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Now It Can Be Told!
My life changed forever one dark night in the deserted physics lab at Cal Poly.
Most students were tucked in their beds. But I was a senior pursuing dual degrees in journalism and nuclear physics-and doing so, I might add, with enviable gusto. I was loaded down with 24 units, wired up with coffee, and I was tinkering with the homemade nuclear reactor that would be my senior project.
My mind kept wandering, though, to the three small spiral notebooks in my backpack, the three notebooks key to the climactic final assignment for my investigative reporting class, three notebooks full of carefully documented dirt on a certain local rascal politician who will remain nameless. OK, I'll tell you this much: the name rhymes with "Canned in New Zealand"...sort of...OK, maybe not.
I pretty much had the story nailed. Tomorrow I would start writing it. The repercussions would rattle the highest levels of American government. And soon, I would be a glistening new graduate deluged with job offers from two industries, ready to zip off to a high-paying job at the New York Times or the Diablo Nuclear Power Plant, according to my whim.
Anyhow, I'm not sure what happened after that. I saw a shadowy figure out of the corner of my eye. I felt something crash on the back of my head. Everything went black. I woke up in a haze, my head throbbing, ropes wrapped around my body, just in time to see a long, slender hand clad in a black Isotoner flip the switch on my little reactor.
"Wait!" I yelled, "I haven't connected the coolant system yet!"
"Heh, heh, heh," was all I heard.
I'll never forget that laugh.
I heard the door snap closed and footsteps hustle away. I strained agains the ropes that bound me to my chair. The little reactor began to hum and squeal and hiss. If I could just get behind something, something made of metal, it might spare me from some of the radiation, I thought. Something like...that paper shredder over there! I wobbled my chair behind the shredder. The reactor was glowing red, then orange, then white. I ducked my face behind the shredder. I pressed my cheek up against its cool metal frame.
Remarkably, I survived. But I'm no longer a fun date.
Somehow, the heat and force of the explosion fused the atomic structure of the shredding machinery with my own. I slunk out of the steaming, smoking, ruined physics lab and into the mean, dark streets of SLO Town.
For months I lived in alleyways and abandoned warehouses, feeding on scraps of paper that tumbled on the wind. I wandered out only at night, hiding my hideous visage from the innocents. I had nowhere to turn. Nowhere, that is, but that last sanctuary of misfits, New Times. I stumbled into the office and asked Steve Moss if I could be a columnist.
He surveyed me with a publisher's discerning eye, particularly studying my long rows of sharp, gnashing, stainless-steel teeth.
"Sure," he said. "Why not?"
Since then I've devoted my meager existence to doing what I do best-shredding. Armed with hyperbole, fueled by caffeine, taking no prisoners, sacreding no cows, I'll not rest until truth is told and justice is done (or at least until I fill my 1,000 word quota).
Read my ravings weekly in New Times. And remember, the truly righteous have nothing to fear.
The Shredder wants to hear any news, tips, rumors, or obsessions from you. So don't just sit there-send an e-mail to the Shredder or leave a phone message at 805-546-8208 or 800-215-0300. You can also fax the Shredder at 805-546-8641