Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 - Advanced)
Topic: Concentration (07/24/08)
TITLE: SWEAT AND RESIN
By Kenneth Heath
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Outside it was a fiery 40 degrees and in the haze, dust devils danced around the police cordon. Inside the walls of the small room appeared to be melting as Jarred tried to concentrate on the task at hand. After three hours the heat was beginning to take its toll on him and the hostages. A whimper broke his train of though as a young woman started crying again. Damn these terrorists! He thought, spineless cowards who in the name of Allah committed senseless acts of terror against innocent civilians. God is love and He would never condone these acts of murder, “love your enemies, not kill them, the Bible said. Carefully, he picked away at the resin that the bomb maker had poured over the wires in an attempt to make defusing it impossible. Fortunately for Jarred, the unusual heat wave had caused the resin to remain pliable and not solidify as intended, so he had a fighting chance of defusing the bomb.
The eighteen hostages were wired together, sitting on enough plastic explosive to blow up the entire block. Entering the school armed with automatic weapons the terrorists had tied up and wired some teachers and pupils to this bomb. Slipping away before the police arrived, they had left their impossible demand for the authorities to deal with. They demanded the unconditional release of all detainees at U.S. detainment centers at home and abroad. It was an impossible request, as the U.S. does not negotiate with terrorists. So Jarred and his partner Corey had been sent in to diffuse the bomb.
It was clear from the start that the bomb was very elaborate, with hidden trip and pressure switches designed to catch the unwary off guard. At first glance it appeared to be the work of an amateur, constructed by someone who had surfed the Internet and found instructions on how to make it. Technically that should have made it easier for Jarred, but the resin was the work of a genius. Had it hardened, then there would have been no way of getting to the wires in time to diffuse the bomb. As it was, precious time was wasting as he painstakingly scrapped the resin away.
Wearing the heavy bomb disposal suite, complete with helmet and gloves, Jared was awash with sweat. In these conditions he was fast losing important body fluids. The sweat poured down his face, obscuring his vision and his hands sloshed around in their gloves. “To hell with regulations!” said Jarred as he removed his protective gear. “If this blows these suits won’t help a bit.” His careless remark caused the hostages to begin sobbing again. “Sorry guy’s” he said in mute apology.
“Nice”, responded Corey as he rolled his eyes and shook his head. “Get on with it dude, we still have lots of time.”
As the cooler air poured over him, he felt a renewed vigour and silently prayed, “Lord, please help me, keep my hands steady and my mind alert.” As simple prayer but one he had prayed time and again through the years. Slowly, he cut through the resin exposing the wires. Snip the white one here and deactivate that pressure switch over there. Mind the trip switch under her butt. Cut the red one here…. No! It must be the blue or is it the red? Focus… concentrate, there are lives at stake here. A ham on rye would be nice. Concentrate! Red or blue, which one is true? Time stood still as he retraced the series of wires from the detonator to the explosives. “Red” he said and with bated breath, he cut the wire…………..No explosion, but something was wrong. Oh no! The timer had been activated. Two minutes…two minutes till eternity. Jared’s mind raced as his hands flew across the wiring. Concentrate! If red was wrong then what is the neutralizer? Concentrate…focus, where is the neutral wire? Then he saw it. A wire with a clear plastic sheath that was almost invisible to the eye when covered by resin. Very clever, not the work of an amateur he mused as he cut the wire halting the timer with thirty seconds to go.
“Close dude! close!” said Corey as he began to cut the hostages loose. Jared did not answer. Drenched in sweat he slumped to the floor, “thank you Lord” was all that he could utter as the hostages were taken away for debriefing.
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