Once Larry and Martha paid the bill, they drove to the hotel.
Larry and Martha had a lot to say while they were in the restaurant. But the car ride was very quiet. It was like they’ve run out of things to talk about. In fact, Martha thought back to a few days earlier when she used the reality engine to look into the future, just to find something to talk about. Martha looked at what the world would be like in the year 2017. She saw various news organizations and websites being accused of presenting fake news.
“Do you still watch CNN?” Martha asked.
“Yes,” Larry said. “Why?”
“Just making conversation. What about Fox News?”
“Not really. Fox news is a biased conservative news organization. And this is coming from a conservative.”
“You don’t think CNN is biased?”
“Not as bad as Fox News. I wouldn’t be surprised if people accuse Fox News of being a fake news organization some day.”
“Do you think people will accuse CNN of being a fake news organization?”
Once again, silence filled the car. Both Larry and Martha felt that the silence was both peaceful and awkward at the same time.
During the silence, Martha had a lot on her mind.Larry and Martha use to have the time of their lives just talking. But Martha couldn’t remember the last time she and Larry had fun just talking to each other, besides their time at the restaurant a few minutes ago. Then again, Larry and Martha had busy lives. Martha was a teacher, and Larry was a web designer. All the while, they were raising two kids. So maybe this was normal.
Eventually, Larry broke the silence as well as Martha’s train of thought with a slight chuckle.
“What’s so funny?” Martha asked.
“Who would be stupid enough to present fake news?” Larry asked.
“I have no idea.”
Back home, Monica was on the computer, while Emily watched TV.
“Aunt Monica, I’m bored,” Emily said.
“I’ll play with you in two minutes,” Monica said.
Monica was reading a news blog.
The author of the blog wrote, “allowing people to identify as whatever gender they want will result in totalitarianism.
Those who identify themselves as gender fluid are worse than terrorists.”
“Enough of this crazy shit,” Monica said to herself.
At that point, Monica decided to get off the computer and play with Emily.
Meanwhile, somewhere on planet Oberon, there was a tower. Inside the tower, on the top floor, a man and a woman sat in a dark office, watching various news broadcasts from Earth. The office was darker than a movie theater.
“It’s working, Clarence,” the woman said. “For many years, we’ve filled Earth’s news with half-truths and whole lies, which influenced these Earthlings to create their ideologies. Earth has fought in two world wars because of these ideologies. Well, that and oil…and money…and land…and other reasons. Anyway, it’s just a matter of time before World War 3 breaks out. When that war ends, Earth will be so weak, it will be easy to take it over.”
“Why are we trying to take over Earth, when we haven’t even taken over Oberon yet?”
“Why focus on just one planet at a time?”
“Because we can’t work too efficiently if we spread ourselves too thin. Otherwise, we would have taken over Oberon by now.”
“Well, once we get a hold of the reality engine, we can take over the universe easily.”
“Then why bother creating fake news for Earth?”
“It’s a backup plan to take over Earth.”
“What’s our backup plan for taking over Oberon?”
“Well, we’re already at war with Libertas, so we can use that as an excuse to take over that country.”
“What about the rest of the planet?”
“My God, why do you ask so many questions?”
“Why do you overlook the flaws in your plans? Why do you always hide your face in the dark? Why do you find a reason to freak out at me almost every single day? For somebody named Glacier, you’re pretty hot-headed.”
“No, I’m fucking not!”
Glacier’s words echoed throughout her office.
“You were saying?” Clarence asked.
“Shut-up,” Glacier said in a soft voice.
Back on Earth, Larry and Martha arrived at the hotel and they excitedly headed to their room as soon as they checked in.
Larry and Martha’s hotel room had a king-sized bed, a 52-by-92-inch TV, a desk, a mini-fridge, and a bathroom with a hot-tub in it. The room was also very spacious as well.
“Relax while I slip into something more comfortable,” Martha said.
Martha went to the bathroom, while Larry relaxed on the bed and watched the news.
“That can’t be true,” Larry said, referring to what he saw on the news. “I think I’ll log on to the
Facebook. At least that website doesn’t have any fake news.”
Before Larry had the slightest chance to log on to Facebook, Martha came out of the bathroom. She was wearing nothing by a bra and underwear. Both were the color teal.
“You really love that color.” Larry said.
“You don’t?” Martha asked. “Maybe I should do something about it.”
Martha turned around, facing away from Larry. She slowly undid her bra. Once Martha took her bra off, she held it to her side for about two seconds, then she dropped it.
Suddenly, Larry and Martha heard the fire alarm.
“Attention all occupants,” the fire alarm’s voice message said. “Please evacuate the building in a calm and orderly fashion. Do not use the elevator.” The fire alarm made a loud continuous buzzing sound.
As the fire alarm sounded, Martha threw on one of the hotel’s robes, and both she and Larry made their way out of the building. To make matters worse, it was raining. So Larry, Martha and all the guest stood outside of the hotel in the rain, waiting for the fire department to arrive.
“Happy anniversary,” Larry said.
“Happy anniversary,” Martha said.
Meanwhile, at Larry and Martha’s house, Monica put Emily to bed.
“Aunt Monica, can you tell me a story?” Emily asked as she crawled into bed.
“I’d love to,” Monica said. “Years ago, two little girls played in a field. While they were playing, they fell down a deep and dark hole. When they came out the other side, they were lost in the woods. But after several hours, somebody found the two girls. That person called the police.”
“What did the police do?”
“The police took the girls to an orphanage. The girls liked it there. But they wanted to go home. They never found their home. However, two nice people adopted the two girls. And they lived long and happy lives.”
