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The Worst News is No News

Categories: Creative Writing Prompts Tags: creative writing exercises, creative writing prompts, writing prompt.

You are a local news reporter for a failing network. Your boss tells you to ramp up the news by getting “creative” and constructing your own stories. What’s the first fake news story you create and broadcast on air?

Post your response (500 words or fewer) in the comments below.

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284 Responses to The Worst News is No News

  1. BezBawni says:

    “My boss is a dick,” a female voice said.
    “Mine too,” Kyle muttered before he realized someone standing behind him had just read the only sentence he’d managed to squeeze out of himself after two hours of self-excruciation, and the five words in capital letters were now glaring irrevocably at him from the display of his laptop. He twirled around almost knocking his macchiato over, and the amused smile of the girl who had appeared unnoticed beside him turned into a grin.
    “Jackie… hey,” said Kyle closing the laptop hastily. “What are you doing here?”
    “I work here,” Jackie said, the grin still lingering on her beautifully outlined crimson lips.
    “Right… it’s your shift. Sorry, what time is it?”
    “Time for you to go home and have a rest, it seems.” Jackie pulled a chair out beside him and sat down. Kyle ran both hands through a black mess of his hair that was sticking chaotically in all directions – a clear sign of exhaustion.
    “I’m just… I have an assignment to finish,” he said. “Work, work, work.”
    He struggled to smile, but his look wandered towards the dark street outside the cafe and his smile faded.
    “You look more like a hung-over student before an exam than a respectful journalist,” said Jackie, taking his cup of coffee to her lips.
    “I feel worse,” he said and snatched his cup from her before she managed to take a sip. “And that’s mine.”
    “It’s disgustingly cold anyway.” Jackie shrugged her shoulders, pulled his laptop to herself and opened it with a swift movement. “What are you working at? Oh, let me guess – some juicy news about your boss?”
    “That would be an idea, except it wouldn’t help. If I don’t have a stir by tomorrow, the company’s going down, and apparently I’m the only one who can save it, because – apparently – ‘a good journalist doesn’t find news, he creates it’.” He recited the last phrase in a grand voice. “Hey, those are my private pictures!” Kyle grabbed the laptop and pushed it as far from Jackie as the small round table they were sitting at allowed.
    “Nice bra. Where’d you get it?” said Jackie wiggling her eyebrows at the display. “I’ve always wanted one like that.”
    “It’s not mine, it was a party and I was drunk,” muttered Kyle, hardly noticing that he sounded apologetic, and clicked away the pictures. “And that’s none of your business anyway.”
    “So much for brotherly love,” Jackie sighed mockingly, took Kyle’s macchiato and emptied the cup in one gulp. Kyle closed his eyes and slowly let his breath out fighting back a burning urge to pull the chair from under his sister.
    “Look,” he said, slowly leaning towards her, and with every word that followed his voice was rising till it reached a desperate pitch. “I’m annoyed and I’m exhausted. I spent the whole night and the whole day at work, and I’ve been sitting here for two hours trying to come up with any goddamn idea, because my beloved boss told me to basically build a castle overnight out of thin air! I’m about to lose my job or make a disgrace of myself by spoofing a scoop, which means I WILL lose my job, because I’m not creative or shameless enough for that matter to lie on air! So, I’m sorry if I don’t appreciate you messing with my laptop or drinking my coffee up!”
    Kyle threw himself against the back of his chair, his face red and his hands shaking.
    “Jeez, keep your hair on,” said Jackie, who had been listening to him with a slightly open mouth and a goofy motionless expression on her face. “I’ll make you another macchiato for free.”
    She grabbed him by the sleeve as he swung his laptop under his arm and made as if he was going to leave.
    “I’m kidding, come on,” she said pulling him back down on the chair and standing up herself and added:”It’s $3.75.”
    Kyle rolled his eyes at her with a suppressed smile, and Jackie could see that, though the exhaustion was still there, but his anger was gone. She winked at him and turned on her heels.
    “But I do have an idea,” she shouted over her shoulder as she was heading towards the counter.
    “What idea?” he shouted after her.
    “You’ll thank me later!” she mouthed at him and disappeared behind the door with a sign ‘Staff only’ on it.
    ***
    “Another handful of so-called “pleasure-beans” miraculously appeared on the porch of yet another lucky person. Mrs. Garraway, have you already enjoyed a hot espresso out of the free gift from a stranger?” Kyle turned to an elderly woman, who blinked and started speaking excitedly.
    “Yes, I did. When I first saw it on TV I didn’t believe there was anything special about the beans, but I’ve tried them this morning, and they do work! I felt healthier right away, and the smell conjured up the best memories from the time when I was young and pretty.”
    “Even more pretty than now? Impossible!” said Kyle with a smile, and Mrs. Garraway laughed waving his compliment away coquettishly.
    For weeks pouches of coffee beans had been turning up at porches of random citizens and Kyle was always the first to take an interview. According to the interviewed the beans had a strange power to make people happier, improving their physical and emotional state and conjuring up good memories. The city raved with gossip and theories about the mysterious “coffeeman” and his “pleasure-beans”.
    After one too many hugs and kisses of Mrs. Garraway who was thrilled at the prospect of being on television, Kyle was relieved to hear his phone buzz and didn’t hesitate to use it as an excuse to get away pretending to ignore the pleading look of his cameraman to whom Mrs. Garraway diverted her attention.
    “Hey, little brother,” Jackie’s voice chattered vividly into his ear. “I hear the coffeeman has a thing for wisdom and experience? How old is she, eighty or something?”
    “You tell me,” said Kyle getting into his car. “She’s your friend, right?”
    “No, she’s not,” said Jackie and Kyle could hear she was smiling.
    “What do you mean? I thought those guys I interviewed were your friends?”
    “Just the first one. But after the audience took the bait, we decided to give the beans to people we don’t know and see what would happen.”
    Kyle’s mouth dropped open.
    “You mean… you mean the beans ARE magical?”
    Jackie gave out a stifled chuckle.
    “I knew you hit your head when you fell out of the stroller but I haven’t realized it was that hard!” she said. “Have you never heard of a placebo effect?”
    “So,” Kyle said, the realization dawning on him. “Those 15 people I interviewed just believed the beans could make them happy and they did make them happy.” He leaned back in his seat rubbing his forehead with the back of his hand.
    “You’re welcome,” said Jackie. “Anyway, it’s the new craze now and it’ll last plenty of time for you to find some real piece of news. You know, news that is, actually, real. Enjoy making the world happy, while you still can.”
    “Have I ever told you you’re the best sister in the world?” said Kyle nodding goodbye to his cameraman who was scurrying passed his car and away from frantically waving Mrs. Garraway.
    “That’s exactly the reason why I get to have your car for two weeks. I’m going away on holiday,” said Jackie.
    “What? Who said anything about me giving my car away?”
    “I’ll come get the keys tonight. I love you too, little brother.”
    “Jackie-“ began Kyle but she had already hung up. He closed his eyes letting out a sigh and when he opened them he noticed there was something on the passenger seat to his right. He smelled it before he saw what it was – a diaphanous red pouch of coffee beans.
    “I can manage without a car for two weeks, I guess,” he said tucking the beans away into his pocket and starting the engine.

  2. Dani says:

    “Unbelievable. You’ve got to be kidding me,” I muttered to myself and looked around my office as if expecting someone to jump out and tell me I was being “Punk’d”. Of course nothing like that happened so I took a deep breath and re-read the email from my supervisor.

    Jesse,
    The ratings are slipping. We need to do something about it now, and covering Mr.Johnson’s flooded garden as a special weather report isn’t going to cut it. It’s a big city. Go out and find some news. If you can’t find any, make it up. Get a report to my desk by 5, make it good or we may not have jobs for much longer.
    Rebecca Marks
    News Editor
    Channel 7

    Straight to the point. I started drumming my fingers on my desk as I thought. I knew there was no news, I’d already been on the hunt for something new and exciting for weeks. It seemed like my only option was to make something up. I should be more excited, my love for writing was why I’d gotten involved in journalism and then newscasting, but I never thought I’d be doing anything like this. Lying to thousands of people, who will probably believe whatever I make up just because it’s a reputable news station. With a sigh, I leaned in and began typing:

    Sixty-five year old woman defends herself from mugger. Thelma “Nanny” Pollock never imagined that someone would try to attack her as she waited for the bus at night. She’s ridden that same bus route for fifteen years and never felt that she was in danger. “It just goes to show you, times are changing, and it’s not for the better. People just don’t know how to raise their kids anymore,” she told reporters. Nanny had taken self-defense classes years ago at the urging of her own children, and now she’s thankful she did. When a masked man came up behind her at the bus stop Nanny ignored the man until he suddenly came up behind her and put her in a headlock. When asked about her training Nanny told reporters she never thought she would need it, but in that moment all her training came back, and everything was just like instinct. Her attacker, twenty-six year old Michael Hamzy was brought to St. Christopher’s Hospital with a concussion, and a broken arm. Once he is medically cleared he will face charges.

    • Observer Tim says:

      Good choice for a story; it’s just plausible enough to believe. Some days I get the feeling the news companies keep a stock of stuff like that around just for slow news days. Other days I’m less cynical.

      It would have help to break the news story itself into paragraphs; reading the jumble like that gives one the impression that the newscaster is hurrying.

  3. 1314Barrow says:

    “David to the main office. I repeat, David to the main office.” Thinking of all the things I could have possibly done wrong, I hesitantly walked toward Mrs. Sacks office. The long hallway you had to take to get there, gave my mind plenty of time to wonder. I remember accidentally printing two copies of my last news story, but I ripped the second one up before anyone saw.. Oh my goodness, how could I forget?! I borrowed Stacy’s stapler last week, and its still on my desk. Stacy wouldnt go to the boss for that though? Would she? It has to be that.
    “David, we have a problem that I think you will be able to fix.
    “Me? Umm.. Why me sir?”
    “You, David, are my best reporter. We have had a ton of great stories come out of here. However, we just arent doing as well as we use to. We just cant seem to find any juicier stories that than the other local news. And that it obvious in our recent ratings. But dont fret, this is where you come into play. Now I know this isnt going to be something that you want to do, but I think that you would be best for it. Im going to have to have someone get creative and come up with a fake news story, and report it. You are welcome to decline this opportunity to rise to the top of all the ratings and carry Channel 47 News with you. Just know that I believe you can do it. Before make you decidsion, I want you to leave right away and go think about it first. I need to know your answer by the end of the day. Now, out of my office.”
    Walking back to my cubical was one of the hardest things ive ever done, especially since all of my co-workers were giving me looks of digust and curiosity of why I was called to Mr. Sacks office. Everyone at our news station knows that you dont go to the main office unless youve done something majorly wrong. Upon the return of my desk, I sat down at my desk and began thinking of all the pros and cons of doing the fake story or passing it on. Finally reaching my decidsion, I made my way to Mr. Sacks office.
    Entering his room, I began to talk, ” Mr. Sack, Ive decided to..”
    Abruptly interupted, I stopped in mid-sentence. “I have great news! You dont have to do the story anymore! Weve got something that is going to put us on top for sure. I just recieved word that the president is having an affair. Even better, weve got proof too! Now go home and get a good night’s rest, youre going to have quite a day tomorrow.”
    Happier than ever, I layed down that night glad that I wasnt going to have to pay the consequences of lying to the world.

  4. 1314tay says:

    Slamming todays paper on my desk Mr. Jones, the editor of the paper in our small town with a population of about a thousand he shouted, “ this isn’t going to cut it Benny, our rates are declining slowly every day and we have to stay in business so you are now responsible for coming up with your own stories.” Not sure whether to be excited about the news or feel like I was being given my last chance to prove myself I stuck with a good, “yes sir” he walked away and I could feel my heart begin to beat out of my stomach. What was I going to write about? What if the people didn’t enjoy my thoughts and this is my last chance? Completely stressed I started brainstorming. Many ideas floated around in my head and I was trying to make the best decision so it took me several hours and many opinions to come up with something to write about.
    Eventually I decided that my most safe, but best bet was to write about a community on the moon. Of course it was fictional but at least it would turn enough heads to make people read it and that’s what we were going for right? Floating into the bathroom Susie had to get ready for her first big day at her new High School. Today was Susie’s first day at the new school on the moon. For many years astronauts and scientist have been doing plenty of research on this new community to be started on the moon, and well with Susie having a Scientist for a mom and a College Science professor for a dad her chances of being one of the ‘gunny pigs’ to try the new moon community out were very likely. Her mother and father made the family decision to move Susie and her brother Shaun to the moon with them and experience the new community. Grabbing their lunches and giving their mother a kiss on the check Shaun and Susie were off to their first day at Air High. Susie wasn’t too ecstatic about having to wear the atrocious gravity suit but she would prefer to keep her feet on the ground. She would get to learn about so many new things at this school which interested her to the max, deep down Susie had a passion for learning and the fact that she was going to get to experience and learn new things gave her a slight satisfaction that she was getting to do this experiment on the moon.
    Join me next week to find out the rest of our story. How does the experiment go? Are we moving more to the moon? You will never expect what is to come.

    • Observer Tim says:

      I wish we did have a colony on the moon. It wouldn’t be particularly credible unless there was other evidence, or the audience were collectively gullible.

      Structurally the story could use a good grammar clean-up and a more effective paragraph structure, though the idea is an interesting one.

  5. 1314buie says:

    “550, 487, 435, 394…” While walking into my office, my boss says, “Okay, Stormy, we are going to have to do something about this. Our viewers are at a steady decline. Do you see this?” “Yes sir, what are you wanting me to do about it?” I didn’t know what I was supposed to do? So, nervously, I asked again. “What do you want me to do?” Leaning over to whisper in my ear, he said quietly, “Okay, listen carefully. I. Uhhhh, I want you to make up a story.” “WHAT? You want me to….?” Before I could finish my sentence, he interrupted me. “Shhhh, you have to stay quiet about it. This is between you and I only. If this gets out we could both lose our jobs.” Still in shock that my boss wanted me to do this; come up with a fake story to air on television, I just nodded, and said, “Okay.” Mr. Smith said thanks, and walked out of my office like nothing had ever happened.
    On Thursday, two days later I hear a knock on my office door. “Come in.” I said. “Hey, I just wanted to see how everything was coming along?” “Uh, it’s going fine, I guess. I mean other than the fact that I’m lying on public television…” Mr. Smith said, “Please, Stormy, don’t feel guilty about this. I mean we aren’t really doing anything bad. We’re just saving our station before it fails completely. I think doing this will bring the amount of viewers back up to normal.” Once again, I nodded and said, “Okay.”
    “Good Morning, America. Today is Friday, November 15th. I’m Stormy Camp, joined with my partner, Mike Casey. We’re coming to you live from Times Square.**** BREAKING NEWS****As we all know, Taylor Swift was caught at an Astros game with pop singer, Bruno Mars, a couple months ago. A few days after that spotting, they were found on the front of the US Weekly magazine, uh oh. “Will This Work?” it said. The relationship only lasted about a month and a half. Therefore, I guess I can go ahead and say this. We have all heard Taylor’s hit, “We Are Never Getting Back Together”. Unfortunately, she’s making a song similar to it. It’s called, “I’m Done With You”. Surprisingly, it doesn’t sound much different form her other hit singles. Imagine that. This song will hit iTunes November 20th. Well, that’s all the news we have for you today, look us up on goodmorningamerica.com for more info. Hope everyone has a fantastic day. Be safe!”

    • Observer Tim says:

      The great thing about celebrity news is that people turn off their crud-detection routines when listening to it. You could write a story about Miley Cyrus marrying a potted plant and people would send gifts and congratulations. Nice idea.

      Like the others in the “1314 series”, this could use some work on grammar and paragraph breaking. Good start, though.

  6. 1314slone says:

    Papers fall around like snow. People yell with built up anger. Glasses shatter to the floor. Chaos is among us. My boss sits in his chair doing absolutely nothing. I read all of my other job offers over and over and wonder why I am still here. Yeah I guess you could say it’s a typical work day in the newspaper business. We have been doing this whole “routine” you could call it for about a month now. The paper, News 101, just hasn’t been selling that well lately. I think the boss abhorred the paper anyways, but work is work.
    “Lucy, can I speak to you for a moment?” My boss, or as we call him Larry, always makes me run errands or do stupid little things for him that he’s too lazy to do, so I figured it was for that.
    “Yeah, Larry. What’s up?”
    “I’d like to get this paper back to its prime, you know? So I’m going to let you in on my genius plan on making that happen…” As he’s rain-bowing his hands as if to say here comes the greatest idea of all time and you will lose your socks to this, “Make a fake story!” I swear his face lit up just as bright as the light bulb in his head, which I’d figure to be pretty dull considering the idea, but to him, it was “genius”.
    “Larry, I don’t feel comfortable doing that..”
    “Lucy, if you want to keep your VP job, you WILL write this “story”.”
    “Ugh… so it can be about anything? Like ANYTHING…”
    “Yup. Anything you want.”
    “Alright Larry. One fake story coming up.”
    The day carried on like normal, as in as normal as our workplace can be. I decided I should probably start brainstorming on a good “story”, but it just wasn’t like me to print something untrue. So after long hours of Candy Crush and doodling, I came up with the perfect story. One the people would never see coming and neither would Larry.
    “So Larry, do you trust my writing enough to just put it in the paper without reading my story? So you could be just as surprised as the people?”
    “I wouldn’t do this for juts anyone… but for you Lucy, why not. Go ahead. I’ll wait to read it as well.”
    Feeling empowered, I scurried to my desk and began typing this story in front of you. No, it’s not the most interesting or engaging story, but it is true. News 101 will begin or has begun trying to get their writers to print fake stories. If I were you, I would start looking for a different newspaper. But that’s just an employee’s opinion… If you’re wondering how I am now, I sent this story to my other job offers before running it and am now the VP of the New York Times. I guess they appreciate honesty a little more. Have fun selling your “genius stories” News 101, if you haven’t guessed. I quit. Signing out—Lucy Stringer

    • Observer Tim says:

      I think News 101 just made the transition from news magazine to news satire magazine. I like it.

