The Fourth of July - Chapter 3

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Blue Crack Supplier
Jul 21, 2000
Melbourne, Australia
Hello again! :)

Disclaimer: This is all a load of fanciful rubbish, not to be taken with alcohol, or seriously. Well, okay, the alcohol is up to you. :wink:

Don't think we need any warnings this time, except of a perspective change, perhaps.

With no further ado...

Chapter 3

"Happy Birthday, Hollie," Bono said, giving Edge's twenty-four-year-old daughter a kiss on the cheek. She thanked him politely and accepted her gift, but he could tell she would rather get back to chatting with her friends. He let her go and returned to the kitchen, where The Edge was leaning against the bench, coffee cup in hand. The sound of chattering grew again from the other room.

"They're all going out later?" Bono asked his bandmate.

"Sooner rather than later, if it's up to them," Edge replied. "Apparently she's too old for parties at home now." The guitarist gave a wry smile.

"I can't believe she's twenty-four already," Bono sighed.

"Tell me about it," Hollie's father said. They mused in silence for a minute.

"When's your plane leaving?" Edge said eventually.

"Three-thirty, four o'clock, something like that."

Edge rolled his eyes. "You ever thought of investing in a personal planner? A diary perhaps?"

"Just because you're glued to your BlackBerry... Hey, you could put all my appointments in there too." Bono gave Edge a sly look.

"What did your last secretary die of?"

"Exhaustion, I think."

Edge snorted.

Their conversation was interrupted a little later by Hollie calling goodbye, as she and her friends left the house. Bono and Edge moved into the vacated lounge room, Edge absently collecting mugs and glasses as Bono seated himself on the couch.

"Are you going to be back tomorrow? We need to start going through the stuff from Fez," Edge said, coming back from putting the dishes in the kitchen.

"I might even fly back late tonight," Bono replied. "Although it would be nice if I could actually get inside and address the attendees, instead of just the press outside."

"You must have spoken to most of them individually by now...?"

"Yeah, but it's not the same. And I haven't seen some of them at all."

Edge looked at Bono for a long moment, and Bono wondered what was going on under that beanie. But Edge held his silence, and the conversation moved back to the material they'd been recording in Fez.

Bono was excited about what they'd been doing, without knowing exactly what it was they were doing. It could be for an album, it could be a sound-track, it could be almost anything. They were changing direction again, and that was always exciting. He was looking forward to see where it would take them, as a band. He loved not knowing the destination.

"You'd better get a move on," Edge was saying, just as Bono's mobile phone warbled in his pocket. The singer pulled it out and answered it.

"Yes, I know, I was just leaving... No, I'm at Edge's place. ... Well, I was going to... Great, thank you." He hung up, winking at Edge. "A car's coming round," he said.

"You should just keep a suitcase packed in your car at all times," Edge said, not bothering to roll his eyes again.

The car took Bono to the airport in good time, and he was ushered through passport control and onto the chartered jet. The passengers barely gave him a second glance, wealthy and influential as they all were. Still, one balding businessman couldn't help asking for an autograph, which prompted the severe-looking woman next to Bono to ask as well. He smiled and obliged, chatting easily and ignoring the fluttering of nerves in his belly. He would have thought after all this time that flying wouldn't bother him any more, no matter his old fear of heights. But there were often still butterflies in his stomach when he flew, although not usually this bad. It was just a short hop too, barely an hour between Dublin and London.

He could recite the safety briefing by heart, but he watched the flight attendant anyway, to take his mind off the sounds the jet was making as it prepared for take-off. He checked his seat-belt for the twentieth time, and flipped through the magazine. He fiddled with the headphones and the in-flight entertainment system, and glanced out the window as the plane taxied out to the end of the runway.

No. This is wrong.

Bono blinked. The butterflies had solidified into something close to panic. He didn't want to be on this plane, he realised, and was on the point of grabbing the flight attendant and telling him so, when sense reasserted itself. He was being paranoid, he told himself. He'd lost count of how many hundreds of times he'd flown, and now he was starting to have panic attacks?

Pull yourself together, Hewson, he told himself sternly, as the engines roared and the plane surged forward.

The other half of him wanted to claw through the window. The runway sped by, the lines on the tarmac a blur. Bono couldn't tear his eyes away from the window, fear gripping his innards, as the earth fell away beneath them, and they were aloft. As he always did, Bono had to marvel that there was nothing holding them up but air and knowledge.

