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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 – Advanced)
Topic: Lifeguard (11/09/06)

TITLE: The Unseen Watcher
By Amy Michelle Wiley


The children clamored and giggled in a straggling line, eager for their chance in the pool, unaware of the silent watcher. His eyes drifted over each of them, taking in with a glance perhaps more information then they even knew about themselves. His gaze lingered long on a dark-haired lad with a silvery blue shirt. It was not the Briloranta shirt that held his attention, however, but the boy’s face. If one had been watching, they might have seen the watcher’s sharp eyes flash even more and, if they had been astute, a shiver may have passed down their spine.

As it was, no one noticed the watcher moving closer to the boy. His grandmother only chattered innocently, unknowing. “You know, Paul, when I was your age ‘lifejackets’ were flotation devices we used when we went swimming in the water.” The woman tugged at the boy’s padded jacket.

“Swimming in water?” Paul giggled. “What for?”

“We didn’t have gravity-free air pools back then, of course. Here, it’s your turn to go in. Put your oxygen mask on.”

The boy shoved his mask on as he rushed for the entrance valve, doing a cannon ball that turned into a whirl of mottled blue and flesh tones.

The elderly woman settled on the other side of the glass with a magazine. She took no notice of the watcher as he donned his own lifejacket and slipped through the valve. The watcher drifted in a corner, pulling a hand-held screen from his pocket with easy practice, the movement hardly causing a quiver in his floating body.

A faint red haze appeared in the corner of the screen, clouding the image of the pool. “So you are here,” the watcher whispered. Even as the words escaped his lips, the screen he held went blank. For him, the air of the chamber seemed to grow cold, thick with the hint of a danger that was rapidly becoming a reality.

The children continued to play, ricocheting around in uncontrolled play. A girl bounced seemingly off the wall, yet there was no wall near her. Still, no notice was taken, save by the watcher. He was motionless, only his eyes moved, flicking rapidly between the blue-shirted boy and the space of the pool.

When it happened it came so fast that only the watcher saw. Paul was suddenly struggling, kicking as though stricken with a seizure. His oxygen mask slipped from his face. In moments he would be noticed by the others, floating with purple-tinged skin, dead from a seemingly innocent accident.

Yet before the last of the air could slip from the boy’s body, the watcher was at last seen, his voice echoing off the chamber walls as he shouted for help. He slipped the oxygen tube back into the Paul’s mouth and with almost the same movement he slammed into the empty space behind the child. With one yank, the head of a man materialized beside them, the film of his invisibility suit crumpling around his chest.

“Grab him,” the watcher warned to the adults who swarmed through the valve. The watcher himself cradled the boy in his arms, giving one kick to bring them to the valve.

The boy clung to him, consciousness returning as fast as the air to his lungs. “Who are you? And who was that man?”

“I don’t know who the man was, but he knew you were the president’s son.” The watcher looked over to the criminal, now surrounded by police. “But no matter, he won’t bother you any more.”

They exited the pool and the grandmother rushed over to clasp the boy in her arms. Paul smiled up at her, streaks from the panicked tears on his cheeks catching the light. “That man saved my life, Grandma. He’s a hero!”

The watcher’s eyes were already moving on, scanning the area around them. “I’m just a lifeguard, son. Just doing my job.”

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This article has been read 2268 times
Member Comments
Member Date
Allison Egley 11/17/06
Oh wow. I liked the futuristic aspect of this story. Gravity-free air pools and invisibility cloaks. I loved it.
Angela Logsdon11/17/06
I LOVE the sci-fi flavor of this piece!
Joanne Sher 11/17/06
Wow - this had such an eerie quality to it. Very intriguing and atmospheric. Loved the sci-fi aspects. (I wonder if I know who did this?) I was afraid for that boy's life from the beginning - but WHO was after him was a total surprise until the very end. So effective!
Sally Hanan11/18/06
VERY creative story, and I enjoyed the interplay between heavenly and earthly (or spacely??) things. I think I would have let the reader know from the get-go who the boy was so that the drama was even stronger.
Shari Armstrong 11/18/06
VERY cool!! :) loved the ending.
Jesus Puppy 11/19/06
OOO the thrill of suspence and with a futuristic feel. Keped me glued as always. Very well done..
Venice Kichura11/20/06
Master's quality for sure and held my interest throughout! Well-done!
Venice Kichura11/20/06
Great message and so masterfully written! The ending was excellent!
Venice Kichura11/20/06
Oops...I backspaced on your entry, Amy...Of couse I loved it (see comment I made..) but meant it for Jan's...I'm really not nuts & did realize I'd already commented on yours....loved your ending, too, though
Jan Ackerson 11/20/06
You have SUCH a creative mind! There's a sci-fi book, "Ender's Game" that has a kind of similar anit-grav room, but with a very different function. It's an awesome book; I highly recommend it. Anyway, this was great fun to read, so different from every other entry and very well-written.
Donna Powers 11/20/06
WOW! Very interesting! An unique approach and it held my attention from beginning to end. Very good. Thanks for sharing it
Donna Haug11/20/06
Top marks for creativity and suspense. Loved it.
Jen Davis11/21/06
A captivating, creative and very well written story. Great job!
dub W11/22/06
Very creative entry, the pace was wonderful. Thank you for sharing.
Valora Otis11/22/06
Amy this was terrific! I couldn't take my eyes away from the page for a second. Thanks for writing this captivating piece.
Debbie Sickler11/22/06
To be honest, it took me a while to get into this. At first, when I thought it was a regular pool and lifeguard, I thought you were just trying to be overly dramatic. BUT as soon as I read that it was turning scifi, I loved it! You kept me wondering what was after Paul, whether it'd be supernatural or some odd creature. I loved the twist of it being an assassin trying to kill the president's son. Very cool choice. :)
Marie Fieldman11/22/06
Great Job...

I was worried about this "watcher". I thought he was after Paul.
Shanti Singh11/22/06
This was excellent. I loved the suspense and the way you kept me guessing all the way through.
Catrina Bradley 11/22/06
I really like the beginning and the element of the "unknown" in your story. I realized it was futuristic when I came to "Swimming in water?” Paul giggled. “What for?”

I stumbled over the word "Briloranta" describing Paul's shirt, but am asuuming it must be a brand name? Maybe a name more recognizable to the masses would be better. Also was confused by what actually happened to Paul in the pool.

The "watcher" caught me - I thought he was going to be the bad guy!

Nice job, Amy! And a very captivating read.
Bonnie Derksen11/22/06
Ok...so I'd like to know your secret. Super busy schedule, major committments to FW and the conference among other things, I'm sure, and you write such an incredibly creative and well-thought out article. Definitely a "stand-out" in comparison to all of the others in this level. If I wore a hat, I would be taking it off for you, Amy! Instead I am standing and clapping. Bravo! Encore!
Maxx .11/22/06
Love it! Out of the box... really well paced. Great work!
Julianne Jones11/23/06
Great job creating suspense and keeping the reader's attention. Excellent creative writing.
Val Clark11/24/06
Great piece of Sci-fi, Amy. Dramtic tension maintained from beginning to end. yeggy