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I See You

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Ever since the apocalypse ended and my life could go back to being as normal as one’s life could be after that event, one thing from the apocalypse stayed.

 

I had been placed at the center of it all, sat in my house with the most intense feeling of being watched. I hate feeling like I’m being watched.

 

Through every single window in my house that I looked through for the entire duration of the apocalypse, that thing was there.

 

It was… I can’t talk about it the same way now that I saw it as then, really.

 

Tall. Stretched out, like someone had taken a human and tried to make them taller, make all of their limbs longer. It’s skin was littered with green eyes all over, which was all I saw at first before I hid in a kitchen cabinet.

 

Over time, I began to notice more things about it. It had long hair, streaked with snow white, though it looked like it had been originally brown. Mixed into the hair was what I now know is cassette tape film.

 

It was at that moment I noticed this being of eyes was wrapped in the stuff, like an odd mummy. Every inch of it that could possibly be wrapped in cassette tape film was, and what wasn’t wrapped in tape looked raw, stretched, and bleeding. Around it’s fingers, around the corners of the eyes in it’s limbs, in the small bits of it’s face where the tape couldn’t quite reach, it was bleeding and raw. 

 

Like someone had skinned a person, stretched them out, and then wrapped them in tape film.

 

It was then, watching the thing that was watching me back, I noticed the tape recorder .

 

In its chest over where a human’s heart would be, there was a tape recorder there, and it was then I wondered if it wasn’t created like this. The way it shifted oddly when it moved, like it would fall out if the tape film wasn’t keeping it tied in, and the way around it bled , it didn’t seem like something any monster would be designed to do.

 

I was starting to put some pieces together, and I wondered if this thing was just as much a victim of the apocalypse as I was, and it just found itself among the crowd of monsters scaring everybody instead of the humans being scared.

 

I stared at the tape recorder in it’s chest, watched the blood drip out every time it shifted even slightly, and I knew every single eye on it was looking directly at me.

 

I don’t know how long we had been standing there before it spoke.

 

“I see you.”

 

I’d be lying if I said I didn’t run and hide in my kitchen cabinet again, though I didn’t hide for nearly as long. Just long enough to process what had just happened, and come up with something resembling a plan.

 

‘Something resembling a plan’ ended up being summed up to “Quiz the thing through the window, try and find out what was going on here.”

 

That plan did not go as I thought it would, because as I found out very soon, the only two things this being could say were “I see you” and “Show yourself.”

 

This doesn’t include the screaming, which I figured out quickly was just some very disturbing static that mimicked human screams. Or maybe it was distorted screaming and there was a window in the way. I couldn’t tell you.

 

While I still hated the feeling of being watched, the desire to know more about what was watching me won, and I ended up spending more time trying to communicate with the thing through the window.

 

Not much got through, I will admit. I’d talk to it like it was a normal human being, and it would do one of it’s three responses, and then I’d respond like it said something I understood perfectly, sort of like I was talking to a cat.

 

After a while, the feeling of being watched got to be too much, and I’d go hide in the kitchen again, it never helped because in this domains you’re always being watched no matter where you hide, really. I’d always feel bad about leaving the thing alone.

 

I don’t know how long the apocalypse had been going on before I saw the thing looking at something other than me.

 

It was looking where all the other eyes in the sky were looking, following something moving across the land. I could hear faint static coming from the direction everything was staring at, and I couldn't help but stare too. I wanted to know what was happening, even though in this world, it wasn’t anything good, and it would probably be the end of me.

 

I snapped out of the trance when the thing turned back to me, most of its eyes still watching in the other direction, but the two on its face where a human’s eyes should be were locked on me.

 

It was banging on the window, and the tape was playing what I knew for sure then was definitely screaming. The scream it was playing didn’t last that long, I could tell whenever it skipped back to the beginning, but that wasn’t my focus.

 

It was screaming, and pounding on my window, and blood seeped down from the cracks in the tape near its eyes, the human-placed eyes, and instead of the normal blood drips usually looked like, I swear it was crying .

 

The static in the background grew louder, as did the screaming and the thing’s distress, and I had a choice to make then.

