In March of the year 2019 humanity came inches from extinction when an extraterrestrial threat (that looked something like the grey humanoids from science fiction) came to Earth with hostile intent. Cities were levelled and many killed in the short conflagration that followed the invasion, against which the combined might of the world’s superpowers paled.
Huddled, and shivering among the wreckage of gutted cities, humanity prepared to meet an untimely end.
However, unbeknownst to humanity or the alien insurgents a scrappy group of teenagers had slipped aboard the mothership. Utilizing deception, firearms and friendship, the group made their way through the aircraft carrier-sized vessel which hovered over Manhattan until they reached the Core.
The Core, to which all alien sentience was tethered, was protected by the most elite of the invaders’ forces, and even with the element of surprise most of the teenagers met powerfully violent ends. In the final moments of the invasion only one boy, Marcus, stood between survival and the complete decimation of our species. As his last remaining grenade came into contact with the Core and combusted, armies of intergalactic lifeforms all over Earth dropped to the ground — lifeless husks. Using the wireless transmission station with which the aliens had hijacked earthen TV frequencies, Marcus appeared to the world — weary and bruised.
“It’s over, everybody.” He said, a sheepish smile on his face, “They’re gone. We’re safe.”
Victorious and rejuvenated, humanity pulled together to rebuild. Within a couple of months most modern infrastructure was working again. With communication links still being salvaged and most over-air transmission reserved for armed forces and critical services, not a lot was known about the Saviour of Humanity, or what happened to him following the defeat of the aliens. Over the coming days there where whispers on the wind; hearsay from passing supply caravans or travellers that Marcus had been recovered from the mothership, and was reunited with his family somewhere in what remained of upstate New York.
By the end of August, life was coming to resemble pre-invasion times and world-wide interconnectivity was restored. With renewed digital freedom, stories of loss, survival and valor poured over the internet and humanity began searching for the boy who had saved the world.
They didn’t have to look far, and on the 16th of September the first post-war tweet from the (now verified) account @That420Marcus read, simply:
The responses criticising grammar were overwhelmed by an outpouring of thanks and appreciation for the boy who gave everything for his planet. In the following hours further details emerged about the mothership incursion, and Marcus’s firsthand survival account.
With the government being so quick to contain as much of the alien technology as possible, Marcus became the unofficial spokesperson for the invasion, and armchair strategists solicited him for his thoughts on the alien campaign — which Marcus gave freely:
To which, inevitably, came the responses asking if Marcus could clarify what he meant when he said ‘less important places like africa’. Marcus was quick to clarify that he had meant nothing by this remark, and that perhaps he hadn’t phrased it as well as he could have. Other Twitter users jumped to his defense and accused others of intentionally misinterpreting the tweet.
A few minutes later he appended this with a follow up tweet:
A handful of people began a forensic investigation into Marcus’s Twitter post history, which was still publicly available thanks to a robust decentralized network of backup servers. As well as identifying his hobbies (sports) and remaining family (father, two sisters, a dog), this deep-dive also unearthed a thread in which Marcus had referred to a forum moderator using a homophobic slur when his thread titled “sjw genderswapping in movie remakes” was locked.
In one of his many TV interviews Marcus sat small and nervous opposite a presenter who probed him specifically on this digital rant. Between the two figures a large digital screen showed the offending Tweet in triple-XL, and under the interviewer’s stern-but-not-unsympathetic gaze Marcus admitted that it was “a bad look”. What he didn’t do, as many online were quick to point out, was apologize.
Think-pieces sprung up with titles like “Why We Don’t Owe Anything To Marcus” and “Marcus: Pariah or Messiah?”. Certain parties were sympathetic, reminding the more vocal detractors that this was a seventeen year old boy who had watched all of his friends die and done humanity a great service.
On one side you’d hear:
As a media trail led Marcus to the west coast, he was insulated by high-profile survivors who praised his contribution to humanity; sharing rapport with him on late-night TV slots and tailing his growing entourage as he moved from state to state.
He spoke at motivational conferences where he was (repeatedly) heard to say “I was once a normal guy, like all of you”, and from there attended appearances at movie premieres and celebrity birthday parties. He was invited as a guest speaker at high school graduations, store openings, flat earth conferences and anti-vaccination sit-ins. The latter were met with a forceful online/offline response, but Marcus was quick to address the issue:
Unfortunately, the story of the boy who saved the world only got more concerning from here. In the absence of time, the following thoughts from Twitter user @_smiler232 will have to suffice: