THE FIFTH WATCHER
By Melissa Barker-Simpson.
I was five years old when they came for me. I don’t recall everything that happened, and perhaps I never will. But I know there were four of them.
They were dressed completely in black, blending into the shadows of my bedroom like wraiths in the night.
I couldn’t scream, couldn’t even move. I was frozen in a cocoon of fear, incapable of defending myself.
What happened after is a muddy web of confusion. I recall being bound and driven away from my home. It was dark inside the van. The only light came from the front, as we travelled beneath a series of streetlamps. They cast an unnatural glow, distorting my surroundings and feeding the fear.
I remember squeezing my eyes shut and wishing for home, praying with all my heart to be free of the nightmare. Then, nothing. Nothing except being alone in a foreign land.
How I got there, why I was there, I couldn’t answer, though I asked myself time and time again. It is a place I tried to forget, and for the most part, I succeeded. But now my memories are tangled with the fear of that night and the dreams that lingered behind.
I can tell you it was cold. So cold it went bone deep. I wanted to curl into myself and disappear. But I didn’t. For a while, I wandered around, lost and disorientated. Though I’m not sure how much of it is real, and how much is just my mind filling in the blanks.
In my dreams the landscape is unrecognisable; a cold, barren place, as foreign as another country. I often wake with a heavy chest, a kind of sensory memory which scares me more than the place itself.
When my parents found me, I was unconscious. I know that because my father told me.
But there are a lot of things he didn’t tell me, not then. Things I discovered when he was gone, torn from my life when I needed him the most.
‘I’m still here, sweetheart,’ he said in my head, his words an echo of the man.
Turning from the window I glanced at his frozen image on my TV monitor. I had watched the tape over and over, and still I questioned his reasons for keeping me in the dark.
“But you’re not here,” I said into the empty room. “You left me and now I don’t know what I’m supposed to do.”
‘I taught you all you need to know.’
Staring into his face, I imagined him filling the space as he once had. That he was in the room with me, and could help me understand the new reality he had left me with.
He had been a handsome man, though the image didn’t do him justice. His sandy hair had been thick and soft, enviably so. On the screen, it hung limp and lifeless. He had been a soldier, and his tall, strong physique still bore the discipline of that life. His dark blue eyes didn’t shine as they had in life, and the illusion hurt a little.
“I feel like my whole life is a lie,” I whispered, reaching for the remote because I could no longer hear him in my head.
“My darling, Audrey,” he began. “If you’re watching this, it means we’ve been compromised, and you don’t have much time.
“I wish with all of my heart I could have protected you, but believe me when I say, if my keeping you safe has failed, and you’re watching this, I’m truly sorry for what you are about to face.”
Melissa has been writing since, well…since she was knee-high to a grasshopper. She often looks back on those earlier stories, and apart from laughing at the heavy-handed drama, or cringing at her inexperience, she is reminded that she has always lived in other worlds.
Melissa’s first novel was published in 2008, and she loves nothing more than working on a new project. The voices inside her head invariably pull her in different directions, so although she try to work on one thing at a time, those who know her would tell you it doesn’t always work!
Melissa has a full-time job which, though it does not involve writing per se, incorporates her love of language. As a British Sign Language Interpreter, she gets to translate information between two languages which is (mostly) fun.
She has two beautiful daughters who bring her great joy. They also keep her grounded, because otherwise she would have her head in the clouds permanently!