Author’s Note: The following is Chapter 67 of the my online book “Excited Delirium”. Please post comments. Please tell your friends about this story. If you’ve missed a chapter, please click here for Chapter 1 (Prelude) or here for the full index.
None of the guys had slept the Friday night in anticipation of what was going to happen on August 8, 2008 and all of them were now exhausted. Nonetheless, it was early Sunday now and they had agreed to meet Diana at her apartment in Greenwich Village.
When they arrived, they were invited in by another woman who clearly played the role of Diana’s body guard. She was firm, carved, large and chiseled, the way a massive bird’s eye maple bowl might appear after being well handled by an expert carpenter with a fantastic vision. In this case, the vision was what a woman might look like if the world was not inhabited by men.
She guided them up a set of stairs, and they all admired her broad back as they followed, nodding to each other and giggling the way stupid, tired men will do.
At the door, she did a retinal and fingerprint scan, which seemed completely over the top for what Kite knew about Diana. Of course, in time a lot more secrets would be revealed about her that he never would have imagined.
Inside, the décor was sparse and minimalist, but at the same time, it had a comfortable, lived-in feel to it. What struck all of them was that wall after wall was covered with books. They had a few moments to wait while Diana got ready for their visit, so they stood around and stared and the volumes along the walls.
In a way that only marketers could admire, each of the men observed that she had a wide selection of books that interested each of their personalities. Eddie zeroed in on the wide selection of business and political biographies, including people like Giuliani, Jack Welch, John Major, and Eric Prince, the former CEO of Blackwater, one of the world’s largest mercenary-for-hire companies. Chaos noticed that she had a fine collection of books devoted to the latest in military and intelligence technology, whereas Hummus was keen to observe that she was an avid fan of farming, organics, independent communities and alternative lifestyles. Forest wasn’t much of a reader, but he loved biking and karate and saw that she had just about every issue of Freeride, a small magazine devoted to extreme mountain biking.
Kite had a moment to watch his friends, but also admire her collection of conspiracy biographies, books by Chomsky, Klein and other leaders in progressive thought, back-issues of Hacker magazine and a vast collection of graphic novels, including all of the original Sandman issues in perfectly hermetically sealed mylar bags.
Within a few moments, she appeared and it was the first time most of them had seen her in person. It was the first time that Kite saw her without any disguise. She possessed what Kite would later call “a sense of casual nobility”, the way some actresses have an aura that everyone likes to be around.
Kite wasn’t hooked on her all at once, but he did recognize a long absent feeling that welled up inside him like a lawn that’s received too much water. At a certain point, water, like his emotion, could not be suppressed.
“It um … it’s great to see you, Diana,” Kite said, with emphasis on the word “see”.
“You as well, my friend. I see we’ve finally all decided to stop playing masquerade games in the interest of the stability of the world.”
“Absolutely. Plus, I forgot my fake mustache at the hotel where we were staying,” he said with a grin, as he reached over to grab her hand and greet her.
“I see you’ve brought some friends. I recognize Eddie and Forest, but who are the other two?” she asked with a mild sense of suspicion.
“Chaos and Hummus are the two best partners a corporate spy could ever imagine having. Chaos has been in the military hardware business for more than 15 years now, moonlighting on occasion for my projects. He has the best connections for hardware, munitions – although I rarely need those – and insight into other unimaginably disgusting products that private contractors are building as we speak. And Hummus? He’s been an independent techno-wizard since day one. I don’t think he ever worked for someone other than himself. Hummus was the first programmer to hack McLeod’s anti-virus software and was able to sell the access for just a few dollars – in the high six-figures, right – which he then donated to an open source collective.” Kite’s appreciation of his two partners was obvious and unabashed.
“Yeah … and we’ve wasted many years of good talent on some clown like Kite here,” Chaos joked casually.
“Hey! That’s not fair. I bring in quality connections and contracts. And besides, we have fun doing it, so it’s not really ‘work’”.
“No, I suppose not, but a little deodorant once in a while might keep us from cutting you up any chance we get.”
“It’s part of the schtick …” Kite said defensively. He was turning a mild shade of red, all the while hoping no one noticed his embarrassment.
“Gentlemen, I really hate to interrupt, but we have some very serious business at hand here. The shit’s hit the fan,” Diana said as Chaos and Hummus looked at each other with a nod, “and we seem to be the only people who have a clue about why it’s happened and we also seem to be the only people who have the desire or capacity to do anything about it.”
