The Eye Has It

The Eye Has It
by Mark Rookyard

The bedroom was like new. It even had that new room smell: freshly opened linen, barely-dry paint, and fluffy carpet. Alice had to come back now.

Matthew finished screwing the last hook in the wall. Would all this effort mean anything to her? There was only one way to find out. He just had to hang the mirror and the room would be done.

He checked the hook as the stepladder rocked beneath his feet. He wasn’t aware of the movement that caught the corner of his eye until he found himself looking at the source of it, just below shoulder height.

A human eye in the wall blinked at him, returning his stare.

“Fuck!” Matthew recoiled in disgust as he fell off the stepladder. A bedpost jarred into his hip and he swore again, pulling himself from under the ladder and away from the wall.

Now high above Matthew, the eye blinked at him, regarding him from its position in the wall like some judgemental horror.

Matthew whimpered breathlessly and backed into a corner.

“What’s going on?” Alice called upstairs.

“Nothing!” Matthew shouted back, a slither of revulsion shivering down his spine as the eye looked at him. Was it human? Its shape and color looked human. “It’s nothing!” he shouted again, unable to keep the quavering fear from his voice. “I fell off the ladder!”

No answer. He knew she wouldn’t run to help him. He got to his feet, aching in his hip and his knee, though the pain was distant, hidden deep beneath his fear and horror of the eye in the wall. Was somebody there, standing inside the wall? Had somebody broken in and burrowed into the wall somehow?

“Hello?” Matthew said quietly. “Look, you need to come out of there. I’m going to call the police.”

The eye only regarded him blankly. It was pale green, flecked with brown near the shining black pupil.

Matthew could only shiver and hurry out of the bedroom.

It was his imagination. It had to be. Eyes didn’t just appear in walls like that. He took some breaths—deep, shuddering breaths.

It was stress, that’s all it was. This thing with Alice had taken its toll on him. Stress. He took more breaths and ran a hand across his face. Eyes in walls? He really was losing it.

He’d finish the bedroom and Alice would sleep upstairs once more and everything would be right in the world. Jenna would have a proper family again. All he needed to do was hang that mirror.

He decided to go to the bathroom first. He splashed cold water on his face and looked at himself in the mirror, gazing at his own brown eyes. They were wide and fearful.

“Stress,” he whispered.

He slowly walked back to his bedroom, stopping for a moment when he passed Jenna’s bedroom door. They’d be back to being a proper family soon, a family where the mother didn’t look at the father with pure hatred in her eyes.

Seeing that door lent him strength. He walked straighter. The eye would be gone. Stress, that’s all it was.

He slowed when he got to his bedroom door, but still pushed the door open and walked through.

The eye was still there. It blinked at him, the eyeball moving wetly to the corner of its socket to regard him. Matthew shivered.

“What the hell are you?” he whispered.

The eye didn’t answer; it only looked at him.

It wasn’t as though someone had made a hole in the wall for the eye to look through; it was as though the eye were a part of the wall. There was no gap or space between the two. The eye bulged out, a soft and squishy blemish on the smooth wall.

Matthew felt cold looking at this pulsing, malevolent thing that watched him. He had never known an eye was such a repellent object, so soft, wet, and grotesque. Even the eyelashes made him shiver, the way they moved when it blinked.

He had to do something, though. It was almost time to pick Jenna up from school.

The eye watched him pick up the mirror, the eyeball sliding down hideously. A strange whimpering came from Matthew’s mouth and he cringed as he approached the wall, holding the mirror before him like a shield from horror.

On the first attempt, Matthew missed the hook with the wire on the back of the mirror and gasped aloud. The second time, the mirror caught and he backed away, shivers running through his very soul.

Would the eye still be there if he moved the mirror? Could he hear it blinking behind the mirror? He resisted the urge to look.

“Are you coming or what?” Alice shouted.

“Yeah, yeah, I’ll just freshen up!” Matthew shouted, his voice sounding weak to his own ears. He needed to see Jenna and spend some time with her, and then everything would be okay.

Then the eye would definitely be gone.

Jenna kept Matthew busy for most of the evening. Tea was a family affair with Jenna, with Matthew chattering and Alice picking at her food with her fork. Eventually, even Jenna’s bright smiles began to fade, and they finished their tea in silence and got ready for bed.

As he was closing her bedroom door for the night, Jenna spoke up.


Matthew stopped the door. “Yeah, sweetie?”

Jenna yawned sleepily. “Are there bad people in the world? Like there are in stories?”

Matthew held the door a moment, thinking of the eye in the bedroom. It would be gone by now. It had to be gone.

“No, sweetie,” he said. “Not bad people, really, but some people might do wicked things because they’re afraid.”

