New York police officer Toby Nation has ten seconds to save the lives of thousands.

He is having a bad day.

*please read


1. Blink



My name is Toby Nation. I am thirty three years old and I live in New York. I was a policeman, and I was there on the Fourth of July 2012. The day the United Nations was shaken in its boots, the day when hell’s fire flooded down the streets, the day America had its eyes closed too long.


My alarm clock screamed. I turned to face it on my side. My tired eyes opened to see the time. Seven o’clock was written in green squares. I hit the top of the clock and it stopped whining. My dreary eyes closed slowly. I opened them again. The clock read six fifty-nine. I frowned. What? The green squares changed back to seven o’clock and it whined again. I hit the top harder this time feeling a bit confused. Damn, I was so tired my eyes were playing tricks on me. I laid back and looked at the ceiling. There was a small crack and a horrible brown stain surrounding it. My god I hated that apartment. It was cheap though, and I was only renting for a while. I sat up and swung my legs out the side of the bed. My clothes were laid out. A classic blue police uniform. I stood up and went to the bathroom. It absolutely stank, it was so bad I couldn't even recognize the smell. I turned on the radio and tuned it into WABC. Even at my age I listened to modern music. I know all the songs from “Price Tag” by Jessica J to “Dance with me tonight” by Molly Murs. He had a weird name considering he is a boy, mind you he is English. A song came on which kept repeating the same lyric; 'I got the moves like Jagger, the mooooves like Jagger'.

I mumbled the song as if I knew it off by heart. I took off my shorts and vest and got in the shower. The water was freezing as it bounced off my face. Goosebumps ran down my arms and back as I tried to scramble for the hot tap. It didn't seem to be there so I let the water turn me into a Popsicle.

After about ten minutes the water stopped running. I got out and wrapped myself in the only towel I had. I dried off and got into my uniform. Handcuffs, torch, ID, pepper spray, I couldn't find my gun.

'Damn it! Not again.' I thought.

I looked around but It wasn't anywhere. I gave up and sat on my bed in front of the TV. I reached for the remote. I pulled it up and pointed it. I was about to press the “On” button when I realized I was holding my gun. I dropped it and swore loudly. I nearly shot my damn TV! I sighed and quickly picked it off the floor. It was far too early for anybody to be doing anything. I slotted the gun in my holster and went to the door. My keys were still in the lock. My god I am tired I thought. I pulled them out and left the apartment without any breakfast.


I drove downtown in my police car. It was then I remember it was the Fourth of July. Most police officers got the day off but not me.

'Not today, Toby' I thought.

There were a lot of people around. At least two thousand on the sidewalk. I didn't really care about the holiday, (I was more focused on parking somewhere outside a coffee shop). A car pulled out of a golden spot so I zipped. I parked up and went straight into the coffee shop. Luckily there was no queue, in fact there wasn't anyone inside. But there was the waitress. She had beautiful shiny brown hair. Looked about mid twenty's. Her skin was pale, it was so pale it seemed to reflect the light. She saw me come in and smiled. Wow I thought. She is pretty.

'Damn, she's not wearing a name tag' I thought.

I looked at her finger. No ring, she was single! I turned round and whispered;

“Thank you!” I turned back and put on a flirty smile.

“An espresso to go” I said and added a wink. She blushed and smiled. She turned around to the coffee machine. I looked behind me and saw at least two hundred people outside the window. I turned back and the girl had my espresso in her hand. I reached into my pocket.

“Oh no, this one's on me, Officer.”

I looked at her and she winked. I laughed.

“Hi” I managed to say “My name is Toby”

“Rachel.” she said and looked over my shoulder “And is that a Jay walker?” I turned around and cursed in my head.

“One second ma'am” I said taking my coffee off the counter and running outside. I looked down the road and there was nobody there. Just missed him. I crossed the street to my car. People stepped out of the way when I got close to it, they looked almost apologetic . I suppose that was one advantage of being a cop.

People are kind to you wherever you go. I stood next to the car and looked down the road again. I hadn't ever noticed the length of this block before. There were so many people, it was almost unbelievable. I was on the corner of 4th and Becker when everything seemed to go quite and still. People stopped talking and cars stopped beeping. For a moment everybody looked up, up to the sky. Everybody had the same expression, confusion. 'Why have we stopped?' they must of thought.

A very small sound echoed in the distance. I moved my espresso away from my mouth. It was a ticking noise, like... a clock. I blinked. About four blocks down on the opposite side of the road the window of Riskies Deli cracked and blew outwards. All sorts of things were thrown out of the window. Glass was first to fly through the air, some wood, clothes, water, then a person and a half and finally a hell of a lot of fire. A mushroom cloud swooshed out and over the side of the building. Dust oozed out of the Deli, bricks wobbled and cracked. Fire crawled up the side of the building and poured into the windows, forcing them also to explode. The flames moved slowly, they rolled like waves out of the ocean. The Deli stopped shaking and the dust drifted slowly off into the air. For a moment nothing at all moved. People froze. And then the shop to the left of it also exploded. More fire and flying bodies. And then a shop a few blocks down copied. Mushroom clouds filled the sky. And then another building detonated and another until it came to the one opposite me. It was where I had got my hot coffee from. Where Rachel worked. And then it happened. Explosion. Glass, fire, smoke. Shards of everything flew towards me. The small pieces of everything cut through my chest, face and espresso. The shock wave threw me. I flew for a brief moment. Just before I went through a shop window I closed my eyes. A blink. Nothing. No feeling. No sound. But when I opened them again my face, chest and espresso were in one piece. I was standing next to my car. No buildings were on fire, everybody was laughing and talking and the world was spinning. I quickly looked to Riskies Deli. It was fine. In fact it was better than fine, it was busy. What is wrong with my eyes I thought? I dropped my espresso. The cup bounced on the floor and the coffee was thrown everywhere. Oh my god. It had happened again. Time had given me a slight preview of the future. I felt queasy and dizzy. I began to panic and my sickness came back. The word 'Explosion' jumped around in my head. They couldn't go off again could they? The buildings? 'No, I thought, your insane. But what if they did, I began to think..... I listened for the ticking sound…nothing. A voice came from the back of my head.


