The Day Before Midnight
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Paramilitary terrorists who have taken over a top-secret nuclear complex kidnap Maryland welder Jack Hummel and force him to cut through a half-ton titanium block that conceals the launch button.
went blank as he pitched forward, his head askew. Hapgood knew he was going to die. He could hear them coming down the corridor, the swift, slapping pound of their boots, driven on by the shouts of their officer. “The other one. Quick, the other one.” Panic scampered through the young man’s mind and he felt his joints melt, his will scatter. He knew he could never get the blast door closed in time. They’re coming for the bird, he thought. And at that moment he remembered procedure. He turned
into his hands-free mike, “they just hit our interpreter.” “All right, Major,” said Dick, “body-bag em.” Skazy finished the job. Walls beat the tin door off the junction box with the stock of the Mossberg, badly chewing the wood in the process. No time to worry about that now. The box, ripped open, yielded a terrifyingly complex mesh of wires crowding in on the junctions. It made no sense to him. It was like so much of the world: all wired up, all fixed, all fancy and complicated, beyond
just realized he was dealing with Mr. Dumbjiveassniggerboy, but also knew if he pissed Mr. D. off, Mr. D. he take top of the motherfucker’s head off, and so going real poh-lite, you know, like real sloooow, so as not to rile him. “Uh, son, do you know the letters? Do you know your alphabet? Not words, now, but do you recognize the letters?” Walls burned with shame. He shut his eyes. He could feel the tears running down his face, hot and bright. He squished the phone so hard he thought it’d snap
please ask Phuong?” “Phuong doesn’t like to talk.” Lathrop was desperate. “Please,” he almost begged. “Please, could we just ask him?” Mr. Nhai looked at the young man for quite a while, and then with great resignation went to get Phuong. While he waited, Mr. Nhai came back with the nurse and the children that Lathrop had seen outside in the garden, scrawny, energetic kids, all tangled up in one another. They ran forward to Mr. Nhai. He nuzzled them warmly and cooed into their ears. The
saw that it wasn’t Beth at all, but some figure out of a terrible dream. The man stood there in black boots, black combat fatigues, and a black face mask. He had a gun, too, and it was black. Jack, who knew a little about such things, recognized it as an Uzi with about half-a-yard of silencer hooding its short snout. Jack felt himself pissing in the stall. The water continued to spray down on him. The man gestured with the gun. “My children,” Jack begged, raising a feeble hand against the