The following is a piece of fan fiction by Kiwi Occupier Lyn Ny. Any resemblance to persons or organisations living or dead, or events, is merely coincidental. Allow your imaginations to run free!
Meagan’s First Story
By Lyn Ny
The room was generic, corporation-style meeting room. A large, fake timber table held sway over a flotilla of small, uncomfortable chairs; a water cooler stood in one corner; windows looked over an ordinary city view. On the small, uncomfortable chairs were an eclectic group of people. There were some in very businesslike suits and ties and others in jeans and t-shirts.
An outsider, Bill thought, wouldn’t instantly know the purpose of this group. They were clearly not physical labourers although Sarah and Joe were starting to show the benefit of their gym sessions. A discreet hiccough brought Bill back to business.
“Right then, that about covers everything except this latest GCSB leak. Another leaked email has surfaced calling them out on the actual number of people being surveilled. It includes a list of 1243 people under active investigation – not the 88 they ‘fessed up to earlier. Now I don’t care one way or another how many people our government agencies are looking at – that’s their job for fuck’s sake. Somebody has to protect us from cyber attacks, industrial espionage and terrorist bomb plots but we’d better print something for the punters. Our official angle should reassure the public that security is paramount for us to compete in the current global financial climate. You wanna make an omelet you gotta break some eggs. Even those in the lens would agree, I’m sure, that the threats to our country, our government and our economy are worth some loss of privacy. Any takers?”
He looked up at his bunch of journalists and was met with a wall of apathy. This was not going to be a rewarding mission. The story and that paper’s stand were a foregone conclusion. One of the effects of mainstream media was to kill any investigative spirit, especially with potentially career damaging investigations into the activities of the government or its agencies.
Tentatively Meagan raised her eyebrows and met Bill’s gaze. “Can I have a crack at it?” she asked. Meagan, who was naturally on the shy side, had only just started working for the paper which was the most read daily in the country. Meagan’s appearance; small, young and pretty, often lead to her being overlooked. Her quiet nature added to her non-threatening appearance and allowed her to get close to people and gain their confidence and trust quickly.
“Sure, why not! I’ll send you the email for background and you can get started. I want to print the story on Thursday so have it ready for editing on Wednesday. It’s a human interest story – the political issues are far too complex for us to cover in any depth and we want to reduce people’s concerns. There are over 4 million people in this country and 1243 is a paltry number in reality. The vast majority of our readers are NOT under surveillance and are unaffected by this information – those that are must have done something to attract attention! Come and see me if you have any problems and keep me posted. And that’s it for today. Let’s get on with it!”
Meagan followed everyone from the room and started planning the first story of her new journalist life. How to begin? The computer on her desk advised her of two new emails – one from her sister and the other from Bill with the leaked list of GCSB targets. Today was Tuesday and she’d have to work fast to get anything juicy to print by the deadline.
The list wasn’t in any apparent order. It looked like any database with name, address, date of birth, phone numbers and email addresses. There was nothing to differentiate one entry from any other. She spent some time on Facebook searching for matches. An hour of that found more than half of those on the list. Trawling through their friend lists netted three who shared mutual friends with Meagan. Another half hour of Facebooking left Meagan in no doubt about why these people had attracted attention. Posts about fluoride, Palestine, Five Eyes, global financial schemes, derivatives, fracking, deep sea oil drilling, HAARP, environmental destruction and political corruption featured large on all three profiles. All three re-posted numerous articles from Al-Jazeera, RT News and Occupy with news from Egypt, Spain, Afghanistan, Israel/Palestine, Syria, US, England, Canada and Australia – extensive coverage of national and international topics, protests, rumours, fact, speculation, opinion and comment.
All three seemed to be a cross between new age hippies and anarchists. Their threads included fruity talk of rising awareness, the masses awakening as if from coma, vibrations, energy, the cosmos, self-sufficiency, unfucking the system.
Meagan picked up her phone and dialled.
Redstar answered almost instantly “Yo!”.
