Caught in the Middle (Flash Fiction)

Bob had just finished the final set of logs for his shift when he felt the soft rumble of a distant explosion. Being on the opposite side of the facility, he had no idea of the events unfolding, but his gut told him something was amiss. The gentle flicker in the lights instilled a cautious worry that caused him to toss his clipboard on the desk and hurry back into the turbine room. He scoured the gauges for clues of what the trouble might be, but everything continued to run silky-smooth. He shrugged it off as another tremor, a common occurrence with being based on a string of islands formed by active volcanoes, and opted to take his break.

He stood in front of the vending machine trying to work a worn out dollar bill into the slot, blissfully unaware of the coming chaos. The facility sirens were alarming, but the wiring to the power station wasn’t quite complete. It was scheduled to be finalized and tested the coming Tuesday. The attackers, the greedy fascists as the boss referred to them, had sieged the military stronghold on the small island and were now fleeing from a strong counter assault toward Bob’s location.

The wicked machine finally accepted the dollar as another tremor shook the room. The rumble was stronger and knocked an extra Snickers down into the tray for Bob to grab. He smiled at his luck, tore the wrapper, and took a big bite. It was then that he turned to gaze out the window at the stunning view of deep blue waters surrounding the lush green of the island. He nearly choked on chocolate and nugget when he saw the smoke plume. He did choke when he saw the scrambling men running up the path, guns big and drawn and reflecting in the tropical sun.

He tried to remember his training, his new employee orientation, but all he could hear was his wife nagging. You’re working for some evil villain, Bob! Who has you watch a training video on how to repel American forces!? He has a base on a volcanic island for crying out loud! But Bob ignored her words. The pay was good, the employee housing was phenomenal, with a full gym and easy access to the most beautiful beaches, beaches that his wife sure didn’t complain about, and the retirement plan was paid in full in ten short years. It was the job of a lifetime and Bob grabbed onto it with both hands.

The door to the break room burst open and Bob dropped his Snickers to the floor. Normally wasted candy was very upsetting for Bob, but he held the freebie in his other hand and there was a fully automatic rifle pointed directly at him, so he opted out of his standard fifteen second rule for food on the floor.

“How many are in this building!?” shouted the man. He had an accent that Bob placed in the DC area, and his face was covered in green paint.

“Uhh, six or so,” Bob said. He had no idea how many people were in the building.

“Are you maintenance? Are you armed?” He shook the gun at Bob as two more soldiers stormed by.

“Yes!” Bob said. “I mean no. I mean-”

“Which is it!?” the man screamed.

“Yes, maintenance. No, not armed.” Bob backed into the window with a thud.

The man scanned the hallway in front of him and saw the Snickers in Bob’s hand. “Gimme that,” he said.

But it’s mine, Bob thought. It fell from the machine for free.

“I said give it!” shouted the man.

Bob tossed the Snickers to the floor with a bitter look of defeat. “Fuckin’ fascists,” he muttered.

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