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Tick, Tick, Tick

by Lee Roby 11 months ago in Short Story
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little brown box

Tick, Tick, Tick

It was 4:30 in the morning and I had worked on the bomb squad for over 20 years. I had just received a call from the home office. I had just put in a 22 hour day and I was getting suddenly tired from exhaustion. We had been working on a case called operation foxtrot. It was something out of the ordinary.

The case dealt with a psychopath named Allen Falkirk we had tracked him for over a year; he had blown up two offices and killed 3 people with his home made bombs. They were all suspicious packages wrapped in brown paper. We had studied Allen to the point that we were dizzy with mired desperation longing to catch a killer on the loose. It was go time. It was time to study his modus operandi for making these timed box bombs wrapped in a special brown paper. It was a very rare brown paper that was specially made in a discreet town in Naples, Italy. His operandi was consumed in a mindset determined to kill his victims with a need to catch them off guard by setting a timer to the boxes. We had reengineered his boxes to the point of no return. They had a gear, a pulley and a timer set to explode when the victim opened the box. It was usually set within an antique clock as a gift. The antique clock was also wrapped in this rare brown paper.

Once the victim picked up the clock the timer would tick, tick, tick and then explode with a sudden boom destined to kill. The handmade box wrapped in special paper was made from a certain loom. The loom was handcrafted from a lacquered type of wood. It was home made. The meticulous time it took to make the loom screamed craftsmanship, with a special signature that made this loom unique from any other loom on the planet. We couldn't track the loom on Amazon or any other specialty store. It was time to work. I had this rare brown paper in my hands and studied it. It was woven and resembled something akin to rice paper. It was thicker though and rough to the touch.

The paper was stamped with a crest. The crest was of a phoenix and it was holding a key in its talons. This was the crest of the order of the dawning of the dead. This order was a secret super-sect that operated out of Italy. They were chosen based on their intellect and status within a society. Mr. Falkirk as we called him had a degree from Edinburgh University in Scotland. He had a chemical engineering degree. He was working within his sect of the dawning of the dead trying to calculate the coefficient of performance in vapor-compression refrigeration machines. He had also built the compressor that operated adiabatically but also irreversibly. He calculated the efficiency of converting electrical energy to the shaft work in the motor driving the compressor. We were dealing with a genius. He had left the secret sect to live a life of seclusion underground in a bunker.

He had worked himself crazy, and now he was using his knowledge to build bombs. It was my only goal in life to catch this madman. My name is Max Vanguard and I'm on a mission to catch this Mr. Falkirk. His air of superiority smelled of a distinct pungent aroma of a high brow need to be alone and invisible. An invisible man untraceable and calculated. Calculated to kill. To kill again and again until he was caught, but this psychotic man was diligent, calculated, and calm. He was patient; but so was I. It had been 20 years dealing with bombs and everything associated with them. Knowing the subject. Knowing the craft and knowing the wrapped confusion confined to a box. This was the element of surprise and a conspiracy to kill willingly time and time again. This box was now the angle of interest. My interest. To find the next box.

The unusual looking box that was wrapped in rare brown paper. We had to find this box before it took it's next victim. Mr. Falkirk had made his signature adept to himself and only to himself. It was this signature that was going to get him caught. His modus operandi was too cool for words. So we needed to zero his signature and find the missing clue to the cold as ice case that we were dealt with. We were dealing with a hay within a hay of a needle dropped into a haystack that never ended never failed and never seemed to quit. The needle was trapped within a hay compounded and capitulated to the womb of satisfied wit of a calculated killer determined to never fail and never get caught. It was this impossible needle and angle of interest I was looking for.

The grain of detail the exact, focused detail consumed into an immaculate contrived neatness prevailed and cornered me into a thick fog of confusion mired into a conscious wokeness conspired to make me writhe into the fog. I dug deep and found my bearings and looked deep within my soul and found a clue. I came to stare deep within this clue. The clue was the way the woven piece of paper had been constructed within the loom. I started taking a needle and pulling apart the paper and was studying the way it was woven. It had taken me ten hours to take apart a section of the paper and study its components.

