Coffee Break Read – Faked News?

The rapturous applause ringing in her ears, Zhang Xiu Ying stepped off the podium and returned to her seat. Although it was wonderful to have the sense of support and approval for her unpublished and un-peer-reviewed paper at this symposium, her thoughts were already on the submissions process to the few scientific journals respected in her field.

In the audience, Krish Anand thought the Chinese girl who had been speaking looked cute and he posted a picture of her to his social media. As an afterthought, since he did not want anyone assuming he was sexist, he added a few words about what she had been saying.

Her news blog needed livening up, so Florencia Quezada put the picture of the pretty Chinese academic on her page, read the words Krish had put with it and – as she didn’t really understand it – added some thoughts and ideas of her own to make it into something a bit more substantial.

It was a quiet day on RadioNews247 and Bjorn Olafsson had been searching the internet desperately for something to feed the ravenous maw of twenty-four-hour news coverage. There had been no terrorist attacks – or at least none in any place the 247 audience would have ever heard of or cared about; the politicians’ tweets had been banal to dull and lacking in controversy and he was at his wit’s end. Then he saw it. Grinning with triumph he wrote a few lines to go in the next ‘On The Hour’ bulletin and started phoning a couple of people he knew would be free and willing to comment on air.

Zac Wade had the radio on as he was driving home. He didn’t like TV as that meant you might get noticed somewhere by someone. No cell phone for the same reason and no computer neither. Life off-grid was safest. You could keep out the government and defend your own land. The news bulletin made him put his foot to the floor of his battered old Dodge cab-over pickup. Them aliens was invading – said so on the news.

Waiting to board her plane home, Zhang Xiu Ying glanced at her newsfeed ‘Chinese Scientist Proves Aliens Are Invading’. There was a picture of a narrow, hairless face with black olive-shaped eyes. Clickbait crap. She scrolled on without really thinking more about it. She was just happy her article speculating on tiny anomalous ferric inclusions in a layer of Pleistocene clay as being extra-terrestrial from a meteor shower was being considered for a quality geological journal.

E.M. Swift-Hook

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