“Sweet mother of Jesus, somebody get me some eyes in there.”
Samuel looked at his boss with a smirk. He wasn’t being ironic, despite the fact millions of viewers were watching.
Channel 6 had been hi-jacked and the moment the cameras stopped rolling it was game over.
“Thirty seconds sir, and we’ll be able to see more than the stage.”
Lieutenant Jefferson gave a distracted nod and Samuel knew he had to be feeling the pressure. They were in the middle of a circus.
News crews, media groupies, concerned citizens and emergency services, they all added up to one thing. They were about to go global.
“Tell me what we know,” Jefferson said, focusing his attention on Samuel.
“We just got confirmation Richard Beckett is inside. I spoke with his commanding officer and you were right, he was Special Forces. Given the sophistication of the bomb…” Samuel broke off and motioned towards the monitor in front of them. “Sir, we’re in.”
Jefferson whistled long and low when he saw the screen. “They plastered the poor guy’s personal life all over national television. I’d say they missed a crucial part of the story.”
Beckett’s wife had been a contestant on Dance With Me the year before. She’d had a public affair with her dance partner, which led to the breakdown of her marriage.
“I’d say that oversight came back to bite them on the ass.” Samuel’s eyes flicked to the other monitor where the show was being broadcast live.
The camera cut to a close up of Matthew Flemming’s face. He was starting to show the strain of dancing for three hours straight. His boyish good looks had earned him the devotion of hundreds of fans, and his new plight would earn him hundreds more.
Richard Beckett had planted a series of bombs beneath the studio floor. On the night of the live final, he’d sat in the audience and waited until Matthew Flemming took to the stage, before arming the device.
A pre-recorded message was rigged to broadcast the moment he pressed the button. Its purpose was to gain attention swiftly and with minimum fuss. Mathew Flemming was now standing on a giant pressure plate. If he stopped dancing, or even missed a step, the entire floor would blow.
Nobody doubted his sincerity, not after his breakdown the week before. He’d attacked the reporter doing a back story for the new show and his vow of revenge had gone viral.
The threat wasn’t taken seriously, not then. But when he interrupted the broadcast with his list of demands, the producers finally got it. They’d created a monster.
His instructions were simple. As long as they kept the cameras rolling, and Matthew worked those feet, nobody got hurt.
Any deviation from the plan; a trigger happy security guard, anxious spectator, would-be hero, and he detonated the device. In his words, he had nothing left to lose.
“What’s the endgame here? What does he hope to achieve?” Samuel wondered aloud.
He turned to Lieutenant Jefferson. “Beckett’s made no demands since he took over the show. It just doesn’t add up.”
“I agree. Something else is going on here,” Jefferson said.
They both turned to watch Matthew Flemming move across the floor with his usual style and grace. If he was tired of the song he didn’t show it.
It was a cruel twist of fate that the track turned out to be ‘Staying Alive.’ There was no way Beckett could have anticipated it.
It would be so easy to blame Matthew, Samuel thought. He knew many people did, because they believed what they read; that Matthew was a ladies man and used his natural charm to get ahead. No matter what the cost. It’s what they’d fed to Beckett.
But it didn’t matter now because, whatever happened, there would be no winner.
His main priority was the innocent people trapped inside the studio, guilty of nothing more than being fans of the show.
Samuel snapped to attention when he heard the exclamation and his own profanities turned the air blue when he spotted Sandra Beckett running across the stage.
The explosion took them all by surprise, a moment before the screens went black. The silence, after so much sound, was almost as shocking as the realisation it was over.
Samuel’s eyes sought out the Lieutenant’s and what he saw cleared his head like a slap. Why, if they’d just lost, did his boss look so happy?