 

I opened the door and waved the thing in, only realizing now how loud the screaming really was, thinking through the entire time that I made the wrong decision, it was acting, and it wanted to kill me.

 

That never happened though.

 

It was looking for a place to hide, I could tell that much, and as soon as my door was shut and locked again I led it to the kitchen where I had hid each time. It couldn’t fit in the cabinet, but it waved me in as soon as it realized that, and it tried to make itself look small against the wall as it tried to get me to hide.

 

The static outside only grew louder, and the thing only grew more distressed, so I did what it was telling me to, and I hid. It slammed the door behind me when I got in, and it stopped screaming for a moment, the only noise the soft whirring of a tape recorder picking up background noise.

 

The quiet didn’t last long, because soon everything started screaming again. The static outside, the monster on the other side of my door, hell, I’m pretty sure I was screaming.

 

The noises were so loud I couldn’t tell what was in my head and what was real, but they quickly got so loud I passed out from the sheer overwhelmingness of it all.

 

When I finally came-to, my ears were still ringing. I’m not sure how long it had been, but I didn’t leave the cabinet until my mind had mostly cleared and my ears weren’t ringing too badly.

 

When I opened the door, the monster wasn’t there. The only evidence it had been anywhere near or in my house was the blood that dripped from the cracks in it’s skin.

 

And it went on like that for two weeks. I was alone again, the world was normal, whatever having happened was reversed, and there was no monster covered in eyes and tape.

 

I felt almost bad, listening to everyone I knew talk about how bad their experiences were. Buried alive, burnt, trapped in a circus, watched. Out of everyone I knew, I seemed to be the only one who had done what I did. My friend who had been watched said the monster terrified her, and I lied and told her mine had too.

 

That wasn’t really a lie, but I left out the part where I think I befriended it.

 

It was two weeks after the apocalypse had ended that I felt watched again. Really, I had felt watched ever since, but not like this. Before it had been distant, but this was the feeling I had when I knew that every time I turned to look out a window that thing would be there.

 

I almost grew hopeful, as scared and uncomfortable as I was, but I told myself to push those feelings down. Whatever had reversed the apocalypse had likely killed my monster friend too, and I was never going to get it back.

 

That was until I woke up in the middle of the night to see a bunch of glowing green eyes staring at me through my bedroom window.

 

After the initial shock of it, which I will admit caused me to fall directly off my bed, I looked back up at the eye creature and then heard a familiar voice.

 

“I see you.”

 

I don’t think I’ve ever been so glad to see a monster before.

 

I repeated it back, and if it had a mouth, I think it would’ve smiled.

 

We had been sitting there, me on my bed, it outside my window, repeating “I see you” back and forth for four hours before my friend called me to say that she was walking by my house and saw the monster.

 

It took me another twenty minutes to calm her down, and by the time I had convinced her not to call the police, the monster was gone.

 

It kept popping up. Whenever I was alone, I’d hear beyond the nearest window a soft “I see you” and I’d know my friend was near. It was strange, I had befriended the thing that was assigned by the weird eye god to probably kill me and it just decided to not leave me alone even after the weird eye god might’ve died.

 

And y’know what, I was perfectly okay with that.

 

It wasn’t until five months after the apocalypse ended I learned anything new about it.

 

The neighbourhood I lived in was filled mostly with families, though it was much emptier now that the apocalypse had come and passed, and most people that survived decided they needed to start over somewhere new where they hadn’t been during the end of the world. Also my eye monster was probably driving down property values just by being there, but it was nothing I couldn’t deal with.

 

I don’t remember how I first found out someone was moving into a house near mine, across the street and two houses down, specifically, but it truly registered in my mind when my eye monster demanded to be let into my house again, this time less fearing for its life but still pretty panicked.

 

If I could describe it, I would say it was acting like it’s parents were moving in but it was in the middle of hiding about eight secrets at once like in some sort of romcom movie. It was then I subconsciously decided I needed to make some cookies for the new neighbours and put on a friendly face just to figure out what was up with them, even though my presence would probably be cliche and suspicious.

 

I don’t think my new roommate realized what I was doing until I was already cutting the cookies out, and then it was. Not happy by any means. It was acting like a grumpy child, crossing its arms and playing background static and “show yourself” a couple times, which probably held no meaning to either of us, but it could only say so many things. I simply told it that it couldn’t stop me, and then I asked it to move because it was getting blood dangerously close to my cookie dough.

