Author Topic: The Hate Network  (Read 89 times)

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The Hate Network
« on: November 17, 2022, 12:22:52 AM »
"Welcome back to the Hate Network. I'm Mal Content, host of Us Vs Them, and I'm glad to be joined by my very skilled colleagues for this special group podcast: Bishop Odium from A New Aversion, Anita Break from No Masks Allowed, and HeisenBurger, from Need to Feed. If you're just joining us, you can catch up on what you've missed by downloading our podcast on TheHateNetwork.com, or by rewinding on our streaming service."

Max spoke the words with practiced ease, as his teammates nodded at him from across the internet. He had no idea where all of them actually were in real life, and he didn't care. As long as their connections stayed stable, and their equipment kept them broadcasting clearly, then today should be just another day at work.

"Just before the break, we were getting started on the recent school shooting at Stony Bridge High, in Tall Pines, VA. If you hadn't heard, the as-yet unidentified gunman entered the school around ten am local time, and shot up the place before turning the gun on himself. Twelve students were killed and another forty were injured. A teacher was also killed; apparently as his first victim. This marks the twentieth American high school shooting in the last year, and the most deadly one in the state so far. I know I have my comments to make, but does anyone want to jump in here?"

Anita leaned forward to her mic. "I do, Mal. It's clear to everyone by now that if just anyone can walk into a school and turn it into a shooting range, we've got a serious problem in this country. From what I've heard, Stony Bridge has armed security in place at the school entrances! The kids are put through metal detectors at the doors, and their backpacks are required to be see-through. Obviously, the Virginia Department of Education's security measures haven't been working. There's only one solution: arm the teachers! Hell, arm the students themselves if that will help!" She sighed angrily. "Imagine if you're some nutjob and you walk into a classroom intending to shoot the place up, and then a hailstorm of bullets from every kid in the room blasts away at the door? You'd back off in a hurry, I'm sure."

Bishop chuckled from his position on the top right of the screen. "There would have to be some safety precautions of course, but it would make an effective deterrent. It wouldn't even be that hard to implement on a state-wide level. Just add marksmanship training to all teachers, and to select students, to make sure that they're all safe. The only way to stop a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun, after all."

"Yeah, but how would you control the students if they're all armed?" HeisenBurger added, moving slightly in front of his food-themed background. "What, are we supposed to put guns in lunchboxes, or put a vending machine with different kinds of bullets in it, in one of the halls?"

"No, no," Bishop clarified. "The guns would be on the school grounds at all times. I was thinking the teacher could have a remote control that could unlock the holsters and allow the students to pull the guns out and aim them. A simple modification to every desk would do it. Young kids may not be a particularly good shot, but there's something to be said for mass-fire tactics. This is America: if we shoot something enough, it's guaranteed to die."

Max chuckled, but had to speak up at this point as well. "Just to be clear for our audience. We are not officially endorsed by any organization, despite our stances and opinions. I have to say that for legal reasons, but everyone listening probably knows that a certain association, on the national level, that deals with rifles, is one of the groups that keeps us all platformed here. I'd like to take this opportunity to thank them. Unofficially."

"Hear, hear," Bishop followed up, and the others made noises of agreement as well.

Max looked at his watch, and then nodded to his camera. "It's about that time. We're about to open up our lines to callers, or streamers, to ask questions. Remember, you can ask anything, but we don't have to answer everything. According to this, our first caller is Jim, from Sacramento. Hey, Jim."

"Uh, hi. Can you hear me?"

"I can. How're you doing this fine day?"

The voice on the other end was a little gravelly, but it still came through just fine. "I'm ok, I guess. I got a little problem here, and I was hoping you could help me work through it."

Max smiled. He wasn't really gratified, but he'd found his expression did make its way into his voice, and the audience could often tell. He'd developed the habit early on, when he'd just been audio. Now that he was on camera, it was a good habit to keep. "That's why we're here. Tell us what's on your mind."

