Snyder sat in his cubical, watching an action film on YouTube, the original public access netstation. A red alert flashed on his workstation’s touch screen, built right into the desk. He liked his screen tilted at a sixty degree angle. He pressed the red button and the movie clip gave way to a screen that read, “Threat Assessment. Code: A. Keywords: Donovan killing.”
Below that was a message from a Ferrari Banks to a Peter Packard. Snyder pressed a button to underline and bold the offending phrase:
Look, Pete, I know you’re all hot to trot about Prince Donovan, but I don’t trust him. I don’t buy that Bibles to Vietnam crap. The kid hung a man who’d been like a father to him. If I’m going to trust him, I need a better reason for Donovan killing the guy. Until then, as far as I’m concerned, he’s just another power-grabbing politician like his old man. And at twenty-two, he has plenty of time to become far more corrupt.
The paragraphs below rambled on about a coffee shop Ferrari purchased in Oakland and how Ferrari’s daughter was entering fifth grade. Snyder’s eyes glazed. This was another false alarm generated by the dumb retrieval system.
Snyder pressed the “Innocuous: No Threat” button. The message disappeared.
He took a sip of coffee from the silver thermos emblazoned with the Imperial crest; a roman eagle perched on the globe. Why couldn’t people just get over the hanging of Ivan already? He deserved to die.
For his grandfather, who died opposing Ivan’s decision to unconstitutionally insert the US into the Empire by presidential fiat. Did it matter why that traitor died? To too many, it did. Until their questions were resolved, the Steward would have 40% of the people distrusting him. Compared to Ivan’s 85%, that wasn’t too bad, but at his age, Donovan needed more unanimous support.
Snyder turned back to his movie clip. It finished with an explosion of a guy’s head against the screen as a hail of bullets streamed into it. Snyder smiled. “Now, that’s what I’m talking about.”
He scrolled through the comments.
One read, “Hey, this is totally violent. Check out Jesusistotallyawesome.com.”
Snyder spit out his coffee. He went to the website named and gaped at it.
A button on his toolbar said, “Report to Terrorism bureau.” Terrorism bureau would take down the website, as unconstitutional as that was.
Snyder sighed. Could he really do this? “Well, people have got to be careful what they say on the Internet.”
Grandfather died defending the constitution.
Stubborn conscience, it just had to pipe up, didn’t it?
Snyder looked at the right side of the page, at the link text, “Find a church.”
Snyder clicked on the link.
An animated sixteen-year-old boy came on the screen. “Hey, amigos, Tivo Patterson here in Columbus, Ohio. There are a lot of cool churches and youth groups around here. I got this list from my parents and posted it so you can find a cool church, anywhere in the Midwest.”
Snyder’s jaw fell open. This stupid kid had posted the addresses of around 200 churches. Man, he’d be on the fast track to sergeant once he gave this information. Maybe he’d even commission.
Joey Parker stood by a tree. “You’re not gonna take me to the government, are you?”
Snyder sighed. No. He couldn’t do this to people who were like Mama Borden and Grandma. However, the website would have to come down-before anyone else stumbled on the big list-o-churches.
He surfed to the site’s host. “Free Portal Page” flashed in annoying neon green. He entered the admin area and was challenged for a password. He pulled up Password Breaker. Within ten seconds, he was into the back office.
Snyder clucked his tongue. “You get what you pay for.”
He deleted Tivo’s entire account, and coded it as a Terms of Service violation, not Terrorism. That way the military wouldn’t find out about it. Snyder exhaled deeply as the deletion confirmation came up.
Snyder leaned back in his chair. To do: Violate reporting regulations and aid and abet enemies of the Empire.
Snyder looked up. Hey, I know we’re not on great terms, but I’ll make you a deal. I’ll make sure your people don’t get caught, you make sure I don’t get caught. Sound fair?
Silence is considered agreement.
Snyder sat still for a moment. Pleasure doin’ business with you.
Silence was a good measure of agreement. That was all he ever got from God.
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