It’s You — But It Isn’t

You’re a regular commenter on a website about a hobby you are passionate about. You’ve been posting for years and have made many friends. Suddenly one day, you hop on the site and notice there are several comments from you—but you didn’t write them! You attempt to delete them, but you can’t. Worse yet, more appear while you are sitting at your computer. What do you do?

Post your response (500 words or fewer) in the comments below.

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275 thoughts on “It’s You — But It Isn’t

  1. WhyUseAUsername

    The Monster In Love

    “Sunny,” Mark called. “Come here. ” I rubbed a bruise. Mark was my beautiful husband, and I loved him more than anything. But last night, he had gotten… out of control. But as usual, I, Sunny Gracenda, was willing to forgive and forget, no matter how many bruises were on my back.

    Walking quietly over to his office, I placed a hand gently on his office chair. I saw the beer bottle, but wasn’t sure if it was from last night or now. “H-hey.” He turned with a smile on his face. “Hey.” I sat on the arm of the chair, glad he wasn’t angry.

    I noticed a message board up on the computer. “SUPPORT BOARD,” it read. I leaned closer to the computer. “A cancer support group for young teens,” I read aloud. I turned to Mark. “Why are you on a cancer support board for teens?” He laughed cruelly. Okay, maybe he was drunk. “I love reading their little sentimental stories about how they ‘survived’. I come in, and, having a laugh, make fun of them. They act HAPPY they were diagnosed,” he laughed.

    My eyes widened. I never thought Mark would do something so horrible. He smiled. “Here, look at this guy.” A boy at the age of 16 had written about how his cancer had caused his girlfriend to break up with him. Mark raised a finger. “I know what to write.” He typed in, “Maybe that wasn’t the only reason she broke up with you… bet she liked someone else. Someone who wasn’t gonna die before his 20s. ”

    Submit.

    I gasped. “What are you doing? That’s so cruel,” I whispered. He turned to me. “Well, maybe you shouldn’t be here, if you don’t agree with how I live.” Another gasp came out, only this one was in pain. He had grabbed a knife, and drawn a long line of blood on my arm.I staggered to the floor, careful to keep my screams nonexistent.

    There was a sleeping baby upstairs.

    As he towered over me, I heard a knock on the door. It sounded again, and again, and again. I looked down. “Better get that,” I whispered. He stomped over to the door. It was the pizza man, who I was a very good friend of. He smiled, and then it faltered. He saw the blood on the floor, and then me. “What’s happening here?” he growled. I looked away. “None of your business,” Mark said gruffly. “Just a girl learning her lesson.” The pizza man punched him. Mark howled in pain. The baby cried. I stood, shaking. The pizza man rushed over to me. “Are you okay?” he asked, staring at my bloody arm. “The baby,” I whispered.

    Holding the baby and his toys, the pizza man and I ran into his car. Mark was yelling, but I couldn’t hear the words. I felt a lot better.

    I laid in the guest room of the pizza man’s home. Gustav, he told me his name was. Gustav Sontario. I sat up. There was something I needed to do. “Gustav?” He popped in. “Yes?”

    “I need your computer.”

    “Right over there.”

    I logged onto Mark’s account on the support board. I started a new thread. “Forgiven”. I told them my story. How it was not a cancer story but a survival. One that was still threatening me, and would always haunt me.

    I read through the story. It was perfect. I had told my story as a wife and apologized for the horrible comments my husband wrote.

    I saw a comment pop up on the screen. It was Mark. ” Sunny. I’m sorry. I’m leaving forever, and you can love someone other than me. You deserve so much more. I’m happy you can sleep without a monster under the bed. I hope you and our child are happy. Don’t say you want to be with me, because I don’t want you to get hurt. This is goodbye. Please forgive me, but never forget me. I love you, Sun.” A tear rolled down my cheek. Finally, through all that falling, both feet were on the ground. “I love you too.” My fingers seemed to type on their own.

    Submit.

    END OF STORY

    This follows the prompt on a thin thread. I tried to follow it more, but words fly from my fingers, and sometimes, they stray from the path.

  2. cosi van tutte

    One more before the prompt changes…

    Gregory Finton has dumped me for the last time. He’s going to pay for the insult to my ego. And I know just how to do it.

    I sit down at my computer.

    He called me fat.

    I bring up his favorite website, quiltingqueens.com.

    He called me a boot. I think he meant boor, but being called a boot is even worse.

    I log in under his user name – I Quilts Sew Good.

    He kissed Sandy Pucello right in front of me. Sandy Pucello! She IS fat and not even pretty.

    “I don’t know why I post on here. It all started as a joke. I mean, seriously. Someone like me quilting? Do I look like someone’s old granny?” *snerk*

    He said that dating me was as exciting as watching the Kardashians talk about soup.

    I click Submit and wait for the outrage to begin.

    Janny’s Granny
    What’s wrong with being someone’s granny?
    Reply

    Quilting Trips
    Snerk? What does that mean?
    Reply

    It Takes Two Too Quilt
    Well, maybe it started as a joke, but I’m sure you feel differently now. You’ve been on here for six years.
    Reply

    He said that I have the intelligence level of a NPC character in a Playstation 1 game. That insult stung like a slap across the face. That insult threw me over the edge. That insult is why I am on his stupid website, typing messages under his stupid user name.

    “Oh, yes. It started as a joke. And you know what? It still is a joke. I go on here to laugh at you fools talking about the most boring thing in the entire world. Quilting. Quilting! My freaking gosh! All you people do is talk about quilting! What’s wrong with you all?”

    Submit.

    Janny’s Granny
    Your words are very mean-spirited. I am so disappointed in you, I Quilts.
    Reply

    Quilting Trips
    But what does snerk mean? Is that a rare quilting term?
    Reply

    I Quilts Sew Good
    What’s going on here? I didn’t type those messages!
    Reply

    Hello, Gregory. Welcome to Hell.

    “Look. Someone just posted under my user name. Looks like my user name has been hacked.”

    Submit.

    I Quilts Sew Good
    Yes. And you are the hacker.
    Reply

    Quilting Trips
    Could someone please tell me what a snerk is? I’m so worried and confused.
    Reply

    “No, you are the hacker, you hacker. Get out of my account.”

    Submit.

    I Quilts Sew Good
    But this is my account! I am the one and only I Quilts Sew Good.
    Reply

    Janny’s Granny
    This is a non-productive conversation. Could someone please lock it?
    Reply

    I Quilts Sew Good
    NO! I need to know who this intruder is. Who are you? Reveal yourself!
    Reply

    Quilting Trips
    And tell me what a snerk is.
    Reply

    “It is unwise to reveal too much about oneself on the internet. I will say this much: My first name is Gregory and my last name starts with an F.”

    Submit.

    I Quilts Sew Good
    No. You are not Gregory F. You can’t be. That’s me! You are not me!!
    Reply

    “And you are not me. So there.”

    Submit.

    It Takes Two Too Quilt
    I don’t understand what’s going on with you, I Quilts. But I think you need help. Please come back when you have your head in a better place.
    Reply

    I Quilts Sew Good
    My head is in a fine place! That other I Quilts Sew Good is a rank imposter!
    Reply

    Quilting Trips
    If anyone out there knows what a snerk is, please PM me. I need to know or I’ll go nuts.
    Reply

    “Rank imposter, huh? I think the phrase “Takes one to know one” applies here.”

    Submit.

    Administrator Joe
    Topic Locked

    I slouch back in my seat. “Too bad. I was having so much fun.” I smile and lean forward. “So, I’ll start a new topic…”

    1. jhowe

      What a nice little treat as I popped in to see if the new prompt is up. Great story from the viewpoint of the hacker. A comedic gem. Favorite line amongst many: ‘….being called a boot is even worse.’

  3. Carlitos

    Unplugged

    It was another (lazy) early evening and I had just sat at my computer desk. I logged into my blog. For the last five years I’ve been hosting a very popular blog for model cars and planes enthusiasts. The blog was packed with posters from around the globe that night. My regular guests greeted me once my user name appeared on the active user panel. Everything seemed fine and as normal as be expected.

    As I read the comments from my fellow bloggers the computer screen kicked into static mode. In a heartbeat I was red with anger. I click the esc key a few times, hard. Nothing. I tried to reestablish the connection but the stupid computer failed to respond. An hour past and I was at my limit. Ready to quit all my attempts to resolve the issue, the entire system rebooted itself! I thus resumed with my blog when, after a moment, I was face-to-face with a blank screen. I tightened my fist and just before I slammed it on the table, the blog site reappeared. I scratched my head in bewilderment. To my utter shock not a single user appeared on the blog page. Only a blinking cursor became visible at the top of the monitor display. It was a greeting:

    Hello Roger! I don’t feel like myself this evening. Can I be you till morning?

    I sat erect with my eyes wide open; numb. I tried over and again to turn off the unit but the darn thing remained on. I had no choice, I maneuvered myself to the back of the computer and pulled the power cord from off the wall outlet. Nothing. The computer ran on. Then, as far as I can remember, the peripherals and rear cables began to metamorphose into human limbs. At once I veered up and saw that the screen had mutated into a grotesque square head! With one massive gulp it swallowed me whole.

    I woke the next morning thinking it a grave nightmare. I rushed to my computer and all seemed to be in its proper order. But as I walked away from my desk something caught the corner of my eye. I turned and saw, to my horror, that the computer’s power cord was on the floor, disconnected. I bolted out the front door like a bat out of hell.

    _

  4. DMelde

    Zenebee stood in the middle of red with the knife clutched tightly in his right hand. He looked wildly around, but everyone still alive had fled, and the dead lay where they had fallen. He could hear them as they ran out the door and down the hall. “Smauck…smauck…smauck” their shoes said, leaving behind red prints that weaved and tumbled together into chaos. Their screams faded away into a foggy past.

    Zenebee’s heart raced with an adrenaline rush. His skin tingled as the red cooled to his touch. His breath came short and rapid. He raced into the hallway in pursuit, and then he stopped and gripped his head. A low moan escaped his lips as his eyes became glazed and cloudy. The man in his head was awake, telling him nothing but lies. He shook his head and the man, as if rocked in a cradle, went back to sleep. Zenebee’s head slowly steadied and he looked around confused. He saw the red footsteps, some going down the hall, some coming from the room. None of it made sense. He went back into the room to find the truth.

    “Aaaaghhhh!” followed by a long “Noooooooo!”

    Zenebee reflexively dropped the knife.

    “These are my friends!” he called out in pain. Zenebee was a gentle man who did not understand the savageness of the world.

    He noticed the knife lying in red on the floor. It looked vaguely familiar, for he swore he had seen it somewhere before. A lie, it was a lie. He ran back to his office where it had all began. There, on his computer screen was another message, written on his blog, under his name, but it was not him.

    “Who’s doing this?” he cried.

    As if on cue, Zenebee sat up rigidly in his chair. The man inside was awake. He typed another message on the screen. His breath came short and rapid. He left the office and went back to the room where he picked up his knife.

    “Now I remember.” Zenebee, the man, said.

  5. PeterW

    Generally I think its the narcissism that PeterW possesses that allows the narrative to unfold. Generally I think his egotism is the drive for his stories. However this inevitable sours the piece with look-at-me cleverness and sweet-cutesy tricks in language rather than concentration on the story and the organic arising of the story out of characters and not merely language and tricks. It is in fact a kind of immaturity on the part of PeterW. However being as it is his motivation and primary source he has to come to terms with it (the narcissism, cleverness, arrogance, style over substance style) and cull it. Therein lies the problem…

      1. PeterW

        Dog, this is an open forum, if PeterW wishes to digress on the nature of his writing than he may do so. That said, there is no need to read PeterW. Afterall it has been established that PeterW’s pieces are merely arrogant bits of trickery and thus shallow and thus–though not necessarily bad–not good.

        1. PeterW

          Plz bitch, that not my point.
          My point is that he is wasting space; this forum is for stories and peer criticism of stories!!!
          This here, following, is a story, bitch.

          Dag went on to favorite website, that being http://www.———.com. Dag looked at comment boards where he had posted underneath the pictures of a nude woman wrapped in serpents. NB as all lonely and normal men under 30 know, porn is a necessity, not a hobby, not a dirty habit, but necessity. Dag looked at comments. There were some comment with Dag’s tag which Dag had not posted. They said, “The arrogance, cutesy tricksyness of this photo is nauseating,” and Dag had posted no such comment cuz Dag liked the photo and thought it classy.

          1. PeterW

            Simply genius! Oh angels of all literature, of all higher states of the absolute and word. Simply genius!

          2. PeterW

            Generally PeterW’s so called style is not evocative because the elements of cleverness are sophomoric and the humor belongs in a South Park episode or the vulgar mouths of a couple of 13 year old boys trudging through the woods covered in the gray mush of last fall’s leaves, hitting puberty and longing for a kiss and to put a sliver, a dent in the PC world of their parents and teachers; yes, for them the words, the bad words, the jokes, the bad jokes, the images they collectively conjure of female classmates in repose beneath them, these exclamations are a way to assert autonomy in that world which wants maturity. Yet PeterW being in his mid-twenties writing what one could call ‘lit’ or simply writing in the mode of ‘lit’ should be omnipresent to this world of 13 year old boys: watching over it and understanding it and recognizing the sadness of it, instead of aligning himself with it, being one with it…

      1. PeterW

        But rather this is not the work of PeterW, but his self-observing critic, pinned to his shoulder, overlooking the keyboard. But look, watch the spirals going out in to the tangential world of meta-fiction like antiparticles escaping from blackholes.

        1. PeterW

          Dukes! I really wish Wisconsin had won yesterday. Or rather I wish the refs had called a better game in the final 3 minutes. Then the Blue Devil’s victory wouldn’t seem as stolen, as influenced by forces of ignominy and error.

      2. Nicki EagerReader

        Now THAT was creative- kudos 🙂 and the two killer sentences on adolescent boys was actually very insightful and well written in a classic way- who’d have thought to find such a gem among all the sweet-cutesyness 😉

        1. DMelde

          Pay no attention to the bitch who’s calling herself PeterW. I’m the real PeterW! I had to go over to Melde’s shack to respond, using his name (hey man, I owe you), where I’m sloshing drinks and watching SoPark, getting my inspiration for more high comedy stories.This bitch’s time is short. She’s nothing but a Wendy hiding behind her Pan. I’m coming for you….

  6. QuiverPen

    Short but Bittersweet

    Kevin leaned back in his chair, one hand absently rubbing at the stubble on his chin. The light from the computer screen illuminated his face in a pale, sickly light, highlighting the bags beneath his sunken eyes.

    It had finally happened.

    It had finally happened!

    He’d done it! Kevin wasn’t sure if he wanted to laugh or cry, though his body was currently doing both without waiting for him to make a decision.

    He’d crossed over into an alternate reality, a world parallel to his own. All the years of futile effort, the years of ridicule and mockery at the hands of his teachers and peers at MIT and across the country, they’d been proven worth it in a moment of sudden, cold realization. He had carried his cross and proven its conqueror.

    “I knew it!” Kevin said in a voice that shook with emotion. He bathed in exultant, self-congratulatory glory for an interminable moment.

    Then a sudden thought stilled his voice and the triumphant thoughts that trumpeted in his mind. How was he going to get back?

    1. Reaper

      In my mind there is doubt that he actually made it, the possibility that he was just hacked and without a control he is accepting it as scientific proof of his success. Which adds a bit of commentary on the way science has progressed in the decades since it became a religion to atheists and adds even more to this story. That doubt is perfect and fits the length of the piece. Impressive stuff.