 

It played some grumbly static, but got up and disappeared for a second, but came back with a towel a second later to wipe up the blood.

 

It was right after I put the cookies into the oven it did something new.

 

We were sitting on the floor, me against the cabinet across from the oven, it pressed in the corner near the cabinet I aways hid in when I was afraid, and then the tape clicked and the static started rolling again.

 

I looked at it, and it looked scared, almost.

 

That’s when the words started.

 

“Jon, I think there’s someone here.”

 

That surprised me. I’d never heard it say anything other than “I see you” and “show yourself” which made this a strange surprise.

 

The voice on the tape was the same as the one it had always used, and it hit me then that I was probably listening to the event that made it like this.

 

“Hello? I see you! Show yourself!”

 

The audio flowed together, unlike what it always used, which was chopped out bits of this exact thing.

 

The static pitched into a headache-inducing screeching, but what surprised me was the scream coming from the person that was turned into It Sees You.

 

The scream stopped and the distortion screeching faded into normal static crackling.

 

Then, a new voice. Distant and echoey. Warped.

 

“Hello?”

 

My monster looked uncomfortable and scared, but it didn’t stop the tape. It looked angry at the new, warped voice.

 

“Hello? I see you.” 

 

I decided I also didn’t like the new voice.

 

There were footsteps, growing closer to the tape recorder.

 

“I see you.”

 

The voice was close, and then the tape cut off abruptly, and then turned on, and then the scream played again. Even though the tone was exactly the same, I could tell from the body language this was one meant to be angry.

 

I should’ve said something other than what I said, but I said what came to mind first.

 

You could say hello this whole time?

 

It played the hello again, and I just know if it had a mouth it would be smugly grinning.

 

It was quiet after that.

 

It was quiet up until my phone buzzed, the alarm for my cookies going off, causing both of us to jump.

 

“So… You got… replaced.” I guessed, setting my cookie tray down on the cooling rack and putting the other one in.

 

“I see you.”

 

This was in its original voice, the one it always used. I like it’s original voice.

 

“I’m so sorry.” I said, and then I sat down again.

 

It was quiet for another five minutes before a question arose.

 

“So, does this have anything to do with why you don’t want me to introduce myself to our new neighbours or did you just decide to share your backstory with me?” I asked it.

 

“Jon.”

 

“Jon.” I repeated it back, and it nodded.

 

“Okay so your friend that you were talking to when you got… replaced… sorry… is Jon. And Jon is one of the people moving in?” It nodded again.

 

“And you don’t want me to talk to him because… you’re scared of him seeing you?” I guessed. It shook its head no, then paused, then nodded.

 

“Okay you’re scared of him seeing you but not for the reason of him seeing you. Would he even recognise you like this?” I asked. It shook its head no, and then poked the door of the cabinet I always hid in, and then played the scream.

 

It took me a moment to figure out what the fuck it was trying to tell me.

 

“Sorry did Jon fucking end the apocalypse? Is that why you’re scared? Because you think he might kill you?” I guessed.

 

It nodded, and then I nodded, and then I didn’t stop nodding because the movement was actually kind of fun. It played some background static, and I think if it had a mouth it would be smiling.

 

“Okay! Then i will just be very extremely careful to not mention anything that could lead to talking about you!” I said, and then the timer for the second batch of cookies went off.

 

In the end, my curiosity and also the fact that I had made three batches of cookies and hated having leftovers drove me to knock on this Jon person’s door with a tupperware container full of tea cakes.

 

Who answered the door when I knocked was neither of the adults I had seen before, and therefore, I guessed, not Jon.

 

Instead of an adult, there stood a thirteen year old with pitch black sclera and matching dark tear marks down his face, though he didn’t look like he’d been crying. I could tell the kid had gotten caught up in something during the apocalypse, though it seemed much different from what happened to me.

 

“Yeah hi what the fu- ARE THOSE COOKIES?” The kid’s tone started out as bored and borderline rude but he seemed excited when he noticed what I was holding.

