There were twenty seconds on the clock. Twenty seconds before she’d be blown to pieces. Barely time enough to think about how she’d come to be in this position, wrists and ankles hog tied, tape over her mouth, lying on her side on a dusty, dirty floor. Barely enough time to panic. If she had been anyone else.

But she was who she was. Twenty seconds was a lifetime.

She quickly scanned her surroundings, her vision blurry from the blow she’d taken to the head. I’ll have a concussion for sure, she thought. If she survived.

Fifteen seconds left.

Her gaze landed on a nail sticking out from the floorboards. She flopped her way over. Pushing with her feet and moving like an inchworm until she was directly on top of it, she sawed through the tape binding her hands until they were free, then ripped off the ones securing her feet.

She glanced up at the bomb – eleven seconds left.

She wouldn’t get out fast enough to clear the blast range. The only option was to disarm it.

She pulled two bobby pins out of her hair and a fresh stick of gum out of her pocket, popping it into her mouth.

Eight seconds.

She pulled a shoelace out of one of her sneakers and picked up a paperclip she’d spied earlier on the ground.

Six seconds.

She pulled the paper clip open into a straight line with a curved end, spat the gum into her hand and stuck the paper clip it, tying the shoelace into a knot on the curved end.

Four seconds.

She crouched down beside the bomb and stuck the gum onto the exposed wires, looped the shoelace tightly over the blast pipe line and jammed the end of the paper clip into the control panel ‘keyhole’.

Two seconds.

Holding her breath, she twisted the paper clip clockwise, kept twisting and twisting, sweat rolling down her face as she stared wide eyed at the timer with one second on the clock, until she heard…


One second on the clock, frozen. She stared at it for a second longer, then sat back on her heels as she let go of her breath, wiping the sweat from her brow with her shirt sleeve.

That was close, she thought.

She wouldn’t waste any more time. She ran silently to a grimy window, knocked the glass out with her elbow and looked outside. She could see a highway close by. The room she was in was on the second floor. She glanced to her right – a drain pipe. Perfect.

She ran quickly back to the defused bomb and gingerly pulled a small piece of the gum away, smearing it over her hands as she ran back to window. She stepped out on to the ledge and jumped to the drain pipe, the stickiness of the gum giving her purchase on the metal as she shimmied her way down to the grass below and to freedom.

Once she got to the highway, she pulled out her smartphone and made a call, sending a quick thanks to the universe that the men who’d jumped her as she was leaving school hadn’t thought to take it from her.

“Yello!” said the voice on the other end.

“MacGyver! I’m sending you my GPS coordinates, can you come pick me up?”

“Kelly-Ann, how many times have we talked about this?”

She sighed. “Fine, can you please come pick me up, Dad?”

“That’s better. And sure thing, peanut. I’m on my way.”