Dream Worlds Are Born

Story 596 ~ Maureen & Joey 4


#1

Marit couldn’t believe her eyes, her very own laptop. She had thought her backpack was heavier when she grabbed it from her locker. She didn’t need it in her last two classes of the day so often stashed it there so she wouldn’t have to lug it around for no reason. She had no idea where it came from, all it had was a sticky note on it that said “our little secret”. She didn’t even care, a million possibilities began rushing through her head. Her parents were so nosy about what she did online and wouldn’t allow her a Facebook because it was too dangerous ,dangerous? Really? She wasn’t stupid. She could handle herself with a Facebook.

They always told her to just wait until she was sixteen but that was three years away. Her friends had always told her she could make one and just block them right away so they wouldn’t find it but her dad was so good with computers she just knew he’d figure it out on the family desktop. Plus it was in the living room so hiding doing anything on that was laughable. Finally, her own laptop and she couldn’t care less who gave it to her. She opened it up to find a picture of her as the background. She was hanging out with her friends. She paused, trying to figure out when this was.

She couldn’t think of it but excitement took her again and she opened the browser. Her mothers voice caught her ears which brought her a little back to reality. She rushed to her bedroom door and locked it for possibly the first time in her life. She as close to her parents, they were kind and very fun people but all her friends were allowed on the internet and to have Facebooks and she was tired of being left out. One of her friends had obviously gone above and beyond for her and she wouldn’t screw it up. Undoubtedly her father could figure out who gave this to her and she didn’t want them getting in trouble.

She went to Facebook to find it already logged into one, hers. Had one of her friends really gone this far to get her into the virtual world? She went to the blocking settings like one of her friends had explained to find all of her family members already blocked. “woah” she couldn’t help but whisper.


#2

She messed around on her Facebook, going through the pictures. Some of them she had never seen before and she wondered where they had come from. Maybe one of her friends had taken them without her knowing? She then went to her friends list. There was only one person on there right now and she had no idea who it was. “Marit, come on sweetie, we’re going to the store.” Her mother said from downstairs, making her heart jump.

“Coming.” She quickly yelled back. She had to hide the laptop. Her mother sometimes came in to empty out her hamper and she didn’t want her to find it.


#3

She needed to find somewhere fast before her mother came up here so she went into her closet, pulled down her suitcase and stashed it inside. There would be no reason for her parents to bother with it and it was good enough for now. Marit put the suitcase back just as it was then hurried to her mother “sorry, I know we just got home but I have nothing to make us for dinner”

“It’s no problem mom” They went out to the car and soon were on the road “so how was school today baby?” Maureen asked. “same old same old, this year has been really easy for me so far”

“you’ve always been so smart. What would you like for dinner?”

“Chicken Fricassee?”

“sure, we will need a side too”

“Potatoes Anna with Apples and Sage?”

“Oh my gosh I’m glad I asked you” Marit laughed “I want more poptarts too while we’re at the store”

“okay, maybe we can look at some clothes before we buy food, you know, just spend a little time together. If things should fall into the cart then over the scanner at checkout…well…thats just happens”

“really?”

“yeah, it’s been awhile since we went to the store for fun. I mean we still need stuff but we have time to have fun first. You don’t have a lot of homework do you?”

“I have a paper to write so once we get home I’ll have to stay up on my room but besides that I’m good. I have time to hangout” Marit felt a tug of guilt. She never lied to her mother and it didn’t feel good to do it for the first time. She didn’t have any homework at all but she had wanted to take the opportunity to grab at an excuse to really get into her Facebook account. She had so many people to add and things to do on it.

Her guilty conscious only grew as they looked at clothes. She almost didn’t want her mother buying her anything but knew it would look weird if she didn’t pick some things out. By the time they arrived home Marit was near confessing to her parents she found a laptop in her bag but as she set her clothes down she wanted to share them with everyone right now and she could finally do that. She just reminded herself all of her friends had Facebook “my parents are just being over protective” she thought to herself.

Marit put on her new pair of jeans then set up her camera to take pictures of herself. She loved having a real camera that she could use a self timer on. She wanted to upload them but it was too close to dinner, too risky. She’d wait until she was in here for the night because of her paper

She decided to go help her mom finish up, hoping it might ease the guilt tugging at her. “hey sweetie, don’t you have a paper?”

