I sat staring out the window for a minute. Occasionally, when you hear or see something incredible, it takes your brain a few extra pumps of the synaptic cylinders to turn over. Mine may as well have backfired. I heard a tinny voice through the heavy black plastic of my desk phone checking to see if I was still there. Bemused, I blinked and began to pinch the bridge of my nose that bordered the corners of my eyes. I closed my eyes and took a minute to recalibrate my thoughts. This had to be a joke.
“What do you mean the Titanic just arrived in New York today,” I said to myself as much as to the tipster on the end of the line. A flurry of excited, if stilted, explanation followed. I finally interrupted them.
“Look. I just can’t believe this without proof.”
The phone call ended with them promising to send me the proof I had requested. Moments later the speakers from my computer chimed alerting me of a new email. Jiggling the mouse, the screen woke up from screensaver and I navigated through a torrent of spam emails making claims more outlandish than I published on a semi-monthly basis. Shortly after clearing out the junk another chime and another new email, this one from my tipster with a JPEG document attached.
A quick virus scan later and my brain stalled out for the second time that day. I attempted in vain to rescue my slack jaw as I stared at a digital photo of the RMS Titanic docking in the Manhattan Cruise Terminal. I opened the other attachment. A short video clip played of the ship pulling in and docking as people clamored all around. A normal tabloid would be all over this. Maybe they would run a special edition with the photos. Of course, pictures of this would be all over the major news sites already. I on the other hand, would be calling my immediate superior.
“We have a problem.” I said as the line came alive on the other end. “Yeah. The RMS Titanic. I’ve got the program running to make sure the photo and video aren’t altered, it should be done any second.”
My computer chimed. I spared a brief glance to confirm what I already knew.
“Results says the proof is clean.”
I pulled out the side drawer and lifted the hidden panel. I lifted the glass box and pulled the key and its attached chain from around my neck. Dropping it in the key slot I awaited my superior’s countdown before turning it. Slowly the wall behind my office opened up to reveal a series of machinery that would have been more at home on the set of a Tim Burton movie than behind a securely locked hidden chamber of a tabloid editor’s office.
“Ten cranks only. Affirmative.” I said before hanging up the receiver.
I took hold of the primary wheel and slowly rotated it until I’d followed my superiors instructions. The only response was a condom shaped bulb slowly pulsing through all the possible colors in the universe. As always, I resisted the temptation to give the wheel an extra crank.
Completing my task I returned to my desk and checked my inbox. Sure as the sun rising, the email containing the damning documents of the RMS Titanic’s miraculous appearance had disappeared. In its place was an email with a blurry picture offering proof of big foot. A quick search of the major news pages revealed no hint of the Titanic either. Once again reality was saved from coming to an abrupt and terrible end. I started putting together a cover page for big foot while waiting for the next real scare.
Apropos of: This Prompt