Showcasing other Creatives, Stories to Read Right Now

Short Story: “The Watcher” by Megan Fatheree

My friend Megan Fatheree has recently started a blog on writing. It’s a great concept, using examples of books and movies on how to write plot, setting, an engaging story (and these are just her first few posts!) You can check it out at https://meganfatheree.wordpress.com/

Before you take my word for it though, check out this short story she wrote:
 
 
 

The Watcher

 

I knew secrets, so I had to run. Hide. And not be found. It wasn’t easy, hiding in plain sight, and there was no one to trust.

Or so I thought.

That day started like any other that I had become accustomed to. Eyes flying open. Realizing where I was. Feeling that heavy heartbreak that always came with my memories.

The hotel room wasn’t large, by any means, but it was cheap. Cheap was what I needed. I hadn’t been able to get a job, and hiding was beginning to feel like a big waste of money, but I knew the second I came out of hiding, I would be dead.

Too many lives depended on my silence. Too many secrets depended on my death.

I had slept in my clothes, my first full night of sleep in almost six months. I hadn’t meant to stay unconscious so long.

As I ran a hand through my long, tangled hair, I heard a knock on the door. I was quick to grab my gun. A gun that I hadn’t had the time to learn how to use. It couldn’t be too hard. All I had to do was point and pull.

I was stupid enough to not look through the peephole before I opened the door, and was suddenly stuck facing a complete stranger. Dressed in all black. With sunglasses.

He took one look at me and pushed his way into the room.

The gun was out of my hand before I even had time to point. So much for that strategy. He tossed it to the bed and pushed the door closed, pinning me against it.

“You’ve done a good job of hiding so far,” he said, and the tone wasn’t exactly friendly, “so I’ve stayed out of your way. The very fact that I’m here should tell you something has escalated. No time for explanations, I need you to trust me.”

I wasn’t really sure what to do with that information, but he hadn’t tried to hurt me or anything, so my head started bobbing on its own.

“Good.” He backed away from the door and pulled a bag off his shoulder. He tossed me a pair of sunglasses. “Wear these. And put this on, it’s chilly.” The jacket came sailing toward my head. “Pull the hood up.”

I did everything he asked, not even considering my own safety, to be honest. I just didn’t want to get on his bad side.

As soon as the jacket was zipped and the hood was covering my hair, he was next to me with a hand around my arm.

I couldn’t do much besides watch what was going on around me. The door cracked open, and then we walked away. Ten seconds later, I could hear the door to my hotel room break open. I turned my head to look, but the man yanked me forward, in front of him.

“Don’t let them see you. Keep moving.”

I didn’t dare to contradict a word he said. The aura of wisdom and strength and foreboding that followed him was more than enough to silence anything I could have said.

He stared down at me for a brief moment, and then he turned me around and grasped my hand tightly.

I would have protested, if I would have had time. As it was, I was pretty sure I heard a gunshot ricochet off a nearby car the moment before he took off faster than I could consciously run. I stumbled along behind, but he was dragging me more than I was actually moving my feet.

So many street blocks went by that I lost count. We ran through so many alleys that I completely lost my bearings. Finally, he skidded to a stop beside a motorcycle.

I have to admit, I was relieved I didn’t have to run any farther. I couldn’t breathe and my sides were splitting. I settled myself in the passenger seat and held tightly to his torso. It was about that time that I realized he hadn’t said what his name was, but it also didn’t seem like a good time to ask.

I had originally thought it was just a motorcycle, but I quickly discovered that it was more like a motorcycle on steroids. There was no way we should have been going as fast as we were.

We didn’t stop until we reached the docks. I could hear the shouts a few blocks behind us. It sounded like the cops had pulled over whoever was chasing us, one of the few times I was grateful for their presence.

There was a speedboat moored there, at the docks. It seemed to be waiting for us, and suddenly I wondered how long this man had been planning this escape. How long he had known about me. And if he had known about me all along, who else had known?

I was reluctant to board the boat, but I did so anyway. More out of curiosity than necessity, though I was sure the men who had been chasing us were still hot on our trail.