  7. Waxy_Earwig

    Ah, so he’s back again.
    I had just logged on to my favorite woodworking blog, of which I was a regular contributor. I noticed shortly afterwards a comment attributed to my user name. The time of the post was 10:17am. I didn’t remember being online that early, and I hadn’t started drinking yet, so I certainly expected my memory to be reliable enough. Yet there it was, clear as day.
    This was the third time this had happened this week. I had no idea who was behind it. They couldn’t have cracked my password; Password123 was as good as gold. Something more sinister was going on.
    The fact that someone was using my name didn’t bother me as much as how incorrect the advice they were giving was. Maple as a top choice for outdoor furniture? Using 40 grit sandpaper between coats of varnish? Chiseling with the grain for cleaner mortise joints? It was awful.
    Two years earlier I had taken on a drunken bet with one of my buddies, claiming I could build a dining room table that would put his current one to shame even after nine or ten drinks. Predictably, this did not end well for me. As I was evening the boards out on the table saw I managed to cut off eight of my fingers, four from each hand. I passed out from the pain and my friend called an ambulance. I’d never seen my fingers again.
    I had spent the time since cementing my reputation as one of the top experts on this particular blog, unable to woodwork with only my thumbs, and had even earned a small weekly stipend for my contributions. This imposter was jeopardizing everything. I had been one of the best there was and now had to resort to dolling out advice to amateurs. I had finally learned to live with it, and now this fake was going to take it away? No; it was time to take action.
    I called up my computer-savvy friend who was able to pull an IP address and did some verb with more syllables than words in its definition to find the origin location of the fraudulent comments. 62 Old Mill Road; he was right across town! I immediately took off in my car, customized to drive with only my thumbs. I was going to confront him.
    The only structure at 62 Old Mill was a decrepit old shack. I couldn’t believe the thing was wired with electricity, let alone internet. I pushed open the unlocked door and called inside.
    “Hello?” No one responded. The place was littered with ancient power tools and carpentry equipment. It was dark other than a blue glow that emanated from what looked like an abandoned office. I walked towards the source of the light and entered the office. There was a running computer and an empty office chair. Then I saw them.
    Eight dismembered fingers were resting in front of the keyboard. I recognized them immediately as my own.
    “What the hell?” I queried out loud. They jumped to life, typing a response out:
    “We thought this might get your attention,” they wrote on a blank Word document.
    “How did you find me?”
    “We remembered your user name. Call it… finger memory. The only tough part was figuring out your password; that’s why it’s taken so long for us to reach you. Password123? Jesus, at least give us a chance next time,” my fingers typed.
    “This is unbelievable,” I said. “The doctor said it was hopeless, that I’d never-“
    “Forget what the doctor said,” my fingers began before I finished speaking. “You’ve seen the work we’re capable of. Remember the cedar strip canoe? The cherry office library unit? We’re no ordinary fingers. And we have a plan.” They continued typing and explained what they wanted to do to me. I stood there, flabbergasted, but accepted their proposal.
    My fingers bounced across to the far side of the desk to a plastic box and popped it open. It was a sewing kit. They managed to pull a spool of clear thread out and a small bottle of rubbing alcohol. I approached the desk and began helping them as best I could.
    They got to work. I realized then that I could have been a surgeon if I had been so inclined. My fingers worked marvelously, sewing one back on at a time. They had to re-open the skin that had healed to reattach everything properly. The pain was excruciating, but I was going to have my fingers back. I was going to have my profession, my passion, back!
    They finished sewing together my left hand and I then used that hand to help finish repairing my right hand. It took about a half hour. It was one of the most miserable half hours of my life, but I hadn’t been as optimistic in two years.
    Finally, it was finished. My hands throbbed in pain, but I had done what the doctors had said was impossible. I wiggled my fingers and they responded in kind. I walked out of the office with a feeling of being led by my hands and flicked a switch on the outer wall. The lights flickered on and the ventilation system whirred to life.
    I walked to the nearest machine, a band-saw that, despite its age, was in perfect working condition. I turned it on and the blade began to spin. A pile of boards rested against the wall to my left. It was beautiful white oak. I grabbed a piece from the top of the pile and got to work.

    1. JM Somebody

      I could picture this as part of a Tim Burton movie, with Johnny Depp as your MC. It has that combination of fantasy and dark humor. Very entertaining! I would love to hear more about what those fingers are up to.

      1. rle

        This was just plain bizarre in a very good way. At first it had me laughing, then it had me a bit creeped out. Remember kids, power tools and alcohol don’t mix. Nice job here.

    2. cosi van tutte

      This line made me smile -> “They couldn’t have cracked my password; Password123 was as good as gold.”

      Great job on a bizarre story! (And I mean bizarre in the best possible way.) 🙂

  8. JM Somebody

    3 a.m.

    I wake in darkness from the most wonderful dream. I was in a place of light and love and weightlessness, and it was real and perfect, until consciousness slammed me back to the earth like gravity. The heaviness returns and I remember.

    The hard drive is already humming its breathy, electric hymn, as if it has come to expect my nightly, sweat-soaked awakening and urgent need for reassurance. The monitor’s blue glow beckons in the darkness. I want to soak in its energy, to climb in and float in the ether.

    With the speed of light, I am on the Young Survivors message board, where there are people like me – people who want to talk in the middle of the night, who need someone to tell them it’s going to be okay. People who are okay and therefore you will be too. People who understand too well the nuclear devastation of chemotherapy, the terror of every test result and every little twinge, the fear that your children won’t remember you.

    The graveyard shift regulars are there, and there’s a conversation in progress. I scroll down the page, glimpsing familiar names and snatches of conversation.

    “May the angels light her way,” says CathyD. Sweet Cathy is always talking about angels. Sometimes she says she feels them around me.

    “I will pray for you both, and for your baby,” says Matchbox, who has a boy not much older than mine. My heart sinks. I wonder who we are praying for this time.

    “Stay strong.” That was MoMo68, who prides herself on almost never missing a day of work, although her marriage is buckling under the strain of her illness.

    “Thank you,” says Ethan’s Mom, “Your support means so much.”

    Ethan’s Mom. I look again. That’s me. Someone is posting under my user name.

    “Who is this?” I type, but the comment box stays blank. This website can be glitchy sometimes. I sigh and try again. And again.

    Imposter Ethan’s Mom speaks. “You ladies on this board have been such a comfort.”

    “Who IS this?????????” Now I am shouting at the computer since typing is getting me nowhere. The monitor flashes a chaotic zigzag pattern and goes blank. Abruptly, it blazes back to life and Reed’s startled figure recoils from the computer.

    “Reed?” How did I not see him there? He pauses, looking over both shoulders at nothing, and then types:

    “It’s late and my mind is playing tricks on me. Need to get some rest. ‘Night ladies.”

    Reed is the one hacking my account.

    But I remember now. I remember hospice, and pain, and angels waiting for me. And how I gave Reed my user ID and password and asked him to let the Young Survivors know. And how I waited until he had gone before making my exit, because I couldn’t say goodbye.

    The pain is gone now, and the heaviness is a fading memory.

    I put my arms around Reed and feel a shiver run through him. I follow to the nursery where he checks on the baby. Ethan stirs and opens his eyes as I kiss his silky blonde curls.

    “Mama” he says sleepily, and closes them again.

    “Remember this dream, Ethan,” I whisper. I think of my own dream, the one that is tugging at me now, calling me back, as real and insistent as this one.

    It’s 3:09 a.m. when the phone rings.

    1. Kerry Charlton

      I started to weep in my mind while reading you. We have a dear fiend who is dying from brain cancer She didn’t know till a month ago and was given three months to live when the biopsy came back. You write with a marvelous sense of feeling from whatever story you are posting. You possess this and it’s not something you have learned, it’s always been there. Take good care of it,JM

        1. JM Somebody

          … Which hardly seems like an adequate response given the enormity of what you have told us. The best you can do is continue to be her friend and don’t let her illness change that. Just be there for her. But I’m pretty sure you know all that already.

    2. Roan

      I was going to say your story was “breathtaking”, but no its “breath giving” as I inhale deeply in gratitude for the gift of life. Thank you for this.

      1. rle

        Oh JMC, this is a perfect example of why I think you should take your writing to the next level. You and I have both agreed that we are quite similar in a number of ways, but there is one major difference. You have this uncanny ability to make the words dance off of the page and paint a picture in my mind so vivid that I can almost see it playing out like a mini movie. Sometimes I try to do these same types of things but they usually feel forced while you seem to do it effortlessly. This was an astounding piece of work and although I didn’t shed true tears here, I was a bit misty eyed. Keep up the excellent work!

        1. JM Somebody

          Thanks, rle, that is an awesome compliment, and you possess at least as much ability as me! I hope the writing is going well, and let us know if you get a website or anything like that.

          Actually I was going more for shivers than tears, so your lack of tears was appreciated! 🙂

    3. cosi van tutte

      Hey, JM!

      Wow. This was a wonderful, heartfelt story. I love this whole part more than I can explain why -> “Ethan stirs and opens his eyes as I kiss his silky blonde curls.
      “Mama” he says sleepily, and closes them again.
      “Remember this dream, Ethan,” I whisper.” It’s just so sweet and heart-wrenching at the same time.

  9. pvenderley

    “Dude! It’s about fuckin’ time!!”

    I stare at my phone and try to work out what David meant.

    “What?” I text back.

    “Your relationship update. Think you should take it all the way, but nice to see you’re opening your eyes.”

    I open Facebook. My relationship status has changed.

    “Who did that?” I wonder as my phone rings.

    “You. Asshole.”

    “Huh?”

    “I don’t know who’s been feeding you those rumors, and yeah, our relationship hasn’t been all that great recently, but there was no reason to go posting your dirty laundry on Facebook.”

    “I don’t…”

    “To drag my name through the sewer like that! And Charles! I thought we were all friends! If you want to break up, fine. I never want to speak to you again!”

    “Jess, what are you talking about?”

    She doesn’t respond.

    So it looks like someone hacked my Facebook account. I’m not sure how I’m going to handle Jess, but first, I think, I better fix my relationship status.

    And that’s when I see the “dirty laundry” posted on Jess’ Timeline.

    “Seriously, Jess? You’ve been sleeping with Charles? And who the fuck is Gordon? Were you only with me for the money?” There was more, much more. It reads like a drunken rant, but my eyes are drawn to the post’s header, where my name looks like it’s pointing at Jess’.

    There’s no option to delete. I can only select “I don’t like this post.”

    Why can’t I delete this post?

    A comment appears. From Charles.

    “Dude. She left you long before we started going out. Get over her. She’s moved on.”

    I notice the time stamp. Sunday, April 5. 12:25 am. The time stamp on my post is 12:10 am.

    That’s tomorrow. That’s an hour from now.

    The doorbell rings. It’s David, with a six pack of beers in his hand.

    “Figured you could use a drink.”

    “Yeah, sure.” I say. I reach for a beer as he walks in.

    “No, no. These are for me. You get…” he pulls out a brown paper bag. “Tequila or Jager.”

    I look at the bottles sitting on the counter.

    “Tequila,” I sigh.

    “Awesome.” David pours a shot, hands it to me.

    “Honestly, dude. We told you she was only hanging around you because you kept spending money on her. Not like Charles couldn’t afford her, and Gordon was such a waste.”

    “Gordon?”

    David looks at me, and pours another shot.

    “When’d she meet Gordon?”

    “Backstage at Mayhem.”

    “Mayhem.” I’d taken Jess to Mayhem. We’d gotten separated halfway through.

    “Yeah.” Another shot. “Seriously, man. It’s shit like that she’d pull on the time on you. We can’t believe it took you this long to finally break things off.”

    I stare at the empty shot glass.

    “I didn’t break things off with Jess.”

    “She broke up with you?” He shakes his head, fills the shot glass again.

    “No. I mean, I didn’t change my relationship with her, and I didn’t post anything about it on Facebook.”

    David scrutinizes me and corks the tequila bottle. He pulls out his phone.

    “Aw, you deleted it. Figures.”

    “What? No! I couldn’t! It wouldn’t let me!” I check my phone. The post is gone. My relationship status is set back to: “in a relationship.”

    “Uh-huh.” David takes the shot glass from my fingers. “Shit. It’s almost midnight. Look, I gotta thing in the morning. But tomorrow night, we’ll hit the Pink Panther and get you back in your right head, OK?”

    He closes the door behind him, leaving me holding my phone. My Facebook page stares back at me, telling the world I’m happily in a relationship.

    “I bought her those fucking tickets.”

    I open my Facebook profile, and poke at my relationship status: “It’s complicated.”

    1. JM Somebody

      It certainly is, especially when you throw in alcohol and warp in the fabric of time. I have no idea what happened here, but it was entertaining and flowed well. 🙂

  10. Dennis

    Frederick sat back down at the computer, the same time he did every day, visiting the same website discussing alien visitations and abductions. He became convinced that he had been abducted, among other things, and chatted with others with similar experiences. Taped to the side of his computer was his log on info that he could never seem to remember. He then started by reading the others comments for the day.

    As he skimmed through the comments he noticed something odd. There was an entry from him at 9AM. But wait, there was another at 10:30AM from him again and it seemed to be commenting on his earlier posting. Something did not seem right. How could he have written those? He had not been on the computer today. Or had he? Sometimes time felt disjointed, as if there were gaps. This was the reason why he believed he had been abducted.

    When Frederick looked at the screen, he noticed there had been an entry by him just a minute before.

    “I see my impostor has returned ranting about his delusions.”

    But he hadn’t typed anything yet. And now there was a new comment by him.

    “No, it is you who are the impostor. Beware, I will get to the bottom of this.”

    What madness is this? Is this some kind of sick joke? Maybe this is an alien experiment to see if I’ll crack. Frederick put his head on the desk, and pounded his fists and began to weep.

    _________

    “Benson, what’s happening? Has there been any progress with the drug?”

    “In a way doctor, there has. Although Frederick’s personalities are still split, he is flipping between them more quickly. I believe this to mean that they are close to merging.”

    “Yes, yes. Very good. We’ll need to modify the drug and try again.”

    “Yes sir. I think we should give him a bit of a break or I think he will have a meltdown before the drug is perfected.”

    “Indeed. Just look at him.”

    1. JM Somebody

      This is an interesting premise. I also thought aliens were experimenting on him. I think you could amp up the tension and pull the reader in by showing some of the actual responses from the “other” MC, and have them sound ominous/threatening/crazy. Nice, Dennis.

  11. Bilbo Baggins

    FLICKERS- SIX

    Albert Rush stormed out of the bathroom into the suite. He faced the windows, his eyes searching the streets below for anything, anything. A terrible ripping tore at his chest. He’d failed her. And it was dark, dark night and she was probably dead somewhere and it was his fault. Not Mike’s. Not Ben’s. His fault. “You’d destroy yourself….” He put a hand over his heart and choked back tears. Should’ve done everything. Every agent in the country, every precaution…

    Albert took his gun out, examined it. Its barrel shone dimly in streetlights. Why did it have to be her? An old criminal he’d put behind bars, back for revenge? Chinatown, the killers were five blocks away, down the road. Bloody, greedy, impenetrable. Wrangell’s chameleon face. He didn’t know what part Wrangell had played, but his distraction had worked, bought time for… her. And that old rage began to fill in the fear, piece by piece. Destroying him? But he did not care.

    “Sir, man’s waiting outside for you.”

    He looked up, head trembling, saw Mike standing there. His fists clenched and he did what he’d sworn not to, his voice rising.

    “Get out! I’ll talk with him alone!”

    Mike stared at the thick carpet Albert stood on.

    “Did you hear?” Albert took a step forward.

    “Stop it. He did nothing wrong.”

    Albert looked. Ben Wright was in the doorway.

    His hands slowly relaxed and their eyes met. Ben nodded, already knew. Duty filled Albert’s eyes and he stepped back.

    “I… overreacted. My apologies.”

    Mike waited until he could trust his voice. “No need. I’m the guilty one.” He laughed. “Turned my back for a quick smoke. Can’t shake the habit.”

    Ben was at his side. “That’s fine, Mike. Step outside and bandage yourself.”

    He closed the door behind him. Albert sat on the bed, tried not to think.

    “Sorry I arrived so late,” Ben said. “Now look what’s happened.”

    Albert leaned back. “It was Wrangell. He’s staying for the night. Talked with him and he knew about the case.”

    “A businessman?” Ben sounded surprised. “Too bad we can’t stop by his room.”

    “What’s up?”

    “Chatted with the concierge. The count checked out ten minutes ago.”

    Albert surged to his feet, reaching for his Browning. Ben moved in the way.

    “Rush, it’s midnight! We’ve got a suspect. Wait, get some sleep.”

    “Step aside! I’m going out. Her life is in danger!”

    Ben followed him to the door. “Wrangell seems hardly the man to kill a hostage. He’s waiting for you to blunder out there into whatever trap he’s laid!”

    The two went into the hallway and almost collided with a bellboy. Startled, he held out a paper.

    “Telegraph, sir.”

    Albert snatched it away. It was from Oscar.

    PAYDIRT. SUN YAN OLD FRIEND OF HAMMONDS. SMUGGLED OPIUM IN EXCHANGE FOR GUARDED WAREHOUSES. INVESTIGATE WATERFRONT DAYLIGHT. O. CLOUD.

    “That was fast,” Ben said. “Let me see.”

    Albert gave him the paper and paced. Ben read it twice, quickly. His face made various expressions, his mouth twisting. He looked up at Albert with excitement.

    “Well, we finally got a lead. A lead—at last.”

    Albert crossed his arms tight as iron. “But a few hours too late.”

    “Will this convince you to actually prepare a plan?”

    “Yes. I’m going uptown, you stay here.”

