A common occurrence in the world, both in the worlds of the media, communications, relationships and even international espionage, is misinformation. This is when a piece of information is passed on, but later found out to be false. The girl who is told that her partner cheated on her, only to find out that he was actually buying that fancy bracelet for her birthday four months in advance, is likely to feel a little silly. In the same way, the man who is told that a supermodel has been spotted four streets way is likely to feel annoyed and sadly aroused when it turns out to be a lie.
With the internet coming into greater prominence every day, misinformation has transferred almost effortlessly to the world wide web. With people able to lie about themselves and each other with little to no chance of any sort of consequence meeting them, there seems little point in honesty. The subtle lies of a CV or Rsum have become commonplace when talking about the self.
The consequence of misinformation, unfortunately, is not a personal consequence. It is more spread and long term. The main effect is not felt by the misinformer, but rather by the misinformed. That one who, believing that the lies they have been told are the truth, will use that information before realising it. It is a lot like buying something before you have the money to pay for it. One moment you're enjoying your new item, and the next it is gone for reasons you barely understand.
Hugh Gee was a victim of his own lack of knowledge. Misinformation was not given to him by other people, but rather by his own overimaginative mind. His fear was clouding his judgement in the same way it would a Jedi Knight, or so were the ideas that his mind was leading him towards. In truth though, there were no demons after him, no Sith Lord, and none of the policemen he so ardently feared.
Unfortunately, Hugh Gee was never altogether intelligent.
"Dude, there is a seriously funky smell coming from your pits, and I do not want it hanging around my shop anymore," Greg told him, holding his nose as if that would help him at all. "You need to get out of my back room, and sharpish. People are looking at me like I'm growing some mutant fungus back here. Go home."
Hugh fought his way out from underneath the blanket that had become his home, only to be blinded by the light swinging above him. He wondered, idly, what the time was.
"Oi, mercy flush, at the very least you could bother to do some work around here," continued Greg. In his other hand, Hugh's eyes focussed and showed him a full bin liner. "Take this out back and dump it there for the bin men to sort out. Some of us actually have to earn a living, and you'll never fix that car of yours if you keep lazing about like this. I'm not paying you to sleep; I expect a rent check."
Hugh mumbled a collection of somethings, but none of them were words, so Greg threw the rubbish on top of him.
"Go!" he shouted, pointing towards the back door.
From the moment he got up from the couch, Hugh regretted it. Days of sleeping in the same clothes had made them sticky with sweat, and Greg was right about the smell, of course. He rubbed sleep from his eyes, yawned and then stretched a little. His arms and legs didn't much want to move, but he forced them to wake up, as he had been forced himself. Picking up the rubbish took a little more effort, but he managed to gather it together and say: "Yes, boss."
The fact that his nose couldn't pick up the usual smells in the outside alley was a clear sign that his sense of smell had deteriorated horribly. He must have had a rather pungent aroma about him in order to manage that. Perhaps Greg was right and he should go home. Maybe, by this point, the police would have been and gone, and he would have managed to get away with first stealing a car and then wrecking it, yet again.
It was at this point that he resolved never to get a car for himself. He obviously had very poor luck with them. He quickly dumped the rubbish alongside that of the other shop owners of the street, and went back to the door of the music shop.
It was locked.
Fearing the worst, correctly, he pounded on the door until Greg came to the other side.
"Let me in," he shouted. "What if the police are waiting for me! I can't go home! I'm a fugutive! I'm on the wrong side of the law."
"And the wrong side of the door, piss stains," countered Greg. "I'm done for the night. The place is locked, and I need to get that smell out of my sofa and my blankets. Once you've cleaned up, come back to work, but make it a couple of days. I don't like working, and you've managed to make it happen. I'm not happy with you."
"Please, just let me in. I'll clean up and I'll-"
"You'll f--k off and you'll like it," instructed Greg. "Go home."
Wherever he was, he didn't answer again, despite Hugh beating on the door and shouting after him with a voice that quickly became strained and hoarse. It didn't take him long to give up.
The chill of the evening hit him quickly. He was only wearing jeans and a t-shirt, with his coat still locked inside. He huddled his arms around himself while he considered the option of going home. His parents would not be happy to see him - he had brought the police to their day, but they would probably be glad he stayed low and didn't let them know where he was for a few days.
