The F Bomb
Updated: Jan 20
Ok, I'll admit it. I cheated. Don't get me wrong; I still fought tooth and nail to get here, I certainly didn't take the easy way out. It took years of strategy, research, and listening to hundreds of crazy old ladies talking mumbo jumbo; a few of them were even close to having the right answer. It was a fantastic plan, and I had no way to know if it would work or not. I just had to have hope, hope that I could outsmart fate.
It all started on November 27th, 1986, the day I killed my girlfriend and the man I caught her in bed with. Wasn't one of my finest moments, definitely not how I'd imagined my nervous breakdown to go, but when I realized the only pulse in the room was mine, all I could do was move on. It was a whole ordeal, the radio stations talked about the grand murderer on the loose, a modern day supervillain, but I get coffee just like any one of you. Anyway, the drop that spilled the glass was the day I got diagnosed with HIV. At that moment, I saw the gates of hell opening for me, just like Dante had described them. I was raised Christian, I knew God was watching, and that's when I knew I would have to be smarter about my next getaway, and I only had a few more years to pull it off.
I first went to talk to my priest. I asked him what he knew about heaven and hell and how to get in; needless to say, he knew a lot. There was even a way, much simpler than what I had to do, to get into heaven: I had to repent for my sins. Here's the catch, I couldn't just admit to murder, right? No. So I thanked him and took the metro down to the East Village to see a friend of mine who knew people who knew people. He gave me an address. She was older than Satan himself. She offered me tea while I sat on her stained green couch, looks like she spilled spaghetti, meatballs maybe. She had a thick accent, but she told me there was an old story from her country about a woman who wanted to send her saint of a husband to hell, and, with a bit of dark magic, let's just say a few years later they reunited.
I bought a phone book and a red pen on my way back home. I flipped the yellow pages until I reached the V's and tracked down the page with my pen until I reached the Vince's, then flipped a few more pages to get the Vince C's. There were three Vince Caldwells in New York City. Good. The next year of my life was spent being invisible. I followed the Vinces everywhere because I had to find the perfect one. He had to be me, but the opposite. He had to be going to heaven. I ruled two of them out within the first week, one of them grabbed a woman's ass on the subway, and the other worked on Wall Street. The third one, however, was my guy; he was a family man, he gave homeless people money, and he had a modest job as a shoemaker (God loves his modesty).
I figured that I couldn't just kill two men with the same name; that wouldn't even confuse the morgue, let alone fate. I had to do something bigger, so I decided to build a bomb. Never took a chemistry class in my life, but the librarian led me to this handy little book called The Anarchist Cookbook. Took about six months to get it right, and I almost burned my building down in the process once, but it's ready. I was weaker now; I could feel the disease swarming inside me, so I had to get this done quickly. I figured the best day to die would be a Monday, so I took the next three weeks to figure out Vince's Monday schedule, making sure it was consistent, and like the good man he is, he was always on the 8:15 train to work.
Monday, March 5th, 1989. I put on a black coat and picked up my briefcase, careful not to shake it too much. At 8:08 AM, I stood across the street from the subway entrance, waiting for him. It's 8:13, and I'm still waiting. This is unusual; my hands are shaking, I'm checking my watch every twenty seconds, where the hell is he. The ground trembles below me; the subway has just made its stop at the station. I run down the stairs; maybe he was already down there, maybe I missed him. The doors close as I get to the tracks and the train hisses a departure taking with its passengers the last three years of my life. I sit on the bench as my knees are giving in. It's 8:22. There's a heavy feeling in my throat and my head's pounding when I hear frantic steps and panting. I look over and see Vince Caldwell, sweating, checking his watch. I stand up as the squeaking brakes of the next train pierce my ears.
The car is filled with about fifteen to twenty people; I squeeze my way through and grab hold of the pole only a few feet away from him. Once I click the button in my hands, I will have ten more seconds to live. Click. I have no idea what will happen after, but I am prepared to do whatever it takes. My soul will be saved. At 8:23 AM, the third car of the downtown F train exploded.
Chaos. Lost lives, lost spirits, clamor, and extreme silence all around us. One by one, we started ascending. Poor Vince was more disoriented than the rest of us. This was my chance. I had made peace with the death long ago and crammed myself in between the others. I blended in as I had my whole life, someone that didn't belong yet someone that slipped away from attention. And in the swarm of confusion of souls that weren't supposed to die yet, I saw the pearly white gates.
Now, whether you want to believe this or not is up to you, but I'll leave you with one last thought: if a highschool drop-out, low-life, mad-hatter, evil-genius man can cheat fate, God, the grand puppeteer, whatever you call it, who says you can't?
Chiara is a sophomore at NYU majoring in media, culture, and communications. She is passionate about reading and writing, traveling, and volunteering. Her short stories have been published in the blog she created, as well as NYU’s literary magazine. Her 2021 New Year’s resolution is to finish a book and publish it.
Michelle Dong is 14 years old and is from New York. She loves programming, design, art, and music. Her passion for website design and research led her to qualify for nationals at NHD, which is situated in Maryland. As of 2019, she won the Lowell Milken award grand prize for her website about an unsung hero, Caroline Ferriday. Her hobbies for art and music have led her to become a late-night doodler and an avid earbud breaker.