“SOMETHING WICKED THIS WAY COMES” borrows its title from a 1962 novel by Ray Bradbury, but this essay isn’t about that novel.
“Something Wicked This Way Comes” is satire. Weaponized humor. A form of political speech that has been deployed for at least 2,400 years. At least back to the time when Athens’ conduct of the Peloponnesian War was held up to scrutiny.
Why use satire? Because it’s frequently proved itself an effective weapon when others fail. When nothing else seems to work, satire offers the better shot at pushing the 92.7% of us in the U.S. who have never served under arms to think harder . . . to think more deliberately . . . about those who have fought, those who have died, and those who have returned home to us in pieces that we’re far too often ill-equipped to put back together.
Something Wicked This Way Comes
Reviewing social media analytics reports, it’s always strange to see corporate strategists, public relations types, and non-profit leaders constantly showing up in the weirdest places. Places they appear to have no professional or personal connection to. Places whose content most of them could not begin to understand. But as of April 13, 2018, their type were still lurkin’ around a medical school article specific to veterans suffering from PTSD. ‘creepin’ around there nearly all by themselves, not liking or resharing the content. ‘making y’wonder what, exactly, they did to all the folks who had legitimate business with the article.
It turns out that this “Eraser” species usually steers clear of the daylight, preferring instead to hide in the musky shadows of the cybersphere. Lurking. Awaiting unwary travelers in search of social media content that’s important to them and their families. It’s just when the nomad assumes he can safely explore available web content, that the Erasers strike.
Funding cuts and internecine warfare among researchers’ egos have impaired efforts to learn much more about the clandestine predator: It remains unclear whether this species strikes vulnerable internet users singly or, perhaps, in packs. Do they kill both ways?
And what, exactly, do Erasers look like? How do they digest their victims? Do Erasers eat their young?
Some theorize that Erasers may be biological cousins to the wild, hairless-dog strain of the Chupacabra. Descriptions echoed among some web users include the pronounced spinal ridge, unusually large eye sockets, fangs and claws characteristic of the more well-known “goat sucker.”. One feature common to Eraser reports from the Americas, Europe and sub-Saharan Africa, is a pungent odor of stale urine.
.What most researchers are certain of is this: none of the Erasers’ victims has been seen or heard from again. The pandemonium among scholars following reports that the remains of digested social media consumers had been found in especially damp parts of cyberspace, was premature.
But now, it looks like the severely limited amount of solid evidence about this species might expand a bit.What appears to be a recent sighting of the animal, reported by an independent researcher in Eastern Kentucky, has scientists running for their laptops and dusting off their grant applications.
The following is from a recording made by a local PBS station manager who immediately recognized the significance of the sighting. He cautions us not to draw adverse inferences from the man’s “back-in-the-sticks” speech patterns. Every report made by the gentleman in recent years has checked out and led to even more solid information. Besides that, he’s ABD in cultural anthropology.
“We got lucky this time. Real lucky.”
“Now, if y’look real close, you can see ‘em pretty clear in these 3 screen shots. The first two screen shots, showin’ the post itself, gives y’pretty good idea of the neighborhood the ‘rasers are creepin’ round this time.
And y’ can see right there . . . plain as day . . . that the post includes a link to a Harvard Medical School News article, “PTSD: The Suffering Continues for Vets / The Vietnam War Put PTSD on the Map – It Has Not Gone Away.”
“But look ‘t here. Even before that, th’ first thing y’see ‘s that damned great first paragraph. An’ ain’t that one hell of an inspired first sentence?
“Posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) did not officially exist when several Vietnam War veterans took the head of the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) hostage in his own office one morning in 1975. Equipped with C-rations, portable toilets, and evidence, they hammered the door shut. They wanted his undivided attention to tell him the stories of the many returning soldiers who shared a distressing syndrome of nightmares, flashbacks, and anger that was driving some to suicide.”
“But look ‘ere. Right there ‘that third screenshot. Y’can see ‘em makin’ their way in. Slowly. Very slowly.
“‘guess y’gotta give th’ Erasers a bit of a break. Most of ‘em lik’ly nev’r been t’ place like this before. ‘sandblasted blood ‘n brains ev’rywhere. ‘a crumbling li’l girl’s pre-school, crayon drawin’ o’ you n’ her with those words no one can ever say as well as she does . . . “I love you.”
“So . . . we’ll think ‘bout given’ ‘em their due. But let’s take a close look at them ‘nalytics first. Let’s see jest who these goat suckers are.”
What the fu —??
Wher’re all our folks who’d grab that article as if it were a life raft? Wher’ those beat-down soldiers who’d reach for that first sentence, hopin’ to find in their fellow vets’ courage a reason to live another day?
What ‘bout them military spouses who don’ know what th’ hell they can do t’keep the family together ‘cause the ‘damned war came back with th’ hero they used to know?
“What the hell? These body snatchers get rid of vets more efficiently than Boko Haram grabs up school girls.
“‘an what ‘bout th’ Harvard Med School thing? ‘ven folks without much schoolin’ likely heard somewhere that that’s jest ‘bout the best there is. Y’don’ think they’d grab for an article ‘bout PTSD from Harvard? Even if it meant they ‘ad to call up that smart sister-in-law who works in Vanderbilt’s ER? Y’know . . . just if they d’nt understan’ somethin’.
“‘Now . . . a couple of views are showin’ up from the Irish Defence Forces – those guys are great – an’ o’er there on th’ right . . .y’can see 2 views comin’ from London. ‘really glad they’re ‘ere.
But God only knows what th’ wretched soul stealers did to all th’ folks from th’ RAF, British Army, ‘n Royal Navy who also get beat up 24/7 by PTSD an’ who, jest like our warriors this side ‘o th’ pond, want to learn ‘nything they can that might help ‘em or mayb’ help some other vet.
“Poor bastards. ‘damned ‘rasers prob’ly drained their blood before dumpin’ ‘em in some mass grave deep in cyberspace. That’s a lousy way to treat someone y’have a special relationship with.
“Y’know, Her Majesty’s warriors ar’same as ours in ‘nother way. They get tired too – o’ watchin’ their fellow vets get so beat down from tryin’ . . . year after year . . . to get someone who’ll stop fu— thankin’ em fer their service and listen’ t’what they’re sayin’ . . . n’ finally get ser’ous ‘bout combat trauma . . . so . . . so damned tir’d o’ tryin’ that ever’day someone jest says f—‘em ‘n pulls th’ trigger o’ that gun that’s been ‘n their mouths a dozen times before.
“Damn. ‘sure does look like ‘em nasty monsters feast on th’ wounded first.”
In recent days, researchers have huddled with counter – terrorism officials in FVEY member countries about new findings that appear to suggest that Erasers’ well-known preference for victims from Britain has gone manic.
“Experts say that examinations of data from three social media posts set in and around the UK seem to indicate that Britons have experienced a massive attack from the marauding carnivores. Recorded views for 3 excerpts from a World War II article set at the Great Ashfield Airdrome in Eastern England – home of the USAAF’s 385th Bomb Group – increased from 1,026 to 1,159 before plunging to 145.”
Even though sightings of the deadly species are rare, they do occur. In one particularly brazen killing spree, Erasers attacked current and former military and intel personnel in social media neighborhoods offering free content from a respected former Navy SEAL about new medical evidence re explosive-blast TBI; a career intelligence official who is now a senior fellow and director of the Brookings Intelligence Project; and from a veterans’ organization honoring Sgt. Forrest Vosler, a native New Yorker credited with saving the lives of his fellow crew members following a savage attack on their B17 by German fighters.
When the rampage was over, not one soldier, sailor, airman, Marine, or even veterans’ advocate, was anywhere to be found. Efforts to gather even a few samples of the victims’ DNA were in vain. Collateral damage to be suffered by family and friends as a result of their not learning that important information even exists, is expected to be high.
In recent days, researchers have huddled with counter – terrorism officials in FVEY member countries about new findings that appear to suggest that Erasers’ well-known preference for victims from Britain has gone manic. Experts say that examinations of data from three social media posts set in and around the UK seem to indicate that Britons have experienced a massive attack from the marauding carnivores. Recorded views for 3 excerpts from a World War II article set at the Great Ashfield Airdrome in Eastern England – home of the USAAF’s 385th Bomb Group – increased from 1,026 to 1,159 before plunging to 145. British intelligence officials, speaking on condition of anonymity, explain that these latest numbers suggest a quick and brutal attack on social media members from the U.K. Of particular concern is what national security sources describe as a “gluttonous taste” for current and former military and intelligence personnel.”
But official experts remain tight-lipped about reports that two Australians on walkabout reported to local police in Cambridgeshire that they witnessed a frenetic feeding frenzy by Erasers chanting a traditional rhyme:
I smell the blood of an Englishman,
Be he alive, or be he dead
I’ll grind his bones to make my
A gaffer at the pub where the Aussies told what they witnessed to an off-duty officer, described the two witnesses as ashen in appearance, and trembling.
Efforts by security officials to craft a public statement that No. 10 can issue to assuage concerns within the tight-knit community of warriors and their families, have stalled. “The problem,” says one long-time observer of the defence community, “is that once Erasers get that first taste of human blood, they always demand more. They’re never satisfied.”