Voice on the Radio (part 3) - Miss Info’s Magic Spell
“All right, all right,” Percy King said in a low, stern voice, tapping on the table in front of him. He was in the center of a long, long table set up in one of the studios at Zap! TV. On one side was Bob, Jam, Margaret, and on the other side were a few of the company’s other high-earning stars. Assembled in chairs facing the table were the chief of police, the commissioner, the mayor, and a few other liaisons and celebrities from other departments and networks, muttering to each other nervously. Bob Sparker sat with his hands clasped together, fidgeting, while Margaret flipped through some pages of notes she’d brought. Jam mostly just looked bored.
Percy brought himself up, leaning over the table with a look that cast a blanket of silence over everyone assembled in the studio. “This meeting is called to order,” he said slowly, fixing his stare on each person in front of him in turn, “about that radio show. The purpose of this conference is to come to a consensus on what exactly has happened, and what we can do about it.”
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“It’s unacceptable,” said Maxie Midnight, tossing their long silver hair. “I can’t work like this. You saw the trouble she caused earlier in the week, didn’t you? I had to issue a statement about it.”
“Oh no, you had to issue a statement,” groaned one of the two A-list lovebirds. “Is that all you can think about? That woman straight-up invaded our privacy! Isn’t that libel?”
“I think that’s actually slander,” Bob offered.
“Will you all please be quiet,” Percy seethed. He hadn’t raised his voice (God help them if he had to), but they shut up so quickly it felt as if the pressure had dropped out of the room. “I want it to be absolutely silent in here until I say otherwise. Is that understood?”
He gestured with a short, clipped motion to the trio sitting next to him. “Margaret. You and your two friends—excuse me,” he corrected, “Mr. Sparker and Mr. Jam—you three managed to listen in on the show in question, didn’t you?”
“Um, yes,” Margaret offered. “It was last night, around…actually, I think it was exactly at midnight. Right, Bob?”
“A few minutes before, ‘cause you ragged on me for wanting to listen to the rest of the news,” he said, giving a little chuckle. “But yeah, around midnight. We were all sitting around listening to that show on Margie’s radio, and the DJ made a big deal about how everyone was talking about her. She said people were calling her a liar, and said she’d only tell the truth from now on. And then she dropped that bombshell about Kiley Queen leaving Top Tier for Rubyred, and here we are!” He leaned back, opening his hands. “Anything I’m leaving out, Margie?”
“Actually,” she said, “it wasn’t my radio, remember? I wasn’t able to catch it on my little set at home, so Jam brought over this huge one he had. We actually brought it to the studio tonight, just in case.” Jam disappeared behind one of the sets and wheeled out his audio equipment, checking it over before plugging it into one of the floor outlets. “We were thinking that probably means that it’s coming from the underground, way down in the residential tier.”
“Or even further,” Jam chimed in. “I mean, there’s a really slim chance it could be coming from the maintenance level. Plenty of nooks and crannies for a pirate radio host to hide out in.”
“Did you check the registry?” the mayor suggested. “Even hobbyists have to register with the Communications Commission.”
“We did,” Percy responded, lacing his fingers together. “Nobody’s registered on that frequency at that timeslot.”
“That’s what I figured,” Jam continued. “So she’s gotta be an amateur who got her stuff secondhand. It’s pretty easy to do, honestly. That’s how I started out.”
The talk in the crowd grew into a discontented rumbling. “So anyway, that’s what we think is going on,” Jam said, raising his voice above the chatter. “All we have to do now is figure out who she is, right?”
“How long is that going to take, though?” Maxie asked, raising their hand. “It’s already been a week, and I don’t want to sit around and wait for her to invade my privacy again. Can’t you do anything else in the meantime? Take her off the airwaves or anything?”
“Not unless we wanted to shut down all broadcasting from midnight to five in the morning,” Percy said, drumming his fingers on the table. “And that’s a risk we can’t afford to take, given that we need a venue for emergencies. Still,” he added, “Maxie over there has a point.”
Bob nodded, which sent a spike of irritation down Jam’s spine. “Yeah. I mean, detective work is great and all, but if we don’t do something fast, she’s gonna strike again. I mean, you could be next, Jam.”
“First, I don’t care what she decides to say about me,” he said flatly. “Second, this is the sort of operation you want a scalpel instead of a sledgehammer for. If you aren’t careful, you’re gonna end up punishing a lot of innocent people for no good reason. I guess you could look at registered transmitters and see if anyone’s been selling them off, but it’s not like you can just march down the street and grab peoples’ equipment—”
