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News At 11

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They had stretched out together on the couch, thigh to thigh and hip to hip, watching the 11 o'clock news. “Exhausting” didn’t begin to describe the last few days. The reporter - an ageless, homogeneous everyman - announced that, after the unusual 24-hour delay, Simon Marcus had finally received the death penalty. The cult leader had been transported to a maximum security facility to live out however many days he had left on earth.

Even at this late hour, a group of soulless sycophants still sat on the courthouse steps, writhing like maggots on a corpse, chanting a name that would haunt Starsky’s nights.

“Simon Marcus’ followers refuse to give up hope that the charismatic leader will someday deliver them to a new Eden,” the reporter earnestly explained to his viewers.

“Our reality is Simon’s dream,” one intoned when a microphone was shoved in his direction.

“More like a nightmare,” Starsky snapped at the TV screen. “That reporter should’ve seen the story from my side.”

Hutch winced. The pain of Starsky’s ordeal stabbed deeply. “Oh, I don’t know Starsk,” he consoled him gently as he brushed his heel across Starsky’s instep. “Right now from my side it’s looking pretty good.”