By Tracey Walsh
Staying safe online wasn’t rocket science. Ellie knew how important it was to have the right privacy settings on her account: Location switched off; only close friends able to see her posts and photos; her profile gave only the bare minimum detail (and what was there, was mostly fictional).
She’d slipped into the habit of spending some time each evening online, chatting and sharing humorous images. The hours seemed to fly by when she was clicking and typing on her laptop or phone.
Ed was a friend of a friend. She couldn’t even remember which friend now but she’d accepted his request sometime last year and within a few weeks had amended him to Close Friend. They would chat for ages, swapping stories about their day and the latest celebrity scandals. Lately, more and more of these chats were via private messages. Ed had suggested they should switch on their webcams and she hadn’t needed much persuading. His camera wasn’t working though, some sort of software glitch.
She hadn’t thought about it much but Ed didn’t have many photos posted either and his profile picture was Man United’s badge.
This online friendship made up for the loneliness of Ellie’s real life. Her only family was an aging aunt back home in Glasgow, who she’d last seen three years ago. She sometimes wondered if anyone would miss her if she disappeared. The block of flats she lived in was home to about fifty people and she knew none of them by name or to talk to other than a muttered ‘Good morning’ if they crossed on the stairs.
She was looking forward to her nightly online chat session when she closed the flat door behind her. Minutes later Ed passed her door on the way to his own.
He would bide his time.