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A Time To Speak

It's particularly hard to take being stabbed in the back close to home. There's always a feeling of betrayal when people of your own group oppose you.

Catherine MacKinnon


Chapter Twenty-Two

John

I was pissed the next morning when my cell phone, next to my side of the bed, went off at 7AM. I sat up straight to answer it just as it rang again, and my head felt like it was splitting. That phone was too damn loud! Anything louder than a whisper was too loud this morning. That was my own fault, though; I had had too much to drink the night before, celebrating the new job, and now I was paying for it. Fortunately I had already called my boss the night before to arrange to take the day off, and I wasn't on call that week, so the only people who would have any reason to call me would be my parents. But the number display showed an area code coming from. . . FCU?

I answered it cautiously, like the phone might bite me or something, with my head still pounding from the night before. Also quietly, because I knew Janna's hangover was just as bad as mine. A woman's voice spoke in my ear.

"John, is that you?"

"Yeah, who's this?"

"It's me, Alecia." She paused. "Alecia Grace Harrington."

"Alecia. What the hell?"

"I'm really sorry to call you like this but. . ."

"It's fine. What?"

". . . your number is listed on your Facebook profile and it didn't say that it's private and there's something I really need you to see right away so I had to call and I hope Janna doesn't mind. . . "

Janna was glaring at me. I said, "She doesn't mind. What is it, Alecia?"

"Have you been on Victors or Overcomers yet today?"

I was still trying to remember what year it was. "Have I been on what?"

"Either Victors or Overcomers. Have you been on them?"

"No, what's going on?"

A pause. Then, "They're attacking me. I mean, really attacking me!"

"What? Who? What are you talking about?" I had never spoken to Alecia before in real life before, but this timid, slightly desperate voice didn't match the personality I'd come to know online.

"Take a look for yourself. It's Regina and Katrina and all those disgruntled alumni. Somehow they got hold of some conversations you and I had with Win, and now they're attacking me all over the place."

I had already grabbed my laptop and turned it on, carrying it and my cell phone into the kitchen so Janna would stop mumbling curses at me. "Just a minute. Let me take a look."

Alecia waited patiently while I navigated to Overcomers. "Alecia, this is such bullshit!" I burst out.

"How did they get those conversations?"

"Well, it's obvious, isn't it? They came from Win!"

"No. Win wouldn't do that."

"Why not?" My voice was bitter. "She's been with them more than she's been with us, for weeks now. They asked her for stuff to use against you, and she delivered." I paused. "What are all these cartoons?"

"They're all memes they've made, making fun of me. They're making fun of my teaching, my mental status, even my hair cut. They're even making fun of my cats! They went into my profile and copied some of my personal pictures, and now they're using them on one of those meme generator sites."

I swore loudly, then winced at the sound of my own voice. "OK, you need to go your profile right now and lock it down. Lock it all down. Go through every setting you can think of and set it to private."

"I don't have time, I have to go to work. . . "

"You're sick today, Alecia. You're calling in sick."

"What?" There was alarm in her voice. "I can't do that. . . "

"Yes, you can, unless you want to let them keep taking whatever they want from your profile! Go to your settings and make everything as tight as you can. Go to your friends list and defriend everyone you haven't met in person, except me. And defriend Win, too."

There was silence for a moment, then Alecia said, "I still don't believe she did this."

"Believe it, 'cause it's true. You can sort it out with her later. Meantime, you need to protect yourself."

"I need to talk to her, but I don't know what to say. I don't want to get mad at her without a reason. She might have a perfectly good explanation."

"Look, Alecia." I took a deep breath. "Right now, if your security isn't good enough, Regina and Katrina and Win can see more than just what's on your wall. If they follow you to where you've written on other people's walls, they can see what's written there, too. They can see other people's walls. They can see my wall!"

"Oh. Yes, you're right." Alecia paused, thinking. "So I need to go through and delete absolutely everyone whom I don't completely trust."

"Yes, or maybe make filters for them. But you don't have time for that right now. Right now, just defriend them and put all your security settings on maximum."

"Okay, I will." Another pause. "Then I'll have to talk to Win."

"Yes, you will." Janna had come out of the bedroom and was looking at me suspiciously. "Look, I have to go, but I'll call you back later, okay? Let me explain to Janna what's going on, and then I'll call you back. You and I are both going to have a conversation with Win."


Alecia

John and I assumed that Win would be at work that day, teaching, and we wanted to chat with her in real time, so we would have to wait until she was likely to be home, in the late afternoon. That gave us plenty of time to think about what to do next. I wasn't the only one who had talked about Katrina in those conversations, and John wanted to protect himself if it was possible. Following his request, I tried to remove Win from the group that she, John and I had used for our own interactions, but I couldn't do it. All three of us were listed as administrators, so it wouldn't allow any of us to be thrown out. Instead I went back and deleted every word of every conversation we had ever had in that group, until it was all gone. There was nothing left in it.

Meanwhile, John went back onto the Victors page and removed all of his posts. I don't know how long it took him, but I do know he cursed a lot while he was doing it, because we were on the phone together for awhile. I told him a hangover was the Lord's punishment for the sin of drunkenness. He promised he would make my computer crash, long-distance, as soon as he could see straight.

We initiated a group message between me, John, and Win.

Alecia

Win, I think we need to talk.


Alecia

Win, have you seen the thread on the Overcomers page that shows parts of the conversations you, John and I had together in our group?


Alecia

How did Regina and Katrina get those conversations? Did you give them to them? Or is there something else going on here that we don't know about? Please answer us.


Alecia

Win, are you ever going to answer us? You must be home from work by now. I know you don't have church on Tuesday nights.


Alecia

I am terribly hurt that you are not responding to us. I hope there's a good reason.


Alecia

It is now ten o'clock at night on the East Coast, and nine o'clock where you are. I wish you would answer.


John

It's eleven o'clock now, and we've been waiting for an answer since before five. Give it up, Alecia. She's not going to answer.


Alecia

Win, please at least tell us why you did it. You owe us that much.


John has left the conversation.


Alecia

It's now been twenty four hours since I first saw our private conversations on Overcomers. Win, if I don't hear back from you right away, I'm going to have to block you. John already has. But I believe the Lord would always have us reconcile, if possible. If I do block you and you ever want to make things right, please feel free to contact me through my FCU account. Right now reconciling seems impossible. What you did really hurt me. But we serve a great God and I will pray that you and I can make things right some day. Please respond.


Alecia has left the conversation.