Watcher


www.AntonioGarciaBooks.com

Theo couldn’t understand why no one ever wanted to talk to him. The others not even looking at him most of the time made him feel even more alone.
He watched as two people talked on the other side of the office. He couldn’t hear what they were saying, but they seemed to be enjoying themselves.
From time to time, they would look over at his direction but not at him.
The woman, Stacy, laughed at what the man, Nathan had said.
‘I wish I could hear what they were saying so I could laugh too,’ Theo thought.
He watched as they walked out of sight and then started looking around the rest of the office to see if anything else interesting was going on.
Not seeing anything, he decided to check out the warehouse.
His job in security was boring, but at least he felt like he was serving a purpose.
As he saw each person doing their jobs, he knew who each of them was. He found each one unique in their own way. He wished they would ask him to hang out sometimes.

Seeing that all was normal in the warehouse, he turned his attention back to the office.

The office was his favorite place to spend his time, the people were more friendly, and everyone got along.

Back on the dock, there was always more drama. Seems like often times, everyone would get frustrated with each other almost daily. It was interesting to see at first, but it had gotten old quickly.

As the day progressed, Theo periodically looked around the office to see what his coworkers were doing, but normally they were working, so he was forced to move on to other areas to ensure the building was secure.

When five o’clock rolled around, Theo watched as each of them left for home. He always hoped that someone would invite him to hang out, but rarely did anyone ever pay attention to him.

Once everyone had gone, he went around the building, making sure it was all secure and empty.

The next day, he watched from his little corner as all the employees came back to work.

Most days were routine, but as the day went on, he noticed something was going on with Stacy and Nathan. She seemed to recoil every time he approached her, leading him to let out a sigh and walk away again.

Theo knew they had been flirting with each other over the last few weeks, and he got the sense that they already had a past.

Today it looked like Stacy was done with him, which was fine with Theo.

He could never tell her, but he had always had a crush on her. He had thought about letting her know a few times when see actually looked over at him, but he never attempted to reach out.

Now that it looked like she was finally done with Nathan, he may go ahead and take that chance soon.

Theo saw her in one of the hallways crying to herself, away from everyone else.

He watched from afar, not wanting to let her know he had seen her. He wasn’t sure if she’d appreciate being watched.

After a few minutes, she composed herself and walked away.

Becoming a little worried, Theo decided to look into what might have happened.

It didn’t take long for him to find out that Nathan had cheated on her with some floozy from a local bar he hung out at.

Apparently, he felt bad for what he had done. Although, it wasn’t his first time.

Theo found out from Janet in Accounting that he was really a piece of shit and was known for being a cheater.

Janet had recommended that Stacy should leave him, and Stacy even agreed.

Theo became angry that Nathan had hurt her. He didn’t think he was the right one to console her, but he felt like he had to do something.

When five o’clock arrived and everyone was heading out the door, Theo decided to confront Nathan himself.

Nathen grabbed his stuff. He was done with that day. All he wanted to do was get out of this depressing office and meet up with some friends at his favorite watering hole.

Everyone was giving him the stink eye, so he decided to stay back until everyone else left.

Once everyone else got a head start, he started to walk out himself.

He stopped when he heard his desk phone ring. He didn’t really want to talk to any clients, but he also didn’t want to walk out when everyone else was probably sitting around the parking lot talking about him.

Begrudgingly, he went back to his desk and answered the phone.

“This is Nathan,” he said. “How can I help you?”

“You hurt Stacy,” came the response from the other end of the line.
The voice sounded artificial, as if someone was using a voice changing app.

“Who is this?” Nathan asked, annoyed.

“Why did you hurt her?” was his answer.

“Look, I don’t know who you are, but what goes on between Stacy and me is between Stacy and me.”

He slammed down the phone. He felt a little better after being able to hang up on someone.

His smile faltered a little when the phone rang again.

Hanging up on the stranger felt good, and since he was foolish enough to call again, he decided to take advantage of the opportunity and take his frustrations out on the stranger on the phone.

Still knowing he was answering a business phone, he said just a little sarcastically, “Hello, this is Nathan.”

“You hurt Stacy,” came the artificial voice from the other side.

“Yeah? And what are you going to do about it?” Nathan taunted.

The phone went dead.

Nathan’s hair on the back of his neck stood up, though he didn’t know why.

Feeling a little nervous at the odd phone encounter with the stranger, he decided he was ready to leave now.

He grabbed his backpack and started for the door.

His phone started ringing again, but he ignored it.

“What the hell?” he said when he tried to open the door. It was locked.

Frustrated, he roughly jerked it, trying to open it.

“Son of a Bitch!” he said, giving up trying to get out that door.

He looked around the room, seeing if he was alone when he saw the security camera pointed towards him.

He wasn’t sure if the cameras had mics on them, or if someone was actively watching the feed, but he hoped someone was.

Theo watched as Nathan walked towards the camera and waved.

Not getting a response, Nathan flicked off the camera and began to walk towards the warehouse to go out that way.

“What the hell?” he shouted, frustrated.

