The Barking Network (Flash Fiction)
“This is not a game, Jeremy. Just tell me where they are.”
Ann Godfrey | Age: 19 | Jacksonville: woof!
“Jesus... they are just kids. You’ve made your point, come on. Tell me where they are and we’ll work this out.”
“Kids are innocent, detective. These people are not innocent. Not one bit.”
“You are a professor of ethics, for fuck’s sake. How can you be okay with this?”
“You do hear them, don’t you? What they say to each other. All the ‘faggots,’ all the ‘brownies,’ all the ‘kill yourselves,’ all the ‘whores.’ All the ‘retards’ and the ‘niggers’ and the ‘go back to your countries’ and the ‘you’ll die alones.’ You do hear them, don’t you? They are beasts. How can you be okay with that?”
“It’s just words, Jeremy. Only words.”
“No, detective. Not words, barks. They spill hate out of their snouts, and they do it with the intent to destroy. It’s all bark. It’s all woof. It’s a horde of rabid dogs bawling into your ears until you can’t hear anything else. No kindness could ever be that loud and the barks, oh, they follow. They follow you at school, they follow you at work, they follow you home, and even when there's nobody else in the room and not a single chirp at night, they throb. It’s a disease-”
“Jeremy, enough! I understand, but you can’t do this. You can’t just lock people up. This is not how we do things, this is-”
“Do you, really? Do you really understand, detective? Have you ever heard the barking? Have you ever had people trying to convince you that there was something broken inside you, something that you could never fix? Have you ever been afraid of what you are?”
Wendy Milford | Age: 21 | Jacksonville: woof!
“This is not the way, Jeremy. These kids have families, they have lives, they have futures. Please, just tell me where they are.”
“They are where they deserve to be.”
“So what, you just lock everyone up? Is this your excuse for a solution?”
“I don’t believe this is a problem that can be solved, detective. If anything, I’m just facilitating the barking. These ‘kids’ you are so hell-bent on saving have almost everything they need. They each have a mattress and running water, they could live for weeks. But that's not the kicker, is it? The keyboard is. They can talk to you whenever they want. Talk to their families, to their friends, to everyone. They can keep spitting hate if they so desire. That chatroom you must be so desperately trying to hack is their window to the world. I’m just a translator. Showing their barks for what they are.”
Craig Williams | Age: 18 | Jacksonville: woof!
“We can get you help, Jeremy. But if you don’t talk, you’ll have their blood on your hands, and for what? A lesson?”
“How can you call this justice?”
“Justice is what people believe to be just. It’s not carved in granite but doodled in sand. The world is about to change. The barking will be heard. You’ll see.”
“No, Jeremy. I won’t. You think you’ve accomplished something here? You think you are a hero? A prophet? You are a madman. This dies with you.”
“You don’t understand, detective. It has barely started.”
“Crazy piece of sh-”
“Detective Morris! Sorry to barge in, ma'am, but you need to see this.”
“What the fuck, McKenzie? I’m in the middle of interrogation.”
“Ma'am, the chatroom...”
Susan Kerry | Age: 29 | London: woof!
Pallavi Kumar | Age: 23 | Mumbai: woof!
Vera Coelho | Age: 34 | Sao Paulo: woof!
Carina Boehler | Age: 21 | Berlin: woof!
Jairo Estevez | Age: 48 | Puebla: woof!
David Nagel | Age: 63 | Atlanta: woof!
Ye-Jun Rhee | Age: 27 | Seoul: woof!
Regis Elliot | Age: 18 | Ontario: woof!
Anand Patel | Age: 47 | Bangalore: woof!
Timur Borisov | Age: 52 | Moscow: woof!
Maud Carpenter | Age: 66 | Sydney: woof!
Antonio Flores | Age: 51 | Buenos Aires: woof!
Connor Hobbs | Age: 20 | Cape Town: woof!
Ibtisam Karim | Age: 73 | Kabul: woof!
Annemarie Marley | Age: 33 | New York: woof!
Roberto Villalobos | Age: 19 | Quito: woof!
Theodore Veener | Age: 31 | Stockholm: woof!
Sumon Bapary | Age: 22 | Dhaka: woof!
Fehim Marangoz | Age: 37 | Istanbul: woof!
Takara Sasaki | Age: 18 | Tokyo: woof!
Sarah Bassily | Age: 45 | Cairo: woof!
Lucinda Vaquero | Age: 19 | Lima: woof!
Yu Mao | Age: 61 | Tianjin: woof!
Marco Reyes | Age: 26 | Madrid: woof!
Esmeralda Cobb | Age: 41 | Chicago: woof!
Rino Nizzola | Age: 55 | Rome: woof!
Samuel Monette | Age: 31 | Paris: woof!
Eddie Chou | Age: 20 | Taipei: woof!
Aurelia Ungur | Age: 18 | Bucharest: woof!
(53 unread messages)
“Jeremy, what have you done...”
“Can you hear the barking now?”
I really hope you enjoyed this piece. Don’t forget to follow me if you did! @jean.racines
This story was written as an entry for the Urban Legend Flash Fiction Contest hosted by @jrhughes. We were free to work with an existing Urban Legend or to try and write about a new one. This is my attempt at the latter.
In the mood for more stories?
Unedited image sources: Image 1.