Wednesday, January 29, 2014

14. Lethal viral video

When President Timothy Gardner returned to the Oval Office, the first thing of interest that met his eyes was the copy of Washington Post sitting squarely on his desk. He didn't have to open the paper to see what was meant for him to see, since the article was on Page A1, top half. The first part of the article that caught his eyes was the big photograph of him crouching in front of Samson, his .416 magnum Kimber cradle in his arms, sporting his victorious grin. Next was the headline: [President Gardner bags his rhino and saves a maiden with one shot].

Of course it raised an uproar in the animal advocacy and environmental communities, but the hunting community hailed him as “the greatest president since Theodore Roosevelt”, and that was all that registered in his mind.

Unfortunately, for him, their adulation and his celebration were both short-lived.

“You've got to see this, Mr. President," said Jane Hodges, his executive secretary.

"What is it, Jane?" said the president, lazily.

"It is a video, sir, one just launched this morning on the internet, and it has already gone viral."

"A video of what?"

"Of your rhino hunt, sir. I have sent you a copy of it by email."

“Our video hasn't been released yet.”

“I don't think it was taken by your crew. It was taken from the air.”

“From the air?”

“Yes, sir.”

How viral is viral?”

“Over a million viewings, and it's been only two hours since its launching.”

“By whom?”

“I don't know, sir, it was a nickname – 'Anti-13'.”

“Where can I see it?”

Almost anywhere on the internet. You could try Youtube, and search for 'Gardner rhino hunt'; it'll come up. It's also among the lead items in Yahoo News. It is also widely shared on Facebook, and Twitter is full of links leading to it. By the way, numerous newspapers and TV stations have called for interviews and comments.”

“Fine, I'll check it out.”

“Yes, sir.”

He went to Youtube, and sure enough the video was there, now with 1.5 million hits. It's length was about fifteen minutes - from the time he began to anchor himself to shoot, to the flash-bang, to his falling flat on his back, to Rebecca firing her five shots, to Rebecca and him passionately kissing, to Travis executing his coup de gras. The comments alone numbered over ten thousand, mostly calling him a coward and a liar.

He sat back, stunned, cold sweat drenching his shirt.

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