The Online Boyfriend is a creepy chain mail about a girl who fears that she is being followed home. She tells her online boyfriend about it, but he says she is just being paranoid.
Shannon could hear the footsteps behind her as she walked towards her home. The thought of being followed made her heart beat faster and faster.
“I’m just being silly,” she told herself. “Nobody is following me.”
To be safe, she began to walk faster, but the footsteps kept pace with her. She was afraid to look behind her and she was glad she was almost home.
“Please let me get home safe and sound,” she thought.
Shannon saw the porch light was on and she leaned against the door for a moment, relieved to be in the safety of her own home. She glanced out the window to see if anyone was there. The sidewalk was empty.
After tossing her books on the sofa, she decided to grab a snack. Then, she switched on her laptop and went online. She logged on under her screen name LonelyGirl13.
Checking her list of friends, she saw that CuteGuy14 was on. He was her online boyfriend. They had been dating for more than a month. Although they had never seen each other in person, they were planning to meet up during the school holidays.
She decided to send him an instant message:
LonelyGirl13: Hi. Glad you are on! I thought someone was following me home today. It was really weird!
CuteGuy14: LOL You watch too many horror movies. Why would someone be following you? I thought you told me you lived in a safe neighborhood?
LonelyGirl13: Of course I do. LOL I guess it was just my imagination. I didn’t see anybody when I looked out the window.
CuteGuy14: You’re just being paranoid.
LonelyGirl13: I guess so. For a while there, I was worried I had a stalker.
CuteGuy14: That’s not possible. Unless you gave your real name out online. You haven’t done that have you?
LonelyGirl13: Of course not. I’m not stupid you know.
CuteGuy14: Cool. So how was school today?
LonelyGirl13: We played softball and my team won!!
CuteGuy14: That’s great! Who did you play?
LonelyGirl13: We played the Asheville Hornets. LOL. Their uniforms are so gross! They look like bees. LOL
CuteGuy14: LOL. What’s your team called?
LonelyGirl13: The Canton Wildcats. We have tiger paws on our uniforms. They’re
CuteGuy14: Nice. Did you pitch?
LonelyGirl13: No I play second base. Lucky number 7. Anyway, I got to go. Gotta finish my homework before my parents get home.
CuteGuy14: What time do they get home?
LonelyGirl13: Usually around 8.
CuteGuy14: Aw! Do you really have to go?
LonelyGirl13: Sorry. I don’t want my folks to get mad and ground me or something. Bye!
CuteGuy14: OK. Catch you tomorrow. Missing you already.
LonelyGirl13: I love you. Bye!
CuteGuy14: I love you too, Baby. Talk to you later.
Shannon signed out and shut down her laptop. With a sigh, she opened her bag and took out her school books.
Meanwhile, CuteGuy14 was still online. He searched for her profile and when it came up, he took out a pen and began to write down what he had learned about LonelyGirl13 so far.
First name: Shannon
Birthday: Jan. 3, 2000
Hobbies: Softball, singing, skating and going to the mall.
Where she lives: Somewhere in North Carolina
Besides this information, he jotted down some more pieces of information. She probably lived in Canton. He also knew she was alone in the house every afternoon when she came home from school. Her parents got home from work at 7 PM. He knew she would be playing softball on Thursday afternoons for her school team was the Canton Wildcats. Her favorite number 7 was printed on her jersey. He knew she was in the eight grade at the Canton Junior High School. She had told him all of this in the previous conversations they had online.
He had enough information to find her now.
When Shannon’s parents came home from work, she didn’t tell them about her fears that someone had been following her home from the ball park that day. She didn’t want them to make a scene and stop her from walking home on her own. Her parents were always overreacting and she didn’t want to give them an excuse. It made her wish she was not an only child. Maybe if she had an older brother or sister, her parents wouldn’t be so overprotective.
By the next Thursday, Shannon was playing softball and had forgotten all about the footsteps following her. The game was in full swing when, all of a sudden, she got the strangest feeling that someone staring at her. It was then that she glanced up from her second base position to see a man standing on the sideline. He was watching her closely.
The man was leaning against the fence, behind first base and when she looked at him, their eyes met and he smiled. He didn’t look at all scary and she quickly dismissed the fear she had felt.
After the game, the man was still there while she was talking to the coach. She noticed him smile at her once again as she walked past.
He knew he had found her. Quietly, he walked a safe distance behind her. It was only a few blocks to Shannon’s home, and once he saw where she lived he quickly returned to the park to get his car. Now. all he had to was wait until the time was right to make his move.
That evening, Shannon was in her bedroom, doing her homework, when she heard voices in the living room.
“Shannon, get down here,” her father called. He sounded upset and she couldn’t imagine why. She walked downstairs and went into the living room. She was shocked to see the man who had been watching her at the ballpark. He was sitting on the sofa.
“Sit down, Shannon,” said her father. “This man has just told us a very interesting story about you.”
Shannon sat on a chair. How could he tell her parents anything about her? she thought. She had never seen him before today!
“Do you know who I am, Shannon?” the man asked.
“No,” she answered nervously.
“Well, I’m your online boyfriend,” he replied.
Shannon was stunned. “That’s impossible!” she cried. “You’re not CuteGuy14! You’re more than twice my age!”
“It’s true,” said the man. “I’m also a police officer.”
“But it can’t be!” she cried. “CuteGuy14 is only 14 and he lives in Michigan!”
The man smiled. “I know I told you all that, but it wasn’t true. You see, Shannon, I pretended to be the same age as you because I wanted to trick you. Some people do that so they can find kids and do terrible things to them… hurt them… kill them… and much worse. I did it because I want to protect kids like you from those online predators. I came here to find you and to teach you a lesson. I wanted you to see how dangerous it is to talk to people online. Every day, while we were chatting, you let slip enough information about yourself to make it very easy for me to track you down. You gave me your first name and you told me the school you go to.You even gave me the name of your softball team and the position you play. The number on your jersey just made finding you a breeze.”
Shannon was stunned. “You mean you don’t live in Michigan?”
He laughed. “No, I live in Raleigh. It made you feel safe to think I was
so far away, didn’t it?”
“I had a friend whose daughter was like you,” he said gravely. “The only difference was that she wasn’t so lucky. She had an online boyfriend too. The guy found her and murdered her while she was home alone. Kids are taught not to tell anyone when they are alone, yet they do it all the time online. The wrong people can trick you into giving out information… A little here and a little there… Before you know it, you’ve told them enough for them to find you. I hope you’ve learned a lesson from all of this… Tell your friends so they will be safe too, OK?”