The Minecraft Monster (a short story from Jaemore County, GA)
Present Time, Jaemore County Sheriff’s Office Press Room:
The spokesman from the Jaemore County Sheriff’s Department was grim. The reporters waited with baited breath almost like Ancient Romans waiting for the lion to devour the Christian.
The blonde detective waited until the shouting stopped before unfolding a sheet of paper. “Good evening.” The reporters leaned forward, partly to be the one to get the “first scoop” and partly because of the detective’s thick Swedish accent. “The Sheriff’s Department is stunned to report that there is credible evidence that the notorious serial killer, The Minecraft Monster, has come to Greenleaf, Georgia.
Four hours earlier...
Billy was cold and not just any cold. It was the type of chill that started in your lungs and spread across the rest of your body like a glacier. The wooden floor was little comfort—hard and unyielding. The scratchy blanket smelled of mildew and sweat. Billy had thrown it off in an attempt to stand but now he regretted it. The blanket, however nasty, was a shield to the cold.
He tried not shiver but when he did, his bound hands and feet protested. His kidnapper had been very thorough. Billy was well and truly trapped.
He now knew that his mother was right. “Never go anywhere with strange people” was her standard mantra. A close second was “that Minecraft game is going to be the death of you.”
It started innocently enough. Minecraft was a gateway to the bigger world outside of rural Georgia County. His mom who stayed on the couch all the time had not been really involved like some parents. Oh, she flippantly warned him about the dangers of the internet but he knew he was old enough to take of himself. The vodka on her breathe told Billy that she didn’t care and he was on his own. Billy had been chatting about the lack of things to do in Greenleaf, Georgia with a fellow Minecrafter named MonsterNomad524 when the first request hit.
“LMIRL" or let’s meet in real life.
At first Billy typed a negative response but MonsterNomad was insistent.
“LMIRL at Mickey D’s tomorrow.”
“Come on. We can have a Minecraft marathon at my club house. My dad works nights. We’re old enough. Or are you scared of what Mommy would say?”
MonsterNomad knew what buttons to push to get Billy to do anything.
“I ain’t afraid of nobody.” Billy boasted.
“Then meet me at Mickey D’s at three tomorrow.”
Billy hesitated before hitting yes. He’d have to skip the last thirty minutes of school and the principal of Jaemore Elementary was mean. If Dr. Davis caught him sneaking out again, it’d be curtains for him. She told him that the next time she found him hanging out near the girls’ bathroom, he’d be gone. The only reason he was hesitant was that he would also miss seeing his favorite teacher, Mrs. Peabody at the end of the day, but no one called him a chicken and got away with it.
“Yes.” Billy pressed send and waited.
It was easy enough to slip through the back door at the school. The hard part was to figure out a place to hide his laptop so Dr. Davis wouldn’t suspect anything.
Billy scraped enough coins together to buy a dollar Coke. He had gone from being nervous to just excitement. MonsterNomad was going down.
He opened his laptop to log on to the free Wi-Fi but all the adults in the restaurant made him pause. He didn’t want anyone to know about his Minecraft addiction because it would get back to his mom that he was skipping school and playing. And so he waited for the MonsterNomad to arrive.
At the Press Conference:
“We know that the Monster lures kids from Minecraft websites via a chatroom. They meet at a restaurant near an interstate and that is the last time a victim will be seen alive. He keeps his victim in a remote place for several days to ‘play’ with them. The Monster wants a connection to his victim and that’s why he keeps them alive for a few days so when the killing comes, it provides a better emotional experience for him.”
“We believe him to be a master manipulator—someone who is more at ease with kids than adults. But that is just the surface. Below is a sociopath who delights in giving pain and seeing the victims react. He needs to see others’ pain and terror because he doesn’t feel anything. .”
Three hours earlier...
Billy’s family never went to church so he wasn’t sure how to pray. “Please help me escape. I promise I will listen to my mom forever.” The tears seeped out of his closed eyes. He didn’t want the monster to know he had gotten Billy to cry.
“Ow!” Billy screamed as a pointed stick jabbed him in the stomach. He rolled over and hit a wooden wall. It was too late. His captor had saw the weakness and was taking a great deal of delight from Billy’s misery.
“Billy! Wake up! I want to play. We can do Cowboys and Indians like kids used to do in the real world.” MonsterNomad yelled.
Billy thought about yelling back but then realized it was useless. No one would hear him. Was his mom missing him? Did she even know he was not at home?
When MonsterNomad got the restaurant, Billy was a bit surprised at his internet acquaintance looked nothing like what Billy imagined. He was also curious about his age but he dismissed the oddity. The cool thing about Minecraft was that it was fun for all ages. MonsterNomad quickly beckoned Billy to follow. He looked like a decent person so Billy made a mistake. In a scene that played over and over in Billy’s mind, he stupidly and blindly followed his kidnapper. He packed up his laptop and lunch box and marched behind MonsterNomad.
Down into the woods, past the storm gulley, through Old Lady Hughes’ property, around a massive field of kudzu and finally into a little clearing. There was an ancient small treehouse on the far side in a towering oak tree. MonsterNomad had been so excited to show him. He had gerry-rigged Wi-Fi and a small generator so the treehouse could function completely in the real world yet remain hidden.
