A new excerpt from my current work-in-progress GUERRA for you all to check out and comment on …
And that night, somewhere amongst gel-filtered spotlights, designer drugs and the heartbeat of Russian breakbeats, the infection begins.
Erika Sørensen smiles as the man who has been flirting with her for half an hour or so arrives at a private booth with her drink refilled. She touches him casually as they talk and slowly, with social engineering skills carefully honed during her time as a hacker, she guides the conversation towards the discovery of Roisin Kennedy’s body and the BLAST group. She tells him of a friend of a friend who is involved in the investigation and knows for a fact that BLAST have been inactive for 15 years. She shrugs when he asks her what this might mean and leaves him to gestate his own theories.
A few hours later and she’s back at his place pretending to get as high as him and his friends and they’re in full conspiratorial flow, refracting theories off of one another, letting their natural paranoia blossom. She listens as the ideas are gradually sculpted, taking shape from their insecurities and prejudices, only joining in herself when she feels the integrity of the meme are under threat.
Simultaneously, Göran Priske is in a high-class cocktail club located, at least for this weekend, in a bunker-like structure far up the hillsides. The roof is curved and almost entirely made of glass, a row of bulky telescopes prodding through gaps in the structure.
Some of those gathered are sitting in the metal-framed chairs peering up towards the stars but most are slouched in the leather sofas that are scattered around the place. Moulded plastic tables house half-drained cups of imported espresso.
Göran has spent several hours tracking the conversations of the attendees and delivers a few choice comments at selected moments to one group after another. His touches are more deft than Erika’s, subtle enough that the subject of the murdered girl and BLAST barely come up, but he knows that the seeds have been sown and within a day the meme will be solidly lodged in their brains. He also knows that several of those he talks to have contacts in the pirate broadcasting community, others cool hunters for some of the marketing corporations based on the south side.
And Olof Krøldrup, earlier in the evening hanging out in a parking lot with street racers checking out the latest modifications to each other’s cars and delivering smoothly-package thought-bombs to the most influential amongst them, has joined Göran at the observatory. Göran’s initial seeding already placed, Olof almost imperceptibly reinforces the meme, often with little more than a nod of agreement to let someone know that their ideas have support or to guide them elsewhere when they are starting to stray. He spends some time with the agent of the model Mariana Quesada, having to adjust his language slightly when the man’s libertarian leanings become clear.
At sunrise Erika slips out of the apartment and at the same time Olof and Göran leave the observatory party, their work complete for now but the effects only just starting to build.
The man who brought Erika home emerges from his drug haze with the conspiracy theories still rattling around in his head and relates them to work colleagues at an expenses-paid lunch the next day. Three out of the five there return home and tell their partners and flatmates about the man’s ideas. Of those three, two repeat the gesture with their own friends and colleagues.
One of the cool hunters from the observatory writes up a report on the emerging trend for support for animal rights causes and specifically mentions BLAST. This is passed to the marketing directors of several firms that hire the hunters and the promotional campaigns for dozens of products are instantly adjusted.
The DJ that runs the decks at the observatory requests cuts from the news reports from a pirate friend of his to include as samples on some new tracks he is working on. The pirate is puzzled at how little material he can find without going back fifteen years and relates this to several other members of his crew.
And so two becomes four becomes sixteen becomes two-hundred and fifty-six.
The messages warps and changes but it travels and that, like a virus that only cares that it finds some host, any host, is all that matters.