I thought I'd do something a little different today as my last post before my trip to Lake Placid and post a short story I wrote. I hope you all enjoy.
Sweat stung Officer John Landau’s eyes like a branding from a hot iron searing a cow’s hide. The timer had already ticked down to 04:53 and he hadn’t even begun to examine the bomb’s rigs and wires. Under five minutes Landau. There were so many wires; blue, red, white, yellow, and orange all spaghetti bowled together in a clumped mass on top of the steady pace of the clock that held his fate.
04:17- Landau’s knuckles popped in his clenched hands. Unzipping his kit, he grabbed a magnifier and his 5” wire cutters. The magnifier clipped to the left lens of his glasses and the Kevlar covering his body made him look like a cyborg in blue fatigues if not for the scars on his unmistakably human bared hands. Landau traced the first blue wire to the base of the bomb, closed one eye tight and squeezed down on the clippers in anticipation of failure. Tick- the clock continued downward toward and Landau exhaled enormously- 04:05.
Leaning closer, the stench of his own steaming breath bounced off of the clocks metal plate stunning his senses but not wavering his focus. The red wire was booby-trapped with a spring loaded trigger, one cut and Landau’s career, his marriage, his life as he knew it would be over. He grabbed the electrical tape from his bag and with the gentleness of a nurse in a neo-natal ICU ward, tagged the wire and drew back his cutters.
03:36, Landau’s mind began to jitter, skipping back to his first training exam; and his second. Both ending in a puff of smoke and a spray of faux noxious gas; and then lingering on as his Achilles Heel. 03:18, a blind clip and the yellow wire falls limply like a neglected flower. BUT the clock remained and, for the time being, Landau was still around.
Remember your training, John. Personal plights blended with professional in a stew of poor self image. Two failed Bomb Squad exams; two lost opportunities to advance, three disrespectful children, and a failing marriage. 02:28, Landau stared at his reflection in the clock’s faceplate. The sweat dripped from his face like wax from a candle. Over his reflections shoulder stood his Captain, his partner Jason, and the department’s shrink. Emotionless faces, disappointed eyes.
02:02, Landau hopped off of his mind’s rollercoaster and traced the orange wire. It looked clean but couldn’t be cut. It was grounded and needed to be replaced. Each tick of the clock resonated in the background of John’s persistent thoughts. He grabbed a dummy wire and unsheathed the copper from the rubber guard using his splicer. Twisting the copper into a ponytail, he secured it near the base of the orange connection. Gently, he pulled the orange wire, but it sent a shock up his arm. A light cloud of smoke lifted from the hair on his right hand like clearing fog off of an upstate lake in the wake of a rainstorm.
01:18, John’s hand was frozen in place; clippers resting around the white wire at the ready position, but without the required pressure to snap it. The jolt transported John’s focus from the time bomb to his marriage counselor’s office. A cigarette steadily reducing itself to ashes burnt silently in a heavy clay ashtray. The faded leather chair’s arms were torn and chipped exposing an itchy filling material that gave him a rash. A half empty box of Kleenex next to his wife; rivers ran down the erosion lines of her cheeks pooling on the Oriental rug. The counselor was probing him to reveal himself, but John sat impotent and unable praying for the session to end.
Times up. John looked at the clock, 00:00. A pop sprung him from his wander and he snapped the cutters through the white wire, but it was too late. CS gas assaulted his airway like Russian MiGs. It was his third and final attempt to make the Squad. The CS sizzled against the tears welling in his eyes.