In honour of today being National Flash Fiction Day here is a flash from our man Clive Birnie.

How Twitter Stole His Life

It started when he tried to link Twitter to Gtalk.

He followed the instructions. But it didn’t work. A dud. Nothing.

So he went back to the beginning of the process and started again.

Nope. Didn’t work. So he tried again. And again. And again.

He was patient. Its one of those things. When you are a certain age you have grown up as the technology has grown up. You are used to things being kinda buggy and a certain amount of pointless repetition is a normal IT experience. It’s just how things are.

After the fifteenth, maybe twentieth time though, he gave up. Moved on. Thought nothing of it.

Days passed. Weeks passed. Life went on. He lived, he twittered, he blogged. Played the odd game of Scrabble on Facebook. Left some snarky comments on some blogs. Didn’t get sued or anything. He even posted some topless beach shots of an old girlfriend on his Tumblr.

“That’ll teach her!” He sniggered.

But then he noticed a quiet change. His Twitter followers were ebbing away. One here. One there. A quiet trickle.

“Oh well.” He shrugged, “Its not as if I really know any of these people.”

But pretty soon more than half had gone. A week later three quarters.

By the end of following month he had no followers at all. Zero. Zip. Nada.

Then he started getting blocked. One by one over a period of two or three weeks every single Twitterer he followed blocked him.

He tried contacting those he knew via other applications. But they blanked him. Cut him cold. Left him for dead.

After a month of lonely pointless tweeting he stopped. Gave it up.

But it didn’t stop there.

His Facebook friends dropped him. His LinkedIn links unchained him. Tumblr followers junked him. He found himself isolated. He decided a good solid blog post on the chilly experience would be the first volley in a fight back. Sketched out some notes and logged in at his work station late one evening when the office was deserted.

His password failed. It wouldn’t let him in.

He tried again. Slowly. Made sure it was correct. Same again. He tried entering it over and over and over. Nothing. Tried all the various passwords he could ever recall using. All failed. All blocked him.

Feeling panicky and paranoid he tried to get into to all his various accounts. Failed to access Facebook. Locked out of LinkedIn. Gmail fail… the works.

He sat staring at the pc screen. Pale. Sweaty. Trembling.

He grabbed his coat and ran to the elevator. It took too long so he sprinted down the stairs to the car park. Dashed to the space where he had left his car.

The space was empty.

He stood dumb, numb and uncomprehending.

Jones the security guard approached and shone a brilliant beam right in his face.

“What are doing in here?” Jones said “This is a private car park.”

“My car has been stolen!” He replied. “I parked it here this morning.”

“I don’t know who you are,” Jones said, “But this car park is for company employees only. I am gonna have to ask you to leave now sir, I don’t want any trouble…”

He caught a bus and then walked. Ran the last few blocks. Turned into the street where he lived and stopped. Stood there in the middle of the road and stared.

His house was illuminated. Every room bright pouring light out into the night. Music played loudly. The unmistakable thud, throb and buzz of a party taking place.

“What the…” he rushed to the front door. Tried his key but it wouldn’t turn in the lock.

He moved across in front of the window. Peered in and felt a terrible shiver course through him.

In the room. His front room. The room where he watched TV and relaxed. Was a crowd. A crowd of Him. Twenty of Him at least. A throng of doppelgangers. All identical. All with HIS face. Four or five of them were jostling his terrified wife. One pulled her sweater over her head laughing. Another turned and looked directly at him through the window a laugh of triumph visible on his face as the curtains were drawn on the scene and he was shut out into the night. Left staring at his own reflection in the black mirror that the glass had become.

He didn’t recognise the face that stared back at him. Didn’t recognise it at all.

Note: An earlier version of this Flash was published in The Delinquent 13.

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