MonsterNomad said he’d climb the ladder first to make sure they were alone. If only Billy had listened to his gut, maybe he would not have been conked unconscious and tied up like a prize turkey.
“I said wake up!” MonsterNomad stabbed the stick in his stomach, this time cause a thin river of blood to trickle onto the treehouse floor.
Billy refused to move even when his captor stabbed him over and over. When MonsterNomad finally stopped, Billy slit his eyes and almost immediately began to shake. MonsterNomad had a container in his hands with a cruel light in his eyes.
“Oh so now you want to play. Well, it’s too late. I want to introduce you to my fire ant colony. I think I’ll pour them here.” MonsterNomad pressed a particularly bruising spot. “I have to get home for a few hours so when I come back, I bet you’ll want to play.”
“As you know, the Monster is suspected of several murders across the country. His modus operandi is as familiar to many following this case. His first kill was in August 2009. As you may know, the game of Minecraft went operational in spring of that year.”
The detective held up a picture of a child. “A witness spotted an adult male with a mullet and slender build in his early twenties loitering around the McDonald’s near the interstate. This person of interest left with a Jaemore County child on foot. Sadly, the security cameras were inoperative and the witness is an elderly gentleman who wishes not to be identified. The witness was not able to make out many details about the twenty year old as he is partially blind. It is imperative that we get this child’s picture out to the public. He has black hair and a smattering of freckles and is only seven years old.
One hour earlier...
Billy had decided he hated freckles. They looked like little fire ants that have died on skin. He drifts in and out of sleep. The ants have temporarily stopped their assault but the stinging is almost unbearable.
“Would you like to eat?” That hideous voice comes from the ladder leading to the treehouse. “I have some broccoli and rice because everyone needs their green vegetables.” A high pitched giggle followed.
Billy tried to talk but his throat was too parched.
“I have your Capri Sun if you want something to drink.”
Billy nodded tiredly as MonsterNomad punched the straw through the package.
“You know these drinks are full of sugar. Your mom should know better.”
Billy shrugged, too happy to feel the liquid soothe his throat.
“Now, I’m going to untie you so you can eat your dinner. No funny business or I’ll have to pull out my knife.” MonsterNomad patted a blue bag beside him.
He ripped the rope off and Billy howled with pain. Pins and needles were warring with the ant bites for the top pain producer. Billy wanted to hurt MonsterNomad as much as he could but he was too frightened to do anything.
“Go slow or you’ll get sick.” MonsterNomad immaturely laughed again.
Billy waited a few minutes for the blood to return to this hands. But he paid him no mind and attacked the food with gusto. All the while, he eyed the bag near MonsterNomad. He began to plot. If he could get to the bag to get the knife, he might have a chance. He slowed down his and debated different scenarios. All of them more improbable than the last but Billy knew if he doesn’t act now, he’d lose his advantage and be killed soon. That much was certain. No more playing with this monster.
When MonsterNomad turned around to clean up, Billy made his move. He pounced on the bag but MonsterNomad was surprisingly strong and they tussled. MonsterNomad tried to tie him back up when the first crack sounded.
Billy glances and sees the wall of the tree house splinter and fall. The tree house is coming down and Billy is determined more than ever to defeat his biggest foe in a struggle for life and death.
MonsterNomad grabbed the bag where the knife is but Billy is too quick, spurred on by survival instinct. Twisting his enemy’s wrist, Billy belly crawled to the bag but it was too late. The destruction of rest of the treehouse begins a speedy descent to the earth.
For an infinitesimal moment, several things happened at once. MonsterNomad clung to a branch and Billy was motionless and weightless but gravity took hold and he plunged to the forest floor. His last thought before he hit the ground was, “Thank you, God. It’s over.”
The detective paused to sip some water. An expectant hush fell over the crowd. “But after a call from a parent, we have a lead on the whereabouts of the Minecraft Monster.”
“William Newnan, aka Billy Newman, a newly hired custodian at Jaemore Elementary School, has been identified as the Minecraft Monster. Dr. Meredith Davis, principal of the school, has been in constant contact since she spied him and later, Elvis Lyons, a student known to skip school, leave separately under suspicious circumstances. She relayed her concerns for Mr. Newman’s safety to us since Elvis had been suspended for releasing ants into the girls’ bathroom several days ago. Elvis Lyons has led us to the body of Newman near the Lyons’ property. Newman had been communication with Elvis who is well known in the Jaemore community as MonsterNomad524. We believe that Newman took Elvis to a treehouse to torture and eventually kill the child.
Based on the evidence, we have concluded that Newman died from injuries suffered in a fall from the treehouse. Newman’s mother was barely coherent and intoxicated when we went to the Monster’s home but coupled with the laptop found at the scene and other clues, William Newman and the Minecraft Monster are one in the same. Now our community and others across the country can sleep safe tonight knowing the Monster is no more.
Little Elvis Lyons is one lucky child and we can thank God that He kept an innocent child safe.”