THE RETURN TRIP – Episode 57

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THE RETURN TRIP – Episode 57

…“You’re just a speck of moon dust to her, like she would be interested in a kid like you,”…

Pebble Beach by Emily James

 CHAPTER FOUR

  Space Family Confidential

  “As we prepare to bid adieu from the scenic and historic Pebble Beach Golf Links, you are looking at rare ground, one of only 500 pieces of real estate around the world that has the capability to host a professional golf tournament, none more treasured than this.

“And how appropriate it is that the man holding the Bing Crosby Trophy is none other than Evan pebble-beach-trophySamuel Michelson, whose father has joined him on the 18th green. Let’s go down to Bubba Watson for the presentation…”

Gus McKinney is wearing the headset for the televiewer and he has set it in motion to search for other sporting activities. They have violated rule #1 in the McKinney brood: Never put a VoIP block on the televiewer. They have been incommunicado for the balance of this January day. Braden King, their Earthly guardian is currently on his way back to the ranch, to ward off “you know what” from reaching the kiddos before they can be properly {co}parented.

Related image“AW, COME ON GUS, if we have to watch Four-man Power-Curling or Male Ice Dancing I am going to throw up,” brother Deke is already tiring of the 2030 Winter Olympics in Oslo, Norway. The mindbogglingly 1000 choices arbitrarily comes to rest on the low number 13, the lower the number, the more local it is; 1000 being JEOPARDY!, hosted by Watson the IBM brainiac.

“Good Evening, my name is Francine Bouchette and this is a KHST 13 Special Report, your news authority for the last 10 years.” An assortment of Space Colony footage scrolls on the screen.gif pretty art indie moon Grunge space stars dark Alternative moon gif phases craters

“Isn’t she a fox?” raves Gus.

“You’re just a speck of moon dust to her, like she would be interested in a kid like you,” which isn’t completely true, given her afternoon’s crash course in McKinney Family history.

breaking-news-1

The ever-fetching Francine reappears on camera; now joined by her junior co-anchor {piece-of-crap} Steven Sharkey who doesn’t have a clue on what he may be reading in a few seconds.

“In a KHST 13 News Authority Exclusive, I just got off the phone with Space Colony 1 Coordinator Roy Crippen, a friend to Channel 13 News, having confirmed a story that I have been tracking down all afternoon. He has confirmed the horrible news that Space Colony 1 appears to have been destroyed, which verifies my confidential alternate source.”

“Nnnooooooo,” screams Deke…


THE RETURN TRIP

newsroom-001

Episode 57


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THE RETURN TRIP – Episode 56

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THE RETURN TRIP – Episode 56

..I am about to break into local programming and then that damned “good” angel has to go and whisper in my right ear…

angel-in-my-ear

“What exactly do you think you know about Space Colony, Ms. Bouchette and do not beat around the bush,”asks Roy Crippen

She goes on to play the foreign recorded voice of the bearer of bad tidings.

“I will be frank {don’t call him Frank}, I am about to break into local programming with a KHST Special Report, having spent most of the afternoon putting together — then that damned “good” angel has to go and whisper in my right earShe summarizes the just of her breaking news.

“I see and you plan to act on this leak,” Roy speaks rhetorically. “At this point I could stonewall you; deny and deny again, but I will not. Whoever this guy is knows more than enough to be taken seriously.”

He chooses his words carefully.

“Even though much of what you offer is true, I think you are taking too pessimistic of a slant. We or you or your informer, nobody in fact can confirm the loss of life. The McKinneys are presently on the surface of Mars, and yes we cannot communicate with them, but we are launching the New Mayflower in 6 hours and we believe we can reach them in time.”survival-001

“Are you telling me that they can survive on Mars?”

“Not only do we think they will survive, we hold the hope of rebooting the Space Colony consortium with a second station. We are in this thing to win; titanium and wires can be replaced, but not the hope of all civilizations.”

Francine is truly moved by his inspiring affirmation, but does not swallow it whole.

“I respect that fact that you want to control the message, I get that, but I have a career duty to report the news, whatever and especially the magnitude of this; America and all your partners need to know.”

“I get that Ms. Bouchette, you have a virtual goldmine in your grasp,” Roy relents, “but you will be quoting me, using my words, NOT some ¼ hour funeral dirge about the space program and the McKinneys.”

