Kitty Rocks the House Page 41

“I do,” she said.

“I gotta tell you, I’m skeptical. I hold it and it just feels like a big rock. I mean, it’s not even a realistic skull. It’s kinda small and lumpy. But plenty of people will tell me it’s magic. What’s it supposed to do? Am I holding it wrong?”

“The skull should give you access to a higher plane of knowledge,” she explained. “Place your nose against its nose and stare into its eyes. You should feel your mind expand.”

I studied the skull where it sat on my desk. Green status lights from my monitor flickered strangely through its depths. Did it seem to be smiling at me? If I tilted my head, looked at it from a certain angle—yeah, it kind of did.

“I’m thinking I should stay right where I am and keep an eye on the microphone. But a little harmless experimentation can’t hurt.” I looked at Ozzie. “We have a special guest in the studio tonight, my producer, Ozzie,” I said, for the benefit of my listeners. “Feel like helping me out tonight?”

He frowned with suspicion, which was probably wise of him. But if he was going to sit in on my show, he could help out. Maybe this was a bad idea, but I’d worry about that later.

“Why?” he said carefully.

“I just want to try something. Please?”

I’d keep nagging until he relented, or tell embarrassing stories about him until he agreed, just to shut me up. He gave a sigh heavy enough to carry over the mike, which made things more dramatic. I loved it.

“Come on over, Ozzie,” I said, grinning, and he did. When he reached the table, I handed him the skull. “Okay, hold this. In both hands. Bring it up to your face so your nose touches it.”

He held it in one hand, away from himself. “Kitty, I’m not really sure about this.”

“It’ll be fine, trust me.” I’d be a terrible used-car salesman. I glanced at Ben, who had a hand over his mouth to keep himself from laughing. Matt, sitting behind the booth’s glass, didn’t bother, and was practically vibrating in his seat. Now, if only I was getting the same effect over the air.

Ozzie gripped the skull in both hands and slowly raised it until it was level with his face. “Should I be sitting down?” he said.

Good question. “You’re fine,” I said, full of confidence, trying to be reassuring. Because nothing was going to happen, right?

He brought the skull close, until his nose touched it. He stared deep into its eyes.

“All right, faithful listeners,” I said into the microphone, my voice hushed. “My test subject is now face-to-face with the crystal skull. Everything seems normal. You okay there, Ozzie?”

“I think my eyes are crossed.”

“Are you expanding yet?”

“I don’t know. It’s kind of giving me a headache.”

Just as I wished for some kind of funky New Age flute music to cover up the pauses while we waited for something to happen, Matt pushed a couple of buttons and there it was: “El Condor Pasa” on pan pipes playing faintly in the background. Just perfect. My listeners were at the edges of their seats, I hoped.

“Anything?” I prompted.

Ozzie murmured, “I don’t think anything’s happening. Can I stop now?”

“Give it an extra few seconds.”

“Okay…”

Wait for it … I had my cell phone in hand, flipped through the setting controls until I found the most annoying ring tone I had, then set it off at high volume. An alarm bell’s blaring filled the studio. The sound of cosmic disaster called down by ancient Mayan vampires. Or just the worst that modern technology had to offer. Even I jumped a little and I was expecting it. Ben clapped his hands over his ears and winced.

Ozzie let out a scream, stumbled backward, and dropped the skull. For a heart-stopping moment I watched it fall and almost reached out to catch it lest it shatter. But it bounced on the carpeted floor and rolled to a stop. Upright, facing me. Staring at me. I stared back.

“Kitty, Jesus Christ, what the … hell was that?” Ozzie was a radio guy to the core and stopped himself from needing to get bleeped. Good thing, too, because Matt had fallen out of his chair, laughing, and wasn’t going to be bleeping anything for a while.

“I’m sorry,” I said, sniggering around the words. “I had to do something to get past all that dead air. The skull wasn’t doing anything.”

“You set me up.”

“Kinda, yeah. But it would have been pretty cool if something had happened.”

He reached to the floor to retrieve the skull and set it on the desk with a thunk that would definitely be audible over the microphone. “Always happy to help,” he said flatly. I expected him to walk out of the studio—maybe for good—but he returned to his chair and settled back to keep watching.

“Thanks, Ozzie. You’re a trooper,” I said, trying not to giggle. “Well, I don’t know if we expanded any minds tonight, but we upped some heart rates.” The board was still lit up with calls, which comforted me. As long as I had calls, I could pull something together for the show.

Meanwhile, the thing was still staring at me. I squinted, and its eyes seemed to flash. Fine, enough of that. I turned it around so it was facing the wall.

“Right, moving on. After the break I’ll take some more calls. Anyone out there want to talk some more about vampire aliens or crop circles? Call me.”

The ON AIR sign dimmed, and Matt cued up station ID and PSAs. I turned to Ozzie to face the music. He seemed to be stewing, and I wondered if I was still going to have a job at the end of the evening.

Finally, Ben was the one who asked, “You’re not going to fire her, are you?”

The producer’s stern glare broke into a broad grin. “Are you kidding? Of course not! That was fantastic! That’s the kind of thing I’m talking about! Sensationalism! Bread and butter! Good work, Kitty. I’ll leave you to it.” He came over to me and patted me on the shoulder before walking out of the studio. Leaving me to it.

I looked at Matt through the window, and he blinked, appearing as confused as I was. Ben, likewise.

“Don’t question it,” he said. “Not if Ozzie leaves you alone from now on.”

“You have a minute, Kitty,” Matt announced, counting down to the end of the break. The phone lines were lit up. All I had to do was take calls to the end of the show.

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