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Totally Authentic News

Welcome to Totally Authentic News, also known as Parker's Corner.

Jonathan Parker is an award winning freelance journalist, living in Con City. He reports on current events and conducts interviews with prominent people. His articles are published in illustrious journals such as the Con City Times and the Black Lake Gazette. The following are reprints of his most successful articles.

Click here for the full article list or browse his newest work below.

Animated Radio

posted Sep 10, 2018, 4:40 PM by Viktor Zólyomi   [ updated Sep 10, 2018, 4:40 PM ]

The following article by Jonathan Parker was originally published in the Con City Times.

Veteran action movie actor Jamie Ace is seething with rage over the fate of his new animated television show, which currently airs on Desert Rock Radio. The show, called Brutus Catus, is about an animated crime fighting cat who keeps the streets of Cat City safe from thuggish giant rats, cheese smuggling crows, and sidewalk fouling poodles. The name of the protagonist, Brutus Catus, is a mild reference to the character of Brutus Force portrayed by Jamie Ace in the Bombs, Bullets & Babes movies. This, many believe, may have caused the show's cancellation on Channel 11, the television station that had produced the show in the first place.

`It was a good plan, honestly,' says Jeremy Edwards, Marketing Director at Channel 11. `Everyone knows and loves Brutus Force. Little kids wish they were old enough to watch those movies. So why not produce a family friendly animated show about a cat who does the same thing Brutus Force does, just with a lot less violence and a lot less exposed breasts? It was a recipe for success, for sure. And obviously, we had to get Jamie Ace to voice the cat. But then the animators said we should have Brutus Catus resemble Jamie Ace as closely as possible. That, too, sounded like an excellent idea. We never expected it would backfire in the end.'

Jamie Ace is often referred to as `the man of a thousand identical facial expressions,' and has won several awards for his ability to `keep his face so rigid in emotional scenes it could only be done with great effort and dedication.' To do his acting skills justice, the animators at Channel 11 decided that Brutus Catus should have the exact same facial expression in every frame. Due to this, the cat's face was rendered as a static image in the entirety of the show.

`It was the only way,' says Kyle Gomez, lead animator on Brutus Catus. `How else were we supposed to make this damn cat look like Jamie Ace? Even the slightest bit of animation in the cat's head would have meant that no one would recognize him as Jamie Ace's feline equivalent. But I don't understand why people complain so much. Sure, Brutus Catus's head is not animated. But everything else is. So what's all the fuss about?'

The stark contrast between the static face of Brutus Catus and the speed with which he claws his way through his adversaries apparently did not sit well with audiences who complained about nausea, lack of immersion, and boredom. Ratings plummeted after the second episode, and by the fourth Channel 11 decided to take the show off the air and replace it with reruns of old Joe's Gonna Kiss You episodes.

`It was a catastrophe,' says Jeremy Edwards about the cancellation. `In retrospect, we should have used puppets. Or made a live action kid's show with Jamie Ace. Although that would have been a lot more expensive to make. And the channel's not doing so great these days.'

Still reeling from the cancellation of one of their leading programs, Channel 11 decided to try and salvage the fiasco with Brutus Catus by offering up the rights to broadcast the show to the highest bidder. Desert Rock Radio secured the rights for an undisclosed sum. Other stations expressed their interest in the show as well, including Radio Con City, albeit their application was turned down due to the limited amount of airtime they have every month. No television channels made a serious bid.

Desert Rock Radio now airs the show every Saturday at 10 AM, in audio only format for obvious reasons. Jamie Ace is furious over the fact that his first foray into animation met such an inglorious end, and is demanding on social media that the show be given a release on internet video hosting sites. Channel 11 has thus far refused to comply, while Desert Rock Radio are unable to as they only purchased the rights to the audio track of the series.

Rick Jackson, producer of the Bombs, Bullets & Babes movies, believes that the fault lies with the actor himself. `I told Jamie this would happen,' the producer says. `He goes and gives his voice and his face to a lame ripoff of Bombs, Bullets & Babes with a title that's barely legal, produced by some second rate television channel, and he's surprised his show bombs? Of course it bombed, it was not produced by me. Not that I wanted to, but if I had, the show would have made billions and would have been released theatrically. And we wouldn't have called it Brutus Catus, either. It would have been called: If Brutus Force Were A Cat. But it wasn't. So, tough luck, Jamie. Now get your ass back on the set of the next Bombs, Bullets & Babes before your career follows this animated show into oblivion.'

Jamie Ace continues his social media crusade to try and get Brutus Catus a wider, on-screen release. He has launched a crowd funding campaign to gather enough funds to purchase the rights to the show for himself so he could binge watch it in his living room and live stream it to the entire world on the internet. After the first twenty-four hours, the total amount of funding he has accumulated is one dollar, donated by a user named `notJamieAce' and accompanied by a comment that says, `I'd pay more but I gotta save for the coke I'll need to watch this shit.' Jamie Ace remains confident that his campaign will pick up in the near future.

Flamer Salesman

posted Aug 11, 2018, 9:46 AM by Viktor Zólyomi   [ updated Aug 11, 2018, 9:46 AM ]

The following article was penned by Jonathan Parker and was originally published in the Greenwell Inquirer.

Doctor Terrence Walker, controversial psychiatrist at the Greenwell Police Department, made the headlines amid speculations regarding the identity of one of his patients. A week earlier, members of the public alerted Greenwell Police to the sighting of a man resembling escaped convict Joseph Dodgson. Better known as Flamer Joe, Dodgson escaped from Con City Penitentiary several months ago. Authorities have been eager to recapture the escaped serial killer, who is guilty of murdering ninety-six people, most of them with a flamethrower. Law enforcement officers found the suspect selling household items from a dirty old van in the suburbs of Greenwell, and quickly brought him in for questioning. When the man identified himself as Joseph Smith, traveling salesman, the Chief of Police asked Doctor Walker to interview him.

