Kardal grinned as Fateen maneuvered the shiny Acme rental truck to the curb, its springs groaning under the weight of 100 barrels of ammonium nitrate laced with diesel fuel.
"Maybe Acme needs a new ad slogan," Fateen joked. "Acme Truck: More Bang for Your Buck."
Kardal chuckled and shook his head, amazed at Fateen's command of the language of the infidels.
"Maybe you could have that on your tombstone," Kardal tossed over his shoulder.
The target was a medium-sized building that housed several companies and featured underground parking. Kardal and Fateen had been over it thoroughly. They had driven their truck inside many times, had gotten to know the security guards, but not too well.
Innocents must perish if we are to strike terror, Kardal reminded himself. Our own lives will be forfeit as well.
Workplace warriors! Marketplace ministers! It had a nice ring to it, Brad thought as he pulled into the parking deck.
Brad had never considered himself much of a Christian -- just someone going through the motions every Sunday. But when he and his wife, Erin, had heard about a Christian group that was going to "transform" the whole city through prayer, they decided to look into it.
At the rally, pastors from different churches and denominations were falling to their knees in repentance, surrendering to Jesus every man-made wall, every prejudice, every stereotype to make way for His coming to the city.
When leaders called for volunteers to be commissioned as marketplace ministers, Brad and Erin lined up.
Initially, all they had to do was prayer-walk their workplaces, set aside a place for daily meditation and Bible reading, and be ready to pray as the need arose.
Fateen wiped sweat from his nose as they sat in morning traffic.
The plan was going like clockwork, still 20 minutes before most of the building would be opened. The parking deck would be clear next to the main support structures. Nobody would notice the same truck sitting there as it had every day this month.
Erin, a teacher at the day-care, had suggested making anointing oil with myrrh, cinnamon and olive oil -- blessed by the pastors -- and using it to mark out the perimeter of the building. She and Brad had prayed over every office and cubicle. When they shook hands with co-workers, they offered up silent prayers as well.
Fateen wheeled the truck through the parking garage entrance. A loud crash made him jump on the brakes.
Somehow, the steel garage door had slipped down, scraping the top of the truck.
Cursing, Fateen and Kardal leaped out.
"Let the air out of the tires, quickly," Kardal hissed.
Tires deflated, the truck squeeze into the garage. Breathing a sigh of relief, Kardal fingered the detonator at his belt.
"Just a few more minutes," he said, then his lips fluttered another prayer to Allah.
BANG! Whooosh! In an instant, both air bags deployed. Dazed, Kardal lost his grip on the detonator. Both men struggled, but the air bags remained inflated and their shockwave set off the alarm in a nearby Mercedes.
In seconds, security guards surrounded the truck. In minutes, local police had Fateen and Kardal in handcuffs.
Bill Newman let out a long, low whistle as his forensics team opened the cargo compartment.
"Dang," he said, eying row after row of garbage cans filled with explosives. "This would have leveled this building and the one next door."
His team measured out police tape, examined the fallen garage door and pondered the defective air bags.
"Hey, what do you make of this?" shouted a technician. He was taking a sample of a shiny substance from the frame of the garage door.
Newman touched the shape of a cross with a latex glove and brought it to his nose.
"Huh," he said. "Smells like something my wife would put in the guest bathroom. What do you call it? Potpourri?"
The next morning, Brad repeated his morning ritual. He stopped by the garage entrance and touched up the smeared oil on the doorframe, then moved to the main building supports.
The truck that usually sat there was gone, and Brad saw the remnants of some police tape, but shrugged it off, praying as he dipped his finger into the vial of oil and painted crosses once more on the concrete columns.
"Workplace warriors!" he chuckled to himself. "Yeah, I like the sound of that!"
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