Illustrated by Anushka Ghushe
97 Retweets, 158 comments, 346 likes. Tap to see all notifications.
Mark’s half-opened eyes could barely make out the blue bird next to the text he was reading. He rubbed his eyes and slowly rolled onto his back so he could comfortably browse his smartphone. His fingers tapped on the blue bird, putting Mark in an alternate world of text, videos, and images. But he was more interested in the attention his tweet had garnered overnight. It was simple; ‘Taylor really showed Chris Pine who’s the boss with that last line. True queen!’ But the reception was extraordinary. Since the duo’s break up the night before, Mark’s tweet has been blowing up across the platform. He chuckled a little as his phone continuously vibrated in his palm. A phone call from ‘Work’ abruptly brought him back to reality. He looked at the time and cursed as he sprung up to get ready.
Mark checked in at 9:53 that day, almost an hour late like always. He knew he could get fired if he kept it up, but it didn’t bother him. All he could think of were the countless notifications that were filling his screen. Mark mindlessly shared pleasantries with his coworkers as he made his way to his station. Some even complimented him for his recent fame, to which Mark blushed like a young girl being handed flowers. His substitute, forced to work extra almost everyday, cursed at him for being late again. Mark ignored him and took over to continue grilling patties.
The phone in his pocket vibrated every other minute. The 7-inch brick in his pocket was calling out to him. He tried to take a peek a few times but it resulted in burning four patties. He silently disposed of them before he could be fined for it. Mark glanced at the clock on the wall. Seven minutes left for lunch break, he told himself to suppress his cravings. Once the dreaded seven minutes passed, Mark swiftly took off all the patties from the grill and urgently passed the spatula to his coworker. He rushed outside and pulled a cigarette out. He lit the paper-wrapped tobacco and switched the lighter in his hand with the phone which had been crying out for him. His phone read:
872 Retweets, 910 comments, 3231 likes. Tap to see all notifications.
A smile crept onto his face, spanning from one ear to another. Mark furiously tapped his screen to reply to as many comments as he could, but suddenly, a wave of notifications started to overwhelm him. The phone vibrated out of control, as if it was possessed. Confused, he tried to read the rapid notifications, leading him to a retweet to his original post. The message read: “I can’t with these Swifties anymore. They really think that that trust-fund baby is talented LOL!”
The tweet instantly gained popularity, exponentially rising in likes, retweets, and other KPIs imaginable. Fans hurled verbal abuses in the comments, motivating Mark to join the mob. He checked the account and found the owner to be a 15-year-old boy. Who does he think he is? Mark asked himself with a frown on his face. A mixed feeling of annoyance and anger slowly started to fill his bloodstream as he kept posting comments to defend his celebrity. Multiple other accounts displayed their support with likes and direct messages. He was once again brought back to reality when the cigarette scarred his finger as it burned out. He took a glimpse at the time and rushed back to the kitchen as fast as he could. But before he could reach the door, it opened from the other side, revealing his boss.
“You’re fired. Go home.” He said with a straight face.
“But I was only taking a break!” Mark defended himself.
“You’ve been out for almost 30 minutes. Breaks are only for 10. And you’ve been consistently late for the past two weeks.” His boss replied calmly.
Mark’s expressionless face stared back in response. The longer he tried to process the information, the lesser it became significant to him. His mind could not get over the “trust-fund baby”. It picked on his nerves, slowly brewing a concoction of emotions inside him.
“Go home, Mark.” His boss added, before returning to the kitchen.
Mark threw his apron on the floor and hurried back to his car. That’s the fourth job in the past four weeks. The system is rigged, he said to himself. He hopped into his car and continued using his phone. From the sea of messages in his inbox, he spots one from an account named “ogrocks2008”, the same account that tweeted the tweet that was vexing him.
“You sure do talk a lot for a Swiftie. You ain’t shit boy. If you got balls, why don’t you pull up like a real man and stop crying on the phone?”
The message was riddled with emojis, and it was directly calling him out. A feeling of rage took over him like a wave, raising his body temperature like a boiling kettle. He forwarded the account’s name to his friend and texted him: “Yo, can you hook me up real quick? I need this guy’s address. He’s been running his mouth all day and I wanna see him face to face.”