      The usual reminders about paragraphing and grammar; the paragraphing is better than usual in this one, but if you make future posts, it’s easier on readers to put an extra space after each paragraph.

  7. Taylor Pyland says:

    “Smith, I don’t know if you’ve checked the ratings lately, but we are slacking buddy. We’re down thirteen percent of viewers than what we usually are.” My boss said these words to me as if it were my own fault, but he more like spitted them at me considering he could not get a word out without letting me feel it too. I washed off my upper lip as nonchalantly as possible, and replied “No sir, but I will fix it. This week is going to be the best story you have ever heard. He nodded, and smiled a grimacing smile filled with sarcasm and turned and walked back to his office. I quietly sat in my office for hours and hours thinking of how I was going to come up with this “amazing” story I had promised Mr. Jones. I looked online. I called the other offices. I even read those gosh awful celebrity magazines for some juicy drama. But literally nothing seemed to fit was I was looking for. I needed something that was going to catch the eyes and ears of every one in the town of Hastings. I sat and pondered, lost as to how I was going to keep my job after this blew up in my face, and then it hit me. “A FAKE STORY!” The idea practically yelled at me from my brain, if that makes any sense at all. At first it seemed wrong. Creating a lie just to get viewers, but the more I thought about it the more I convinced myself, what could it hurt. So I began typing my marvelous lie. I sat there for hours, typing away. I finally finished. I re-read it, edited it, adored it, and printed it off to show my boss tomorrow. I was so proud. When the next morning finally rolled around I basically sprinted to my boss’ office. He laughed at my eagerness and said, “So what do you have for me?” I handed over my piece of art and he began reading. “Ratings are crazy. News channels all over town are shocked by the KTYK news channel ratings these past two weeks. They’re higher than ever, and the competing REW news channel isn’t happy about it. In fact, they would do anything to be on top. Including making up a FAKE STORY! Newscasters everywhere were shocked to find that REW were creating fake stories to increase ratings, including stories of fake accidents, false data on new products, and even a story of how a new dinosaur is discovered and is living in the deep amazon. I’m not sure which is worse, the fact the news channel came up with the awful stories or that the people of Hastings believed them! Thankfully we discovered this nonsense before more ridiculous storied were released. So thank you for watching KTYK, where we keep it real.” My boss just looked up at me, at first with what I mistook to be a puzzled look but later realized was a look of inspiration. He said, “Congratulations, you just made our story of the week. Even if it is totally false and hypocritical!” We both laughed, the news world was indeed an evil place.

    • Observer Tim says:

      I love the speech patterns and the point of view writing. And what a fiendish idea – making up a story about somebody else’s fake news stories. The news world truly is an evil place.

      This story would definitely be helped by breaking it into paragraphs; it feels a bit rushed as is.

  8. 1314nixon says:

    Walking into the office, I sit my bag on top of my wooden desk. The last fifteen years of my life, I have had the same routine, wake up, two cups of coffee, and then work at the office from 8-5. Now, all of that was going to change. No more late nights looking over my script, no more interviews. We were closing down, a two-generation broadcasting company, going out of business.

    Just when I think it couldn’t get any better, my boss, with his gray hairs and wearisome look comes walking up to me.
    “How is it going, John?”

    What kind of question is this? I’m about to lose the only job I’ve had since I graduated college and he wants to know how I’m doing?

    “Oh, fine. Just working out the kinks in my report on the Johnson case.”

    It was a lie but it was the best I can do. I had already turned the report in. I was good like that, always on time no matter what. I looked around not wanting to make eye contact. He just nods and strolls off. The look he gave reminds me of when I had first started out. The look of wanting more and not excepting less than your best.

    Except for this time I have always given more, but I am worn out and tired. I am losing the only thing I have ever truly loved. The job has been my life and now I do not know what to do with it.
    I look down at my script for the day. I have always liked to review before broadcasting. In a town like mine, the news was an important part of the day. We had always had high rating but the last few years had been hard. The bigger name news companies had finally came around. We knew they would eventually, but we had always trusted our viewers. Now we were going under.

    Leaning back in my chair, my thoughts went back to the day before. We had a meeting to talk about our ratings and how to boost them. Nobody had really had any good ideas. To tell you the truth I think we are tired of trying to get our viewers back.

    Suddenly somebody yells something and my mind just opens with an idea. A fake story, sure it’s illegal but think of the ratings. We are already going under. What’s the worst that can happen? Spending the rest of the day thinking of ideas, I walk into Pete’s office.

    “What do you have for me?”

    “An idea to get our ratings up.”

    “Really? Lay it on me.”

    He smiles and suddenly I’m reminded of the beginning when we first started working together. Pete’s love for the news and the truth. Without thinking I change my mind. What’s the point in saving the company if I could lose his respect? He wouldn’t want to hear this, so I go with an auction, where a viewer gets the chance to be live with us.

  9. GODSON72 says:

    Good evening I’m Bowe Weevil sitting in for Toucan Sam. In today’s news police have identified a Killer who police have tracked down and cornered in the Nabisco’s community. Reporting live Teddy Grahams.
    Hi I’m Teddy Grahams and I’m here on the Southside at the Honey Comb hide out with Captain. Crunch. Captain can you tell us how this all transpired?
    We got a call early this morning around 6 A.M that there had been a homicide General Mills and I were called out to a resident on Crispix and Chex Ave. It was there the bodies of known prostitute Fruity Pebbles and her pimp Suga Bear was found beaten to death with a wooden handle sterling silver spoon. Witness’ a ledge the beatings were done by Pebbles’ long time boyfriend Quaker Oats.
    Stand by Captain while we get an eyewitness account of the killings. Mam tell us your name and what you saw?
    My name iz Special K Chocolatey Delight. What had happen was, we was chillin me, Pebbles, and Bear rite ova dere and all of a suddin Quaker came from nowhere talking bout who dis iz yo pimp and Pebbles said yea and he just started fightin huh.
    Thank you Miss. Delight. Captain would you please tell us if Oats to acted alone, or does he have accomplices?
    At this time we think he’s acting alone but there are persons of interest. He’s been seen hanging out with known thugs, Snap, Crackle, and Pop.
    Why label these guys thugs?
    Snap was released from prison three weeks ago for Aggravated Assault, he used a Samira sword and shredded Wheat the town drunk. Crackle and Pop are currently waiting to be tried for the robbery of the local grocery store Cheerios.
    We have another eye witness. Hello Sir tell us your name and what you saw?
    My name is Frank N. Berry and I’ve never seen anything this bad in all my days. I was out back giving my dog a Scooby Snack and I heard a scream from the Hide out. I called my cousin Boo Berry. Boo told me that it was bound to happen because she heard that Pebbles was running around with this young boy named Lucky Charms but he didn’t love her cause he was cookoo for Cocoa Puffs but I’m not the one to gossip.
    Thank you Mr. Berry. Captain one last question, how long do you anticipate this stand off to last?
    Well Teddy we’ve just called
    He’s coming out now.. Looks like he surrendering. Coming to you live from the Honey Comb hide where cereal killer Quaker Oats has just given himself up! Oats do you have any comments?
    Yea. It wasn’t me.
    Then who was it?
    It was the Jack twins Apple and Cracker; they did it.
    Nabisco there you have it I’m Teddy Graham reporting live from the Honey Comb Hide Out. Back to you Bowe.
    In brighter news stock for breakfast cereals are at an all time high

  10. 1314thorn says:

    “Baker!” A gruff voice called behind me as I was heading to my place in front of the cameras.
    “Yes?” I asked trying to conceal my annoyance. Turning to face a large man approaching, I noticed sweat dripping down his usually calm face.
    “Our ratings have been falling alarmingly fast in the past two weeks. Actually they’ve been declining ever since I hired you as an anchor. Because this is your fault, I’m leaving it up to you to fix it. Come up with something between now and the end of the show, or you’re fired.” He spat the last words at me, gave me a malicious smile, and walked away.
    This is my breaking point. I’m going to get revenge on that man even if it cost me my job. If I ever work in news again, it will be too soon.
    I sat down in my place next to Bryan Smith, the other news anchor and waited until my moment. Looking down at my watch I saw it was the time I had been waiting for. I recalled the knowledge from my past creative writing classes and begin my segment on the news.
    “Excuse me Bryan. There is some breaking news I must share. There have been reports coming in today from South Africa. Civilians of the country have been attacking each other in a frenzy for no apparent reason. As we speak the situation in South Africa becomes more dire. There are thousands of people in the street focused on fighting until the last man. The casualties are rising at an awful rate, growing from 50,000 to 100,000 in just a few short hours. The South African government is at a loss to explain these events and believe it is some form of biological warfare against their country. They believe it is a human engineered virus. Civilians seem to have no control over the actions they’re committing. As more than 60 percent of the South African population are in mindless civil war, the authorities are unsure of how to approach this situation. We await further news from South Africa as these horrific events unfold. Whether these events were caused by an outside force still unconfirmed. However, countries around the world are beginning their preparation for another plague by closing their borders. While other countries prepare to protect their citizens and cut them off from the threats, the United States government is preparing a nuclear strike against the nation causing the potential pandemic should the perpetrators reveal themselves.”
    There , I thought, that should be dramatic enough to run the station into the ground. After Bryan and I signed off the air, I got up and walked to my office, ignoring the stares of my coworkers and they’re gaping mouths. I collected all of my things for my office and walked out the door.

    • Observer Tim says:

      Nice concept. Baker better watch it, though. On first hearing, a lot of people are likely to believe him. This concept was used by Hitler: make the lie so big and outrageous that people wouldn’t expect anyone to make it up. He’d better be long gone before anyone checks his facts.

      If you post again, please put double-spaces between the paragraphs.

      P.S. The expression is “If I never work in news again, it will be too soon.”

  11. 1314wright says:

    As soon as the phonecall ended sweat started beading on my forehead ,because I knew that if this pitch went south then I could kiss this posh job goodbye. Stressed out I paced over to the nearest window and gazed into the foggy abyss known as Chicago when I noticed a Greasy Cheesy chip truck parked near a gas station. A look of disgust came over my face in an instant; I hated Greasy Cheesy chips. I used to suck them down as a kid until I ate so much one time my stomach rejected the chips and I vomited during the school talent show all over the stage. I was about to sit back down and began sulking over terrible childhood memories when the snowball of a brilliant idea began rolling down the hill. I could use my hatred for the company and use it to fuel the biggest framing scheme of all time. My somber drooping look of melancholy turned into a malicious grin as gears began turning in my head. I grabbed my long lenses professional camera from my desk and threw open the cold black glass window. My camera zoomed onto the blinding yellow delivery truck and looked for anything out of the ordinary when my luck turned for the best. The overweight slob of a man came stumbling out of the rundown convenience store with a stained yellow employees vest that was much to small do that his stomach bulged grotesquely out the bottom. In his hands was a extra large bag of Greasy Cheesy chips. I leaned out the window enough that any passerby could easily spot me and yelled, “Hey chubby cheeks! Look up here!” His eyes shot up towards me with a bewildered look on his face while his hand was buried in the bag of greasy cardboard. The picture was spot on; his face, the chips, and the truck to the side. But it would look much better later that night after I had photoshopped Greasy Cheesy’s competition brand onto the bag of chips.

    • Observer Tim says:

      This is an interesting train of thought piece about a man turning a fake news story into a petty personal vendetta. It reminds me a bit of something the #2 Cola Company occasionally uses in their commercials (except they have enough money to hire actors and fake the whole scene).

      This story definitely needs paragraph breaks.

  12. 1314campbell says:

    “Crowley, we have a problem. Viewer rates are at a steady decline. People just simply aren’t tuning in like they used to.”
    Well I didn’t exactly need my boss to tell me that piece of information. Was it not painfully obvious common knowledge no one watches channel 547 news anymore? Wait, ever?! Our entire audience mainly consisted of my grandmother (who couldn’t even distinguish me apart from the other three reporters) and a handful of elderly folks who all had memberships to the bingo club on the weekends.
    “What exactly do you propose we do about the issue, Mr. Storm?” I inquired.
    “I need you to get…creative…” His eyes glanced nervously around the newsroom (I’m not sure why because besides the janitor, Mr. Storm and I were the only two in the building). In a hushed voice he continued, “I need you…to, uh, construct a news story for us…”
    “Like a fake–” I didn’t get to finish due to Mr. Storm’s interrupting my sentence.
    “Hush! Hush! We CANNOT say that word. No, no no…” He began to mutter again. “Something interesting. Anything really. Whatever it takes to get. our. viewers. back.”
    “Mr. Storm, I’m afraid I don’t quite understand–”
    Walking away, he called out, “Nonsense! First thing tomorrow morning, my boy. Remember, for the team, Crowley!” And with that, he was gone.
    Ultimately conflicted about whether or not the task before me was even ethical, I was admittedly a tad bit intrigued by the sheer thought of a made-up news story. Brain storming possible ideas, I remained seated in my cramped cubicle until I recognized the familiar jingle of keys and the slamming shut of the newsroom’s heavy doors. Janitor out for the night. I should probably head home, too, but at this point my story was already beginning to take miraculous shape.

    Coffee mug in one hand and briefcase in the other, I marched confidently toward Mr. Storm’s office, prepared to pitch him the story that would increase our audience numbers tremendously and hopefully result in a raise on my behalf. With three crisp knocks on his door and a resounding response, “Come in!” Now was my time to shine. With a model-worthy grin, I skipped the “good morning” introductions and dove right into my story. For the most part, Mr. Storm seemed genuinely interested. However, about halfway through my presentation, the beginning of his sentence interrupted the middle of mine, and my boss’s expression changed completely. “I am most disappointed in you, Crowley.”
    Shock was now the mask I wore. “I’m sorry, sir?”
    “I cannot believe you actually took me literally. Seriously, son? A fake news story? That is illegal, not to mention un honorable, to broadcast false information. And you call yourself a reporter…” He paused here to shake his head in disappointment. “This was a test that you have miserably failed. I’m sorry, Crowley, but I’m going to have to let you go. You have one hour to gather your things and remove any evidence that you were ever a part of our crew here at channel 547 news.” That concluded his “you’re fired” speech.
    Unable to form comprehendible thoughts much less words, I exited his office, head hung low in shame.

    • Observer Tim says:

      I admit the twist at the end caught me off guard. I don’t think anyone else came up with that particular take on the prompt. Great imagination!

      It needs some style clean-up and a bit of work on the actual dialog, but is otherwise really well done.

  13. GODSON72 says:

    Cereal Killa

    Que theme music. You’re on in 5, 4,3,2,1.

    Good evening Mount Nabisco and surrounding areas. I’m Bowe Weevil sitting in for Toucan Sam. Leading this evening’s news is the story of a Cereal Killer who police have tracked down and cornered in the Mount Nabisco’s Tesco community. Reporting live is Teddy Grahams.

    Hi I’m Teddy Grahams and I’m here on the Southside of Tesco at the Honey Comb hide out with Tesco’s police captain, Capt. Crunch. Captain Crunch can you tell us how this all transpired?

    Well Teddy we got a call early this morning around 6 A.M that there had been a homicide. General Mills and I were called out to a resident on Crispix and Chex Ave. It was there the bodies of known prostitute Fruity Pebbles and her pimp Suga Bear was found beaten to death with a wood grained handle sterling silver spoon. Witness’ alledge the beatings were done by Pebbles’ long time jealous boyfriend Quaker Oats.

    Stand by Captain while we get an eyewitness account of the killings. Mam tell us your name and what you saw?

    My name iz Special K Chocolatey Delight and Pebbles iz my girl we was tight. See what had happen was, we was chillin me, Pebbles, and Bear rite ova dere and all of a sudtin Quaker came from no where talking bout who dis iz, yo pimp and Pebbles said yea and he just started fightin huh
    .
    Thank you Miss Delight. Now Captain would you please tell us if you suspect Mr. Oats to acting alone, or does he have accomplices?

    At this time we think he’s acting alone but we do have some persons of interest. He’s been seen hanging out with three known thugs, Snap, Crackle, and Pop.

    Why would you label the guys as thugs Captain?

    Well Teddy, Snap was released from prison about three weeks ago for Aggravated Assault, he took a Samira sword and shredded Wheat the local town drunk. Crackle and Pop are currently waiting to be tried for the robbery of the local grocery store Cheerios.

    Stand by Captain we have another eye witness. Hello Sir tell us your name and what you saw?

    Yes. My name is Frank N. Berry. I’m 60 years and I’ve never seen anything this bad in all my days. I was out back giving my dog a Scooby Snack and I heard a scream from over yonder by the Hide out. I call my cousin Boo Berry and Boo told me that it was bound to happen sooner or later because she heard that Pebbles was running around on Quaker with this young boy named Lucky Charms but he didn’t love her cause he was cookoo for Cocoa Puffs, but I’m not the one to gossip.

    Thank you Mr. Berry. Captain one last question, how long do you anticipate this stand off to last?

    Well Teddy we’ve just called in a negotiator—

    Wait a minute he’s coming out now with his hands in the air. Looks like he surrendering. Coming to you live from the Honey Comb hide where cereal killer Quaker Oats has just given himself up! Mr. Oats do you have any comments.

