The following is a fable written for the Grim Fable Contest. Enjoy. --- One day, after much begging and crying to her parents, Frannie Ferret got a computer of her very own. She got to explore the wonders of the internet like she'd always wanted: she had all the chatting with friends she could want and more cute pictures of kittens than she had ever seen before. Her parents warned her to be careful about what she told others on the internet because there were scary monsters out there who would pretend to be her friend, and that she must never ever tell them were she lived, but Frannie thought they were just being silly and just trying to scare her. She had fun on the internet all day long (aside from the time she spent at school, of course) and quickly forgot what her parents said, and she found a place where lots of different animals got together to talk, a place she grew to love and think of like a second home. It was called a forum, one of many on the internet, and it was much the same as any of the others. The fun and friendly animals were very welcoming, and soon Frannie Ferret felt just as close to them as the friends she knew from school. There was Sally Sparrow, a girl who was always happy to talk to everyone about every little thing happening in her life and put pictures of herself everywhere on the forum and sang like an angel. Derek Dog was a loyal friend who protected everyone and made all the forum animals feel like they were perfect just the way they were and chased off bad animals (like Catherine Catfish, who played a mean trick on gullible Ronald Raccoon). Then there was Thomas Tortoise, a gloomy fellow who only poked his head out of his shell once in a while to talk about how sad he was, but Frannie and the other animals did their best to cheer him up. Gary Goat just made jokes all the time, and he was the one to laugh the loudest at them, but that was okay because he made everyone's day better with his humor. And of course she couldn't help but adore Olivia Otter, who goofed around and made fun of all the animals, but they all knew it was just a joke and she apologized any time she hurt someone's feelings, so that was okay too. But Frannie's favorite was Benny Badger. He gave her advice when she complained about her school work or her parents, he always had nice things to say to her, and it seemed like everywhere she went on the forum Benny was there just a moment later. Sally Sparrow stopped coming to the forum one day, and that made Frannie very sad, so she went to talk to her best friend Benny about it. They started talking in a secret place where none of the other animals could see or hear, and he made her feel better about Sally being gone. After they had some more of these private talks, Benny told Frannie Ferret that she was pretty and that he liked her and wanted to be her boyfriend. She was very happy to hear this, because she'd been thinking the same about him! They had lots more of these secret talks as internet boyfriend and girlfriend, and Frannie told Benny all about her life, about her parents always being at work and her how her school was the worst ever and all about the neighborhood where she'd lived all her life. When her birthday came around Benny said he had a present for her, so Frannie told him where to send it and then she got a teddy bear in the mail! It was perfect and she had never been more happy in her whole life. Then one day she got a strange message from Benny Badger. It said "I'll see you soon," and it had a little heart at the end of it. Frannie Ferret thought it was some kind of joke, so she thought nothing of it and went to go watch a cute video of a kitten making a mess with its food. When the doorbell rang, Frannie ran off to answer the door because she thought it must be one of her friends coming over to play. She was very surprised when she opened the door and saw a huge, brown, furry beast towering over her with its sharp claws and sharp teeth all shining in the light. It had feathers stuck in the fur around its mouth, feathers that reminded Frannie of Sally Sparrow who had disappeared. The scary animal at the door was Benny Bear, not a badger after all, and he was very hungry. Frannie was not the first poor young girl he had tricked and made a meal of, and she would not be the last. As the big, shiny teeth closed around her, Frannie Ferret remembered the warning from her parents that she'd foolishly forgotten: be careful on the internet, because friends could be monsters in disguise.