Officer O’Leary had two minutes to live.
He strolled down the Manhattan sidewalk, smiling at the women he passed. Some even smiled back. He was always amazed that the vast majority of them wore black. Something about the city made bright colors scarce.
An unremarkable pickup sat parked on the street in front of the Sino-American Bank. Unremarkable, except that O’Leary couldn’t recall the last time he’d seen a pickup in downtown New York. It was an older model, and he could see the tail pipe as he approached it from the rear. It ran on gasoline!
Oxidized red paint covered its flanks. The tailgate had an oval spot where the maker’s logo would be, but nothing was there now.
No license plate sat affixed to the rear bumper. That, too, was odd.
O’Leary frowned and walked up to the rear of the truck. The bed was covered with a cap making it look more like an SUV. The plastic windows on the cover were dark, and he couldn’t see into the cargo area.
He had less than one minute left to live.
Going to the front of the vehicle, he looked into the empty cab. Tears exposed the white padding of the seats. He tried the door, but it was locked. He located the VIN under the windshield. He’d use it later to identify the vehicle, he decided.
He would die in thirty seconds.
It worried O’Leary that the truck sat in front of a bank. He turned to go inside the building to see if everything was okay. As he did, he tapped the radio link on his badge.
“Dispatch,” a voice said in his ear.
“This is Officer O’Leary, badge number 483903. I have a suspicious vehicle parked in front of…. ” He looked up to double-check the name of the bank.
The mixture of fertilizer and diesel fuel in the bed of the truck detonated, ripping O’Leary’s body apart. The explosion, which reached the tenth floor of the bank building, shattered glass for blocks around. It undercut the supports of the upper floors, and they pancaked down into the street, girders bending under the weight they were never designed to hold. A crater smoked in the pavement where the truck once sat. The bank was destroyed, and the building was on the verge of collapse. Anyone inside the bank died immediately. People on upper floors, crushed by debris, soon died of their injuries. Some lived long enough to scream out in terror. Storefronts across the street suffered less, but anyone on the street or ground floors of other buildings were brutalized by the explosion’s shockwave, killing them.