It all started with a vivid dream. I was in a supermarket picking out groceries for the upcoming week. I never knew what it was about that place, but I always felt comfortable there. Meandering about the winding aisles, I would often find myself thinking deeply about my worries and problems, like some bizarre form of therapy. So, when I found myself there in the haze of subconsciousness, familiarity helped relax me, but it also made the following events seem all the more real.
As I approached the produce section, my mind elsewhere, I passed a large mirror, the type that is designed to make the room appear larger than it really is. I stopped in my tracks. An inexplicable sense of dread had filled my soul in the brief moment that I had walked in front of it. Curious, I approached the mirror again and that same feeling of terror gripped me. I quickly snapped my head around in all directions, checking my surroundings, but I found that I was indeed alone. Yet, staring back at me through the mirror, a group of twelve people appeared to stand right behind me.
I shiver as I recall the intense hatred their eyes emanated as they glared at me. Their faces bore such intense malice that it was as if not even the most excruciating and painful punishment imaginable would satisfy their loathing. As our eyes remained locked for what seemed like several minutes, I tried to recognize who they were and, although a few of them seemed familiar somehow, all of their names escaped me.
When I finally felt more curiosity than fear, I asked them in a trembling voice, “Who are you?”
They answered immediately and in unison, “We are they whom you oppose. We are they whom you threaten with your existence.”
Because of how angry they looked, I was taken aback with how calmly they spoke, echoing some sort of controlled and rational hatred.
“You may be unaware of the risk you pose to us, but we will not allow you to hinder our agendas nor risk your involvement.”
Somehow I had threatened these people, if they were even human at all.
“Are you going to kill me?” I asked, fearing the worst.
In one motion, they raised their hands and pointed to the ceiling, as though they were lecturers that were about to deliver a powerful declaration. “We cannot harm you from where we are, but we will send to you a representative.” I saw a smile of malice cross their faces. “He will watch you.”
They paused a moment, allowing me to process their unexpected promise.
Their faces became gravely serious. “You are to accept our representative. But know this. If you harm him in any way, we assure you that your end will be far more unpleasant and painful than you have ever imagined.”
Suddenly, as if a switch was flipped, their anger turned violent. Within the mirror, they pounced on me. My vision faded as I saw them tear my reflection apart.
I awoke with a start, sweat beading on my forehead. The dream had been so vivid that recalling its events felt like remembering a memory.
It was not a minute later when I heard a knock at the door. I lumbered over and looked out the peephole, only to see the darkness of night. When I opened the door, I saw a baby bundled up in a basket. He was not crying or sleeping as a normal baby would, left abandoned in the cold, but he was silently staring straight at me with an unnatural intelligence in his eyes. A familiar sense of dread washed over me as our eyes met.
Immediately I remembered the beings from my dream. Was this the representative that they had promised to send? As I scanned the street for the mother, I got the sense that whoever was behind this was part of some sort of obscure but powerful secret organization.
Cautiously, I brought the baby inside and set his basket on the kitchen table. His eyes remained fixed on me. We stared at each other for a few minutes before my eyelids grew heavy and I retreated back to bed.
In the morning, when I woke up and walked to the kitchen, the baby was there, his gaze still on me. I tried to ignore him, but those dark eyes of his seemed to pry into my head whenever my back was turned. He always watched me, as if he could see the contents of my soul by studying my eyes. Even when there were walls between us, I could tell that he was still watching me. I couldn’t focus on anything and I accomplished little that morning. Then reason kicked in. This wasn't my child. I should turn him in to an orphanage.
Less than an hour later I was standing in front of the local institution with the baby in my arms. In my head, I had recited what I would say dozens of times and how I would not take no for an answer. But as I stood there, I looked at the baby and an overwhelming sense of dread overtook me as his cold, knowing eyes bore into me. I knew he was the representative. He was here to watch me. If I made his mission difficult, those people in my dream would not be happy.
Raising a child, especially one that is not your own, is a difficult task that requires full attention. Despite the hard work that I knew I was in for, I had extensive experience. I raised two children, who now have families of their own, so I understood how to care for a baby. I decided to retire from my job at the news station, a bit earlier than I had previously anticipated, in order to have the time I needed to look after him as he looked after me. At times he would cry for milk and other needs a normal infant would have, but most of the time he would just watch me. That feeling of uneasiness never left me, but I grew accustomed to it.
As he grew, more people noticed the newest addition to my family and began to ask questions. I simply told them I was lonely and chose to adopt a child out of the kindness of my heart. I omitted how I had never had a choice in the matter and how the child had actually chosen me. People congratulated me for my decision, but I grew to resent the child. I had only a fraction of the free time that I used to. I longed to go off to exercise and see my family like I used to, but every time I tried to leave the house, the child would scream for attention, as if on cue. I couldn't leave him in fear of the dream that was still so vivid in my mind. I got in the habit of using delivery services. The house felt like a prison.
Years went by, and the child grew up. He always watched me. When he was old enough to walk, he would find his way into my room and stare at me while I slept. He never spoke, except for the occasional reminder to keep him in sight, his disapproval for whenever I tried to leave, and requests for food. Nobody asked about the child or came to visit me by that time. It was as if I no longer existed.
One day, he disappeared. I looked all over for him, but the only sign I could find was an open window and a note that read, “Our future is secure, but we will still be watching you.”
I did not know what he had meant by that until many years later when I had turned on the news to see eerily familiar figures standing before a large crowd of people. One of them had proudly accepted their nomination for president of the United States. As thunderous applause met their dark eyes, I knew something had gone very wrong.
Written by WanderingRiverdog