Chapter Five: Worries and Cares

"Let's have a look at last night's ratings," Cheviot said as Network 23's board members sat around the long table.

"The prime time slot seems low," Edwards told him. "We were expecting at least twenty points, but we only got eighteen."

"Maybe we should have them bring the Reynolds character back into Make Way For Armadillos?" Lauren suggested. "She seemed very popular with the eighteen to twenty-four demographic."

"Send a note to the script writers," Cheviot told her. "We're going to need to find someone to fill in at Research and Development. At least temporarily."

Everyone turned to look at him.

"Bryce left us this morning. I don't know where he's gone to and frankly I'm very worried."

"Have Edison Carter go look for him," Clifford suggested.

"Carter is going to be very busy this week. He left last night to cover the Scumball Championship in New Tokyo," Cheviot told him. "He won't have time to go looking for Bryce."

"But we can't just leave him out there," Lauren said. "He's just a kid. He knows nothing about life in the Fringes."

"I'd better tell Murray," Cheviot said. "Maybe he's got an idea what to do."

Theora hustled into the control room and sat down at her desk an hour later. "Morning, Murray," she said. "Sorry I'm a little late."

"We'll talk about that later," Murray said. "I just got a call from Cheviot this morning. It seems that Bryce has run away from home." That hadn't been the way that Cheviot had put it, but it seemed the proper term to Murray. "Cheviot's worried about him."

"Any clue where he is?" Theora asked.

"You want to look for him?" Murray asked. "I can have Stevens take over while you're out looking."

Theora stood up. "Thank you, Murray." she told him as she put her jacket back on and headed out the door.

"Where are you going to start?" he asked.

"Big Time," Theora said. "If he's in the Fringes, Blank Reg might have heard something."

"Jane," Murray called. "Come take Theora's place. Edison will be contacting us in a few minutes. Don't worry. He's just covering the Scumball Championships. It'll be an easy assignment."

Jane Stevens sat down at Theora's desk.

"I hope Theora finds Bryce," she said.

Murray nodded, his face set in stone while his insides churned.

Larissa looked up as Bryce walked into her studio. "You're here early. I and I didn't expect to see you around here until tonight after work."

"I've been fired." Bryce told her. "Well, not fired exactly. But Cheviot said I can't visit here and work at Network 23 at the same time."

"So you chose to come here."

Bryce nodded.

"Bryce, the credits you have right now aren't going to list forever. How do you expect to feed the baby without a job?"

"I'll figure something out," Bryce told her.

"Where do you plan to stay?" Larissa asked.

"Here. With the baby. The incubation room is hidden, so your boss won't know I'm here."

Larissa considered it. "We'll need to get a bed in there for you somehow. I've got a couple of friends in the Fringes who I can ask to pick out some furniture for you. We should also get a crib and stuff for the baby so you'll be ready when it comes in a few months."

"Good idea," Bryce agreed. "Thanks, Larissa."

"Morning," Edison said on the screen on Theora's desk.

"Good morning, Mr. Carter," Jane told her.

"Where's Theora?" Edison asked, concern in his voice.

"She's out looking for Bryce," Jane explained. "I'm filling in until she gets back."

"Looking for Bryce," Edison repeated, his worry increasing.

"Let's focus on the Scumball Game," Murray said. "Theora will find Bryce. Now, there is a celebratory parade that is going to circling the Zik Zak Tower Plaza in ten minutes. Cheviot wants to you to cover the parade and do an interview with Anna Tokimi. She's going to be singing the Zik Zak company theme at the beginning of the game."

"Never mind that," Edison said. "When did Bryce go missing?"

"Cheviot said he left this morning. Probably an hour ago at this point. Look I'm sure he's fine."

"No, you're not." Edison said "I can see the worry on your face. I'm coming back, Murray. You can send Jordan over here to cover the Scumball Game."

"We'll lose the parade coverage," Murray told him.

"To hell with the parade coverage," Edison said. "As soon as Martinez gets here I'm coming back to look for Bryce."

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