Remember your mortality. Sandra's job forces her into life and death situations.
| Ten seconds until detonation. Red wire or green?! The seconds beeped softly in the small space but it might as well have been a fog horn.
Nine seconds. Red or green? Red or green! Sweat ran down Sandra’s neck and back like a faucet. A large slick patch was forming on the shirt under her bomb suit. There was enough explosive material here that the suit was practically useless. The digital display mocked her.
Seven seconds. Trembling hands clutched a wire cutter as they moved back and forth in indecision. First the green, then the red, then back to the green. Which one!
“Cut the red one!”
“No the green wire!”
“Cut it now!”
Two voices assaulted her brain through the tiny chip in her ear. They had been arguing heatedly for thirty seconds, it felt like thirty years.
“Cut it now Sandra” one voice howled. “The red one!”
“Shut up!” she screeched.
Two seconds. Oh God, oh God! Her whole body was so tight she felt as if she would snap from the pressure. Oh God! Sandra closed her eyes and snipped waiting for the searing pain to blast her into oblivion.
One, two, three… Ten seconds passed before she dared open her eyes. Sandra exhaled a mighty breath she hadn’t realized she’d been holding.
“Sandra! Sandra!” Two voices bellowed in her ear.
“Yeah guys” she breathed shakily.
“Which wire did you cut?”
Sandra stared at the fractured wire in her hands and a wry smile cracked her face. “The yellow one.”
Stunned silence filled her earpiece. Her aching fingers almost cried with relief when stripped from their gloves and lungs stretched to their limits when she released her head from the stifling helmet. Thank you, she sent the thought heavenward.
The rest of the first response bomb squad came shuffling through the office door in full gear to finish disassembling the weapon. The unusual device would be moved to a secure location to be studied in exhaustive detail. Sandra’s job was finished.
“Great job Sandy.” A teammate congratulated her with a hi-five, his heavy protective glove stinging her palm. Walking from the building she headed straight for her unit chief. Looking around at the squat buildings reminded her she was on the edge of the warehouse district. Not your typical maximum impact target. The whole thing gave Sandra an uneasy feeling.
“Pearson.” Chief Lundy’s gravelly voice came through her com unit. “I’m in your unit truck I want an immediate debriefing on the device.”
“On my way boss.” Clambering inside the large vehicle was always a chore in her suit. Barely containing a groan the young woman hoisted herself onto the raised truck bed one limb at a time. Wearily she plopped onto the padded bench in the back across from Lundy. Stress had a way of tiring a person very quickly.
“I hear there was some confusion over this device and your initial description was rather concerning.”
“The device is unusual sir.” Sandra launched into the mechanics of the IED and its strange construction. “I know it’s not my place sir but I would say this is the work of an individual. This device doesn’t match any known operating cell in the area, the design is too unique.”
Chief Lundy stared at her for a few seconds. “Your intuition in this situation seems to have saved many lives today.” Sandra would have smiled but for the warning in his voice. “Next time please advise me before you alter the parameters.”
“Yes sir.” That was the closest thing to a congratulation she was going to get.
The chief stood up to exit the vehicle, the crackle of dispatch on the radio flared, stopping him in his tracks.
“We have a confirmed report of a bomb on 27th and Vicar Ave. Be advised the device is unknown. Building has been evacuated.”
That was three blocks away. Lundy snatched up the receiver barking questions into the mic. His eyebrows shot skyward before he glanced at Sandra. “Paladin unit is en-route, estimated arrival four minutes.” Flipping on the siren the chief sat down and strapped in while the rest of the unit scrambled on board. Calling out over the loud engine Lundy advised the group of the situation. “Pearson takes point. The device sounds like a copy of the one just disarmed.”
Sandra felt her stomach begin to squirm. A second device? Why is it so close? Is this the endgame or are there more? What if they’re all over the city? The only hopeful thought she could muster was the yellow wire. If the bomb was indeed of the same construction, she had a solution.
The over-sized truck tore through the three city blocks before coming to a screeching halt in front of a small brick-faced bank. The area was already taped off from the masses of curious and panicked people. The team entered no-man’s land once again donning helmets and gloves.
The Paladins breached the front door and swept the trashed lobby for other devices while Sandra headed for the main target. The bomb had been morbidly gift wrapped, red ribbon and all and left sitting on the marble deposit counter.
Peering inside the box Sandra quickly gave her initial description confirming the IED was a replica of the first device. 30 seconds. “Requesting permission to disarm with previous altered parameters.”
25 seconds. Sandra held three wires splayed in her palm; red, green and yellow. “Repeat requesting permission to disarm with previous altered parameters.”
20 seconds. “Cutting it kind of close guys!” Sweat lined her gloves as she held the wire cutter poised around the yellow plastic coated cable.
15 seconds. “Pearson requesting permission to proceed with altered parameters! Permission to cut the yellow wire!” Sandra shouted in her com.
Ten seconds. “Permission granted proceed with caution.”
Nine seconds. Sandra breathed a sigh of relief and snipped the yellow wire.
One, two, three...Sandra stared at the digital timer with eight seconds frozen on it's display. With a nervous chuckle she stepped away from the counter.
A raging inferno lit under her skin and her vision seared white until she knew no more.