“Yes, sir. Thank you, sir.” Randolph closes the phone and puts on the auto-pilot on the Prius and closes his eyes for a few moments to decompress from what had already been a stressful morning. No sooner had he closed his eyes and began to doze off to sleep then a proximity alarm sounds in the vehicle. His eyes bolt wide open as he sits up straight in the car, clutching the steering wheel so tightly that his knuckles turn white. Randolph looks ahead and sees a wall of flame spread across his side of the interstate from where a gasoline tanker had lost control and crossed the median before flipping onto the northbound lanes of the road and exploding in flames. Randolph quickly swerves the Prius onto the grass on the right side of the road, and struggles to maintain control as the little hybrid bucks and jumps through the dry St. Augustine grass, all the while the flames spreading closer to the vehicle and beginning to lick at the blades lining the edge of the road.
After an eternity, Randolph manages to pull the car back onto the road and look at the carnage in his rear view mirror, breathing a heavy sigh of relief as he relaxes his grip on the wheel. He picks up his phone and quickly dials 911 for a fire truck and police to arrive and route people around the wreck, before resetting the auto-pilot and settling back in for an hour and a half nap between his current location and mile marker 442. Randolph’s sleep is troubled and light as his brain replayed the events of the morning over and over, and Randolph trying desperately to figure out what he did wrong to allow Morgan to be kidnapped.
He was into his tenth repetition of the events that morning, all with the same result as the original, when the car's auto-pilot's soothing female voice roused him. He rubs his eyes groggily and looks around at his surroundings. He lightly taps his right foot on the brake to disengage the auto-pilot and begin slowing the car as the sign announcing mile marker four hundred forty two appears just over the horizon. Randolph squints briefly, looking for the package that Morgan's kidnappers had told him would be there. He flips a switch and the neon green flashers come out of the top of the car and begin to flash. He slows the car to a stop as he eases off the side of the road right at the marker, and waits for a break in the traffic to get out of the car. He looks at his watch and breathes a sigh of relief. Fifteen minutes to spare, he says to himself, and looks in the sky for the chopper that was to meet him at the mile marker. To his dismay, there is nothig hovering overhead, not even a cloud. "That lying little piece of ----" he says, as he flips open his phone and begins to dial the number to the Sacramento office. "I would watch what I would say, if I were you, Agent Prescott," the muffled voice on the other end of the phone chides him, as he puts the ear piece to his ear. "How did you--- I dialed ---- okay, we need to set some ground rules here, Mr. Voice," Randolph snaps back. "I am at the rendezvous point as agreed upon with fifteen minutes to spare, now what?"
"My, my, aren't we a l-l-l-lttle impatient," the voice on the other end of the phone responds. "All right, m-m-m-my l-l-l-little boy scout, the box that you are to transport is behind the third bush to your right. But be careful, or it might explode, and we don't want to have to clean up boy scout off the road. Would be extremely m-m-m-messy."
"Third bush on the right," Randolph mumbles under his breath as he walks towards a scraggle of barberry bushes that had sprung up earlier that month. He pushes the brush aside and sees the package laying on its side, and a light gray smoke emanating from the far corner of the box. “Um, the box seems to be smoking. Should it really be doing that?”
“N-n-n-n-no. What color is the smoke?”
“It appears to be a light grayish-blue.”
“Then, I would suggest that you run, because I would say that in the next ten seconds, that package is going to explode.”
Chapter 4: “Tick-Tick-Boom!”
Randolph hears the word “run” and takes off in a full sprint away from the box. He had gotten about twenty feet from the package when it erupts into a fireball about the size of a small car, and the concussion of the explosion lifts Randolph off his feet and sends him hurtling through the air and onto the pavement about fifteen yards away.
More to come as it comes to me.
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Until we meet again, remember that two wrongs don't make a right, but three rights make a left.