BY: DANIEL SHEBSES
In a toxic world of peer pressure, torment, and rivalry, justice is just one click away for these three high-school underdogs. Thousands of miles apart from each other, each trapped in his own circle of hell, they find solace in a mysterious online ally named Nikki who strokes their fragile egos and urges them to realize their ultimate revenge fantasies. How far will the three outcasts go to impress the best friend they never met? Set in the grotesque and volatile e-universe, where nothing is what it seems, The Online Boys is a disturbing and psychologically authentic cyber-thriller for both bullies and victims.
TAYLOR JONES SAYS: In The Online Boys by Daniel Shebses, Nikki is an abused high-school student, bullied by some of the other students. So Nikki retreats to online teen chat rooms and meets several boys who are also bullied. The boys take comfort from Nikki’s compassion and understanding and they are the only friends that Nikki has. But when Nikki and the lost boys (sounds like a rock and roll band, doesn’t it?) finally decide to take justice into their own hands, things don’t quite turn out like they plan–or like Nikki promised.
Shebses has written a heart-wrenching and poignant story of high school bullying and the adverse effects that it can have on everyone it touches, even those who don’t participate in the bullying, but just stand by and let others do it. It’s a story that everyone should read, be they bully, victim, or bystander.
REGAN MURPHY SAYS: The Online Boys by Daniel Shebses is a realistic look at high school bullying. While it is no secret that kids can be, and often are, cruel, I doubt that few adults really understand what it is liked to bullied in high school where so much of your self-esteem is dependent on how you are treated, and viewed, by your peers. There is no question that bullying is rampant in the world today, and that few people, children or adults, are really equipped to deal with it.
Shebses give us a chilling look at what the tragic consequences can be if bullying goes unchecked. It is thought-provoking and heart-breaking tale. I was a tad disappointed in the ending, but then maybe I’m just more blood-thirsty than most.
Gregory and Nikki
Logging onto Automatic Chatting Utility…
Welcome to ACU
M@nikM@nn: Nikki you there?
TheGorgeousOne: yup, How r u greg
M@nikM@nn: no good, bad day at school
TheGorgeousOne: What happened?
TheGorgeousOne: Were u picked on
M@nikM@nn: yea like every day. How do you stand it? Are girls as mean as boys?
TheGorgeousOne: I may be a girl, but boys and girls hate me
M@nikM@nn: Your the only girl that talks to me. I’m glad we found each other online
TheGorgeousOne: one day we’ll get them all! We can’t help being who we are
M@nikM@nn: Yeah, I’m kinda spazzy and all but Im a good guy. I’m sure you’re a nice girl in real life too.
TheGorgeousOne: I could of been nice, now I hate them all!
M@nikM@nn: Yeah, I could of been to. now I hate them. Today they made fun of me for talking to myself at my locker. It helps me remember things. And if I don’t do something right I have to do it again.
TheGorgeousOne: Its not your fault, I don’t fit in, but now I don’t try. I have friends online like you.
M@nikM@nn: yeah I’m glad I have you to talk to. My mom is always busy and stuff. I like talking online anyway. its hard to talk to people in the face. Im not good at it.
TheGorgeousOne: That’s what makes me so angry for you. Nasty boys see a shy boy like you and pick on him for it. Nasty boys!
M@nikM@nn: They push me call me retard, throw my books on the floor sometimes they hit me in the head and say It will help me. I cant do anything.
TheGorgeousOne: Don’t worry, we are both smarter than them. Eventually we’ll get them.
M@nikM@nn: When? I have a gun, My dad left it when he left I know where it is
TheGorgeousOne: PLeaeeazze, stay calm sweety, I know your hurting. Me too but it isn’t the right time. Be patient and trust me. Do you trust me?
M@nikM@nn: yes I trust you. You’re the only one I trust you’re the only one who cares about me
TheGorgeousOne: I know your hurting sweety. I love you Everything is so unfair but for the moment I want you to relax and play your videogames. Your good at that and it makes you happy.
M@nikM@nn: It’s the only thing im good at nothing else.
TheGorgeousOne: not true. You make me laugh and you make me happy by talking to me. Isn’t that important?
M@nikM@nn: yeah it is, you make me happy too, can you come to Odessa ny to meet me?
TheGorgeousOne: Sorrry Sweety Im stuck in bumblescum Ohio
M@nikM@nn: lol you mean Parkins Ohio
TheGorgeousOne: I like my name better
M@nikM@nn: me too
TheGorgeousOne: I have to get my beauty sleep now. R U feeling better?
M@nikM@nn: I guess goodnight
TheGorgeousOne: G’Night sweety play your video games to relax
M@nikM@nn: ok luv ya
TheGorgeousOne is offline
Gregory Manink stepped away from his bedroom computer, feeling a bit more content. Chatting with Nikki always put him in a better mood after a miserable day at school. Although he was tolerated by some, she was his only friend, having met in a teen chat room several months earlier. She was his only experience with girls, as most would just roll their eyes at him and giggle with contempt. One day when he worked up the courage, he would ask Nikki to be his girlfriend, if only online. She might agree to it, Gregory told himself. She was alone too. Maybe they could even play video games together online and pretend the nasty people who taunted them so mercilessly were the bad guys. Gregory smiled. How he would love to be able to embrace her hand in one of his, while having a gun in the other.
