Return To A Simpler TimeMature


"... Was that...?" Tracy asked under her breath, terrified.

"... Yeah... Had to have been. I got a similar text-" Dustin responded breathlessly, but stopped himself when he realized something. It's only been twenty-nine hours since he got the text? He looked down at his chained wrists. Some mess he got himself in in that amount of time. He sighed. "-yesterday..."

Tracy looked over, still in shock. "... You got a message like this before? Why the hell didn't you tell me?" She stage-whispered.

Dustin raised his hands trying to get her to quiet down. "... Alright, alright, we can't wake up Jake's mom and dad..." He looked over to the laptop in the darkness. "... If we can find out how the app sent the message to us, we might be able to find some kind of clue..."

Tracy looked as though she frowned at 'how the app sent the message', but Dustin couldn't quite tell in the pitch blackness of he basement. "... Fine... Whatever... But don't power the laptop back on! That thing scared the crap out of me..." She whispered.

Dustin nodded, and started sweeping the floor with his hands to search for his bag. He managed to find it, but rummaging through it silently with handcuffs on proved to be a challenge. Tracy started to help, but scooched back once she realized she probably was going to escalate the situation with her limp, sensitive arm.

Dustin pulled his phone and USB cable carefully out of the bag. He pressed the unlock button on the smartphone, and Dustin flinched away from the painful flash of bright light for a second. His eyes became accustomed to the screen once again, and he looked down at it.

- 9 Missed Messages:

-> "Hey honey, are you still at Tracy's?"

-> "If I could have you home by 10, that would be great."

-> "Where are you?"

-> "Dustin, are you doing alright?"

-> "What is going on? Reply please..."

-> "Dustin Nathaniel Decker, come home now. Your father and I are worried sick!"

- 3 More Messages. Show?

Dustin twisted his lip. His mom has been texting him every hour since 9pm. She probably was worried, but he had bigger things to worry about. Trying to explain the matter to her would just make it worse, so he deleted all of the messages. Maybe they could talk about it later.

Tracy looked over Dustin's shoulder. "-Nathaniel, eh?" 

Dustin locked the screen and shot her a look. "Y-yeah... My uncle's name..."

"It's just that... Y'know, I thought the 'N' stood for something cool, like 'Nitro'! Or 'Nightshade'! Or 'Nig-'" Dustin elbowed her.

"-Ohf! Alright... Jeez, I was only kidding..." She rubbed her gut.

"... My middle name's not cool. Or racist. Ok? In case you couldn't tell, making fun of my name is a bit of a trigger..." Dustin smirked, turned, and switched the phone back on.

"Indeed..." Tracy muttered with a small smile and pushed Dustin's shoulder weakly with her good arm.

Dustin plugged the phone into the laptop, and ran his custom command line app, putting in a few lines of code to do a quick scan for viruses.

- 1 malware program detected:

-> \c. -> Program Files -> DontTouchIfYouValueLife File -> IMeanIt.cs

- Quarantine? <y/n>


Dustin paused at the sight of the path. Another threat, and a goddamn effective one, too. He considered leaving the file as it was for a long while, but decided to move it to quarantine in the end. He held his breath as he tapped 'Y' and 'Return'.

\c: y

...Quarantine......... OK

- Quarantine successful


Dustin waited a few seconds, then let out a sigh of relief. Nothing. An empty threat. He typed in a few more lines of code to call the tracking function.

Tracy looked over again, noticing the successfully avoided virus. "... Oh, it's on now... It's on like Donkey Kong now, stupid muderer!" She excitedly whispered.

Dustin smirked. "Sure is. In fact, we got an IP address. And it's not the App Store." 

Tracy turned and looked at him, surprised. "That means we found the source? Where the freakin' app was developed?"

Dustin twisted his lip at his inadequacy. Even with all the skills he had, he didn't know how to turn an IP address alone into a physical location, or even if such a method did exist. Connecting to the address, however... No, not happening. He wasn't going through all that threatening stuff again.

"Not quite. But we do know that the app isn't functioning from the App Store, which could explain the massive amounts of failed downloads..." He tried rubbing his chin, but his left hand had to be awkwardly held limp about three centimeters lower as he rubbed, so he abandoned the dramatic element.

"So why does it still use the App Store for distribution?" Tracy asked, puzzled.

Dustin crossed his legs. "... I'm not sure... But we're still one step closer to figuring this fuckin' thing out. We still got a shot!" He smirked.

"About the same odds of survival as a snowball in hell, but a chance none the less!" Tracy returned the smile.

Tracy tried holding out a curled fist for a fist-bump, and Dustin tried returning it, but the complications a pair of handcuffs and a bullet wound entailed made it a bit difficult and awkward.



"How are we going to get these fucking handcuffs off of me?"

"... Hell if I know..."

"... Wonderful..."


The End

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