An IN THE AIR Excerpt: “The DeVore Incident” by E.J. LeRoy

“I knew it was only a matter of time before something like this happened,” Senator Green said at the press conference. Ambassador Frost rolled her eyes as she watched the broadcast from her official residence beside the palace. It was just like the senator to take advantage of every conceivable opportunity to plant himself in front of a camera.

“‘Merfolk are such peaceful creatures,’everyone said. ‘They would never dream of harming a human.’Well, look what’s happened now.” Senator Green could not look more slimy and smug if he tried. If this incident with the merfolk did not concern the ambassador, she would have changed the channel. Looking at that bloviating human slug made her ill.

“You will find I have always been consistent in my numerous reservations regarding the true nature of the merfolk.”

Consistent indeed. Ambassador Frost gave a disgusted laugh. While Senator Green consistently condemned the entire race of merfolk in public, he also consistently profited from their trade in mahluah in private.

“In this most tragic time, my heart goes out to Matthew DeVore’s widow, Cherise,” the senator continued with an affected sniffle. At least the ambassador thought it was a sniffle. Most likely Senator Green had a touch of hay fever. “Such a terrible fate to befall a young, intrepid journalist and his lovely wife.”

The senator made a spectacle of his alleged sympathy. Someone should have told the senator that awards were not yet given for forced sincerity, or outright lying. Only last week, Senator Green appeared on a talking head show to soundly condemn Matthew DeVore’s merfolk sympathies and Cherise’s unseemly display of public drunkenness.

“This truly is a dark time for the nation.” The senator invoked tones of mock gravitas. “For generations, our people have done business with Her Majesty and her subjects, elevating the merfolk to a technological and cultural level no one thought possible.”

Of course, Senator Green conveniently left out how the substance, mahluah, had dramatically increased humans’ wellbeing, not to mention the size of the senator’s bank account.

“And what have they given us in return?” The senator practically kissed the microphone. “A few trinkets? Pearls? An extra haul of seafood every year? These things can hardly be called a balance of trade. If there is a balance of trade, it is most certainly in their favor!”

A reporter wisely inquired about the benefits of mahluah, a question that the senator deftly waved off. “My point is the merfolk need us humans a lot more than we need them. And for all we have given, for all we have done for them, they repay us by murdering one of our nation’s finest journalists.”

When the reporter pointed out that the senator never cared for Matthew DeVore’s journalism, and in fact criticized the man at every chance, Senator Green easily redirected the accusation.

“This is not a matter of partisan politics. Mr. DeVore and I may have had our political differences, but what does that matter in the face of this horrific crime? This is a national day of mourning, one which shall be forever burned into our hearts.”

Ambassador Frost could not resist a round of sarcastic applause in front of the television. She wished she could laugh at that blowhard’s pathetic attempt at mourning, but the situation was actually quite serious. Prior to the Matthew DeVore incident, no human had ever been murdered by a mermaid in the history of known human-merfolk contact. Without any legal precedent for this quandary, Matthew DeVore’s death could easily ignite an international incident. And any such incident would immediately become Ambassador Frost’s problem. Moreover, and perhaps more importantly, Ambassador Frost did not believe Matthew DeVore was killed by a mermaid as the media reported.

 

 

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E.J. LeRoy is a freelance writer, poet, and aspiring novelist whose work has appeared at Submittable Blog. “The DeVore Incident” is LeRoy’s first published speculative short story.

 

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