“May I come in?”
Timish thought about closing the door, shutting out the reporter and sitting back on his couch/bed. But the guy was young. Younger than he had been when this all started. He stood to the side, letting the reporter enter.
His apartment wasn’t much. Wall screen, bed that propped up at the back for somewhere to sit and a food unit that seemed to have no middle ground between undercooked mush and burnt charcoal.
But the reporter said nothing, he just cleared a stack of old paper magazines from a solitary chair and took out a pad and stylus. Timish went to the fridge, looking over the meagre rations a vet’s salary could afford these days.
“I’ve got pilsner or bootleg?”
“Just water, please,” said the reporter.
Timish eased himself onto the couch, passing a small pouch of water to his guest.
“If I’d known you were coming I would have cleaned,” he said, indicating the remnants of food trays and dirty laundry. “What’s your name kid?”
“Harrington. Mike Harrington,” he said. “And it’s no bother. You should see my place.”
“Don’t be untidy kid,” Timish said quickly, leaning as far forwards as he could. “In the Corps they teach you to make your rack every morning. Do you know why they do that? It builds discipline. If you do one task in the morning it keeps you focused. Don’t let yourself slide.”
Timish finished with an almost ashamed look. Harrington couldn’t help but look over the shelves. In between old pulp novels he saw medals and ribbons, more than he could count. And yet no-one seemed to know who this man was. What he had done.
“You’re not the first,” Timish said, pulling Harrington from his observations. “Reporter I mean. When I left some tabloid ran my exit papers through a computer, got a ping because I had a couple extra bits of metal on my chest and in my leg.”
“I didn’t know,” Harrington mumbled. “Sorry.”
“How’d you get my name kid?” Timish asked. “You new at this?”
“Yes Sir. I work with AbleNews. Worked with. Worked with,” he repeated to himself. “I did research mainly. Finding sources for the writers. And one day I find a redacted file. Just two words, Venosa and Timish.”
Timish winced at the name of the city. Twenty seven years and it was still raw.
“I tried tracking it down. I found you first,” Harrington said, raising the pouch of water to point at Timish. “After that it got easier. Service record gave me your decorations, decorations gave me a time frame and from there I found it. Venosa.”
“Lemme guess. At about this point, you get a call from your editor to log off the system and leave the building.”
“It was my supervisor, but yeah,” Harrington said. “They wiped my local thumb as well. Everything I had.”
“And you thought it would be a good idea to keep going. You lost a cushy job kid, you really want to lose anymore?”
“My grandfather was a reporter. Before the wars. He did what was right, not what was easy.”
“And if I tell you what happened in Venosa?”
“I’ll tell the world.”
Timish looked at the pictures flashing across the wall screen. Destruction and famine. The war was long over, but that didn’t mean it didn’t still hurt.
“Grab a pen kid.”
Prompt originally posted by cyberdsaiyan on reddit and received 4 upvotes.