That’s why, originally, it didn’t make sense to me at all the day that my world got shattered. I guess I could have said that I saw it coming the day I saw my brother leave his room after about a week straight in his own personal hold-up, dark circles under his eyes and his skin as pale as a vampire in some cheap horror film. He just stood there in his doorway and stopped when he realized that I, too, had come out of my room at the same time. I gave him a nod, trying to be careful with him knowing that something had gone awry recently although he failed to clue in the family who believed we were closer than anything. He was only nineteen and myself two years younger and I thought we were indestructible. Safe from the negatives of life.
That night, we all heard the blare of a gunshot go off in our own home, my heart set ablaze as thoughts of home invasion raced through my mind. It didn’t take long to discover the remains of my brother’s head in his room, the door left open so we could all see his masterpiece. It didn’t take long before both my parents landed in a sobbing heap at the end of his bed, screaming, as I paced and phoned proper authority. To come clean up the mess of my brother, the one thing that meant everything to us at one point. And now he was just… gone.
My brother had been a bit simplistic and spent a lot of time reading and occasionally playing video games. He had a decent amount of friends who admitted to seeing a decrease in his good moods, no girlfriend, not a troublemaker. I’m not saying that there’s always some huge, elaborate reason why people commit suicide, but he just didn’t seem like the type to make a rash decision like that, knowing that if something was wrong he could have come to any one of us.
I remember sitting in the den one night watching television and they were broadcasting a girl’s suicide after people had taunted her in school over a boy she had slept with – his direct statement about such was, “Suicide is just a permanent solution to a temporary problem.” It made me wonder – what was so bad going on in that mind of his that he just had to take his own life?
After much of Shawn’s things were cleared out of his room and many days hearing my parents sobbing endlessly were completed, they knocked on my door to check up on me and sat down at the edge of my bed. My father held out a small laptop, something that my brother had used at one point in his life for school. I hadn’t seen him on it so much late in his life but he had been far into journalism and probably had a lot of cool things on there, maybe some deep thoughts of a brother I hadn’t really known. My father replied, “We want you to have this. We aren’t very computer-intelligent and maybe you’ll figure out how to find some things your brother wrote on here and save them. Or, you can just have the laptop for what it is.” He shrugged, his eyes now forming dark circles like my brother’s had only a week earlier when I caught him in the hallway.
I didn’t touch the laptop for three days as if it was some black little box with poison on the cover, ready to strike and take my life at any time. And then one day out of pure boredom and curiosity and the fact that I was missing Shawn more than ever, I decided to take a look into his mind.
The first thing that I came across on his desktop were some simple folders that, indeed, had poetry in them. There were some saved from famous authors, some Poe, some that had been accredited to others but I hadn’t a clue who they actually were. There was a file that contained a lot of his own poetry, though a lot of it was unfinished or disappointing as it seemed like it hadn’t been as deep as my brother truly went as a human being. He had started writing a bunch of short stories as well but finished halfway through and never worked up the encouragement to finish them. All in all, I ended up being disappointed and sat there thinking how ironic all of this was. My brother’s life had been unfinished, as he had been so capable of many things, and here he sat with an entire laptop full of information that had never been completed. It was a reflection of himself and the things he never got to do.
Once it hit about 10 at night I had finally opened up his internet browser only to find that there had been one pulled up already, just minimized at the bottom of the screen. There were about ten tabs, each one becoming more and more of a yawn-fest, things I never knew my brother really cared about.
There were a few outdated news stories about things going on in the middle east and a page about starting up your own business, which got me wondering but I suppose I’d never find out what that was about. There was a tab open revealing that he had done a google search at some point entitled, “How to help a friend from hurting themselves.” Possibility that he may have been doing the search for himself, but I moved onto the final tab.
It was a log-in screen with the details already entered, and a “save your password” checked. The log-in screen itself was baby blue and harmless, with a cloud up in the upper-corner that said, “Online World” which meant absolutely nothing to me. I wasn’t much of a computer genius, only visiting my school’s website and social networking a few times a week. Hell, I didn’t even have a computer at the time, just the internet on my phone that I used so infrequently and I liked it that way – it was so personal. But there was something dirty about coming to this screen and knowing that my brother may have used it for private interactions and here I was, sitting as if it was nothing, his spirit lingering over my shoulder, and I was logging in. I clicked the button and it logged me into a black screen complete with tons of usernames and answered questions galore. It was a forum.
