Estimated reading time — 10 minutes
Life is supposed to be better after graduation. You’re walk across that stage, grab your diploma, and then you are welcomed into the real world with open arms.
All those parties, all the cheering, all the gifts, all the congratulations you get, it’s all supposed to represent the new world you’re about to join. I mean, you just made it through the hell of high school. Four years of stress and drama and now you’re finally free to be an adult.
Life after high school isn’t what you think it is. They don’t tell you everything. They don’t tell you the real secret of the world. Of society. Of what life is truly about. They don’t tell you about the never ending cycle of money. The endless grind to make a buck. They don’t tell you about greed.
If I had known, maybe I would have been better prepared for the time after graduation. Maybe I wouldn’t have been so self righteous. And maybe I wouldn’t have ended up where I am right now.
Sleep Watching. The newest way to make some quick cash.
Manny told me about it. Old good-hearted Manny. He meant well, he really did. I mean he has been my best friend since freshman year, he didn’t know what would happen.
We both experienced the new found struggle for money after graduation. We’re just kids. Lazy stuck up kids. We thought that we were too good for some entry level job at Mcdonalds or Wal-Mart. We wanted something that was going to bring in money quickly and easily.
So, him being the best friend that he is, he looked around online. It didn’t take him long to find exactly what we both wanted. He found Sleep-watching, a job in which you get paid to do absolutely nothing.
“Olly, all you have to do is sit there and stay awake.” He had texted to me. The way he explained it, Sleep-watching would be the easiest job on Earth. And just like most things that end in disaster, it seemed too good to be true.
So, me being exuberant about my brand new job opportunity, I raced to my computer with all the excitement of a boy who had just found Wonka’s fifth and final Golden Ticket.
Didn’t talk to anyone else about it, just sat down at my desktop, launched chrome, and began looking up the “wonderful” world of sleepwatching.
You see, it’s a pretty ingenious idea. People are afraid of being alone. With how connected the world is these days, they can’t stand the loneliness of the night. So of course, these people would pay extremely well just to have someone sit up with them while they rest for the night.
Sleep-watching.net, as I found out, is the premier place to get all of your sleep-watching needs. Just apply to join as a trusted “Watcher” and in a few days be matched with a “Sleeper” in need.
I signed up that day. “Oliver Twitch” I typed into the bar. Putting in information you shouldn’t put into any website. I assured myself though, I mean I understood that Sleep-Watching.Net needed to do a security check on me. Make sure I wasn’t joining for any nefarious reasons.
It took a few days for the acceptance email to finally come in. I remember getting it. How I had been refreshing my email endlessly, just waiting for the green light to pay dirt.
I immediately logged into the website and to my surprise, I already had an alert from a sleeper in need. In that moment I wasn’t thinking, I just knew that someone was willing to pay me. I clicked on the link and it gave me the brief profile of the “sleeper” who wanted me.
Her name was Viola. A sweet name for a sweet, innocent, old lady. 74 and alone in life. Her husband had died a few years earlier and her family had leased her out an apartment and forgotten about her. She put on her profile that she had some trouble sleeping of late and thought that having someone younger there with her would do a lot to ease her insomnia.
I greedily accepted. The rate for the job was amazing. Old people pay extremely well. We messaged a little that day. Just short messages, she wanted to make sure I was okay with the job and the pay. All she needed me to do was to be on the webcam feed, she said she was fine with me doing anything else during the night.
It had been around noon when we talked so I decided to take a nap. I had to be prepared for an all-nighter. An all-nighter that would hopefully get me paid.
It got dark around nine where she lived, I was an hour behind, so it was still daylight when we got ready to call.
Before I hit the dial button a pop-up window appeared on my screen. A special message straight from Sleep-Watchers.Net.
“The Rules:” It said across the top of the page. Listed below this simple heading was a short list.
1. Do not fall asleep.
2. For no circumstance may you wake the Sleeper.
3. Do not touch the red emergency button unless there is an EMERGENCY.
4. Do NOT fall asleep.
I had laughed at the rules at the time. They were all basic. Common sense that anyone should have known before taking a job as a Watcher.