“Are you telling me that I have an exclusive?”Related image

“I suppose it does. This wasn’t how I envisioned it coming down, but I don’t want those crackpot Koreans stealing the spotlight. I will forward my statement to you.”

Francine has just lost a huge juicy story, yet she does regain another somewhat less salacious one and she will be a better person for it. After two decades in the business, she has had an epiphany of conscience.

“I appreciate how much you agonized over this. I am not sure some of your competition would have had your self-restraint.new-mayflower-001

Now I have to send off the New Mayflower, minus the 30-some hopefuls {some paid their own way} that were scheduled to go… boy am I going to catch flack about that, I can hear them already.”

“Thank you for allowing KHST to break this story,” she is sincere and do you notice it was not all about “me”? “Please bring the McKinneys home!”


THE RETURN TRIP

special-report-001

Episode 56


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THE RETURN TRIP – Episode 55

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THE RETURN TRIP – Episode 55

…A cold chill travels up her spine at the thought of the reprehensible plight of the McKinneys…

time-magazine-001

Since the newswoman is so close to going with this story live, she takes a deep breath to reassess the wisdom of her coming actions. In the big scheme of things, nothing is bigger than {breaking} news of a probable Space Colony disaster, but in her hours compiling file footage, Francine has come to admire the husband-wife astronaut team, who have invested their lives, sacrificed valuable family time, and now may be doomed to sacrificing their lives, literally.

Image result for #1Image result for #2She discovers a hidden reserve of compassion deep down inside. It has never been clearer why the attractive couple ranked #1 & #2 in  TIME MAGAZINE’s 100 Most Influential People issue, for the second consecutive year. Last year they were just appearing on the national scene as an epic family.

A cold chill travels up her spine at the thought of the reprehensible plight of these good folk.

What had started out as breaking news about the demise of Space Colony 1 unexpectedly evolves into a mournful hodge-podge of doom and gloom, mostly because of the time she would devote to Sampson and Celeste McKinney, their lives on Earth and their fate in space. But the truth is, the details are meager and the creative latitude too tempting.Image result for 4:30

The script as she wrote it has a somber tone, with a theme that challenges NASA’s goals and the price it has exacted on the world economy, along with unrealized expectations. It is 4:30 and she programs her words into the teleprompter, something she almost never does.

When she takes a break before heading to make-up and hair, the gaunt face of Roy Crippen, whose eyes display the stress of unmitigated devotion, keep popping into her brain. He has become the face of Space Colony 1, unfailingly cooperative to a fault and polite beyond belief; all those inane questions from ignorant neophytes. She cannot help but project the man’s current mental state and her uncensored news flash may push him past some unforeseen brink.

Suddenly, like a sinner being visited by an angel of mercy, Francine finds herself racing to the nearest desk phone.  In a minute she is hailing the line leading directly to the Galveston launch facility. She gets funneled into a cybex satellite telecommunication router.

“Galveston Launch, we are currently unavailable due to technical problems.”

It sounds like a computer generated voice.

“Oh yeah – you can *#%+@&! – you stupid machine! I need to speak with Mr. Roy Crippen and I mean now!”

“I am sorry but he is unavailable.”newsroom-001

That is not an automated voice. Oops.

“My name is Francine Bouchette, from KHST 13 Television, Houston. I have urgent information that I need to discuss with Mr. Crippen.”

“There is a news conference scheduled for one o’clock AM and your station will be receiving a press release shortly. Until then, he remains unavailable.” She is firm.

Francine is even more firm, “I know what happened to Space Colony 1.”

There is no response.

“I am going live in twelve minutes.”

“Please hold the line.

If she hadn’t stopped smoking, in the interest of white teeth and porcelain skin, this would be the perfect time for a 100 Slim Menthol. The digital clock clicks down to 9 minutes before the live cut-in.

“Get on the stick Lady,” she mumbles into the phone.

It is three more minutes before an anxious male voice joins the connection.

“What exactly do you think you know about Space Colony, Ms. Bouchette,” this man doesn’t beat around the bush.