“Hey, Redstar. How well do you know Terry Daniels?” Meagan asked without preamble.
“Well enough – why?” Redstar’s response was tinged with suspicion.
Meagan ignored his question. “Can you get him to lunch today do you reckon?” Redstar demurred and Meagan hastily added “My shout – anywhere you want.”
While Meagan waited for Redstar to get back to her she filled in time by searching the internet for anything related to GCSB. There were dozens of entries. Apparently the more secret a thing is the more it gets talked about. When Redstar phoned back 45 minutes later Meagan had read many articles on the GCSB and had learned surprisingly little.
By chance, Terry Daniels was in the city for a few days and was keen to meet up for lunch at 1:30ish “and bring pot” was Redstar’s stipulation “lubricate his vocal chords – lol!”
Meagan packed up her laptop and got organised for her first real interview. She left the office and stepped into a beautiful afternoon – sunny with a breath of breeze – perfect for walking the few blocks to Father Ted’s.
Redstar and Terry were sitting at a footpath table sipping beer and chatting. Meagan stifled a pang of disappointment on seeing Terry. He was pretty ordinary – 40-ish, average height, a little on the cuddly side, long greying brown hair and blue eyes, in blue jeans and white t-shirt. He didn’t look like a terrorist that’s for sure.
“Hi there, thanks for meeting with me Terry. What’s Redstar told you?” asked Meagan as she pulled out a seat and got comfortable.
“That you’ve just embarked on a career as a mainstream propaganda merchant with the Herald is all” Redstar quipped. “We’re both busting to know what you want with him.”
Meagan had her, almost true, story ready. “The editor wants a story about activists in New Zealand. Nothing meaty but plenty of scope to highlight some issues that get people off the couch and into the streets.”
Terry grinned broadly. “Cool! I love to talk. What do you want to know?”
Before Meagan could answer a slim, smiling young man, David according to his tag, came to take their lunch order. Redstar ordered big – lamb shanks and kumara mash, garlic pizza bread, stick date pudding and a jug of lager. Meagan and Terry ordered less extravagantly and all three reached for cigarettes and settled in to talk. “Are you all good with me recording? It’s more efficient than taking notes.”
“Sure, why not. I’m quite sure you’re not the only one recording us.” He laughed cheerfully as he spoke.
Meagan fought a pang of guilt that she had fudged her real purpose which she covered by pulling a joint from her pocket. Using marijuana is illegal and smoking it in public was risky but fun. Meagan reasoned that if anyone called the Police the evidence would be long gone before (or if) anyone came to enforce the law. She lit up and passed the joint as she set up her Ipad. “So who else is recording and why?” she asked innocently.
“I think it’s more like who isn’t?! I reckon Auckland Transport is a front for the Men in Black for a start. They’ve got surveillance cameras everywhere – intersections, motorways, streets, buildings – fucken everywhere! No need to follow anyone once they’ve hit the auckland motorway system – it’s all on film and they’ve probably got long range microphones and all the whizz bang spy gear. I’d love to know how much of ratepayers money goes to surveillance… or on anything else for that matter. Polly Black may be crazy or a spook but I agree with her that Council should tell us where our money is being spent before we hand it over. The CEO’s $800,000 salary doesn’t appear on their little pie chart! And then there’s the CGSB and the cops and the guys watching the watchers. I reckon that’s real job creation. We gotta pretend we can keep this collapsing financial system running somehow.”
Conversation stopped for a moment as David arrived with their meals and took an order for drinks. If there was a single word to describe Redstar it was gusto. He took to his meal with it and was obviously enjoying this afternoon treat. There’s nothing a conspiracy theorist likes more than the company of another conspiracy theorist it seemed.
“Bloody Polly Black! Merlin was right from the start – she’s a cunt! But she does have that one point – why should we pay rates to a Council when we don’t know what it’s spent on? he added, resuming the conversation.
“Damn straight! And while we’re on Auckland Council – guess who the contractors are for the rubbish, poison water supply and public transport? Redstar – you know this one.
