The Victim

Chapter Four: Victory

At all costs

Allow me to fast-forward again. My victory against the unions received national attention. I was praised as a “staunch chief” by newspapers written for newspaper writers. The party offered me the chance to run for senator, and I took it. I was elected without much trouble and have already served four years. I still have two left to go. My exploits as senator are their own, separate story. If I had included it here, you wouldn’t have the time to finish it all. Anyway, I’ve made a lot of powerful friends and enemies, fought to push legislation and followed party line, like all senators. But I’ve also tried to stand out by not being technologically backwards. For example, by asking good questions during senate hearings of technological tycoons. Except during the hearing of my friend from school, where I helped her avoid investigation as much as I could.

You see, I’ve told you so many things about myself you probably think I’m the most important person in my story. Well, that is actually my friend from school. Her private technological company that provides information about social media to other companies (and government agencies, but don’t go around saying that) has made her a prominent technology leader. What started as a tool to help spread tol’s message has far surpassed both our dreams. Of course there’s still tol, which grows by the day. Although not all its members are strictly-speaking “human.”

I mean, I don’t know much about computer science and still I got the hang of what she explained to me. There’s so many data on how actual social media users behave that you can emulate them properly by now. Millions of bots that tweet and act like people are crawling through the web, posting opinions and replying to other people and bots. I’m sure we’ll eventually converge to a situation where all social media traffic comes from bots hosted on a second-world server they share with the popular game of the moment.

The specifics are not important. What matters is that she’s become relevant and wealthy. So much that she’s going to run as one of the liberal candidates for the next presidential campaign. And guess who’s running with her? Yes, we dreamed of this when we were young, of becoming president and vice-president, together. Now it’s starting to look like something real. We have power, money and some support. But that’s just the cake. The icing on top is that the last president, a conservative, was ousted from office after a corruption scandal.

The other candidates are not… well, you know, not exactly charming or impressive or persuasive. At least the ones we know of. Though there’s still a month to prepare before we begin campaigning. Also, I’ve told you so much stuff about her and me that I forgot to mention what other things have happened, even before the strike nightmare. After two rough moments with four major shootings that left over 256 dead and many more injured in total, the lawmakers really stepped it up, helped by a surge of support from social media.

First, assault-style rifles were strictly banned. The conservatives couldn’t really oppose this as their only use was to kill children— which is what they were used for. A few months later, background checks before buying a gun were greatly increased. The last liberal administration spent billions in a new federal bureaucracy that decides who gets guns and who doesn’t. Additional gun-control laws essentially banned anything beyond pistols and shotguns.

To most people, this shows how civilized we are. To me, it signals something far more realistic and important. The right is weak, weaker than it’s probably ever been. They are slowly being pummeled into submission. The things they defend, like guns and religion, make less and less sense as we move forward in time. This. This combined with the last president being impeached is what makes me so sure that it’s our time. She and I have spent decades working hard, making allies, accumulating influence. More than that. We have done what was necessary at every step. We have stopped before nothing to get to this point.

Of course, it has come at a price. She is my only true friend. The rest of people are either “useful” or “dangerous.” The friends I used to have are all dead, some of them by my hand. My daughter is afraid of me. She’s studying in a boarding school abroad right now, and it wasn’t even my idea. When she stayed with me, her stomach ached and she didn’t want to talk to me. I realized some time ago that she will never love me, so I’ve made my peace with it. On the holidays, she only visits my friend from school. But my daughter barely speaks to me.

In fact nobody speaks to me in confidence but my friend from school. What about my rock you ask? She’s my assistant, not my friend. She is as loyal as can be. Hell, I have no doubt she’ll work for me until one of us dies. But we don’t have intimacy. I spend a lot of hours each day surrounded by people. They want my opinion, help or advice. Some I can bear, but others… It’s not like before. I’ve always heard the voice on the back of my head, whispering things. “That’s all bulls-word,” “He should drop dead right now,” and much, much worse. I mean, I guess that’s normal.

But now it’s getting out of hand. The more time I spend without actually talking to anyone, the louder and more violent the voices get. They scream “No. No. No. All she’s saying isn’t right! Die. Die!” I can’t help it. I feel a strong contempt for others. I don’t care about their lives, I don’t like their opinions. Still I keep my smiling mask on like I have since I was a child. But that mask, that mask is beginning to crack. And I-I don’t know what will happen if it breaks.