Written by TriangleDelta
It didn't take long after the interview broadcast on the CBC for the threats to start. By the time they broadcast it, Lauren had already finished with all of her paperwork informing the school that she wasn't returning in the fall, so she didn't have to go back to the campus. That was a small mercy, and the skink was thankful for it. She wasn't sure exactly what the school administration could do beyond giving her the cold shoulder or gumming everything up in bureaucracy, which they already did whenever she needed anything.
Still, the skink wasn't ready for the deluge when it came. She was in her room, doing her morning stretches and workout when she heard her dad getting in downstairs from the night shift at the mill. When he called up to her, she could hear the hesitance in his voice.
"Hey Lauren? We've got a, uh…" He trailed off. "Come on down for breakfast."
She blinked at that, an then stood up. She grabbed the towel that was hanging on the door, revealing a stylized Gundam poster underneath. She began towelling sweat off, and then left her room and headed down the stairs.
She rounded the corner into the kitchen, and then froze in place. Her dad was sitting at the kitchen table, a bowl of cereal in front of him. There was a large bag on the table, and spilling out of it were dozens of letters. Her father was holding one already open, his eyes scanning over the contents.
He glanced up when she came in. August Fash wasn't as lean as his daughter, but his slightly pudgy build hinted at muscle underneath. There were heavy bags under his eyes, and his clothes were dirty from his shift. He swallowed his spoonful of cereal, and then nodded down at the letter in his hand. "Sorry, didn't want to wait."
Lauren rolled her eyes, then walked over to sit at the table with him. "Be my guest. Do people still actually send mail?"
"They apparently do, when they want to send…" He casually thumbed through the letter. "When they want to send a three page hand written manifesto on the proud history of Thunder Bay Predator College."
Lauren let out a low whistle. "Great. That's just great. How much do you want to bet that my social media's just blowing up right now?"
Her dad inclined his head. "I'll keep going through the physical mail if you want to check."
Lauren fished her phone out of her pocket, and then swapped over to Twitter. As soon as she did, she blinked. "…huh. That is a, uh… that is a lot."
"I guess you're popular."
Lauren scrolled through notifications, her eyeridge slowly rising. "It's almost like people don't like it when you point out that their pred supremacist school is, y'know… full of pred supremacists."
"Funny how that works."
The two of them read on in silence for a few moments. At length, Lauren muttered, "Anything positive in those? For whatever reason, I think somebody writing a letter is less likely to use four letter words and… huh. 'Five-lined skank.' That's a new one."
"How about this one…" Her father skimmed through another letter for a bit, and eventually started reading. "'…the institution of Thunder Bay Pred. Maybe if you couldn't handle the pressures of playing for such an apex team, you didn't belong on the Apex in the first place. The purity of—"
"They actually used 'purity'?"
"They did indeed." He let out a long sigh, skimming the rest of the letter. "I suppose that as soon as somebody drops that word, we should probably just disregard the rest of the letter."
"I think that's a safe bet." She clicked through her phone a bit more, and gave her head a shake. "You'd think somebody would have built an algorithm for automatically muting or blocking anybody with an anime girl as a profile pic."
"Is that a thing?"
"Oh you should see the stuff in some of these posts." She flicked her thumb across the screen, then blinked. Out of the corner of her eye, she saw her dad look up. She locked the phone, then placed it facedown on the table. "…Or, y'know, maybe you should stick with the physical mail, and I'll keep things locked down on social media."
She kept her eyes fixed down on her phone, but she could feel his eyes on her. At length, he sighed, and muttered, "You know that trying to keep me from seeing things is only going to make me more worried about it."
"First you need to promise you aren't going to have a heart attack. Or try to track any of these people down and beat them up." She paused, then inclined her head towards him. "Or, y'know, both."
"I'll have you know that high blood pressure and irrational acts of protective violence are important pillars of fatherhood." He let out a small puff of air through his nostrils, feigning offence. When she didn't react, he reached out and prodded the phone in her hand. "You're going to let me know if things are getting out of hand, right? I've already spoken with your uncle - if we need help, we've got it."
She forced her face straight again, and then looked up at him. She nodded down at the pile of letters. "We're saying that isn't 'out of hand', right?"
"Not quite yet."
"Then we're not out of hand yet."
"Alright." He let out a long breath, and then began sweeping the letters back into the large bag. "There are probably at least a few encouraging letters in here, but I'm not willing to go looking for them. How do you think people would react if you posted a picture of us having a weenie roast tonight over a fire started with these?"
She did grin at that. "I imagine that it would have the desired effect."
"Good." He yawned, then stood up from the table. "I'm headed to bed. We'll do the photoshoot before I go to work."
She sat at the table, waiting and listening as he made his way up the stairs to his room. Her fingers drummed along the table for a good minute or two, until she heard the movement upstairs stop. Then, she flipped her phone back over, and unlocked it. The picture, from a DM sent to her over Twitter, filled the screen again.
It was a shot of her house.
Lauren stared down at the phone for a few more moments, her chin resting in her palm. Her tail flicked along the floor, and her thoughts wandered through all of the messages she'd received over the past two days. Lots of comments about different things that they hoped would happen to her. What they wanted to do to her. Those had been easy to shrug off, up until she'd come upon the picture of her house.
She let her eyes wander up to the bag of letters that her dad had left on the counter. The skink forced herself to take a few deep breaths, and then clenched her jaw. It wasn't like her address was a secret. Anybody with a Thunder Bay phone book could look it up with her last name. Hell, all the people who had sent those letters would have needed to find her address. This asshole proving that they could find her house wasn't really showing anything. Hell, they could have gotten that picture from Google Maps for all she knew.
Lauren rose up to her feet, and went to the fridge. She started getting the ingredients for her morning smoothie out. She still had two and a half months until the draft combine. If all those fucking pred idiots wanted to throw her off her game, they had another thing coming.
An errant voice in the back of her mind wondered what she was going to do if that hadn't been their intention. If it wasn't just a scare tactic to throw her off.
She pushed that voice away. She would be fine. Those pred supremacists were idiots, but they weren't that stupid. Even they wouldn't attack somebody in broad daylight.
Lauren stopped and thought about that. Lourdes wasn't that long ago. Just 50, 60 years? Years of tireless work organizing peaceful protests, legal challenges, and civil disobedience, only to wind up the mangled victim of an angry group of preds. She'd spoken to her uncle about that specific event few times when she'd been visiting her mom's side of the family. He always said that there hadn't been anything the police could do leading up to the attack. She also remembered the time he'd told her that some of the other officers on the police force occasionally made comments to the effect that Lourdes had had it coming. Something about how civil disobedience was still breaking the law.
Yeah, sure. Her dad could call in her uncle, and her uncle could… what? Tell the rest of the police that she'd received a mean tweet? They would probably just say that she was jumping to conclusions. Besides, she had no doubt that a good chunk of the force was pissed about her marring the reputation of the Thunder Bay Apex.
She finished pouring the ingredients into the blender, and then set it going. Two and a half months. She just had to last for two and a half months, and then she could go to the combine, get drafted, and get the fuck away from Thunder Bay… where there magically wouldn't be any pred supremacists waiting to keep up the harassment?
Lauren stared as the blender reduced her ingredients into a thick, pinkish liquid. One step at a time. She would delete her Twitter after breakfast. Deal with one emergency at a time.