by Adam Bender
Adam Bender on Shakespir
Copyright © 2016 by Adam Bender
We, The Watched
Copyright © 2008 by Adam Bender
Cover design by Belinda Pepper
Shakespir Edition, License Notes
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A We, The Watched short story
The trick to successful tagging is finding a blind spot between the cameras. There aren’t many in a Monorail station. This one—Cemetery—has twelve security cameras posted up and down the platform, six to a side. The black machines swivel in 180-degree arcs and take seven-and-a-half seconds to make a full turn from one side to the other. As an outdoor stop, Cemetery presents the added challenge of not having much canvas for me to work with. There are a lot of railings and not many walls, leaving even fewer options of places to tag.
I think I’ve found a good spot, though. It’s a patch of concrete wall next to a snack machine. The potato-chips dispenser blocks the camera located up and to the left. I only have to worry about the camera on the right, and it can only see me when it’s turned all the way to the left. Oh, yeah, and there are about three cameras on the other side of the tracks with a view, too, but in a few minutes they won’t be a big deal.
Cemetery is one of the few stations I’ve yet to tag. I’m kind of here just to knock it off my list. It’s a forest stop pretty far outside the Capital, but I figure it’s still important because it’s a memorial for the veterans of the Great War. I don’t know. I guess I’m a completionist.
Except for the soldier of the Guard I saw downstairs, the platform is completely dead. That’s why I came here so late. No one visits a graveyard at midnight.
An electric hum. I put my hand on the stencil inside my jacket and turn to face my canvas.
The train hisses into the station along the white pole track, perfectly blocking the cameras on the opposite platform. The doors slide open, but like the station, the train is empty.
As the camera to the right of my spot turns away, I slap the stencil on the wall and spray black paint all over it. With the electronic eye returning, I pocket the items and lean against the wall to cover the head-shaped silhouette I’ve made. When the camera turns again, I reach for a can of red and add fiery eyes to the dark visage.
The train issues a warning bell. All aboard.
I shove the red into my coat pocket and sprint toward the train.
“Doors closing,” reports a smooth, feminine voice.
I have to turn sideways, but I make it—I just fit through the entrance. Two seconds later, I’m off, racing back to the city at one hundred miles per hour. Soon, the Guard will see Fire Eyes. Soon, the Guard will see my tag and realize that Ignatius was here.
I’ve got my biggest client yet sitting still in front of me. I can’t get comfortable. Maybe it’s the candles and the incense. I hate churches. I go every week because I have to, even though I know God doesn’t approve of people like me.
This isn’t like my church. The churches in the city are new buildings made of harshly angled glass and cold steel. Inside they are like sports arenas, with people seated in a large circle of bleachers around the man of God. When the priest gives the sermon, a close-up of his face is projected on a Jumbotron monitor hanging from the ceiling.
Only VIPs like politicians and the very rich come here to the Head Church. This church is built like a castle with large wooden doors and a stone tower. The inside is somber and it took my eyes a long time to adjust. I had to ask for a light just to see my canvas.
The Headmaster, my client, is frowning at my hair. Today it is dyed scarlet, which clashes enormously with the Head Church’s drab interior. The high priest mumbles something to his assistant, but all I pick up is the reply: “They say he is the best.”
That might be so, but it’s going to be hard to make the Headmaster look handsome. He’s just not a very good-looking old man. The high priest has a hooked nose and eyes like coal. His cheeks are gaunt and he appears to be physically unable to bend his thin lips into a smile. I consider reaching into my bag for the plush elephant I employ for portraits of toddlers. Probably not a good idea.
I brush a little rouge into the Headmaster’s face to make him look more alive, at least in the painting.
I wish I didn’t have to take jobs like this, but it pays the bills. I’d also like to skip church and sleep in on Sundays, but I can’t do that, either. I only risk my life when it’s for something meaningful.
I’m drinking away my tension on a trendy couch inside a rock club called the Red Lion. It’s a big smoky place with a black stage in front and a mezzanine balcony hanging over the back. My girl Ana brought me here for the album launch party of … what was their name again? I didn’t think they were all that good, but you know, at least there’s booze.
