That was the new number one: "Fluid Exchange by Cen Steppery. Now time for the news with Beq Hallant.
Thank you Gini. Police are looking for a teenage girl in connection with the Maren Gilligan stalkings, who they describe as the exact double of the film star. The girl, whose name cannot be released at this time, is reported to be suffering from the mental illness Idolmorphosis, and believes herself not just to be Gilligan's biggest fan, but to be Gilligan herself.
Sufferers of the disease are identified by obsessive mimicry and are often prone to violent outbursts, particularly when attempts are made to prevent them from continuing in their charade. For this reason, members of the public are advised not to attempt to apprehend the fan if they see her, but instead to phone the police with as precise a description and location as possible. Photography is encouraged, and is in fact an effective way of pacifying and occupying idolmorphiacs, but only from a secluded position or safe distance.
Two men suspected of carrying out the recent knife attack in the Fengetten area have now been sighted by several different eyewitnesses, and police are urging people to come forward with as many more reports as possible, stressing that the net is closing around the pair, and once again insisting that members of the public do not attempt to make a citizen's arrest if they suspect anybody.
In other news, Sika Murwen has become the most prolific actor in Hollywood history, clocking up 300 films in the space of a twenty-five year career. In an interview earlier today, Murwen confessed: "As a child, I had big dreams. I wanted to be the best, and for me that meant being everywhere. The actor denies strenuously recent accusations regarding the use of anti-aging Clock pills and Peaches patches, as reported in Flashbulb magazine, but insists that a retaliatory lawsuit is not on the cards, purely for the purposes of privacy. When asked about retirement plans, the actor insists that the name Sika Murwen will be around for years to come, with a further five films planned in the next year, including blockbuster collaborations with Prolly Carter, Myla Farringay and Penny Velle.
Finally, how would you like to win a day being spoiled rotten, rubbing shoulders with the rich and famous in La Prizzita? Marley Industries, in association with Cooble Cocoa Bar Industries are offering ten places at their most luxurious spa, renowned for its honeypot effect on certain members of the jetset. As part of your prize, you will even receive a sample session of a certain world-famous treatment. How's about that for a golden ticket?
That rounds up the news for this lunchtime, Gini. Back to you.
Thanks Beq. And what better way to wash down that rushed panini than with a freshly squeezed glass of "Got You In A Cage by Monkey Bark? Get in.
Come on Marty. Pick up. I know your phone is full of juice and I know you always have it inches from your hand. Pick up. I know you won't but pick up, please.
This morning the doctors told me I could sit up. The bandages were to come off. I said I had been feeling worse of late. These past few days my muscles had seemed to knot up, and aches sprung out in ambush from every joint. Nevertheless, they reassured me, said this was normal.
None of them had commented on my face, I realised. It was both welcome and fiercely absent.
As they unwrapped the lower portion of my face, something fell, clinking, onto the floor. One of the nurses assisting the most familiar looking doctor picked it up. It was a tooth, but not one I recognised. It was yellowed and sedimentary, with a black cartoonish border, and it smelt of neglected dogs or something.
"Whose is that? I looked around at the nurses, their neat smiles complete and advert-white. The doctor then. No, this was an incisor and all of his were present in regiment.
"Ah, now Ms Quene, we must explain something, began the doctor, as I lifted my hands, gnarled, spotted and baggy-skinned, to touch my new face.
"Your, uh, your manager, the gentleman who was here before, he explained everything. He explained about the ' nurse, can we get a drink for Ms Quene?
The walnut skin gave beneath my fingers.
"Don't you know who I am?
"Ms Quene, the doctor said. "You're very tired.
"It's Pila. Give me a mirror, I demanded. They refused. I screamed.
I looked across at the recreation lounge. A CD span in the player. Diving out of bed, I lunged towards the stereo, desperate to rip out the disc and stare into its underside. I hadn't banked on my wizened legs buckling under me, the brittle bone of my hip cracking against the bedside table.
"Ms Quene! They surged forward as a single entity.
"It's Pila! I shouted. "Pila McEllin!
"Like the actress?
"LIKE the actress? I AM the actress.
"But Pila McEllin died years ago, didn't she?
"Or else she'd have to be -
"Sixty-eight. I had found the underside of a steel tray and was staring into its scratched surface.
"Oh my God. One of the nurses had her hand to her mouth. She pulled out from a Flickmonster carrier bag a 50th anniversary edition of my first film, Midnight At Junkship Pitstop and held it up in front of my face. Oh her God indeed.
Then the recognition, the adjustment of the box visage to mine, began, as each hand floated to a face, and murmurs fogged the room. Daughter, granddaughter, lookalike, trick. But no, and they knew it: no illusion was this good.
As for me, I sat staring at the same steel tray I'm clutching now. The people come and go, in uniforms of differing shades and states. They are all background clutter to the close-up of my face in the metal, the fragments of my face, wizened and corpsely. The gash in my cheek, stitched in a thread ill-matched to my skin tone stretches my smile on one side. It is pink and clean, the youngest flesh on the bone.
Then I smile for real and begin to titter. Thank God, I say, thank God. As I laugh, I cough up phlegm and my shoulders ache. I nearly fall off the bed as the titter splits open into a laugh, and two nurses come running in, put a needle into my arm and shush me, as the laughter fades, along with the light. Just before I clock out altogether, I see a black shape in the corner. The man with the suit, a dressing gown raven or something else altogether? I don't know, I don't know and zip.