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7.4: Seven Deadly Riddles- Part Two

`tell them I was the warmest place you knew and you turned me cold`

3. Nothing shakes one’s core as much as a platform full of bores- $1500

Tobias and I unplugged the phone from the charger and are sitting on chairs, in the now-empty teachers’ staffroom. Tobias has Benji on the ground but holds him with his leash as he roams around us. The phone is in my hands with Tobias staring at the screen over my shoulder.

“I genuinely have no clue what those riddles mean-” Tobias says hesitantly. “I mean, they were crafted for a Megamind. I suppose half of that money is for interpreting what they’re saying-”

I ignore him and scroll through the pictures of, apparently, a new Facebook account with the name ‘Rose Is Cancelled’. I smirk bitterly at the profile picture of me barfing in a toilet seat with Sierra bending over and holding my hair, and I wonder again about who took such a picture.

“I can’t believe none of your close friends found this account-” Tobias says distastefully.

“She obviously chose all the ‘right’ sort of people who’d enjoy such an account to add as friends-” I say as I stare more at the black background and profile pictures. “It’s a private account. Besides, the profile picture isn’t that clear-” I say solidly, drowning my feelings as much as I can. “Not anyone can recognize us-” I say, referring to Sierra and me.

Scrolling further down, pictures of the list of friends who can view the profile are attached. There are profiles of some people I know and some I don’t. All in all, I can’t believe anyone would grant anyone almost two thousand bucks for making a fake Facebook account. And I can’t believe that she has ‘fans’, actual human beings who left hundreds of comments about how ‘excited’ they’re to see how this turns out.

“People make me sick-” I grimace and select the return button. I then turn to Tobias with a tremulous smile. “Maybe you were right after all-” I say. “Maybe she actually posted some disgracing pictures of me-”

“I hope not-” He says quickly and I sigh, selecting the fourth segment with a heavy heart.

4. The smart only believe, when their eyes can’t deceive- $2000

“Yup,” I tell the screen. “Definitely pictures of me-” I suck in my inner cheek and tap my right foot in immense disappointment, confusion, tiredness, anger and misery, all together.

There are fifty attached pictures and even though I’d hate to see them stare back at me as living evidence of my best friend’s treachery, I open them and pour vinegar in my wound.

I scroll down to obviously find my picture with cocaine on my face, find pictures of myself in my bathrobe, pictures of my boobs in my bra, pictures of my bareback taken from a window, pictures of me sleeping in the middle of the night and etc. They’re all so private and personal, it truly guts me. I can’t believe Sierra dared to post them.

I can’t believe how she has grown so ruthless, how she has so easily thrown me out to the wolves. And really there’s nothing to say.

Tobias is sitting very still, almost not breathing beside me and I glance at him, wondering what he thinks of me. If he’s judging me and my heart that has chosen the very worst person on Earth to love and trust. If he thinks I’m stupid and blind. If he blames my heart for my suicide.

“She’s a vermin-” He spits out with so much anger, all of a sudden, it catches me off guard. “She’s literally the devil reincarnated-” He blabbers on. “There’d be no more fit homo sapien for being the antichrist. She’s the epitome of evil and she probably farts poisonous gas-”

My stare lingers a bit before a hesitant smile bursts from my deeply bitten lips. I gaze into his twinkling, teary eyes and wonder if they’re always so prone to crying. I contemplate the horror pasted on his face as he said those repulsive words in my defence, and it could be enough to numb my feelings for a while as my smile turns into a brittle grin and my grin into an echoing, wannabe chuckle.

Tobias doesn’t laugh along but he seems deeply satisfied that he has somehow taken me out of my sulking mood even if it’s for a second. And really, I can see the effort he’s making to help me out and it means so much to me, I can’t even stop the cascade of tears that drop on my hand’s back. His smile slips and he knits his brows.

“Why are you weeping again?” He asks softly, gently, like I’m broken glass precariously fixed with glue, waiting for the wrong push to shatter all over again.

"It’s just that-" I breathe out and can’t believe I’m capable of getting such care from a dead soul when I failed at getting it from a living one. “It’s just that I think we’re way past forced acquaintance, Tobias-” I settle for a small, crying smile. “Can you believe it?”

Tobias doesn’t say anything, doesn’t smile despite his grinning eyes, and I sniff loudly before returning to the seven sections screen and selecting the fifth one.

5. They say there’s no smoke without a fire, we say there’s no fire without the matches- $2500

"Rumours-” Tobias whispers, almost in disbelief after he’s read the sub-challenge and I silently scroll down. Benji struts in circles around my feet, and I kinda hope something would happen that’d disable me from using this heartbreaker machine cradled in my cold hands.