`I did what I could,' Doctor Walker said about the interview. `At the end of the day, I am no detective, so figuring out his identity was beyond me. Which is why I subjected him to a psychiatric evaluation instead, to ascertain whether or not he may be a psychopath who enjoys murdering people with a flamethrower. As I stated in my report to Chief Woods, Mister Smith showed no signs of being interested in murder. He simply wanted to earn a living by selling his merchandise in a peaceful community like Greenwell.'

Upon recommendation from Doctor Walker, the man known at the time as Joseph Smith was allowed to leave but asked to remain in Greenwell while his ID was being thoroughly checked. Three days later, the document turned out to be a forgery, and a warrant was issued for the suspect's arrest. Unfortunately, no one was found at the motel address the suspect had given as his contact information.

`I think we can pretty much conclude that it was Flamer Joe,' said Detective Eve Rhodes about the suspect. `This is the problem with shrinks. If the Chief had given the job to me or any other Detective in the building instead of Doctor Quack, we'd have found it suspicious that a traveling salesman with the face of Flamer Joe was trying to sell cigarette lighters, blowtorches, crates of matches, and army surplus flamethrowers out of an unmarked van that looks tailor made for a serial killer.'

Chief Woods of Greenwell Police has defended Doctor Walker's diagnosis, despite the damning words of Detective Rhodes. `I have full confidence in the abilities of all my staff, including Detective Rhodes and Doctor Walker,' he stated. `I agree with the Detective that perhaps we should have investigated the suspect's business in more detail, but we had limited information at the time, and Doctor Walker is our foremost expert on the human mind, hence I have no reason to doubt his diagnosis. I am in fact relieved, that albeit Flamer Joe remains at large, he has apparently changed his life, stopped being a serial killer, and is trying to build a reputable business using his old tools.'

The rest of the Greenwell Police Department does not quite share the Chief's enthusiasm about the matter. `I'm almost never on the same page with Rhodes,' said Detective Malcolm Shepard, `but in this case, I have to side with her. There's no way Flamer Joe's gone straight, and even if he has, he should be back behind bars for the crimes he committed in the past. Doctor Walker should be ashamed of himself for this blunder.'

The police psychiatrist, who was recently himself a subject of controversy due to the string of missing person's cases linked to the dating show he hosts on Green City Radio, decided not to comment on the words of the police staff, and instead wrote an open letter to the escaped convict and aired it as a public service announcement during the commercial break on his dating show.

`As one dating show host to another,' he said in a reference to the televised dating program Flamer Joe used to host on Channel 11 via satellite from his cell prior to his escape, `I wish you nothing but the best in your future life. I honestly do not know whether or not the person I recently interviewed really was you, but if it was, I do wish you had revealed yourself to me so we could have shared our experiences as peers. And of course, in the name of both justice and professionalism, please turn yourself in. I'm sure your fans would like nothing better than for you to resume your duties as host of Joe's Gonna Kiss You.'

The words of Doctor Walker have failed to resonate with most listeners, and have alienated the entirety of Greenwell Police, with the exception of Chief Woods who remains confident in his abilities as a psychiatrist. One person who has given his most vocal support to Doctor Walker's PSA is Marketing Director Jeremy Edwards at Channel 11. Mister Edwards had been one of the executives who created Flamer Joe's controversial dating program Joe's Gonna Kiss You, and his career has been on a downward spiral ever since the show was canceled after the host's escape from prison. `Please, Joe, listen to the good doctor and turn yourself in,' he wrote on social media after Doctor Walker's PSA. `I'll get the show relaunched and you can go back to creeping people out on live television. I know you miss doing that as much as I miss my monthly bonus the ratings used to earn me.'

Despite the words of both Doctor Walker and Mister Edwards, two days removed from the broadcast Flamer Joe remains at large, along with the sizable inventory of his new business.

Steel Tycoon 1

posted Jul 7, 2018, 3:45 AM by Viktor Zólyomi   [ updated Jul 7, 2018, 3:45 AM ]

The following article was penned by Jonathan Parker and was originally published in the Brickton Herald.

Renowned video game developer ConSoft LLC has announced the ongoing development of their new game, Steel Tycoon 1, tentatively scheduled for release in twelve months. Still reeling from the failure of their infamous first person shooter, Koala Hunting: The Game, the company has decided to return to its roots by developing a strategy game. As opposed to the game that made them famous, Conspiracy: The Game, in this you will not be playing a corrupt politician hell bent on world domination. Instead, you will wear the hat of a ruthless industrialist, and your job will be to build an empire in the steel industry at the expense of your competitors and workers.

Set in Brickton, Con County, the game will take place in the mid 19th century and the player will control none other than the infamous Jeremiah Roarke, former Mayor of Brickton and the founder of the Roarke Steel Mill. ConSoft LLC has bought the right to use the Roarke Steel Mill in the game and Jeremiah Roarke as the protagonist from his great-grandson, the current owner of the Roarke steel empire, Vincent Roarke.

`My son, Jeffrey, talked me into it,' Vincent Roarke says about his decision to sell the necessary rights to ConSoft. `He keeps talking about how good Conspiracy: The Game is, and how much it makes him want to run for Mayor when he grows up. Granted, we could use another Roarke as Mayor of Brickton, so I am thankful to ConSoft for planting the seeds of ambition in Jeffrey. And I figure, lots of young people will come to appreciate the steel industry more if they play a game based on how my great-grandfather built his empire from nothing.'

