When we got our first colour television, my parents let me have a sleepover with my friends. A scream from the television woke us up at 3am but the woman on the screen kept us awake.
My brother, mother and father all saw the woman in the bathroom mirror yet none of us believed each other. I was the last one to see her terrified eyes, as the glass broke in four.
I’m the presence you feel in an empty room, your office, your hallway. You know I’m there, but you’ll never see me like I see you.
The next night the mirror fell from the bathroom wall. Each shard showed a pair of desperate wide-eyes, the same colour and shape as my own.
The glow from the monitor woke me up at 3am and the figures from the webcam have kept me awake. I don’t know if I can run or lock the door because although the camera still sees them – I don’t.
‘A rifle, a knife, the heart to take life. A rifle, a knife, the heart to take life.’ Marcel repeated his new-found mantra, taken from his brother’s words, in an almost manic manner. He was sat against a tree, his legs spread out in front resembling a child sitting in the shade on a sun beaten day.
As he muttered this mantra his eyes never left his blood covered hands. The left hand was latched to his father’s hunting knife, the right was clattered in fur. Staring at the fur, he could not shake the image of the beast from which it was pulled.
It must have been watching me, he thought. Coming around to himself, he raised to his feet. Listening and darting his eyes around the woods, he recounted the image of the dog-like creature which had attacked him. He knew distinctly that it was much larger than any dog he had ever seen. The head of this animal was as high as his chest, it’s fur was jet-black and its eyes looked to be black glimmering jewels, never mined by man.
He felt that he was spared acute terror as he had never seen the teeth, but his shoulder was not so lucky. The animal bounded toward him in 2 quick strides and the attack was over in just seconds. He felt the jaws of serrated bone sinking into his shoulder as he swung both arms toward the sides of the beast. The knife sunk in on its right side, and the other hand grasped the rough coat tight. Almost instinctively, Marcel pulled both hands downward, determined to keep his grip strong. Blood and entrails spilled to the ground as the flesh tore. In response to this act an unnatural scream, resembling a mixture of a human screech and a harshly bowed violin, erupted from somewhere in the trees behind.
Marcel could not stop looking around him, feeling he was still being watched. Shaking almost uncontrollably, he walked as quickly as possible down through the mountainside forest. Feeling cold and clammy, he knew had to get to town quickly, to have someone take him to the city hospital. After 30 minutes walking, he felt a little more at ease and that no eyes were following him.
At this point, the downhill stream levelled out to a small pool before continuing downward to join the Greystone River. He took the chance to kneel by the pool to clean off his hands and knife. The fur floated and circled the water from where his right hand was submerged. ‘I wish I could have shot the bastard,’ he muttered. At that moment, he realised he’d left his rifle against the same tree he slumped against. Someone else would have to get it tomorrow, he thought. He would not return to that area of the woods.
After his hands and knife had been rinsed as thoroughly as possible, he splashed some of the water on his face then, placing his hands on the edge, submerged his entire head for a second for some relief. He watched his reflection, as it rippled with drips falling from his nose. ‘I have seen the eyes of the devil today,’ he said to himself. He wiped the excess off his face and laughed softly at what he’d just uttered. He put the knife away into the pouch and his jacket pocket, stood up and turned to continue the downward slope.
He had walked down about 20 feet, when he thought he should take some of the fur with him, thinking that maybe someone with better knowledge of the woods would be able to tell what animal it was from. As he turned to walk back to the pool, he watched as a huge figure of a man, looked over the pool from the other side. The figure was a silhouette, a shadow that was similar in height to Marcel. Although there were no eyes to be seen, from his distance at least, Marcel felt that he was being watched yet again. The figure stood still at the edge of the pool, watching Marcel. His eyes filled with tears in terror and a cold engulfed him as the figure kneeled, and washed its hands. It raised those hands to where its face might be, as if mocking Marcel’s actions. Finally, it submerged its head for a second then rose. It looked down at Marcel once more. This, Marcel was sure of, as the figure now had eyes.
The figure walked toward him but Marcel could not run. He didn’t know if it was through fear or the will of this figure, but he couldn’t determine this until the sleepless nights that would follow. The figure was a few feet in front of Marcel when it halted. Everything was black, it was still a silhouette but the eyes were the very same as Marcel’s. The eyes faded into black once again.
‘You have seen no eyes but your own,’ I heard with my own voice. ‘Eyes of god and of the devil’.
The figure did not appear to turn, but walked toward the pool as if it was always facing that direction. At the pool, Marcel saw the beast which had attacked him drinking. They both walked into the trees, away from the path. Marcel did not remember getting to the town, getting to the hospital or having slept uninterrupted since that day.
There was a block of flats which called themselves apartments because there were long hallways lined with doors and through these doors were dwellings or flats or apartments.
The residents or inmates or people didn’t see any reason to close their doors on this hallway, so as you paced its length you would hear and see all sorts. Most of this was not from the people through the doors but from the people inside the TVs inside the apartments.
You could walk up and down for hours on end, watch through a door for an hour, and no one would notice. I lived in the hallway for over two decades and my presence didn’t seem to be intrusive. Even when I watched on as a teenager tried to slit his own wrists, was calmed down by his mother, given his first drink and asked important questions like ‘would you like another?’ to which he’d respond ‘of course’ because he couldn’t say ‘I don’t care’. There would have been more questions so he didn’t have the heart for apathy.
It was a funny place to live, this hallway. So many voices gave no conversation because answers that mattered didn’t matter here but silence wasn’t tolerated.
I was content for a long time living here but I left to see what conversation was like. People who keep their doors closed can be much more interesting, I’ve found. But some people make me wonder if their doors are just painted paper.