 THE RETURN TRIP

angel_of_mercy_by_fluro_knife

Angel of Mercy by Fluro Knife deviantart.com

Episode 55


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THE RETURN TRIP – Episode 54

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THE RETURN TRIP – Episode 54

…When Francine concentrates on a task at hand (instead of her 15-story ego) it amazes even herself

Image result for ego artwork

Stella Im Hultberg ‘Alter Ego’ Painting

For once in her life, Francine escapes the limelight to seek out and pick the brain of the station’s NASA expert; when in doubt, go to those in the know. In this space-saturated news environment, admittedly, she did not pay close attention to the Space Colony story, merely glossing over the copy her “inept script writer” provided for broadcasts.

Being the weekend, the space geek is at home, so she must do some videophone work to get her information, “Good afternoon Gilly, can you give me a few minutes?” The person on Francine’s screen is not thrilled, but is professional enough to comply.

Randi Gilbert

“Sure Miss Bouchette, what can I do for you,” Randi Gilbert, who is a former test pilot for the Air Force, has a fluid pipeline to the goings-on both at Lovell and Galveston.

“Say, I am working on this story for tonight’s cast and I need some background stuff about Space Colony 1 and that married couple Celeste and Sampson McKinney. I have been looking at file files, but I’m not getting a good feel for them as real people.”

“They are THE story of the 21st Century so far Francine…”

Gilbert goes on to tell the story of a true space family, whose heritage and focus is all about exploration, “to boldly go” as once was said.

She goes on to explain just how massive an undertaking that the world-cooperative-project truly is. 135 countries, with two or so notable exceptions, have pooled their talent and resources to give the planet Earth an out if-you-will, a relatively nearby outpost, as well as a future home to hundreds of settlers…

“Thank you for everything Randi, we will have to do lunch one of these days.”

Like that will ever happen,

“You bet Francine.”

That would be goodbye for now.

Dominic Urbano, Digital Artist

Dominic Urbano, Digital Artist

When Francine concentrates on a task at hand, instead of her 15-story ego, it amazes even herself. Behind that brazened façade lays an appreciable amount of untapped potential, perhaps needing an infusion of COMountain Dew carbonation to encourage the coming out of that trapped talent.

Her further research centers around the year 2018, about the time the Space Colony project morphed from the state of figures and computer animation, to a worldwide financial octopus; the substantive mass of lightweight titanium it has ultimately become {unthinkably became?}. With Galveston so close at hand, the crux of R & D for generations of NASA ventures, KHST’s story files are crammed with stories of the men and machines that explore beyond Earth’s atmosphere.


THE RETURN TRIP

Jung’s Model of the Psyche.

Jung’s Model of the Psyche.

Episode 54


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Your Employment Source (If You Dare) – WIF Job Board

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Now Hiring –

Dangerous Jobs

Some jobs leap to mind as dangerous, including police officer, firefighter, or in current times, front-line healthcare worker. They certainly all present their dangers to those who practice such professions. But none of them qualified for this list, comprised from statistics collected from 2019 and 2018. Some of them are surprising, while others have long been considered dangerous, at least by those who do not work in the field. Photos of iron workers high above the Earth building the skyscrapers of New York during the Depression are frightening to those with a healthy respect for heights. Other photos exist of the same workers sitting nonchalantly on a girder dozens of stories high, eating their lunch, without a safety line to be seen.

Railroads were once among the most dangerous areas to work in the world, though improvements in equipment and safety regulations changed that in the mid-to-late 20th century. Likewise, most factory jobs are much safer than they once were, with some of the most dangerous jobs replaced by automation. Knowledge of workplace safety has improved and procedures to ensure safe working conditions have reduced the risk of death on the job due to accidents. But there are still dangers inherent in the workplace, and statistically some jobs are much more dangerous than others. Here are 10 dangerous jobs in the world:

10. Bull Riders

Bull riding is one of the most popular rodeo events, as well as the most dangerous. In the United States the job is often touted as “the most dangerous eight seconds in sports.” The phrase comes from the requirement that the rider remain atop the bull, with only one hand gripping the rope tied behind the bull’s forelegs, for that period. If the free hand makes contact with the animal the rider receives no score, even if the ride lasted the full eight seconds (in the United States). Bull riding is popular in the US, Canada, Australia, across South America, in the Philippines and Japan, and in much of Western Europe.

