The Watchers

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This post was originally published through Patreon on January 29, 2019.

Remy found the journal right where he’d left it: on the bedroom shelf beside his favorite book, The Shining. It stood at an angle, and where it touched the slanted afternoon light from the open window above, a shadow had formed, an intense and palpable black that might, for all Remy knew, be some kind of black hole, ready to suck him in should he venture too close.

He leaned in, his nose just inches from the leather binding, and after a deep, steadying breath, he snatched the journal up and carted it off into the basement, where the shadow’s entire family seemed to have congregated in his absence.

Remy sat before a wooden desk, set the book down, and after turning on a nearby light, he watched the shadow’s kin scatter to the far corners of the room. He opened the journal to the very first page, and there he ruminated over the text scrawled across the interior cover.

Property of Archibald Miller.
Do not read unless I’ve passed.

Archibald was Remy’s uncle, and since the man had, in fact, passed, he had no qualms about prying. The two of them hadn’t been close, but a chance encounter with his estranged sister had resulted in his acquisition of the journal.

The meeting had been an awkward one. Remy had stopped by home to check on Mom, and when he arrived, sitting beside her on the sofa was his sister, Jan.

“Oh,” she said, and she offered Remy a strained smile that he refused to return. “Hello.”

Remy didn’t meet her eyes, nor did he reply. Too many hurtful words had passed between himself and his siblings for him to ever make eye contact again. To think that the fighting preceding their falling out had revolved around a stupid inheritance—a different family member at the time, not his uncle—that he’d wanted no part of in the first place. In the years that followed, she’d extended multiple olive branches, but he’d resisted every one.

“Isn’t this nice,” his mother said, ignoring the extended silence following Jan’s unrequited greeting. “Remy, come sit with us.”

And he did, not for his sister but for Mom, who he didn’t wish to upset.

Just as the visit was winding to an end, Remy’s sister cornered him in the foyer and said, “We found something in Uncle’s house yesterday.” By we, she meant herself and Remy’s younger brother, John. She reached into her purse and produced the book that now lay open on Remy’s desk. “It’s a journal. I offered it to Mom, but she wasn’t interested. Said Uncle had secrets she wants no part of now. I just thought maybe you’d like to read it.” She looked up at him, and again, he refused to meet her eyes. “You know, since you’re the reader in the family.”

That was true. He’d always loved books. Back when they were kids (long before their falling out), he’d sneak off to his room while his brothers and sisters watched TV and lose himself in the darkly hypnotic worlds crafted by the likes of Neil Gaiman, Anne Rice, and Stephen King.

“Thanks.”

No doubt she’d hoped the gift would spark a renewed interest in their ruined relationship. He took the book from her and closed the door on his sister once more.

The journal, it turned out, was indeed full of secrets, and he couldn’t blame Mom for wanting no part of them. His uncle’s words were unnerving, and at first, Remy thought the man must have been delusional. But somehow, the journal’s contents stuck with him until it seemed his uncle’s mad ramblings followed him wherever he went.

Whether he was sleeping or awake, working or at rest, his uncle’s words took root, lodged in his heart like a tumor. A dark fascination took hold, and soon Remy was spending all his time in the basement, reading and re-reading the thoughts of a mad man and somehow making sense of them.

Now, again, Remy consulted the journal.

I have come to understand that, just as our eyes are windows into the universe, so too is the universe a window into us. Who, I have often wondered, might be using that window to watch over us? Today, the answer came to me and I am afraid.

From there, the man had gone on to detail a class of beings he dubbed the Watchers.

I see them in the shadows everywhere I go: the Watchers. I cannot look directly at them. Ironically, they don’t seem to like being watched themselves and they’ll vanish the moment you turn your head. But if you’re clever, if you train your eyes to make sense of what you see at the periphery of vision, there you’ll find them, always watching. And for what purpose? Are they beneficient? Malevolent? Perhaps neither. Perhaps we’re some kind of exhibit in a cosmic zoo, and those terrifying phantoms are much like ourselves, staring at creatures lower than themselves, perhaps musing, perhaps mocking, and always watching. Always, always watching…

Delusional, every word. At least, that’s what Remy wanted to believe. But hadn’t he tried his uncle’s experiment? Hadn’t he focused on what he could see out of the corner of his eye, and hadn’t he spied something strange, something off, an ever-present shadow that followed him around wherever he went?

He wanted to believe his uncle was crazy, that the man had been a closet schizophrenic, and that his journal was proof that he should have been committed long ago. But hadn’t he found his uncle’s phantoms even outside in direct sunlight?

Like his uncle, Remy had glimpsed whatever was watching him from the other side of that cosmic window, and now he was afraid.

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4 thoughts on “The Watchers”

    1. I’m glad you liked it! I don’t have more planned for this one right now (it’s just one of a weekly piece of flash fiction), but every now and then I’ll do more with something, and I do have a Patreon reward level that will allow you to pick which of my blogs I turn into a longer story.

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