“Sure we can,” Bob piped up. “We’re Top Tier. We practically run this town!”
“That’s not what I’m saying,” his friend said, exasperated. “The vast majority of these hobbyist DJs aren’t doing anyone any harm. Killing off amateur radio shows means killing off an entire avenue for up-and-coming talent!”
“Then just get rid of anyone who got their equipment secondhand! That’s not so hard, right?” Bob retorted. “Besides, it’s illegal to run a show without applying to the Commission in the first place!”
“Bob, did you ever stop to think about why those people got their equipment used?” Jam snapped. By this time he and Bob Sparker were nose-to-nose in the middle of the studio floor, arguing vehemently. “It’s because they can’t afford the hundreds and hundreds of dollars that it takes to get set up! By targeting people who aren’t authorized, you’re basically targeting the poor!”
“We don’t have time to sit around and debate this! The longer we wait on this, the more dangerous this gets. This is an issue of public safety!” Bob shouted. “What’s she gonna do next? I mean, it’s like yelling ‘fire!’ in a public place, right? Right?” He turned towards the crowd, and to Jam’s horror, a roar of approval went up from the celebrities in their seats. “The last thing I’m gonna do is stand by while Miss Information does whatever she wants—”
A hideous, high-pitched crackling sound ripped through the studio. Bob yelped and scrambled backwards, bumping into the table. Jam cringed and reached for the radio. “Hold on, sorry,” he said, “I’ll turn that off—”
“Gooood evening, Electricopolis,” crooned Miss Information’s smooth-as-silk voice through the speakers. “I missed you so much, I just couldn’t wait until midnight.”
Jam’s hand froze on the dial. Slowly he pulled away, and, as one, everyone’s eyes turned towards the radio. Miss Information’s voice, full of self-satisfaction, sounded out clearly in the cavernous room:
“Now, you know I don’t usually broadcast so early, but tonight’s a special occasion. I hear the bigwigs up top are throwin’ a great big bash all about yours truly. Too bad I wasn’t invited, huh, night owls?  I think it’s mighty rude to throw a party and not invite the guest of honor. There’s the King and his pretty little princess,” she snickered, “and their top earner, Mr. Lightning Bug, and I bet Maxie Midnight and those two noncommittal sweethearts are there too. And the mayor, and the good chief of police…but not me.” 
“How the hell does she know I’m here?” said Chief Howell, standing in his seat. “This was supposed to be private!”
“It was private!” Margaret insisted. “I phoned you and the Mayor, and that’s it!”
Miss Information laughed a cold and cynical laugh. “It’s like Sleeping Beauty all up in here! Nobody ever wants to invite the witch, isn’t that right? Well,” she said, “if they’re gonna treat me like a witch, then a curse is what they’re gonna get. Get your charms ready, night owls, because I’m workin’ some black magic tonight!”
A hush fell over the room, and in a low, sibilant voice, she continued. “You ready and listenin’, folks? This is big, big, big. You all might have heard something about a lost episode of Mr. Lightning Bug’s show…that’s Bob Sparker’s ‘Shock ’Til You Drop,’ for you dim bulbs out there…”
“What?” Bob rasped, his eyes growing wide. He pushed himself off of the table and drifted towards the center of the room, coming closer and closer to the radio. Like a tide, the people around him pulled away.
“Well, I did some digging, and I got my dirty little paws on a copy of the tape. Surprising no one, our friendly neighborhood super-sadist sent one of his contestants to the hospital!” Miss Information whooped. “I’m only surprised it took so long to happen! But it wouldn’t be much of a bombshell if the story ended there,” she said. “I have it on good authority that Mr. Sparker actually went to St. Celestine’s later, to check in on his victim…but he wasn’t the only one there.”
Percy King pushed his chair back with a grinding sound and stood up, jabbing a finger in the radio’s direction. “Turn that off, Jam,” he said. “We don’t need to hear this.”
“I hear that Mr. Sparker’s employer was right behind,” Miss Information giggled, her voice pulsing with excitement. “That’s right, night owls, your boss and mine, the King himself. I hear he walked into the hospital,” she said slowly, “waved his hands, and chanted a magic spell…”
“I said turn that off!” 
“And lo and behold,” Miss Information cackled, “he made that poor contestant disappear!”
Bob Sparker stood in the center of the room, his face drawn and pale as a sheet. He seemed to sway on his feet for a second or two, and then he whipped around, staring at Percy King with an expression of wide-eyed disbelief. “You told me you’d take care of it!” he exploded. “You told me she would be fine!”

