Posted in flash fiction

Welcome to the neighborhood

“What’s that monitor for?”

“I don’t know,” I replied. “The old lady just left it here. I don’t even know if it works.”

I reached behind the twenty-three inch screen and pressed the power button. The screen immediately lit up with a dozen little views of the outside world. I looked at them for a moment, and then I stepped outside. I hadn’t noticed them before but there were security cameras at each corner of the house, one aimed at each door, and others covering the yard. When I went back inside, I realized I could see anyone approaching from any direction any time of the day.

When we looked at the house and drove around the neighborhood, we felt like a very safe place to life. None of the neighbors we talked to mentioned any problems with break-ins. Why had the previous owners invested in such a high tech system?

“Look, I can tap here and fill up the whole screen with one camera view. Oh, and look, I can zoom in and out, too. And pan across the yard. This is crazy. Wait a minute, that looks like some kind of night vision mode. And what’s this?”

Tapping the icon brought up a whole bunch of file folder icons. Each of them was filled with footage from each of the cameras. Whoa! Years and years of security footage from every imaginable angle.

I tapped on an icon and saw the backyard. I watched the grass grow for a few moments. A rain shower flooded the side yard. Squirrels chased each other on top of the fence.

I tapped a third and watched people and traffic passing by the front of the house. You know, the usual. Kid on a scooter. Ice cream truck. A cat. Mom with a stroller. Amazon truck. Pretty boring.

“Now that’s interesting…” A camera panned back and forth, zoomed in and out trying to find the focus. Suddenly, there it was, two people shouting and pushing each other inside the house right across the street. I couldn’t look away. She pummeled him. He tried to cover up. Spit and blood flew everywhere. They shifted out of sight for just a moment. When they came back he had his hands on her neck!

The video cut out. I just stared at the blank screen. When was that? How do I bring up a time stamp. Did anyone call the police? Should I call someone?

Bring-bring-bring. I think that’s my doorbell. The screen switched to the front door camera.

It was them.

Her hair was a mess. His eye was swollen shut. Blood dripped out of his nose! Her blouse was ripped. And they looked pissed.

Bring-bring-bring. They weren’t leaving. Thy stared at the camera. They knew. They knew I was watching.

What do I do? Grab a bat? Call 911? Here goes nothing. I took a deep breath and slowly turned the deadlock. They stood back as I cracked the door.

“Yes?”

“Hi. We saw you moving in the other day. We just wanted to welcome you to the neighborhood. We brought you some cookies.” Tupperware. Figures.

“Uh, ok. Thanks. Can you just leave them there? I’m not feeling very well.”

“Hey, no problem. Let us know if you need anything.”

I bolted the door and watched the video of them walking hand-in-hand back across the street.

I flipped on the camera, popped open a beer and sat down.

A door slammed. Something flew across the room.

Round two.