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Alter the Ending

Episode: Post-7x15 “El Fin”

Summary: Life after El Internado Laguna Negra isn’t quite the happily ever after that they were expecting…

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Chapter 1: The Story of a Lifetime

In the newspaper business, all news was good news. But bad news was even better news. These days, the world was full of bad news making good headlines from the global economic crisis to wars in the Middle East. However, it was also bad news to be in the newspaper business, which was competing with the internet and 24 hour TV news channels stealing the spotlight. No one needed to wait an entire day to hear about a breaking news story anymore. Nowadays, there were likely to have been several live broadcasts aired on television and thousands of blogs reacting to events within a matter of hours.

Sergio Avila took one look at his laptop and tossed his pencil at the office wall. He had been a reporter for over twenty years, and today some kid blogger had beat him to a story about a minor political scandal. What was the world coming to? Then he looked around the office floor of the small newspaper he worked at for the last six years. The ranks had been thinning with the falling paper circulation rates, and with this blow Sergio wondered how much longer he could keep doing this. The small Madrid newspaper needed a new story soon.

The elevator doors chimed, but no one looked up from their computers. His chief editor Esteban Gonzalez stormed onto the office floor with his arms full of file folders and an exasperated look on his face. “Avila, come with me to my office.”

After five years of working together, Sergio still couldn’t read his editor. Was this good news or bad news? He wasted no time and followed Esteban into the office. Sergio braced himself for the worst as he shut the door behind them.

Esteban gestured for him to sit down as he laid the folders out across the desk. “Have you heard about the boarding school incident?”

Sergio gave his boss a puzzled look. “Boarding school? I’m a political reporter.”

“Exactly. This is going to be the story of the century and we’re going to scoop it while everyone else is chasing the swings of the euro,” said Esteban as he opened up the file folders. “The most elite boarding school in Spain was just burned to the ground. The damn thing had been quarantined for over a week and no one knew anything! A military cover-up that even Tom Clancy would envy!”

“What?” asked Sergio, trying to process if he was hearing correctly or his editor had finally gone crazy.

“Do you remember the piece on OTTOX that Braulio did before we had to let him go? Well, turns out those bastards were experimenting on human beings. They had the labs under Laguna Negra all these years. Years! You know how long? World War II! The more that comes out, the more insane this gets. Nazis, human experiments, superbugs, secret identities, stolen children… I need you to pick an angle and we need this out by the morning’s edition.” Esteban was serious as he pointed to the reports he’d managed to obtain. “It’s all right here.”

Sergio stared at the papers and back at his boss. “I can’t believe it. Is this a joke?” He picked up one of the files and started skimming its contents.

“You want me to give this story to Carla, because I can,” threatened Esteban. “I know it’s more like the plot to a novella than the evening news, but a story like this will have people grasping at any source of information to read over their morning coffee. Rest assured that I checked twice to make sure that I wasn’t being fooled. We’ve hit the jackpot.”

As Sergio finished reading the first file, he picked up another. This was incredible. How had Esteban come across this? “A personal angle. It’s easy to fall off the radar with general facts. Give this half a day and everyone will have the same ten facts to repeat. Give a human angle to it, and we’ll have them.”

“I’m glad you said that,” Esteban said, and pushed a folder that was still closed to Sergio. “My source has the profiles of two key students involved in this fiasco. Ivan Noiret-Leon and Marcos Novoa-Pazos. Both are still minors for now, but their parents are so deep in this that it will be a gold mine for weeks if not months…”

Esteban opened the folder containing sheets of pictures of all the students at the school, probably yearbook photos. He flipped to a page with two students circled next to each other, a dark-haired boy and a blond boy, both of whom looked like they belonged in an Abercrombie & Fitch catalog.

“La Nueva Perspectiva doesn’t have much time to get ahead of this story before the TV newscasters and the bloggers,” said Sergio, nearly jumping out of his chair. “We need a new web server yesterday if we want traffic tomorrow.”

“Now you’re seeing it!” laughed Esteban. “But seriously, we don’t even have money for a new coffee machine let alone a new server.”

He was expecting that response. They would have to make it work. Still, Sergio had been in the newspaper business long enough to realize that the story of a lifetime had been laid out in front of him. Even if the newspaper industry went up in flames, his career would go out in a blaze of glory.

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