A hero needed tonight, p.1
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       A Hero Needed Tonight, p.1

           Jaime Savage
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A Hero Needed Tonight


  All rights reserved; no part of this publication may be reproduced or transmitted by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying or otherwise, without the prior permission of the publisher.

  First published in 2017.

  Copyright ? 2017 Jaime Savage

  First Edition

  This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places and incidents either are the products of the author's imagination or are used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, businesses, companies, events or locales is entirely coincidental.

  Cover art pictures paid for and licensed through BigStock.com.

  This novel is dedicated to my Papanui High School friends who know my secret and will take it to the grave.

  Contents

  Prologue

  Chapter 1

  Chapter 2

  Chapter 3

  Chapter 4

  Chapter 5

  Chapter 6

  Chapter 7

  Chapter 8

  Chapter 9

  Chapter 10

  Chapter 11

  Chapter 12

  Chapter 13

  Chapter 14

  Chapter 15

  Chapter 16

  Chapter 17

  Chapter 18

  Chapter 19

  Chapter 20

  Prologue

  The great comet was discovered and revealed to the world at a period of relative stability and prosperity during the Twenty First Century. Destined to pass Earth in the Year of the Snake, the comet had the distinction of passing closer to Earth than any other previously had at any point in documented history. Rightfully named the Davis Comet-after the amateur astronomer, and butcher by trade who had discovered her-the peculiar news was broken across the globe and was received more so with fascination and novelty than through fear of demise.

  The scientific community was undoubtedly left red-faced by the modest nature of the discovery and such was their jealousy towards the unassuming discoverer that they saw fit to launch a duplicitous campaign against him by pressing the less flattering and soon to be accepted name 'Hale Bopp's Friend' - a banal take on another great comet that had been visible by the naked eye in the closing years of the twentieth century.

  The announcement of the comet brought its fair share of naysayers which wasn't helped by the fact that a well known and public doomsday prediction was now tied in with the comet's arrival to Earth. For the most part though, life went on for the self-proclaimed sane people of the world.

  The so-called people in the know-scientists, world leaders, dignitaries-weren't alarmed by the discovery. So while the obtrusive comet might not quite be the end of mankind some people were claiming it to be its sudden, unannounced discovery did serve as a shocking precursor of what was to come. The foreshadowing wasn't duly noted at the time nor could anyone have foreseen it but it would soon become clear that nothing was ever going to be the same again.

  The days leading up to the comet's discovery were said to be good times-especially when analysed in retrospect. But then again, nostalgia is a truly mysterious and perplex creature capable of creating previously unseen memorable impressions that are only truly appreciated when it's too late. Memories that are thoroughly cleansed of all discontent into false purity masquerading in the form of hazy, distorted anecdotes.

  As the days progressed and the comet grew in size, for completely unrelated reasons the world began to slowly lose its grip on reality. America's floundering economy, crippled by a gaffe ridden Olympics hosted in New York City and an incomprehensibly priced Mars expedition-both of which had been initiated with goals of restoring confidence and inflating national pride-finally collapsed under the overwhelming weight of national debt and bleak economic prospects. Unemployment skyrocketed; the banking sector folded; investor's confidence went out the window and social unrest prevailed.

  With America now lying in social and economic ruin the domino effect soon set off a chain reaction across the world. One by one the world economies collapsed in spectacular fashion falling like a house of cards. With no one seemingly knowing how to pick up the pieces civil unrest ensued and it wasn't long before the very essence of our human society was cast aside and questioned above all else.

  And so it came to be that the media, swamped by one negative report after the next and the common man downtrodden by misfortune and hardship cried out in desperation for a bonafide hero. In at time of bleakness, the world needed someone to turn to amongst all the chaos, panic and disorder that reigned supreme. Whoever that individual was it didn't seem to matter. Pop stars, politicians, sports legend, just someone?anyone. Someone had to step up and help the world unite. The world needed a hero, and it needed that hero tonight.

  Chapter 1

  SCENE: TELEVISION FOOTAGE

  (LATE NIGHT TELEVISION SHOW)

  (The instrumental of 'In the Air Tonight' by Phil Collins plays in the background.)

  We are watching television footage from a late night television show. The show is hosted by a slim, immaculately dressed man who appears to be in his mid twenties. The young man gives off a vibe that he can't quite believe his luck hosting a major show at such a young age. The show's set is surreal and futuristic; the lighting appears almost bioluminescent. The crowd cheers and then goes silent as the host begins his opening monologue.

  HOST

  'Oh and what about this news folks: it's Day 72 of Mateus McClure's voyage to Mars'.

  The host grins sarcastically.

  HOST

  'He will of course become the first human to walk on Mars'.

  There is no response. After a prolonged pause people start to laugh at the awkward silence.

