-Chapter 14: The Hardest Interview He Ever Did-

Edison Carter checked his camera's lens one final time. Satisfied that it was dust-free and had no smudges on it, he turned on the microphone and adjusted the volume. "Edison Carter. Live and direct." he said, his voice lacking its usual enthusiasm.

"I don't want to do this interview," he told Murray and Theora. "Bryce's rape should not be brought up on television for all to gossip about. It's nobody's business except his."

"Cheviot knows how bloodthirsty courtroom show audiences can be," Murray told him.

"He wants to make sure that Bryce has a chance at survival if he's tried at another network. Assuming that his bid to try him here by firing him is disallowed." Theora added.

"What do you mean chance of survival?" Edison demanded. "What haven't you told me?"

"If Bryce is tried at Network 66, their courts intend to seek the death penalty." Murray explained.

"We have to get him out of there!" Edison said. "We can't let that happen."

"You can't break him out," Theora told him. "I looked up Westford's rules regarding escape attempts or breakouts. In those cases anyone with a priority one status, like Bryce, would be transferred to Stepshire."

"The asylum?" Murray shuddered.

Theora nodded. "The transfer is only two weeks. But in over seventy percent of the cases, the client was either lobotomized or given so many electroshocks that they were left in conditions similar to stroke victims. We can't let that happen to Bryce."

Edison wanted to vomit. The idea of someone as super-intelligent as Bryce being reduced to a state worse than a moron was abhorrent to him. He would be damned if he would let that happen.

"Okay. I'll do the interview," he declared. He left the control room and went to the helipad where Martinez was waiting.

"I hate things like this," he complained as he climbed into the helicopter.

"Imagine how he's feeling," Martinez replied as the helicopter lifted off.

Edison considered the questions he planned to ask. He had to dig deep, uncover the full truth about what had happened not just on the night of Parker's death, but also eight years earlier when Parker had abused Bryce for the first time.

It wasn't long before the helicopter reached its destination and landed. Edison got out, camera in hand, and scurried toward the front doors of the Westford Juvenile Detention Center remembering how he had come in the last time, escorting a trembling and sobbing Bryce. The same Bryce he was now about to interview about some very personal things.

"He's in the reading room down the hall," Mr. Lawrence told him. "Cheviot called an hour ago and we decided that was the best place for this interview. I must say, he's got mixed feelings about it. And I must add that his meeting with his counselor is in about fifteen minutes, so I will ask that you wrap this up by that time."

"Understood," Edison agreed. He walked down the hall until he reached a door with a silver plaque that said "Reading Room". Lifting his camera, he focused on the plaque. "This is Edison Carter live and direct at the Westford Juvenile Detention Center," he said for his show's opening dialogue. "Inside this room is a boy of sixteen who, until a few days ago, led a very quiet life. A life which was shattered by a chain of events that started not then, but eight years ago. I'm going to enter now and have a word with him."

"Good, Edison," Theora said over the camera link.

"We'll," Edison said to Theora alone, "here I go. Feels like walking into the lion's den."

"Just remember, this time you're the lion," Theora pointed out.

Edison nodded and resumed filming as he pushed open the door to the reading room.

Bryce was sitting at one of the three tables in the room's center staring thoughtfully at a cup of water.

He looked up and saw the camera.

'So,' he thought. 'no friendly hello or hugs. just directly to the interview.'

"Cut it control," Edison said, seeing the hurt expression on Bryce's face. He lowered the camera and went over to his former coworker. "Bryce..." he said. He set the camera down on the table and hugged the young genius.

Bryce did not return the hug. It was clear that he was unhappy with Edison and the ace reporter didn't blame him one bit.

"Let's just get this over with," Bryce said.

Edison released him and switched the camera back on.

"This is Bryce Lynch. Graduate of the Academy of Computer Sciences and one of the brightest people of his generation. Many of you are probably wondering how someone so brilliant could end up spending time at a juvenile detention center. The story begins eight years ago when a terrible event changed his life for all time. Bryce, what happened to you back then?"

Bryce began to slowly turn the cup in his hands as he spoke. "It was before ACS," he replied. "I was walking home from a movie on the weekend that my parents had let me go see. I don't know if Parker was in the theater or if he started following me later on. I was two blocks from home, the old theater, not the one where Mind's Eye was, the other one, was three blocks from my parents' house."

Edison sensed that Bryce was trying to change the subject.

"I know the area. Go on," he prompted.

"Parker asked me the time," Bryce said. "When I lifted my arm to look at my watch, he grabbed me by the wrist and dragged me into a nearby warehouse. I couldn't fight him. He was huge compared to me. I was only eight after all. I fought to keep my clothes on, but he tore them off of me. I... " Bryce faltered. "Edison, I can't do this."

"Yes, you can," Edison said, reassuringly. "You're doing fine. What happened next? You don't have to go into detail."

"He raped me, Mr. Carter," Bryce told him, darkly. "Not once as you may have assumed, but twice"

Back at Network 23 control, Theora's eyes were ablaze with fury. How could Cheviot have hired such a man?.

"After the first time, "Bryce was saying back at Westford. "He kept me there until he felt like doing it again. It was in the middle of the second assault that the police arrived. That's what my mother told me. I was barely coherent at that point. They told me later on that I was in a fugue state for about two months before I returned to normal. They said that if I'd been raped a third time, I might not have come out of if at all."

"What happened on the night of the killing?" Edison inquired.

"I asked Cheviot not to hire Parker," Bryce explained. "I recognized him at once as my rapist and had no intention of letting him anywhere near me."

"But Cheviot did hire him," Edison said, matter-of-factly.

"Yes," Bryce confirmed. "Something I was unaware of until the minute he pulled me out of the bathtub and dragged me over to the sink, intent on raping me once again."

"And that's when you lashed out."

Bryce nodded. "The doctor's words, that I would've ended up locked in perpetual catatonia if I were attacked a third time, kept running through my head. I had to fight back. I picked up the razor blade I had taken from the shaver off the sink and struck him in the eye, just to make him back off. But the minute it hit him, I just ... I think the expression is 'freaked out'. The more I cut him, the more I wanted him dead."

"What made you stop?" Edison asked.

"There was a flicker on my vu-phone screen," Bryce explained. "It pulled me back to myself. I let Parker go. What has left of him anyhow. I didn't know he was dead until the next day."

There was a knock on the door which then swung open. "Bryce, I'm sorry to interrupt, but I'm Leona Harris. I'm supposed to speak to you now."

"I think we have enough for now," Edison told Bryce as he switched his camera to standby mode. "Take care of yourself. Murray, Theora, and I will stop by next time we can." He left the building and rejoined Martinez who was still waiting with the helicopter.

"If Parker wasn't dead, I'd kill him myself," Edison said, coldly. "I hate people like him."

In their respective locations, Theora, Murray, and Martinez all silently agreed.

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