Max Headroom Copyright: Warner Bros. Chrysalis.
Wuthering Heights: Emily Bronte
Kyle Cheviot was not showing up for work today.
He worked at Network 23, but he was not there now, and
would never go back.
Today was his last day as Kyle Cheviot.
“Find what you was lookin’ for?”
“Hurry up, man! What if your dad comes home sick, or
“That’d be funny!”
“No, it wouldn’t. I don’t wanna go to jail again!”
“You two, shutup!” Kyle ordered. He was trying to read
the papers that were in his father’s safe, the safe
his friends had just broken into.
“Hey, can I see?”
Kyle stared dumbly as he read an account of some
experiments his mother had participated in while in
Experiments that were done while she was pregnant.
On her fetuses!
“No, you can’t see! Come on, lets go!”
Kyle ushered his two friends out of his father’s
apartment. He took the papers and did not bother to
close the safe.
The Network 23 board was in a discussion about
programming the schedule for the next season, when the
door flew open and banged into the wall.
Ashwell turned, saw Kyle, and turned back to his
“… now we could put “Survivor: The Revenge” after
“Missile Mike”, and then we could-”
“Ashwell, shutup!” Cheviot ordered.
Something was not right with Kyle. That’s not to say
that his son wasn’t always stubborn and determined and
a little bit gloomy most of the time. Kyle’s life had
become especially hard when his mother passed away 10
years earlier, and while he did show an incredible
devotion to his brother Tommy, he had pretty much
closed himself off in a relationship with anyone else.
Until recently, when he had become enamored with a
Cheviot became scared then, but was unable to sway his
son from making a marriage proposal to the woman.
Cheviot’s solution was to send her to an auxiliary
“I thought you worked today? What are you doing here?
Murray’s been… looking for you.”
“Really! Well, I went to your place… with some friends
Cheviot remained still, and the others were looking
from Kyle to Cheviot.
“I found some really cool things in your safe-”
“-and I think we should all take a look at what I
found!” Kyle then approached Edwards and waved the
papers at him.
“Oh, please, daddy?” he laughed.
Cheviot grabbed the papers from Kyle, and strode
quickly to the hallway.
“Everyone, I’ll be right back!”
Behind the closed doors, Kyle put his head up against
the wall. He was crying silently.
“This wasn’t my idea… and you know it’s true… but now
that you know-”
“You were afraid I would be making babies! That’s why
you sent her away! No fear of that, now!” Kyle whirled
on his father. “I should rip your head off! You never
had a right to play God with me. Or with Tommy… that’s
how he got that way, isn’t it!”
“Keep your voice down! Now listen, Tommy is getting
the best care money can buy. Mistakes were made; I
admit it! That doesn’t mean we-”
“We what? There is no we! It’s just me and Tommy,
against a world that’s ashamed of us and wishes that
we didn’t exist! I told you before, it’s impossible
for you to lie to me!”
“Alright, Kyle. I-”
“Forget it! Your feelings haven’t changed… but I have.
I’m not gonna hang around and say everything is ok,
and that I should hide myself and Tommy. No, don’t get
any wrong ideas. I have no desire to make your shame
or mine public… but you can forget about calling me
your son, now or ever.”
With that, Kyle left. Cheviot sighed and pushed open
the boardroom door, where he got a glimpse at the
board members scrambling into their chairs.
Kyle then went to the control room, where Murray
greeted him with an icy glare.
“Thanks for finding the time to show up!”
“No problem, Mur!”
And Kyle went down the hall to the editing bay and
started his work.
After two hours, Murray stopped by to check his
progress. What he found was horrifying.
Kyle was sitting in a chair, strips of video tape in
his hands and more scattered all over the floor. Kyle
had the smile of an idiot on his face.
“You know, there was a time when I knew what to do
with all this tape… Hm! But now I don’t get it at
Kyle was still laughing as Murray reached forward and
grabbed his jacket and pulled him from the chair. He
pushed him into the corridor. “Get out, and don’t come
“What? You’re firing me? Noooo.” Kyle bent down,
grabbed the hem of a woman’s skirt and blew his nose.”
“Stop it, Kyle!” She kicked him away. He straightened
up, gave everyone who was watching the finger, and
Alright! What job could he get next. How about Toys R
Us. No. What about Wal-Mart. That sounded cool. Maybe.
But first, he had one last task to perform, and he
waited inside the parking garage, in a dark corner,
for the first person who came off the elevator.
“… it’s not hard to cook the pasta… what I don’t like,
is… oh, no!”
“A woman! Kyle thought. How about that!
“I forgot something, Murray. I have to go back up.”
“Ok, I’ll meet you at the coffee shop.”
Kyle started towards his victim.
“Murray, mah man!” and Kyle was all smiles.
“Check is in the mail. Leave me alone.”
“You got a cigarette, pal?”
“I don’t smoke.”
Murray turned toward his van. A second later, he was
on the ground from a blow to the head.
“Stop it, Murray!”
Kyle bent over, lifted him off the ground and slammed
him against the van.
“Stop being afraid! Stop being pissed off… cause you
don’t know a thing about it!”
With that, Kyle’s knee came up, smashing Murray in the
gut. He groaned and dropped to his side.
Kyle shook his head. It was not good enough. He
thought of poor crazy Tommy, his fathers shame, and
now Murray’s fear.
“I said KNOCK IT OFF!” and kicked him hard in the
Oh, God! Oh, God! Oh, God! Kyle was a monster, wasn’t
His assault on Murray was not finished, but now he
sensed the presence of Edison Carter. He was next in
Kyle ran to his motorcycle and saddled it.
It didn’t surprise Kyle to be presented with a
restraining order from Murray the next day.
He then spent 3 hours at the registrars office, filing
for a name change, and then he rode his bike over to
Network 66, where he managed to secure an audience
with Chairman Thatcher.
