"Figures?" Patrick Adams asked from his make-up chair where he was being tanned for the cameras.
"Set a new record, sir." Phyllis Delaney answered, clutching the clipboard that everyone assumed was a biological appendage of hers. "The increase in viewers during the afternoon broadcast increased by two hundred percent as the show was running. That figure has quadrupled."
"Splendid." Adams nodded. "Phone lines adequate?"
"We've trebled the staff on the lines, sir, and we've also doubled the computer contact staff."
"Full, sir. There isn't a vacant seat in there." Phyllis smiled.
"OK. Let her roll." Adams shoo'd his makeup artist away and headed for the glaring lights of the studio. He was met by thunderous applause and a standing ovation as he stepped infront of the massive plasma screen. The video had been playing non-stop in order for the audience to follow the plot and 'get hooked'. They'd watched the afternoon's proceedings, right up to the abduction, and then had to wait on that cliffhanger. It worked. Viewers had tuned in in droves. The footage had resumed at the point where the two officers and the undercover technician had been taken out of the plot and the 'revelation' to them had also been filmed. Adams had actually heard the gasps and cheers when young Jenkinson had booted the van doors off. He was absolutely perfect! He glanced at the plasma screen and saw the prisoner and his rather irritating and dispensable employee ambling down a nasty looking corridor that was damp and dingy. He silently cursed at the clash of atmospheres there. Was Rowan Hall doing that on purpose? Such an air of total nonchalance was not interesting!
"Ah and there are our stars." He laughed warmly. "Completely, and I do mean completely, unaware that they're the centre of the entire nation's attention. It's probably just as well, ladies and gentlemen. I'm sure if they knew that each and every one of you is aware that Jason Jenkinson is a violent criminal and Rowan Hall is an anarchistic supporter of such ideals, they'd be a bit wary." Another jovial laugh and the studio audience 'oo'd and ah'd' appropriately. "Have you ever wondered what it would be like to have a direct influence on how people behave? Wouldn't this world be a better place if you had such an influence? I'm firmly of the opinion that it would. I'm not talking about orders. Any fool can bark out orders. I'm talking about subtle influences to produce a desired effect." Adams nodded slowly and you could have heard a pin drop in the studio. He had them eating out of his hand. "Would you like to see the happy couple holding hands?" The studio audience cheered their affirmative. "Make it so!" Adams turned towards the screen. "Nightsights!" He announced dramatically.
The dirty prison corridor was plunged into total darkness. Rowan yelped and grabbed for Jason.
"What the shit?" Jason spun round and stumbled into a wall. "How can the bloody lights go out when there were none on?" He groped for Rowan's hand.
"There must have been background natural light simulators still working somewhere. Old prisons used to use them to artificially structure the prisoners' days to suit the staff." Rowan stumbled into Jason as he switched on the flickering flashlight.
"And you just happened to know that, yes?"
"No the governor at F1 told me. They still have the equipment there even though they don't use it." Rowan answered as patiently as she could. "It was just a guess."
"So someone's here to turn it off right?"
"Or it's just conked out on it's own. I don't know." Rowan shrugged. "Maybe you'll have a rethink about me being part of a TV set up now? It's pitch black. No one can film in this."
"Maybe I think you're trying a little too hard to convince me." Jason sneered. "I'm not wandering about in the dark. Come on, we'll go back to where the van is." Jason lead Rowan by the hand back along the corridor and pretty soon they came to a locked gate. "We've gone the wrong bloody way. Great."
"We can't have. It's a straight corridor. Shine that in there." Rowan nodded to the flashlight. They could see the outline of a few desks but no van.
"See? Wrong way. That's another office." Jason stated.
"But there are the metal doors, Jason." Rowan wasn't convinced.
"There are some metal doors. It's a prison! It's full of metal doors." Jason blew on his fingers that were getting numbed with the cold. "We'll have to keep going the way we were."
"Jason, this is seriously freaking me out." Rowan half sobbed as the crept past the rows of rusted doors that had once kept the criminally deranged at bay inside ten foot square cells. "Shouldn't we stay in one place so people can find us?"
"Stay in one place for your cameras?" Jason gave her a dirty look.
"Will you back the hell off with that!" Rowan yelled hysterically. "Look at me! Bloody look at the state of me!" She sobbed. "I'm terrified, Jason! Are you bloody blind as well as stupid? I want to go home." She finished pathetically. Jason grit his teeth and looked at her.
"In here. We need to rest up a bit I think. Maybe it would be a daft idea to wander about in the dark." He dragged a metal barred door across the floor and walked into one of the cells. "It's rotten filthy with grime but nothing too foul in here." He called to Rowan.
"Is it just me, or has it got warmer in here too? I was freezing before." Rowan snivelled.
"Probably because we're in a cell." Jason nodded. "Look at it, Rowan. See? Four ordinary solid walls, one door hanging off it's hinges. I'm here right opposite you. OK? I'll have to switch off the flashlight to save the batteries." Rowan nodded, even though she felt the terror knot her stomach. She let out a sob when the cell blinked to blackness. "I'm still here. I'll come over there with you."
"So you don't think I set this up?" Rowan cried in sheer fear. "I didn't."
"No." Jason sighed. "Not to this extent. No one's that masochistic or fanatical about their job. Also, no one's that good of an actor. You're close to losing it Rowan. No one could fake that." Rowan let the flood dams down and big, terrified sobs racked her body. "I know. I'm pretty scared too." Jason held onto Rowan's hand.
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