Two bodies lay in a tangled heap in the middle of the floor. Abused, used up, broken. They were our friends. Beloved and treasured. A part of something truly special. It’s difficult to express just what amount of love we had for them, especially after all these years. And now they’re gone. It doesn’t mean we won’t love them anymore, it just means we won’t be able to love them in the same way. We’ll have to get creative. In the corner, there’s a third. Still mostly whole. Eyes wide and wondering. Poor little Pauly. He had no idea what he was getting into when he joined up, he held on as long as he could. But I think the final reveal has done him in.

Sam and Andy, the bodies, were no more or less than anyone in the group. There’s no particular reason that they were on the receiving end of any of this instead of the giving. Luck of the draw, maybe. Or unluck. Depending on your point of view. It could have just as easily been anyone else. The way the group mentality works, nobody is safe.

It’s been 50 years since our original vile words scrolled by in the white and green window of a chat program. A lot has changed since then. Great leaps in technology have introduced new ways of seeing the world, and similarly fantastic bounds in medical science and anti-aging systems have provided longevity in which to further explore the debauched processes of our brains. And that’s just to name two major changes, to list the rest would take a year. What hasn’t changed, though, is the twisted ways our minds work. Not just us, obviously, but the whole world. You can’t have something like advanced tech and not dying without things getting more fucked. Us, well. We’ve taken it much darker than anyone else, probably.

We’ve never – we, as in this immediate group – had what would be considered normal interactions with one another. Violent sexual expressions of affection, verbal abuse. Anybody reading over our shoulders would have thought we hated one another. We spat such noxious venom that our sanity was questioned. When we giggled at what one of our compatriots typed in, we’d get strange looks. When we tried to share a particular image, those looks would turn into sheer disgust. It was – is – difficult for people to understand that you can like somebody and still talk to them in such ways. In fact, there was a time when one of our number, Seth – a firefighter, was taken into safe custody by his chief after a particularly brutal round of birthday wellwishing. It took him three days to explain to authorities that he wasn’t the victim of a sex slave gang bang cartel.

The best part was knowing he had to detail for cops and councilors alike what an “anoose” was and that nobody had abused his to the point of permanent prolapse.

Ours was – is – a group of non-Politically Correct, crass, raunchy, degenerate motherfuckers. Not literally. Well. Maybe in some cases. Or so we’ve probably claimed. We’ve all been friends for many years, our webbing interlacing through one another. We hung out together when we were much younger – before cellphones were even a regular thing – and some of us grew up together. Not that the causal outside observer would see that. I can’t remember a time when we weren’t like this. Obviously it’s escalated deliciously. The advances in technology have only made our chats more interesting. There are implants that transfer thoughts directly into the program we use, and for our group we’ve all turned off every filter there is. It’s a steady stream of innuendo-less filth from all sides.

It was bound to escalate. What started out words became pictures, to gifs. Short movies. We took it farther and farther every passing day, pressing the limits of what we’d shared before. So it’s no surprise to any of us, even the two who got the brunt of it, maybe a little to Paulyboy, that this has happened.

The silence in the room is broken by the wet peeling of latex being removed from skin. Standing over the entwined legs is our sole female compatriot. Some may have thought there couldn’t be such a creature, a girl who could withstand the barrage of defilement, let alone hold her own in our ranks. But honestly, she might be the worst one. She’s contributed some of the most disturbing interactions in our chat, and the twisted fantasies that stream from her mind have been enough to shock even us at times.

She drops the bloodied, fluid soaked gloves on Josh, who is laying spent but not used up at my feet. Her hand waves at him dismissively, and she mutters that he’ll have to wait, she has to get to work. I tell her I’ll take care of cleanup, and begin to unhook John and Greg from the human centipede-like contraption that somebody once built as a joke. It held up pretty well, though I can see we won’t be able to use it again.

This isn’t the end. Two of the group are down for good, but seven remain. Who knows what will happen next, who will get the short straw. What will be done. It could be any one of us. Even me.

Flash fiction: Read me


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