Congratulating himself on his ability to protect the feelings of his mother and father, he dug in his pocket for his mobile phone, scrolled through the numbers and wondered how many close friends he had left.
David and Heather were a close couple now. Even though David was the cool guitarist in a band that featured another guitarist as awesome as Hugh Gee, Heather still seemed like an alright sort of girl. She had boobs, and that always made somebody more cool. The two of them had just moved into their own place: a pokey little two-room flat with a bathroom shared by four other people, but they seemed to be happier for it. This made no sense to Hugh, but it was potentialy lucky.
They had a couch. That was what Hugh fixated himself on. He had a job to do in earning rights to sleep on it though.
He met them in a pub. It was a comfortable place, if a little dingy, where David did acoustic sets outside of the band to earn extra cash. They were two high-schoolers living alone; any money was good money. Heather had a weekend job serving fast food at a place Jimmy and George frequented. It came with a little uniform and everything. It was not hot.
They sat together in one of the quieter areas while another artist played a couple of dull songs. Hugh was determined that they would look after him, and that he was going to very carefully and cleverly make himself a home out of their couch.
"So," he began carefully, examining their faces of expectation while he considered how to say this, "would either of you mind hiding me from the police for a while?"
In Hugh's mind, this was the sort of request that won Oscars. He was wrong. Heather just frowned at him, while David began to laugh to himself.
"What?" asked Hugh.
"Oh my god, you're serious," Heather said, bringing her hand up to cover her mouth.
Confused, Hugh looked towards David in the hope that he would be more receptive. He wasn't. David was still laughing to himself.
"What did you do?" Heather asked him, sounding properly scandalised at the very thought of protecting him.
Not sure where to start, Hugh told the story in disjointed fragments, starting with the wrecking of the stolen vehicle. The more he spoke, the more the two of them reacted, but in very different ways. While Heather simply looked more disgusted with him over time, David started to laugh louder and louder at his every admission of the utterly stupid things he had been doing. It was difficult enough to tell the story knowing that the police were quite possibly flying around the streets looking for him. Hugh was exposed here, and exposing himself in public was never going to end well.
As he finished his story and David settled his heaving chest, Hugh thought he might try rephrasing the question a little.
"So, I'm a dangerous fugutive at run from the law," he started, feeling immensely proud at being able to describe himself in such words. Their expressions told him that he should have given up, or just changed tact so completely that it wasn't recognisable as a Hugh Gee way of thinking, but he did not. "I need a hideout to sleep in, and I don't know how long for. The police may come knocking. They may demand to search your home and maybe even sieze some of your belongings, but you have to hide me from them. You have to protect me from the evil of the world masquerading as good police people who have jobs and stuff. Help me Obi Wan Kenobi. You're my only hope."
"Piss off, Hugh," said David, the moment Hugh finally went quiet. "Why don't you try Martin? He keeps talking about how rich he is and how easy it is to be rich and live with his mother."
"Don't be stupid," Hugh countered. "I'm not staying with that tramp. Even if the police do find me, at least they'll find me without lice and shit."
"Well I hope it all works out, or I'll start looking for a new guitarist," continued David, seemingly unwilling to compromise. "You'd better find somebody else."
Hugh considered going home, but a passing police car only five streets away from his convinced him that he was still being hunted ruthlessly by dangerous men who would stop at nothing to make sure that he was behind bars, in prison, getting bummed by people with no hair and gold teeth and Popeye tattoos. It was a scary thought, and only something truly terrifying could have made Hugh do what he did next.
He knocked on the door of the composed little semi-detached house he had come to know quite well. Jimmy's mum opened the door, and she shouted Jimmy faster than Hugh could ask to come in.
When Jimmy did arrive, his first words were not welcoming ones: "You're not coming in. I can't believe you went to that twat before you came to me. What were you thinking?"
"Would you let me off if I told you that, once I was inside, I was going to try and help you score?"
"Were you balls, you're just being a twat," announced Jimmy. "When I want to hit that, I am so going to hit that. I don't need you. You here to tell me what a dangerous criminal you are then?"