"Well, it's my son. We've always been close, right from the beginning. I used to take him fishing, or we'd go for long walks up in the mountains. Sometimes for days at a time. He would collect leaves and bugs for his collection, and he always made sure they were perfectly preserved. After that first time, anyway."

Max tapped his finger impatiently off-camera. "And?" He prompted.

"And he went off to college last year. His mom died when he was four, so it's just been the two of us for a long time. When he got back for the break, things seemed normal. Until yesterday morning... when he told me he was gay."

Ah, so that's where he was going with all this. "And this bothers you?"

"No! Well, not really. I don't have a problem with Anderson Cooper, or Ellen DeGeneres, or any of those others on the TV. I just didn't expect my son to be one of them! I- I didn't know what to say to him. I just walked out. Haven't seen him since yesterday."

Max cast a meaningful glance at the rest of his colleagues. "Do you want me to take this?"

Bishop nodded at him, along with the others. "All yours, Mal."

"Well, Jim. The first thing I need to make clear is that you don't need to justify anything to us. You don't need to explain your reactions, or defend them. You don't need to wear a mask, as Anita could certainly tell you. You can be yourself here. Understood?"

"I think so, yeah."

"Good. We're not like all those other talking heads on more mainstream podcasts. We won't tell you only what you want to hear. We're here to help you acknowledge the truth to yourself. That way you can make the right decision, both for you and for your son. Now: you walked out on him when he told you. Are you absolutely sure this wasn't some kind of joke or prank on his part?"

"One hundred percent," Jim responded fervently. "He even talked about... meeting someone at college. This was no joke."

"I see."

"I just always had this plan in mind for him, you know?" Jim went on, somewhat oblivious, but Max let him do so. It was better that he say it out loud for himself and for the audience. "I figured he'd meet some nice girl, and eventually get married. He'd get a good job, hopefully somewhere nearby, and settle down to start a family. He'd have kids who had a better life than he did. Grandkids I could be proud of."

"But that'll never happen now, will it?"

"Maybe. I mean he could just be confused. I've heard of that happening in college, sometimes. There are treatments for this sort of thing, aren't there? I read about that this morning."

Max shook his head firmly. "Conversion therapy simply doesn't work, Jim. I'm sorry. Whether we just don't have the right methods yet, or there are none that could work, I don't know. It's been proven again and again, though. Gay people hate us for even trying to help them, so it's not worth exploring. You'll have to deal with him on these terms."

"I don't know how! I love my son, or I'm supposed to, anyway. But this, I can't deal with it."

"You hate the fact that he's gay."

There was a long silence over the air, and Max let it hang for a few seconds beyond normal. "You don't have to censor yourself here, Jim. Remember, you're free to be open and honest about how you feel. Our audience understands that, or they wouldn't be here listening to us. No judgement. You hate the fact that your son is gay. Don't you?"

"Yes... I do. I hate it. My son is supposed to be like me. He's supposed to be a better version of me, not a worse one! Everything I gave him- everything I sacrificed for him, and this is how he repays me? It's not right!"

Max knew that tone of voice very well. Right now Jim, or whoever he really was, was shedding the cultural civility he'd put on like a cloak every day. He was admitting to himself how he really felt, and not choking down the wrongness of it in his mind, as so many had been forced to do. "I heard a new word a long time ago, Jim. Embracist. It doesn't exactly fit your situation, but it is comparable. You have to accept your hatred so that you can know what to do next. Lying to yourself only makes it worse for you in the long run. Embrace how you feel instead of shoving it down deep so that people won't judge you. No one here will judge you."

He gave a meaningful look at Anita- not an easy task over a group chat- and she took his cue smoothly. "We all hate what we don't understand, Jim. It's written into our DNA. Whatever is different from us is the 'other', and our ancestors learned the hard way that what's different could kill them! There's a reason they treated the 'other' badly, and it was to protect themselves. You and your son are different in this way- different in a way that can't be reconciled. It's only natural that you hate him for it. Hatred is normal for everyone. After all, we'll never feel love if we can't also feel hate, right?"

Inwardly, Max marveled at her rationalizations. Anita had been at the Hate Network longer than him, and had developed an impressive skill at talking people into admitting their biases and bigotries openly. Part of it was the welcoming atmosphere, and the anonymity, but another part of it was her. And the fact that she was a woman, which helped more than she probably liked to admit.

"But what do I do about it? I mean why would he even tell me? He knows how I feel- I taught him how to deal with those people years ago!"

Max nodded his thanks over to Anita, and took over again. "Sadly, I've heard this sort of story before, Jim. In my experience, gay people usually come out to their families for the same reason you walked out on him. They hate us. He hates you, just as you hate him, for being different. It's in his DNA just like it's in yours. Most likely, he told you because he can't stand being around you anymore. He wants out of your life, but he was too much of a coward to just say so."

"I... I can't believe it! We were so close when he was growing up!"

"What other explanation is there? Why else would he hurt you like this, if not to push you away? He wants to be with another man, and he knows you're too different to ever accept that, so he hurt you."

"You know what you have to do," HeisenBurger put in. "He struck first, like the coward that he is, but you can't let this stand. You have to put him in his place, or you'll never be able to respect yourself or your values ever again!"

"We would all do the same," Bishop lied, adding his own two cents. "We all recognize that sometimes, a man has to make the hard choice. The moral choice. If he wants to get away so badly, just let him. You deserve to be rid of him if he hates you that much."

Max wasn't sure Bishop was lying, actually. None of the hosts were supposed to know each others' real names, or any details about their real lives. Max had no idea if Bishop was opposed to gay people, or even if he was one. But inclusiveness and tolerance didn't sell well in this market, so he had to repeat the company line. Jim still might go either way, but the chances he would fall in with this crowd- the Hate Network's audience- had gotten a lot better in the last few minutes. Then he'd be a more viable customer than a proud father would be.

"But... I'm supposed to love my son. No matter what. That's what it says in the Bible, right? 'For God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten Son,' and all that?"

Max chuckled. "I think this one is yours to answer, Bishop."

"No kidding," he responded wryly, and adjusted his mic for a moment. "Jim, it's important to remember that the Bible we know today is nothing like the original works written down thousands of years ago. It's been translated, and retranslated, and reimagined, and rewritten so many times that it's almost impossible to know what the original words were! The oldest references we have are the Leningrad Codex and the Dead Sea Scrolls, and they were written hundreds of years after the death of Christ! They cover the Hebrew Bible only, which we know as the Old Testament now. So, logically, the further back in the Bible's story we go, the closer we get to the original truth of the words."

Max leaned back, enjoying the verbal tapestry Bishop was weaving. A New Aversion was a religious podcast, so he definitely knew what he was talking about.

"I take it you're a man of faith?" He asked gently, probably not to seem too pushy with his information.

"Of course. Church every Sunday; special services on Christmas and Easter. I almost went into the seminary myself."

"Then you know what I mean about the Bible's translations. Most people think of the New Testament God as a benevolent figure. A loving father, protecting his children, and a beloved son, sacrificing his life for them. Touching, right? But when we look back, to the more accurate versions of the Bible, we see a different story. We see a wrathful God. A hateful God. He made the angels, and then when one showed even the slightest independent streak, sent him to the literal Hell. He flooded the whole world, saving only a handful of people in the process. He blasted two cities off the face of the Earth, and killed a woman for even daring to look while it happened. He forced his favorite child, Abraham, to sacrifice his son Isaac, and then stopped him at the last moment because it was just a sadistic test of his faith. He protected Abraham and his children for a while, but then allowed them to be enslaved in Egypt! He arranged for them to escape, and then ordered them to slaughter the inhabitants of the Holy Land so that they could take the land for themselves! Does any of that sound like a loving God to you?"

