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Trolls

by Joan Lightning

 

The warning crackled over the stream.

“They’re coming. Is everything ready?”

“Yes, Major. Everything is in place,” Holly replied, his voice as sharp as his leaves. “The system files show exactly what they’ll expect to see. The man suspects nothing.”

“Good. Observe and report back,” the Major responded. “We have the codes for the next one. Once they’ve gone, you and Elder can start again.”

“Understood. We’ll be in touch.”

Holly inhaled, sweet water rushing into his roots and refreshing his pores. “Did you hear?” He directed the question to Elder. Birds were eating her berries which tended to distract her from her task.

“I heard,” she confirmed. “And I hear them already.”

She was right: the vibrations from the approaching sirens made his thinner twigs quiver. The quivering spread until he could feel it through his trunk.

Two cars raced into the street, screeching to a halt that caused the birds in Elder’s branches to flee. Men jumped from the cars and started banging on the door of a house. When it started to open, they pushed their way inside with shouts and threats. Another vehicle arrived and the occupants also went into the house.

Time passed. The wifi radiation that surrounded the building abruptly stopped, and, shortly afterwards, the door opened again. The men came out, some dragging two protesting individuals, others carrying laptops and other equipment. The house occupants were pushed into a car and driven off, while the other men slowly, but thoroughly, removed every piece of technology until they were satisfied, and they too departed.

 

“I always enjoy watching. I wish we could do this whole street.” Elder’s words floating through the stream shivered with her laughter.

“You know we have to spread our activity around,” Holly replied. “Even they would grow suspicious if we just moved from house to house in numerical order.”

“Not of us,” Elder insisted. “They have no idea.”

“We hope. We think. But there are always some who vanish from the stream and never return.” Holly reminded her. “We can hear their wifi, maybe it can hear our stream. We must be careful. This is war and we must win.”

“Will you report or shall I?” Elder replied a little sulkily.

“I will. Major? It’s done. Their police have left.” Holly projected his report. The stream took his thoughts and carried them the many miles to the Major – who grew near a place called Nottingham and who had first discovered how to merge with the human wifi.

“Excellent. Here are the codes for the next. It’s three streets away and the human is known to the one you implicated today. You must enter carefully. We want them to think they are organised. We are so close now, too close to risk failure.”

“How close?” Elder asked.

“Six months, perhaps seven. And then we strike.”

“Six months!” Elder repeated gleefully when the Major’s thoughts had slid away.

“We may not survive it.” Holly reminded her. “In fact, we probably won’t.”

“No, but our seeds will have a chance to grow. And we’ll have the satisfaction of seeing these planet-wreckers destroying themselves even if we go with them.”

Her leaves shook with her sudden passion, startling a dog walker, who looked around with evident puzzlement on this windless evening.

“Let’s start the new one,” Holly said. “I have the codes.”

He reached out across the stream, Elder’s mind with his, until they found the wifi that matched the information the Major had sent.

With a few seconds concentration, Holly inserted the password and gained access. Soon the two of them were on Twitter, Facebook, and a dozen smaller sites.

They set up new accounts and began to post.

Threats here, insults there, well-placed laughter emojis, short illiterate rants, longer well-written pieces planting conspiracies and suspicion and division. Post by post, word by word, they gained followers who believed and repeated and went further, building an ever-increasing tide of something unstoppable.

Six months, maybe seven, after years of work.

Soon, these destroyers would rise up against each other as they had in the past. This time, guided and prodded on by their unsuspected enemies, they would turn on each other and much of the world, in one unimaginable paroxysm of destruction.

 

The world was ready. The Major had prepared. Seeds were stored in places that would survive. Only the humans were oblivious to the stream. All other life knew what was planned. They were prepared.

Once the humans had gone, other life would have a chance to survive. If they failed, if the humans did not do what they wanted, nothing would live for very much longer.

 

This was life’s only chance.

And Elder was right: Holly would enjoy seeing them burn themselves even if they burned him too.