Erica fidgeted nervously on the hard plastic chair behind the autocue. The time was 3:58am. She was beginning to regret running to Rex, since the Channel Nine News library didn't open until 9:00am (of course). She was also regretting aceding to Rex's suggestion that she come to the building wearing no underwear.
Sitting under the harsh studio lights, Rex looked a different person from the one who'd been making obscene suggestions about gherkins a mere two hours earlier. Forty minutes of careful hair surgery had been needed to attach the trademarked Nine News Toupee to his head, giving him the glossy appearance of a Ken doll on steroids. Of course, Ken wouldn't have a mirrored ceiling and a fur-lined bath like Rex did.
Then Rex had spent a scant five minutes reviewing the night's headlines -- "just the usual murders and topless waitress scandals", as he airly pointed out -- and suggested a "quickie" before the news began. Erica had refused; she was beginning to worrry about her lax behaviour concerning contraception in the past few days.
A fanfare of synthesised horns announced the beginning of the program. "This is News for 4am for Insomniacs, with Rex Carter." Rex's white teeth glowed brighter than a bathroom in Better Homes And Gardens.
"Good evening. Sydney pensioner Hilda Smith has vowed she'll continue her fight against the shonky builder who installed a pit toilet in her Ashfield high-rise flat . . . "
As footage of a wizened Ray Martin viewer filled the screen, Erica looked at Rex and was overcome with a wave of sudden nausea. She vowed never to shag a minor celebrity again. Then the next item riveted her to her seat.
"Police have identified the body of a man who was found shot on the Sydney docks earlier this evening. He was Sydney journalist Patrick O'Reilly, 26. Police have refused to confirm rumours that O'Reilly was a victim of the rapidly-growing Finnish mafia movement, the Slaöøüväääd."
Erica was in a turmoil. Sure, Patrick was a bit of a loser, but he hardly deserved to die this way. And she could only assume that Riekelt van Slooten was responsible for the shooting.
"O"Reilly's body was found riddled with bullets, clutching the remnants of a charred manuscript."
This was a new twist. The manuscript must have been Patrick's long-unfinished opus, Australian Psycho. Erica knew that Patrick had been checking out the Sydney drug scene to help research the book, since his own life was far too boring to make compelling reading. But she couldn't see how he could have had the draft of the novel hidden inside his gimp suit.
The rest of the broadcast passed in a blur. Erica's mind was a tumult of unanswered questions. Why had Patrick died? Where was Flikka? Was it even remotely possible that she could be pregnant to Rex? And would Price Attack fire her, considering she hadn't been in to work for over a week?