2009 -- 2.1 (Fall) Fiction

Failure is Not an Option

He would only have 30 seconds to get out alive. Emilio stared at the remote detonator in his hand. Two buttons. If he is successful in his mission he presses the red one and detonates the charges he had just placed under the building. If he is unsuccessful he presses the green button and detonates the charges around his waist. In his line of work – failure was never an option.

Emilio carefully attached the last wire to the explosive device at the base of the massive concrete support column. He was lying on his stomach. His heavy breathing formed small tornado like whirls in the dirt. Many of the fine particles managed to find their way into eyes and his lungs. He suppressed the urge to cough. Failure – was not an option. Above him towered a 12 story concrete building, bustling with life. He did not know the nature of the lives being lived there. It was not his job to know. He was taught to leave his personal feelings out of the decision making process. He was taught to follow orders. He was trained – to press a button.

Three and half minutes later, Emilio had crawled his way to the edge of the building. He took a minute to catch his breath and to try to get some of the dirt out of his eyes. Looking out from under the building he spotted the getaway car that was left for him. He had to wait for the right moment to exit and cross the street. Failure was not an option. Once in the car, he could press the button and have 30 seconds to put some distance between himself and the explosions. If he could just make it to the car he would be free.

There was no hesitation when the right moment arrived. Emilio reacted without thinking. The next thing he knew he was in the driver seat, key in the ignition, and detonator in hand. He turned to look at the building. He saw two women, one of them pregnant, and 4 small children preparing to climb the steps that lead up to the door of the building he was about to destroy. The pregnant woman looked at him and smiled. It was a punch in the stomach. It was as if he had never seen a smile before. Things started to move in slow motion. He noticed the innocent, care-free expressions on the children’s faces. He thought of his own children. As tears began to stream down his cheeks he quietly asked himself, “Is failure an option?” Looking down at the detonator in his hand, he took a deep breath and pressed the button.