The Runaway Bomb
A Free Short Story by Jason Webb
It's hard to say when true democracy in Britain broke down, but independent journalist Joel Lucas thought that he knew the answer. It had been a gradual process over many years and decades. The political parties had become more and more similar, and the choices of the people became less and less. Of course, the majority of the citizens never saw it coming. As long as they were given the chance to vote in an election every few years, they really believed that they were still in control. "We live in a democracy! We are free!" How little they really knew.
For many years, the people seemed happy with what their government was doing. They were happy to give up their freedom and their liberty if it meant that they were protected from all the evils of the World. It didn't matter that they had to always carry government-approved identification cards with them by law, or that they had to pass through police-controlled security checkpoints every time they entered a major building or travel hub. They just accepted that this was the price that they had to pay to keep terrorists off the streets. Terrorists who were trying to kill their families.
The inconvenient truth was that there were no terrorists trying to kill innocent families for no reason. When the military forces collapsed due to the wrecked economy, the ability to project military power across the planet disappeared, and the focus fell on "defending the borders". However, with the threat of invasion and conquer removed, it became apparent that most foreign nations were happy to just let them wallow in the mess that they had created. They had no desire to go overseas killing innocent civilians. They were happy to go on living their own lives and dealing with their own problems.
Of course, the government couldn't let the people know this. The security state that had been built up with public approval due to the "constant threat" of foreign terrorism had given the government an indispensable ability to control the population and to monitor them to serve its own needs. Now the troublemakers could be weeded out, and, unbeknownst to himself, Joel was one such troublemaker.
Joel had been posting ever more critical anti-government stories on the internet. At first his stories were dismissed by the civilians as fabricated, un-patriotic trash, but, over the past few years, his stories had gained more interest as more and more people were piecing together the facts of what he said. It was by no means a glamorous profession, in fact Joel lived almost like a recluse in a small, cheap flat, struggling to pay the bills, but the internet was his connection to the World, and he was prepared to tell the people what he knew about the way Britain was being run.
Contrary to what might have been expected from a so-called democratic political system, there were no real opposing parties. Sure, there were different parties, under different names who would argue amongst themselves and do their best to win power for themselves, but they were all populated by the same type of people. Their sole interest was what they could get for themselves out of the security state, so none of them would ever do anything to upset the status quo. Neither of the two main political parties wanted to get rid of the cameras and the checkpoints, so, regardless of who happened to be elected to government, they obeyed the unwritten code of "us and them".
Convincing the citizens that their lives and those of their families were in constant threat from foreign terrorists wasn't easy though, especially when the foreign nations had no interest at all in Britain or its people. Thankfully, due to their control over the media, the government were able to keep up the charade.
Sure, there were bombs going off in shopping malls and cars exploding outside homes, but they weren't the acts of foreign terrorists. Every single one of them was the act of a certified legal citizen, but not the act of anti-government rebels, as might have been expected in such an oppressive state, but the act of secret government hit squads.
The hit squads were assembled after the collapse of the military. Due to their covert nature, and the fact that the general citizens were to know nothing about their activities, the members were hand-picked. Ex-military soldiers were the obvious choice, but not just any soldiers would do. They wanted the loners, the fanatics, the racists, the crackpots. They wanted the ones who could be manipulated, the ones who could be brainwashed, the ones who would dutifully kill innocent civilians if their superiors had told them that it was the right thing to do.
Extensive psychological profiling was carried out to find the most suitable men for the job, and was no mistake that only men were found to be suitable. Despite extensive trials and testing, it was found that women just couldn't be trusted with a role such as belonging to a hit squad. Humans had made great strides in scientific research, but they still couldn't overcome the deep-set genetic maternal instincts of a woman that makes her doubt the moral correctness of her task when ordered to blow up a home containing innocent children, no matter what security threat their parents were supposed to pose. Only a special type of man could do such a thing, and these were the men that made up the hit squads.
If the role of the hit squads had actually been to eliminate true threats to national security, their work could have been viewed as having some form of merit. However, this wasn't the case. The majority of the work carried out by the hit squads was to eliminate political figures who the government saw as gaining too much support from the people. The major opposition party knew this, but, due to their "special relationship" with the government, they played along, and, in return, we're assured by that they would not be victims.
