It was a dark night, orange light scattered by the mist pouring around the bare trees of the empty park. Philip huddled within his coat as he walked through the unfamiliar landscape, cursing his editor at every step. He was here to meet a contact, someone who had left a message earlier that evening promising a major new story.
Coming underneath the trees, Philip could make out a figure on one of the benches. He, Philip thought it was a He, was hard to see in the dark, but looked completely covered up, all the way down to a wide-brimmed hat hiding his face. “Are you Freddy?” the figure nodded in the affirmative and then shuffled over to let Philip sit beside him. ‘Freddy’, Philip had been told it was a pseudonym, had a strange way of moving, a bit more fluid than normal. “We got your message and my editor sent me here.” Philip started “It is a cold night and I could be at home. This had better be good.”
It will be. Very good. The informant said. It was a whiney electronic voice. like something from a synthesiser. “What the hell is that?” Philip got up off his seat. “What’s wrong with your voice?”
It is a voice box The informant said I lost my voice, I have cancer. “I’m sorry to hear that.” Philip said, going to sit back down. The informant made what looked a bit like a shrug in all is coverings, Thank you. I will die soon, this is why I decided to go blowing whistle now before it is too late.
“You mean whistleblowing?” Philip clarified. The informant nodded slightly.
“Yes!” Philip got down to business. “Your message mentioned the new pesticide from Glock Chemicals. What can you tell me?”
That they are very bad. Somehow; there was emphasis in the neutral tones of the voice box. RoachAway is a poison. Bad for people. Bad for air. Bad for everyone.
“These are strong words.” Philip wanted more than just that. “Do you have any proof?”
I have proof here. There was a rustle on the bench between them when Philip looked down there was a fat file full of documents. Philip was a little confused, he was certain he did not see the informant’s arm move but ignored that obviously wrong impression and took up the file. He took out a penlight that he carried with him for just such occasions and leafed through the sheets of paper. There was piles of evidence there, toxicology reports on heightened cancer risks to users, waste management reports on dumping material into rivers, printed emails between executives detailing ways to pay as little compensation as possible. If true, it would blow Glock Chemicals wide open.
Philip looked up from the file and turned to the informant. He had turned away, his hat shielding his face from the reflected light of the pen. Even under that weak light, Philip could see that the informant was not still, as if he was shaking. “We’ll have to do some checking but if they are real I can see why you wanted it to get out.
RoachAway is bad. The electronic voice again held force. It should not be used. People think it is good but it really is bad.
“If that is so.” Philip said “Then you have done more than your fair share to rid the world of it.” He made to rise, the file and light still in his hands, but he made a miscalculation and stumbled to his side, the file knocking the hat off the informant. Philip was about to apologise then went suddenly silent.
Instead of a head, going down into the coat was hundreds and hundreds of cockroaches. Under the light of the pen he could see a speaker and tablet embedded in the mass of insects.
Philip looked at the cockroaches, the cockroaches looked at Philip. The cat was out of the bag.
Written for Grammar Ghoul Press mutant 750 number 33