Ben uploaded his video confession that afternoon with help from Drew and Penelope. It stayed online for three hours before Mack asked Drew to delete the website, the video and all social media sites associated with the campaign. But three hours was enough time for the news to spread, for trolls to comment and for anonymous Internet users to download the information and reupload it to other sites.
Mack took care of the copies quickly, like he was a grandmaster whack-a-mole champion of torrents and scrapers. Copies got taken down within an hour of publication and soon died off as Mack tracked the IP addresses of offenders and compelled their compliance in stopping the spread of the materials, a feat that is usually impossible for any digital material already on the Internet. But clearly, Mack could be very persuasive.
Ryder’s autopsy report had been leaked to the Times, who published the story immediately, claiming that Ryder had been “hopped up on drugs” at the time of his death and had been unfit to aid the Glacier Rescue team on that callout. But it wasn’t enough that he had died. According to the Times, he had endangered the other members of the group with his careless use of drugs, an opinion the newspaper published without interviewing any member of Glacier Rescue. There was no response from the Conway family, a result of being paid off, shamed, or otherwise silenced, some villagers speculated. They wondered who would pick up the Conway family’s side of the story anyway?
While the Times was focused on the smear campaign, the Pique chose to highlight Wade’s arrest, although no names were mentioned due to all parties being minors. The paper also included stories of survival and empowerment, and ways for victims of violence to get help and support.
The Glacier Rescue team’s effort to shut down the Times had made great progress and only a few advertisers remained after their campaign. However, the newspaper somehow survived without any difficulty. The Glacier Times had deeper pockets than anyone could have guessed. In addition, Sunny’s lawyer cousin from Vancouver had won an easy settlement for Sam from the paper after sending only one cease and desist letter. Sam donated the money to Glacier Rescue for their new helicopter, which Lorne named the Glacier Rescue Ryder, in honor of a much-beloved, lost member of the Glacier Rescue family.
The Internet had a mind of its own, however, and for a time, social media in Glacier Village was overwhelmed by kidnapping deniers, who argued that the entire incident was a hoax. That Ben had never even gone missing. That Glacier Rescue had killed Ryder as a means of inciting sympathy and raising funds, which had been immediately embezzled by Lorne. Protests and boycotts took place, impeding callouts and placing rescuers and those who needed help in precarious situations.
The Glacier Village Police Department closed their investigation of the incident without explanation, not that anyone expected one. Dan suspected that it had been unofficially closed almost from the start, but without additional proof, it was difficult to determine what had actually happened. Dan hadn’t responded when Sam had repeated Drew’s impression of the Black family’s influence in Glacier Village because he didn’t need to say anything. They had come to realize that there was a sliver of truth to Drew’s words. A truth that didn’t sit well with either of them and would likely represent a future challenge they would have to deal with. But after everything that had happened, they knew they would face that challenge as a team.
The day after The Angel of Karma posted Wesley’s video, the warrant to seize Trax had been withdrawn, as was the order to have him destroyed. Mack had been equally successful in getting copies of Wesley’s video deleted. But once word had spread across the village about what Wesley had done, he disappeared on a long, mysterious vacation to avoid criticism. No one knew where he had gone or when he would return.
Within a short period of time, Ben’s confession video and Wesley’s incident with Trax had mostly been forgotten, as though it was a line item in the history of Glacier Village that had been triple deleted.
And just days after she had left, Claudia arrived back in Glacier Village with Trax. He had escaped from her home three times and the third time, he had miraculously navigated through the city, over Lions Gate Bridge and on to the Sea To Sky Highway in West Vancouver before being caught. Claudia loved Trax, but she knew that he had already decided who he belonged with, that he had already chosen his human.