#StoryADayMay 2

Spaghetti with sauce from a jar. Pepsi. #typicalFriday

Matt blinked hard, trying to rub the sting of exhaustion from his eyes. The tweet he had just flung into cyberspace was his usual fare: details of the boring food that was patterned after the rest of his boring life. His phone was happy to help him punctuate his existence with feeble attempts at social interaction.

“Social network”. What a joke, he thought as he leaned back against the headboard of his otherwise unoccupied bed. He figured he was one of the only people on Twitter with no followers. Zero. He had tweeted a dozen times, but no one had ever interacted with him. He understood that the “successful” Tweeters (Twitterers? whatever…) were spewing life secrets non-stop for global consumption, but he wasn’t comfortable with that. What’s sad, he thought, is that I don’t even have any secrets worth revealing.

I have no secrets. #srsly

He laughed tiredly, plugged in his phone as he set it on the nightstand, turned out the light and went to sleep.

His phone buzzed loudly, the screen awakening in the darkness.

Matt sat quickly upright and looked incredulously at the device. He just glimpsed a blue-and-white icon with some trailing text before the screen blacked out again, plunging the room in darkness.

He fumbled for the phone, tapped the home button, and read the message.

@matt4243 everyone has secrets #srsly

It was a reply from @not_matt4243. He had never heard of him (or her, he thought with a jolt of hope), of course. Weird username.

He unlocked the phone and viewed Not Matt’s profile. It was blank except for a white egg on an orange background, a typical I-don’t-have-a-profile-picture picture, or maybe an I-am-so-new-I-don’t-know-how-to-upload-a-picture picture. Whatever it was, it didn’t help Matt figure out who Not Matt was.

The phone vibrated again, and this time he saw a new Interaction. Tapping, he discovered that @not_matt4243 had followed him. Matt felt another surge of excitement. A follower! It was happening!

Quickly he tapped out a message:

@not_matt4243 not me. Nothing to hide. #srsly

He giggled to himself, thrilled that he was having a conversation with another person. Well, probably with another person, he reminded himself. Bots were very cleverly written sometimes.

But again a message came:

@matt4243 I know you do. You hide things all the time. You're not #serious.

Matt’s elation vanished like a soap bubble bursting. What was going on? The first time someone talks to him online and they’re being a jerk? Angrily he keyed in a response:

@not_matt4243 I don't even know you. Why are you saying that?
@matt4243 I was there. I saw it happen. I know. 
You didn't tell anyone, but I saw, and I know.

Matt turned on the light. He was shaking now, and his eyes were strangely blurred. Tears, he realized. He was crying. Who was Not Matt? What did he know? How did he know?

@not_matt4243 leave me alone!
@matt4243 I don't think so.

He tapped through a couple more screens and blocked Not Matt’s account to prevent any more messages. Sighing in relief, he sank back into his pillow.

His phone buzzed again.

@matt4243 not that easy. #srsly

It was a message from¬†@not_matt4243b.¬†Matt could barely see through the tears now as he deleted his Twitter account and let the phone clatter to the nightstand. He buried his face in his pillow, moaning and hugging himself. It wasn’t possible. No one knew what had happened. He made sure of that. The only person who saw anything was dead, because he had killed her. The only girlfriend he ever had.

Again the phone buzzed, this time with the green icon of a text message. He looked at it, whimpering.

Sorry, @matt4243. I'm still here. You didn't get rid of me then, and you can't get rid of me now.

Buzz, buzz.

You're stuck with me. I'll always, always be here, Matt.

The screen darkened once again as Matt smashed it with a baseball bat, sending pieces flying in all directions. The instant the debris settled, though, his computer screen illuminated.

Sorry, not going to work. Forget it. #srsly

Shaking, Matt crossed the room towards the LED panel. He raised the bat over his head, but then dropped it from his suddenly-numb fingers.

It's me, Matt. Jessica. #srsly

#StoryADayMay 1

He staggered along the street in the failing light. His small, brown leather bag looked as though it had been through a war, so scarred and scuffed was it.
It has been, he thought, struggling to maintain his tragically slow pace. We both have.
Lash looked around and saw a brick apartment building ahead, maybe a four-plex, about three minutes’ walk away. In his current state, though, it would probably take five or six minutes to reach the questionable safety of its walls. He shrugged the brown, leather bag more comfortably in place across his body and gritted his teeth together. This was going to be tough.
A shadow flitted by in the corner of his vision. He refused to look, instead concentrating on the maybe-haven drawing closer. He fought down a surge of panic and kept shuffling along the nearly dark street.
The blow was a surprise, though not precisely unexpected. Lash staggered but did not fall as the wiry body slammed into him from an alley to his right. He did not let his bag drop, but rather reached inside it as he spun away from his attacker. He pulled out a small, .22 calibre pistol and swung it towards the enemy.
The sights lined up on a slim, haggard boy, maybe thirteen, but with thirty years of experience in his eyes. Lash wasn’t unduly concerned by the threat the boy presented, but he didn’t like getting caught in the open, and he didn’t want his other opponents to catch up as reinforcements. That would be disaster.
Lash tried diplomacy first, more out of a sense of honour than a belief that it would be fruitful.
“Listen, kid, I know you don’t want to eat this bullet. I don’t even want to feed it to you, but we’re in a tough spot here. I need to keep walking, and you need to stop me. Trouble is, if you try to stop me, I’ll have to kill you.”
The boy’s eyes were dead flat and dangerous. Lash could see the muscles tensed on the lad’s arms, coiled and ready to spring for him.
Lash tried again. “Tell you what. You slide back into that alley you came from and I’ll keep walking. Anyone asks, I must have gone another way, ’cause no one like me came walking down this street. You live, I save a bullet and a few minutes. Win-win, kid. If you make me shoot, we’ll both regret it, ’cause these rounds ain’t cheap anymore.”
The boy’s cold eyes looked less certain behind the lank, greasy hair that fell across them. Long moments passed, then his tension drained slowly away and he stood up straight. Nodding once to Lash, the teen warrior walked calmly and silently back into the dark alley he had hidden in.