I raised an eyebrow as I lingered over the first few questions of the page, “What was your first one like?” “What do you look for in a female or male?” and, best of all, “Should I do it?” At first glance, my heart sunk. My brother was a sex addict. Then I realized that I was being silly and it could all be some sham of a website to bring together pre-teens and teenagers looking for advice on women, and sharing ideas. Maybe he had just become interested in girls for the first time in his life and really wanted to gain a girlfriend after waiting so many years.
I took a chance and clicked on, “Should I do it?” and never regretted anything more in my life.
The post, posted by a man who went by the name of Remmy on his own account, went as such:
answers given were an assortment of, “You don’t have to take this route if you wanted to have her as a girlfriend. It’s all about taking advantage of her – mentally, physically, emotionally. She’s not going to want you romantically after that but if that’s not what you’re looking for, then by all means.” “Chop her up and post pics of it afterwards.” “Ooh, a young one, I like that. Getting started early, aren’t we? You may have joined the cult of sick minds on here but you have to prove your worth with your first victim. ;)”
The original user had voted the last one “five stars.” It had been posted hours into the next day.
I threw up all over inside my trash can.
My mind racing, I suddenly realized that I had stumbled onto the website of thousands and thousands of rapists. A hidden website, concealed by a fuzzy page that redirected you into your worst horrors. Questions got as gruesome in the 18+ category as, “I strangled a girl and don’t know where to hide the body?” and “Who else loves the feeling of coming into a corpse hours after you’ve fucked it to death?”
I couldn’t believe my eyes, wouldn’t have been able to hide the terror if somebody had walked right into my room then and there. In a way the only question I could ask was, Why would Shawn have a username on a website like this? What had he DONE?
The biggest sense of dread overcame my body as I took the mouse and scrolled over his username. I realized that by clicking on it it would take me to his online profile and show me anything and everything that he had participated on on this website from the very moment he had become a member a year prior.
I clicked anyway.
It showed his list of questions answered and asked from the very beginning and progressively got more up to date as you scrolled. His page wasn’t very interesting, he had mostly just replied short comments on threads such as, “Should I do it?” 14-or-so year olds asking for advice on a planned rape that they weren’t sure they wanted to follow through with. My stomach stayed queasy as I kept scrolling. Finally, I came to one that he had asked in a sub-forum entitled, “Why do I feel so lonely?” Before clicking, I wondered if this was just a place for him to reach out and vent, a way to control himself from doing something very dastardly.
When I clicked, I read the short text of my brother in a whisper:
I’ve been feeling unappreciated for a long time in this house. My parents are great but they seem to care more about my sister’s academic successes than they do about me. I don’t get out a lot and I wish I could do something to change it.
By this point, I was spewing tears but continued on.
I know everybody here loves me but I’m not so sure I love myself anymore and I feel like I’m just cooping myself away into my own madness. It’s like a descent. I’ve been thinking about exploring and releasing some of these frustrations with another woman but I’m not sure how to approach it. I know a lot of people on here aren’t so much desperate as they are just looking for a good time but at this point I think I’m becoming desperate.
The first reply to him was, “This is the best place to come to reach out. It appears you’re taking your first descent into the manhood that we all have, making somebody play the victim as we have after so many years of doing it ourselves in our own personal lives. You’ll know when the right one comes.”
The second was, “It’s simple. You rape the sister. :P”
My heart flew up into my chest and I was cut short of breath. I struggled to compose myself as I hurriedly clicked back on his profile page and found the last thing he had posted himself before his death. It simply said, “Seeking advice before my first time?” and it was posted the day Shawn had blew his brains out.
At this point I really didn’t want to click..I, myself, didn’t want to go any further. The question that ran frequent laps around my mind in the moment leading up to it was, What had he done? Had he seriously gone through with it? Had the guilt taken him after the event? Would I know this girl who he may have hurt, would she be as close as right down the street, or missing, possibly dead? Was he keeping a darker secret than anyone knew? I wanted to just throw the laptop back at my parents and call the police but doing my own research made me feel so empowered, something that I would live with the rest of my life, now that I truly knew my brother. And so I clicked.
“My question for the truly sick-minded: After a week of sitting and composing my first sexual encounter and what I wanted it to be like, who I wanted it to be with, etc. I’ve found the perfect victim. The fact that she’s so close to me and we’re alone most of the time just works but I still need some help planning this out so I can get away with it, all the good stuff that goes into it. I’ve decided that I’m going to plan it on my sister.”