Vincent Roarke's exaggeration refers to the fact that before establishing the Roarke Steel Mill, Jeremiah Roarke began his life as a banker, then went into politics in 1848 when he took the freshly vacated seat of Mayor of Brickton. In Steel Tycoon 1, the player will begin the game as Mayor of Brickton, and will have to pass various new tax laws that will ensure that all existing steel mills and coal and iron mines will struggle to stay afloat. The player will also have to establish a bank account that city officials and the public do not know about, and transfer as much of the collected taxes to this account as possible without arousing suspicion. The goal of the player is to accumulate a large enough starting capital to effectively buy as many of the struggling companies in the steel industry as they can by the year 1853, which is when the player leaves politics and starts the Roarke Steel Mill, just as Jeremiah Roarke did in real life.

`I am glad the developers are dedicated to historical accuracy,' Vincent Roarke states about the inclusion of his great-grandfather's largely unethical reign as Mayor. `Of course, this part of history should be nothing but a prologue in the game. The meat of it should be how the steel mill grew into the biggest in the Republic of North America.'

In the second stage of Steel Tycoon 1, the player will have to manage the Roarke Steel Mill, carefully balancing material and human resources to ensure that the business turns a profit and is able to grow. The player must keep an eye on the yield of the mines and the efficiency of steel production in the mills, oversee construction of blast furnaces, and ensure that workers are utilized to their maximum efficiency. In particular, they will need to reduce working hours before the exhausted workers could go on strike.

`I can give players a free tip,' Vincent Roarke offers. `They would do well not to have the workers in the mill do shifts longer than fifteen hours under any circumstances. But also no less than twelve hours. As for miners, they can take longer shifts because in the darkness they can't really keep track of time anyway. But even they shouldn't work more than eighteen hours a day, because otherwise, they'll become prone to causing accidents, and that would put production on hold. You never want to risk that, trust me.'

The ultimate goal of the game will be to lead the Roarke Steel Mill until all competitors within Brickton go out of business. ConSoft is promising an online leaderboard where players will be ranked in two categories: how long it took them to achieve complete monopoly, and what the annual profit margin is at the end of the game. Top ten players in each category are expected to be given in-game rewards, though the nature of those rewards is at this time not known. What is known is that there will be no DLC for Steel Tycoon 1, and players have Vincent Roarke himself to thank for that.

`I explicitly forbade ConSoft to make any DLCs,' he states. `My son told me all about these things, said it was a way of releasing an unfinished product and cheat players out of their money. Granted, I can appreciate a good monetization strategy, but I will not give my family's name to a half finished video game. Instead, I made an agreement with ConSoft that if the game is successful, they will expand it into a trilogy.'

Steel Tycoon 1 is, apparently, expected to be just the first of many in a new video game franchise. The culmination of the planned trilogy will take the series into the present day, where the player will step into the shoes of Vincent Roarke himself.

`Just another reason not to have DLCs,' Vincent Roarke states. `I would not want a game mode where you play as me to be a cheap add-on. I would want it to be a main feature. And I would want it to be as authentic as possible. We are already in talks about using motion capture technology to put my likeness into the game for cutscenes of board meetings. I am quite looking forward to it.'

And as for why the current head of Roarke Steel didn't want ConSoft to set the first game in the present day? The answer is profoundly disturbing.

`Playing a simulation of the current steel industry, especially in Brickton, should be a very difficult game,' he explains. `Consider, that these days I have to pay my workers for overtime if they pull long shifts. The blasted social media age makes it essential to invest in worker satisfaction. But worst of all, players will have to put up with the extremely unfair taxes of that greedy bastard Stanley Greekhorse. Like I said before, it's high time we had another Roarke as Mayor of Brickton.'

Recovered One Word Poems

posted Jun 9, 2018, 3:26 PM by Viktor Zólyomi   [ updated Jun 9, 2018, 3:26 PM ]

The following article was penned by Jonathan Parker and was originally published in the Greenwell Inquirer.

Visitors to Greenwell Museum can soon expect the reopening of the One Word Poems exhibit, as Greenwell Police have finally located the poems that had been previously stolen from the museum. The poems, works of Greenwell's revolutionary poet C. Thomas Whitaker (born John Brooks), had been violently taken from the museum two years ago, when a man broke into the building with a bulldozer. Curator Lawrence Curtis is relieved that the One Word Poems have at last been recovered.

`I was afraid I'd have another heart attack if the police wouldn't find them,' the Curator says. `I'd like to thank Greenwell Police, especially the Detective who led the investigation, for finally finding the masterpieces of Whitaker (Brooks). I know Detective Rhodes and myself have never seen eye to eye, but I am truly grateful that she finally caught the thief.'

`Actually, I had nothing to do with it,' says Detective Eve Rhodes about the recovery of the poems. `One of our beat cops pulled over a car in the suburbs for a broken taillight, and the driver went ballistic on him for being stopped, so he had to bring the guy in. And then he found the manuscripts in the glove compartment, so the case was passed over to me. What can I say, I love it when criminals are too stupid for their own good, especially when they're famous actors.'

The arrested man, currently suspected of having been the person who had broken into the museum, is none other than veteran actor Russel Hunt, better known as Merlin from the Round Table movie franchise. Following his arrest, his home was searched where two items of note, a scarf and a pair of garden gloves were found, which are remarkably similar in appearance to the scarf and gloves worn by the thief in the security camera footage of the break-in. Russel Hunt has been advised against speaking to the media by his legal representative Nigel Finch, which fans of the One Word Poems equate to an admission of guilt.

