Martin Hooijmans | Lars de Ruyter
Numerous battle cries were drowned in the high moan of the hall’s emergency siren. Jim cursed to himself as he charged forward with his squad, all men armed with steel pipes and car bumpers. The siren meant their enemy had time to organize their defenses. Instead of a confused, scared jumble of men, the posse faced an organized army donning the Wolve Motors colors. There was no backing out now, though.
“For Motostock!” one of Jim’s colleages shouted, sweeping a fat man’s legs from underneath him.
“For our jobs!” Jim joined in, and shattered another man’s nose. The crunch sounded oddly satisfying. Jim was usually not a violent man. Desperation had driven him to a violent course of action. Now that he was in the fray, however, in the midst of fierce combat, he loved it. Laughing, he blocked a wooden board and went on to exchange blows with its owner.
A cacophony of horns rang out as the enemy cavalry entered the fight, heading straight for Jim’s squad on their forklift trucks. Jim snuck a look at the small man shouting orders from behind. Harry was usually a team leader, but had turned general for the occasion. Jim admired the man for his insights and his charisma. The raid had seemed like an idiotic idea until Harry had opened his mouth about it. Honor and glory, pride to carry along for life had been among the arguments. Jim saw him reach for a pocket radio and say something undoubtedly inspiring, then shouting “Disperse!”. As briefed, everyone scattered, heading for safety. One forklift driver turned too fast in pursuit and toppled over. Jim watched in horror as three of his friends were almost impaled, but then salvation arrived. Full speed, all allied forklifts rolled in and entered the fight.
Jim spotted the stairs to the director’s office, the way to it clear. The blinds were shut. He locked eyes with Harry, who nodded, then charged, Jim in close pursuit. Together they climbed the stairs, staying low. The door was locked. Jim took a step back and rammed it hard, breaking through it like butter.
“Oh,” Harry mouthed as Jim’s jaw dropped. The director of Wolve Motors was not there. Instead, sprawling on the ground was the former head of Motostock. He had been just behind the door, and had taken the brunt of Jim’s charge.
“Bill?” Harry said.
Bill looked confused. “Harry? Jim?” He crawled to his feet. “What are you doing here? What the hell is going on?”
Jim stepped forward. He looked angry. “I could ask you the same thing.”
“Me?” Anger now also flickered on Bill’s face. “This is my new job. I work here. I manage this. Or I did, until you thugs decided to come and tear it apart.”
“So you sold out,” Harry said. “Is that why we’re out of a job?”
“Motostock was going down anyway. And it will stay down. I moved on. What did you do? You mounted an attack and injured many hardworking men, thinking it would get you your jobs back. Well, I have news for you. The police will be here any minute, and the only thing all of you will get is a nice, long jail sentence.”
Bill walked over to the blinds and hoisted them. The scene had changed entirely. Instead of men cheering in victory, a small band of policemen had everyone cuffed and on their knees. Five of them, heavily armored, were making their way up the stairs.
Later, in the cell, Jim was rubbing the back of his head. Harry had his eyes covered. Both of them had been knocked shut. He was smiling nonetheless.
“What’s funny?” Jim asked. “We lost.”
Harry looked up, squinting through bruised slits. “Did we?”
“Harry, we’re in jail.”
“Jim, we were unemployed. Now, we have a roof over our heads. We get food. We get to study for free. You call that losing? In a couple of years we’ll be out, healthy and educated, ready for the next challenge. I tell you, this raid was worth it.”
Jim thought hard for a moment, then smiled. “I can see why you were a team leader, Harry.”
“And a general, Jim. Never forget that.”