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Peter J. Hedge

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Books by Peter J. Hedge
Payback
By Peter J. Hedge
Tuesday, December 16, 2003



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I wrote this work of fiction in 1992. It was never published . . . and for very obvious reasons I'm glad it wasn't.

Payback

            The bomb was simple in its construction yet would be devastating in its effectiveness. Consisting of one kilo of plastic explosive and detonator he’d acquired from the military years ago plus ten coke bottles of gasoline, it had packed so compactly in the suitcase that very little padding to prevent its movement was necessary.

             The  detonator would be triggered at 2230 hrs. when the small timing circuit he’d installed using an old radio alarm went off, which in turn would set off the explosive.  The gasoline fire from the shattered Coke bottles would quickly spread igniting the bus’s fuel tanks and thence to all the vehicles on that particular level until the whole ferry would be a fiery inferno. Rescue would be impossible.  It was mid-winter, foul weather and he’d scheduled it to happen when the ship would be at its most vulnerable:  in open seas still ten miles out of Tsawassen.

             Pettigrew sat in his car watching as the Queen of New Westminster glide her way gracefully around Pier’s Island towards Active Pass, a small note pad in his left hand, a mechanical pencil in his right.  The place where he was parked had once been the site of a Babtists’ bible camp but over the past decade had metamorphasized into a cul-de-sac of modern homes, each gazing out at the picturesque view of the Gulf Islands.  A short distance away a couple in their seventies walked their ageing collie affording the young man in his stationary Volvo no more than a fleeting glance.

              Planting the bomb had been ridiculously simple.  At Schwartz Bay ferry terminal he had left his car at the drop-off section, carried the suitcase past the ticket booth and in full view of the other passengers filled out and attached a label with a fictitious name.  Then it had just been a matter of  placing it in the appropriate rack (for pick up in Tsawassen) and the shuttle bus had innocently delivered it for him to where it would do the most damage. 

             No one had questioned him walking in with luggage then returning without any.  In fact no-one had paid him any attention at all, least of all the person selling the tickets.  It was so easy that as he’d walked back to his car some four minutes later he’d felt like stopping people and telling them what he’d done.  “Hey man d’you know I’ve just planted an incendiary bomb that will take out the Queen of New Westminster and probably kill three or four hundred men, women and children?”  But of course he didn’t.  Instead, he got back into his car and drove along Landsend Road a couple of miles until he reached the spot where he now sat.

             The ferry was a distant dot of light in a sea of blackness now.  Soon it would be a ball of flame that would light up the dark winter’s sky and the sounds of death, dying and destruction would be carried out into the night where eventually they would be heard.  But by then it would be far too late.

             Pettigrew looked up from his note pad  and chuckled to himself.  He glanced across at an old copy of the Time’s Colonist on the passenger’s seat and re-read its short story contest details. ‘April 30th’  the deadline announced.  That didn’t leave him much time.

             Ripping the three pages of that evening’s notes from his pad he tossed them over his shoulder where they joined a steadily growing pile of screwed up yellow paper on the back seat. Then turning the ignition key he began making his way back towards the Pat Bay highway.

             The plot was totally implausible, he decided and 1,000 words was not enough to build up either the characters or suspense.  But his story’s biggest flaw was who would want to blow up a BC Ferry anyway?  Canada was loved by most people and hated by none.  What possible motive could anyone have to carry out such an act of terrorism?  No, . . . it was just too far-fetched.

             Glancing to his left he ran the stop sign as he turned right off Sylvan Crescent onto Landsend Road.  Now a kid’s story might be the way to go, he considered.  Maybe a young boy on a reservation who befriends a seal that local fishermen are convinced is destroying their livelihood . . . . ?

*         *     *     *



            Ali Zabetti sat at the computer desk he had been using for most of his three years at Camosun College’s Interurban campus and logged onto the ‘Internet’.  Had anyone else been there they would have seen the tears of anger and frustration welled in his eyes.  Had they asked him what the problem was he would probably have told them about admitting defeat to the Department of Immigration and that within a week he would be back at his home in the Middle East where corruption and violence were the norm, and that his dreams of a better life in Canada would be over forever.

             Ali glanced with unnecessary furtiveness around the empty room and then back at the computer screen.  A ‘Web-search’ page appeared before him and the cursor blinked patiently awaiting his instructions.

             He would show them, he though vindictively, those damned bureaucrats!.  By Allah he would show them how unjustly he had been treated!  He was a good man.  An honest man, a man of peace who had seen far more than his share of violence, and who had much to offer Canada.

             But, he conceded, occasionally violence was necessary to make a political statement to the community at large.  Sometimes there was no other choice left and it became the only alternative . . . such a time was now.

             “Bomb-making” he typed methodically.  Then to narrow his search.  “Incendiary devices.”

 

  




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