`Of course he did it,' says Howard Pretentious, esteemed literary critic, poet, and Editor-in-Chief of the Con City Times. `It's common knowledge that his career is held afloat by the Round Table movies. Should Blunt Films decide to stop making those movies, he'd never make another movie again. And we've known for a while that Terrence Blunt wants to produce a movie out of the poems of Whitaker (Brooks), and wants to use the original manuscripts in the movie. Clearly, Russel Hunt feared that the museum might actually allow Blunt Films to use the manuscripts, and in turn the new movie franchise would put him out of a job. A shame, really. He used to be a terrific actor many years ago. He was excellent as Hamlet. It's a real travesty what became of him over the years.'

The producer of the Round Table movies, Terrence Blunt, refuses to comment the matter, albeit his production company Bunt Films has issued a press release stating that `Russel Hunt is responsible for his own actions outside a Blunt Films movie set.' While the press release did not clarify whether or not Mister Hunt's services would be retained, at the time of writing Russel Hunt remains under contract with Blunt Films and is set to reprise his role as Merlin in the upcoming Round Table 6. In contrast, Greenwell University has severed all ties with the actor, bringing an end to the long rumored launch of a self defense class which was meant to be run by the actor, in character as Merlin.

One person who has a very vocal opinion on the matter is film producer Rick Jackson, Terrence Hunt's biggest rival. `I don't know what they'll do with Russel,' he says, `but if you're hoping this scandal will spell the end of the abomination that is the Round Table movie franchise, well, we should be so lucky. No, there is no way Terrence Blunt would stop making those movies, even if Hunt were to be found guilty. Worst case scenario, he'll hire another actor to play Merlin, probably another washed up has-been, and then claim in the next movie that Merlin had to use magic to change his appearance. Or that Merlin had plastic surgery; oh yeah, I would not put that past Terrence Blunt.'

Russel Hunt remains in custody during the investigation and his bail has been set at an unprecedented amount of one billion dollars, by order of Judge Andrew Curtis. While Mister Hunt's attorney has expressed disappointment regarding the decision of Judge Curtis to set the bail so high, the Curator of Greenwell Museum believes this to be the right decision.

`No one can be allowed to ruin the reputation of the greatest poet in Greenwell's history, and I am quite glad that the justice system is in capable and unbiased hands,' Curator Lawrence Curtis, brother of Judge Curtis, states.

Mining In Desert Rock

posted May 7, 2018, 3:54 PM by Viktor Zólyomi   [ updated May 7, 2018, 3:54 PM ]

The following article by Jonathan Parker was originally published in the Con City Times

The Hades Corporation, Desert Rock's premier electronics firm, caused quite a stir when they opened a new mine in the outskirts of town early last week. The mine was established over the site of the long abandoned gold mine of Desert Rock. Locals stood baffled before the company's decision to reopen the gold mine, which had closed down in 1821 after failing to produce even an ounce of gold during its fifteen years of operation. The tale of the ill-fated gold mining endeavor has long been taught in local schools as a cautionary tale, which led to local media outlets wondering why the Hades Corporation, a firm best known for its interactive urinals, would reopen the facility. Two days after the opening of the new mine, a local man added fuel to the fire in the form of an airborne mockery campaign.

Adam White, owner of the Soaring Skyrides sightseeing company, took to the air in his hot air balloon and hovered above town for several hours with a large banner hanging from the balloon with the words `Hades Corp digs gold' written on it and the image of a casket beneath. Locals recorded videos of Mister White's flight and took to social media to ridicule the Hades Corporation. The most watched video reached over four million views in the span of six hours and spawned a sea of comments including examples such as `they're only two centuries late to the gold rush,' `should have stuck to making nerdy urinals,' and `losers would find more gold in the CEO's mouth.' When interviewed by Desert Rock Radio the day after, Adam White revealed about his controversy-stirring banner ad that he had in fact been simply a messenger.

`I run a business, and business has been pretty bad lately,' he explained. `So when this guy came by and offered a sizable sum for flying over town with this banner of his, of course I accepted. And guess what? People are flocking to ride on my balloon now, and they're paying extra if I fly with the banner. Best business decision I ever made.'

As for the individual who hired him, Adam White refused to `rat out' this person. Two days later, he took to the sky once more with a new banner, this one bearing the logo of the Hades Corporation, and the words `we mine tantalum so you can mine ConCurrency on your phone.' On the same day, the Hades Corporation issued a press release in which they confirmed that they have signed Mister White to an exclusive contract to display banner ads for them in exchange for an undisclosed sum, and that they in fact reopened the old mine not to mine gold, but to mine tantalum.

`Tantalum is an essential metal for the design of cutting edge GPUs,' the press release states. `While gold indeed cannot be found anywhere near or below Desert Rock, deposits of tantalum are abundant, and we will use the new mine to acquire substantial amounts of this rare metal. The tantalum will be used in our upcoming new cellphones which will feature state-of-the-art GPU chips that will, for the first time ever in the history of cellular phones, enable users to mine ConCurrency on the go.'

ConCurrency is the most popular cryptocurrency in Con County, developed by ConSoft LLC, creators of the infamous strategy game Conspiracy: The Game, and more recently, the scandalous Koala Hunting: The Game. Mining of ConCurrency requires heavy computational capacity most often supplied by GPU chips, hence the ability to mine it on a cellphone in your pocket would be an easy way to make money for anyone who owns a phone.