 

“Yeah, and you can have one if you go get your parents for me. And if they say it’s okay, of course, of course.” The kid was off before he could witness me repeating myself, and I laughed.

 

A minute later, a man with so many scars I couldn’t count them all if I had a year came up to the door. He looked disturbingly thin.

 

“Hello, may I help you?” He asked, and his voice was soft, and tired. He was leaning against the doorframe for support.

 

“Ah, well, I just noticed you moved in here, and I wanted to introduce myself.” I said, struggling to come up with something to say, as I hadn’t actually thought of anything beforehand.

 

“I brought cookies!” I added a second later. He had seemed to have been waiting for me to finish, and then he smiled, nodded, and then gestured for me to come in.

 

“Right, wonderful. My name’s Jon, you?” He said as I walked in. He shut the door behind me, and looking around I realized that the dark-eyed kid wasn’t the only child here.

 

“Beth.”

 

He held out his arm in front of me and stopped, and then a second later a small child came running down the stairs, quickly followed by two more, and then a teenager.

 

“Looks like I should’ve made more cookies.” I commented as he resumed to lead me to the kitchen.

 

“Kids, don’t run inside please.” He directed this comment towards where the kids were loudly playing chase, and then turned back to me.

 

“Yeah, picked them up during the apocalypse.” He said, and then sat down on a barstool in the kitchen, and then gestured for me to put the cookies down and do the same.

 

“Ah, parental type, huh? How many did you get?” I asked, unsure of what to say. I wanted to ask about It Sees You but I promised it I wouldn’t bring it up to him.

 

He stilled for a second and then looked down at his hand, muttering as he counted, and I tried not to laugh, I really did.

 

“Six. More than six but I could only fit six into this house so the rest are staying with either my sister or my friend for the time being, we’re probably going to rotate between houses so no one feels like they’re getting left out.” He says, and that’s when I noticed something odd.

 

He was still counting on his fingers, but he was looking at me. Then I noticed an eye. On his neck.

 

I stared for what felt like ten minutes but was probably about a second and a half before pointing and saying quite possibly the rudest thing to say to a man who supposedly stopped the apocalypse.

 

“Hey what the fuck”

 

I didn’t get smote, or any angry reaction he just laughed, crossed his arms on the table, and then set his head in them.

 

“Oh, I knew something was off. I’m sorry.” He said, lightly laughing around his words.

 

I laughed too, anxiously, for a lack of a better thing to do.

 

“Sounds like you two are getting along.” 

 

This new voice was light and warm. Loving. I turned to see a man who definitely did fit the voice carrying yet another small child on his shoulders.

 

Jon opened his mouth to say something but the child on the man’s shoulders pointed and exclaimed “Cookies!” so very loudly, and like the scene from finding nemo there was a chorus of “COOKIES?!” from various points around the house.

 

Jon just laughed, and the man set the child down.

 

“Beth, this is my husband Martin. Martin, this is our neighbour Beth, she brought cookies, though I’m sure you’ve noticed that already.” Join said, standing up to move around to the other side of the kitchen island to where all the children were swarming.

 

Martin laughed fondly.

 

“Yes, I quite have. Nice to meet you Beth.” Martin said, extending his hand for me to shake.

 

I never liked physical contact and this man who seemed like he was knitted out of soft sweaters and love would not change that but I shook his hand anyways because he had a bit of a threatening aura about him, though that was probably the tiredness that comes from an apocalypse and at least six children.

 

His hand was rough.

 

They were nice enough people, though odd. The younger kids seemed fine, but the older two, Callum and Salem looked… traumatized, to say the very least. Probably actually old enough to comprehend exactly what was happening compared to the others.

 

So many times I was tempted to bring up It Sees You but I promised it I wouldn’t. I promised.

 

I did, however, learn a great deal more about who Jon was, what the apocalypse was about, that Jon started the apocalypse, though accidentally, and he did almost die while ending it, so I suppose that does even it out some, and most notably, old coworkers of his.

 

It started on the eyes on him, which turned into the fact that he actually could smite people, which turned into “the time he killed a not-them”. And then Jon went on an impodump rant about how The Stranger is terrible and it replaced Sasha, Beth, you can’t just replace Sasha (“But it did.” Callum supplied unhelpfully, and Salem flicked a lego at him.)