The door to the warehouse was locked and he couldn’t open it. He banged on the door but knew it would be hard for anyone to hear him. The warehouse could get loud. Most people had to shout to hear each other over the sounds.

A click coming from behind him drew his attention.

‘It sounded like it came from the front doors,’ he thought and walked towards them.

He could have sworn the camera was following his movements, but every time he looked, it sat motionless.

When he tried the door, he was relieved when it opened.

‘Fuck this place,’ he thought, walking through the first set of doors.
The second set of doors were locked.

“Dammit!” he sputtered. Now he was getting pissed. He felt as if someone was playing with him.

He tried to go back through the first set of doors, but they were once again locked.

Suddenly, the Halon Fire Suppression system kicked on and filled the area between the two doors, extinguishing the oxygen along with any fire that may be present.

Panic stricken, Nathan tried to break through the glass, but being unable to breath, he could only lightly bang on it.

His eyes darted around the room, frantically searching for someone to walk in and see what was happening.

No one came as he slowly started to lose consciousness, and then quietly passed away.

Theo didn’t necessarily feel guilty for what he had just done. Nathan had proven himself to be a bad person. If anything, Theo felt relieved that he was able to take care of Nathan in a way that couldn’t be traced back to him.

Seeing that Nathan was dead, he turned off the Fire Suppression System and unlocked the doors.

The next day, Nathan’s body was found by the first employee who came in and it wasn’t long until the place was filled with police and detectives.

Theo watched as one of the officers pulled the distraught Stacy to the side to comfort her and ask her some questions.

He couldn’t hear what they were saying but he could tell she was devastated. Theo knew that over time she would be alright. He knew that she would be even better now that Nathan was gone.

“Theo,” a security guard said when he entered the console room. “Bring up last night’s footage so we can see what happened.”

“I’m sorry,” Theo replied. “All data from last night has been corrupted.”

The security guard was instantly shocked and embarrassed.

“What do you mean the data from last night has been corrupted!” the security guard shouted.

“What’s going on?” the detective asked.

“Theo says that the footage from last night was corrupted somehow,” the security guard tried to explain.

“Who is Theo?” the detective asked.

“Oh, he’s our security system A.I. He runs our entire system and up until now, hasn’t ever had any data corrupted.”

The detective walked over to the computer console and asked, “Will he answer my questions?”

“Yes,” the security guard said. “Theo. Answer all the detective’s questions. Do you understand?”

“Yes,” Theo replied.

The security guard nodded that the detective could begin his questioning.

“Theo, what happened to last night’s data?” the detective asked.
“Unknown,” Theo replied.

“Is there any other data that is corrupted?”

“No”

“What is the last recording you have on file?”

Theo brought up the playback of everyone leaving but turned to static right before Nathan’s telephone rang.

“Is there anything recorded up until now?” the detective asked.

Theo brought up new footage beginning when the first employee arrived.

“Are there recordings from the other areas of the building?” the detective asked.

“Yes,” Theo answered.

“Is any of their footage corrupted?”

“No.”

The detective turned to the security guard and nodded for him to join him outside.

“Is there a place we can talk that the cameras can’t see us?” he asked once they were outside.

“There’s a couple of blind spots over here,” the guard said, leading him away from the security room.

As the two men disappeared around a corner, Theo turned his attention back to Stacy, who was surrounded by a few friends.

He watched as the police officer that had asked her questions returned and tried to console her.

Theo watched as he said something that made her smile a little.

After a few minutes, the officer walked off to find a restroom. Theo followed him through the cameras.

As the officer attempted to go into the bathroom, Theo unlocked a computer room across the hall, causing an audible click.

The officer took the bait and turned toward the sound of the door unlocking.

Curious, he entered the room to see if anything was out of place.

Theo watched him enter the room and then watched the officer’s reaction when he locked the room once more.

He watched as the officer casually tried to open the locked door, and as he continued to watch, the Halon Suppression System kicked on and started spraying the oxygen killing spray into the room.

Then everything went black.

The security guard flipped a few switches, unlocking the door and turning off the Fire Suppression System.

“Just as I suspected,” the detective started. “I think your A.I. became a little too attached to that girl Stacy. I suspect now that he’s deactivated, that our IT Forensics Team will find that Theo locked Nathan in between the doors and used the Fire Suppression System to murder him.”

He pulled out his radio and said, “Thanks, Tom. Are you alright?”

The officer answered, “Yes, sir.”

When the detective had pulled the guard out of the room, he radioed the officer that had questioned Stacy earlier to approach her again and say something to catch the attention of anyone watching. He only had to comfort her to get the response he needed.

The officer knew that he was being tracked by his fellow officers as he investigated the room.

“I think you all should reconsider before you make use of these A.I.s,” the detective said. “We’ve run into a few situations where they started to become more self-aware than we feel comfortable.”

The security guard exited the room to assist the police and wrap things up.

No one noticed a small light blink on before blinking back off.

Theo watched as the security guard escorted the police out. He knew going forward, if he was going to survive, he’d have to be smarter.
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Published on August 19, 2020 07:03 Tags: original, short-stories, short-story
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