The press release and the new banner ad had the desired effect. Within a day, social media was flooded by videos of Adam White's balloon displaying the Hades Corporation's advert, which accumulated comments such as `it all makes sense now,' `jackasses should have said so sooner,' and the occasional `wait fifteen years until we find out there was never any tantalum in the mine to begin with.'

Two days later the media craze surrounding the opening of the mine seemed to die down, yet the story took an unexpected turn. A man assaulted Adam White when he was about to take off with his balloon. During the brawl, the pair wound up in the passenger cabin of the balloon which took off with them, and when it reached about fifty feet in the air the assailant fell out of the balloon.

Adam White's attacker has since been identified as Malcolm Dallas, an engineer who was laid off by the Hades Corporation a year ago after the infamous Antistray 3000 debacle. He has not yet been interrogated since the fall confined him to a room at the local medical facility in a comatose state. Adam White refused to address his attacker and limited his comments regarding the incident, which is eerily similar to the time when he threw one of his unruly passengers overboard, to the words `get off my back, it was self defense.'

Local police have stated that they believe the matter is trivial, dismissing Malcolm Dallas as `a disgruntled jobless man who wanted revenge on his former employers and then took offense on Adam White making a deal with the Hades Corporation at his expense.'

In the three days passed since the incident between Malcolm Dallas and Adam White, social media almost completely forgot the new mine in Desert Rock, save for the heated discussion on tech forums about the feasibility of mining ConCurrency on a cellphone. An anonymous commenter under the pseudonym `SensibleTechie123' pointed out that mining any kind of cryptocurrency on a cellphone, no matter how modern the processing unit inside, would deplete the battery in half an hour. In response, the Hades Corporation issued a press release stating that they were `aware of the battery problem' and that they were `working on a solution.'

Camp Black Lake

posted Apr 14, 2018, 3:18 PM by Viktor Zólyomi   [ updated Apr 14, 2018, 3:18 PM ]

The following article by Jonathan Parker was originally published in the Con City Times

Con County's top tourist resort Camp Black Lake has closed its doors for the foreseeable future after campers were attacked by what witnesses describe as `a flock of sharks and piranhas.' While Black Lake is known to host a vast array of dangerous fish, no one in the history of Con County has ever been attacked by such predators on the shore until now. Due to the severity of the incident, local law enforcement forces expect that the camp may need to remain closed for a long time, at the very least one week.

`It's going to take a while to analyze that crime scene,' Sheriff Paxton explains. `There's a lot of blood to clean up, and a lot of mangled limbs to identify. It's a miracle no one died. Yet.'

Numerous people have been hospitalized following the incident with severe injuries ranging from broken bones to bitten off hands or feet. One victim of the incident lies in critical condition, that individual being none other than Jeremy Sloan. The nephew of local fishery magnate Albert Sloan, and son of the late and infamous Robert Sloan, managed to avoid losing any limbs but has lost a huge amount of blood and sizable chunks of his flesh from various parts of his body. Reportedly, he was the first to be attacked by the piranhas.

`I've never seen anything like it,' says Lucy Hall, the lifeguard at Camp Black Lake. `Mister Sloan was dancing by the shore with his friends when five or ten piranhas just jumped out of the water and leaped on him. Lucky for him that he didn't fall into the water. He screamed for help, and his friends tried to pull the piranhas off of him, but all they achieved was that some of the piranhas jumped onto them instead. There was blood everywhere. And then the sharks came. As big as dolphins, and twice as agile. I swear, they jumped out onto the shore, and hopped from camper to camper like frogs, taking a bite out of anyone they could. Except Mister Sloan. Him they left for the piranhas for some reason.'

Several other witnesses support Miss Hall's account of the jumping sharks, and all agree that after the incident the piranhas and sharks returned to the water and swam away. It is not known at this time what provoked the attack on the campers, but given the track record of Jeremy Sloan, the Sheriff of Black Lake speculates that the young man may have done something to agitate the wildlife.

`I was there when this little shit tried to turn the lake into a giant soda bath with carbon dioxide canisters,' he said. `For all we know, he might have poured something into the water that pissed off the sharks and the piranhas. Maybe even some chemical or another his damn father invented. This is one of the reasons we had to close the camp. We don't want people going anywhere near the water until the fish calm down.'

Jeremy Sloan is at present unavailable for comment, but the Sheriff's concerns are shared by the victim's uncle Albert Sloan. `I would not put it past him,' the fishery magnate states. `He wanted to use my lakeside cabin for another party, but after what he did last time I refused to let him. Should have known he'd just go to the camp instead and get high there with his lewd friends. But getting the fish high? That's a new low, even by his standards. And he wonders why I don't let him work at my fishery.'

The environmentalist group known as Brains of the Earth, however, fears that the attack may not have been caused by Jeremy Sloan. Doctor Marcus Pitchford, who back in the day led the protest against Jeremy Sloan's attempt to pump carbon dioxide into the lake, admits having no sympathy for the young man but believes that he is, in fact, not to blame.

`I'd be the last person on the planet to defend that irresponsible youngster,' Doctor Pitchford says, `but I suspect we are dealing with something far more sinister than a party animal. Even if he did pour something into the water that made the fish aggressive, it is inconceivable that he gave the sharks the ability to jump on land like rabbits. No, I believe we are dealing with a mutation here, caused no doubt by chemicals leaking into the water from the defunct chemical plant on the opposite shore. Clearly, the plant needs to be cleaned up and demolished before it could cause even more harm to the environment.'

