Xapno Mapcase wiped his sweat-deluged brow. “Think, think, think!” he yelled to himself. He scrunched up his eyes, reddened his face, permed and de-permed his hair. It was to no avail, not even imitation avail. Bombs were the last thing on his mind. The first thing on his mind was an egg salad sandwich. Then bombs. He had exactly two things on his mind.

Xapno Mapcase was a very simple fellow, a bomb enthusiast who ate nothing but egg salad sandwiches. He was hired by the Klopstokian government as a bomb defuser. At first he balked at the offer, like a chicken replacing its w’s with l’s. But when they promised to pay him in egg salad sandwiches, he accepted. Since then, he had defused bombs in bassinets, bombs in bubble gum machines, even a bomb buried in a backhanded compliment. He had to admit, those terrorists had made his life easier by not hiding that one well.
Now, though, he had been sent to a small cottage in the tiny French town Quand. There was a bomb in the guest bedroom and, being a bomb enthusiast, he was enthused by this. It was shaped like a lower case e, only upside-down. A digital timer digital counted down digitally, but backwards. The only way to defuse the bomb was to eat the fuse. However, there was a catch. In the world of bomb-defusement, there was always a catch. The fuse was indeed edible, but it was made of red licorice. The fuse was not an egg salad sandwich, no matter how squinty Xapno Mapcase made his eyeballs. This was a problem. The bomb-makers had thought of everything. All two things that would deter Xapno Mapcase from defusing this bomb.

How would he get himself out of this predicament? How could he get himself out of this predicament? The clock was ticking down, two minutes and twenty-six seconds, then what? What would happen at the end of the timer? Would everything just stop? Or would it stop suddenly? Was there any real difference between those two statements? So many questions volleyed in Xapno Mapcase’s mind, but he could address none of them, like a failed volleyball coach. He twiddled his thumbs. He gritted his teeth. He gritted his thumbs and twiddled his teeth. Still, time was running out.

He felt he was just filling time until the bomb’s timer ran out. But how? How? How to fill time? What could fill this time, the time until the timer on the bomb ran out. He could think of nothing to say or to think. The timer was now at forty-two seconds.

Could he just ride out the bomb’s timer? Isn’t this an interesting story, Xapno Mapcase thought. I bet if this were a tense, well-written short story, the author would receive accolades, hugs and perhaps even blank checks. But it would have to be extremely well-written. Ten seconds, huh? What then? This bomb is pretty small, I doubt there’s any way it could possibly-



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