MONDAY: What’s Your Problem?


Copyright is held by the author.

Subject: What’s Your Problem?


You can complain to the police but nobody can solve your problem. I am foreigner. So, they cannot trace me even for 5 weeks.

Your system was infected by my virus. I recorded you through your web-cam, at the moment you went to the porn web-page. Now I have the record of your masturbation. Your contacts are copied on my disc so if you want me to stay silent you must pay 400 USD in bitcoins.

Use this wallet address for payment: 17nRVFm8yMN3VatwuZMvBGMYKNGQP6ME4P (something like a credit card number).

When you reply on this letter my system will instantly forward you the evidence that I control your OS. So right after your answer you will receive new payment info and you will have to send 1200 dollars instead of the first sum.

Goodbye. Think about the ignominy.

Subject: Re: What’s Your Problem?


Dear “Frank”,

So, you’re a foreigner who can’t be traced for five weeks? You must be aboard the Starship Enterprise, but Captain Picard will eventually find you. You can’t hide from him.

Why would I complain to the police about my problem, whatever my problem is? Because of your email, I programmed a virus that’s now locked and hidden inside your computer, tracking every key click you make, every selection by your mouse.

I also invaded your system with a program that searched your hard drive. You say you have a record of my visits to porn sites? (Never happened, “Frank”.) But, I now have a record of your visits. My program also wiped the masturbation video completely off your system. That wasn’t me in the video, “Frank”. It was you. In case you might miss it, the copy is now on my hard drive. Oh, and my program wiped all of the bitcoin transactions that you carelessly typed into that MS Access file.

Never trust a Microsoft product, “Frank”. There’s always a “back door” with Microsoft.

I also downloaded all of your videos and your contacts.

However, I’m a nice guy. If you send me, via Western Union, an electronic deposit (to be confirmed after 72 hours) in the amount of $10,000, I’ll reverse all of the damage my program has done to your OS.

Now, you are mine.

How’s that for ignominy, “Frank”?


No. You do not understand. I am one in charge here, one in control. I am threatening you and demand you pay me now.

You do not know what you are doing.

I have no program, no virus, from you on my computer.

Pay me now.


Aw, “Frank”, you sound scared. And you should be.

I now have access to your hard drive and can see every email you’ve sent out. Every video you have watched. I have your Internet history.

How’s that for a problem, “Frank”?


I’m not scared.

I see no problem.


I know, Bruce O’Connor.

My name is Detective Hank Cowell, and my Internet cybercrime coworker and I just did a little research and found you.

You see, it’s a crime to extort money from people.

I’ve sent an urgent email to your mother to contact me.

Wanda O’Connor, right?



Please. No. I didn’t mean to hurt nobody. Really. I’m only 14 years old.

She’ll kill me.

She’ll take away my computer and internet and ground me forever.


I understand. Your mother and I will have a little chat.

You must promise me that you will never send out these kinds of emails to anyone, ever again.

Do you promise?




Detective Hank Cowell,

I’m Wanda O’Connor, Bruce’s mother. Thank you for your email.

I can’t believe Bruce sent out that message.

Are you sure it was him?

I can’t believe he’d do such a thing.


Mrs. O’Connor,

Yes. My colleague and I are pretty sure the Sender is your son.

I thought the email came from some “actor” outside the US, trying to extort money from me.

So, I began to do some online research and my colleague came up with your son’s information.


Detective, I’m devastated.

Bruce’s father died recently. Killed by a drunk driver. Bruce has been inconsolable and hard to control. Therapy is slowly helping.

I had to go back to work full time. My brother’s coming in a few weeks to live with us for a year.

I can’t believe my son sent out that email.


Mrs. O’Connor:

I’m very sorry for your loss.


Det. Cowell:

My husband was a detective with the Hamilton (Ohio) PD. Michael O’Connor.

He must be turning over in his grave over what Bruce has done.


Mrs. O’Connor:

[ Mic drop. ]

I work for the Lima PD, approx. 100 miles from Hamilton. We honored your husband during roll call when our department heard of his death.

I do need to ask you and Bruce to come meet with me tomorrow so we can discuss this in person.

You can reach me at 555-768-8627, voice and text. Contact me and let me know what time you’re available.


Dear Det. Cowell:

I will. As soon as I know. I can’t believe this.

I wish Michael was still here.



Dear Wanda:

If I can be of any help to you and your brother with Bruce, I will do what I can. I’m a Big with Big 

Brothers Big Sisters. I’ve been involved with helping troubled teens for many years.

The subject of Bruce’s email was “What’s Your Problem?”

I’d like to be a part of the solution.


  1. […] I’m grateful to announce that one of my flash (short-short) stories that I had posted for critiques by my fellow Scribophile members was published today on! […]

  2. Very clever story, engaging. Creative way to short story, using email dialogue.

  3. Thank you, T E B. I appreciate your feedback very much!

    ~Jenise Cook

  4. Enjoyed your short story!

  5. Very intriguing! Hooked me in right away. Loved the format of email conversation. Really enjoyed it.

  6. Thank you, Gale, Allan, and Erika!

    Your encouragement means a great deal to me! 🙂

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