“Even grown-ups?” Jenna’s yellow hair looked dark in the dim glow of the nightlight. “Grown-ups get afraid too?”

Matthew’s back was crawling. He could almost imagine the eye sliding wetly down the wall, shuffling across the landing towards him.

“Sometimes, sweetheart.” He smiled and tried to make his voice bright. “But there’s nothing for you to fear, is there? I’ll always be there for you.”

Jenna snuggled down under the duvet. “Night, Dad.”

“Don’t forget I love you, Jenna. Always.”

“Always,” she whispered, already half asleep.

Matthew closed the door quietly and went downstairs without looking at the silent darkness beyond his own bedroom door.

Alice was curled on the sofa watching one of her soaps.

“I thought you would be coming upstairs tonight,” Matthew said. “The bedroom’s finished.”

“It’s not that easy.” She looked at him for the briefest of moments with blue eyes that used to be so bright, now dull and tired. She turned the television up a little. People with perfect hair and makeup argued on the screen.

It hadn’t been easy stripping the whole bedroom and redecorating it, but he had to be patient. He sat down on the other sofa and crossed his feet.

“Aren’t you tired?” Alice asked, without looking at him.

“No, not really.” He couldn’t face going into that bedroom again. He’d rather face Alice’s accusatory silence.

Alice rested her cheek in her hand, her blonde hair shielding her face.

When he awoke, Alice was getting ready for work, and the screen was black, silent, and watchful.

“You seen her yet?”

Matthew looked up from his computer and saw Brian leaning against the desk. He’d found himself looking at people’s eyes all day, the way they moved, how wet and bulging they were. Brian’s were gray as an autumn morning.

“Seen who?”

“The new girl. I don’t know where Jennings finds them. It’s still a shame Claire left. What do you suppose happened to her?”

“How am I supposed to know?”

Matthew loosened his tie. He felt hot and tired, and he wanted to think about going home and moving the mirror in his bedroom and there being no eye there. He should have checked before he left for work instead of sitting here worrying about it all day. Stress, that’s all it was.

Brian laughed. “Come on! You expect me to believe you never got anywhere with her? She was all over you. Lucky bastard.”

Matthew tapped his pen against the desk. Claire. What color had her eyes been? He couldn’t remember. He remembered shirts, open one button too many, just enough to expose white flesh. He remembered blonde hair, artfully pinned to expose a long white neck. He remembered the way she would come to his desk every day, smiling and making small talk.

“I wouldn’t do that to Alice,” he said.

“Sure,” Brian laughed again. “And I wouldn’t do that to Vera if Scarlett Johansson came knocking.” His eyes creased when he smiled.

Would the eye behind the mirror crease if that smiled? Could an eye smile? Was there anything else of the creature in the wall? A head? A face? A body? But no, there was nothing there. It had been stress, that was all.

“You know she told Diane that you and her were going out for drinks? She was pretty excited about it.” The word “drinks” had sounded positively filthy.

Matthew stopped tapping the pen and looked at Brian. “She told Diane that?”

“Yeah.” Brian shook his head. “Lucky bastard.”

Why would Claire have said she’d gone for a drink with him? He ran a hand through his hair. He remembered her coming to him, smiling, laughing, and leaning over his desk.

“So what do you think?” Brian said, nudging him with his foot.

Matthew felt nauseous. Had Brian’s eyes always looked so damp?

“Think about what?”

“Look,” Brian whispered.

A young woman walked past their cubicle, hair dark and thick, body slim, eyes brown. She smiled, her lips red and bright.

“Hi,” she said, more a movement of the lips than a spoken word.

Matthew looked away and started tapping his pen again.

“You gotta hand it to ol’ Jennings, he sure knows how to find ‘em.” Brian shook his head in wonder as the woman passed. “Apparently he wasn’t too happy, though. You know Claire never even handed her notice in? Just up and left.”

Matthew said nothing. He was thinking about Jennings’s eyes. They were soft and rheumy, always looking like they were about to leak something wet.

“See how she smiled at you?” Brian said. “I knew it wouldn’t take you long. Lucky bastard.” He shook his head and wandered off.

Matthew watched him go and saw Diane looking at him. She wasn’t smiling. He tapped his pen on the desk again.

Diane had green eyes. Sharp and judgemental.

Alice was waiting for Matthew when he got home from work.

“What’s this?” She held out a piece of paper to him.

Matthew took his coat off and hung it up. “Where’s Jenna?”

“At her friend’s house. What’s this?”

He took the paper from her. “Which friend?”

“Leanne. Are you going to answer the question?”

Matthew opened the folded paper. It was a phone number, written in ink as blue as Alice’s eyes.

“It’s a phone number.”

