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Bad News
Name: Bad News
Series: Hearts of Hallowan
Written by: LostInRiverview
Release date: March 16, 2011

Previous chapter: Monday Morning
Next chapter: Lies and Mysteries

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Bad News - Episode 1.03
1.02 - Monday Morning | 1.04 - Lies and Mysteries

"Alright everyone, take your seats!" A professor stood in front of a large university lecture hall. He walked towards one of the many blackboards at the front of the room and began sketching down some basic chemical formulas. "Today we're discussing Hydrocarbons and- yes?"

"Professor Ullman," A female student in the third row back, who had had her hand raised, stood up "I was wondering... the syllabus says that we have our exam on Friday, and I'm wondering, is this material going to be on that exam?

Professor Ullman brushed back his short brown hair and adjusted his glasses as he spoke, "Umm... probably not. I'll send out some review materials to the course webpage, but I don't think today's lecture or next lecture will be included on this exam. Any other questions?" The class was silent, save for the collective sound of about 50 college students texting underneath their desks. "Ok, so as I was say--"

"Dr. Ullman," A secretary peeked his head through one of the doors at the head of the hall as the Professor walked towards him. In a low voice he said "Your father called, he said it's urgent. He's on hold in the department office." Dr. Ullman nodded and walked back to the front of the hall.

"I've got an urgent call. I think my father forgot how to run the DVD player again," A laugh rippled over the hall, then Dr. Ullman spoke again, "I'll be back in a couple minutes. In the meantime, take a look at your packets for chapter seven."

Dr. Ullman walked out of the lecture hall and down the corridor to the end, to the office of the Chemistry Department. He nodded to the secretary as he entered. "He's on line two," The secretary said.

"Thanks David," Professor Ullman said as he picked up the receiver. "Dr. Travis Ullman, how may I help you?"

RING RING! "Hello, Tyler Ullman, how may I help you?" Tyler answered his mobile phone as he drove down the road. "An accident in Hallowan?" A pause "No, I'm nearby, I can meet the crew there. I'll be there in five minutes. Do you have any idea who it was?" Another pause, "I'm sure the police are already on scene. I can call my father, he probably knows." Tyler hung up the phone and picked up speed, driving towards Hallowan.

When his car finally reached the city limits, it had started to rain heavily. He drove towards the location he had been dispatched to and he parked along the side of the road; a scene had gathered, and an ambulance could be seen departing the scene. Tyler reached into the backseat of his car and pulled out an umbrella with the logo for a local TV station, and donned his employee jacket. He opened the glove box and pulled out a makeup kit, pulled down his visor and opened the mirror, and began applying light makeup until he saw the news van approach.

"They already took the victims to the hospital," Tyler said as he stepped out of his car and unfolded the umbrella.

"How many were there?" The cameraman asked while unloading equipment.

"I don't know, I haven't talked to the police yet." Tyler said.

"Well, find out. We go live in three minutes."

"Wait, we're going live?" Tyler asked, shocked. He had never reported live, only in filmed bits.

"Yeah, we're still on morning news, the Manager wants it on the air live." The cameraman said, as the producer stepped out of the van and started setting up equipment, "So go get ready!"

Tyler had barely enough time to quickly straighten up his hair and find a decent place to stand before the camera was pulled out and he was handed a microphone with a giant '7' on it. The producer walked up to him, "Now don't be nervous. I know you've never gone live before... just don't swear and try not to stumble too much. We'll be cuing you, so pay attention to me and be sure to look at the camera. Oh, fifteen seconds!"

"Camera's on!" The cameraman said. "We're live in five... four... three..."

Tyler stood still for a moment before he heard in his air, the first live on-air introduction of his media career. Finally, he had made it onto live TV, after years of hard work on the beat, after countless stories and dedicated journalism, after...

"TYLER!" The producer whispered sharply as Tyler stood with a blank expression. Tyler quickly snapped out of his stupor.

"This is Tyler Ullman live in Hallowan at the scene of a hit-and-run collision involving a car and bicycle. Umm... The vehicle driver fled the scene, but witnesses report seeing an older-model four-door sedan hit a bicycle being ridden by a teenaged girl shortly before nine this morning." The producer ran off to the side of the camera and handed Tyler a single sheet of paper, written by a police officer. Tyler began speaking before completely reading the note. "We've just received information that the victim on the bike was seventeen year old... Marci Ull-- Ullman... What?" Tyler stood dumbfounded, then looked at the producer, then the camera, then back at the sheet. "Is this...?"

"Cut" the producer whispered loudly to the cameraman, who quickly shut off the camera's live feed. As soon as the light went out, Tyler dropped the sheet, dropped his umbrella, dropped his microphone and darted for his car.

WAAAAAAAAA!!!!!!!!!! A baby's cry echoed down a hallway into the kitchen of a family home. The stereo in the living room played some sort of loud music to drown it out, as a blonde woman cradled and fed a baby boy. "There, there!" the woman said over the music to the infant, who continued to fuss... "I thought you liked Salsa music, hmm..." The woman walked over to the stereo and switched it off; the silence was met with an even louder cry from the small child. "I swear, if I ever have a kid like you I will..."

