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Today’s news was good. It really was.
By Yoga Arif Posted in Short Story on 2021-11-27 0 Comments 12 min read
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“The President has arrived at the Peace Summit, and now she’s passing through the front gate,” the dashing Lenny Arn is reporting with a cheering crowd behind him as three United Nations officials are escorting the President.

Lenny continues, “189 world leaders gathered inside the building and the peace talks will be held shortly. We will be monitoring the situation here, Rob.”

The broadcast that millions of viewers see placed Lenny Arn on full screen, with a line of cameras behind him and the flag-waving crowds. These crowds stand behind a blockage with billboards of ever-changing ads from sponsors like the ones they use on the side of a football field of a big match. The magic of virtual replacement tech.

Then a small panel shows up from the right side of the broadcast image, in which the host Robert Dune appears. The focal point of the broadcast is still Lenny and the crowds and the ever-changing bright and colorful sponsors logo.

Rob, though hard to see it on the broadcast, is softly tapping his pen on the table. Anyone who knows Rob personally for at least six months would tell you that it’s a sign of Rob being anxious.

“Lenny, I saw crowds behind you and possibly a lot more off-camera. How is the mood over there?” Rob’s still tapping his pen. Asking about the mood wasn’t even in the list of questions he wanted to ask. But he must follow the program.

“Positive, Rob. The crowd gathered excitedly on the lawn of the UN building and beyond the front gate. As you can see, everyone is jubilant that this event and welcomes the peace.”

“Wonderful. Thank you, Lenny,” Rob closed the conversation then look straight back to camera one. Clockwork precision. “When we get back, good news from the climate movement. Stick around.”

The broadcast then shows advertisements from sponsors to the viewers, while on the set, the news anchors took their two-minutes short break.

“120 back,” Elias announced from the control room, both Selena and Rob can hear him from their earpieces. He saw Selena stand up from her seat and walk off the set, “Selena, don’t wander.”

“Aw come on,” said Selena True, who’s co-anchoring with Rob for the day,  who then replied mockingly, “It’s two minutes, enough time to hit the gym!”

“You go to the gym? I never saw you,” Rob chimes in as he runs through his notes.

“I obviously don’t go to the gym, Rob. I do yoga at home,” said Selena, who then continues to walk away, “Instead of you worrying about me, why don’t you worry about why a peace summit has so many private sponsors? I saw you tapping your pen. Seriously.”

“I don’t know, peace is good for business?” Rob clapped back.

“What makes you think war isn’t?” asked the drowned-out voice of Selena.

Rob decided to let that rhetorical question hang in the air and went back to his notes, “E, do we have a statement from the Alt Tech spokesperson?”

“Yes, we just received it. It’ll show in the graphics,” Elias replied.

Robert Dune is in his fifties, a few years in the early part. He moved up quite quickly back in the middle of his career. He was strictly covering sports events and stories for the first few years. Thanks to his wit, his take, a loyal fanbase, a wonderfully friendly grey hair growth, and a couple of award-winning breaking news on-field reporting, he’s now sitting behind a desk as the face of the network’s main news show.

Things are looking up, professionally. Personally? Rob would say “no comment.”

Rob did a re-run of his notes. The news program is divided into four blocks or segments, as usual. Today’s no different in terms of that, but every single news is…good news. That’s rare.

Block A was about the peace talks. Block B, the good news from the Global Environment Commission. Block C will be about the 99% vaccine roll-out globally and Block D is about the passing of the new Education Bill.

Those are all positive news and Rob almost cant believe it. He never even have two back-to-back good news blocks the past few years. He held his pen steady.

“15 back.”

Selena slides back in her seat.

“What were you doing?” Rob asked.

She hits him with a poker face, “Gym.”

Rob hits back with a head tilt.

“I’m getting some food. I’m starving. I ordered some for you, too.”

“Five,” Elias started to count down.

“We’re back. Now we have here with us via satellite, Ms. Arunsetya Daniowo from the Global Environment Commission. Ms. Daniowo, good to have you here with us,” Rob opened the segment.

“Hello, Mr. Dune, Ms. True. Thank you for having me.”

“Absolutely. Now, Ms. Daniowo, I understand you have great news for us all?” Selena took charge.

Arunsetya, a surprisingly young woman, probably even younger than Selena, smiled modestly to that line of question, “Indeed. As the GEC stated previously in our press release this morning, the good news is we have hope.” 

She subtly switches into a more courteous upbringing. Selena registered a slight movement of Arunsetya’s shoulders. A rehearsed performance she has probably shown a few times today already.

Arunsetya’s voice is crisp, “Our technological breakthrough has shown that we not only will be able to reach our global Net Zero Emission faster and more efficiently, we can also theoretically cut down the amount of carbon in the ozone

Selena thought to herself that she wouldn’t be able to say those words that perfect even if they are on the teleprompter in front of her.

“With the commitment from every nation, we can extend our time — in this case, humanity — to live the life as we know it here on Earth,” Arunsetya’s sentence ending tone hits just right that it’s so clear to Selena to grab it.

“That’s good news, Ms. Daniowo,” Selena paused, “but you use the word ‘theoretically’. The report released this morning by EGC also repeatedly used that word. Theoretically, the calculation might not hold up. Theoretically, can things still go wrong?”

“The calculation will hold up,” Selena answered without skipping a beat, “But we also need to acknowledge that we are facing this climate crisis because many things went wrong and we let them, and now we’re changing that. The breakthrough, while we wished it came sooner, it wouldn’t even be here if we didn’t go all-in on this.”

