Is there, like, a greater meaning to this? Or did it just amuse me?

What’s to say it can’t be both?

The journalists were the ones on the stilts. The MicroEditors were the ones overseeing them.

Above them all swirled the Maelstrom. It flowed it through holes at either end of the hall, stretching off to the horizon and beyond in both directions. A chaotic, churning tumble of everything that ever was and a constant source of things that could be. The Maelstrom provided those below with everything they would ever need to compile stories for the consumption of the masses.

Back in the old days it had been necessary for journalists to sometimes go outside, to the source of news itself. This had involved learning what the news was, where it was and how it affected the world at large. Those had been dark days indeed -days of hard work, discomfort and worry. Now, with an infinity of fact, fiction and anything inbetween surging at their fingertips, they didn’t even have to get out of their pajamas.

Of course, it was still in their remit to technically only public what was ‘true’ (or at least considered by most to be true at the time) but in practise this was really only more of a guideline than anything. Only the most foolish would ever let it get in the way of their job. For example, Journalist Serf Grade Four-Five-Six.

Tottering back and forth on their stilts, Four-Five-Six swept their trusty net through a swirling current of rumour and whimsy, snatching up a precious morsel of a story and yanking it down so they could have a look. The nearest MicroEditor, senses honed to the point they could tell when something good had been caught from the merest ripple in the aether, chose that moment to pop up by Four-Five-Six’s side.

“What’s that?” They asked, peering.

Four-Five-Six was massaging the globule, working it in their hands with the net tucked in the crook of their arm. Little by little the story became clear.

“It looks like…it’s about a terrorist attack. ‘Millions dead’, it says. Sound interesting.” Four-Five-Six said, wobbling in place. The MicroEditor frowned, snatching the story out of the young journalist’s hands and peering at it as it wafted in their grip. Something about it didn’t seem quite right. Millions? You think they would have heard more about that by now.

“Is it true?” They asked. Getting caught out would be costly. A sister publication had recently been burnt to the ground and all of its journalists mulched for publishing a report that turned out to be have been the fever dream of an eccentric loner out in Hemel Hempstead. A compelling tale at the time, to be sure, but utterly false. Thousands had died in the panic it caused, and people had been somewhat upset.

“What was that?” A mighty voice boomed, shaking the rafters and sending a thrill of fear through all present. Quivering, all turned to the throne that dominated the far end of the hall, at the MacroEditor who was now standing and glowering down at everyone present.

“Did someone mention TRUTH in my newshall?!” the MacroEditor bellowed, storming down from his throne of crushed and sculpted newspaper. A dead medium, but good raw material for comfortable thrones.

The ground trembled at his armoured footfalls and lesser journalists scattered before him, lest they be crushed beneath his hydraulically-assisted bulk. The MicroEditor and Four-Five-Six were rooted to the spot in sheer terror, both stood stock-still in puddles of their own urine and fear (though Four-Five-Six did come off slightly better thanks to their stilts – their trousers remained soaked, sadly).

Looming over the pair of them the MacroEditor vented steam from his rear exhausts and reached down, seizing the MicroEditor in a pneumatic gauntlet (MacroEditor’s were prolific users of both hydraulics and pneumatics, as they could afford both) and hoisting them up into the air as an angry child might with a doll they imagined slighted them in some way.

“A momentary lapse, lordship! A joke! We were going to run the story anyway! We were!” The MicroEditor squeaked, straining and struggling in the iron grip of the MacroEditor. Technically speaking it was a tungsten-alloy grip, but iron is more evocative.

“The news does not HAVE a sense of humour!”

“Apart from a pun for the front page?” The journalist suggested. Seeing an opportunity for advancement in having their MicroEditor throttled right in front of them they felt now was the time to strike and secure themselves a future. The MacroEditor – without looking – swatted the journalist aside with their free hand and left them a smear on the wall, attention never leaving the MicroEditor who had by now turned purple. All over. Even their clothes, such was the power of the asphyxiation.

“We have no TIME to verify anything! Every heartbeast that passes without a click is a moment without revenue – a moment WASTED! Advertising does not pay us per TRUTH! It pays us per GORMLESS, TRICKED VISITOR! Truth is WORTHLESS!” The MacroEditor roared.

Everyone watching knew this, of course. It was what was drilled into them on their very first day on the job, metaphorically speaking. On the second day it was literally drilled into them, remaining a part of them until the day they died before being salvaged and passed onto their successor. The old ways were the best ways, it was said.

The MicroEditor attempted to respond but failed, as they had no breath left in their horribly crushed body. They started leaking something other than urine, eyes bulging helplessly. For them, today could have been going better.

A tertiary manipulation arm extended from a hatch somewhere about the MacroEditor’s person and plucked the story up from where it had drifted, bringing it to their attention. They appraised it and its worth in maybe a picosecond, seeing instantly that the people would flock to it. Casting the story upwards to the NewsHawks that periodically swept through the hall to snatch away stories the MacroEditor gave the MicroEditor a final squeeze and popped them like a grape.

“And put it next to something about TITS!” The MacroEditor roared at the retreating NewsHawks, deafening those nearby before stomping back to his throne and sitting down in a huff.

You couldn’t get the staff these days.

END

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