The young will listen to no one.

[For the Solitaire competition. Cover by River_Summers]


4. Chapter III

C h a p t e r  III


Elspeth’s profile picture was a cartoon tabby cat wrapped, probably against its will, in a pink taffeta bow. That sort of thing is the generic kind of picture that any average internet addict won’t look twice at. It doesn’t give away personal information. It doesn’t say which particular popular culture its owner is obsessed with. It gives away nothing at all, except to say that the owner probably likes pink ribbons elaborately tied around fluffy balls of fur.

The first thing I posted to her blog was slightly more exciting. While I have skimmed over her profile picture – really, could there be anything more bland and uninteresting? – I will go into a little more detail here. If you go to the search engine named Google, and type in the search phrase ‘girl with red hair’, several million images will answer your summons. Of course, the first ten or so pages are filled with pouting celebrities and surgically enhanced middle-aged women who fancy themselves as beautiful. Still, if you keep trekking back through the records – down the long, hazardous roads of determination and drive – you will come to a single, solitary photo of a girl with downy ginger curls, and a face so freckled that it’s practically a freckle itself. And if you click on the link to where the picture comes from, you’ll read that her first name was Andrea. I can’t remember her last name, but I don’t mind. It’s not important. Why waste time filling your head with useless information you’re never going to use, and never needed to know?

The article about Andrea was a shrine in effect, mourning her unforeseen, unnecessary death. She was the daughter of the newspaper editor in chief, who was obviously the type of person to try and thrust his sorrows on everybody else around him. That annoying kind of human being who decrees that his word is law, and everybody must cry when he cries, and be sad when he’s sad. While most journalists would only dream of immortalising their lost loved ones in print, they’d never be allowed to. Yet that’s the thing about being the boss, the head, the chieftain – no one can tell you what to do, except the voices in your head.

In the collage of pictures that accompanied the text Andrea looked older, but the information stated she was only sixteen. That would be make-up’s doing, I suppose. One of the world’s many mysteries that will forever confuse me is make-up – that uselessly shiny, sticky substance that makes women feel beautiful when they smother it across their face. What is it about it that makes them feel so undeniably good? Yes, they are painting over their flaws, but their flaws are still there, still part of them even beneath the metres upon metres of syrupy face cream.

You can try and be a better person, but deep down you’ll never be able to change your soul.  Or at least, I never could. I never can. Oh, I’ve heard all that godly crap about everyone getting a second chance at conquering their stint at life and turning it into something good. I’ve heard it way too many time, in fact, because the thing is that I’ve already taken and wasted my second chance, and my third, and my fourth, and on, and on, and on.

I’m a crippled, hateful soul, hungry to watch the endless pain and humiliating torment of others, and you know something? I like it this way.

Andrea was dead from a car crash, or something equally as devastating. She wasn’t famous, and nobody but her selfish, big-shot, newspaper editor daddy cared about her one jot. Sure, the friends who went to her funeral likely cried a bit. For effect. And maybe they thought that their grief was real, and truly were sad. For a couple of days. But then, as is human nature, they began to forget the red haired girl with too much make-up. The memory of her voice, and her smile, and her laugh began to ebb in their minds, slowly but surely fading away…

When I posted the first picture of her as my very first blog post, I captioned it with ‘Hey, so… This is me. Im called Elspeth. Im new here, so any help would be so awesome! xx’. Let’s play a game, shall we? I’m guessing you’re very bored, for why else would you be reading this, and games are nothing if not fun. Here it is: try and spot the lies in my caption. There’s obvious untruths – for instance, I am not Andrea, nor do I look anything like her – but some of my lies are perhaps more unknown to you. The blogging community is not at all new to me, although I am new to them. A hunter hunts best on the ground his pack knows, and after weeks of careful observation and discovery I have clearly complied carefully to this rule.

After typing up my caption, I published it for the world of HYPEchat to view, and read, and like. It’s a large community, with a lot of activity, and I was an unknown user. I truly didn’t expect a reply at all, never mind so quickly.

Of Elspeth's future 'baes', it was Harriet who commented on Andrea’s picture at the outset, mere minutes after I’d posted it. It was also she who fell into my web first – she who took the bait without asking, she who obeyed my rules like a good little girl.

Still, the first time we spoke was hardly friendly – I’d go so far as to call it hostile, even. The first thing Hazzbabe07 ever wrote to me, her innocent, young, teenage fingers pumping furiously at her black and white keyboard, was the following:

'That is not you in that photo. its a picture from google.'

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