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We Are the Ninety-Nines (Working Title) - Chapter 5

by SidereaAquila


Chapter V – Jackie

Harry came back on the air with twelve minutes of show left. “Hey, you’re listening ta Corrections on 73.1 KGWU, Harry Rockwell speaking. We’re taking calls now, so just dial 918-137-3358.”

The studio’s phone rang almost immediately. Harry grabbed it and put it on speaker. “Hello, you’re on Corrections,” he said.

“Hi, this is Lee Shepard from Vesta Fields.” Lee was a good friend of ours. His twin kids, Emmy and Mick, went to school with Tam.

“I just wanted ta say thanks,” Lee continued. “You guys are amazing. It’s great that ya still ‘ave the courage ta do what you’re doing. Keep it up.”

“Alright, thanks, Lee,” Harry said. He pushed a button. “Hello, you’re on Corrections.”

“Hello, I’m Ivy Lovett from Caldera.” Caldera was the next town over. “Ya made a very good comment about Hope Everdream, when ya said that she uses logic ta support her ideas. That’s what I like about her—she doesn’t just say things ta benefit her ‘team,’ she actually thinks through the issues she writes about, an’ more often than not, she can present a reasonable solution that benefits both sides.”

“Yes!” Harry replied. “That’s exactly what she does. And that’s why her writing is so powerful—it actually makes sense.”

“That’s something you don’t see very often,” Ivy Lovett laughed.

“True,” Harry agreed. “Thanks for your call. Hello, you’re on—”

Someone’s voice blasted out of the phone. “WHAT DO YOU THINK YOU’RE DOING?! HOPE EVERDREAM WRITES LIES! IF YOU WOULD WATCH EXECUTIVE NEWS—”

I leaned over Harry’s chair and cut off the guy on the phone. “Mister,” I said, “are you being paid ta call an’ argue with us?” The guy on the phone was silent.

“Thought so,” I said. “People, we appreciate your input, but please refrain from calling unless ya ‘ave something relevant an’ insightful ta say. Thanks. Harry?”

“Thank you, Jackie,” Harry said. “I’m Harry Rockwell, this is Corrections, an’ it is a civil an’ polite show. Call 918-137-3588. Hello, you’re on Corrections.”

“Hi Harry!” a kid’s voice said. “This is Addy Barlow an’ the rest of the Monday Crew from Vesta Fields. We’re eatin’ lunch right now, at the riversider school, an’ you’re the highlight of our school day. We listen ta you every Monday. Tam’s not here right now, she’ll be back later, but you guys are awesome! So awesome. Corrections is the best. Whoops, ‘ere comes a warden—I mean teacher. Tam calls ‘em wardens. Anyway, gotta go. Bye!”

Harry laughed. “Thanks, Addy. Glad ta know we’re appreciated. Hello, you’re on Corrections.”

“Hi, we’re Ryen and Deryn Sharpless.” I looked out the door. Ryen and Deryn sat in the hall holding a phone. “We’re sitting outside the studio right now. We love you guys! Not only do you have great content, but you’re really funny! Loved the Spock Airlines. That was amazing. G’bye!”

“That was the Sharpless sisters,” Harry chuckled. “Alright, we’ve got time for one more call. 918-137-3588—wait a minute…”

The studio door opened, and Dave Westerly, Kevin’s father, jogged in. He usually brought in little blurbs about breaking news, and stuff like that. He looked like he’d seen a ghost—his face was white, and his hands were shaking as he handed Harry a little slip of paper.

“Dave, you okay?” I asked. He didn’t answer.

“Jackie…” Harry said.

“What?” I grabbed Harry’s water bottle and took a sip as I read over his shoulder.

When I read Dave’s slip of paper, I choked on my water and doubled over, spraying it across the table. “What?!” I shrieked. “Is that even legal?! That can’t be legal! He can’t do that!

“Jackie, I think he can,” Harry whispered.

“Read it,” Dave ordered.

Harry swallowed stiffly and read the paper, his voice shaking. “Breaking news,” he began. “This from the White House. A bill just signed by President Mars Thrasher—” Harry took a deep breath— “hereby disbands all workers’ unions in the energy industry. Effective at 12:00 AM tomorrow.”

I felt like I was choking. The union was the single most important thing in our lives. It held us together, kept us focused, kept us helping each other. And it kept Thrasher’s overseers at bay. We had one source of strength—numbers. Without the union, we’d be nothing more than slaves.

“Dave, call a meeting,” I ordered.

Dave leaned over and grabbed the microphone. “I call a meeting of the Geothermal Workers’ Union of Wyoming, Caldera Chapter,” he said. “Come ta Magma Square in Caldera at 6:00 PM tonight. All are welcome.”

“Is six hours enough time?” Harry asked Dave. “It takes longer ta decide things in large groups.”

“Six hours is plenty,” Dave said confidently. “I’m sure everyone is thinking the same things we are. Even if we take four hours ta decide something, I’ll still ‘ave time ta make it ta headquarters an’ file all the papers.”

“Great,” I said, feeling confident despite Dave’s news. “See ya at six, then.”

“Six,” Dave repeated, walking toward the studio door. He stopped and turned back to us. “I got everyone off work today,” he added. “So the leaders can go home an’ get something done. Jackie, if you can come up with some sort of plan, that would be great.”

“Sure, Dave,” I said. “I’ll bring Tam ta the meeting, too.”

“Wonderful,” Dave replied. “See ya at six.”


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— Skulduggery Pleasant