The eye would be gone. He would go upstairs and move the mirror, and there would be nothing there but a freshly painted wall. He took off his tie and threw it on the sofa.

“I know it’s a number. I want to know whose number it is.”

“I don’t know. It’s a number.”

“It’s your writing.” Alice’s eyes were bright and rimmed with dark circles.

“Do we have to do this all the time now?” Matthew sat down, unfastened his shoe laces. The eye would be gone. “When are you going to start trusting me again? Imogen’s over, done with. It happened and it’s done.”

“You dare to talk to me about trust after what you did? And if you say that name in this house again, we’ll be the ones who are finished.”

Matthew sighed. “I’ve done everything you asked.” He felt tired. He wanted to go to the bedroom. He dreaded going to the bedroom.

“You decorated,” Alice said, derision thick in every word. “You think decorating will make up for your betrayal?”

“No, no,” Matthew ran a hand over his face. “No, I don’t think that at all.” He sank back into the sofa and thought. “The garage.”

“The garage?”

“That’s the garage’s phone number. I copied it down off the Internet.”

Alice looked at him.

“Call it if you like. I’m going for a shower.”

He walked up the stairs, his back stiff and every nerve on edge. The eye wouldn’t be there. It had been stress brought on by Alice and her accusing eyes.

He reached his bedroom door and pushed it open. The new carpet was thick under his feet. The eye would be gone and he would curse himself for worrying a whole day about nothing. The eye would be gone and Alice would start to forgive him.

He looked in the mirror. He was pale and hadn’t shaved this morning. His stubble was thick and dark.

Deep breaths. He was a grown man; he wasn’t afraid of the dark. Even so, his hands shook when he grasped the mirror and lifted it from the wall.

He gave a giant sigh of relief. There was nothing but a freshly painted wall. What was the color called? Spanish brown? He chuckled with relief, a laugh that sounded more like desperate panting.

And then the eye blinked. He saw it, lower than he had thought.

“No,” he moaned, dropping the mirror. He backed away. “No …”

He wanted to scream, but instead, he stared at the eye, sweat pouring from his body in waves. The eye watched him, blinking.

Had the eye moved? Was it lower than it had been before? Matthew gasped and tried to think. He moved around the bed, never taking his own eyes from the horror. The eyeball followed him, watching him all the way.

If the eye had moved, did that mean it was going somewhere? Did it have some dreadful plan? Matthew could imagine it sliding down the wall, wet and slow, and then plopping onto the floor, making its terrible way to Jenna’s room.

His breath came hard and fast and still the eye watched him from its place in the wall.

Matthew couldn’t take the chance. Not in the house where his daughter lived. He knew what he had to do.

The eye watched him in silence.

The police were already there when Matthew got to work.

“What’s going on?” he asked Brian. People stood around, watching Jennings’s office, talking quietly among themselves.

“It’s Claire,” Brian said. “Nobody’s seen her for days.”

Matthew looked at the office. The blinds were closed. “I wonder where she could be.”

“Diane’s in there now.” Brian sipped on his coffee, his damp eyes never leaving the closed blinds.

The door opened and everybody shuffled about, pretending to be busy.

“Matthew?” Jennings stood on his tiptoes and crooked a finger toward him.

Diane avoided his eyes as she walked past, her face pale and her eyes downcast.

Two policeman waited in the office. The one who was still standing clutched a folder to his chest protectively. Both pairs of eyes were expressionless.

“Matthew Murray?” the seated one asked. He had a single sheet of paper on the table in front of him.

Matthew only nodded and took the proffered seat.

“Detective Banner,” the seated policeman said. “So,” he looked at the sheet and back to Matthew, “you know why we’re here, Mr. Murray?”

“Claire. It’s about Claire,” Matthew said, wondering why he sounded so nervous.

He needed to get home early. His back ached from sleeping on the smaller sofa. Alice had gone upstairs when he refused to leave the room. She’d slept in the room with the eye blinking behind the mirror. Was it always so hot in Jennings’s office?

Matthew realized Banner had been saying something.

“I’m sorry?”

Banner smiled, his eyes as dark as a hole in the ground. “I just asked if you knew where Ms. Hattin might be, Mr. Murray.”

Matthew shook his head and blinked. “No, no, I didn’t know her that well, really.”

The man with the folder shuffled, his eyes never leaving Matthew.

“Ah, so you’re telling me that you’ve never been out for a drink with Ms. Hattin?” Banner said, his voice smooth.

“What?” Matthew looked between the two of them. “No, no, I’ve never been out with Cl … with Ms. Hattin. I’m married.”

Banner nodded and made a note on his paper. “And how is married life, Mr. Murray?”

