Thick morning dew hung over the plaza of a small town. The sun had just risen, but the activity in the streets was already frantic. Vendors put out vegetables in rows on their open-air stands, and several customers were already sorting through the wares.
It was a regular morning for the people of this town. The farmers and workers fell to their happy routines as the sun climbed higher in the sky. The mountains above the town were covered in a thin layer of snow, and the air was fairly cold. It was early spring and the heat wave of the eastern summer had yet to catch up to the town.
The town was nowhere near a rich town. It was perched just on the edge of a mountain range, looking down upon a larger city. The buildings were old and worn, and the streets were almost all-bare dirt. The entire country was about the same. Money was scarce and those who had it had power. Even so, the country had a well-established government, run by democracy, which was far better than some of its neighbors, and nearly every town had a police force, a hospital, and a library.
The citizens were happy with the government for the most part. It was not a system of caste, and a person could rise to the rank of rich and powerful if they were lucky. The town was full of mostly working class people, but most of them were literate. Modern technology, like computers were limited to places like the library, but almost everyone in the town ha a radio if not a television.As the warmth of the sun finally dispelled the mist that had clung to the narrow streets, the peace was suddenly disturbed. A brand new Audi car blew through the market, completely beyond control. The brakes screamed ferociously, and a blinding cloud of dust enveloped the plaza. The back tires of the car skidded and swung around, and the car slammed into a vendor’s booth.
The dust settled on the street again and countless people gathered to see what had happened. The booth that the car had run into was completely demolished. Tropical fruits of all varieties rolled across the street. An elderly woman stepped out of the car.
She was badly shaken from the accident. Her face was taught with stress and her hands quivered. Soon police arrived. They checked the area for other injured people and soon found the vendor whose stand had been destroyed. The frail man had fared far worse than the woman driving the car. An ambulance had soon arrived and gave their report on his injuries.
Two broken ribs, a broken leg and numerous cuts.The police quickly took fingerprints and wrote an accident log after checking the scene. An attempt to restore the calm failed, and the crowds continued to gawk at the accident. The woman who was in the car stopped shacking and pulled a cell phone out and called her husband, a wealthy man, working just outside of town. As the police worked feverishly, trying to clean p the scene, the woman’s husband arrived. At this point, it was fairly obvious who was at fault in the accident. There were no other cars on the road, and the woman who had wrecked was not paying attention when she lost control. This, under standard procedure would call for a court case, possible the suspension of her license and huge fees.
Seeing this, the woman’s husband pulled out his wallet, and ushered the lead policeman into a corner. He quietly pushed several hundred dollars into the police chief’s hand with the instructions to pass it out among the policemen on the scene, and tell them to keep quite about what had happened. The frail vendor who was injured in the accident was given a small pittance to pay for his medicalexpenses, and the incident was considered over.
Most people did not think of it as so, but two laws had been broken that day, the rich man’s wife had just gotten off a pending court case, and the man himself had just bought off the police force.The witnesses and onlookers slowly left. They probably would have told someone, like a local authority, or maybe reported the incident to the larger police district of the nearby city, but nobody thought they would do any good.
Most times, law could not contend with money unless there was a large uprising one person who had seen the whole incident walked through town. He passed the small shops, and then houses as he became further away from the market plaza. Signs through town advertised wares in kanji, another neon sign advertised a restaurant, but the bright sun dimmed the colors the billboard produced. He walked slowly across town and turned, entering a small, plain building. Inside, there were rows and rows of old musty books, in different languages — mostly English — lining the walls.
It was a small library – one room and only a couple hundred books, but the people loved it, using it for research, pleasure reading getting the news. In one corner, there was a small, old computer, the only one in the entire town. The computer had been donated to the town by an organization. It was old and far out of date, but it worked. Internet access was slow and archaic, but it did what it was supposed to, and the people of the town could write e-mails and surf the Internet.
The man slowly sat down at the computer and logged onto the web browser. This computer provided a gateway to the rest of the world for this town, and often times, a person would have to wait in a long line to use it. However, not today. The accident in the middle of town had drawn enough of a crowd that he did not need to wait at all. The man slowly typed in the address for a small current events forum and browsed through the posts. He had not had the opportunity to use the computer much, but now he was able to slowly browse through the news and other common information. Another person entered the room, wanting to use the computer.
The man on the computer quickly went to his email, and sent a quick message to a friend, explaining how he was doing, and the accident. Then he signed off, allowing the next person to use the computer. The man walked out of the library and headed home. The accident was completely forgotten within the next week.
Once the murmuring gossip about how the rich woman had crashed and almost killed a vendor died down, no one spoke about it. Normally there would have been a trial, but now there was not and nobody really cared. Those who were rich were those who had power, and the rich man had paid enough to keep the police quiet.
Months after the car accident, months after it had been forgotten, word of the corruption and police buy off resurfaced. The radio news, broadcast from a small station in the neighboring city aired a feature on the corruption of police, and the incident with the car crash was featured as an example.No one in town knew where the radio had gotten its information. The witnesses had largely kept silent, if the police were quiet, nobody would believe them anyway. The police kept silent, everyone knew that their mouths were paid shut.The news program continued, describing the entire incident in full detail, the accident, the man who was injured, and the complete buy off of the police by the rich man. Finally as the news segment came to an end, the reporter revealed where they had gotten their information.
Word had spread on the Internet based on a single email sent to a friend by one of the witnesses. Knowing full well that an email was not a stand alone source of information for broadcast, the radio station had done research on the subject, discovering the hospital records for the injured vendor, insurance records for the damaged car, and other such paper trails that rich man had failed to cover. The town was distraught.Those who had not seen the accident wondered how such a corrupt act had passed, right under their noses without so much as a word of protest.
A court case was inevitable now, now that the people knew what had happened, and the police and government knew what the lower officials had done to keep the incident quite. However, there would be more than just the court case for the accident. The rich man would be tried, too, and the police that had accepted the bribes, the rich man for charges of illegal bribery, and the police charged for accepting said bribes.No one yet knew who had sent the email, but it had clearly gained some momentum on the Internet.
The person who received the email had posted the news on forums and blogs, people had read the news and posted it on t their own forums and blogs. Investigation teams were soon on the job, checking the data before the court cases. As time progressed, more news services began to air the story of the car accident. The coverage became nation wide, but the person who had sent the email that started the ball rolling was still unknown.
Before action could begin in the cases of the guilty parties, it had to be known who had sent the incriminating email. The news broadcast company sent out a bulletin, offering a reward for the person who had brought forth the news, and at last, the recipient of the email stood up and named the man who had sent it. The media instantly went wild, flooding the small town and pushing up to the man’s house for interviews, but the man claimed no he had done no heroic act.
He sat quietly in front of the microphone, and when the reporters asked him how he had created such an uprising, he only answered: “I did not. I gave my friend some information and he passed it on. Soon everyone does that, and lots of people know about it.”The court cases began, and the rich woman was the first to be tried.
It was a jury free case, jut a minor traffic offense, careless driving was all, and she was fined for her accident, had to pay for the vendors large medical bill, and had her license revoked. The next hearing was for the rich man who had illegally bribed the police to get his wife free of all charges. This was a full blow case, judge, jury, lawyers, and all. The rich man had hire one of the highest acclaimed lawyers on the city, and paid dearly for his defense attorney. The case lasted for days.
Even though the rich man had the biggest name lawyers on his side, there was almost no evidence to support his case, and in the end, the city won the case. The jury seemed reluctant to punish such a well know aristocrat, but in the end they deemed that there was really no way, he could be innocent, and arrived a guilty verdict. His punishment: a massive fine, and jail time. Finally, the police officer that had lead the squadron was tried. He to had to hire a lawyer, and his case faired nearly the same.
He was demoted from his rank, given an equally large fine as the rich man, and sentenced to jail time.Again, the gossip and news coverage of the case slowly died down, but the man who had sent the initial email was still lauded as a legal hero. On the Internet, his face was ubiquitous, showing up on countless forums and news services, but the man kept his modesty, claiming that it was only the fact that people could talk to each other without sensor ship on the Internet that had brought about the trials.