I clicked the agree button at the bottom of the page and then waited for my call to Viola to connect.
She was such a sweet old lady. She had this innocent smile on her face as she appeared on the screen and she looked genuinely happy to see me.
“Hi, Oliver,” she said, “Thank you so much for doing this. I hope this isn’t too much trouble and that you have a good night.”
I assured her that I would, that I had a few open tabs that I would be working on while she slept. I told her goodnight and she laid down into bed. In what seemed like just a few short moments she was peacefully asleep. I watched her for a little while
There’s a strange peace in watching somebody sleep. Watching their chest move as they breath slowly. I was watching Viola at her most vulnerable. I knew there wasn’t anything to worry about, but still, having a life in your hands can change you.
After just a little while of watching Viola sleep I began surfing the web. I had all night to endlessly search. So lucky me, I was getting paid to do what I would have been doing that night anyways.
The night went by quietly. There was one point during the night I thought I heard something coming from the video feed. Almost sounded like breathing, but me being the smart ass kid that I am, knew that it was just the sound all video cam feeds make when both sides are silent. I now realize that only one side of the feed had been silent.
In the morning, when the first rays of the sun were beginning to fill Viola’s room. She woke up. No alarm for her, just sunlight. I happened to be watching as this happened, just doing my job you know. Her first move was to look to her side, the empty potion of her bed. She placed her on the unused pillow there and I could have sworn I saw her body shudder. Then I guessed she gathered herself and she turned to look at her laptop which was sitting on a desk next to her bed.
She smiled that genuine smile again when she saw me, asked me how my night had been. I told her it had went smoothly. She sighed a sigh of relief and thanked me. She told me that she had just had the best sleep in weeks and to have a good day and than hung up the feed.
I’m a teenager. I’m use to all-nighters. But with my job done, I gladly went to bed with a smile on my face.
The next few nights were the same. I would video call Viola around 8:00 at night and she would be asleep by 8:05.Thank god the internet is endless. I learned so much useless crap during those nights. .
One night, the peacefulness of our schedule was interrupted. I remember it in some detail.
Viola woke up around 3, drowsily nodded at me and headed to the bathroom which from the camera angle I could see was connected to the bedroom by a small door on the other side of her bed.
At that points I never really looked at the feed. I mean nothing ever changed on it so there wasn’t any point. I only ever really looked to have a moment of peace from the bluntness of the internet. I was watching while she was in the restroom though. Maybe out of boredom or maybe because I wanted her to feel safe when she got back into bed. I can’t really remember.
I saw something while she was in the restroom.
It was only for a second. But I swear to you that I saw it. A hand. An over-sized bleach-white hand. It was inching its way out from behind a curtain that covered the window.
I only saw it for a second but it raised every hair on my body into attention. I continued staring into that same spot, trying to catch anymore evidence of something being wrong. Nothing happened. So I shrugged it off, blaming it on the mixture of midnight drowsiness and Red Bull.
Viola came out of the restroom and went back to bed. Her only communication to me was that soft smile before her head hit the pillow and she was peacefully back out.
The way she fell asleep so quickly. She treated sleep like a luxury. A luxury that I could tell she had been missing out on as of late. I felt proud to be the person that could bring that luxury back to her.
A few nights later, five nights ago, everything changed.
The night started out normal. Viola and I following our established routine. Her whispering a “Goodnight Olly” to me and passing out. The quietness of her room. The sound of me clicking away into Google. Trying to find some new information that I had yet to exhaust. Everything was normal.
It’all my fault. I didn’t nap as much as I should have that day. I didn’t have a Red Bull on me. I didn’t try hard enough to stay awake.
I fell asleep. I broke the rules.
I slept hard. I was out for at least an hour. Drooling on my keyboard, dead to the world and useless to Viola.
I woke up to a suddenly. I think I heard some kind of bang but I can’t remember. Maybe a buzzer, I’m not sure.
My head came up quick though. I wasn’t sure as to what was going on, but I think that my body instinctively knew that something was wrong.