Voice on the Radio (part 3) - Miss Info’s Magic Spell

“All right, all right,” Percy King said in a low, stern voice, tapping on the table in front of him. He was in the center of a long, long table set up in one of the studios at Zap! TV. On one side was Bob, Jam, Margaret, and on the other side were a few of the company’s other high-earning stars. Assembled in chairs facing the table were the chief of police, the commissioner, the mayor, and a few other liaisons and celebrities from other departments and networks, muttering to each other nervously. Bob Sparker sat with his hands clasped together, fidgeting, while Margaret flipped through some pages of notes she’d brought. Jam mostly just looked bored.

Percy brought himself up, leaning over the table with a look that cast a blanket of silence over everyone assembled in the studio. “This meeting is called to order,” he said slowly, fixing his stare on each person in front of him in turn, “about that radio show. The purpose of this conference is to come to a consensus on what exactly has happened, and what we can do about it.”

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Voice on the Radio (part 2) - The Radio Show
It was true: the half-off sale had been a radio prank. From what the news stations were reporting, listeners had been tipped off about a “fantastic deal” at Tracy’s from a radio show, and that was that. The news media didn’t pay it any more attention until  a few days later, when the police had to be called to drive away droves of people from a record shop in the Diamond District. Apparently, word had gone around town that rocker Maxie Midnight was going to be promoting a new single in the area, and a rather testy statement from their PR department had to be issued to convince everybody that not only had that appearance never been arranged, but Maxie’s new single wasn’t being released for a month. 
The following day, two A-list movie stars stepped forward to refute an engagement that had never happened. The day after that, the city had to denounce a rumored construction project to rip down an orphanage, and the day after that, warnings were issued against announcements of a drag race in the valley outside town. The whole week passed by in a storm of press releases and news bulletins, and soon the entire evening lineup began to revolve around the rumor-mongering radio show.