Top bull riders make hundreds of thousands of dollars per year, competing in sanctioned events around the world, but at significant risk of injury of various degrees of seriousness. Riders are killed every year, sometimes from being stomped, kicked, or gored, and even a successful ride can cause injuries to the brain through concussion. It is the most dangerous of all rodeo sports, and one of the most dangerous of all sports, though fatalities in the United States are less frequent than in other jurisdictions. Australia showed a steady increase in annual injuries in a study which covered six consecutive seasons during the last decade, even as the sport gained popularity.

9. Aircraft Pilots and Flight Engineers

Commercial aviation is one of the safest ways to travel, according to statistics measuring passenger injury and fatalities. The industry frequently boasts of its safety record, with good reason. After all, touting passenger comfort and the entire airport experience nowadays isn’t too convincing to prospective customers. Still, passengers, pilots and flight engineers on commercial carriers are among the safest within the aviation industry. But pilots of air taxis, small air shuttles, and private aviators, are among the most dangerous professions.

In statistics compiled by the US Bureau of Labor in 2019, pilots and flight engineers had a fatal injury rate while on the job which exceeded 10 times the rate for all workers (3.5 deaths per 100,000 workers). In all, 75 aircraft pilots or navigators were killed during the preceding year, making it one of the most dangerous jobs for those involved. Small plane accidents included stunt pilots and air show incidents which led to fatalities among participating pilots. The rate of fatal accidents among small aircraft is closer to that of traffic accidents than to commercial aviation.

8. Structural Iron and Steel Workers

The photos of iron and steel workers erecting the Empire State Building in New York, or the Golden Gate Bridge in California, are unnerving to those who have a fear of heights. Workers ran the lengths of beams, wearing coveralls, some in hard hats and some not, eschewing safety lines and nets. Workplace safety rules changed all that, and a considerable number of safety appliances and procedures came into use, but the profession remains a highly dangerous one across the world. In the United States it was the sixth most dangerous in 2018, with just over 25 deaths per 100,000.

The danger comes from collapses of partially completed construction (or deconstruction), electrical lines and cables, and swinging steel beams and other components. But it is height which presents the greatest danger, with most fatalities occurring as a result of falls. Other injuries include burns from hot metals, broken bones, and muscle injuries. During the construction of the Empire State Building in New York, five fatalities occurred among the over 3,400 workers involved in the project. In the 1970s, construction of the World Trade Center led to 60 deaths among the workers. New York’s One World Trade Center saw only two reported fatalities during construction, but dozens of accidents in which workers were permanently disabled.

7. Deep-sea Commercial Fishers

It’s probably unsurprising the leading cause of death among commercial fishers is drowning, but there are numerous other dangers lurking within the profession. At sea, without medical assistance or emergency care much beyond a medical kit, injuries are common and often poorly treated. Slips and falls, caused by the motion of the vessel, often lead to serious injury, including broken bones, crushed fingers, and sprains.

Tangled lines trip busy crewmen leading to falls, items swinging overhead make contact with human skulls, and there is the constant threat of cuts. Fishing may be a relaxing pastime for those anglers who enjoy it on summer weekends, but it is a dangerous means of employment on the open sea, as it always has been. The number of work-related fatalities among commercial fishers is well over ten times the rate for all professions.

6. Veterinarians

The dangers posed to veterinarians as they go about their work include, obviously, animal bites and mauling. While the vet who cares for the family cat and dog might seem to have a safe job, the fact is many veterinarians, especially those working in rural areas and those with zoos are in a dangerous profession. The danger isn’t solely from the animals under their care either, at least according to a study in Australia completed in 2018. There it was determined that veterinarians are often a threat to themselves.

The Australian study found the mental stress among veterinarians led to their being four times more likely to attempt or commit suicide. The sources of the mental stress are many and the relationship between depression and the euthanasia performed by vets was considered as being a contributing factor in the increased suicide rate. The Australian study determined that vets experienced negative emotions at work at a rate which exceeded the general population, and suffered from high anxiety, depression, and chronic levels of stress. They also suffered from a sense of being trapped within a profession by their training, which rendered them unable to consider career alternatives.