But of course, hell is not meant to be a wish-granting factory.

Just like the previous sub-challenges, this has attached media files, ten of them, which are basically screenshots of Facebook posts, spreading rumours about me. And needless to say, those rumours only add fuel to the fire my inappropriate pictures raged.

They’re rumours about how I’m full of shit, how I’m a junkie amongst ‘angels’, how I’m fake, a wannabe, how I have secret affairs, how I’m not even straight, how I’m a slut, a freak, a whore, and a lot of other amazing insults and accusations that aren’t even half true.

And despite how disheartening this all is, it certainly explains my utter confusion when I first heard some of those rumours among my classmates. I was so perplexed, upset as to what gave them such notions. About what inspired such wide-spread ideas and finger-pointing. About what I could’ve done to cause this.

And that was when I started blaming myself for it all. I thought I must’ve made some mistake, I must’ve upset some social balance, I must’ve made this one mistake that was lost from me, that slipped. And that was what triggered my anxiety.

That’s how I thoroughly ruined my life. How I became very vigilant, watching myself, my actions through the social lens of a microscope, designed by the standards of what people thought was appropriate and acceptable. That’s how my steady hands became shaky, how my strong eyes weakened and became almost always attracted to gravity, looking at the ground like it has some answer for what the hell was happening, how my breaths stop being long enough and fulfilling, how my lungs and heart welcomed panic attacks like a long lost friend.

So, yes, people’s hushed conversations that followed, when I passed by them, wearing an innocent, clueless smile, are no longer a mystery to me. I now know their content, the reasons behind their quick glances that they thought I wouldn’t notice. I now understand why people might’ve looked at me differently.

And it truly hurts me to know that people know the dangers that such a Facebook account can pose. It hurts me that they’d hate to be in my place, with their most intimate, embarrassing pictures posted all over the internet, for everyone’s eyes, good or bad, without their consent, leaked with stinky rumours. It hurts to know that they knew and did nothing to stop it.

And I hate them for letting me become the drama they were starving for; thus taking no action. And it’s too late to resent them. It’s too late to take action, to deliver speeches about the atrocity of my situation, to raise awareness about how this all might happen again for another clueless, helpless victim who might end their lives just like I easily did.

I mean hell, don’t come at me with how I ‘shouldn’t’ have ended my life when I felt like I was waging a war against myself every day of my life because of mistakes I’ve never committed.

“Todd wasn’t even half as bad as Sierra-” Tobias whispers from my side.

“I don’t think anyone can reach her level of...viciousness-” I say.

"Viciousness-” Tobias repeats. “Nice ridiculous word-” I glance at him and he’s grinning. “I noticed how you prefer using such words when you’re provoked-”

“Yeah, have someone spread ill rumours about you- and wait, not just anyone- your best friend-” I say, staring at the phone. “I don’t think whatever you’ll say matters-” I tell him dejectedly. “Nothing- no words will be fit to explain how I feel, no matter how much I need to explain myself-” I look up at him with a small sigh. “How I need to explain myself to myself mainly. I need to grasp my emotions in my hands, talk to each and every one of them to understand them.” I sigh. “I’ve just been all over the place lately-”

“You’ve been all over the place?” Tobias repeats and I click my tongue as I dreamily gaze at him.

“I don’t know if I should feel justified about killing myself. Cause according to this-” I lift the phone a little. “-I have every right to do so-” I say. ”Yet, a part of me- I don’t what or where- a part of me feels like I could’ve done something if I had been alive with this knowledge-” I inhale deeply and shake my head. “I feel like-” I shut my eyes, disturbed. “I feel like-”

“You’ve wasted your life-”

“Yes-” I say with an exhale. “But we’ve already established that-”

“You feel weak-”

I turn completely to him and bite on my tongue like it doesn’t exist. “Yes. Maybe that’s more accurate-” I then shake my head, changing my mind. “No. Although-” I pause, purse my lips. “You know? In fact, yes, I feel weak. I feel weak, yes. Like I could’ve been more useful alive rather than dead-”

“Anyone is more useful alive-” Tobias points out. “Except for serial killers of course-”

I almost roll my eyes. “I just believe I could’ve channelled all my sadness and disappointment into something positive-” I shrug a shoulder. “But I decided to end my life anyway.”

Tobias says nothing in response but just nods, and I realize that this is maybe how he feels about his own suicide too. I sigh heavily and return to the screen with the seven sub-challenges to select the sixth one with a heavier, knowing heart. This is not going to get better.

6. Three musketeers are unstoppable until 2 become 1- $3000

And there’s only one media file. It’s a video apparently.

“This is making me incredibly nervous-” Tobias singsongs and I snort.

