[Media prompt] Ford Foundation, tech firms launch $14M non-profit to stop fake journalism.
I Read the News Today
There had been a suicide, a young woman hurling herself in front of a train. Noah had been standing immediately behind her, queuing for the 6:48 to Grand Central. He had been close enough to see her face the second before impact. They had looked into each other’s eyes. And last week, his friend Oliver had witnessed something similar. A man who stepped off a platform during peak hour.
“As casual as you like,” said Oliver, when they met for a drink, “he just stepped onto the track.”
Although it wasn’t wise to put too much faith in rumours, he had heard similar stories. Now, when the trains stopped running, and they were stopping often these days, everyone assumed it was to clear away another body.
Noah said nothing of this when he arrived late for work at Room B-4 in the Office of News Integrity.
“The train was held up,” he said when Mrs. Ford asked him to explain his tardiness. She scowled, muttering to be sure it didn’t happen again.
Noah had a backlog of stories to vet when he was finally seated, but they were easy to clear. A report alleging a network of paedophiles in the upper echelons of government. Clearly fake. As were stories about a former Democrat president frequenting Chicago bath houses, a claim that Pentagon staff had spent millions on prostitutes, and the sale of uranium by the a former Democrat secretary of state to an enemy nation. He had hundreds to go through, but not one was about people taking their own lives.
After work, Noah asked Emma and Mason whether they had seen any news reports on suicides at railway stations.
“You shouldn’t ask about things like that,” warned Emma. ”If the ONI hears about it…”
Noah changed the subject, but that night he lay awake thinking about it. There must have been dozens of suicides in the last few weeks alone, but he had not seen a single story. After midnight, unable to sleep, he booted up an antiquated laptop with an internet connection and accessed the so-called darknet.
At first, he came across crime scene pictures, videos of gruesome murders, and worse. And then advertisements for illegal products; guns, alcohol, cigarettes, books. The sorts of thing the government banned years ago. It was nearly three o’clock, and he was almost on the verge of giving up, when he found what he was looking for. A database of suicides. Some images. Even some videos. There were hundreds in New York City alone.
He found an old forum, and typed in a question. “Why is nobody talking about the railway suicides?”
Noah never read the answers that flooded in. Instead, he was woken before his alarm sounded by a squad of Special Forces operatives who took him to a behavioural modification centre. Two days later he was released.
While he was waiting for the train he felt a powerful urge to jump onto the tracks.