[[MORE]]
The identity of the DJ and information about the show itself were scarce, since it wasn’t listed on any of the official shortwave listening guides.  “Which isn’t very unusual,” noted one of the town eggheads, who was being interviewed about it. “In the lower tiers, after all, there are hundreds, or perhaps even thousands, of hobbyist radio broadcasters who aren’t licensed or verified by the city. It’s an incredibly active subculture. Who knows how many programs just slip through the cracks.”
“So,” asked the interviewer, “do you mean to say that this recent spate of radio pranks points to a fault in the government regulations regarding hobbyist broadcasters?”
“I didn’t say anything like that!” the expert sputtered. “The important thing is to know when you’re being fed a pack of lies! As long as nobody listens to this ‘Miss Information’—I mean, the clue is in her name, for goodness’ sake—we should be just fine…”
His voice disappeared into static as Margaret turned the dial slowly. “You don’t want to listen to the rest of it?” Bob complained, leaning over her shoulder. 
“That’s the end of the eleven o’clock news!” she admonished. “It’s almost time for her show to come on. I didn’t manage to catch it last time, but I’m positive we can get it this time. Um, thanks so much for letting me borrow this, Jam,” she mumbled, a little embarrassed. “I guess my radio’s not good enough.”
“It’s fine,” Jam replied. The three of them were sitting in the parlor of the Kings’ penthouse, where Bob had dropped her off the week before, and instead of Margaret’s dinky little portable radio, their DJ friend, J. Jam, had lugged over the biggest, baddest, most sensitive piece of equipment he owned.
 “Geez, this must have cost like a hundred thousand dollars!” Bob gushed, pulling up the antenna as high as it would go. “Jam, you can be a real stick in the mud sometimes, but I gotta give you credit, you come through in a pinch.” 
“Don’t yank on it like that!” Jam snapped. “If you zap it and I have to replace the whole thing—”
“Shhh!” Margaret hissed, as the radio crackled and popped under her hand. “I think I’m getting it!”
The crackling on the airwaves started to subside, and after a moment, the radio spoke. “Good evening, night owls,” crooned the velvety voice on the radio. “I hear everyone in town wants a piece of me today. Settle down, boys and girls…there’s enough Miss Information to go around.”
“That’s her! It’s her!” Margaret exclaimed. 
“Now, I’m all for attention, but sometimes it goes a little too far, you know what I mean? Some people up top are saying some very, very mean things about your favorite midnight DJ.” Miss Information purred out the words. “Some people are callin’ me a liar.”
All three of them fell quiet. Margaret sat in the middle, the radio in front of her, with Bob and Jam leaning in from either side.
“Well, all right, maybe I went a little easy on my homework.” There was a creaking, like the sound of a chair leaning back. “After all, fact-checking can be such a drag. Just ask the news stations up top! They’ll tell you the same thing,” she laughed huskily. “Anyway, I’m turnin’ over a new leaf. You all want to hear the truth so bad? Better run for cover, night owls, ‘cause I’ve got a bombshell tonight. You all know about that hot new star Top Tier’s grooming for their primetime domination, don’t you? That hot little number with fire engine-red hair, Kiley Queen?”
“Never heard of him,” Bob muttered.
“He’s kind of a jerk,” Margaret said. “I’ve seen him bullying the crew on set. He’s got a really strong fanbase, so the studio’s trying to wrangle him into a leading role. Throw enough money at it, I guess—”
“Well, it seems like one or two bad ideas made it through Mr. King’s head, because I hear that this Kiley kid is planning to turn tail and head for Rubyred Networks!” Miss Information let out a raucous laugh, and they heard the thump of heels on a desk. “Can you believe that, night owls? Probably it’s that weasel in charge of Rubyred who keeps luring TT’s stars away with, I don’t know, candy and flowers or something. Keep an eye on the hotels, night owls, and maybe you’ll see Percy King standing in front of ‘em with a boombox!”
Jam clapped a hand over his mouth to stifle a laugh, but not before Margaret swatted him on the head. “That’s not funny!” she snapped. “At least, not the part about Kiley. We’re spending millions of dollars on that dumb show of his! If it’s true—”
“If it’s true,” Bob said quickly. “We don’t know if it is! It might just be a joke like everything else, right?”
“I dunno,” Jam wheezed, lifting up his glasses to wipe a tear from his eye. “Heh-heh—I mean, she did say she was turning over a new leaf. If she lied now, then nobody would take her seriously anymore.” He settled his glasses back on his face and settled back into business mode. “I think she’s playing it straight.”
“Yeah, well…” Margaret let out a low growl under her breath. “She’d better not be, if she knows what’s good for her.”
“‘If she knows what’s good for her?’” Jam repeated. “Are you seriously getting more upset about her than Kiley? He’s the one that’s being a snake about this whole thing. You’d better check your priorities.”
“What you should be checking is your attitude,” Margaret snarled. “This lady’s putting false information all over the airwaves, and you’re laughing about it! I cannot be-lieve you, Jam! I mean, it’s not just about the Kiley thing—well, it is, but—”
“Um,” Bob said.
“—I mean, there was Maxie, and then those other two, and she’s just invading peoples’ privacy and spreading lies about them!” Margaret went on and on, stammering her way through her rant. “And don’t you care about the company? Or my dad? Or me? This isn’t a joke, you know!”
“Oh yeah, the poor company,” Jam said, rolling his eyes. “Okay, listen, Maxie’s single wasn’t a big deal. The fake engagements thing, a little over the line, I’ll admit that. But if this is true, it’ll teach the company a good lesson about who they throw all their money at! Look at the big picture here, the long-term…”
“Guys!” Bob exclaimed, throwing his arm over the table to shut the radio off. “Can you two please not argue about this?” he pleaded. “Just calm down! Let’s just wait it out for the next few days, okay? We don’t even know if it’s true!”
—-
“Hell yeah, it’s true!” Kiley brayed into the microphone a day later. “Not that I wanted it getting out, but whatever. If TT wants to keep me around, then they oughta stop wasting my time! I gave them so many chances and they just jerk me around like a rag doll. ‘Wake up on time’ this, ‘get your butt to the set’ that! Star power doesn’t come cheap, you know!”
Bob had to practically wrestle Margaret away from the television. “I’m sick and tired of this!” she howled. “What’s next?”
“C’mon, Margie, don’t be like that!” Bob insisted. The telephone rang, sharp and piercing, and he turned to grab it as Margaret squirmed out from under his arm. “Oof, hello? Who’s this? Oh, hey, Mr. Director,” Bob said quickly. “No, uh, Mr. King’s a little busy—well, where’s the fire, buddy? Fine, I’ll tell him! Get lost!”
He slammed the receiver down so hard that he fried it with a jolt from his hand. “Ow, ow!” he hissed. “What kinda secrets these people have, anyway, if they’re so scared of ‘em getting out? Right, Margie?” He looked up. “Margie?”
She was stalking down the hall, and Bob trotted quickly after her. Down at the far, far end of the penthouse hall, and after innumerable doors on either side, was the dimly lit hideaway known as Percy’s study. Margaret pushed on the heavy wooden door and it swung open slowly, revealing Mr. King himself reclining in his desk chair, his eyes closed, the soft humming of a fan the only sound in the room.
“Dad,” she said pointedly.
He raised a hand. “Shh, sweetie,” he whispered. “I’m thinking.”
Margaret planted her hands on her hips. “Well, you should be thinking about how we’re going to teach Kiley Queen a lesson, because he’s—“
“That’s the least of our concerns,” Percy murmured, slowly coming back up until he was leaning over his desk, his fingers laced under his chin. His eyes were still closed; even when he was hard at work, he often looked as if he were napping straight through a conversation. “Money is money,” he continued. “Panic is what we really want to avoid.”
“Got some bad news on that front, chief,” Bob piped up, leaning against the doorjamb. “We just got a call from the studio. Marv’s wondering what he’s going to do with a lot full of hysteric stars. He wanted to talk to you about it—I told him to buzz off.”
With slow, ponderous movements, Percy King stood up and flattened his palms firmly onto the desk. He opened his eyes and waved Bob and Margaret closer. “Call him back,” he said, “and mind your manners this time. Tell him to clear out Studio A for a meeting tonight at eight. You too, Margaret,” he said, nodding at her. “Call the mayor and Chief Howell. No reporters.”
“Tonight?” Margaret repeated.
“Tonight.”