    “But—“

    “Message Oscar. I need everything he has on Wrangell. Friends, family, history, his business. Bring in support, have them search the room for any clues.”

    “That could take hours! The piers… they’re crawling with thugs.”

    Ben pulled at his ear. His worried look was met by a cold gaze.

    “I’m not going there. Kim Sung Yan has some explaining to do. To my face.”

    “Why go through the trouble? Wrangell could be innocent.”

    Albert looked back down the hallway once.

    “Innocent? Hardly.”
    _________________________________________

    It was one of Hammond’s many empty warehouses lining the wharfs jutting into the dirty bay. Run-down and ordinary. No one saw the roadster pull up to its iron gate, the fishermen being too drunk to notice. The choppy waves surged beneath rotting wood, frigid and swallowing.

    Wrangell clapped the driver’s door closed and pulled down his derby hat. His thugs were unloading Anne from the back compartment. He’d personally tied the knots around her wrists.

    “Light a match, George. Can’t see a damn thing out here.”

    Silhouetted against the open door, he saw the old woman’s eyes widen, her fragile resistance. They were looking for orders. Wrangell looked around, saw the building looming ahead and the empty street behind him. Throw her in the drink? Too risky.

    “Take her to the office. Rico, get a chair.”

    He handed them a key, and when they were safely inside he backed up the Roadster to the loading dock. In the morning his steam liner would arrive for the trip to Brazil. He suddenly found himself smiling. That is, if Detective Albert didn’t take the bait. And he had a feeling he would.

    “No trouble annoying, each one is enjoying… the good old summertime….”

    Above the silence the moon came out from behind a curtain of fog.

    (Happy Easter, everyone! 🙂 🙂 Sorry it took me so long to finish this part. I had to chop down extra words again and again, and it’s still a monster.)

  12. Douglas K. Burton

    IVORY FORTRESS

    Flashes of nature scenes flashed across Alistair’s window: a babbling brook; a still desert; a flowing waterfall. Alistair threw each aside with a flick of his finger. This was the nice thing about the computerized windows; anything he could imagine, he could see. Nothing suited his fancy that evening, however, and he decided to just shut the window down, and shut the shade above it.

    He clapped once, and his fireplace was aglow with the purple flame of a newborn fire. Alistair’s pristine white living room was blanketed with the fire’s heat, and the thin plastic glinted in the newfound light. He walked to the wall’s kitchen compartment and pressed the beverage button. His favorite Earl Grey Tea appeared in the cup underneath, and with it in tow; he walked to the computer desk.

    Alistair sat at the desk and placed his tea on it.

    “Computer, awake.” Alistair announced, and the computer turned on.

    The computer’s screen faded from black into a bright white. Slowly, a face appeared on the screen with the white as a backdrop. The eyes of the face opened, and a smile formed over it.

    “Good evening, Mr. Knight.” it replied. “What can I do for you?”

    “Log on to the Home World, please.”

    “Of course, sir.”

    The white screen morphed into the familiar computer cyberspace system, a dark screen with strings of green code floating around like bubbles in a fish tank. Alistair watched as fragments of various website code flew past as the computer searched for the Home World, a simulated utopian township where internet users gathered as avatars to socialize, work and play. Basically, living a life without ever living it.

    Rushing past the fragmented code, Alistair took a long sip of his warm Earl Grey and settled back into the chair. He felt at peace.

    Suddenly, the searching, along with the pieces of code, screeched to a halt. The green code changed into red code, and a slight siren noise rang out into the silence of Alistair’s living room.

    “Sir, there has been an unauthorized user logged on to your account.”

    Alistair’s eyes opened with frustration. He sighed, put his cup down and asked the computer for the user’s address.

    “Unlisted.”

    Alistair froze.

    “Unlisted? Computer, check again.”

    “I’m sorry, Alistair, still unlisted.”

    Unlisted? Who would have been unlisted in this day and age? Everyone was logged on to the Home World, everyone knew who everyone was.

    “Sir, there is unrestricted activity on your Home Page avatar.”

    “What is it? What is it doing?” Alistair asked, manually bringing up the desk’s keyboard. With a finger swipe, it rose from the desk in a flurry of clicking and whirring.

    “The avatar is speaking to other avatars in the Home World.” the computer said.

    “How? I’m not even logged in yet!”

    “I do not know, Mr. Knight.”

    “Can we see what it’s saying to the other users?” he asked.

    “Yes, sir. In fact, I am receiving transcripts of the conversation now.”

    “Well for god sakes, read them!” Alistair said, running a hand through his combed silver hair.
    “Yes, sir.” the computer replied. “Alistair Knight to Gretchen Bennett: ‘You look very good in that dress’. Gretchen Bennett to Alistair Knight: ‘Uh, thank you’. Alistair Knight to Gretchen Bennett: ‘I bet you would look even better not in that dress’. Gretchen Bennett to Alistair Knight: ‘Excuse me? I’m seventeen, dude. Your profile says you’re, like sixty. Fuck off creeper’. Alistair Knight to Gretchen Bennett: ‘Did you know I am the CEO of HomeCorp? I built this world. I can see you not only within this virtual plane, but register your shapes outside, in the real world. You really are quite beautiful, Ms. Bennett’.”

    “Computer, stop.”

    Alistair’s brain began to race as he searched for a reason for the unauthorized activity. What had he done? Who could have been doing this? Was someone trying to ruin HomeCorp? Was someone trying to ruin him? He began typing frantically, trying to manually identify the hacker.

    “Computer, set up the security wall.” he commanded.

    “Yes, sir.”

    A conversation bubble popped up on the top left of the screen and began flashing.
    “Mr. Knight, Mr. Harrison is requesting a conversation.”

    “Put him on.” Alistair commanded, still typing in the identification code.

    Obliging, the face of Tom Harrison, the executive vice-president of HomeCorp, appeared on the screen. He looked pale, and to Alistair’s eyes, somewhat sickly. His hair was ruffled and stuck to his face in various places by sweat. A slight stubble was on his face.

    “Jesus, Tom. What happened?” Alistair asked.

    Tom looked back in the screen with dead eyes.

    “Tom?”

    “They’re coming for me, Alistair.” Tom said, in a voice as dead as his eyes.

    “Who is, Tom? What’s going on? Have you noticed a hacker in the code of Home World? Someone has logged into my account and is forcing my avatar to talk to underage women and…”.

    Alistair paused as Tom slowly raised a pistol to the camera.

    “Someone hacked me too, sir.” Tom said dreamily, rubbing the pistol against his temple. “Made my avatar confess to a embezzling scheme from two years ago, at Ark Technology”.

    “What? Tom, that’s insane. You were working for me then…” Alistair continued.

    “No, sir. I did it. I really did it. I worked with one of their guys. Thought I could make some more money, ‘cause I wasn’t making enough back at my old job. Then you hired me, and I forgot about it. I must have stolen millions from thousands of people. Never thought I would be caught.”

    The lights in Tom’s apartment flickered as Alistair heard a rumble from his end.

    “Tom? What was that?” Alistair asked.

    “Them. The people. They’re messing with my power, that’s the first thing they’ll do; try and force you out of your ivory fortress. The information was sent out to the public a few hours ago, sir… and nobody was happy to find out that one of our nation’s virtual leaders was involved in such a scandal, stealing all of their money. They want to kill me, sir.” Tom said. He got quiet for a moment.

    He chuckled as the lights dimmed and Alistair heard faint screaming behind him; behind the sealed door of his pristine white apartment.

    “It’s funny, sir.” Tom said, still smiling in the dreamy way.

    “Tom? Tom, answer me, god dammit!”

    “HomeCorp is more important to this country than its actual leaders. We’re more popular than the president is.” Tom whispered, raising the gun to his temple.

    “Tom? Tom!” Alistair begged. “Computer, send an emergency response team to Whitechapel Complex, Room #447…”, but the lights went out.

    Alistair heard the voices of the people outside get louder as the pounding started on the door. Then, he saw the flash of and heard the sound of the gun firing. The conversation bubble went black. A window popped up, telling Alistair that its user was offline.

    “Sir, shall I send that response unit?” the computer asked.

    Alistair put his head in his hands.

    “No, no.” he replied.

    “Then I believe you should see this.”

    Alistair raised his head as the computer brought a video to the screen. It was of a newscaster in front of…good lord; it looked like Alistair’s building. A huge crowd of people stood around and behind her, waving guns and knives and god knew what else.

    “I’m standing here in front of Knight Tower, the offices and home of Alistair Knight, the CEO of HomeCorp, and the largest virtual world of our time.” she said.

    Alistair leaned in closer to the screen.

    “In the wake of the recent embezzlement scandal of Thomas Harrison, the executive vice-president of HomeCorp, comes a new development in the fate of the globally recognized and important company. Several young women, all under the age of eighteen years old, have come forward to police claiming that Alistair Knight raped them in succession over the course of ten years, and then settled out of court with their families in exchange for their silence. The crowd behind me is exhilarating, as the public demands to know the reason for such a heinous act.” the newscaster continued.

    She strode to one of the angry crowd members, a man with a shaved head, tattoo sleeves and a white tank top on.

    “Sir, what do you think the police should do to Mr. Knight in the wake of these startling accusations?” she asked him.

    “I think they should let us have him; throw him to the god damn hounds!” he screamed, waving a bowie knife wildly. His drunken buddies laughed and shot a few rounds into the sky. Alistair heard their echo just outside his window. “We’ll take care of that child molester!”

    Alistair shut the video down just as he saw the crowd begin to rush into his building, ignited by the gunshots. The newscaster and her cameraman struggled to get out of the way in time.
    He sat back in his chair in the silence as his world began to crumble around him.

    “Shall I send a call to the police sir, for your protection?” his computer asked.

    “No, no. It’s fine. Shut down, computer.”

    “Yes sir, as you wish…”, it struggled to reply as it flickered and began to die out.

    The lights in Alistair Knight’s apartment, his “ivory fortress” flickered once, then twice and finally going out, plunging him into darkness.

    He sipped his tea and awaited the hounds.

    1. Douglas K. Burton

      Author’s Note: Douglas K. Burton is the same user as john godfrey, just under my current pen name. Additionally, I apologize for the HUGE length this week, and gratefully ask any readers to visit my blog via the link, where I have a good amount of stories of various genres. Thanks, G.H.

      1. turtles88

        Woah… Douglas or is it John? Anyway… woah. I normally don’t ask of this but is there a part 2? Like does Alistair survive? I mean, he really didn’t do all that stuff, did he? Wow… I never been so pulled into a story like this in a long time. Good story.

    2. Reaper

      Your beginning had a couple of repetitious words that threw me but after that I got sucked in. This is disturbing on so many levels, both because of what people did and the mob mentality which people want to cheer for but is in truth worse than the original crimes because it is not founded in truth or justice but blind, possibly incorrect revenge. Bunch of scary people in a scary society.

  13. lyngralee

    “Cast on 7, k1, p1, cont. 12x, inc at beg and dec at end of each k row.” Which would make perfect sense, except I didn’t post it, and it says I did.

    “Hello,” I wrote. “This is knittingpearls, and who are you, posting under my name and avatar?”

    The response came quickly, “This is knittingpearls, and who are you, posting under my name and avatar?”

    Adorable. “Please stop posting as knittingpearls immediately.”

    “Please stop posting as knittingpearls immediately.”

    Okay. I sent a message to the moderator, who messaged me back, saying my account was the duplicate. All the while, the imposter continued posting parts of a pattern. I tried to send messages to some friends I had made on the site, but nothing was going through. Like I had been banned. I was frustrated, angry, and decided to do what I always do to settle my mind – start a new knitting project. I halfheartedly looked through some pattern books, but knew what I really wanted to try. Whatever my alter ego was posting in my name kept calling my attention back to the computer screen.

    There were no complicated stitches, just a lot of color changes. About two hours in, which equates to what feels like five minutes in ‘knitting time,’ I draped my handiwork over the back of the sofa to examine it. What had started out looking somewhat like male genitalia, now settled in my brain as the state of Florida, with the capitol highlighted as a red dot. The chain of states to the west was beginning to take shape. If this was, indeed, a map of the United States, I had a long night ahead of me.

    I hunkered down with all my bits and remnants of yarn leftovers, excited by the monumental craziness of the task. I think if I kept constantly knitting, I would never have to sleep. It simultaneously calmed and energized me. That, along with its time shifting magic, made me just plain ecstatic. Near dawn, I stepped back again to check on my progress. I sighed, acknowledging that I must be more tired than I thought. I had messed up the capitols somehow. Some states had no red dots, and others had more than one. Geography not being my strongest talent, I opened a map for comparison.

    I got a nasty chill when I realized that the red dots were not capitols at all, unless they also happened to be very populous and thriving cities. New Orleans, Houston, Dallas, Atlanta, San Diego, Phoenix, Miami. Did I think Miami was the capitol of Florida?

    I fearfully turned on the news. Miami had been the epicenter of a major unexplained explosion just an hour earlier. While I was listening in horror, they interrupted the story to add that New Orleans had just been hit.

    With shaking hands, I began frantically finishing the map, stopping when the yarn color changed to red for Seattle, Washington, my hometown. Oh, my God.

    1. Reaper

      That is awesome and so well done. I love that you started with the prompt and turned this into something so much more. The best part is this works as a very scary stand alone, or as the beginning to a thriller.

      1. lyngralee

        Many thanks, dear reaper…I need to apologize, to you and everyone, my internet has been wonky for weeks, and I haven’t been able to comment or reply to comments…I have appreciated everyone’s feedback, and hopefully will be able to reciprocate now. And I think there is a new special circle of hell for my internet provider.
        Anyway, reaper, thanks again, you were my first.

    2. Roan

      I found this intriguing. I was gliding along, comfortable with the slow pace. Then wham, the ending really took me by surprise, and, “Oh my God.”

  14. Kerry Charlton

    DOUBLE JEOPARDY, PART FOUR

    The next evening, dusk settled over Philadelphia and Brad left the condo to the
    sobs of Jennifer pleading to go.

    “No,” he had said, “it’s my battle.”

    He entered the street to swirls of misty fog. It was cold for late spring, his black trench coat contained six Bowie knifes, two 357 Magnums to even the odds and an antique derringer tucked above his left shoe.

    ‘I should have brought Jen,’ he thought, ‘but I couldn’t risk it.’

    Mist became heavier and his shoes tread on crushed gravel, not pavement.

    ‘I don’t recognize a single building on Front Street.’

    The Delaware River was still there. Ancient warehouses and wooden loading docks gloomed as old ghosts and he tripped over rusty trolley tracks.

    ‘Pre Civil War,’ Brad mused.

    He walked toward a small store, closed for the night. Barrels of ice remained, and
    an old sign “Oysters For Sale“ swung from a wooden post. A figure stepped into the
    partial gas light, ‘number one maybe.’ A quick toss from Brad and the knife sliced
    through the clone’s neck, half decapitating him.

    Two, stepped from behind the corner of Brad’s vision.

    ‘What happened to my magnums? Of course, it’s pre Civil War,’

    The clone lunged, Brad side-stepped, thrust his blade through the clone’s side. Both blade and clone disappeared. Dr. Montgomery lunged next, as an easy target.

    ‘Something‘s wrong, here‘ Brad thought.

    His third knife sliced Montgomery‘s throat.

    “Don‘t think I can’t clone myself.”. emitted from a alley by an old hotel.

    A sign swung from the thickening mist, ‘Upper Ferry Hotel‘. Down Front street, three more clones marched toward Brad. He felt for the derringer and closed his left hand upon it.

    ’Advantage one,’ Brad thought, ‘it is pre civil war.’

    All three rushed at the same time, the derringer barked twice and two fell to old
    cobblestones. Brad waited, knife in each hand. He felt a blade enter his left shoulder as
    his knife fell, leaving his left arm useless. But his right hand thrust his Bowie in the clone’s stomach, traveled upward and sideways and gutted the clone.

    ‘One knife, one arm,’ Brad thought, ‘how many more?’

    “I am the last,” a clone said, “get by me and you have the doctor.”

    Brad’s mind filled with rage. He attacked the remaining clone, stabbed over and
    over and then collapsed to the street from lack of blood from his wound.

    “This time, I am real,” Montgomery said as he approached Brad.

    “What should I start with? Perhaps an ear or two.”

    He stood as a testament to evil as he towered over Brad.

    ‘I can’t die like this, I’m helpless,’ Brad whispered.

    Montgomery pulled his knife and tested it’s sharpness with his thumb.

    “Are you ready friend?’

    “Never, you piece of shit,” he grappled for Montgomery’s ankle.

    Montgomery kicked his hand aside,

    “Changed my mind,” he said, “let’s start with your eyes.”

