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by Kwalla
Rated: 13+ · Short Story · Thriller/Suspense · #837983
Ever think an image in a picture could be alive?
Word Count: 989

There's this picture at work of a bald eagle. It's one of those large motivational prints that has the head and neck of the bird in profile and then says "Focus" with some semi-witty saying underneath. I never realized how big an eagle's beak really is. I never knew how piercing a stare a bird could have.

Relentlessly, the eagle stares at me. Its eye follows me wherever I go in the office. Never blinking or darting off to someone or something else. Always me. Day after day, it stares at me. I think it hates me. Sometimes, out of the corner of my eye...I think I see it smile at me. I'm too disturbed to turn my head to get a better look. What if it is really smiling? Why would it smile at me? Does it know something that I don't? Would my catching it smile make it mad? Its beak is huge. The chunks it could rip and tear out of me would truly be massive. Well, I assume the beak could. I don't know for sure and I'd rather not find out.

Sometimes I think I've lost my final marble. I find myself sitting at home or in the car thinking, "But it's just a picture you freak!" But part of me knows, it's more than just a normal picture. No normal picture could make me feel so uneasy, so scared and, yet, not bother anyone else.

Not too long ago, I swear this is true, I caught the eagle turning its head so that both eyes were looking at me. Its bone-crushing beak grinning at me. That night, terrified that I'd done something to anger this massive eagle head, I started to leave things below the frame after everyone else had left. Simple things I was sure an eagle would like, like a glass of water or some candy. I thought about a dead mouse, but I didn't want to sit all day at my desk with a dead mouse in my pocket. That would be hard to explain if someone noticed a smell or if it fell out.

Anyway, each and every night the glass is not only empty, but also back in our little kitchenette or the candy is gone without a trace - wrapper and all! It's the glass back in the kitchenette that both worries me and makes me happy. I take it as a clear sign that the eagle likes what I leave it. However, it also disturbs me because this means the eagle can travel rather freely about the office. It's not bound by the edges of the frame. I have no idea of the limits of its travel and I'm in no hurry to find out.

Still, even with these "gifts" it stares at me. I often have to sit with my back to the eagle and I can feel its piercing, unblinking gaze burning holes into my back. No one else in the office seems to notice this most malicious and constant stare. I've no idea why it's chosen me to focus on. I can't think of a single eagle I've ever harmed in any way. I don't think that I've ever seen an eagle anywhere but the zoo. I don't know why, but stare at me it does.

There was talk a few weeks ago about replacing the pictures in the office, in an effort to spice up the place a bit. At first I was elated, a "yes" vote and I could be rid of the eagle for life. As simple as that, "yes" and then poof gone! Freedom! Then, as I lay in bed the night before we were going to decide what new pictures to get a thought came to me.

How angry would my voting to get rid of it make the eagle? I can't think of many things that would be more certain to piss it off than throwing it out and replacing it some wildflowers or mountains.

I became consumed with fear, a full-blown anxiety attack. Beads of sweat formed on my forehead. My skin itched and my mouth went dry. How angry would it be? I know the frame doesn't bind it, but how far can it reach? How far would it go to get back at me? I kept seeing huge blow-ups of the beak in my mind, gnashing open and closed again and again. I was never more aware that skin and probably bone would be no problem for this birds beak.

Red eyed and nervous the next day, I waited my turn to look at the book of pictures the lady from the decorating company brought. With sweaty palms, I flipped through a few pages and chewed on my lip. Nice, peaceful pictures of waterfalls, wildflowers, and cute cuddly kittens turned before me. With a sigh, I knew what I had to do. I asked to keep the picture of the eagle. No one seemed much to care. In fact, since I liked it so much they decided to move it so it sits above my desk. What bastards.

Now it can stare right down onto the top of my head all day long. Even with the gifts, I'm petrified at the idea of looking up and meeting its gaze. No one seems to notice that I never look at the cursed frame and the eagle that it holds.

So, every day, I sit below the eagle and wonder if today will be the day it decides to bend down and bite off my head. Every night I leave water and candy on my desk and hope it's gone the next day. I lay in bed and wonder at night: what will I do if the water or candy is there the next day. What should I leave instead?

Perhaps I will leave a mouse one of these days. I know it would like that.
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