“You good, man?” I asked my roommate. We paused our video game five minutes ago so he could text someone, and I was getting bored.
Tyler flopped onto the couch next to me. “Yeah, just had to break things off with that girl Aly I was hooking up with.”
I frowned. “I thought you ended it months ago.”
He shook his head and ran a hand through his dark blond hair, flexing his bicep and turning to check his muscles out. “Knock it off,” was on the tip of my tongue, but I kept my mouth shut. There weren’t any women here for him to impress, but he’d been vain as long as I’d known him, and he posed even when he didn’t realize he was doing it. It was almost like a nervous tic at this point, so he must have been more bothered by the Aly situation than he was letting on.
“I thought she ghosted me,” he said. “But she probably got busy at work again.”
I turned toward the TV and tried to act natural. “She’s an ER nurse, right?” I already knew the answer to that, along with several other facts like her address, where she’d gone to nursing school, what kind of grades she got, and what her current work schedule was. You know, normal things people knew about their roommate’s ex-hookups.
“Yeah,” Tyler said. “I don’t hear from her for two months, and then look at the shit she sends me.”
He pulled his phone out of his pocket, unlocked it, and tossed it to me. I caught it out of the air and glanced down, freezing the second my eyes landed on the screen.
It was happening. The day I’d dreaded since starting a secret social media account two years ago had finally arrived. My online life was colliding with my real one, and I was about to be found out.
Play it fucking cool, man, I told myself. Tyler was watching me, and I couldn’t let him see how freaked out I was. But, fuuuck, Aly had a mask kink, and of all the screenshots she could have sent my roommate, she chose this one.
I cleared my throat. “You never said she was into this kind of thing.” Which was weird because Tyler had a habit of telling me every sordid detail of his sex life, even though I’d told him to keep it to himself.
He snorted. “I didn’t know she was, so it’s good I’m seeing Sarah because I’m not. I just want to get in, get off, and get the fuck out. I’m not down for playing games.”
How unfortunate for the women he slept with.
“Yeah, man. I hear that,” I lied, tilting the phone toward me as if I were inspecting the picture, and, whoops, there went my thumb. “Shit. I just accidentally deleted the text.”
Tyler shrugged. “It’s fine. I don’t need some shirtless dude on my screen.”
Some shirtless dude, I thought as I handed the phone back. So, he hadn’t looked at the picture too closely because if he had, he would have recognized the tattoos. My tattoos. A girl he’d slept with had sent him a screenshot from one of my videos, and I’d be laughing if not for the fear of discovery and the adrenaline roaring through my veins.
“You ready?” he asked, lifting his controller.
He unpaused the game, and we went back to shooting at everything that moved. I tried to focus on the split screen before me, but all I could think of was that text. Aly wanted to be fucked by someone wearing a mask.
I’d only met her once, but she’d made an impact. It was over the summer, early one morning after she’d spent the night in Tyler’s bed, not sleeping. I’d been awake, too, cursing the thin walls of our apartment until I found my noise-canceling headphones and drowned them out with music.
I’d always slept like shit, so I didn’t expect anyone else to be up when I finally threw in the towel and went to make coffee. Tyler’s door cracked open right after the machine beeped to let me know it had finished brewing. I’d half turned, expecting my roommate, only to see a woman instead. A tall woman, which was unfortunate because she was wearing one of Tyler’s shirts, and it barely covered her crotch. My eyes had immediately fallen, taking in her long legs. Tyler met her at his gym, and she looked like someone who regularly hit the weights: thick thighs, toned calves, and from what I could see of her arms, they were just as muscular.
I’d lifted my gaze, realizing I was staring, and instantly regretted it. Aly was hot. Not that I’d expected otherwise; Tyler always dated attractive women. But she was more striking than beautiful, with a pointed chin, full lips that looked like they’d been well-used the night before, a nose my mother would have said was distinctively Italian, and large dark eyes. Her brown hair was a mess, falling to her elbows in loops and snarls.
The smile she’d given me when our gazes locked was nearly blinding. “Please tell me you made enough for two.”
I’d grunted an affirmative and put my back to her.
She’d tried to make small talk with me, and I hadn’t been outright rude or anything, but I’d kept my distance and my face turned away while I gave her monosyllabic answers, and she’d fallen quiet pretty fast. To make up for it, I poured her coffee first and set the mug on the counter where she could reach it. Then I’d splashed some into my own cup and hightailed it out of there.
