In a secret compound, hundreds of feet underground, Wayland Smith used a clean, microfiber cloth to polish the bomb he’d worked so carefully on for the past few months. It was a new technology he had used, a technology that the rest of the world didn’t know about yet, because Wayland had conceived of it in his captivity and had been forbidden from sharing his secret with the world. When it was unleashed, of course, it would be no secret that this bomb was stronger than any nuclear weapon ever made, and it may just in fact destroy the world.
Wayland was a scientist, and up until a few months ago he had lived a relatively normal life outside of his work, which was always intense and impossible to speak about with anyone else. It hadn’t been a secret back then, that he was working on explosives, it was just that talk of chemistry had always bored people so much, he never bothered trying to explain to his wife or friends what he was doing at the lab all day.
Looking back, Wayland realized this may have been his biggest mistake. Perhaps if he had told Mary what he had been working on, she would have encouraged him to find another project. She probably would have told him it was dangerous, and she definitely would have told him that he should do good for the world with his talents, he should work to create and to help people, not to destroy and kill. She would have been right, and Wayland may or may not have listened to her. But he never did tell her about his projects, and so the day the President’s brothers came to his lab to pick him up, he was surprised.
Wayland didn’t recognize the men walking into his lab. He looked up briefly and said: “Please leave, there’s restricted access on this floor, you aren’t supposed to be here.”
But the two men walked right up to him and opened a briefcase on his worktable. One of them removed papers and handed them to Wayland as the other spoke.
“Do you know who we are?”
Wayland looked up at the man and squinted through his glasses. The men did both look familiar, but Wayland couldn’t place them.
“Just read it,” the man said.
Wayland was annoyed at the interruption, but he became quickly intrigued when he saw that the top of the page was stamped with the seal of the President of the United States, and that it looked like the letter, which was demanding he come to the White House immediately, was legitimate.
“Is this some sort of joke?”
“No, Mr. Smith. You need to come with us immediately.”
Wayland locked up his lab and followed them out, of course not knowing that he would never return.
At the White House, he didn’t have to go through security. He strolled with the two men right into the West Wing and was deposited into the Oval Office, where the president shortly met him. Still, Wayland was annoyed at being pulled away from his work. He couldn’t even feign awe, he didn’t even try to pretend that he was impressed or grateful. He just wanted to know what was going on.
North Korea was going to attack America, the president told Wayland. They had nuclear weapons and were threatening to use them on Americans, and the president had heard of the secret project Wayland had been working on, a project that Wayland hadn’t even bothered to name, but the president called it Black Star.
Wayland had tried to argue with the president that the bomb wasn’t ready, that there were still serious problems that needed to be worked out before he would even be convinced that it would work, and even then, Wayland professed that he didn’t want the bomb to ever be used, and he tried refusing then to be a part of it.
But it didn’t matter, what Wayland said.
The two men who had brought Wayland to the White House entered through a door behind him. Without a word, one of the men handed him a slip of paper, and Wayland glanced down.
It was a picture of Mary, his wife. She was sitting in a cell of some sort, on a small metal bench with no mattress, and she was looking up to the security camera in the corner of the cell that snapped the photo.
Wayland’s eyes flicked back up to the man, and he instantly realized who the two men were. The taller one, who had handed him the photo, was the White House Chief of Staff, and the other was the president’s personal assistant.
The man said: “We have your wife in a secure location. You WILL comply with orders from the president, do you understand?”
Wayland understood, and he had gotten right to work.
Now, the bomb was ready and the president’s brothers in crime were on their way down to retrieve it.
Wayland kept polishing the bomb, and with his right hand, he squeezed repeatedly on the handle of the hammer he was holding beneath the table.
The door opened suddenly, and Wayland tensed, coiled for the strike.
Fuck the bomb. It wouldn’t work, anyway. He had made sure of it.
Wayland smiled as the men proceeded toward him.
For the IndieInk Writing Challenge this week, Wendryn challenged me with “Wayland the Smith in the modern world. What would he be like here and now?” and I challenged Sarah Sparks with “We don’t need Wall Street’s Occupy movement, we need Tyler Durden’s Project Mayhem.”
For the record, this was a hard challenge for me. However, it was rewarding in its challenge, because it forced me to write something out of my comfort zone, something I wouldn’t normally write. I had no idea who Wayland the Smith was when I saw my prompt – I had to Google for information, and when I read it, my mind spun with possibilities, but none of them really CLICKED with me. I know nothing about blacksmithing, I know hardly anything about mythology.. and I knew that I could easily just throw this line into a story somewhere, but I felt at the same time that THIS IS A CHALLENGE.
I wrote this piece quickly, in about an hour or so in the afternoon. To my horror, when I tried to publish it to my blog, my blog editor wasn’t working!! At nine o’clock last night, after exhausting my efforts to get it online, I emailed an appeal to Supermaren, who was kind enough to publish this anyway.
Please, if you want, click here for a link to Wikipedia, where I learned a tiny bit about Wayland…. So now, what do you think?