“Whatever-” I mutter. “It has served its purpose. It’s over-”

“Weird that it has only one media file-” Tobias says thoughtfully. “Like, she has completed this very, very exorbitant task by one file. What the hell could it possibly hold?”

I select it and it plays and I gasp because, because, “It’s a sex tape-”

Tobias looks almost horrified. “Your sex tape?” His eyes widen but I’m way too focused on the very familiar setting of the video. I’m way too focused on the short, red dress that Sierra’s wearing as she adjusts the camera with a wide smile. I’m way too focused on her shrill voice as she says ‘in here, baby’ and on the frame in the backdrop that carries our picture.

"No-” My tongue moves by its own accord. I stare at the video more, then look at Tobias with parted lips. I then say, “It’s Sierra’s and Mason’s sex tape-”

Tobias looks confused, he frowns, glances at the phone, creases his forehead more. “I don’t understand-” He mutters softly, but I’m way too engrossed, violently scrolling through the thousands of sick, sick comments.

“I was there-” I whisper. ”I was there-” I repeat to myself, my eyes going all over the laughing emojis, the ‘I jerked off 30 times on this’ kind of comments, the plain ′lols′ and the ‘CHEERS TO DEVILSPLAY, BUT THAT DESERVED WAY MORE’ comments.

My mind’s spiralling with repeating, echoing whys and hows. Why did she do that? How could she hurt me like that? Why did she post a video like that? How can she do it without Mason’s knowing?

“Is she tricking Mason into a relationship?” Tobias asks suddenly as if he just realized the immensity of the disaster Sierra is. As if he just realized how low she stooped and how dirty she played. “Did she do it to hurt you?”

“To isolate me-” I correct him. “She did it so that she’d steal Mason from me. So that I would have no-one to rely on-”

Tobias shakes his head, shocked, so shocked. “For three thousand dollars-” He rubs his face with a hand. “That’s insane-”

“She’s going to hurt Mason too-” I gasp, a hand on my chest. “She’s what a human ripple effect would look like-”

“She’s inducing so much damage-” Tobias agrees with me, but my mind is still full of disbelieving question marks followed by shocked exclamation marks. I almost always forget how to speak.

“I have to stop her-” I say breathlessly as I return to the sub-challenges and quickly, thoughtlessly press on the last one.

7- Your friend is dead and you should be grieving, but respect is for the staying, not for the leaving- $3500

“Someone has to stop her-” I repeat to myself and select the one media file she has uploaded.

I almost choke on my breath as I stare at the picture of her, apparently and so very happily, humping my gravestone.

“Oh my God-” I whisper loudly, slapping a shaky hand over my parted lips. ”Oh my God-” I repeat as if that’s the only thing left to remember of the very smart words Tobias said I’d have a handful of when I’m provoked. I gape at the phone, not wanting to believe her smile, not wanting to concern myself with her boot that’s crushing the roses Joshua placed earlier.

And maybe I hope I was blinded before today. Before I could’ve seen her insult every good memory we had together for some money. I wish I was hit by a bus before I killed myself so that I would’ve died normally and not have to experience this betrayal. I wish I could look in her eyes again, for one last time just for the sake of making sure that she’s truly hopeless after all.

That she has yanked all the strings connecting us together out.

I blindly scroll through the comments, my thumb moving thoughtlessly, my vision blurred by hesitant dead tears that are wondering if it’s really worth taking that steep hike down my face over a girl who knows no love or loyalty. A girl who has venom in her veins that kills her heart more every day instead of blood.

I almost gasp when I see one angry comment. One comment that kinda makes sense. ‘what the actual fuck siera’ is what the comment says.

“That’s odd-” Tobias breaks the silence suddenly and I almost snort because there’s nothing normal about anything and everything and everyone and what and where. It’s all odd and abnormal. And that’s all it’ll ever be.

“No? You don’t see it?” Tobias asks, his eyes wandering about some theory, some thought... perhaps some solution to the fact that I’m dead and want to kill myself again?

“Tobias, I-”

“The person who commented knows her-” Tobias says a tad too excited. “She or he used her name even though the account claims that she’s Tina Thompson-” He shakes his head. “This person knows her.”

I squint at the screen and narrow my eyes. “They spelt her name incorrectly-”

“Just give me the phone-” Tobias says and grabs the phone from my numb hands. I watch him press at the profile that commented and I watch him lift his brows. The profile picture is a picture of someone’s hair, forehead and eyes, and its called ‘ZenLikeLove’.

“I know him-” Tobias says, pointing at the picture with his middle finger. “He’s that guy-” He says with wide, blinking eyes. “He’s your Judas, Roseline.”

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