Voice on the Radio (part 2) - The Radio Show

It was true: the half-off sale had been a radio prank. From what the news stations were reporting, listeners had been tipped off about a “fantastic deal” at Tracy’s from a radio show, and that was that. The news media didn’t pay it any more attention until  a few days later, when the police had to be called to drive away droves of people from a record shop in the Diamond District. Apparently, word had gone around town that rocker Maxie Midnight was going to be promoting a new single in the area, and a rather testy statement from their PR department had to be issued to convince everybody that not only had that appearance never been arranged, but Maxie’s new single wasn’t being released for a month. 

The following day, two A-list movie stars stepped forward to refute an engagement that had never happened. The day after that, the city had to denounce a rumored construction project to rip down an orphanage, and the day after that, warnings were issued against announcements of a drag race in the valley outside town. The whole week passed by in a storm of press releases and news bulletins, and soon the entire evening lineup began to revolve around the rumor-mongering radio show.

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queen-star-dust

queen-star-dust:

Sparker: Boss, I’m awake now! Boss! Let’s do some questions!

((Ah, okay! Not too many though, because I’m the one who’s a little tired now.))

Sparker: Aw, ain’t that just how life is? Okay, let’s do the first ten or something! You can do it!

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I asked Bob Sparker some questions from this long list of questions. Eventually we’d like to work our way through the entire list, but feel free to shoot some of those questions to other members of the cast as well.