“It’s going to go off, and you know it. Think of all the people who will die just because you didn't bother to do anything.”


The voice made sense, unfortunately. My hands began to sweat, my head started to hurt and my heart beat quickened. But how am I going to save them? I'm not fast enough or loud enough. My gun. I pulled it out of its holster pointed it in the air, closed my eyes and prayed I was right. Three sharp cracks rushed through all the other sounds made. Everybody on the road whipped around and screamed, a few people began to run.

“Get down all of you!” I shouted and shot again into the air. Just about everybody laid down. I looked at Riskies. Nothing happened. My gun was still aimed at the sky. Oh crap, I was wrong. I had just majorly messed up. A man stood and then shouted;

“What the hell ma-”. Boom. He was cut short by the first building exploding. The glass smashed and the person and a half flew out of the window. I caught a small glimpse of the small girl. Guilt managed to rush through my veins. Fire ran quickly up the side of the building. I fell to the pavement and covered my head. The second explosion went off. Then the next one, followed by a fourth. It was then I remembered the last one due to go off was only ten meters away. Rachel! She is in there. I stood up, slid across the bonnet of the car and ran into the coffee shop. She was crouched on the ground with her hands over her head. I ran to her, pulled her off her feet and we both ran out of the door and crouched behind the car.


“What's happening?!” she shouted.

“I wish I knew!” I replied


We were thrown to the floor by the sixth explosion. Oh crap. The next one was behind us. I dragged her. We got about thirty feet before the final one went off. A deafening boom shook my stomach. We were both thrown about six feet into the air. I landed hard on my left hand. The bone in my arm was pushed right out of my elbow. I screamed in pain as I looked at the odd piece of bloody bone sticking out of me. It was easily the most painful thing I have ever felt. I vomited on the pavement and began to go into shock. My mouth was filled with dust and sick, my nose felt like it was on fire, my eyes were streaming, I ached all over and my ears were ringing.

There seemed to be no noise, except my booming heart beat. Nobody was moving. Blood drenched the street. Dead bodies were scattered everywhere like leaves.


I looked around to see if anyone was alive. I didn't save anybody. It was all my fault. The explosions didn't kill those people … I did. What would I tell everybody I thought? I began to cry. I tried to wipe my eyes but my arm disagreed. I looked behind me. Rachel was there. A horrible piece of rusty and bloody metal was sticking out of her stomach. She was coughing loudly and gurgling. Her clothes were stained with wet, dark blood. I crawled over to her.


“It's alright I’m here” I said getting closer to her. I slid my arm back out of my shirt. The pain was throbbing. I slid my bad arm under her legs and my good arm behind her head and lifted her off the pavement. My left arm felt like it had burst into flames. It was so painful I was lucky I didn't pass out. I carried her up the road. I didn't even know if there was an ambulance up there. For all I knew there was another explosion waiting to happen. I was still crying. My tears mixed with her blood. I was lucky, really lucky.


“Just keep walking” I managed to say.


We were found by an ambulance and rushed to hospital. They slotted my arm back in place while I was awake (Which actually didn't hurt that much) and stitched up my elbow. I slept for about ten hours and when I woke I went to visit Rachel. The nurses threw me into a wheel chair even though my arm was falling to pieces and not my legs. They pushed me over to her room and left us in peace. Rachel was barely awake but she was smiling. There were a lot of bandages and patches over her stomach. They were clean which I suppose was better than how she was before. I stood up not caring about the wheel chair.

“It’s nice to meet you Rachel” I said smiling.

“Ditto Officer Nation” she replied “How’s the arm?”

“Some of it’s here, the rest of it’s somewhere” I said pretending to look for it. She laughed.

“How’s the stomach?” I asked

“The doctors fixed it and I should be out of here in two weeks.”

“You know this means I’m going to have to take you on a date the second your out.” I said smiling.

“If I will have money left over after I pay the medical bills.” she said her smile slowly crumbling. I looked at her. The best chat up line had struck me.

“Don’t worry about it” I said “This one’s on me”.

Rachel laughed and so did I.


A year and a half later Rachel and I got married, we bought a beautiful home in LA and had twins. I quit my job and opened a charity for all those injured in suicide bombings. Rachel now owns a five star coffee shop in LA. Things couldn't be better. But the day the buildings exploded will scare us for the rest of our lives. The day of the bombings was our independence day, and from now on there is a remembrance every year on the road of the bombings which I host. My name is Toby Nation, and I am a survivor of the Fourth of July bombings.  

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