What if we're wrong? the thought usually came. It always shocked him how quickly the planes climbed. His ears popped, and he massaged them with a finger.

The woman beside him gasped as a rending shudder jolted the plane, the noise of the engines changing to a tortured scream, before one fell frighteningly silent. Smoke billowed from the starboard wing, and Bono was frozen in place.

"Ladies and gentlemen," the co-pilot began over the speakers, but then cut short as the plane's nose dropped, and the altitude they'd gained was lost again.

"Assume the brace position!" The flight attendant shouted, as the plane juddered and plunged. One or two people tried to comply, but it was nearly impossible to stay in one position. Gravity had turned backwards, even as it pulled them down.

A vision of his wife and children hit Bono with a palpable force, as the woman next to him clutched his arm in panic.

"No," he said aloud, as the ground screamed up towards them. "No! This isn't right! It can't..."

The last thing he heard was the impact, and the roar of death exploding from the fuel tanks.


By now, Natasha was no longer either surprised or dismayed to be startled awake by the six o’clock news on the radio. She didn’t know how long this could last, but she was more or less resigned to it. Barely listening to the reports of the American heat-wave and the Afghan bomb and the predicted economic slow-down, she got ready and went to work, the same as always.

There would be no weekend. Every day would be her first day, every day she would meet the same people and say the same things and do the same work and eat the same lunch and hear the same news. Every day she would watch a grieving and furious Bob Geldof tear strips from the same reporters.

So far, after the third time, she had just acted the part and pretended that nothing was amiss. But after a few utterly identical days, to the point where she had learned all the conversations by rote, she was sick of it.

When she saw John’s smiling face as she walked into the office, Tasha decided she couldn’t face another day like that. The only thing that had been stopping her from venting her frustration at or near her co-workers was the fear that she would wake up the next day and find that it actually was the next day, and she’d jeopardised her new job. But today, she’d had enough. She had to change things around or she would go insane, and clearly it wouldn’t destroy space and time if she didn’t follow the script.

She was the only one who could make anything change, it seemed. If she followed the same script as she had on the first day, or near enough to it, then everyone responded in exactly the same way, everything happened exactly as it had the first time, with no deviations at all. It really was the same day, over and over again.

Natasha said all the usual words to John and Pete, and sat down to do the obituaries as usual. But this time, she did Bono’s first, including the date and manner of his death, then started writing an article. A news article. This was the biggest scoop a journalist could hope to get, after all; maybe the universe was giving her a chance to write a big news story before it actually broke. Maybe if John published it, the cycle would end and her life would resume...

She finished the article, and continued on with the other obituaries. About half an hour before the news broke, she e-mailed her article to John, and waited.

He appeared in the doorway twenty-five minutes later, with a print-out of the e-mail in his hand. "Is this some sort of joke?" he asked, lifting the pages and eyeing Natasha dubiously.

"No," she said calmly. "I'm just being prepared. Dib dib dib and all that."

"It's not bad, although half of it's fiction. Did you do these for the others? Your first priority is updating the obits, not making up stories."

"No," she said again, "just him. And you'll thank me in…" she glanced at her clock, "about five minutes. You could even get it ready to post on the web site, if you wanted."

John frowned. "I'll not have you wasting any more time on this foolery. Where are you up to with the obits?"

"Gay Byrne. There’s a lot in here."

"No one told you to edit. Just make sure it's up-to-date. Let me worry about trimming it down when he shuffles off, all right?"

Now Natasha was frowning, annoyed. "Come on, it needs tightening up. The first half is rambling and the rest is obviously a series of tacked-on updates. It'll save a lot of headaches if I just make it more coherent now, and most of them aren’t taking long. I told you in the interview that I like to do a job properly, and I meant it."

"Just see that you don't take too long. And I don't want to see any more joke articles like this. If this gets out of the office, it could mean lawsuits and god knows what. You said you didn't do any others?"

"Bono's the only one that needs it today," Natasha said.

With a roll of his eyes, John left. Tasha watched him walking through the open part of the office, saw him stop and speak to someone else.

Three, two, one…

"I've just been handed a report…"

Tasha watched John pause along with everyone else, and listen. Then she watched his posture stiffen with shock, and she watched as he turned around to stare in her direction. She waved, and tried not to smile.
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