Short Story Series- You got Scammed – Chapter 10

Lilly couldn’t help staring across the table in nervous expectation at how the man she had been talking to all week looked like…

He was… chubbier than she had imagined…a mask really does change and hide the shape of the face. This reminded her of a Webtoon she once read, in which all of the characters had to wear masks to conceal their face. They were only allowed to take their masks off to their immediate family members and lovers. Who would have thought that this would become a reality for her as well.

But, he was not bad. Cute..maybe if you really squinted your eyes a little. Did he look like any of the blurred and pixelated photos on his dating profile? Nope. This was a completely different person sitting in front of her… She was such a fool. Who was this person? Was he going to try get something from her?

“Hey! You didn’t have to hide your face! You look alright!” She said, she felt nervous when she didn’t know what to say.

“I can see it in your eyes! You are disappointed that I don’t look like my photos right?”. He said, pointing out the obvious.

“Well, as you said they were really old photos right? Before you somehow gained 15 kg?”. She said trying to recall their previous conversation.

“Yeah something like that. I used to practice Muay Thai and kick boxing in the United States before coming here…But I didn’t do any exercise since I moved here. I cam at the worst time”. He laughed.

“Say, are you living on your at the moment?” He asked suddenly.

Why did he suddenly want to know about this she wondered?…

“Well kind of, I am sharing a house with a few other people..but I guess I have my own kitchenette and bathroom, so its not too bad. I just share the laundry room with the others.” She said carefully, she didn’t want to make it sound she lived alone.

“Oh…how much is the rent there? I need to move out from the place in the city soon and moving to your suburb should be cheaper I think…” He said.

“Oh..ummmm its probably about $300 a week? Not including electricity or Wifi…” She said.

“Oh…that’s still more expensive than I thought! I guess I will have to keep looking for a place sharing with more people”. He said disappointingly..

“Oh…What’s your budget per week?” She asked.

“Hmmm…Maybe around $150 a week?”.. He said hopefully.

“Oh…haha that’s half my rent…are you offering to share my rent?” She said nervously. What was he trying to hint at?

“No…of course not~! I don’t think I can afford that…especially since it doesn’t cover all the bills..I mean…I can offer to cook and clean for you if you would like, in exchange for board!” He said hopefully.

I don’t even know you mate, and you are already offering to move in she thought.

“Haha! Yes, that would be great. I am incredibly lazy to cook sometimes!” She tried to laugh it off.

“Oh YUM. This is really delicious!” She said trying to change the topic and focusing on eating her ramen instead.

“Yeah it is great! Thank you for the meal. Let me treat you next time to something nice and even more delicious ..” He said while eating some ramen.

They ate in silence for a few minutes. The silence was then broken by the iconic facebook notification sound coming from his phone. She could see someone had sent him a emoji of someone blowing a kiss flashed across the screen.

“Oh sorry about that! I should really put my phone on silent my phone during our date!” He turned his phone over and pressed a few buttons on his phones, I am guessing to turn off his notifications.

Strange. She recalled him clearly saying he had no social media accounts. Does she call him out now? was that weird? Hmm…So suspicious.

“Sooo anyway Lilly. Tell me all about you! What are you doing for a living and how are you surviving during covid?” He asked.

How about you tell me about YOURSELF? Is what she thought in her head, but she held herself back in saying it out loud.

“WELL to be honest, I am actually doing it pretty hard myself at the moment. I have a huge credit card bill that I have to pay off soon but I don’t have any money in my bank! I know this is quite sudden and we just met, but is there any chance that you could lend me $500? I actually need $1000, but anything helps”. She lied. She had read somewhere online that if you wanted to avoid being asked to borrow money, you have to ask FIRST. She hated lying but she had a gut feeling he would be asking her for money.

“….What?” He said, looking flabbergasted.

“Yeah, I am really sorry to ask you. But I promise to pay you back as soon as I get my next paycheck!” She said. Wow she should win an Oscar with her hopefully convincing act.

“Oh…sorry…I don’t think I can. Why don’t you ask you family or friends to lend it to you?”. He said sounding a bit pissed off.

“Yeah..too bad that are being hit REAL bad due to Covid too..”She said sadly.

“OHHH…I am SOOO sorry. I think I have to attend to an emergency at work!” He said looking at his phone screen which was blank.

“I’ll definitely make it up to you next time? My shout”. He winked and was off.