"He did what he had to, right? He had to make way for the chosen few. The worthy ones."

"Yes, the ones he didn't hate. The truth is, God is just like us. He loves some people and hates others. The evidence is all over the Bible, even in the heavily-rewritten New Testament. Why do you think he ordered Jesus to get up on that cross? Modern so-called scholars would have you believe it was to save all of us, but does this world look saved to you? Are we any nicer or kinder to each other now than we were back in those days? As a people, have we gotten better or worse, since Gethsemane?"

Bishop shook his head slowly. "No, I believe God hated Jesus. Maybe he was jealous because Jesus had so many devoted followers, or maybe he couldn't stand all the self-righteous yammering about love and brotherhood. Either way, we are made in God's image. We have the same hatred within us, and it's valuable. It gives us strength and purpose sometimes, when we need it most."

The back-and-forth went on for a few more minutes, but Max didn't pay much attention. Whether Jim was swayed one way or the other didn't really matter in the long run. What mattered was the audience.

Culled from the audiences of more 'restrained' Youtubers and conservative talk show hosts, these were the most open of all that crowd. Some groups like white supremacist or white nationalist organizations had a massive following, but this audience was more general in nature. They weren't devoted to one cause or another so much as they were devoted to the very nature of that anger. Like Anita's show name suggested, none of these people were wearing any masks or tinted glasses anymore. They were at ease with their hatred, and Max knew from experience just how free it could make them.

-.-

Their next caller was using a voice scrambler. They were using a round-robin method of answering, so it was Bishop who got him. He gave a surprised look to the others when he heard the caller greet them.

"This is good to hear," he said appreciatively. "What you're all hearing is the Hate Network Voice Disguiser, available in our store as we speak. It's been thoroughly tested, and it'll keep both your own voice and background noise from being recognizable, by even the most rigorous reconstruction software. Thank you for showcasing it for us, Jim."

It was a different Jim from before. All callers knew the rules, including the part about anonymity. All male voices were Jim, and all female ones were Jane. This one gave a slight noise, possibly a clearing of the throat. "Not a problem, Bishop."

"I take it you want to talk to one of us in a private channel? And you've looked up which of us specializes in what?"

"Yes. I'm here to talk to Mal."

"I'm here for you, Jim," Max spoke up immediately. "Everyone else, I'll be back shortly. Try not to wither and despair too much in my absence."

Over the rustle of amusement, Max pulled up the enhanced encryption protocol on his computer. He isolated Jim's feed, and transferred it into the new secure line, cutting himself off from the rest of the group chat. Now it was just him and his voice-scrambled friend. "Looks like we're all clear. What can I do for you?"

"I want to kill a politician."

Max smiled. "Don't we all. I take it you have someone specific in mind? Don't tell me who if so."

"Yes, and I wasn't going to. I know the rules."

"Good. Now, do you want to get away with it, or do you want to get caught, to send a message?"

The other man paused. "Send a message?"

"Yeah. Like the people in Tibet who light themselves on fire in protest to China. They're not just trying to stop oppression. They also want to make a statement in the process."

"Oh. No, I want to get away with it. I've got a life to get back to."

"Understandable. It'll cut down on success chances, but it's a lot safer. Do you want the target to just die, or to suffer first?"

"Uh, whichever is more likely to work."

"Quick death it is. Does the target have any kind of security detail you need to work around? Usually the more popular politicians have enough money to hire private security."

"I don't think so. I've never seen any at the rallies."

"That doesn't mean there isn't any. Obviously I can't check for you, not without finding out who it is, but there are ways around that. I take it your target has a campaign office, and staff?"

"Yeah, in town. I've never been there."

