Cults. Are They a Necessary Evil In Our Culture?
God, is this… hello? Studio, are you getting this? It’s me, Gorge! Jesus… I don’t know how long I’ve been out here. I just… thank god this stupid redneck had a video phone! I’ve sent you a file for the last report I did before I woke up out here. This needs to be seen. Please. I’ve been living on squirrels for the past few weeks and… Hey! What do you mean “Who are you calling a stupid redneck?” Give me back the goddamn ph-
Good evening Los Santos, I’m Gorge Strictly, and this… is Weazel Action News.
After the carnage of last week’s report and subsequent public inquiry into the role of media in violence, my producers have given me a simple brief - take to the streets. Talk to the people. Most importantly of all - and my boss could not stress this strongly enough - don’t start trouble, and DO NOT take a gun with you.
Our first stop was the scenic Rockford Hills area of Los Santos, where on a street corner every day, the friendly voice of Pat Millford can be heard inviting citizens to attend seminars at the prestigious Epsilon Centre. But is there a darker side to this so called cult? Weazel News - and by Weazel News I mean me - decided to investigate.
We visited the Epsilon centre itself, a sprawling estate in south Richman where Los Santos’ privileged attend self actualisation seminars and get fleeced by profiteers in the name of enlightenment. After carefully parking the Weazel News intern van, I began to sweep the area for signs of anything untoward.
First of all, this graffiti bearing the stylised Epsilon logo seemed to throw the accusation of cult-like behaviour at the group. Could this be true? Could Los Santos have a cult operating under it’s very nose? Well, another one anyway.
"That’s ridiculous," Snorted spokesperson Korgar, "The Epsilon Program is a registered charity and tax haven which is fully compliant with all state and city ordinances, where applicable to galactic law. Besides, it’s not a cult. Those mountain guys are all in a cult, and they don’t wear pants. We wear pants. Mostly. So we’re not a cult."
A compelling argument, but how would Korgar deal with rumours of fraud and missing persons?
She sighed, and motioned toward the terrace at the back of the building. “You look like you could use a coffee, brother brother. Do you want to come this way?”
The coffee was good, much like I like my women: Colombian, finely ground and freeze dried. It had a strange bitter aftertaste to it though, and the morning sun was starting to get to me. Korgar motioned for me to sit under the shade of a canopy and take another sip of the coffee.
“It’s good coffee, isn’t it?” She nodded, staring at me with those baby blue eyes. “Look, we get a bad reputation in the media for all sorts of sinister stuff. We’re not like that at all. Drink your coffee. We’re just a bunch of people trying to get by in Los Santos and spread the word of Kraff so as to awaken his children for the time of his coming. Keep drinking your coffee.”
I had to admit, it all seemed to be making sense. Maybe it was Korgar’s stunning yet simple eloquence, or the glowing aura forming around her head, or something awakening inside me; but yes, I could see it. The Epsilon program isn’t evil. It isn’t a cult at all. It’s beautiful, and so is this coffee, and so are you, dear viewers. I love every single one of you.
Korgar smiled at me, and told me if I wanted to hear the testimonies of how Kraff’s beneficence had affected the area, I should go out onto the street and ask people. It seemed to trigger a memory from a long time ago of a man shouting at me from behind a desk to do just that, so I took a walk out into the world.
Oh my god this man is caring for mother nature! I tried to let him know that I thought his actions were so beautiful, but he just put his head down and kept digging, muttering to himself about ‘goddamn crazies.’ He kept digging, and I can dig it. Is this still recording? I can’t really hear my voice or feel my face anymore.
I asked him about the Epsilon Program. “I got nothing to say except they pay me to do the lawns.” It didn’t seem like much of an answer, so I asked him again, in a different accent. He frowned. “They pay me to do the lawns. I need this job mister. I seen nothing.”
He was being mean, so I found somebody else.
"Oh, you had the coffee huh?" Asked a new recruit, who assured me his name - his real name - consisted of a high pitched whine (even though a quick iFruit face search revealed his name to be Jorje Ruffalo - no relation).
“Yeah, that’s good coffee. I love the coffee here. Everything seems to taste so much better under the eye of Kraff. Like these cigarettes they gave me for my anger management. Here; try one brother, brother.”
I was overwhelmed by his generosity, and took a second to stare at the embers in the tip of the cigarette. They were so orange. So very, very orange.
Outside, an angry yet incredibly bored looking young man sat watching me. “Another recruit come to steal from me again? Whatever man. One day I’m going to meet a lawyer out here and you guys will be sorry!”
I sat next to him and asked what was wrong. “Fucking thieves man. ‘The Epsilon Program.’ That was was my goddamn band name for two years! Then all of a sudden Cris Formage pops up with his fucking castle, and Myspace and Tumblr start sending me copyright take downs and shit. I don’t need that! I’m an entrepreneur! I make my own artisanal [SIC] bread!”
It was at this point that Greblach found me and introduced himself. “Sup bro bro, I’m Greblach.” It strikes me that this quotation makes the preceding sentence redundant, which is bad reporting and I’ll probably get in trouble for it.
“So I just heard from Korgar, and she’s managed to get you fast-tracked into the media pathway of the program. We’ve got you an appointment in ten minutes with a Finance Actualisation coach, but it’s a limited time offer, so make sure you don’t miss out dude.”
I nodded and wandered into the road.
I recognised the piercing glare behind the glass as none other than local hypnotist and all-round scary motherfucker Danforth Graves. I was hit by a momentary sense of confusion, but he held his hand up.
“You already appear to be in a powerful hypnogogic [sic] fugue, so I won’t bother with the usual preamble.”
“I assume this is the work of the Epsilon Program. A terrible shame, but I will not have them interfering with my work. Time is closing in, and my hour is at… Oh but what am I saying? Spoiling the surprise when things are falling into place so nicely. Perhaps you should leave me to my destination. Perhaps you should return to the Epsilon program, and destroy them from the inside. Be my instrument of vengeance. Destroy them. But above all, bother me no further! Now Rosalita, drive! Drive! My dry cleaning awaits!”
He was right. Joining the Epsilon program is a fantastic idea.
Back on the terrace, Korgar awaited me with my Finance Actualisation coach. As I arrived, they seemed to be finishing a conversation.
“… absolute deadbeat. Seriously, I have no idea how this guy isn’t in jail the amount of debt he’s in.”
Korgar nodded, and turned to me sadly. “I’m sorry brother brother, but the transcendence of Kraff has spoken to us through your credit check, and you are what we here at the Epsilon Program call an ‘unsaveable [sic].”
I didn’t understand. Did this mean I would be unable to join them? Was I not a descendent of Kraff?
“No, no you’re really not. In fact, you’re lessening our collective enlightenment just by being here. Please go.”
I was crestfallen. And then I remembered the words of my friend Randall Graves…
And through the miracle of self actualisation, I was born again as a member of the Epsilon Program!
My new brothers were not so supportive of my path. Korgar ran away screaming when she saw me, as did my potential Finance Actualisation coach. This brother brother took one look at me and tried to quietly slip away without me noticing. But I knew that his lack of speed was a sign that I should follow. Yes, I would follow this man and become one with the brotherhood! Kifflom!
And following him I am! Up the hill away from the Epsilon Center, into Richman, and beyond; to enlightenment! Nothing can stand in my way! My divine right is nigh, even if I have to devour my brother brother and consume his essences to discover his secrets! Kraff be praised!
None shall stop me! Not even the heavy footfalls behind me and the sound of a taser being cha-
Next time on Weazel Action News: Intern vans - great vans, or the best vans?