    Yea. It wasn’t me I didn’t kill em.

    Then who did?

    It was Jack twins Apple and Cracker; they’re the ones you should be looking for.

    Well Mount Nabisco there you have it straight from the mouth of a suspected killer. I’m Teddy Graham reporting live from the Southside of the Honey Comb Hide Out. Back to you Bowe.

    Thanks Teddy. And in brighter news stock for breakfast cereals are at an all time high.

    • Observer Tim says:

      This is a fun little romp through the world of madvertising. You might have been a little too enthusiastic sticking in additional characters, but that’s excusable in this kind of story.

      If you choose to go further with this, editing should focus on matching the verbs to their subjects, and on changing word order to “snap up” the text.

      It was a quite entertaining read.

  14. Acraner says:

    As the clock strikes ten, I pull out a sheet of paper and a pen and lay it on my desk. With nothing but a little lamp on in the office, the setting looks like a room from a scary movie. Okay, I think to myself, what story can I create that will grab the attention of the locals around town. I need juicy gossip on the most popular person in the area . Taking a sip of my ice coffee from the Seven/ Eleven around the corner, I begin researching and taking notes on any information I can find.
    Kris Kardashian? No, shes already covering all the magazines.
    President Obama? No, I could get in major political trouble with that.
    Finally, I stumble upon someone who would fit the bill for juicy gossip… Prince Harry.

  15. writemld1944 says:

    There are reports from the Deep Space Network (DSN) where communication is monitored with the Mars rover, Spirit, that contact was unexplainably and unexpectedly restored with Spirit for three minutes last week. A signal was obtained during which time reception-only communication, including video, was partially restored. The last communication from Spirit was received in March, 2010 and since then, all attempts at restoring contact have failed and no reason for the loss of communication has been discovered. These reports of the re-establishment of contact have not been confirmed by authorities at DSN, but have been confirmed by reliable, anonymous sources. These anonymous sources, who were warned that for national security purposes, this information was not to be released, claimed to have seen proof of this restoration of partial communication.
    These sources also indicated that the three minute clip received from Spirit indicated movement from an area in the periphery of Spirit’s range of view. It was an object or being that was not part of the Mars project and could have been another machine or even possibly a form of life that exists on Mars and that heretofore had not been observed or anticipated.
    Because the re-contact was totally unexpected, it caught the staff of DSN unprepared to fully explore the cause of the re-contact while it was occurring and thus not able to fully explain the event. But these anonymous sources, one of whom saw the tape of the short re-contact, were totally convinced that there was some other “thing” in the pictures that was, as they described it, “mobile.” Immediate attempts were undertaken to contact Spirit but all attempts at re-contact or to receive further communication have failed and the whole series of events is still unexplained, including the ability to determine the nature of the moveable objects seen in the Spirit footage.
    Attempts to obtain official confirmation from DSN authorities have been unsuccessful. Repeated responses of “no comment at this time” have met all attempts to speak to a person in charge at DSN.
    Our sources, who could face serious consequences if identified, have no explanation for the incident, or the appearance in the scene, of the “movable objects.” Our sources informed us that the three minute recording is being reviewed by not only our best minds in the space program but also by experts from the intelligence community and Defense Department. They have no guess as to whether the “moveable objects” are natural or man-made.
    There were early, unconfirmed reports that the Mars program was not only scientific in purpose but was also an attempt to provide additional communication and intelligence information on events here on Earth, enhancing the ability of the U.S. to surreptitiously monitor events on a global basis.
    To date, there are no reports of any possibility of or existence of life, as we know it, on Mars or any other planet in the universe. There is also no evidence that any other nation on Earth has been able to send any device to Mars.

  16. Observer Tim says:

    “You irresponsible idiot! What do you think you’re doing?”

    I don’t know where this woman came from, or how she got into the studio, but somehow she managed to walk right up to my desk and confront me in the middle of the newscast. She was dripping wet and wrapped only in a bath towel that nearly covered everything. She would likely be very happy for those little black bars on the screen later.

    She poked my chest with her index finger. “Caprona! Caprona! You thought people wouldn’t bother checking your facts, didn’t you? You needed a fictional minor country to rattle its sabre at America and you chose them! Were you born stupid, or did you take lessons?”

    “Young lady, I don’t know what you’re talking about! Caprona is a real place, with real people.” Yeah, the People That Time Forgot, from that old movie. I had invented it, because nothing brings in viewers better than the threat of war, especially with a tiny ineffectual country.

    “Of course it is!” Her towel bounced in time with her angry speech; only by her clenched hand kept it from falling. “Population Lenore Allen—my mother—and her cronies. They saw your damned newscasts and went back in time to set it up. And they DO have spies in this country!”

    Back in time? This woman was obviously some kind of nut. But her rant and her clothing would likely boost our ratings through the roof and may even go viral. I decided to play along.

    “That’s what I mean! These people are a real threat, and the public needs to be informed.”

    “Yes, but she’s using YOUR fake stories for ideas!” She shook her silky black hair out of her eyes and splatted water onto my desk. “She’s planning something dangerous enough that the Window called me out of the shower to deal with it! Now, what are you planning on reporting tonight? I have to go and stop it before somebody gets hurt, or worse!”

    I reached for the papers on my desk. Sure we had the teleprompter, but the papers made me look more scholarly, and were a good backup in case the ‘prompter quit. She snatched them up before I could and started riffing through them. The towel came open at the bottom and I really hoped the camera wasn’t watching me stare (I saw the footage later; it was).

    She found what she wanted and grabbed the towel back together. “Commando strike! Dallas! Are you sure my father is hiding in Dallas?”

    “Well, I…”

    “Never mind! I have to go prevent a murder! You just lucked out, newsman!”

    She ran off the set, leaving a trail of water drops behind her; I admired her tight glutes for a moment, then turned back to the camera.

    “Well that was arousing – er, interesting. Well, more on the Capronian commando raid in Dallas later, but now a word from our sponsor…”

    It went viral. WA-HOO!

    • Observer Tim says:

      See my stories under ‘The Face Outside’ for clarification.

    • JR MacBeth says:

      Tim, if we’re not careful, this nudity thing could go viral!

    • don potter says:

      The woman in the towel was intriguing, but I liked how you made the newsreader come across as a dunce. The bit about the papers on his desk making him look scholarly rang true to me. Overall this was a fun read.

      • Observer Tim says:

        Thanks don; it was meant to be.

        I’ve actually seen this in some newscasters; they have a sheaf of papers in front of them which they will occasionally shuffle but never actually look at. I often wonder if they’re actually blank, and solely for the visual effect of making it look like somebody did some research.

        Or maybe it’s a shopping list. Or Richard Nixon’s enemies list. Who knows?

    • smallster21 says:

      Typical of a man. So, is that why a man ignores what a woman says? Too busy checking out her glutes? Lol :) Good story! One note, I wasn’t sure who spoke the opening line, might want to add a dialogue tag or put the dialogue after setting up the scene.

      • Observer Tim says:

        So something like beginning the second paragraph with:

        I cringed under her verbal assault. I had no idea …

        I think of the anonymous newscaster as the sort of arrogant misogynistic sleaze that can take a station from the top 20 to the bottom of the heap. Of course he wouldn’t take time to find out who this towel-clad avenger was. He was too busy trying to ogle what the black bars would hide from the viewers.

        • smallster21 says:

          I was thinking more like take the opening line and put it later. “…confront me in the middle of the newscast and said, “[what she said]” just so I can picture who is saying it and how she is saying it. I’m not an expert, but as a reader, that’s what I would prefer, so that’s my opinion. And, I love your description of him, lol, that did come through clearly in your writing :)

      • Observer Tim says:

        Oh. And she should have stormed off the set, too. It’s amazing what comes to you in the nick of too late.

    • Kerry Charlton says:

      Every news reporter’s dream. I loved the story, feeling as if I were part of the camera crew. A really funny romp and imaginative too.

      • Observer Tim says:

        Thanks, Kerry.

        I find news anchors to be interesting targets; it takes a certain amount of arrogance just to get the job, so taking them down a peg is fun.

    • This is becoming quite the fun little romp, Tim. Keep the cameras rolling on this one.

    • calicocat88 says:

      This was very entertaining! It kept my attention the entire way. I love how the woman just doesn’t seem to care that she’s standing there in her bath towel, lol! And you really captured the “maleness” of the reporter. Hilarious!

      • Ptodd34 says:

        Nice story, I liked it. I had to laugh as well when the reporter shuffled his papers. I too notice this all the time. The best addition to this action is when they are done their report, look down, and write something on the paper as if they are annotating key facts for later.

  17. ShawnJohnson78 says:

    THE DEAD ARE RISING! THE DEAD ARE RISING!! Just kidding, however it will seem as though the zombie apocalypse has finally reared its long awaited head when the city shuts down every assisted living community and the sick, the senile and the soon to be departed take to the streets in the Thriller video of a lifetime. That’s right, the doors are closing on those unable to remember to close the doors themselves in a city plagued by legal debts incurred during the sexual harassment scandal of a man who looks fresh off “To Catch a Predator” but somehow managed to get not just his foot in the political door, but also a hand on the unwanting and unsuspecting ass of the city.
    So who was left to pay for all these legal fees fighting a costly court battle? Not him, that’s for sure. And why should he have to pay? I mean, it’s not like it was his fault; he hadn’t taken sexual harassment training. He didn’t know it was wrong. Well here’s hoping he at least caught an after school special about drugs and rape because this man is still out on the prowl and by the looks of him, feeling a bit peckish.
    Well, as it turns out morally bankrupt can in fact equal financially bankrupt. And state run facilities such as nursing homes and meth labs are the first to suffer. The cities biggest fear now is who will take care of them now? No one expects the families that shipped them off there in the first place to actually pick them up. We’ve already seen some just wandering around in hospital gowns and bowler hats looking for their cars.
    Next up: gravity – a verified ploy of the devil

  18. JR MacBeth says:

    “Gupta, you’re exactly what we need right now. Times are a-changin’. It’s 1975! Which is why I’ve decided to hire people like you, and Hernandez, and what’s-his-name, Chang.”

    “Chen.”

    “Right. We need a new face, we need to jazz things up because, as you know, this network has seen better days.”

    “You can count on me, Boss.”

    “Good! Now, this is what we need to do. Get out there amongst your people, and if you can’t find some news, then you MAKE some news. Get my drift?”

    “My people? Boss?”

    “You know what I mean! Listen, everyone is very interested in civil rights these days, and all the civil unrest that goes with it. Right? THAT’S what we need more of, don’t you agree?”

    “Boss? Are you saying you want us to, well, make trouble, if we don’t find any?”

    “I didn’t say that! But, I like the way you think–”

    “Boss, honestly, we have enough racial tension–”

    “Gupta! Listen to me. OK. Forget race for now. But we have to do something! How ‘bout this: Let’s go after the goddamn commie nudists! What about that?”

    “Nudists?”

    “From what I understand, it’s a fucking nudist ‘church’ of some kind, and no one has told the story. Yet!”

    “Boss?”

    “Goddamn it, Gupta, do I have to spell everything out? You grab Hernandez, and you both get in there, tell them you’re married, she should pass. Hell, put a fucking red dot on her forehead if you have to. Put one on her ass too–”

    “Boss, we don’t have dots on our asses.”

    “Whatever!”

    “You seriously want us to go naked to a nudist church?”

    “Don’t tell me you’re shy. Shit, you people wear nothing but diapers in your country.”

    “Boss! What are you talking about?”

    “Shh! Enough. Go get Hernandez, tell her the plan, and then get back here before you go. We need news Gupta, and goddamn it, we’re going to have it!”

    ———————————–

    “You aren’t going to believe what Wilkinson wants us to do now.”

    “Are you kidding? He had me out last week scrawling graffiti on walls. I’m not sure if I can stand that man much longer.”

    “Well, hang on to your ass Hernandez. Now he wants us, you and me, to go to that crazy nudist church.”

    “Holy shit! You told him to go fuck himself, didn’t you?”

    “Well–”

    “Gupta, you are such a pussy! Fine! I’ll march right in there and tell him myself.”

    “Andrea! Wait. Would it hurt that much? At least he’s not pushing that racial shit–”

    “Ronny, if you want to see me naked, then you’re going to have to at least buy me dinner.”

    ————————————

    “So, what happened then? Did you go to the nudist church?”

    “Yes! But it’s not what you think. We both quit the job, and decided to check the church out anyway. Next thing you know, we were walking down the aisle, sans wedding attire. Talk about a cheap wedding! And that’s how I met your mother.”

  19. slayerdan says:

    (Real busy this week, just a lighhearted satirical stab–enjoy)

    “Are you sure this is going to work?” Ana looked at Hugh as the production assistants touched up the last bit of her make up. “ These guys look nothing like Obama and Putin.”

    “They will be moving around a lot and we will keep the camera angles back, it has to work,” Hugh replied with a nervous smugness, well aware the actor playing Obama was well over 250 pounds.

    “Ten seconds people,” came the set supervisor.

    “3..2..1”

    “Good evening everyone and welcome to the evening news. I’m Hugh Jorgan and present as always my co- anchor, the lovely Ana L. Beads.”

    “ Thanks Hugh. We have a breaking news story from Washington concerning the current issues w Syria. In the field we have our own Buster Hymen….Buster, what’s the update?”

    The screen behind them begins to show the field reporter standing in front of a wrestling ring. While he stands but fifty feet away, Buster begins his report as if in Washington itself.

    “Hello Ana, Buster Hymen here in Washington. Today Obama, upset with the length of time Congress was taking to approve action against Syria, decided to launch an attack without approval. To quote the President,’ The Syrian government killed Syrian peoples and we will now kill Syrian peoples to show the Syrian government that this is not acceptable.’”

    “When will this take place Buster?” Hugh chimed in on cue.

    “In a strange twist, Putin of Russia has stated if Obama attacks Syria, then he will launch an attack to kill Americans to show them they cannot kill Syrians for killing Syrians but that he will kill Americans for killing Syrians,” Buster replied, deadpan to the camera.

    ‘That sounds like a very tense situation. Why are you standing in front of a wrestling ring?” Ana asked, a nervous look to Hugh as the screen went back to Buster.

    Fixing his collar in a Dangerfield like motion, Buster replied. “ The two leaders have agreed to settle the issue in a wrestling match, so as to avoid millions of people being killed.”

    “When will this take place?” Ana asked offscreen.

    “It will be taking place here shortly,” Buster replied,” as Obama and Putin have both just entered the ring.”
    Panning to the ring behind him, the camera focused on a tall, 250 pound man surrounded by what looked like secret agents; actually they were three studio interns and the station janitor. On the other side of the ring stood a man, barely five feet tall, that had a group of men that had been at the local delicatessen this morning and hired for fifty dollars. One was obviously black.

    “Is one of the Americans on the wrong side Buster?” Hugh asked.

    Staring blankly at the camera, Buster felt his mouth go dry as the guys on Obamas side began chanting, “ USA…USA….USA.”

    ‘Im sorry Hugh, its getting loud here. The Americans are chanting and I guess there is a protest by the Russians as Putin has been told he cannot use a hammer or a sickle in the match and..”

    “Im sorry Buster,” Hugh interrupted as the camera turned once again to him,” we have just received unconfirmed reports that while Putin and Obama are in the ring, John McCain parachuted into Syria and shot the Syrian president with a shotgun. More on this to come.”

    “And while Buster updates us on the match, we will hear from Reuben MiCock with the weather,” Ana added,” Reuben, any rain today?”

    • Kerry Charlton says:

      Slayerdan, this romp is priceless! It probably closer to the truth then you ever would imagine. Obama wouldn’t last 10 seconds in a ring with Putin. Does anyone out there, understand how the federal government is still operating? I loved your story; funny gets funnier.

    • Observer Tim says:

      I found the names a wee bit off-putting, but that’s my hang-up not yours. Other than that, this belongs in a comedy movie. Totally over the top! I love it!

    • don potter says:

      Laughing at the insanity going on in Washington is the only way to keep our collective sanity. I got a kick out of your take on current events. Funny stuff.

    • slayerdan says:

      Thanks all. I was iffy on the names myself, but its a tongue in cheek joke that you cant listen to anyone anymore, they are all out to screw you. Besides, when are weathermen ever right anymore? Thanks again.

    • The names distracted from the story, but the satire was spot on. Well done, Dan.

