“To end today’s ‘World News Report’, we have some sad news of our own. Experienced journalist Robert Perkins has died at his home tonight, after reporting on the storms in the Lake District. His wife informed us of the devastating news an hour ago, we have nothing extra to add at this time. We are all sorry to announce the passing of a well-respected reporter and a good friend to many.”
The news-desk broadcaster was at a loss of words. They signalled her to carry on with the report, “Please bear with me, there are more shocking reports coming through. Johnny Dell, Robert’s friend and the cameraman has also died tonight. More as we get it…” she could no longer hold back the tears for her colleagues.
“Cut, get some adverts on,” rang out on live TV.
“They were only doing a weather report. What the hell happened?” asked director Sam Jones.
“The weather was pretty bad, big news, that’s why we sent them,” answered assistant director.
“It’s only raining for Christ’s sake.”
"Yes, Sam, but the story was as much about the wildlife was dying, not just the weather."
“I'm going to see his wife,” Sam grabbed his coat and stormed out.
Sam pulled his car up outside Robert’s home. There were already several military-looking vehicles parked along the street.
“Get a team around here now, there is news breaking at Bob’s house, I want us to be the first to cover it.”
“I’m sorry sir, no one can enter,” said a uniformed man at the house front door.
“I’m here to see Mrs Parkins,” stated Sam.
“I said nobody is going in,” he meant it.
Sam turned and hunted for his phone.
“Hi, Jilly, it’s Sam, Sam Jones, we met a few times at functions. So sorry to hear about Bob. I’m outside your house, they won’t let me in?”
“Oh, hello. They are about to move Bob’s body.”
“Who are they?”
“They flashed ID at me, I wasn’t paying attention,” she said tearfully.
“What happened to Bob, was he ill?”
“No, he was shivering from the rain, that’s all. He said he wanted an early night and went to bed as soon as he came in.”
“Did you know Johnny died as well?” asked Sam.
“Oh, no, what happened? Bob loved working with him.”
“Excuse me a moment,” said Sam as he phoned the studio, “Get a team round to Johnny’s place, now!”
“Stand outside please sir, move back,” said the guard as he pushed Sam backwards through the garden gate.
The front door opened, a man-sized perspex box appeared, then carried to one vehicle in the road.
Sam shoved and manhandled further away. He peered but was unsighted.
“Guys, what’s going on? You are not ambulance staff.”
“Get out of the way, sir, there is nothing to see.”
The vehicle roared off.
“Jilly, can I come in?” called Sam.
“They left the door open, come on in,” the woman said through sniffles.
“I joined Bob in bed at about eleven. He was shaking with cold but burning to touch. I wrapped him in our quilt so I didn’t notice the problem straight away,” she said.
“What do you mean? What problem?”
“His chest and upper body," she sniffed, "had slight round burns, I only noticed when I was mopping the sweat from his chest.”
“Yes, it looked like someone had stabbed cigarettes on him, I mean all over his throat and shoulders. Then I noticed more in his hair,” said Jilly.
“What did you do?”
“It was when I clicked on the bedside lamp I saw his face,” she started stammering, “He looked like a teenager with an acute case of acne. But,” she needed a breath. “The spots were wriggling.”
“You mean the spots were moving?”
“Yes, and they were getting bigger and worse.”
Sam grabbed for his mobile, “Are you at Johnny’s place yet?”
“You wouldn’t believe this…”
“Oh yes, I would. Are there any medics there?”
“Yes, they just threw us out.”
Sam put his phone away, “It seems Johnny had the same reaction to Bob. What caused it, I wonder?”
“On his way to bed, he told me, many dead animals were littering the ground, all around. Foxes, rabbits and loads of birds. He filmed them on camera and his phone.”
Jilly rushed to find the mobile.
“Look, their fur and feathers are burning!”
Bob grabbed his phone again, “Arrange for a cameraman, anyone, to wait outside the studio, I’ll pick him up.”
“Hold tight, we are rushing up to the lakes. Phone the studio, I want all we have on Bob and Johnny’s excursion earlier. Then get our scientific reporter to meet us there,” ordered the director.
“Christ, what is going on here?” Sam asked his cameraman Phil. “There are army personnel everywhere.”
“And they are wearing masks,” pointed out Sam’s colleague.
“They blocked the roads,” Sam scratched his chin.
“Come on, grab your camera,” Sam parked on the side of the road.
“Maybe that’s not the wisest thing to do,” said the cameraman.
“Do you want to keep your job?”
“Um, oh look, here comes the science guy,” Phil said.
“Ah, Patrick, what have you discovered?” asked Sam.
“It’s no good, I’m afraid,” said Patrick, the science correspondent. "It came from the rain!"
“Come on, tell us as we walk to the spot Bob was filming,” said Sam.
They clambered over the low stone wall.
“You three, get back, or I’ll arrest you,” shouted an officer from the road.
“Come on quickly,” ordered Sam.
“Sorry sir, but I’m not going up there.”
Patrick too was shaking his head, “Don’t go, Sam,” he called.
Sam snatched the camera, “I will fire you two. We have a massive story, the public need to hear all about it. Last chance. Are you coming? Or I sack you.”
Patrick and the cameraman climbed back over the wall as soldiers marched them to their cars.
Bright lights lit up the hill as Sam jogged away from them he moved awkwardly as the camera banged his legs, slowing his ascent. Two more soldiers in full protective gear chased after the director.
The two television men sat on the wall next to the vehicles.
“You’ll need a lift home?” said Patrick.
“Yes, no good waiting for Sam,”
“Especially if it rains!”