The most fiercely guarded secret of an evil genius (such as yours truly) should be any unbecoming acts of philanthropy which may be bright spots on one’s dark reputation, secrets which could spring from the murky past like the proverbial skeleton popping out of a closet. Well, you might have heard some unpleasant rumors regarding my sweet and giving nature. You may have even heard that I have done… volunteer work. I have chosen to address this issue in a direct manner: I confess! But before you jump to any conclusions, please be assured that it’s not what you think…

One bright Spring in the small town where I was attending college… (this is a flashback, pretend there are cool visual effects)

My Theatre Professor announced to the class that the City of B– needed volunteers to participate in an Emergency Drill.  But this was no fire drill, no community awareness deal.  Due to the unstable and crazy time we are living in, this was a What If Terrorists Attack Drill.  The City needed people to play the victims, perpetrators, and passers-by in a bungled bombing scheme.  It sounded interesting; I had no other plans for that day, so I signed up.

There were about five other students who volunteered in addition to our professor and myself.  The morning of the drill, we arrived at the scene – a couple of abandoned warehouse buildings downtown.  The “attack” was supposed to be committed by two terrorists in one of the buildings, but as they assemble their nerve gas bomb, the gas canister accidentally deploys.  The terrorists flee the scene — but only as far as the next building where they hide out and the SWAT Team eventually locates and apprehends them, while the Bomb Squad defuses the “bomb.” Meanwhile, the leaking  gas overcomes workers in the targeted building and pedestrians on nearby sidewalks, so EMT Units must try to save them without exposing themselves to the “gas.”  I believe they even took the “victims” to a hospital and applied proper medical treatment and so forth.  At least, that’s how it was supposed to go.

I had always respected the Wearers of the Badge; I had known they weren’t all good, in the strictest sense of the word, but I had this vague notion that they were at least good at what they did – you know, assumed that if “They” were after you, they’d pretty much get you if you’d broken the law… especially the SWAT Team.  So, when the various parts were announced and I decided to play one of the terrorists (of course), I knew the good guys would win, but I was determined to give them a run for their money.

Mr. G. (our theatre professor) was playing the other terrorist, so we were armed with flashlights (because that’s all terrorists usually have, isn’t it?) and shown around the warehouse we would hide in.  It consisted of three big empty floors and a walled-up elevator with assorted junk lying around and no really good hiding places – so I assumed the Forces of Justice would surely apprehend us quite quickly… but once I realized that this was basically Hide-And-Seek, my Sneaking Instinct started taking over (I excel at Hide-And-Seek).

When the drill began we ran from the building that contained the malfunctioning “bomb” to the Hideout Warehouse.  I paused along the way to scoop up some rusty barbed wire someone had left unattended.  They were going to give us about 20 minutes to hide while they assessed the situation and tracked us with the K-9 Units  — which were not to enter the building, as the dogs would think that we were real bad guys and proceed to do what police dogs do to real bad guys (hint: it isn’t lick their faces).  Using the barbed wire and other junk in the building, we booby trapped and alarmed two of the staircases — which were really dangerous enough already — then we split up and looked for a good lurk, avoiding the windows because there were snipers on neighboring rooftops (yes, there really were frakkin snipers).  Now, in the movies the terrorist always goes to the roof to have the showdown – but always loses.  I decided to look for a basement.

There wasn’t a basement, not even a decent closet.  I was starting to consider the filthy, spider infested vents when I spied a small hole – about the span of my hand – in the outer insulation of the closed off elevator shaft.  Upon investigation, the hole proved itself willing to enlarge and revealed the empty shaft – the elevator was a permanent fixture on the second floor.  This was by far the most promising prospect, so I climbed the elevator gate and squeezed through the hole.  Inside it was very dark and I couldn’t use the flashlight because I was clinging to the inside of the gate with both hands, but I assumed the floor would be there if I dropped and it was – eventually.  My rear end landed in a thick layer of mucky grease.  The ground level was about five feet up and the hole in the insulation was perhaps four feet above that.  Apart from ruining my favorite jeans, I was well pleased with the situation.  There was no way any of those SWAT Team guys could fit through the hole with all their gear and if I could just turn invisible, they would have no occasion to try (or to poke a gun barrel through it either).

photo by simplerich

Turning invisible in that place was pretty easy.  The insulation was already peeling off and drooping down on the inside so I selected a nice big piece and lay down under it along the darkest wall, wedging in between the huge springs and other mechanisms one usually finds in the bottom of elevator shafts.  I covered my face by pulling the hood of my sweater over it so as not to breathe the insulation or any other foul entities that might reside there.  My strategy was this: “I don’t have anything useful to a real terrorist (gun, grenade, etc.), so I’ll just take note of when I could’ve attacked them and see how long it takes them to find me.  They will certainly look through the hole, but in the dark, from about eight feet up, who can say if a piece of insulation is two inches off the ground or two feet?”

