Ben pulled his keys from his pocket as he approached his house, opening the lock and heading inside. A smile formed on his face when a blur of fur darted out and leaped onto his shoulders. As the cat nuzzled him and began purring, Ben sat his small briefcase down and scratched behind his ears.
"I know, you missed me. Don't worry, food's coming." Ben walked to the kitchen, turning on lights as he went. As he neared that door the cat jumped right to the floor and assumed the 'feed me, peasant' position. Ben opened up a can of cat food and scraped it into the bowl. While the cat ate, he walked up to his room and got out of his work clothes.
Come downstairs, Ben sat down at his computer and started going through his e-mails. Spam, junk, enlarge this, reduce that. Then there was one that stuck out. The return address was a jumble of random characters, and the subject simply said Benjamin. Trusting his virus protection software, Ben opened the e-mail to find an odd symbol at the top followed by text in german reading: " Du wirst zu brechen. Dein Leben zu ihm gehört. Er ist immer zu beobachten."
Ben didn't know what to think of the odd e-mail, but decided it was either sent to him by mistake or some sort of prank and deleted it. His cat came over eventually to curl up next to the keyboard and paw at his hands occasionally for attention. He'd just smile and give him some pets, before resuming communications with his friends. Glancing at the clock he saw it was getting late.
Ben approached his front door to lock it for the night, but something caught his eye. As he looked out the window, he could swear he saw someone across the street staring at him. He opened the door to look, but in that instant whoever it was was gone. Deciding he was imagining things since it was late, he closed and locked the door. He turned off his computer, and went to bed.
The next morning Ben got up and began getting ready for work. Everything seemed normal until he heard the cat darting into another room and hissing. Wondering what could possibly be getting that reaction, he went to investigate. Once there however he saw nothing in the room, and as soon as he reached down to pet the cat it calmed down and purred. Ben finished getting dressed and headed out.
Work went by at its usual pace, and when lunch time came Ben asked around about the strange e-mail. Naturally nobody confessed, and just brushed it off. Though one of the quiet ones asked what the german was. Ben rattled off the bits he could remember and pronounce. His coworker looked a bit shake, explaining "That means, 'You will break'. I'm not sure who sent you that, but that doesn't sound good."
Ben tried to not think about it, but every so often he thought he saw something out of the corner of his eye. Something that was gone the instant he turned to look. When Ben got home, he found his door was unlocked. He knew for sure he locked it when he left, it was his routine. He opened the door and hurried inside, and another warning bell went off in his head when the cat didn't greet him.
He searched the house, before finding the cat in his bedroom hissing at an empty corner. Ben petted him to calm him down. That's when he saw the photos. Ben kept photos of his family in his bedroom, and in every one of them the faces of his parents were scribbled over. It was the same strange symbol Ben had seen in the e-mail.
After a thorough search of the house, Ben found nothing missing or tampered with except the photos. Trying to relax and regain a sense of normalcy, Ben gave the cat some food and settled in at his computer. No strange e-mails were there tonight. When it started getting late, Ben closed the computer down and decided to call a locksmith and have them come out on a weekend day when he could be home.
Ben's morning started earlier than usual, however. His phone started going off, and as he sat up he recognized it as the tone set aside for text messages. Picking it up, the return number slot was blank. The only thing in the text was the word "Weinen". Still half asleep and not willing to think about it, Ben started to go back to sleep when his phone rang again with an actual call.
His eyes widened as he listened to his mother's frantic voice. His father got into an accident on his way home from work, and crashed into a lamp pole. The impact had put him into a deep coma, and the doctor didn't expect him to recover. Ben gulped, and promised his mother he'd head there that weekend and visit.
The rest of the day was hard to cope with, all Ben could think about was his father. And that weird text message. He tried texting back, but an error message came up saying the number is unavailable. He mentioned it to the quiet co-worker, who explained that word meant to cry or weep. Considering he got it right before the call made Ben shudder, was someone behind that accident? The same person sending him these messages?
When Ben arrived home he found his door was once again unlocked. The cat greeted Ben like normal this time, but he still searched the house. Finding nothing out of place, Ben went through the usual nightly routine. When he went to his computer however, he found it already on but in sleep mode. As he brought it up, he found his desktop background changed to what looked like a night vision photo.
