The U.S. Government is Reading This Right Along with You

winston smith publicity still 1984This is the beginning of a short story I wrote incorporating some of the words released by Homeland Security last week after a Freedom of Information request by the Electronic Privacy Information Center seeking a list of keywords and phrases they use to flag “social networking sites and online media”.

I didn’t really have to force anything, many of the words are that innocluous. Words in red are on the list . . .

Reynosa stared at me, the last residue of meth fading from his still toxic eyes.

“Is it over?” He asked finally, eyes flashing toward the empty interstate over my shoulder.

Phreaking better be,” I sighed.

“How many days has it been?” ‘Since I blacked-out in a drug induced coma’ was left implied. If he was embarrassed to ask, he did not show it, then again, his personality – his narcotic-free personality, that is – was particularly resistant to embarrassment.

“You’ve missed three lovely days of riots and looting.”

“Lucky me,” he either smiled or grimaced, his powder white mustache cancelled  whatever emotion his mouth conveyed, “any more attacks?”

“Why would there be?” I snapped – my delayed response to the fact he had chosen to numb himself while the rest of us suffered through the evacuation and three days of terror at every muscle twitch, cough, tic, sneeze, fart, tear, involuntary shudder, ache . . . breath, if you came right down to it, for a symptom.

Reynosa nodded, despite his still evident haze, he got it: they (Al Qaeda; some unknown, well funded militia; North Korea for all anyone knew or was ever going to know) took out the first responders and the CDC before unleashing . . .  whatever it was that made people sick with cold-like symptoms for a day or two before they dissolved into a pool of blood, organs, and liquifying flesh that made the afflicted (and therefore doomed) wish it was only Ebola.

He looked west, registered the dirty, plume-like cloud rising like a hurricanesized twister from what was once Pittsburgh, sighed long, hard, and wistfully, “Had to happen with the Pirates in first . . . “

Two hundred and eighty-four words, thirty-five of which (12%) are on the Department of Homeland Security’s “list of keywords used by government analysts to scour the internet for evidence of threats to the U.S.” (oops, just upped my average).  


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