“His name should be… Augustus Payne…”
“Holy shit, Mike.”
I covered my mouth to muffle my laughter as my friend typed in the name. He grinned as he contemplated what to put next. “We’re a millionaire…”
“We own a houseboat…”
“We love walks on the beach…”
“Holy shit Mike, you are putting way too much effort into this!”
Mike laughed and sat back in the desk chair, steepling his fingers. “Hey man. If this gets us nudes, it’s worth it,” He said.
I had to agree. I took a sip of my soda and thought for a second. “Augustus also writes poetry. He’s looking to get published,” I offered up.
“Chase, you beautiful bastard. I could kiss you.”
I grinned before I went back to looking through profiles on a modeling website. This was probably one of the stupider ideas Mike has ever come up with, pretend to be this hot guy to get some hot girls to talk to us, but there were stupider ways to spend a Friday night.
I stopped scrolling when I saw this model with some European name I couldn’t pronounce. Generic hot white guy, high cheek bones, ruffled dark brown hair, light stubble. Perfect for what we needed. “Hey man, I found a face for Augustus.” I turned my phone so Mike could look.
Mike nodded. “Got it, gimme a sec to play in photoshop though. Just to touch him up.”
“He’s a fucking model, Mike, what kind of touching up does he need?”
Apparently ‘touching up’ meant changing a few backgrounds, adding a small scar under ‘Augustus’ lip, and turning his dark brown eyes very bright blue. I had to admit, Mike was good. If I didn’t know better I’d say I was looking at a real person.
Mike added the pics to the profile and sat back.
“And now, we wait.”
We didn’t have to wait long. One round of Overwatch later and Mike was shouting, “We got a girl! Holy shit she’s hot!”
I had to disagree. ‘Justine’ could afford to lose a few pounds and had a bit of a lazy eye, but Mike was focusing on one thing… er, two things if you get the hint of my drift.
“So, Justine…” Mike spoke aloud as he typed. “What do you think about sailing?”
I snorted. The poor girl ate every line up. Mike wasn’t exactly a looker, given he was thirty pounds overweight and had a serious case of pizza face, but he had one thing on me and that was he knew how to schmooze. Meanwhile I looked okay, but I was terrible with the ladies. I’d get this terrible stutter and forget my own name.
An hour in and I was already bored, wanting to go kick some more ass as Genji, but Mike was just getting started.
He had jotted down the password for the account. He pressed it into my hand and grinned.
“Get some practice talking to chicks. It might do you some good.”
The next morning I picked out Janette. She was a little older, past forty, but I figured a hot guy like Augustus would get her attention. Plus, I like them mature. I sent off a message telling her hello and complimented her necklace.
Aren’t I a little old for you, sweetie?
The best part about online messaging, I found out super quickly? I could take my time formulating a decent response.
I don’t think the age difference is a big deal, really. You’re like what, thirty two?
I patted myself on the back for that one. And Janette’s response declared me the winner.
We’ll go with that. Feel like sharing your poetry with me, Augustus dear?
I thought I’d drop this within a day, maybe two or three. But as days went on, I met more and more amazing girls. There was Janette of course. We’d sext at around three AM, which I was a bit clumsy with at first but thankfully she seemed to brush it off. Valarie was a cheerleader at a nearby college, very perky and I didn’t have to ask twice for boob pics. She sent me a lot more than that. Patti was a starving artist who liked to smoke weed and talk about her newest vision with me.
It was so much fun.
Mike had a few girls I noticed he’d talk to frequently, Lauren, Heidi, Mallory, but as an unspoken rule to each other we never looked at each other’s conversations. Some things were best left to the imagination.
Course when stuff really got good I got fucking mono. Yup. Mister ‘never kissed a girl’ clearly drank from the wrong water fountain and was out for the count for three weeks. I was in no mood to talk to girls or even look at nudes. I was just not up for it. I told Mike he better have fun without me and he laughed.
When I finally felt better, I decided to see if I could repair any of the relationships I’d let grow cold. I logged onto quite the surprise though.
My conversations had seemingly continued on at normal.
I snapped out of feeling sorry for myself to read through the conversations. It was like nothing had changed. ‘Augustus’ conversed with these women as normal, sharing new poetry and sending body shots from new modeling shoots.
I got annoyed. Mike had gone through my convos, which is something I hadn’t specified he not do, but it was a little uncomfortable to say the least. I was practicing my dirty talk on these chicks! Not cool man. Not cool.
Then I read the last messages sent to Valarie.
I’ll meet you on the lakeshore. We can take a swim.
hehehe! maybe a lil skinny dipping 😉
We’ll have to see, my pixie. I imagine you look even more ravishing in person. I can’t wait to meet you.