“couldn’t concentrate. I’m too hungry” Another lie, another tug at her heart doing something she wasn’t used to. She helped her mother with dinner and they managed to get it on the table just as her dad returned from work. Joey came in happily, ready to hug both his girls. “whatever that is it smells amazing” he remarked and Maureen kissed him 'dinner was Marits idea. We’re having Potatoes Anna and Chicken Fricassee"

His mouth was practically already watering as they went to their table and sat down. Her guilt vanished for awhile as she hungout with them. Her dad had another story about the new guy at work that had the three of them laughing. “That man is the biggest mess I’ve ever met but its funny and he’s a good guy” Laughing her mother Maureen said “well lets allow our daughter to finish her meal. Between me taking her shopping and your stories she’s never going to be able to work on her paper for school”

“You have a paper due?”

“yeah, I was planning to lock myself in my room after dinner”

“you’re going to hand write it?” Thats right, she normally typed her papers up and printed them in the living room, think fast, think fast. “yeah, our English teacher wants us to work more on our penmanship and she thought a paper would do that best. We have to write it ourselves” Oh my god, how much was she going to have to lie to have this laptop.

“so I guess you have to take your time writing so it looks good”

“Yeah, thats a big part of the grade” she looked away from her trusting parents “could I eat in my room please?” she wasn’t even in a rush to get online. In fact she was concerned she was going to cry now that guilt had crept back into her full force. “Of course baby”


#4

:computer:


#5

Both Maureen and Joey watched her leave and then Maureen asked, “Did she seem off to you?”

“School’s stressful.” He took her hand when she just frowned. “We can talk to her tomorrow, okay?”

“Alright. I know I’m probably being ridiculous.”

“Being a good mom is never ridiculous.”

Marit sat down on her bed with her plate in her hands, feeling horrible. She didn’t want to eat, her appetite gone after lying to her parents, but she knew she had to eat or they would realize there was something wrong. She ate slowly, sighing and trying not to cry until she was finished. She sat her plate on top of her chest of drawers and then went and retrieved the laptop, actually glaring at it a little as she sat down and flipped it open. She decided she would come clean later and hoped they wouldn’t be too upset. She just wanted to play with it for a little while.


#6

Marit just wished they could understand her desire to have one like her friends. It seemed so fun and she always felt out of the loop. People tended to assume she knew about stuff because everybody else had read about it on Facebook but her so she was always playing catch up to know anything about her friends or what was going on. Events would happen and there were times she didn’t end up getting invited because everyone thought someone else was going to tell her in person or call her about it. It sucked, majorly so she’d get all she could out of this for even a short time. Marit uploaded the pictures she took and changed her profile picture to her favorite one before she began adding all her friends.

She was elated when some accepted right away and she could begin browsing their profiles. She didn’t realize how many pictures of herself were already online. She knew her friends took pictures all the time but she hardly got to see them since people didn’t tend to print pictures anymore. What was the point unless you were making something since everybody you know can see them online, everybody but her that is. She tried not to type too excitedly as she responded to friends excited messages about her finally being on.

She knew if she typed back too fast her parents might here. She decided for safety to turn on the tv in her room. It wasn’t uncommon for her to have tv as background noise, even for homework so they wouldn’t think anything of it. Marit started tagging herself in photos so she’d have them on her own profile. Sure her dad was probably going to delete this thing but she wanted to live her short facebook life to the fullest.


#7

She was surprised when another message popped up and it was the person whose name she hadn’t known. “Marit, are you there?” It asked.

She clicked over to it, typing in, “Yes.” She could see the dots in the box indicating this person was typing.

“Good, I’m glad. Do you like your gift?”

She swallowed. “Who is this?” She sat there waiting, not knowing why her heart was beating so hard.

“A friend.” She looked at the name at the top of the box. It just said Tannin. What kind of name was Tannin? Was it real or made up?

“How do you know me?” She asked.

“I’ve seen you around and I wanted to talk to you. I’m so glad we can now.”

She wondered if maybe it was a boy at school and if that were the case then maybe they had been to nervous to talk to her face to face. “Do I know you?”

“You will soon, Marit, just not yet.”

She wondered if she should tell her parents, but then that would mean losing the laptop and she had only just started using it. Besides, what if it was just some boy? She didn’t want him getting humiliated. “Okay, thank you then.”


#8

“I had a spare and I’ve over heard quite a few conversations about how badly you wanted a Facebook. I had a spare laptop so I made it happen for you and for me. I really have wanted to talk to you so very badly.” The little light by the built in camera came on, not bright but noticeable “a light just came on on the laptop? Did I do something to it?” She typed back and he soon answered “Just a quirk of an old laptop. Sorry I didn’t have anything better to give you” Anything better? She thought. This thing looked better than her fathers laptop. “It’s not going to bother me” she typed back but decided to google what that meant. Before she could see the results the laptop turned off “what?” she said softly.

It was plugged in, the battery was still firmly inside. As much as she wanted to deny something was wrong here it didn’t sit well with her that a light came on and as soon as she went to look up why it shut down. Maybe this friend had remote access to her computer. You didn’t live with a father as computer smart as hers without picking up a few things. Especially when he talked to his friends. Honestly you didn’t live in this decade without knowing all the ways laptops actually were dangerous. Something was wrong and she had to come clean in the morning no matter how embarrassed or sad that made her.

If that light hadn’t come on, if whomever hadn’t shut down her computer so she wouldn’t know why she might have kept this going but she wasn’t that stupid.


#9

Marit couldn’t sleep at all, her eyes jumping to where she had put the laptop every time she turned that way. She knew it was closed, but it still freaked her out. She thought about the pictures and wondered if the person who had taken them was watching her right now. Her heart hammered in her chest at the thought. Could he still hear her through the microphone? She curled up, clinging to her pillow, a tingle of fear running up her spine when she realized her back was to her window. What if he was out there? She held her breath, swallowed and slowly turned over, making it look as natural as possible. She was relieved when she didn’t see a silhouette or anything. She took a quiet breath. It was okay, everything was going to be okay.

She buried her face in her pillow and closed her eyes, knowing she needed to rest. All the doors and windows were locked, her father always double checked before bed. She had always thought it was weird, even after what had happened to her mother as a child, but now she couldn’t be more grateful. She also told herself that all she had to do was scream and they would come running.


#10

Marit woke up several times throughout the night, decided to try to turn it back on around four am. She had a bunch of notifications, some were from her friends but she noticed that Tannin had now given a heart on all of her pictures. In their chat he acted like he didn’t know what happened to her but she worried he did know, that he had some sort of remote access to this thing and that she did need to be afraid of it. She decided to try google again now that he didn’t seem to be on. She gasped once she read that meant the camera was on. He had turned it on while they were talking.

She couldn’t wait until morning, she ran to her parents bedroom and pounded on the door “Mom! Dad!” Her dad answered “what? Is everything okay honey?” he looked so scared and she spilled her guts. She could handle her parents anger and disappointment, she couldn’t handle some creep spying on her and taking her away from her parents. Facebook acess wasn’t worth that. She held up the laptop and his concerned face turned puzzled “where did you get that?”

“I…I found it in my backpack after school dad”

“you found it in your backpack?”

“yeah and it had a Facebook already made for me and…I just…I’ve wanted to have a Facebook so bad…I’m so sorry” she was already bawling and her mother popped out of the room “I think you need to make some coffee honey” Joey walked past and Marit could tell by the way he walked he was angry “I’m sorry mom”

“why are you confessing atthis hour baby? What happened?”

“I think whoever gave this to me was watching me the times I used it”

“lets follow your dad into the kitchen, explain to him why you think that and tell us both what you’ve been doing on there” Marit nodded, shame making her body feel heavy.


#11

Maureen could tell Joey was still mad when they entered the dining room. He was sitting there, his hand setting on top of the laptop, his fingers tapping it. “Come sit down, Marit.” He said.

“I’m sorry dad.” She replied as she crossed over to the table and sat down.