The components were not decipherable to a text or did it have any recurring pattern that I could find. It was a random string of numbers. The loom from which it started had to have a distinct pattern but there was none. It was like an infinite series of that of Taylor. The series was this string of numbers that had come to be a single sum. The sum came to be an exact representation of the fixed number system from which it came. The numbers were colliding and were random. The randomness had me confused. It had me stupified. It had me angry. How could the woven paper differentiate itself and lead me to the clue as to how the loom was made.

Once we found the loom we could look harder into the clock and then to the box and finally to the bomb. I needed a break so I took one. I smoked a pack of Marlboro Lights hard pack and then took a hit off of a one hitter of the finest sativa kush that you could find. I felt a calmness engulf my body and I relaxed. The kush enveloped and opened my mind. I was now in a room a mental memory house of all my cases and had a file that I parsed into my storehouses of the brain. I had the file I needed. I grabbed it and took a nap, but I kept the file close at hand. I awoke satisfied and had the file. I had the clue and now I had the man. The file was a case that I had been on 15 years prior.

The case had a bomb that was wrapped in a funny looking package. It was the signature of the bomb that was similar to Mr. Falkirk. Since Mr. Falkirk had a chemical engineering background it was easy for him to get the tools necessary for the bomb. It was the detail, the exactness, the similarity between the two that became apparent to me. I wrote a detailed synopsis of the signature used in the former case and tied it into this one. It was simple now. The fog of confusion had lifted and I could see the answer. The file that lay dormant for over 15 years had awoke and made me come to the conclusion that I had the signature of this Mr. Falkirk down to a tee and now we would be able to find him and his rare brown box. He had led us to a warehouse.

A UPS warehouse with lots of boxes; rare brown boxes wrapped in brown paper. Mr. Falkirk had painstakingly made more than one box. He had made a slew of them. It was his life work. It was his moment. His time. His modus operandi that led him to the warehouse. It was his style, his pomp, and his exact detail that he picked this certain warehouse. Alone I stood. I just stood there. I played his signature, his operandi in my head as if Brahms had lulled me to sleep with his lullaby. But I was awake as I stood there just standing. Standing.

Then it happened in a flash one of the bombs had gone off, and I stood there deaf and perplexed blind with rage, but it was the wrong box. Luckily I hadn't been hit by the blast. Still ringing in my ears and deaf. Blind with rage I cased the rest of the warehouse making sure I was far enough away from the box. We had optics. We had eyes and now we had the needle grasped within the hay and into my fingertips. We had seen a man walking dressed in black on our cameras. Was it Mr. Falkirk? Had we been lucky and done the impossible. It was a flash and the person disappeared. He had placed a box one with the special paper that was his.

It had a special timer and it was destined to go off once the person opened the box. We needed the box and Mr. Falkirk. I knew where to look and found a suspicious looking box; it was Mr. Falkirk's brown box wrapped in the paper from Naples. I didn't dare open the box, but I knew how to diffuse it since I had studied it. I approached the box with weary eyes and focused on whether I should open it. No one was around. It was just me and the box. I stood some distance from the box, deciding what I should do. Should I open the box and risk being blown apart to pieces. The train of thought that was going through my brain had led me to a choice and this was the choice. The choice that would change my life forever. The choice that was mine and mine alone. I stood there waiting; just waiting. It was time to choose should I or shouldn't I. I decided to open the box. I crept closer and closer. I approached the brown box that had culminated my 20 years on the bomb squad. It was time to retire. It was time to finish the job and quit doing this shit. It was time to get this over with. It was time to win and beat Mr. Falkirk and catch the bastard that had killed and killed again. I summoned up enough courage to finish the job and so I took out my tools. I had done this a thousand times. I had diffused the bombs and was in the present moment of taking apart another one finding the kill switch and living life one more time. I took out my tool and started on the box. It happened to tick, tick, tick and now I shit, shit, shit my pants, pants, pants. I had about 40 seconds and it was about to blow. With time ticking off the clock I got the box open reached for the antique clock and with 10 seconds left I unscrewed the timing mechanism and with a pounding through my throat I cut the wire, and the tick tick tick had stopped and I was still alive. I took apart the antique clock and read a note fixed on the bottom it read if you can read this than you're not dead. The End. Written by Lee Roby.

Short Story

About the author

Lee Roby

I published Trigonometry Simplified on Amazon. I like to write fiction as well as non-fiction. This is all a learning process for me and as I progress through this maze called life hopefully my passion and writing becomes greater.

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