My best friend, Kyle, was the first one to bring up the idea to me. A dating app. I had never really thought about trying something like that before. I guess I always liked the idea of meeting a girl out in the real world, having an old-fashioned love story to tell one day. Regardless, he ended up roping me in, convincing me that my idea of love only happened in the movies. He was probably right. This would be a refreshing change of pace for my inner romantic.
After downloading the app and getting things set up, I started looking through the feed of profiles. I came across a girl just a year younger than me with deep blue eyes and a head full of beautiful blonde hair. Her name was Rachel. Interested, I tapped the bottom of the photo to read her bio.
“Looking for a true gentleman. Someone fun who can cheer me up when I’m sad. Swipe right if you’re my guy.”
I didn’t hesitate to swipe her profile, as requested. Afterwards, I continued scrolling to see if anyone else piqued my interest. Sure enough, someone did – a girl named Veronica. She was a brunette with green eyes, and her bio revealed that she was a movie lover. I swiped right on her profile as well.
While scrolling through profiles, I got a call from my mom. She asked me to run to the store to pick up some stuff for dinner. I agreed and headed off to the local supermarket.
After getting everything my mom needed for dinner, paying, and loading up the bags into the car, I felt my phone buzz. I unlocked it to see a notification from Tinder. I had gotten a match, and it was with Rachel. She had sent a message, asking if I wanted to meet her for coffee. I agreed to, and we decided on a little cafe on the edge of town for 5 o’clock the following evening. I was ecstatic! A girl that found me interesting! Along with my excitement, I felt quite nervous. I hadn’t gone out with many girls that I hadn’t already known for a while. I hoped things would go well and that I wouldn’t mess it up by being too weird or saying something really awkward. In any case, I rushed home, excited to tell my mom the good news.
The next day, I spent nearly two hours getting ready for my date with Rachael. After showering, and cleaning up my face of stray hairs, I put on a clean, black shirt and my favorite pair of dark-blue jeans. I ran out to the dining room to give my mother a quick hug, grabbed the car keys, and rushed out the door.
As I drove to the cafe, I decided to play some upbeat music off my phone. Bobbing my head to the beat of the drums as I drove along, I went over how I hoped the date would go. As I pulled onto the street the cafe sat on, I noticed a news van parked at the end of the street. Around the corner, I was met with a roadblock, four or so police cruisers, and an ambulance next to an overturned car. There was a telephone pole knocked over, broken in half, and laying on another one of the buildings. The car must have been going pretty fast to have knocked that thing over, I thought.
An officer approached my car. I rolled down the window to ask about what had happened. He ignored my question and informed me the whole road was going to be shut down until they could clean up the wreckage. After he walked away, I turned around and parked just around the corner to message Rachel, telling her we would need to reschedule due to the accident. After waiting a few minutes for a response, and not getting one, I decided to head home for the night.
I helped my mom cook dinner, then her and I moved into the living room to watch some TV while we ate. She turned on the television, and flipped through the channels a bit before landing on the news channel.
The news anchor was talking about the horrible crash on the edge of town. They said the driver had been incredibly intoxicated and was going nearly eighty miles an hour down the road, before losing control and flying straight into a telephone pole. They showed a picture of the driver. As her name appeared on the screen, I felt my heart sink, nearly losing my breath. It was Rachel. I was in shock. When I finally got the nerve to react, I did so by jumping up from the couch and running up to my room, locking the door behind me. It may sound a bit weird having never met her in person, but I wept.
Eventually, I got over Rachel’s death. For a while, I convinced myself to stay away from dating. I convinced myself that I was somehow to blame for what happened. After all, if she hadn’t had a date with me, she wouldn’t have been driving in that direction. Once I worked out my mental woes, I gave that damned app another shot.
One day, scrolling through the profiles, I came across one that I remembered seeing before. It was Veronica. Once again, I swiped right. Shortly after, we matched. Chatting ensued, followed by date plans at the movie theater just one town over. We were to meet at 9pm that night.
I arrived fashionably early, but Veronica was already waiting for me just outside the front doors. She wore a black dress with white, lacy flowers on it. She looked absolutely stunning. After exchanging pleasantries and chitchatting for a moment, we went inside to grab tickets to the movie.
The film was great and watching it with Veronica was even greater. We shared a popcorn and drink and she wound up nuzzling her way under my arm a few minutes in, resting her head on my shoulder. It was a picture-perfect date.
After the movie got out, Veronica expressed interest in continuing our date. She said she wanted to go to the bowling alley near where I lived. We agreed to take my car and leave hers at the movie theater. As I drove, she asked me questions about myself; favorite movie, favorite song, etc. The typical things you ask when you’re getting to know someone. It was nice.