  20. jayem says:

    Haley Jones stepped out of the building into the cool night air. He heard the click behind him as the security door engaged. That was when reality clicked in as well. He was locked out of the building and, undoubtedly, his career in journalism as well. He had defied the station’s directive to report a false news story for the sole purpose of grabbing attention and improving sagging ratings. Now he would face the consequences.
    Out of habit, he grabbed his vibrating cell phone as it signalled a text message.
    “OMG what did u do”
    Sarah. Six months pregnant with their first child. What could he say to her?
    As he walked aimlessly into the night, he replied with the only thing he was sure of . . . “had to.”
    Sarah’s response came immediately, “ON AIR????”
    Haley slipped the cell phone into his pocket and kept walking. He had protested at the meeting earlier that day but his pleas for integrity in the newsroom had fallen on deaf ears. Jim Bennett was adamant that he was under orders from the top. That declaration had silenced others who might have backed his position. Haley recognized defeat when he saw it but it chewed at him all day. Later, at the moment the evening news went live and the producer pointed a finger at him, he realized he couldn’t do it.
    Perhaps he should have adlibbed some commentary on the current school board issue or even walked off the set, but no, he had acted on his impulse to blow the whistle on the whole sordid plan, right then, on air!
    He didn’t know when the cell phone had stopped its incessant vibrating but he lifted his gaze from the inky water below the bridge when he heard his name.
    “Haley, what the Hell are you doing?” a familiar and demanding voice called out.
    “Reflecting,” he responded as he turned and smiled at a colleague from a rival network.
    “And, have you decided to jump?”
    “Hell, no, but after the stunt I pulled tonight, you won`t need to worry about competition from me anymore.”
    “That`s where I think you`re wrong. The suits caught your little stunt and sent me out to offer you a spot at our network.”
    “You`re kidding! Why?”
    “I don’t know, something about wanting to restore integrity to the newsroom, they said.”
    For the next week, all the networks covered the story of Haley’s live, on-air, revelation and the public’s reaction to it. Whistle blowing became the topic of talk radio as well as print and social media.
    Haley new station covered the story in depth with debates and discussions led by their recently acquired news anchor. The Network’s new slogan “A Newsroom You Can Trust” seemed to be going over well too and the numbers were out, showing they were way ahead in the ratings.
    Ah, yes, the ratings. Haley was happy in his new position but he couldn’t shake the nagging suspicion that he’d been had.

    • Observer Tim says:

      The question isn’t whether Haley had been played, but by who. Or by how many different people, each with their own agenda.

    • don potter says:

      Too much of a coincidence to be a coincidence, but it made for an interesting story.

    • MCKEVIN says:

      Interesting take on the prompt but I liked it. How did the rival anchor know what bridge to find Haley and how’d the suits know to offer him a position?Tie up few loose ends and you have a really good and completely story. Good job.

      • jayem says:

        Terry Mallory’s story (Sept 6) about a female Haley Jones who obviously was fired for blowing the whistle on-air elicited a response from Don Potter that she’d never work as a journalist again. That prompted my suggestion that a smart ‘suit’, with an eye to ratings, might have a different idea. Thanks for the comments.

    • So, who is the real mastermind here?
      Well-crafted, but maybe a little too quick and slick to make be buy in all the way. I liked it though.

  21. lanemike says:

    “We lead off our coverage tonight with an obituary. Objective Reason, a cousin of Rational Reality, has lost his long battle with Political Correctness and Politicized Calcification. At a well-attended press conference following OR’s demise, doctors tried to put the event into perspective without offending anyone or appearing to favor specific groups over others. Listen to some of these quotes from the postmortem press conference given by his doctors this afternoon.”
    I shuddered inside before proceeding. My boss had finally given me the license I had so longed for. I could make up whatever I wanted, in a last-ditch effort to save our miserable little independent TV station. For more years than I could count I had read the prepared news stories from Reuters and AP, holding my nose as I did so. What hypocrisy! What crap! Who believes this B.S., anyway? No wonder the whole business was losing ground. People gotta be sharper than this, right? Damn the torpedoes – I was just gonna wing it.
    “Doctor Manuel Dexter, Chief of Neurosurgery, had this to say,” I began with trepidation, “And I quote, ‘He fought until the end, a brave soul indeed. He started to lose his bearings when the definition of the word “is” was called into question by President Clinton. “Sex” was not “sex” anymore and this caused tremendous confusion, Then, W came along and said that the mission was accomplished when there never was much of a mission in the first place. At least not that OR was aware of. Somewhere in the middle of all this it started that many, many people that could not afford it were given big, low-interest loans to buy houses and the politicians patted themselves on the back for being good guys and then…everything went bust. OR knew this wasn’t right but he was drowned out by loud voices that wanted to cover it all up by blaming a few rich guys on Wall Street. OR screamed at the top of his lungs but he couldn’t be heard. The stress and strain was too much, so he checked himself in to the hospital.’”
    I paused to catch my breath. In the control room my boss was all smiles, and gave me a big smile and a thumbs-up. Emboldened, I continued.
    “‘Then the earth was getting hotter, except when it wasn’t. It was America’s fault, except when it was China’s or Russia’s or India’s. Then on cold days it wasn’t talked about at all. Things were getting wackier by the minute, and OR’s condition really began to deteriorate. Finally, he was done in by a plan to give everyone every healthcare thing they could ever need for free. Never mind who’ll pay for it, they said. You’re entitled. Trust us. And that, quite simply, was the end.’”
    I then realized I had failed in my mission. I looked squarely into the camera, and said, “You can’t make this stuff up, folks.”

  22. smallster21 says:

    I should have just dipped Bob, the janitor, in gray paint, ripped out his hair, added a few lacerations to his chest. Yes that would have been much easier. But I had acted on impulse, so here I stood in the voodoo queen’s lair waving chicken feet, mumbling “watermelon, watermelon” over and over again, because I couldn’t read Latin, and Luigi knew I was faking, because he kept flinging fish spines at me. (For the record, I know Luigi is not a typical voodoo queen, but he’s the only one I could trust to bribe.)

    My watch beeped. The six o’clock news was about to start. I needed to prepare to transmit a live feed to the station. “Luigi, we almost done?” The stumpy Italian, whose Limburger cheese smell was so strong, it overpowered the smell of blood and guts, frowned. “Come on, just raise the sucker.” I gestured to the dead body lying on the altar. (I say dead body, because you shouldn’t refer to a slab of decaying flesh as your formerly alive husband.)

    I didn’t mean to off Harold, it was an emergency. I needed a story to pump up the newscast—by demands of my producer —so it’s not my fault my husband’s dead. I was under pressure! On the bright side, who’ll be the infamous reporter to uncover the rise of the zombie apocalypse? This gal. After hanging up the phone with the station this morning, I just grabbed a steak knife and whoop! Right through the eye, into the noggin.

    “He needs to simmer, but he’s good to go,” Luigi said, then helped me carry Harold to the news van waiting outside before returning to his lair.

    “So, Holly, what next?” Randy, my cameraman, said from the front seat.

    I rubbed my chin, considering my options. It’d be exciting to film him eating a cat, broadcast that to our viewers, which ought to get the town talking and tuning in. “We need a cat.”

    Randy shook his head. “No, I’m Jewish. I can’t let you feed a cat to a zombie. It’s against my religion. Get a clown.”

    “Excuse me?”

    “Big, frizzy, red bozo hair & Rudolph nose, epitome of evil.” Randy shuddered.

    I sighed, grabbing my phone, dialing Sappy, who did a horrible job at entertaining my nephew a few weeks ago, so he deserved to get eaten.

    ***

    Fifteen minutes later, we had Sappy tied up. Harold was awake by now, sitting with his arms folded, his lip jutting out, trying to get pity points, you know, because he was dead and all. He wouldn’t go near Sappy, so I hacked off the clown’s arm, and was trying to force feed my zombie husband. Word to the wise, never kill your spouse and raise them up, because, damn, if you thought they were whiny before, shit. Zombies are constantly complaining, picky eaters, too high-maintenance.

    “Dammit Harold, you eat that clown right now!”

    Harold shook his head, pressing his lips together.

    “Pssst!” Randy clicked his fingers and mouthed “You’re on” as he pointed the camera at me. I stared into the camera, holding Harold’s arm with Sappy bawling, tied to the driver’s side door with my zombie husband pouting and stomping his feet.

    Harold grabbed the microphone and grumbled in his scratchy, zombie voice, “Breaking news. Holly McNabb is now a single lady. I want a divorce! Also, expose on Italian voodoo infiltration. Luigi! I got your number buddy.” He shoved the mic back into my hand. I blinked several times before silently mouthing “watermelon, watermelon,” as Harold disappeared into the night.

    • smallster21 says:

      Next to last paragraph, Holly is holding Sappy’s arm, not Harold’s. Whoops, sorry!…and, I panicked, I know the ending’s not that great, but my brain’s getting mushy.

    • don potter says:

      The nonchalant, flippant style of the MC is marvelous. I loved this wacky tale.

      • Kerry Charlton says:

        What you have here smallster, is an outline for a zombie, reality series and only CBS can pull it off with their low-brow, neanderthal attitudes. You becoming the executive producer of the series, you might have the tenacity to steer it toward Masterpiece Theatre, and own the Nobel Peace prize.

        From there there would be no avenue blocked from your ambitions .You them might become elevated to the exalted position of Supreme Empress of the Western Hemisphere. Think what this would mean to all of us?

        I’m putting my bid in to be Secretary Of Commerce for you. Three for you, two for me and one for all mankind. Think of the glory!

        • smallster21 says:

          @don potter: Thanks! I was definitely going for nonchalant and flippant.

          @Kerry: I’m trying to figure out if you are laughing at me, or if I am supposed to be laughing with you…lol :) If I become empress, then I’ll be in charge of everything, so if you’re secretary of commerce, you’re just for show. And if you give me bad advice, you get shackled in the dungeon (because I’ll have a dungeon) for two weeks with Sappy and Harold. Don’t let that scare you, I’ll be sure to have a nice retirement plan, a Soylent Green-esque plan (except no option on time of death, but you’ll be helping stop world hunger…Harold is in charge of employee benefits, so get on his good side).

          • Kerry Charlton says:

            Shudder, shudder, whiney, whiney.

          • Kerry Charlton says:

            P. S. smallster, I would never, ever laugh at you. I think you’re a great writer and I thought you might like to be an Empress!
            Just in case you thought differently. Kerry

        • smallster21 says:

          Thanks Kerry :) I would love to rule the world, but I honestly couldnt do it. I would want to write all the time, but people would ask me for stuff and expect me to make decisions.

    • Observer Tim says:

      Wonderfully surreal. I guess that just goes to show that zombies desire justice too…

      • smallster21 says:

        Yep, zombies have feelings too, who knew? I sense a zombie uprising in our midst. If you’re interested in zombie justice, James Scott Bell writes a series of zombie legal thrillers under the pen name K. Bennett. Genius.

    • MCKEVIN says:

      Watermelon watermelon. This has got to be one of the most graphic pieces you’ve written. Your ick factor is off the chain. If I didn’t know you wrote this I would have never put your signature to it. Lol. I liked it a lot even if your brain’s a little mushy. Lol.I hope everything is okay. Good one. But then you know I sick stuff like this Don’t you? Lol. Watermelon watermelon.

      • smallster21 says:

        My mushy brain is fine, thanks, lol :) Yes, love sick stuff, I wanna make the reader squirm! Watermelon, watermelon…when I was in 2nd grade, I did that in choir, because the nuns would yell if you didn’t sing. I couldn’t sing, so I mouthed “watermelon” continuously.

    • This was so good I read it thrice. My favourite of this prompt, for sure.

      Watermelons… lol

  23. Jen says:

    ‘Be creative’ his Editor said.

    Gerry motioned for the files to be passed over for inspection.

    Four working girls reported missing over the last three months, this isn’t news. Girls on the strip are always going missing: some get out of the life, some move town, some are in the hospital courtesy of a kinky john and some are off the street while bruises heal.

    ‘We’ll use the family photos not the mug shots’ said Gerry. His Editor pretended to look hesitant at the suggestion.

    ‘I want you to dig out their real names. I’m not using their street names. We handle this with compassion.’ Gerry said and then seeing people were looking for more from the respected veteran Anchor he added. ’Let’s restore some dignity to these women.’

    His editor smiled.

    ‘Nice angle Gerry’ he said. ‘We’ll get some background about why some girls choose this kinda lifestyle, humanize them.’

    Gerry winced as his Editor turned away to bark orders at researchers and other scurrying underlings. No amount of research would overturn the well bred prejudice of his audience. Four missing women would scare them but as soon as the word prostitution was hinted at they’d be relieved. A two minute researched section wasn’t going to dissuade them from the notion that girls became whores because they liked sex.

    Looking through the files Gerry saw the real stories. You compared the family photos with the mug shots, read the arrest reports and the truth was there. Mary, once an appealing red head, needed money to support her methamphetamine habit. A straight life must have been impossible. Beth and Hailey had become in thrall to charismatic men who, although promising to look after them, had exposed them to the dangers of the street. Rhea, a product of the system, had no sense of family or of belonging anywhere. The change between the pretty girl with fat blonde sausage curls in the photo from a foster parent, to the hard-faced women staring out of the mug shot was heartbreaking.

    But that wasn’t what his Editor or his audience wanted. They wanted to be titillated by the idea a killer could be on the loose. As unprofessional as this implication was, it wouldn’t cause a panic. The audience would feel safe that the imagined killer was targeting prostitutes. The other working girls wouldn’t credit it; they probably knew the fate of the missing women but weren’t inclined to tell.

    As the countdown to live broadcast was called out, Gerry stared into the newsroom, his eyes unfocused. When had he lost his edge, when had he stopped being a newsman and become just a presenter? The director’s assistant stopped the verbal countdown at four and used his fingers to continue, three, two and one. His Editor gives him a nod from the booth.

    ‘Good evening, our top story tonight the disappearance of four women . . .’

  24. MCKEVIN says:

    “Hi. I’m Jenny Goodhead, W-L-I-E’s top anchorwoman and we’re interrupting your regularly scheduled programming to bring you the following “Oz” updates…
    The Wizard declared Oz the first television place to recognize same sex marriage. He was recently quoted “That should make a lot of munchmen happy.”
    Also, station W-L-I-E has learned Glenda the good witch murdered her sister because she’d blocked the sale of her invention, the Bubble mobile to the Ford Company.
    The infamous Lollipop Guilde was sentenced to life without parole for poppy harvesting. The government received a tip from someone inside the witch’s castle.
    Speaking of the castle, today several castle guards were fired for Line dancing and posting YouTube videos while on the job.
    Uncle Henry’s field hands have been jailed for stealing yellow bricks from Oz’s most famous road.
    Oz scientists have isolated the flying monkey virus that makes them stomp and pummel scarecrows.
    The Tin man was arrested for oiling himself in public.
    The last of the apple throwing trees have been moved to the Mayo Clinic for observation.
    The wizard is under investigation for operating a house of ill repuke fronting as a spa for runaways.
    Finally, W-L-I-E asked the Cowardly Lion for comment regarding these news stories, but his representatives advised us he couldn’t because he’d misplaced his courage.
    In other breaking news…
    “We regret to inform you that GargaMel another wizard, has died from a gunshot wound.”
    [Cut to portrait of GargaMel]
    “Let’s go live to Larry King.” I said.
    Larry looked in the camera confused.
    “I hate when I come in a room and forget what I came in for.” He said.
    “Larry, we’re live.” I said.
    “Oh, Welcome, I’ve been asked to delay my retirement again to cover the following story. It’s a scandal that’s rocking the Saturday morning cartoon world and the restless after school crowd. Smurfette Smurf and Jessica Rabbit have been charged with operating a star studded prostitution ring and the murder of wizard, GargaMel.
    [Cut to pictures of Smurfette and Jessica Rabbit]
    Our sources say “Betty Boop, Blondie, Minnie Mouse, Barbie, the Powder Puff girls and others are all workers in the ring.” Where in the world is Jessica Rabbit is the question everyone is asking. She’s been in hiding since the story broke. Smurfette is in custody and police were observed removing evidence from her plush mushroom condo. Alledgely, her black book is full of patronizing “A” list customers which include; Batman, Robin, Joker, The Thing, Archie, Jughead, Flash, Cruella, Hulk, Mr. Rogers, Woody Allen and others.
    Supposedly, the shooting erupted when Smurfette informed GargaMel “he was not Baby Smurf’s father.” GargaMel called her “a sight for a whore’s eyes.” Three shots were fired.
    On a lighter note,
    Gas prices are down, Ford shares are up and Paula Deen joined the NACCP.
    I’m Jenny Goodhead and we return to your regularly scheduled program.”
    [“And we’re clear.”]
    I turned to my producer Diane.
    “How was that? Told you, I’m a team player!”
    Diane was speechless.

  25. JRSimmang says:

    Another idea, if you don’t mind. I’m going to try to work this into a novella. Any feedback would be greatly appreciated.

    SEATED IN THE OLD ELM

    The lightning bugs were out; that meant the weather was about to change. It’s funny how these little things do that, turn on and off like candle. I was out with my brother, Samuel, while father was with Uncle Abraham and the other men of the town. Mom was probably with Aunt Ruth in the house.

    Samuel and I built this tree house with father a couple of years back. It was seated in the old elm in the back 40. I had my first kiss here with Suzanna Ray during the sunset three months ago, in April, when the flowers just started flowering and the tree was green.

    “Thinking about Suzanna?” Samuel could sometimes read my thoughts.

    “Maybe.” I smirked. “How could you tell?”

    He focused on a point somewhere in the distance, dreaming at the clouds, and sighed heavily. “You get this look, this one, when you think about her.” He refocused on me. “You should just walk up to her and ask her.”

    “Oh, I don’t know.”

    He cleared his throat. “Ladies and gentlemen, good evening.” He put his hands in front of his mouth, as if he was holding on to something, like he was trying to drink from a cup with both hands. “We have a special news bulletin for you this evening.”

    “Samuel! Shut your mouth!” Samuel had recently ridden into the city with father. He said he saw things that only God could create. “You know you aren’t supposed to talk like that!”

    “Our anchor, Luke Shelton, has some important news regarding Suzanna Ray.” He shoved his hands in front of me.

    “Samuel…” I looked around, nervous. “You can’t do this.”

    “Relax, little brother. Nothing will happen. Just make something up. Our news station depends on you. It’s fun.”

    “It’s not allowed. You’re going to get us in trouble.”

    “Come on, Samuel. The audience is waiting.” He stood there, sweat on his brow, hands in front of my face, that stupid smile creeping at the corner of his mouth.

