A man climbed out of the backseat of the Jaguar parked up the street. There was nothing special about him as far as ShadowAspect could see – just some normal-looking guy in jeans and a blazer – but he strode down the middle of the road like he owned it.
Two men jumped out of the front of the car and followed him. They were bigger and more imposing. I could tell by watching them in the Infinistra that they were both wearing body armour and hiding guns under their jackets.
Their boss strode past ShadowAspect and up to a darkened shop front. He gave a quiet knock. A few seconds later the door opened. All three men marched in.
I didn’t want to leave the flat again, but I had to. I needed to know if I really was in danger and I was getting no help from Sarasin. Worse still, I was having problems with my laptop. The fan was blowing louder and louder and the screen would black out once or twice before it stayed on. It wasn’t going to last much longer and without a laptop, my career as a writer dies a sudden but painful death.
Heart pounding as I hurried into town, my eyes took in every movement, every walker, every passer-by. There wasn’t much of a selection, but staring at computer specs in a store with plenty of people in it gave me a chance to look out for anyone following me. No one in the shop gave me a second glance, but I decided to prepare myself for a sudden getaway. I made my way to the cash machine to take out as much money as I could. I typed in the amount I wanted. I waited. Nothing happened. My blood ran cold. What could I do? Then a message appeared on the screen.
“Don’t take any cash out again. They know what you’re doing – preparing to live off the grid.”
I stared at the screen.
A second message appeared.
“Yes, Jason Rybak. I’m talking to you.”
My money and my card slid out and I pocketed them.
“Go home the long way. Maybe look at some more computers.”
The screen went back to normal.
As I turned to head for home, something caught my eye. The same car – parked across the street. And I could feel someone inside it watching me.
“I’m just being paranoid, right?” I say to the ceiling and the walls, expecting ShadowAspect to appear from somewhere. “Being Watched has made me hyper-vigilant, which is why I can feel every look and every gaze. But I’m safe, aren’t I?”
I ventured out the next day. My skin prickled every time someone looked at me, but I soon got used to it. As I made my way through town, I felt a gaze loaded with intent, which was aimed at me like a sniper rifle.
I strode on, glad I was just wearing a hat and not a hood so I had better peripheral vision. I caught sight of it out of the corner of my eye. The same car. Someone inside was watching me. I ducked into a shop, my mind flying and swirling in different directions. One thought hit home. I had to be ready for anything. I made my way to a cash machine and took out as much as I could. Keeping my head down, my eyes scanned every face as I went home the long way. There was no sign of the car, but the further I went, the stronger the sensation in my back became. Someone was following me. I took a series of sudden turns and ran for it. By the time I made it home, I was certain I had lost whoever it was. Locked in my flat, I worked by the window, but saw no sign of anyone watching me.