Did you Miss Me?
Originally featured in Empire Times (42.9)
Kara Hammond smirked as she read the online article. Good riddance to her.
It was about Abbey Page, a girl from her uni class who had recently committed suicide. The journalist had described Abbey as another innocent victim of cyberbullying. Kara, however, knew of the evil behind those sapphire eyes and blonde curls. They had once been friends - back in first year, and before Kara stole Abbey’s crush. Abbey had constantly called Kara a sweaty nerd with shit for brains because of her interest in gaming.
Kara tried to fight back, but Abbey’s friends always got involved and made the bullying worse. Going to the authorities didn’t help either; Abbey would put on a sweet face around the counsellors and turn it back onto Kara.
Annoyed with the lack of action, Kara turned to her followers on Tumblr and Twitter and told them about the bullying. She bent the truth to her liking and included some of Abbey’s wall-posts as evidence. Within three days, Abbey had received thousands of posts on her Tumblr and Twitter accounts, all of which condemned her for bullying. Kara believed it was those death threats from internet trolls that eventually drove Abbey to suicide. It might’ve been a little extreme, but at least Abbey would never bother her again.
Kara clicked out of the article and decided to play a game to wind down. It’d certainly be more relaxing than turning around to watch the rest of Flight of the Conchords, which she’d seen a thousand times before.
A pop from the Steam messenger came through her headphones as she was in midst of Cities: Skylines. She ignored it and continued to play. Another pop came through, this time from Facebook. Again, she ignored it. A pop from Skype soon followed. Kara’s eyebrows twitched; the pops were interfering with her creativity. She left her game, and opened the Steam messenger. What she read made ice spikes shoot through her blood vessels.
The message was from a Steam account she thought would never appear again; Abbey’s.
Did you miss me?
‘No,’ said Kara, ‘it can’t be her.’
She left the Steam messenger and went to Facebook. Again the message was from Abbey’s account.
Did you miss me?
Kara shivered. ‘It can’t be her.’
She checked Skype. It was Abbey again. The same four words.
Kara’s hands shook as she responded. This has to be some kind of sick joke.
A reply was almost instant. It came through all her open messengers.
Oh but it’s not.
How could Abbey be doing this? Kara bit her fingers and tasted blood. Abbey was dead, she couldn’t possibly be communicating with her.
Did you miss me, Kara?
Kara broke into a cold sweat. This reply was more personal than the earlier ones. She still believed that this was all some sick joke, probably being played on by one of Abbey’s brothers or friends. Or was it a ghost within the internet? She didn’t believe that Abbey was haunting her beyond the grave through the web. Such a thing was impossible.
The messengers popped again: the same question came up again. As was the next, and the next. Soon Kara could hear nothing but notification pops.
Kara tore off the headphones and did a hard shutdown on her computer. The pops stopped and she was left in peace. She took a deep breath. It would be a while before she even thought about turning it on again.
‘You’re going to have to try harder than that to stop me.’ Abbey’s voice came from behind her.
Kara broke into gooseflesh and resisted the urge to turn around.
Abbey spoke again. ‘Oi, shit for brains, behind you.’
Still she resisted. She could picture Abbey’s face inside her TV, glaring at her with those sapphire eyes.
Abbey’s face appeared in the computer screen.
Kara’s eyes widened. Abbey’s lower lip was gone, as was some of the skin on her forehead. Worms and bugs emerged from the gaping mess of skin, muscle, and tendons that were once her cheeks.
Abbey gave a crooked smile. ‘Did you really think switching off your computer would stop me from getting to you? You really are a stupid nerd.’
‘You’re not real,’ said Kara. ‘You’re just my mind playing tricks on me.’
‘Am I now? So it’s just your head doing this?’
The notifications returned even with the computer switched off. Kara wondered where they were coming from? Her SMS ringtone started going off. The cacophony felt like someone was drilling at her brain.
Abbey shook her head. ‘You know what? I feel that there aren’t enough messengers going off. Maybe I should add in your Xbox as well.’
The Xbox Live notifications roared from the dormant Xbox 360 beneath her TV.
Abbey still didn’t look satisfied. ‘And maybe your Twitter and Tinder accounts as well. I’ve got all of them asking that one simple question; did you miss me?’
Tears ran down Kara’s face. She held her hands to her ears. ‘Make it stop! Make it stop!’
‘Make it stop!’ Abbey said, imitating Kara’s voice. She laughed, before shifting to a straight face. ‘Now you know how I felt when all your followers harassed me. This is what they were like all day, every day for two weeks. Insanity, isn’t it? You still haven’t answered my question though: did you miss me?’
Kara couldn’t take it anymore. She screamed and ran out of her room. The popping sounds followed her as she ran down her hallway to the kitchen. Abbey appeared on her lounge room TV. The high definition made Abbey’s decaying appear more detailed. ‘I really should be recording this for YouTube. It’d be the next viral hit.’
Kara looked around the room for relief. She saw the family telephone. Maybe she could call someone to save her.
Abbey looked on disapprovingly. ‘Hmmm, I don’t think so shit for brains. You see I can enter into everything that is connected to the internet, including your home phone.’
The family landline started ringing. More tears fell from Kara’s eyes as the sounds shredded the last of her sanity.
Abbey laughed. ‘There is only one way to stop me, Kara. Look in the sink and you will see the answer.’
Kara looked at the knife in her kitchen sink and looked back at the home phone. One of the cables ran towards the modem.
‘I know what you’re thinking, and no, cutting that cord won’t do a thing. You really think you could defeat me that easily?’
How could Abbey know every thought in her head? What else could she do with that knife to stop Abbey?
‘You look confused, let me give you a hint.’ said Abbey. ‘These notifications will never stop for as long as you’re alive.’
Kara tried not to listen to Abbey, but the urge came to her. She started to believe it’d be the only escape from Abbey and all the notifications.
‘That’s right, Kara,’ said Abbey, ‘now point that knife at your throat and stab at it, just like I did.’
Abbey pulled down the neck of her tattered jumper, exposing a gaping bloody slice where her jugular used to be. Worms chewed the flesh within the wound.
‘What are you waiting for? You know death is the only escape from me, I told you that even when I was alive. What are you waiting for? Do it!’
Kara drove the knife into her throat. A starburst of blood exploded across the kitchen as she pulled the blade out. The blood felt wet and warm against her icy skin.
The notifications stopped. Abbey laughed. ‘That is for lying to the internet about me.’
Kara fell down the side of the counter, choking and gurgling on her blood. Her vision had begun to fade. The last thing she saw was Abbey’s face on the TV slowly fading along with the laughter.
Before she lost consciousness, Kara thought about what Abbey had said.
That's for lying to the internet about me.
How could Abbey call it lying? All she was doing was trying to stand up for herself and not be a victim, how could that be considered lying?
The last thing she heard was Abbey’s voice saying the four words that sealed her fate.
Did you miss me?