Surveillance State

‘About bloody time,’ muttered Brian, getting up from his chair and stretching, his fists pressing into the small of his back. ‘My shift ended fifteen minutes ago.’

‘All right, all right. Not like you’ve got a hot date, is it?’ Cassie put her coffee on the table and glanced up at the screens. ‘Anything for the handover?’

‘No movement for a while. Temperature normal. Camera four is partially obscured by a book he’s put up there, but not so much as to compromise line of sight. Still no indication that he’s onto us.’

Cassie scanned the bank of display units, blueish-white rectangles reflecting in her glasses. She nodded to herself and took Brian’s place on the chair.

‘You okay to take your turn?’ asked Brian.

‘Sure. Why do you ask?’

‘This isn’t a job you should be doing tired, Cassie. If you want me to stay on…’

‘I’m fine, Brian.’

He paused before leaning down to pick up his bag.

‘Well then, I’m clocking off. Wake me if there’s any movement. Anything at all. If there’s one misstep, we’ll have him.’ He made for the door.


‘Cassie, I’ve been staring at screens for my entire shift.’


‘In fact, I’ve been staring at screens for some of your shift as well…’

‘Brian. Camera three. He’s staring right at it.’

Putting down his bag, Brian approached the monitors.

‘It’s nothing,’ he said, leaning on the table and leering in at the screen. ‘He could be staring at anything.’

‘Brian,’ whispered Cassie haughtily. ‘He’s staring right at the camera. He’s seen it.’

‘Impossible. Those cameras are state of the art. I installed them myself.’

The only sound in the small room was of low static coming from the speakers.

‘If he’s seen them…’

‘I know the ramifications of another breach in cover, Cassie,’ Brian hissed from between drawn teeth. ‘I’m not senile.’

Cassie began to reply, but both her and Brian’s attention was drawn back to camera three. Two sets of eyes widened in the glare as they watched their prey. A vacant expression. A head scratch. A furrowed brow as he stared, silvery retinas reflecting light back at the camera. A narrowing of the eyes as he began to suspect.

‘Wait,’ whispered Brian as Cassie moved in the seat beside him. ‘Wait until we’re sure.’

The black and white footage was grainy, but it was clear enough to show their subject swing his legs off the bed, look about surreptitiously, and begin to pad towards where the device was hidden.

Brian banged his fist on the table and made towards the stairs, his voice rising as he spoke.

‘Not one step out of bed I said, young man!’


***As always folks, I’d be delighted to hear your thoughts on this piece. For my published short stories, click here***






4 thoughts on “Surveillance State

  1. This story went from 1984 style dystopia, to jump-scare horror, to sweet family comedy in what.. a few hundred words!? I really like this idea of progressive genre morphing.. Great job Matt


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