 

Sasha.

 

Hm.

 

I told It Sees You about it after I got home. Blinds to the front of the house closed, eating the portion of cookies I had kept for myself, telling it about the visit.

 

I didn’t know how to bring up that I knew its name. I knew what it used to be named, at the very least, anyway.

 

“So, he actually mentioned who I think might be you.” I said, not really thinking about what I was going to say at all.

 

It looked at me and I heard static, but this time angry.

 

“I see you”

 

“I didn’t bring you up, I swear! He was talking about his eyes which turned into whatever the fuck a not them is and then he said it replaced Sasha and that…” I trailed off then, and it made a very small static sound.

 

“You got replaced, right? And you knew Jon, I thought you might be… I thought you might be Sasha.” I said, trying my best to look anywhere but at it.

 

It just kept making a static noise. I don’t know how long it went on for. I felt like I might throw up, though that could’ve been the cookies I ate.

 

“I see you.”

 

I let out a breath I didn’t realize I had been holding, and that’s the moment I actually realized our odd little yes/no system. We’d been using it for a while, obviously, but it didn’t actually hit me until then.

 

“I see you” is yes, “Show yourself” is no. Sometimes it’s a little more complicated than that but in yes or no situations that’s what those mean.

 

“Huh.”

 

“I see you” followed by screaming. I felt like I should probably write this system down for just. Fun.

 

Jon found out about Sasha two months after he moved in, which I am counting as a personal record. With even more points due to the fact that he found out because Sasha fucked up, not me.

 

That did however bring up the concern that he might kill it. Which I did not like. Because I like Sasha.

 

Needless to say when he approached me one day after I got home from grocery shopping, not even bothering to greet me normally, and said “So, you’ve met Sasha?” in a tone that sounded like he was expecting some answers, I was ready to kill this man right then and there with whatever I had in my hand at the moment, which turned out to be a jug of milk, which I realized once I hit him across the head with it out of panic.

 

He fell to the ground and didn’t seem angry anymore, trying to assure me that he hadn’t touched her and it was still safe and he just wanted to know what happened because his weird eldritch powers didn’t extend that far, or maybe they did and he was just reigning them in very well.

 

“YOU OPENED THE WINDOWS BECAUSE OF A PLANT ?!” Was the first thing that came out of my mouth once I got inside my house. 

 

“I see you.”

 

“Fuck’s sake, Sasha, I don’t care if the plant dies! I’d care if YOU died, though!” I said, looking through my house, trying to find where she’s hiding this time.

 

When I found it I nearly didn’t recognise her.

 

The first odd thing was that she was now human-sized and human-shaped instead of the stretched out form it had before, and she was shorter than me like this too. The second odd thing was that it was wearing clothes, and it was at that moment I realized she hadn’t actually been wearing anything for the entire time I knew it.

 

The third odd thing was that even though the parts of her skin still visible through the gaps in the tape was still obviously injured, it looked better. Like it was healing. The top half of her face was visible, the tape now more like a mask over its mouth and nose, and her skin did look stretched and raw but it wasn’t actively bleeding. There was less of the film in its hair too, and it looked like it had been brushed.

 

The tape recorder in her chest was still very much there, and when I found it she had played a small “I see you” after we stared at eachother for a second.

 

“What the hell did they do?” Probably should’ve been the first thing out of my mouth, but it was the first thing in my brain, and I really have no filter.

 

“I see you.”

 

It occurred to me then I might get a more in-depth answer by getting Jon and asking him to explain everything that had happened.

 

I told it this, and then turned around to go get Jon, but she grabbed my hand and fuck her hand was warm , and then it played a very loud “I see you” which in this context it’s very easy to know means “I think I can explain myself right now, thanks.”

 

I held my free hand up in an “I surrender” manner and she let go after a second of just staring at me in which I noticed the eyes on its head that didn’t belong on her head didn’t completely disappear, they just got a lot smaller.

 

It was kinda cute.

 

The next thing that happened sent me into a special type of emotion overdrive I am never going to get again. When telling Martin about what happened he laughed, went “Yeah Jon does that too.” and then seemed to flash back to something before nodding.