  HOST

  'See nobody cares about this expedition the moment the ol' economy hits the fan do they? You think back a couple of months ago when there was all that excitement and hype? and everyone tuned in; record numbers in fact. Now people are upset, they're angry, they're protesting in the streets, they don't want it anymore?oh wait?I'm just describing my show aren't I'?

  The crowd laughs.

  SCENE: TELEVISION FOOTAGE

  (NEWS REPORT)

 

  It's almost as though someone has changed the channel. A snippet of a news bulletin plays showing the President of the United States of America addressing a packed media room. The President is a dull looking man who speaks in a monotone.

  PRESIDENT

  'These are the darkest days of my Presidency. I want to assure you I'm doing everything I can to stop the economic bleeding. I know in this moment my words don't mean much but if you believe anything I say then please believe that the American people will push through this with resolve. We will push through this as we have done so all throughout our history in times of adversary'-

  The President's speech is suddenly interrupted by a series of screams. We see the Secret Service attempting to restrain a man but he struggles on in his fury. There is panic as reporters start to flee. Secret Service encircles the President and then proceeds to rush him out of the room. The disorder in the room mirrors the precarious state of the nation that the President has the misfortune of presiding over.

  SCENE: TELEVISION FOOTAGE

  (BOXING MATCH)

  Another channel switch. A forty something boxer named Jesse Johns is taking a pounding from a six foot seven, two hundred and eighty pound man named Hans Botham. It's one hell of a mismatch. In the background a hostile crowd waving South African flags call for blood.

  COMMENTATOR 1

  'Johns' down again. The third time now?no he's forcing himself up'.

  COMMENTATOR 2

  'The referee has got to call this off! I don't care if this is Johns' last ever fight. This has got to st
op; permanent damage is going to be done'-

  COMMENTATOR 1

  'Well this is what makes me so angry. As a former boxer and a friend to so many of these guys I can say with conviction that the health of the boxers has just gone out the window these days. They talk about viewership, they talk about the spectacle, well let me say this: you won't have a show if these guys are getting their skulls smacked in'.

  The crowd jeers as a dazed Johns clenches his fists once more.

  SCENE: TELEVISION FOOTAGE

  (NEWS REPORT)

  This time there is footage playing from Germany. Far right wing radicals are trashing stores owned by Muslims. The report cuts to an interview with one of their surrogates. Translated subtitles are shown in English as part of the news report.

  ANTI ISLAM SURROGATE

  'It may sound counter intuitive but we are not rioting Germany because we hate our country, but rather because we have nothing but great love for her. We are like white blood cells, fighting from within for the benefit of our great land to take our country back from Islam. Muslim birth rates have spread like a virus and we remain the final line of defence. Without us Germany is dead'.

  SCENE: TELEVISION FOOTAGE

  (BOXING MATCH)

  It's the same boxing fight as before. Hans Botham is toying with Johns.

  COMMENTATOR 2

  'And it's not very often you can say this but Botham has taken everything we know about boxing and thrown it on its head. To think someone could unify all four belts just shows the class of the man'.

  A fatigued Johns throws a punch but hits nothing but air. The partisan crowd calls for blood. Botham does not disobey; he hits Johns with an uppercut of incredible power. We see the truly horrifying image of Johns slumping to the ground knee first.

 

  COMMENTATOR 1

  'That's got to be it. A right hand uppercut. A magnificent career comes to an end here in Bloemfontein. Perhaps the greatest boxer to never win a heavyweight championship'.

  REFEREE

  'one, two, three, four, five, six'-

  Jesse Johns forces himself up slowly.

  COMMENTATOR 1

  'No hang on a minute he's rising from the dead'.

  COMMENTATOR 2

  'As brave as this is, as heroic as this is the referee has to call this! My God I'm about to throw in a towel myself'.

  SCENE: TELEVISION FOOTAGE

  (LATE NIGHT TELEVISION SHOW)

  It's the same late night show as before. The monologue continues.

  HOST

  'Oh and what about this comet everyone? Are we worried about this yet'?

  A few people in the audience snigger.

  HOST (laughing)

  'Well today is exactly two years from the day that it was discovered by an amateur astronomer in Alice Springs, Australia'.

  He pauses for a nonexistent reaction.

  HOST

  'Two years ago! Doesn't time fly? Back then it was named the Davis Comet after its founder. We now know and speak of it by its unofficial name-at least here in the States anyway-being ''Hale Bopp's Friend''. I remember when this name became commonplace and thinking, ''great even a comet has more friends than me''.

  The crowd laughs.

  HOST

  'No, no, no, please don't applaud that. Please don't. No but anyway, It's been a spectacular event, a once in a million year event if the astronomers are to be believed. And of course all throughout summer it's been growing in size and even now in October it's still growing as it passes Earth. As it continues to get closer and closer to us, more and more people are getting worried though'.

  There is a sarcastic gasp from the audience.

  HOST

  'They're saying it's had all this media attention, and gained all this momentum and now it's breaking up and hurtling and it's going to crash into a million pieces?oh wait that's just Susan De Vrij's music career'.

