Short Story: “Insinuation”

Being self-aware is the best defense against being manipulated by others.

by P. Orin Zack

Corie Tarlner was livid. “How dare you use the cold-blooded murder of thousands of innocent people to jump-start that traitorous ex-president’s so-called ‘Religion of the Masses’!”

Corie had spent years piecing together the dark purpose behind the sequence of events and projects that the ruling cabal had contrived or underwritten for well over half a century. She wasn’t about to back down just because the trail led her right to the door of the self-proclaimed savior of corporate hegemony. The man quavering a few inches from her nose was hardly responsible for all the crap she’d uncovered, but he’d volunteered to speak for those who were. Barry Jurdens was the latest public relations flak to front for what Corie considered the worst brand of malevolence since Torquemada ran the Spanish Inquisition, and she had cornered him in one of the back rooms of a seedy sex shop he frequented.

“Miss Tarlner.” His voice was low, and tightly controlled. “I suggest that you refrain from making slanderous accusations. Or would you prefer to visit your family at a Federal Detention Center?”

“That would be your reaction, wouldn’t it? After all, their worst nightmare would be for someone to expose the real reason why ‘ground zero‘ has been treated like holy ground from the moment the twin towers were turned to dust. Well, fortunately for me, your little hideout caters to high rollers with a privacy fetish. That’s why I chose it. You have no witnesses – unless someone’s peeking through that glory hole — and I have a little something to threaten your sorry ass with as well.”

He blinked nervously. “Oh?”

“That’s right. Or did you think that blackmail was the sole prerogative of the self-annointed ruling class you work for?”

“You’re bluffing.”

“Ask your daughter about her new friend. Now, as I was saying, Mr. Jurdens, your masters are convinced that they can fabricate whatever perverted reality they want by stage-managing the beliefs and experiences of the masses. Destroying the twin towers was more than just the catalyzing event they needed to seize power in this country. They’d started planning that mythic event long before ground was even broken for the Pentagon. I mean, really, do they actually think nobody would notice that the outer ring of their power palace was punctured on the anniversary of the day it was set up?”

He laughed derisively. “That’s a pretty tenuous connection. Just because it was targeted by the same people that hijacked–”

“You can forget trying to convince me that those patsies were anything other than cover for their false-flag hit. It wasn’t even a well-run scam. The people who laid out the plans for the Pentagon needed it in a specific location, and went to a lot of trouble to make sure it was built there. As far as the world knew, it was nothing more than the home base for the US military, and that its shape grew out of the in fighting among the various branches. But a five-pointed star has other, far more interesting uses, and one of the things you do when you complete a ritual is to break your working space. The Tomahawk cruise missile that really pierced the outer ring was a metaphoric stand-in for a different kind of blade.”

Jurdens crossed his arms and hardened his stance. “You followed me in here to feed me that tripe? I suppose the next thing you’ll tell me is that Oswald didn’t kill Kennedy.”

“He didn’t. But you’re missing the point.”

“The point?” he said, louder. “The only point you’ve made is that you’re an unbalanced conspiracy theorist with a penchant for stalking. I could smear you in my sleep. It wouldn’t matter if you’d stumbled on the story of the millennium. Nobody is going to believe a word you say, even if you do find an outlet foolish enough to repeat it. Emotional reactions are easy to manage, and you’ve just stepped into a minefield you’ll never escape.”

“It’s not me that will need to escape it. It’s you.”

“Now I know you’re crazy. What have I got to worry about?”

Corie smiled. “The most dangerous person for your masters is someone on the inside with a reason to take them down. And you’re about to have that reason.”

“Oh. So you’re going to hit me with this great revelation of yours, and then I’m supposed to fall all over myself trying to spread your so-called gospel? No thanks. I’ve had enough of your games, so if you’ll excuse me, I have an appointment to get to.”

He turned and reached for the door.

“You could smear me,” she said to his back, “but do you have the stomach to smear yourself?”

Jurdens opened the door a few inches, and then stopped. “Smear myself?”

“That’s right. Because if you go to that appointment, that’s exactly what they’ll ask you to do.”

He turned. “You know about my appointment?”