“It puzzles me, as to why a job here is so important
to you?” Thatcher intoned.
Kyle sat at the end of the table, pulling at his tie.
These dressy clothes were getting more uncomfortable
by the minute. “Sir, if it’s loyalty you’re worried
“No, that’s not it. I can see that you have made every
conceivable… effort… to cut all ties with your father
and Network 23… I just wonder what his part was. What
has he done to put you in such a position?”
“That’s between me and him. I refuse to discuss it.”
“Hm! What if his… position… were to change? Would that
Thatcher held up the copy of the restraining order.
“I hope you understand, that whatever brought this on,
will not be tolerated at 66.”
Kyle smiled. “I understand completely.”
“A disgrace that your only son should treat you like
that, Mr. Cheviot,” Ashwell said.
Cheviot pulled the pipe from his mouth. Only son… no,
not the only son.
However, why expose poor Tommy to ridicule? The boy
was, alongside his brother, Kyle, one of a kind… and
a horrible mistake not to be repeated.
How could it ever be justified why Ben Cheviot allowed
such a thing to take place? Genetic alteration seemed
like an intriguing and warranted idea at the time. But
what happened to Tommy and Kyle, one insane and the
other telepathic…. Just what was that all about? They
should have been like the wiz-kids who attended ACS.
That didn’t happen, and the very idea of making it all
public would only make a bad situation worse.
It was best to leave things… as disgraceful as they
“Yes, Ashwell. It’s a terrible thing that has
“Is it you? Christina Spencer! Is it really you?”
“Yeah, I’m really here, Max… Don’t WAKE ANYONE! Not yet… ok?
“But we’ve been so worried about you. It’s been a whole year since you left. Edison says you let yourself get killed when your grandfathers house exploded, because you felt guilty about what you did to John… how did the house explode anyway?”
“It was a bomb… planted there while I was at my grandfather’s funeral… my grandfather employed some… unorthodox methods for protecting me… but after he died…”
“Was it the Mob?”
“How’d you know?”
“Old computer records… I saw his name on a ‘most wanted’ list from several years ago. So! When are we gonna see you live and in person?”
“Soon, Max! Guess what: I found someone. You’ll never believe it, but… Oh, Max! He’s just like I am.”
“He? You mean I have competition?”
NETWORK 66 BOARDROOM
Grossberg punched a few keys on his computer. At the other end of the boardroom, the afternoon special, “Goldilocks and The Three Nymphomaniacs” vanished from the screen. The next screen showed a room that was located in the basement of Network 66. Grossberg and the boardmembers watched a young man pull apart a CPU.
“Oh, Kyle Jennings, Network 66’s reliable repairman,” Chubb said. “He’s been with 66 for about a year now. Clive Thatcher hired him right before… ”
Chubb’s voice drifted off, and the room fell uncomfortably silent. Embarrassed at his outburst, Chubb dropped his head.
“Thatcher” Grossberg said, through slightly gritted teeth. “In case you haven’t noticed, Clive Thatcher no longer works her, for another… this boy’s father is Ben Cheviot.”
The board members murmured among themselves. Chubb looked up and said, “He told me his parents were dead… and why is his last name Jennings?”
“It’s not that difficult to figure out, Chubb,” Mr. Bartlett replied. “He’s an adult now, and has registered his own identity. But for what purpose, I wonder…”
“That is what I’m going to finding out!” Grossberg said. He got up and left the boardroom.
KYLES WORKROOM/THE BASEMENT
He’s coming, Kyle thought. Ned Grossberg found out I work here, and now he’s coming for me.
Kyle should have taken his father’s advice. When Ned Grossberg first arrived at 66, Kyle received an email from his father, begging him to leave.
Now he wished he had listened.
Pure hatred was headed in his direction.
He opened the CPU case with shaking hands. Footsteps came closer, and stopped.
“What are you doing here?” Grosseberg said with sarcasm. Kyle looked up, and immediately looked back at the CPU.
“I work here… what’s your excuse?”
Grossberg stepped quickly across the room, grabbed Kyle around the throat and pushed him against a wall.
“You’re a spy, aren’t you? A double agent for your old man, huh? Answer me!”
“I’m not!” Kyle pushed him back, and swallowed hard. ” I want nothing to do with him. Do a background check, if you have to… the old coot makes me sick!”
Kyle went back to his work.
Grossberg stepped back and smiled broadly. “May I ask why you hate him?”
“Well, no matter. As long as it stays that way.” He turned to leave.
“Oh, and if it doesn’t,” Grossberg turned from the door, and his face hardened “you’d better change more than your name.”
The door slammed behind him.
And that was why Kyle decided he would kill the Girl. He would smash her head in with a crowbar, and then drop her off at the nearest bodybank.
On a crowded street, She had bumped into him, and slipped him a note. It read: I KNOW ALL ABOUT YOU! MEET ME TONIGHT.
Kyle figured that Grossberg would not dirty his own hands to get rid of Kyle, but he would definitely hire someone to do it. Was the Girl his future assassin?
No, he would be hers.
And with a small crow bar tucked into his leather jacket, he went across town to the homeless shelter where the Girl was staying.
He approached her in the recreation room, and watched as she finished her Solitaire game.
“You… don’t want to hurt me,” he stated.
She shook her head, stood up and dropped the remaining cards on the table. She took his hand and pulled him down the hall, and to the private back patio.
“I have to show you something, don’t worry. It won’t hurt.” She cupped her hands together, and opened them. Resting in her thin hands was something that looked like a tiny ball of lightning. He stared at it amazed.
“Pick it up! It won’t hurt.”
She was telling the truth; his special sense told him so. Kyle plucked the ball out of her hand and cradled it gently. It vanished a few seconds later.
The two of them sat on a couch.