Sure you will..And that was the last time she ever heard or saw from him again. His number suddenly stopped working and as he “did not have” any social media accounts, he really was gone.

Good riddance Mr too good to be true.

——-

End note

Thank you for reading my first short story series!

Please stay tuned for more in the future 😀 !

Short Story Series- You got Scammed – Chapter 9

They had just reached the food court and had put in their orders and were waiting for their food. She had offered to pay as it was a habit of hers to treat her friends, and plus she figured she had chosen this ramen place. He hadn’t even offered to pay… but ohwell.

“Soo…you said you worked as a chef she asked?”. Trying to break the awkward silence. Both of them had their masks on still.

“Yeah. Well, I am training to become a chef.. So I am just a kitchen-hand at the moment. But due to Covid-19 I think they will be reducing a lot of the staff, so I have a feeling I will lose my job soon”. He said sadly.

“Oh, sorry to hear that, do you have any ways of supporting yourself if you do lose your job?.” She asked.

“Well my mother has been sending money to me from Japan to support me. But I don’t want to rely on her so much….My lease for the apartment in the city will end at the end of this month as well, so I also need to look for a cheaper place to rent.”

“Oh..I. see… so no plans to go home? Do you like living in Australia?” She asked. She tried to sound as sympathetic as she could, but a part of her felt like he wasn’t telling the truth.

“Yeah, I want to stay here…but I can’t with no job and no money to pay rent.” He said somewhat sadly.

“Oh…is it hard to find another job at the moment?”. Lilly asked. She didn’t really know much about the hospitality industry, just that it had taken a huge hit because of Covid.

“Yeah it’s really hard right now. A lot of my friends have already lost their jobs and gone back to their home countries. I am really lucky to have had a job for so long. But I don’t think I will be able to stay when I lose my job too.”.

“Ahh that sucks”. She really did not know what to say or how to respond.

“I am also planning to go back to Japan for the death anniversary of my ex-girlfriend too, it might be hard to come back to Australia after that” He said.

“Oh, I see..yeah that’s true. There are limited overseas flights in and out of Australia at the moment and it’s so expensive!” She said.

Just then the food vendor shouted the number for their order and they went to get their food to eat outside as indoor dining was not allowed. They found a table and bench outside and sat down.

This was it, she was finally going to see his face.

“Well I guess we can finally see each other’s faces! Or we could eat with the masks on I guess..” She said jokingly.

They both went to remove their masks and put it on the table….

Short Story Series- You got Scammed – Chapter 8

Oh Shit. He had seen her already…well this was awkward. She slowly looked towards her right and saw the same masked man that she had seen in the video. Well, at least he was the same person in the video call. However, nothing like on his profile photos.

She quickly put her mask on and opened her door and went to greet him. She had to be polite at least. Scammer or not, he was still a person…right? Her strict upbringing meant she was always taught to be kind and polite to everyone she met. She took a deep breath and said..

“Hi! Are you Hiroshi?” she asked a bit nervously.

She couldn’t see his face, but she could feel him smiling through the mask.

“Hello Lilly! I am so glad to finally meet you! I have to say, you look better in person than in your photos!” He said delighted.

Ummm…how was she even supposed to respond to that? That he looked worse than his photos? Well, he looked nothing alike his photos?

“Uhh, thanks? I guess? I am pretty bad at taking photos of myself..haha, but I guess you are good at taking photos, because your photos looked cool?” … More like because you look nothing like your photos she thought to herself.

As if he had read her mind, he replied, “I do get that a lot! The photos on my profile are pretty old…I haven’t updated them in a while..haha…I gained a lot of weight since coming to Melbourne. I think I gained 15 kg since I got here in January…and the lockdown, you know..it changed how I looked haha…” His tone gave out the impression he was little nervous, but he seemed he had rehearsed this story multiple times.

“Oh… I see! Haha I think I gained weight too during this year…but I did some work outs at home…sooo I think it wasn’t that much”. Lilly said awkwardly.

“Are you disappointed? That I look worse in real life.” He asked suddenly in a somewhat sad tone with a hint of joking..

Wow. He was …So direct.

“Ohhh no I am not disappointed! Looks doesn’t matter that much anyway to me! Shall we go to the food court?” She stammered, trying to change the subject. Let’s get this over and done with.

“Yeah! Let’s go! I can’t wait to try this ramen store that you recommend!”

