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CONSPIRACY (Part 1)

By Joe Bongiorno

Esther was shelving videocassette returns in the Nouveautés aisle when she looked up at the wall-mounted TV set: Star Trek III: The Search for Spock. Her favourite of the series, she had watched it dozens of times, but this time it felt different. She bit her lip as the image of the Starship Enterprise floating in outer space gave way to the memory of the Challenger space shuttle bursting into an orange and white fireball. She had watched the live broadcast in science class the week before. It had been second period — right before — lunch and she had been itching for the bell to ring so she could skip the cafeteria queue. 

And then boom!

            “Almost finished there?” Peg asked from behind the counter, hands on hips. Her bicycle chain-like braces shimmered.

Esther nodded. The uneasy feeling persisted. The Enterprise was set to detonate in the next scene; Starfleet would abandon ship, and the seven-person Challenger crew had no clue they were about to explode on live TV. 

Done shelving, her spectacled gaze returned to the TV screen at the precise moment Kirk initiated the self-destruct sequence. With each explosion of special effects, she saw herself in the classroom, a spectator to the smoking shuttle debris falling into the Atlantic Ocean. 

end of part 1….

Joe Bongiorno is a Montreal writer. His pieces have appeared in publications including Geist, Event, Freefall and Broken Pencil. He is currently working on a novel and a short story collection. He is the proud owner of a 1998 Toyota Camry.


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