Maureen sat down next to him and took his hand. He gave her a brief smile. “First, I want to say that I am disappointed that you decided to sneak behind our backs and not bring this to our attention right away. You broke the rules and your mother and I will discuss your punishment later.”

“I know, I just…”

“You wanted to be like your friends, but Marit, you are our daughter and we have these rules for a reason.” Maureen said.

“I know.”

Joey sighed. “Who gave this to you?”

“I don’t know, his name is just Tannin on Facebook.” She swallowed down the lump in her throat. “I think he was watching me last night.”

“What exactly happened?”

“Well, while we were talking the light on the front came on. When I asked him what it was, he basically told me it was nothing. Then when I went to google what it was, the computer just shut off.”


#12

“He probably was Marit. Laptops are dangerous. Anything with a camera on it is dangerous because its far too easy to tap into someones built in camera. Remote access isn’t as easy but I guarantee you he has it installed on here. Just please tell me you did not hook up your cellphone to the laptop”

“I didn’t”

“good, so at least we don’t have to worry about him having put anything on there. I’d be taking that away anyway if I wasn’t so worried now. You need to be able to call us if something happens and we arent right there”

“I know about people being able to look at your computer from theres but how much could he see”

“I’ll go get my laptop and show you, Maureen, tart doing whatever on the desktop. Come with me Marit” As they sat back down in her parents bedroom Marit asked “so you already have stuff installed on our computer?”

“Not to watch you and your mother. Sometimes I need stuff from the computer at work. This way I dont have to carry a flashdrive with me if I need to bring something into work thats on there”

“I’m really sorry dad”

“I love you honey, I do and thats why I’m so upset.” Soon she could see everypage her mother had open, could even watch her type “Oh my god, he was seeing what I was talking about with my friends?”

“even as you wrote it”

“Oh my god”

“I haven’t forbidden you from Facebook to be mean Marit. Its dangerous and I dont understand any parent that would let their child use a site like that. I just wanted you to be a little older…there are monsters out there Marit. Terrible people who would take you away from us and hurt you. This man has given a child a laptop. It wasn’t going to come without strings attached honey” She started crying again and he set his laptop down to hug her “I’m just glad you told me now Marit, that you couldn’t even go twenty four hours lieing to us but it still hurts you would.”

“I’m sorry”

“You’re a good kid Marit, you always have been. You’ve made a mistake but you came to us and I cant stress enough how glad I am you did. Some kids would have stayed in the hug they already dug…you could have been gone before we knew anything” When she could pull it together again he took her back into the living room where Maureen had made Joey and herself coffee “You need to get some rest Marit. Your dad and I will deal with this laptop now” She hugged her mom and went to her bedroom. Joey spoke “I’m going to go to work. I’ll be right back”

“what for?”

“I’m going to get something to block him from accessing it. He’ll wipe out everything if he sees me on there”

“I can’t help you anyway if you just want to take it into work. I’ll put your coffee in a to go cup”

“what if theres some creep lurking around our home?”

“we have a gun and I know where it is and the combination to it hasn’t changed right?”

“No”

“I will be fine and I’ll keep an eye on Marit”

“'lll have my key so theres no reason to answer the door” She gave him a brief kiss “I know” he looked like he wanted to say so many things but he was a mess of stress, fear and hurt. “I knew something was wrong, we know our girl Joey. I’m sure this is the first time shes lied to us. I could tell as soon as she came out of that room to go shopping with me. I just didn’t know it was about something so serious”

“what do we do about this?”

“Marit is obviously riddled with guilt. I don’t think we need to punish her all that much. If we come down too hard she might be too scared to talk to us next time. Just like I heard you saying to her in the bedroom it’s a blessing she told us. This creep could have taken her from us if she had waited too long. Maybe we just dont let her online atall for a month or two”

Joey nodded “well I better go, please, do not answer the door and dont talk to any of our friends or extended family about this yet. We…we don’t know who it is Maureen” As hard as that was to think about she understood his concern “Okay baby” Maureen poured his coffee into a travel cup and he finally left with the laptop to take it to work.