Tyler hadn’t told her who I was. He knew better than that, but I couldn’t risk her seeing my face for too long and starting to wonder who I reminded her of. I looked too much like my goddamn father, and that Netflix documentary had just come out about him. It’d be just my luck that Aly had seen it.
The whole summer was rough, thanks to that documentary, and I’d barely left the apartment because of it. Whenever Daddy Dearest was in the news, I’d have someone stop me on the street or in the supermarket and say, “I don’t know if anyone has ever told you this, but you look just like this guy I read about the other day.” Or listened to a podcast about. Or watched a true crime episode featuring his many misdeeds.
With the documentary came a fresh wave of interest, and I’d been working overtime for months to keep people from finding me or my mom and stepdad. Everyone wanted the exclusive interview from George Marshall Secliff’s surviving family members, and sometimes they went to illegal lengths to track us down. It was why I’d gotten into hacking when I was still in high school. I’d wanted to help the three of us disappear offline, and I’d learned everything I could in my pursuit of making that happen.
Those skills had paid off in the long run. Now, I worked for an exclusive cybersecurity firm, writing the code that kept other hackers from infiltrating Fortune 500 companies and stealing all their clients’ money. It allowed me to work from home, with flexible hours, leaving enough time to pursue other hobbies.
Like making thirst traps for all the other mask kinkers out there.
The same reason I stayed inside was why I didn’t date much. Even though my hair was darker than my dad’s, and I wore it shorter than his was in his initial court appearances, we looked damn near identical. It hadn’t been this bad when I was younger, and my face hadn’t filled out. Being a scrawny kid had saved me. Now that I’d grown into my man body and was nearing the age Dad was when he got caught, I was a carbon copy of his mugshot.
One of the first questions I asked the women I matched with on dating apps was whether or not they were into true crime. If they said yes, I blocked them and moved on. I only ever took a chance on the ones who said they hated “all that gross stuff.” On the rare occasions I did meet and hook up with women, it only lasted a few weeks at most. I broke things off when it felt like they were catching feelings or they got that look in their eyes that said they were trying to puzzle out where they knew me from.
Even mirrors were a problem nowadays because I couldn’t look into one without picturing my own face contorted in rage as fists rained down on me. I’d seen other documentaries about violent men, and it always baffled me when their family members swore they had no idea what they’d been doing in their free time. My dad was a fucking monster, and there was no disguising it. He’d only gotten away with his crimes for so long because he was handsome and could put on a good show for short periods. Just long enough to convince his victims to take him home with them.
Like his idol, Ted Bundy.
The only mirror left in our apartment was the one in the shared bathroom, and I turned my head down every time I was in there to avoid it. So, yeah, my face was a problem, which was why the thought of wearing a mask was so appealing. I’d been fixated on it for years and had finally found an excuse to don one after a story popped up on my news feed about the rise of thirst trap accounts with people wearing masks. It had been a lofty think piece about the psychology behind the trend, but I ignored all that bullshit and zeroed in on the videos they embedded into the article.
I could do that, I realized, the thought striking like lightning. Here was a way for me to finally join social media, show off the body I worked so hard for, and fulfill every human’s desire to interact with others. Plus, I had inherited some shit from my father, and one of those traits was wanting to be admired by others. I’d suppressed it for most of my life, but lately, my therapist had been trying to convince me how normal it was for humans to chase after fame and acclaim. Our caveman brain craved it because back when we were still bashing each other’s heads in with mammoth bones, to be popular was to be safe and protected inside the cave.
Deciding it was okay to indulge my desires for once, I’d placed an online order for some high-end videography equipment, spent hours designing and 3D printing a custom mask, and watched far too many YouTube videos on filmmaking before I even created a social media account.
And I’d told absolutely no one about it. Not even Tyler, who’d been my best friend for as long as I could remember.
“Dude, you’re fucking trash today,” he said as we both died onscreen. Again.
“Shit, sorry. Thinking about work,” I lied.
He tossed his controller onto the coffee table harder than was necessary. “Whatever. I’m over it. I need to get to the gym before it gets crazy.”
He stood from the couch and strode into his room.