Kyle crossed his legs and stared at the ceiling.
“You know, I once was gonna marry this girl… I went and told my father… he was totally against it… didn’t say why for a long time. Eventually… he told me everything…. he was concerned about me… reproducing!” Kyle looked at Christina. He touched her cheek, and sunk back into the couch, crying now. Christina leaned against him, sighing.
“It’s ok, Kyle, you don’t have to be miserable and alone anymore.”
“I’ve always wondered what it would be like to be rejected. You know, this is the very first time I’ve been jilted?”
“You haven’t been jilted, Max,” Christina told him. She and Kyle were at an outdoor café. Max had just joined them and they were all waiting for Edison to show up.
“Oh, yes I have!” Max continued “Now I’m wandering down Lonely Hearts Avenue.”
“Don’t worry, Max. I’ll always be your fantasy-girl, alone.”
“Why don’t we leave? I know Edison… too well!” Kyle laughed, turned to a smoking customer, and rapped his table. “Got an extra cigarette?”
“Edison Carter cares about me, regardless. He’s never treated me bad.”
“Yeah, pure as the driven snow! We’ll he’s one of the few. Face it, Christina; everyone else wishes we didn’t exist! Watch this, I’ll prove it.” With that, he grabbed the smoker’s Zippo, and lit up. Then he approached one of the older customers.
“How ya doin’? Say, can you help out a friend of mine? I want your opinion on what happened twenty years ago. You remember! Choice Of A New Generation? Parents genetically altering their kids?”
“Oh, that,” said the 60 year old man “Well, I think it was all just a story. No one took that professor seriously.”
“That’s not what I heard,” another customer said. “I heard there was an entire maternity ward filled with these grossly deformed babies. Five heads, multiple sex organs…”
“No, that wasn’t it at all! They were all miscarriages.”
“How do you know they didn’t live… like how do you know that I’m not one of ‘them’… how do you know that she isn’t?” He smiled, then, and looked around at the customers. “Any of you got kids like that?”
Silence fell over the crowd, as they looked around at one another. Kyle sensed a feeling of deep shame emanating from one of them.
“I rest my case!” He walked back to Christina and sat down.
She bit her lip. “That was embarrassing!”
Edison approached them, sat down and said nothing for a moment. He stared at Kyle, and then looked over at Christina.
“I’m sorry that things didn’t work out… but I’m glad that you’re ok.”
“Ok?! That’s your opinion!” she said. “Everyone in New York hated me. They were ashamed of me! You know, I think the whole Spencer family was screwed up! My grandfather was a mobster. His first date with my grandmother was when he raped her. He broke my mother’s arm when she was six. After he died someone tried to kill me.”
“Do you know who?”
“Yes… look, I don’t really dream about the future anymore. My future sucks, and I use it for more beneficial things, like writing programs, playing games…you know I think I could create another Max if I wanted to.”
“Do it! Make mine… MAXINE! But she has to look like you, fantasy girl.” Max said happily.
She looked down and continued “But I just wanted to see you again. I… I’ll be ok.”
Edison wanted to do more. He didn’t want her to live as an orphan of society, left alone and ignored; there were too many evil people in the world that would gladly exploit her abilities for selfish gain.
Kyle leaned forward. “How did a nice guy like you manage to piss off… ” He grimaced and stood. “Well, Christina, now that you have been reunited with your friends… been nice knowing ya.”
She got up quickly and ran after him.
“Christina, wait!” Edison ran after her. She stopped and said, “I have to go. I’ll be in touch soon, but-”
“Christina… look, you don’t want to be around him. He’s a bad kid, he even beat up Murray once.”
“He’s been hurt!” she said firmly. “Just like… I have.”
With that, she continued after Kyle. He was already astride his motorcycle when she grabbed his arm.
“Take me with you.”
He turned to her, and said, “You can’t hang with both of us, alright? It… isn’t safe.” He leaned back. “I’d like you to stay with me… Christina, I need to show you something very important… it’s not just because of what happened to me. Hell, it’s king of neat being able to really know who your true friends are… but what I want to show you can make you realize what an outcast you are.”
Bartlett hurried across the sidewalk to the café parking lot. Kyle, Edison and that girl were gone by the time he got there.
It was true. Kyle Cheviot was a double agent, out to destroy 66 from within.
Or at least try to, anyway, Bartlett thought. That would never happen, he promised himself. He was determined to find out what they were up to.
“Kyle, I’m gonna walk from here!”
Christina climbed off his bike at the intersection. Yes, she had seen enough, now.
Earlier, they went to Horizon Sanitarium, where she met Kyle’s fraternal twin brother, Tommy. He was psychotic and spent most of his time in isolation.
“Christina, come back here!” Kyle ordered.
“No! I’m not gonna hate myself anymore, and I won’t let them make me! You even think I should hate me! Well it stops here!”
So what was she gonna do? Throw herself on his father’s mercy. The guy had none! Kyle followed her for a couple blocks. Finally, he shook his head, and muttered, “Sell-out,” and sped off in the opposite direction.
RESEARCH AND DEVELOPMENT
“Hey, fantasy-chick! Wait a second! How did you break the door code?”
She smiled. “I used my dream ability. I can control them now. My grandfather and I worked real hard on it… I started by thinking about when I first met you… it has a lot to do with how humans have electrical energy, and-”
“That’s nice! Say, have you thought of asking Bryce if you could be an apprentice? He could use the extra help!”
“Not yet, Max… I decided I wanna do that story.” She sat down at one of the computers. “Now be real quiet. I have to concentrate.”
Max watched her for a moment. She was in the computer now, going through file after file. Max raced across the room to where Bryce was sleeping. “Bryce! Wake up, you gotta see this!”
As Bryce approached, he heard unfamiliar voices coming from the computers speakers.
