Sunday, January 12, 2014

Death Watcher

This month our theme is short stories. I hope you enjoy this impromptu one I wrote titled Death Watcher and please forgive the "rawness" of it. If I had more time to polish it I would, but I'm editing my book and need to focus on that. P.S. this is why I don't write short stories. Pretty sure I'll have to continue this in novel form someday.

I hate old people. I know that sounds heartless, but I do. It has nothing to do with the fact that sometimes they have little to no teeth, say whatever they want because they can get away with it, or have a funny smell to them. It's simply just because they're so close to dying. But if you saw the things I did, you'd hate them too.

I stood outside my house, keys raised to the lock of my car, hand frozen in midair. I was already late for first period, but when I stepped out into the warm morning air of late spring, the chill hit me like a ton of bricks. I knew where it'd be immediately. I've been waiting for it to appear across the street for months now, ever since Mr. Henley had his stroke. I tried not to look at it as I walked quickly to my car, but I fumbled with the keys and felt its eyes on me. I glanced over and there it was, in the form of Mrs. Henley.

Of course, I knew Mr. Henley would have a good one; he's the nicest man on the planet. Still, seeing Mrs. Henley in her blue, flower print dress and white cardigan looking as happy as she did when she was alive, it gave me the creeps. I shook my head and opened the car, jumping in and peeling out of the driveway. I made the fifteen-minute drive in seven minutes and wondered as I sprinted toward the building how long Mrs. Henley would be around before she took him. I hope not too long.


"What took you forever to get here?" Jake whispered as I sank into the seat next to him. Our Biology teacher, Miss Jentze, stood facing the white board, already well into her normal desk-snoozing lecture.

"Just a rough morning," I mumbled back. He turned in his chair to look at me and I fiddled with the zipper of my jacket. His deep blue eyes were penetrating as he scrutinized me. It felt strange to have him look me over in a non-romantic way, since that's how I was used to him looking at me. But we were just friends now, I had to remember that.

"You don't look so good, is everything okay?" No.


“Come on, I can tell you’re lying.” He flashed a knowing smile that reminded me he knew me better than anyone at school. “What’s up?”

The desire to tell him what I saw this morning, and more times than I could possibly keep track of, was overwhelming. Ever since I can remember I’ve seen the death creatures and no one, not even my parents knew about it. I tried to explain it to them once, but when they sent me to a psychiatrist who scolding me for making things up to get attention, I stopped trying and kept my secret to myself.

But sitting there, looking into Jake’s kind eyes and feeling the comfort of his easygoing personality, I wanted to tell him. This wasn’t the first time either, but I always seemed to talk myself out of it. I knew the weight from carrying this burden would be much more bearable if I just had someone else to talk about it with.

A deep shiver ran through my body and I pulled my jacket tighter around me. The cold I felt from this morning was still fresh in my mind and I saw Mrs. Henley again, standing on the porch of her house, watching me with her eerily perceptive eyes. How could I explain that to someone without immediately drawing attention to my mental stability?

“Trenton hid my car keys,” I said, lamely blaming my little brother, again, for my tardiness. Jake started to say something else when a shadow fell over my desk.

"If you're going to be late to my class, Raelynn, you could at least make more of an effort to not disrupt it further," Miss Jentze said. My cheeks flamed red and I shot Jake a look of annoyance since he was the one doing most of the talking. But, of course, the star basketball player wouldn’t get in trouble. Coach Jensen would get involved and Miss Jentze, for all her other faults, was smart enough to avoid that.

“Now, since you’re in such a talkative mood, would you mind explaining to the class what the basic function of the Mitochondria is?”

“I have no idea,” I told her as heat crept up the sides of my face.

“I thought not. If you don’t mind, I’d like to get back to teaching the class about cells. This time without chatter.” She leveled me a glare over her rectangle spectacles and I shrank down in my seat. Could this day get any worse? She turned her back on me and Jake leaned over the isle toward my desk and put his hand on the edge of my seat.

“This isn’t over. I want to know what’s really going on,” he whispered. I tried to push him back to his own desk, but he refused to budge. I noticed more than one girl giving me a dirty look. Jake and I were supposed to be over, but he wasn’t making it very easy for either of us right now.

“Fine,” I hissed at him. “But not till after school.” He smiled like he won a big game or something and leaned back just as Mrs. Jentze turned toward us again. An innocent smile was perfectly in place. Could he be any more obnoxious?

I faced forward and pretended to pay attention, all the while trying to think of a way out of my promise. I had dated Jake for an entire year without giving away my curse and now just because he asked nicely I was supposed to tell him? I don’t think so.


“Hey, what are you doing a week from Friday?” Mandi asked as I approached our lockers to change books. I had pretty much all but ran out of first period to avoid any more questions from Jake.

“I’m guessing something with you,” I replied. That was sort of a given considering she was my best friend and we spent every weekend together now that I was single again. Still weird.

“Right you are! And...about ten other girls. We’re having a slumber party!” she squealed as though this news was supposed to make me go into high-pitched fits of giggles and lots of bouncing. Instead I just stared at her.

“Come on, Rae. It will be fun, I promise. We won’t even leave the house this time.” She tugged on my arm as she said this. Something she always did when she really wanted to convince me to do something I always regretted later.

