The Incumbent: Chapter 30

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

Realising it all rested on him, Jones burst into the main studio.

'Put the gun down and we can talk this through,' he screamed. But he was too late; the break had finished, the green light switched on and Willis was back in control.

'Well, I've never seen anything like it in all my years in broadcasting,' said the shock-jock. 'We have a madman with a gun here in the studio, and he looks ready to use it. Mr Woodburner, tell me what's going through your mind right now. Do you think he is going to kill you?'

'Of course he's going to f****** kill me!' screamed Woodburner. 'Just look into his eyes,' he said, before adding, 'someone's got to help me here.'

'Well,' continued Willis, 'Mr Musson has past form, of course. He has killed a police officer, so we know he's capable of it. This really is a most intriguing situation. I hope the police are onto this before it really does turn nasty.'

The police were nowhere near being 'onto it', of course. They were number eight in a queue of callers waiting to get on to 'Jed and Josie in the Morning'.

'I wouldn't want it to be a hyena,' said one caller on the best-animal-to-have-sex-with discussion, 'all that laughing, you might take it personally.'

Not only were the police slow to pick up on the unfolding situation, but the television news programs hadn't taken the bait yet, either. Willis was scanning the television pictures as he spoke, but there was nothing. Musson was finding his apparent disinterest in the situation a little unnerving. What had become of society, he reasoned, when the prospect of a murder attracted so little interest? Even Adam Willis seemed to have moved on from it.

'Of course he's going to f****** kill me!' screamed Woodburner.

'I'm going to kill this man and you're sitting there flicking through what's on television?' Musson protested, his gun hand shaking dangerously as he spoke.

'Hang on,' said Woodburner. 'Flick back to that last channel.' In his haste to see if any channels were covering the unfolding situation at 2IQ, Willis had skipped past Channel Eight. He'd seen Botherington, muttered something about 'that woman' and clicked on.

'Yes, you should see this,' said Jones from the back of the studio. 'There's been an attack on the VastTel building.'

'Hang on,' said Willis, looking round at Jones. He wanted to know what this stranger was doing in his studio. He was starting to feel the control of his program slipping from him.

'Who are you, and what are you doing here?'

He was about to call security, but realised that wasn't a good idea; they might take Musson, too, and that would ruin the program. Nonetheless, there needed to be some sense of order. If there was going to be a killing on his show, it needed to be handled within the strict confines of the format and running order. It must fit seamlessly between commercial breaks and traffic reports, and finish right on the top of the hour before the news.

Nonetheless, he did as Woodburner suggested, and flicked back to the channel where Trisha Botherington was reporting from outside the main VastTel headquarters. By this time, she was surrounded by onlookers who had turned up to see her in the flesh. In fact, all you could see behind her now was this huge sea of men, not a woman anywhere — it looked like India. Few had any real interest in the explosion.

Willis, who had little interest in Botherington's sexual aura, decided he needed to cut across to the audio coming live from the scene.

What had become of society when the prospect of a murder attracted so little interest?

'Look we'll come back to you in a moment, Mr Musson,' he said 'but there is another event unfolding outside the VastTel office block. Let's cross over live to Trisha Botherington, speaking live on Channel Eight.'

Musson was p***** off. What did you have to do to get attention in this town? Wasn't the prospect of a live on-air assassination enough? Still, there was no point in doing any shooting now; the red light wasn't on, and any coverage would be so after the fact.

He sat back down, swivelled his chair towards the TV and put the gun down on the desk in front of him. Willis looked on, motioned for him to pick it up again, but Jimi Jones was too quick. He reached over and grabbed it. Musson was so engrossed in Trisha Botherington that he didn't even notice as Jones tried to disarm the weapon. It took a while. The youngster wasn't used to handling anything that wasn't electronic. He spent some time looking for the off switch, then decided to remove the batteries, before eventually resorting to taking out the ammunition, which he came across by accident whilst looking for the SIM card.

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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