“I do. I also know that the religion they want you to shill for will do for Christianity what that religion did for the ones that preceded it: smear it, and everyone who practices it.” A heartbeat later, she added, “Or, in your case, professes to.”

The door clicked shut behind him.

“Okay. First I want to know how long you’ve been stalking me. I’ve been in the business of manipulating people’s minds long enough to know that all it takes to enfold someone in a comforting sham is knowledge of whatever deep framing supports their world view.”

Corie didn’t say anything for almost ten seconds. Long enough, she knew, for his deeper emotions to surface, and for his heart to quicken. Waiting wasn’t her usual pattern, but she’d practiced the scene endlessly, and knew it was important to pull him out of his comfort zone.

“Not long. Three months was all it took to make your patterns. But I didn’t come here to out you to your homophobic masters. All that would accomplish is to have you replaced. No, I want you to keep your job. I want you to keep it so you can start manipulating the puppet-masters. If they’re ever going to be brought down, it will have to be done right. And you’re the person to do it.”

Jurdens turned his palms up. “Are you going to make your point, or don’t you have one?”

“It’s this. Everything they’ve done for over a century has been focused on changing the foundations of the belief system on which this nation was founded. The gang of shopkeepers that met in Philadelphia laid it out in the first few words of the Constitution: ‘We the People’. It was all about individuals, about how a group of like-minded people could come together to constitute a government intended to protect those individuals from the trading empire that confronted them with the weapons of commerce and of war.

“By the time of the Civil War, the people wielding the real power in this country had decided that our vaunted founders were wrong, and that the only way to counter the aggregated power of the groups that stood in their way was to transform this nation from one based on individual liberty to one based on corporate liberty. That was why they finagled their way into getting corporations recognized as people before the law. It was their wedge, their foot in the door.

“What they accomplished by sacrificing the people in the twin towers was to strip the people in this country of their individuality. That morning, on the anniversary of their own formal birth as a hidden military government, in the crucible of unthinking rage against an ill-defined enemy that they generated with the complicity of the media they controlled, they forged the basis for what they are about to ask you to do for them.”

He stood transfixed. “A rousing speech. Does it ever end?”

Corie smiled. “Ambiguity. Good. That means the deepest part of you is seriously entertaining my challenge.”

“I meant your rant. And you still haven’t told me what any of this has to do with the new Church. If, in fact, that’s what my meeting is really about.”

“Oh, it is. I’m certain of that. They’re about to take a page out of Senator Joe McCarthy‘s playbook. Party membership is about to require Church membership. They laid the groundwork for the change with something so simple, so innocuous, that those who didn’t accept it without a second thought were ridiculed for being insufficiently patriotic. The word they used was ‘traitor’, and all over the simple matter of wearing a red, white and blue lapel pin. Yet even that was planned out in advance, using veterans’ organizations to get people used to the idea of equating that symbolic gesture with something as basic as honoring your country.

“The job they will ask you to do is simple. Craft a campaign to turn that patriotic fervor into a religious one. Get the cowed masses to report regularly to their newly built sanctuaries. You might know them by the cover story you’ve been fed, as Federal Detention Centers, the fortresses built and staffed to enormous profit by the same corporations that have benefited so well from the so-called War on Terror. Anyone who resists – and there will be plenty — will be branded as the newest kind of infidel, fated to be tortured, murdered, and used to threaten whoever’s left standing. They’ve lusted after Armageddon. Now they’re making their own. And you’re the lucky man to make it all possible.”

He stood very still.

“For you,” she said finally, “it could be just another day’s work. You could take your pay, and play at being their pet monkey. Or… you could use your skill to poison their plans, to make it seem like their plan is working, while hiding the seeds of their destruction with the words that make them happy. As Bulwer-Lytton wrote in his play about Cardinal Richelieu, ‘the pen is mightier than the sword‘. Only this time, that pen is in your hand’s, not Thomas Jefferson’s.”

Corie was weak, drained. Her breath came in broken gasps, and she nervously avoided even looking at Jurdens.

Then, wordlessly, he turned and left.

Copyright 2008 by P. Orin Zack


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