I get changed in 4 minutes and 18 seconds according to the timer on the bomb. The clothes don't quite fit me, as though someone has estimated my size by looking at me, and that's the most reassuring thought I've had today. For the first time it feels like the people chasing me, and the other people; whoever they are, whatever they want; aren't manipulating my life any more.
"Honey, I'm home!" a woman yells from somewhere else in the house.
The bomb timer ticks down to 3 minutes and 10 seconds.
A dog growls out in the hall.
I know nothing about stopping bombs except what I've seen in the movies, and I can't see any wires on this bomb. I can see a timer, and something grey and blocky that makes me think this is plastic explosive. There's no way I can stop this bomb, I think, and if I just leave then that woman will die.
The timer on the bomb ticks past 3 minutes.
The dog growls again, and something heavy thumps against the door.
Sweat forms on my forehead in an instant and I flinch away from the door. I have to get out of here, there has to be a way.
"I brought the kids too, their clubs were cancelled," yells the woman. "Miriam's gone up to her room--" I don't understand the rest of what she's saying because the name Miriam has shocked me.
Something heavy thumps against the door again.
Miriam, I think. That's a codeword from the conspiracy. I can remember learning the lists, held in the pages of a little red book. My mentor liked to joke that it was called the Mao of Conspiracy and I never understood what he meant.
The timer ticks down to 1 minute and 30 seconds.
Miriam means Incoming, I recite from my memory. It refers to ordinance.
The dog growls savagely and the door shakes in its frame.
The timer ticks to 1 minute and 20 seconds.
I turn, looking around the room, and my hands seize the ormolu clock on the mantlepiece of their own volition and hurl it at the window.
The window shatters in a spray of glass like sunlight through a waterfall haze.
The timer ticks-
The timer tic-
The timer unticks to 1 minute and 21 seconds. The glass from the window unhangs in the air and pulls back inwards into a coherent sheet of glass again. The ormolu clock falls to the ground beyond the window, it must have been just out of the reach of the effect. The air around me is faintly purple, something I can just make out from the corners of my eyes.
Miriam is also the codename for the secondary weapon, I whisper to myself, also from memory. Miriam will be deployed after and before Hiram, the primary weapon.
The bomb is still unticking, and has reached 3 minutes and 14 seconds now. And then I realise that the timer dial only has space for 9 minutes and 59 seconds. After that it must reset to 0:00. When the bomb will detonate.