Crouched behind the flickering light of loneliness, he became data driven, his right hand red-badged by a wireless mouse. Unable to roar her to attention in a laundromat or the local dive bar, he clawed his way in, scrutinizing her browser history, pawing her passwords, mauling her emails, grooming her apps with malware.
Now anytime she brushes him off in the elevator, pretending to be hypnotized by her shiny shoes, he can snort-laugh, aware that she overpaid, that she’s being catfished on Hinge, that her vulnerability is his gateway portal, his kingdom, where his silent strokes rule her memory disk.
Tomorrow, on her birthday, photographs she thought deleted will go viral — — raw meat to satisfy the bandwidth of his grudge, the slaughter smooth and neat.
When a dead battery halts the finale, he’s forced to stretch his haunches while rubbing his eyes, dry and itchy from the screen’s wide savannah. Fur on his neck stiffens as he exhales a tawny dream of mastery, emptiness caging everything together. Night gauzes the windows, glamorizing souvenired pizza boxes, empty six packs, and encrusted plastic food trays stacked like cairns, waymarks of the dead.
Native New Yorker LindaAnn LoSchiavo (she/her), a four-time nominee for The Pushcart Prize, is a member of SFPA, British Fantasy Society, and Dramatists Guild. Her books include: “Women Who Were Warned,” “Messengers of the Macabre,” “Apprenticed to the Night,” and “Vampire Ventures” (Alien Buddha Press). Forthcoming in 2024: “Cancer Courts My Mother.”
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