This is the dark conclusion to my cyber-bully storyline. It’s the reason the entire piece is called, “The Moderator.” I write flexible outlines to allow my stories to swerve into the kind of dark territory this one lands in. The ending had me questioning if this was one of the worst, or best things I’ve ever written. The jury is still out on that, but the story had an impact on me.
I owe a debt of gratitude to @Raishimi for scanning through the story for grammatical mistakes. If you like intensely clever dark short fiction, check her blog out here.
In part 3, Jeremiah Jenkins has tracked down the cyber bully that outed him online. A man named River. Armed with his target’s whereabouts, Jeremiah has come to San Diego with a plan of his own.
The Moderator PART 3: Bridge Trolls
River walked down the sidewalk with his eyes buried in his phone. It was as big as any touchscreen tablet, except this one made calls. He was using an application that took advantage of the camera. It allowed him to type and see the ground at the same time. With an e-cigarette screwed into his lips, River was a master multitasker. He took a puff. Static crackled inside the pipe. He exhaled. The vapor trailed behind him. Continue reading The Moderator PART 3: Bridge Trolls→
In the previous installment of The Moderator, Jeremiah Jenkins found himself outed by a fellow cyber bully. He’d made a death threat and his rival The Straw Man called him on his bluff. That night a cyber mob hacked his accounts and warped his online identity. They posted pregnancy news on FaceBook, turned him into a rogue NSA agent on Twitter, and added terrorism to his LinkedIn resumé. They killed his career opportunities, his relationship prospects, and his reputation. The trolls put his head up on a pike for all the world to see.
In part 2 of this 3 part tale, we catch up with Jeremiah in the middle of a psychotic break.
I owe another debt of gratitude to @Raishimi for catching many of my grammatical mistakes (I love it when people point those little buggers out to me).
The Moderator PART 2: The Straw Man
That night, Jeremiah dreamt he was sprinting down cobblestone streets. Oil lanterns passed by in a blur. He swerved as a horse drawn carriage barreled down on him. He dove to avoid being trampled. When the horses past, he heard his pursuers’ feet stomping behind him. Their numbers had grown. Minute men had answered the call. Pedestrians had been enveloped into the horde. Street workers dropped the tools of their trade, and picked up other ones.
I’m afraid of the kind of traffic this story will bring to my blog. There’s some nasty buzz words lurking in these prose. Words I wouldn’t want to show up in a search engine, or across a national security agent’s desk.
The characters who use these words have no regard for their meaning. They sling vulgarities at the wind, with the glee of infants hurling smartphones onto concrete. They make casual death threats. They reference acts of terrorism with the enthusiasm of screenwriters referencing pop culture.
These characters speak their minds with not a filter, but a megaphone. Their real life counterparts have been jailed for things they’ve said in jest. They’ve ruined lives, or worse, played a part in ending them.
If the government makes revisions to the First Amendment, it will be because of something one of these people said.
Don’t worry, I’m not about to berate you with racial or homophobic slurs. These characters have used them so often they’ve lost their meaning. They have to resort to craftier insults to get their points across, to scrape the bottom of the barrel clean through, to mine it for new depths.
They’re a case study for etymologists. Linguists will cite them as the ones who broadened our definition of profanity.
Their real life counterparts will desensitize us to things we hope to never see. They don’t pull punches. If I’m to tell their story, neither can I.
Tragedy plus time equals comedy. The hero of this story has interpreted the quote to mean that making fun of tragedy is funny. He’s about to learn that some words are sacred. Some invocations summon things that won’t go back into the depths. Some threats have consequences.
Especially when he makes his threats here, in the Twilight Zone (sorry I had to do that).
I owe a debt of gratitude to @Raishimi, @FoodStoned, and many others who post under the hashtag #AmWriting. Many of you were eager to let your inner trolls go on a rampage. You helped come up with many of the cyber pranks featured in this story. You’re all very evil people.
I cannot stress how much hair this story had me pulling out. At seven-thousand plus words, I decided to break it up into three different parts: