This is the twenty-first part of a fiction serial, in 990 words.
At long last, Anita felt she had a real role to play, and was no longer a bystander. Always active on every social media platform imaginable, she had worked out a relevant message with Ian, and started to post it everywhere that morning, bumping it constantly, linking it to the names of everyone she had as contacts online, as well as names of bloggers, journalists, and websites that loved to write about conspiracies and government cover-ups. Her friendship with Claudia paid dividends, as Claude shared it with scores of people she knew from her job with the BBC.
Watching as the shares, views, and likes began to increase in number before her eyes, she could feel some movement from her baby inside. Although it seemed crazy, Anita convinced herself that the baby knew something positive was happening. She stroked the fast-growing bump and smiled. “I’m going to get your Daddy home, wait and see”.
Claudia phoned just after eleven. “I’m so sorry, Nita. What you must have been going through, I can’t believe you didn’t tell me everything. But I am with you one hundred percent, and Betsy is sharing with all of her contacts too. She says that some of the platforms might take down your posts once pressure is applied today, but it is already out there, and too late to suppress it completely. I have just created a blog for you. I have sent the blog name and account password by text, so get on that soon, and send a link to it to everyone you can think of. Is everything okay with the baby? Be careful, and try not to stress yourself out. If you need me down there, I can pay for a carer to look after Betsy and drive down, let me know”.
Feeling the best she had since all this had started, Anita made a nice lunch, and sat eating watching the shares as they added up to the thousands. The blog site that Claude had started for her was getting dozens of shares and loads of comments, and she realised that her afternoon was going to be very busy sorting out replies, and continuing to bump the tweets and posts. By the time she finished lunch and tidied away, the blog alone already had almost nine hundred followers. She sent Ian a text to his unregistered mobile, telling him how exciting it was, and thanking him for the suggestion.
The rest of the day went by in a blur. Her eyes were aching from looking at the i-pad and phone screens, but by early evening, the shares and messages were enormous. It was much more than she could ever hope to keep up with, so she stopped trying to. The house phone rang, and she didn’t recognise the voice, which was undoubtedly American. “Mrs Hollis? This is Lisa Howeler. You don’t know me, but I am a reporter with the New York Times. I wanted to interview you about what’s happening on social media. That’s one hell of a story. Do you have time to talk to me now?” Anita was happy to talk, even though she hadn’t confirmed who the woman was. After ten minutes, she had outlined everything, and received assurances that it would be on that newspaper’s website soon.
Almost as soon as she had hung up. it rang again. “This is Don Ostertag from the Chicago Tribune. Am I speaking with Mrs Hollis?” She readily gave him his requested telephone interview. Even though he sounded a lot more sceptical than the previous reporter, he promised that some people on his paper would start their own investigation into her allegations. Once the excitement of all this started to calm down, she then became worried. How had they got her number so easily? When it rang again, she was guarded. “Is that Anita Hollis? This is Jennie Fitzkee from The Boston Globe. I would like to talk to you about your blog, and the amazing story you are telling”. Anita decided to ask.
“How did you get my number, Jennie?I have had a series of reporters ringing from American newspapers in the last forty minutes, and I am starting to become suspicious, to be honest”. The woman was friendly. “Bless you, honey, it’s just the time difference. It is the morning here, that’s all. We are at work, and looking at all the trends on social media for story ideas. As for your phone number, we have lots of contacts in the UK who can get those for us. If you have already spoken to other US papers, I have lost my exclusive, but I would still like to hear what you have to say”. Anita told her everything, and she promised to do her best to get it on the front page tomorrow.
Nobody had telephoned from any British newspaper. No TV companies had come to her house to ask for interviews, and there had been nothing on the radio either. That hadn’t gone unnoticed by her, and Anita remembered what Ian had said about the story being pulled by the authorities. But the amount of views on all of her social media was by now unimaginable, and she was sure something had to break soon. Her mobile beeped. It was a text message from Claudia. ‘Just out of a meeting with the News production team. Watch the six pm bulletin. It might be featured’.
Just as the main headlines were announced by the presenter, the doorbell rang. It was Jane Dawes.
“Can I come in, Anita? I have something to tell you”. Anita was upbeat, sure it was to do with her story. She grinned. “What is it, Jane? Do you have good news for me? The policewoman’s expression didn’t look as if she did.
“Sorry, but I have some bad news. Ian Hope was found dead in his hotel room an hour ago”.