Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 - Advanced)
Topic: BUSY (02/02/17)
- TITLE: Countdown
By Dennis Gallemore
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“Anything on the detector?”
Glancing down at the opened briefcase in his lap, he studied the instrument’s display screen. “No, just background radiation.”
“Here comes another wave of evacuees. Hold on; I may have to drive somewhat erratically to get through.”
Looking up, Camden spotted the oncoming caravan of cars, buses, and trucks loaded with the city’s fleeing inhabitants. Spinning the wheel right, Janice drove up on the street’s sidewalk. Dodging parking meters, the SUV raced ahead.
Gripping the detector case with one hand, Camden tightened his seat belt with the other. “Erratically, right; you've a definite gift for understatement.” The detector’s display flashed a crimson warning. “Radiation detected! Intensity increasing!”
“What direction? Pin it down! Now!”
“Take the next left! The radiation source is west of us!”
Reaching the corner, Janice threw the SUV into a sharp turn, its left side lifting from the pavement. Slamming back down, the vehicle raced down the side street. Janice threw a quick glance at Camden. “How far?”
“From the intensity, I’d say no more than three blocks.” Ahead, the street was vacant except for a few scattered parked cars. “Good thing this area has been evacuated. If the device goes off before we get to it, fewer people…” Unable to complete the thought, his voice trailed off.
“Fortunate for us as well,” Janice replied.
Shaking his head, Camden turned to stare at her. “Are you always as cool as a cucumber? I know I’ve only worked with you a short time, but I’ve never once seen you get ruffled.”
“Getting excited doesn't do any good.”
“That park ahead; I think the device is there.”
Jumping over the curb, the SUV raced across the park. Camden waved toward a nearby trash can. “There.” Slowing to a stop, they stepped out. Opening the liftgate, they retrieved two bulky radiation suits and shrugged into them. Making their way to the trash can, Janice carefully removed the lid. “The device is in there.” Reaching in, she carefully removed a black rectangular box. Setting it down gently on a nearby picnic table, she leaned over the device. “The timer is at five minutes and counting down.”
Camden nodded. “Okay, the timing mechanism looks straight-forward.” Leaning closer, he grimaced. “Except for this. There's a data cable running from the timer to this sensor. What in the world is that?”
Janice shook her head. “No idea; I've never seen that before.” Whipping out a cell phone, she keyed it clumsily through the suit's gloves. “I'm calling the bomb unit guys; no way they could make it here in time but they could talk us through disarming it.” Shaking the phone, she held it at arm's length. “What the...I'm getting a busy signal! That's not supposed to be possible with the bomb unit hotline!”
“No time to worry about that now, we've got to defuse this bomb or you, me, and a million other people will be dead! Glancing at the timer, he gasped. “Two minutes left! Cut the yellow wire on top, and then the red one!”
Carefully slicing through the exposed yellow wire, followed by the red one, Candace let out a breath. “There, that should do it...” The timer continued counting down. “Or not.” She pointed at the mysterious sensor. “That could be a back-up timer but I don't know for sure!”
Camden wrapped his hand around hers. “Let's cut the cable going to the sensor together. If it doesn't work, we'll never know it.” His eyes darted to the timer. “Thirty seconds! Cut the cable!”
Closing her eyes, Janice shook her bowed head. “Not yet. We need some serious back-up. Dear God, please help us!”
“Amen, Sister!” Draping an arm around Janice, he pulled her close. “If this works, I owe you a dinner of fish tacos in a nice little seafood place by the harbor. If not, then I'll see you Upstairs!”
Snipping the cable, the timer stopped at two seconds. Staring at the timer, Janice smiled. “I'm not busy tonight, are you?”
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