“That’s a nice story.”
“Thank, Emily. Good night.”
Monica kissed Emily on the head and she slowly closed Emily’s bedroom door as she left the room.
About a half-hour later, Larry and Martha returned home.
“How did your night go?” Monica asked.
“Things were fine at first,” Martha said. “But shortly after we checked into the hotel, the fire alarm went off. The fire marshall allowed us to re-enter the building to get our belongings, but then we had to leave again. He told us it was an electrical fire. He shut down the hotel because it wasn’t up to code.
“Oh! You two were at that hotel! According to the news, the hotel had a gas leak.”
“Really? What kind of gas leak?”
“Well, don’t believe everything you see in the news,” Larry said. “How were the kids?”
“Great,” Monica said. “I played with Emily and then I put her to bed, and Steve was upstairs playing video games all night.”
Even though Steve was only twelve years old, he loved reading the news and he was very opinionated. But he also loved comedy. So, Steve created a news satire blog. Monica read Steve’s blog, thinking it was a legitimate news blog.
“That’s good,” Martha said. “Come on, I’ll give you a ride home.”
The next day, Martha called Monica at home.
“Did you tell Emily we’re from another planet?” Martha asked.
“No,” Monica said. “I told a story about two girls who fell down a hole and they got lost. They were found and a nice couple adopted them.”
“I can’t believe you told her that story!”
“What’s the big deal?”
“You know, maybe you should you stay away from my kids.”
Martha hung up the phone. She leaned over the kitchen counter and she took a few deep breaths. After taking a few deep breaths, Martha was about to go to the refrigerator. But Larry interrupted Martha as he stood behind her. It was like he appeared out of nowhere.
“What was that about?” Larry asked.
“Larry!” Martha said. “You gave me a fright.”
“Sorry. Uh, you don’t want your sister to babysit because of a story?”
“Well, Emily let’s her imagination run wild.”
“Yeah. She’s six years old. That’s normal.”
“You don’t understand. When Monica and I were kids, she used to believe that the both of us were from another planet. What if Monica tells Emily this and she believes it? Monica already told Emily a similar story.”
“I think you’re over thinking things.”
“You thinks I’m paranoid, don’t you?”
“Of course I do.”
Six years later…
Steve was seventeen years old, and Emily was twelve. Neither Larry nor Martha haven’t made any changes to the house in six years. However, they’ve finally put their spare bedroom to use.
Larry’s father, Frank got kicked out of the only retirement home in town. So, Larry took him in. So the spare room became Frank’s bedroom.
Monica ended up in a mental hospital.
Steve was only four months away from graduating high school. So he decided to get a part-time job to save up for college. Although his father disapproved.
“Steve can’t get a job,” Larry said.
“Why not?” Martha asked.
“He can’t even do any house work. Also, he needs to get a shave. Steve can’t go out in public with facial hair, it looks dirty.”
“Steve will be 18 in April, and you’re treating him like a child.”
“I’ll stop treating him as a child as soon as he acts his age.”
“Steve is getting an after school job so he can save up for college. That’s pretty grown up, don’t you think?”
“But he won’t be able to keep a job.”
“Why don’t you give your son a chance?”
“Yeah. Okay. Good night.”
A few days later, Steve landed a job stocking shelves at a local supermarket.
His supervisor, John Wendell was a bit of a hard ass. In fact, on Steve’s first day, John walked up to him and he said,
“Steve, I would like to give you a tip. Not only do you do need to do things fast around here, you need to do them right. If you can’t do both, you’ll never get anywhere in life. I’m not trying to make you feel bad, I’m trying to help you by being honest.”
Despite John’s harsh words, Steve tried his best to go about his day. But during his lunch break, Steve stormed into the lunch room, grabbed his lunch out of the refrigerator, and he slammed it to the table. All the while, a girl with long brown hair sat next to him. Shelly was written on her name tag.
“Was John being an asshole to you?” Shelly asked.
“Yup,” Steve said.
Steve looked at Shelly with curiosity in his eyes.
“Don’t you go to the same school as me?” Steve asked.
“Yeah, I’ve seen you around,” Shelly said. Both you and my brother write for the school newspaper.”
“You’re brother’s Michael? Awesome. I like his short stories. I really liked his story about that kid who meets his future self.”
“The girl in the story was based on a childhood friend of his. She became his girlfriend, but they broke up.”
“It does. Anyway, I got to get back to work.”
Toward the end of Steve’s shift, a woman approached him.
“Excuse me,” the woman said. “I’m looking for John Wendell.”
“Sure, follow me,” Steve said as he brought the woman to John’s office. “I’m Steve, by the way.”
“I know. it’s written on your name tag. Hi, I’m Angel. Nice to meet you.”
As soon as Steve and Angel arrived at John’s office, Steve knocked on the door.
“Hey Jerk!” Steve said as he slowly opened the door. “Somebody actually wants to see you.”
But nobody was there.
“I guess he must have gone home early,” Steve said.
“That’s not good,” Angel said. “John Wendell is a wanted man. He helped a patient at the Brookfield Mental Hospital escape.”
Angel pulled out a photo from her purse. It was a photo of Steve’s aunt, Monica.
“The patient’s name is Monica Bernard,” Angel said.
Steve was obviously shocked by the news. His eyes almost bulged out of his head, and his jaw dropped to the floor. But Steve was more curious about Angel.
“Who are you?” Steve asked.
“I’m working undercover,” Angel said. “That’s all you need to know.”