Upon looking closer, a chill ran down Ben's spine. The photo was him, sleeping in his bed. Ben tried to remove the picture from being his background, but every time an error message popped up saying he was not authorized to make that change. He wondered just what sort of virus that e-mail had given his computer, and why his virus protection didn't stop it.
Ben covered up the desk top as much as he could to avoid looking at it. Thankful tomorrow was Saturday, and he could get the locksmith in to change his lock. When he saw it growing late again, he headed up to bed and tried to forget everything. His cat curled up by his head helped, and he nuzzled it a bit before finally drifting off to sleep.
Around the time Ben usually woke up for work, he was woken by the sound of his cat hissing and growling on his chest. Quickly turning he saw the cat was staring into a dark corner of his room. Turning on the light revealed nothing there. Ben sighed and petted the animal, wondering just what was getting his cat so worked up, before he received a text message.
Picking up his phone, it was another text from the mystery sender that simply said "Heulen". Almost immediately after reading that word his phone rang from a call. Ben was afraid to answer it this time, starting to see the pattern. But he couldn't simply ignore the call, and tears came to his eyes when he listened to the man on the other side of the phone.
It was a police officer, asking Ben to come down to the station and identify a body they believed belonged to his mother. He told them he'd be right over, and quickly got dressed. Making extra sure his door was locked, and his computer was off, Ben headed out to the police station.
The coroner lead him into the autopsy room, and gave Ben a moment to prepare himself before lifting the sheet. Tears flowed readily the moment Ben nodded, recognizing his mother's face. The police officer explained she had been found laying on the sidewalk covered in blood from multiple stab wounds. The usual questions came, where was Ben, at what time. Once that was done with, the police told him he could go home.
Just as he was heading back to his car, another text lit up his phone. Another mystery text, containing only the word "Schreien". Just like before, he immediately got a phone call. This time it was a doctor who explained that his father had passed away only a few moments ago. Someone had gotten into his room and turned off his life support, and by the time someone heard the flatline it was too late.
Ben sat in his car in tears, face in his hands. When he believed he was calmed down enough to drive, he started his car and headed home. As he pulled into the driveway, his heart skipped a beat. Not only was his door unlocked, it sat wide open. For a split second Ben thought he saw someone through the upstairs window. Hurrying out of his car and into the house he rushed upstairs. A scream came from his lips at what he saw.
Lying on his bed, in a dark red pool, was his cat. Its face contorted in a horrible expression, its stomach sliced open. The symbol from the e-mail and the photos was inscribed in blood around the cat, and written on the wall behind the bed was simply "Brechen!" Ben fell to his knees and cried. Fumbling in his pocket for his phone, he called the police.
When they arrived and investigated, Ben was told to sit outside so as to not disturb the crime scene further. After some time one of the officers approached and informed him there was no sign of forced entry. They would be taking his photos, the sheets off his bed, as well as his computer to the station for further analysis. All Ben could do was numbly nod, and try to keep from wailing in front of the man.
As the last police car left, along with the crime scene clean up crew, Ben slowly made his way back into his house. Curling up on the couch for tonight, Ben tried to get some sleep. He tossed and turned, unable to get comfortable or shake the images from his head. Some time after midnight, he started to get up to get some warm milk to relax himself when he saw someone.
In the corner of the room there was a man there, from what Ben could see the person appeared to be somewhat young. Not very tall, only about 5'7, though the baggy hoody and pants made it hard to determine much else. He also noticed this person had a knife in one hand that glinted faintly in the dim light from a street lamp.
Ben took a quick glance around himself to find he was unarmed and defenseless. He gulped and asked who the person was, and what they wanted. Their only response was to slowly walk closer, and as more light shined in from the window Ben could see dark, dirty, frayed hair hanging from under the hood and obscuring a pale face. Lips slowly parted as the hooded stranger spoke.
"Der Großmann hat euch erwählt. Sie sind zerbrochen. Sie sind reif. Er wird zu ernähren." The stranger closed in and raised the knife. Ben didn't have the will at that point to resist or struggle, so he simply lowered his head. The knife came down several times, before Ben stopped breathing. The hooded person walked out of the door as soon as he thought Ben was dead.
As Ben lay there on the floor, the air shifted. Several hands extended from the darkness, grabbing hold of his body before pulling him into the shadows. The hooded person slowly walked down the sidewalk, knife concealed in his coat, with a wide grin plastered on his face.