#13

Marit laid curled up in her bed under the covers, hugging her pillow and crying. She hated that her parents were so disappointed and she hated she had hurt them. She cried until she couldn’t anymore and was exhausted. She fell asleep hoping she would be able to make it up to them and thinking of how grateful she was to have parents like them. Maureen entered her room quietly a few minutes later and gently pulled back the blankets, relieved to see she was actually sleeping, but hating that her daughter had been crying. She pressed a soft kiss to her forehead and decided to bake some cookies in hopes that it would help everyone feel better.

Joey forced himself not to look upset when he got to work. He nodded at the security guard as he passed and headed straight for his office. He knew he was going to have to be careful opening it up and hooking anything up to it. If the guy was on, he might notice and if he noticed then he knew he would have to work fast to make sure he couldn’t delete anything. He knew he would have to take it into the police, but he wanted to preserve as much evidence as possible.


#14

Joey was glad when he found what he needed to prevent the remote access from working. He quickly turned it on and got it running before whoever this predator was noticed what was happening. Joey decided to look at the history first but was saddened to find the man had been smart enough to clear the history before putting the laptop in Marits bag. He looked through everything looking for any evidence of the previous owner but nothing was turning up. He then went on his daughters facebook and clicked on the mans page but that turned up nothing as well. He hated he would have to turn this over to the cops with nothing but they could probably look up where this was bought and by who among many other things he couldn’t so he decided to take it to the police station.

He let them know right away he already made it so the man or woman couldn’t access the computer any longer. They asked him how then went on to further question him about Marit. They told him they’d check with the school when it opened to see if the camera in the halls still functioned. They had them but due to funding issues many public schools face they could possibly not be functioning. Joey hoped with all he was that they would at least be able to see this creep on video.


#15

“Marit.” Her voice being whispered startled her awake. “Marit.” It took her sleepy brain a moment to process the unfamiliar voice, but when she did, she froze, her heart thumping in her chest. She was afraid to move, but she couldn’t just lay there. She gripped the blankets and quickly pulled them down. There was no one there. She looked around the room in confusion. It was completely lit by the sun so there was no way anyone could be hiding in it.

“Mom?” She called.

“In the living room.” Marit swallowed. “Is everything alright?”

“Yeah, just a weird dream.” It had to have been. There was no way someone could have just walked into the house and her window was closed and locked.

Joey called Maureen to let her know he was on his way home and that the police had the laptop. That part was out of their hands, even though he wished he could do more. “Do you want me to pick anything up?”

“Stuff for frito pie?”

“Sounds good. Everything okay there?”

“Yeah.”

“Alright, I’ll be home soon, love you.”

“Love you too.”


#16

Marit didn’t want to change in her room, she was too scared now. She picked a comfortable dress then hurried to the bathroom to put it on. She was nervous even in there but managed to change before brushing her teeth and hair. She was nervous going to the living room as well but for a different reason. “Hey mom” Maureen hugged her daughter “Hey baby” She could tell Marit was waiting to know how she’d be punished “we just dont want you online for a few months. We will let you know when you’re allowed again.”

“Do you guys…I mean”

“Next time you decide to lie to us there will be much harsher consequences but this is the first time…that along with how bad you obviously feel is why its not so bad this time”

“I wont ever lie again. I promise. Am I going to school today?”

“No, I don’t want you at school until we figure this out since thats where the laptop ended up in your backpack. He could come there and hurt you”

“I don’t want to go but I dont want to fall behind”

“If we cant figure this out quickly I’m sure the school can send some work home. I can go ahead and call if you want”

“I’m just already struggling to keep a b in history”

“I’ll call today then honey”


#17

Marit stayed paranoid while her mom was on the phone and even though she didn’t want to go alone, she ventured back to her room to grab her backpack. She still had homework to do and she knew she might as well get it out of the way. There was a sense of foreboding as she stepped through her bedroom door and she had to force herself to cross over the threshold and go over to her backpack. She paused when she felt fear tingle up her spine and before she could turn, a hand clamped over her mouth and an arm wrapped around her, pinning one of her arms to her side.

