For Fandango’s Story Starter #8, where we build something around the following phrase:
He could feel the beads of perspiration forming on his forehead as he slowly…
James hated these jobs. An unexploded device. He was well-trained, of course, but whenever you went on one of these missions, there was always uncertainty. His nicotine-stained fingers through the last of the cigarette onto the road, as he stepped out of the jeep and crushed the butt with his boot.
Bystanders gradually thinned as he approached the already pockmarked surroundings, until he met a white-helmeted air raid warden standing guard on the site. The warden silently lifted the inch-thick piece of rope which formed a corden around the area. Now, he was alone.
Through a gateway, he proceeded into a tiny courtyard. And then he saw it, a BFB-100, its dull metal casing dispersing the dull daylight and concealing its hundred kilograms of high explosive. The bomb lay perfectly still on a mound of festering rubble.
Having completed his first task – visual reconnaissance – he strode back to the warden.
“These people need to be another hundred yards further back, just in case…” To finish the sentence would be to tempt fate. Without breaking his stride, James walked back to the call box next to his jeep, passed inside and could be seen to make a call.
A few minutes later he came out, but before he returned to the site, he rummaged in the back of the jeep and came away carrying what appeared to be a carpenter’s toolbag.
The still-sombre warden lifted the rope once again, as James returned to the courtyard.
It had been a while since he had seen one of these, and James struggled to recall his last experience. They wereeasy enough to defuse, he remembered. Just three wires, which must be cut in the helpful order of red, white and blue. The difficulty was that the fuse had a trembler attached, so removing the fuse from the casing was crucial.
Though he had performed the task many times before, he could feel the beads of perspiration forming on his forehead as he removed a pair of forcept from the bag, and slowly knelt beside the bomb. Crouching closely over the device, James’s actions were no longer visible, although a casual observer might have been able to detect his labours from his breathing.
Ten minutes later, James could be seen to stretch. Visible in his hand was a shiny silver cylinder, six inches long and a few wide, tethered to its coffin by a wire each of red, white and blue. James had disabled the trembler.
Setting the fuse to one side. James fumbled once again in his bag, and emerged with a pair of wire cutters. Resuming, he prepared to cut the red wire. “Here goes nothing”, he muttered, then held his breath before applying pressure on the cutters.
The cutters responded with a sharp “click”, as the wire severed neatly in his hand. Breathe out.
A moment later, with the job half through, James turned his attention to the white wire. Again, he positioned the cutters and held his breath. Again, he applied pressure…