False News

[Fiction Friday]

In an effort to tell stories effectively I’ve decided to practice by writing a fiction story each Friday. Here’s the first one.


He leaned forward. He didn’t know why they had to make chairs in a service office so uncomfortable. Maybe it was intentional. It kept people from lingering after their long wait in a slow-moving line that inched forward one person at a time.

“Name?”
“Samuel Davis”
“Infraction?”
Sam swallowed. The bravado he fronted to his friends after a strong drink last night was gone. “False news.”

This caught the questioner’s interest. She raised an eyebrow. “What did you do?”
The inquiry was obviously not part of the formal line of questioning.

Another swallow. “I posted a blog post. It told a story about something I did in highschool. It was a fictional story. I clearly stated it at the beginning of the post.”

The woman behind the desk continued to look quizzical. It was odd that someone would still be writing a blog in 2045. That was such old technology. “So how did you get charged with ‘False news?'”

In 2029, after democracy stumbled in North America and Europe because no voter could know what was factually true, strict laws had been passed. Fiction was highly regulated, and violators of the rules were fined progressively punitively. Serial violators were eventually imprisoned.

“Someone quoted my story. They gave credit, but they didn’t mention it was fiction. And then the next person shared it, and the next. By the time the Information Officers caught up with me it was no longer attached to the source, and there weren’t the proper disclaimers. Even though I did everything right, the law says it’s still my responsibility to make sure that only true words are spread.” The new laws had put the onus on anyone writing fiction to make sure that the whole world knew that it wasn’t a news story.

The woman behind the counter almost looked sympathetic. “That will be $1700.”