Tag Archives: stalking

Zina unSeen – Chapter 21

Over the next week, Lain noticed a shift in Zina’s behavior. She couldn’t help but keep her distance from her, regardless of the fact that she was desperate to make things right and pretend nothing had happened. However, Zina made no move to do so, and seemed rather distracted by somebody she was constantly talking to on FaceSpace.

When Lain checked Zina’s page, she discovered a mysterious new friend on her list. Upon glancing over Zina’s shoulder as she sat on the couch, laughing at something unseen and unheard by Lain, she found her suspicions confirmed and realized (with intense jealousy), that Zina was talking to the strange man. He didn’t even have a picture up of himself on his profile, which was a huge red flag, and Lain was troubled by it. Over the years, the horror stories of people being lured in by creeps on FaceSpace only grew more and more disturbing.

Lain recognized her friend’s tendency to jump into self-destructive relationships during particularly stressful times, and very nearly could have strangled her for it. She was getting extremely fed up with Zina and her terrible ways of coping with life, and didn’t want to get dragged down with her any longer. Unfortunately, she didn’t know quite how to express what she was feeling.

Whenever she would go to bed at night, she would glance at her end table, at the index card she had scribbled a phone number down. It was for a place where maybe Zina could get some help. They had been together for far too long and there was no way she could just abandon her now. Still, they were at an impasse, and it seemed like nothing she did was going to change Zina’s determination to escape her life by doing something compulsive and stupid, like sharing her entire life story with someone who could be a serial killer.

Finally, one day, Lain plopped herself on the couch next to Zina, who was in the middle of typing something, her hands flying furiously across the keyboard of her small laptop. When she noticed Lain’s presence, she stopped briefly, glanced over at her, and started again. Lain sighed and pushed her head back into the cushion of the couch.

“What are you doing, Z?” she asked, her tone soft but dripping with reprehension.

“Talking to a friend,” she said, purposely avoiding Lain’s eyes.

“I see that,” Lain said, pursing her lips. “Who is it?”

“It’s not really any of your business,” Zina snapped. She was obviously still hurt and angry about Lain’s outburst and wasn’t going to be the first one to apologize.

“Is it that creep who keeps posting those weird pictures of pigeons on your page?” Lain asked. “The one with no picture up?”

“He put a picture up yesterday,” Zina said defensively, turning her screen toward Lain and pointing to a picture of a squirrel in a tuxedo.

“Charming,” Lain said, jealous bile rising in the back of her throat. “Look, just don’t tell him too much. You know there are some serious weirdos lurking on FaceSpace. Ever since the media took off over the first few cases, tons of people have it in their heads that they can get away with murder. Just watch yourself.”

“You know Lain, I really appreciate you watching my back and everything, but this isn’t like that. We’ve been talking for over a week and he’s just a nice guy. He’s friends with Roy, okay? I already asked.”

“You asked Roy?”

Zina hesitated and didn’t answer.

“Oh my god, Z.”

“It’s fine!”

“All right. But don’t come crying to me if you go and get yourself murdered.”

“Don’t worry. If I die, I’m sure bitching to you about it will be the last thing on my mind.”

“Good,” Lain said, pouting. She picked up the remote from the coffee table and turned on the TV.

Both Zina and Lain’s eyes were immediately drawn to the screen as a news reporter’s piercing voice began to speak.

“In other news, a valued FaceSpace employee has been reported missing. If you see this man, please report to your local authorities.”

The television began showing a clip of a man speaking cheerfully into a microphone about FaceSpace’s stock options, and Zina grew rigid.

“What’s wrong, Z?”

“That’s the guy who ran away from me in the park a few weeks ago,” she said, clutching the couch cushion between her body and Lain’s. “Should I report him?”

“I don’t know, he wasn’t missing then,” Lain said with a frown. “I hope they find him.”

“Yeah,” Zina whispered.

They watched the rest of the broadcast before Lain clicked the television set off and stood.

“Good night,” she said softly.

Zina held her eyes for the first time in weeks, suddenly overwhelmed by how much she had missed them.

“Good night.”

 

Zina unSeen – Chapter 1

A shrill alarm pinged and Dean looked up from his coffee cup. He sat it haphazardly on his desk, hissing as a slosh of dark brown liquid spilled out and burned his hand. When Dean scanned his computer screen and his eyes rested on the cause of the commotion, his heart sank. Zina had been dumped.

