Do you ever get the sense that someone is watching you? It is a pretty common feeling, and most people experience it at some point in their life. Chances are it is just a minor form of paranoia. Sometimes it is not. Sometimes… someone is watching. Or ‘they’ might be the better term. ‘They’ are following.

Behind You is June’s flash fiction that brings readers into a psychological horror of paranoia. Enjoy the story in written word, audio, artwork and soundscape.

Into the Macrocosm

Into the Macrocosm by Konn Lavery

Short Stories of the Dark Cosmic, Bizarre, and the Fantastic

This story is found within the collection.

Enter the expanding universe through the lives of 22 souls, as the Nameless One and their ghoulish companion attempt to unlock the mysterious past of how they died.

Listen (original)

Read (edited)


Paranoia

I used to enjoy life. Outside has so many wonders to see. The world is much larger than most people give it credit for. Sure, the Internet has drastically made things smaller by connecting people around the globe. The Earth itself, however, is astronomical in size. Anyway, exploring outside is something all of us do as kids. I know I did. Not so much now. My mom and dad wouldn’t let me go too far from the house. They always said the streets were dangerous. As a small child, I didn’t understand why. It looked like a pretty safe neighbourhood from what I saw inside.

Now I understand why my mom would get mad at me if I gazed outside for too long. Or if I wandered too far away from my parents without supervision. Mom said there were ugly people in the world. She said there were horrors out there. I believe her now. There’s a certain level of bliss that you have in your youth. The innocence overlooks the terrible ones watching in the shadows, in the cracks, or peeking around the corner. What was that saying again? Oh yes, the devil is in the details.

Over the years, Mom and Dad began to grow tired. Maybe they let their guard down, or perhaps they decided that there was no point in fighting the inevitable—the impending doom. They are always watching. You might not know exactly where they are, but I guarantee they aren’t far behind you. You know that feeling of someone watching, but you’re alone? It’s them. Whether you’re at home, or on the sidewalk, or in the grocery store, it doesn’t matter—they are there, always. It’s that tingling feeling on the back of your neck or when your hearing thumps just a little harder for a brief moment. Your body is picking up the most subtle of details. The extrasensory perception, I believe. Then, when you turn to look, you see nothing. I’ve dubbed them the Lightless Ones. We’ll get to the definition in a moment.

Most of us just write these experiences off as being paranoid, or that we’re just tired. That’s easy to do. Just say it’s your delusions that are confusing you. We’re all a little crazy, some more than others. I sometimes wonder if I am the craziest of them all. The Lightless Ones started watching me from a young age, I know that much. I don’t exactly know what they want, even to this day, a couple of decades on. I’m not the only one aware of them. Conspiracy theorists, crack monkeys, delusional fools, pick your title—they know about the Lightless Ones. They are willing to admit there is something more to that feeling, that sensation of something being near. The Lightless Ones are behind you. I know it. Now you know it.

First Sighting

My experiences with the Lightless Ones all started when I was in my senior year of high school. I took the same path as I always did after school across the football field to the bus stop. In that field, I saw a man walking on the outside of the fence of the school property out of the corner of my eye. For all I knew, it could’ve been a strand of my long hair that got in my face. The day was windy. Yet the blotch seemed to walk with me. As I got closer to the edge of the school property, he was still there. I could easily distinguish limbs in a walking motion. This man was as black as my hair—hence the name ‘Lightless Ones.’ I stopped and looked directly at him, but he vanished. It was as if the man had never been there. I spun around a couple of times, trying to see where he went. I couldn’t find him. Weird. At the time, I concluded that my head was playing tricks on me.

The wind-hair theory only lasted a week. More subtle signs started showing up. In the classroom, I could see someone watching from the small window on the closed door that led into the hallway. Just like in the field, I could see them from the corner of my eye. When I looked, the person was gone. Apparently, I was ‘daydreaming,’ as my math teacher put it. He said I should focus more on my grades. I truly tried. The Lightless Ones kept distracting me. I don’t think their goal was to have me fail high school, because I eventually graduated. I didn’t have any remarkable scores, though. At least I finished.

Goodbye, Family

Dad was the first to die. A heart attack. None of the neighbours seemed to care while my mom wailed in pain from the discovery of her husband dead on the kitchen floor—poor Mom. We had a funeral. A few relatives came by, but that was it. A lot of people began to distance themselves from us as I got older. I didn’t have a lot of friends in high school, either. There was Scratchy Jim and Hot Jane. I did have a thing for Hot Jane. I don’t think she knew since she was too busy ogling over the pretty boys. My acne-infused face probably wasn’t much of a turn-on. Scratchy Jim and Hot Jane tried to keep me distracted from the death of my father. It worked for a while until my mom took her own life. I’ll always remember the silhouette of her hanging from the ceiling in the garage. That silhouette, a human shape, all black, just like the Lightless Ones . . . always at the corner of my eye.

Mom left a suicide note. It talked about them, the Lightless Ones—the silhouettes. The whole letter was about five-and-a-half pages long. Most of her words sounded like ramblings, probably because of the empty bottle of Jameson’s on the floor beside her hanging body. I still have that last note to me. She mentioned that she saw them all the time. It was why she wanted to keep me safe indoors. That explained the homeschooling for most of my life. My dad convinced her to let me go to high school. He believed it was good for me to interact with other kids. Mom was too scared, and now I know why. In the note, she mentioned that the Lightless Ones had spooked my father, causing the heart attack. My mom was tired of fighting them and gave up. She apologized greatly in the note and said how much she loved me. Yeah . . . she loved me so much that she left me to deal with them on my own.

My parents’ deaths were only a couple of months apart. Mom’s was at about the year mark after my graduation. I inherited the house and all of their possessions. Technically, I was an adult now, so I was on my own. I had considered postsecondary education but was too depressed after their passing. I continued working at the grocery store down the road, taking the same route there five days a week through the neighbourhood, passing the local bar and an apartment complex.

Mom and Dad were gone. I had a home. High school was over. That was when I started to see the Lightless Ones more frequently—that tingling sensation. I swear my ears twitched anytime I heard a rattling sound. I can’t make my ears move; they did that on their own. I would frantically spin around, trying to see where the noise was coming from. People would watch me, thinking I was crazy. At first, I felt ashamed, until I realized that not all of them were normies watching a delusional freak spaz out. These others, they were familiars of the Lightless Ones. I knew it, because they wouldn’t stop looking at me. No normal person does that. Either way, all eyes were on me, especially when I was shouting at the Lightless Ones.

Goodbye, Friends

I tried to tell Scratchy Jim and Hot Jane. Scratchy Jim was a little more open to hearing my story. He’d say he was there for me in that distinctive raspy voice of his. Hot Jane wasn’t so accommodating. She had a stud for her boyfriend and was accepted into university the next province over. The day I confessed to seeing the Lightless Ones was the last time I physically saw Hot Jane. I miss those freckles. She moved with her boyfriend and started her new life. She had no reason to keep Scratchy Jim or me around. Despite the Internet making the world feel small, Hot Jane had vanished entirely. The world is a big place. You can still disappear. It makes me wonder if she felt sorry for me in high school—if she was ever really my friend. Scratchy Jim stayed around, at least for a little while. He was one of those guys that liked to experiment with drugs of all kinds. It started with snorting prescription pills, smoking weed, doing speed, and eventually heading down smack road. That was when he began to dissociate himself. He would hang around those heroin dens. I tried to visit him, but he wasn’t exactly there. During my last visit with him, I spotted a Lightless One in the den and freaked out—sorry, Scratchy Jim.

With Hot Jane gone, and Scratchy Jim chasing the golden dragon, I didn’t have a lot of other people to talk to. I still don’t. My coworkers at the grocery store were either old people or had lives of their own. A lot of the other kids from high school had now graduated from postsecondary or moved away. They wouldn’t want to hang out with someone like me.

My walks to and from work became more stressful. The Lightless Ones weren’t just at the corner of my eye anymore. I could see them walking right past me. They showed up more often late at night. On my way home from work, I’d think it was a person in the dark until I got close enough to realize that light didn’t illuminate their forms. They were pitch black. I’d hurry to the other side of the street, eventually passing them. It worked a couple of times, and I began to wonder if they were simply ghosts or something co-existing in our world.

The theory seemed plausible for a few days. Then, for the first time, a Lightless One turned and began following me. It was fast. They’d hit things, like street signs, sending loud crashes or bangs echoing in the street. I would run down the middle of the road, keeping as visible as possible. The Lightless Ones didn’t care. They would chase me until I made it back home and locked the doors. They waited outside. I kept the lights off so they wouldn’t know where I was. Home seems to be the only place they don’t invade. They can only watch. It’s like home has some forcefield or sacred ground or something keeping them out. I’ve scoured the house for clues that Mom might have left, only to find nothing.

Forced Seclusion

I started keeping the curtains closed all the time, more frequently in the mornings. The Lightless Ones are easy to spot during the day due to the high contrast of their black forms and the sunlit environment. I can maneuver around them. Sometimes they are sneaky and appear around corners and trees, or in windows. Seeing them in windows confirmed my theory about the familiars, for the Lightless Ones would be beside them. These people were on the street, too. They’d act like they were looking at their phone or a newspaper, but I could see their eyes. They were watching, taking notes, and seeing what I was going to do next. Some of the familiars would follow me to work and act like they were buying something. That wasn’t going to work on me. My mom warned me about them. The familiars wanted to take me to the Lightless Ones and convert me into a familiar. I realized the Lightless Ones must be invading our world, slowly enslaving us to do their mysterious bidding.