    I shook my head. Convincing myself we wouldn’t get caught. “Fine. Umm, Suzanna Ray has the prettiest eyes in the world.”

    “Ugh.”

    “Fine, fine, okay. Suzanna Ray’s breasts aren’t as big as they look in her blouse!”

    Samuel laughed, rolled back on to his rear end, and continued to laugh. Hard.

    “How was that, Sammy?”

    In between breaths, “the [laugh] audience loved it!”

    I couldn’t help but start to laugh too.

    He got serious quickly. “Is that true?”

    I chuckled and stared at the lightning bugs drifting on the whisper of a breeze. “No.”

    We sat in silence as the sun tried to set quickly. But, nothing moved very quickly here.

    “I’m going back, you know, someday.”

    I always knew he wouldn’t be here forever. Father was coming over the ridge. It’d be dinner soon.

    -JR Simmang

    • Kerry Charlton says:

      A poignant story with an idealistic setting. I can certainly relate to this, having a brother four years older than myself. A coming of age story set in this atmosphere will be a winner with your readers.

      If I read the story correctly, his brother has passed on and comes back as a spirit to check on his younger brother, kind of as a protective angel.

    • jhowe says:

      This is really cool. What a great idea for this prompt. I may be wrong, but my take is that the boys are Amish and Samuel has a hankering to escape the lifestyle. I would love to read a novella like this.

    • don potter says:

      I like the idea of the Amish young man wishing to venture into the big wide world that awaits him outside of Lancaster County, Pennsylvania. Let us know when you publish the novella.

    • calicocat88 says:

      You created a beautiful landscape right away and the characters are real and not over the top. I like this :) I feel that there is something building in this story–the calm before the sudden explosion. I would love to know what happens to these characters.

    • smallster21 says:

      I enjoyed reading this. Reminds me of that TV show where the Amish kids are ditching their communities to go live outside their colony in the big city. Sure, I think this would be a good idea for a longer story. Though, personally, I’m not one to read Amish tales, so if you pumped it up, created more intense conflict and action, instilled relatable topics, I’d be more apt to read it.

    • Nice slice of the longer piece. Write on!

    • JRSimmang says:

      Thanks for the feedback, y’all. I appreciate it.

  26. Mallory Terry says:

    I couldn’t believe I was about to do this. My whole career was riding on the line. I was stuck between a rock and a hard place. I was sitting there with all the lights on me. The camera was pointed at me. The prompter began to flicker as it turned on. I was about to do the unthinkable – I was going to report a fake news story on live TV. I didn’t understand why it had come down to this, but it had. For weeks, everyone had been stressing over our reviews and our audience ratings and this was their “big idea”.

    Everyone hurried around and got into their places. I could feel the sweat begin to make my forehead clammy. I quickly took my shirt and wiped my forehead clean. One minute and counting, I thought, I can do this. Or could I?

    I had never been one to not follow the rules so this is what I had to do. The camera turned on and the prompter began counting down. We were at “1” now and it was my cue to go. We were live.

    “Good evening everyone. I’m Haley Jones and tonight we have a topic to discuss.” My heart was racing and everyone’s voices were ringing in my head though no one was talking but me. “Do you ever have those days you just wish to have a redo? Maybe a few more hours in bed and just restart the day over? That is me today.” I stood up from my chair. I paced when I was nervous. “The funny thing about it is, what they say is true.” I heard feet shuffle behind the camera and the producer looked uneasy. I wasn’t reading their prompter. And he had no idea where I was going with this. He was the one nervous now. I smirked at the thought. “Sometimes the right thing to do and the hardest thing to do are one in the same.” I stepped a little closer to the camera.

    “Tonight, I should be reporting the news like I always do.” I took in a deep breath. “That is my job.”

    He mouthed, “Read the prompter or so help me, I will end you.”

    I smoothed my skirt with my palms that weren’t sweaty anymore. “For ratings, I was to get on this news cast and report a false story. One to get you all interested.” I hurried and finished, knowing they would cut me off for outing them. “That is never the person I will be. I can assure you that you won’t ever see my face again on this channel for I know I must already be fired. But doing what is right in the end is what always needs to be done, no matter the consequences. And that is the truth. No lie. I am Haley Jones. Goodnight everyone and goodbye.”

    I laid down my papers and walked out the door. And I never walked back in again.

  27. Cin5456 says:

    The following broadcast does not reflect the views of this station, nor the management of the news team.

    And now, Samuel Langhorne’s Evening Report:

    Good evening, ladies and gentlemen.

    A tragedy is occurring at this moment all over our fair city, and no one is paying attention. It’s happening in homes and business all across America, but nobody seems to notice, or if they take note of it, they do not react with the outrage it deserves. These fatalities go unnoticed because it happens too often; so often, in fact, that these deaths sometimes illicit only a shrug.

    Where has our compassion gone? Why do we not celebrate their births? Why should we allow them to slip away so easily, often without even noticing they are gone? Are we becoming such a heartless nation that an epidemic goes unnoticed? Perhaps part of the tragedy comes from the secrecy surrounding the births, the news of their existence hidden for selfish reasons.

    Regardless of how they began, their existence should be celebrated, nurtured, and supported. Instead, we do not talk about them, except to whisper about them to a select, sympathetic few, lest they be mocked. Eventually, they no longer seem to have value for society, and we let them die.

    I say, enough is enough. I’m not going to perpetuate this tragedy anymore. I hope my bravery will encourage others to speak out, too. So, here it is, folks.

    Today, my dreams died. My illusions were trampled, my hopes rendered like scrambled eggs. Folks, I’m talking about dreams: my dreams, and your dreams, about our hopes, our expectations of living a meaningful existence. Today, my dream of becoming a serious journalist died when I was told to “make up something” to make tonight’s broadcast more interesting. I was supposed to invent a news story and broadcast it to you, my unsuspecting, naïve, viewers. I can’t do it. We let our dreams die too easily, and that is tragic. But there is a story in that. So many dreams die every day that it is no wonder our society has very little hope, but an abundance of skepticism. I can’t live that way anymore.

    I have other dreams, though, and I’m not going to let them die without a fight. Tonight, after this broadcast, I will be tendering my resignation to the station. Why? Because I am making plans to nurture my dreams, and I wish to devote all my energy to making sure my dreams thrive.

    What about your dreams, listeners? Do you still dreams you are willing to fight for? Do you still have dreams that deserve to live?

    Goodnight, and Good Luck to you all.

    • jhowe says:

      That was very interesting. Good piece. I’m surprised Samuel was able to keep braodcasting without being cut off.

    • agnesjack says:

      I liked this. It took a turn I didn’t expect.

    • JRSimmang says:

      I concur. I wasn’t expecting the topic to turn toward dreams. It’s affirming, for sure.

      • Kerry Charlton says:

        Not only is it affirming but it’s brutally accurate. I’ve always had dreams to sustain me and I still do but when you look at haunted faces that exist in the vworld today, you wonder; where has all the joy gone?

    • xtheoldman says:

      I hate doing this. Probably just a typo, but I’d want someone to point it out to me. At the age of 69 I still have to keep the dictionary handy, you bet. The word you want at the opening of the story is elicit, not illicit. Sorry.

      • Cin5456 says:

        Thank you. I suspected that spelling was wrong, and I meant to check it, but forgot before posting; you are definitely right. Elicit is what I meant. I wish this site had an edit option. I noticed the mistake right away, but it was too late. I should have posted a correction in reply to my own post. I will do that next time I make a mistake. In addition, the next to last sentence should say: “Do you still HAVE dreams you are willing to fight for?”

        Thank you, everyone for your wonderful comments. I’m surprised nobody noticed the name Samuel Langhorne. Samuel Clemens’ middle name was Langhorne. He was an irreverent idealist.

    • don potter says:

      Altruism lives. Wonder what Samuel’s dreams are?

    • MCKEVIN says:

      I see a news anchor being strapped in a straight jacket as he pleads to his viewing audience. Good take on the prompt. I wished he was holding a gun to the head of his news station as he talked about dreams. I liked it. Good job.

    • I like how this one played out. I’m pretty sure he was speaking to dead-air before he got to the end, but doesn’t change how he felt. I liked it.

  28. don potter says:

    “Dan Paulson here announcing a new program on Channel 5 that makes you the reporter. It’s guaranteed to bring a whole new meaning to the concept of Neighborhood Watch.
    Want to know how it works? Stay tuned and I’ll tell you how to spy on your neighbors and make money doing it.”
    START COMMERCIAL BREAK
    “Are you sure this is what management wants to do?” I ask the studio producer.
    “Oh yes. Focus groups show this will be a real ratings buster.”
    “Why would people want to air petty differences about neighbors with our entire viewing audience?”
    “It’s sorta like a Judge Judy show without the judge.”
    “If things get bad, it’ll be more like a Punch and Judy show. This could get out of hand.”
    “You’re a profession, Dan. Handle it like any other interview.”
    “An interview is one thing. A confrontation is another.”
    “This is cutting-edge television. You’ll be famous, if you do it right.”
    “And if I don’t do it right?”
    “That’s what makes live TV exciting. You never know how things play out.”
    “I hear ya.”
    END COMMERCIAL BREAK
    “Welcome back, and let me introduce you to our brand new segment. It’s called ‘You Make the News; and I’m here on the East side of Gotham City where James Wesson will report on how his next door neighbor is disturbing the other residents in the area. For his reporting efforts Mr. Wesson will receive this crisp new one hundred dollar bill.
    ”Please give us your report, sir,” I say and hand him the microphone.
    “Wallace Barnes lives next to me and never respects the unwritten rules of our little community. He plays loud music anytime of the day or night, does not keep up with repairs and gardening on his property, and ignores constant pleas to be more compliant and respectful of others. Hopefully this report will cause him to take some action.”
    “Thank you for that report, James. Now let’s see if it results in action. The front door of the Barnes residence is opening and a man, presumably Mr. Barnes, is headed this way. Did you see that? The neighbor just hit James Wesson in the nose. Wesson’s nose is bleeding profusely, and he’s running home. Now, Mr. Barnes seems to want to say something.”
    “Can I be the reporter?” he asks.
    I hand him the microphone.
    “My name is Wally Barnes reporting that the guy living next door to me is a busybody and a crybaby. If he minded his own business, he would not have a broken nose. Give me that,” Barnes says as he grabs the hundred dollars and goes back to his house.
    “That’s all the time we have for ‘You Make the News.’ Join us for our next live report. Who knows, maybe the report will come from your neighborhood.
    START COMMERCIAL BREAK
    “Did you get all the action?” I ask the producer.
    “Yeah, Dan. But the station manager just called and said this segment is cancelled. He can’t understand why you wanted to do it in the first place.”

  29. frankd1100 says:

    I’d never plagiarize. Embellishment, though, is another word for creativity as far as I’m concerned. For a year I’d known the survival of our radio station was at risk so I’d become ‘creative’ with my broadcasts and the ratings ticked up. It wasn’t enough. Without a surge in the numbers we’d be out of business in six months.

    A few nights back I crossed my Rubicon. I went on air at six p.m. and this was my lead in…

    “A well placed state house source has alleged inappropriate sexual conduct connected to the Executive Office. The Governor’s spokesperson categorically denies such behavior and calls these reports rumor mongering and irresponsible and possibly illegal exploitation, by this reporter.”

    Next day, Tommy Coyle, the Managing Editor, dragged me into an unused conference room, littered with old coffee cups and piles of yellowing scripts.

    “Conor, I’m not going to bullshit you. I don’t believe your story.” When angered Tommy’s bald head turned red and he was scarlet by this point.

    “I’m ordering you to reveal the source to me so I can make a credible statement and maybe avoid a lawsuit!”

    “I’m sorry Tommy. The story’s legitimate and I’m protecting the source no matter what comes of it.”

    Truth is, there was no source. I had created a story based on rumors, common in every administration, hoping we’d smoke out a genuine scandal.

    Betsy Johnson, the high priced litigator from Wayld and Phulof sat beside Tommy, her deep blue eye, (she’d lost the other playing field hockey at Princeton), watched me closely looking for a crack in my resolve, but I didn’t flinch.

    “Look Conor,” she said, “I’ve checked my sources in the state house and nobody believes there’s a sex story involving the Governor’s office. So if this is a creation of yours retract it at the top of tonight’s edition before the police get involved.”

    I got lucky. It turned out that the State Police were involved. The Governor, it was revealed, had been working the ‘stick’ of her State Police chopper pilot during away games. Genuine sources, figuring the word was already out, joined the chorus and the Governor was forced to resign. She entered a sexual addiction clinic in Palm Springs where she’d be ‘cured’ in a month and eventually get back in the game.

    ***
    I met Betsy for lunch at Jimmy’s Sidewalk Cafe. She wore sensible red heels, a red dress molded to her body, and a red eye patch. She looked great, though very unhappy with me.

    “I’m assuming attorney client privilege Attorney Johnson?” I said.

    “Conor, you got away with this one but you’ve painted a target on your back. These guys are patient.”

    “Try the wine Betsy. It’s a nice Cabernet,” I said, changing the subject.

    She smiled and shook her head. “I give up,” she said.

    “Better wait until you hear tonight’s story,” I said.

    She choked and sprayed a mouthful of wine over the front of her dress.

  30. EW.Brown says:

    ‘So go get me it baby, lies anything just make it up but get me my scoop. Give me something that will make our readers scream, something they can get there teeth into… something juicy.’

    A shudder ran down my spine on his last words. Choosing to ignore his leering, I turned on my heel and walked out of his office. Mark my boss had been at it for years and I’d put up with it for years. With his fake teeth, smile and open necked medallion clad shirts that greeted the eye with what can only be described as a shag pile rug, he was enough to make anyone cringe to the tips of their toes.

    The sad thing was, Mark had a wife and she was so sweet. I had met Joan a few times and each time I always thought her sweeter than the last. Mark and Joan were both in their early 60′s and to be fair Mark did not deserve her. She was a beautiful woman both inside and out and it almost left one wondering just why would she end up with some one like Mark. I had come to the conclusion that it wasn’t for his money because Joan had done well for her self over the years as a Florist. With years of hard work she was now the owner of a chain of shops and and online delivery service which she had built up all on her own. Her father was also wealthy, so this always left me wondering why she chose to stay with him.

    Making my way out of the elevator leaving my train of thoughts behind me I walked out into the main foyer of our building. TMC news had been my life now for 20 odd years. Through hard graft, perseverance and a few top scoops I had worked my way to the top. But today my boss Mark the creep, had asked me to do the unthinkable. Something I had never ever done in all my years as a journalist. He’d asked me to lie, fake a story and I also knew that if I didn’t do as he requested, then my job was on the line.

    I’d often thought about walking out. I’d even visualized it more than a few times telling him to shove his job where the sun don’t shine. But who was I kidding? I was a single, forty something and stuck in a rut. In reality Mark would say jump and I would ask how high. In my dreams, I’d see myself pouring hot coffee into his sweaty crotch and walking out the door to the rest of my life. But I suppose we can all dream hey.

    Pushing my way through the hustle and bustle of the high street I made my way to Maisie’s cafe’ and ordered my usual lunch of tuna jacket potato. Seating myself in my usual far corner table my eyes scanned the cafe’ and rested on a young girl. She must have been in her early twenties and had on a bright red coat that clashed with her fiery long red hair. My first thought was of how pretty she was, that not many could get away with wearing a coat that bright against the color of her hair. She had a sad faraway look in her eyes that tugged at my heart.

    ‘Penny for them.’

    The red headed girl looked towards me, eyeing me suspiciously.

    ‘Sorry,’ I laughed. ‘I didn’t mean to disturb you. The names Livvie and I was just admiring your coat thinking how well it complemented your hair.’

    I held out my hand to her waiting for her to take it. I thought she would almost refuse as she hesitated for a moment or two.

    ‘Sarah, the names Sarah, its nice to meet you.’

    ‘And you too, you seemed miles away then. I don’t mean to pry but is every thing okay? you seem a bit edgy.’

    I half expected her to jump up and tell me to mind my own business. But she did exactly the opposite and after an hour of her pouring her heart out to me I finally got to the bottom of her worried expression…

    The next morning with gritty eyes I made my way to our top floor office. I’d stayed awake all night just to get Mark his story and it was lies he wanted, so it was sure as hell lies he would get. I sat patiently waiting at my desk, with my cup of coffee it was 7:30 am but I knew it would only be a matter of time before Mark burst through the door. It was just before 8:00 am, that as predicted he came storming through them screaming and cursing.

    Throwing down the morning edition newspaper he demanded to know what my game was, what the hell did I think I was playing at. A smile spread across my face as I read the head line.

    ‘CHIEF EDITOR MARK WHITE CAUGHT IN A SORDID AFFAIR’

    Yes the girl in the bright red coat had been more than willing to tell me everything after a little coaxing. It had turned out that she was a high paid prostitute and after months of their sordid little affair he had left her high and dry owing her grands. She had also been only to happy to share some pictures she had of them together.

    ‘What the hell have you done to me Livvie, you’ve ruined me,’

    Mark looked at me ashen faced, as though he was almost about to burst into to tears.

    ‘Its all lies, every bit of it. No one is going to believe it Livvie, those pictures have been photo shopped.’

    I watched now with great pleasure as I watched this revolting man sink down into his seat. Slowly I stood up from mine and made my way over to him.

    ‘But I thought that’s what you wanted Mark? didn’t you say only yesterday, lies anything just make it up, get me my scoop.’

    Then removing the lid from my steaming coffee, I poured it into his sweaty crotch and turned on my heel, walking out to the rest of my life.

