Wednesday, June 1, 2011

FLASH FICTION FRIDAY, CYCLE 33: BEHIND THE MASK

Such an intriguing prompt this week: Conspiracy Theories. We were to take a conspiracy theory from the lists here or here and write a story where our main character discovers it is real. The genre could be any and the word count of 1,000. This was so much fun to just let the story go its own way, as conspiracy theories often do. I hope you enjoy seeing what's Behind The Mask.

BEHIND THE MASK

I couldn’t breathe. I knew cameras covered every angle in my area, but I had to take the risk. I placed some correspondence over the memorandums I had received and turned into the corner and pretended to cough uncontrollably. Dropping the top of the stack, I balled up the memos and stuffed them into my pocket. When I felt they would not be readily noticed, I picked up the letters from the floor and placed them on the table. Still feigning the need to cough, I headed for the Men’s Room down the hall. The guard outside the file room had heard me and asked if I needed anything. I told him I was going to splash some water on my face and I’d be back in a jif. He went back to his magazine.

My name is Martin Jeoffries and I work as a government file clerk. It used to matter which agency I worked for, but it no longer does, since everything I’ve ever known and trusted has ceased to exist--or perhaps never really did. Let me explain.

My job is to file routine, non-classified correspondence. Mixed in with my morning’s run was a batch of memorandums to and from individuals unknown to me. That, however, is of no consequence. What sent me reeling was the directives within those memos. ‘Someone’ was telling ‘someone’ to devalue the currency of so-and-so province, initiate armed conflict between Country A and Country B and insure Country B’s debilitating loss, arrange the assassination of such-and-such Premier, you get the idea. They went on and on, detailing horrific schemes and deadly encounters, not just in the US, but in various countries throughout the world. Someone with access, or a change of heart, was using me to reveal the truth.

I used to think those who believed in conspiracy theories were whackos, but here was one I could no longer deny. Government functioning was orchestrated by a shadow faction located who knows where. Just because the memos found their way here didn’t mean the writers and recipients were. Regardless. What the hell was I supposed to do now?

I finished my day, the memos still on my person, and went to my friend Ray’s. I’d known Ray for 15 years and trusted him with my life. He told me to contact Jack Simon, Editor of the Free Times to set up a meet and hand over the papers. Ray would go with me to make sure I felt safe. I called Jack at his office, gave him an overview of the documents in my possession, and set the meeting for Friday at 10pm at our local park. True, it was deserted at that hour, but in this town, there was no safer area. All I had to do was wait two more days.

When Ray and I arrived, Jack was already there, sitting on one of the picnic tables. He appeared anxious and held out his hand to me.

“This is big, Martin. I can’t wait to see those memos. No one else knows about them besides Ray, correct?”

“Absolutely not, Jack.“ I knew we’d made the right decision. “I’ve told no one else and Ray’s the only one I’ve shown them to. Here’s all eleven of them. What now?”

I gave him the memos and he put them in his pocket and lit a smoke. His enthusiasm seemed to have evaporated. He turned to my friend of 15 years and told him to shoot me. I wondered why I hadn’t had any prior symptoms since I’d obviously developed a malignant brain tumor.

“Shoot me? Ray? What’s he talking abo…”

As I turned to face Ray, I saw him remove a handgun from his coat pocket and point it directly at my face. Before confronting Ray, I decided to get some answers from our esteemed gentleman of the press.

“I don’t understand. You are known as a speaker of the truth. People provide you with info on illegal goings-on and you expose them. I’d heard you’re afraid of no one and that you believe people have the right to honesty.”

“You’re a funny guy, Martin. I find it hard to believe anyone could be that na├»ve. No, I’m not afraid of anyone. Why should I be? I’m protected, and advised on just how much ‘honesty’ I’m permitted to print. I’m also paid well to perform a duty that I strongly believe in.”

“Martin, your problem is that you believe government should be of the people and by the people, but we both know that’s not a workable scenario,” Ray piped in. “James Madison once said that ‘you must first enable the government to control the governed, and in the next place, oblige it to control itself’. He led the way.

People are inherently mindless sheep, Martin, and prefer to remain so. If the general population was not strongly guided, the world would be in a state of uncontrolled chaos. When media, economy and even armed conflicts have been thoroughly scripted, the chaos is controlled and monitored. It’s the only way this can all work, Martin, the only way.”

I felt like I was trapped in a bad horror movie.

“If you were one of them anyway, why get me here to kill me? Why not just shoot me when I told you I wanted to go public with all this?”

“We had to be certain that you hadn’t shared your information with anyone else or made any copies of the memorandums,” Jack explained.

“What about whoever sent these to me?“ My last attempt at reason. “If I disappear, he or she will just forward more of this garbage to whoever replaces me.”

“Not to worry, Martin,” Ray screwed on the silencer, chambered a round, and aimed the gun at my chest. “We’ve already identified that individual, and he took early retirement with no notice. Funny. Right now, that seems to be the popular course to follow, since that’s what you’re going to do. Too.”

8 comments:

  1. Joyce, this was an enjoyable read (even for someone who has recently taken 'early retirement'! ;-p) - the scary thing is realising you can't really trust anybody!! There must be government 'departments' who limit/distort information so that the rest of us feel we can sleep safely in our beds at night! :-o

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  2. I always brace myself when reading your stories to try and figure out where the twist is. I have to admit I suspected Ray as soon as you mentioned him but, he said he trusted the man with his life and had known him for 15 years. With friends like him you need not have enemies. Nice write as usual!

    L Turner

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  3. It would be real nice to think nothing like this could ever happen. But no matter how much I want to believe that I figure this is one conspiracy that could very well be true.

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  4. I don't want to generalize but in fact people who believe in conspiracy theories are, in fact, wackos.

    Actually it's all a big government cover up. People have been working behind the scenes to make it look like these people are intelligent, when in fact...

    The greatest conspiracy of them all is the one that gives credence to these loons.

    great piece of fiction - I enjoyed it.

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  5. You capture the paranoia attendant on discovering a conspiracy theory really well. Your use of detail is extremely effective here to counterbalance the unreality of the situation, nicely told.

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  6. Double crossing best mates, conspiracies, and top class writing, Joyce. You nailed this with flying colours. Well done!

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  7. SMASHING READ! (I'm thinking of trademarking that... haha!)

    Excellent story, Joyce! You have taken a truly frightening subject and made it seem even more real. And, the idea that even one's most trusted and close friend could turn on you... chilling!

    I didn't see Ray turning on his friend, and the idea that a true "voice of truth" is only a puppet makes one wonder if "hope" is something they should no longer have, and justice is served only by the self-serving.

    Goosebumps all over reading this... you truly set the bar, Joyce!

    I am in awe!

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  8. Very chilling tale, very well told! I particularly like the unresolved ending. Obviously the narrator has not been killed YET, but does he escape? I don't see how. Excellent job.

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