Dark Strings: Chapter 2

What Happens When You Think You Know Someone, But They Have Deep, Dark Secrets That Would Turn Your Stomach If You Knew?

Rain. Again.

“Yep, mom is stuck at work.”

This text is useless, John thinks to himself. But when you have no one you can dare trust, who better to share the deepest secrets of your heart with than with yourself? Sad really, but if the girls in his class can have a diary, then he can have this, albeit a second smart phone lying in his room.

A bit different, yeah, but so what? Works for me.

No one can really know who he is. It remains essential. Not his mother, nor anyone else at school. Maybe Melissa, but that will only happen once Craig is out of the way. Yes, Craig, his best mate from primary school, recently transformed-into-a-jock and the current fool dating his dream girl Melissa…

“I can’t wait to kill him…” he murmurs under his breath.

I mean, The Master said I could, but that I must wait a bit first. Apparently, I’m too impatient. Oh, what does he know? Okay, fine… he knows a lot. He runs this operation after all, doesn’t he? Whatever…

No one can really know who he is. It remains essential. Not his mother, nor anyone else at school.

The rain started up round about the same time as it did that day two months ago. It’s still pouring down, and John is wet, soaked through from his hoody down to his socks. But he refuses to move. It will be his mom’s problem after he gets in the car.

He clutches the smart phone in his pocket and grins slightly.

He still remembers that day all too well…

***

“Eh, is this yours, son?” asks the school janitor.

“No.”

He looks at the cell phone: quite a nice one. Standard black, but very slick.

“I was cleaning your classroom. It was lying on the floor.”

“I was out on the field. We had rugby practise.”

“No. I know you don’t play rugby. You sit behind the benches when they practise.”

How does he know that? Scary…

“Hey! That’s none of your business! And that’s not my phone.”

Okay, not quite PC to shout at a janitor, but jeesh – what a nosy weirdo!

“Okay. I’ll give it to the lost-and-found office. But are you sure? I can’t work this. Switch it on. Maybe you can see the numbers of your friends.”

“If I had any…”

“Excuse me?”

“I don’t have any friends.”

“Well, maybe someone you know then? From class?”

Very persistent, this man…

John sighs and turns to face the janitor.

“Fine, give it here, I’ll take a look.”

He takes the phone and switches it on by pressing the button at the top edge of the phone. The basic introductory page comes on.

Another useless network advertisement. Branding is so overrated!

When the home screen comes up, he sees the usual apps; Facebook, Google, WeChat, YouTube, a browser, a calendar… and he scrolls through looking for the Contacts app.

He hears a familiar hoot in the road in front of the school. He switches off the phone.

It’s mom. Finally!

“I have to go. Here you are…”

The janitor is gone. John looks around, squinting to see because of the rain. Nobody.

Whatever…

He picks his school bag and heads towards his mother’s car. Slowly.

She made me wait, after all.

His mom opens the car window slightly.

“Come on John! Hurry up! I’m not in the mood for your laziness!”

You’re never in the mood for anything about me, are you mother?

He gets into the car and slams the door.

“Oh, my word, really?! You’re soaking wet and sitting on this leather!? Ugg! I swear to God…”

The rest of the way home is as dreary as the weather itself. She complains again. A lot, as per usual. First his father is to blame for everything, then his older brother is better at academics but also useless for some or other reason he can’t make heads or tails of, then on to him, where she thinks he must do more sports, but then she also has a diatribe about how the school is getting more expensive, then she carries on about how dinner will be ruined since the maid put the chicken in the oven over two hours ago and she can’t be blamed for being late as she had an unscheduled meeting which is entirely her assistant’s fault who she now also plans to fire (again!) and she may need to get takeout again with money she doesn’t have any more because their father left them with too little money in the trust…

It always comes full circle to that point, doesn’t it, mom. Can he help that he was shot seven years ago?

Home, garage, and a go-to-your-room.

He slams his door shut.

Screw you, mom!

He walks over to his desk and switches on his two computers, switches on the internet and presses play on his sound system. The Trance, Electro and Dubstep reminds him of his true self. He looks at the posters on his wall – some DJs, some hot girls, bands and some anime posters. And the map of South Africa – his mom had hoped it would help him concentrate. He grabs a half-eaten packet of chips from the night before and opens his mini freezer under his desk to take out a beer.

Good thing she doesn’t know I have this.

John grins, takes a sip and opens up his browser on the one screen, and three social apps on the other.

“Now, let’s see what you’ve all been up to” he menaces to himself.

Just then, his phone rings.

“Hey little man, how are you, boet?”

It’s Robert!

“Great and yourself, bru?”

“I’m lekker, man. Did you get my text?”

“The one on this weekend’s jol? Yeah I did. During third period.”

“Ha ha ha! Third period. Dude, you’re gonna love life outside school, little man.”

