A TRAGEDY FOR TWO NETWORKS

Cheviot sat in his car at Network 23 for almost half an hour before he finally got out and went into the building.

"Good morning, sir," Lauren said, meeting him at the lift. Seeing the look on his face, she asked "What's wrong?"

"Bad news about Bryce," Cheviot told her. "I have to tell Murray."

"Bryce isn't dead, is he?" Lauren asked, horrified at the idea.

"No," Cheviot shook his head. "Just insane. Whether it's temporary or not, I can't say. I only know that he was apparently engaged, which I knew nothing about, and he saw his fiancee get hit by a car. They said it was extremely gruesome. Seeing her body like that just caused his sanity to go right out the window. He's in the psychiatric ward at Islington Hospital."

"Oh God," Lauren said. "That's awful."

"I also have to call Grossberg," Cheviot said. "Apparently the girl Bryce was engaged to was Network 66's head of Research and Development."

"Just like Romeo and Juliet," Lauren noted.

"Except that Romeo was spared insanity." Cheviot reminded her as they got off the lift and walked into the Board Room.

Cheviot sat down at the head of the table and pushed the buttons for the room's vu-phone. A moment later, Murray's face appeared on the screen.

"Mr. Cheviot," Murray said, "good morning."

Cheviot did not return the friendly greeting. Instead, he frowned. "Murray, I'm afraid I have rather bad news for you."

Murray's face fell. "What's wrong? Edison's not in some kind of trouble is he?"

"Fortunately not," Cheviot reassured him. "I just wish I could say the same for Bryce."

"What sort of trouble is Bryce in?" Murray inquired. He didn't necessarily get along well with Bryce, but he didn't wish any ill on the young genius.

"Did you know he had a girlfriend?"

"This is the first I've heard of it," Murray said. "She's not pregnant, is she?"

"No. She's dead. He saw her get hit by a car. Apparently it was extremely gruesome."

"How is he handling it?"

Cheviot took a breath before replying. "It drove him insane. He's under heavy sedation at Islington Hospital's psychiatric unit."

"My God," Murray breathed.

"What?" asked Edison who had just arrived and noticed Cheviot's face on the vu-phone monitor in the Control Room.

"I'll let you explain," Cheviot told Murray. "I have to call Grossberg. I want to make sure he knows about Jenny. Oh, and no visitors until I say."

"His fiancee?" Murray asked.

"Grossberg's engaged?" Edison asked.

Murray shook his head as Cheviot vanished from the screen. "Jenny was Bryce's fiancee."

Edison dropped his camera. Something inside it made a rackety sound.

Murray winced briefly as he thought of the chewing-out he was going to get about the broken camera that lay at Edison's feet.

"So, when is Bryce getting married?"

"At this point, never," Murray said. "Jenny was killed."

"Bryce must be very sad," Edison realized.

"It actually drove him insane," Murray explained. "Apparently he saw her get hit, and her injuries were rather horrific. Cheviot didn't give me any details other than what I just told you."

"What hospital is he at?"

"You heard Cheviot. No visitors. I'm sure they want to make sure we don't set off any triggers that will make Bryce worse."

"Make Bryce worse?" Theora asked as she walked in and hung her coat over her chair. "What do you mean?"

"Apparently Bryce is in the psychiatric ward at Islington Hospital," Edison explained. "He saw the love of his life get killed by a car. That's all I know."

"And it drove him insane," Theora guessed.

Murray nodded.

"That's horrible," Theora said. "Can he have visitors?"

Murray shook his head. "Apparently they want to make sure he's stable first. It might be some time before we can go see him."

"But they are going to keep us updated, right?" Edison asked.

"I guess they'll keep Cheviot updated," Murray replied. "We'll just have to wait it out and hope for the best."

Grossberg was going over the ratings for Network 66 when Cheviot's face appeared on his vu-phone screen.

"Ben," he said, "It's very strange for you to be calling me. Aren't you always telling me that we're rivals or something?"

"I'm not calling to invite you to tea," Cheviot told him. "This is very bad news."

"Oh?"

"It's about Jenny."

"This network's equivalent to Bryce Lynch? What of her?"

"She's dead."

Grossberg's expression darkened. "How?"

"She was hit by a car. Bryce was so adversely affected by it that it drove him insane."

"How did it happen? And how does Bryce know?"

"From what I gather," Cheviot explained, "It was supposed to be their wedding day. Bryce saw her get hit by a car. It was so horrific that it drove him over the edge. They took him to Islington Hospital screaming. He's in the psychiatric ward. He spent the night under sedation. I imagine they have him on suicide watch."

"Where's Jenny's body?"

"I'll have to ask Vanna. She was with them when it happened. Apparently she was going to perform the wedding."

"Let me know," Grossberg said. "And keep me informed about Bryce. Remember, I'm the one who hired him. I do care about his well-being."

"I will." Cheviot agreed. "But I will also remind you that this doesn't change the fact that our networks are at war."

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