Friday, May 23, 2014

Friday Flash Fiction: Rocket Surgery

Every Friday Kurt posts a new piece of flash fiction. This week...

Rocket Surgery
Word Count: 600

Blue wire? Green wire? Blue wire?

Red wire.

Terry’s hand trembled despite her training. She blamed the coffee, but she knew it wasn’t the coffee.


She winced. Nothing happened. She was still here. She’d live to reclaim unexploded ordinance another day.

“Primary deactivated,” said Terry. “Looking for secondary.”

“Confirmed primary deactivated,” said Peter in her ear. “Let us know if you need help.” He wouldn’t radio again unless she spoke first. As a rule, there were no comms on her channel unless she initiated them. It was bad form to startle a bomb technician.

Although this wasn’t exactly a bomb. It was a rocket.

Bombs were different. They teased you. They invited you to try and defuse them. They were puzzles to be solved, the products of insane geniuses who wanted your last thought to be that you’d been outwitted, that you somehow deserved your fate.

Rockets, however, were designed by expert engineers to explode. That was what they did. That’s all they did. If a rocket landed without detonating, it meant something had fallen out of place, and all you could do was rush in and pull the guts apart before it accidentally fell back into place.


It would be safer to just blow the damned thing up. It wasn’t nuclear. They’d already cleared out the ten surrounding blocks. No one would die. But it would be expensive. City blocks were expensive. Bomb technicians could be trained relatively cheaply.


Green wire? Blue wire? Terry traced them to the pressure plate in the nose cone. What was that? A loose bolt? It had wedged between the plate and the casing. That was what had kept the leads from connecting. Well that was good news, she was safe as long as it stayed—


“Well, shit,” she said.

“Problem?” asked Peter.

“Hard to say,” she said. She moved her flashlight around. The bolt was gone. It had just fallen out. She must have jostled something.


“Oh, that’s not good,” she said.


“Shut up, Peter, I need to think.” Was it the green or the red? No, she’d already clipped the red. Was the blue the secondary? Shit.



The plate was slipping.

Hey, Terry…

She got a hand under the pressure plate. It wasn’t enough to stop it, but it slowed it down. Although she needed to make sure she didn’t get it wedged, or else she might lose the hand.

She probably ought to make sure she didn’t complete the circuit either.

Red? Blue? Green? Yellow? Christ, where did a yellow wire come from?

“Oh, God,” she said.

“You can do this, Terry,” said Peter. “Remember your training.”

Which was it?

Terry, are you in there? You’re freaking me out a little.

She was frozen. She was panicked. She should have just run for it. But it was too late for that now. She reached in with her free hand and grabbed as many wires as she could hold.

“Peter, if I don’t make it… I always loved you.”

“Terry, my wife is six months pregnant.”

She closed her eyes.


She yanked.


Terry blinked. Anna was waving a hand in front of her face.

“Terry? Are you okay?”

Terry was in her office. Not the field. Not in the field. It had been a flashback. Damn, she thought.


“I’m fine,” she answered. “I’m sorry—what were you saying?”

“I was saying let’s go with the red letterhead. It’s not rocket surgery.”

“No,” said Terry. “It’s not. It’s not rocket surgery.” She took a deep breath. “And thank God for that…”

Edited by Carolyn "This May Have More Effect If You Break It" Abram

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