There was only one question I was brave enough to ask my man in black. “Who are you?”

The man gave an almost-smile and turned his back to me, looking out over the water toward the pier we had left. “My name is Mark, but nobody really calls me that.”

“Mark,” I repeated softly, memorizing it quickly.

I would have asked many more questions, but Mark’s troubled gaze was still sweeping the horizon, and I didn’t want to interrupt. My questions could wait until we were safe.

That turned out to be sooner rather than later. The boat docked at a small island, not far off the mainland.

I saw Mark slip the boat driver a few hundred dollar bills and heard him tell the man we had never been there. I was alright with that, if it meant one night of safety.

The house Mark led me to was large and scarily modern. Not anything I would have expected to be on an island like that one, surrounded by trees and shrubbery.

Mark easily opened the door and motioned around the enormous front room. “Welcome to the house.”

I was in awe, really, so I didn’t utter a single word. Not for a long time, anyway. The beauty of the isolated homestead made my head spin. I had never expected someone like him to live someplace like that.

My eyes caught sight of a black book on one of the tables in the room, and I couldn’t help but pick it up. I thumbed through it, fast at first and then slowly, and that was the end of my silence.

Jenny’s Diary.

That was the tag on the inside cover. “Who’s Jenny?” I asked, rather perturbed and suddenly terribly frightened. What if he was no better than the rest? What if he was a serial killer or something?

Mark turned to look at me, but his eyes were really directed at the book. He shrugged. “She was here a while ago. She’s gone now.”

That sickening dread that had become my constant companion reared its ugly head once more. I dropped the book back on the table and backed away from Mark. He was suddenly the last person on earth that I wanted to be standing next to.

“Calm down,” Mark said, extending his hands toward me and lowering his voice to a soothing tone.

I continued to back away, having to pause several times to skirt around objects behind me. “Please leave me alone,” I begged. “I’ll tell you anything. I’ll give you any secret I know, just don’t hurt me.”

Mark stopped and a chuckle rose from his throat.

A chuckle? That was the last thing I had expected in such a tense situation.

“I’m not going to hurt you,” he said in that same soothing tone. “If I wanted information out of you, you would be bloody and tied to a chair. Trust me. I brought you here for your own safety.”

I wanted to trust him, I really did, but that was the one thing I couldn’t afford to do. “What about Jenny?”

Mark lifted the black book and ran a finger over the leather cover. “Jenny left because she didn’t need protection anymore. This is my job. I watch, and I protect. You’re not the only person I keep an eye on.”

I started to feel a little better, but I was still wary of the stranger before me.

He gave a smirk and dropped the book. “But, I must say, you are my favorite.”

In that moment, Mark went from frightening to creepy and I made a beeline for the door. Even if I had to swim, I was absolutely not going to remain on that deserted island with him.

Unfortunately for me, Mark had better reflexes than I did, and he was faster. Before I could make it halfway to the door, one of his monstrous arms had encased my torso, and he practically dragged me back into the room.

It was useless to fight, but I did so anyway. It was the only thing I could do, really. He was stronger and probably smarter. I found myself thrust down onto a sofa.

“Listen,” Mark said sternly, and his green eyes flashed fire, “I understand you’re scared and paranoid. Running can do that to a person, but I need you to trust me. It’s the only way I can help you.”

In response, I darted for the door again. Mark had obviously been anticipating this, as I found myself thrust back onto the sofa before I could even start running.

“I watch,” Mark repeated, “but I only intervene when it is absolutely critical. When the person I am watching can no longer handle the situation. Like it or not, right now I’m the only thing keeping you safe.”

He pinned me with his stare, as if he anticipated an answer from me. I would have been happy to oblige, but he hadn’t asked a question. He had stated exactly what he wanted to be done.

Seeing as how I wasn’t a very great swimmer, I took the opportunity to agree with him. Maybe, eventually, he would let me get back to my life as a fugitive.

