Tonight at 11….

It started off innocently enough: just getting a little, let’s call it creative, with a small story.  Maybe I sprinkled a couple of “facts” in with the story.  No one double checks our network.  Hell, we are at the bottom of the ratings every night.  Well, were at the bottom.

See, my boss walked in one day, about three weeks ago.  Mr. Waite told me that ratings are so down that his bosses are looking for even more ways to cut.  They might even have to close the entire news department.  I mean, c’mon, how many more reruns of Road Rules and Soap Operas can a network put on?  Anyways, he suggested that if I had any, “creative solutions,” I should come and talk to him.

So, the next day, when I handed in my regular garbage, it had a couple of extra pieces in it, like maybe the drunk driver that was arrested could have also been responsible for the rash of vandalized mailboxes in this other neighborhood.  Or that the dog park one town over was being investigated for a puppy ring; that one I didn’t even have to explain, which was great because I had no idea what it meant.  See, our station was small enough that no one noticed or cared.  But then, we blew up on the internet.  People started watching.

Mr. Waite came back to me, and said that the embellishments were fine, but now, it was real news only.  But if I found some big stories, “y’know, creative ones,” I should come and talk to him.

So, that night, I went to the bar down the street, and had a couple of beers, and thought.  Oh, I thought.  And then, inspiration!  It was crowded in the bar. I walked up to the bar and told the bartender that my buddy was too shy, gestured towards some guy sitting a couple of tables over, too send a drink over to the pretty young thing sitting in that booth.  The bartender smiled, said he’d put it on our tab, and went to work.  I said thanks, laid a couple of bucks on the bar, and waited.

The fight started small, but pretty soon, it was a full on brawl.  I already had my camera set up when the cops showed up.  I got the scoop and was the toast of the station. And then I realized…I would have to do something else for tomorrow night.

It started off like that; a couple of cars in this neighborhood got broken into, or a rock through a window downtown.  Then a couple of muggings in the nicer neighborhoods, just enough to warrant a story.  But they kept needing more.  Now, I’m a reasonable man, and I knew my crime spree couldn’t continue.  Not with just me, so I started hiring some college kids to help.  Pretty soon, we were planning accidents at questionable intersections, “exposing” insurance fraud at nursing homes, and “discovering” puppy mills.  It was like a little theater troupe, all in the name of saving the station.  And it was perfect.

And yet, Mr. Waite came to me again.  He tells me that there might be awards, promotions, even my own show on the network, if I can break “one or two big stories.”  Something that really gets the passions going.  Crime, or sex, or politics.

Which is why I had to stick up that liquor store.  It’s amazing the owner didn’t recognize my eyes when I showed up five minutes later to report on the incident.  That’s why I had to use Sarah to get those incriminating photos of the Senator.  She whispered in his ear that his fly was down, but no one likes politicians, so it was easy to blow his story to dust.  But it wasn’t enough.

So, now I’m in the back of a van, careening down the freeway.  I can’t believe that that cop was just sitting in the parking lot of the bank, getting ready to deposit a check, when we come around the corner and pile into the van.  He peeled out right behind us, and I never had a chance to bail out to make my broadcast.  Now there are four cop cars behind us and a helicopter above us, and we are driving for our lives.

Looks like no matter what, I am on the news tonight.

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Challenge Extended

“Hello.”

That’s how He started our first conversation. It seems innocent enough, but I would soon learn, it was anything but innocent.

“We don’t really know each other, but that’s ok. I’m sure we are going to become very good friends. There’s nothing else to do on this rock.”

I shook my head and looked around. “Don’t bother looking around. Ain’t nothing to see,” he stated. I couldn’t even really seem him, just the barest outline of a figure in the darkness. “Know any stories? Something to pass the time…”

“Yes.” I was startled by the croak that answered. Was that my voice?

“Good,” he replied, as his face emerged from the darkness, dripping in an evil grin. “Get to telling.”