Yellow Wires, Part Three

This is part of a series of installations to my short story "Yellow Wires." For Part One, click here: https://www.hercampus.com/school/augustana/yellow-wires-short-story

For Part Two, click here: https://www.hercampus.com/school/augustana/yellow-wires-part-two

 

 

 

“Here.” Sweat poured down Kai’s back, soaking his shirt around his belt, which was weighed down with various weapons and tools. “I see it. . . Just a sec. . . .” He squatted down, deftly grabbing a pair of gloves from the heavy belt. He used his shoulder to wipe away a trail of sweat that made its way down his temple and set a lit flashlight down next to him.

“You see it?” Lee’s level but gruff smoker’s voice (although he had never touched a cigarette in his life) came through on the earpiece.

“Yeah,” Kia said breathily. Nerves fluttered in his stomach, and the heat of the boiler room wasn’t helping his comfort level.

“Do you see a timer anywhere?”

Kai looked at the front of the bomb, the only part that was visible to him now. “No. . . Hang on. I’m gonna. . . .” He slipped a pair of thin gloves on and reached gingerly toward the bomb, holding his breath. His covered fingers brushed the warm, black, spray-painted metal.

“Kai, what’s happening? Be careful!” Lee warned.

“Dad, chill out. I’m just looking. . . .” He laid his hand fully on it. Nothing happened. Kai released his breath slowly, but the tension remained. This was certainly not the most dangerous task the Parallel had put him through. Though he was only nineteen, he was one of their best. His superiors had a lot of faith in him and had no reservations about putting him in perilous situations.

He had been trained to do so much in his short life already—including a crash-course in how to deactivate a bomb. But having a real one a foot in front of his face?….It would rattle anyone’s nerves.

He gingerly picked the black, boxy object up and turned it over. “No. No timer anywhere. But there’s” —he took a risk and popped off a poorly secured hatch on the underside— ”there’s some wires hidden on the bottom, underneath a hatch thing.”

At that, a female voice came through the earpiece. “Wires? Okay, let me, the certified bomb defuser, handle this one, Lee.”

“Kaylee, is this thing gonna blow me away at any moment?” Kai held the bomb away from his body a bit, as if that would do anything to protect him should it go off.

There was silence on the other end of the line. Kai could picture Kaylee’s fingers flying over the keyboard. “Maybe,” she answered jokingly.

“Great.” Kai knew not to be too concerned. Kaylee was very good at her job.

“Okay. Are there a lot of wires?” Kaylee asked.

“Not really. Like. . . . ten, maybe?”

“Is there a black wire?”

“No.”

“Are there any red wires?”

“Nope.”

She hurried along. “Blue?”

“Yeah, one.”

“Umm, okay.” There was a pause on the line. “What other colors do you see?”

“The blue one. There’s two yellow ones. And the rest are white,” Kai answered.

“Are they organized in any way? Like, in a line maybe?”

“No. They’re a jumbled mess.” Kai wiped at the sweat off his face again. Kaylee blew out a frustrated sigh that Kai could here plainly through his earpiece. “What!?” he said.

Lee’s voice came through again, very serious. “Kaylee, don’t risk this if it’s too dangerous.”

“No, no. I got it. . . . Kai, cut the yellow wires—both of them, at the exact, exact same time. Understand?”

“Yeah.” He huffed out a humorless laugh. “Hey, Dad. Where’s the nearest mirror? I think I should have an escape route in case this whole place blows.”

“Hey! I know what I’m—” Kaylee started to scold, but Lee interrupted her. “It’s out the boiler room, turn right, and there’s a janitor's closet a long way down the hall on the left.”

“And Truman and Laurin are both long gone from the area?” Kai asked.

“Safe and sound,” Lee reassured.

“Alright. Here it goes. . . .” He grabbed a wire cutter from his belt and put the two yellow wires in its jaws. “Together,” he whispered to himself. He pinched, cutting them quickly at what he was confident was the exact same nanosecond. He pulled his hand back, rocked back on his heels, and waited.

“Kai? What happened?”

“. . . . I think it’s fine?” But then he heard the faintest beeping sound. “Wait.” He leaned forward, bringing his ear closer to the bomb, and….

Beep.

Beep.

Beep.

He sprang to his feet. “Oh, shit!” he swore. Kai bolted for the door. He careened out into the hallway, turned right, and ran as fast as he could, shouting colorful words to whoever was listening on the other end of the line.

He found the closet—nearly sprinting by it and missing it completely—and dived inside.

Kai immediately locked eyes with himself in a large, disgustingly dirty mirror, which was fixed to the wall over a paint-splattered utility sink. He was unbelievably relieved, a second from safety, but still looked like a wild man. His mousy-colored hair was a mess, and his pupils were so wide, they nearly blocked out all the blue surrounding them. He hoisted a leg onto the sink, drew himself up so he was balancing on it, and wasted no time in throwing himself through the mirror, back home to the Parallel. To safety.