Selena sensed that the courteous side of Ms. Daniowo faded. Like she went off-script. In a good way. Like she crawled into the set and grabs Selena by the shoulders, to thank Selena for the opportunity to say beyond her prepared statement.

“We will lose Earth if we don’t go all-in on solving our climate crisis. Sadly, there are people, even in my personal life, that doesn’t quite grasp the gravity of this issue. Like they don’t feel the Earth as the interior of their home. They think the climate crisis is happening in a stranger’s backyard a continent away from them. It’s not.

“There are still challenges ahead, yes. Some of the impacts are unavoidable at this point. Many of us already felt it. But now there’s hope.

“I see government positions finally being secured by those who serve the public, not themselves. I see Businesses pouring money, not just greenwashing, to help with this problem. To help with the peace, even, as we saw the broadcast earlier where many businesses are supporting the peace summit and bankrolling the peace.

“I think this is the main good news. Because now, we as species finally do something colossal together for our survival. That’s the good news.”

“Unity as a species. That’s the best news I’ve heard in my life,” Selena replied and decided not to pursue the phrase ‘bankrolling the peace’. Rob is tapping his pen.

“Yes, I agree and I absolutely —wait, pardon me, ” Ms. Daniowo is interrupted by someone in her room.

That second, Elias’s cold voice came in both Rob and Selena’s earpieces, “Hey, we gotta cut it short. We have breaking news.”

Selena’s still running point in this segment, “I’m sorry to cut this short, Ms. Daniowo, thank you for the good news but we have breaking news coming in.”

“Oh, yes, sorry, I actually…” Ms. Daniowo seemed to lose all of her composure and whatever was said to her visibly shook her, “Yes I think I’m hearing what the breaking news is right now. Thank you for having me, please go ahead.”

“We go to Lenny,” Elias commanded. The segment shifted quickly.

“We’re going back to Lenny at the peace talks with the breaking news. Lenny?” Rob took charge. Lenny doesn’t even try to hide his panic face and trembling voice as he shows up on the screen.

There is tension behind him, even in the crowds. Lenny looks at the camera with dread. Sweat.

“I’m hearing war. War has been declared and multiple nuclear warheads have been launched. One of them heading your way.”

*

A living room. Midday.

Clean. Tidy. The breeze is coming in from a window that opens into the city, flirting with the light grey curtains. The room is empty, not a soul inside.

The only sound in the room is the TV that is being left on. Shouting, screaming, crashing sounds can be heard subtly from twenty stories below. Siren. More loud noises. More screaming. Even singing.

The TV shows a man behind a news desk, an anchor in his fifties, just frozen. The camera is a bit off, tilting to the side. The anchor is silent, staring blankly.

Then he snaps out of it, back to his bleak reality.

He looks over behind the camera then pulls out his phone from his inner pocket. He puts it on his table. Conflicted. Like he’s trying to decide whether or not he’s going to call whoever it is in his mind. The one he kept thinking about, the one he never wants to talk about or talk to anymore.

He swiped open his phone, tapped on it a few times, and paused. He took a deep breath and smiled. He put the phone back inside.

He gathered the paper notes on his newsdesk and placed them carefully. He stood up, fixed the titled camera by himself, and sat back on his seat. He’s tapping his pen.

“If you’re watching this at home, real-time, maybe you haven’t run out of your room or you simply didn’t know: breaking news, there is a nuclear warhead coming to this city. And dozens of other cities. I think I heard Elias, my executive producer, say it’s heading downtown. Which means this building is in the blast radius.”

“No time to escape. I know I’m supposed to find shelter, but nothing really sheltered us from this moment happening. I’m not sure I want to see what happens after the dust and blood are settled.”

He paused.

“What the fuck, right?”

“Well, that was the first time I said profanity on live TV. Mortality, you know?”

“I really thought this would be a very good day. Today’s news was good. It really was.”

“Obviously, this is our last show. Our last breaking news. I understand this broadcast will live forever, I hope, on the internet since our live shows are streamed and saved online. I’m grateful that there is a record of this.”

“This segment of ours should’ve been finished a few moments ago, there should’ve been a commercial break by now but…the crew and the team are all scattered, some of them, I think, ran outside. Including my co-anchor Selena…they probably calling or running to the ones they loved. They should. They really should.”

“Besides, I don’t think our advertisers care that we cut their advertisement for this last broadcast, right E?” Rob sighed heavily, visibly, even on TV.

He stopped tapping his pen.

“I’ve come to terms with my mortality earlier this year, and the shock of the current bleak reality has worn off me just now. But this is wrong for everybody. This should never happen. Not again. Not ever. It’s not fair for everyone.”

“Fuck you, whoever is responsible for this. Whoever sponsored this crime against humanity. Humanity itself should be better than this. Far better than this.”

Rob throws his pen away. His elbows are on the table, he stuck his face behind his palms. A deep sigh, remembering the words from the previous segment.

We as species finally do something colossal together for our survival…” Rob sneered, his eyes straight to the camera, “Just when I thought humanity could take on the climate crisis…our crisis of humanity strikes again.”

He hears a whisper through the earpieces.

“I received info that the missile will hit within seconds. Thanks, E. You’re a good man.”

“I hope humans can recover from this tragedy. Recover our humanity. There are so many things going wrong right now. For this to happen…this is very preventable. Well, you, the ones who’ll live on, must do a far better job. Good luck.”

“Thank you for watching our show. I’m Rob Dune, goodb–”

Climate News Short Story


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