I ended up ditching my last one and turning in this one earlier today for a creative writing assignment. I had a deadline: the end of the school day to get it done. I ended up skipping history class and taking all of two periods to finish it--and I still had trouble with the ending. I couldn't find a good closing line.
Ten Minutes To Live
Five minutes were left in the school day when freshman Sierra Summer’s life was threatened over the intercom.
“They’re joking,” I said.
“You will die in ten minutes,” Sierra repeated. “Kayden, that’s not a joke!”
“It’s not gonna happen,” I told her.
The other students pitched in their thoughts on the message while the teacher called the office back and demanded an explanation.
“Miss Kelly,” said the voice over the intercom. “What are you talking about?”
“You threatened Sierra Summer! That’s what I’m talking about. Why?”
“Nobody’s used the intercom in the last twenty minutes.”
Miss Kelly turned to a wide-eyed Sierra. She opened her mouth and closed it again, then turned around. As she spoke with the secretary, Sierra trembled like a vibrating cell phone. Her eyes were hidden by her white hair, but I could tell she was starting to cry.
“Okay, that’s not a joke,” I mumbled. Putting my hand on her shoulder, I continued, “Relax if you can. Think about it. If that guy was gonna come out and kill you, why did he warn you first?”
Sierra didn’t answer, so I returned my attention to the secretary’s voice.
“Yes, we’ve called the police,” the secretary said. “They’re already here. Lock your door; close and shade the windows. I’m turning the mic over now.”
After a brief period of silence, a male voice emitted from the overhead speaker. “Sharon Kelly’s ethics class?” the man said. “I’m Officer Ken Goldman. Sierra, are you there?”
“Yes,” Sierra said.
“How long has it been since the threat on your life?”
“Do you know of anyone who has any motive to kill you?”
“No . . . I was kidnapped four years ago and held for three and a half, so maybe the kidnappers . . .?”
“Possibly,” Goldman said. “What was the reason for the kidnapping?”
“I don’t know. They used a lot of chloroform and I woke up with stitches on my head a few times.”
“Yeah, that’s in the records,” Goldman confirmed. “A remote time bomb is planted in your head. When we arrested the terrorists, we thought we eliminated the remote, but . . .”
Sierra had a bomb in her head? Where had I been these past six months?
“The kidnappers were Iraqi terrorists,” said Goldman. “Al Qaeda, actually. I’m gonna call for some backup. We need to find those terrorists before the bomb detonates. Stay calm, Sierra. We won’t let you die.”
“Wait,” I said to the officer. “Why did they warn us if they were just gonna kill Sierra?”
“We don’t know the nature of the bomb. For all we know, she could be a nuclear warhead. As things are, that’s very likely.”
No way. If I was gonna sit around and let this happen, then I may as well be helping the terrorists kill my friend. Sierra and I had both taken martial arts, but if your head was gone, all your knowledge was literally lost.
“Officer Goldman!” I said. “We don’t have time to wait around for your guys to find the terrorists. We need to lure them out and take the detonator!”
“It’s safest if we don’t use bait.”
“It’s safest not to let anyone die in the case of a nuke blast,” I replied. I stood up and walked toward the door. Miss Kelly caught my arm.
“Don’t go outside,” she said. “What are you thinking? The terrorists won’t come after you.”
Sierra stood up. “I’ll be the bait,” she said, still trembling. “They should come after me.”
I knew Miss Kelly wanted to stop her, but she didn’t. Officer Goldman, on the other side of the intercom, said, “That’s putting yourself directly in the line of fire.”
“It’s better than putting the entire county in the radius of a nuclear bomb,” Sierra replied. She sounded much braver than I knew she was.
“I’m going with you,” I said.
Goldman started to say something, but static cut him off. A new voice came on.
“Sierra Summer, you will die in five minutes.”
Sierra threw open the door and sprinted toward the front doors. I followed her and caught up as she skidded past the office and made a sharp right. She pushed the front door open and stepped outside. In the strong fall wind, she was almost blown back inside, but she pressed on. As if she had any idea where she was going, she started running again, slowed by the wind, but carried by sheer terror.
“Do you know where you’re going?” I shouted.
“The only possible place someone could hide around the school!”