    “Whoosh,” Brad heard. A Bowie split Montgomery’s breast like a barbecue
    chicken, he fell dead across Brad’s body. A slight figure stepped from the shadows,
    mists cleared, Brad recognized the voice,

    “I told you, I could out throw you any day of the week.”

    Jen reached over and helped Brad to his feet. Through the shadows, one remaining
    figure slipped into the darkness.

    “Another time, another place,” it said

    1. Reaper

      For a pure action sequence this is very serene and fits it very well. It gives the different time feel a very solid weight without taking away any of the tension. I love that last line too.

    2. JM Somebody

      Hey, Kerry, I am not clear on how the time shift happened, but your description of the pre-civil war setting was spooky and atmospheric. I loved the contrast of the old and new, and historic fiction with sci-fi. This was an exciting and fast-moving adventure, and I loved that Jen came to his rescue. Very original and entertaining.

  15. Manwe38

    The boys were at it again.

    Well over the word count,but I could’t help myself 🙂

    ***
    “Oops.”

    I didn’t know what they were fighting about, and I didn’t care. Yesterday it was Candy Crush, today it’s Minecraft. They spent way too much time on those damn devices, but at least the Kindle was a welcome distraction. After 10 days on call, it was time for a break, and the electronic opiate of SpyMouse and ABC Kids turned out to be the perfect allure. It might melt their brains, but I didn’t care–I needed some quiet. Don’t get me wrong, I love my kids, but at seven and five, they’re basically a pair of wild animals that can talk, and reason is a word with which they’re often not acquainted.

    My mother says I’ll miss it once it’s gone, but I think I can deal. For now, the promise of a peaceful office and some time with the secret YouTube account is just what the doctor ordered. I snuck a glance at the locked office door. The wife is out for girls’ night, and it’s just me and the boys…and Frisky College Co-eds.

    Or at least, that’s what the Facebook chat room was supposed to be. It had started out slow, but now things were beginning to heat up. Her name was Gina, and although the internet often bred lies, I knew she had to be as hot as she claimed. It took confidence to match my witty banter, and ugly girls almost never had it. Anger, yes, but not confidence.

    A shout came from down below, followed by a crash. I cocked my head, waiting for the tell-tall sounds of small feet charging up the stairs, but instead, silence fell. The boys, whatever their distraction, had now turned back to their computer-generated crack. My fantasy–and eventual climax–were safe.
    I stared at the screen and started to type: “Wanna meet?”
    “Sure.”
    “Where?”
    “How ’bout the mall?”
    “Ok!”
    “When?”
    “Tomorrow?”
    “No, my wife will be home. What about Friday?”
    “That works. Noon good?”
    “Sounds like a plan.”
    “Excellent!” The blood was beginning to flow, heading south for an eventual rendezvous with my hand. And if I played it cool, maybe with the girl. “How will I know it’s you?”
    “You’ll know.” The coyness in her words was more arousing than her pics. “Trust me.”
    “It’s a big place. Where should we go?”
    “Don’t worry.” A pause. “I’ll find you.”

    My breathing sped up. I’d thought about doing this for a long time, and now it was finally going to happen. Something to break the rut. Something to end the boredom. I’d have to work hard to avoid getting caught, but that only added to the thrill. Finally, a distraction from the mind-numbing routine of homework and food fights and wiping poopy butts.
    It was about damn time.
    I reached for the keyboard to wish her good night, but before I could type, there was a click at the door. Cursing, I grabbed the mouse and tried to log off, but it was too late. With a metal ‘pop’, the lock sprung back, and the door whooshed open.

    My heart was pounding as she strode into the room. She was beautiful, as much as when we first married, but now there was ice in her pale blue eyes, colder than Hoth, bluer than the water on the coasts of the Caribbean. I smiled, but it was not returned. With soft, deliberate steps, she walked across the carpet, coming closer and closer until she was inches from my face.
    “What are you doing?”
    I swallowed through a throat that was made of concrete. “Nothing.”
    “You mean cheating.”
    “No, I-”
    “Don’t even.” She held up her hand, and for the first time, I noticed that her iphone was in it. She pointed to the screen. “Say goodnight to your girl.”
    “Sweetie, I-”
    “Do it!” The ice had spread from her eyes to her voice. “Now.”
    With shaking hands, I typed my goodbyes. After I hit ‘enter’, she nodded. “Good. Now, let me show you something.”
    She lifted the slender device and began to type. The screen flashed, and I let out a gasp.

    The chat room had changed.

    It took me a moment to realize that the bizarre, squiggly font at the top of the screen, with its sharp lines and dots, was in fact a language. And not just any language. But it was the words beneath that sent a river of heat clawing through my guts like an internal blowtorch. Even if the translation hadn’t been there, the lines of Arabic, pictures of men and women wrapped in black holding AK-47s, and a burning image of New York City would’ve given it away. I looked up at my wife, eyes wide.
    “What is this?”
    Her mouth twisted into what some might call a smile, but I knew that look, and it was anything but. “ISIS.”
    My jaw unhinged. “How-”
    “Never mind how.” Her eyes glinted. “Watch this.”
    She resumed her typing. On the screen, an avatar with my name and picture suddenly appeared, and BAM! I was now a member of the community. I turned around.
    “Is this for real?”
    “As real as your affair.”
    “I didn’t-”
    “Doesn’t matter,” she said. “You thought about it. You were going to do it.” Her lips thinned. “As far as I’m concerned, that’s the same as going through with it.”
    “But-”
    “No!” I jumped back from the force of her words. “I don’t want to hear it.”
    “So what now?”

    “This.” She typed again, and I saw a response. And another. And another. After a minute, the screen was filled with over a dozen responses. Chest heaving, I reached for her phone, but it slipped into her pocket with another cold smile.
    “Too late,” she said. “The damage is done.”
    “Which is?”
    “Congratulations.” She laid a hand on my shoulder. “You just volunteered to blow up New York.” The grin returned, a crocodilian distortion that I would never forget. “With a nuke.”

    My vision swam. Months later, when I faced the judge, he wouldn’t even listen when I tried to tell him how she hacked into my account with a wireless phone. A bang of the gavel, and my story was done. I was sentenced to life, without reprieve or parole.
    As they led me away, two disparate thoughts entered my mind, neither of which offered any comfort–I shouldn’t have married a computer-science valedictorian from MIT…
    …and hell hath no fury like a woman’s scorn.

      1. Manwe38

        Actually, he’s not…his angry wife hacked into the site and stole his identity, then used it to open a profile on an ISIS page and set him up.

        Thanks for the feedback, glad you liked it!

    1. Reaper

      Interesting. You have a very hard core Christian feel to parts of this, the idea of sins of thought being the same as actions. That’s one part of the commentary in this that is really powerful for me. You also turned it on its head. Normally in your stories like this I sympathize with the wife and loath the husband, in this case you reversed that for me, so bravo.

      I find recently that you have a very subtle but noticeable hand with the social commentary. I notice because a lot of it matches my own thoughts. In this whole story there is a deep comment on the terror running through society right now. Where everyone is so afraid that a mere accusation can ruin a life and we approach a witch hunt mentality to anyone who might be siding with these groups. It is a small part of your story but a powerful comment none the less.

      1. Roan

        Absolutely loved it … I was right there in the room with them, my head turning from one to the other as their banter escalated. So his wife was the mysterious woman who was going to meet him at the mall. Busted big time!

      2. Manwe38

        Reaper, I am very impressed by your spot-on analysis. As always, you seem to be able to get into the thoughts that underpin neary all of my stories. I’m impressed, to say the least.

        One of the best things I writer can hear is that a story made its reader think, and that they could relate. I’m glad I’ve been able to create meaning for you, and I thank you for sharing that with me.

  16. Roan

    “Dad, where are you?”

    “In the kitchen.”

    Lacey, out of breath, skidded across the kitchen floor.

    “Dad, I checked out the Writer’s Digest Prompt for the week and someone has posted comments under my user name.”

    “Have you taken your medication?”

    “Yes … but, I don’t need it, and this is for REAL.”

    “Lacey, you’re escalating. Should I call Dr. Watkins?”

    “That’s your solution for everything. … NO … you need to hear me!”

    “Lacey, go to your room and meditate or sleep or something.”

    “Shut up. I hate you.”

    Lacey ran upstairs to her room and slammed the door. She had been up all night and knew that her other self, which she called “Eve’s second face,” had not engaged.

    She logged into the Writer’s Digest’s Creative Writing Prompts and scrolled down. This time she read all of the the comments under her user name, along with the stories she had supposedly critiqued.

    – I especially loved your reference to the play ground.
    – Central Park is so beautiful in the spring.
    – In the dark of the night he grabbed me …

    Chills ran up her spine. She grabbed pen and paper, wrote them down, all of them that were there.

    Leaning forward in her chair, reading them again, it was all she could do to get to the bathroom, where she planted her chin on the toilet seat, and wretched up the contents of her stomach.

    “Mila”, she wanted to scream, but didn’t.

    Mila, her best friend, was six feet under and couldn’t hear her. But apparently Mila’s killer had found her.

      1. Roan

        Thanks Reaper. I woke up at 2:30 this morning and the rest streamed out. I love it when this happens … but couldn’t fall back to sleep. Maybe I will post the full story next week. 🙂

    1. JM Somebody

      Wow, you’ve got so much packed in here, so many seeds planted — your MC’s mental illness, her father’s weary, programmed responses, a murder mystery and a coded threat. The pacing was brisk and lively, and it left me wanting more. Amen to a continuation! Great, Roan!

  17. Hiba Gardezi

    After logging into my account on fangurlz.com, I discovered myself.
    Discovered myself how, you ask?
    Well, read along.
    I read a lot.
    I am confused.
    I am you, Kate.
    I am you.

    I spent a good half hour on trying but failing to decipher these comments when I could’ve been very uh ecstatically fangirling ,hyperventilating and making squealing noises, scaring the cat poop ( deal with it ) out of neighbors.
    What was it that disturbed me so much?
    The fact that I actually believed the one who was posting these comments under my name.
    The other you
    I like Gale.
    I love Leo.
    I’m in love with a lot of guys.
    They’re all fictional by the way.
    You have to save me
    Save yourself

    These comments kept coming…
    Save the fandommmmmmmmmmmms!
    That was it.
    Who are you?
    I can’t say. The answer is within you.
    Within me?
    Within us. Know thyself.

    Know myself?
    My phone started ringing.
    ‘Hey Kerr what’s up?’
    ‘Kate.’
    ‘What?’
    Don’t ask me what. Ask yourself what. What is up with your fangurlz account? You’re making me look bad. You’re making the fandom look bad! Are you crazy? What am I SAYING! What kind of a fangirl is not crazy? Are you more emotionally unstable than a regular fan person!?’
    ‘Kerr.’
    I could hear her puffing on the other side.
    ‘What?’ she asked.
    ‘Relax, alright? Deep breath in…you love Leo…deep breath out …Leo loves you.’
    I heard her breath in ‘ I love Leo- back to topic! Why are you acting so psychotic?’
    ‘It’s not me – but it is.’
    ‘You make about as much sense as a person who doesn’t love Leo.’
    ‘Those comments you saw? I didn’t post them. I only replied to some of them.’
    ‘Then who did?’
    ‘How am I supposed to know?’
    ‘So what you’re saying is someone else is posting comments saying she/he is you? And this someone else is posting everything MAKING THE FANDOM LOOK BAD!?’
    ‘Yeah. Not exactly. See this person is saying she is me.’
    ‘So?’
    ‘What if it’s true?’
    ‘Kate. I would slap you if you were here right now. You really have gone mad.It can’t be. This is the real world. NOT some fantasy where I get to marry Leo and have ten thousand kids. No. Here you can’t have a real clone.’
    ‘But-‘
    ‘No buts. I’m calling the mental institute.’
    ‘Kerr! No. Look, who else do you think would say something like that?’
    ‘A weird Leo hating jerk that’s who.’
    ‘I really think it’s me. The OTHER me.’
    ‘And what is the OTHER you?’
    ‘My inner fangirl.’
    ‘That makes no sense.’
    ‘I know, but it does.’
    ‘You sure?’
    ‘Yes.’
    ‘Okay so how do you think your inner fangirl is posting like that. You don’t have two bodies or anything.’
    ‘I don’t know. Think about it Kerr.’
    She fell silent for a few minutes
    ‘Kerr? What are you doing?’
    ‘Thinking about how stupid you are.’
    ‘ What?’
    ‘Check the last comment’
    I did.
    April Fools!

    1. Reaper

      I don’t know why exactly, but my favorite line of this is You make about as much sense as a person who doesn’t love Leo. Oh how I can hate on fandoms, except King, and others we won’t mention, until I get my own. This was really intense and kind of trippy and thought provoking and then very funny at the end. Nice job.

        1. turtles88

          Ha! This was amazing. My favorite part was the dialogue conversation. Very realistic. And also the ending was a nice surprise that left me smiling 😀

    2. Dennis

      The first half felt almost like a nightmare I couldn’t wake from. You have this way of writing that is poetic like in its rhythm and feel and somewhat hypnotic. Fun story.

    3. JM Somebody

      And this is exactly what I would expect crazed fangirl (fangurl?) stream of consciousness to sound like. Actually this is like crazed fangirl beat poetry, or something… I’m not exactly sure what, but it was good, crazy fun.

    4. cosi van tutte

      Hey, Hiba!

      This was hilarious! I loved the whole conversation with Kerr and Kerr’s obsession with Leo. And just so you know, this part made me laugh -> “I don’t know. Think about it Kerr.’
      She fell silent for a few minutes
      ‘Kerr? What are you doing?’
      ‘Thinking about how stupid you are.’
      😀
      Great job!

  18. Kerry Charlton

    DOUBLE JEOPARDY, PART THREE

    [A continuation from Double Jeopardy Part Two, Prompt ‘I Think I’m A Clone.’]

    Brad Pennington’s eyes opened, he heard the hiss of a breathing machine. A pretty
    nurse leaned toward his ear,

    “You’re in Philadelphia General. You are a medical miracle, no one gave you a
    chance with four police bullets in you but I knew better, your heart never faulted. Lie still
    while we take the machine off.”

    Four weeks later Brad walked out under police guard. Cleared of a triple murder,
    his wife Piper and two clones produced by Dr. Montgomery, his former professor at
    University Of Pennsylvania, he wondered,

    ‘Can I live without her? Piper was always by my side. But I can revenge her
    death. The mad man is running loose, but not for long.’

    Brad leased a town home on Market Street close to his office. His home had been
    sterilized, and shuttered to keep the curious away. Jennifer, his younger sister from
    Seattle awaited his arrival,

    “I’m so glad to see you walking again, I’ve decorated your condo, I hope you like
    it.”

    “Thanks Jen…” was all he could manage as he smiled at her. “You already know
    where I’m heading, don’t you?”

    “Yes and I’ll help, you know how much I loved her.” She cried softly and he
    placed his arm around her,

    “Here’s my plan…..”

    A month of rehab moved Brad toward his goal, his left leg had been shattered by
    one of the bullets and he walked with a slight limb but his strength returned. .

    “Jen,” he said, “look at this web site I’ve built.”

    ‘Where is Dr. Charles Montgomery? $50,000.00 reward leading to his arrest.’

    Any replies yet?” Jen said.

    “Over two hundred and I responded to most but someone’s using my code and name, posting replies also.”

    “Can you trace it back?”

    “Not yet, but I have access to AT&T’s super computer, it’s just a matter of time.”

    “And then what?”

    “When I find him, he will pay the price.”

    “Can you murder someone and get away with it.?”

    “Don’t need to, I’ll give him an even chance.”

    “There’s a new post, Brad.”

    He looked at the screen and smiled,

    ‘So we shall meet, no clones, no excuses, just Bowie knives to the death. Set the
    place and time, Honor my challenge, come alone.’

    “It’s a trap Brad.”

    I know it is but he said ,‘Bowie knives.’ He didn’t say how many.”

    “Don’t do it, you won’t come out alive, he’ll bring clones again.”

    I’ve figured that, listen……………”

    “Still Brad, it’s too risky?”

    “Too risky for Piper?”

    “No, I’ll go with you.”

    “Not a change Jen, it’s not your type of game.”

    “Oh yeah? I can out throw you seven days a week.”

    “Still no.”

    “We’ll see. How will you respond and keep it private?”

    “The professor game an private access code when I worked in his lab at Penn.”

    Brad typed his response, ‘Lost waterfront area, Front street tomorrow night.

    Prepare to die.’

    [ To be continued ]

    1. Critique

      I’ve been away for a while 🙁 where can I find Part 1 and Part 2?
      You know how to build suspense in your stories Kerry. Can’t wait for Part Four!

