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He Kept On Watching

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The war had definitely made its mark on me, both literally and metaphorically. I mean, it wasn't just my face that was fucked up after a grenade exploded like 20 feet next to me, but also my mind. The sound of the enemy artillery suppressing our advance, the sight of my dead comrades, their broken bodies lying next to me in the trench, and the medevac stacking them up into the chopper like they were pieces of meat will never leave me in peace. A couple of weeks after that, I was deemed 'unfit for battle' and was promptly sent back home.

Two years later and I am still a mess. I've been diagnosed with PTSD, the visions my dead squadron keeps me at night and, to top it all of, I look like Freddie fucking Krueger.

It was a hot summer night. I was trying to sleep, I really was, but the old, near-broken couch I was lying on and the hot air bursting in didn't really do their part. My shrink had told me that it would be best to try and put some of my ordeals behind me. So, I started with the easiest one, apparently, my face. I had made an appointment with a local plastic surgeon at 1200 hours to see if he could do anything to fix my face, or, at least, make it more presentable. I was planning to use the compensation money I got from the army, but $3,000 wouldn't even get me through the front door of the practice.

I had argued with my wife about the A/C needing to be repaired before, but that night was a whole different story. It went from arguing, to yelling, and then to sheer chaos. I didn't want to bring the fight into the bedroom, where we had our son's crib as well, so I decided to sleep on the old couch in the living room instead. I knew that this would also give my wife the chance to have our bed to her own for once. It was quite small, barely had enough room for two people. I would make her some breakfast before I left the morning after, French toast and fresh orange juice, her favorite. It would be like nothing ever happened.

It was past 3 in the morning. After several failed attempts, I knew I wouldn't be able to sleep. I got up and walked to the kitchen to get some cold water in order to cool myself down a bit. That was when I saw him.

It was a man, clearly staring at me through the kitchen window. I instantly froze. Was this the heat that had got to me, or was this actually happening? He had wrinkled skin and white matted hair, several scars in his face, and wore a black patch above his left eye. However, the most disturbing thing about him was his smile. That sly smile exposing his almost-golden teeth petrified me.

I immediately grabbed my cellphone, which was on the counter next to me, and started to dial 911. He kept on watching. That same ugly, schizophrenic smile never left his face. I still find it particularly weird that I couldn't connect to my network. I mean, I was dialing 911. This is the only number that is always supposed to work.

After I was done trying to get through, I looked up to the window, in high hopes that I had at least managed to scare him off.

He was still there. His smile getting wider and wider as he pulled a shiny knife out of his filthy, muddy, army jacket.

I woke up in the living room, on the old couch, covered in my own sweat. Everything felt and seemed just as normal as the day before. I was late for my appointment, but I didn't care. This was real, it felt too real to be just a dream.

I immediately ran outside, to where that old man would have to had stood last night. There were no bootprints on the ground or any other sign of anyone having been there.

I assumed that it was just another one of the so many lucid and vivid dreams I'd been having since I returned home.

I laughed as I walked inside. I laughed as I checked my cellphone for reception, which showed five bars. I was even laughing while I was preparing breakfast for my wife and son. I had the laugh of my life as I walked into the bedroom, now covered in blood, entrails and fecal matter, to see my wife gutted and my baby boy almost torn to pieces.

I woke up in the living room, on the old couch, still furious at that bitch, for forcing me to sleep on it. It was her fault we argued, her fault I went to war, her fault I got FUCKING MUTILATED! The clock on the wall to my right showed 0315 hours. I let out a smile and got up. After I got dressed and had finally found my old combat knife, I walked to the kitchen to get some water. It was time.

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