco.
Mark was munching on a chicken soft taco and reading this weeks Time magazine. On the cover is Bill Gates and his wife, with the headline “Bill Gates Cures AIDS!” Mark, a worker at the local power plant, could care less about the cover article. He thinks that Bill Gates is going to sell the cure at outrageous prices, thereby controlling the lives of all those afflicted by the HIV virus. Idly, he ponders what he would do with the power of life and death. Then he resumes reading his article discussing the results of the latest sex survey. Suddenly, the door bangs open and in walks a quintet of college students from the local JC, talking loudly and laughing raucously. Mark tries to ignore them, but the noise is overwhelming and he can’t help but think of the broken silence and how much he wants those kids to SHUT UP! And just like that, they do. All except for the group leader: some punk kid with maroon spiked hair that clutches his stomach as he screams in agony. Mark and the patrons all turn around and stare at the kid as he falls to the floor gasping for air. He’s obviously been poisoned or something. Mark’s thoughts gather crazily at the door of his mind, accusing him of causing the teen’s death. Then everything stops. Time doesn’t freeze, though several witnesses said their watches were out of synch afterwards. The stillness lasts only a moment, like the calm before the storm. Then somebody screams. The moment is gone, lost in the hustle of bodies rushing out of the building, fleeing the scene of a murder. Mark is right with them, still brooding over his part in the ongoing drama. He decides to run away, heading back to the plant to finish off his shift. But he doesn’t make it.
As the crowd erupts out the doors of the pseudo-Mexican fast food joint, a line of police and S.W.A.T. cars halt them. The police are out of their cars with guns shouting for them to freeze. Mark freezes along with the crowd, but is confused. Since when are the police at the scene of a murder moments after it is committed? The police slowly advance on the panic-stricken crowd, when suddenly a bomb explodes in Mark’s old Chevy Nova. The crowd freaks out and, ignoring the police, run to their cars and burn rubber out of the parking lot. Mark is the only one left behind, starring at the charred remains of his car. The police ignore the rest of the crowd and rush forward to arrest Mark. He is in shock and doesn’t resist them as they handcuff him. Getting into the car, he notices a shadowy figure leaving the Del Taco. He wonders who it is, and then collapses his head back in exhaustion.
He wakes up in the back of a rental car, speeding down First Street in the middle of the night. He looks at the driver and sees the shadowy figure from Del Taco.
“Hey, where are you taking me?” Mark demands of the driver.
“You’re going to help me,” the figure says.
“And why would I do that?” Mark demands. The car jerks to a stop at the side of the road as the driver turns to face Mark. Mark’s jaw drops in horror as he sees the drivers face.
“Because if you don’t, you’ll lose your most valuable possession.” Mark forces a nod and swallows heavily. He doesn’t know what he’s going to do, but he knows he has no choice. He can’t lose what matters most in his life. The driver starts down the road again and says,
“You’re going to rob a bank for me.” Again Mark nods, though he knows the driver can’t see him.
“How much do you want me to take?”
“All of it.”
The next morning, Mark walks into First National like any other patron. Except for the fact that he is hiding a 6″ dagger in his coat pocket. He walks to the rear of the security booth, barges inside and slits the guard’s throat. Grabbing the gun from the dead cop’s holster, he points it at the teller and demands all the money to be emptied into bags and given to him. The teller silently obeys as Mark instructs the crowd to stay calm and that it will all be over soon. Taking the bag from the teller he walks back out of the bank and meets the shadowy figure at a new rental car. Tossing the money through the passenger side window, Mark says, “That wasn’t too hard. Now give me my most valuable possession.” “You did me a favor and got me this money,” the driver says, “so it’s only fair.” The driver tosses Mark a nondescript black box then speeds off with the money. Mark opens the box and stares lovingly at his 1952 autographed Mickey Mantle baseball card.

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