5. Roofers

The leading cause of on-the-job deaths among roofers is falling from roofs, which occur frequently enough to make it one of the world’s most dangerous professions. Falls from roofs are frequently used as a comedic device in films and television situation-comedies, but in the real world there is little funny about them. Other injuries to roofers depend on the type of roof under installation, removal, or maintenance. Tarred roofs present burn hazards, metal roofs can cause cuts, as well as contact burns in bright sun.

Injuries from the tools of the trade are common, including accidents with nail guns and other power tools. Items dropped from roofs can cause injuries to others working below them, and there is also the risk of injury carrying heavy objects up and down ladders, as well as the risk of falling from the ladders themselves. Roofers suffer fatal injuries at a rate which exceeds the average of all workers by more than a dozen times. Many of the injuries and deaths are attributed to poor communication and inadequate use of safety devices, such as hardhats and safety lines.

4. Oilfield Workers

Oilfield workers ashore, and on off-shore oil platforms around the world, operate in professions among the most dangerous in the world. In July, 1988, the oil platform Piper Alpha, operated by Occidental Petroleum Caledonia Ltd, suffered an explosion and fire in which 167 perished. Only 61 workers survived the disaster. In April 2010, an explosion on the offshore platform Deepwater Horizon led to 11 deaths, dozens of injuries, a fire which proved impossible to extinguish, and the largest oil spill at sea in history. Clearly working on off-shore oil platforms presents dangers to the workers.

Oil workers ashore face perils on the job from numerous sources, including the heights at which some work, heavy equipment and tools, and inadequate supervision of on-the-job training. They are also endangered from physical fatigue, leading to exhaustion. Motor vehicle accidents involving oilfield workers occur in disproportionately high numbers, with exhaustion from work and the need to drive great distances to and from worksites cited as contributory factors.

3. Underwater Welders

Welding underwater is a highly specialized task, and a relatively few workers perform the job, compared to other professions. Their services are required in the shipbuilding and repair industries; constructing and maintaining underwater pipelines, and conduits for communication cables. They also work in dams, spillways, and other underwater infrastructure. The nature of their work exposes them to the risk of injury from explosions, collapse of structures, and of course, drowning.

The profession, though a small one, is markedly dangerous. It is too small a profession in terms of numbers of workers for it to be tracked by the Bureau of Labor Statistics, but the Centers for Disease Control reported the death rate for underwater welders exceeded the national average of deaths on the job by more than 40 times in the United States alone. Around the world the need for underwater welders grew since the Second World War, and they are in increasing demand in the 21st century, as more underwater resources are exploited.

2. Trash and Recycling Collectors

Workers who collect trash in the United States are part of a profession which is the fifth most dangerous in the country. Around the world the danger is even greater, in terms of the injuries and deaths sustained. Falling from collection trucks is one danger faced by trash collectors. Another, far more frequent, is being struck by other vehicles. They face danger from materials collected as well, including broken glass, sharp edges on some refuse, discarded toxic waste and materials, (such as hypodermic needles) and more.

The risks involved aren’t only in the collection phase of trash and waste disposal, which is pretty much the only part of the process viewed by the general public. Accidents with sorting and crushing machinery, at incinerators, and in landfills in which waste is moved using heavy equipment are common. The dangerous nature of the job is reflected by the high rate of deaths among trash collectors and handlers around the world. Incidentally, some waste collection workers in the United States make up to $100,000 per year, a figure certain to raise some eyebrows from those who take the job for granted.

1. Lumberjacks and Loggers

Since the days when axes and two-man saws provided the only means of felling trees, the act of doing so has been dangerous. Somewhat perversely, advanced technology increased the risks. Logging and forestry management through harvesting trees is the most dangerous job category in the world. In the United States in 2018, fatal accidents involving lumberjacks and loggers exceeded an average of 135 per 100,000 workers. As noted, across all jobs as listed by the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the average was 3.5 per 100,000.

One danger comes from being suspended from the tree being cut, taking it down in sections, with the worker exposed to the whipping of the tree as the upper section separates and falls. Accidents abound on the ground below, both from felling trees and from trimming them on the ground. Heavy machinery to move the great sticks offer further dangers to the personnel involved. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the majority of the injuries (and deaths) involving lumberjacks and loggers are due to the misuse or inadequate maintenance of machinery, making the profession a more dangerous one through the insertion of human error.


