Jack Kelly awoke somewhere over northern Arizona as the 757 aircraft made its way into Pacific time zone. Yawning with a stretch, he unbuckled his seat belt and scratched his head. He thanked God that the two seats next to him were unoccupied, leaving plenty of room to stretch out and attempt comfort. Jack exhausted about ten different positions until he shrugged a defeated sigh and slid open his iPhone. He had missed more news! And was unable to tweet! The travesty of the situation pummeled him with a soft whimper while he scrolled through the very latest… Anonymous had successfully shutdown communications at the National Security Agency’s headquarters in response to multiple nationwide arrests in association with the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA). The act essentially stripped Americans of any civil liberties and denied them all rights and in some cases, even citizenship through indefinite detention under suspicion of or association with terrorism or what the government defined as terrorism. The frightening assault on Constitutional rights had been passed by former President Barack Obama and was now being used against protesters, hackers and in some cases even journalists! Infinity’s transparency section was illuminated with the story as its headline… Like many Infinity stories, it embodied a combination of the websites three sections: transparency, technology and uprisings, the three things driving the global conversation and changing the world.
The U.S. government was clever not to deny the sabotage by Anonymous, otherwise strengthening the wrath of the vigilante hackers. Jack couldn’t believe it. So much was happening and he felt like he was missing out. The world was rapidly changing all around him and although some of his dreams were coming true with his screenplays becoming films, he missed the fast paced and sometimes dangerous world of journalism.
His producers were incredible and he was surely grateful for all they had done for him, though, like most of Hollywood, they strongly supported something Jack himself could never – SOPA (Stop Online Piracy Act). Various discussions often led to arguments. Jack couldn’t agree more that piracy was a crime and needed to be dealt with. Though, along with most of the internet, he thought it should be handled in some way other than the poorly written act that gave the government too much control over the web and basic free expression.
Infinity was known for its staunch opposition to SOPA and NDAA through its various blogs and op-eds. In regards to the National Defense Authorization Act, Jack believed that corporate power was so entrenched in mainstream media institutions that many were unwilling to put their careers in jeopardy for the truth. Lately, this had resulted in many Americans apathetic complacency towards NDAA. Though it wasn’t long until exactly what Jack had predicted started emerging.. abuse of power. The government was using the Act as an excuse to squash opposition to itself and the corporate establishments that ran it. Any kind of real dialogue or real debate about what was happening to the country was essentially shoved out by a corporatized media leaving individual web based news sites like Infinity to amplify truth the best they could.
Jack Kelly ran his hands through his hair and leaned back in his seat. The world was overwhelming and hard to keep up and he feared greatly for the direction in which America was headed. He was extremely flighty, curious and unsettled, without a true place to call home. Though, he was unsure if he’d like it if he had such a place. His life was vast, difficult and complex with scattered thoughts, ideas, projects and relationships, though there was a beauty in all of that. Scribbling some notes on a to-do list, he tapped a pen against his lip and peered out the window overlooking the Grand Canyon. The jumbled site was spectacular and although lacking any order or methodical arrangement, it had a brilliant unity of its own as seen from above. He snapped a few pictures to instagram later and checked his world clock. The date was January the 25th, three years to the day of the Egyptian revolution, and it was dawn in Cairo.
Many police forces had withdrew from Tahrir Square as thousands upon thousands of protesters swarmed the downtown area in massive throngs. The revolution was not over and the day marked the start of a third wave of uprisings in a country struggling between their definition of democracy and Islamic takeover. The sand was kicked up and flags raised, the chants echoing for at least a mile in every direction. Hundreds of news reporters and camera crews stationed themselves on walls and balconies streaming the revolution live. RT, CNN and Al Jazeera sent crews into the crowd to hear from the demonstrators. Among them was a 22 year old British national with tanned skin, a dark beard and colored contacts. Though, like many of the protesters, his face was covered by a Guy Fawkes mask and a black red and white dust coated bandanna. The man had entered the country a week prior under a false passport by the name of Omar Nassanan and was living among pro-democracy techies in the suburbs of Cairo. The very same hackers that originally destroyed the government websites of Egypt during the initial revolution back in early 2011. Topiary Gardenslayer lifted his mask and wiped a bead of sweat with the bandanna. The infamous hacker had destroyed all evidence of himself and transferred it to a long time enemy, a young man named Davis, a recluse on the Shetland Islands.
Gardenslayer sent a quick text that triggered another text to a phone in Sweden that sent a cryptic email message to Infinity News Network’s editor Ainsley Kate Wilson.
Men and women, sad and hopeless, their middle-aged faces bathed in the pale light of the televisions they were silently looking up and watching inside the Post Pub on L Street. It was a chilly rainy Washington night for the State of the Union address and Ainsley was overworked and exhausted. She had sent two of her best journalists to the Capitol while Marvin remained at Infinity’s headquarters live-streaming the address from C-SPAN. Ainsley shook out her umbrella and unbuttoned her black coat. She turned to face the television..
“… the 45th President of the United States will deliver his first State of the Union address in the next few minutes. Members of the House and Senate have taken their seats…”
Outside helicopters patrolled the National Mall just a few blocks away, their searchlights shining down onto the puddle ridden streets. Police presence was on high alert surrounding the Capitol and the White House. Another man entered after Ainsley and made his way over to the bar. Detached, unkempt with a scruffy beard and glasses he was a veteran of hopelessness…
“Members of Congress, distinguished guests, and fellow Americans… “
The speech had begun and the room went quiet. Unlike past State of the Union addresses when the Pub buzzed with often satirical commentary, tonight’s gloomy audience sat fearful and vulnerable, waiting to hear some kind of good news, but knowing it wouldn’t come. Ainsley’s iPhone buzzed with a new email, it was from a trusted source, again, someone in cyber space she had never met but had a proven track record of accuracy. She needed a rest and stored the email to view later on. She wedged her way to the counter and took a seat next to the hopeless man.
“Just coffee tonight. Extra cream and sugar.”
Across the room, a 50 year old woman stared up at the screen, cradling a beer, tears rolling down her face. Ainsley glanced at the TV without much interest. The President went on, seemingly disconnected to the American public. All Ainsley could think of was his millions stashed in offshore bank accounts…
Her coffee arrived, lukewarm and without enough cream. After a few more minutes of half listening to the State of the Union, she sipped and cringed, placing exact change on the counter and making her way to the door. Slow traffic rolled past L street. Cabs stopped next to her but she ushered them on briskly walking in the direction of the McPherson Square Metro Station passing surveillance cameras on lamp posts and building sides with tiny disclaimers: “For your protection.”
Seconds later a massive explosion rocked the area, blowing out windows and setting off car alarms. Ainsley reeled from the blast, knocked off balance.. everything went dark. The sound could be heard throughout the city and immediately police sirens sounded in all directions. Smoldering metal and burnt rubber billowed in smoke from the direction of the National Mall. Faint wails of pain came from staggering people making their way out of the Capitol building, covered in residue, holding their wounds… Ainsley regained her balance, shell-shocked, holding her ears…