April 6, 2008

Excited Delirium Book: Chapter 5 (Introduction to Griffith Garamond)

By liam

Author’s Note: The following is Chapter 5 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 .

“We have to put a stop to the Internet,” Griffith Garamond scolded as he pumped two shells into a shotgun and sighted a clay pigeon as it whipped across the sky. “Plain” BLAM from the gun, “and simple,” BLAM from the gun again, this time successfully hitting his target, smashing it into a puff of dust.

Griffith, son of Grant Garamond, was one of North America’s richest men, but few Americans knew who he was. He made every effort to stay out of the public eye, a relatively easy accomplishment, given that he owned a network of media companies that had strict orders to keep anything to do with him out of the papers or off TV.

He was a tall, gaunt man who looked like he belonged in a white suit, with a silk white hat to match, born to look the role of a preacher. In reality, this wasn’t too far off because in addition to being owner and CEO of the OMNINet – a vast tangle of companies – he was also minister emeritus of the Univist Church, an exceptionally influential Christian sect that his father founded in the 1930s when people were eating their horses as they traveled from Oklahoma to California.

Garamond had an aura to him that appealed to everyone, meek or macho. Despite the fact that he was in his early seventies, he had a youthful and healthy quality to him. This, despite the fact that he usually wasn’t far from a cigar or a glass of scotch.

The OMNINet was financed leveraging connections within the Religious Right, a tight and loyal theocracy that rules America today. With private money, he was able to quickly build a few small companies into a vast and complex web of organizations, holding companies and numbered accounts that never faced public scrutiny, as most of them were privately held by himself and a small handful of America’s elite.

Today, he was hunting close to his private reserve in the Adirondack Mountains in New York State. It is well known that no planes fly overhead, no radio towers can be seen for miles and communication with the outside world is strictly forbidden.

Once every two weeks, he and a small group of business leaders and, on occasion, a number of politicians, get together to pump an endless amount of lead into the frail and fleeting skins of skeet pigeons. On occasion, they even pursue real game, but not many visitors enjoy that because it can get messy some times, what with dead animals being carted around and all.

On rare occasions, they meet elsewhere, but Garamond is a man that prefers to meet people on his turf. It allows him to break all of the unspoken rules that they have about keeping notes or taking records. It allows him to keep complete documentation on what is said, mainly as ‘insurance’. If someone ever turned on him, he’d spin around them like a ballet dancer.

It was a cold Saturday afternoon in November, but it hadn’t snowed yet. Instead, it was raining slightly, and the inclement weather pushed Garamond’s determination to a new notch.

He continued his thoughts, not really seeking approval from the small crowd surrounding him. They consisted of two senior representatives from the FCC, three Senators who were on the Standing Committee on Positive American Internet Usage, the President of a major American cable company and a few other folks that could use their positions to strong-arm the Internet into the submission that they wanted.

“A lot of the technology that you’ve put in front of me hasn’t worked to capture the minds of Americans the way television did in the fifties and sixties,” BLAM was the thunderous rupture that ripped through the silence of the early morning air as he shot another pigeon. “Too many people think they have freedom … and they actually might if we didn’t have the plug in our hands!”

A few of the others chuckled lightly, taking this as their cue to laugh.

“Sir, we track nearly every transaction, every email, every instant message and more across the entire Internet on a daily basis. Most of it is done according to new Homeland Security rules that we’ve under the auspices of National Security. The challenge we face is that people want to have a conversation rather than have something shoved down their throat,” one of the newer attendees blurted out. “That and the fact that we’re running out of places to store all of this information. Or so we’re telling the public.”

Everyone paused for a moment, waiting for Garamond’s reaction to this interruption. If these men were of a different breed, they might have gasped out loud in horrified anticipation of the impending doom of their colleague. Most simply stepped away to avoid getting caught in the blowback of Garamond’s famous rage.

He surprised them when he opted for the edification route.

“The Internet, my friend,” Garamond started, not asking for his name or why he was here, “contradicts every thing that we’ve worked very hard to build in the last sixty years through TV. All the masses had to do was sit back at the end of a hard’s day work, switch their damn box on and get stimulated by our crap – pardon my language – so that we could sell them more soap and cars and wars and fear. With TV, we had the equivalent of a big machine that lifted people by their ankles and shook all of their money out of their pockets and kept them in their houses thinking that the world was falling apart around them. It’s been the world’s most effective tool for brainwashing those who might have actually had an original thought or two of their own. And along comes the Internet, which we invented to keep American information safe if some clown actually did drop a nuke on us, and it gave all of these porn-hunting, gamble-crazy lunatics the opportunity to actually use their keyboard to open their mind to the idea that they have the capacity to contribute to the conversation once in a while. Our ad sales are reaching up to touch bottom. The print division is hanging on by a thread. Our partners are all suffering, lead mainly by the car industry, which is barely able to squeeze out a few extra million in bonuses each year.

“To be honest, you impudent little prick, I don’t give a fuck about the little problems you think we’re having with this. I want it under control and I want a lid on things now.”

He continued: “A bunch of fools unleashed the damn thing on the public and everyone ate it up. Now any clown and his dog can post an opinion about anything, which means people have the most dangerous weapon in our fight against them: a voice. A place to be heard. That’s unacceptable. We’ve been tackling a number of issues, but the core problem for us is what people are calling the ‘democratization’ of the web. We have already begun a series of trials and debates with Congress to make sure that the web remains in the control of people who know how to leverage and manage information. Us. Part of our strategy is to make sure that common people think of the web as a hive of activity that protects terrorists and rapists and child molesters. There are even some morons who are using these ‘blogs’ to say that we are the ones who are the terrorists and rapists and child molesters. Of course, for some of our less civilized brothers in the other churches, it’s true, but we are still doing everything we can to limit the number of stories that focus on these fallen angels, as we call them.

“No … the key for us it to make sure that anyone who has an opinion about us is shut up. And quickly. We’ve developed ways to monitor almost everything that people write, think and do online. The beautiful thing about the ‘digital world’ is that everything is recorded. There is no secrecy. There is no avoiding your greatest fears. There is the cold hard reality of the facts and when people point fingers at us, we plant accusations on them. Accusations that almost always stick because no one will defend a pervert.

“The other point of focus is to make sure that lay-people fear the web and worry about doing transactions online. We are the biggest perpetrators of identity theft and we do it extremely well. When people get too aggressive or start shopping online at small stores instead of going to the MegaShop, we shut them down and we throw a few stories out there about the perils of doing anything online.”

The crowd around him were not surprised that they weren’t given a few moments to provide more insights or opinions related to Garamond’s observations.

This is the way it is in American society. Few talk. Many listen. Blind faith in certain institutions their only guide.

“Of course, you can see the balancing act that we must maintain. While we do our best to scare the crap out of everyone and discredit the dregs of society, we must also present ourselves as the last true and untouchable bastion of security in the world. Shop on our sites. Talk in our chatrooms. Pay for our services because these are the places where you are welcome and some cretin won’t steal your most valuable commodity: your identity.”

(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 6

Did you miss a chapter? If so, click here to see all chapters or click here to go to Excited Delirium: Chapter 1 (Prelude)

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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 .