Story Go Round 10/25/2008, #2

Who Watches The Watchers?

(post-titled by John)

Mortimer sat on the porch steps, staring up at the bright moon and thinking of the last time he'd seen it. His dog Buster lay at the bottom of the steps, head on paws. Watching them both from the attic window of the house across the street was Old Marge, the one-eyed recluse of our New England gated community, Sleepy Hollow Heights. She didn't know that I had my binocs trained on her from my roost, because the moon was having strange effects on her, or seemed to. Her head seemed to elongate taffy-like while she watered her petunias in the dead of night (how peculiar!) and kept her eye on Mortimer.

As I watched her watch him, I wondered who he was watching, and who was watching me, and how far that chain extended. As if in answer, something rustled a branch behind me. I quickly swiveled my head around to discover a sleek black cat traversing the roof of Old Marge's house, then it dropped to the ground with barely a sound and slinked casually towards me, clearly hoping to catch me with my guard down. I now had to play a quick-eye game of intense observation, keeping tabs on Mortimer, an eye on Old Marge while never letting the approaching feline out of my sight. As I glared at it, the cat halted and innocently licked its paw, but I then found that Marge had neared by a dozen feet and now inanely open and closed her rusty mailbox, glancing surreptitiously at me and pursing her lips.

I checked Mortimer as quickly as I could, and thankfully he hadn't moved, though he seemed to have noticed Marge now that she was outside. Flicking my gaze back to the cat, I saw it still licking its paw - but two feet closer. Beginning to panic, I set my eyes and neck muscles in a steady rotation pattern, flickering quickly around to each one in turn, slowly backing up a step at a time, until one time my heel encountered a foot, my body swung around to see who it was, only to discover it was actually Buster's paw I'd tread on, and in that instance I knew I'd been had. If Mortimer had sent Buster around to cut off my retreat, then he must be in on it, and if that was the case, then he and Old Marge had plans for me. And there was Mortimer, at the border of his lawn now, sitting Indian-style and doing a crossword puzzle - in the moonlight!

"You fiend!" I howled in despair. Then, reaching into my pocket, I muttered, "You'll never take me alive."

As I drew out the talisman, a thin, reedy voice replied, "We find the dead much easier to work with. So cooperative!" Before I could bite off a witty reply, Buster leapt upon me, knocking me down. I feared a face licking, but he loomed over me, standing crouched on my chest, dog breath washing over me in waves as he panted hard. This did not stop me from grasping the talisman in one hand and stiffarming Buster with the other. Still, Mortimer grew closer, now bending to check his pant cuffs, now looking diffidently behind him. even the moon grew larger, closer, like a spotlight.

"I think he is coming to, doctor."

I groaned, feeling the throbbing in my skull and the restraints upon my wrists and ankles. Dr. Morty peered down at me through cracked bifocals, while Nurse Marge grinned toothlessly as she swatted me down before inserting the needle. I wondered where the goon intern, Buster, was, but it wasn't really important anymore. The real question: what if he started licking my face?