"You'll have to change that. All political campaigns have similar traits. They're paid for by the politician's donors, but the campaign organizer chooses the staff. Usually they're cheap as hell, hiring barely-paid interns to work alongside the volunteers. I can talk you through identifying one of them. They're usually treated like dirt too, so that'll make it easier to bribe them. I usually pretend to be working for a local news station, and offer them a little incentive to help me 'photograph' their candidate behind the scenes. Anything that gets press on the candidate makes it more likely that they'll be willing to help you."

"Why? What does some intern have to do with my guy?"

Max raised his eyebrows, thankful that he was no longer on any visual feed. "They'll have access to your guy's campaign schedule and events. If you want to get away with it, your best bet is either a bomb, put in place ahead of time, or a long-range sniper rifle. For both options, you'll need to know where he'll be. That way you can work around local surveillance, and have a better chance of being unnoticed. The bomb will have to be homemade so it'll be cheaper, but more risky. The rifle is harder to use, unless you have some experience firing one, but more likely to succeed."

"I'll go with the rifle. I've been shooting since I was five."

"Fair enough. You have a voice scrambler, so I assume you know about our 3d printer offers?"

"Yeah. I got one last month. Along with the, uh, resin, it uses to print stuff."

"That's good. We have a variety of sniper models available, of various ranges. A custom-built rifle could take the shot at over a mile, but something printed has a max range of about half that. Just to be safe, I'd take the shot from no further than 1200 or 1300 feet. Ammunition will be a bit trickier, but we can arrange to have it delivered to a general location and paid for using various cryptocurrencies."

"Why should I pay you for the 3d printed gun model when I can just download one myself from the dark web?"

Max gave his mic a strained look. "Because you don't know where those come from. The FBI tracks 3d gun prints on the internet. Chances are if you download one, they'll catch your IP address and be at your door in a few hours. Plus it probably won't even work. It's in their interest to tamper with the 3d model, to make sure that people like you don't get a chance to do your fine work."

There was another pause through the line. "Good point. Lemme look at your catalog for a bit. If I see something I like, I'll place an order."

"Sounds like a plan. I'll put you on mute, so send me a text when you're ready, or if you have any questions, all right?"

The Jim made a noncommittal noise in response, and Max just shrugged. Leaving his new friend in the secured channel, Max connected to the group chat again. HeisenBurger was talking with a Jane, so he was careful not to interrupt.

Apparently this woman was a college student, living off-campus, and was having trouble with a noisy neighbor. She'd asked him to stop playing his music repeatedly, so that she could study or sleep, and he'd refused. They lived in adjoining apartments, and he was asking about the state of the roof.

"The last time you were up on the roof, did you see a vertical pipe?" Burger inquired patiently.

"I've never actually been on top there- that's the super's job. But yeah, I've seen a white pipe on the roof from the ground outside."

"Good. That's the mast connecting your building to the city power grid. The next time he's playing his music too loud for you to concentrate or sleep, you just have to knock that pipe off the roof. A small sledgehammer should do it just fine. We've got lots of options on THN's online store. It should take between four and six hours to fix, and can be done relatively quietly, if you're asleep."

"Won't they trace it to me?"

"From what you've said, there's no internal camera system in your building. Even if they do put one on the roof, we have ski masks as well. You should be fine, for the first 2 or 3 times. After that, if your neighbor still hasn't gotten the message, or moved out on his own, we have more aggressive options we can recommend."

"I'm sure you do," Jane said wryly, and a round of smiles passed across the assembled Hate Network hosts.

Burger went on. "Now if you need to study without power, that can be a bit trickier. We have coolers and ice trays that can keep any refrigerated food cold, but we also have power packs to keep laptops and desktops running. Is your internet local, or provided by your landlord?"

"It's my own. I installed it just after moving in."

"Then you'll need an internet hotspot or a phone that can use the internet. We have options for both, if you need it. We've got you covered, Jane."

Max heard a sigh from the other end. "It's good to know. I wish this wasn't necessary, but he's giving me no choice."

"Remember, you don't need to explain yourself to us. We all understand what you're going through, and we're here to help you get what you need. I hope your studies go well, Jane."

