Every Hour, On The Hour

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Summary

How do you know who you're speaking to online? How about over SMS and MMS? In this story, the narrator is faced with a night of confusion-induced panic upon receiving bizarre messages from his sister's Facebook account. I wrote this a few years ago but wanted to serialize and share it anyway.

Genre:
Horror / Thriller
Author:
J. Dessarroy
Status:
Complete
Chapters:
3
Rating:
4.5 2 reviews
Age Rating:
18+

Part One

You won’t be surprised to hear this story starts out like any other.
I’m not a particularly exceptional individual, meaning I tend to keep to myself on my nights off. Upon getting home from work, I prefer to just fuck around on Facebook as my mind is too tired and my body is so sore that, sometimes, the only thing left to do is mess around and maybe check in with my sister, Vera.

I moved to Canada a few years back and, although the change was ultimately welcome, I still tend to miss my family even though my sister is a bit of an oddball to some. Picture a middle-aged woman and her six cats, three are still alive and the other three’s ashes are in shabby little boxes. These boxes are displayed around her place, in a house full of perpetual Christmas decorations hanging from the walls or set upon tables. I’ve never asked her the look was intentional or if she simply forgot to take them down.

I’m used to getting all kinds of texts and messages from her, most of it is the usual sort of thing: she met some guy but he’s leading her on, or she hates her job but she’s so comfortable where she’s at that she can’t find the energy to up and move onto something else. Sometimes, upon signing in, I’ve seen messages about the people she works with or some other thing about animal rights. She’ll send me strange text message observations, along with photos of her living cats, or photos of some concert or discussion panel she’s gone to. All of this sounds ordinary enough but, oftentimes, the issues are more than manageable.

A while ago, a frustrated and annoyed Vera texted my cell phone saying she had her Facebook account hijacked. She expressed her disgruntled annoyance at this mysterious hacker. Turns out it was probably just someone using the open wifi connection she hadn’t yet secured. Although our siblinghood now plays out mostly in the virtual realm, I have to say she’s never been good with technology. She’s incapable of making sense of a wireless network and is much less able to figure out how someone can access her information when she hasn’t set up a WEP.

This person seemed to be logging onto her account at all hours of the night, something that had her thinking her privacy was being invaded while she was fast asleep. I told her to set a password, prompting her to look into learning how to do exactly that, but she got overwhelmed by the process and decided to wait until she asked someone who could show her exactly what to do, face to face. I’m not sure if she ever really got it set up but something told me she never really got around to it because she hadn’t been using her (free) wireless network, only the mobile network on her phone, not free. This is just something Vera does, she makes the issue much, much bigger than it really is.

Anyway, before I digress to the extent of forgetting the original point of this, I’ll have you know I’m a far sight better-used to technology so there isn’t much that could freak me out. Sometimes information gets scrambled up and web pages refuse to load properly. Other times that pesky 401 error shows up with nothing else on the page except for maybe a single frontward slash or a random decimal point. I’m used to all of this, I’ve had an email address since early-2000 and, back then, the technical errors and viruses were far stranger and more widespread. I’m nonplussed at the thought of logging into Facebook to use their messaging system, sometimes it’s way easier than reaching for the phone and having to listen to her go on about her job or this other guy at the local church mixer.

I clicked on her name, opening the message dialogue box, kind of amused because I saw that little “...” beside her name, showing she was typing something. She must’ve somehow seen me like that one status on a mutual friend’s page. I felt myself grin slightly as I typed out the message I was going to send her way.

Hey, what’s up? Are you home yet? I was thinking about something today that I remembered from our childhood. something about the ghost of a mangy cat that was in our yard once and-

I knew it was something completely random but I had remembered it at work and chuckled to myself as I washed dishes, closing up the kitchen for the night. Although it showed she was typing, the only thing that came up after about ten or so more seconds of that little “...” was a large black square. A photo attachment.

I clicked on it and couldn’t see much of anything. It was that weird mix of black and almost-colours that you get when you take a photo in a room that’s far too dark. It had been sent before I could finish typing the long anecdotal memory I had been thinking about since that instance at work. I stopped typing and waited for her to continue sending forth what she was going to say but I could no longer see any activity from her end. I clicked back to the photo and squinted, trying to see if maybe there was something in the background or if I could spot any patterns or lines within the black square. Nope, nothing. It just looked like a mess of black pixels. The cursor wandered a bit and moved ever so slightly toward the user name, which caused a small timestamp to appear.

4:59 p.m. I made a small hm sound from behind my teeth as I typed a confused response.

Hey, I can’t see anything in that photo. what were you trying to show me?

The little “...” came back up for a few more seconds but then disappeared once more. I typed slowly and sent a sticker of a disoriented smiley face.

...Vera?

The little “...” came up for one or two seconds, which doesn’t make sense because she had sent a small wall of text.

UGH UGH im so tired :-} SO SO SO SO SO SO SO
SO SO SO TIREDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDD
D: im redyf or sleep ZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZ
ZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZ
ZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZ
ZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZ
told me last night LOL did nt knwo i was there

I did a double-take when I received it. A message that didn’t even come close to answering my question. Vera’s usually really direct unless if something’s going on, but she’s also never typed this way. It was almost as if she was falling asleep or just plain falling over while messaging. At first, I didn’t type anything but a brief question.

...What lol

But then I decided that maybe she was distracted or perhaps her thoughts were bouncing around like they do when she’s stressed out, so I sought confirmation.

Vera no lol I meant what were you trying to send a picture of?
You sent me a photo just now but I can’t see anything because it’s all black

She didn’t say much after taking another two minutes to type a response.

LOLOMG what did I sent? the picture

I sighed, feeling a small spark of paranoia fade away. So that meant she’d pressed the button on her phone that allowed her to quickly snap a photo. She’s sent me plenty of pictures where you could clearly see her thumb blocking out part of the image, this could very well be another example of that.
I saw the “...” pop up again and watched it for a minute or two, feeling myself space out.

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