29 days till doomsday
The story begins with the explosion.
Then, 29 days into the past, came the tip off: a tactical nuclear explosion – probably an ex-Soviet suitcase nuke – in less than a month’s time, which just happened to be the Day of the Circassian Democratic Revolution. It could be a coincidence, but Sam Jones didn’t believe in coincidences.
There was such a thing as the Circassian Liberation Front, after all, even though they’d done precious little except parading banners outside the embassy and signing petitions.
Gennady, Sam’s opposite number in the Circassian security service, didn’t see things his way. He flatly refused to have the embassy searched, and especially not on his national day, with aCame the big day ll the VIPs present. Including, of course, Sam – but he’d be there as an honoured guest, not in his role as United States security chief.
“You’d better learn some folk dances,” Sam told his underlings. “We’re gonna have a big party in the square outside the embassy.”
Sam opened up feelers to the CLF, and he was taken, suitably hooded, to a secret rendezvous, where he was drugged and left by the side of the road in a semi-comatose state.
They injected the drug, it would seem, into his brain.
Comes the big day and Sam is in the VIP lounge at the embassy. Gennady talks about the use of biological warfare by the CLF, how they inject bomb triggers into their victims, fired by a simple verbal expression.
“If that’s true,” says Sam, “then I might be . . .”
A blinding flash.