    • don potter says:

      So many writers seem to leap at the concept of ‘take this job and shove it.’ All I can hope is no one acts on this thought unless they are independently wealthy or have another job waiting in the wings. Nonetheless, I like reading about the power of one’s convictions and the guts to act on these believes.

    • Nice and honest with your characterization of integrity. You punched this one through quite well.

  31. PeterW says:

    News. Interview with that lady on the bus…
    (sorry this is really bad writing)

    I was nervous… wracked and breathless nervous… shallow breathing, that sort of thing. It was the interview of my life. It was on a jiggling city bus. It was mfing crowded, intense, it was crowded with soulless people, headphoned, slightly but barely perceptibly bobbing via neck, yet shaking and bump-agitated via the bus’s path over bumps, over road cracks, over trash, thrown, ejected from windows, with terrible suspension.

    And dammit I approached. Dammit the she was alone (how) on a crowded city bus, both seats vacated on each side of her. Both with incredibly cheap patterned cloth-felt visible, actually on either side of her, like actual empty seats, on nasty city bus seatback and I approached, emerged, condensed from the crowd of ‘ordinary’ comuters, all buzzing with phones and headphones. This was the interview. This was my damn chance, dammit.
    Ok, so I was going to get fire by my asshole boss, if I didn’t come up with something original. (3 murders per year (2 domestic, 1 armed robbery), 59 rapes, and 2102 assaults in a city of 200 thou is not the best for a reporter) (I mean I wrote 17 articles on a single manslaughter case where a shy, timid boyfriend accidently killed his girlfriend by feeding her iguana meat, and this girl really liked iguana meat, sosss…)

    What do you actually say to the crazy schizophrenic lady with fourteen plastic bags full of junk, a decrepit backpack, zipper opened, wheat-grain-lowest-shelf bread visible; a lady who rubs her palms together and closes her eyes like she is praying, like she is transcendental and her palms rub so hard they make a smacking sound, and you can her words like, ‘FBI’, and ‘transmitter,’ and ‘Gulag,” and this lady is having a conversation with who?…. The invisible person in front of her intense, magnet blue eyes, the spirit of a dead commuter in the aisle; could it be that she speaks to someone we can’t see, but someone who is actually there, because she certainly seems sure of it.

    We believe in miracles if it’s Jesus Christ, but a foul, smelly lady on the bus… she is talking to no one; she is insane.

    I realize she was probably beautiful. Without her molten, bunching, rippled face of lava, she would be still have beauty. God dammit who was this girl in highschool, who now carries all her processions in plastic bags, who talks to no one, when there are a plethora of humans (so-called) seated around her, who smells of endless bathless days, of poverty and homelessness and halitosis and certainly aloneness, most certainly isolation; who was this girl, still thin, still with intense, blue, magnet eyes, with sculpted chin and high forehead; who was this girl in highschool, before she did too many drugs, tricks, before evolution, or genetics or environment or whatever made her talk to the invisible, astral spirits on the city bus, instead of the visible, astral spirits on iphones and in conversations over waves in the air, who?

    Look, she doesn’t talk to me. I sit there and the smell is unbearable. She knows I’m there though. Me, a spirit, perhaps; a ghost reporter searching for death, in a stupid deathless city. Me, not quite dead, but wanting death. Oh, she mumbles now when I approach, quieter than before; and her foul breath is on me, magnet eyes looking anywhere but me… this is the interview… she doesn’t answer… she rubs her hands hard in front of her face, and all the other zombies look, then are too polite to keep looking.

    There is no interview. We are in different worlds. Dammit, we are on different busses. Dammit, we are headed in different directions. But, I know, we were beautiful and smooth when we were young and we will be withered and carved out when old; and that at each point we will see different things…

    Skin jiggles on the bumpy bus.

  32. W Brown says:

    I sat there a little stunned, reflecting on what my boss had just told me. “Now’s you’re chance to be creative.” I wondered for a second if this had happened before. What was I thinking, of course it had. He wouldn’t have out of the blue told me to do something like this if it had never been done before. How many times had a “news story” in actuality been fiction?

    I quickly looked at today’s newspaper for inspiration. Nothing was coming to mind. I started to skip over the financial section then decided to peek at some of the companies in my meager portfolio. Sighing, I closed the paper.

    In the hope that a change of venue would provide some inspiration, I decided to get out of the office.

    I walked to a nearby cafe and took a seat outside on the patio. I noticed a woman at another table reading a magazine. The cover of the magazine showed a doctor wearing a surgical mask and holding up a syringe filled with a liquid.

    I returned back to the office thinking that something medically related would be good. I opened my desk drawer to take out a notepad to start brainstorming when I spotted the bottle of vitamin C I kept on hand. I always took one with my lunch. It was almost as if a light bulb went on over my head. I gripped the bottle of vitamin C and stared at it for a moment. Then I quickly shoved it back into the drawer and faced my computer. I had some research to do.

    A few hours later I emailed the story to my boss. He replied a few minutes later and said it was good to go. It would air the next morning. I went down to the studio and did the recording.

    Smiling, I called my broker and told him to move all of my money to Miller Pharmaceuticals. He scoffed and tried to tell me it was not a good idea, don’t put all of your eggs in one basket, diversify, etc. etc. But, I shut him up and told him to just do it.

    I went home that night feeling like celebrating but I had to wait. It would still be a few months before I would reap the rewards of my story.

    The next morning I woke up and remembered what I thought was the perfect headline for my story: “Doctors Mandate Large Doses of Vitamin C to Fight Deadly New Supervirus”.

    I jumped out of bed and turned on the TV.

    “In a stunning development, the FDA announced that it has shut down operations of Miller Pharmaceuticals. Miller is one of the country’s largest manufacturers of vitamins and supplements. Industry insiders say they don’t believe the company can recover from all of the allegations the FDA has cited. They range from fraud to serious concerns about the safety of their products. The FDA is urging anyone who has products manufactured by Miller to not ingest them.”

    I sank to the floor, frozen with shock. Just then, my cell phone rang. I stumbled over to it and looked at the caller ID. It was my boss.

    “Hey, I wanted you to know we didn’t use your story. Today is turning out to be a busy news day. There’s a big story about Miller Pharmaceuticals…”

    • Kerry Charlton says:

      Murphy’s law has risen it’s ugly head once more. I liked your story a lot. Miller Pharmaceuticals will probably offer a job to you to rebuild their public image and you’ll rise like a rocket on Mafison avenue until you forget and step on a crack in the sidewalk and it’ll start all over again.

    • Evil Big Pharma strikes again! I like how you laid this out. It could easily be developed in to a longer piece, so long as you didn’t fall into the familiar territory this trods.

    • jhowe says:

      Nicely done. I liked how you set up the dialogue of the TV announcer and the boss without using tags.

    • don potter says:

      Good take on the prompt. I didn’t see the ending coming until it was too late. I enjoyed the read.

    • tremain says:

      Here’s a Charmsville, S.C. shocker: This just in from our neighbors across the river Snake – all that separates the good and bad around here – and no surprise to the good folks on our side who’ve known they bad don’t change their skin often enough . . . Seems that sassy Mazy Bumpkus left her home before sunrise to walk to work at the home of Mrs. Wright, on our side, where she is employed as a maid, when she was abducted by one of her own kind and held for ransom. Os so someone would have us believe.
      A note was delivered to Mrs. Wright’s home on the hill in Charmsville Estates as the sun came up. It reads:
      “We are disparate people. We are holding Mazy Bumpkus prisoner in our hands, holding her for money for her safe return to you all. We are not fearing to hurt and torture Mazy if you don’t call right away. Do not call the cops.”
      The abductors gave a number to contact them. Eugenia Wright, one of Charmsville’s leading citizens, followed the promptings of her intelligent heart and contacted the police who took charge of the situation in her lovely home.
      Mrs. Wright had scheduled a gala for that afternoon and now, without Mazy, the hostess was shy one servant and beside herself. There was every chance of a slip up and something going terribly wrong. What if the canapés weren’t warm enough? What if a guest was looking for a powder room and no one was there to direct them? Viewers can imagine Mrs. Wright’s anguish. On top of that she was being held to account for Mazy’s life and the possible loss of her ransom.
      When she had calmed herself, Mrs. Wright made the call while the police listened in and traced it. These nefarious denizens of the netherworld told her to meet them in one hour with $5,000 behind the Charmsville Social Club, a notorious institution utilized by numerous shady characters on the other shore of the Snake. Loyal and dedicated, Mrs. Wright, wanting only to free Mazy from her kidnappers, composed herself. Her own trial was at hand. The police rushed to prepare their trap for the capture of the perpetrators. They hoped the man meeting her behind the club would lead them to Mazy but they could not be certain and would have to remain under cover while they followed him.
      Our intrepid but anxious Mrs. Wright did her duty and delivered the ransom. She was a nervous wreck, she said later, but probably all the more convincing for it to the criminal who took the ransom from her shaking hands. He led them to the criminal’s lair where they found Mazy no worse for wear and, in fact, in cahoots with her captor associates. The three people, two men and Mazy Bumpkus, were arrested.
      Mrs. Wright had much to talk about at her fete, which came off as scheduled and to some acclaim.

  33. calicocat88 says:

    Desperate situations will make you do anything. Things that I swore I’d never do seemed to be popping up in my path more and more these days. When witches lie there has to be a balance in the atmosphere which means that the lie has to be made a truth. Of course we don’t have any control of how that happens. So my job was hanging by a thread, a very deceptive and disgusting thread, and in order to survive I had to lie. Not that I wasn’t lying every day of my life anyway. The world wasn’t ready for the revelation of witches.

    Standing at the dark mouth of the ally, I adjusted the microphone pinned to my blouse and worried about the potion I had boiling in the cauldron back at the house. It would never be done in time and I’d have to act fast. The scuttling in the trash cans reminded me that I was out of rat tails. I’d chop a few up after the broadcasting—

    “Casey, you’re on in five,” Stan said, behind the camera. He leaned forward slightly. “Did you really witness the murder? I mean, someone killing the local priest. It’s pretty sick even for this town.”

    “Yeah, it was horrible.”

    Lie.

    “It’s amazing that you’re even able to do the story,” Stan needed to shut up before I turned his tongue into a lizard. “I would need some serious therapy if it were me.”

    “Uh, huh,” I was in such deep poop that I was beginning to stink. Sweat began to soak the backs of my knees. How was I going to pull off a story that I had made up in all of three hours? A small confusion spell on the police officers got me off without the proof of a body. But once it wore off? My boss was even more difficult to convince considering he was the one encouraging the lies and deceit. His drink was left unattended for five minutes and my sister had conveniently made too much sleeping potion. Let me just say that sleep aids don’t have anything on one of those babies.

    A crowd of people had conglomerated behind Stan—I was lucky he wasn’t quick enough to notice that there wasn’t a massacred priest outlined in chalk anywhere in sight. He was raising his hand counting down on his fingers. My time was running out fast.

    Maybe if I conjured a spirit…? No, too risky to play with the dead. Demons and Angels were far too similar and even more difficult to cast away once summoned. Was I powerful enough to cast an amnesia spell large enough for the whole area? Possibly, but would that draw attention from the other local witches?

    Stan’s voice rang out over the mutterings in the crowd. “We’re on in five, four, three, two…”

    “I’m Casey Matthews with the evening news and right now in the heart of Hattiesburg, Mississippi I am standing outside a horrific scene—“ My heel caught on a crack in the pavement and that’s when I smelled it.

    Like a mixture of road kill and sour meat, it wafted under my nose gagging me. An eruption passed over the crowd. Shouts of disgust and horror filled the night. I looked past the camera at Stan. He was pale and looked like he was about to pass out. A ghostly hand seemed to grab my shoulders and turned me around. Looking down, my stomach gurgled as the body of a priest materialized; his fleshy arm was outstretched and laying across my stilettos. He peered up at me in a permanent wide-eyed grimace.

    Sirens blared and policed were suddenly flooding the small space of the ally way, pinning me to wall and slapping handcuff around my wrists.

    “Casey Matthews,” the officer said. “You’re under arrest for the murder of Father Ezra.”

    The truth was taking its payment…in my blood.

  34. NEWSWORTHY
    ============

    David Pemberton leaned into the mirror and fussed over the crow’s feet starting to creep into his face. He liked the look he was cultivating. While Janice suffered the ravages of age, being a man gave him the edge. His face was one of trust and integrity, all wrapped up in salt-and-pepper hair and white teeth. He smiled at his image and it smiled back. This was good.

    “You look like a predator, Davey,” came the slightly nasally voice from behind him. David was startled and annoyed.

    “David. Janice, it’s always been David.”

    “Whatever, Davey. Listen, good luck tonight. You’ll need it.”

    “What the hell is that supposed to mean?”

    “Tut-tut, Davey. Language.”

    “You don’t scare me anymore, bitch. The desk is mine now. Get over it, you old battle-axe.”

    “Such epithets don’t become you, Davey. Anyway, best of luck.”

    With that, she swung her hips away and headed off to the makeup room to see what miracles could be performed. Janice still had the second chair to fill.

    He still had a couple of hours before the broadcast. David skirted past craft-services and ducked into the green room to review the news lineup. It was a small station and everyone did their part. Two camera operators and a director-slash-editor made up the production crew. Janice would do weather and entertainment. He got the prime cuts: news, sports and the closing happy story. David’s job was to be trusted and beloved, to sell the news. Janice was just a placeholder until Wendy Larson was ready. Then it was out to pasture for the veteran. Good luck in print! Maybe you can start a blog! David chuckled at the thought.

    Christian came in the room and made a dry coughing gesture. David looked up. His boss was fidgety and uncomfortable.

    “You got a minute?” It wasn’t really a question. David didn’t answer and waited for the old man to continue. “Anything unique in the program tonight?”

    “Just the usual. Fire, theft and mild suburban mayhem. Oh, a lost dog came home. So, there’s that.”

    “That’s it?” Christian started pacing, an unbecoming habit for him.

    “That’s it.” Back and forth, back and forth. David watched the human pendulum swing and let the worry fill the room.

    Christian broke first. He never liked the young buck, but such were the cards dealt. “Damn it, David. Don’t be so blasé about it. You know this place is on the verge of tanking.”

    “The Mustangs lost again and Valentino wants his money, huh?” He couldn’t resist the jibe.

    “How’d you know that?” He shook his head. “Never mind. He’s the least of our worries. They’re gone. All of ‘em.”

    David played dumb. “Who?”

    “The sponsors, numb-nuts. Who else matters?” Check. You can officially add hand-wringing to the list.

    “Should I be looking, chief?”

    “Nice try. We both know you’ve got nowhere to go. Janice wouldn’t play ball. You’re anchor now. I don’t care if you have to make shit up. Get me some fucking eyeballs.”

    It was a constant game of one-up-manship between David and Christian. Both men had their eye on young Wendy these days. Not that it mattered in the grand scheme of things. She was out of their league in more ways than one.

    Christian stared his best boss-man stare. David considered pushing further. Not worth it. Too easy. He blinked instead. “You got it, boss.”

    Obviously, David didn’t have it all. Nuthin, nada, zip. Then it dawned on him. Perfect! Not much time though. His fingers whirled over his phone as he quickly set to work. He had time for one small errand.

    At two-minutes to go-time, David sat at the anchor’s desk – his desk. He felt calm and cool as lake water on a hot day. On the other hand, Christian was freaking out. Janice was nowhere to be found and she wasn’t answering hails.

    “Where the hell is she?” Christian asked his non-responsive phone.

    David answered “She’s not coming. Stay in the truck, chief. I got this.”

    Christian was about to go toe-to-toe with the smart-ass, cameras-a-rollin’ or not, when Wendy blew in sporting a pretty yellow dress. “Wendy? What the blazes is going on?”

    “Relax, Christian,” said David. “Trust me.” He turned to Wendy. “You ready?”

    The girl nodded. She was indeed ready, and had been for a while. Janice kept the thumb screws down, that’s all. Well, those days were done. David was going to have more than eyes on Wendy later. Sorry, boss. Maybe next time.

    Cameraman Joe dimmed the lights and turned on the pots. “In four… three…” The last two-second dead-quiet felt like an eternity for Christian. He had no choice but to run with whatever gambit David was playing. All bets laid, hands off the table. Spin the wheel.

    Show time. Queue music, camera-one on the desk. Doesn’t Wendy look pretty? Isn’t David so dapper-looking? Don’t they make a lovely pair? Fade out music, camera-two on David.

    “Tonight’s top story. An exclusive anonymous tip to this station and the local authorities hits close to home. Michael Valentino has just been arrested for extortion, racketeering and several organized crime-related offenses. He has been detained and will be arraigned in the morning. Mister Valentino is also being questioned for the suspected murder of our own Janice Henderson.”

