I wrote this in twenty minutes as an exercise for my writing club. We had to come up with a story based on three words: chaos, clock, and explosion. This is what I came up with.
The command center was in chaos. It seemed to Jimmy that almost everyone was on the phone shouting in half a dozen languages, all of them frantic. The general was running around the room shouting in English, although most of that was swear words.
Jimmy didn’t know what to do. He was an intern. His job mainly consisted of filing paper work the general didn’t want to file, running the general’s errands, taking the general’s calls, and generally being the general’s personal doormat.
So Jimmy sat in the back of the room watching the clock in the far corner of the room slowly count down. He marveled at how calm he felt as he took a sip of the coffee he had made for the general. Half of the country was about to be engulfed in a fiery explosion, but honestly, he was just happy to be off his feet. He impassively watched the numbers on the big clock on the wall count down second by second.
But curiosity slowly consumed him to the point where he wanted to know what was actually going on. He wandered over to a fellow intern, who was also drinking coffee by the edge of the room.
“Jimmy,” the other intern said.
“Bob,” Jimmy replied, leaning on the wall. “Any clue what’s going on here?”
“Some sort of nuclear threat. If my Farsi, Korean, and French are correct, I’d say North Korea is about to blow us up.”
“That sucks,” Jimmy stated.
“Yeah, I’ll miss the game on Saturday.”
“But we won’t have to come in to work on Monday.”
Bob nodded and sighed wistfully. “You got any family?”
“None I care for. You?”
“Girlfriend. But I was going to dump her anyway.”
Jimmy nodded and took a drink of his coffee. The numbers on the big clock turned from green to red and an alarm sounded. Jimmy glanced over at Bob. “Do you want to die?”
Bob shrugged. “It would get General Hardbutt off my back.” He paused for a moment to consider it. “But I guess… not really.”
“Should we do something about it?” Jimmy asked.
“Like what?” Bob responded.
“You still friends with that intern in North Korea?”
“He still got that stash of poison? And a death wish?”
Bob nodded, a tired grin on his face. “Give me a sec.”
Bob pulled out his phone and made a call. He spoke quickly in Korean, and although Jimmy couldn’t tell what he was saying, Bob’s smile told him it was going well. “Okay, bye bye now,” Bob finished. He hung up and looked over to Jimmy.
“Think it worked?” Jimmy asked.
“We’ll find out in a minute.”
That minute passed torturously slowly as the interns sipped their coffees. Then, a shout of joy went up from the middle of the room. “It’s over! We’re saved. The great leader is dead! His son has stopped the launch.”
“Great job, Hendricks,” the general shouted as cheers sounded around the room.
“His name is Harrison,” Jimmy whispered.
“Jiminy!” the general shouted. “Where’s my coffee?”
Jimmy pushed himself off the wall and gave Bob a wry smile. “Was it worth it?”
Bob shrugged and yawned. “Maybe.”