It was a long time before Matthew was released from Jennings’s office. He noticed that nobody else had stayed as long when they went in.

Throughout the rest of the day, the staff hung around, talking quietly. More than once, a pair of eyes would slide away whenever Matthew approached.

Matthew wasn’t the only one to leave early that day.

He drove quickly, eager to get home and eager to get the job done. He gripped the wheel tight and grit his teeth. The eye. The eye. It was all he could think of, hiding away behind the mirror, blinking and accusing.

He checked his watch when he pulled into the drive. He had an hour before Alice would be home. Good.

He ran into the kitchen and pulled a drawer out far enough for the knives to spill onto the floor with a terrible clatter. There: a large knife glinting in the sunlight. He took the knife and hurried up the stairs. The house was quiet.

Don’t think. Move quickly. His breath came in short, sharp gasps. He held the handle of the knife tight. Jenna’s room there, the door closed. He imagined Jenna opening the door in the night, seeing that terrible eye there waiting for her. Matthew sobbed at the thought and pushed open his own bedroom door.

He should have done this straight away. How could he have let Alice sleep in the same room as this terror? How could he have let Jenna sleep in the same house?

With a gasp, he ripped the mirror from the wall. It cracked when it landed.

“You bastard!” Matthew sobbed when he saw the eye there, watching him, waiting for him. “You fucking bastard!”

He stabbed the eye, the knife piercing lid and eyeball in one thrust. The eye was soft and pulpy. Warm blood sprayed over his hand, dripping onto the new carpet beneath.

“I should have brought a sheet!” Matthew screamed, laughing. “I should have brought a fucking sheet!”

He stabbed the eye again and again, laughing as he did, laughing gleefully, sobbing, blood spraying on the freshly painted wall. He stabbed and stabbed until there was no flesh left at all, only blood pooling and dripping from the wall.

“Take that, you bastard!” He scraped the blade around the hole, more blood spattering over his shirt. “Take that!”

Finally, he was spent and drenched in blood. He collapsed with his back against the wall, sobbing, with gobs of flesh on his shirt and on his trousers.

Jenna was safe.

He cried himself to sleep.


Matthew blinked and looked at the phone in his hand.

“Hello?” The voice said again.

“Imogen?” Matthew said. He looked at his hands. They were clean. He got to his feet.

A sigh on the line. “Matthew? I told you to stop calling. You made your choice. You need to stop calling.”

Matthew’s head hurt. He could remember her eyes now. They were green with brown flecks near the pupil, bright when she laughed. He remembered a bar with music so loud she had to lean close to talk in his ear.

He could hear a car pulling up outside, and he went into Jenna’s room to look out the window.

“Matthew? Are you still there?”

He clasped a hand to his head. It hurt so much. It scared him so much. He remembered a hand on his shoulder when they danced, the way her hips moved. Her lips had been soft on his, tasting of cherry. Her breath had been warm.

Alice’s car was there on the drive. She was talking to a man and looking at the house. Banner. Alice looked up to the window and Matthew let the blind snap shut.

“I’m sorry,” he whispered.

There had been a drive home, the drink making him squint as he looked at the road. He’d had to pull into a parking lot. An argument, screams, and he’d begged her to be quiet, begged her to forget everything. Her eyes had been wide, green and flecked with brown. Terrified.

“Sorry, Matthew? What are you sorry for?”

He was sorry for so much. He groaned and grasped his head. Jenna. He’d had to protect Jenna. Alice would never forgive him a second time.

He hung up and looked out the window again. Banner’s partner had turned up with four policemen in uniform.

Nothing had happened. He’d driven home alone after that. Nothing had happened. Nothing.

His hand was tight about the phone. He took deep breaths. He’d driven home alone and the screaming had stopped.

Banner was pointing at the house. Matthew left the bedroom and walked downstairs.

Alice had already let the police in; they were waiting in the hallway. Three of them rushed toward him as Matthew came down.

“Alice, I—”

His cheek hit the floor hard as the uniforms forced him down, pulling his hands high up his back.

“Alice,” he kicked his feet out and somebody punched him in the back hard. “Alice, I didn’t do anything!” he screamed.

“We found the body, you sick bastard.” Banner’s voice said. Matthew could only see his shoes. They were dark brown and scuffed.

“I didn’t do anything!” Matthew wept as Banner’s partner read him his rights. “I didn’t do anything!”

Alice only looked at him from cold blue eyes.

It was only as Matthew was being led from the house to the police car outside that he realized his shirt and trousers were clean and free of blood.

“I didn’t do anything!” he shouted through the window. “Jenna, where’s Jenna?”

Alice had already closed the door behind her. Blue lights shone in dark and watchful windows as the police car screeched away.

Copyright © 2014 Mark Rookyard