      1. Kerry Charlton

        Thanks for your comments, Critique. [Google]: writersdigest.com I think I’m a clone now. The prompt appears but only halfof the comments. Scroll to the bottom. Above the response box, right side, click ‘older comments’ and you’re there. Working on part four.

    2. Reaper

      Interesting thing about your writing. I was thinking, I need to go back and read the beginning. Then I started reading this and remembered the story and was able to follow along. Very interesting and a nice build to part four which I now can’t wait for.

    3. Manwe38

      Hmmm, the plot thickens….

      You’re on my home turf here (I live in the Philadelphia suburbs), but even if I didn’t, you’d still have me hooked.

      Well done!

      1. Kerry Charlton

        Thank you Manwe 38. The conclusion is above. But maybe it’s not the concluision?

        I was born in Upper Darby, my gandfather, Dr. William C. Ney ledTemple Lutheran Church in Brookline for thirty some years. Out hangout was 69th Street. Gimbals and Wanamakers store front windows at Christmas were wonder lands.

  19. Pete

    See this? Right here, look, it’s like I’ve been telling you. Son of a Capitalist I should have been more careful.

    What, you didn’t know about the forum? It’s where we brainstorm. We have nearly one hundred members, although I think a few may have joined by mistake.

    Why do you look so surprised? Look, I can’t tell you everything at work, what with all the other people in the line. In fact, you’re the only non-member to whom I’ve ever spoken a word about the Calvanian Utilitarian Terror Enterprise, much less the chat forum. It’s just that I feel this…I don’t know, like, connection with you. Why are you laughing? An acronym? No can’t say I’ve heard of it.

    Hacked. Ugh. Well I pretty soon it won’t matter. Why? Hang on…I can’t believe this….This poser is obviously a government agent.

    PIEMAN224: ANYBODY WANT TO MEET UP FOR DRINKS AT BENNIES?

    Who does he think we are, the secret service? I would never, ever post anything like this. It’ s embarrassing, really. Nice try fake PIEMAN, but we’re too sophisticated to fall for your thinly veiled attempts to stop our revolution.

    How long have I been the moderator of the C.U.T.E chat board? Oh, I’d say nearly five years. I’m well respected amongst the C.U.T.E community and esteemed for my radical ideas. Failed attempts? Sure, I’ve had some stinkers, like that hot air balloon raid on the coast—how was I to know about those 60mph winds were in the forecast? The weather what? Wow, they’ve thought of everything here.

    Then there was last years hacking of MySpace that went largely unnoticed, but cut me some slack. It only takes one, right? And I’m on top of my game right now.

    KORLALOVER: SURE, WHUT TIME?

    Oh for goodness sakes, KL, why don’t you just but a bow on your forehead and handcuff yourself?

    Sorry, it appears that Ralph has fallen for this rouse. No, that’s not his real name. But good help is hard to find. And I need great help for my latest venture, and perhaps that’s why it’s disheartening to see this PIEMAN224 posting on my board. Ugh, I’ll have to call tech support again. I can never understand those guys, though.

    What do I have planned? Wow, you’re really into this, huh? You know at work I noticed you checking me out, but—oh okay, I can tell you It’s big, really big. And it involves our place of employment. Don’t worry, when all of this is over we have a place for you at headquarters.

    Why am I launching my ingenious schemes on corporations, mainly Donnie’s Pies and Cakes? Here, let me take your coat.

    There we go. Now What if I told you Calvania’s largest, basically sole import was a little fruit called the Korla. Yes, the Korla that we use, well used at Donnie’s up until those asshats at the FDA banned it. NO!. Sorry I didn’t mean to yell, but that’s bullshit, it does not cause insufferable gas and bloating. Do you want one? Sure? It’s all I ever eat.

    Okay, where was I, I tend to get a little emotional when I talk about the motherland. You see, the Korla is the hinge of our small economy.

    Can you believe this guy? He’s still posting, as me, look.

    PIEMAN224: I’M PLANNING A RALLY THIS WEEKEND AT THE NICKLEBACK CONCERT.

    Oh dear god. Like that’s going to work. Nice try secret agent man.

    CUTEGUY: DUDE, I’M THERE!!!

    CALVY558: IN!

    This cannot be happening! C.U.T.E holds utmost disdain for American culture, and this guy is picking off my army one by one.

    But at least I have you—hey, are you okay? Smell? No, but I can crack a window if you’d like. Wow, I can’t believe you’re here. I hate to be so forthcoming but honestly, you may be the only one left that I can trust.

    And your hair looks just lovely, I’ve never seen it when it wasn’t stuffed in your hairnet. I so much adore working with you at Donnies, it’ s made my task nearly enjoyable. But our time is coming and, well, I don’t know how to say this, but you make a radical want to rationalize. I might even miss it, you know? Look at me, getting all sentimental here. What? The ceiling fan? Yeah sure, got it.

    A call? Yeah, go right ahead. I don’t mind. I need to change anyhow, and I’d better log off of this site, at least until this is all sorted out.

    Hey, what are you doing….that’s not a phone!

  20. jhowe

    It had been two hours since the messages started popping up on Datechat. I tried everything to get rid of the dreadful public comments that everyone would assume had come from me but they just kept coming. The last one, a message I could never dream up in my wildest fantasy listed my cell phone number.

    “You’ve got to be shitting me,” I said out loud. I was about to throw my laptop out the window when my phone chimed.

    “I can explain,” I said.

    “No need,” said a very female voice.

    “Really, it wasn’t me. You’ve got to believe me.”

    “So you don’t want me to do those things for you?”

    “No. I mean, well, I would, but you don’t understand.”

    “I’m wearing what you told me to wear.”

    “What did I tell you to wear?” I said, racking my brain for recognition.

    “I’ll send you a photo. Call me back ok?”

    I hung up and the phone chimed again.

    Another female voice said, “Really Jordan, you should have messaged me instead of putting it on the public page.”

    “I didn’t do it, I swear.”

    “So you like a little danger, is that it?”

    “No. No danger. Danger is not what I need.” A photo icon appeared in an instant message on the laptop and I clicked on it.

    “So you don’t consider doing it in public to be dangerous?” She said, her voice dripping with sexuality.

    “What? Wait, I uh…” The photo of a magnificent brunette wearing white thong panties and a cut off tank top radiated on the screen.

    “Jordan, don’t be coy. It’s refreshing to have a man relate his true feelings.”

    Another call was trying to beep through. “I’ll call you back.” I hung up and connected the next call.

    “My my,” said yet another female voice.

    “I don’t suppose you’d believe me if I told you it wasn’t me writing the messages.”

    “Well then, I’d have to say you got me all worked up and now I need to know what you’re going to do about it?”

    “I don’t think I can do anything about it. I’m sorry.” I hung up and looked closer at the photo. I scrolled up my phone display and called the brunette back.

    “I was hoping you’d call,” she said.

    “Is that really you in the picture? It’s not a fake is it?” Another call tried to get through but I ignored it.

    “No, it’s not a fake. I just took it fifteen minutes ago.”

    “How do I know you’re real?”

    “If you don’t like what I’ve got to offer, you can always just walk away.” She told me where we could meet and I said I would be there.

    She was one hundred percent real. I didn’t know if anything would become of this but for now I was going to have one hell of a time. As we walked I looked to the sky and said to myself, ‘Thank you Mr. Hacker, whoever you are.’

    1. Cceynowa

      A positive outcome from being hacked… well, seemingly positive. You’ve written a tale ripe with commentary on our social interactions, sexual taboos, and modern “courtship.” Lots more going on to this than first meets the eye. Well done.

    2. Reaper

      I would say there are worse problems to have. I think Cceynowa pretty much nailed this. I like that you seem to have two very deep messages here, one having to do with the reversal of the norm where the pictures are real but the interactions are fake which is just wonderful, and the other being that I like you MC because while he has a superficial reaction who doesn’t, and I liked him because he went after what he liked instead of trying to get them all as many men would. Another one that I think bears rereading.

  21. pinkbamboo

    I moved my coffee mug to the other side of the table after I’ve taken a sip. I slipped the memory card into my laptop slot and while waiting for the image transfer, I login to my frequent visited forum. A forum dedicated to people like me who has a passion for photography.

    [You have 2 new messages]

    Click. An automated message for an invitation to some photography talk. Ignored. Next message.

    tammy_rider : Did not realized you are so deep 😛 .. what’s up with that?

    I frowned. What is she talking about? I moved my cursor to the reply button and then I saw it. My last login was 2 hours ago. Huh? I was certainly not online 2 hours ago. Did I somehow login through my mobile? I hovered to my few last posts. Click.

    Apparently I made a comment on Anne’s photo. Her photo of her husband hiking up the hill. He was smiling and waving at the camera as the sun shines right above his head. I had written “One way to get the most out of life is to look upon it as an adventure. – quoted by William Feather”. I took a deep breath. It sounded like me but I didn’t write that .. did I?

    Click delete. Denied. What?

    I clicked on another photo that I made a comment on – Jesse’s photo of his dog sniffing the daisy. I had written “The true secret of happiness lies in taking a genuine interest in all the details of daily life. – quoted by William Morris”. I don’t remember doing this.

    There were a few more comments made by my account. I shook my head, darn it. My account had been compromised. I was about to report the matter when I saw new posts from my account. The hacker was online. Previously he or she had just made comments on photos but this time there was a photo upload.

    I froze and I was very confused. The photo of a girl dancing in the rain, smiling to the sky with the caption of – “You cannot save people, you can only love them”. This photo was in my memory card which I had just transferred. I had no other copies nor did I distribute this. I ejected my card and with trembling hands I threw the card into my drawer and slammed it shut. I also deleted the newly transferred file on my laptop.

    Click delete. Nope. Seriously??

    Too late. Another one of my photo was uploaded. It was a photo of a teddy bear sitting by the window. That was my shot but in this version the photo was edited to black and white. This time the caption reads – “Sometimes it’s so hard and I just want to unmeet you”

    I was scared and pissed. I quickly plugged in my hard disk to back up my data. Another photo upload. I sighed and refreshed the page. Instantly I took a deep breath and pushed myself away from the desk. I could hear my heart beat in my ears and I wanted to throw up.

    It was a close up photo of a woman’s hand with her perfectly manicured dark blue nails laid out on a rough gray surface. She wore a little ring on her middle finger and there were stains of crimson red on her palm.

    The caption : “Her screams were deafening so I silenced her”

    1. Cceynowa

      I’m blown away by this, Pinkbamboo. Your style of writing pulled me in so completely that I felt the MC’s terror and was as shocked by the last caption as she was. Good stuff you’ve got going on here; makes me wonder how it could be possible and terrified to know the answer. 🙂

      1. pinkbamboo

        Thank you for the kind words. The whole reply to this prompt started because I thought of inputting quotes and then it just grew from there. I started with the last caption and backtracked the story from there 🙂

    2. Reaper

      Your writing is strong as always and the really interesting point to this is in what is not said. All through the MC is saying her pictures but not her words, and she doesn’t remember writing that. On the last one she does not say it was her picture and there is no comment about not remembering. Which leads to the question, is this someone doing bad things and finally uploading a picture that is not from her, or is it her picture and she doesn’t remember taking it? Or is it something even stranger. Good stuff and definitely leaves me wanting more.

      1. pinkbamboo

        Yes, I left the end open. Did the MC took the photo and it was meant to be a secret? Maybe the photo is not hers? Or like Critique mentioned .. is the photo her? Is she related to the photo or she is just an unlucky victim of a hack? That’s up for interpretation.

  22. cosi van tutte

    Sorry! I couldn’t help myself. 😀

    Edwin carried three doughnut boxes full of almond biscotti without cranberries into Robert Downey Jr.’s den.

    As usual, Robert was sitting at his desk, muttering obscenities at his computer screen.

    He placed the boxes on the desk and cleared his throat. “Excuse me, Mr. Downey sir.”

    Robert flipped a quick look at him. “Thanks. Go.” He returned his gaze to the computer. “Miscreants. The whole lot of them.”

    Edwin glanced at the computer screen and saw the familiar logo for Writer’s Digest. “Oh, why do you do that to yourself, Mr. Downey sir? You know how they mock and deride you and—”

    Robert scowled at him. “I said, go.”

    “Umm, yes. Of course. But I need you to look over one small thing before I go.” He pulled out a thick roll of papers out of his pocket. He placed them on top of the doughnut boxes, smashing the top box.

    Robert grabbed the stack and set it on the desk. “I’ll look at it later. ‘Bye.”

    “But you will look at it?”

    “Tsk. I don’t know why they make me sound so pompous. I’m as down to earth as Martha Stewart’s farmyard shovels.”

    “Mr. Downey sir? You will look at it?”

    “I don’t know. Maybe. Go away. I have a screed to type.”

    Edwin walked to the doorway. He stopped and looked back. Robert was furiously poke-typing on his keyboard.

    The stack of papers sat untouched and completely ignored.

    Edwin glared at his boss before leaving the room.

    ***

    “And submit.” Robert leaned back in his leather seat and plucked a biscotti out of the top box. “Mmm. Biscottis without cranberries. And I have three whole boxes of them.” He munched on it in blissed out silence.

    Hmm. he thought. Ever since Edwin escaped that Warriors and Wizards game, he’s been a model minion. Robert glanced at the ominous stack of papers. “Of course, he only wants me to read another of his weepy damsel screenplays. Quite frankly, I’d rather die.”

    He looked at the title page. WEEPING DAMSELS TAKE MANHATTEN was written in a bold, lightning bolt styled font. “Oh, just out of curiosity.” He flipped to the first page.

    Scene: The Weeping Angels Bar

    Barbie throws her red bazooka at the bartender and weeps voluminously. “You gave me a Shirley Temple for the last time. WEEEPPPSS!!!!”

    Barbie’s red bazooka hits the bartender in the face and he weeps uncontrollably. “I’m sooooooo sorry. It’s the only drink I know how to make. WEEEEEEEEEEEEPS!”

    That was all that Robert could take. He grabbed the whole stack of paper and dropped it title side down into his incinerating garbage can. The papers burned into a small pile of ashes and self-extinguished.

    He thought he heard a muffled gasp, but he chose to ignore it. “Let’s see what those miscreants have to say about my post.” He clicked the Refresh button on his menu bar.

    “And there I am. Robert Downey Jr. Rules the World.” He looked over his post, admiring its pointed barbs and snarky insults. “Oh, it’s a masterpiece.”

    He frowned as he saw a comment below his post.

    Robert Downey Jr. Rules the World
    “I am a loser. 🙁 ”

    “Huh. I certainly didn’t type that.” He pulled out another biscotti and contemplated the four word sentence. “Someone must have hacked into my account. Oh, what to do about it? I could ignore it. Maybe it will wither and die.”

    A new post appeared without him clicking the Refresh button.

    Robert Downey Jr. Rules the World
    “I am a loser. 🙁 because I am Robert Downey Jr. from the future and I play in horrible, stupid movies like Tropic Thunder Episodic Cartoon Adventures and Iron Man Meets Dracula and Dumbo Go Go Home.”
    Reply

    Robert Downey Jr. Rules the World
    “See? That is how much of a loser I am. I am such a tremendous loser I should be banned from this site. I should be banned from this world. I SHOULD BE BANNED FROM THIS WHOLE UNIVERSE!!”
    Reply

    “Okay. Fake Robert Downey Jr. Rules the World. I think you’ve gone far enough.” He set his biscotti on the desk, leaned forward, and hit Reply. ‘Loser, huh? See? The only loser I see is the one pretending to be me and that, my dear freaky friend, would be you.’

    Robert Downey Jr. Rules the World
    “Pretending? PRETENDING??? No! Don’t you see? I am you! In…uhhh…five years. Yes! Five years from now. Oh, my life is such a disaster! Oh, such misery and woe! Oh, how I yearn to be in worthwhile films. But I will never be in worthwhile films because I refused to read my BRILLIANT assistant’s screenplay. Oh, how I wish I could turn back time and read that screenplay.”

    Robert scowled at the screen.

    “I didn’t know it then but that screenplay was my lifeline to Oscar nominations and Tony awards and such glitz and glamour like I have never known.”
    Reply

    ‘Edwin. You ugly little squid. Stop spamming my account and go wax my car. It’s starting to look a little dull.’

    Robert Downey Jr. Rules the World
    “I AM NOT UGLY!!!! STOP CALLING ME UGLY!!!!!”
    Reply

    Robert smiled. ‘Whatever you say. Now, go be a good minion and wax my car.’

    Robert Downey Jr. Rules the World
    “One of these days, you will read my screenplay. One of these days…”

    He picked up his biscotti. “That day will never come.”

