The Smithiton Massacre and the Punk Patriot’s Revenge
I am asked to meet the lead organizer. Not in her tent. Between Old Gildagad House and Strathcyde House. When we are alone she adjusts her dark goggles and gasmask. ‘We have security cameras of you talking to someone inside of Old Gildagad House Christopher.’ I tell her I won the hot bath lottery. I can see she does not believe me. ‘We know we are being infiltrated. I have had to lock up eight suspects so far. They will handed over to their handlers when this mess is over. But I have not nabbed the lead to the rogue militia shooting away at both us and the riot police to trick us into killing each other.’
‘Pleeese!’ I reply. ‘You know the professional snipers who artfully shoot at us. Mostly not to kill. MI6? Martyrs are wooing Zendula over to the Punk Patriots but how many martyrs must die for the cause? And you have a secured line to the Privy Council and also Celebeau House.’
‘You hack well. We have tried to hack you with less success. MI 6 says your laptop is very expensive for a temp junior advertiser of pickles. And the majority of the snipers and bombers are part of one rogue operation of agent provocateurs working for the Chief Navigator to justify a declaration of martial law. Tell me frankly Christopher. CIA? So I can tell your handler at the American Embassy.’ I tell her I am not CIA. She does not believe me. ‘You should have said CIA Christopher. That means you are a double agent working for the government all along. I checked your id. Fired temp. Pickles. It was a good cover. But now you have been outed. The advertising agency you work for carries the biggest accounts of Zu House. Mostly Wellus House. They have been bombarding the TV screens with bogus reporters. And they have been bombarding the computer screens with ads disguised as web conspiracy theories. They are using social media to spin a lie. They are twittering a sales pitch to back the Chief Navigator’s declaration of martial law by scaring people. Confusing people. Panicking people. It is still advertising. Propaganda. Just updated to the Social Media Age. Everyone still believes anything they read or hear or see on the internet is true. But your boss is filling the internet with bogus rumors and photo shopped pictures and bogus twitters. It is a sophisticated ad campaign to sell martial law instead of pickles.
I am not killing double agents yet Christopher. But I can made your life hard until you squeal. And believe me. You will squeal.’ I told her I thought she was law abiding. She gestures for a distant guard to come to fetch me. ‘Motlam’ she said. ‘The basement has not been gutted yet. Old security cells for violent lunatics are still there. Nasty iron holes for nasty suspects. I need to know who is commanding the rogue militia Christopher. I need to know who their handler is. Or else their contact. Who orders the hits. Sooner or later you will tell me. Make it sooner rather than later. Those basement cells in Motlam were designed to hold violent nutters in small ,damp, dark, iron cages. Foxes don’t handle small iron cages very well.’
‘Look’ I tell her. ‘You are playing just as duplicitous a game as I am. You are not what you seem. I am not what I seem. Sure. I agreed to infiltrate your protesters! For money! Sure! I was broke! My visa application for New York bounced! I was told you and the Logan Party were manufacturing an artificial crisis to bring down the government. Zendula is two weeks away from a debt ceiling meltdown and its currency is tanking as we speak! Only weeks away from virtual bankruptcy! The Chief Navigator is not the only villain here! And the government is not rotted through! You said that yourself! The government is not villain here. And you are not a hero Miss Smithiton. This crisis cannot continue and you know it!’
‘But you played the snitch for pay?’ she told me. ‘The duplicitous two faced agent provocateur for money! Snitching each propaganda we planned to use so the Chief Navigator could trump it. I would not be surprised if you are part of the enemy advertising team! Snitching that the Logan Party is part of the protestor movement! Snitching that I am not what I seem! How did you find out I am the scion of Smithiton?’
‘Because it was obvious that you are not what you seem’ I told her. ‘And only an insider could have scored that initial lead to the five billion in hot funds being bounced from one hot account to another. And Wellus House owns Smithiton. And Wellus House does not hire outsiders. Only insiders. But the only insider inside of Wellus House who would snitch might be Smithiton. Smithiton was a forced acquisition. A corporate takeover. A very hostile takeover. In fact I believe Smithiton Senior found out his beautiful steel foundry was taken over by a hostile takeover when he was told of the acquisition by Wellus himself — just before he was pushed off the roof of Wellus House Havens.’
‘I bow to your ability to sleuth on line Christopher’ Smithiton said. ‘Yes. My Great Grandfather was pushed off the roof of Wellus House Havens. We were reduced to lackeys and minions in our own factory which we created by our sweat and blood and passion for steel. We were reduced to kowtowing or else end up like Great Grandfather.’
‘But revenge is best served cold’ I told her. ‘Very cold in this case.’
‘But still revenge. When the opportunity came I seized it’ she said. ‘If the Chief Navigator falls then the man chained to him by a chain of illegality would fall as well! Literally. Wellus House has only one form of ‘termination’ for its executives! The roof exit! The golden parachute minus th parachute! But how did you put two and two together?’
‘I was posting Guttersnipe propaganda. The movement started in 1857 after the Wellus House Londinium Robbery. It ended in 1870 right after the Smithiton Massacre. And the key financial information you leaked to the internet is all insider intel. Wellus House Havens Branch. Wellus House is not known for employing outsiders. Only insiders. And another corporate Wellus policy is making sure no one robs Wellus House and lives to boast of it. You are playing as dangerous a double agent game as me Miss Smithiton. After all, we are talking about the corporate bastion that sent fifty goons to shoot over two hundred unionists! Cold blood! The Wellus New Citadel Massacre. Smithiton. When it unionized! 200 unionists were gunned down on the foundry floor!’
‘My grandfather turned a blind eye to the union. Unions were and still are legal. He was so shocked when the executions started he ran out in front of the executioners and tried to stop it. He was executed no less than his workers’ Miss Smithiton said. ‘We Smithitons don’t forget or forgive. But we keep a bland face as we wait for our revenge! We are steelmakers. You learn how to be icy in deadly heat!’
‘Wellus House was already under the glare of public scrutiny’ I told her. ‘This was after the Wellus House Robbery Scandal when it was revealed that Wellus House was developing an illegal weapon of mass destruction the leaders of the world secretly outlawed!’
She adjusted her dark goggles. ‘The top secret convention to outlaw that particular weapon of mass destruction occurred after the Wellus House prototype was stolen by Sikes. Infamy cannot retroactively damn corporate officers by corporate law. Only personal vengeance can be retroactively applied to damn the guilty who get off Scott- free courtesy of technicalities. Habius Corpus. Produce the corpse. A weapon that causes death by spontaneous combustion was developed before it was outlawed. Wellus House broke no laws. After it was declared illegal Wellus House likewise broke no laws. Wellus House simply ceased to manufacture the weapon of mass destruction for external use. They moved into nitro powder full metal jacket bullets that potentially can kill just as many people just as badly.’
‘Who was the dead man shot point blank in the photograph smuggled out of Smithiton Steel Works to the Guttersnipes Miss Smithiton?’ I asked.
‘Dead men tell no tales Christopher. And is it a massacre if there is no body? Only ashes? The Smithiton Massacre featured private contractors using private weapons internal only to Wellus House.’
‘Your grandfather and 200 steel workers died of spontaneous combustion?’
Miss Smithiton adjusted her dark goggles against the daylight. ‘Wellus House always executes by spontaneous combustion so there is never any evidence left. But yes. They shot my Grandfather point blank in the back of the head to threaten us. The rest of us Smithitons. Then they ordered us to throw Grandfather’s body into the fire on the foundry floor to burn the evidence. We ……. smuggled out the one photograph we risked our lives to take. The Truth. It was worth risking our lives to tell the Truth. But that one photograph was the only evidence left. How else do you think Wellus House has gotten away with murder? Literally? For over a century? No body means no trail back to them. Of all of the notorious robber tycoons of yesteryear, only Wellus House continues to weave its ruthless and nefarious coils around Zendula as if a slimy octopus! I mean to force Wellus House Havens to take the fall —- literally.’
‘So you created the Occupy Movement for personal revenge’ I replied. She shrugged. ‘Well by now it is obvious to the CEO of Wellus House Havens that there is another insider robbery at Wellus House Havens that rivals the infamous Sikes Robbery of 1857 that birthed the original Guttersnipe Wars. Your high tech modern robbery of Wellus House Havens computers to access that embarrassing trail of financial maleficence might well damn both Wellus House and the Chief Navigator. Chained together by infamy. It might bring down Wellus House. Or not. Why didn’t the Chief Navigator electronically transfer his illicit gains after your initial expose?’
‘He tried’ she replied. ‘Alas, his currency broker in Golconda House was too busy watching the riots that night to transfer five billion in gilda currency from one account into another account. The next day he visited his boss to ask if he should still do it — exactly when a well respected old school reporter was in the very office asking the boss that very question. He risked his career and he would not have done so for some flash in the pan e-cyber jerk. But Old Pelley is as competent as he is incorruptible. And now Golconda House has decided it is better to be seen on the side of the angels than the devils.’
