Twenty-Four

841 67 10
                                                  


Twenty-Four

"Considered the top website on Creative Music Magazine's 'Best Websites for Aspiring Musicians' five years in a row, Musetunes has taken the industry to a whole new level. But no one mentions the website's darker side, the side scaring parents into pulling their kids off the site entirely."

-Dianne Sully, WHN News, Channel Fourteen


Tony pulled up the website on the sleek tablet he'd brought in with him. "We've been looking to find a way to connect our victims. This is it," after a few taps, he connected wirelessly with the projector screen.

Musetunes' home screen was a wash of excitement. It advertised Prince Ethan Alexander's newest album set to release next month, along with a Musetunes Festival put together by Cavenaugh Productions. The colors along the screen were loud; bright blues meshed with happy oranges, professional font organizing the navigation bar. Last time I'd checked in, the home screen was purples and greens as it advertised Anonymous. Just how many times was Anna changing my home screen?

He entered Cindy's username into the search bar and, not a moment later, her profile came up along with a rank: 13,897. It was a tad bare—mostly white space with hardly any material posted. Her about section had one small quote; two song tracks rested under her works with no more than a few hundred listens.

Tony brought up her message board and stopped. "This was the last message Cartwright left on her profile."

I'm sick of waiting for something that might never happen, she'd written. Timestamped last week at 2 a.m. Underneath it a few of her friends had responded, encouraging her not to give up on success, or just wait it out.

"We found a chip at one of the earlier scenes," Tony said, "with a Musetunes profile. What if this is it? What if they're fishing for new recruits through Musetunes?"

"It's possible," Marlee curled her long hair behind her ear as she frowned in thought. "Kids reveal a lot of themselves online. It's their safe space."

"Musetunes would make it a lot easier to find recruits," Eva pointed out. "No traveling needed. You can keep yourself anonymous. And everyone on Musetunes is looking to be noticed. No matter who it's by. If the opportunity is presented in such a way..."

"...you could have kids in your scary rape van before they even knew they were in trouble," I finished. "We need to tell Anna."

"We can't," Wes said.

"Why not?" Brayden asked.

"Because," Commander Jackson jumped in, "if we tip them off that we know anything, we're overplaying our hand. We need The Circle to believe we don't know anything about them or their strategy."

"These are kids," I argued, "who knows how many people they already have under their thumb. If we can connect all the murders from the last 16 years until today, then they're the single most dangerous group Sarias has ever seen."

"They already are," Adrian rooted through the documents in a separate folder spread out in front of him. One that was dark brown and stamped CONFIDENTIAL on the front. "We're finding connections all over the place. This symbol," he lifted up a printout of The Circle's tattoo, "has been found in the files of three serial killers, one of the king's advisors, and graffitied on several locations across Pellora."

"And Frank Leighton," Commander Jackson finished.

Frank Leighton?

The blood left Marlee's face. "It's not possible."

The Initiative (A Sleeping Beauty Remix)Where stories live. Discover now