THE WATCHERS

A flash fiction piece (400 words).

download“They’re watching, you know.”

I don’t know what to make of this assertion, offered casually, confidently, without preamble.

“Who’s watching?”

“The watchers.” She gives me a knowing look.

Only I don’t know what she is talking about. Or who she is. Or where she came from. One moment I am standing there waiting for my bus, the next she is standing beside me. I put her age at nine or ten. Her attire makes me think of Alice-In-Wonderland.

My bus pulls up and the door opens. I start to get on.

“Do you see that man?” she says.

I turn. She’s pointing at a man on the bus, three rows from the front. “He is not one of us. He is one of them.”

“One of who?”

“One of the watchers.”

The driver says, “You gettin’ on, buddy?”

I look at him and then back at the girl, but she is gone. I get on the bus and find myself sitting across from the man the girl pointed at. Dark slacks, white shirt and tie, business jacket. He’s reading the Wall Street Journal. He looks at me. There is something odd about his eyes, but I might be imagining it.

He says, “I saw you talking with the girl.”

“What? Oh. Yes. The girl.”

“Why were you talking to her?”

“Um, I don’t know. We were just standing at the bus stop together.”

“Do you know her?” 

“What? No.” I feel like I am being interrogated.

“What did you talk about?”

“None of your goddamn business.”

He blinks twice, slowly, and a chill crawls down my back as I realize that he hasn’t blinked before now. He returns to his newspaper, ignoring me even though I continue to stare at him. Twenty minutes later the bus arrives at my stop. The man has not blinked the entire time.

The girl is waiting for me when I get off the bus.

“They’re not from here, you know.”

I don’t know what to make of this assertion, offered casually, confidently, without preamble.

“Where are they from?”

“Somewhere else.”

I look at my watch. I’m going to be late if I don’t keep moving. I look at the girl. She’s gone. I start walking down the street toward the building where I work. As I walk, I have the strangest feeling I am being watched.

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