My fingers trawl lazily across the keyboard. I don’t have much energy today. A combination of parents and teachers yelling at me - so what else is new? My life is as dull and uneventful as ever. I run my hands through my hair. It’s getting too long, but I can’t be bothered to get it cut. It’s not as though they wouldn’t just find something else to tease me for, anyway. With a name like mine, they really do just have their stinking work cut out for them. Both of my parents have ridiculously normal names. Mary and John. Nice and simple. Names that nobody thinks twice about. So I often wonder what kind of screwed up thoughts were running through their mind when they decided to name their kid Raphael. Do I look like a stupid angel to you? Or a freaking TURTLE?

But hey. Some things you just gotta live with, right? I’m not the only one with problems like this. Almost of its own accord, my hand starts strumming the tune for ‘A Boy Named Sue’ against my leg. I can’t help but let a small smile escape my lips. A few years more and I’m ditching this stupid house and leaving this life behind me. I’m gonna change my name and live on the road, busking for a living. I don’t need the comfort of a warm bed, or the safety of someone watching over me. I need freedom. That’s what’s most important in this screwed up world.

A new message flashes up on the BBS. Automatically, my eyes flick to the bottom of the post, to see if it’s from anyone I know. But it’s an anonymous poster. I don’t know why I’m so surprised - so few of us bother to sign off posts anyway. But why should we obey the conventions of the site? Why shouldn’t we have the right to make our mark? I was here. I exist. You can’t deny my identity. This is my post, my view, and I am not afraid to stand by it. A signature says all of that, and more. A signature is who you are, much more than a name. A name is who your parents want you to be. A signature is who you know yourself to be. Yeah, I know. I’m one of those sad people who spent absolute hours trying to come up with a decent signature to go by. A kind of codename, I guess, for the life that nobody really knows that I lead.

I skim-read through the latest post. Surprisingly, it catches my interest. So somebody’s been trying to hack into the server, huh? I can’t say I admire their efforts. If they were any kind of decent at it, they’d have cleaned up the mess that they left behind, at the very least. From the sounds of it, this was some pretty shoddy work. In fact, the anonymous poster makes it sound like they’ve left a nasty trail straight back to their IP address. I shake my head. What idiots. This is the Sanctuary, our online hideaway. It’s notoriously difficult to get into because we made it that way. If you manage to hack your way in, then congratulations, you’re one of us and we’ll welcome you with open arms. But if you try, and fail…well, you’d best be careful. Sanctuary’s a place for the scum of the internet to hang out. If you dare attempt to invade our safehouse, then we can’t trust you. And if you’re not skilled enough to make it all the way through, then we don’t need you. Not being trusted or needed is a very, very dangerous place to be.

I think we all know the importance of house-training animals like that. I think he needs to be taught to clean up his mess, don’t you?

Somebody logged his IP address, right? Post it on the boards. I’m sure someone can think of a way to discipline the rotten stray.


The End

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