-Max Headroom: 20 Minutes Into The Future-


-Chapter 06-

Jenny got out of bed and walked half way to her computer when she almost tripped over the red tricycle that had been left in the middle of her studio.

Wondering what it was doing there, she pushed it aside and looked up.

When she looked up, she found herself face-to-face with a horribly burned man who was smiling at her with pure evil written all over his face.

"Hello, Jenny," the man said, as he grabbed her by the throat.

Jenny kicked the man, expecting him to drop her considering where her foot had landed. But he just leered at her.

"I like it rough," he said, as he threw her back toward the bed.

Jenny fell just a foot short and got to her feet. It was then that she noticed the glove he was wearing. She ran for the vu-phone, but before she could reach it, the hideous man grabbed her from behind and raked his claws across her middle. She gave a scream of pain and horror, then fell back against Freddy as he gave a triumphant laugh.

Edison was in the hospital cafeteria when his vidicam light flashed. He and Theora had been taking turns staying up with Bryce and it was his turn to get a cup of coffee. Turning the lens toward himself he spoke. "What is it, Control?"

"Edison," Murray told him, "Grossberg just called."

"Grossberg?" Edison asked. "What did he want?"

"Network 66's Head of Research and Development died last night." Murray told him. "They found her in her studio with injuries similar to Bryce's. Only she had four gashes instead of one. She died too quickly to get help from their doctor."

"And they think it was Freddy who did it," Edison asked.

"They don't know about Freddy," Murray replied. "Grossberg called because apparently the girl in question was Bryce's classmate."

Edison took a long deep breath, then spoke. "I see." He said. He looked up at the clock, then turned back to the vidicam. "I have to go. It's my turn to sit with Bryce." He switched the vidicam back to standby, and hoisted it over his shoulder as he finished his coffee and got to his feet. Then, he turned to the door and headed to Bryce's room.

Theora looked up from losing her third game of chess with Bryce.

"Four moves," she said, in a mixture of exasperation and amazement. "He checkmated me in four moves. I didn't think it was possible, butů" Theora's voice fell silent as she saw the look on Edison's face. "What's wrong?"

"I need to talk to Bryce," Edison replied, solemnly.

"I have to get some coffee anyway," Theora said, diplomatically, as she stood up and left the room.

"What's up, Edison?" Bryce asked, curiously.

"Grossberg called the network earlier," Edison told Bryce.

Bryce instantly knew where this conversation was going. "Jenny?" he asked, weakly. The girl had been his best friend at ACS, or at least as close to a best friend as anyone had managed to get with the na´ve young genius.

"I'm sorry," Edison told him, seeing the flicker of emotion that Bryce quickly masked. "Girlfriend?"

Bryce shook his head.

"He's only had eyes for one p- p- p- person," Max cut in from the TV. "And they're too vain to notice. Notice."

"Oh?" Edison asked as he sat on the edge of the bed. "Care to tell me who's been breaking your heart, Bryce?" He was curious to know who had finally broken past the wall of ice that surrounded the boy's heart.

"Nobody," Bryce replied. "In case you haven't noticed, I've been too busy lately trying to stay alive to worry about anything else."

"So, you don't have a girlfriend, then," Edison asked.

Bryce gave him a look that basically had the words "Give me a break, Edison" written all over it.

"Okay, okay," Edison said, putting his hands up in defeat. "No questions. I'll just ask Max later."

"Some things," Max said from his screen, "are best left to those who are most affected."

"Meaning that if Bryce doesn't want to tell me, then you won't either," Edison guessed.

"Not this time." Max replied. "But if you've been p- p- paying any attention to Bryce then you can guess who's been breaking his heart lately."

Edison thought about it for a bit. He remembered all the times he, Murray, and Theora had spoken with Bryce. Something about it had seemed odd to him, even then. But he hadn't worked out what it was. Now, thinking back on it, he realized what it was. Every time Bryce had addressed Theora or Murray, even now, he called them by their last name. But he had always called him Edison, save for that one time when they had first met. His eyes went a little wider than normal. He looked at Bryce and saw that the injured teenager was trying not to look directly at him.

"Bryce?" He asked, in amusement. "You have a crush on me, don't you?"

"If that's what you want to call it," Bryce shrugged, sounding as though he'd been terribly affronted. "It feels like more than that, though."

"You're cute, kid," Edison smiled, ruffling Bryce's hair. "But I'm too old for you. I hate to break your heart, but that's the way life goes sometimes."

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