After waiting a while, feeling the grease soak through my clothes, imagining what would happen if the elevator suddenly became unstuck and trying to become one with the ground, the search began.  I half expected to hear “Ready or not, here we come!”  They were quite stealthy at first; I almost didn’t hear them coming.  But soon enough a flashlight beam shone down into my hiding place.  I held my breath and then almost laughed out loud when the bearer of the flashlight announced in subdued tones “Elevator shaft clear!”  One point for me.

Three points and one hour later it wasn’t so funny.  Not only was I cramped and uncomfortable, I had an urge to shout: “What are they paying you people for anyway?”  Well, they had caught Mr. G. during their first tour of the second floor.  He had somehow gotten inside a wall at a good vantagepoint to pick them off (if he’d had a gun) as they navigated the rigged and rotting stairs.  When they found him I heard him jump out yelling in a Russian accent that he had a bomb.  There was a scuffle and he was “out.”  The second time they checked my hideout and didn’t see me, I grinned and thought, “I’m going to make them give up.”  By the fourth time, I was wondering if they would give up or just keep looking all day.  I was later informed that a news crew covering the event was waiting for the SWAT Team to emerge with the “captured terrorist” and they did give up after a while… there went my chance to be on the news…

photo by gopal1035

Finally, they called in the K-9 Units, keeping them tightly leashed.  I thought to myself, “Well, now the jig is up.  But I did make them break the rules.”  Unfortunately for the dogs, I had been all over every floor of the building leaving a nice confusing trail.  Eventually one came and sniffed and whined at the wall with the hole in it.  This produced another shining around of a flashlight and the proclamation: “Nothing here.”  How disappointing.  I began wondering if they would use tear gas – that would flush me out in a hurry, I thought, but isn’t it really dangerous?  Then they probably aren’t allowed to use it… But gee, they weren’t supposed to use the dogs either…

I was left to these musings for about another half-hour while they continued the search.  I think they thought I had cheated and left the building.  Finally, one of the leaders gave the order to try a new tactic: walking about yelling my name.  I don’t think it would’ve worked on a real terrorist but I replied loudly: “Give up?”  Of course, then the dog knew where I was; the man still didn’t see me until I stood up and shouted, “Here I am.”  They were so disgusted that they didn’t help me out of the elevator shaft, but I managed anyway.  They didn’t bother to “arrest” me either.

At the review session, it turned out that the Bomb Squad had been successful, and the victims of the “nerve gas” had played their parts well and given the EMTs a workout.  Mr. G. and I went over the good and bad observations of our experience; I think the SWAT Team learned a few things that may help them in the future (I actually advised them to practice playing hide-and-seek; I wonder if they have).  And I learned that even the elite, highly trained Keepers of the Peace are not infallible, but I still respect them for their bravery – I saw first–hand the dangers they face.  Well, I was one of the dangers and if I’d had real weapons and a Cause I probably could’ve taken out at least five of them. I also have to admire their persistence – they kept looking for such a long time that I’ve never gotten the grease stains out of my jeans.


3 Responses to “Volun-Terrorism”

  1. Haha. Awesome story. I can personally verify your H&S skills. I think I’ve personally invested more than a week’s time searching for your secret hideouts. So, as Long as you’re confessing, just WHERE DID you, Hannah, Anne, Josh and Andrea always hide out at the Z’s?!

    • Evil Bekka Says:

      Caleb, there was a dug-out hobbit hole under the back side of the left hand barn. you had to go out the back, slide down the hill and squeeze through some brush. We disguised the entrance further with some old boards and then had to use candles to see anything in there — we usually saw huge spiders (everything’s bigger in TX) and ran screaming out :).
      Half the time though, we’d run around a corner of the house, hide behind a tree, wait for you to run past and then go inside. Ah, we were rotten…

  2. DoubleGrace Says:

    LOL!!! Love how you bested the SWAT team, but do hope they learned something. But, really…are terrorists really interested in doing anything in Bristol, TN? Heh heh.

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