Scopophobia

The other day I was driving to work. Have you ever had that feeling that you were being followed? I could not put my finger on it. There were no cars that I could see that stuck with me the whole time. There was nothing in sight that could explain why I would feel this way, but the feeling was there all the same.

I leave for work early; my alarm goes off at 4 and I am on my way out the door by 5. This means it is dark for the entirety of my drive. I live a good distance out of town as well, so my drive can take up to a full hour on some mornings.

It was just so strange, there was no reason that I should have been so paranoid, but I could not shake it regardless. I tried searching for what it was that was causing me such anxiety. I tried to just continue driving and acting like nothing was amiss. I blared music, I sat in silence, but no matter what I did the feeling remained for the entirety of my commute.

I ran through it in my head from time to time while I was at work, but just wrote it off to bad sleep or possibly being a little under the weather. There was no sense in stewing over something as subjective as a strange feeling after all. Until I came back to my desk after lunch, that is.

My computer screen had the notepad pulled up and typed onto it in basic text were the words “I saw you”. I sat my soft drink down on the table and took a closer look. I looked around to see if any of my colleagues were looking at me and waiting for a reaction. Everybody was getting settled back at their desks or already intently working and paying me no mind.

I am friendly with the guy in IT, and there were times when he would work on my computer remotely and leave the notepad up to let me know what he was working on was finished. This did not seem like the type of joke he would make. We are cool, but not that cool if you know what I mean.

Thoroughly weirded out at this point, I wondered what I should do about this situation. Should I go to Human Resources and talk to them about the possible inappropriate prank? Should I mention it to the boss just in case she saw something, or would want to investigate the matter?

While these were both probably viable options, I decided to just reassure myself that it was just a stupid joke and continue on with my day. I clicked out of the notepad and took the last sip of my drink before tossing it in the trash. I had some numbers to go over to prepare for a meeting the next day. So, I opened the program and began to scan through them while taking down some notes.

I grabbed the mouse to move to a different page and the pointer stopped in its tracks. I tried picking up the mouse and putting it back down, shaking it around a bit on the mat, but it just stayed in the same spot. After a moment it started to move slowly toward the notepad and opened a new note. I watched in awe as the letters were typed out right in front of my face. “I SAW YOU.”

This time I did not waste a moment before hopping up and heading toward IT. I hoped to catch him in the act. I was not sure why in the world he would be doing it, but there was no other explanation.

I made it to the door of his office and opted not to knock in hopes of catching him off guard. I was shocked to find no one there. Thinking he must have snuck off after sending the message I went to ask around for him.

I caught Jennifer from accounting just outside his door heading to her cubicle.

“Hey Jen, have you seen Eddie? I really need to talk to him.”

“Eddie’s on vacation, he won’t be back until next week. Is your printer acting up again?” I think she could see how much of an effect these words had on me because she quickly continued.

“What’s wrong? Do you have a deadline to make or something? You can always re-route to my printer and come grab it from me.”

I thanked her for the kind offer but assured her that was not the case. I walked away abruptly and made my way back to my cubicle. I was trying not to show it, but an acute panic was beginning to wash over me. Surely, he wouldn’t be doing this just to mess with me when he wasn’t even here.

I remembered now that he had been talking about taking his wife and kids to Disneyland in the lunchroom the other day. His taking the time to play a practical joke from there was a long shot at best.

I got to my desk and sat down while also putting both hands-on top of my head in exasperation. This was too much I couldn’t stay at work with this weighing on my mind. There was no way I would be productive for the rest of the day.

I stopped by the boss’s office and let her know I was not feeling well and was going to head home for the day. She said it was fine but reminded me that the meeting tomorrow was to go over the quarterly earnings and that it was extremely important that I was present if I was able. I assured her that I would be there and thanked her for her understanding. As I turned around to walk out, she called out to me

“I almost forgot, there was a letter dropped off for you with the mail, they have it up at the front desk. You can grab it on your way out. Rest up, you will need to be sharp tomorrow.”

Must be something from a client, I thought to myself after waving and making my way towards the front. I walked up to the receptionist and asked if she had the letter that was supposed to be waiting for me. She nodded warily and slid it across the desk to me.

“There is no return address marked on it. I am not sure if it just got mixed into the stack or what. It’s definitely addressed to you though.”

I thanked her for warning me and grabbed it as I made my way out of the door. Probably one of these big corporate bozos trying to bribe me again, they will do anything to get ahead and increase their profits.

When I got to the elevator, I opened it up expecting a wad of cash or a check to be inside. I was disheartened to see a crumpled bit of notebook paper folded in thirds and shoved into the plain white envelope. I unfolded it nervously. Written in large block letters with some sort of thick black marker was “I SAW YOU” right in the middle of the page.

At this point, I was completely terrified. I dropped the letter and dashed out of the elevator door as soon as it was open. I ran out into the parking lot and hopped into my car as fast as I possibly could, locking it as soon as I got in. My hands shook as I tried to get my keys out of my pocket and into the ignition. Just as I almost did, I dropped them to the floor or the car. As I bent forward to grab the keys from the floor, I heard something that I still cannot quite understand. From the back seat, I heard something that I will remember for the rest of my life.

I See You.”

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