[Fiction Practice] Thirty Minutes Left

“Thirty minutes left…”
“What? Oh, that’s bad!”
The timer ticked down mercilessly. The temperature rose steadily as the two engineers assessed the situation. They were trying to figure out how to dismantle a device that in now twenty-two minutes was scheduled to complete. It wasn’t ready. The device couldn’t launch in that condition. Panic started to set in. They were trained expertly in building and fixing devices, yet here they were, with twenty minutes left.

One engineer crouched directly in front of the device. The other reviewed documentation.

The room was cluttered with tools, parts, assorted gadgets, books, white papers, and three chalkboards filled with related diagrams. Anything that could be useful for any situation, yet here they were, with seventeen minutes left on the clock, and scratching their head over erratic behavior from a device that always worked.

An alarm went off: fifteen minutes left on the clock.

“Jane! This is bad. We’re screwed! We can’t…”
“Pull yourself together.”
“Come over here.”

The anxious engineer dropped the sweat-drenched white paper and crouched slightly to the side of the still ticking device with now twelve minutes left on the clock. She looked over the series of cables, wires, and assorted flashing lights that now appeared as a cryptic interpretation of disaster rather than something that could have actually been a working unit at one point even one hour ago.

“Remember our training, Sam.”

Sam breathed in deeply, exhaled, and assessed the mess. The timer chimed with ten minutes left on the clock. The panic was still there, though slightly relaxed. This was the only time for these two engineers to resolve this issue. They had tried most everything they could think of from the basics to even the long-shot guesses that sometimes would work. They were now in a situation they’d never anticipated.

“Look at the wires here. Black is hot, red is ground, right?”

The cables were such a mess, though. It was impossible to see what was going on at any one point. There were hints of black and red cables. It just seemed like such a lost cause.

“I don’t know what I should even be looking for, Jane!”

“Alright, see this black wire here? See how it routes over and through this green and blue patch of cables? See how it then routes over to this power switch?”

Jane flipped the power switch and the device turned off.

The timer stopped and device shut off cleanly. The room temperature cooled ever so slightly, as though all the anxiety over trying to figure out what was going on had increased the room temperature by a significant amount.

Sam collapsed on the floor. She looked over at the device.
“When’d you figure it out, Miss Engineer of the Quarter?”
“Shortly after the fifteen minute buzzer.”

Jane extended out a hand to help Sam up off the floor. Just as they turned their back to leave, the device turned back on with two minutes left on the clock.

My big goal is writing. My most important goal is writing "The Story." All other goals should work toward that central goal. My proudest moment is the most recent time I overcame some fear, which should have been today. I'm a better zombie than I was yesterday. I'm not better than you and you're not better than me. Let's strive to be better every day.