Sunday, 7 December 2014

Suspect Device - Friday Flash

“We have visuals”

“Okay, approach with care”

The men pored over their monitors at the image of a rectangular object coming more into view.

“Steady as she goes”

“Which plane do you want to scan first?”

“Go nearest, the short side facing us”


“Hold her there”

“Seems like… I dunno… lots of ridges”

“Bit like terraced agriculture like the Asia sector”

“Nothing nourishing about this bad boy”

“Chemical traces?”

“Bleach, pigmented dyes, cationic starch, calcium carbonate, other unknown solvents, but no nitrous concentrations significant enough for incendiary combustibility”


"Background levels only"


"Minimal. It's human but sleight"

“Obviously. We're not dealing with monkeys putting this thing together. Move clockwise on to the long side see if there’s anything to be had there”

“More of the same, though the ridges display more degradation”


“What? Where?”

“At the corner, there’s complete degradation. The ridges have collapsed into each other. But that there looks to me like a partial fingerprint we can lift”

“You’re right. Zooming in to photograph now”

“Scan for light-sensitive sensors, in case the flash sets off the detonator”

“Nothing detected”

“Okay snap the print”

“Done. Now scanning through database”

“Good. Carry on round. We’ve absolutely got to spot the wires”

“Same as the other short side. Ridges. Same chemical make up. No evidence of circuitry”

“Okay. least it doesn't seem to be a dirty bomb. Anything on the print yet?”

“Nothing yet sir. Still rolling through though”

“Let’s go blindside to the other long plane, then after to the flat surface plane”

“Easy there soldier! You nearly drove the robot into the bloody thing!"

“Sorry sir”

‘Well this all looks a bit different. Is that wiring? Seems like a spaghetti if it is”

“Don’t know sir, seems more straw or hemp than-“

“No evidence of conductor material”

“What have we got then?”

“Traces of emulsion adhesives, resins, thermoplastic polymers, but again nothing overtly explosive”

“What’s that there, that splurge of black just above the corner?”

“Some sort of image or icon?”

“Zooming in sir”

“It’s a, I don’t know what it is-”

“Rotate 180, I think it’s upside down”

“It’s a penguin”

“Penguin? Do we know of any groups that use that for their symbol? Run a search of all terrorist groups and militias”

“Could it be Antarctic secessionists? The penguin was native to there after all”

“Okay include them too. Oh and environ-Mentalists since their flipping bird is no longer native to anywhere”

“Still nothing on the strands, just seems to be, well, string”

“Anything on my fingerprint search yet?”

“No matches sir”

“Impossible. Should have finished by now”

“It has. No one in the datatbase”

“Well either we’re dealing with a top terrorist who can wipe his records clean out of the system, or this guy is already dead”

"No, no. This has been deliberately planted here for us to find"

“Anything on the penguin colophon?”

“The what?”

“The mark sir, just the mark”

“Well just speak English next time man”

“Nothing yet from our records. We’re just about to scrutinise the Dark Web for anything in back channels”

“Okay. Let’s leave this vector for now. Elongate the arm and let’s take a look at the top surface”

“Elongating arm now sir”

“It’s an orange and white plane with writing on it and an enlarged version of the penguin identifier”

“Flush smooth surface, so no evidence of wires”

“Or explosive chemicals. Just dyes and sealants”

“Writing? What’s it say?”

“Dunno sir, seems to be an unrecognisable script”

“No language I’ve seen before”

“Are you a reader?”

“No sir”

“Is it code?”

“Again, don’t know sir”

“I haven’t got time to get a reader or a codebreaker down here. If they’re deliberately trying to communicate their poisonous message too us, whoever they are, I’m not taking any chances. Have the robot blow it to buggery!”

"Initiating detonation sequence sir”

“They’re trying to fuck with our minds and I’m not having it. Anything on any of the searches?”

“Nada sir. This is like nothing we’ve ever encountered before”

‘Well let’s hope once she goes up in smoke we never see the likes of it again”

"Fire in the hole!"

“There she blows sir!”

“Good job. Well done all. Don’t forget to scoop up the confetti, check it for radioactivity and then analyse it in full. We've got to find out what its purpose was”


Hawksword said...

Ha! Love this!

Icy Sedgwick said...

Ooh that's too plausible.

Natalie Bowers said...

Dangerous things, those books. :)

David G. Shrock said...

As many times as I've stated I'd someday try a dialogue-based flash, I still haven't. I doubt I could produce one with a punch like this. Nicely done.

Helen A. Howell said...


Tim VanSant Writes said...

Nice work. Trying to one-up Fahrenheit 451?

Steve Green said...

A nice bit of dark humour, Marc.

I think this lot ought to read more. LOL.

I lie the thought of Antarctic secessionists too. :-)

Katherine Hajer said...

This reminded me of the short story -- by Bradbury, maybe? -- about a man who gets arrested or taken to the insane asylum because after dinner he likes to go out for a walk, instead of watching TV like all of his neighbours.

Loved the dialogue, and the chemical analysis. Also how anal the "inspectors" were.

Jon Jefferson said...

As I first got into it I imagined the conversation of the microbes exploring a new food going into the stomach. Strange that they would be checking the nutritional content of the book.