Whilst it might have seemed possible for the government to eliminate the major opposing party and thus rule without competition, they knew that, in order to keep giving the citizens the illusion that they were living in a democracy, there had to be a two-party system, and, every few years, the government needed to change. Therefore, the opposition would do nothing that might weaken their ability to control and manipulate the citizens once their turn to be in power came. As long as neither party rocked the boat, they could all live the good life.
Everything was going well for the government and the opposition party until the fateful day when one of the hit squads was ordered to eliminate Joel. He had been under surveillance for a long time, but it had got to the stage where the government could no longer ignore him, so he had to go.
The removal method of choice was to be a car bomb. It was sophisticated enough to be reliable, but crude enough to appear to the civilian population to be a terrorist device. Unfortunately, on the day in question, the government realised that there where were forces at work in the universe that were beyond even their control.
At 7am on a cold February morning, Joel pulled up in his battered car outside an office building in a fairly run-down part of town. Even yanking the handbrake as hard as he could wasn’t good enough to keep the car in place, so he shut off the engine, put the car into gear, and went inside the building. He’d received a call a few days earlier from a contact who claimed to hold some damning evidence about the government, and had agreed to meet him there. Joel knew that he had to be careful who he trusted, but he had no idea that he’d just been set up. Shortly after the Joel went inside the building, the hit squad assassin went to work.
In the dim morning light, the assassin slid unnoticed underneath the Joel's car and got to work installing the bomb. It was a fool-proof design, wired to the car's alternator so that the triggering electrical current would only be delivered to the bomb once the engine was turned over. However, as fool-proof as the bomb design might have been, neither its designers nor the assassin could have foreseen what was about to happen next.
Hurtling down the road at that time was a large articulated lorry that was on its way to make an early morning delivery to a nearby industrial unit. The driver was lost and didn't know where his destination was so, worried that he wouldn't make his delivery and get out of town before the morning rush started, he picked up his mobile phone and started to dial his contact at the unit.
Now, it's no secret that using a mobile phone whilst driving can have very serious consequences, but that driver had no idea how serious. As he looked down at his phone, the driver inadvertently let his lorry drift towards the side of the road. By the time he looked up again, it was too late. The lorry slammed into the back of the Joel's car, lifting its back wheels off the ground and pushing it along like a wheelbarrow. The hit squad assassin, still underneath the vehicle, got his jacket hooked on an engine bracket, and was dragged down the road, the clothes on his back gradually wearing away as he stared at the bomb hanging over his head.
As quickly as his brain could react at that time of the morning after driving all night, the driver hit the brakes, locking all eighteen wheels of his lorry and causing it to screech to a halt. Unfortunately, the car still had momentum working for it. It shot forward off the front of the lorry and continued on its way towards the solid stone support of an overhead railway bridge. The assassin, at least somewhat relieved that the danger from the pursuing truck was gone, glanced towards the back of the car, just in time to see the back wheels hit the ground.
The back tyres screeched and smoked a little as they gained grip and the wheels started to turn. The assassin watched in horror as the driveshaft that ran from the rear of the car started to turn. With a jerk and a clunk from the gearbox, the engine started to turn, and so did the alternator... BOOM!
Joel’s car was gone, and so was the assassin, but that wasn't the end of the story. The shockwave from the explosion seriously cracked the stone support pillar of the railway bridge, which wasn't good news when the 7:10 came hurtling over the bridge a few moments later. The vibrations from the train were too much for the bridge to take, and it crumbled under the weight, sending several of the carriages crashing onto the road below. Many innocent civilians died on that packed commuter train, and many more were injured. Some who died on that train were not so innocent.
Joel was the first person on the scene, long before the police had had the chance to come in and carefully remove evidence. Luckily, Joel never left his car without taking his camera with him and, after helping the lorry driver free some of the walking wounded from the wreckage, captured what he could of the scene then fled before the authorities arrived.
The first carriage that hit the road was the first class one, which had been carrying several important members of the opposition party who were on their way to a conference. News of their demise didn't sit we'll with the other members of the party, especially when Joel exposed the possible involvement of a government hit squad. Further speculation that the opposing politicians had been the targets all along caused a rift in the cosy relationship between the government and their major opposition leading to a volatile situation that would gradually spiral out of control over the coming years.
Despite his intention all along of changing the future of the country, Joel could never have imagined that he would do it by having a faulty handbrake and leaving his car in gear.
This story is Copyright (c) 2014 - Jason Webb. All Rights Reserved.
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