Cut the Red Wire

by Bob Clay

There are a lot of people who think we know no fear in this job. Take my word for it, that is equine brown stuff. The fear is like a bear trap, buried deep in the stomach, and tightly shut around your guts. If you don’t show it, it’s because you’ve blanked out your imagination. Imagination is a bad thing when you’re dealing with a bomb.

It’s the relay that scares me the most, more than the clock even. The relay has four sets of make/break contacts, all wired. These wires then disappear below the clock. Another four sets of three wires emerge from beneath the other side of the clock to the four detonators, buried deep in semtex.

Each det has three wires instead of two; so our bomb maker has put in another, possibly a dummy, probably a make circuit for the relay. If I cut it, the relay drops out, one of the four contacts makes, big bang, and oblivion.

There are four batteries, all wired, he loves the number four does this fellah, and the clock is extra special too. It’s a cheap thing, and he’s painted red lines on it to tell me how close I am to being a dripping red smear on the ceiling. Right now… perhaps thirty seconds.

I can’t obey rule one (don’t mess with it) because there are people on the floors above me. I can’t clamp or block the relay contacts, he’s resin glued a perspex cover and there’s no time to cut through it. I can’t get to the power connectors on the relay coil, they’re underneath, and I can’t yank the dets out because the whole thing is fitted into a box with the precision of a Harrison clock. It’s not a high tech bomb, but it’s a good one. The way a bad nightmare is good because you wake up from it. Except this nightmare has a cheap tick, and the ticks are running out.

So do I cut the red wire ? … Well, he’s thought of that old cliché too, because in the bowl of spaghetti that is this bomb’s wiring, all the bloody wires are red.

Bob Clay is an ex Merchant Navy / GCHQ / general layabout now living in Cornwall and looking after computers in a comprehensive school.

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  1. #1 by Quin on November 24, 2007 - 8:28 pm

    i’m glad you moved beyond six sentences…

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