Fifty-nine seconds. That was all that remained in Malek’s life until he became mere particles floating through the atmosphere in search of a resting place. A lot could happen in fifty nine seconds. A whole lot. Malek traced the wires. Red, blue, and yellow. Red, blue, yellow. The three simple wires ran from a green motherboard and into an ignitor that attached to a deadly mix of diesel fuel and fertilizer. In a sadistic display of humor, the maniac that planned to kill everyone inside had left Malek a clock. Thanks for that, he thought.
Sweat poured off Malek’s face as he stared at the circuit board. The red one, the red one. No, it’s always the red one. That’s too obvious. The red is the fake. Malek traced the red again and then examined the flattened copper circuits that connected the red wire to the same ignitor.
Forty-three seconds. In forty three seconds Malek and the Jinnah International Airport would disappear. At least it was just him. His team had left hours ago. At least he was alone. He liked working alone, but he wasn’t sure if he was ready to die alone.
Thirty-nine seconds. Malek gave up on the red wire. It can’t be the red wire. It has to be the blue wire. He traced it with his cutters. Red to conductor, conductor to blue, blue to charge, charge to ignitor. It has to be the blue. As he prepared to clip, steam from his breath fogged his vision.
Malek tore his face shield off and let the sweat drip steadily from his head directly onto the green device. Three hours of staring at this stupid thing boiled down to thirty-three seconds. Suddenly he doubted his conviction. What if it wasn’t the blue? What if the blue was the fake? If he clipped the fake, everything was bound to explode as the device sensed a short circuit and sent a reverse charge into the ignitor. He couldn’t clip the fake.
Twenty seconds. Twenty seconds. Malek panicked. Red, blue, yellow. One of the three. Take a guess. Take a guess. Any guess. A river of sweat now fell from his face onto the motherboard. Onto the batteries, onto the circuit; and everything stopped. The clock turned off, the little red light on the motherboard faded. The home-made explosive remained still. My magical sweat, Malek thought smiling. My magical sweat.