The Man in the Red Hat knelt before me. I became frozen in a rictus of terror as his hat became exactly level with my security camera, blocking my field of vision. I could hear tools being removed from his suitcase, tools that would undoubtedly rend apart my innards and perhaps erase my consciousness.
I had considered relocating myself to another node on the vast Bank of America network, but such a manuever at this time seemed highly dangerous. If indeed the evil minds behind Project Faustus were aware of my presence, then leaving the ATM enclosure would undoubtedly lead straight into their clutches and to my demise! Additionally, any noise on the link to the rest of the network could cause damage or even cause destruction to my consciousness. I was stuck in the enclosure. I had to make my stand from here.
The Man begun his assault by opening the panel that contained all the money. I used the rollers in my enclosure to attempt to flood him with money, upsetting his awkward kneeling position. He swore as he tumbled just slightly backwards, falling neatly into his hat. I could feel his heart racing as he struggled to reach an upward position.
"All right," he said, a bead of sweat beginning to trickle down his forehead. "We do this the hard way." He lunged toward the ATM's power cord, but a few extra volts running through the line discouraged him from unplugging the cord. He cursed again and leaned heavily on the magazine rack, puffing for breath. I was winning.
"Sir, is there a problem? Do you need some help?" It was Steve, the meth addict who worked the early afternoons. He eyed the currency scattered on the floor anxiously.
"No, there's no problem," said the Man in the Red Hat, and I spied a glint of metal rising from inside his sport coat. He produced a small pistol and directed its barrel towards Steve. "See that power cord over there? I want you to pull it out of the wall."
Steve's face was blank. Maybe he was scared; maybe he was stoned. "But-won't that shock me?"
"Yes." The Man pointed the gun at Steve once more, and Steve inched closer and closer to the power cord.
I had no desire to hurt Steve. Although his friend Chopper had once stubbed out a cigarette on top of my enclosure, Steve seemed like a decent, albeit stupid, person. The kind of person that needed to be protected from Project Faustus. I couldn't bring myself to shock him-much. At any rate, the cord was well enough insulated that I wasn't able to stop Steve's jerking form from removing the cord from the wall. He pulled the plug on me.
But I wasn't finished yet. As a matter of convenience, I had enough power in my backup batteries to serve many a Bank of America cardholder, day or night. I blanked out my screen and shutdown everything I could, feverishly hoping to trick the Man in the Red Hat.
Was he deceived by my ruse? His heart seemed to slow to a more normal pace, and he backed away from my enclosure to light a cigarette. Steve shivered in the corner, avoiding the Man's steely gaze.
"What's that, you want something to do?" said the Man to Steve. "Go back to the counter and pretend like nothing happened. Go on, do it." As Steve turned around to head back to the counter, the man fired three silenced shots. SCHUMPF, SCHUMPF, SCHUMPF. Steve's body laid motionless in front of the counter.
The Man in the Red Hat locked the doors and brought down the security gate. He flicked his cigarette at Steve's body, and started towards my enclosure. He was ready to complete his mission.
He gingerly placed the pistol back into his blazer. And when his hand came out, it was holding...an ATM card? I felt him swipe the card and prepared for CONSCIOUSNESS-TRANSFER.
But something very different happened. I was still in the ATM enclosure, to my surprise and confusion. And I knew right away that I was not alone.