“Is it wrong to provide for your children’s health and safety? My research is not unethical. There’s no coercion any kind. It is for volunteers only. And everything will be out in the open unless the client wishes anonymity. Now here, let me read my latest report… ”
It was some old footage of the professor who came up with The Choice Of A New Generation.
Bryce grabbed Christina’s shoulder and shook her. She looked at him, stood up, and walked to the door without saying a word.
“She had the file sent to Edison’s apartment, with a note about her wanting to do the story… she could have at least said goodbye to me!”
“Max! Do you understand what just happened here? Do you even understand what she’s capable of?”
“Of course I do! She promised to make a computer generated version of herself for my birthday… so what are you gonna give me Bryce?”
KYLE’S APARTMENT-THAT NIGHT
“Go away, Christina. I’m not letting you in!”
Christina rapped on Kyle’s apartment door more forcefully. “Please Kyle, we need each other.”
“I told you! You can’t be my friend and 23’s friend at the same time! You made your choice, now go away.”
“Your employers tell you who to hang out with? Is that it?”
The apartment door swung open quickly. Kyle grabbed her arm and pulled her in.
“Fine! So what if I get killed! You obviously don’t know what my employers are like. Why don’t you try dreaming about them, then you’ll see!”
“I don’t care to. I’ll take every day one day at a time.”
“Then I’ll tell you: my boss is a vortex of hate! Just being in the same building with him really makes my head hurt. I mean I’m just dropping aspirin like there’s no tomorrow.”
“You know, all that aspirin is bad for your liver! Thins your blood, too. One day you’re gonna hemmorage to death from a papercut!”
Kyle looked at his TV. “You? Shut up, Max!”
Christina kicked aside some empty beer cans and sat down. She smiled at Max, as Kyle continued to rant.
“I think it’s too late anyway… they’ve been following me. Stupid pricks probably think I don’t know!”
“Edison wants to see you. He got your message. I gotta tell you, someone else is probably gonna do the story.”
“Why not him?”
“Well, he figures it will look bad after he becomes your legal guardian?”
“Guardian? You’re kidding… You’re not kidding! Max, why… how… ” Tears sprang to her eyes.
“That’s supposed to be happy news! Well, he had an idea when your grandfather died. We couldn’t find you. And now that you’ll be going public, he wants you to have some recourse; otherwise the wrong people might get custody of you.”
“Oh, chivalry! Once again it’s Edison Carter to the rescue!” Kyle yelled from across the room.
Max glared at Kyle. The he smiled and said, “Let’s play a game! Ok, my game is called ‘Wuthering Heights’ all right? OK! Now, I am going to be Edgar, Catherines husband… Christina gets to be Catherine! And you, Kyle? You get to be Heathcliff!”
“Wait a second! Heathcliff’s a bad guy.”
Max looked at him triumphantly. “I know!”
“Man, screw you both then!” He stormed out onto the balcony. Christina followed.
Kyle looked at her. “He’s right. Christina, I’m not a very nice person. ” He shook his head and lit up a cigarette. “I don’t deserve a soul as loving as yours.”
She hugged him. “My dream said I would bring out the good in you. You know, if Catherine had stayed with Heathcliff, he wouldn’t have gotten so evil.”
“I think I understand. Your goodness… I need it in my life because my world is so dark…you really want to do this?”
“Yes. Not just for me. Our parents were hurt too. My mother and grandfather were killed because of it. And what about Tommy?”
“All right… why don’t you look?” Kyle leaned against the wall and stared into her eyes. “Christina, look into the future. Tell me what it holds. It’s just… you’ve planned to do this story. I want to know how it’s gonna turn out… wouldn’t you?”
Christina sighed. Part of the problem was her running like a fugitive, and afraid to look over her shoulder. But with Edison’s plans to keep her safe…could her future actually get better? She smiled.
“Yeah. I would.”
Kyle awoke at three in the morning. Christina was not on the couch, but he sensed her presence in the kitchen.
He clambered from his bed, and walked to the door.
“Go… back to bed, Kyle!”
Christina’s face was wet with tears, and she held a butcher knife close to her wrist.
It was a sight so awkward; she was shaking and whimpering. He giggled and shook his head.
“Come on, Christina! It can’t be that bad!”
NETWORK 66 BOARDROOM
“I have news that may interest you,” Bartlett said.
“Good or bad,” Grossberg asked impatiently.
Bartlett said nothing, and punched some information into his computer. The two of them looked up at the boardroom screen, and Grossberg read with interest.
“The Choice Of A New Generation… what does a pile of stillborn brats have to do with Kyle?”
“Oh, it’s not about him. That traitor is nothing to be concerned with… but that girlfriend of his, she’s the one you should be interested in.”
“Why?! Are you going to tell me she’s one of those kids?”
Bartlett said nothing and handed his boss a folder with the name Christina Spencer on it.
“Information I obtained from a New York mafia.”
The boardroom was very silent as Grossberg skimmed the folder contents for several seconds. Frustrated he tossed it back to Bartlett.
“I really don’t see what this has to do with-”
“Imagine what it would be like to have that kind of power in your hands, Mr. Grossberg. I can assume you read that part?”
Grossberg took back the folder and opened it again. This time he read for several minutes. One part he read repeatedly.
…this teenage girl has the ability to morph herself into computers, and fire high-energy electrical bolts from her hands…
The boardroom screen switched over to the Research and Development lab. Jenny, Bryce Lynch’s classmate at the Academy, stared at the screen.
“Mr. Grossberg? I wanted to let you know I’m putting the finishing touches on the special item you ordered.”
“Which special item?”
“The Neuron Interface. This!” She held up a silver neckband, and a small silver box with a tiny metal antenna. “Would you like me to explain how it operates?”
“If you must.” Grossberg was confused.
