Evacuation from the situation.

I was taking calls at my desk when my supervisor announced, “Everyone, please log off your computers and calmly leave the building.”

For my supervisor to use the words “calmly” and “leave the building” in the same sentence meant only one thing: We were under a paper bag threat.

Everyone nervously logged off their computers and lined up to leave the call room. Along the way supervisors directed the employees towards the exit while urging everyone to stay calm. Outside the building we saw police officers, S.W.A.T. team members, members of the National Guard and troops from the armed forces. This situation was seriously escalating to intense levels.

The police officers continued guiding us towards the front lawn outside the building. When we got there, another officer told us all to “sit down with your heads between your knees and your hands around your necks. This will prevent your heads from flying off during the explosion.”

There were looks of alarm and panic on the faces of employees but everyone did as they were told. Soon everyone was seated on the grass and bracing themselves for the explosion they hoped to never hear.

I dared to look up from my braced position and could see the police officers, national guardsmen and troops all gathered in a huge circle in the parking lot. In the middle of the circle stood a lone man holding an inflated paper bag.

My pulse quickened. I couldn’t believe this was happening. I’d heard about paper bag threats from the news but to witness one in real life was terrifying.

“NO!” screamed the officers in unison. When I saw the man raise the paper bag, my head went straight for my knees and I nearly choked myself hanging on to my neck. Any second now.

POP. The stillness of the air was shattered by a deafening bang that sent stuntmen airborne while executing dazzling flips and precise mid-air maneuvers. Of course, those who watched were instantly decapitated by the force of the blast. Only those still hanging on to their necks survived.

After the last echo of the paper bag blast faded, we were allowed to go back inside the building to resume working. Those agents who were decapitated had to wait for all the survivors to go inside first, their punishment for failing to follow directions.

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