THE MANDATORY SIX, Part Two: Jasmine North 9/17 | 3:47 p.m.


Jasmine’s eyes ached from staring at the open message. It had been at least an hour now. Just staring.

Ella:  Hey Jasmine. You don’t know me. Have you heard of David Youngstone? Have you seen this?

Below the message, a video was embedded in the chat. She’d watched it over ten times now. There was a man’s voice, barely audible beneath the screams from bystanders. It sounded familiar, but she couldn’t think of why. It tormented her.

Below the video, the text read:

Ella:  I don’t mean to alarm you, but David Youngstone was here on a mission to save YOU. He said he was from the future. He told us about the earthquake and warned that you’re in danger.

A few times, the typing bubble appeared and then vanished. Appeared and then vanished. Jasmine’s body surged with adrenaline every time.

This had to be some sort of experimental marketing campaign. She checked through the blinds and then the peephole to make sure there wasn’t a film crew waiting to get her reaction to being invited to “survive” some silly game. It’d been months since her last conversation, in person or online. She couldn’t handle small talk, let alone whatever the hell you’d call this.

There was no one she could see, so she returned to the computer and sat there attempting to breathe. Her fingers hovered over the keys.

Jasmine:  Whatever this is, I’m not interested.

Ella:  Someone wants to hurt you. He didn’t say who. But we think if we change your path, we can help you avoid getting hurt.

She checked her message requests every day, body burning with equal parts hope and terror. Noland was friendly. It seemed he might think to look her up on social media just for the sake of saying hello like a nice neighbor. Yet, he never had. And now here she was, sweating everywhere, going through something that could’ve avoided had she not chased that sliver of hope.

The typing bubble appeared.

Ella: He said someone was going to kill you.

 It made Jasmine laugh, which was maybe her third laugh this week. The other two had been produced by her favorite comedy show. Sometimes, books and TV were an escape, but the hollow pit inside was worsening, its echo destroying the equilibrium of her mind and body. She had so many holes, out of which spilled a quiet ceasing. She was a victim in one of those super-sick horror movies, trapped in a glass chamber filling an inch or two a minute. She might have been dying, but not for David Youngstone’s reason. It took self-esteem to believe someone would bother murdering you.

Jasmine laughed again, shaking her head. She hovered over the keys a moment more.

Jasmine: Let them.


Discover more of the story in BEYOND MY DYING MIND, available now on Amazon.

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