Doctor Pitchford refers to the ruins of the late Robert Sloan's facility, Sloan Chemicals, located in the ruins of the abandoned Black Falls, now known as Ghost Town, which has been abandoned and locked down ever since toxic chemicals escaped from the plant several years ago and killed everyone in Black Falls. The very reason why Ghost Town is abandoned is the fear that residual toxic gases may still remain in the chemical plant, which is why Doctor Pitchford believes that the time has come for the town of Black Lake to invest in a thorough cleanup of the ruins. Sheriff Paxton, on the other hand, believes this would be a waste.

`Old coot is just paranoid,' the Sheriff states. `It was all the Sloan kid's doing. As long as we don't let the brat near the lake ever again, everything will be fine. And if, if, I said, if the incident still repeats itself and we get another bunch of campers crippled by sharks and piranhas, well, then we can start entertaining the thought that maybe the treehuggers were right all along. But I tell you, it had to be the Sloan kid. And I'm sure he'll admit it to Carl as soon as he wakes up.'

At the time of writing Deputy Carl stands guard outside Jeremy Sloan's hospital room with a loaded shotgun in hand. When asked whether he believes the theory of Doctor Pitchford, he states, `all I know is we have a repeat offender in the room behind me and the son of a bitch will pay. Every crime must be punished!'

In the mean time, staff at Camp Black Lake await the decision regarding the camp's future. Lucy Hall is confident that they will not remain closed very long.

`We've had worse incidents before,' the lifeguard says. `Often, campers get a little carried away. They get high, they puke all over the grass, they defecate in the parking lot, that sort of thing. At times like that we had to close down to clean up the camp for guests, but never very long. The longest the Sheriff ever closed us down was two weeks, and that was well before my time, when we had a serial killer loose in the camp. Really, I think Camp Black Lake will very soon open its doors and provide a relaxing escape from the stress of weekdays for the whole family.'

Love On The Air With Doctor Walker

posted Mar 7, 2018, 3:38 PM by Viktor Zólyomi   [ updated Mar 7, 2018, 3:38 PM ]

The following article by Jonathan Parker was originally published in the Con City Times

By day, Doctor Terrence Walker works as a psychiatrist for Greenwell Police; his job is to help police officers through times of mental stress. By night, he spreads love on the airwaves to the lonely souls of Greenwell.

`Love On The Air With Doctor Walker is one of our most popular programs,' says Michael Josephson, owner of Green City Radio. `The show has been running for three years and we get more callers every week. We're very happy to have Doctor Walker.'

The unlikely combination of being a police psychiatrist and a matchmaker seems to have worked out well for Doctor Walker, who believes there is great synergy between his two occupations.

`It's all about getting to know people,' he explains. `In my line of work, we dig deep into the psyche of our patients, we come to understand them better than they understand themselves. It is the only way to truly help them overcome the burden of all the horrible things they see in the field. Helping people find love follows the same principles. If we understand who they really are, inside, we can match them up with compatible people. I'm actually surprised no other police psychiatrist moonlights as a matchmaker.'

The idea of working on the side while trying to maintain the mental health of the police force may seem out of place in the county that tourist guides call `the most violent plot of land in the Republic of North America,' but in Greenwell itself the situation is not quite that dire.

`I don't get a lot of work at the police station, in fact,' Doctor Walker states. `Greenwell is one of the safest places in Con County. We do have violent crime, but nothing like in Con City or Brickton, and our police force has the very best specialist task force in the country. The most mentally damaging incidents normally involve brawls in the audience at the live events of the Greenwell Bullfighting Organization, and such riots don't happen more than twice a year. It's easy to find the time to help out lonesome souls on the air.'

The success of the program, during which singles call into the show to talk to Doctor Walker who then determines which callers are compatible with each other and facilitates first contact between them, has been recognized by the Con County Television Broadcasting Association. The CCTBA, albeit not very popular with radio audiences due to their opinion of radio in general, do still hand out annual awards for the best programs on both television and radio channels. Love On The Air With Doctor Walker has won the Best Live Dating Show award, even beating the televised and immensely popular Joe's Gonna Kiss You, which has taken a hit in ratings after serial killer Joseph Dodgson, better known as Flamer Joe, escaped from Con City Penitentiary, and thereby stepped down from his duties of hosting the show live via satellite from his cell.

`We are all very proud of Doctor Walker's success, and we are grateful to the CCTBA for their recognition,' Michael Josephson says. `Especially against such stiff competition like Joe's Gonna Kiss You. Then again, such controversial programs shouldn't be given awards, no matter how popular they may be.'

Despite the critical words of the Green City Radio owner towards the competition, Doctor Walker's show is no stranger to controversy, either. Reports state that of the more than five thousand people who have called into the show during the three years it's been on the air, a significant fraction of one hundred and ninety-six have gone missing, all of them within a month of calling into the show. While Greenwell Police have found no evidence of foul play in the disappearances, members of the press have called attention to the uncomfortable statistics. Doctor Walker has chosen to address the matter, stating his belief that the string of missing persons cases connected to his program is just a coincidence.

`It is of course very sad because we will perhaps never know how or why these people went missing, whether they are even still alive, but as cruel as it may sound, this is just the way of life,' Doctor Walker argues. `Sometimes, love finds you. Sometimes, something else does. That shouldn't stop anyone from looking for love on my show.'

Those of you who would like Doctor Walker's help to find love can call him on Love On The Air With Doctor Walker between 8 PM and 11 PM every Monday and Friday. Calls are recorded and callers are required to leave their name, phone number, and home address with Doctor Walker, who will treat all personal information with complete confidentiality.