After I figured out where I was, I went straight to Viola’s tab. She was peacefully asleep, whatever had awoken me hadn’t disturbed her in the slightest. I smiled to myself, with that nap I would be good to go the rest of the night, and Viola was still perfectly okay. That’s when I saw him. The ghoul I now call The Watcher.
My smile was instantly gone, he was standing in the corner of Viola’s room. Mostly hidden by the darkness. What I could make out about him was his extreme height and his narrow body. I could also see his eyes.
They were white, entirely white, they seemed to be reflecting some ungodly light and they were directed straight at me.
I couldn’t move. Fear was like ice, and in that moment it froze me.
He began to move towards Viola. He didn’t walk but he didn’t float like a ghost, he moved smooth but at the same time his movements were rigid. Viola’s back was to him and her sleeping face was pointed in my direction.
This is when I broke rule two. You see, I did the only thing that I could think to do. I yelled. I yelled and I screamed for Viola, trying to wake her.
I now wish it hadn’t.
Her eyes popped open and instantly locked with mine. As she did this though….Watcher was upon her.
He began slamming both of his fists into her body, over and over again. It made this sick, wet sound. A rhythmic thud.
I saw it all. It was like having a front row seat to a band that disgusts you. I saw the look of surprise she had when she first woke up, the confusement on her face when he first slammed that white fist into her, and then the fear as she realized what was happening.
Blood was everywhere. It wouldn’t stop coming. Viola’s eyes were on me the whole time. She was crying. She had given up and she was steadily weeping as he beat her.
“Olly,” I barely heard her whisper,”Help me.”
I tried to do the only thing I could. I grabbed the mouse and clicked onto that red emergency button. The one that’s supposed to be used only during emergencies.
It didn’t work.
“This feature is restricted at the current time to user: Wishbone 43
Reason: Disobedience of the Rules.”
Someway, somehow, Sleep-Watchers.Net knew I had fallen asleep. It knew and now it was punishing me.
I turned my attention back to the thing as it continued slamming its oversized fists into Viola. Those once white hands were covered in blood. Viola’s eyes were lifeless. She was gone. I could still hear her plead for help in my ears.
I cried. I sat in front of my computer with my head in my hands and I cried.
Viola died because of me. An innocent old lady died because I couldn’t keep my stupid little eyes open. Remember how I talked about how it feels to have a life in your hands? Well it really, really sucks when that life is lost and you’re to blame. The tears wouldn’t stop coming. They still haven’t.
I listened to the continuous slamming of The Watcher’s fists into Viola’s body. After a little bit of time, they finally stopped. It took every ounce of courage that I had to look up, but I did. Those white eyes were staring at me. Those huge white hands, covered in Viola’s blood hung limply at his sides.
Those eyes didn’t say anything, but I know what that thing was trying to tell me.
“It’s all your fault Olly.”
I haven’t slept since that night.
Viola haunts my dreams and if I close my eyes for even a second she’s there. Screaming at me. Cursing my name with that innocent voice. She knows it’s my fault and she won’t let me forget it.
That thing is coming for me. Viola’s death was just the beginning. The first part of a two-part punishment. My death will be part two.
I don’t know what to do. I haven’t told anyone. I know anyone that I could possibly tell would think I’m insane, and if they didn’t instantly call me crazy well then they would know that Viola’s death is my fault.
It isn’t that monster’s hands that are covered in blood, it’s mine.
He has been getting closer every night. At first it was just shadows. Things that could be mistaken as nothing. But now, now I hear his breathing. I see those blood soaked hands everywhere. That low, almost silent breathing. I hear it no matter where I go. He is always watching.
I know he’s here right now. Behind me as I type. Standing over my shoulder and reading what I have to say about him. This nightmare is torture. I’m going to go insane soon if I don’t sleep.
Please. I need help. I’m begging you. I will give you everything I own, just please go find my account on Sleep-watchers. Please be my watcher. I won’t make it through another night without one. Don’t let me die.
Don’t fall asleep.
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