My supposed friend left me alone a while ago, but that’s actually been pretty good because it’s given me time to think about my next project—if only I could figure out what that should be. The thing is, I never know anymore what to tag next. I’m starting to feel like there are no places left in the Capital to paint ol’ Fire Eyes. Sometimes I even paint him more than once in the same place, because he tends to get painted over by the Guard. Well, not actually the Guard—painters they hire. Or maybe interns. Does the Guard have an internship program?
Yeah, yeah, I know—it’s good work I’m doing, and the Underground is always encouraging me to keep with it. Danny, son of the big boss himself, calls what I do “dissident street art.” He says it lets people know that there’s a revolution coming. But I don’t know, last night at the train station was fun, but the feeling didn’t last. It never does, anymore. I’m just not so sure if I’m still making much of a difference. Maybe I was at first, but lately I’ve just been spinning my wheels. I mean, is anyone really looking at my work as anything more than a piece of wonder on their commute home? Maybe they don’t even notice it. Or they do see it, but they don’t care and just forget about it.
What I need to do is something big, something people will remember me for, something—
“Iggy! Are you seriously sitting by yourself?”
Ana stares disapprovingly at me through tortoiseshell glasses. She has her arm around a guy in a tight T-shirt who I don’t know but looks familiar.
“I … meet … singer.”
It’s so damn loud in here, so I yell back, “What?!”
Ana shouts, “I said I wanted you to meet the lead singer!”
My Underground colleague puts her arm around the guy, pressing wavy black hair into his neck with the crook of her elbow. The gesture puts a goofy grin on his face.
Oh, now I recognize him. He was in what’s-their-name, the band that played earlier.
“I’m Adrian. Thanks for coming out!”
I assume Ana wants to bang him. It’s a relief, actually, because the last time she introduced me to someone, she was trying to play matchmaker. What a disaster.
I reach up lazily to shake the kid’s hand. “Iggy.”
“You’re both artists, actually,” says Ana.
Seriously? She should know better than to tell every random guy she meets about the Underground or—more importantly—about me. She sees the mean look I give her and adds, “It’s okay, Iggy, he’s cool.”
“You play music?” asks the singer.
Ana chimes in, “He’s a street artist.”
It is sort of funny—Adrian’s jaw literally drops. “Wait…you’re Ignatius? The Ignatius?”
“No article necessary,” I reply with a smirk. I guess I’m kind of famous. Or is it infamous? I always get those two mixed up.
“You know what would be cool, man?” asks Adrian.
I raise my eyebrows to display excitement. Now he’s going to suggest a spot to tag. Everyone does this. It irks me.
“The Capitol Tower, dude. Like, I don’t know, go up to the roof and paint it on the side or something. That would be killer!”
I stretch my lips into the biggest grin I can muster. “I’ll add it to the list!”
The conversation fizzles out pretty soon after that. Ana grabs Adrian’s butt and I watch them disappear into a dark corner. Good for them.
But anyway, yeah, I need to think of something big. Something that will get the people of this country talking.
I do have to laugh. I mean, the Capitol Tower? Really? What a dumb idea! How would I even get in there? I’d need to have a fake ID, a disguise … probably at least one other guy with me. I could ask Baz. Painting on the side wouldn’t work—the stencil I normally use would be too small for anyone to see, and it would take too long to do anything bigger. They’d arrest me before I was half-finished.
I guess what I could do is make a banner, go up there and roll it down the side. That might be big enough. But even if I reach the roof and get the banner down, there’s no way the Guard will leave it up there long enough for anyone to notice.
Maybe if I got someone to take photos … maybe from another building? Baz might know a guy. He could capture the moment and send it around the Web for everyone to see. I’d be a legend!
Know what? The more I think about this, the better an idea it sounds.
“This is a terrible idea,” Danny tells me over the phone the next morning. “I mean, don’t get me wrong. It’s also pretty awesome. But you’re going to get arrested. You might even get dropped when they find out you’re the guy who’s been tagging the city all these years.”
I’m only half listening. I’ve been planning the whole thing out in my flat … basically since I got home last night. I called Danny because I need him to get me maintenance worker IDs for the Capitol Building. I’ve already called Baz—he’s in, naturally, and he knows a photographer, too. I also found a huge propaganda-sized sheet of canvas I’d been saving for a rainy day. I’m just waiting for the paint to dry on ol’ Fire Eyes, and then I’ll pretty much be all ready to go.