The Train Guardian

posted Feb 7, 2018, 2:31 PM by Viktor Zólyomi   [ updated Feb 7, 2018, 2:31 PM ]

The following article by Jonathan Parker was originally published in the Con City Times

Chaos and anarchy have taken hold of the streets of Brickton in wake of the recent manhunt for the vigilante known as the Train Guardian. Last night, twenty police officers in pursuit of a suspect whom they believed to be the Train Guardian were attacked by a mob of one hundred and fifty-two civilians. The suspect evaded capture, while most of the police officers have been hospitalized with serious injuries. Their attackers remain at large, and Brickton Police are already considering calling off the manhunt for the Train Guardian.

`Honestly, this manhunt was doomed to turn into a catastrophe,' said Detective Robert Corino, the head of the Train Guardian Task Force at Brickton PD. `People love the Train Guardian. He keeps our trains safe in a time when Brickton city officials couldn't care less about the railway. As soon as the press got wind of the manhunt, it was simply a matter of time before the people would rise up to protect their hero.'

The Train Guardian is Brickton's most well known vigilante. At large for over five years, he patrols the grounds of Brickton Central armed with a baseball bat and beats up anyone who does not have a valid ticket. Despite his status as a local folk hero, a manhunt was called for his capture four days earlier after he assaulted the Chief of Police at Brickton Central station. While the Chief is being treated at Brickton General Hospital in a medically induced coma, Mayor Stanley Greekhorse himself called for the manhunt, stating that `figures of authority cannot be assaulted without consequences, especially the ones on my payroll.' Mayor Greekhorse insisted that the Train Guardian be captured and made an example of, which prompted the Train Guardian Task Force of Brikcton PD to lay a trap for the vigilante.

Last night the Task Force sent an undercover police officer to Brickton Central to attempt to board a train without a valid ticket. He was confronted by a figure in a trench coat, wearing a balaclava under a wide brim fedora, and carrying a baseball bat. The undercover officer made a run for it and led the suspect towards nineteen of his colleagues. When the Train Guardian spotted the ambush, he turned tail and ran into the train yard, where he succeeded to elude his pursuers but was spotted leaving the train yard and running towards the town center. The police officers chased him on foot until they were intercepted by a group of one hundred and fifty-two civilians, all of whom wore trench coats with hats and carried baseball bats. A brawl ensued which allowed the suspect to escape. Sixteen of the twenty police officers caught in the hands of the mob were hospitalized with broken bones, concussions, and shattered teeth; the remaining four officers suffered mild bruises, and two of them sprained their ankles. The assailants fled the scene and left their baseball bats behind, all of which had the words `We are all the Train Guardian' glued on them using words cut out of newspapers and magazines.

`This kind of public support is admirable,' said Detective Corino about the incident. `Of course we have to prosecute all of those people for assaulting members of Brickton PD, which we will as soon as we identify and apprehend them, but nevertheless the unity and fighting spirit of these people is truly inspiring. This is what the Train Guardian does. He protects our trains and brings people together. He creates community spirit. You ask me, we shouldn't be chasing the poor man at all. But the rules are the rules, and we can't have vigilantes assaulting police officers. Although, given the Train Guardian's M.O., he must have had good reason for beating up the Chief. Who knows, maybe the Chief actually tried to board a train without a ticket.'

The speculations of Detective Corino seem to be seconded by an article published in the Brickton Herald the day before the clash between Brickton Police and the Train Guardian's supporters. In the article, Brickton Central's Superintendant Marcia Knowles was interviewed about the attack on the Chief of Police. `We have no witnesses to what happened, since the Chief of Police was the only passenger on the train to Con City,' she said. `What we do know is that the ticket office has no records of anyone purchasing a ticket for that train. And that a member of the train crew on the service to Con City said that the Chief flashed his badge to her and stated that he was there on police business before taking a seat in first class.'

Whether the Chief of Police truly meant to get a free ride on the train remains unknown, and the Train Guardian remains at large. Mayor Greekhorse has urged Brickton Police to `either catch the bastard or cease the manhunt' the moment he saw the estimated medical bills of the injured police officers.

Prototype Graviton Surf Board

posted Jan 7, 2018, 1:00 PM by Viktor Zólyomi   [ updated Jan 7, 2018, 1:00 PM ]

The following article by Jonathan Parker was originally published in the Con City Times

Ever since the discovery of gravitational waves, the Con City Space Agency has been hard at work developing a so-called graviton surf board: a high-tech surf board designed to ride the gravitational waves... in space. While the project received plenty of criticism from various sources, mainly numerous scientists calling it `a complete waste of time,' plenty of investors have supported the development. Now, that investment seems to have paid off, as the Con City Space Agency has made a stunning announcement.

`We've done it,' said Professor Jared Burns, Director of the Agency in his opening sentence at a press conference. `We have built the prototype of the graviton surf board!'

The announcement came just a few months after the Nobel Prize was awarded for the discovery of gravitational waves. Professor Burns admitted that the timing was no coincidence.

`When they handed the Nobel out for the gravitational waves, interest in our graviton surf board project spiked,' he explained. `Donations quadrupled within three days, and we gathered so much funding that we managed to speed up the research and development cycle quite a bit. That is why I am proud to say that we finally have a finished, ready to use prototype of the graviton surf board!'

As for how the Agency managed to build an object to ride waves that penetrate all known forms of matter, Chief Engineer Scott Freeman provided additional explanation.

`We invented a new material that can hover on gravitational waves,' he stated. `I know many of our colleagues around the world will be skeptical -- hell, I would be skeptical if someone else had designed this material -- but take my word for it, the thing works. The thing actually works. As for how, I'm afraid I cannot disclose that until our patent application is approved, which might take a couple of years or even decades. But once we demonstrate that the graviton surf board works, there will be no doubt left in anyone's mind that our invention is groundbreaking, revolutionary, and just as worthy of the Nobel as the waves themselves.'