My manager saw my performance at work declining. I shouted at some of the customers—familiars—and they filed complaints against me. Sneaky bastards. My manager moved me to the night shift, so I could stock the shelves and have less interaction with customers. At least there was the premium pay for nighttime work. The dark was dangerous. The Lightless Ones camouflage into it, so I started carrying a knife with me. I had no idea if the Lightless Ones were capable of experiencing physical pain. But in the worst-case scenario, I could at least attack one of their familiars.

I started getting fewer shifts at work. I don’t think my manager likes me. Every walk home, I would firmly grasp my pocketknife tucked inside my hoodie. My heart raced. I’d sweat a lot. The Lightless Ones and their familiars would walk around me, circling like vultures. I would shout at them, telling them to stay away from me. I’d threaten them with the knife, flailing it in the air. It worked. Except for one day, when, on my walk home, they were more aggressive. From every corner, their black heads peeked out. The familiars watched from their windows, their cars, and then at the bus stops. They were behind me. I ran as fast as I could down the middle of the road, staying in the light.

I swear that some of the familiars tried to run me over in their cars. I couldn’t help but wonder how long they have been watching. If the Lightless Ones had been stalking my mom, and she managed to avoid them until her death, had they stalked my grandmother too? Or my grandfather? I had no idea. I only knew I had to run. Eventually, I made it home, struggling to get my keys out of my pocket. My free hand still swung the knife in the air, keeping them back. I dropped the keys once, snagged them from the ground, and got the right one in to unlock the door. With my hand shaking, I managed to twist and push the door open, then step inside. I could feel one of them grab hold of my back. It stung.

I slammed the door shut and locked it. Panting heavily, I collapsed onto the floor as tears began to run down my face. I dropped the keys and the knife. The Lightless Ones were everywhere. The back of my neck had two scratch marks. I know they were real.

Best Course of Action

That was when I decided I couldn’t work anymore. I stopped showing up for my shifts. My boss must’ve been concerned because the police eventually appeared at my doorstep. I wondered if they were familiars, too, but they seem to be okay. They interviewed me, asking if I was on anything. I wasn’t on drugs. I’m not that kind of person, really, I’m stable and have a good sense of judgment. That was how I noticed the Lightless Ones in the first place. They would drive anyone crazy. The police determined there was nothing wrong with me and decided to leave me alone. Now, I can stay safe. I cover every window with curtains and have taped the glass over with tinfoil to prevent the Lightless Ones from seeing inside. I think the tinfoil might deflect their mind-controlling. It’s a theory I have about how they convert people into familiars.

I rarely go outside. Anytime I peel back a small sliver of tinfoil to peek at the outside world, I see them. I try to take photographs, but they always come out blurry. They must have some sort of electromagnetic field that distorts technology, or they aren’t detectable by light. Photography is light-based, after all. It makes you wonder—are they aliens? Other dimensional beings? Or am I merely suffering from paranoid delusions? I have no answers. I try to connect with others on the Internet—the world-shrinking device—to see if anyone else has seen the Lightless Ones. There are similar stories. Some of these people also believe in Bigfoot and the Flat Earth. I follow this one girl who streams videos, calling herself The Oracle. She doesn’t see the Lightless Ones, but her voice is soothing, and she has pretty drawings. She’s crazy, too—talking about a galactic absorption—but who else am I going to turn to? It’s not like anyone else locally sees the Lightless Ones. At least I can vent to people on message boards. That is one good thing about the ever-shrinking world device: it connects those who are trapped. The Lightless Ones choose who they show themselves to. They select specific people to be their familiars, and they sure as hell aren’t going to convert me. I’ll fight this to the bitter end, just like Mom did.

This is where I find myself today. Alone. I document as much of it as I can online. I wonder if the Lightless Ones are getting smarter, or if my judgment is getting worse. Either way, I have had a difficult time determining who is a familiar and who is not. I stay away from the outside world as much as I can, only leaving the house to get groceries.

The Lightless Ones have introduced better forms of camouflage. I’ve seen half-human and half-otherworldly, like some kind of chimera: a hybrid that is part flesh and part blackness. They are evolving. I question how much longer I can fend them off. As the months go by, I am beginning to understand why Mom ended her own life. I can’t see anyone. I can’t experience fresh air. Nor have I ever felt the touch of a woman. Death may be the only route of escape. I don’t want to be absorbed as a familiar. They’re clawing at the door, scraping away at the wood. I can escape forever. That’s what I hope for as I sit on my bathroom floor, writing this note with one sweaty hand and holding my knife in the other. Thanks for the help, Mom. I’ll see you soon.


Into the Macrocosm

Into the Macrocosm by Konn Lavery

Short Stories of the Dark Cosmic, Bizarre, and the Fantastic

This story is found within the collection.

Enter the expanding universe through the lives of 22 souls, as the Nameless One and their ghoulish companion attempt to unlock the mysterious past of how they died.

Behind You by Konn Lavery
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Konn Lavery

About Konn Lavery

Konn Lavery is a Canadian author whose work has been recognized by Edmonton’s top five bestseller charts and by reviewers such as Readers’ Favorite, and Literary Titan.

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