Since I´m a bit of a rebel I started the Tales Of Tinfoil compilation with the last story, the 13nd one, which isn´t linked in the ToC btw, and also not named anywhere but merely an appendix after the acknowledgements. I was only waiting to see a "For your eyes only" stamp of approval, but this did not happen. Talk about missed opportunities. I would think this would have enriched the story in this odd, perfect way some things are sometimes.
I know Gatewood is a high profile editor who works with the likes of Hugh Howey and A.G. Riddle, what I didn´t know is that he is also a pretty decent writer himself. Anyway, "Error 404" starts out with a middle-aged guy, unnamed throughout the whole story, watching porn day in and day out. Until his computer freezes and he gets an "Error 404" on his screen. His computer was hacked by a group of Internet Vigilantes called "The Debunkers", which I think is a pretty damn cool name. Those group doesn´t want money for holding his computer hostage, they want the middle-aged porn addict himself for their own purposes. Why is a bit of a mystery at first since he seems absolutely unremarkable. There is nothing special about this dude. He lives a solitary life, eating pizza, drinking beer etc. I mean, watching porn is really all he does.
"The Debunkers" are a hacker group even it isn´t fully explained, merely hinted at, what exactly they do. They are taking down government websites, porn sites, making fake videos about Kim Jong-Un, or posting photoshopped pics on those so-called conspiracy theory websites about the latest absurd rumors. While at the same time they debunk those very rumors they helped spreading.
Those vigilantes aren´t so vigilante after all, but actual employees of a secret and dark, shadowy government agency within some bigger government agency, think NSA. Their boss is in true X-Files style a cigar smoking guy, some big shot but with an agenda on his own, and this group is basically nothing more but his way of paying back his enemies, real and imagined.
Everything is a bit far-fetched obviously, but that´s to be expected in a compilation about conspiracy theories, but it´s definitely a ton of fun. The mystery middle-aged porn dude serves however a purpose as a bait since he has a dark past, and could embarrass some actual politicians quite a bit if his secrets ever come to light. There is a lot of paranoia in those story, with references to yeap, X-Files, even none of the characters is a Mulder or Scully.
It´s just fun watching the plot unfold, and the story ends very appropriate to the title... with some blank pages. No kidding. Which is definitely an odd way, but so surprisingly fitting I could not help but laughing my butt off. Now that´s a twist I really, truly did not see coming. Of course there are some questions left in the end, coz how could it not, but I really did not mind. The whole thing is so extremely bizarre and gets more obscure with every page that I think the non-ending is basically the best way possible anyway.
What I cannot confirm nor deny is that apparently every copy of the Tales of Tinfoil has a different 13nd story, while other copies only have 12. And some may even have 14 stories included, at least that is what I read. I really have no way of knowing, but if you don´t come across this particular story "Error 404" you better blame David Gatewood. Those guys are probably weird enough not to pull a trick like that.
4 **** tinfoil hat stars for Error 404
(Legal disclaimer: I received a free copy of Tales Of Tinfoil pre-publication from David Gatewood).