John turned on his computer and went back to the kitchen. The kettle was boiling. He returned minutes later with a mug of tea, smiled and sat in front of the screen; 79 new messages, his twitter following was growing. Alison Turner is following you, Red Eye is following you, Jock_in_the_box has sent you a direct message. John worked through the e-mails, following back and replying. He blocked gothic_tattoos without looking at the profile. John didn’t do tattoos, his tastes were conservative and his wife sometimes used the computer so Goths were out.
‘I am your 1000th follower said a tweet.’
‘You are a very special person,’ replied John and, after a moment’s thought, added, ‘Have a lovely day.’ At this rate his twitter marketing campaign would soon be selling hundreds of books.
‘Build your following, invite them to your facebook page and get likes,’ said the gurus. John’s facebook page was new. There wasn’t much on it except a couple of pictures and a trailer for his book.
‘I must find something interesting to say today,’ thought John deleting a message in Russian. He sat back and swallowed a mouthful of tea. It was cold. He shuddered, pressed send and receive, and waited. A new e-mail arrived.
‘Hya, let’s swap facebook page likes. Mine’s at facebook.com/lived_inamirror..’ John only had four likes and the offer was reasonable enough. He clicked on the link and watched the timeline appear. The header was an image of a flaming dungeon. It was a popular site with 5,000 likes. John wasn’t interested in reading posts or looking at images. Quickly, he clicked the like and message buttons, added his facebook address, asked for a like back and hit return. The screen froze. John waited. The mouse would move but clicking the back arrow or trying to close the window did nothing. John could hear the hard drive working. The computer was doing something.
‘Bugger,’ said John and pulled the plug out of the wall socket. He left the computer unplugged for the rest of the day
‘How many followers have you got now?’ asked John’s wife as they finished dinner.
‘I don’t know. I haven’t looked since this morning,’ replied John and changed the subject. After they cleared the table, his wife went to check her e-mails.
‘John! Something’s wrong with the computer,’ she called from the spare room. John went upstairs. His wife was sitting watching the screen.
‘What’s happening?’ he asked.
‘I opened the email and they started coming. It says we have 5,000 emails,’ replied his wife.
‘That’s impossible. The in box isn’t big enough,’ said John. They watched as twitter messages from new followers cascaded down the screen. John grinned.
‘What have you done?’ demanded his wife.
‘Nothing, honest,’ replied John. By three in the morning John’s wife had gone to bed. The e-mails were still arriving. It would be hours, perhaps days, before they would all be received. John scratched his chin, switched off the screen and went to clean his teeth. His wife was already asleep when he got into bed.
A loud bang woke them both. It was dark. Someone was breaking in. John looked at the radio alarm. It was five o’clock. Men were yelling inside the house. There were heavy footsteps on the stairs. The bedroom door burst open and the room illuminated with torches. Strong hands pulled John from the bed and forced his arms behind his back. His wife screamed as he was handcuffed and dragged from the room.
‘Find his computer,’ ordered a voice.
‘It’s here and it’s switched on,’ replied another.
John sat in the interview room and shivered. He was cold, hungry and tired. All he had on were the boxer shorts he wore in bed. It was nearly lunchtime. The police had been questioning him for six hours. John scratched the stubble on his face and yawned.
‘Are we boring you,’ said the inspector.
‘I’m tired,’ answered John and put his head in his hands.
‘Do you know how many child pornography images are on your computer?’ asked the inspector.
‘None as far as I know,’ replied John.
‘5,000. Where did you get them from?’ demanded the inspector. His voice menacing.
‘I’ve told you. I have no interest in child pornography,’ said John angrily. The questioning was going in circles. The inspector smiled. He could feel his prisoner breaking. Soon he would know everything.
‘Tell me again about the facebook contact you claimed to have yesterday. What was the name? asked the inspector. John thought hard, trying to recall the facebook address, then his mind cleared.
‘Lived_inamirror, that was it,’ said John, ‘You can check. When I liked the page, the computer went mad.’ The inspector made a note, suspended the interview and left the room.
He returned minutes later accompanied by a sergeant. They sat down opposite John.
‘You’re a liar. The facebook page lived_inamirror doesn’t exist. John Worth you will be charged with the possession of child pornography. As far as I’m concerned you are an evil devil,’ said the inspector.
After he was charged, John was taken to the custody suite, given a meal, some clothes and locked in a cell. He sat on the bed and tried to make sense of what was happening.
‘An evil devil, lived_inamirror. You can’t see the devil in a mirror. Lived-devil, mirror,’ he thought and understood everything. That night, William Pearce got a tweet, ‘Hya, let’s swap facebook page likes. Mine’s at facebook.com/lived_inamirror..’ He looked. It was a popular site with 5001 likes.
© Graham Watkins 19th July 2014