  35. LizzieC says:

    Sorry, I’m just over the 500 words – twelve to be exact!
    ………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………
    John tossed the camera into the back of the TV News van and got into the passenger seat.
    “Where are we going?”
    “I’ve got to interview that woman who says she talks to aliens!”
    “God, Lisa, is Mike that desperate for news?”
    “You know how it is, the station, well the network, is in a dodgy way right now and Mike says we’ve got to make the story enthralling to our viewers.”
    “But she’s a crackpot. I know the last time anyone interviewed her they never used it.”
    “Well this time it will be different.”
    Mary Callaghan lived in a small house on the edge of town. By the time the news team arrived it was already getting dark.
    “Come in, come in,” she welcomed them. Mary Callaghan was a small round woman, in her mid-sixties, with a shock of white unruly hair, rosy cheeks and sparkling blue eyes.
    “Can I get you a cup of cocoa? This is the time of the evening when I have mine.”
    “We will have one after I have done the interview,” Lisa replied.
    Camera equipment set up Lisa started the interview.
    ‘How often do you see the aliens?”
    “Quite frequently. I would say about at least once a month if not more.”
    “And how do they get here?”
    “By their space ship, of course. They land in the field over there.” She gestured with a wave of her hand towards the window and the field beyond.
    “And what does it look like?”
    “Like a space ship, err flying saucer.”
    “And the colour?”
    “”Silver with red stripes along one side.”
    John rolled his eyes; this woman was hallucinating for sure and they were going to put this on the six o’clock news!
    “What do these aliens look like? Are they green?”
    “Good heavens no! They are not much different from you or me. The leader has a beard and reminds me of Abraham Lincoln, but without the hat. He speaks our language but with quite a strong accent. Sometimes a woman comes with him but she does not have much to say. They are both very tall. Gives me a crick in the neck to look up at them. They wear silver suits that have a computer thing – well that’s what it looks like – on the front.”
    “Where do they come from or haven’t they said?”
    “They haven’t really said but it’s a galaxy far from ours. They told me that they are here to study the people on earth. I find it really exciting that they have chosen me.”
    Lisa continued the interview for another five minutes then said, “I think we can wrap up now, John. Thank you Mary, our viewers will be very interested in your story.”
    “I’ll get your cocoa now,” and off she went to the kitchen.
    As they drove off Lisa glanced back at the house and there behind it was a silver spaceship.
    “John, did you see that?”
    “Errr what?”
    “Maybe I am dreaming but I’m sure I saw a spaceship!”
    “Maybe it something in that cocoa!” he laughed.

  36. More than A Legend…Sign of the Times?

    Transcript of report originally aired on WCCF News, anchorwoman Kandake

    St. John’s, N.L. – Strange new weather systems aren’t alone with creating quite a stir in the media. Dr. Zach Goff of the National Cryptozoology Center of America has documented proof the Loch Ness monster is more than a legend—and has been spotted in the Gulf of St. Lawrence off the coast of Newfoundland and Labrador.

    Apparently while vacationing with his family in Blow Me Down National Park, N.L., Dr. Goff sighted this sea beast swimming towards Saint Anthony, perhaps towards the Atlantic Ocean. What makes this even more bizarre is the monster, or Nessie as affectionately called, is several hundred miles away from its home of Scotland.

    For inquiring minds, Nessie was originally thought to be a legend that reached international fame in the 1930s. However, it appears that many natives of the Loch Ness region believe this is more than an allegorical motif used to teach life lessons. On the other hand, skeptics in the science community have reached a consensus that it is nothing more than an old wives’ tale or hoax.

    After being taunted by fellow scientists, Dr. Goff had this to say:

    I too was once leery of this beast though my field is devoted to the study of sea creatures. Maybe I am a bit of a ‘doubting Thomas’ and had to see it first in order to accept its existence—I know what I saw and will not retract my statement. The seal-plesiosaurus hybrid called the Loch Ness Monster is indeed alive and well. Our focus and debates should not be centered on its reality but now we should determine why it has been seen in America.

    With that, I leave you with this thought: animals are known to predict unusual occurrences on earth—tsunamis, earthquakes, volcanic activity, etc.—by displaying a change in their behavioral patterns. So to see this sea creature at least 2000 miles from its native Scotland–is it a sign of the times?

    This is Kandake with WCCF News, goodnight.

  37. tmcasler says:

    If I had wanted to make up news, I would have taken a job at the tabloids. Not caring enough to hide my mounting frustration, I let out a long sigh through pursed lips. My makeup artist squinted her eyes as I accidently blew right into her face, and then simply walked away. Oh great, now I probably look like Harvey Kent. Perfect. This is not what I spent 5 years studying journalism to end up doing.
    I looked up at the production box where I knew my manager was sitting. He had waited till an hour before my segment to tell me we needed something fresh and more interesting than any other news station. “Make it up, but make it good,” He had commanded before waddling his rotund hindquarters out of my office.
    Now minutes before I was live in front of all 3 of our viewers, I still had no idea what I was going to say. Throughout the rest of the news they had been hinting towards the breaking story I was to share, each anchor adding a few more tag words I was to incorporate somehow.
    I walked up and stood on my mark. No need to look at the blank teleprompter, this one was all on me. What the freak do they expect from me? Am I supposed to talk about aliens or something? I was positively livid at my boss for putting me in a position that was bound to make me look stupid. The on-air light blinked on and I watched the prompter count down and then point to me. Habit gave me the opening, “This just in…” and then I paused staring at the blinking light of the camera. I realized I was clenching my sweaty palms in rage. “This just in,” I repeated, “I quit.”

  38. JRSimmang says:

    HE SAID IT WAS OKAY

    They didn’t tell me how hot the lights were going to be. I was schwitzing like a stuck pig. Real attractive, Len, real attractive.

    “You’re on in five… four…” And the cameraman stopped talking, started signaling, and pointed to me. That little red light flashed on and off, on and off.

    For a few seconds, there was air silence, something feared on TV. But, no one was watching anyway, so I probably could have stared at the camera all night without a single tick on the ratings board.

    You see, Ol’ Lenny here had to come up with something juicy to save the station. There’s a problem with that, though. I couldn’t very well create a story without an ending, could I? If it turned out that my story, the one I fabricated on live-feed, didn’t jibe, the station would only be labeled as unreliable and fluffy. So, I had to do it right.

    First, I contacted July Ennis. She’s a bit older than I usually like, but that just meant she was vulnerable. She and I spoke over the course of three weeks, at night, over wine and oil. I enjoyed it, sure.

    You see, when an inmate dies, they take his body to the morgue. There, the family is contacted to see what they want to with the body. If there is no family, the body is property of the state. The body could go to the colleges for dissections, go to art installations, medical schools, or be cremated. They don’t do that stuff at the prison. Too messy, so they transport the bodies to the coroners.

    I had to stop at Krieger-Pearl-Fontaine. Dr Pearl was usually the one who drained the blood and replaced it with formaldehyde. He was also a fan of eugenics, something I didn’t know until we met over coffee.

    “Sometimes, you just have to let these people kill. It thins the herd. Makes the others stronger,” he told me while the coffee swirled in his mug.

    “So, you’d be okay with this?”

    “Of course. Plus, that means I and my two partners get more business. It’s a win-win.”

    Then, the bodies disappear. Funny thing that, when a person is alive, it’s a person. When dead, it’s a corpse. It’s easy for them to disappear. Contrary to popular belief, the dead is dead and silent.

    I stared at that flashing red light. The cameraman cued me again and I spoke, “Good evening, ladies and gentlemen. Uday Parnham, a name I don’t think we’ve forgotten, nor ever will, has escaped from Faraday Correctional. As you may well know, Parnham was dubbed ‘Mr Nice Guy’ for the bodies he left scattered over this country all had smiles on their faces. Trust no one, he’s back.”

    The lights went out on the stage.

    “Good one, Lenny.” My boss hobbled over to me. “It’s a good thing that one’s not true. The public is going to eat that one up.”

    I stifled a chuckle. “Glad I could help, Westy. Glad I could help.” The public, hah. We’ll see.

    -JR Simmang

    • Kerry Charlton says:

      The public is never completely fooled, as Lenny apparently knows. Obviously, Uday has already died and the corpse has mysteriously vaporized. At least that’s the way I read it. Good story.

    • smallster21 says:

      I’m a bit confused about what exactly happened here. Did Uday die and the coroner disposed of his body, so Lenny could fabricate this story? If that is the case, I don’t believe they could hide Uday’s death from the public, unless the prison is in on the scheme as well. Not sure how eugenics fits in either, how is their scheme going to manipulate the dynamics of the population?

    • This is interesting, JR. I’m a little lost on what actually happened. There are a few dangling plot threads to pick up for expansion later. If nothing else, you’ve hooked the reader for a little bit more.

    • JRSimmang says:

      Thanks for the feedback, everyone. I would like to make an excuse and say it was the 500 word limit, but there are definitely some things that need to be changed. The story in the middle is going through Lenny’s head as the camera is trained on him, waiting for him to speak. I thought about adding on my conclusion, so here it is:

      When I got home that night, the door was unlocked and ajar. He was here, I knew he was. He was probably sitting at my dining room table with a pot of coffee on.

      “I saw the news.” His voice, gravel and soot, came from the kitchen.

      “And?”

      “When can we get started.”

      I smiled again. Father and son.

    • don potter says:

      I want to know the rest of the story. Nice read with an ending that has me wondering and wanting more.

  39. Kerry Charlton says:

    KRAP AM
    Dimwit, Texas

    I sat at a broadcast booth in a dingy radio station, forgotten by mankind.

    “Good mornin’ partners, this is Jimmy Danglefoot reporting KRAP AM news.”

    Shoving in two commercial carts, one for Wheaties, The Breakfast Of Champions and the other for a child’s wood-burning kit from Montgomery Ward’s, I watched our station manager, hand crank the emergency generator. The power company had cut our electricity off, but with a fifteen watt station, the signal would reach from fourth and main to the edge of town.

    All nine hundred and twelve souls in this back-water, West Texas town would be able to hear me today. There existed a major issue however, nobody wanted to. Plus there was no news since Charlie’s sow had given birth to fourteen piglets

    Donald Spreadbutt, the station manager had spoken earlier,

    “You get your dead-ass in the booth and make up whatever fills your pea sized brain today.”

    ‘I’ll show that sonabitch what real imagination sounds like,’ I thought

    “I’m back folks,” I said, “and news is spectacular today. The University of Dimwit in partnership with A and M’s geophysical department has discovered a vast reservoir of oil under Dimwit County, seven billions barrels worth along with thirteen trillion feet of gas.”

    I paused for a moment for effectiveness. Donald’s face had broken into a wide grin and his arm continued to crank the generator.

    “For you plowscappers,” I said “and also you cow sluggers, land men are on the way from major oil companies to negotiate with you. We’re all gonna be rich.”

    I inserted two more carts, one for “Dinky Birds’ and the other for ‘Silly Putty’.

    Donna Nevasayno, our receptionist sat staring at three phone lines lighting up. She shook her long blonde hair, letting it fall between her cleavage.

    “What do you want me to say?” she asked.

    “Just wing it baby; let yourself go.”

    Donna kicked her shoes off, unbuttoned her blouse to a dangerous level and dove into the calls.

    I deciced to ramp the news further.

    “”Listen up you guys,” I announced. “Rusty’s Hidden Tavern on third street just called. Free drinks and food are being served all day and night till two AM in celebration of this momenteous occasion.”

    I slipped in the next cart, an ad for ‘Hadacol’, the miracle cure-all tonic. The WMU ladies from First Baptst, all swore by it, even with the FDA investigating it. Seems like the main ingredient, alcohol made the product sixty proof.

    Taking the mike again, I said,

    “We’re putting the station on automatic, playing your favorite country. Our manager, Donald Spreadbutt will be here to answer any questions you have. As for Donna and myself, we’re heading for Rusty’s. Remember, there’s parking in the rear.”

    As I closed the door behind us, Donna asked,

    You must be crazy, dragging me to Rusty’s; they’ll barbeque us.”

    “I haven’t even thought about it,” I said.

    “Well, where are we headed?” she asked.

    “Either your place or mine.”

    “I thought you’d never ask,” she said.

  40. jhowe says:

    Amanda Burns touched up her makeup using the side mirror of the News 3 utility van. She wiped her palms on her skirt after her eyeliner pencil slipped through her fingers and splashed into the gutter. She swore silently and decided to leave it in the stagnant water that gathered after an early evening shower. The skies were now clearing but Amanda felt no cheer as the cameraman said she was on in ten and proceeded to count backwards.

    When he got to three she transformed into the award winning newswoman the good people of West Michigan trusted and welcomed into their homes every week night at six and eleven. “This just in,” said the stunning woman in a black suit who any man, or many women for that matter, would be proud to take home to meet the folks. “I’m here at the scene with police Chief Edgar Riley of the Battle Creek Police Department.” She paused slightly as the camera panned to the nervous looking lawman. “The mischievous criminal dubbed by local police as “The Cereal Stalker” has struck again.”

    Amanda struggled to smile light heartedly as she continued, “The trouble making prankster who frightens and delights the citizens of Battle Creek wearing elaborate costumes of various breakfast cereal characters has apparently gone too far this time.” The story was on fire around the Battle Creek area. Everyone was talking about it and ratings were through the roof.

    “About an hour ago, the Cereal Stalker graced the downtown area wearing his Tony the Tiger head but allegedly, uh, nothing else.” She turned to the Chief. “Chief Riley, according to statements from multiple witnesses, the Stalker was parading the streets in an apparent state of, uh, what I mean is…”

    “He was in a state of arousal Amanda,” the Police Chief said.

    “Yes, uh,” Amanda continued. “Many people are upset about this as you can imagine. You say there have been no arrests made at this time Chief?”

    “No, he has eluded capture so far but we have some leads we are following up on.”

    Amanda said, “Our calls to Kellogg’s for comment have so far been unanswered. We will continue to bring you this breaking story as it unfolds. Amanda Burns, News Channel 3.”

    Abruptly, Amanda removed the microphone clipped to her lapel and strode down the sidewalk and turned a corner. She reached a recessed doorway, ducked in, picked through her purse for her phone and dialed. “Bobby, you dumb shit… no… that was not discussed… no, you are through… listen to me… you won’t be paid this time…” She heard a sound behind her and turned while pushing the end button. Chief Edgar Riley held his phone up, recording Amanda’s conversation. “I can explain,” she said.

    • Kerry Charlton says:

      Caught in a stiffened lie, stood Amanda. The goods were shafted to her. Only one way Amanda could get away now was enticement of Chief Edgar Riley. She probably figured better Chief Riley than the slammer. Good story, jhowe. I can visualize Tony Tiger parading down the street; a pretty sight, it’s not.

    • smallster21 says:

      A continuation from last prompt, awesome :) So, how does Steve fit in? I just find it curious that Steve works for Post and Kellogg mascots are parading around the town and looking in his window. Is Amanda just trying to generate a news story, or is there something else going on here? If you continue this story, I look forward to seeing how this comes full circle. I think you should amp up the prank, pump it up and make it more nonsensical or maybe it turns deadly.

    • Ok, I’d love for you to stitch these last two prompts together. It’s hilarious.

    • frankd1100 says:

      Well written… Tight, smooth and clear, descriptive imagery.

    • don potter says:

      Better watch out, the Cereal Stalker may become so agitated he might turn into a Cereal Killer. Sorry, but I couldn’t resit making this comment. Loved your story!

    • MCKEVIN says:

      I would love to hear what she has to say and why is our person aroused? Good job. I hope you get a chance to continue.

  41. agnesjack says:

    1:00 p.m.
    BREAKING NEWS: Are dryer sheets causing mental illness? Details at 11:00.

    2:12 p.m.
    Boy, 4, starts making faces at his mother and giggling uncontrollably after eating a used dryer sheet that she accidentally dropped on the floor. Are our children in danger? Story at 11:00.

    3:51 p.m.
    Babysitting Grandma hallucinates after taking laundry out of the dryer. Begins singing old Barry Manilow songs and blowing kisses at an invisible audience. Her horrified grandchildren take refuge in a neighbor’s house. Disturbing details at 11:00.

    4:49 p.m.
    Man, 52, runs, naked, out of his house, refusing to wear the clothes his wife had just washed for him. “It’s the itchiness!” he screams, as his wife frantically chases him down the street with his overcoat. “They’re trying to get to me through my skin!” Another dryer sheet victim? Video at 11:00.

    6:14 p.m.
    Manufacturers mysteriously mum on the growing dryer sheet scandal. Coverage at 11:00.

    7:23 p.m.
    An apparent inside source has come forward with information concerning the dryer sheet menace. “It’s neurological!” she claims, “And the White House knows about it!” Our exclusive interview at 11:00.

    8:06 p.m.
    Manufacturer finally responds to the reports of strange behavior (FIRST REPORTED HERE) that appears to be connected to deadly dryer sheets.
    “They are perfectly safe if used properly,” Sara Schmidt, VP of customer relations, cryptically states in an e-mail sent to the network. More at 11:00.

    9:01 p.m.
    SOURCE WHO CLAIMS TO HAVE INSIDER KNOWLEDGE HAS DISAPPEARED. Our informant was last seen having cocktails in a dark corner of a local restaurant, huddled close to an unidentified man. Could this shadowy stranger be connected to the cover-up? Stay tuned for the complete story at 11:00.

    10:11 p.m.
    White House refuses to comment on the disappearance of the dryer sheet whistleblower. When approached about the scandal following a 45 minute briefing on possible strikes on Syria, Press Secretary Jay Carney seemed perplexed and confused. “I’m sorry, what?” he said before being whisked away by his staff. Could that scent coming from his shirt collar be responsible? More at 11:00.

    11:00 p.m.
    TOP STORY: Good evening, this is Frank Franklin with our breaking news story. Reports have been coming in from all over the city regarding unusual behavior apparently linked to the use of deadly dryer sheets. Reporter Meg Morris has been following this story from the beginning. Here is her shocking report. Meg?

    Meg?

    Meg, are you there?

    Meg?

    I apologize, folks, we seem to be having trouble with the feed. As soon as we reconnect with Meg, we’ll bring you her ground-breaking story. In other local news, Mayor Goldblatt says that the indictment passed down by the grand jury this morning is the result of a concerted campaign by his enemies to “taint his good name, the good name of this glorious city, and to undermine the freedom and greatness of the United States of America . . . .”