“Yup – Veolia” put in Redstar obligingly.
“And guess who does water and refuse and transport for Christchurch, Wellington, Hamilton? Or Paris? London? Washington? Sydney? Tel Aviv? I’m making some of those up” Terry admitted “because I can’t remember how far the tentacles of that particular wheke (octopus) reach – nor do I know if its head is in Israel or France. It’s a bugger having no internet but must make it harder for the heebie jeebies to keep tabs on us.”
This gave Meagan opportunity to get to the heart of the interview. “You sound like you think you are being watched. Why would you think so?” she asked casually.
“Do you want the long story or the short one?” Terry responded.
“I’ve got all day – the long one please.” Meagan was happy that Terry was so keen to talk. And with that Terry spilled forth on the many reasons he could be a target of particular attention. Redstar chugged on through his sticky date pudding with a bourbon on the side. He knew the story and enjoyed hearing it again.
As Terry talked Meagan became more and more amazed at how wrong her first impression had been. Terry was far less ordinary than he seemed.
“I was interwebbing one Saturday when I saw a Herald photo of thousands of people marching up Queen St under an “Occupy Auckland” banner. I was inspired and soon discovered what turned out to be a life-changing movement. I trolled YouTube, hungry for knowledge of the amazing people holding vigil in Zucotti Park at Occupy Wall St. Like mushrooms, Occupy sprung up everywhere. Their message resonated with millions of people globally. The world is being run by and for the 1% who hold the majority of the world’s financial wealth.
I visited Occupy Auckland in Aotea Square that Monday and was in awe of what they had achieved over a weekend. The normally empty, too-perfect lawn was alive with colour and movement. Tents, flags and placards lent a carnival air. People were everywhere and had come from everywhere – Unite, Mana, Socialist Aotearoa, the Nurse’s Union were all there with banners and tents and rosettes and slogans. Notice boards displayed meetings and meals and support groups and tutorials. Movies and music played, throngs of people were queuing for food and working groups were forming to deal with issues peculiar to this unusual form of protest. I was drawn in by the enthusiasm and optimism of this disparate group. I brought food and helped with meals and meetings. Occupy and occupiers became my life.”
Terry stopped talking and all three turned at the sound of a shouted chant from the nearby street corner. “O-C-C-U-P-Y what do we do? OCCUPY!” the disturbance was walking towards them in the form of a man in a black hoody, black jeans and boots, with a backpack. As he drew near Terry gave the man some tobacco and he went on his way. “Sir Occupy Auckland – awesome dude!” he said by way of explanation and he picked up his story.
“Governments and their agents and enforcers couldn’t ignore the Occupy movement and came down with enormous force all over the world to crush it. We lasted about 3 months before the Council got serious about moving us on. I got a call for help early one morning when police and security guards were forcefully evicting Occupiers. The 15 minute trip to town seemed to take forever and the scene that met us was devastating. Fences, security guards and police surrounded the Occupiers while tents and other belongings were being wrestled into trucks. A minister in black robes stood sentinel over the chaos with tears rolling down his face.
A French tourist begged me to help. I fought my way onto the arena, ducking under outstretched arms like a rugby player. By now mainstream media had arrived and the audience bristled with cameras and phones and megaphones. I was taken swiftly by police and locked in a cell for the first time in my life.”
“We filmed everything! Including four cops with the same badge number – Z557. Cunts!” Redstar interjected with passion.
Young David arrived at this point with fresh drinks. “Have you still got the video? Can I see it?” Meagan was skeptical that such a serious breach actually occurred but Redstar flicked open his phone and sent the footage to Meagan.
“There you go. Put that in the piece!” he dared and Terry resumed his story.
“As soon as I was released I went back to the Square. The situation was still horrendous and I did what I could to support Occupiers and frustrate the officials. In the end the CEO of the Council read from his official document that if I didn’t stop camping in the Square I would be arrested for trespass. When I told him I couldn’t stop doing what I’d never done he was unphased. He had the dogs arrest me and I was one of a dozen or so named as a defendant in the Council vs Occupy case and was subsequently found guilty. Of a thought crime! I was a member of the public, a fucking ratepayer, in a public place sharing the same views as the Occupy ‘campers'”. There was a momentary pause as Terry thought broodingly of these events.
“But that was three years ago.” Meagan broke the silence, “Do you still think you’re under surveillance?” Although she knew that Terry was still being watched the Occupy involvement didn’t seem to justify continuing surveillance. There must be more to it.
Terry smiled. “Maybe. New Zealand’s population is small and there are relatively few real targets. The cops and media did a great job of giving me an unjustifiably high profile. apparently my detainment was shown all over the world. One of my friends watched it on TV in Japan! Fuck’s sake! Of course, once Occupy was dismantled in the Square that left me at a loose end. I couldn’t get work in my field because the Council would have been my best employment prospect and they’d never hire me after Occupy. I was too old and over-qualified for most jobs. I became involved with the education protests and the housing bullshit in Glen Innes. I became a target for local police in Auckland Central and Counties Manakau. The cunts began calling me by name when I was out and about. I don’t remember now how many times I was locked up. My favourite arrest involved some real activists from the Springbok days. There were always MP’s floating around putting their faces out there for photo ops in the safer protests but only one willing to take any real risk. Hone Harawira stood up for the Glen Innes community. I was so proud to be arrested with him at G.I.”
“I think the government and cops were getting pretty stressed. They had their hands full of Occupy and Anonymous and Kim Dotcom. They were stomping hard on anyone with a rebellious bent. Still are I think but I’ve been out of the loop for a while. It got too hot for me in the city – became dangerous. The local cops started targeting us. My daughter’s life was endangered after a serious car accident. She was arrested for obstruction after hitting the windscreen of a car that she was a passenger in – denied medical treatment for a potentially life-threatening head injury. Council used a pretext to take our old dog and tried to kill her. I had to take that to the High Court.”
Meagan was finding this story unbelievable. Cops, council and government working together to harass a protester seemed a bit dramatic. She made a mental note to follow up some of these side stories. She encouraged Terry to continue by asking “So you’re not living in Auckland anymore?”
“No. And that’s another story that may or may not have caught the GCSB, or more likely JK’s personal attention, given that it was his mortgage scheme that lost me my house.”
“How does that work – he’s the Prime Minister. What does he have to do with mortgage schemes?” Meagan was genuinely curious.
“He wasn’t always the PM. His background is world finance – Merrill Lynch, Wall St. He devised a system that ensures banks’ continued profit if their customers default. The mortgage documents are all sold so that the banks effectively double dip. It’s known as derivatives or hedge funding or sub-prime lending. Lend money to poor people who can’t service the debt, sell the document and foreclose – win/win for the bank.”
Meagan was even more cynical. Surely that would be fraud. Another lead to follow up. “So you lost your house? How? Because you couldn’t pay?”
“Kind of. I got very stubborn and refused to make payment once the ASB told me that they did not hold my original mortgage document. I told them I wouldn’t pay unless they could produce it… so they began foreclosure proceedings and I had to sell up in a hurry. My wife and I now live over an hour away from the city – and our family and friends. It’s been a very difficult time for us. She’s been diagnosed with PTSD but we’re slowly recovering. Having non-fluoride water helps. We are now in a remote location with no income, no internet and poor phone reception. Can’t pay power or phone or rates so it’s like sitting on a bomb.”
“That begs the question then – why are you still being watched?” Meagan couldn’t help herself from interjecting.
“I don’t know that I am but odd things happen that make me wonder. Cars parked for no reason within sight of the house. Doors open when we come home that were shut and locked when we left. “They” don’t like dogs and I think they try to get rid of them. I have three now – that should piss them off!” This thought obviously gave Terry some grim pleasure.
Redstar looked up suddenly with a strange expression on his face. “Why did you want to meet Terry? I mean – why Terry?!”
It was clearly time to come clean. Meagan found the email from Bill and, without a word, showed Terry the attachment. His face moved through confusion and understanding to…what? Satisfaction? Relief? “I fucken knew it!” He almost shouted. “Bastards! Look Redstar – how many names do you recognise? It looks like our Facebook friend list! I fucken knew it! I’m not surprised by this – it’s no secret how I feel about the Crown, the Government and its enforcers.”
With that outburst Terry picked up his glass and drained it. He looked ready for action. “You want to know what I really think. How I’m a real threat to society? Or Government more likely!” He didn’t wait for an answer. “Somewhere along the way I met up with a freeman and, like Occupy, it seems to fit me like it was made for me. I didn’t sign up to this system. I was registered with the New Zealand Government before I was old enough to object, before I understood the implications of belonging to a corporation registered as The New Zealand Government. ‘We’, the people, are not New Zealand – it only exists as a legal entity. Money is wrong. Jesus died because he was against the use of money and wage slavery. Government didn’t like it then and still don’t. We are born free and have the right to live free. That means without the need to generate money and not as a possession of the Government or anyone else!” Terry’s passion was almost scary and other patrons were beginning to glance in his direction.
“Two questions: are you Christian and how can we live without money. We need to work to earn money to live.” Meagan
was genuinely interested.
“That’s the big lie, right there! We are taught to believe we need money to live but we know it’s not true. We need air, water, food, shelter and companionship – not money, which is nothing. A bit of paper or a number on a screen. It’s not even money – it’s debt. We need to work to live but the money is there so that “they” – the 1% – don’t have to work. Here look at this.”
With that Terry drew a quick doodle on a napkin:
“You see it’s like a tree. The tree lives because it takes nutrient from the soil. We’re the worms making the food (money) for the tree to live. If we stop doing it the tree dies!”
“So how do we live?” Meagan asked the obvious question.
“We live as we should.” He said simply. “We are born with two jobs – feeding ourselves and caring for others. Give what you can and take what you need.”
“How about education, health, law and order. Who does that if the current system fails?”
“Lol! ‘If’! It does and has failed. We take care of it ourselves or we die. It’s time to man up for fuck’s sake. Stop relying on other people. We’re all grown up now. Legislation doesn’t stop bad things or bad people. It just keeps the slaves in line and creates a revenue stream. There’s a lot of money to be made from the ‘justice’ system.” Terry gave a wry smile that contained no humour. “I don’t have the answers but I refuse to support a system that has the world’s human population prostituting itself, working for money to pay tax for governments to buy guns to kill people to steal their resources and sell them to us. Every time I buy petrol I can feel the dead Palestinian babies under my wheels.”
“Well that’s an interesting way of looking at things. I’m not sure why that makes you a threat though. It sounds like you’d rather opt out and get on with your life. I don’t see how that would make you a threat that needs to be under GCSB’s eye.” The conversation was making Meagan feel uncomfortable.
Terry was quick to respond, “You only have to imagine what would happen to the system and the 1% who benefit from it, if more people thought like me.”
“Or if more people thought at all” grumbled Redstar.
“Yeah, well, most people are so indoctrinated in government schools, brainwashed by TV and fluoridated into compliance. Poor stupid sheeple can’t wake up. You won’t leave the prison if you won’t see the bars. They live in willful ignorance. It’s more comfortable that way.” Terry’s tone was almost forgiving.
The afternoon was cooling off. The “interview” had covered a lot of ground and Meagan wasn’t sure she was any closer to knowing why Terry was on the list but she wasn’t sure how to proceed either. The Town Hall clock struck four and Terry glanced up at it. “I’d better get going while I’ve still got some day left.”
Meagan and Redstar said their goodbyes and thanked Terry for meeting with them, promising to send a copy of the leaked email to Terry and telling him to watch out for the story in Thursday’s paper. They walked together for a while mulling over Terry’s story which was new to Meagan and familiar to Redstar, before going their separate ways.
There wasn’t much point in going back to the office. Meagan could research and write at home more easily and comfortably. She sent a text to Bill as she walked, letting him know that she was on target and would have a story on his desk tomorrow and walked the rest of the way home in heavy contemplation. Every now and then she glanced around half expecting to catch a glimpse of a furtive follower. The afternoon conversation had filled her with unease. She hardly noticed the walk until she found herself in front of her inner city flat. It was an old cottage at the back of the red light district and had a small patch of lawn and white, wooden filigree on the front porch. She glanced at the camera mounted above the streetlights as she walked through the front gate, onto the porch and into the house. As she shut the door behind her she felt a prickle of tension but everything was as she had left it and the feeling soon dissipated.
The night would be a long one – Meagan played the recording of the interview as she prepared a sandwich and poured a glass of win. She made notes on paper as she listened and mentally planned her story. After a quick shower and changing into her favourite sloppy pants and t-shirt Meagan set up her computer at the kitchen table and got down to work. The hours slipped by almost unnoticed sorting what was fact and what hearsay from Terry’s story, writing and re-writing, occasionally returning to the kitchen for coffee and smoking countless cigarettes while she worked. She didn’t notice how tired she had become until she had finally finished the article to her satisfaction and looked up at the dark and silent room. It was just after 4am and time to get some sleep. Pleased with her work and a little nervous at the prospect of submitting it to Bill she decided to call it a night and get some sleep before reading it one last time. Her last thoughts before drifting off were vague and disturbing and her dreams were haunted by kraken-like creatures, enfolding the house and reaching impossibly thin tentacles through the cracks and crevices of the old building, prying and searching and sneaking.
Despite her strange dreams Meagan woke up refreshed and excited about presenting her article. She re-read it, made some corrections here and there, saved the final draft and emailed it to Bill. As she was getting ready to return to the office her phone chirped that she had a text. “Awesome thanks Meagan. I’ve had a prelim read and you’ve done a fantastic job. I’ll tweak it a bit and we’ll publish tomorrow. Check out the Grey Lynn festival this afternoon and take some pics for Sunday’s edition. Good work.”
With a great sense of pride and satisfaction Meagan began to organise herself for today’s mission. Her day passed quickly. She had a blast at the festival, took photos, talked to people and soaked up the sights and sounds and smell. It was late when she returned home. She went to bed brimming with well-being from her first 2 days on the job and her last thought before sleep took her was of seeing her story in print the next morning.
She was awakened early by a dull thump; the sound of the Herald landing on the front veranda having been thrown expertly by the courier as he rode by.
Meagan leapt out of bed and was soon sitting at the table with coffee and a cigarette leafing through the pages of the morning paper for her story. She suppressed some disappointment when she discovered the article on page 17 and proceeded to read the finished product.
The GCSB has come under attack again following the release of another ‘leaked’ email which includes a list of around a thousand New Zealand residents under active investigation. The government agency has an obligation to investigate persons who may be involved with such illegal activities as industrial espionage, cyber-attacks and terrorism. In the current global financial climate these connections have potential to do severe damage to the New Zealand economy. The small number of persons under surveillance are known to have links with radical, international groups worldwide including places of high unrest such as Egypt, Palestine and Syria, regularly express anti-government sentiments and participate in activities detrimental to New Zealand’s interests. these individuals could potentially have severe repercussions on New Zealand’s trade, economic and public safety. One of the recently revealed targets, an unemployed, disenchanted Aucklander, was unsurprised to learn that he was on the list. He openly told our Herald reporter of his involvement with various anti-government groups and activities that would have brought him under suspicion and dismissed this information with a laugh. “I’m not surprised by this – it’s no secret how I feel about the Crown, the Government and its enforcers.”
Meagan finished reading and sat, stunned, while she processed what she had just read. Shame, disappointment and anger made a cocktail of emotions but her rational mind warned her that there was a lesson to be learned from this experience – it would take some time to process just exactly what that message was.