We turned around the corner of a brick building. Sierra stopped in front of an alley and looked down into it. “Stop!” she shouted at the three men crouched around a jumble of antennas, wires, and boxes.
“Sierra,” one of the men said, turning to us. “Look here.”
He threw a small object to her. “A timer?”
“A minute!?” I gasped.
“Sierra Summer,” said the man, “you have a minute to live. Then your head’s gonna explode and everyone around you will die slowly.”
“Stop it then!” Sierra yelled. She took the initiative and ran at the terrorists. The first one falsely anticipated her attack. He held a hand out to block what he thought was a kick to the face. Sierra jumped over him; using his head as a footstool, she landed on another one’s chest. She was throwing punches before the pair hit the ground.
“Sierra, gun!” I cried. She twisted around. A bullet skimmed her cheek and buried itself in an unfortunate terrorist’s neck. With a furious curse, the shooter descended on Sierra and punched her in the side of the head. She rolled twice before hitting a wall.
I would have helped her, but I was occupied with the first terrorist. He had a gun pointed at Sierra and was trying to get a clear shot without hitting his friend. I tackled him from behind and grabbed at his gun. As we fell to the pavement, he fired four shots. I punched him in the back of the head the moment we hit the ground. His arms buckled with the added force and he face planted the ground. When I moved to get a clear view of Sierra, I saw the timer.
With ten seconds left, I got up and charged at the terrorist who was holding Sierra against the wall by her neck, battering her with punches. He turned suddenly and held Sierra out like a shield. Unable to stop, I crashed into her. Two fingers caught on the terrorist’s coat pocket. With my momentum added to gravity, both fingers snapped. Something fell out of the coat. When we hit the ground, Sierra’s body took the impact.
With my good hand, I reached over and grabbed the object from the terrorist’s pocket. Shouting something in another language, he kicked my ribs, then my hand. That alone told me not to let go of the thing. All of my fingers hurt, but only two were broken. I took one glance at Sierra, thought of the timer, and pressed the button.
Immediately, the terrorist screamed in rage, indicating that I had done the right thing. I rolled away, expecting another attack. I smacked my funny bone on something hard and reached for it. Pointing my newly obtained gun at the oncoming terrorist, I pulled the trigger. The gun clicked. My opponent dropped his knee into my ribs and punched at my face. I twisted my body and brought up my arm to block. I was hit, but not nearly as hard as the terrorist wanted. He drew his fist back to try it again.
Sierra gave a weak battle cry as she drove her knee into the back of his head. He got off me and stood up, looking between Sierra and me, breathing hard. He didn’t have the time to make a decision on what to do. Two police cars pulled up on either side of the alley.
“Sierra! Kayden!” someone called. Officer Jeremiah Summer, Sierra’s dad, emerged from one of the cars. “Get over here!”
Sierra’s ten yard journey looked agonizing. Two of her ribs were sticking out of her shirt. Both of her eyes were blackened and blood was streaming from her nose and mouth. If I hadn’t known her eyes were red to begin with, I’d have assumed the insides of those were bleeding as well.
An ambulance was waiting for us when we got out of the alley. Sierra was so weak from the fight that she didn’t have the strength to stay standing in the wind. Officer Summer caught her. “EMT’s!” he called. “Over here!”
Sierra was taken into the ambulance on a stretcher. The paramedics told me to wait for just a moment while they gave Sierra some treatment. Her life, they said, was in no danger.
“Thanks, Kayden,” Officer Summer said. “You saved Sierra’s life.”
I nodded. “Never going through that again, though,” I said. “Someone’s gotta take that bomb outta her head.”
“They can’t,” said Officer Summer. “It’s implanted in her brain. The doctors found it when they first examined her, but they couldn’t take it out without killing her. The same applies to the present.”
In any case, Sierra was alive. I looked into the alley. One terrorist, the one with the bullet in his neck, was put on a stretcher and covered with a white sheet. From there, he was carried out the other side of the alley. Another one was led into the back of a police. The one I’d taken out was also on a stretcher, but not covered in a sheet. I knew I wasn’t responsible for it, but seeing one of the terrorists dead gave me a bad feeling; a feeling that seemed to say, “One more second and that would have been Sierra.”