â€œThis is a disaster,â€ said Herman Goodrich. His magnetic chair glided away from the table and bobbed gently as he threw his excessive weight into it, then it obediently slid back into place. Goodrich wiped a glaze of sweat from his forehead and reached for a donut before opening his console. Around the conference table, the other members of the Department of Media Relations waited for their leader to continue, but he did not. Instead, Goodrich focused his attention on the document projected into the air before him. The silence was palpable.
â€œSir?â€ Dugan, the second-year intern, was the only one with the courage to break it. Goodrich looked up crossly.
â€œDid I give you permission to speak?â€ he snapped.
â€œThen donâ€™t. Have we suppressed the medical report?â€ Goodrich continued. The question was directed to Kimley, who nodded. â€œAnd the manâ€™s family?â€
â€œBribed,â€ Kimley said, â€œBut the ER footage is still on the net. We canâ€™t cover up the shooting itself.â€
â€œWould anyone care to explain to me why the Prime Ministerâ€™s ray gun was set to lethal?â€
â€œIt wasnâ€™t, sir,â€ said Kimley. â€œThe man had a pacemaker. It malfunctioned at the livestock-stun setting.â€
Goodrich nodded. â€œA true hunting accident,â€ he said with some relief.
â€œCNN wants to interview the victim,â€ Kimley continued.
â€œWell, tell them heâ€™s recovering. Itâ€™ll blow over.â€
â€œSir,â€ said Dugan, again interrupting.
â€œI told you-â€œ
â€œSir, an interview might help us in this situation.â€
â€œYou know how the Prime Minister is with interviews.â€
â€œI mean with the victim.â€
â€œThe victimâ€™s dead, Dugan,â€ Kimley said.
â€œThey donâ€™t know that. Iâ€™ve been researching the automated decoys that the Secret Service uses during the Prime Ministerâ€™s transports, and-â€œ
â€œYou want CNN to interview a decoy?â€
â€œIt would only take a couple of hours to make a cast of the victimâ€™s face, and we have the Prime Ministerâ€™s phone logs for voice modulation. Weâ€™d be controlling every response.â€
Herman Goodrich considered this, frowning slightly.
â€œItâ€™s not a bad idea,â€ Kimley said after a pause.
â€œFine,â€ said Goodrich as he pushed the magnetic chair from the table. â€œSet it up. I want a test video in five hours.â€
As she pneumatic door slid shut behind the department head, Kimley smiled at Dugan. â€œYouâ€™re going to be good at this,â€ he said.
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