“Iggy, you hearing me?” nags Danny.
“Yeah, yeah, I might get caught,” I reply. “But this is going to be my biggest piece of work ever, man. It’s going to be huge. When people see it, they’re going to freak out.”
“I don’t know….”
“Look, if you can’t help me, I’ll figure out another way. But I’m going to do this project no matter what. I think this way is the safest, but I really will—I’ll figure out another way.”
That gets him, and he agrees to make a few calls.
Honestly, I don’t really mind if I never see my flat again. My place was sort of nice when I moved in, but now there’s paint splatter everywhere and it smells like chemicals. Like seriously, I probably have already cut ten years off my life. At least.
“So you roped Baz into this, too, huh?” asks Danny.
“Dude, that clown is psyched.”
Baz is a frequent collaborator. He’s pretty clever. He came up with a great riff on that slogan the Guard posts everywhere, PATRIOTS ARE THE TRUE / HERETICS ARE THE DAMNED. Baz likes to cross out the last three words with spray paint so that it just reads, PATRIOTS ARE THE TRUE HERETICS—I’ve always liked that gag.
“So when are you doing this?”
“No time like the present. Tonight’s the night.”
I hear the exasperation in Danny’s silence. “That’s a pretty tight deadline you’re giving me.”
“Sorry, man. It’s got to be tonight.”
See, tomorrow is Sunday. Maybe this is a dumb reason to break the law, but if I get arrested tonight, I figure I’ll at least get out of church. Sometimes you’ve got to spin your own silver lining.
I forgot how impressive the Capitol Tower looks at night. Rays of fuchsia, amber and azure bounce off the chrome exterior. It’s like this otherworldly rocket ready to take off into space.
God, I wish it would.
I admit the building is not the most rational place to try to tag. It is, after all, the home of President Drake and the headquarters of the Guard. You might say security is pretty tight. I’ve got a plan, though.
I’ve got the banner wrapped inside a big carpet. It’s pretty heavy, which to be honest is the main reason I brought Baz with me. We’re both dressed in tan polo shirts and matching baseball hats, the garb of maintenance workers. We walk straight through the front door and head to reception. A Guard on the other side of the desk checks our IDs, while another one puts the carpet roll through a scanner to check for weapons.
“Is it just me,” whispers Baz, “or are these two identical?”
I smile. All the Guard look about the same. Most are men. They all shave their heads to a stubble and have the same toned, muscular build. And obviously, they all wear the same midnight blue uniform. Really, the only visual distinctions you ever get from one Guard to another are race and height. These two sellouts happen to both be white and about six feet tall.
Reception Guard gives us the “all clear,” and Bag Scanner Guard points the way to the service elevator. Baz takes one end of the rug and we lug it into the lift.
The doors slide shut, but even though we’re alone, we don’t say anything. There’s a camera and we don’t want to expose ourselves just yet. I select the highest level of the building, where I know there’s a fire door with roof access. The top floor, of course, belongs to President Drake. But he’s out giving a speech in the Engine Valley, so I figure security will be light.
There’s a Guard coming down the hallway as we step out of the elevator with the big roll. He eyes us suspiciously. We flash our badges. Baz points to the rug and jokes, “I guess someone partied too hard last night.”
The Guard laughs and moves on. Good old Baz. What a class act.
We make it out through the fire door and I spring up the steps. I haven’t felt this excited in years. The thrill is back!
The roof is darker than I thought it would be.
“Hey, who are you?”
The bright orange end of a cigarette floats in the darkness. There’s someone up here already. I make out a white-collared shirt, which means he works here but isn’t a Guard.
“We’re maintenance,” I say, hoping that will be enough.
He stares us cold in the eyes, calculating. “You shouldn’t be on the roof.”
White Collar reaches for his phone. Baz drops his end of the rug and the full weight of it explodes into my arms. My muscles give out and I drop the roll to the ground. When I look up, Baz is grappling with the other man. My colleague has wrested control of the guy’s phone and is clubbing him over the head with it. White Collar goes unconscious.
One threat down, but it means we’ve got to act fast. Baz helps me unfurl the rug so we can remove the canvas. We bring the banner to the east end of the building where our photographer will have a view.