‘That explains why you have been treating Golconda House with kid gloves’ I said. ‘You hoped to woo at least one man with half a conscience over to your side. Did you give the tip to the reporter to ferret out the intel and trail it to Switzerland?’
‘Yes. Your e-reporters are flashy but I needed a solid veteran to sleuth down the clues all the way to the jackpot. Old school newspaperman. The five billion has now been transferred back to Zendula Treasury Court from one account. Another 20 billion in other accounts. Interpol is tracing the crooked bank accounts back here —- straight to the Chief Navigator. Every payola and graft and bribe! And likewise Interpol is tracing where the largest payola came from. Wellus House Havens. E-forensic financial auditors are tracing every devious wiring as we speak. Computers leave a spidery web of intel behind for those skilled at e-sleuthing. Even if Wellus House pushes the delete button nothing ever really vanishes in cyper space. Breaking News tonight Christopher. Should I let you have your laptop to watch it? Come. Let us stroll to your laptop with its lock and self destruct. Tomorrow the Chief Navigator will be facing a colossal No Confidence Vote to end all No Confidence Votes. The Financial Ravens and ‘Blackbirds’ of Internal Affairs will be descending on the Cockpit. But meanwhile you are facing your own ‘No Confidence Vote’ Christopher Kitsume. You played the devious fox once too often. I can’ believe you shot your own tagger point blank in the back of the head.
‘I did throw up later in guilt at the sight of all of that blood’ I told her. ‘I wish I had not tossed the gun but there it is. You won’t ever find it. Only my laptop and I know the truth and my laptop won’t tell. But my handler will kill me if I squeal to you.’
‘But I will kill you if you don’t squeal to me’ she replied as we strolled nonchalantly through the camp toward the communications tent.
I see protestors prying up ancient cobblestones and lining up bottles of fuel to mass produce molotov cocktails. ‘You anticipate battle to the death?’ I asked.
‘Yes. The cornered beast always turns violent. The peace truce won’t last. The final battle will be either tonight or else tomorrow. A battle to the death. The Privy Council and Upper Chamber have been secreted out of the city to Badon. The Master and Strathcylde House is preparing the final battle to take down the cornered rat. And I have it on good authority the King died yesterday.’
‘It has not been announced’ I said.
‘No. It won’t be. But The Chief Navigator will sniff it out and then he will have no choice but to attack on some fabricated excuse. We have not died fast enough. Nor has the accusations of the rogue militia stuck to us. So he has to manufacture another assassination to pin on our collective chests to justify declaring martial law. A replay of the Guttersnipes. Someone big and beloved has to die. Why don’t you tell me? We might be able to save a life?’
‘It was not just for money you know’ I told her. ‘I actually was somewhat swayed toward joining your cause when you delivered that initial lead to the financial malfeasance. The government is not corrupt you know. Only the Chief Navigator and his Cockpit.’
‘I know that. Hell. I am working….. I mean……’
‘So you are working for Celebeau House’ I said. ‘Spooks. Bogies. Blackbirds. For Internal Investigations. Hand in hand with the Spooks. Spies. The Secret Service. Aided and abetted by MI 6.’
‘I cannot say! You don’t want to know!’ Miss Smithiton replied. ‘ Let’s just say they don’t treat traitors with kid gloves! It is a deep op. A rogue op. The end justifies the means. Only a preemptive strike could stop a coup. So you should be able to tell me in full conscience who is the liaison with the rogue private militia playing havoc to incite this war’ Miss Smithiton told me. ‘Or tell me your handler! He must know! The Chief Navigator has at his disposal a private rogue army of bombers and shooters playing us off against the riot police. Or to be exact Wellus House Havens does. They always have goons willing to massacre anyone. They are manufacturing another Smithiton Massacre as we speak. Even if the Chief Navigator falls the CEO of Wellus House Havens has no intention of falling — unless pushed off the roof of Wellus House. Tell me Christopher! Please!’
‘My handler might not even know and I don’t know’ I told her. ‘That is the truth. I am a lowly minion. A temp. A clog in the machinery of this whole duplicitous rerun of the Guttersnipe War.’
‘And I replay Sikes! And I will probably die like Sikes! A rogue dying on the side of the angels. Unlike you. The odds are I will probably not be able to get back inside Wellus House though of course I will try. Revenge served hot pushing a man off the roof of Wellus House Havens the way my Great Grandfather was pushed. But the odds are increasingly against me. I will try anyway even if I die trying. Like Sikes, I do this with my eyes wide open. So I need a second line of attack. I need to persuade the CEO of Wellus International to order the CEO of Wellus House Havens to be terminated to cover up the lethal trail of incriminating malfeasance before it takes him down. Revenge served post mortem.’
