Every muscle in my body flexed as the white hot blast consumed everything around me. In the sliver of a second that it took the concussion grenade to detonate, sound eclipsed sight, dust motes became projectiles and I just about dropped a very expensive camera. As the echos of the blast bounced from wall to ceiling to floor and back again, I remained very still, trying to wrap my brain around what had just happened.
Flash Bang. A SWAT team's favorite tool of diversion. I'd seen (and felt) them used before in training but never so unexpectedly, and never inside such a small enclosure. The very volume of the explosion was painful. Though only a fraction of a wartime ordinance, the flash bang rendered everything instantly irrelevant when it erupted from the corner of the room. The force blew the helmet off the SWAT team member closest to it, the unmistakable sound of it's thin plastic shell skittering across the concrete floor providing a delicate filligree against the blasts painfully bass echo.
When my vision DID return, I froze like a statue, absorbing the sound and wind and light as it slowly evaporated into shadowy daylight, my eyes darting around the room for signs of injury and finding none. The SWAT team were milling about and looking at the floor, already piecing together how they'd set off the booby trap. Everyone looked pretty casual but the rapid breathing sounds coming from behind their face masks told me even they weren't expecting a concussion grenade to be stashed amid all those cardboard boxes.
Only then did I think to look at my camera. As I turned my head toward the viewfinder, the red 'Record' light stared back, a beacon in the dark that told me I'd be able to relive the proceeding moments ad infinitum.
Through the ringing in my ears, I heard the sounds of Erik's voice coming through the headphones around my neck.
"Hey Stew - you need to come outside and change pants?"
My drawers were fine, but I stumbled down the stairwell anyway. Nothing else I captured on camera would top what I'd just recorded and I was anxious to watch the footage. Over lunch. In a hillbilly diner down the road. As I stumbled out of the training tower, still a bit punch drunk from absorbing the blast, I realized that, for better or worse, I still liked my job - deadlines, flash bangs and all.