It was a painfully slow news week when a perfectly good story fell from the sky. Soon after it rolled to a stop, the first of many phone calls came into the newsroom. When it did, the nighttime assignment editor barely looked up from his crossword puzzle.
Scanners crackled in the background as the goateed desk jockey’s eyebrows twitched.
“You got a WHAT in your living room?”
Sitting up, the night guy let his newspaper fall to the floor as he scanned the edges of the cavernous room. To a left, a well-coiffed reporter lounged in her cubicle with a phone to her ear. A few desks over, a photographer sat hunched over a keyboard, trying his best to melt into the screen. Behind his goatee, the assignment editor smiled. Minutes later he was back at his crossword.
In the car, the newly dispatched news crew bemoaned their new luck. ‘There’s NO WAY this is gonna turn’ they told each other as the city streets streamed by. Yet another wild goose chase. But much to their surprise the object in question lived up to its advertising, for the Klumpf family of 2240 Huff Lane did indeed have a hole in their roof, a dent in their floor and a mysterious hunk of smoldering metal to show for it.
Soon the guys from the local station house showed up at the two-bedroom ranch and started pawing over the metallic object, all while the grateful news crew rolled tape. To a man, the firefighters pawed over the cylindrical rock before passing it along. Halfway through the game of hot potato, someone mentioned those scary flying guys from the second Superman movie. That’s when a junior firefighter was sent to the truck for the Geiger counter. It read negative, everyone felt better and they all went back to sniffing at the burnished can-shape glob . What could it be? A meteorite? A hunk of space junk? The cam shaft off a late-model UFO? What ever it was, it descended on the fifteen year old home with considerable force, piercing shingle, puncturing plywood and drilling through dry board before shattering the glass top to one hideous coffee table. The mystery had begun.
Later, at the end of the ten o clock newscast, our trusted anchor team traded in their death masks for complimentary looks of wry bemusement. Between them a flat screen monitor screamed the words ‘What IS it?”. Halfway onto the second anchor’s sentence, the words on that screen turned into the nightside reporter, looking radiant in a burgundy power-suit. A lower--third graphic - ‘LIVE North High Point’ lay claim to the patch of darkness behind the her shapely form. I was at home, staring at my computer screen and only watching the ten o clock show with only one eye when the reporter’s voice caught my attention. As she hit every nuance of a well-crafted intro, I noticed the backlight feathering her shoulders.
When she finished her intro, the director back at the station punched up her pre-recorded piece and a close-up of the mysterious gray rock filled screen. The report moved quickly, with lots of angles of hands pawing over the rock in bewilderment. The mother of the family worried out loud about her damaged property, the firefighters scratched their helmets, looking out of place as they stood around the modest living room in full turn-out gear. Next a stranger in a FAA jacket said whatever it was, the lump of mysterious metal was NOT part of any known aircraft. The piece ended with the reporter leading the viewers through the projectile’s angles of impact. In a four part on-camera stand-up the attractive nightside reporter traced every angle of the rock’s trajectory, breaking down its path like Jim Garrison dissecting the Zapruder film.
Before the reporter could wrap up her live shot with a few words of wisdom on the mysterious object, the phones in the newsroom erupted one by one. They wouldn't stop ringing for quite some time.
Next Time: The Quickening...