Voice on the Radio (part 1) - Trouble at Tracy’s
“Huh? What’s all that over there?” Bob Sparker asked, jerking a thumb towards the far end of the plaza. There was a huge crowd of people pressing near the windows of one of the department stores, milling around restlessly. “Something happening at Tracy’s?”
“You’ve got me there,” replied his companion. She was a tall, fair-haired woman in a light fur coat who towered over Bob, especially in heels. Any citizen of Electricopolis would have recognized her as Margaret King, daughter of Percy King, and it was rare that she didn’t know what was going on. “Is there a promotion or something? I hadn’t heard about it at all.”
“Listen! Will you all just please listen!” came a sharp bark from near the center of the commotion. After a couple moments, the two could see a lady dressed in a clerk’s outfit struggle to her full height, standing above the crowd with a bullhorn. “Your attention, please!” 
“She wants our attention,” Bob chuckled, nudging his friend. “Sounds like she means business.”
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The shopkeeper paused for a moment, mopped her brow with a handkerchief, then continued. “Now, I don’t know whereyou people heard about some kind of sale today, but it’s not true. We’re closing for renovation, you see?” she said, flinging her hand out in exasperation at the notices plastered on the windows. “We’ve had these signs up for a week now!”
“Listen, we heard on the radio about a deal—” said someone in the crowd.
“Today only!” said someone else. “Everything in the store!”
“Well—well, you’ve been misinformed!” the attendant yelled. “Now shoo, go away! Shoo! We’ve got a lot of work to do and you all are blocking the road! How do you expect the trucks to get in here?”
Bob turned away from the commotion, sticking his hands in his pockets. “Hah!” he laughed. “A fake half-off sale! Isn’t that something, Margie? Think it’s a prank?”
“I sure hope so,” she replied, standing up onto her tiptoes. “Last time I saw a store fumble a sale like that, there was a riot right in the streets.” She turned away, pulling her coat around herself. “Anyway, I don’t wanna stick around. Let’s head back, okay?”
“You got it,” Bob said cheerily, proffering his arm. “So, what’ve you got planned for tonight?”
The Top Tier Electric Co. building was only a few blocks away, and they talked as they strolled together through the streets of the city. Aside from the mess at Tracy’s, the night was calm and cool, and there was a little bit of fog in the air that made the white lights of the city soft and diffused.
“No plans at all, actually,” she said. “I’m totally, completely, 100% free tonight. Can you believe it?” 
“Free?” he repeated, giving her an incredulous look. “As in, no photoshoots to show up at, no dance clubs to enrich with your presence, no dinner parties with stuffy old movie stars? Nope, I don’t believe it at all.”
“Me neither!” she laughed, throwing her head back. “I’m thrilled. I’m just going to sit back and waste away on my laptop tonight. That reminds me!” she said, stopping in her tracks and glancing behind her. “Say, that crowd we saw, over by Tracy’s…you know what that could be…”
“What’s that?”
“Well, I’ve only heard rumors so far, but some people on the ‘net have been talking about this weird sort of radio show. Have you heard about it? It’s run by this lady who calls herself Miss Information?” Bob shook his head, and she continued. “What a name, right? Well, anyway, it’s sort of like a gossip show, but it only airs after midnight. She talks about all these different things going on in town, like where to find cheap radio parts, or who clobbered whom in the clubs yesterday, and who knows what all about it is true. I guess maybe she’s in the business of advertising stores now, huh?”
“Wait, so you’re telling me there’s some mysterious lady running a midnight radio show?” Bob chuckled, holding the Top Tier lobby door open as Margaret swept in in front of him. “That’s a great story, Margie. Write it down and send it in to the paper, maybe you’ll make a buck.”
“Don’t laugh! It makes perfect sense,” she pouted, pulling off her coat and hanging it over her arm. “She’s known for pulling pranks. I’ve been trying to listen to it, myself.”
“No kiddin’?” Bob asked. “You always were one for that paranormal stuff. Any luck?”
Margaret sighed, giving her head a little shake as she pushed the elevator’s call button. “Nah, not so far. But hey, maybe tonight’s my lucky night,” she said, giving Bob a little grin. “I mean, she’ll probably talk about the fake sale, don’t you think? Wanna stay up with me and see if we can catch it?”
“Well, now, as much as I’d like to stay up with the boss’s daughter and listen to ghost stories…” Bob said, breaking up into laughter as Margaret gave him a shove. “Sadly, I gotta get my beauty sleep! Lemme know how it goes though, okay, Margie?”
“All right, all right. Wish me luck!” she said, giving him a wave over her shoulder as she disappeared up to her penthouse. “Night-night, Bob!”