 

It cupped my face in her hands, pulled me in close and for one gay second I was wondering if it was about to kiss me, then she pressed her forehead against mine and I felt everything it felt. All the emotions she felt, all the pain of its injuries, and so. Many. Thoughts.

 

If I say I didn’t cry I’d be lying, but she got her point across after a couple seconds, in which it managed to clear everything else out of the way and cast her thoughts directly into my brain.

 

“Jon said he can help me. He said they can help me become human again. He’s already helped me, look!” 

 

At that point it let go and backed up, holding her arms out in a somewhat posing manner. I was crying, but I did my best to look at it and smile like I was proud and happy. And honestly, I was. I had no reason not to be.

 

She sat down next to me and held my hand until I felt better, and I am 97.8% sure it could read my thoughts.

 

It’s not like I was ever any good at hiding them though.

 

We started going out shortly after that, realizing Sasha having a tape lodged in her chest probably isn’t going to be the biggest problem anymore now that mostly everyone on the planet now has strange scars caused by the apocalypse. It wasn’t like it was actively bleeding everywhere too, so there was no need to worry about mess.

 

Jon often came by to drop off statements for Sasha to ‘eat’ or sent their kids, and I got into the habit of baking more often so they could have a snack while they were here.

 

They never found Sasha odd. The little ones didn’t, at least, and Callum acknowledged this was an odd thing but never did anything like look at her odd or ask about it like some of the older kids did.

 

It was around the time Grey, a high schooler with worse impulse control than me, asked about Sasha’s odd tape mask I learned Jon knew how to fix this because something similar had happened to him.

 

Not nearly as bad as Sasha’s situation, which I have been informed by both Sasha and Jon is because Sasha died so its “transformation was incomplete, and that caused all sorts of problems.”

 

Which makes sense, none of my friends ever mentioned anything like this happening to them. Oh, god, my friends, they were. They took the news about me and Sasha about as well as I expected.

 

Which is to say the reactions ranged from “Oh queen” to “What the fuck? You seduced your monster? What the fuck? You can do that? What the fuck?”

 

None of them had a problem with Sasha when they were actually face to face with her, though I’m not sure if that’s because she’s one of the monsters that stuck around after the apocalypse ended or if Sasha’s just a good person, though I prefer to think it’s the latter.

 

The first time I heard Sasha actually speak was. Another type of experience entirely.

 

“G’mornin Sash.” I had greeted it while walked to get my morning coffee, mind still weighed down by sleep.

 

“Good morning, love!”

 

Right off the bat I could tell something was off. Something was off big time. It wasn’t the placement of the mugs or anything, and Sasha hadn’t been using mine, since it’s not like she had a mouth.

 

Wai-

 

“YOU TALKED!” I said, dropping my mug, not even caring if I stepped on glass as I turned around and heard it shatter.

 

“Yeah I did! Don’t move, Beth, sheesh, you’ll get hurt- STAY THERE.” Sasha said, getting up from where she was laying on the couch, holding up her hands to try and get me to not move, and at this point very hard task, as my body was telling me to jump up and down to get the excess energy out, and my body was also telling me to Go Hug Sasha, but logically I knew I probably couldn’t walk anywhere without getting more glass in my feet than I already had.

 

Sasha came back with the broom and all but hauled me up onto her shoulder, walked into the living room, dropped me on the couch, and then went to clean up my mugs, all while I was yelling about what was going on.

 

“YOU HAVE A MOUTH!” I yelled.

 

“And you have eyes, jesus I swear this mug was not big enough to warrant this much glass.” Sasha said.

 

“SINCE WHEN HAVE YOU HAD A MOUTH?!” I yelled, and Sasha played a little “I see you” while she was thinking of a more in-depth response.

 

“THE TAPE RECORDER IS STILL THERE?”

 

“Darling, if you could stop yelling, that would be wonderful.” Sasha said, looking at me. I nodded.

 

I then grabbed a pillow, smushed my face into it, and screamed. I heard Sasha sigh.

 

I came up for air at the wrong point because that was just in time to hear Sasha mutter “God, I love you.”

 

Couldn’t get my face to the pillow in time. 

 

Whoops.