“Ok… well, there are both voluntary and involuntary functions in living beings. For instance, the heartbeat and breathing are involuntary, while throwing a ball and riding a bike are voluntary. My Neuron Interface turns all voluntary actions into involuntary actions. You understand… it’s like one brain connecting to, and overriding the voluntary actions of a separate brain.”
Grossberg smiled at Bartlett. Now he understood.
“Very good, Jenny. How well does it work on a human?”
“A human? Uh, it wasn’t designed for humans, Mr. Grossberg. It was designed for lower-life forms.”
“Of course not, Jenny. I’m only asking a hypothetical question.”
“I see. In that case, being that human brains are more complex than brains of lower-life forms, one would be required to give an order more than once, perhaps two or three times.”
“And when will it be completed?”
“In an hour. You can come pick it up then.”
“Perfect.” Grossberg disconnected. He folded his hands on the table. “Excellent work Bartlett.”
My desire is that 66 become the only network to watch… now it can.”
Grossberg smiled. This was turning out to be a very good day.
Bryce Lynch knocked on the door to Kyle’s apartment. Hopefully he wasn’t too late, and Christina was still here. He waited a few seconds, and knocked again.
Earlier that day, Christina had called him. “I wanted to say goodbye. I’m leaving to find my father. He lives in Canada… I have to leave right away.”
He noticed she looked very upset… and sick as well. Her eyes were puffy and her skin had taken on a reddish tone.
Frustrated at the lack of a response, he fiddled with the keypad, hacked the code, and opened the door.
Christina was lying stark naked on the couch. Her entire body was a fiery red, her face was puffy and one eye was swollen shut.
“Bryce… I… can you see what’s in my eyes… there’s something… ” She was wheezing steadily.
Almost everyone these days had allergies, but a few were unfortunate enough to go into anaphylactic shock, a severe allergic reaction that could result in death.
After calling Emergency Services, Bryce went back to her side and covered her with a sheet.. “It’s ok, Christina. I called an ambulance, and-”
“No… Bryce, you can’t… ”
“Listen, you don’t know how sick you are. I have to get you to the hospital.”
“No! Not… I’ll be ok… I really will… please… Bryce, if you take me to the hospital, bad things will happen. Very bad things! You can’t… don’t do it, Bryce! ”
“If I don’t take you to the hospital, you’ll die.”
“Then let me die.”
She was confused, probably in shock. Bryce stayed by her side all the way to the hospital.
He felt nervous, though. He had the strangest feeling that they were being followed, but he quickly shook it off.
When they arrived at St. Arnold Hospital, the doctors quickly pushed Bryce away, and Christina became hysterical. She kicked one doctor in the throat and tried to escape. Three doctors held her down while another injected her with a combination antibiotic and sleep medication. Bryce then called Edison and Theora. He also instructed Max to keep an eye on her, but there were no televisions in her room.
Kyle arrived at the hospital that evening and Bryce approached him. “You got my message… she’s sleeping, and-HEY!”
Kyle shoved him back, then grabbed his shirt, lifted him off the floor, and slammed him onto a gurney.
“Idiot!” Kyle said. He left Bryce and went to Christina’s room.
She was gone. Her bed was empty, and a blanket was on the floor.
“What the HELL did you do with her?!”
Edison. Kyle turned and smiled. “Why don’t you ask Bryce. He brought her here! Didn’t’cha Bryce? Hey, was she awake when you brought her? I bet she BEGGED you not to bring her here… RIGHT!?”
“Leave him alone you bully! Bryce, don’t let him intimidate you.”
Bryce ducked behind her. “I… she was sick, Kyle… real sick, and… and…”
“Her dreams?” Edison mused. “Kyle… is she dead?”
“Dead? No, but you’ll wish she was… soon. Well… gotta go!” Kyle ran from the room. Theora ran after him, followed by Edison and Bryce.
“I was only trying to help,” Bryce whimpered.
“Kyle, what happens now… we have a right to know!”
Theora grabbed his arm. He stiffened and his fists clenched for a moment.
“You don’t scare me!” she insisted.
Kyle’s features softened. He leaned over and whispered, “Don’t trust her.” Then he pulled away and left.
NETWORK 66 BOARDROOM-3AM
“Mr. Grossberg… is she dangerous?” Chubb asked quietly.
“Only if I want her to be… care to make me angry?”
Chubb looked away. “No, sir.”
Grossberg leaned forward. Christina was seated to the left of Grossberg. She had her eyes closed.
“How close is he?” Grossberg asked. She opened her eyes, but said nothing.
“How… close… is… Max… Headroom?”
“He’s coming!” she answered.
“If she’s able to resist at just the wrong moment,” Bartlett began “It could mean the end-”
“If I want your opinion, I’ll ask for it!” Grossberg thundered.
The other boardmembers remained as still as statues.
“Christina, when Max gets here, isolate him entirely within the Network 66 central computer. He must not be able to escape. Do you understand?”
She nodded uncertainly.
A vision rushed toward the screen.
“OK! I’m here! Now let me see if… ”
Max’s words drifted off as he looked warily around the room. Grossberg laughed. “Good job, Christina. Wonderful job. Hi, Max!”
“You! Christina, you said you needed help. Why are you here? Why did you lie to me?”
Christina looked at him and said nothing.
“If you won’t answer me, I’m leaving!”
He tried, but to no avail. Grossberg was elated.
“Make yourself comfortable, Max. This is your new home.” He leaned forward and his face twisted into a mask of hate. “You’re not going anywhere.”
Max ignored him, and looked at Christina. “Christina… let me out… can you hear me? Christina! Can’t you hear me?!”
TWO DAYS LATER
Ben Cheviot folded his hands, and looked intently at the dark boardroom screen. Just two days ago, Max Headroom vanished. Then, every single network on the planet ceased operating. Localized computer tests revealed the shutdowns to be a fault in the central computer of each network. All satellite links were gone and the greatest minds at the Academy of Computer Sciences could not find the source of the problem.