I slammed my laptop shut and picked up my phone. Furiously I punched in Mike’s number and waited for him to pick up.
A few rings and he answered, “What’s up my man? Still dead?”
“Dude, are you serious?”
I could hear Mike pause what he was doing. “Serious about what?” He asked.
I wanted to pitch my phone across the room. “You’re meeting Valarie? I don’t think she’s gonna not notice that you’re not six foot six with washboard abs!”
Mike paused. “Dude, the fuck you talking about?”
“The dating website, you moron!”
He was quiet for a bit before he laughed. “Seriously? Chase I’ve not been on there in days. Too busy trying to find a new roommate. You up for that by the way? I know you’re kinda jobless but we could make it work!”
Too irritated to play games, I hung up and went to bed. I still felt pretty fucked up and I wasn’t in the mood to be awake anymore.
The next morning I scrolled through my Facebook feed to be barraged with news of a murder.
“Isn’t it terrible? She was only twenty one!”
“She had so much to live for.”
“She had a FULL RIDE through college! Who could do this to her?”
I was confused. We might’ve lived in a college town, but other than the vandalism during pledge week it was pretty quiet. Murder was unheard of. I clicked to an article where the victim was named.
It was Valarie. But not quite the Valarie I knew.
She had the same smile, but she was a little chubbier, wore glasses, had not as shiny and full hair… and she was in a wheelchair.
I scrolled through the photos she’d sent me, I’d never realized I hadn’t ever seen her standing up before. I was more focused on other body parts… which were a little touched up. Something I hadn’t bothered to notice.
And yeah, it was murder. She was dragged into the lake and drowned. She didn’t stand a chance.
I looked up news from the past few weeks. Although another murder hadn’t rocked my town, there were quite a few missing girls and dead bodies in cities surrounding us. And I began to piece together who each one was.
Patti wasn’t a stoner, she was a meth addict and apparently got more money for drugs by whoring herself out. Mallory, one of Mike’s girls, didn’t have a yacht, she was apparently an avid canoe lover though. Lauren was ten years older than the pictures she posted. I could go on and on.
My best friend had gone serial killer on me. All these girls we’d talked to, they were maybe as fake as we were, but Mike had apparently taken personal offense to that.
I was wondering what the hell I could do when I realized that I was getting messaged by Janette… and I was apparently messaging her back.
“So, tonight? At the docks?”
“I cannot wait, Augustus. I’m going to be honest with you though.”
“I’m… working on separating with my husband. It’s a very tough process, given our kids and all, so it isn’t legal yet.”
“Ah. I see. You omitted the truth… some might call that lying.”
“Is our date still on?”
My heart was pounding in my ears. I had to stop this. Janette was actually a great person, I couldn’t let her get killed by my friend turned psycho.
I hurriedly began to type out a warning.
Janette don’t go it’s a trap!
When I hit send, my stomach dropped as the message didn’t go through. No matter how many times I tried, over and over, the message wouldn’t send. I must’ve sent a dozen warnings before I realized that Janette had gone offline.
Not sure what else to do, I got on my bike and began pedaling.
It was dark by the time I got to the docks, where Augustus supposedly kept his boat. I figured this is where Mike meant. I knew Mike was seriously out of shape, so I had the advantage. All I had to do was get him away from Janette and she could run and call the cops.
I ran down the dock. Where the hell was Mike? I knew he didn’t own a boat, the guy worked at McDonald’s. Did he borrow someone’s? Heck, was he even on a boat?
I skidded to a stop when I read the name off of one of them.
I don’t know why that name caught my eye, but then I heard the water splashing. Not just the soft splashes of it washing on the dock. The kind where someone’s thrashing about and trying to escape.
I ran down the docks, searching for the source, when I caught a figure kneeling out of the corner of my eye. I stopped and flashed the light on my phone on him.
The man was leaned over the edge of the deck, pushing someone’s head below the water. Someone who was no longer struggling. I could make out a dark blue jacket, I recognized it as Janette’s from her profile picture. The man stood, kicked her body into the ocean, and faced me.
I dropped my phone when I saw his face. It smash and the dock and the light went dead.
We were quiet. Then he walked forward. I couldn’t move. My legs were frozen. I could only make out his muscled silhouette in the dim moonlight. He was ten feet away. Then five. Then he was right in front of me.
I recognized that face, those eerily blue eyes. He leaned in close to me, smiling.
He clapped a hand on my shoulder. His grip was like iron.
“I got rid of another liar for you. Don’t worry, you won’t have to deal with it. Keep trying, I’m sure you’ll find me a mother soon.”
And with that, Augustus hopped onto the Narcissusand sailed away into the night.