C h a p t e r I
Parents warn their children of the dangers of the internet. In school you’re always put through a talk, serious faced teachers wagging their fingers and shoving their ideas of ‘safety’ up your backside. They preach ‘stranger danger’ and other crap like that, knowing in their hearts that the children are never going to pay attention, at least not until it’s too late and everything’s spiralling out of anyone’s control, least of all theirs.
Adults need to learn something. They act as if they’re above everybody else, clenching their fears and sorrows inside them, and floating down the river of life on a great wooden raft of ego and self-respect. They don’t think they need to learn anything anymore – ‘been there, done that’ – but if they were wise, they’d take this little lesson on board.
Teenagers don’t listen to anybody.
As young children, they’re force fed that they should follow their heart’s desires no matter what. You can call it fate, or destiny, or whatever else you want, but when it all comes down to it it’s just an excuse to shirk responsibilities without punishment. When the kids make the change into hairy, grunting adolescents, disobeying their well-meaning elders and peers comes naturally to them. If their heart says they want to stay out late and get high then they’re going to do it.
If you’re looking for someone to blame, pin it all on Disney.
Disney - I hate the name. It’s the title of a money grabbing corporation of idiots, out to win unsuspecting hearts with the power of mind-numbingly awful repetitive songs, and the promise of a happily ever after. News flash, dear friends: happily ever afters are for fictional characters only. And merely the rich, beautiful characters at that.
At the end of the story, when the wicked, old witch is deader than your great-grandma, do you really think she’s happy with her story’s end? People will argue that just because she’s evil she doesn’t deserve a happy ending, but is that honestly true? Anyone would be annoyed by a pesky princess/step daughter everyone loves, despite the fact she’s obviously escaped from an asylum. The poor girl thinks she can talk to birds, for God’s sake. It’s only natural that the witch would resort to scheming up some plan to knock her wittering worst enemy out of the equation for good.
Even the villain has a backstory; they all have a motive, a reason behind every last one of their crimes. The only problem is, that there’s never anybody who wants to tell it.
Why must novels only ever be written about the sweet and naïve? There must be an audience somewhere, lurking deep in the shadows of their long starved brains, waiting for the darker kind of tale that aches to be told. They yearn to be set free, to run wildly amok the fields of pain, and horror, and terrible, terrible truths that they could know if only they had the chance.
What would they say, I wonder, if they knew that I could give them this chance? The power to document my tale is at my fingertips, but I will only give my story at a price. What would you give to witness the demons of the mind, or the hauntingly beautiful trophies of immorality? A soul, a memory - it’s all the same to me. I take what I can get, and then wield it as my weapon when the time for such intensity comes.
I suppose however, that before you’ve paid I can at least give you a hint at what’s to come. The first piece of the puzzle, if you will. I assure you, a morsel like this is not expensive – if you sit tight, and pay up when I ask then you can have it for free.
This specimen of my spiel is as follows:
Elspeth Elizabeth Lessing seemed entirely ordinary to everyone she met on the internet. She liked One Direction, she obsessed over recent Disney films, and she hated the colour lime green. Except, the thing was, she wasn’t quite as absolutely commonplace as she appeared to all those friends she made over cyberspace.
The exact opposite, in fact.
Elspeth Elizabeth Lessing, HYPEchat user Elscutie101, was entirely a figment of my own imagination. Her internet friends had no idea, of course - typically, they paid no attention to the drones of their parents, or lecturing teachers. It’s no surprise, really, that they didn’t recognise her true identity until the last hope of all had been buried and gone for years.
It’s funny, in a roundabout sort of way. If only they had listened a little I wouldn’t be telling this story, and they’d still be firmly planted in ignorant oblivion. Maybe there’d be other friends, another moniker, but the story could never be the same. If they’d listened, they’d still be alive.
It is lucky, then, that they didn’t.