Regarding the demonstration of the graviton surf board's operation, Professor Burns admitted at the press conference that they have not been able to test their prototype just yet.

`To use a surf board, we need a wave to ride,' he said. `This is no different from surfing on ocean waves. We can't go surfing when the seas are calm. With gravitational waves, there is the added complication that we need to find gravitational waves in space. All waves detected thus far have been found by detectors on Earth. To make matters worse, months passed between each detection. That's just not sufficient for our surf board. We need a better means of detecting gravitational waves, and in particular, we need to detect them in space. This is currently not possible, hence we have started a new project, aiming to build a gravitational wave detector in space. Yes, I'm aware the Europeans want to do the same thing, but we can do it better!'

The new project faces its own difficulties, in particular with its required functions.

`We have to not only detect but predict gravitational waves before they hit,' explained Chief Engineer Freeman. `Otherwise, we cannot prepare the graviton surf board in time to actually catch the waves. Existing detection procedures can't really do that, so we need to devise a whole new way of detecting gravitational waves. And we need to put the detector on a satellite, or a space station. That is the other difficulty. We need the Ultra Brutus space shuttle to be operational in order to deploy the new detector when it's ready, and right now Ultra Brutus is far from completion. I fear the prototype graviton surf board will be sitting in our lab for the foreseeable future.'

Despite the difficulties, the Director of the Con City Space Agency expressed confidence that it won't be long before we can go surfing in space.

`Soon, very soon, gravitational surfing will be more popular than traditional surfing,' Professor Burns said at the end of the press conference. `After all, our computer simulations clearly say that our prototype graviton surf board should work as intended.'

Radio Con City

posted Dec 4, 2017, 2:56 PM by Viktor Zólyomi   [ updated Dec 4, 2017, 2:56 PM ]

The following article by Jonathan Parker was originally published in the Con City Times

Entrepreneur Mike Winner earned himself multiple headlines in leading news outlets in recent weeks thanks to his legal battle against the Con County Television Broadcasting Association. Several months ago, Mister Winner purchased the name of the station Radio Con City, which had gone out of business a few weeks prior. He applied to the CCTBA for a permit to launch his own radio station and brand it the new and improved Radio Con City, but the CCTBA declined his request. Mike Winner refused to back down and took the matter to court.

During the lengthy trial, numerous controversial details saw the light of day. The most notorious of these was the quote taken out of the refusal letter sent by the CCTBA to Mike Winner, stating that `radio is dead.' Ever major radio station in Con County vehemently objected. Desert Rock Radio called it `the worst scandal since that nutjob tried to sacrifice virgins in a fake volcano.' Radio Brickton actively urged its listeners to take to the streets in support of Mike Winner, which led to three separate riots in the streets of Brickton. And the residents of Con City, who had been without a radio station since the bankruptcy of the original Radio Con City, sent threatening letters to the CCTBA containing remarkably sophisticated words like `eviscerate,' `castrate,' `defenestrate,' and `decapitate.'

Equally controversial was the evidence presented by the CCTBA that Mike Winner was being sponsored by the company ConnqWest Futuristics, a firm currently under investigation for questionable employment practices. The CCTBA argued that a man funded by a company that made a habit of firing its employees after 364 days of employment in order to cut down on severance pays and annual raises could not be counted on to run a reputable radio station. The end result was a complex civil trial that threatened to last decades. That was until Mike Winner, seemingly taking a page out of popular fiction, challenged the CCTBA to settle their dispute in a trial by combat. Specifically, in a boxing match.

`My lawyer deserves all the credit for it,' Mister Winner said. `He found an old law, from the 19th century, which said that any trial that took too long could be replaced with a mano a mano fistfight. It turns out, as old as that law is, it's still in effect. So we took full advantage of it.'

The law in question, instated by Con City's Mayor Buford Salter in 1849, states that any criminal or civil trial that takes longer than two weeks may optionally be resolved by a fistfight. It also states that either party may request to invoke the law and that the other party may not refuse to comply, otherwise they would be imprisoned for twenty years. Mike Winner's attorney argued that if the CCTBA were to turn down the challenge, their Director would face the imprisonment. It is perhaps no surprise that after a brief argument, the CCTBA accepted the challenge.

The boxing match between Mike Winner and CCTBA Director Robert Howell took place at Rollo Stadium in South Side Con City. The over eighty thousand seat venue was reserved by ConnqWest Futuristics as a gesture of faith in the man whose future radio station they were sponsoring. The attendance rate at the event was extremely low with a mere one hundred and seventeen people making up the audience. The match itself, however, proved to be an instant classic, as Mike Winner floored Robert Howell a minute into the first round, and the Director of the CCTBA had to be carted out on a stretcher.

The court thus ruled that the CCTBA had to give Mike Winner a permit to start his radio station. However, details were left to the CCTBA's discretion, and Director Howell instructed his staff from his hospital bed to give Mister Winner's radio station a total of five minutes of allowed airtime each month.

While Mike Winner's attorney intends to file a lawsuit against the CCTBA in order to force them to extend the monthly airtime, and has made it known that he would invoke the trial by combat law as soon as possible, the legal team of the CCTBA has stated that they would use every technicality imaginable to prevent the case from ever making it to an actual civil trial. Without a trial, no trial by combat may be initiated, hence for the foreseeable future the new and improved Radio Con City would have to make do with being on the air for no more than five minutes every month.

When asked what he would broadcast during his monthly five minutes, Mike Winner simply said: `The news. What else?'

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