The only network still in operation was Network 66. Their output seemed to be working fine. Cheviot swallowed his disgust at the thought. Because Ned Grossberg, head of 66 and Cheviot’s sworn enemy, offered to make a deal with these dead networks. They could consolidate themselves with Network 66 and resume broadcasting.
“I find this dramatic move to be in the best interest of our public,” Grossberg stated in a press conference yesterday. “Since videophones are still operational, I would implore each network to contact 66 as soon as possible.”
Ned Grossberg had extended a personalized invitation to Cheviot.
Cheviot was appalled at the mere thought of making this “deal with the devil”. There was no way he would sell out to Ned Grossberg.
Ashwell turned to face his boss. “Don’t you think you should reconsider? I mean, to stop broadcasting entirely is unthinkable. We can still keep our independence… I hope.”
“Absolutely not!” Cheviot stood quickly his eyes never leaving the blank screen. “How did he do this! How could he get that much power in so short a time?”
“Wait a second,” Edwards insisted “How can that be possible. Ned Grossberg doesn’t have that much power.”
“I don’t know. I only know, this isn’t a coincidence! How in God’s name did he make it happen?!”
RESEARCH AND DEVELOPMENT
“Christina, she’s the one who made it happen.” Bryce told Edison.
“How? And why… why would she do that?” Theora queried.
Bryce tapped one of the blank monitors, and traced the burned-in image with his finger.
“She’s able to go inside the computer. Remember, that’s how she met Max… it has a lot to do with how humans have electrical energy, and-”
“The point, Bryce,” Edison insisted “Christina’s not malicious! Why did she do it?”
“I’m sure she didn’t do it on her own, if that’s what you’re asking.”
“I think someone came and took her from the hospital while she was asleep. That’s why she didn’t want to go. She knew it was gonna happen.”
“Let me guess who,” Edison growled.
“God! That poor girl!” Theora shivered at the idea of being captive to Ned Grossberg.
Edison looked at the blank screens. “Bryce, that still doesn’t explain-”
“Mind control. I’ll bet he had Jenny whip up a mind control device for him! I gotta get in contact with her. I’ll contact a mutual friend of ours. I can’t go to 66 by myself.”
NETWORK 66 BOARDROOM
“Christina!” Max whispered. He looked around warily, and saw that Grossberg and the others were busy watching the evening news on the boardroom screen. He looked back at Christina.
“The neckband… take it off!”
She stared at him.
“Just reach up one hand, and pull it off. Then we can be free!”
She continued staring, but now her fingers were reaching toward her neck. It was a slow, but definite reaction.
“That’s it! You can do it! Rip it right off… don’t forget to return it to Jenny before we leave.”
Grossberg finally noticed what Max was trying to do, and activated the remote. “Christina, stop what you are doing, and from now on, you will ignore Max Headroom. Do you understand?”
Her hand shook, and dropped to her side. “Yes.”
Grossberg turned the set to face him.
“Look, you’ve proved your point, ok?” Max said “You’re the god of TV, now. What more do you want?!”
“Christina,” Grossberg spoke again. “I think Max needs readjustment… Max, what do you say to a little shock treatment?.”
“Shock? That isn’t… oh, my… oh, G- STOP! STOP ALREADY! I WON’T SAY ANYTHING ELSE! QUITITQUITITQUITIT!”
Max whirled around the screen in dizzying circles, before coming to a stop upside down.
“Somehow I’m not convinced of your sincerity, Max!” Grossberg chuckled.
“Neither am I,” replied Bartlett.
“Trust me! I am convinced! Can you PLEASE have her turn me right side up?”
Grossberg leaned back. “Let me think about it… no!”
Max’s only comforting thought, seemed to be that people with a lot of anger usually didn’t live very long.
Edison and Theora were waiting at his apartment when Bryce and Jenny came by.
“I didn’t know,” Jenny sobbed as Bryce handed her Kleenex after Kleenex. “I didn’t know he was planning on kidnapping anyone! I thought it was for a dog… but I should have known ’cause Mr. Grossberg doesn’t like dogs.”
“Or anything else!” Bryce said.
Theora crossed her arms in front of her chest. “Well you’re wrong about that… he likes hurting people.”
“I… wanted to tell you, I think I can stop it. I’ll tell Grossberg that there’s something wrong with the device. I’m sure I can whip up something to interfere with the radio waves between the remote, and… oh, it’s gonna short-circuit while she’s still got it on! I’ll have to remove it immediately. She may be too disoriented to do it.”
Bryce gave her some notes. “Readjust the timing. It’ll work better.”
She nodded, and looked up at Edison and Theora. “I’ll call you, and you can meet me down in the basement. The tools I need are down there. I let Kyle Jennings borrow them.”
NETWORK 66 BASEMENT
Jenny nervously rapped on the table and checked her watch, stared at the screen of her laptop, and pulled out her handwritten notes.
She had created a program that would interfere with the remote. Grossberg was on his way down now. Of course, he would bring Christina. She was too valuable to him.
She heard a door slide open.
“Mr. Grossberg? I’m over here!” She popped open her terminal with shaking hands. She looked up and saw Grossberg, one hand holding Christina at the elbow, and the other hand clutching the remote.
“Make it quick, Jenny. I don’t have all day!”
“Ok! But, you need to bring the device closer.”
She reached into the toolbox beside her laptop, pushed aside several long rags, and grabbed a slim wire.
He pushed Christina forward and stepped up to Jenny. She looked up at him, her eyes shimmering with tears. In her hands, she clutched a similar remote.
“Put it down,” he ordered calmly.
Jenny jumped up and tried to run toward Christina. Grossberg grabbed her around the waist and lifted her off the floor. With his free hand, he took the long rags and gagged her. She struggled against him, but it was no use; All her hard work had left her exhausted, and she was no match for a man ten times her size.
With Jenny on the inside, Grossberg slammed the door of the janitor’s closet, and stepped back. On the other end of the warehouse, he heard another door slam. He listened closely, and heard the voice of Edison Carter!
Christina turned toward the voice as well. A look of confusion crossed her face, and she took a hesitant step forward. Grossberg approached her, grabbed her arm, and said, “Ignore it! You can’t hear them! Do you understand… I asked you a question!”
He pulled her down the hall, around a corner, and into a darkened alcove.
“Now, you listen, and do EVERYTHING I tell you…”
Christina nodded slowly.
“Jenny!” Edison called out again. He stared ahead at the empty basement. It looked like an engine room. There were two floors, with the second being a series of catwalks running side by side.
Theora and Bryce stood at his side.
“If Grossberg erased Max… ” Theora began. She squeezed her eyes shut.
Bryce shook his head. “No, that’s not logical. Grossberg would keep him around just to torture him.”
“That really helps, Bryce!”`
Another loud noise from the other end of the basement sent Bryce running towards it and yelling for Jenny. Edison was right behind him.
Theora was staring up at one of the catwalks.
“Christina… is that you?”
Edison and Bryce reached the spot where Grossberg, Christina and Jenny were only moments before. Edison noticed the computer, smashed on the floor.
Theora climbed a nearby ladder quickly, and approached the trembling figure.
Christina lifted her head. “Thuh! Thuh! Theora!” she bit out.
Theora edged closer, looking about warily.
“Get me out of here,” the girl whimpered.
Theora nodded, even before speaking. “Don’t worry, I’ll help you.”
She came closer, and reached out her hands. “Come on.”
“Don’t come closer!” Christina yelled. She jerked back and squeezed her eyes shut, whimpering slightly.
“Christina,” Theora asked “What’s wrong with you?”
Edison was the first to notice the thumping noise from inside the janitor’s closet.
Bryce jumped forward and jerked the door open.
Jenny tumbled to the ground at their feet. Bryce quickly untied the gag from her tear-stained face.
“Bryce! Oh, God! Stay away from them. He’s still got her!”
Edison turned quickly. Theora was nowhere to be seen.
“Where is she?!” Edison gasped.
Theora backed away slowly. Kyle’s warning echoed in her head… why didn’t she go with Edison and Bryce?
“Theora… wait… it’s ok.”
“I… know. I just-”
Christina gripped the railing hard, as if willing herself to remain where she was.
“Don’t leave me,” she cried. “Why are you leaving. I thought you cared about me!”
I can’t listen, Theora thought. She’s still under his control!
“I’ll be back… promise.” She moved faster down the walkway.
“What are you waiting for?!” Grossberg spoke from the darkness. “Go after her… Now!”
Christina hesitated for only a moment, and started after her. Looking over the railing, she saw Theora climbing down a ladder, and then she saw Edison come around a corner. “Theora!”
“I know, I’m coming!” And she began to run toward him.
“Not yet!” he whispered. He saw Christina searching her out.
As soon as she caught sight of her, she leaned over the railing, and folded her hands together.
“Get down! THEORA! NOOO!”
Edison quickly moved forward and shoved out his arms. Theora dropped down on his outstretched hands, and the sudden weight pushed him to his knees.
“Theora! Oh, God! Please…”
Her eyes flashed open and she gasped for air. Her fingers tightened around his arm. Edison looked up to see Christina leaning over the rail and looking at them. Edison pulled himself up and dashed backwards into the shadows.
“BRYCE! Stay where you are!” Edison yelled. He heard Christina run down a flight of stairs, and cry out.
“Not yet! You’re not done yet.”
That was Grossberg’s voice! Edison laid Theora in a shadowed corner, and stroked her hair. “It’s ok. It was not a direct hit. Stay very quiet.”
He saw Christina led forward by Grossberg, who was gripping her arm tightly.
Edison came out of the shadows to meet them.
“You’ve done enough, Grossberg… she’s dead!”
Grossberg smiled ever so slightly.
“Really! Oh, that’s too bad!” He rested a strong hand on Christina’s shoulder. “Will you take credit for that, Christina?” He snickered.
Christina remained very still, but the look of anguish in her eyes was clearly visible.
“You had to do it?” Grossberg continued. “You just had to meddle one more time, didn’t you. Well, this is the last time… you are aware of that, I trust?!”
Edison heard a CLANG many feet above him. His eyes drifted upward for a moment.
“Bryce! And Jenny, too! Come on and join our little party… it’s fitting that you should all be witness to one of my finest moments. Too bad Murray couldn’t be here. I would fetch Max, but some of my employees may disagree with my latest decision.”
Bryce edged closer to Edison. Jenny clung to him, whimpering.
“She… Edison,” Bryce began “Is she really… ”
“Yes, Bryce! He murdered her!”
Jenny buried her face in her hands, and sobbed.
Bryce pushed Jenny towards Edison.
“You can’t get away with this!”
“With what, Bryce? I didn’t do anything.”
Edison felt sick. The man was so insane.
“Even with the remote possibilty this doesn’t work… they can’t blame anything on me anyway.” He gripped Christina’s shoulder so tightly, she winced. “Let’s face it, you’ll be dead very soon, and who would take her word over mine?”
“Take it off!” Jenny yelled. “Christina, take off the neckband! Concentrate… and take it off!”
Grossberg released his grip. He grimaced and stepped behind Christina. Shoving her forward, he said very simply, “Kill them.”
Now Bryce started in. “Christina! Don’t let him do this!”
She just stood there, trying to fight again. Her hands shook.
Edison shook his head sadly. “Grossberg, you are such a coward.”