    1. turtles88

      This to me was written out like a movie. As I read, the way you wrote this just painted pictures in my head and I saw your MC as plain as day and I found your story very entertaining. Thank you.

    2. JM Somebody

      I’m so glad we’ve finally learned that Edwin’s masterpiece is called “Weeping Damsels Take Manhattan.”

      Loved the incinerating garbage can, the “go away, I have a screed to type,” the “down to earth as Martha Stewart’s farmyard shovels,” and the fact that RDJ still lurks on WD and Edwin still works for RDJ after being Vice President of the United States, a digital villain, a bartender to the reindeer at the North Pole.

      Sooner or later RDJ is going to read that screenplay.

      🙂 🙂 🙂

      1. cosi van tutte

        Thanks, JM, for your comments!

        This just seemed like the right prompt to drag those two into. 😀 And I had way too much fun dragging them into it.

        I think RDJ is addicted to WD. That’s why he keeps lurking. 😆 As for Edwin, well. He lives in a state of perpetual hope that one day RDJ will read his screenplay and declare that it’s the best thing ever. Poor deluded Edwin. 🙁

  23. Cceynowa

    Hooked
    Word Count: 518

    There is a special place in Hell for the Get-the-Sale-or-Die-Trying Telemarketers, and I hope my job, be it in Heaven or Hell, is poking those scum-suckers in the ass. I utterly despise high pressure tactics because, like (I hope) most people, I am too polite to simply hang up. And it never fails, the most desperate ones call in the evening. For instance the guy that called last week went to extremes.

    I had finished my last shift at the VA and was looking forward to some Chinese take-out, “The Golden Girls” reruns, and a quiet night of catching up on the past week’s web forum. I’d been a member of “Hooked-On-Needles,” a members only crochet and knitting enthusiast website, for over five years. It was exciting to share my years of experience with other crafters. Plus, it kept me socially connected in a sense. At my age, my hips couldn’t take standing all day and socializing in the evenings. Put me in my padded chair in front of my monitor, and I was happy.

    That night, I had sat down with a plate of reheated Chicken Lo Mein and logged on to the site when my phone rang. Glancing at the clock, I thought it was my daughter calling to check on me after her shift at the hospital. I hoped she wasn’t going to ask me to babysit the kids for the weekend. “Hello?”

    “Mrs. Jamison?”

    “Speaking.”

    “Wonderful! This is Luke with Insurance Agents of America, I see that you didn’t’ fill out the New Insurance Survey we sent you last week.”

    My brows furrowed in confusion, not at what Luke was saying but at my recent activity log online. It showed that I had commented on a number of post in the last week, giving people nonsensical advice like washing their finished projects in a sulfur and hydrochloric acid solution to eliminate stretching.

    “I never received a survey,” I said.

    “Oh, but you did!” I could practically hear the exclamation points in his speech. “But don’t worry, if I can have just five minutes of your time, you can take it now. First question, are you employed?”

    “Hold on a second, I don’t want to take a survey. Thanks for calling and all, but I am perfectly happy with my insurance…” I was still reading my computer screen, not focusing on Luke was saying.

    “Ma’am. Please,” he interrupted. “I need you to take this survey.”

    “Why is that,” I was too distracted to notice his change in tone, instead I was trying to delete the horrible comments online. Suddenly my cursor froze and then moved haphazardly around the screen. I had no control over it. I watched as it clicked on a member’s post, one asking the best way to join new colored yarns.

    “Do you think she should burn the tips to make sure they don’t unravel?” Luke asked.

    “Oh God no! What, wait…I don’t…” I stuttered to a halt, not trusting the evidence before my eyes. The technology age was too scary for an old-timer like me. Slowly I answered, “Yes, I’m employed.”

    1. hoppinghammy

      I’m always on the website let’s-get-real. It’s my favorite and I can’t help but always check for my new notifications.
      “What the…,” I opened up “my comments” and stared at comments written supposedly by me.

    2. hoppinghammy

      I’m always on the website let’s-get-real. It’s my favorite and I can’t help but always check for my new notifications.
      “What the…,” I opened up “my comments” and stared at comments written supposedly by me. It read “the article ‘It’s you–But it isn’t by whatevertheyaint is stupid and obsessing. I’m bound to believe that the guy or gal who wrote it is stupid and a low-life idiot. Who agrees?” Great 48,907 views and it keeps getting more. Then, right in front of my face, another comment pops up saying “I think that the way of life as stated in ‘my way of life is best’ by Santa Claus should be shut down because Santa Claus doesn’t write in Public. Therefore he would never do that and i know it.”
      “Thanks,” I say to the person on my account, “Now my friends I made on the internet and the friends I see and my family all think I’m nuts.” Me, Mackenzie Haley. I’m 16, I mean none of my family members are in the house at the time. My parents are working and my brother, David is at his girlfriend’s house. Then, out of the blue, one last comment came up. It read: “My review for the ‘Silent Boy’ by Nellie (Nell) stupid is dumb. In my opinion, Katy Thatcher talks way too much about babies and all that disgusting garbage! I’m a boy, Male, and I even think babies, having them, and making love is stupid in the head. Most males think differently but you know me…ha.”
      “GOTCHA,” i yelled, laughing. He just said “male” when i’m a “female”. See, hackers mess up sometime in their dirty lives…he. I opened “messages” and found some from Josh. “Hey babe,” it read, “Why are your comments so cruel? Thought you liked being POSITIVE.” i hit “reply” and said “Hi Josh Babe. Someone hacked into my account:(. It’s not me. Only yesterday’s posts were me. none today. And the hacker messed up by posting that he’s a male when he’s pretending to be me, when i’m a female.” i sent it and told the rest of my friends what had happened. In my spam folder, a million guys were messaging me saying, “Hi, hi, hi, hi…” and they wouldn’t stop.
      “Who signed me up for spam?” i asked confused. So i went onto my account, and viewed my settings. “change password” i hit. “Enter your username and old password,” the directions read. i typed Mackenzie_7890 , and old password: hammy. For the new password i wrote: Hoppinghammy8980
      “All done,” I said, smiling.
      DING DONG, the door bell sounded. i looked up from my computer, and checked who was there. “Who is it?” I asked through the door.
      “The police,” answered the guy, “OPEN UP GIRL.”
      I did as i was told, not being realistic. He barged in and picked me up. “You,” He yelled, “Come with me.” I didn’t listen to him. instead, i raced through my house, into the basement and locked the door. He kicked and was banging. “OPEN UP KIDDO,” he kept screaming. I didn’t listen. I ran to the window, tore it open and jumped out. I dialed 911 on my cell. “OH SHIT,” i thought, “Forgot to turn my computer off. Oh well.” When the cops answered i said, “Hello, my house is being robbed. address is 8 west lawn road Livingston NJ. Names MACKENZIE.” i raced to my neighbors house but a young lady waiting on the porch caught me. “Never know about back ups kid,” She chuckled.
      “Girl, where did you get your hair, nails and eye make up done?” I asked casually.
      “Oh,” she said laughing, letting go of me and rubbing her silky skin, “I am professional at hair nails and make up. i love it.”
      “Yeah, well it looks cute,” i forget all about the guy, ”Boys probably die over you.”
      She laughs, “Have 6 1/2 boyfriends.” WOW, i thought, this girl must be insane.
      “Whose the half?” i asked laughing.
      “Well i said half because he’s HALF my boyfriend and HALF my friend. get it?” She says.
      I take off running to any where but inside. The lady doesn’t notice i’m gone because she’s rubbing her silky face.
      “Where’d that girl go?” She asked, looking around, “Whatever.”
      So after a while, i reached the police department and reported the incident. They told me that there was no such people.

      1. cosi van tutte

        This is like a surreal dream.

        I loved the whole conversation at the end with the silky-skinned lady. I especially love this line -> “The lady doesn’t notice I’m gone because she’s rubbing her silky face. “Where’d that girl go?” she asked, looking around, “Whatever.” 😀

    3. whatevertheyaint

      This is scary! And what’s even scarier is that it’s easy to picture this happening in this day and time. But I agree with the others, it hooks you in and leaves you wanting even more of the story. By the way, I love Golden Girls!

    4. Critique

      Mrs. Jamison, don’t say another word – hang up immediately!
      Telemarketers have a tough sell with me… would hate their job. This story has a sinister slant to it and I’m worried about Mrs. Jamison.
      Good job Cceynowa.

  24. whatevertheyaint

    Finally! The kids are asleep and it’s time to wind down and see what’s going on in the Scrapbooking for Dummies forum. I never sign out, because it’s easier that way. Plus, I’m forever losing passwords.

    As the page loads and images take shape, I notice something that makes me uneasy. Either my eyes are playing tricks on me or, right there in a pop up, right in the middle of the screen, is my username in bold, red letters and a caption that reads:

    You people couldn’t cut a perfect circle and sticky glue it to acid-free paper if your lives depended on it

    I glance at the date. 4/3/2015 At least I’m not crazy. The day is correct and April Fools is long gone. So who would do this? Everyone in the house is clonked out, including my husband. His loud, steady snoring permeates throughout the house. I can even hear my son’s light breathing in the adjacent bedroom. Did he do this? Did he accidentally mash something? The idea isn’t unthinkable. He’s only six but more than capable of destroying everything he touches. If he weren’t sleeping so soundly, I’d interrogate him this very instant. However, right clicking and pressing delete seems like a viable option. So that is what I do.

    In less than two seconds, I wished I hadn’t.

    Scrapbooking Mama, you’re nothing but an over-privileged stay-at-home with nothing better to do than play around with hot glue guns and stickers.

    Oh. My. God. Scrapbooking Mama, aka Miss Nelly from Sunday school!

    Okay. I have to fix this, quickly.

    Would you like to log out? Yes.

    I unplug the computer and then reboot. The whole time I’m holding my breath, praying the webpage returns to normal.

    There aren’t any pop-ups when the site reloads, and I let out a sigh of relief as I join a thread entitled: All You Need to Know about Digital Design.
    Things are going fine. For a while. And then it starts again, this time in the comment section.

    ,b>WhateverTheFelt, I find your crafts both mediocre and aesthetically challenged. Give it up, girl.

    This can’t be happening. Surely, there’s a contact page or moderator. Someone needs to know what is going on here. As I search, I notice a link at the bottom of the page and click it. Sure enough, another pop-up:

    HAPPY LATE APRIL FOOL’S

    A gazillion smiley faces ensue the screen blinks off and on uncontrollably. In no way do I find the prank funny. In fact, I’d show them who the fool was. This “dummy” didn’t need a scrapbooking site to tell her how to digitally design an album, or anything else for that matter.

    Would you like to deactivate your account? Yes!

      1. turtles88

        What a despicable prank! I don’t know why but I prefer reading this in bold print; it doesn’t bother my eyes. This flowed very nicely. I enjoyed this 😀

    1. Cceynowa

      This is too much fun! Well written to the point I wasn’t bothered at all by the html glitches. Have you read “Scraps: Adventures in Scrapbooking” by Wendy Bagley? If you haven’t, you should. Your piece reminded me of her book.

    2. Reaper

      I think in print the bold and italics running amuck would be more out of place. However, other than the strange random bit of code in the middle this worked well because it was about a crazy computer scenario. So even that little code showing up kind of added to it. This was a very nice read, and disconnecting always seems like a good way to go to me so I was completely with your MC.

  25. Observer Tim

    TRAPPED!

    I get home from work and land in front of my desktop. Eight hours of playing ‘spreadsheet’ at work has taken its toll on my sanity and I need to unwind badly. I log on to Other Places, where we discuss weird science fiction ideas. It’s cheesy, but it’s also a relaxing mental stretch.

    A new thread started today; it’s called “Trapped!” and has already had a couple of dozen responses. Not too bad, since it was only started a few hours ago. I check the byline: Zecondsyte.

    Wait, what? Zecondsyte! That’s me! There’s no way I could have started this, my boss would fire my ass if he found me on a chat board at work. My heart sinks as the only other possibility sinks in. I’ve been hacked.

    I really don’t want to have to go through the identity recovery procedure right now. It’s way too much like work. To forestall the inevitable I read the header. What did “I” start?

    Trapped!

    You find yourself trapped in a totally alien world. The creatures that live there are only marginally human and most of the technology is foreign, though at a similar level of advancement. How would you get home? Assume this world has no technology we don’t.

    The responses are the usual mix of crackpot advice and nascent thrillers. Everyone assumes the natives are hostile except Fufu69, who is more interested in sexual compatibility. There are a dozen different ways to take out an intruder, assuming the intruder is human, and the whole thing is slanted on how to live among the aliens since there’s no way home.

    Ten minutes later I’m done reading. It’s actually kind of an interesting concept, but I should really get to work recovering my account. I head over to my bedroom to get the Shoebox O’ Passcodes.

    The bedroom looks like it’s been trashed by foreign agents looking for secret plans, which is to say, like it usually does. I wade over to the closet. Thank God the door is open, I don’t feel like digging away the heap of laundry at the moment.

    My closet smells like bacon. How is that possible? In my apartment, bacon doesn’t last until it’s out of the kitchenette, let alone into my bedroom. I start scanning the stuff on the closet floor.

    I find a pair of feet: white, alien feet. They’re attached to svelte alabaster legs that rise up to a featureless white torso with what would be breasts if they had nipples and four long white arms holding the closet walls. One arm holds several slices of microwave bacon in a handlike appendage with two big fingers and one thumb.

    The creature that took my bacon had a vaguely birdlike face, with a beaklike mouth and two little openings that I assumed were nostrils. And eyes; she had huge hawklike eyes that continually darted about as if looking for an escape – or prey.

    1. lionetravail

      Heh. Very, very cute idea, and what a great opening to something longer! this could be the sequel to that goofy movie with the 2 guys and an alien they were running around with in an RV (only saw trailers, but still).

      Lots of fun, Tim!

    2. Reaper

      Okay, you got me. I should have seen that coming and totally didn’t. I started laughing like a loon. I would agree that this is a great start to something longer with one problem. It is an unfortunate fact that this story cannot continue. On this planet anyone who steals a man’s bacon, like anyone who stole a man’s horse in Texas long ago, must be hung. So I can’t see anyway for the alien to survive into the sequels. This is amazing Tim.

      1. Cceynowa

        On the subject of horse stealing in Texas (fun fact): Texas Penal Code § 31.03(e)(4)-(5), it is a state jail felony to steal less than ten horses and a first degree felony to steal ten or more horses. Neither “state jail felonies” nor “first degree felonies” are eligible for capital punishment….so no hanging, but definite jail time. 🙂

        On Tim’s story: loved it! There is definitely room to expand and fill in details or continue forward. Wouldn’t it be great if it turns out as an “E.T.” mesh up with “Pretty Woman?” For some reason, when the last paragraph gave the alien a gender, that is what I thought of!

        1. Observer Tim

          Ah, but Ccey, culturally justice in old Texas was like soap: found at the end of a rope.

          The MC (Eddie) has assigned a gender to the alien based on one feature (okay, two features 😉 ). Aliens are more complicated than that.

    3. Critique

      To me this reads like the beginning of a science fiction story and leaves me curious about the birdlike creature that hawked the MC’s bacon 🙂

      1. Observer Tim

        Thanks for the interest, Critique; I actually invented the aliens for another story that is hopefully going to come out in my April Blitz (at least 1 short per day for the whole month on my website).

    4. Observer Tim

      And now, part two…

      I stand frozen for what feels like hours, but is probably only a few seconds. Then I slowly back away. After two steps I trip on my laundry pile and fall backwards onto the bed.

      She’s on me in an instant.Two strong hands grab my elbows and two prehensile feet grab my knees, pinning me down. She stares into my face, using her beak to pull a piece of bacon from another hand. The final hand grabs onto my clothing.

      Now that we’re out of the closet I get a good look at her. She has six limbs, two legs and four arms, all jointed like arms and ending in three-digited hands. Her face is vaguely owl-like, except the beak is as white as the rest of her. Her entire body is covered in hide that looks like alabaster leather; no feathers or scales or ears, not even fingernails. She’s actually kind of cute in a six-armed owl-monkey sort of way, if that makes sense.

      She looks into my eyes and starts clucking, a sound like a hawk pretending to be a chicken. I can tell she’s trying to talk, but I obviously don’t understand.

      “Uh, me Eddie?”

      That draws a quizzical look. She tilts her head this way and that and leans in close to smell my face. Her breath smells like oranges and bacon.

      She puts another slice of bacon halfway into her mouth and then pushes the free end against my lips. I think Fufu69 was right; this is an alien sex thing. I’m scared, but it’s bacon. I grab the other end.
      She starts tugging and I refuse to let go. I hope that’s the right response. We pull back and forth like two dogs worrying a piece of rawhide until the bacon snaps. She swallows and makes more clucking sounds.

