Suffocated. Constantly watched. Big Brother. ‘1984’.
You were prone to exaggeration, as a living, breathing writer, however, it felt so real. Slowly, but surely, you were starting to lose your mind.
Living under the watchful eye of an A.I., knowing your every movement, every sound you made. Tracking you. Monitoring you. It was to be expected; a reporter living under the roof of the world’s foremost superheroes. You had anticipated some safeguard monitoring.
Or perhaps it was him. Everywhere you turned he was there watching silently, big, soulful, knowing, cobalt eyes. Those eyes devouring you. You could have been wearing an elaborate Victorian ball gown, with three layers of undergarments, and you would still feel naked and vulnerable.
Living in the world’s safest compound, a visitor in your own right did not grant you the freedom to live your life as you had before. No more brunches with your friends on Sunday to soak up the alcohol from a celebratory or commiserating Saturday night. No more farmer’s markets Saturday mornings to pick up your favourite flowers and artisan cheese. No more escaping the city to go for hikes with your friends to gossip and wish your troubles away.
But today, you were finally granted leave from the compound. Steve had insisted you not go alone, or at least drive you to the trails himself. He was convinced you would get lost in the mountains. He was infuriating. You were more than capable of driving yourself in the rental to the trail, thanks to a marvelous invention called “Google Maps” and a physical track you would follow.
In the end, you conceded to texting him every two hours, just to shut up him up.
You were surprised to find the car park empty as you pulled in. Sam’s Point was supposed to be one of the more popular hikes of Minnewaska State Park. The weather was clear, if brisk. However, you were beginning to doubt your research.
Seven point five miles of rough terrain and tight rock crevasses brought you up to the most glorious aerial view of the falls and you couldn’t wait to start taking photos. The view was spectacular.
And for the first time in three weeks, you could breathe. Due to the terrain and your lack of conditioning, it had taken you over two hours to make it up to the peak. You sat down on the rock and helped yourself to some water.
You were supposed to text Steve an hour ago but had lost track of time. Pulling out your phone your heart sank at the fifty missed calls, thirty unread text messages and the countless messages on Instagram. And whilst the guilt gnawed in the pit of your stomach for making him worry, you couldn’t help but roll your eyes. He was quite frankly being ridiculous.
You would probably regret it later, but you petulantly wrote back. Seriously? I’m not a child. I will see you when I get back to the compound. It was freeing being away from his constant nannying and worrying.
The air was frigid at this altitude and you regretted not bringing a coat. Pulling your beanie down over your ears, you took out your camera and lost yourself in the scenery.
And you lost track of time. By the time you had taken your fill of photos, your stomach was reminding you that it would be dark soon, so you packed up your belongings and made the trek back to the car. The journey was not as rigorous on your descent as you knew what to expect.
Through the tree line, you could just make out the car park. God, you didn’t want to return. Perhaps you could just quit, go home and start fresh at a different newspaper. You wouldn’t have to go back to the compound. You would be free to go where you pleased, talk to whomever you choose to. Away from him…
That idea crashed to the ground and combusted. Leaning against your car, his toned towering body stretched out, Steve stood with his arms crossed against his chest. His face and body seething with a cool rage.
You couldn't help but gulp, nerves twisting your gut.
“Oh doll, you should have answered your phone. I was so worried.”