9 – Anne 1

Anne monitored the sound levels and checked the feed for any issues as Jonothan Walsman presented the news. They had been such firebrands in their youth, she had big dreams then. Full of utopian ideals. The world needed fixing and they would be the ones to do it. Now look at her. She worked a cushy corporate TV news gig, towing the line. A sell out in her winter years.

“And that is the six o’clock report for this Thursday, I’ll be back with you tomorrow. I’m Jonothan Walsman, and from all of us here, stay safe and have a good night,” Jonothan said showing his perfect teeth with that practised smile of his.

He was an old man now, hair greyed, face lined with wrinkles. It made her sad to think of their University days together so long ago. They had dated for a while in their youth, that was before she had figured herself out. Journalism had been different then, a respected profession. Now anyone with a camera could make a video, upload it to YouTube, and call it news.

“Good work everyone,” she said and started organising the crew. They all knew their roles but it was important to be seen doing her job. Everyone worked better when they knew someone was in charge.

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The room was still a bustle of activity as people moved to the next task for the night. Satisfied she passed the news room on the way to her office, she made a point to check in on them after broadcast.

“How are we all?” she said poking her head into the room. A journalist coughed. A deep barking cough.

“Gregg.” Anne made a point to know the names of the people who worked under her. “You know the rules. If you’re sick you shouldn’t be here. Go home and if you’re not better I don’t want to see you here tomorrow night.”

“Can I speak with you in your office?” another journalist said, she was young, new to the team.She nodded for the woman to follow.

“Jessica,” Anne said making herself comfortable at her desk. “what do you have for me?”

“I have new footage from the riots in Indonesia,” Jessica said.

“VPN’s haven’t worked since the Indonesian Government passed the internet black out,” Anne made it tough on her journalists, best to weed out stories here before they got to the editing stage. “How did you get it?”

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“My source in the Indonesian press managed to cross the border into Malaysia.” Jessica handed across her phone, the video ready to play. The footage was an aerial shot of the riots, seemed to be off a rooftop. Not the grainy footage they been getting.

“This is good footage,” Anne said and returned the phone. “But we’ve already covered the riots, its old news.”

“There’s more to it,” Jessica said, not taking her phone back. “Keep watching.”

The protesters started to charge the soldiers. The soldiers fired a warning shot above their heads but it didn’t stop them. The protesters movement was weird, they moved like drunks. Some looked like they’re already injured. The military fired into the oncoming mass, it barely slowed them, only a few dropped. Then the protesters closed on them. Soldiers were dragged screaming to the ground. The line broke, they ran, those that remained were torn at with gouging hands and teeth as they struggled for their lives.

“What is happening here?” Anne asked, “these people are rabid, I’ve never seen anything like it.””My source said these are the infected,” she said, “the virus isn’t as under control as we’ve been led to believe. The deaths are skyrocketing and the country is in complete anarchy.”

They hadn’t been able to confirm anything in the last few days, she had assumed it was bad and it seemed like she wasn’t wrong.

“That’s not all of it,” Jessica said, “my source found out that there were a group of European archaeologists in Muaro village only two weeks before the breakout.”

“That sounds like conspiracy,” Anne had heard rumours, but it was all the standard internet nonsense. “Do you have proof?”

“My source said they have footage,” she said, “the government was chasing the group, they never applied for permits. They were to be brought in for questioning but couldn’t be located.””That’s not enough to go on,” Anne said.

“If we make a splash maybe we can get in contact with them. At the very least they were there before the breakout. They might have some insights,” Jessica said.

“Fair,” Anne said, “can you get your source to go on the record?”

“I don’t know.”

“Confirm this Archaeologist story and bring it back to me when you’re done. Push your source to go on the record,” Anne said, “I want this tight, no screw ups.”

“I’m going to get Marty in on this, start editing, you will be leading this.” Anne texted Marty and started for his office. “Oh, and send me that footage.”

There had been footage leaking and stories on the net before Indonesia went dark. She had dismissed it all. Had she become conservative and stuck in her ways. What else had got past her. The Australian government wasn’t talking, they must know more than they’re letting on. Why didn’t she had a team on this already. She’d let herself get too comfortable.

“What have you got?” Marty said. A small man, a mess of curly brown hair and thick glasses. He was the head producer and not a bad guy, considering. Anne filled him in on the story she planned to run. He rifled through the mess of reports that covered his desk.

“The economy could take a nosedive, there could be a run on the banks, fighting in super markets. We need to sit on this. Releasing this will cause a panic. Do you want to be responsible for that?” He said, rubbing his nose where the glasses sat. “We have the shareholders to worry about. If you’re wrong we’ll all be sacked, you really want to risk that?”

“F****** hell Marty,” she said, “we’ve been sleeping on this, there is some serious s*** going on and the Australian people don’t know anything about it.”

He seemed taken aback by her language, she found strong language was far more impactful used sparingly. “Your information is good then?” He asked.

“Watch the damn video.” She thrust her phone at him.Marty sighed and watched the video. “Fine . . I’ll run it past corporate.”

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