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Friday short story time: "Bombs Away - Part 1"

Hello. This week’s Friday story breaks two sets of new ground. Firstly, I am revisiting characters from an old story, which I have not done before. This old story, to be precise, although it is not essential reading. I think this one is still pretty comprehensible. (Well, to the extent that it makes sense.)

Secondly, it is multi-part. Probably two or three parts, I haven’t decided. We’ll see how much I’m feeling it when I sit down to write next week’s. If you can’t wait until then, you can read many more stories here, none of which resolve the cliffhanger.

Bombs Away – Part 1

by Nick Bryan

‘I don’t understand, you want to do an archaeological dig?’ The security guard peered at them as if they were senile, even though he was the one who was old. ‘On an industrial estate? May I ask what you expect to find?’

The woman, wearing vest-top and heavily pocketed trousers like an under-endowed Lara Croft, sighed and looked indulgent. ‘These kind of sites are under-utilised, my good man. There might be all kinds of treasures here, waiting to be uncovered.’

‘But…’ He stammered a little, confused by the scale of her masterplan. ‘It’s all tarmac and whatnot. Won’t you need a… a digger, or something?’

‘Let us worry about that, dear.’ She reached into the pocket on her thigh. ‘Here’s our paperwork;, I hope it’s in order.’

Without blinking, she watched as he read the three or four sheets, still shaking his head in bewilderment at what the young people got up to nowadays. However, he soon started to concentrate more, and a twitch settled around the corner of her mouth.

Finally, she said, ‘Is something wrong, sir?’

‘This is, um,’ he was concentrating on the lengthy reference numbers, ‘I’m afraid some of these don’t quite match, I’m gonna have to call my boss.’

‘Oh, well,’ she sighed with apparent resignation, ‘fair enough.’

Her acceptance, it turns out, was not of his having to check. Rather, she made a cutting motion with one hand, and a tall, well-muscled chap in black appeared, swept the guard’s wrists aside with one arm and punched him squarely in the face with the other.

For a second, he simply appeared bewildered, before finally falling backwards onto the ground like a cartoon character.

‘Good shot, Edward.’ The woman nodded and stepped delicately over the collapsed mess.

‘Hm.’ Edward kept glancing down at him. ‘I wish the papers had worked, I hate hitting old people.’

‘Sometimes, these things are necessary.’ Brusquely, she shoved through the gates. After all, nothing must stand in the way of uncovering history, not even elderly security guards who were only doing their job.

With one more backwards twitch, Edward joined her on the inside. Now, it was time for the past to be extracted, gently tidied and sold on for a tidy profit, as was the forte of Eleanor and Edward, wife-and-husband archaeologists.

It was true they were not doing any digging this time, but hopefully that wouldn’t dent their archaeological cred too much. After all, the other week they had uncovered half a Roman vase in a retirement home garden, digging with only a trowel for weeks. After all that hard graft, they held a short meeting (chaired by Eleanor) and decided they were owed an easy one.

Skirting carefully around the visual range of a security camera, Edward glanced at his wife. ‘So it’s in one of these bins, you say?’

‘That is what our informant said, darling, yes.’

‘I see.’

Edward glanced nervously at the bins in question. The industrial waste receptacles were gigantic, nearly twice his considerable height, and unpleasantly cylindrical. He wasn’t looking forward to going diving in there. Especially considering their “informant” had been a terrified teenage boy who had probably told Eleanor whatever she wanted to hear so Edward would stop hitting him.

‘So are we diving into these things?’

‘Mm-hmm.’ Eleanor was glancing at one particular specimen on the edge of the yard, still pleasantly far away from any cameras and outside an electronics wholesaler. ‘I reckon this is about right for what he said.’

‘And we’re looking for a bomb?’

‘An unexploded bomb, dear.’ She grinned. ‘The kid saw it fall out into this bin from some truck of scrap and was on his way to alert the authorities.’


He pulled a length of thick mountaineering cable from his backpack and began looking for something to attach it to, as Eleanor wittered on.

‘…and I’ve heard some people collect these unexploded bombs, like WW1 or WW2 stuff, maybe even a nice landmine from a recent war, once they’ve been deactivated, they can really fetch a tidy sum at auction.’ She laughed, aloud. ‘Obviously, this one might still need to be deactivated.’

Edward was comforted to hear she had considered the risk of their big find blowing up in his face, and decided it was acceptable.

Finally, he lashed his line to a metal handle sticking out of the wall, which might let him stretch along to other bins as well, then began to climb the ladder set into the side of her prime suspect.

‘Are you okay up there, Edward?’ She finally deigned to notice him.

‘Not bad, not bad.’ He completed his ascent and peered over the edge. The bin was not as empty as he would have liked, being nearly a third full of metal and plastic scrap. Edward wasn’t relishing the prospect of sweeping through a few feet of waste when he knew any of the items could explode.

Still, he was at the top now, Eleanor was gazing expectantly, so he swung his legs over the top with a single heavy leap and let himself slide down the interior of the bin. His footsteps clanked on the side, then echoed back to get him anew.

That noise was joined by a buzzing from the radio on his shoulder, which soon gave way to his wife’s honeyed tones. ‘Edward? Any sign of it?’

She sounded excited, even through the layer of static. He hated to disappoint her, but nothing on the top layer looked like a good candidate. More was the pity, as it meant he’d have to go burrowing.

‘Uh, nothing yet, Ellie.’

With a sigh, he reached for a particularly large broken computer and gently flipped it over, hoping that he didn’t land it on anything combustible.

When he immediately spotted it beneath, his first sensation was relief that it had not taken long. Unfortunately, this soon gave way to less pleasant feelings.

‘Eleanor, I think I’ve got something.

‘That’s fantastic!’ And she sounded like she meant it. ‘What do you think, World War Two? The forties? Germany, America?’

‘Well.’ He sighed. ‘At a guess, I’d say early twenty-first century, maybe 2011, some terrorist’s garden shed?’

The parts were all shiny, and the lights were blinking very fast.


This story copyright me in 2011, all others similar. No copying, no laughing, definitely no making copies of my website and populating them with pasted out chunks of my Twitter. (No, that wasn’t me.) If you want to discuss any of the above, or using one of the stories elsewhere, emailing me is an option.


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