Doctor Linda Torres had convinced the public that a meteor large enough to dwarf the one that had killed the dinosaurs was headed towards Earth. Yes, it was a lie of apocalyptic proportions, but it was a necessary one. Humanity wasn’t meant to be grounded on Earth until the end of time. She understood that once it was all said and done, the International Space Agency would open their doors to allow the World Court to lead her away to the firing squad. Worst of all, she knew that she would deserve it.
Instead of a technological leap forward, the streets of Earth’s cities had flooded with riots paramount to the death of civilization. Her heart pounded against the inside of her chest as the world-famous journalist Andrew Parmot entered her office and plopped down in a chair across from her.
The journalist leaned forward until she could feel his breath tickle her face. “Doctor Torres, you and your agency have shown the world the dangers that await us in the cosmos. You claim there’s an astronomical blind spot that makes it harder for the meteor to be detected. It’s true that it’s harder to spot objects coming from the direction of the Sun. However, other lesser-known agencies are reporting that there is no meteor heading towards Earth. They say that their instruments haven’t shown so much as a pebble in the area of space you referenced. Of course, they’ve all been brushed aside since they don’t have your reputation, but I’m sure a journalist like me could get the public to believe them.”
Doctor Torres felt herself grow lightheaded. She had dreamed of watching humanity fly into space ever since her mother had read her bedtime stories of space adventures as a child. But, save for the sporadic trip to the Moon, manned space exploration had kept to science fiction. To Hell with the riots! She’d see humanity into space no matter what it cost.
As soon as her vision cleared, she leaned across her desk and stared down Andrew until he flinched and reeled backwards. So much for his thick hide. “Why don’t you cut to the point and tell me what you really want?”
His lips spread into a thin wisp of a smile. “I was wondering when you would say that. Is that a confession I’m hearing?”
Doctor Torres clenched her nails against her palms until she felt the heat of blood being drawn. In her mind’s eye she envisioned herself tossing the journalist out the window. She smiled. That was one way for her to calm herself down. “What could I possibly have to offer you?”
“I want a ride on the shuttlecraft your agency is sending up to deal with this nonexistent threat. Give me that and I assure you my network will give you all the positive news coverage you need to get the public on your side for this new space age. We can tell the masses that the meteor’s trajectory shifted more than we expected.”
Doctor Torres exploded in a cacophony of laughter. “If that’s what you have to say, you can do away with the blackmail. I knew from the get-go that this had zero chance of working out unless fate was on my side. I hope this doesn’t strike you the wrong way, but it seems that you are all the fate I need.”
Andrew Parmot grinned and stuck out his hand. The pair shook as equals paving the way towards the next phase of human civilization.
Derek Spohn writes in Virginia in the United States. He graduated from Old Dominion University in December of 2020. He double majored in Spanish and Creative Writing. He has had stories published in Alien Dimensions and The New Accelerator.