“The Eyes Have It” By Victory Witherkeigh

“He’s watching me again,” said the little girl to her father.

Her father rolled his eyes. It was the same story every night for the past week. He and the kids sat down for a family dinner at the rickety, dining table with matching chairs and upholstery that was peeling away. Then came homework before he sent the kids off to get ready for bed. The little girl brushed her teeth, put on her white pajamas, and climbed into bed with no problems.  After one in the morning, her father woke up to find a navy blue sleeping bag on the floor of their room.

The first time she showed up on the floor, her father almost stepped on her going to the bathroom.

“What are you doing on the floor?” he hissed.

“Someone is watching me from the window, daddy!” she cried hoarsely. She was so distraught, he rushed down to pull her in his arms to stop her from crying out.

“Honey, that’s not possible. We’re on the second story of the house…” replied her father as calmly as he could at two in the morning, “Your window only has a tiny ledge over the front door. No one could stand on that without falling over.”

“I swear daddy!” she cried, “It’s a pair of red eyes, and they’re watching me…”

Grumbling to himself, night after night, he got out of bed and took her back to her room.

He slowly flicked the shades up and down and pointed to the window.

“See!” he said, “There is nothing out there but the streetlight and the stars. No one is watching you. I promise…”

The man was beyond exhausted. He worked almost six days a week at the plant. As a lead manufacturing engineer, the time taken for product testing was extensive. If things kept failing at the plant, at this rate, he would be lucky to have a nap at the office.

The little girl pulled the covers to her chin as her dad flipped the light switch off again.

She closed her eyes and tried to focus on the sound of her breathing. Rolling into a fetal position and away from the window, the little girl settled into a comfortable rhythm – inhale, exhale, inhale, etcetera. Drifting off, the smell of the fresh scent from the laundry detergent cocooned around her, warmed her lungs. The snores from her brother’s room echoed down the hall, masking the sounds of the girl’s window creaking as a dark figure once again set its red eyes on her pretty face.

The weeks continued this way until the father lost count of the little girl’s incessant cries of the “watchful red eyes.” He could not remember the last time he slept more than an hour at a time.

I just need a break, he thought, Just a moment to relax… A bit of silence… is that too much to hope for?

The only other time he felt this tired was when his son was still nursing in the early months after his wife passed away. Sighing to himself, he tried to get a nap before dinner. It appeared he barely closed his eyes before the sounds of an argument pricked his ears.

“Stop touching me!!,” yelled his son, “Dad… Dad! She won’t leave me alone!”

“He’s lying!” screeched the little girl, “I was trying to watch my show, and he took the remote. I just took it back!”

“No! You’re the liar! We all know you’re the liar… Just like how you lie about the red eyes watching you.”

“SHUT UP!,” yelled the father. “Both of you! Go to your rooms now. I don’t want to hear another peep from either of you until I call for dinner. Is that understood?”

The children stomped upstairs, pouting and scowling at one another as they reached their end of the hall. Both slammed their respective room doors as hard as they could, rippling their sense of indignation that dad had punished both of them. Rubbing his bloodshot eyes with a sigh, the man slowly walked down the stairs to the kitchen to boil the water for the pasta dish he had planned for their meal. Setting the timer on the stove, he opened the pantry door to pull out the pasta sauce when a loud thud crashed over his head.

Damnit, he grumbled. What are they doing now?

Barreling up the staircase, the father saw the little girl’s door was open while her brother’s door was shut. He did not hesitate to barge through the door, yelling before he finished opening it, “What did I tell you two about being QUIET until I called for dinner?”

He was stunned by what he walked into.

His son appeared knocked out on the ground next to his dresser, the girl crying next to him, gently prodding him.

“I’m sorry! Daddy, it was an accident! I didn’t mean it! He wouldn’t let go of my book, so I let go first, and he fell…” the girl cried.

She did not finish that sentence before her father grabbed her arm and yanked her up off the floor.

“I am SO SICK of your crap,” he screamed at her, shaking her in his arms, “Why can’t you just be good and shut up?”

In a flash, he threw her aside, missing the crack as her head collided against the white walls, chipping the drywall. He knelt to check on his son and started compressions on his chest as he leaned his ear against his nose and mouth. Small movements of air worked against the stubble on his chin. 

Ok, he thought, he’s breathing…

Gently, he lifted his son and placed him on his bed of Bob, the Builder. Turning, he realized what else he had done. The dark pool of liquid underneath the girl was soaking through the beige carpet.

“No…no… Not again…” he scrambled down to the floor, avoiding the sight of the unnatural angle of her head against the floor.

What should I do?  How did I do this last time? he thought.

The smell of copper hit his nostrils, setting off a wave of nausea and dizziness. Flashes of a memory threatened to overtake him – another mistake he had pushed to the recesses of his mind.

The air seemed to disappear from his lungs as he began to look around for a towel or something to stop the bleeding.

Gotta move, gotta move.

It was all that flooded his mind as he started frantically covering the girl’s body.

***

“I told him you were here…I told him I wasn’t lying…” said the little girl’s ghost, eyes glowing a bloody red like the stains being cut from the carpet beneath her cold body.

“I know, sweetie,” replied the dark figure next to her, “I always told your dad he needed to be careful of his temper. It’s one thing we always fought about…”

“Who are you?” asked the little girl.

“Oh, honey…” the ghost said, kneeling to be eye level with her on the roof of their house, “I’m your mom…”

The little red eyes widened in shock, “Daddy said you went away to heaven!”

“Oh, no, sweetie! I would never EVER leave you if I had a say…” said the mother, “Your daddy was a bad man and took you and your brother away from me… I’ve been looking for you all this time…”

Their red eyes drifted back to the scene in the room as her little body was being dragged away.

“I don’t want to go away…” she whispered.

The mother reached around with her specter of an arm and pulled her closer. “Don’t worry, love. We will make sure your brother comes with us.”

 ***

The father came back to his son’s room, carrying a spare rug he found in the garage.

He was just about to set it over the hole of the missing carpet when he saw them, the red eyes his little girl had told him about all these weeks.

His body froze, lungs incapable of drawing breath as the memory flooded back – those same eyes accusing him of scaring her, of scaring the children.

Those eyes that told him he needed help, counseling after his stint in Afghanistan, that he wasn’t the same man when he got back.

Those eyes that once loved him.

Those eyes that filled with blood as the vessels popped when he squeezed her throat, shutting her up when she said she was leaving with the kids.

The same blood-red as he buried her under the foundations of the old house and took off.

He couldn’t even scream as the eyes were an inch away from his face now.

“Honey,” she said with a wolfish grin, “I’m home.”

Victory Witherkeigh is a new upcoming female Filipino author originally from Los Angeles, CA. She is based in the Pacific Northwest and is finishing her first novel. Victory has short stories published in literary magazines, Allegory Ridge titled, “HysterSister,” Bad Bride, titled, “Catherine de Medici,” and Thought Catalog titled, “I Didn’t Believe in Soulmates, But Here He Was,” respectively. She has her debut publication in a horror anthology, The Hollow Horror Anthology Book #3, for sale beginning May 2020 containing her fiction short story, “Passion,” under Breaking Rules Publishing.