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Winning story 2 2007


WritersServices Very Short Story Competition -the second winning story

Caught in the Web

by Jeanette Smith

Web literacy is good for those who are web literate – which Debbie wasn’t. But what she was, was a damned hard worker.

Anthony, her boss, was an all singing, all dancing, computer nerd, and could flash round the web at the touch of a button. He knew he was good, and so did his firm.

Debbie was happily married, and husband Gary worked hard too. Life seemed good – if a little threadbare.

Ant had just got a ‘mega’ commission and was jumping up and down pressuring his team to research that little bit deeper and to write the best copy ever. Debbie struggled with the web-based research and even took the computer manual home for some bed-time reading. Day by day she found her efficiency increased and Ant was even more complimentary. When Gary started helping her with her web proficiency, watching over her shoulder and checking her work at night, she felt she was really an important cog in her magazine’s wheel, and her family’s financial strategy.

Gary was so helpful he started taking Debbie’s work with him to the garage where he was a grease-monkey. Why he didn’t study and get a better job puzzled her. He was not thick, but would just not push himself to earn a better wage. She was pleased when Ant announced that the new magazine was finished and had been well received. He thanked everyone in gushing tones and singled her out for special praise. She blushed.. But she knew Ant was right. She had worked bloody hard, improved her web skills and had done it all with a happy heart.

When she got home there was no sign of Gary. The girls were there, sitting by the TV with drinks and biscuits. They ran to her, ‘Mummy, mummy!’ they shouted, ‘You’re home. Daddy has gone back to work. He took the big case. Are we going on holiday?’

Debbie was bemused. Case? Holiday? She dashed upstairs and flung open the wardrobes. Full – but that was hers. She opened his wardrobe – empty. She ran downstairs and stubbed his garage number into her mobile – no reply. ’Stay there girls, mummy’ll be back in a mo’, she said as she grabbed her bag and stumbled to the car. Revving the engine she roared round to the garage. It was locked. She rushed back home. Picking up the house phone to call his mother she could hear the ‘message alert’ sound. She dialled 1571 and heard Gary’s cool, calm, hard voice speaking to her. She was in a whirl. ‘Web research’ ‘Company profile’ ‘ hacking’ ‘spreadsheets’, the words were just a jumble, a nightmarish game of scrabble.

The Police caught up with him at the airport. He had used the knowledge she had brought home to steal millions from her firm’s accounts. She knew he wasn’t thick – but a web-based thief! And what about her and the girls? She felt like a spider caught in the largest, most evil web she had ever known.


Jeanette Smith has been a news journalist working on weeklies and regional evening newspapers for over 30 years and is a also a university lecturer in Journalism. She lives in Merseyside in the UK.

The other winning story

© Jeanette Smith 2007