RING RING! The woman's cellphone rang on the kitchen table, and she walked across the room to answer it. "This is Katherine Ullman, how may I help you?" Katherine paused for a moment, "Yes, that is Brian... yes, I have fed him... no, I am quite sure I can handle him!" she spoke up as young Brian redoubled his efforts to aggravate her. "Uh-huh. Yes, I tried Salsa music and everything. He seems especially fussy today... No, I just -- Oh, can you hold on just a second, Mrs. Marsh? I have another call coming in... Ok, thanks." Only after putting Mrs. Marsh on hold did Katherine look at the name of the caller - her boyfriend Jerry. She answered - "Jerry, I swear, if you called to ask me what kind of eggs to get, you are going to be in so mu-" Katie stopped mid-sentence and her face dropped. "Where is she?... Is she alright?... Can you meet me there... Oh, alright... No, I'll be fine, I just... I just don't know. I'll call you when I get there... No, I don't know what I'm going to do! I'll just... I just have to go! Bye!" Katie hung up the phone and quickly walked to the nursery, holding the crying baby in her arm. "Brian, you and I are going for a little ride..."

"Hey Perry! Perry!!" A tall, shirtless curly-haired man poked the sleeping Perry Ullman in his back, while Perry appeared to make every effort to ignore this annoyance.

The curly-haired man continued to poke and bother, and eventually Perry groaned out a quiet "yea?"

"It's 9:20" the man said, "Don't you have a test today at 9:00?"

Perry bolted up, awake at once. "HOLY!... Oh, no no no," he immediately leaped out of his lofted bed, landing with a hard THUD on the floor below, and began to frantically grab for a messy stack of notebook papers, notecards and textbooks sitting on top of what could politely be referred to as 'refuse', though describing the mountain being mentioned could just as easily (and much more accurately) be referred to as a 'giant pile of unwashed underwear and socks, mixed with foodstuffs of an assorted age, quality and odor, intermixed liberally with empty "beverage" containers.' In any case, Perry then viciously sorted through the refuse, looking for and ultimately finding a pair of matching socks that didn't appear to be too horribly dirty. Perry then grabbed his full bookbag, flung it over his shoulder, and ran out the door.

"PERRY!" Perry's roommate ran out after him. "Wow... get back here!" His roommate could now do nothing to contain his laughter, as Perry suddenly realized that he had sprinted out of his room wearing nothing but a dirty t-shirt, a pair of socks and a pair of boxers. "I know you're late, man, but seriously?" the roommate joked as Perry ran to his dresser drawer and pulled out one of a few pairs of clean shorts and donned them quickly, then grabbed for his dirty pair of shoes, not even bothering to get them on correctly or to tie them before darting out the door and down the hallway of his dormitory.

"Thanks, Arthur!" Perry yelled to his roommate as he sprinted out the dormitory doors, while Arthur shook his head and smiled from the dorm room door.

Perry ran across the college campus towards one of the academic buildings, and before long he began to sweat - partly because this day was more humid than usual, partly because he was sprinting as if his life depended on it, and partly because he was scared to death that he might be denied a seat in his test. After all, he was nearly a half-hour late, but perhaps the professor would be forgiving. However, if the professor had been aware of what Perry had been doing the night before instead of studying, their leniency would likely not have been so plausible.

With as little noise as possible, Perry edged into the classroom where the test was taking place. Half the students had already left, but a few of the remaining ones looked up as Perry walked towards the lectern, near where a (relatively) young-looking female professor with long wavy golden hair sat grading those exams that had already been turned in. "Dr. Moore?" Perry leaned in towards the professor, trying to speak as quietly as possible. Dr. Moore turned her face up to his and an expression of mild surprise crossed it.

"Perry... what are you doing here?" She asked, puzzled.

"I... I have a test today," Perry said, now equally puzzled by her response.

"But," she paused, and dropped her voice so that even Perry could barely make it out, "I thought you had needed to leave?"

"Well..." Perry wasn't sure what to say. Should he admit that he had been late to the test, or play along with what she had said and just come back later to take the test? Was this all some sort of trick? "Well, I..."

"You know," Dr. Moore said in a voice barely above a whisper, "we can arrange a re-take for these... circumstances."

"Ummm... the circumstances?" Perry was now thoroughly confused, "you mean, with... me being late?"

"Late?" Dr. Moore squinted her eyes as if to process what had just been said, "No, because of... you know, your sister."

"My sister? Which one? What about her?"

"Didn't.... didn't Dr. Ullman- I should say, didn't Travis call you?"

"Umm.... yeah, he did." A pause.

"Well?" Dr. Moore asked, as she waited for a response from the dumbfounded Perry.

"Well... I should go, shouldn't I?"

"I would certainly think so," Dr. Moore said, as she reached to her right and pulled out from her folder of papers, a blank sheet. She quickly scribbled down a room number and her email address. "Go, and when you get time, email me or stop by my office to arrange a new test time."

"Thanks, professor," Perry said, taking the note. Whatever had happened, he was momentarily relieved that he had managed to dodge a bullet.

"Perry- you'd better not be late next time, or I will not let you sit that exam." A stern look crossed Dr. Moore's face for a moment as she spoke, before she looked back down to her papers. Perry had been caught, but for some odd reason, he thought, she had not seen fit to do anything about it. Certainly something odd was happening.

It took Perry a full two minutes to remember that something important had been said - something had happened to one of his sisters, and his oldest brother had been looking for him. He must have been, Perry thought, for how else could Dr. Moore have known about it? At the thought of what could possibly be so important, Perry decided (wisely) that it must be important enough to get his phone and call his brother. Perry sprinted across the campus main, taking the most direct route back to his dormitory.

"Perry? PERRY!!" A man in a blue shirt and a tie ran toward Perry.


"Perry, where on earth have you been? We have to go now!"

"Wait," Perry said, out of breath, "Where- where do we have to go? Why?"

"It's Marci. She's been..." Travis gulped and spoke, "she's been hit by a car. We need to go."