"Thanks, HeisenBurger."

After she disconnected, Burger looked back to the other hosts. "Another satisfied customer. Who do we have next?"

Bishop looked down at his screen. "We've got another Jane, calling from Minnesota this time. Hello, Jane. What can we do for you?"

"I've got a situation for Mal Content, actually," the voice came in. Like his own customer, her voice was heavily scrambled. Two disguised callers in one night: this was becoming increasingly common.

"Mal, are you available?" Bishop inquired.

Max checked his own customer's activity. He'd selected a 3d printed rifle model, and paid for it. The download was almost instantaneous, but Max forwarded him contact information for their 3d print weapons department, in case he needed to learn how to use it. He'd been shooting since childhood, but Max remembered that he'd fumbled over the word 'resin'. His client was clearly inexperienced with 3d printers. "I am now. What's your situation, Jane?"

The distorted voice came back strong. "I think my boyfriend is cheating on me. He's been late coming home three times just this week, and always has these vague excuses every time. I don't know what to do about it. Should I follow him after work, or ask his friends if they know anything? They're always hanging out together at night."

"Unless you have experience tailing people, it wouldn't be a good idea to investigate him, Jane," Max advised her. "Even if you can stay hidden, there's no guarantee he wouldn't see you. The same is true for asking his friends- they could tip him off that you're suspicious. The best way to handle the situation is to rely on your instincts."

"He's right," Bishop cut in briefly. "Everyone has a danger sense of sorts, built right into our genes. It's a self-defense mechanism we've developed over our lives, so that we aren't surprised by our enemies. We can ignore it, but it's best to just trust it."

Max wisely held his tongue during those words. Bishop may have overstepped by speaking out of turn, but it was best to let it slide and speak to him later in private. The audience didn't need to hear them bickering. "We all have senses and intuitions and instincts that are always churning right underneath our thoughts, Jane," he went on. "They warn us and protect us from being hurt, and they often work even when we're not aware of them. You suspect him because you're picking up guilt from him. He's wronged you, and you both know it on a subconscious level. That's why you first started suspecting him. As for what to do about it, that all depends on how much you hate him."

There was a pause from the other end. "But I don't hate him. I don't think I do, anyway."

"Of course you do; it's just a matter of degrees. If you didn't hate him enough to do something about it, you would have just brushed off his lateness and his excuses, and never even bothered to call us. Obviously, there's more to your suspicions.  As we said earlier, everyone hates what's different. Are there any obvious differences between you and your boyfriend? Big things that have maybe come between you before?"

"Well he's a black guy, so interracial stuff is always coming up. He's real close with his family, and they don't like me at all."

That was the crack in the armor, and Max could use it. "Was his race a part of what drew you to him in the first place?"

"A little, I guess."

"That's the thing about differences, especially in race. Exotic can be exciting, which is good in bed, but it's bad over the long haul. Sure, we like to taste the forbidden fruit, but digesting it can be a chore. Sometimes it's even poisonous to us. You tried to overcome your natural hatred of him initially, but now that you've been together for a while, you can see that it's not going to work. So can he: that's probably why he's been sleeping around on you."

"It's the same situation as that man and his son from before, Jane," Anita put in slowly, after waiting for Max to continue for a bit. "If the differences between two people are great enough, eventually they'll turn on each other. Your guy just struck first, is all."

"But what's wrong with me, if he had to go... somewhere else for that? Am I not good enough for him?"

Max tried to keep from rolling his eyes. "This isn't about what's wrong or right with you, remember. This isn't even your fault. This is about the divide between the two of you. Both of you could straddle it for a while, but he can't do it anymore. So he hurt you. He made a joke out of you. The white woman he slept with, and then cheated on with someone more suitable. The only question is what do you want to do about it? We get calls like this all the time, unfortunately."