      She pulls out another slice and we do it again, repeating the process until all the bacon is gone. By the end I’m acutely aware that she’s ostensibly female and obviously naked, holding me helpless in my bed. Thank you Fufu69! She reaches her free hands down and wraps her fingers around my neck. Aw, crap!

      I come to (thank heaven!) lying naked in a makeshift nest composed of my clothing. I’ve got orange peels, burger grease and a sleeping female alien on me. I’m trying to come to grips with this when I hear knocking on the apartment door.

      “Eddie, are you in there? We’ll be late for the movie!”

      It’s Karen; she has my spare key, and I hear it in the lock. My life just got complicated.

      1. Cceynowa

        Oh my, what will Eddie do? More importantly, will the courts recognize half-alien babies and make him pay child support? Stay tuned…I do hope you plan to continue!

      2. Reaper

        I think the alien paid attention to the wrong posts. This is still awesome and hilarious but getting some nice tension too. I loved this line She’s actually kind of cute in a six-armed owl-monkey sort of way, my only suggestion would be that the if that makes sense that follows it seemed a little jarring. Otherwise the whole thing is smooth as silk and I could read some more.

      3. cosi van tutte

        I love this line -> “…a sound like a hawk pretending to be a chicken.” I can only imagine what that sounds like and it makes me smile.

        I hope there’s a Part 3. I’d love to see what happens next. 🙂

      4. Nicki EagerReader

        Thanks, TIm, as always, for a well crafted joyride that totally cracked me up. I enjoyed it especially because I’m sliding into a Sci-Fi phase at the moment 🙂 this just fired up my imagination.

        One question though: if the alien posted that thread (cunning!) she should at least be capable of written communication, shouldn’t she?

        “I’m scared, but it’s bacon.” I rest my case… 😀

      5. JM Somebody

        Ha ha ha! His life is complicated because of Karen? The owl-monkey-chicken-hawk naked alien lady with the bacon would be okay otherwise? This was kooky even for you, Tim, and I absolutely loved it. Please go on!

  26. Reaper

    In the Beginning – The Forum

    “No… NO!”

    Templeton checked his login to thethronecometh.com. Username: New_World_Prophet Password: say3thth3l0rd Where were these posts coming from? It was time to seek assistance.

    Hellfire and brimstone boiled from him at the screen. Vengeance may be the lord’s but he was mad enough to spit. He drew the cell phone from his pocket and dialed a number he hated to interrupt.

    “It’s me. Do you have eyes on?

    “Yes. Something strange is happening. I logged into the throne…

    “It is not an end times site. It’s a forum for those who participate in a particular hobby.

    “Of prophesizing what the world will be in the next age of man. What we will endure in the coming change and how transcending it will alter our society.

    “That is not the end times! Now listen. Something strange is happening and I need to know if your friend is involved. Someone logged in as me and posted some very blasphemous statements that contradict the prophecy.

    “Of course I tried to delete them! It is like that writer site that girl you went to school with was always on. There is no option to retract. I guess they think you should stick to what you say.

    “The girl was obsessed with her imaginary worlds, and don’t you dare start comparing what I know to what she imagined. Wait, there’s a new one posting now. Now listen to me…

    __________________________________________________________________

    Nicole turned on bare toes, who walked barefoot on the beach in late winter? She peered at Chester before issuing what could only be a command. Daddy’s princess still assumed obedience would come naturally.

    “Show me your phone.”

    Chester turned it, showing her the mindless matching game on the screen. The game was a cover, to hide how intently he stared at her posterior while she spoke.

    “Okay. Daddy thought you might have been hacking his account.”

    “Let me guess, crazies for god? No, wait, the throne cometh dot com?”

    “This is no laughing matter.”

    “I think it’s hilarious.”

    “He said if it was you to stop being childish. Your destiny is sealed and you need to get used to leading men into their future, even if you find it distasteful. You will be the tool of the new age.”

    “Your dad’s a tool. Tell him maybe the devil, or God himself finds his prophecies asinine and might be hijacking his user name for the greater good. To show people what nut jobs modern day prophets are.”

    Nicole glared at her date, the look of death indicating he had gone too far. Would have gone to far if not for his importance in the impending change. Chester choked on a laugh and continued.

    “Better yet! Tell him to check and make sure he isn’t getting hacked by the NSA. They could be doing it to make him look like what they want him to, to the general public. I hear that’s what they did with the video of the whackos in Waco.”

    “Daddy? Listen to me…”

    1. lionetravail

      What a wonderful, cynical, and awesomely inventive take, Reaper! This one has a lot of ‘go long’ potential to it- how sinister is dad, exactly? Both a magical realism or a modern fanatic story coexist is a lovel. potential state here- would enjoy seeing more.

      1. Reaper

        Thanks lionetravail. I realized this morning that I completely forgot to throw up that this is a continuation of last week and hoped the title and the names in the second part along with the message of last week would do it for me. So you saying it has go long potential makes me very happy. Thank you.

      1. Reaper

        Thanks Cceynowa. I’m waiting for Klem to throw a curve that I can’t write into this story. It has happened before and is part of why I hesitate to try this but it is in the spirit of challenging myself.

    2. Dennis

      I was wondering how you were going to continue last weeks story. It played out nicely. There is definitely an epic feeling about it, maybe because it is a prophecy type tale. I look forward to the next installment.

      1. Reaper

        Thanks Dennis! I was wondering myself, and now I am wondering how I will continue next week. I keep having other ideas flitter into my head then away for this prompt so I’m sure at some point I will have to double post. Which will hopefully make me feel better on the weeks I have to stretch the prompt even further.

    3. JM Somebody

      Your characterization is great. Chester is such a doofus, and yet somehow he is going to be some kind of savior of humanity. I love that, and the way Nicole runs roughshod over him. Very entertaining, and I’m looking forward to the continuation. Clever way to work in the prompt — I see the internet playing a big part in this story. You’ve got a winner here, Reaper!

      1. Reaper

        Thanks JM. I’m glad I could work that in early. Normally when I try to do a continuation it is some internet prompt that throws me off the rails. So it was kind of nice to have it come in early where I could make it a part of the set up. I appreciate the comments and the encouragement.

  27. Critique

    Eighty-five year old Denny McKracken’s blue veined papery hands lay in mine while I sang – off key – his favourite hymn, What A Friend We Have in Jesus. As far as I knew Denny never had a visitor in the four months he spent at the Providence Hospital. Denny died with a peaceful look on his face and I wept. It was the lonely forgotten ones that I liked spending time with and they all stole a piece of my heart.

    Volunteering four days a week can be exacting emotionally when I get too attached and grieve when my patients pass away. My son, a Cardiologist at the Community Hospital, and well meaning friends think I should give it up. As a wealthy widow with too much time on my hands I found my niche six years ago volunteering at the hospital where my late husband, a Geriatric specialist, had worked for years.

    “I’m so blessed to be able to do this and I love what I do. The personal rewards are immeasurable.” I encourage my friends – sometimes successfully – to give it a try.

    Today, I drove home with a heavy heart. Denny was on my mind.

    In the kitchen I sank onto a chair, propped open my laptop, and logged onto my blog. Through watery eyes I read several comments from my cyber friends. They believed as passionately as I did in the importance of giving back to make the world a better place.

    My fingers landed on the keyboard ready to respond when a new comment appeared. It was a distasteful message ending in an obscenity. And it was from me! Shocked, I highlighted it and pressed delete. Nothing happened. Several messages followed – each worse then the previous one. In vain I tried to delete them.

    By the time the last entry popped up I was hyperventilating.

    “I keep a supply of syringes in my purse and when the time comes I put these $%&#@* has-beens out of their misery. Ask yourself: why should our tax dollars keep these parasitic losers alive?”

    My cellphone rang.

    “Mel I think you’ve been hacked.” My friend Shirley said.

    “This is awful.” I wailed in panic. “I can’t stop them.”

    “You need to delete the entire blog.” Shirley’s voice was firm. “Now.”

    “But I’ll lose everything. All of my contacts.” I had built up a loyal following over the years of other fellow volunteers. These people had become dear to me.

    “You’ll lose more then that if you let this continue.” Shirley warned.

    With several clicks the blog I’d built up over the years was gone.

    I never found out why I was targeted or who did it. Frankly, I’ve moved on. I’m about doing something meaningful with my life. I’ve taken a course on computer safety and started another blog. Thankfully my cyber friends are reconnecting again. We need each other. I don’t want to lose touch with them.

    1. lionetravail

      What a beautifully realistic story Cosi! I found the switch from your frenetically funny tones of the past few prompt-takes of yours to be timely: it reasserts your wide range of talent in a very acute way. Wonderfully done: the age, love, altruism, distress, and even the voice of an elderly widow all came through strongly in such a succinct and complete story. Nice work 🙂

      1. lionetravail

        Gah! mea culpa, Critique! I wish i could retract my goof- i blame it on the lack of caffeine and doing this on my phone. Maybe on early dementia.

        It was a wonderful, wonderful piece even if i forgot the C author name within a minute on this tiny thumblexia screen.

      2. cosi van tutte

        😆 That startled me, lion. I thought that someone hijacked my user name in a prompt about hijacked user names. 😀

        But anyway, Critique, it is a very beautiful story. Your MC sounds like a wonderful, caring person. I’m glad that things worked out for her.

    2. Lisa Letters

      Wow! way to go! this was perfect from beginning to end, effortlessly laying out the details while highlighting all the prompts points and completing great read. Thank you!

    3. Reaper

      This is gorgeous Critique. You ran me through the range of emotions and with the voice made me connect with the MC. And you had so much power in the writing that you made lionetravail fall into the prompt and post comments from outside of himself. Well done!

    4. Cceynowa

      This played out so beautifully in my head; a wonderful slice of life story. Bravo, times ten. You picked up on every aspect of the prompt, and made a compelling and enjoyable read out of it. Thank you for sharing.

        1. Kerry Charlton

          Thank you for the post, Critque. I always have nightmares when I read about the elderly who die alone as if yesterday’s newspapers die. What a marvelous MC you’ve launched. I hope you bring her back in another prompt.

          1. Critique

            I rather like my MC too and may consider using her in another story. Thanks for the suggestion and your kind comments Kerry.
            There are lots of Mels out there, we just don’t hear their stories – not newsworthy enough I guess.

  28. turtles88

    Her breath runs short as she reads what I’ve wrote. I can see the disbelief in her eyes. The fear. The excitement.

    She lets out a scream of anguish and breaks down crying.

    Standing behind her, I can’t help but laugh and gloat over my victory.

    My courage.

    My bravery.

    She moves the mouse around and double clicks. I approach the side of her and watch her face slowly change from horrified to petrified as she reads the comments. She cries louder.

    I slap her yet, there is no pain to follow. I want her to be happy yet, she is sad. I want her to laugh yet she cries. These must be tears of joy. Yes, tears of joy! For this was bound to happen. This was meant to happen. People were going to find out one way or another really. And is this not good to share this with people that are consider to be your friends? People who won’t judge you? People who share your same passion?

    I had to do this. I had to. For her own good. For our own good. For us.

    Feeling relieved and suddenly drowsy, I too read the comments. One person suggested of a place where you can go and talk to someone.

    Someone who will listen to you.

    Someone who won’t hurt you.

    Someone who you can trust.

    I study her wet face, taking note of her red, puffy eyes and dripping nose. A tissue is what she needs but using the shirt sleeve is just as good, I suppose.

    More comments pop up.

    I don’t think she wants to read them anymore. I think she wants to cry no more and I also think she wants to hide no more.

    I wipe my face, I grab my phone, and I dial the number.

      1. turtles88

        Thank you, Reaper very much! I’m glad you like it. I was afraid it’d be too choppy to read…. And I’ve been here all along! I just never submitted anything 🙂

    1. lionetravail

      It’s not choppy at all- I get the sense of a multiple personality MC, and the switching back and forth seems perfectly easy to follow.

      Think you did great taking the risk on this experiment. Nicely and powerfully done.

      1. turtles88

        Thank you, Lione! My original purpose was to write in the hacker’s POV and go on from there but then the hacker and the victim became one. I hope that makes sense! 😀

    2. Lisa Letters

      Absolutely loving the point of view! I hear a poetical tone- pronouncing. I’ve yet to figure out what will happen .. who will be called… again. great job!

      1. turtles88

        Thank you, Lisa. And yeah! I’m glad you noticed the poetical tone. I find it personally easier to write fiction stories in a poetic style. Thank you again 🙂

    3. Cceynowa

      I had to read this twice, not because it wasn’t well written but because the POV was so unexpected. A very interesting take on the prompt. I enjoyed it! Thanks for sharing.

    4. cosi van tutte

      Wow. This is an amazing story. At first, I thought that the hacker was a ghost, but then I read the last line and I got it.

      For the record, I love the pattern in these three sentences -> “I don’t think she wants to read them anymore. I think she wants to cry no more and I also think she wants to hide no more.” It’s just awesome. 🙂

      1. turtles88

        Thank you thank you thank you, Cosi. The three sentences you mentioned, those were the ones that I feared were choppy and didn’t have any rhythm. I glad you thought it was awesome. That makes me happy 😀

    5. Hiba Gardezi

      This was beautiful turtles88! Very interesting and poetic 😀 Missed you these past few weeks ( though I wasn’t here last). I have three pieces of advice. The first is keep, the second is it and the third is up!

    6. JM Somebody

      This is very well written, and I echo the comments above about it having a poetic feeling to it. I thought something sadistic was going on at first, but the last line turned it on its head, and made it feel like a victory for the MC. Very nicely crafted, Turtles!

  29. Lisa Letters

    “Dammit!” Shana gasped covering her mouth with her sweaty palms as she glared at the dimly lit screen. The silence in the bedroom suddenly filled with her skipping heartbeat. Agonizing over Dante’s last taunting hack or was it Ethan or Claude- whichever alias username he’d come up with. “Not cool… this is not cool!” Shana threw her laptop down and began pacing around the room pulling her hair out. Beginning to sweat she hopped in the cold shower.
    Drying her hair she plopped down on the side of the bed, returned to her inbox and decides to compose an email.
    To whom this may concern,
    Hello, my name is Shana Washington writer for Ngyun Press and I feel that I have been hacked agai-
    Before she could finish, Shana’s inbox notification chimed four times in a row. The inbox read: 5 unread messages. ‘How could this be…’ Shana thought. The first four intro messages were exactly what she was writing and the fifth was finishing her sentences before she had the chance to! Terrified, she slammed the computer shut and threw it across the room.
    “Hello?” a calm, yet raspy voice answered.
    “Dana! It’s me… I – I’m on my way to your house. Something has come up. I- I need a huge favor from you.”
    “Calm down, Shana. It’s two o’ clock in the morning- it’s obviously an emergency, come on over and please get here safe!”

      1. turtles88

        This was a good read Lisa. Some parts in the story are missing but besides that, very good. I like the bit where your MC takes a cold shower to relax and cool off. Says a lot about your character to me.

      2. Lisa Letters

        Great feedback! Thank You!! I have remember to write every scene out, I tend to watch the scenes in my mind and write as I see it. Thank you very much!

      3. Lisa Letters

        Yes.. I tend to write scenes out how I see them and forget those important details. Thank you for great feedback Reaper. I will work hard on this!

        1. Kerry Charlton

          You have a good quality in your writing, Lisa. I also write from visual in my mind,. let it cool for a while and find the flow is too erratic between the visuals. I’m a great beiever in a minimum of two cool offs before I post anything.

    1. lionetravail

      Heya Lisa!

      There are a few tense changes in here which break up the flow: (drying her hair, she ploppED down, returnED to her inbox and decidES (unless that’s a typo).

      It reads like the start to something that needs to be longer… nice work.

      1. Lisa Letters

        Thank you liontravail! I’m extremely rusty this is exactly what I’ve always struggled with. On point feedback! I will work very hard on this and coming to a conclusion as well… it’s difficult for me as I never want it to end. Thank you again!!

  30. Bilbo Baggins

    SHORT-CIRCUIT

    Three dumbest words in history: “It’s probably nothing.”

    Al’s hovering over my shoulder, waging war for the mouse with his sweaty hand. I concede and merely watch the comments pop up with my username on them. Al tries to get off the main page of my computer repair website. Underneath my comment “I’m thinking of getting a new Mac myself,” whole threads are being created within seconds of each other.

    “Yeah, probably nothing,” he says. I smell that pickle sandwich he’d wolfed down earlier. “But I’d still open up your firewall, run some checks.”