  The crowd laughs.

  HOST

  'Don't?no?how could I get them mixed up, no seriously'-

  SCENE: TELEVISION FOOTAGE

  (MARS EXPEDITION)

  The channel has changed again. The pristine, high definition footage of the late night television show is replaced with grainy, live images from a spaceship. Very raw footage plays from a fitted camera showing an African American astronaut staring out of a porthole. In the far off distance we can see Earth. It looks like the size of a tennis ball against the backdrop of space. Seeing the solitary figure so far removed from everything is a poignant sight. He could well be the loneliest man in the world.

 

  SCENE: TELEVISION FOOTAGE

  (BOXING MATCH)

  Johns raises himself up again after another beat down. His brave efforts have not won over the crowd. The one sided bout continues.

  COMMENTATOR 2

  'And when we look back on Johns' career at the end of the fight, yes he may not have ever been a heavy weight champion, but heavy weight champion or not he will go down as one of the greatest boxers of the Twenty First Century. I mean you go back and look at this guy when he was in his late twenties and how dominant he was and just the sheer number of fights he fought. You could never say that he selectively chose his opponents, it's more that his greatest rivals didn't want to fight him'-

  Out of nowhere at all Johns throws a left hook for the ages. Botham goes down in a heap.

  COMMENTATOR 1

  'Botham's down, the champion is down. The fight is over...one of the biggest upsets in recent memory?Hans Botham has been knocked out?it's over forever, it's over forever'.

  COMMENTATOR 2

  'Wow?wow?wow'.

  Botham looks like a lifeless corpse. Medical personal rush to attend to him. Johns in a state of shock and disbelieve falls directly beside Botham. His entourage rush into the ring waving American flags. Johns is inconsolable; his vindication has been granted.

  COMMENTATOR 1 (speaking rapidly)

  'Detroit's prodigal son?in his final ever fight. At the ripe old age of forty two years. Vindication has been granted, may Jesse rest in peace now, Jesse Johns, the new heavy weight champion of the world'!

  COMMENTATOR 2

  'Wow'.

  (The instrumental for 'In the Air Tonight' by Phil Collins ends.)

  SCENE: STREETS OF DETROIT

  Fireworks are being let off skyscrapers. Drivers sound their car horns in celebration. Tens of thousands of people have overtaken the streets of downtown Detroit. We see that a young couple have scaled a street light pole and sit above the sea of people below. The crowds wave American flags and chant their hero's name.

  CROWD

  'Jesse?Jesse?Jesse...Jesse'.

  SCENE: DETROIT HOSPITAL WARD

  Inside a downtown Detroit hospital ward, we see the television monitor we have just watched all the images from. It's still beaming images from the boxing fight.

  COMMENTATOR 1

  'If there was ever a time America needed a moment like this. In amongst all the doom and gloom a hero has risen'.

  A young, stocky man with an Ivy League haircut is packing up his things by his hospital bed. His name is listed above his hospital bed: Luke Fitzgerald. The young man is checking out of the hospital. He starts to place the last item into his bag but stops. It's a hand signed photo of Jesse Johns which reads:

  'Never stop fighting Luke?prove the doctors wrong'.

  Luke stares at the image as a tear falls down his face.

  Chapter 2

  SCENE: THE CITY OF EPIPHANY, OREGON

  Day is breaking. The sky is a soft pink. Surrounded by verdant woods in the Pacific Northwest is an imposing walled city. It looks like a citadel. We see a lone deer run along the outskirts of the wall. Surrounded by such serenity the locked down city is a bizarre sight.

  SCENE: OFFICE

  Avalon Smith-Or Ava as she likes to be known-approaches a door. She is a diminutive young woman dressed in khaki. Her brunette hair has been done up in quiff ponytail with s
ide tendrils hanging down over her ears. Looking noticeably apprehensive, she opens the door and walks into the strangest office one could imagine. The office resembles more of a tropical rainforest than a place of work. It's a giant, Amazon themed aviary. We see a blue and gold macaw fly overhead and the sounds of a waterfall can be heard in the background. All around the office is South American fauna. Ava cautiously approaches the desk where a man is masked by an electronic newspaper. We see the headline:

  'JESSE JOHNS' HEAVYWEIGHT TITLE SUSPENDED AMONGST DRUG ALLEGATIONS'.

  The man folds the malleable electronic newspaper as one would any other and places it down on his desk. Ava finds herself staring at Tony Perkins, one of the richest and most eccentric men on the planet. Despite all of his success he is a rather unfortunate looking man. He is ungainly tall with a gormless face that is dominated by his calculative eyes. They are piercing eyes that give one the impression that he is perpetually reconfiguring where you stand on his intelligence ladder.

  TONY

  'Le vieux Continent'.

  Ava stares blankly at him.

  TONY

  'It means take a seat in French'.

  Ava obliges and Tony starts grinning. She has fallen for his trick.

 
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