Trigger warning — Some content in this fiction will include topics that some readers find traumatizing.
EXCERPT FROM THE NOVEL FEEDING THE DEMONS (published 2020 in Czech original and 2021 in English translation)
Lampassas County, Texas, 2017
Jeremiah Rozecky was sitting in his room amid a pile of empty pizza boxes. A group had recently appeared on 8chan that he hadn’t seen before. It was smaller than those he had frequented before. This new group was called /dar/ — Dare what you dream.
When he wasn’t playing computer games, he would browse forums like Steam, 8chan and Daily Stormer. That’s where he had found /polc/, a group that railed against political correctness. Nothing posted there was too shocking and there were no taboos. However, a month ago he’d discovered something even better, even stronger. The “Dare what you dream” now took up most of his free time. It was a group for tough characters who weren’t afraid to take things a step further.
His mother rarely dared enter her son’s room — apart from the rubbish and countless beer cans, she’d also chanced on a couple of illegal firearms. Sometimes Jeremiah would post the odd photo of himself on /dar/ posing with his Glock 18 or his shiny, new AK-47. When he came home from school, he would play around producing pornographic memes and watched how they would circulate among the various audiences. It was a straightforward recipe — the more brutal the image, the greater the response. At first he’d been a touch shy, but prominent group leaders had encouraged him to get out there and be even more daring.
Once, even the group’s alpha male, the member who used the nick HoneyBadger88, had praised his efforts. Jeremiah was particularly proud of that. He even stored a screenshot of the post.
The gist of the topics the group discussed followed a simple line. The world would never realize your potential unless you unleash your own demons. And everyone had different ones — one member might be afraid of their father, another of sex, another the law or driving the car. Even HoneyBadger had recently revealed he’d once raped a girl because it was simply so strong.
Anything is possible and you have the world at your feet. Dare to do what you dream of. Jeremiah knew this was true — just overcome his fear, take that last step towards freedom and the world would never forget you. And neither would Darleen. She definitely hadn’t even noticed there was someone famous in her class… someone who would be famous, anyway.
He had another headache. He’d been getting them often recently. They’d begun when he read the diary of Anders Breivik, the Norwegian gunman. Daily Stormer had featured his life story along with a great photo of that nice blond guy, under which was an explanation of why he had gunned down sixty-nine leftist teenagers at a summer camp.
The first use of first mass killings of innocent people as a proclamation was advocated in the nineteenth century by a revolutionary student organization in Russia called Land and Freedom. These young revolutionaries concluded this might be a highly effective form of propaganda that would force people to take sides in the face of terror. Division was the goal. Jeremiah kinda liked this idea. HoneyBadger88 had also confirmed the way he was thinking was correct, and that was a guy who knew history more than anyone.
* * *
It was last lesson of the day at Lampassas High School. Jeremiah had spent the morning, editing and reediting a video containing a revolutionary manifesto he’d downloaded just before logging off from /dar/. He’d also produced a meme — he’d photographed himself in uniform, fully armed. He’d airbrushed his belly, pumped up his biceps and added text: Death to the Harpies. In one corner he’d added their mascot, Pepe the Frog.
When he entered the classroom in camouflage gear, sports bag in hand, for the first time in his life he saw that people were looking at him. Staring, in fact. HoneyBadger88 had been right. You have to hack their attention — it doesn’t come on its own. He never wanted the moment he took the AK-47 from the bag to end.
Darleen was standing right next to him. Suddenly he had no problem smiling at her. The fear in her eyes was the sweetest acknowledgement he could ever have wished for. When he started shooting, everyone began to scream. Only she stayed rooted to the spot. She stared at him, and didn’t flinch a hair’s breadth. He had waited for this sensation all his short, seventeen-year-long life. No fear, no inhibitions. At last he was someone. At first he wanted to aim at her, but then he thought he’d let her watch. It would be an honour for her.
When he’d finished, the floor and walls were splattered with blood. Darleen was still standing there, motionless. The tears flowing down her cheeks were the only thing that broke her frozen state. Her open mouth was webbed with mucus and tears — this wasn’t the way he’d imagined it would be. He told her to shut her mouth. Then he fired.
After that he headed for the other classrooms.
When the special police unit turned up at the school, Jeremiah turned to the window. In the classroom where he had been shooting, a few children were still alive. He was gazing at the cops out of the window when suddenly he felt a sharp pain. The pain was so intense he realised, that if he could change his mind and turn back time, he would. Pain was something he hadn’t signed up for. He wasn’t ready for this. The first bullet ripped open his rib cage. He wondered where he would get the credits to get a new life. The second was a bull’s eye hit to the heart.
Youngstown, Ohio, 2017
John Hurley Junior was sitting in his father’s study logging into his computer. The prospering company they ran repairing expensive classic cars closed at five, and John had to lock up the office. He always spent the last hour of the day here in Youngstown on the web, chatting with players of the game Forces of Evil. He liked the game, especially for the fact that you could choose what the enemy looked like, what nationality they would be, what language they spoke and how they would die. There was a wide choice on offer —and John hated Jews.
It was one of the few games where this kind of menu was available. Recently he’d been suffering terrible headaches, but playing Forces of Evil calmed him down and busted the stress he had to deal with over the course of the day. His father had built up the business through local Jewish clients, and John was becoming less and less tolerant of their behaviour. They paid with their lives online for every unreasonable demand, for every time they ordered him around or talked to him in a condescending way. Only thanks to Forces of Evil could he remain part of the business — otherwise he simply wouldn’t have been able to tolerate their overbearing conduct anymore.
He switched the lights off in the office, activated the alarm and locked up. On the way home he stopped off at a gas station for a bottle of vodka. It was a beautiful evening and he didn’t fancy heading straight home where all that awaited was the TV and his nagging, pregnant wife. “The Harpy” as HoneyBadger88 would say. The message boards on Forces of Evil were like a life-giving oasis for him. He always realized something new about himself there.
He got out of the car and bought himself a hotdog, which he wolfed down with relish. Crossing the park, he sat down on a bench near the overgrown fountain. No sooner had he settled down than his phone rang. John glanced at the screen — it was Mr. Weismann, the company’s best client, the owner of a 1967 Bugatti. There was no way he could ignore the call.
„That new fender you put on is scratched, completely scratched!“ his client yelled into the phone, without even a saying good evening.
„Mr Weismann, the garage is shut — we’ll take a look at it in the morning, I must apologise, I don’t know how…“ he said, attempting to calm his client. But it was to no avail.
„I don’t want to hear any excuses. Get down here now and change that fender. It’s a sloppy job, and you know it! And I wanted to use that car this evening!“
„I really am sorry, but I just won’t be able to come by this evening. Couldn’t you…?“
Mr.Weismann didn’t even let him finish the sentence. „If that fender is not replaced within the hour, I’ll take your firm to the cleaners, and you can kiss goodbye to that loan of yours, too!“
For a moment John was speechless. Then he hung up abruptly. He stood up, threw the hotdog wrapper into the fountain, and marched across the park breathing heavily. Crossing the street, he drew his small Ruger LCP II and flung open the unlocked door of the synagogue. His hands were shaking. He missed the first random person inside he aimed at, but then things improved. Six people soon lay dead on the floor.
Lynchburg, Virginia, 2017
He’d been looking forward to this all year. Stephen Boyle had to lie to his mum that they had a lot on at the paint shop, and that she wasn’t to expect him home for dinner. That afternoon he packed his car trunk with leaflets and baseball red caps he’d had printed with the Confederate flag for his friends. He’d also used his own money to have some Nazi flags made with a huge black swastika in the middle. Only the colours had been a problem — a local supplier had used a dark red cloth that would have been more suitable for the Confederate flag…
Stephen had shown the supplier examples and explained that this shade of red was not the #DE0000 colour used by the Nazis that he had ordered. But it had been in vain. In the end he’d had to order the material from Alibaba in China. He wondered what colour would come in the mail this time, but for once the Chinese delivered the right goods, and on time.
Since early morning people had been posting on 8chan that members of left-wing forums had called for anarchists to protest at the same time as their march. To be on the safe side, he decided to take along a baseball bat and a stun gun. You never knew what to expect from that gaggle of weirdos.
It was a two-hour drive from his home to the town of Lynchburg where the United Right march was scheduled to take place. By the time he arrived, dusk was falling. The evening sky was illuminated with burning torches and lighters belonging thousands of participants. They had gathered at the assigned spot, from where the march would start. It was the first time Stephen had seen his “brothers” from the White Front United Right who he knew only from 8chan.
More people were there than he expected. He had no idea this was such a large organisation! He felt elated to belong to such a powerful clan of warriors, and today he could shout it out for the world to listen. American freedom is the greatest gift on earth, he said to himself as he unloaded the car near a tent for promo material suppliers. Several others were also emptying their trunks of T-shirts, banners, baseball caps…
The car empty, he went off to find somewhere to park. Meanwhile the crowd carrying their lit torches had begun to move slowly up the street, chanting as they went: “Jews will not replace us!”
The street in question led towards Thomas Jefferson Park and the monument that rose at the top of the hill. The torches flickered in the gathering darkness, and occasionally caught the red of the fluttering Nazi banners. On the hill they were planning to read out the manifesto their ideological leader, known under the nick HoneyBadger88, had penned for the occasion.
HoneyBadger88 was a bit of a mystery for almost all present. For some reason he never showed up in person. He’d taught them the phrase Blut und Boden, Blood and Soil. He was in hiding and everyone knew why. The authorities and the left-wing media would make his life hell. The community understood this, and so HoneyBadger88 had become a kind of anonymous idol they prayed to. Without his wisdom, ideas and imagination, the movement would never have become what it had. He’d given it the lifeblood it needed.
But those left-wing wackos had turned up as well. Stephen couldn’t get through them to the car park. The street was blocked by a huge crowd of young people. He was surprised to see there were even girls among them. It occurred to Stephen that it was difficult to tell them apart from their long-haired partners. They were yelling and waving their feeble fists. Bunch of fucking losers. Stephen suddenly remembered a taboo-busting test he’d successfully passed recently. A smile spread across his face. He half closed his eyes and took a deep breath in, before stamping on the accelerator and ploughing straight into the crowd.
He had no idea how many he ran over, but when he stopped and saw their distraught faces, he put the car into reverse. The tires screeched against the tarmac as he drove backwards through the piles of human bodies again. All at once he realised his headache had evaporated. Dare what you dream.
Yorktown, Westchester County, near New York, 2017
The next day Renata Gallagher picked up her vibrating smartphone. It was her father who, in his usual authoritative voice and without even saying hello, gave out the order: „Switch the TV on. Right now!“
All the channels were carrying the stories. The TV crews had had to share the load between them, exchanging footage with each other — they simply didn’t have enough reporters on the ground. In the course of two days in three different places, acts of senseless violence committed by white males had at first glance one thing in common: loners, a breakdown in self-control. The scenes were truly awful. TV screens overflowed with weeping parents, mourning classmates and furious relatives of the deceased. The president announced a day of national mourning. Talk around the country was of little else.
She picked up the phone and called her father back. „What do you think, could it have been…?“
Her father’s answer was surprisingly laconic: „ I’ve requested Sax suspend Scott from Challenger Analytics at least temporarily. I’ve also asked him to ascertain how many radicalisation projects they have worked on in the past year, and how many Scott had access to in person. I want that data. And you, I want you to immediately write an article for the Washington News Gazette stating how disgusted you are by the violence. Add we’re donating one million dollars to the fight against the radicalisation of young people. Get writing now — the deadline is six o’clock. I’ve already had a word with the editor in chief.“
„But daddy, didn’t we agree — no publicity? None under any circumstances.“
„That is no longer the case. Get on with what I told you to do“
Renata Gallagher ended the call and, her hands shaking, opened her laptop.