The pretzel was in the briefcase!
Zach munched on his snack as he looked through the other contents that came with his fateful order. Dozens of manila folders were bundled together by a rubber band. Three water bottles were safely secured in pouches. Two of the water bottles looked normal. But the third had dark brown liquid.
“There has got to be a key,” said Zach as he checked every pocket for the fourth time.
With no key in sight, Zach rushed back up to the cashier window. He furiously beat on the plastic glass to get the attention of the workers behind the interior steel grate.
It did no good.
Finally, Zach gave up. He slinked down to the ground. His half eaten pretzel dangled on a strand of bread then broke off and tumbled into the dirt.
“I don’t know what to do,” said Zach.
“There’s nothing in the briefcase?” Claire asked.
Zach opened the briefcase once again and displayed its contents for Claire to see. Claire knelt down and rifled through the contents just as Zach had done earlier.
“Wait, what’s this?” she asked bring out a little recording device. It was stuck in the middle of the manila folders. Zach had missed it earlier.
Claire hit the Play button.
“Good afternoon, agent,” said a scruffy older sounding gentlemen. “Bring the contents of your package immediately to your superior. The extraction base is currently located in the parking lot of Circle Park. Be wary of adversaries. This message will self destruct in ten seconds. Your countdown starts now.”
Then the recorder in Claire’s hand began to warm up. She tossed it back into the briefcase.
“No, what!” Zach yelled.
The recorder turned red hot. It singed the bundle of manila folders. Zach quickly grabbed the recorder and tossed it as far as he could.
Zach and Claire held their breaths. A long three seconds later a small explosion echoed through Circle Park. Zach and Claire stared at each other in shock.
“That was a bomb,” mouthed Claire. “You had it in your hand.”
“So did you,” said Zach.
“We have to get this briefcase off of you,” said Claire.
“We just have to take it to the extraction point,” said Zach.
“But you’re not an agent,” said Claire. “Just tell them that.” She said gesturing back at the carnival truck.
“They’re not responding to anything,” said Zach. “Let’s just get to the parking lot. Then they’ll take it off. They’re probably in the car show.”
“What if something else explodes?” Claire asked.
“Why would something else explode?” asked Zach.
Then Zach honed in on the quiet beeping coming from the briefcase.
“Oh no,” said Claire.
“No way,” said Zach. “They wouldn’t put two bombs in a briefcase.”
He closed the briefcase. On the exterior of the case a digital timer lit up. It had just under twenty minutes before it hit zero.
“I have to get to the extraction point,” said Zach.
Zach closed the briefcase. He gripped it in his left hand. Then he reached out and grabbed Claire’s hand with his right.
Then together they were off.
Across a crowded sidewalk, a clown trying to look inconspicuous with a newspaper in hand watched as Zach and Claire began their journey to the car show. The clown grimaced despite the smile painted on his face.