I’ve been to exactly two of Mandi’s slumber parties and both times we were almost charged for trespassing or some other form of “disturbing the peace”. I wasn’t about to agree to another night of law breaking until I knew all the facts.

“Who are the ten other girls?”

“Stephanie, Tyra, Nikki,” she ticked off on her fingers. “The Kensington twins, Jenny…Stacie, Marianne, Holly, and Anna,” she finished and smiled at me as if to say, 'See, none of them are troublemakers.' Which didn’t mean they wouldn’t show up later.

“Alright, I’ll think about it.”

“Yay! This time will be different, you’ll see. Just a normal stay up all night eating junk food and watching movies sleepover.”

I smiled and left for class, wondering if she really meant what she said. Just because she was my best friend didn’t mean I trusted her enough to not get me into trouble. I had to graduate with a clean record and move away to college. Preferably somewhere that didn’t have a high death rate…

The rest of the day was one of the slowest I ever sat through and I practically leapt out of my chair when the bell rang, signaling the end of the school day. 

I was halfway to my car when I heard Jake call out my name and remembered I was supposed to be explaining my weird behavior from this morning to him. I swallowed hard and turned to face him. He’d been standing with his basketball friends, but now headed for me in his usual confident stride.

I had to stop myself from smiling like an idiot as he approached me. He wasn’t mine and he wasn’t here to flirt. He was just the type of person that made sure his friends were okay. And that’s what I was. A friend. Was that the second time today I had to remind myself of that?

“What’s up?” I asked, feigning ignorance. He gave me a sharp look.

“You know exactly what’s up, now spit it out. Is McKenna giving you a hard time again?” he asked. I cringed at the reminder of my run-in with the student body president. Tall, with long, dark hair, glacier blue eyes, and a perfect body, she felt like my opposite in so many ways. I was on the shorter side, with blonde hair, brown eyes, and a more athletic body. Not a size zero.

It also hadn’t helped that Jake took her on a date last weekend and she bragged about how far they went, knowing I was on the other side of the locker room. Not that I believed her about what they did on their date, I knew Jake better than that. Still, I had maybe, accidentally, okay on purpose knocked her clothes from the bench to the dirty, wet floor and she kind of freaked out on me.

“No, it’s not McKenna. I just…” Come on think of something.

“I can tell you’re trying to come up with a lie so you may as well stop it right now. Why can’t you tell me what’s going on?” His concern was throwing me off, I mean, he’s the one who broke up with me. I started to turn my head so I could think clearly, when I caught sight of something across the street from the school.

A large man, with muscular, tattooed arms sat on his porch with a drink in one hand and something that resembled a cigarette in his other. His eyes seemed unfocused and distant and I was certain he was heavily impaired. But he wasn’t what caught my attention. It was what stood behind him. The same moment I realized what I was looking at I felt the cold slam into me and knock the air from my lungs.

I’ve only seen the really bad creatures twice in my life, and both times it was at a distance. But it was enough to haunt my nightmares for years after and I knew this time would be so much worse. Standing at least six and a half feet tall, it wore a black hooded cloak, its grey, bumpy skin only showing on the talon-like hands and sunk in face. It had a menacing smile that reveled sharp, wicked teeth and red eyes that glowed like a warning. As if sensing my gaze, it turned to look straight at me, and those dark, evil eyes pierced through my soul.

This man must have done some really awful things in his life, and he was about to die. The only thing waiting for him when he did was that foul, sadistic creature. Even from this far away I could feel the pure evil pouring out of it. I was frozen in place, unable to stop staring at it. I didn't even realize Jake was still there until he shook me by the shoulders, snapping my gaze from the monster.

“Rae, what is going on? Do you know that man? Did he hurt you?” He was full on panicking now and I tried desperately to pull myself together so I could calm him down.

“N-No. I don’t know him. I…I have to go, my parents are waiting for me.” My voice shook and I sounded on the verge of tears, but I couldn’t stay here another minute with that thing watching me. Before I could move though, the man stood up and stumbled to his car. I knew he was too drunk or high or both to get where he was going safely. The creature’s smile widened and it turned to the man in eager anticipation.

I felt my stomach lurch and at the same time wondered if I could make it across the street in time to stop the man from driving away. I knew he most likely wasn’t the best person, but no one deserved that. All my life I watched these creatures coming and going and never once had the urge to stop their "collection". But this was different. That man wasn't just going to die, he would be tortured with fear when he moved on.

Suddenly my world spun and I felt Jake’s strong arms around my waist, catching me just before I collapsed. He lifted my arm over his shoulder and half walked, half carried me to my car. He slipped my keys from my backpack and opened the door, setting me gently inside. Dizzy and nauseous I tried to concentrate. I had to do something.

Click here for Section 2!

*Copyright Jayne L. Bowden*


  1. Very intriguing! I'm ready to learn more.

  2. Jayne! You soooooo better work on this story once you're done with your current WIP. I want to read more!

  3. Yay! This story hasn't allowed me a day of peace since I brought it to life so don't worry about me adding content to it. It will probably have to be one of those supposed to be side projects that makes itself a real project things.