“How come it’s so damn freezin’? It’s past noon for Chrissakes.” Iggy Wormwood expressed the thoughts of his fellow saboteurs.
Each former corpsman went directly to the plastic explosive they had previously planted on the beams of the train depot shelter. They were dressed the same. White sailor hats and a Navy pea coat made them look like appropriately attired Christmas Duty Crew to any observer. However, there were no observers. No further air-evac activity via train transport was anticipated the rest of the day. Norton’s minimally staffed Security Duty Crew could not spare any personnel today for guard duty other than at the main gate.
Dick Forno, Iggy Wormwood, and Rudy Fripik checked the wires and the timers.
“The timer dial is frozen. It should move freely forward and backward.” Rudy Fripik’s breath could be seen as an icy vapor trail.
“Don’t turn the dials forward, for Chrissakes.” Wormwood continued with the rest of his warning. “Check the damn thing by going backward. You could set the whole thing off by going ahead.” The timing devices resembled the circular timing devices used in the average kitchen. Time could be increased by moving the dial counterclockwise and decreased by clockwise advancement. Clockwise rotation of the dial to zero would blow the detonator and explode the plastique.
Forno inspected each deadly brick of plastique and noted all the timers had the same problem. “They must have picked up some moisture in the van and now they’re frozen. Iggy, go back to the microbus and get some antifreeze from the van’s radiator.”
“The VW is air-cooled. There aint no antifreeze.” Wormwood gave Forno a smug look.
“Just go back to the van and bring back anything that’s still liquid. Look in my tool box.” Forno ignored Wormwood’s barb.
“I got a pint of gin in my gym bag.” Fripik came to the rescue.
“Yeah. And I got some Ronson lighter fluid for the new Zippo I got for Christmas. It’s in the paper bag with my coffee thermos.” Wormwood also came to the rescue.
“Bring them both here. We’ll mix the two and de-ice the suckers.” Forno motioned them to hurry. “You gotta use some common sense chemistry here.”
Fripik brought both the Ronson lighter fluid and the Gordon’s pint of gin back to the team
“The pint of gin is full. Good. We don’t need any drunks on the job. But we have to empty a third of the bottle to accommodate the lighter fluid.” Forno addressed the team and opened the bottle breaking the tax stamp.
“Wait.” Fripik was wide-eyed as Forno began to tip the gin bottle. “Why waste it. We’re all freezin’. One swig won’t hurt anyone. Then we add the lighter fluid.”
There was mutual consent. Forno gave-in by taking the first gulp. The Gordon’s was passed around.
“Okay.” Forno added the Ronson lighter fluid and shook the new chemical mixture. It remained clear. “I’m gonna drop a teaspoon on my timer and then everyone does the same. But do it fast because we don’t want too many seconds difference between timers. After you add the fluid, we all get the hell back to the van but don’t run. We don’t want to draw any attention.”
The comment caused the members to look around the train depot suspiciously.
After each pea-coated ex-corpsman delivered the elixir, Fripik froze. “Wait. The timer should be making a noise that it’s workin’. There should be a timer hum and the dial should be movin’.”
“Take your gloves off and heat your timer. Let’s do it at the same time to synchronize activating the explosion time.”
Each uniformed saboteur cupped their bare hands around the 2-inch-by-2-inch kitchen timer. All the timers began to hum at 12:40.
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