Tyler could be a dick and was absolutely a fuckboy, but he was also the only person who hadn’t immediately abandoned me when my dad got arrested. He was a good friend beneath the douchey exterior and loyal almost to a fault. It was his idea to move to this city and start over when people at college figured out who I was. His exact quote was, “Fuck ‘em. Let’s bounce,” so I didn’t think he was serious at first, not until he filed transfer paperwork to switch schools and started sending me listings for off-campus housing.
I’d dropped out instead of switching with him, though I’d joined him in the move, and we’d been living together ever since. It felt like my time at school had run its course by then, and none of my professors could teach me anything else I needed to know about hacking. The rest of my education lay online, and I studied endlessly until I felt ready to enter the job market. I’d applied for only one position – the one I currently held – by hacking into a huge media conglomerate and showing the company I now worked for how I’d gotten in. They paid me a king’s ransom to keep one step ahead of emerging cyber threats, enough that I bought the most expensive amateur camera on the market without blinking, and our rent was paid off for the next two years.
I heard a drawer slam shut in Tyler’s room, and I took that as my sign to stand. My phone was on my work desk, and I was itching to get it within my grasp. I needed to pull up the video Aly sent and see if I could find her in the comments section. She had a mask kink. Or, at the very least, she was into it enough that she wanted someone to wear one for her.
So far, I’d ignored every single DM asking me to meet with people IRL and play out their fantasies. They were strangers online. They could be anyone, and I didn’t want to show up at some octogenarian’s house when I’d been expecting a hot twentysomething.
But Aly wasn’t a stranger. I knew her. Better than I should have, sure, but, thanks to Dad’s genetic contributions, boundaries were hard for me. And Aly had been in my house, the one sanctuary I had left. The need to protect my identity and keep Tyler and me safe was strong enough that I did FBI-level research into anyone he invited over. Thankfully, he understood my compulsion and told me ahead of time when he was having company.
I snagged my phone off the desk and sat on my bed as I unlocked it and pulled up my account. The video Aly screenshotted was one of my most popular, with over 2.4 million views. The downside was that I had thousands of comments to look through if I had any hope of finding her in them, and even that was a crapshoot. Most people were pretty anonymous online. It’d be just my luck that she was one of them. I wished I could write a code to look for her, but this part of the job required manual intervention, so I settled back against my headboard and started scrolling, glancing at names and avatars for any sign of her.
An hour passed before I sat bolt upright, thumb hovering over the username “aly.aly.oxen.free”. Holy shit, was it her? I clicked on her profile, and, of course, it was private. I leaned in, squinting. The avatar was a close-up photo of a dark-haired woman. I screenshotted it, then used the AI software I had loaded onto my phone to blow it up and fix the resolution issues until I was staring at a crystal-clear picture of Aly, sure that it was her.
Just to be a hundred percent certain, I logged into my computer and hacked her account, using every trick in the book to cover my tracks and keep her from being flagged. The IP address she used to create her account was local, and when I did some more digging, I discovered that it originated from the block she lived on.
I’d found her. Aly not only had a mask kink, but she’d liked one of my videos enough to leave the comment, “Sir, I’m at work. How dare you?”
Had she left any others?
I logged into my account on my computer and created a few lines of code that would search her out in my comment sections. There were so many returns my head started to spin. She’d liked and saved and commented on almost every single one.
All the blood in my body went straight to my dick, tenting my sweatpants. This wasn’t good. I shouldn’t be sitting here lusting after my roommate’s ex…whatever she was. Not his girlfriend. They’d never been serious enough to define their relationship, and Tyler had seen other women at the same time as Aly. That meant this wasn’t breaking any bro code, right? Only several privacy laws and a whole bunch of social norms, but I’d never really cared much about that. Tyler was the only friend I had. I didn’t want to risk losing him over a woman, even if that woman had been plaguing my dreams since I’d first laid eyes on her.
What he doesn’t know won’t hurt him, I thought. And it wasn’t like I’d done anything yet anyway. What was the harm in a little light online stalking? She’d done the same to me.
My eyes landed on the first comment my search returned. “Is this video why I randomly woke up at 2 am? Was I summoned here?” I grinned, shaking my head. Of course, she’d be funny, too. It’s not like it was bad enough that she was hot and probably off-limits.
I kept reading. Her comments ranged from light-hearted to downright lascivious.
“I would like to thank the algorithm for bringing me here.”
“I’m on season six of this video.”
“Well, this has me feeling feral far too early in the morning.”
“The way I would CRAWL to him.”