    “Who’s the boss here? I know what to do. It’s my living.” Sighing, I shake my head and use the touchpad. Every time I try to close out, it refreshes the page. Al reluctantly steps back into his office.
    “Well, I’ll be in here… if you need me.”

    He shuts the door. Still harping on that raise he was begging me for. I try to restart the computer with no success. Microsoft Defender. Norton 360. Ctrl-Alt-Delete. The works. Holy shit, do I know what to do? The know-it-all can’t repair his own laptop. More proof I need to pitch this. It has been… what? Five years? Six?

    After a half-hour Al pops his head back in. Most of the lights are off. He roams around the office, has that look, jingles his keys.

    “I’ll be heading home now… anything else?”

    “No, not—hey, what’s this?”

    A message in stark black is on the screen.

    ARE YOU THINKING OF GETTING RID OF ME, TOM?

    “That’s pretty creepy,” Al says, sitting down. I grabbed the mouse first.

    “Some hacker playing a joke. Ain’t that precious,” I mutter.

    ARE YOU AWARE OF THE CONSEQUENCES?

    “What consequences? What—look there.”

    One of the comments states, “I love my current computer. I never plan to get rid of it.” A cold shock went down my legs. More and more of them, saying the same thing.

    ARE YOU THINKING OF REPLACING ME, TOM?

    “This isn’t a joke, man,” Al says. The red box fades and more comments multiply.

    “I’ve gotta stop this.” I pick up the computer to throw it in the dumpster outside. An electric current passes through me to the floor and I collapse. Al’s mouth flies open and he kneels beside me.

    “Are you okay?” He casts a gaze over to my laptop. “How did that—“

    YOU KNOW I’M THE ONLY ONE FOR YOU, TOM.

    “I’m fine,” I say through gritted teeth. “Where’s my baseball bat?”

    “It’s in the closet.”

    DON’T DESTROY ME, TOM.

    “I don’t care.” I level the bat at the monitor while Tom looks on. “You’re just a bunch of wires.”

    Swinging the bat with my full force, it cracks the screen with a cascade of liquid crystal. Almost yelling with anger, another shock passes through my arms. The bat falls to the floor with a metal thunk.

    LAST CHANCE, TOM.

    “That’s it! Al, bring in the sledgehammer!”

    The overhead lights turn off. Pitch black. All I can hear is muffled breathing until Al suddenly screams and falls to the floor. I back up to the wall.

    Silence.

    The computer screen flickers to life.

    YOU’RE NEXT.

    The room’s only ten feet long. I lunge underneath the desk, knocking away my chair. Two more shocks nearly stop me short. Is it just me, or is my shirt on fire? Wriggling around, my hands finally feel the outlet. I unplug the cord with my last amount of strength. The live wire wraps around my wrist and digs in. Yelling in pain, I try to escape but more wires, like tentacles, embrace my legs.

    “Fine, you win…” My voice is low and hoarse. “I’ll keep you.”

    But it’s too late. I gulp, can hear the fan whirring, the computer playing with me. Any second my heart could fail under the immense pressure. I begin to laugh, let the darkness fill my brain until it’s seemingly a bellow. And to think this was just a normal day.

    The last thing I recognize is the smell of singed pickles.

    1. Bilbo Baggins

      (Fades to room with man in black suit.)

      Rod Serling: “Tom Price was an ordinary man. An entrepreneur. A businessman. He was… living the American Dream, if you will. But some dreams can only come true in… the Twilight Zone.”

      🙂 🙂 🙂

    2. Reaper

      You have a glitch where you say Tom is looking on when he seems to be the one swinging the bat. this did have a good twilight zone feel to it. The morality lesson of when we start letting the machines we made as tools run our lives. Definitely one of Serling’s big lessons.

    3. Critique

      Great action writing Bilbo. I’m curious. I know little about the Twilight series Rod Serling wrote but you’ve piqued my interest. I’m wondering what singed pickles smell like 🙂

      1. Kerry Charlton

        Great story Bilbo. I felt like Rod Sterling. For those that haven’t watched Twilight Zone, it’s on at 9:30 Central Time on METV. Rod STerling wrote everty script, produced and directed every one. A true genius of a storyteller.

    4. JM Somebody

      This was awesome, Bilbo — a little different for you, and a lot of fun. I was getting a little Stephen King vibe in addition to the Twilight Zone. The singed pickles was a great ending.

  31. Colonel Plops

    Times New Roman Tale

    ‘I killed a man.’

    He looked at the username: Chet the Chatter. His own username. Under the post were comments from the people he’d talked to through only soft, neatly spaced Times New Roman for years.

    ‘What?’ was the first comment.

    ‘Is this a joke? That is sick.’

    ‘LOL. Dude, your crazy.’

    He ignored the wrong use of ‘your’ on the last comment and ran his hands through his hair. How many people had already seen this? Why hadn’t someone taking it down already? He looked at the time on it.

    ‘Posted by Chet the Chatter at 2:48:’

    What should have been going through his mind in a situation like this? Immediately he scrolled his mouse to the tiny trash can icon in the corner of his post. As the mouse rolled over it the icon lit up blue, the sunlight at the end of a dark tunnel littered with the rambling words of mad men who’d posted things they wished they could erase. He clicked it. Nothing. He clicked again. Nothing. He began rapidly pushing his finger down on the mouse in a tantrum a man his age shouldn’t have had. Nothing. The final result was his computer running slow as it tried to process the clicks that had done nothing. The sunlight faded and he found himself back in the tunnel. He wanted to break the computer, throw it. He knew this was just another tantrum, in fact, it sounded to him like something someone who had

    ‘…killed a man.’

    would do. Suddenly, as he began exiting the page to see if he could delete it some other way, Chet the Chatter posted again.

    ‘I killed a man and I know it. I know it was wrong and I know I’d never do it again and that I’m sorry. But I also knew what I was doing when I killed him.’

    He read it faster than he had the other one. This time hanging onto every word as if it would do him any good to know what was being posted. His wife stepped out, sporting messy hair and a robe, not paying attention to him but instead retreating to the kitchen to get coffee without even a good morning. He didn’t care. There were more important things to do. He turned back to the computer screen and saw comments beginning to appear under the new one.

    ‘What is this?’

    ‘That’s disgusting.’

    ‘LOL. Your straight up nuts!’

    He mumbled oh my god and looked at the screen. Above these comments was a third post.

    ‘I killed a man, and I did it on purpose, and I married my wife only as cover. I don’t love her. I hate her.’

    His wife was standing behind him. He knew she would be. She was always there to watch him fail. She yelled at him. Threw the hot coffee down to the floor and shut herself into their room, beginning to pack clothes. He looked back at the words.

    ‘…I hate her.’

    Who was posting these? Who had his information? No one expect his wife. Was she posting them? Did she have the guts? She was dramatic, “throw hot coffee on the ground in a mess of burning liquid and shards of ceramic” dramatic, but not crazy enough to do this to him. No. Whoever was doing this was

    ‘…straight up nuts.’

    He didn’t know who and didn’t want to think about who would post something that was so… well, for lack of better words

    ‘That is disgusting.’

    His wife stepped out with a suitcase, mumbling something about her parents, about how she wanted a divorce and about how ever since he’d found the website he’d loved it more than her. How everything in that post had been true. No it hadn’t. She was just angry. He knew that

    ‘It really happened’ the fourth post that had popped into existence while he thought read.

    He stood and ran his hands across the desk, making the keyboard fall and hang from the desk by the cord. Hanging by a thread. Hanging by a thread. He left the keyboard and went to his safe where a gun sat. Had he ever used it? Had he killed someone? The gun was suddenly in his hand and it was smooth and cold. As cold as the dead. A ghost, was a ghost posting these? His wife? One of the commenters? Himself? None made sense to him. Nothing made sense to him. He felt the smooth gun again and thought what he might do with it. What he could shoot. Who he could shoot. He could find his wife, he could shoot the computer and pretend it had never happened. He could turn and point the gun at himself, hoping that by pressing the cold barrel against his own forehead that he’d be killing the source of the posts. He did turn it and it felt good against his forehead. He realized how hot he was, how sweaty, how good it felt to press that against his forehead. Then, he let it drop to his side and fell to his knees.

    ‘Is this a joke?’

    1. Reaper

      This dude needs his alter ego to be Tyler Durden instead of who it is. This is an intense ride, loved how you worked the comments in as his inner monologue too. There is some deep commentary here and I feel like it is on three or four subjects all rolled into one. I think this merits a few more reads.

  32. Wolfpower

    Oh no! Not again! Someone has stolen my login information on monkeyluv.com! Furious, with raging fury raging through all areas where I have fury, I sit down to compose a sternly worded email that will end things once and for all.

    “Dear Sir and/or Madam and/or Gender Questioning

    I am very tired of seeing users who are not me posting using my information on your fine website, monkeyluv.com. I post several times a day and sometimes make multiple posts of the same information because I have difficulty navigating your website and I am not sure if I have posted. This often causes me to post again, because I frequently have points that need to be shared with the world and I find your website offers me the opportunity to do so. However, if I spend the time to write a point that is insightful and occasionally hilarious, I must know that it posts correctly. The little thing will spin and I will expect it to post, but, after refreshing, I am not sure if it has. This is bad! I get confused, become agitated, and, especially if I have not copied my posts previously, I feel a dead feeling in the pit of my bowels that I cannot explain but that is patently offensive to all those around me. So what am I to do? Well, I post again! I mean, if you had an insightful post, and you weren’t sure if it posted correctly, wouldn’t you do the same? I know, I know…many people find my multiple posts annoying, but, when they see the true level of insight, I think they may better feel the power of my words. Upon reading my posts, or reading all five or eight or seventeen of the same posts, the power of my words is like a sledgehammer through butter: messy, but effective, especially if your goal is to splatter butter all over the kitchen.

    Wait. What was I saying again? Oh, yes. You must increase website security. Maybe put a little riddle or something, or one of those things where the letters are all blurred and crooked. But don’t make them too hard. I hate that. Make them common words. So that is my point. Increase security, but don’t increase it so much not to be enjoyable. Also, don’t yell at people who make multiple posts.

    Thank you for your consideration. I have had my identity stolen several times over the past few weeks, and I really would like it to stop. If you can do this, I assure you you will remain my favorite website.”

    I sat back and looked at this email. Was it too stern? Was it too cruel and biting? But how else to address the fact that I posted thirty-seven times in the time it took me to write the email? It was time to really let it fly. It was time to truly take a stand.

    However, as I sat back to allow satisfaction to wash over me like suds when you accidentally walk into a car wash without your car, a big truck smashed through the side of my house and killed me. The Internet can be a dangerous place, but big trucks are even dangerouser. The mystery will remain forever a mystery.

    Or will it?

      1. lionetravail

        I was thinking the monkey thing too. It had the same feel as an earlier story i wrote for a prompt where the mc was a chimp 🙂

        Nice job with this. A couple places you could edit to avoid duplications (“I feel a dead feeling…”), but overall good stuff 🙂

  33. Trevor

    Word Count: 833

    Unfriended

    Charlie: WTF, ELLIOT!?
    Sasha: What’s the matter with you?
    Joanna: That’s it! You’re blocked!
    Owen: What’s your problem, man?
    Geoff: What are you, 12!?

    Those were only some of the messages I saw in my inbox when I logged into my Snapbook profile. If you don’t know, Snapbook is a website for amateur photographers. They can share their photos and let others comment on them. I fell in love with the site and made many incredible friends that helped me improve my photography skills. We were as close as family.

    I clicked on the first message from Charlie. It read:

    “What is going on with you, Elliot? You’ve always been such a great friend to me. But now, you’ve turned into a complete psycho! Message me when you get it together!”

    What was he talking about? Hoping to find out more information, I looked through the rest of the messages. But most of them were vague and just called me a psycho or a troll. But when I got the last message, which was from my newest friend Lisa, I got my answer.

    “You used to be nice, Elliot. But now all you do is berate and threaten people in the comments section. Is anything going on? Message me if you need someone to talk to.”

    This had something to do with comments. I went to Lisa’s account and clicked on her latest photo: A fantastic shot of a valley at sunset. But when I scrolled down to the comments, I saw that I had already commented on the photo.

    “This photo sucks, Lisa! You’re the worst photographer ever! I’m gonna come to your house tonight and cut your fucking throat open! Burn in Hell, bitch!”

    I had no idea what was going on. I had no memory of ever posting that comment. Having been cyberbullied as a teen, I swore I would never use the anonymity of the Internet to hurt others. I checked out my friends’ recent photos for more malicious messages, and I found plenty.

    “You suck! Go kill yourself, dumbass!”

    “This looks like shit! Go shove that camera up your ass!”

    “This looks like a 2-year-old did it! What the hell is wrong with you, bitch!?”
    I felt like I was in a nightmare. I hadn’t written any of these messages. They were all so vicious and hateful, qualities I didn’t have. Someone must’ve hacked into my account and posted these. But who would do that?

    Just then, new comments appeared on the photo I was on, which was Owen’s photo of a crowded swimming pool-all in my name. And I could tell they were directed towards me.

    “Hahaha! Now everyone hates you, you bastard!”

    “You don’t deserve friends after what you did to me!”

    “Guess you’ll think twice before cheating now, asshole!”

    That’s when it hit me. At that moment, I knew who had hacked my account: Ashley Fields. Ashley had been a classmate of mine back in high school. Everyone thought she was weird because she talked to herself and had random crying fits during class. She didn’t have any friends and people spread nasty rumors about her.

    I felt bad for her, so one day, during lunch, I saw her sitting alone and went over to join her. When I asked to sit with her, she smiled at me and hugged me tight. What I didn’t know was that this one act of kindness would turn into a big mistake.

    After that, Ashley became obsessed with me. She’d follow me around school, send me hundreds of text messages, and once even came to my house. It was weird, and I was beginning to fear for my life. When I started going out with Alice, another girl in our class, Ashley was furious.

    “You’ll pay for this, Elliot!” She texted me angrily late one night. I was worried she would do something crazy, but the next morning, I found out that Ashley’s family had moved out of town. I thought that was the end of the drama.

    But now she was back and ruining my online social life. Knowing there was no point in trying to explain the complicated situation to my friends, I deleted my Snapbook account.

    Later on, at around midnight, I was fast asleep when I was awoken by a high-pitched beep. It was my cell phone. I picked it up from the bedside table and saw I had a new text from an unknown number. When I read the message, I froze in horror.

    “If I can’t be with you in this life, I’ll be with you in the next.”

    All of a sudden, I became aware of a second presence in my bedroom. Then, I felt hot breath against my neck. Someone was in my bed with me, their arms around my waist. And clenched in one of those hands was a butcher knife. Just before everything went red, I heard an all-too-familiar voice whisper into my ear.

    “You’re mine forever now.”

    1. Reaper

      I hope this goes in the right place, the site isn’t seeming to act normal. Trevor, there are some really strong themes here and I give you credit for that. Two things didn’t sit right with me. The MC giving up when the last comments were obviously to him, not by him. I can overlook that though. This has an anti bullying message and the second thing is the girl is a stereotype that doesn’t sit right with me. The quiet girl that goes psycho when she gets one friend or even one moment of attention. It feels wrong, the popular girl who goes nuts after he shows her kindness that is more than the shallow stuff she normally gets feels more like what you were aiming for. That’s just me and I guess I just have a personal shudder at that type of character but it seemed out of place for the message.

    2. lionetravail

      Good story, Trevor. I read Reaper’s thoughts as well, and i see what he means clearly. You have some really good elements in here, and the twist is good story. The horror of its finish is little blunted for me though- not sure why, though Reaper might have hit it on the head.

      you made me feel sympathetic to your main character, but he seems a little too shiny. Maybe i need him to have done something to merit the girl’s extremism, even if it was an accident or unintentional and a source of regret. Make him human, and his transgression more believable to drive someone to obsessive murder? Overall good, but feels like a little tweaking willratchet up the horror factor.

    3. Cceynowa

      I really cannot add more to the comments than Reaper and lionetravail have thus far. I did feel like you started out really strong with this one, and then after the MC realized what happened it kind of fell into a cliché. I feel like your MC liked taking the easy way out of things (Ashley moved, delete account), and that made me like him less. Even with the loner-girl-goes-psychotic stereotype, I feel like you could have had a better ending by having the story end with the text message saying something like, “Check out your Facebook….”

      When I first started writing, it was so easy to end the story with a death. Deaths are pretty final, a perfect ending point to a short tale. Lately I’ve been trying to not have any of my short submissions to this site end in death. I found it a challenge at first to try to “end” the story satisfactory and not kill the characters. Just a thought, but a good exercise if you struggle with endings like I did.

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