Ten minutes in to our little road trip, Veronica pointed out what she thought was an animal, standing in the middle of the road. I slowed down to a stop. We quickly realized that it was a person, looking down, wearing some sort of mask. A little spooked, I attempted to turn the car around. As I did, a van backed out of the woods and onto the road, impeding my escape. I pulled forward, back towards the masked person, still standing in the road. I had no choice but to drive past him. When I did, I heard a loud pop, and the car began to shake. I unwillingly stopped right in front of the masked stranger. To my dismay, he approached the car, tapped on my window, and gestured that I roll it down. I just shook my head. Veronica screamed, noticing two more masked individuals emerge from the van and walk our way. I decided it best to crack the window just a bit.
‘What do you want?’ I half shouted in the stranger’s face. He lifted up the mask, just past his mouth.
‘Your tire popped. We can fix that for you, if you want.’
I stared at the stranger for a moment, then over to Veronica. Tears were running down her face. She just shrugged at me. I turned back to the stranger and agreed. He lifted his head and nodded in approval. As he pulled the mask back down over his mouth, Veronica’s window was smashed in by one of the other masked strangers. She shrieked. Two sets of hands reached in and began pulling her out of the car. I reached for her, grabbing her hands, desperately trying to pull her back in. My window was the next to shatter, followed by more hands, this time coming for me.
My face was slammed onto the pavement. I put my hand to my head and attempted to stand up. With one foot firmly on the ground, I realized Veronica was no longer screaming. I turned to look to her side of the car, but my line of sight was interrupted by a baseball bat to the face. I blacked out.
When I came to, my hands were tied behind my back around a pole. I looked around for Veronica, but she was nowhere in sight. I tried to look for some indication as to where I was, but there was nothing. No windows, no tables, not anything. Just an empty room, the pole I was bound to, and a door that was presumably my only way out.
I shouted for help, knowing it was more than likely a waste of energy. I was right, nobody came to my call. I tried to fidget my way out of my bonds but was unsuccessful in my efforts. After an hour of squirming, the door swung open, slamming hard against the wall. In came Veronica, her mouth stuffed with a cloth, and one of our masked assailants guiding her into the room. He pushed her onto the floor before me.
“Get on your fucking knees, bitch! Face your boyfriend,” the man shouted. Veronica, tears rushing down her face, slowly did as the man said. He walked over, standing behind her. He then looked at me.
“You think you can just do what you want? Huh, Justin? You think you can just escape this place?” His voice sounded familiar, but too muffled by the mask to be sure. He pulled a gun from a holster, hidden under his long black shirt, and pointed it at Veronica.
“No!” I screamed. But it didn’t matter. The man pulled the trigger and a bullet tore through the back of Veronica’s head. She fell forward onto the floor, dead. I screamed hysterically. The man walked around her body and over to me. Standing directly in front of me, he pulled off his mask, revealing himself to be Kyle. My best friend.
I was taken back, confused and horrified. My best friend had just shot a girl I cared about. After a moment of petrified shock, I spat at him.
“What the fuck is this, Kyle?! What the fuck is going on?!” He smiled at me, then threw a heavy back hand across my face. After recovering from the hard smack, he grabbed me by the hair, and leaned in close.
“I fucking loved you, Justin, and you never fucking noticed! You came to me, bitching and complaining, ‘Oh, I can’t find a girlfriend. I want a girl from out of town!’ Fuck you, Justin!” He slammed my head back against the pole. He walked over to Veronica’s body, grabbed the cloth from her mouth, came back over, and shoved it into mine.
“At first I figured, okay, maybe he doesn’t like me, but he shouldn’t have to be alone. So I recommended you use Tinder. But I never thought you would match with anyone but me. You were mine. But when you found that bitch Racheal, I knew, deep inside, I couldn’t allow you to be happy. I knew, you had to be mine.”
I couldn’t believe what I was hearing.
“I devised a plan. If I tore away at you mentally, maybe you’d seek out my comfort. But then you matched with this bitch, Veronica, and I knew I had to do something worse. I had to make you realize how dangerous the world can be and that I’m the only one who can protect you…” He caressed my face. I shook uncontrollably, closing my eyes as he did.
“But I’ve come to realize… you don’t deserve me anymore. And you certainly don’t deserve my care and protection.” He backed up, raising the gun up to his head. I watched as a few tears rolled down his cheeks.
“Now, Justin… you’re on your own.”
WRITTEN BY: R.L. Rogers
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