That was true enough. In fact this call was sounding more than a little familiar. They got dozens of calls from wronged spouses, boyfriends and girlfriends, but there was a definite ring to this one.

"Most of our calls like this one deal with some kind of revenge. Sometimes its just a simple, eye-catching way to break up with the cheater, but other times it's more elaborate. You said he was close with his family. Do you think they know about his affair?"

"I doubt it," she said slowly. "They're all about Christian values. Even if they don't like me, they'd still tell me if they found out."

"Good. We can use that. You don't need to investigate him or find proof then. All you have to do is wait until the next family gathering you're at. Then you strike, and no one will blame you, because you'll be the victim in their eyes. Even his family will think so."

"What do you mean?"

On his laptop screen, Max scrolled down some of the talent they'd been able to acquire at the Hate Network. "We have a number of paid actors who are willing to drive a significant distance to help our clients. We have one woman- who's asked to be called Patrice- who is only a few hours away from Minnesota. If you tell her when and where to go, she can show up at your cheater's family gathering, baby in hand, and berate him in front of everyone for leaving her and their baby to fend for themselves."

Patrice really was one of a kind. How she could get a biracial baby like that to show off in such a way was still a mystery to him. He guessed that she had contacts in hospitals all around the world. That way if she knew when and where to go ahead of time, she could make a deal with some financially-destitute mother: let me borrow your several-day-old baby for a few hours for an acting role, and get a few hundred bucks for your trouble. Of course, from what Max had heard about Patrice, it was probably a little more complicated than that. She was a professional, after all.

"Whoa," Jane said faintly. "That's a bit much, don't you think?"

"What are the alternatives? The two of you are just too different; you'll end up breaking up anyway. Would you rather separate as the cheated-on girlfriend who got passed up for someone else? His friends will mock you, and congratulate him for trading up. Or would you rather see him suffer in front of people who matter to him instead? The first way you're just a victim. With our option you'll be vindicated, and given an ironclad reason to leave him."

There was a long pause, during which their prospective client was apparently making up her mind. Sometimes their callers chickened out and went for reconciliation, but most of the time they followed the Hate Network's advice and got revenge. Max was betting on the latter for this caller.

"Yeah, that's what I thought you'd say," Jane said, her voice changing slightly. She shut off the scrambler, and her natural tone came through clearly. "See, we've had this conversation before. I gave you these exact details three weeks ago, just in a different state, and you gave me the exact same advice."

Max gave a surprised look to the other hosts, but Jane went on before he could say anything. "The thing was, he was never cheating on me at all! He was arranging a private getaway for our anniversary! All those nights he was gone, he was out fixing up his uncle's boat so that we could use it to sail up north. I did what you told me to, and I freakin' paid one of your actors to show up. She put on a scene just like you planned, baby and everything, and the truth came out. Now he's not even speaking to me! He moved out entirely, and it's all your fault! Don't you have any shame at all? Any of you?"

Max laughed easily into his mic, and he could see the amusement in his colleagues. "There's no shame to be had, caller. You suspected him, and you called us. You knew deep down that you hated him, and your subconscious mind just told you that he was cheating on you. It was you who chose to use our services, and you who bear sole responsibility for it. If you hate us for that, fine, but at least be honest with yourself about it. And if you find out that you hate yourself because of it? At least you know what to do about that as well."

He disconnected her line casually, and turned back to his camera. "As most of you know, we get one or two of those every few months. They're just people who are unwilling to admit their own feelings. Unwilling to recognize their own hatred. They blame us for their actions, but the truth is we provide a valuable service to a lot of people. We're not just here to provide petty revenge, but to enable people to live their true lives. Unfortunately, not everyone can handle it."

"Well said, Max," Bishop responded, and Burger and Anita chimed in with their agreements.

"And on that somewhat uplifting note, I think we're done for now. As always, THN's online store is available 24/7 for your needs, and we have operators standing by for instructions on how to use some of the more, uh, complicated products we sell. Again, my sincere thanks to Bishop Odium, Anita Break and HeisenBurger for appearing on my show and offering your experience and passion to this process. Have an intense night, everyone!"