“Damn straight,” said Eddie, failing in an attempt to be macho. “My name’s all over this nonsense and we’ve got to get something to hook on Garamond and Hadlock if any of us are going to see the light of day within a couple of weeks.”
“Don’t worry Eddie. We’re going to work out a plan today. Officials don’t seem to be interested in what you’ve had to say to this point, which begs the notion that it may not have been a complete inside job, but at least there are key players that don’t want anything less that a complete collapse in relations between the US and China[noyb1] .”
“I’ve heard that there are hundreds of ships already sitting in the waters outside of Beijing waiting to descend on the people there and start rebuilding the city,” Hummus said.
“Well, it’s hard to know anything for sure,” Chaos added, “but I’m sure this will be the same shock doctrine that our friends in the government used for Iraq and Afghanistan and other countries in the past. Blast and build. Blast and build. And make sure the taxpayers of the receiving country pay for our services for decades to come.”
“There’s no doubt in our minds that this is the big one. China has been a mild economic and potentially military threat to the US for decades and I think more people than just Garamond wanted to make sure that it’s influence came to an end.”
“All they needed was a Pearl Harbor or Reichstag Fire to get things moving in the favour of some well connected politicos and businessmen,” Kite suggested.
“And now they’ve got it,” Diana added. “If the Chinese don’t let US industry take over and allow a puppet government to be installed, the US will cry bloody murder, probably to the UN, and get the global OK for some kind of incursion.”
“When is it going to end,” Hummus said as he nodded his head in shame.
“When the human race stops being so fucking greedy,” Eddie said, showing that he actually did have the capacity to be something other than the best man on campus.
“Let’s set up at the dining table,” Diana cut in, again demonstrating that she was and wanted to be the one in control.
The rest didn’t say anything as they made their way over to the dining room, which was a fairly vast and open room, much larger than your standard 10×15 foot dining room that you’d expect with an apartment with this. Instead, it was about 30×50 feet, more like a banquet room or a meeting room for a major corporation. The table in the middle again seemed modest, but was well made and to a discerning eye, obviously painstakingly hand-made by a skilled carpenter.
“I see you like the table,” she said to Hummus who seemed the most appreciative.
“Yes … it’s made by someone in the area?”
“I bought it a few years ago at an auction. It was one of the few prototypes from a Greene and Greene studio in up-state New York. I paid a small fortune for it, but I love it so.”
“Nice find,” he said as he placed his laptop on the table carefully. “Do you have something I can put under it?”
“Don’t worry about it – I’ve had it resurfaced with a special finish that makes the surface virtually indestructible.”
“My god!” Eddie interjected. “I can’t believe we’re talking dining hardware when the world is tipping it’s way into oblivion!”
Forest joined in: “Yeah, shouldn’t we be getting our Justice League of America response ready for the general public or something?”
“Well, we’ll need to be a little more strategic than that,” Kite offered, mainly with an intent of getting things going. “I’ve been thinking about this for the last twenty-four hours and I think the best approach will be to expand on the OMNINet’s weakness. We know that they don’t ‘get’ the internet. They’ve just bought a bunch of net companies to keep them from being true competitors to the rest of their media conglomerate and I think it’s time we show them the real power of social networking.”
“So … what do you propose we do?” Chaos asked.
“The authorities aren’t listening to us. Garamond and friends obviously have too much pull there. The media won’t play the official story. So, what were once reasonable channels of action are blocked.”
“Like a Chicago Bears defensive line,” Eddie said.
“Worse than that. There don’t seem to be any gaps or points of entry to the mass public, at least from a traditional standpoint,” Diana finally added.
Kite continued: “Each one of us has a network of people that we can tap into. We have to do the ‘my child has fallen down the well’ thing or something else that begs the rational people of the world to tell the US and American businesses and charities to back off from China until it can get its act together.”
“But if everyone backs off, who’s going to help save the Chinese from the disaster?”
“Hey, I’m not saying the plan is perfect. Maybe we should ask people to get the UN or some other international body that can be trusted to help organize things? We just have to keep out the missionaries and other folks that are looking to convert the godless commies to religious droids because of their support.”
“Yeah, sure,” Forest offered. “There’s a tonne of groups that have services like Doctors Without Borders or the International Aid Society. We just have to pick wisely.”
“Odds are, they’re already there too, trying to get in.”
