YUIAHJ: Close up of a somewhat grimy computer keyboard with black plastic keys and white letters

Nobody cares.

A text came in. Jerry cried.

Y U In a Hurry Jerry Naeve? The text was from an unknown number.

Jerry was conditioned to the beep of her phone. Her parents and her bullies texted instructions. Following those instructions reduced the beatings. At home there were beatings. At school there were beatings. Teachers looked the other way. She never saw the same doctor twice. The bruises were a constant Jerry could no longer ponder. Everybody who knew her called her Shiner. Nobody called her by name. Jerry answered the text.

I’ve a funeral to attend.

Why are you on a bridge?

I’ve decided to set the date. Jerry texted.

A link popped up. Click the link.

Jerry touched the link. Video streamed the visage of a shadowy location to her phone. Her parents were crouched down in an alleyway next to a dumpster, badly beaten. Nobody else was visible, but somebody had her parents terrified.

What have you done to them?

You want to protect your parents? You’re a good person.

A week old picture of Jerry being beaten flashed across the screen. Mom held Jerry’s hair while dad punched.

We have no interest in protecting your parents. You can jump now, or work with us. Either way, nobody will be able to hit you again.

Jerry stepped back from the bridge wall. The next message was a flashing red circle. Jerry felt the circle dig into her mind. Pulsating words erased her sorrow and replaced it with ominous knowledge about the power of fear.

Jerry went home and walked into the bathroom. Her father sat on the sofa, eyes wet with hate. Mother lay on her bed, hiding her face. Jerry looked in the mirror. The monster looking back at her was stone solid deadly. She could not look away.

What have I became? Jerry texted the number.

Confidence. You up to saving the world?


We’ll be in touch, good Jerry.

For the first time in years, Jerry smiled.


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