Nathan saw them first, walking down the shadowy street.
In the beginning there was just a few, walking in straggling groups. He watched them pass by his house, his face pressed close to his bedroom window, trying to keep quiet and still so they wouldn’t notice but worried that even the misty sign of his breath against the window pane might somehow draw their attention.
He didn’t know why he was afraid. But he was.
Gradually others saw them and came out of their houses, drawn like magnets to the mystery of this strange, silent group. Nathan watched, holding his breath for long periods at a time, his fear winding into his belly like something alive and intelligent.
He saw that if they saw you, if they turned and looked at those who looked at them, something strange occurred. The onlookers seemed hypnotised, and in mere moments went from curiosity to affinity, leaving their homes, doors still ajar for any thief in the night.
But what this could withstand this? Thieves would be seen and see, and just join the throng. And follow, to god knows what.
Nathan heard stirrings in his house, and saw, to his horror, his own parents coming out to the deck at the from of their house. He wanted to cry out “No!” to them, call them inside, but to speak would be to draw attention. He was too afraid. If they saw him then he’d see them properly and join them and every inch of his body and soul knew, on some animal level, that this was the end, the terrible end. He just didn’t know what that meant. Not really.
But his parents! His parents saw them and they were seen! They were walking to the group!
How could he let that be? Could he stop that? Could sound shatter the silent command of the herd? He was terrified beyond words, and yet he had to use words. It was his parents. He had to.
He opened his window, just a crack, this mere sound like a whiplash in the night.
“Mom! dad!” he cried out, but neither turned, neither saw or heard him.
But then the leader of the closest group heard the cry and turned. And saw him.
They saw each other.
(c ) Helen M Valentina 2018