-.-

As usually happened when all four of them were online at the same time, the group stayed to chat for a few minutes after the broadcast was done. Max was the most recent addition of the four, and he'd known them for almost two years now. He considered them friends despite knowing so little about their real lives. It was an unfortunate part of the job.

Bishop was dominating the conversation, as was totally his style. "So Burger, I hear you're joining in on an FDA roast session next week. Got any predictions about which normies might show up?"

Normies was the word they used to describe 'normal' conservative talking heads. People who had very large followings because of their willingness to stoke fear and mistrust, but lacked the self-awareness to embrace their own bigotries. Normies had had a symbiotic relationship with the Hate Network for years now: the Network advised and supplied some of the normie supporters, in exchange, the normies kept funneling clients their way. Both sides thought the other was kinda deluded, but that didn't mean they couldn't be valuable to each other. In Burger's case, the normies would probably include so-called doctors like Dr. Oz or Dr. Phil. Not the originals of course, because they were far too expensive to book, but knockoff versions.

"I'll get the usual kooks I'm sure," Burger said predictably. "We're talking about the Covid vaccines again, so I'll probably hear a lot more about monoclonal antibodies, hydroxychloroquine, and ivermectin. It should be fun, once I convince everyone that I believe the FDA is filled with secret, uh, Jew-worshipping space lizards or something."

Anita snorted at that. "Normies'll believe anything to pretend they're good people. I heard someone say Fauci wears a lead-lined outfit, and carries plutonium around so he can irradiate people without putting himself at risk. How are ivermectin sales doing, anyway?"

Burger shrugged. "After that first spike, they've kind of leveled off a bit. Still, each of these anti-FDA appearances gives them a little boost. Ivermectin isn't an essential medicine like that anti-malarial everyone used to talk about, so we can get a lot more of it. Each time we advertise it, we have to tell people that it's not just horse medicine, though. It saves lives, we tell them, even as they're crapping out their stomach lining each time they take a dose. It's not just normies who will believe anything, trust me."

"You want company to this one?" Max offered suddenly. "I could show up anonymous and heckle the speakers just for fun. It is funny watching them twist themselves into knots trying to sell that stuff."

"Sure. We can private chat about how ridiculous they are. Just say something way out there like, 'Biden is really a genetically modified pygmy marmoset', so I know it's you."

Max smiled. "You got it. Oh, anyone get any interesting private chats this time around?"

Bishop shrugged. "I got a Catholic priest who's trying to convince himself it's God's will that he have sex with little boys. Not much profit in that, but I convinced him to look at some of our more exotic sex toys."

"I got a corporate exec, actually," Anita said. "Or someone who claims to be one, anyway. His company's apparently responsible for giving cancer to like, a thousand people or something. He needed a better sleep aid, so I forwarded him to your drug division, Burger."

Burger nodded in acknowledgement.

"That last guy who called me wants to kill some politician," Max added. "He printed out one of our 3d rifles, and arranged to buy a full clip for it. I doubt he'll succeed, but even if he does, don't worry. The resin will break down just like it's supposed to, and no one will be able to trace the print back to us."

Bishop looked at him curiously. "A tax complaint, you think?"

"I didn't ask. He sounded more like he wanted to go into politics himself. Maybe he's a rival, and just wanted to get rid of the competition." In truth, Max wasn't sure if he was a true believer or not. As long as the money kept flowing in, he didn't care, either. He'd continue to play the part of a dyed-in-the-wool, mask-off hater for as long as he could make a living off of it. Between weapons, actors who paid a portion of their fee as a finder's reward, doomsday prep materials that Burger sold, and various superstitious religious iconography that Bishop managed, they were all doing very well.
« Last Edit: November 17, 2022, 05:25:53 AM by Daen »