“Hey guys …” Hummus said. He was already set up and had his laptop working. “A number of news stories indicate that the military is trying to muscle in. That could be bad news as it looks like the government is decapitated.”
“Actually,” Chaos interrupted, “most of the reporting has gone dark,” Chaos said worriedly as he leaned into his laptop, trying to collect updates from the web. He was scanning blogs, news centres that offered English services, the International News Corporation site and some of the more mainstream publishers, but was coming up with very little new and relevant information.
To make matters worse, very few of the sites were operational.
Like 9/11 and when the tsunami struck East Asia, demand for internet bandwidth exploded, as people searched out loved ones or entertained their morbid curiosity, like digital rubber-neckers, sometimes causing more problems than the problem itself. Or it was the demands placed on the entire electronic infrastructure as millions of people tried to share their story with the rest of the world.
Like 9/11 and when the tsunami struck, most telecom companies were unprepared for the volume of demand imposed by billions of onlookers, crashing servers, clogging video sites and bringing the internet to a grinding halt.
The few that remained operational, particularly those managed by the OMNINet, didn’t allow for a lot of dialogue. There were no blogs, there was no capacity to post comments and there were no “contact us” pages listed with any of their news stories. All that was available were some of the well-rehearsed diatribes against China and its controlling government.
“Questions are being raised about why China wasn’t allowing even reporters in to cover the disaster, let alone why its government wasn’t allowing businesses and charities in to help with reparations,” Hummus suggested as he continued to scan the few sites that were available.
“All of the available sites and blogs have common sources when I check the ‘who is’: OMNINet. Somehow, they’ve managed to keep afloat where others are sinking.”
“They knew this was going to happen,” Eddie said to the group.
“We can use that to our advantage,” Kite said, a sense of excitement rising in his voice.
“OK … but we’ll have to act fast before the thugs move in and get organized,” Eddie said.
“Agreed,” several in the room said in unison.
“Let’s start with our assets,” Kite suggested. “We’ve got the recording with Garamond on tape. We can build a presentation, dump it on a bunch of video sites and ask people to tag it so that it gets spread.”
“But the net is still on overload,” Chaos reminded the crew.
“Yeah. Which is where asset number two comes in,” Kite responded confidently. “Eddie: did you save that file to your computer like I instructed?”
“Damn straight! I did it all myself.” His sense of fool’s pride would be comical and in any other situation, all of them, including Diana, would have jumped on him and given him a verbal beating.
“Good. Forest: now that we’ve got a kernel with the OMNINet system, can you give us some of the access codes so that we can hack in and blast some of our message across the OMNINet web service and digital TV programming? We need to do this without the risk of getting shoved out of the way by controllers at OMNINet media.”
“I can get you in. It’ll be up to you guys to germinate the seed and make it grow,” Forest offered.
“Excellent. We’re almost there. Chaos. Hummus. Do you guys have the links ready for connection to the OMNINet servers? Once we go anywhere near their nerve centre, we’ve got a very limited time-frame to splice our message over theirs.”
“We’re getting close. We should be there within a few more minutes.” When they answered in unison, it creeped out most of the people in the room. Kite had seen it many times, but it was new for the others.
“Great. Hold off until we get the news stories and media components ready. Diana: are you ready to do some narrating? We’ve got some news stories to generate.”
“Absolutely! You guys get started. Kite, can I talk to you?”
[Author’s Note: I conceived of this plot component in 2006 and wrote most of these chapters into the story of ‘Excited Delirium’ during the course of 2007. I was stunned like the rest of the world when a tragic earthquake struck the province of Sichuan on May 12, 2008. Please believe me that I do not want to ‘profit’ from the suffering that the hundreds of thousands in this quake experienced. I remind all readers that this is a work of fiction and that my goals are to speak to the symbolic reference that’s used in the numerology along with the viewpoint of one fictional cult concerning the fate of the Chinese.]
(Note: “Excited Delirium” is a work of fiction. Any person, place or thing depicted in this work of fiction is also a work of fiction. Any relation of these subjects or characters to real locations, people or things are an unintentional coincidence.)
Read more with Chapter 69
Did you miss a chapter? If so, click here to see all chapters or click here to go to Excited Delirium: Chapter 1 (Prelude)
Excited Delirium by Liam Young is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 2.5 Canada License .
Based on a work at www.exciteddelirium.ca .