32 Seconds

Skin still burning, I leapt to my feet. It had only been an instant, but now the training began to kick in. I had exactly 32 seconds to find shade. The facts were flooding my consciousness. At 74 seconds I would die simultaneously from hyperthermia and loss of blood plasma. At 32 seconds I would become confused — no longer able to think clearly.

32 seconds.

How long had it been? 3 seconds? No matter. Tl134 blocked my path back into the bunker — his hand still outstretched in vengeful triumph. I began, “Tl134 I demand . . .” I stopped short. He wasn’t listening. My only hope was rip the intelligence chip directly out of his core.

7 more seconds had passed. I looked around. Burning hot bricks. Charred wood. Tl134 stood motionless. Was he waiting? I spotted a pool of molten plastic; the remains of an emptied water tank. I whirled around. I gripped a nearby piece of burning timber. Scoop. Throw. Attack. Scoop. Throw. Attack. I repeated the words to myself as my makeshift weapon dug into the molten plastic.

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