“Shutup, Carter! All of you! What are you waiting for! I gave you an order!”
“Do it yourself! Let her go and do it yourself!”
“Do what I said! Kill them, you little freak… kill them, now!”
A harsh blue light surrounded Christina’s trembling hands.
Edison just could not believe it was going to end this way.
At least Theora would be ok… he hoped. Edison lifted his eyes… was that Kyle? He was standing on the catwalk where Christina had stood only moments before. His youthful face was tight, and appeared old and haggard. His eyes were shut and he gripped the railing.
The light around Christina’s hands leapt toward Edison, and raced for his chest… then it stopped.
The blue light just faded away into thin air.
Edison looked right at Christina. Relief had washed over her face.
Even Grossberg heard the clanging now. Kyle stumbled down the stairs as Grossberg faced him.
“You thought… she was the only one,” Kyle began “DID YOU!?”
Very calmly, Grossberg said, “Christina, I want you to-”
His words were cut off as a shimmering white light exploded from Kyle’s hand, and smashed into the remote Grossberg held.
Chaos erupted as Grossberg jerked his hand away, and Christina fell back and began screaming.
Jenny pulled away quickly and ran for Christina. She was down on her knees, crawling across the floor, slapping at her neck and screaming madly.
Jenny saddled her back, pushing her to the ground. With shaking fingers, she unlatched the neckband.
Kyle pulled Christina into his arms.
A door at the far end opened, Bartlett pushed his way past Murray. “He is a man of the highest integrity! Prepare yourself for a long-”
Bartlett stopped upon hearing a loud wailing. The metrocops standing behind the two of them rushed inside. The scene that greeted them was startling. Edison was leaning on a railing, looking down at Bryce and Jenny as the two hovered over a sobbing Christina.
“Did any of you see which way he went? Is he still in here?”
Who was that holding Christina? Murray stepped forward.
“Kyle?” he said in wonderment.
Was this the same guy who beat him up for not giving him a cigarette?
Kyle pulled Christina to his chest. “Oh, it’s ok, Christina. It’s all over, now. All over. I’m sorry… So sorry I let it go on this long.”
Barlett swallowed hard. He knew what happened.
Christina was able to resist at just the wrong moment.
Theora ran into Edison’s arms, crying.
I can’t lose her again, Edison thought. And I can make sure of that. I can make sure of that, if only she’ll let me.
“I waited as long as I could, and… Edison, how did this happen?” Murray pleaded.
Holding Theora close, he said, “Ignorance.”
NETWORK 23 CONTROL ROOM-THREE DAYS LATER
“Bryce! Hey, do you think you can call your parents right now?”
Murray watched the video screen in anticipation.
“Why would I do that?” Bryce asked.
“Well, you know… ask ’em if they… did anything to you.”
Bryce’s response was a flashing DISCONNECT message. Murray looked at Edison. “You know, we go on the air in 30 minutes. We need someone who-”
“She’ll be here.” Edison confirmed.
All the noise in the control room suddenly stopped. Standing at the entrance was Kyle.
People began whispering in hushed tones as he entered the room. Christina was right behind him. Edison hurried over.
Kyle had kept Christina at his apartment for the last three days. He used her power to repair all the damage Grossberg caused, and he also made sure she rested a lot.
“Kyle… Christina. How’re you feeling?”
She began to look at him, but stopped. “Ok. Kyle… fixed everything, so… ”
Her face showed no emotion. There were small burn scars on her neck.
“I got somethin’ to do. Christina, I’ll be back soon.” With that, Kyle kissed her forehead, and left.
Edison touched her face. She quickly pulled back, and said, “You wanted to introduce me to… Janie Crane.”
“Yeah, I do, but first… come over here.”
They walked slowly to Theora’s desk. Edison motioned quickly for her to stay seated.
“I’d like you to sign this.” Edison pulled out some papers.
They were adoption papers. A tear dripped down Christina’s cheek.
“I’m not saying that it would ever be a traditional family. I can’t be your father. But… so you can have some protection.”
Her one tear turned into a flood.
“I don’t deserve it,” she bawled.
Edison got down and looked in her face.
“Don’t. It isn’t your fault.”
“Yes! I knew! I couldn’t-”
“No!” Theora insisted. “Ned Grossberg did this. Did it because he hates us! You were unlucky enough to get caught in the middle.”
Christina dropped into a chair. Edison put a hand on her shoulder.
“This is it, Christina. It ends here. You don’t have to be afraid, anymore. You don’t have to hate yourself.”
Theora brushed her hair back. The engagement ring on her finger glittered in the dim light.
“You’ll be ok. Christina, you will be ok.”
Kyle came in. Cheviot looked at him and smiled.
“Sit down. The show goes live in 25 minutes. I gave the others the evening off.”
Kyle sat down in Ashwell’s chair.
“Kyle, Max told me what you did, and I want to thank you.”
“Well, don’t. I didn’t do it for you, or for your network… you know, I was having a lot of fun, knowing you were without your precious 23!”
“Alright, why did you do it?”
Kyle looked down. “For Christina. I couldn’t stand it that such a beautiful creature… was in such pain.”
Cheviot laughed. “You’ve always thought of yourself as so tough. You liked having people believe you never cared about anything or anyone.”
“That was never it! I was angry. I never liked it! But, now…”
“She brought out the good in me.”
“Hm! Certainly glad someone could.” They were both silent for a few minutes.
“Grossberg… that man is in a lot of trouble. No sign of him anywhere, Kyle?”
Kyle stood up. “You don’t have to be concerned about him, ever again.” He began walking toward the exit.
Cheviot gripped his pipe tightly.
“Kyle…” he began, but said nothing as Kyle left.
He looked at the boardroom screen and folded his hands, pondering twenty minutes into the future.
TO BE CONTINUED…