As they walked towards the food court, Lilly thought about how she would respond to seeing his face for the first time and getting to know him. It would confirm or reject the conclusion that she had that she smelled a catfish..

Short Story Series- You got Scammed – Chapter 7

Saturday rolled around faster than she expected and now she was getting ready for the date. She was tossing up between two different dresses, one was a low cut sexy black mini dress while the other one was a cute long green dress which didn’t show her body shape at all. In the end she chose the green dress, she didn’t know who this guy was and he could turn out to be a creepy stalker after all. She put on some make up and straightenedd her hair, smiled at herself in the mirror, grimaced at herself and then grabbed her keys and went out.

She had just parked her car at the station when the message alert rang out on her phone. It was Hiroshi….

“Hi Lilly. Sorry, I am running a few minutes late today because the train was delayed :(. Just to let you know I am wearing a maroon backpack and wearing a brown jacket. See you soon!” He then also sent a photo of him in his mask sitting in the train…

Damn, she had time to kill, time to do more investigating. If Hiroshi didn’t have social media accounts, he might still use things like LinkedIn or surely she would be able to find some information on him, Hiroshi didn’t seem like that common of a name. As she didn’t know his last name, she typed in his first name and changed the location to “Melbourne, Victoria”. She then tried with the keywords, “Chef, Japanese, Hiroshi, Melbourne”. There was absolutely nothing. It was like this guy really did not exist. Who was he? Was she safe? Should she back out now? Now she was somewhat afraid, this was a complete stranger that seemed like he had something to hide…She rubbed her temples and thought deeply, she could leave now, but then she would never get the answers she wanted to find out. Before she could come to a conclusion she heard her phone alert go off.

“Hi Lilly. Are you here already? I see a girl in a car that looks like you. Look out the window to the right.”

Short Story Series- You got Scammed – Chapter 6

“Oh…but what if we ever met up? Would you still be too shy to meet up then also?”. She asked curiously. This guy was acting sooo weird., what was he hiding under his mask? Why was he so relunctant to reveal how he looked like?

“I’ll only take my mask off when we meet up. So when are you free? Let’s meet up really soon,as I really want to see you in person”. Hiroshi said playfully.

Lilly didn’t know how to answer. Was it safe to meet someone who was so cautious about revealing their face? She had no way to confirm that the person on the other side of the screen was who they said they were. However, she felt drawn towards this mysterious person and she wanted to find out who they really were, so she guessed she would just play along for now.

“Ohhh sure. That’s fine! I Just had hoped to see your face online before we met, but anyways…are you free this Saturday? Do you want to meet at Central M-City Mall? Maybe we can have lunch at the food court there? I heard they have a really nice ramen store!”

“That sounds like a plan! What time should we meet?” he said enthusiastically.

“How about 12 pm at the M-City train station?” She suggested.

“Sounds great! I can’t wait to finally meet you! I am so excited!” he replied.

“Uhh.. me too”. His enthusiasm was somewhat contagious even though it seemed absurd that he would be so excited to meet a girl he had literally talked to for like …two days?

“Sorry, I am going to head to bed soon, I’ll see you on Saturday then?” She said.

“Sweet dreams beautiful girl! I am going to be so excited I won’t be able to sleep”. He laughed.

“..hhahha good night…” She hung up the phone. Semi creeped out, but also loving the attention that she was receiving. She hadn’t had any dates that had been so genuinely interested in her or had called her beautiful. It felt nice, but she still had that nagging doubt in her stomach that something did not seem right with this Hiroshi. Who was he and what was he hiding underneath that mask?

Short Story Series – You got Scammed. Chapter 5

Lilly waited and waited, but there was no reply from Hiroshi. Was she too forward with asking to see his face? Was it too obvious that she didn’t believe he was real? Whatever, she started to get ready for bed. As if the phone had heard she wanted to sleep, it started ringing…was it Hiroshi?

She picked up the phone and a mans voice said.

“Hi Lilly?”.

His voice was different to what she had expected, it was a heavily accented one, one similar to her friends that were from Phillipines? ..

“Umm Hi Hiroshi…?” She said a bit nervously as she hadn’t expected him to call as he had never replied her message…

“Are you nervous to talk to me?” He laughed over the phone.

“Oh, I just didn’t expect you to call so suddenly..because you hadn’t replied my text”… And Lilly thought to her self, I hate people who call out of the blue! I couu have been woken up from my precious sleep.