Voice on the Radio (part 1) - Trouble at Tracy’s

“Huh? What’s all that over there?” Bob Sparker asked, jerking a thumb towards the far end of the plaza. There was a huge crowd of people pressing near the windows of one of the department stores, milling around restlessly. “Something happening at Tracy’s?”

“You’ve got me there,” replied his companion. She was a tall, fair-haired woman in a light fur coat who towered over Bob, especially in heels. Any citizen of Electricopolis would have recognized her as Margaret King, daughter of Percy King, and it was rare that she didn’t know what was going on. “Is there a promotion or something? I hadn’t heard about it at all.”

“Listen! Will you all just please listen!” came a sharp bark from near the center of the commotion. After a couple moments, the two could see a lady dressed in a clerk’s outfit struggle to her full height, standing above the crowd with a bullhorn. “Your attention, please!” 

“She wants our attention,” Bob chuckled, nudging his friend. “Sounds like she means business.”

Read More

Sparker:
Sorry, folks, no story this week! We’re taking a break before we start posting the next story, because it’s the biggest, largest, longest story yet! It’ll be eight chapters long. It’s also the most important one so far, if you ask me, so we’re taking some extra time to make sure we do it right!
That’s me on the right and Margie opposite me. In the back is Mr. King, in the coat, and over there on the far left is me and Margie’s other best friend, Jam. He’s a singer-songwriter-DJ-activist-general workaholic and does a looooot of good work in the underground, helping up-and-coming artists of all kinds. He ain’t much for small talk, but he’s really excited to make his debut in the next story, I can tell you that for sure.
Me and my big mouth (“my big mouth and I,” says Margie) have already probably revealed too much, but I just can’t help it, so here’s another little tidbit: it’s called Voice on the Radio. What a name, huh? 
So thanks for all your patience, thanks for all your support, and we hope you enjoy the story when it’s up!

Sparker:

Sorry, folks, no story this week! We’re taking a break before we start posting the next story, because it’s the biggest, largest, longest story yet! It’ll be eight chapters long. It’s also the most important one so far, if you ask me, so we’re taking some extra time to make sure we do it right!

That’s me on the right and Margie opposite me. In the back is Mr. King, in the coat, and over there on the far left is me and Margie’s other best friend, Jam. He’s a singer-songwriter-DJ-activist-general workaholic and does a looooot of good work in the underground, helping up-and-coming artists of all kinds. He ain’t much for small talk, but he’s really excited to make his debut in the next story, I can tell you that for sure.

Me and my big mouth (“my big mouth and I,” says Margie) have already probably revealed too much, but I just can’t help it, so here’s another little tidbit: it’s called Voice on the Radio. What a name, huh?

So thanks for all your patience, thanks for all your support, and we hope you enjoy the story when it’s up!