“Hello Marit.” She started fighting, screaming even though it was muffled. He pulled her over to her bed and slammed her onto the mattress, pinning her face down. “If you don’t stop, I’ll have to hurt your mother, do you understand?” She froze, tears stinging her eyes. “Shh, it’s okay, I’m not here to hurt you, I promise. Now, are you going to be good?” She nodded. “Good.” He pulled his hand away from her mouth.

“How did you get in here?” She asked.

“Last night while you were sleeping.”

“Marit?” They both looked to the door. “Marit, honey, everything alright?”

“Tell her you’re fine.” His voice was so aggressive.

She swallowed. “Fine mom, just getting my homework.” She had to get away from him, had to signal her mother that he was in the house. “If I don’t go down, she’ll come up.”

“You’ll tell her.”

“I won’t I promise, but if I don’t go down then you won’t be able to see me, right?” She didn’t dare look over her shoulder, too afraid. He finally pulled her back up.

“Fine, but if you say anything, I’ll know and I’ll hurt her, you know I will.”

“I promise.” He let her go and she moved away, finally turning around and looking him over. “I need my bag.” He grabbed it and held it out to her. “Th…thanks.”

“You come back to me soon, okay?”

“I will.” She slipped out of the room and as she started away, she could see him watching her. She went to the living room where her mother was watching TV. She quickly unzipped her back and took out her notebook and a pen.

“You okay baby?”

“Yeah, fine.” She quickly scribbled a message and tapped the page.

Maureen leaned over and read : He’s upstairs. She looked at Marit’s face and she slightly nodded. “That’s good, maybe later we can make cookies.”

“Sounds good.” She wrote another message: I’m scared. I want to leave.


#18

They were near the door, much nearer than this pedophile was. If he didn’t trust Marit to keep quite he wouldn’t have let her out. He would have forced her out the window. Plus if he was intelligent at all he would have attacked her first instead of waiting in Marits bedroom so Maureen took the gamble. She grabbed Marit tightly by the arm, snatched up her keys from the living room table and bolted out the door. Marit screamed and almost panicked when he came bolting out the door as she was still trying to get into the car. She manged to get in and her mother hit the gas hard to get out of their driveway.

She called her husband who thankfully answered right away “He was in Marits room. He’s apparently not very intelligent thank god but I was too scared to try to get the gun and go back into her room myself so he’s probably gone again now”

“what exactly happened?”

“you’ll need to ask Marit” Maureen handed the phone over. She explained the events to her father who said “alright, I love you, please give the phone back to your mother” Maureen was still going way too fast but tried to slow down as she took the phone back. “go to the police station and tell them whats happened. Don’t leave, I’m coming back there”

“okay”


#19

Marit was sitting next to Maureen and crying when Joey finally got to them. His daughter looked terrified and ashamed and he hugged both of them tightly. He didn’t even want to imagine what that man could have done to them. He obviously had had more on his mind than just talking to Marit and he was grateful that the idiot seemed so trusting of Marit. An extra chair was brought in for him and he sat on the other side of his daughter. “Why do you think he let her go?” He asked the officer who had been questioning them.

“He may have wanted to stay in her good graces or he though she would be too scared to try anything since she’s a child.” He pushed a piece of paper across the table. “Do you recognize him?”

Joey looked at the sketch of the man who had broken into his home. There was something familiar about him, but Joey couldn’t place him. “I mean he looks maybe a little familiar, but I don’t know.”

“You could have just walked past him at some point while you were out, while he was following your daughter.”

“Maybe.” He studied the face again. “If I remember anything, I’ll let you know.” He gave the sketch back. “What if he comes back?”

“We’ve already discussed posting an officer in front of and behind your house with your wife.”


#20

Joey rubbed his face “we’re supposed to go home?”

“they’ll be watching sir. Your family will be safe” Joey looked at Marit “will you be able to go home honey?”

“can I sleep with you and mom?”

“of course”

“then I think I can. He…he had to have been under my bed” Joey looked back at the cops “you had to have found somthing on that computer? Right?”

“we don’t give out incomplete information sir, I’m sorry. Why dont you just take your family home with officer Hartly and officer Gare” Joey didn’t like the idea of going home but sitting in the police department wasn’t going to help so he did what he was told. He wished he found more relief in the officers but he could so easily lose his little girl to this monster and that terrified him.