The Reporter

Author’s Note: This was originally written for the writer’s digest prompt A Newspaper from the Future. This is the edited version.

The perfect white walls annoyed me the most. Until he walked in. Then he annoyed me the most.

“Hi. Officer Hart. Public Information, Roswell Army Airfield.” He introduced himself, extending a hand. I shook it. Hard.

“Hi. Barney Gibson. Roswell Daily Herald.” My lips snuck up my face, smirking against my will. I knew what this was, and Jesus was I gonna fight it till my knees broke.

Officer Hart sat down across from me. A large perfectly square wood table stood between us. He rested his forearms against it while he looked over some documents.

He ‘hmm’ed a few times before speaking, “You’re career’s in the dumps.”

I laughed, “So, that’s how you’re gonna play it?”

It took a moment, but he smiled, “Yeah. That’s how I’m gonna play it.”

“Well, it won’t work, buddy. I’ve got the goods. I ain’t gonna change my story. And there ain’t nothing you can do about it.” I leaned back on the legs of my chair. I would have put my hands behind my head, relaxed like, if I didn’t think it would’ve looked overconfident.

Officer Hart remained perfectly still, but one of his plained clothes guys walked behind me.

PAIN. SEARING PAIN.

“HOLY SHIT!” I screamed, flying back against the table. Hart laughed.

“We got that off one of them. Pretty neat device, eh? We think it sends electrical impulses through the brain, so it only feels like it hurts. It doesn’t actually harm you.” Hart stood from the table. I couldn’t even move my head to watch where he was going.

“You came here looking for a story. You’re a reporter. A crap reporter. And this…this story might save your sorry ass. Isn’t that right?”

I whimpered the affirmative.

“And now you think you’ve got it. The story of a life time. Your name going down in history. Well, let me inform you of what you saw.” Hart’s face leaned in inches from my own. “You saw a weather balloon. Nothing else.”

I closed my eyes and pushed myself into a sitting position, “I saw more than that.”

The plain clothes man started towards me.

“Okay. Okay. Let’s talk.” I said, staring at the black cube in his hand. “I knew about this. I got a letter last week from this raggedy little kid. Could’ve been alien himself. And it had this cutting from a newspaper in it about Flying Saucers. And my name, my name was the byline. So, maybe, maybe he was an alien, and maybe I gotta fulfill the future or something.”

Hart must practice being still.

The plain clothes man moved his arm, but Hart stopped him.

“Raggedy boy. Alien.” He breathed from his nose, “Alright. You can publish a story. It can be about flying disks. I’ll even make a press release for you.”

“Thank you.” I sighed.

“Here’s the thing. You mention aliens, you mention the eleven other crash sights, you mention the brain phaser, and you’re a dead man. Got it?” His brow dripped sweat.

“Yeah. I got it.”

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