“Oh! Sorry were you sleeping already? I just wanted to call you for a short chat…I promise it won’t take long! But, I can call you back tomorrow…”

“Oh no it’s okay…” This could be her one chance of exposing him as the catfish she suspected him to be.

“Is it okay if we video chat?” she asked expectantly.

There was an awkward pause for a few moments.

“Oh..umm sure, but just give me a minute to get ready for bed and I’ll call you back”. he said.

A few minutes later passed and the phone rang again, this time on video call.

“Hi again!”
A man appeared on the screen in a badly lit room and he was wearing a black mask on and only revealing his eyes.

“Hi…but why are you wearing a mask while talking to me?”. She asked. She wasn’t able to confirm or trash her suspicions of him.

“I am a shy boy and also I don’t want to disappoint you haha.” He said.

Short Story Series – You got Scammed. Chapter 4

Hmmm. Well, what was the worst thing that could happen? It was just her phone number she was giving, not her bank account details or anything right? Should be alright? Right?

She typed back, “Fine here’s my number.. . The food you cook better look amazing”. She pressed send and put her phone away.

Lilly finally finished work at around 7 pm and was opening the door of her apartment when her phone started going vibrating and lighting up with notifications. What in the world??? It was an unknown number that popped up.

“Hi! This is Hiroshi here!”.. “Thanks for sending me your number.;). .. then next he sent a was a photo of a bowl of ramen that looked as it came from a top Japanese restaurant. “This is what I just cooked for my breakfast today”. Then there was several again blurry photos that he took of himself with a mask hiding his half of his face. The last message said,“Do you like what you see?”. I can cook for you and give you a massage on your feet, because I know you will be tired from work ;(.”. Also, let me know when you are on your period and i’ll make sure to look after you!”.

Lilly didn’t know how to reply…overwhelmingly he seemed too good to be true, but at the same time she wanted to believe that maybe there was a guy that could understand women, could cook, and was as good looking as the man in her dreams…there was one way she could find out from the safety of her phone.

She replied, “Hey Hiroshi! Thanks for sending me the photos! Wow! did you really make that? Looks like it came straight out of a Japanese restaurant!”. By the way, why are you sending me blurry photos of you with a mask on? Do you have something to hide? Jkjk. But seriously, want to video chat tonight if you are free?”.

Short Story Series- You Got Scammed- Chapter 2

Lilly looked at her phone in surprise, the tiredness slipping away momentarily. Another two “Ding! Ding!” sounds went off on her phone as Hiroshi send another two messages. She pressed the notifications, the first message read, “Hi Lilly! How are you? Thank you so much for matching with me!”. The second message said, “I am so happy you matched with me, I promise I will be loyal to you forever if you let me. Lmao”. The third and final message said, “Now that I have found you, I am going to delete Hinge. Can I have your mobile number please?”.

Lilly stared at the messages not knowing what to think. This guy was so…forward? She liked that in a guy and he promised loyalty too…She had bad experiences of exes who had cheated on her or were constantly flirting with other girls in front of her and she wanted to avoid any guy that was like that. Sure, maybe he was bullshitting. But to ask me for my number this early on? She wasn’t sure that was a safe thing to do this early in their encounter. Hmmm, she was not going to give her number straight away, but how should she respond to him…? She typed, “Hi Hiroshi! I should thank you for matching back with me. So can you tell me about yourself? Can we talk on Facebook or Instagram instead? I don’t like giving my number out to people who I don’t know that well yet.” She sent the message and waited for a few minutes. Not seeing a response, she decided to go to sleep….

That night she dreamt about her first love, the one who had promised to love her and only her for the rest of her life. They had plans of getting married, having kids, and the future of things that the planned to do. But, all of that burnt into the ground as ashes when she found out that he had been cheating on her. She couldn’t forgive him, she couldn’t imagine trusting him again…and from there on she was scarred, deformed, and hesitant to trust men again. Trust issues…SUCK… Why does trust take so long to build, yet can be so easily destroyed?