I winced then, wondering when it had become a natural thing to think of myself as a fugitive. I didn’t like it, not really, but somewhere along the line I had come to accept it. Maybe he could help me turn back into a normal human being. Just maybe.

That was the exact moment that the very first spark of trust filled my head and my heart. When he had looked me in the eyes during our flight from my hotel room, I thought I had sensed a sort of kinship. As if he had been where I was. And maybe he had. I really didn’t know anything about him.

Mark seemed to sense my disposition, and he backed off. His boots were soon by the back door, and Mark disappeared through an archway.

I took the time to explore the rest of the house, including the six upstairs bedrooms. I quickly claimed the one that reminded me most of my home. A home I hadn’t seen in almost a year.

The levity of my situation suddenly hit me like a load of bricks. I hadn’t had time to think on it before, but I was homesick and I was tired of being chased. A list of if-only’s ran through my head, and for a while I forgot about the secrets I knew. I thought only of home and family and all the things I had likely missed.

So much stress flew off my shoulders with the resurgence of those long-suppressed memories that I must have fallen asleep, because the next thing I knew Mark was shaking me awake.

I looked up at him with that sleepy-eyed stare that comes only after the best naps, and he smiled back. He set a tray of food on the bed and then left the room.

I ate like a woman starved, which I suppose I pretty much was. I had, after all, been living off of hot dogs and toast for a long while. Nothing had ever tasted as good as that soup Mark gave me. I don’t suppose anything ever will taste as good as that. It was my first real meal in a long, long time.

I took the tray back downstairs and found Mark in the kitchen, chowing down on his own lunch. Or dinner. Whatever time of day it actually was.

“Why am I your favorite?” I finally found the courage to ask.

Mark didn’t even hesitate. “Because you’ve never lost hope. I’ve been watching you for a long time now, and all I ever see is your optimism. You remind me a lot of myself.”

I wanted to ask him how he knew. I wanted to ask if he had ever been in my situation. Somehow, the words wouldn’t form. Maybe it was my head telling me it was all trivial. Or maybe it was my heart telling me he was reluctant to speak of it. Either way, I didn’t broach the subject with him, and looking back I was glad I chose not to. It would only have weighed my soul down that much more.

Our conversation turned to me after that. He asked how I had come to find all these secrets, and who I thought was after me. It seemed like he already knew all the answers, but it helped to talk about it all.

Those conversations became the norm over the next few months in the house. Mark was always so easy to talk to and so eager to listen. He comforted me after the nightmares stormed my dreams. He knew just how to calm me down when I panicked about the sound of a helicopter or boat driving by.

The day that I refused to eat my cereal, because my stomach hurt and I was afraid I’d been poisoned, he took a blood sample just to humor me. It came back clean, just like he knew it would. I never doubted him after that.

I could talk to him about anything, and he would always tell me when he found one of the men who had been chasing me for months on end. I guess he knew it brought me peace of mind. Mark cared about my peace of mind, and in small tender moments, I sometimes wondered if he cared about more than just that.

I cherished those moments. I still do. Mark was the only one who truly knew how I felt, and he didn’t hesitate to ask me about anything. We became very close, Mark and I.

Now, two years later, I walk the streets freely, without a worry in the world. Mark took care of everyone who wanted to hurt me. I don’t know how, but I know he did. Anyone left would be remiss to try anything, anyway. Because they know. And I know.

Even when I don’t see him, even when I doubt he’s paying attention at all, Mark is always there. Lurking in the shadows. Standing high on a rooftop. Gazing across the streets until our eyes meet. Because Mark will always be the one thing I needed more than anything during those hard times.

 

 
 
 
 
 

Fatheree_author_photo

Megan Fatheree was homeschooled from Pre-school through 12th grade. During this time, she was blessed to be able to focus her efforts toward the craft of writing. She is now in her early 20s and a full-time author. Some of her books include “Precious Jewel”, “Eminent Danger”, and “Rose-Colored Glasses.” She also blogs at meganfatheree.wordpress.com. She loves what she does and wouldn’t trade it for anything. She looks forward to all the great adventures that lay in store for her in the near future.

 

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