“Boom. There went my ovaries.”
“This is the horror movie I would die in. Everyone else would be running away while I sprinted straight toward the danger instead.”
I pushed back from my computer desk. Oh, this was bad. Because that last comment hit me harder than the rest, and now all I could imagine was chasing her down in the woods and fucking her on the forest floor.
Is this how it started? Just a quasi-innocent fantasy about ravaging a woman somewhere that no one could hear her scream? Would it get worse from there, and my desires would progress past that to fucking her and choking her a little at the same time? And after that, squeezing even harder until I watched the life blink out from her eyes while I pounded into her?
My dick instantly deflated, which I took as a good sign. I wasn’t turned on by the idea of seriously hurting Aly, so maybe I wasn’t as far gone as I’d always feared. Either that or the precautionary anti-psychotics I’d been on since I was a teen were doing their job.
I rolled my chair back to my desk and read through the rest of her comments, which took a while because there were over a hundred. Less than a minute passed before my dick was standing straight for her again. So many of Aly’s comments revolved around her coming home and finding me waiting for her, and soon, my mind began to fill with thoughts of feeding into her fantasy. What would happen if I actually broke into her house?
In reality, she’d either shoot my dumb ass or run away, call the cops, and then my entire life would blow up when I got arrested and the headlines started screaming that I was just like my dad.
But I wasn’t living in reality right now. My thoughts were filled with pure fantasy, and I couldn’t stop picturing myself breaking in and her responding exactly like she said she would. Crawling to me. Begging me to fuck her while I held a knife to her throat.
“This man is always coming onto my FYP and never on me, and that is a tragedy,” was probably my new favorite quote of all time.
I groaned and palmed my dick through my sweatpants. The things I would do to this woman if she let me. I’d play into every lustful dark thought she’d ever had. And I wouldn’t have to worry about her desire turning to terror beneath me because, with my face hidden, there wasn’t any risk of that. For once in my life, I could be free of the fear of discovery or recognition.
That thought turned me on almost as much as Aly did.
I leaned back in my chair and slid my hand into my boxers, gripping the base of my dick. What would it be like to break into her house? I knew I could do it. Along with hacking, I was pretty good at skulking around at night. I’d always been a night owl, which was especially true lately when there was less risk of anyone seeing me in the darkness than in daylight. I did my shopping at a twenty-four-hour grocery store. My workouts were saved for 2 a.m. when there wasn’t ever anyone in our apartment’s gym.
I stroked my hand up my dick as I imagined picking Aly’s lock. I’d learned how to do it as a teen so I could sneak into my therapist’s office and see what he’d written about me – a mistake because I wasn’t ready for what I’d found, but at least I’d learned a new skill in the process. I could dust it off now and put it to better use, slipping into Aly’s house in the dead of night while she was on shift at the hospital.
I rubbed my thumb over the head of my dick when I reached the top, coating it in precum before sliding my hand back down to grip my base again. My lids fell shut as I pictured Aly standing in her doorway, looking rumpled and tired after a long night, her eyes flashing wide with fear when she realized she wasn’t alone.
“Who’s there? What do you want?” I heard her call out in a quavering voice.
In my head, I pointed the knife at her in answer.
She put her hands up. “Just take what you want and get out. Please don’t hurt me.”
I shook my head and tilted the knife tip toward the floor in an explicit command. She dropped to her knees like a good little girl. I strode toward her, watching her chest rise and fall as I approached. Her eyes moved from the knife to my shirtless torso, covered in blood, the black of her pupils inching out brown as her fear started to shift into lust.
I stopped above her, staring down at her upturned face, reveling in the vulnerability of her situation. Oh, so carefully, I placed the tip of the knife beneath her chin and tilted her face up as I unzipped my fly and let my dick spring free. Her gaze lifted to the dark eye sockets of my mask for one breathless moment, and then her lips popped open, and she leaned forward, suctioning that luscious mouth around the head of my dick, and –
Oh, fuck, I was about to come.
I yanked a few tissues from the nearby box and got them down my pants just in time to soak them from how hard I came. The sight of Aly before me, afraid and horny at the same time? I wanted it. Bad. More than I’d wanted anything in a long time.
All I had to do was figure out a way to make it happen that didn’t end with my arrest.
Copyright © 2023 by Navessa Allen
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This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents either are the products of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, businesses, companies, events, or locales is entirely coincidental.