Those Who Trust
He pressed connect, and listened to the sounds that the modem made. There was something about it he liked, something exciting almost, because he knew what was going to come about soon. He logged into the chat room, and made a mental note of who was there that he'd spoken to before. He did it all the time, at least once a day. When he had first done it, he made a conscious decision not to do it again, but something there kept drawing him back. He couldn't help himself, and he didn't want to help himself. There was no explanation for his behaviour. Nothing in his past which made him the way he was. He was just lonely. Lonely, and sick.
"Hi there," he quickly typed. "How is everyone today?" A reply came immediately, and the man grinned widely, two rows of uneven teeth reflecting back at him in the computer screen.
"Hi, Luke! How's things? I'm fine, thank you." It was Sapphire, aged thirteen. One of his favourites, most definitely. Always quick to reply, and eager to answer questions. Only clean ones so far, but he was working on that. She already trusted him enough to send him a photograph of her. In it, she sat on a bench, a girl on either side of her, and all three looked over the moon about something, though 'Luke' didn't know what that something was. The one on the right of Sapphire, she had said, was her oldest and best friend Harriet. Harriet was a pretty little thing, though she and the other girl, were nothing when compared to Sapphire. Sapphire was already fast becoming a young woman, and Luke knew that she would be beautiful when she was older. But Luke didn't like women- he liked girls.
"Saffy!" The man had already got a pet name for her, and she seemed to like this. "I'm great. And all the better for talking to you!"
"Don't make me blush," Sapphire sent back, accompanied with a winking face. "How was school today?" She believed that the man was fifteen, and attended the local school with his two younger brothers. In truth, he had no brothers, and of course, had left school more than fifteen years before.
"It as rubbish as usual." His hands flew over the keys. He was a fast typer. He need to be to carry out several conversations at the same time, especially when he didn't get a lot of time to go on the internet since he had been doing so much overtime at the factory. "Hey Saffy, you know that photograph you emailed me? Any chance I could have another? My little brother mucked up the system, and it got deleted." Luke smiled to himself as he usually did, happy that it was so easy for him to lie, and so easy for poor Sapphire to be taken in this way.
"No problem!" Several miles away, Sapphire searched through the pictures on her computer, looking for one that made her look good, one that would impress Luke. He liked her, she knew he did, and this pleased her. He was fifteen, so much more grown up than she was. Who said that internet relationships never came to anything? Sapphire was determined to prove everyone wrong, and planned to ask Luke the question that had been burning a hole through her head since the first time they spoke. She found the perfect picture. In it, she was standing beside a pool wearing a bikini. Her quickly developing body looked good for someone her age, and she hoped it would make Luke look at her differently. She didn't want to appear childish to him. She attached it to an email, writing just one line of text in it. Luke, I keep meaning to ask you. Do you have a girlfriend? Love, Sapphire. She pressed send, then quickly logged off, suddenly feeling a little scared and excited. After doing her homework, and having dinner, she went back online and within seconds a little window popped up.
"Hello again, Saffy. Thanks for the awesome picture!"
"You're welcome. Did you... like it?" Sapphire ran a hand through her blonde bob of hair, feeling nervous and strangely confident at the same time.
"Sure, I liked it a lot." Sapphire hoped he was being sincere. In truth he had liked it much more than a lot. More than he ought to. He knew he was getting slowly closer to his target, especially when she had actually asked him if he had a girlfriend! His leering smile thanked nobody but himself for having such great ideas, and for managing to reel in someone so gullible and naïve. The next step approached, quickly. "Hey, why don't you and me meet up? You could get a train half way, and I can do the same. Wouldn't that be ace?" He laughed out loud with sick joy as he read her reply.
"That would be great, Luke! I can't wait!"