  42. Disembodied_voice says:

    “Eric, if we don’t get more views, we’ll have to discontinue!”

    The boss is whiney. I tune him out. It’s easy to play into his shenanigans: nod your head to his yapping and pretend to take notes. I shouldn’t be journaling on the back of this invoice, but dammit, I need to blow off some steam. The thought of this news network discontinuing is frightening. I can’t imagine losing this job only to take up a job looking for another job! I’ve got mouths to feed: My wife Carren, our daughter, Jade, and my own obese, snoring-while-wake ass. Though I have fat reserves to survive years, my family can’t eat me..

    “Eric, you listening? You don’t seem to mind unemployment! I otta fire you now!”

    “Look Boss, I’ve got family to feed so I’m as concerned as you! You gonna keep complaining, or start planning?”

    “Eric, you’re trudging a tightrope! With no views, we’re doomed! NO, YOU’RE doomed! I’ll hire another more zealous, even amateur reporter before I—“

    “Listen Luiz, you MAY be boss, but I’m sick of your bickering! Let’s do this! Otherwise, take your middle fingers and—“

    “Wait, I hired YOU to report! Report fiction, it doesn’t matter! I don’t care WHAT you do or HOW, you’ve got a week! ”

    Erics’s Journal: 9/13/2013
    If Luiz threatens me again, I’m gonna FLIP! Anyways, I recall Luiz saying I can write fiction! Good I was recording that meeting! I have him stating I can report fiction verbatim!

    “report fiction, it doesn’t matter! I don’t care WHAT you do or HOW, you’ve got a week! ”

    If I get caught, I’ll blame him. Not many look into sources anymore so I have a great chance of success!

    Eric spent a week writing the most fantastic, grandiose piece his meaty hand ever conjured. He hardly slept, passed on sex, and left Jade to play “squirmy wormies” alone, the game they made up. Eric swore he created perfection. On the morning it was to air, Eric was confident. He practiced his delivery. He knew his conviction would be convincing. Luiz approached Eric.

    “THIS IS IT!” barked Luiz.

    Lights shined on Eric. Video camera aimed.

    “Shoot!”

    “Gooooood-morning, America! You’re tuned into channel twenty-eight news! Just in—the government admits to alliancing with aliens existing in an underwater colony larger than all continents combined!”

    Channel twenty-eight news discontinued. When asked why he would broadcast such an asinine lie, Eric wins sympathies among indignants as he reports the anchor man’s struggle: “I’m the anchor for the people! The rock! I hold that mission close to my heart. It’s a shame that to make sure my family survives, I have to compromise my duties, my code of ethics, my belief in truth. YOU heard the recordings! It was survival.”
    Eric now works as a world class food critic. Many are skeptical of his reviews due to his past blunder. Now Eric’s family eats for a living. Eric wins. As for Luiz, Luiz is Luiz.

  43. snuzcook says:

    Please forgive the 2nd posting–this one is a bit of a soapbox piece.

    “Try it if you want. I’ll give you an afternoon slot.” Frank shook his head. “At this point, I’ll try anything to keep the station on the air.”

    Our small town station is plagued by over-the-hill anchors and inexperienced cookie-cutter reporters who have a hard time competing with the bigger network affiliates. Our one claim to fame is Bonzo the Weather Clown, who incorporates children’s birthday messages with his morning weather forecast.

    In fact, it was Bonzo who gave me my inspiration.

    “I am sitting today with Max Miller. Max is celebrating his 90th birthday today. Max, I understand you were a young infantryman in France in 1944.” Max affirms that he had served, and gives some detail about his division, and where in France he had been. I cut him off before too many memories flood in.

    “Max, is there one particular person from your time in the service that you remember most fondly, someone you knew?” He tells me about a buddy he knew, a young kid very different from himself but in many ways the universal GI, brave, funny, imperfect.

    “Max, is there someone in this town that has made an impression on you? Doesn’t have to be the most important person in your life, or the most spectacular impression. Just someone that comes to mind that left a positive impression.”

    You might think this is a silly question, and that everyone will mention one of the same dozen or so people everyone knows in town. But that is almost never the case. Today Max does what so many people do—he describes an incident of an unexpected kindness done for him by a complete stranger, in this case a long-haired punk kid who offered his help in a time of need.

    Like all the other interviews that we aired, we get lots of mail and texts from viewers who are touched by Max’s story, who have similar stories to tell. And, as happens more often than we ever expected, we end up with a follow up story when an anonymous man contacts us to say he was the long-haired punk kid whom Max had described.

    To end the interview, we have added something ala Bosco that is absolutely unique to our interviews: We ask Max if he has a secret gift or message for someone. He smiles, prepared for the question. He says, “Yes. Tell Amanda to look for an envelope in our favorite book.”

    I may never find out who Amanda is, or what was in the envelope. It is our policy not to ask or share that part. Amazing as it may seem, these folks that we interview, no matter how isolated or physically incapacitated they may be, always manage to come up with something that they have prepared, or arranged to have hidden for them in a special place. They get that same mischievous, delighted glint in their eye as they include us and our viewers in delivering a secret message of love.

  44. snuzcook says:

    When Frank suggested that the only way for us to keep the doors of the station open was to bring in something to excite the viewers, I figured I’d do a John Doe and make up a serial story with a cliffhanger, something to hook our viewers so they would tune in for more.

    Little did I know that building on an anonymous tip that there was something sinister connected to pet disappearances in the West Ridge neighborhood would actually grow legs. Or that I would end up part of the story myself.

    As I figured it, the story could go a number of ways: the emotional effects of the loss of a pet for elderly living in the massive Stone Gardens senior housing community in West Ridge; an exposee on medical research facilities who pay for small animals with no questions asked; even a profile of the urban pet owner, pros and cons. Trite, but done with the right images, the right sympathetic interviews, the right amount of finger pointing and call to action, there could be some longevity to the story.

    Then Frank said, “Something’s not adding up. I need you in the field.” Literally.

    My little terrier, Mitzi, and I staked out the dog run area in West Ridge Park on a rainy, muddy Thursday evening. There were only a handful of hardcore dog owners there with fairly large dogs, the ones that have to have decent exercise regardless of the weather. I was chatting with one guy with a Great Dane mix when I realized that Mitzi was missing. She must have slipped under the enclosure and headed off into the trees.

    It was dark by the time I reached the access road at the back end of the park. I heard Mitzi’s bark coming from the back of a black van pulling away. I could just make out the logo on the side of the van and part of the license plate. I ran back to my car; I knew where to look for the van.

    Ten minutes later, I pulled up to one of the locations we had already featured in an earlier interview. I drove around the complex and through the parking lot, looking for the black van.

    There it was, backed up to a loading dock at the rear of the building. I could see people unloading crates from the van. I got out of my car, filming with my phone as I walked toward the building. One of the men saw me, and they started to shut everything down. The van pulled away.

    “Mitzi!” I called. I could hear her barking suddenly cut off as a large garage door scrolled down, effectively blocking my access. I could make out the words “Kitchen Load and Unload” above the door just before the mass of the black van sped by, spinning me onto the pavement. The last thing I saw was the blur of green lettering: Stone Gardens Senior Living.

    • Observer Tim says:

      I think many people suspect this is happening anyway. At least it doesn’t follow the old stereotype of a restaurant.

      I’m at odds with myself about the warning paragraph (Little did I know …). It eases the shock value at the end, which may or may not be a good thing. As a writer you you get to choose that degree of surprise. I think I would have handled it differently, but it works as written.

    • I like how this wrapped up. Nice take on an old saw.

    • don potter says:

      This story gave me a chill. Guess that’s what you wanted to do. However, the senior living places I’ve been exposed to in Southern California are pretty nice. I can only hope your tale is pure fiction.

  45. Observer Tim says:

    “Hello, Milwaukee! Welcome to another edition of Farrah’s Fugitives, where we listen to the other side of the APB. We begin with an update on Gareth Gordon, last week’s fugitive. He was picked up in Madison on Tuesday and is now in custody. His preliminary hearing is next week.”

    That’s Farrah St. Peter, the rising star at my station. She’s a natural in front of the camera, and forms an instant bond with anyone she interviews. Her big break came two weeks ago when Weatherbee, our producer, gathered the staff for a meeting.

    “We need to spice up the news, people. We’re dead last in viewership. I know you kids won’t like it, but we have to get creative with the news.”

    “You mean fake stories, don’t you?” Brock, was our anchor. “Not going to happen, Bee. That kills careers faster than anchoring the last broadcast of the newsroom.”

    Everyone agreed. We had to think of our jobs after this sweatshop shut down. That’s when Farrah had The Idea.

    “Why don’t we air the back side of the news? Interview people we normally can’t?”

    “Why don’t we just air your backside, Farrah? That would be news.” Terry Coventry had always been a pig.

    “I mean it! Choose something controversial: how about people running from the police? They’d definitely have stories to tell.”

    Weatherbee agreed to give it a trial. The first Friday we aired an interview with Steve Donald, on the run for robbing a bank. It was a hit. Gordon came second: embezzlement. We knew we had a winner.

    “Today we’re meeting with Rob Edelmeier, wanted in connection with a murder in Wausau. So, Mr. Edelmeier, what’s your story? Why do the police want to speak with you?”

    “Hello, Farrah. The police are accusing me of the murder of Wanda Schiller, a convenience store clerk whose naked mutilated body was found yesterday. They say it was done by a big man.”

    He smiled, showing off his six-foot seven frame with arms like tree trunks. The shaved head and unshaved face didn’t help the impression. I figured him for a good suspect.

    “But I’m setting the record straight. I didn’t kill her, she died after she got away from me. I did kill the other four, though.”

    Farrah turned to run but a huge hand grabbed her face and dragged her back. He turned toward me as I backed away.

    “Now you! Camera girly. You finish this story, and if it don’t air tomorrow I’ll start sending Farrah back in little boxes. Got it?”

    “Yes, sir.”

    “So this is Faith Devereaux, concluding the segment with a plea to Mr. Edelmeier. Please don’t hurt Farrah; everyone at the station wants her back safe and sound. Please, turn yourself in so you can get the help you need.” I shut the camera off in tears.

    “That what you wanted, girl?”

    “Yup. My big break. And you’re sure she’ll never be seen again?”

    “Not all at once.” His hand muffled Farrah’s scream.

  46. RiversandRoads says:

    “Is this even legal?” I asked my boss in bewilderment, shocked that who I had always thought to be a man of high moral standing had just requested that I make up some fake news story for better ratings.
    “Sure it is, Tina! It happens all the time. You ever noticed how during election time the news reflects a certain candidates’ agenda? That sure as hell ain’t a coincidence hon.”
    I didn’t want to do this, but I also really didn’t want to lose my job. “Whatever you say, Ron”, I shrugged.
    That night, I racked my brain for story ideas that would get the public’s attention and bring viewers back to News Channel 8. Nothing came to mind, and after successfully wasting my Friday night searching the Internet and watching hours upon hours of YouTube news clips, I gave up and went to bed, turning on the TV to numb my mind. It was pretty late at night, and the SciFi channel was showing this disturbing movie about zombies or some other diseased looking thing causing panic among the populous.
    “That’s it!” I yelled out loud, scaring my cat Buster off the bed. I would go to the local hospital, interview a fake doctor and have him claim that there was some new illness sweeping the area causing people to go on crazy killing sprees. Too excited now to sleep, I began writing a script. I called a few of my actor friends and asked if they would help me on this project. I even texted Ron telling him the idea. He replied saying he was totally onboard.
    It was the day of the newscast, and I was jittery with girlish excitement. We were about to go live, so I put on my best solemn news reporter face. “This is Sarah Hill coming to you live from Memorial hospital with breaking news. There has been an outbreak of a virus which has as of yet not been identified here at Memorial causing its victims to go totally brain dead, only to reanimate and attack anything living in sight.” Nailed it, I thought to myself. I felt like the broadcaster who caused the mass panic in the 1930s, when War of the Worlds was read, causing everyone to think aliens were coming to kill them. Secretly, I wished that would happen here.
    The “doctor” came out of the hospital, running maniacally. There was fake blood on his white coat. Nice touch, I thought. Then a group of about one hundred people came out in a herd behind them. Some were running, eyes wide with fear, and some were sort of stumbling out like a fawn on new legs. This wasn’t part of the script! I was fuming because I wanted to get all of the credit for the hoax, but also in admiration of the dedication and creativity. Some of the running people fell down, and the “zombies” crowded around them.
    Then, I heard a gunshot from somewhere behind me. There were suddenly cops everywhere, and even a tank. I was so confused. Then, suddenly I felt a sharp pain in my arm. I looked down to see blood, my own blood running down my arm onto the face of a corpse… and then everything went black.

  47. shuart24 says:

    Special Report: The Secret of Sparkling Lake

    For years, Sparkling Lake with its crystal clear waters set amid a lush landscape has long been considered fun, and safe, family getaway. Many would say that it is paradise on Earth, but that may all change when our news team reveals the disturbing secret we uncovered in our investigation of the area.

    We found that the deeper we delved (or perhaps dove) into the mystery of the lake the far murkier the truth became. What we uncovered was a tale of myth, mystery, and possible murder.

    Our story begins, of all places, around a campfire. By twilight, the children of Sparkling Lake’s summer camp had all returned from their adventures and taken a seat by the crackling fire, their faces flushed with anticipation for the night ahead. The counselor of this particular group was a tall young man with curly brown hair, a lanky figure, and a gleam in his eye. When his rowdy audience had settled in, he embarked on the tale of the Dead Man’s Pass.

    According to legend, located on the far side of Sparkling Lake is a mysterious waterway, concealed, overgrown, and inaccessible to all but the most daring boaters. Forty years ago, a trio of young men in search of adventure entered this pass. When they didn’t return to their homes that night, the authorities were called in. Not long afterwards, the searchers found an empty canoe drifting in the middle of the lake, coated in blood, and the three men were never heard from again. Local legend claims that a monster resides in the dense jungle surrounding the pass and that all those who enter will suffer the same fate. Hence the pass earned its ominous name.

    Now. Dead Man’s Pass is in fact a real place. However, the story behind its namesake was considered to be a mere tall tale, a story told to deter children from dangerous currents. However, our news team decided to look deeper into this ‘myth.’ What we discovered stunned us all.

    Newspaper clippings from about 40 years ago report the disappearance of three friends while out on the lake. Their last noted location: Dead Man’s Pass. At the time, the papers determined that the three had tragically perished, presumed drowned when they fell into the water. Their bodies were never recovered.

    While the city’s current police chief recited the official storyline, an investigator with the department from 40 years ago remarked that there was “more to the story.” He acknowledged that traces of blood had been found on the shoreline of the pass and that a disturbing note had been discovered in the desk of one of the missing.

    We consider the possibility that a murder took place on the shores of Sparkling Lake. Three men disappeared that day. It’s possible that one is still alive. And if so, then a murderer may in truth be out there, the monster of Dead Man’s Pass.

  48. lostwriter says:

    I see you wrote a children’s story, it’s fun reading.

  49. kkerber says:

    “I need you to make up a story,” he says.
    “You want me to what?”
    “Sharon, we can’t survive another slow news day!” My boss, Aaron told me, “We just can’t take it.”
    “More like slow news month,” I chuckle.
    “Exactly!” Aaron said, “I know you’ve got the hair and the swish and a great resume, but- This baby’s my life!”
    I groan. I hate it when Aaron pulls the “my life’s work card”. Normally, I can pull off the heart of stone routine, but the 60+ Aaron Shulmeter was just too old for our floundering profession.
    That was last week.
    This week, I was standing in front of Sarah Rotmeyer’s dance school taking a story I never though I’d take: Mrs. Rotmeyer’s famous ‘thieving elves’. I figured it was the best I could do. Mrs. Rotmeyer had been wanting me to cover the elves ever since she ‘discovered’ them late last May. We all laughed it off as the forgetfulness of an old woman, which, admittedly, Mrs. Rotmeyer was not generally, but everyone knows there aren’t elves. That is why Mrs. Rotmeyer’s peculiar situation was perfect for our “ratings boosting” scheme.
    “Tonight we bring you startling news in the case of a local’s dance studio matron Mrs. Rotmeyer,” Aaron explains. Now, this part is where the unbelievable comes in, the head turner. A few years back, in Japan, a man found a woman living in his closet. He had noticed his food go missing bit by bit over the last few weeks, but thought he was going crazy. That was until he set up a camera. He caught the woman sneaking out of his closet. My thinking was, would it be so unbelievable that it would happen again? “This video footage shows a man sneaking out of Mrs. Rotmeyer’s cellar. It seems that he has been plaguing the local dance teacher and stealing small objects from her house for years. Back to you Sharon.”
    “Mrs. Rotmeyer, when was the first time you suspected that someone else was living in your house?” I said.
    “Well,” Mrs. Rotmeyer was flabbergasted, almost as shocked as she was the first time we told her, “Honestly, honey, I don’t know. I always thought it was elves or raccoons!”
    “If anyone sees this man, please report his presence to the local authorities,” I say, “Now back to you, Aaron.”
    I take a deep sigh of relief as the cameras turn off. My shift was over. Slowly, I slinked home to my soft warm bed. My eyelids drooped shut. It’s over, I think.
    That was when I started to feel little hands prying open my eyelid.
    I blinked once and then twice and suddenly, I saw him: he is a little green man, no more than three inches high.
    “Tell the truth,” grumbled the wee man.
    “Wha?” I spluttered wearily.
    “The truth!” the wee man shouted, “Mrs. Rotmeyer was right. It was the wee folk, and we are here to prove it.”

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