Drama Contemporary Fiction

He read the email and a big smile appeared on his face.

‘Now that’s a great idea,’ said James Enfield, the station manager. ‘That will certainly put us ahead of the competition. Show those other radio stations who the top broadcaster is.’ The two men sat at the conference table in his office. Jim spun his laptop around so the other could read the content of the mail. 

‘Will it work though?’ his colleague, Mark, was sceptical. ‘It may make us look stupid if it fails to generate interest and I’m certain there are other things being planned by the competition but let’s give it a go.’ 

‘This will blow them out of the water,’ James enthused. ‘I think people will believe it and later when they find it’s an April Fool’s day hoax they will laugh and congratulate us.’ 

‘So how do you plan to deliver this to the listeners, Jim?’ he asked.

‘We’ll do an interview with that famous television astronomer on the morning news show. Then broadcast it, probably every half hour from six o’clock on the morning of the first. Everyone knows and respects him and his popularity will convince everyone that it’s genuine. Later, at the allotted time he will shout out “Jump now” and then it will all be over. 

‘I hope, for all our sakes, that you’re right. I really do.’ Mark stood up and left the room whilst Jim began to write a rough script of the hoax and he also left a message for the astronomer's agent to ring him back urgently. 

On April first, the six am news program broadcast the pre-recorded interview with the astronomer. It explained that a strange phenomenon was about to take place that very day. For the first time in living memory, this extraordinary event was about to occur. At exactly 11.22 am the planets Uranus, Mars and Pluto would pass directly behind each other in relation to planet Earth. This alignment would mean that the combined gravitational pull of the three planets would affect the tidal pull and for a short time counteract Earth’s own gravity making people weigh less. He called it the Plutonian-Mars Gravitational Effect.

He then told the listeners that the only way to really experience the phenomenon was to jump in the air at the exact time of the alignment. If they did, he promised, they would actually float weightless for a few seconds. This would be the only time in their life they would be able to experience the feeling that astronauts had when they travelled in space. He reminded the listeners to ensure that their clocks were set accurately to Greenwich Mean Time as the event would only last a few seconds and there would never be another chance to do this unless they were already booked on a trip to the Moon.

At 11.20 am the astronomer asked people to be ready and he would tell them exactly when to jump. A nation held its breath as the seconds ticked by. People were seen in parks and green spaces with radios tuned to the channel. The radio station had never had so many listeners as the content of the first broadcast early that morning, was being spread by word of mouth. 

At 11.22 am the astronomer shouted for them to ‘Jump now’ and thousands of people around the county leapt into the air at his command. 

Jim and Mark were congratulating each other when the switchboard began to light up as numerous calls were received.

A woman from the local town rang to say that she and her husband had floated in the air for several seconds but their daughter, being much lighter, had managed to stay in the air longer than them. 

A man rang to say that he had been seated at a table with several friends. When they had all jumped whilst holding their chairs, the table had risen and floated around with them. 

Several groups called to confirm that they were so grateful to the radio station for broadcasting and making them aware of the occurrence; thus allowing them to experience this once in a lifetime event. 

An elderly lady rang to say that she had been listening to the broadcast upstairs in her house. She had heard the two-minute warning, as she called it, then rushing to get outside she had tripped over the top step and fallen forwards. But instead of crashing down the flight of stairs, she merely floated to the bottom unharmed. 

Another man rang to thank the station as when he was listening, wearing headphones, he had been so involved in the incident that he’d stepped onto a pedestrian crossing just as a car was approaching. At the last minute, he had heard the screech of brakes as the driver saw him but lost control. As the car careered towards him he managed to leap in the air and the vehicle passed underneath, missing him altogether.

The two station managers who had arranged and sanctioned the hoax were congratulated by their staff, friends and also by the station’s owner. There were plans to repeat similar tricks in years to follow. 

By twelve midday the nature of the calls began to change. A woman rang in to complain that her husband had jumped at the appropriate time but had landed badly. He was now on his way, by ambulance, to the accident and emergency department at the local hospital. She added, that she planned to sue them and was going to contact a solicitor as soon as she could. 

Several people had been hurt by the incident as they were totally unprepared. Landing straight away after being assured that they would float for seconds made them fall awkwardly. 

One of their own reporters, at the hospital with his young son who had a suspected broken ankle, reported that the emergency department was filling up fast with injuries caused by falls. 

A police inspector then rang to report that a team of rugby players, after a night and most of the morning spent drinking alcohol, celebrating the winning of a major tournament, had thought it might be fun to leap from the top of the nearby cliffs at the prescribed time and float down to the beach below. Two players had been declared dead at the scene and the rest were being rushed to emergency rooms all across the county. The emergency services were stretched and working at full capacity. Hospitals were cancelling leave and asking their off duty staff to turn in to help cope with the growing number of injuries. 

As more and more negative reports came in the earlier buoyant mood evaporated with the realisation of what they had done.

The radio station, its managers and directors were all sued by injured parties and the station went out of business. 

March 28, 2021 13:14

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Rose Quartz
00:43 Apr 04, 2021

I like it! Great work!


Steve Cripwell
13:15 Apr 06, 2021

Thanks for reading


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