Texas Wildfire

Chapter 35

By Dwayne MacInnes

President Ramirez had aged significantly since he took office about a half year before. His hair was now almost completely gray, wrinkles now lined his eyes and brow. Not to mention, he must have lost a good fifty pounds.

Despite all this, Ramirez was happy. The war was finally over. Most people felt that he had handled the war correctly. The United States military was reestablishing order inside Texas. Once the situation stabilized, work would begin on reconstruction. Ramirez stressed that the work be done by the local Texans, especially since most were now unemployed. He also stressed that the military would not harass the locals but instead work with them.

The president had flown into New Mexico to tour the bombed sites in Littleton. The citizens hailed him as a hero and the president, under extremely heavy guard by the Secret Service, mingled and shook many hands. The Secret Service finally convinced Ramirez that it was for his own safety that he should return to the armored limo after touring the sites.

Inside the limo, Ramirez sat next to his old friend and chief of staff, Todd Schneider. "Did you enjoy yourself?" Todd queried as he took some notes on an electronic notebook.

"Yeah, you know what? I did," Ramirez said waving to the crowd outside the limo. "I feel like a great weight has been lifted off my shoulders now that the war is over."

"The war may be over, but we still have to pay for it," Todd replied as he looked up from the notebook.

"Yes, I know that, but for now let's enjoy the victory."

"Humph," was all Todd replied as he looked down at the notebook again. "Okay, you have a school play to attend in Santa Fe. You will meet your wife and daughter there tonight."

"Ah, yes, the domestic life. How sweet it is to enjoy it again," Ramirez smiled.

* * * * *

Cobb rode in the back of the taxicab on his way to work. With his new name of Roger Pyle, he found work as a janitor. It was of the utmost importance that he arrive on time.

As the cabby weaved through traffic, Cobb reached into his satchel and pulled out a small ball of plastic. He placed the plastic ball underneath the front seat of the cab. He then pulled out some wet hand wipes and proceeded to wash his hands. Then he slid the bag with the wipes under the driver's seat.

"Did ya hear the president is going to be in town today?" the cabby said making small talk.

"Yeah," Cobb said as the cab pulled up in front of the school. "Say, I would like to have a cab available when I'm done with work." Cobb slipped the cabby an extra $50.

"Yes sir, I will be in the area all night. I will do my best to respond. You can reach me at this number," the cabby replied giving Cobb a business card. "Call me when you are ready."

"Thanks," Cobb said as he entered the school's rear entrance. A Secret Service agent searched Cobb and checked his ID before allowing him to enter. Once inside Cobb headed towards the basement boiler room.

* * * * *

Ramirez sat in the balcony seat with his family enjoying the school play. The children often missed their lines or delivered them in a stilted voice. Still, the president enjoyed every minute of it. He almost forgot that the Secret Service surrounded him and that they were constantly monitoring the halls.

In the basement, Cobb tended the boiler. A Secret Service agent would enter and occasionally watch him work. However, the agent would soon leave and patrol another area of the school.

The Secret Service had gone over the school with a fine-tooth comb looking for explosives and guns. Having found none, they determined that the school was sufficiently safe for the president. They also searched every person who entered the building.

Cobb went over to an old metal washbasin, pulled out some bottles of bleach, and poured them into a mop bucket. He placed an old dirty mop into the bucket and proceeded to mop the floor around the boiler.

A Secret Service agent checked in and watched Cobb mop the floor for a few minutes before returning to his patrol. The smell of bleach was not out of the ordinary for cleaning a school.

Once the agent left, Cobb rummaged through his tool kit and found his small remote. Cobb then reached into his pocket, pulled out his compu-phone, and dialed the cabby's number. After a quick conversation, Cobb disconnected and waited.

It was five minutes later that the cabby called Cobb to let him know that he was waiting outside the school. Cobb picked up the remote and smiled as he pushed the button. Immediately after he depressed the button, the school shook as the cab exploded outside.

Secret Service agents immediately sprung into action and sprinted either outside to the wreckage of the cab burning in the streets or to the defense of the president. In either event, they left Cobb alone in the basement by the boiler.

Cobb then walked over to a large gray plastic garbage can next to the boiler's intake vents and removed the lid. A strong odor of bleach wafted into the air as he poured the contents of the mop bucket into the garbage can that was now half-full of bleach. Next Cobb grabbed several yellow bottles from his cleaning supplies and walked over to the large mop bucket. Putting a wet rag to his mouth and nose Cobb proceeded to pour the bottles of ammonia into the garbage can and watched the fumes as the heating vent hungrily sucked them up.

* * * * *

Secret Service agents instantly surrounded Ramirez and his family once the explosion rocked the building. People in the audience were screaming in fear and the children on stage ran back and forth as teachers and parents tried to reestablish order to the chaos breaking out.

No one notice the strange vapor pouring out of the vents until people started to cough. The balcony above the auditorium soon had the noxious fumes of chlorine gas enveloping it as the heating vent in the balcony blew the deadly gas out.

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This page contains a single entry by Douglas Gogerty published on December 15, 2010 5:00 PM.

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