The Pool (artwork by electroluxx)
There was something particularly beautiful about water in Electricopolis. There were no ponds, no lakes, no anything in the valley that surrounded the city, and rains were so rare that they only came two or three times a year. So even the stuff that came out of the tap was a treasure, and if you lived up top, you could hold a glass of it up to the window and see it waver and gleam with a million colors of neon light. 
If you lived up top, though, you could do a lot of things. There was only one swimming pool in the city, wasteful as it was, and it was on the bottom floor of the Top Tier company building. Keep out. Authorized personnel only. 
It was about forty feet long, running from one end of the room to the other. The room jutted out into the lot behind the back of the building, and the walls and ceiling were glass to let in the ambient light. Aside from that, the only lights were in the sides of the pool, casting shimmering columns of yellow and green into the water.
"You can’t drink it though, right?" asked Bob Sparker, sitting cross-legged on the edge near the deep end. 
"Nah, it’s got chemicals and stuff in it," replied Margaret King, wiping it out of her face. "And you gotta be careful with opening your eyes underwater. It stings a lot." 
Margaret was Percy King’s daughter, and though her hair was much fairer than his and her face was much rounder, she had his commanding presence, his piercing eyes, and—most of all—his height. Normally she towered over Bob Sparker, but as he sat by the pool, he craned his neck to look down at her. She peered back at him, squinting through her wet eyelashes. 
"You’re not coming in?" she asked.
"Thanks, but nah," he replied lightly. "I’m not too great with water."
Margaret laughed and turned away. She swam to the end of the pool and then all the way back, kicking her legs to send luminous sprays into the air behind her. 
"To tell you the truth,” Bob said, as she swam back up to the wall, "water makes me kind of nervous."
"How come?" Margaret asked. She leaned over the side of the pool. "The whole electric shock thing? Or is it something else?"
Bob leaned forward a little bit, looking down his long nose into the water. “Well, aside from that. You can kind of see into it, but not much. You can’t really tell what’s down there.”
"Nothing’s down there."
"Yeah, but if there was, though."
"You watch too many movies," Margaret said, and kicked off the wall. She rocketed through the water like she was born in it, reached the other wall, turned, and swam on her back. "It’s not like we live near an ocean," she said loudly, over the sound of splashing.
"Good," said Bob. "I hear there are all kinds of weird things in the ocean."
"You think? I’d like to visit one sometime."
"Then there’d be one more weird thing in the ocean."

Margaret blinked, then burst into peals of laughter. “Oh, shut up!” she exclaimed, swiping a hand out to splash Bob with the water. He inched back, yelping. “I’ll make you come with me. Then we’ll be two weird things in the ocean.”

The Pool (artwork by electroluxx)

There was something particularly beautiful about water in Electricopolis. There were no ponds, no lakes, no anything in the valley that surrounded the city, and rains were so rare that they only came two or three times a year. So even the stuff that came out of the tap was a treasure, and if you lived up top, you could hold a glass of it up to the window and see it waver and gleam with a million colors of neon light. 

If you lived up top, though, you could do a lot of things. There was only one swimming pool in the city, wasteful as it was, and it was on the bottom floor of the Top Tier company building. Keep out. Authorized personnel only. 

It was about forty feet long, running from one end of the room to the other. The room jutted out into the lot behind the back of the building, and the walls and ceiling were glass to let in the ambient light. Aside from that, the only lights were in the sides of the pool, casting shimmering columns of yellow and green into the water.

"You can’t drink it though, right?" asked Bob Sparker, sitting cross-legged on the edge near the deep end. 

"Nah, it’s got chemicals and stuff in it," replied Margaret King, wiping it out of her face. "And you gotta be careful with opening your eyes underwater. It stings a lot." 

Margaret was Percy King’s daughter, and though her hair was much fairer than his and her face was much rounder, she had his commanding presence, his piercing eyes, and—most of all—his height. Normally she towered over Bob Sparker, but as he sat by the pool, he craned his neck to look down at her. She peered back at him, squinting through her wet eyelashes. 

"You’re not coming in?" she asked.

"Thanks, but nah," he replied lightly. "I’m not too great with water."

Margaret laughed and turned away. She swam to the end of the pool and then all the way back, kicking her legs to send luminous sprays into the air behind her. 

"To tell you the truth,” Bob said, as she swam back up to the wall, "water makes me kind of nervous."

"How come?" Margaret asked. She leaned over the side of the pool. "The whole electric shock thing? Or is it something else?"

Bob leaned forward a little bit, looking down his long nose into the water. “Well, aside from that. You can kind of see into it, but not much. You can’t really tell what’s down there.”

"Nothing’s down there."

"Yeah, but if there was, though."

"You watch too many movies," Margaret said, and kicked off the wall. She rocketed through the water like she was born in it, reached the other wall, turned, and swam on her back. "It’s not like we live near an ocean," she said loudly, over the sound of splashing.

"Good," said Bob. "I hear there are all kinds of weird things in the ocean."

"You think? I’d like to visit one sometime."

"Then there’d be one more weird thing in the ocean."

Margaret blinked, then burst into peals of laughter. “Oh, shut up!” she exclaimed, swiping a hand out to splash Bob with the water. He inched back, yelping. “I’ll make you come with me. Then we’ll be two weird things in the ocean.”