Would this new guy she just met be able to be the guy for her? I mean it was just words. Do words even really mean anything these days? But Lilly was lonely, if you never let your guard down and let anyone in, you will forever remain all alone. But, when you let your guard down, you can get hurt….I guess you just have to choose whether it’s worth taking the risk or not…

Short Story Series: You Got Scammed – Chapter 1

Lilly looked at the photo…contemplating whether she should request to match with him. He was so good looking…he could easily pass off as a celebrity, a rock star, or a model of some sort. There was no way he would be interested in a plain, boring, average looking girl like me. Heck, Lilly thought…What do I have to lose anyways? There was only a limited amount of match requests you could do each day, but more often than not she never used them up. She wanted a relationship, but at the same time she was too tired and lazy to put much effort into it. Lilly felt relationships were so hard to maintain. Her last relationship was probably over 4 years ago? That ended pretty badly and she still had dreams that haunted her showing alternate endings to her relationships. It was like an unhealed trauma that left her feeling hesitant to believe in love again.

As a teenager, Lilly believed love was something that she felt certain she would never experience…She was never one of those popular pretty girls back in high school and no guys had every asked her out…and if they did it was as a joke. Back in high school Lilly had crooked teeth, acne, glasses, and was super self-conscious about showing any skin at all. Her secondhand high-school skirt was almost down to her feet and she always wore long sleeved shirts no matter how hot it was outside. She didn’t think any guy would ever be interested in her….not until she was able to transform herself into who she was now. She had gotten braces during University, finally managed to be brave enough to get contact lenses, and she slowly outgrew her acne. She had grown more confident in her body as she started to work out at the gym, followed fashion bloggers, and learnt how to style her hair and do basic make up…she looked nothing like her old self, yet despite her appearance changing, her confidence in herself and finding true love was dim.

Lilly was afraid. Afraid that the other person would find out what kind of person she really was. Without all the make up, the facade that she tried to put up. She felt she was just an ugly duckling that was pretending to be a swan…Dating was about pretending to be a perfect swan to attract a mate. WOW. When was life so primal? She believed guys were shallow, they just went for pretty, slim, and cute girls. Then again, she felt she was shallow too…she also went for handsome, tall, and fit guys…She too was not attracted to guys who didn’t look after themselves. Too bad most of those handsome guys turned out to be pricks who only wanted one thing. Sex. But she wanted more than that, she wanted a connection, a relationship, and maybe a husband…dating in this time and age was really really HARD.

Well whatever, Lilly thought, it’s time to sleep. Lilly was about to head off to sleep when the a notification flashed across the screen of her phone…”Hiroshi has sent you a message”…

The Covid-19 Apocalypse

This Covid-19 has allowed our minds to run wild and to jump to many of us having irrational thoughts and behaviors. Once the pandemic dies down, I can already imagine all the films and movies that will be made about this Pandemic that took over the world. I’ve been thinking my pitch for a science-fiction documentary titled the “The Covid-19 Apocalypse“.


 

It’s December 2019, while most of the world are celebrating the festive Christmas season and spending time with their loved ones, people in Wuhan, China are fearing for their lives. A strange new virus, now known as the Covid-19 has been sweeping through the Wuhan and leaving countless of people to die. The virus can be spread even if people are asymptomatic, leaving people to fear for their lives when among other people. There is currently no cure or treatment for this virus and the virus does not pick or choose who it will infect. At this stage, the virus gets very little coverage and it seems like its a virus only affecting this location in China at the moment, the world is not ready for what is to come. Little do they know, that this virus originating from one province in China, will soon be spread to every country in the world and lead to the what I call the Covid-19 Apocalypse.

….

It’s March 2020, in Adelaide, South Australia. The city is still in lock down and boy has my life changed. The message from the leader of Australia is clear, “STAY AT HOME” ,”WASH YOUR HANDS”, and “GET TESTED IF YOU SHOW ANY SYMPTOMS OF THE VIRUS”. Gone are the handshakes, hugs, kisses, any type of physical affection is banned. Restaurants are closed, any type of entertainment places are closed, universities and schools are closed, basically this town is a ghost town. It is almost like there an apocalypse going on, WAIT, just let me look up the definition of apocalypse, I think this DOES count as an apocalypse. The people more anxious have already hoarded all the toilet paper from the super markets, canned food, hand sanitisers, soups, flour, eggs, there is global medication shortages…people are believing, this is it. This is the end of the world. Panic and anxiety is wide-spread, people showing their true colours…Some are selfish only thinking of themselves and their family, others show kindness even among their own hardships and difficulties. How long will this last for? How long can we last not seeing our loved ones? How long will the mental health state for those isolated be able to handle this? When will this all end?

….