Here’s a little something I got bored and started writing today at work after the subject of fake news came up.
In an age where established facts can be discarded without a second’s thought and any poorly conceived opinion can be true if shouted loud enough, life is hard. Not laboriously hard, unless you happen to work in construction or something like that, but you know… difficult.
Let me show you.
Nina Hepworth was only young when truth died. She has to concentrate hard to remember it, but she can. She can recall a time where truth was something definable, at least to a degree. It was possible to know things.
Now the only thing she knows is that she knows nothing. Descartes once thought he had solved this issue with his oh so clever cogito ergo sum. He could not doubt that he was doubting and therefore, his very scepticism proved at the very least that he existed to a degree. To this, Nina would suggest that there was the possibility that Descartes had been led astray by the biased liberal media, or fake news perpetuated by the Alt-Right or even that his scepticism was the result of a government conspiracy desperate to keep him focussed on proving his existence rather than anything else.
To which Descartes may have said, ‘what?’ before inventing the Cartesian coordinate system.
The date is the eighteenth of February twenty-thirty-four. Nina is walking through the snow covered streets towards her place of work. The snow is thick, up to her ankles and still falling. It flits around her face in disorganised sort of way. Global warming was playing havoc with the weather. Fortunately, the establishment had declared four years earlier that global warming wasn’t a thing. Any information circulating to suggest the contrary had just been lazy propaganda. Any supposedly scientific research into the matter was false and had largely been funded by someone trying to sell wind turbines.
Within a few weeks the city had been plastered with posters and every screen was lit up with the same slogan.
“We don’t want your fucking wind turbines.”
The elected officials… or the vote rigging dictators who may or may not have been put in place by the Russians, or the hired actors who take the fall for the mysterious figures who are really running the show, put more funding into oil, coal and “a new fuel source that’ll never run out so chill out about the whole thing.”
Anyway, it is snowing.
Nina stops at a crossing, looks both ways as is advised, sees nothing coming and crosses. She would be at work within three minutes. Her worn boots crunch through the candyfloss snow that’s beginning to work its way through the hole in her sole. She curls her toes as she pauses at the other side of the road.
She remembered it all happening rather slowly. Until it wasn’t happening slowly anymore, and everyone was hurtling towards oblivion.
Nina stops before the entrance to the council building. It isn’t particularly impressive. It’s tall, wide and grey. The big glass doors seem to shimmer under the glare of the intense tube lighting within. She can see the reception desk. It’s manned by a man, which makes the use of the word manned entirely literal. He has a shiny face with a well-kept little beard, gelled hair and fancy glasses. She shakes her head. His name is Graham, he’s nice enough, but he’s relentlessly dull and insists on having conversations, which is the worst thing a dull person can insist upon.
She glances at her watch, decides being a few minutes late isn’t the worst thing in the world, and decides to get a coffee.
Half way towards Starbucks a car pulls up alongside the curb. The tyres spin a little in the snow and are glistening with wet. A man opens the window, he’s middle aged and balding. Nina locks eyes with him. He’s wearing a suit and has very serious looking eyes with a sunken look to them.
‘Get in,’ he commands.
Nina has no intention of getting in. Good things have never happened to a lone woman who jumps into a stranger’s car. She moves away from the curb and quickens her pace. The Starbucks is around the corner, if she makes it there she should be safe. Though it was by no means a sure thing. Recently the media had been promising another terrorist attack, whilst simultaneously saying there would definitely not be another terrorist attack. A spokesman for MI5 said that Britain is the safest it has ever been or ever will be, but then a spokesman for MI6 said it was a ticking time bomb.
Nina didn’t know who to believe, six was one more than five. Though even that was up for debate these days. She remembered being taught that two plus two equalled four, but now theories were emerging that people had been wrong about 4 all along and was actually nowhere near two twice. Everyone had their own theory, some were even positing that numbers had no solid meaning and –
Having quickened her pace, Nina put herself on the path to destruction. Her back hits the snow covered floor hard and the wind is knocked from her lungs. She hears the car man swear and the opening of doors. Two men loom over her, big men at that. They grab her by the arms and heave her to her feet. She tries to scream out, but it’s no more than a wheeze. The men push her into the back of the car next to the middle aged man who regards her with disappointment. Small graces, Nina thinks. Disappointment is low level, no one gets hurt because of disappointment.
‘Don’t worry, you are safe,’ says the man barely looking at her. He is facing forward, staring out the windscreen. The wipers are going mad, back and forth back and forth, not knowing what side they want to be on.
‘Who are you?’ She asks.
‘We are the believers. We truly believe in truth. The true truth, as it once was.’ He says.
‘And what was that?’ she asks.
‘We don’t know. We were hoping you could help us.’