For those of you who are new: You are now reading an online serial pulp novel. If you didn’t start at the beginning, you may want to do so. Chapter 1:Â Down By The Bay. New chapters are posted on Fridays. This serial is the sequel to my first novel, Oasis.
Chapter 5 â€“ The Face Of Radio
The KNRT building was nothing special. It was just a simple two story brick building. If it didn’t have the station letters mounted over the door, it would have looked like every other building in the area. The cars in the parking lot gave the first hint of what could be found inside. One bumper sticker on a Blazer read, “Get us out of the UN!” Another sticker on a big Ford pickup read, “9-11 was an inside job.” Several vehicles had gun racks. The only car among the SUVs and trucks was a lime green Geo Metro. It stuck out like a sore thumb.
I had never been able to listen to the Alan Jex show all the way through. He was just too aggressive. His show was almost always about conspiracies, and what to do about them. His general mode of operation was to make an absurd statement about Nazis in the Senate or something, and then berate anyone brave enough to call in and challenge him. He loved stirring up trouble, and had made national news a few times by being arrested while protesting various government injustices.
To tell the truth, I was more than a little curious to see what he was really like.
The lobby was nice enough. The furniture was worn leather, there were patriotic posters, and the secretary was pretty. Her hair was dyed a couple of different colors, her nails were extra long, she was chewing gum, and she had a vast collection of piercings.
I bet she owns the Geo.
She looked up from her celebrity gossip magazine. “Can I help you?”
I tapped the portfolio with my free hand. “I need to deliver something to Mr. Jex.”
“I’m afraid I have to hand it to him personally.”
“Well he is in the middle of a show.”
“Can I just hand it to him when he takes a break?”
“I don’t know, Mr Jex always tells…”
Probably been taught to give folks the runaround. “Look, he’ll want to talk to me anyway.”
She raised an eyebrow. “And why is that?”
No use beating around the bush. “You hear what happened in Oasis?”
“Of course. Everybody heard that.”
“I was there.”
She scrunched up her mouth and looked me over. “All right, I’ll ask Rhett.”
She didn’t bother to respond, she just stood and walked back into a hallway. A minute or two later she reappeared with a tall, stocky guy with a military haircut.
He extended a hand. “Hi, I’m Rhett Bartholomew. I’m the producer on Mr. Jex’s show, and I’ve got to be back in the booth before next commercial break, which is coming right up, so make it quick.”
I shook his hand. “I was in Oasis until it was destroyed, and I’d like to talk to Mr. Jex.”
He frowned at me for a moment, then motioned for me to follow. “All right. Come on.”
I followed him down the hallway and to the door of the studio. It has a big red “On Air” light above it and everything. He put a finger to his lips and gently pulled open the door.
Alan Jex was not quite as tubby as I expected a radio pundit to be. In fact, he wasn’t really pudgy at all, nowhere near as immense as his voice sounded. He was extolling the virtues of the sponsor of the day and hardly seemed to notice us enter. Rhett motioned for me to sit opposite Jex and to put on the spare set of headphones sitting on the table.
Jex gave me a quizzical look as I sat, but his speech never broke stride. A minute later Rhett gave him a signal and cut to a commercial.
Jex pulled the phones off one ear and pointed his thumb at me. “Who is this?”
“Says he was in Oasis when it all went down.”
A corner of his mouth curled up. “Oh really? What’s your name?”
“Corbin St. Laurent.”
He scribbled something on a scrap of paper. “How much time, Rhett?”
Jex repositioned his headphones and slid a microphone toward me. “Just try to relax, Corbin.”
As soon as the commercial ended, Jex jumped right in. “Welcome back, everyone. I know none of us will ever forget the videos we’ve all seen of the bombs in Oasis. It was a horrible tragedy. Tens of thousands of our brothers and sisters died. What makes it worse is that there are signs that we have been lied to, and on a grand scale. In honor of those men and women, I will tirelessly seek the truth. In that effort, we have a surprise guest today. Someone who was there. His name is Corwin St. Laurent. Say hi, Corwin.”
“It’s actually Corbin.”
He shook his head and pressed on. “The videos that came out of Oasis have all been very vague. We have very little to support the official story. There were only a few people that were able to escape the terrorists before the explosion.”
That’s not right. “What?”
“Why don’t you tell our nationwide audience what really happened on the day the terrorists duped practically everyone in Oasis to the center of town.”
“What are you talking about?”
“I’m talking about how the terrorists made that scene at the hospital, shot that guy up with PCP or some other drug, then pushed him out a window. They decoyed everyone to the center of town so they could mobilize and take over the city that much easier.”
My stomach churned. “That’s not-”
“We already know that they had a huge number of sympathizers working with them. We know that they got practically everyone in town, and we know that within forty-eight hours the town was rubble. We’ve been told that the bombs were placed by the terrorists to aid in their mass kidnapping scheme, but some disturbing reports have been leaked that have shown the bombs were of U.S. Origin, and were placed by the military.”
“Well, the military did bomb Oasis, but what you’ve described never-”
“So what did happen, Corbin?”
“You’ve got it all wrong. All of it. There was no army of terrorists. They never took over the city. The military quarantined the city. The guy at the hospital wasn’t on PCP. I’ve been an ER nurse for almost four years. I know what drug induced behavior looks like, and that was not it. He was infected. Infected with the most dangerous virus ever. It takes over the-”
Jex slammed a fist on the table. “What are you trying to pull, Corbin? We’ve already had three other refugees from Oasis on the show a week ago. They spilled the whole story. This was the single worst tragedy in American history. For you to make a mockery of those lost lives is treason in my book.”
“And Oasis wasn’t bombed after two days. It happened two days ago, after almost two weeks.”
“That’s impossible. We all know the government has covered up even big things in the past, but what-”
“It was the virus that killed Oasis. All but maybe a couple hundred people. This virus turned people into-”
Jex’s face turned red. “That’s enough. I’ve heard enough. This is not a joke. This is not funny.”
I couldn’t believe what was happening here. The media had been fed a lie. They’d even come up survivors to lie on the Alan Jex show. All to cover up one thing.
I clenched the portfolio in both hands. “That’s not even really why I’m here. I’m supposed to deliver a message.”
Jex stood up. His whole body shook. He picked up his microphone in one hand and pointed the other at me. “I want you and your filthy attention whoring lies out of here. I want you out of my studio now!”
“What, did you just grab onto the first crack-pot conspiracy theory out there?”
It was out of hand. It was hard to think of anything other than how bad I wanted to punch him. Just give him the portfolio and get out.
“I said get out, you stinking, sniveling, traitorous pile of vomit. I can’t believe you’d bring in that heap of lies and expect anyone to believe it. You disgust me and every other red blooded American listening. If I weren’t on air right now I’d give you what you’ve got coming to you, you arrogant-”
I threw the portfolio at him.
He watched it smack into his chest and fall to the floor. “What’s this? Your purse?”
He reached down to pick it up. By the time he looked back up, I was out the studio door.
I slammed it as hard as I could and stormed down the hallway.
As I passed the desk and the pretty secretary, I heard the studio door slam again.
The secretary looked up at me. “Don’t worry, most guests leave the studio looking lake that.”
I blew past her and shoved open the front door.
What a crock. Nobody was going to believe me anyway, and now Jex will be ripping on me for days.
I climbed into the Jeep and fired it up.
Rhett came out of the station. “Corbin, hold up.”
Right. Like I want to stick around.
I pulled out.
Rhett ran for the Jeep. “Wait!”
I punched it and left him in the dust.
Great. So what do I do now?
Keep Reading! Chapter 6 is here.