Although he was heartbroken to see his user in pain, he was also secretly thrilled. This meant she was single again, and if she was single, maybe if he ever got out of his contract with FaceSpace, they would be able to meet and she would see that she was better off with a real man like him. That Damien kid she had been with was about as arrogant and shallow as they come. At least, that’s what he thought based on Zina’s status updates.

Dean sighed heavily. A change in relationship status meant an extra three hours of research and a daunting evening of paperwork. He would have to try and figure out exactly what had gone wrong between them, what his user might be feeling, and what products FaceSpace could promote while she was in her time of need. Perhaps retail therapy would bring her out of her slump. Even if it didn’t, FaceSpace would profit from her mood just by having the ads there. Many agents would promote dating websites when their users were down, but Dean never did. He wanted Zina all to himself.

Despite his elation at having her single again, it was agonizing to see her going through another of many downs. It seemed like the woman, although wildly beautiful, had a streak of terrible luck. He wasn’t quite sure why that was, but just knowing that her heart was broken caused Dean to drop his balding head in his hands. Zina was everything that a man could possibly want, and he couldn’t fathom why nothing ever seemed to work out for her. He looked thoughtfully at her profile picture, hoping it might offer him some clues.

Zina’s dazzling blue eyes flashed out at him, and he traced the strong line of her jaw down hungrily with his eyes. Gentle strands of black hair stroked her neck and fell down to her shoulders, one of which was extended so that she could give the camera her middle finger. Her lips were curved in a sexy “don’t give a damn” smile that made anxious beads of sweat spring up on his high forehead. The woman was flawless, and trying to figure out what mental deficiencies would cause a man to let her go gave him a headache.

A stern voice startled Dean out of his thoughts.

“Mr. Sallows,” his boss said.

“Mr. Brown,” Dean sighed, turning in his swivel chair to face the plump, unpleasant man.

“A word.”

Dean followed Mr. Brown grimly down the hallway and into his large office. He wasn’t particularly surprised to be singled out, once again, by the petty man who was constantly paranoid that Dean’s elaborate work on Zina would cause him to lose his job and be replaced. He made sure to give him a hard time any chance that he could, and motioned Dean to take a seat.

Dean sat, avoiding Mr. Brown’s gaze in favor of the huge window behind him that overlooked the cityscape. At about this time, Zina would be on her way to work in the studio. He looked purposefully toward the block of buildings that represented Chapel street, where she was undoubtedly walking right that moment, and felt his heart skip a beat. Mr. Brown sank down comfortably into his chair, his round, piggish cheeks upturned in an arrogant grin.

“I know you’re overly invested in that user of yours,” Mr. Brown said.

“I just do my job,” Dean said sharply.

“’Just your job,’ eh Dean? You spend twice as much time looking at her pictures as the other agents spend on their users.”

Dean blushed. He knew it was true. He couldn’t get enough of her. Still, he had to defend his job or he would be demoted. A demotion meant he would probably never get outside the FaceSpace dormitories again. No friends. Worse, no family.

“She posts a lot. And you know that the smart and artistic people require more analysis. They’re complicated.”

“You’ve said her name in your sleep.”

Dean looked away from the window, startled.

“I have?”

“Mr. Sallows, you’re showing signs of impending insubordination. I’m not sure you’re fit to continue maintaining surveillance over this user.”

When it was put like that, Dean felt a twinge of guilt. He was watching her every move and she had no idea. But it was perfectly legal. She had agreed to it in FaceSpace’s terms and conditions of use. Still, at times it felt wrong. But he was conflicted. His life would be nothing without her.

Mr. Brown glowed with pleasure as panic filled Dean’s eyes.

“I’m not sure you have a say over how I do my job. That’s up to the agents in charge of the operation. If you want to take this up with the government, that’s fine by me,” Dean said, standing confidently. “You know I’m the best at my job, and so do they. Good luck convincing them otherwise.”

Mr. Brown bristled.

“That’s out of line, Dean! I’m giving you a warning. And don’t think this won’t make it into your quarterly.”

Dean did everything he could not to roll his eyes.

“Will that be all, sir?”

“Get out of here,” Mr. Brown growled.

Dean returned to his cubicle quietly, his blood boiling. As angry as he was, he knew that Mr. Brown was right. Zina was on his mind, day and night, and that’s the way he wanted it to stay. He would have to be more careful.