The Incumbent: Chapter 29

Summary:It's an intricate web of murder plots, government conspiracies and rampant tanning. Oh, and the future of the entire nation.

Several advertisements followed the traffic, then it was back to Willis, who took a call from a listener. 'Why is my phone bill so complicated?' asked Rheinholt from Bondi.

It was an excellent question. No one ever understood their phone bill. To most people, it was just a random jumble of numbers with your address written at the top.

'Why are there so many different charges?' asked Willis, hoping that paraphrasing the question would make it easier for Woodburner. It didn't. Woodburner knew nothing about phone bills; he'd never seen one.

'The call is dependent on a number of factors,' he said.

'Yes, I understand that,' said the caller, a little agitated.

'Can you be more specific?' said Willis, hoping to move it along.

Research had shown that his audience had only a 20-second attention span, so it was crucial that he changed the topic several times each minute.

'Well, certain words are more expensive than others, for example,' explained Woodburner.

'Really?' said Willis. 'You charge according to the words we use?'

Woodburner didn't have a clue. It seemed logical, but the revelation seemed to have surprised everyone. Everyone, that is, except Musson, who was starting to feel a little drowsy. He had come off the adrenalin high of a lunatic about to commit a murder, and was starting to feel his eyelids get heavier and heavier. The tedium of the broadcast wasn't helping. He didn't want to, but he feared he was about to drift off and miss the opportunity to kill. The maniac inside him was pestering him to stay awake, but his brain was wanting to lie down and have a nap.

The maniac inside him was pestering him to stay awake, but his brain was wanting to lie down and have a nap.

He decided if he was going to do something, now was the time. Whimplestein saw him reach for something in his bag. 'This is it,' the psychiatrist thought excitedly.

'Look, I can sort out your phone bill,' said Musson, talking over the caller. He stood up, pulled out his pistol and pointed it across the desk at Woodburner. 'The more VastTel people I kill, the easier life will be for all of us,' he said, looking as demonic as ever.

Willis motioned Musson to sit down. This was exactly what he had been hoping for, an armed combatant in the studio, but he didn't want him standing up. All the threats were off-mic and barely audible to his ageing, hearing-impaired audience.

'Look, hang on to your gun,' said Willis, 'but please move closer to the microphone.'

'Sorry,' said Musson, returning to his seat, but keeping his gun focused on Woodburner's forehead.

'Perfect,' said Willis. He knew no one would be turning off their radio at this point, or switching over to the equally successful HIT-FM's 'Jed and Josie in the Morning', where they were taking listener's calls on the subject 'if you were going to have sex with an animal, which animal would it be and why?'

The show had panned out exactly as Willis had hoped, but he didn't want Musson to do anything too hasty.

'Don't shoot,' he pleaded to Musson. 'Not yet, anyway. We've got to take a break. Back after this.'

'Don't shoot! Not yet, anyway. We've got to take a break. Back after this.'

The red light in the studio turned off and the 2IQ audience, left wondering what was happening in the studio, where fed a 60-second commercial about a breakthrough technology to make them more active in the bedroom. Most of his audience hadn't been active in the bedroom since 1974, and half of them could no longer manage the stairs to get up there.

In the studio, Woodburner was staring down the barrel of the gun, his life flashing before him, intermixed with the horrific visions of two 90-year-olds thrashing about on a queen-sized mattress. 'It's the way to go,' came the advertising slogan, implying that this marvellous new technology might finish you off, but at least you'd die with a smile on your face. If you had your teeth in.

Jimi Jones was watching the proceedings through a large window in the control room. After sharing the ride to the studio with Woodburner, he had decided to hang around and watch the morning's proceedings. He seemed to be the only one who didn't want to witness a cold-blooded murder, particularly when it involved a man who had promised a significant promotion for him. Even though he didn't particularly like the man, a career opportunity like this didn't come too often. He needed to get the police round quickly, but when he tried the nearest station, the number rang out. Little did he know, there were only three people on duty, all arguing whether it was best to have sex with a pig, horse or giraffe. A giraffe seemed to be the general consensus, because, even though they're not particularly good looking, you wouldn't have to look at the face.

The Incumbent is Phil Dobbie's first novel and these excerpts have been used with his permission. All characters appearing in this work are fictitious. Any resemblance to real persons, living or dead, is purely coincidental. To purchase the entire novel in digital format, click here. It is also available in printed format ... for more details click here.

Topics: Telcos


Phil Dobbie has a wealth of radio and business experience. He started his career in commercial radio in the UK and, since coming to Australia in 1991, has held senior marketing and management roles with Telstra, OzEmail, the British Tourist Authority and other telecommunications, media, travel and advertising businesses.

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