"There is a man named Dalton. Dalton is dangerous. He is rich, he is strong and he is going to crash the stock market."
A pseudo-random Twitter spambot and a YouTube channel on a terminal countdown collapse into a common message - one of Wall Street, of a white knight, of systems and cyberspace, of you becoming everything you were meant to be; it's the message of Bear Stearns Bravo. "This is the world we're in", they say, "and this is what is happening."
It's a call to arms, a call to you. Dalton must be stopped, be regulated, or there will be disastrous consequences. As the sidewalks crack and streets go dark, bankers will shake and scream for his pyramid - but this is all about you. You're in the elevator, you're right on time. You're first class. You're ready. This is where reality and fiction merge. You've got a job to do. This is the world we're in and this is what's happening.
On the internet, nothing stays secret for long. Just as the websleuths of 4chan and The Daily Dot closed in around their provenance, the internet swirled with disappointment after it was revealed that the spambot and YouTube channel are a years long psuedo-art project, an elongated marketing ploy put together by two Manhattanite social media types, creative directors of viral content platforms. Bear Stearns Bravo is nothing but a monetised multiple-choice YouTube game, and a bad one. The viral marketeers proved right those who speculated at an inevitable mundane outcome.
Still, this is the world we're in and this is what's happening.
The Dread Pirate Roberts has been captured and the Silk Road is down. A blow has been struck to the Dark Net, its king dethroned and the curtain pulled back. The FBI and DoJ have one Ross Ulbricht in custody and what an unremarkable man he is.
The Dark Net, the unseen underbelly of the internet, inhabited by only those who need to mask their footsteps - whistleblowers, activists, drug dealers, hitmen - and then only those that can find it, for this is not a place you can simply stumble upon. In this place, the Silk Road shone - a bazaar of the world's drugs and other illict goods readily available in exchange for your bitcoin, a similarly untraceable cryptographic currency - and sat at its helm was the man who named himself after the Dread Pirate Roberts.
Ulbricht's demise was brought about through the merest of slips. A single message posted on a tech forum under a real name, with a few lines of code dragged from the Silk Road's server and an email address. One slip that just ten years ago might have gone unnoticed, but not today. Everything on today's internet is forever and the Feds have it all. This is a reality that feels like fiction.
But it isn't.
This is the world we're in, and this is what's happening, and up through the cracks, Krokodil flows into the market. Fresh from Russia, bootleg heroin, mixed up in a bathtub out of codeine, lighter fluid, gasoline and paint thinner, seeping its way into the veins of the US and the UK. This is a drug straight out of pulp sci-fi, literally eating its users alive. This is reality at fiction's worst. Dalton must be stopped, or there will be disastrous consequences.
The United States government has been shut down. Negotations are in deadlock. Neither side are willing to move. Hundreds of thousands of government workers go unpaid while a Republican congress holds a country to ransom over a healthcare bill modeled almost exactly from the policy of their own former Presidential candidate. The invincible Tea Party opinion holds a gun to the head of the middle ground and demands the head of a President they believe to be an impostor, a Muslim, a socialist, a Kenyan. Their eyes are on the prize that can bring the whole system down, the debt ceiling, up for renegotiation in just a few short week's time. This is Russian Roulette with a global consequence. Sidewalks will crack and streets will go dark.
As the tension mounts and things begin to fray, up on Capitol Hill, the police gun an unarmed woman to death in her car. Two miles away a man sets fire to himself on the Nation Mall. If this was fiction, it would be going too far.
But this is all about you. You're in the elevator, you're right on time. You're first class. You're ready. This is where reality and fiction merge. You've got a job to do. This is the world we're in and this is what's happening.