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Submitted on
December 27, 2010
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Same Day…
A slightly pudgy girl with coppery curly hair snoozed at her desk.  Her slumber was aided by the stuffy Florida heat.  Though the building was air conditioned, the 'newsroom' was always stuffy and hot because the air didn't circulate well enough into this far corner of the top floor.   WHAPP!

She awoke with a start, as today's issue of The Chronicle smacked against her desk.  She looked up, gazing into the furious blue eyes of the displeased SueAnn.

"What is this?!"  Sue Ann snapped.  "This headline is one of the worst I have seen in the history of this paper, and I have read EVERY issue!"  She motioned to the archive shelves full of binders containing back issues of The Chronicle from as early as when the school opened in 1957.

"Aren't fights big news?  What's wrong with putting them in our paper?"  The young woman said pleadingly.  She knew she was helpless.

"Fights ARE big news, and thus they belong in our paper, but tasteless puns are intolerable!"  SueAnne continued fuming.  "When someone gets hurt, it's no joke, and thus it is NOT the time to play around with words!"

Her opponent sighed. "…Alright." She explained.  "My best friend and my boyfriend were both suspended in that fight."

"And that matters…" SueAnn said condescendingly.

"Had that girl not walked in there and simply minded her own business, both of them would still be at school."  She said.  "I can't help but be a vengeful person, and thus felt that for humiliating my guys, she should be humiliated as well."

SueAnn suppressed her rage and began speaking in a calm, interrogative tone.  "Let me enlighten you about the main point of journalism."  SueAnn paced back and forth in front of the desk like a confident prosecutor in a trial.  "The main point of journalism is the delivery of FACTS, to the masses.  Facts are pure, simple, unclouded little things.  Mess them UP," SueAnn said in the woman's face, "and you are DONE, finished."

"But SueAnn!" The woman tried to protest.

"QUIET!" SueAnn bellowed.  "I am not done yet." She said in her previous tone.  "You put a spin on the facts, mixing them with opinions.  You know who does that?  Fox News, a textbook example of bad journalism.  I do have room for opinions in my paper, three pages back in the EDITORIALS section.  Bitch all you want to about your drama back there, but personalize my front page again, and I will be receiving a lunch tray with your ass on it.  It is not silver platter material."

The woman slowly relaxed, thinking that SueAnn's fit of rage was over.

"Ohh, I'm not done with you yet."  SueAnn continued.  "I want you to write an apology to Maria in the corrections section.  Explain why you did it, why it was wrong, and why you regretted it."

"I can't do that!  That's embarrassing!" The woman protested.

"Hmm, what goes around comes around.  Welcome to journalism miss." SueAnn said condescendingly.

"I refuse to do it.  I ref" the woman continued, but was cut off.

"You will listen to your superiors now."  SueAnn said bluntly.  She walked out of the room to leave her subject slumped on her desk in despair.

Meanwhile, the Samurai was twiddling his thumbs at the kitchen table sitting in front of a newspaper puzzle.  It was a square grid with squares blacked in and other squares marked with numbers off in the corners.  To solve it, one had to use the clues provided and write the appropriate words in the blanks.  Crossword puzzles existed in his time, in 3D, but only quacks paid any attention to them.  Real puzzlers did 3D Sudoku.  Sudoku was his favorite puzzle, but none appeared in this paper.  Had they not been invented yet?  Little did he know, that the common appearance of sudoku in newspapers was only two years off.  "Hmm" he thought, "Number 4 down, internet service that leaves a lot to be desired.  Three letters."

His concentration was broken by the sound of the front door opening.  A bandaged Maria walked into the kitchen.

"How was your first day back?"  He asked innocently.

"Tiring, and kind of depressing." Maria sighed.  "Someone made a fool of me in the school paper, but the head writer came and apologized to me.  She was very nice."  Her tone uplifted.

"At least that' good," the samurai said.  "Also, you are running out of antibiotics.  Do you need me to go the pharmacy and get a refill for you?"