‘Which I gather is the usual modus operandi of Wellus House’ I replied as we strolled to my tent where my laptop was. ‘The big fall’ or else death by spontaneous combustion. How did you know the coma was the result of a botched hit? Was it because you were the assassin? Celebeau House Secret Service allowed you to pass through the Royal Hearthweru to assassinate the King of Zendula.’
‘The end justifies the means’ Miss Smithiton said. ‘But no. The Chief Navigator’s wife shot the King. Celebeau House has just arrested her and she is in the Gaol. A well lighted place. The Logan Party will leave but she will not. Regicide has a private death by way of The Master Of The Havens. Merciful in so far as the official death is tearing apart by horses. But execution nevertheless. Tonight. To be announced later after the crisis is over. I am going back into Wellus House tonight using my official badge to see if I can take down the CEO. I will probably fail and be shoved off the roof myself. Or else die of spontaneous combustion. I will be punished for my sins. A martyr with the blood of martyrs on my hands. But the sins are justified by the end. The end is the saving of Zendula.’
‘I am not so brave’ I told her. ‘Martyrs be they Sikes or you have suicidal kinks in their brains. I just wanted a chrome and plexiglass condo on the Upper Heights.’
‘You are working for the bad guys Christopher. I am working for the good guys.’
‘Frankly I can’t tell one from the other anymore!’ I told her.
She gestured. ‘Why force me to spend days hacking into your intel? Your catalog of ID pictures of everyone? So many pictures! To hand over to whom? Embarrassing quotes? To hand over to whom? Moldy old history of the Guttersnipe War to hand over to whom? And even the picture of me minus my disguise? Your cache of incriminating evidence will discredit the Punk Patriots at the most crucial time! The Chief Navigator is about to declare martial law! Only the nobility of our sacrifice has been swaying the people of Zendula over to us! Defying the plots of traitors! Exposing the treason! Foiling the declaration of martial law! Really Christopher. I thought you fancied yourself a modern day Guttersnipe? Not a stooge for the ….well… let us not use antiquated names eh?’
I unhooked my laptop and slung it under my arm. We strolled out nonchalantly to avoid upsetting the happy warriors. ‘After tonight’s news. If I see that you have really screwed Wellus House and delivered the No Confidence Vote then I will hand over everything including my handler in Old Gildagad House who might also be interfacing with the rogue militia. Otherwise ,you can hack all you want. My laptop has a failsafe self destruct. And I am not bluffing. I want a way out. Visa to New York. Or else London. I fancy the Docklands. But not an exit off the roof of Wellus House Havens or else death by spontaneous combustion in some shot out in some dark and dismal place! You know I dislike dark and dismal places!’
‘Why did you volunteer to play the blackguard to double cross us Christopher?’ Miss Smithiton asked as we strolled toward Motlam. From an upper window in Old Gildagad House I saw a red dot in a window. Then a red dot danced between me and the organizer of the Occupy Protests.
‘I did not think you were for real’ I replied. ‘Arab Springs did not end well. Syria is a blood bath. Hard core dictators like the Saudi never go down. And most revolutions just replace tyrants with tyrants. And only the good die young. Evil almost always wins and they live in towering skyscrapers that touch the Shining Plains of High Heaven. That is pretty much as close to Heaven as anyone probably gets. A red dot of a laser sight danced on Miss Smithiton by the angle was such that she did not see it. ‘And ‘blackguard’ is such an old cliche!’ I added.
‘You are not wearing a wire are you?’ she asked incredulous. ‘Please! I have a wire detector! You are not transmitting!’
‘No a feed to a private e web site. Automatic time delay feed unless manually stopped. You need to give me a head’s start or else you will be outed in four hours.’
‘A bluff!’ she said. Suddenly she saw the dancing red dot of the laser. ‘You or me?’ She spun around as the bullet hit her right through one lense of her dark goggles. The force of the bullet threw her down as the goggles shattered. She fell to the ground, face up in the icy mud, one still intact abnormally pale eye sightless in a face of abnormally pallid skin dotted by livid red freckles and pre-cancerous lesions from allergies to the sun. Her gasmask still filtered fresh air and spores she was allergic to but she no longer needed any defense against the non toxic environment of the non industrialized world minus even toxic smug because of recent clear air regulations passed over the objections of Wellus House.
I ran through the crowd as everyone ran toward the murder scene. Then I ran down Pepper Street to the Block & Pulley Tube and vanished in thousands of commuters before her security guards could catch me. I type this as I ride the underground train as the stares of every passenger prick me as if I still had a conscience to be pricked.