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Rated: 13+ · Short Story · Mystery · #2122586
Fake news has real consequences.
"You expected to be sad in the fall." Paris read out-loud to no one. She sucked in a deep breath and opened her email. The usual penis growing and Prince from a nonexistent country cluttered her inbox. "Ernest Hemingway was lucky he didn't have to deal with this bullshit."

"You know I slept with him, right? Well I assume I slept with him. We both got so toasted that we can't remember what happened, so in my column I just wrote that he slept with some unnamed woman. I mean I was not about to ruin my reputation." A woman in a floppy hat, extended her hand. "Hedda Hopper. The most famous Gossip Columnist of all time, despite what that bitch Louella Parsons says."

"Paris Stewart. New gossip blogger for The Buzz. I don't how long I'll be here because nothing is happening."

"Back in my day, we didn't wait for stories to happen. We made them." Sad Summer started playing from the computer. "What is this God-awful sound?"

"It's the newest single from Cathy Cherry. It's said to be a diss song about Cathy's mortal enemy Jordan Slowson." Hedda shot her a look of confusion. Paris typed quickly. "The one with the black hair is Cathy, the blonde is Jordan."

"Does Jordan not have parents? Why is she so thin? She needs a cheeseburger."

"Talking about someone's weight is offensive."

"I saw Joan Crawford in a bikini, that was offensive!" Both ladies looked at one another. "Plus, in my day, we created the stories if there was nothing there. Truth be damned."

A news alert flashed across the computer: Jordan Slowson Found Dead in LA Home.

"What happened?" Paris opened the link and read furiously.

"You got scooped, that's what happened. Now you need to write a story about how Cathy Cherry is the lead suspect in the murder of her rival."

"It says here that it appears to be natural causes."

"And my nose appears to be natural. That doesn't make it true. Plus think of how many people will be reading your story and assigning blame to this woman."

"It could ruin her career, not to mention mine."

"Are you sure you want to be in the gossip game? You cite anonymous sources and let the chips fall where they will."

Paris hesitated for a moment more, before she began writing the story. She was amazed at how easily the words flowed through her fingertips. After the story was finished, she hit publish. She knew that if she waited, her conscience would get the best of her and she would throw the story away.

Within minutes, the pageviews had already surpassed the combined total for her other stories. "This story is going viral."

"Oh Dear. I hope I don't catch it." Hedda covered her mouth, her eyes darted around the office.

"Viral means that a lot of people are reading and sharing it on social media."

"You mean like throwing books at a face?"

"That's a cheap joke and you know it."

The door to the office opened, letting the sun in and blinding them both. "Well hello. The infamous Paris Stewart. Always the last one with a story, until today. Thank you so much for throwing Cathy Cherry under the bus for me, so I didn't have to."

"Save your stuttering for someone else. Obviously, the reports of my death have been greatly exaggerated."

"Who doesn't love a back from the dead story?" Hedda clapped her hands with glee.

"Listen, the first report was wrong. The body they found was my body double, we were going to film a music video. But since you added the Cathy angle to it all, I decided that I'm going to stay dead."

"You can't do that! An innocent woman might go to jail for something she didn't do. I have to tell the truth before it gets too far."

"Sweetie, Cathy is about to be arrested because of you. There is no turning back now. And I can't help but be grateful to you. Sad Summer, was such a nasty and mean song."

"You're faking your death to send her to jail!"

"You say that like it's abnormal. Elvis and Tupac did the same thing. How do you think they still have new music coming out."

"This isn't right." Paris tried to stand but slumped over.

"Some people can't handle their chloroform." Jordan cackled with Hedda. "You were right, she would have blown our cover."

3 Months Later

'"It's amazing how you've turned around this department, Paris. Not to mention the physical transformation, you went through."

"Well, you know Jordan Slowson was my idol and imitation is the sincerest form of flattery." Jordan smiled at her boss. In the months since she had taken over Paris' life, she had found that most people either had no idea what she looked like or easily bought the premise that she was in deep grief. She picked up the phone and dialed. "Hey Hedda, what story do we have on tap for today? I'm thinking another story about how Cathy is trying to deny any connection to my--er--Jordan's murder."

"No, no dear. I think we need to lay off the Cathy trial for now. There's another interesting story that we need to break. It'll have it all: Infidelity, murder, and the takedown of someone who appears above it all."

In a mental hospital

Paris rocked in the room back and forth. With each motion she muttered, "I am Paris Stewart."

The Guard who came in to feed her each day rolled her eyes, "Yeah, sure. And I believe that Hedda Hopper time travelled and told you to write a story about the Cathy Cherry mess. Girl, you need to get yourself together or else you'll never be released from this place."

Paris stopped for a second, and then went back to rocking. It was the only thing that gave her comfort. "I am Paris Stewart."

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