The email is from an anonymous sender: no subject, no message, just a hyperlink that makes my guts clench. This has happened to friends. It’s not safe for people like us anymore. We’ve been warned.
Why couldn’t Alex listen? He was always reckless. Sex-obsessed. One man was neverenough for him. I was never enough for him.
I click on the link and the video plays.
Alex is tied to a chair, hands behind his back. His left eye is swollen shut and his top lip is split. His front teeth are missing. He is filthy, bloody, naked.
‘Please,’ he begs, thrashing from side-to-side. ‘Please?’ The rope holds tight.
A man swaggers into view, broad-shouldered, baby-faced. They used to wear masks but not anymore; they’re heroes now. Kick: the chair tilts backwards and falls. Alex’s head smashes against the concrete floor.
I press pause. Breathe. The clock ticks: perversely calm. Ten, nine, eight, seven, six, five,
four, three, two, one. Play.
A chorus of laughter: these men are drunk on fear, heady from its fumes, having the time of their lives. Alex howls in pain, turning his face away as a stream of piss hits his cheek.
‘Sick fuck,’ the man spits. ‘Pervert.’ Another kick before strutting proudly from shot.
All is still, except for the steam that rises from my boyfriend’s body.
The video ends.
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Danny Beusch (@OhDannyBoyShhh) lives in the UK and tells stories. He spends rainy days reading Joanne Harris and Margaret Atwood novels. He started writing flash fiction in 2017.