Video games would calm his nerves. They always did. But first, he had to use the bathroom. Before leaving his bedroom, with his right thumb and middle finger, he flicked each finger on his left hand, starting with the left thumb and ending at the pinky. Once this task was completed, he used his left thumb and middle finger and completed the same ritual to each digit on the right hand, thumb to pinky. After fulfilling the second round of finger flips, he tapped his bedroom doorknob the required four times before opening it, and only then stepped out into the hall.
In between his room and the bathroom was his mother’s home office where she worked day in and day out. It was after 8 p.m. and still she toiled. She made good money, but it was rare that she exited except for bathroom breaks and mail deliveries requiring a signature. The aroma of pre-packaged food crept from the office, as her desk usually doubled as her kitchen table, and a small microwave her cook. Gregory ate alone most nights with only the television as company, well, the television, video games, and Nikki.
Gregory thought he caught the pungent odor of overcooked broccoli as he stepped into the bathroom. So focused was he on the broccoli’s stench, that only after he unzipped his pants did Gregory realize his error. Beads of sweat emerged across his forehead and he turned back to the doorway, horrified by his mistake. He hadn’t been paying attention and now was on the verge of a full blown panic. Had he entered the bathroom left foot first or right foot first? He couldn’t remember, and he cursed his stupidity. Things had to be done properly. Which foot had he stepped into the bathroom with first? It should have been the right foot, but it could have been the left, and now his breathing quickened.
This wouldn’t do at all. All bathrooms had to be entered right foot first! That was the proper way of doing things and it must be done. He zipped up his pants and stepped out of the bathroom. Once back in the hall, he relaxed a bit, realizing he had not urinated yet and could still correct himself. With a deep breath, he stepped back into the bathroom, right foot first. He smiled. Everything was proper now and he went about his business.
On returning to his bedroom, he casually entered left foot first. It didn’t matter which foot entered a bedroom first, or a kitchen, or classroom, or any other room. Only bathrooms had to be entered right foot first. He closed the bedroom door, careful to remember the mandatory four taps on the knob.
Before playing video games, he decided to change into his pajamas. First, he pulled off his T-shirt and, biting his lip, threw it across the room toward the open hamper. Thankfully, it soared in. He had only one shot to get the shirt into the hamper, otherwise he’d have a sleepless night.
Next, he removed his pants and threw them toward the hamper, this time missing. Gregory sighed. It may not have been as dire to get the pants into the hamper in one shot as it was the shirt, but missing was annoying, none the less. He walked over to the side of the hamper where his pants had landed, picked them up, and walked back across the room. A second shot and another miss annoyed Gregory further. He walked back over, picked up his pants, and then returned to his shooting position. The third time was the charm and the pants now rested in the hamper. Finally, he pulled off his socks and boxers, gave the socks a good tug at each end, and walked them over to the hamper. Shirts and pants must always be thrown into the hamper, while socks and underwear could just be dropped in. That was the proper way of doing things.
Not wanting to be naked for very long, he opened his pajama drawer. Since tonight was Tuesday, that meant he would wear his red bed time shorts and T-shirt. After donning them, he looked farther into the drawer seeing his Wednesday black shorts and T-shirt as well as his Thursday blue shorts and T-shirt.
Friday would be red again, while Saturday, Sunday, and Monday he would wear his gray shorts and T-shirt. Gregory smiled at the propriety of his pajama drawer.
Now in his pajamas, it was time to get busy with his video games. He loved them and he was good, very good. Nobody, save the anonymous gamers he went up against online, had any inkling of the kind of talent he possessed. Well, maybe the demons and aliens, and enemy soldiers he killed on a daily basis had a clue. They knew well. Sometimes he wondered how many murders he committed while playing his video games–hundreds, thousands, more? He could not be sure, but he definitely had spilled much virtual blood.
His library of games was extensive and he had all the various gaming systems needed to play any of them, from XBOX360 though GameCube and of course PlayStation 3. Video games made everything right naturally without any need for a proper way of doing things. He could just plug in the game and let the slaughter begin without worrying about his required rituals.
Now which one should he play? The Warriors, or NARC, or Killer 7, maybe Gears of War, 50 Cent: Bulletproof, Thrill Kill, Halo, Resident Evil, Halflife, Mad World? Perhaps, True Crime NYC, or Postal 2, or Hitman, Shadow Heart, Manhunt, or Solider of Fortune, God of War, Grand Theft Auto, Quake, or Crime Life: Gang War 3, Mortal Combat, or Doom, Driver, Duke Nukem 3D, Dead Rising, Wolfenstein, Blood, Requiem: Avenging Angel, The Punisher, or Silent Hill: Homecoming, Phantasmagoria, Reservoir Dogs, Mafia II, Counter Strike, Shell Shock 2, Aliens Vs. Predator, Left 4 Dead 2, The Getaway.
Wide eyed, Gregory sported a rare smile, turned away, and grabbed a game at random. To hell with being proper! He gazed back to see that Doom was the lucky winner and he slipped it into his XBOX. Within seconds, he was killing dozens of demons a minute. No mercy, no remorse, simply beautiful blood and death for all who got in his way. Machine guns, rocket launchers, and gorgeous imaginary videogame weapons were his to control, his to slaughter with. These demons were no match for him. He was too good, too strong, too well armed. His body count rose by the second, followed by absolute ecstasy.
© 2015 by Daniel Shebses