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THE RETURN TRIP – Episode 53

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THE RETURN TRIP – Episode 53

…Out of the blue, an idea bubble forms above her head

think-bubble-001

Francine BouchetteHurriedly, without checking a mirror first, KHST 13’s lead weekend anchorwoman heads straight for the newsroom. She is advancing at a pace that takes out 2 interns and an IT nerd, casualties of the ardent instinct that drives the best newshounds. And if she has the look of preoccupation, the end justifies the means.

Ratings book

The standard method of breaking a news story of this magnitude would to lead off the next scheduled newscast with it, replete with file footage, bios, and interviews. OR, she could fire up KHST’s news crawl at the bottom of the screen, but that would only tip off the competition and she will not have any of that.

Neither one of the above methods would benefit her rating-card, that already was #2 with a bullet. On top of all this, the station has stuck her with a stiff of a co-anchor, hired from an independent in Indianapolis and she would have to let him in on the action. Sharing is not one of her redeeming qualities.

Out of the blue, an idea bubble forms above her head, “What if I do a programming break-in, like they did back in 2017 when Donald Trump fired FBI Director James Comey… wow that was 13 years ago already and I am still in local TV?… it’ll be an outrageous stunt, but most of management is teeing off on the 14th hole at their country club or at a spa… no one is around to get in my way.”

It was a BIG bubble.

Shuffling feet and adolescent whispers signal the presence of Hightower Junior High speech class, whom she had forgotten about, them and their Junior-Journalism field trip. And who is the tour guide for these kids, none other than Steven Sharkey, the albeit handsome hick from Indiana? Before she can head for the hills, good ol’ Steve uses her as an excuse to use her pretty face as a backdrop to the newsroom.

“And by demand of her adoring fans, I’d like to introduce, you media students, Miss Francine Bouchette, our lovely and talented weekend news anchor and weekday reporter.” Steven coaxes her out of her chair, giving her a warm hug, like a good friend, instead of the rivals that they actually are.

Queen Francine manufactures an agonizing smile, this not being a good time for her. There is some applause {eyes glued below her neck} from the 14-year-old boys and gigglies from the envious {of her breasts} girls. Steven takes the opportunity to horn in on her story, “Please notice how fast she is flying through those web searches. What are you working on Francine?”

“I am actually working on a story about a tour guide accused of inappropriate touching…. and look who shows up?”

Dost thou feel the scorpion’s sting fledgling Steve? She dashes off, leaving Steve to distract the students by moving on to see the studio set.


THE RETURN TRIP

B-I-G

Episode 53


page 51

THE RETURN TRIP – Episode 52

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THE RETURN TRIP – Episode 52

 “I do not believe we have underestimated your talents Awrah Bouchette.”…

Image result for crank call

Crank Call by Graham Annable

“I will tell you of something your greedy leaders will not: At eleven o’clock AM Texas time, the Earth’s ultimate imperialistic endeavor, Space Colony 1 has been completely and utterly destroyed!” There is more than one stab into the belly and genuine pride in his delivery.

Francine eases herself down into her chair, gasping at the mere thought. This man does not sound like your typical crank.

“Did you hear me woman? The Taliban, Nepal and Korean governments applaud this accident. Allah and Buddha have spoken.”

“I heard you,” she whispers faintly. Everyone in southern Texas knows someone who works in the space industry or Space Colony specifically. “I am not inclined to believe you sir,” is all the journalism she can muster.

“You are the only civilian who has this information, use it to disgrace the infidels and enhance your own career and that of your station. Reuters would gladly break this story, no problem.”

“If I am the only Westerner to know this, if it is true, wouldn’t NASA want to hold a formal press conference?”

“But you do not want to share the spotlight,” he pauses, she mulls. “I do not believe we have underestimated your talents Awrah Bouchette.” He slips back into his Arabic vernacular.

“I’ll need more information before I can break this story.”

“You must have a source in the space program; I suggest you confirm it with them. But they will tell you the same things, if they are honest. They will speak of how an asteroid has destroyed your space station and stopped the useless expansion into space. They may try to rescue the project, but they will fail, Allah has prevailed. You will not discover your source…”

A dial tone abruptly replaces the bearer of horrible news.

And what is she to do with this? No one else of import is at the station.


THE RETURN TRIP

newsroom-001

Episode 52


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