“Tell me something I don’t know! This woman downstairs is driving me insane, bra!”

“Hey, quit it. That’s our mom. We’ll get you outta there soon enough, boy. Anyway, did you hook up the chicks for Saturday yet? We need about twenty more.”

“Yeah, busy as we speak,” John lies, frantically swopping over to their G:MT site.

“Good, and also, is the voice distorter still working?”

“For sure. I’ll let you know if it needs fixing.”

“Aweh, bru, you are so going into marketing one day! Your stuff is the bomb!”

“Thanks bra. It was all your idea though. Give respect where it’s due, bro!”

“Yeah yeah, I’m the shiz, but you’re the one with the tech and skill, little man. Now work it, bra—I’ll check you Saturday. Drop it like it’s hot!”

“Always!”

The G:MT parties—they’ve been doing it for a few months now, and already the online community are both up in arms and ecstatic about it. No one can know that he, John, is actually a high school brat nor can anybody at university know that Robert is the mastermind. The money they’re making is amazing, and it’s a lot. All the events they have had from inner city Johannesburg to the outdoor farm parties out on Malibongwe Drive have been a resounding success. It’s simple: Robert organises the events, and John provides the people. Invitees pay in cash when they arrive at the coordinates given in a text message, which is always far away from the actual event and then get taken there in an unassuming party bus—if they don’t pay, they can’t go. To build a database, John hacked both the school and university’s computers for e-mails and cell phone numbers and created an untraceable IP address to ensure their anonymity and safety, bouncing it off several servers across the world. Robert had one of his IT mates create a few firewalls around their system afterwards to further protect them. The police had already tried and failed to catch them many times.

First, an e-mail or social media invite would be sent. Then, with an untraceable phone and voice scrambler, John would call everyone to psyche them up. The coordinates follow soon after. Robert’s friends would act as scouts at the destination, spotting the cops if they arrive on the scene, and then a secondary location instantly gets sent if necessary to all the invitees. They haven’t had any problems so far, but online trolls and other concerned groups keep forcing them to tighten their plans even more each time.

We got to try…

Whatever—first things first, they have a party on Saturday. John gets ready to send out the invites and starts calling…

First on tonight’s list is a Janine. She replied “yes” 20 minutes ago. He takes out the phone and dials her number.

“Hello?” she answers.

“Are you ready, my dear?” he asks through the scrambler.

“Sorry, who this is!”

“I said, are you ready?”

“Ready for what? Is that you, Benjamin? Loyiso? Ralph? Wait. Is this Gert again?”

In that moment, John gets disgusted with this girl.

“Have you any more friends I should know of?”

“I have lots of friends, you creep! And if you don’t fess up, I’ll report you!”

Lots of friends. Just like my mother. Lots of them. Almost every night when she thinks I can’t hear her. This girl… this mother of mine… they are all cut from the same rotten…

“I’m sure, yes, and when I find you, I’ll kill you!”

He slams the phone down. Sweating.

What came over me?

A ringtone of sorts starts up suddenly.

Wait, is it the music?

He presses stop on the sound system. There it is again.

What is that? It’s not my phone.

He gets up. It’s coming from the bag.

Oh, okay, I’ll answer and find out whose phone it is and return it to them tomorrow. Damn janitor, leaving it to me like that. I should actually not even answer it, delete all contacts and keep it.

John looks at the beer on the table and shakes his head. He opens the bag and takes out the phone. The caller ID says unknown number.

Maybe a salesman… Shall I answer?

“Hello?”

“… Morte… Libera me domine de morte eaterna”

He drops the phone in shock and staggers backward.

“What the heck was that!?”

He moves over to the phone to pick it up, thinking it may be Robert pulling some kind of messed up prank. Isn’t that line from some computer game? ‘Diablo’? ‘Halo’? But when he picks up the phone, there is only a dark screen.

Damn, I must’ve broken it now. However, in the middle of the black screen he sees a pulsating red light starting up. It’s slow at first. He composes himself, sitting upright with his back against the side of his bed. The light starts flickering faster and faster. Suddenly, it stops. And gradually begins to expand across the entire screen, revealing a hidden word that eerily rises up out of the dark—morte.

Death. I know this word. I’ve seen it somewhere before. The gaming shop? An anime?

The word disappears.

And then the rules come up, one through to eight.

***

“And I’ve studied them well, master,” he thinks out loud, “and I’ve done all you asked me to do.”

All the other kids’ parents have come to collect them by now. He is still waiting. And it is still raining. But this time he doesn’t mind. Soon he’ll have his own car with leather seats. He’s got the money now. He’ll have his own house without his annoying mother in it. And he’ll go to university, join his brother and his friends and party like there is no tomorrow, for he can now kill anyone who gets in his way.

In his and his brother’s way, that is.

That is can kill and will kill.

He has already done so more than once.

Category Well Read