“He is completely innocent. Like, what can he do to me through a screen? Besides, he loves me, so he wouldn’t want to do anything bad to me. Come on now, do it already!”, Alana was encouraging herself while standing half-naked in front of her bathroom mirror, holding her phone in slightly trembling hands. This was her first time ever taking such a kind of pictures and especially sending those pictures to someone. She was going to become a real woman, as her boyfriend told her. And this is what women do for their boyfriends. Most of them had sex with their boyfriends, but that is also due to the fact that they met each other face to face. Since Alana’s boyfriend was at hundreds of miles away, the least she could do to prove her love for him were these pictures. For a brief moment, she wondered if everything she felt for him really needed a proof, as he said they did. All those nights she had spent talking to him, instead of sleeping even though she knew that the next day she would have claases to attend to… all the words she had said to him and which she had meant with her whole heart… all the secrets that she had shared with him, the drama, the gossip, and every tiny injustice that can be done to a 12 year old girl, such as strict parents not letting her out at night and her father not letting her wear short skirts, tight jeans or crop tops… did those things really mean nothing to her boyfriend?
However, she pushed that thought aside and opened her phone’s camera. She snapped a lot of shots, with different filters, lights, expressions. She wasn’t quite keen on any of those, though. She was uncomfortable taking this kind of pictures and adding up her lower-than-ground-level self-confidence…
All of a sudden, she heard a loud banging on the bathroom door.
‘GET OUT ALREADY, ALANA! YOU’RE NOT THE ONLY ONE WHO’S GOTTA USE THIS BATHROOM’, her father shouted angrily at her through the door. She told him she’d be out right away. So she snapped one last photo and pressed the “send” button before looking at it again. She knew she would hate it, just like she hated the others, if she did. So she quickly got dressed up and got out, a strong blush plastered on her face. Her father looked at her questioningly but didn’t ask her anything. He thought she might have gotten her first period or something like that, so it wasn’t a man’s job to ask his daughter stuff like this.
Alana’s boyfriend, called James, seemed very proud of “his girl” after receiving her photo. He took a half of that night to compliment her on her body and write dirty “poetry” to her, shamelessly letting her know all of his sexual fantasies… but in an “artistic” way.
A little while later, she got the same request from him. And she sent him a half-nude picture once again. As their virtual relationship went on, James wanted more and more pornographic material with “his girl”, asking her to try different positions, to wear lingerie or nothing at all, or other such things.
She was feeling good to know that someone appreciated her body, but she was beginning to realize that this boy whom she had never met face to face was actually beginning to appreciate her body more than herself. And now this looked like a problem. A problem that she had heard her bigger sister (aged 20) complaining to have with her boyfriend. Therefore, if Amanda didn’t break up with Jonathan, why would she, Alana, break up with James? She supposed it was a little problem that girls had to go through, like giving birth, being cat-called, having periods. So she dismissed this, accepted her fate and kept on giving James whatever he wanted.
One particular night changed it all, though. Not being able to “hold his love in a cage any longer”, James happily announced Alana that he was visiting some relatives of his in her town, so he asked her to go out with him. As a continuing wave of happiness was washing over her, she put on her best dress (one of those her dad wouldn’t let her go out with) and after everyone in the house has fallen asleep, she quietly got out, using the kitchen window.
All the streets were desert and suddenly, she was afraid that a man could kidnap, kill, or rape her. A chill went down her spine, even though the June night was warm. She tried to walk as fast as she could on her mother’s high heels, knowing that once she would reach the little park on her block she would meet her sweetheart and she would be safe, especially that James was 16 years old, and tall, and strong… and so the thought of him seemed to comfort her.
After what felt like an eternity, she reached the park and started looking around for the blonde-haired tall boy she knew from Instagram. But no one was in the park… except for a brown-haired man looking in his early 30’s. She took out her phone and, for the first time, she video-called James. The man’s phone started ringing the instant she pressed the video-call button. Something was wrong and she knew it. “But it might have been just a coincidence”, the woman-who-knows-her-place’s voice rang in her head. So she waited.
The stranger took out his phone and pressed something on it. James had rejected the call. She got a text from him, asking her if she had arrived. Taking advantage of the fact that the man didn’t notice her, she tried to back away and go home. But her heels made a powerful sound when she started running. A sound which attracted the man’s attention. And he immediately started chasing after her.
However, the chase didn’t last long and Alana fell on her knees. The man got right next to her.
‘That’s how I like my women, thank you very much sweetheart.’
‘I’m not a woman, so leave me alone ‘, Alana found the courage to yell at him, hoping that someone would hear her.
‘There, there, let me help you get up. And stop making so much noise, Alana, you don’t wanna wake up the whole neighbourhood, now do you? Oh, you don’t. You better believe me you don’t.’
Strongly shaking, she let him help her to her feet.
‘How do you know my name?’, she whispered.
‘Oh, that’s right baby, I forgot to introduce myself. My name is James. I’m 16. You are Alana, 12, my girlfriend. It’s so nice to finally meet you!’
She was terrified already and wondering what this mad man in front of her was planning.
‘I brought you a gift for our first date’, he said in a low, husky voice that gave her chills. He produced a little box out of his pocket. ‘Open it!’, he ordered her on the same tone. She obeyed, too scared to say anything. It was a silver necklace, with the initials A and J attached to it. ‘Do you like it?’
She was having a panic attack though, and she was crying uncontrollably. She was barely able to breathe, let alone talk.
‘Calm down, baby, I didn’t mean to scare you… Look, love has no age, my darling. 16 or 32… same shit. I still love you, okay? I’m the same James you spent 7 months talking to. I love your pretty little eyes, and your pretty little face, and your pretty little breasts… or maybe I wasn’t supposed to say that aloud… my bad. Anyways, like I said, I’m still your lover. So hush now and listen. Would you be so kind as to come home with me? I would love to see that body in real life. What if we recreate the pictures?’
‘N-n-never!’, came her stuttered but determined answer.
‘Oh, so maybe you’d want me to send those works of art starring your naked body to all your friends and school-mates? Because this is what is going to happen if you don’t come with me.’
‘Please leave me alone…’, she muttered hopelessly under her breath.
‘Look, I know this might be a little bit too much, maybe it will look like I’m rushing you or something…’, he said while taking his hand away from her arm, where it had been until that moment. That’s all that Alana needed. She dropped the necklace and started running for her life again. She didn’t have enough time to take her shoes off, so they were slowing her down. James was behind her, getting closer by the second, trying to hold back a maniacal smile but not quite managing. She could already see her house and she was screaming her lungs out, hoping that her dad would hear her and he would come and beat up that monster. But her father didn’t show up and James caught hold of her again, covering her mouth with his hand, pressing her body tight onto his own.
While she was struggling out of his grip, he placed the silver necklace – that he had picked up off the ground where she had dropped it – around her neck and fastened it, so that Alana was left with no voice to scream anymore. Now angry as hell, James caught hold of the necklace with both his hands and pulled at it as hard as he could, muttering something like ‘That’s what happens to the bad women like you, who disobey’.
When Alana dropped dead on the ground, the killer didn’t even bother to take another look at her. He simply flew away.
After some time of investigation, Alana’s case was declared cold, since the Police found not even one single lead to a suspect, due to the fact that she was always deleting her conversations with James, out of fear that her mother would have found out about her relationship.
Afterwards, everyone in her family blamed it on some sort of paranormal activity, a monster haunting the streets of their little city, so they moved away. The only problem is, they didn’t know that the type of monster who killed their daughter was everywhere on this planet, leaving you no place to hide or move away from them.