"Wildest Dreams" - Novel Submission
“The world’s major governments all think the other guy has a new form of advanced aircraft and are taking major liberties inside their airspaces. There are rumors the U.S. will go to an elevated alert status in the next few days.”
“I’m in the news business, Ty.” Her condescending tone grated on his nerves. “The Israelis rebuilding their temple in Jerusalem could also be the spark that ignites the whole mess. What’s your point?”
Wiggs folded her arms across her chest and let out a deep breath. “My point is, the market share we’re trying to reach out to does not believe any of this is being caused by aliens or ghosts. Our target market thinks the Russians or Chinese or maybe even the U.S. are up to no good, and they’re the listeners we want.”
“I beg to differ.” Brendan dragged the palm of his hand across a stubbled chin. He forgot to shave again. “I agree my callers today are much more mainstream than they were a few years ago. Corporate may think they’re all drinking from the same pitcher of Kool-Aid, but those same callers are convinced they’re seeing space ships and phantoms…and who knows what else.”
His boss smiled, but it seemed shallow. She should trust him after all these years, but from her penetrating stare, it was clear she didn’t.
“Corporate is concerned one of the major talk shows will gain ground if we don’t make some changes,” Wiggs said. “Eventually, they’re going to climb down off their high horses and acknowledge what’s really happening. We’re ahead of the curve right now on all things paranormal and we want to take it to the mainstream.”
Brendan stared at her. He didn’t bite, and an uncomfortable silence filled the large office.
“How about a show on the missing persons epidemic?” Wiggs nudged a framed black and white photo of Brendan’s mother to one side, leaned forward, and planted both elbows on his desk. “Blame it on alien abduction if you want, but also explain how it’s affecting the local police.”
He carefully straightened the porcelain and glass frame. It needed dusting.
Wiggs seemed to notice and pulled her hands back to her lap. “This is me talking, Brendan,” she said. “I’m on your side, but even PNN is telling us we need additional social and political content in the show, and we both know where the bulk of our revenue comes from. Without the Phili*Dor News Network, we wouldn’t have the success we’ve had.”
She was right, as usual, which is what annoyed him the most. Brendan folded his hands as if in prayer and leaned back in his plush leather chair. “I feel like I’d be abandoning my base if I steered News4th away from the paranormal and made it more political, Ty. I’m afraid I’d lose them and we’d simply be trading old listeners for new listeners.”
“We’ve researched this and it will work if it’s done properly.” Wiggs pulled a spiral-bound document from her briefcase. “As long as we maintain a paranormal link to all this political and military activity, we believe the listeners will embrace it. Read through this when you get a chance.” She set the thick document on the edge of Brendan’s desk and nudged it forward.
“Wider audience?” Brendan said. “We’re already the fourth largest syndicated radio program in the country. How much bigger can we get?”
“We believe a lot bigger. My message to you today is to think about it. Please. We need you on board.”
Brendan sighed. The truth was he’d been considering it for months. He just didn’t like the idea thrust down his throat.
“I have to run.” Wiggs grabbed her briefcase as she stood. “Keep it to yourself, but ownership met with senior Phili*Dor management in New York last week about a potential expansion of our relationship.”
Brendan winked and said, “Did they meet with the Phili or the Dor?”
“Mr. Dorchester died last year, Brendan. You should pay more attention to things like that.” Wiggs rolled her eyes again. “I’m not sure if Mr. Philips attended the meeting, but I do know he’s a big fan of the show.”
“PNN’s going to put us on more stations?”
“We’ve got our fingers crossed.” Wiggs smiled. “They think—”
Wiggs’ mouth gaped open suddenly, her attention focused on something over his right shoulder. Her eyes pointed out Brendan’ office window without saying a word, her dark coffee complexion turning pale.
Brendan spun around in his chair and squinted against the glare of the morning sun. What the… His heart skipped a beat, maybe two. Where the morning sky and Atlantic Ocean formed the eastern horizon, a large silver object in the shape of a cylinder without wings slid towards the north, several hundred feet above the deep blue waters.
Brendan’s body became rigid, something inexplicable overwhelming every urge to move. He squeezed the arms of the chair, confronted firsthand by precisely what he had scoffed at for years. Brendan Kates found himself staring at a puzzle piece that did not fit his personal worldview. “Blimp?” he muttered.
“They aren’t that big,” Wiggs said, in a raspy, falsetto whisper, “and they aren’t that fast.”
J. O. "Wildest Dreams" - Tuscany Prize 2014 Novel Submission
Photography by GNU-FDL sourced from commons.wikimedia.org
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