Hugh considered going through his entire story again, though perhaps with a couple of added gorey bits and some tits. Somehow, the knowing smile on Jimmy's face let him know that his friend had already been told. David must have called him, or Heather, which was a terrifying thought. As he considered this, Hugh began to feel very uncomfortable about being outside of the house, available for the world to see on the street.
"Can I come in?" he asked.
"You can go to hell," Jimmy answered. His arms were crossed and his body was blocking Hugh's path. There was no chance that he was getting in this house. "Maybe you could swallow your pride and remember who your real friends are? You could always try the blob?"
"The killer tomato?"
"He'd probably try to hump me in my sleep again," Hugh told him. "Plus, George still wets the bed from when he was a kid. Everybody knows that. Even if I was sleeping like six feet away I'd still smell it, and I bet he wouldn't even notice."
Jimmy made a show of wrinkling his nose and sniffing the air. "You don't smell so ripe yourself you know," he commented.
Arguing that point would be pointless, especially in a place where he could be found at any time. "Can't you help me?"
Rolling his eyes, Jimmy laughed and then simply gave up and shut the door in Hugh's face.
In the end, there was only one option, or so Hugh told himself afterwards. A criminal, a fugutive, a worse lawbreaker than Judge Dredd, the only thing any decent human being would do would be to hand himself in. He would prove himself decent, and maybe the police could make him a deal and give him an anal bodyguard so that nobody was mean to him when he ws behind bars. Yes, all in all, this was a good idea. This was certainly his thought process as he walked into the local police station and snarled at everybody in the waiting room. Nobody noticed, and likely they wouldn't care.
He approached the desk cautiously, denying the urges of his body to turn around and walk back out again. The policeman there was behind a sheet of glass, writing notes down in some report. Hugh tapped on the glass quietly, causing the officer's head to lift up and his sharp eyes to peruse the evil man before him.
"I've come to hand myself in," mumbled Hugh.
The policeman did not look impressed. His pen began moving again, even while his eyes examined every line of Hugh's face. "Name?" he asked.
"Hugh," responded Hugh.
There was a pause. The policeman glared for a few moments, put down his pen and then glared some more. He shifted some gum around in his mouth, then reached for a telephone attached to the wal and keyed in three digits. "Kid here to confess to something," he said into it. Hugh waited, wondering why he hadn't yet been cuffed or cavity searched. "Hang on, I'll check. 'Ere, kid: what did you do?"
"I...erm...I stole a car," Hugh stammered. "It wasn't mine."
"Yeah, stole. I know what it means," he was told. "Don't know," he said next, putting his focus back on the telephone mouthpiece. "Don't think so. Nah. Yeah? Sure? Sure."
All done, the officer put down the phone and pointed his pen towards Hugh. "Take a seat," he said, "you'll be charged in a minute." All done, he went back to his paperwork.
Hugh frowned to himself, but did as he was told. It was always easier that way, even though he was a tough guy who broke laws and rules now. It took a couple of minutes for another policemen to wander down to the waiting room and, after a quick chat with the man behind the desk, he bore down on Hugh.
"You Hugh?" he asked simply. Hugh nodded, firmly believing that he was sealing his own death warrant. The policeman took his arm. "Alright kid, you can join our drunk in the cells for now and we'll sort this all out in the morning."
"Wait," Hugh protested, "you can't put me in a cell with somebody else. I'll bite off his nose. I'll pull off his fingernails and do really bad, evil stuff to him. I'm mean and cruel and-"
"That's a chance we're willing to take," his oppressor stated flatly. The walk was a short one. The cell in question wasn't far behind the front desk itself, and the door had the key already in it. He was pushed in, kicking and screaming as much as he thought to do in the two seconds before he was thrown in, and the door was slammed shut behind him.
In the corner of the room, sitting on a bed that came out from the wall, was a very nervous looking man of about twenty. He was thin, looked very scruffy, and his eyes were darting all around the room. His pupils were extremely wide, and he seemed to be having trouble focussing on Hugh. With a wide smile across his face, Hugh settled down next to him and whispered: "I'm going to rape you."
The man's face afterwards showed that this was going to be quite a fun night.