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Short Story: "Authenticity" (6th of a series)

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Marjha stifled a grin. If only he could apply it to himself.

"All right. All right. We'll run a flysheet. But you two are gonna park your butts here and add them to every last paper that hasn't gone out yet."

"Deal," Buzz said. "But how are we gonna get them out to the vendors who've already got theirs?"

A young man who was watching the set-to raised his cell. "Don't sweat it. With something this big, we can probably draw a flash-crowd to run them out for us. I'll handle that angle."

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Marjha finally let her happy out. "Great. So what do we do now?"

Frank pointed at a laptop. "That wrapper's going to need some copy. Grab some help and start writing. I'll call our printer and tell him what's up."

"Writing?" Buzz said, alarmed. He glanced over his shoulder for an escape route. "I don't do "writing'".

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"Sit," she said, swinging a chair around for him. "We'll write. You're our scoop. Just don't let it go to your head."

Over the next two hours, they assembled a history of what Buzz had observed during his time living under the highway. What the inspector did, bits of the framework breaking off -- stuff like that. Several of the volunteers called around to see if they could get some leads on the names of any of the people who were killed when the highway collapsed. Meanwhile, Frank tracked down the name of the inspector Buzz had seen, and discovered that he'd been accused of taking payoffs from JonesCo, the developer that had wanted the building lot where the Occupy encampment had been. The story was getting more interesting by the minute, and none of it was even being mentioned on either of the TV stations that had been doing wall-to-wall coverage ever since their copters converged on the site.

The Spectator's printer gave priority to the job, so it didn't take much longer before the folded flysheets were on their way to the network of independent vendors on the streets, as well as to the district pick-up locations and the Spectator office itself. As soon as the volunteer dropped a bundle of them on the office floor, Frank pulled one out and laid it on the table.

"'Highway crushes former judge," he read, "Damn. If that headline doesn't get us some eyeballs, nothing will. Who was he?"

"She," Buzz corrected him. "Elana Sworzl. Circuit court judge. She was disbarred a few decades ago on charges that were later disproven. It broke her, and she never recovered. Turns out she's been homeless for years, but only moved under my highway about four months ago." He frowned and looked away. "I thought she looked familiar. Maybe I should have gone over and said hello or something."

"Beat yourself up about it later," Frank said. "Right now you've got work to do."

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"Like what? The thing's done."

"Ain't been sold yet. You two ought to go plant yourselves at Main and First. Best spot in the city. Team up with the vendor there -- a woman named Betsy, and draw yourself a crowd. The broadcast guys won't take long to notice if you rile up a bunch of the rush hour crowd. By then it'll be too late. It's our story, and they won't know what to do with it."

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Ever since I learned to speak binary on a DIGIAC 3080 training computer, I've been involved with tech in one way or another, but there was always another part of me off exploring ideas and writing about them. Halfway to a BS in Space Technology at (more...)

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