The door slammed as I trudged into my house, dripping from head to toe. I needed something to take my mind off what had happened earlier. It hadn’t been a good day. I slipped my trainers off, shrugged off my wet raincoat and headed towards the computer. The rain was stopping now, but it was still dark and miserable outside.
The screen lit up as soon as I moved the mouse. I loved our computer; it was always the thing to take your mind off bad things. As it loaded, my mind drifted back to what had happened today. I thought about the accident, the argument.
"No, don’t think about it!" I said to myself out loud. "It’s not worth it" The computer had finished loading, I clicked on the Internet icon and the screen lit up again, but this time something strange happened. There was a black box in the bottom corner of the web page.
"Not more adverts" I muttered as I began typing.
"Hello?" The sudden voice made me jump.
"Oh, hi mum" I said, as though I were in a good mood.
"Oh, Alexis, you spend too long on that computer." mum began.
"It’s ALEX! And it’s…um…homework" I lied.
"Yeah, right! Oh, and can you call Lucy"
"Okay." I grumbled
"I just need to pop out to get some milk. Will you be okay for half an hour or so?"
I heard the door close as she left the house. I turned back to the computer only to find that the black box had appeared on the web page I had just typed in. White letters were appearing. LOOK LEFT, it said. Instinctively, I did as it said.
"Nothing" I laughed "what a load of…" but as I turned I saw a dark shadow out of the corner of my eye. Was it a trick of the light? I looked back out of the window and was sure I could see movement.
I turned back to the screen to find that the words had gone. This was starting to unnerve me a little, so I tried a different web page. The box was still there. And more words were appearing. DUCK NOW. I sat there for a second and then threw myself to the floor, as a china mug flew over my head and smashed against the opposite wall. Fear started to grip me, pulling me into its depths. What on earth was going on?
I stood up, looking tentatively around. Not a soul in sight. Maybe someone was playing a trick. I stared at the new words appearing. WE CANNOT ERASE THE PAST, BUT WE CAN ERASE THE FUTURE.
"This is a load of rubbish" I said loudly, trying to reassure myself. "There is nobody here." I closed the webpage, but the black box was still there. And worst of all, more letters were appearing. And these letters were the worst of all. WE ARE COMING TO GET YOU.
The doorbell rang. I jumped. I could see a face, obscured by the misty pane of glass. Trembling, I crept towards the door.
"Hello?" the shadow called "is there anyone there?"
It was my friend Rose.
"Hi Alex …- hang on, you look really scared, what’s wrong?"
"What? Oh nothing. It’s… um…." I started to say, but I couldn’t finish. "Rose…It’s … there is something really strange on my computer." I knew that Rose was amazing with computers.
"Let me see." she said and walked to the computer and sat down.
She frowned "I saw this on the news!. It’s a cyber- bullying program. I think I can sort it out…." And she was typing away at the keyboard.
My mind wandered. I remembered the argument…
"What were you thinking?!" I had shouted at Mary "You were supposed to be my friend! So you made up a stupid rumour that embarrassed me and got me into trouble. Mary had turned everyone against me. No-one would even look at me. And she thought she was so clever
"Well it was funny at the time!" she had cried back "It’s not my fault you are such a…."
"Such a WHAT?!" I had screamed at her. Then she had pushed me. That had been her mistake. We had been arguing by the road outside school. Instinctively, I had grabbed the nearest thing to stop me falling backwards. It was a tree branch. The tree that Mary had been leaning on. She had fallen into a passing car and badly cut her face. It hadn’t been my fault. But no-one would believe me because of that mindless rumour.
"Alex? Hello? ALEXIS!"
"What" I said startled.
"Alex, it wasn’t your fault." Rose was speaking quietly.
"What? But how could you have…?" I asked
"I took a detour on the way home from school. I saw you and Mary arguing outside your school" She replied. "Anyway, I know who’s been sending you these messages and how. They have been using a virus and I think I’ve fixed it.
"But who did it?"
I got up and crossed to the window and there, scrawled on our garden fence, were the initials A.R and S.R. I gasped.
"Mary’s brothers!" I whispered
"Yeah, they go to my school. They bully EVERYONE!" said Rose. "Because they’ve left their mark, you can report them.
"Yeah" I said relieved. A simple explanation after all.
"OH NO! I forgot. I was supposed to call Lucy!"
"Why don’t we go round?" Rose exclaimed "I haven’t seen you guys in ages…. ".
"Ok," I said "let’s go!"
As we were approaching the front door, it opened.
"Sorry, I was longer than I expected…"Mum started.
"I’m just going out. Bye" I said hurriedly, as Rose and I walked out.
"Ok. Remember, LOOK LEFT at the junction" she called.
When we came to the junction I did as I was told. I could have sworn I saw something moving in the darkness…