"You are kind, but I don't trust your future driving skills in my car.  I'll drive."  Maria said.

"Then I am going with you." The Samurai replied quickly.  The two of them hopped in the car and drove off.

The drive to the pharmacy was uneventful.  Maria presented her description to the pruny old lady at the window, and after she complained that Maria would abuse the pills as club drugs, despite the fact they were antibiotics, the prescription was filled and she and the samurai left the pharmacy without incident.  When they got out to the car, the samurai noticed that there were two youth in bandannas running away from the parking lot with evil smirks on their faces.  One was holding a knife while the other was holding a hammer and a screwdriver.

"There are always rabblerousers around here." Maria sighed.  "When will they grow up and realize that this can't lead to a good future?"

They got in the car and Maria powered it up.  They slowly drifted out of the parking lot and onto a side street.  Up ahead was a stop sign leading to the main road.  Maria preferred this route because it didn't require her to wait for a light that would never change.  As they approached the stop sign, Maria pushed on the brakes.  The car barely responded at all.  Maria slammed on the brakes as hard as she could.  The car slowed slightly, but not nearly enough.  The samurai noticed out the rearview mirror that there was a wet trail behind the car that was slowly growing narrower.  The street was busy with cars zipping by at 40 miles per hour every ten seconds.  He didn't know much about cars of this time period, but with seconds left until collision, he decided to take a chance.

"GAS IT!!!" He yelled.  

Maria responded by flooring the gas pedal.  In a chorus of screeching tires, honking horns and angry obscenities, they successfully avoided collision.  Maria figured it would be smart to put on her hazard lights.  If she could travel slowly, it would be safer.  She planned to get off the road as soon as possible.  However, this street was downhill.  She rode the brake as much as she could, but it barely slowed her car down.  There were no cars in front of her, and up ahead was a red light.  Maria considered her options.  She knew that she couldn't just stay her course, as it could result in serious injury or death.  There was 45 feet between her and the intersection…30 feet…15 feet…she finally decided to act, throwing the steering wheel to the right, forcing her up onto the curb.  As her car touched the traffic light pole, time seemed to stop for a moment, then resumed its normal pace with the crunching of metal, the explosive hiss of airbags, and the jarring of passengers.  The wreck was greeted by jeers and honks from passers by, as the light turned green 20 seconds later.  Though the crash was only at 30 miles per hour, the occupants of the car still received punishment.  The samurai had a small laceration on his shoulder from where the seatbelt gripped him, and Maria had a bruise on her forehead from the steering wheel, the airbag failing to fully cushion her from the impact.  She was lucky not to re-break her nose, which had been set by the splint bandage.  The pain from disturbing it caused her eyes to well up with tears.

"This has been the worst month of my life!" Maria broke down.  "Ever since I decided not to jump off that bridge, my life has been hell!"  She sobbed.

"I know this is hard, and it is going to get worse, but it is necessary that you remain alive."  The samurai said, hugging her.

"How am I supposed to stay alive through THIS!"  Maria continued sobbing.  "Why is it so important to you?"

"Besides the whole friendship thing, you are the only one who can prevent what is coming.  I am in this time period for the sole purpose of keeping you alive, as you are the only hope for my own."

Maria looked stunned, trying to comprehend what the Samurai just said.  Did he only get close to her just to use her?  If so, it wouldn't have been the first time she was taken advantage of.

"I will explain later, when we are not stuck on the road, but you need to trust me.  As I said, this will get worse." The Samurai said gravely.

Maria turned white as a single word wisped out of her mouth.

The seventeenth installment of the series for :iconmaria-minamino:

Thank you for keeping up thus far for those who still read!
Maria just has the worst kind of luck! Who were those kids and why in the world, I'm guessing here, did they trash her breaks? Good thing they survived! That would have been bad! And SueAnn kicks butt!!! She's such a great character!
The reason for her bad luck will become more apparent in later chapters. I like SueAnn too. She turned out to be a lot more fun to write up than I thought she would.
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