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October 31, 1938

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“You must’ve looked like an idiot.”

“Well, reporters shouldn’t make up stories.” Belatedly, he added, “and actors shouldn’t pretend to be reporters.”

“Still looked like an idiot.”

“And what if it had been real? Better to look a fool than to let people die.”

Bucky relented. “You weren’t the only one,” he said, handing Steve the day’s paper. Radio Listeners Panic, Taking War Drama as Fact.

Steve frowned. “People should be able to trust what they hear on the radio. A Martian invasion might be a little far-fetched, but a German one isn’tpeople may say it won't affect us, but there's a war brewing in Europe.”

They were both silent a moment. “Do you think it could ever happen? A Martian invasion?” Bucky asked, sticking to the less-frightening topic.

“I did last night.”

“I wish I’d been there—what exactly did you do? Run door-to-door shouting, ‘the Martians are coming, run for the hills?’”

“That’s about it,” Steve admitted.

Bucky indicated the newspaper. “Most people just drove off in a panic. Or hid in a basement.”

“I guess I just couldn’t take the chance that—well, that someone could’ve died because of something I could’ve done, but didn’t.”

“You’re gonna get killed someday, you know,” said Bucky.

“Yes,” said Steve. “And it’ll count for something.”

“It really is a shame that you . . .” Bucky broke off.

“That I what, won’t be able to fight for my country? Don’t count me out.” He paused. “The army couldn’t stop them. The Martians. That was part of the story, I mean. They fired everything they had and it didn’t do a thing to the Martian war machines. When you’re up against something that powerful, it doesn’t make a difference how strong or weak you are. It’s what you choose to do that matters. If we don’t take a stand, we’ve already lost.”

“So were the Martians defeated, in the end?”

“I don’t know,” Steve shrugged. “I didn’t wait around to find out.”