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.But it could.It would.Soon, it would.He checked that morning, first thing.Every Tuesday.It was all in place now: the octanitrocubane, the detonator.He’d wedged the last pieces into place a few months ago.The detonator had arrived more than three years ago.It was in a box, disguised as a children’s toy, part of an erector set.The toy had even been wrapped so that it looked new.But Neqq knew exactly how to tell the detonator parts from the pieces of the toy.It took him almost an entire weekend to assemble the complicated thing.But when he tied off the last wire and soldered it to the cellular antenna, he knew it was perfect.That next week, he’d brought it to work.He set it in the explosive material beneath the foot joist in his locker just after lunch that Tuesday.There it had sat for nearly two years now.It had long since been buried by more octanitrocubane, sent in the toothpaste tubes.There it all waited.Waited for someone, somewhere, to set off the detonation.Neqq knew how to detonate the bomb, if he had to.But he was supposed to wait for the detonation.Wait, unless he knew they were getting close.Should I set it off? he asked himself.Neqq knew the odds were one in three he would be there when it was set off.He worked an eight-hour shift.One in three.He always thought about that.Did he want to be there? If he wasn’t, would they come looking for him? Would he stay in Long Beach? In California? America? He had always thought he wanted to be there.It would be easier in so many ways.No one would look for him then.But recently, he’d begun to think about his family.They didn’t even know he was alive.Imagine walking into the little home, just outside the town center.“Mama,” he would say to his mother.He knew she would cry when she saw him at the door.The thought nearly brought tears to his eyes as he imagined it.He stood at the edge of the building and stared.In front of him, he could see eleven reach stackers just rumbling to life as he and the other drivers got ready for their shift.To the left, the warehouse was filled for as far as you could see.To his right, through the six-story warehouse doors, he saw a big container ship coming in.He could see a couple of crew members at the front of the ship.He stepped to the end of the dock and stood next to one of the big yellow steel ballast ties.One of the men, an Asian man, waved to him.Neqq waved back.Sometimes, he would dream about climbing aboard one of the container ships, going on an adventure, getting away from the inevitability of it all.But then he would remember his place.His duty.Jihad.Beyond the ship was the ocean, just now beginning to shimmer in the morning light.How much longer would he stare at the ocean? When would Alexander press the button and make it all go away?“What are you looking at?” Mr.Sargent said.“The boat, sir,” said Neqq.“I’m always amazed.”“What country are you from?” asked Mr.Sargent.“I think we’ve talked about this before, sir.Canada.I’m from Montreal.You asked me this before.”“Canada,” said Mr.Sargent as he stared at Neqq.Neqq became uncomfortable.He felt cool sweat come into his armpits.“O Canada,” sang Mr.Sargent, eyeing Neqq severely.“We stand on guard for thee.”Neqq grinned nervously.“Get back to work.There’s containers to off-load.”Neqq walked quickly back to the number six reach stacker and climbed up into the cab.He found his safety helmet.He took the silver key from the overhead visor and placed it in the ignition, then pressed the small red button to the left of the transmission and felt the massive million-dollar piece of machinery come to life.It must come soon, he thought.If Mr.Sargent searched his locker, if he truly ripped it up, he would be lost.They would lock him up, interrogate him.Could he survive the torture? Should he commit suicide tonight?His mind raced as he moved the gear into drive.It had been so long now.It was time.He did what he always did at moments like these, repeating the Sharia.He drifted into the focus of his work, driving the big machine out through the warehouse portal to the container field.31FORTUNA’S ESTATEFURTHER LANEEAST HAMPTON, NEW YORKFortuna gunned the engine of the black Aston Martin Vanquish S as he made his way out Route 27 through Long Island.He had left Manhattan late and thus avoided much of the traffic to the Hamptons [ Pobierz całość w formacie PDF ]