Mark patiently waited for his friend in the car while he replied to other messages and comments except the one from @ogrocks2008. Mark’s original tweet had gained over 10,000 likes and 5,000 comments since its inception. He was on top of the world, and nothing was going to bring him down. The notification bar read 1 new message from @jamiestriumph. The wait was over.
“You know I can’t just doxx him like that. C’mon man.”
Disappointed by the reply, Mark tried again. “He’s just a kid, I only wanna talk to him obviously. Plus, you owe me one for that link. So, help me out here, okay?”
Mark nervously tapped his feet on the pedals. The sun set slowly, painting Mark’s eager face first orange, then deep pink. His phone pinged.
“Alright. It’s 1154 Church Kings Road, Michigan. Should be thirty-minutes away from your place. Don’t creep the kid out please.”
Mark acknowledged and thanked his friend. He stared at the address for a minute. That’s fifteen-minutes from here, he thinks to himself. He shook his head and resumed scrolling on his phone, which lit the car with its blue light. As he scrolled, he was met by many motivating comments.
Someone shut this kid for real now!
How this kid be dissing our queen bruh!!
They’re right. How can @ogrocks2008 talk trash about his idol? Mark turned the key and started his drive to 1154 Church Kings Road.
Thirteen minutes away, not fifteen. He thought to himself as he parked a block away from his destination. The streets were oddly empty; you would usually find some drunk teens running about. But the night was eerily still. Mark stared at the lifeless house from his car. He waited there in the darkness with his drug for almost two hours before the neighborhood had some activity. A boy of around 17 walked out of 1154 Church Kings Road in his hoodie, visibly high or under some substance. Mark opened his phone to check @ogrocks2008’s account. Furiously scrolling through a myriad of text, pictures, and videos, trying to find a match. Mark paused at a video the boy posted on his way to school. He glanced up and found a perfect match. He promptly started the car and started moving toward the boy who was walking away from him. His breaths were controlled and calm, like someone who knew exactly what he was gonna do.
As the distance between them shortened, adrenaline pumped through Mark’s bloodstream, he was starting to get excited. He pressured the pedal as he pulled out a black 1911 pistol from the glovebox. He lowered his window and sped up, keeping the pistol steady in his hands. The car revved steadily as he got closer to him, before Mark was almost parallel to the lonely boy. He sharply stopped the car and drew out his gun, inches away from the boy’s chest. The boy stopped dead in his tracks and looked into the perpetrator with fear in his eyes. Mark stared back at the boy, his pistol still steady with his fingers on the trigger. The first shot was the worst; the boy gasped silently as the bullet went through him. He looked down to see a bloody wound, but he could not comprehend what was going on. Before his brain could piece all the information together, the second shot went inches above the first, instantly allowing blood to flood his ruptured lungs. The boy could only look up at the man in hopeless pain as his body slowly moved onto its next phase. Mark pulled the trigger again, dropping the boy to the ground. He fired the gun one last time before keeping his gun back in the glovebox. He got out and quickly took a few pictures of the lifeless body. Mark went to get a closer angle of the blood oozing out of the clothed lump of meat. Once he was satisfied, he quickly got into this car and sped away.
Once he was home, he casually washed his hands and face and got into his bed. The night was late, but the platform never sleeps. He logged into his account and started a new post with image attachments. The caption read: You’re not talking much now are ya?
He proudly posted the pictures of the now deceased @ogrocks2008 into his world.
It only took mere minutes before his images blew up. People liked, commented, and retweeted the images rapidly. The tweet spread like wildfire. Words of gratitude and appraisal filled Mark’s inbox. Along with the countless red hearts, people were thanking him for doing a good deed for their community. Mark had never felt this alive before. He slowly let himself get lost in his fantasy world of likes and retweets, giving into the addiction. As Mark peacefully slipped into sleep later at night, @ogrocks2008 laid on the sidewalks crowded by the police and ambulances, his face paler than before. As the paramedics were treating him, his phone continuously vibrated in his pocket from all the tags and mentions on his viral video online.