Story: Count Down

This story first appeared yesterday for Siobhan Muir’s Thursday’s Threads. A slightly longer, better edited version follows:

Staring anxiously at the timer, Beth let her breath out slowly.

“The clock is running out,” she said in a husky whisper, as if she thought being quiet would keep the thing from going off.

“I know,” I answered, a bit more harshly then I’d intended. “Just let me think…”

She remained where she was, simply watching me. I don’t know which would have unnerved me more – her going to pieces as I studied the wiring or her sitting there, just… just watching.

At the time, just watching me was bad enough, but I don’t think I could have taken her losing it.

I could feel her breath catch as I ghosted my hands over the writing trying to figure out design and purpose for everything through osmosis. For future reference boys and girls… it doesn’t help.

I looked at the timer and bit my lip. “Damned if I do, damned if I don’t,” I finally said as I picked up the dykes to snip the wire.

“Well, when you put it that way… cut the blue wire,” Beth suggested.

Though her voice trembled, I could see the humor in it. I hesitated a moment and then cut the blue wire. And then the red one…and the black one just to be sure.

A moment later the oven timer went off and Beth pulled the souffle from the oven.

This time the smoke detector did not go off.

November 7, 2015

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