When Joshua Donalds fails to kill the infant Jamie Artwell, he betrays the woman he loves, his friends and the whole Watcher community. He spends the next nineteen years fighting, not only against himself but his people as well, to keep her alive. His efforts are tested beyond his capabilities when his ex-lover, Sarah, catches up with Jamie in Utah. Try as he might he can’t get to Jamie before Sarah does. Consumed by grief he returns to his home in Ann Arbor Michigan where he’s determined to get over his unnatural love for Jamie and put some semblance of normalcy back into his life. Little does he know that a chance encounter triggers a course of events that ultimately leads him to choose between the woman he’s loved since before time and the woman who most Watchers believe to be the key to the end of everything.
The Watched by A. D. Simons
The incey-wincey Shadows are crawling in your dreams.
Sitting and waiting and feeding on your screams.
In the Darkness they do wait,
Sitting there to test your fate.
With large dark eyes, they’re watching you,
Plotting morbid things to do.
As I looked down into the violet eyes of the babe, I knew it would be so easy. The baby girl was only days old, after all, and utterly defenseless. All I would have to do is give its neck one sharp jerk and the horror would stop here and now.
A playful grin moved across my face as I pulled my gaze from it. The monster’s parents stood across from me and radiated both joy and love with sickening intensity. Arms around each other, they smiled with adoration at their child. John’s deep blue eyes filled with pride and wonderment as they glistened with unshed tears. His rich brown hair, ruffled from sleep, tickled the bottom of his ears. Marie’s cool amber waves flowed over her shoulders while her smooth maple eyes danced with joy. It would be no easy feat to get them away from it, but as we had been friends for so long, I was loath to end their lives as well.
Their home reminded me of a safe, warm retreat seconds before a horrific massacre. Fragrant flowers and tall pillar candles lined the mantel like the condemned before a firing squad. Deep cushioned chairs, over flowing with colorful puffy pillows, sat along the pale blue walls as if they were genteel spectators for some bloody gladiator match. Their entertainment center masqueraded as a grand armoire and ruled over the scene with all the elegance of a newly erected guillotine. Center stage in the medieval horror sat the cursed monster and its pink frilly cage.
“She is a wonder to behold.” The words burned my tongue like bile. I reached toward the thing but paused before I picked it up. “May I?” I asked as I forced my eyes to widen in longing.
Marie’s face split into an even wider grin. “Of course!” she exclaimed. “Just mind her neck.”
Disgust coursed through me as I wrapped my arms tenderly around the beast. It took every ounce of control I possessed not to act at that moment. Worried that my control might slip, I glued my eyes to the little bear on its jumper. A light laugh broke from my lips as the irony of that adornment struck. It seemed almost fitting that a bear, pink in color even, should be upon this atrocity. For both appear gentle and innocent in looks, yet either could end a life with extreme violence and never blink an eye.
“I think this calls for a toast,” I said and hoped my vigor would be mistaken for pleasure and not the horror I truly felt.
“I like the way you think,” John replied with a laugh.
His warm hand grasped my shoulder before his footsteps signaled his departure. Urgency flooded my mind, my fingers ached to do the deed and be gone. But I could not kill Hells Spawn while its mother, my dearest friend, stood watch.
“Marie?” It shamed me that my voice would shake as fear’s tears stabbed my eyes.
“May I have a moment alone with my God Daughter?”
I did not trust myself to look up as tender lips caressed my cheek. A soft click as the door shut and I knew they had left me alone with the monster.
It saddened me a little, that they had trusted me so completely. True, I was their best friend and they would never have believed that I, sweet and compassionate Joshua Donalds, would be capable of killing their newborn child. I would be able to end it and be far-gone long before they discovered the body. I even had enough time to make it appear as though I had come to harm as well.
With a deep breath, I closed my eyes, placed my hand over its face and tightened my grip. I felt it as the thing squirmed in my arms and I made every attempt to ignore it. However, when tiny fingers touched mine, my eyes sprang open in shock. Her smiling face greeted me and in response, my heart swelled with an emotion I had never before felt. The overwhelming need to protect her consumed me and my stomach clenched at the mere thought of hurting her. This was much more then the love of a man for his friends or the love of a man for a woman. Love mixed with something unknown and equally powerful and unexpected.
That was a complication I wasn’t prepared for.
Unwelcome thoughts flooded my mind as I struggled to banish the love I suddenly felt for her. How could this child, this baby, be as horrible as the rest of my kind feared? How could I be certain she would not be just like her parents? Isn’t life a blessing, regardless of what it comes from? Just because her very existence goes against nature itself, does that mean now she must die?
I shook my head, trying to remove those thoughts, but they remained firmly lodged within my mind. I had to get my resolve under control; my precious time was slipping away. I set her down and rushed to the far side of the room, putting as much distance as possible between the infant and myself.
I had come here full of the knowledge that this child was an abomination. With every iota of focus I had, I forced myself to remember those reasons. She would grow up to become a monster of monsters, and I could not let that happen. Even the Shadows revolted at the thought of it. This atrocity, disguised as a helpless infant, would be the end of everything. Every thought it had, every breath it took, every second of life it lived could trigger time to collapse, cause life to fold in on itself and everything that was, is or yet to be would blink out of existence. Before it could bestow horrors upon this world that nightmares couldn’t even imagine, I had to remove the threat. Though what I had come here to do went far beyond the greatest of betrayals, it had to happen now.
Full of fresh purpose, I rushed back to its cage and snatched it up. I willed myself to do the deed and leave, but my eyes traveled to hers and I was once again lost. She looked up at me full of trust, and the cursed love grew in my chest. Again, doubt tainted those reasons and my heart swelled.
For too many countless years, I had lived without knowing this flavor of love. What I had once taken as love paled in comparison. Oh, I had loved Sarah with all my heart, yet the emotion that flowed through me now was a feast for kings while the feelings toward her were but a bland nibble. Love had only coated me in a fine sheen and now, it filled me so completely its sweet glory overwhelmed me. I could not bring myself to destroy this newfound joy, this devotion.
Every fiber in my body was appalled at that knowledge. How could I love this thing when it could destroy everything? Yet at that moment, I was helpless against the love. For barely a second I wondered if she had cast a spell on me, but logic tossed the suspicion aside. She may be a new breed of horror, but I was a Watcher. Had she cast a spell I would have noticed and been able to resist. No, what I felt was genuine. It came from my very soul and I was powerless to stop it. Knowing I would never win the battle between my soul and my head, I let the love fill me.
The instant I welcomed that love into my heart, I knew that not only would I never hurt her, I would give my very life for hers, no matter what she might grow up to become. With all tenderness, I placed little Jamie back into her crib and brushed my fingers over her cheek. I knew I must act fast, now that I had made my choice, but I allowed my fingers to linger for just one moment before writing the Artwells a note.
She is not safe. I came here to end her life but could not follow through. Trust no one, for the next might not see the error. I am so sorry. Run. Hide. Do everything you can. Even lifelong friends may want, and do want, her dead.
~~ Joshua B Donalds
I would never see my dearest friends under happy circumstances again. They would never welcome me, not after what I had just revealed. I could have held my tongue, that’s true, and I would not have had to flee. But they had to know.
Their laughter rang out then, breaking into my thoughts. Moving as fast as I could, I dashed out of the house and closed the door behind me. I allowed sadness for my loss wash over me as I ran, for not only had I left behind my heart, I had chosen a life of solitude. All whom I had once called friend would shun me, but I would Watch from the Shadows, I promised myself. I would make sure my Jamie remained safe. It would be the least I could do.