September Contest: Time Bomb by Brian Carman


A dull, throbbing pain prodded each beat of my heart as I roused from sleep with a sharp inhale. A wooden chair supported my exhausted frame. I snapped my dry, cloudy eyes open at the haunting sensation at my chest. What the—?

On impulse, my hand rose to my chest to find something cold and plastic. I winced at the brightness emanating through my living-room windows. When the fogginess cleared, I recognized the device. My gut wrenched.

A timer.

Two wires protruded from its bottom, disappearing into my stitched, red skin. It counted down from ten hours…to what?

A deep, computer-altered voice startled me. My heavy head jumped up to see a masked figure with cold, brown eyes staring back at me from a laptop screen sitting on a kitchen stool. “Good morning, Mr. Levi.” His voice was foreign—maybe African or Middle Eastern.

“Who are—” I coughed, my voice scratchy and arid. “Who are you?”

“I’m the man who has your wife and little girl.”

The wrenching in my stomach amplified. I growled under my breath.

“And unless you do exactly as I say, I will kill them and detonate the bomb attached to your heart.”