Amber light from below blinds me temporarily, but I don’t let it stop me. Using a couple hooks and some rope, we tie the canvas to the end of the roof. Then we drop it over the side.
It’s a sight. Fire Eyes on the side of the Capitol Building. Just like we planned.
Three consecutive flashes from the skyscraper across the street. That’s our guy!
More lights come on behind us.
“Hands in the air!” a man roars at us.
We turn and see two Guard pointing semiautomatic pistols at our chests. I put up my arms, but Baz just yells, “Go to Hell!”
Something explodes. I can’t work out why.
“You bastards!” screams my partner.
Two more strikes of thunder and Baz falls. I watch crimson paint pool around his still body.
It’s like my voice gets what happened before my brain. “Oh God,” I hear myself whimper. “Oh God, oh God, oh God.”
One of the soldiers steps forward and snaps handcuffs around my wrists.
I’m so thirsty. They stuck me in this holding cell hours ago and still haven’t brought me the water I asked for.
I’m still in the Capitol Tower. The Guard brought me down to the basement. I didn’t realize they had holding cells down here. I thought I’d get one last look at the outside.
I wonder if people have seen Fire Eyes yet. I saw the flash of the camera, but did the pictures come out? How do I find out?
The heavy clap of boots against concrete lifts my attention from my feet to the circular door of my cell. With a loud whir and click, it rolls opens and two Guard enter. One approaches me while the other blocks the entrance.
“You are Ignatius,” he states.
That makes me smile a bit. “You’ve heard of me, huh?”
I see a blast of light as his palm crashes against my temple. Throbbing pain follows. I’m whimpering again.
“For your crimes against the nation, you are to be dropped in one hour.”
So quick? “Don’t I … don’t I at least get a trial?”
The Guard grits his teeth. “Heretics are not entitled to trial.”
“And what about Baz? You murdered my friend!”
“Your friend was a Heretic.”
They let me order a last meal, and a priest joins me while I eat. He is young and has a kind face. He’s not at all like the priest at my church. He doesn’t even scold me when I decline his offer of prayer.
“Has the photo gone out?” I ask him eagerly.
He looks confused. “The photo?”
“Of Fire Eyes. Of what I did on the roof.”
The priest looks up at a black glass bubble on the ceiling. “I’m afraid I don’t know what you’re talking about.”
I’m only halfway through my lasagna when the Guard return to my door. It’s time.
They take me to a boxy room and have me stand on a wooden stage in the middle of a circle. There’s a film crew and a woman in a mauve business suit practicing vowel enunciations. One of the soldiers pulls down a long rope from the ceiling and tightens the noose end around my neck. He drops a black bag over my head and the world goes dark.
The smooth and controlled voice of the reporter leaks through the canvas. “We are live in the Capitol where a graffiti scoundrel is about to be dropped for heresy and treason—”
I suppress a laugh. Graffiti scoundrel. I like that.
“—is named Ignatius and is responsible for desecrating many public locations with heretical graffiti. Before his capture, the nation witnessed Ignatius’s last work, the fiery symbol of the Heretics displayed on the gleaming chrome body of the….”
The reporter doesn’t continue, and it’s pretty clear someone’s told her to shut the hell up. It’s because they don’t want her talking about my greatest success, and I can’t stop laughing. My eyes burn red fire through the death mask. The whole nation saw my work! They’re going to remember me forev—
Continue the adventure in WE, THE WATCHED
Hey, this is author Adam Bender! Thanks so much for reading my short story. “Fire Eyes” is set before the events of my novels and . If you liked what you read, I encourage you to continue the dystopian adventure there!
Please click to the next page for a sample of WE, THE WATCHED.
The light is blinding. I shake off the sweat in a shiver. A million needles stab, and something is hammering and pounding away above me. I roll into the cool shadow of a towering tree.
Stop. It’s just a nightmare. I’m still in bed; just need to open my eyes. Just get them open and this will all be over.
My neck itches—a tick, maybe. I picture the insect’s dark head sinking into my skin, its abdomen ballooning red. I sit up fast, scratching all the way. As I gasp for air, my eyes absorb row after row of gray wood.
I thrash about, a futile attempt to improve the reception. Nothing makes sense; all I get is static and a strengthened headache. The woodpecker hacks away.
Oh my God—it’s not a dream. I’m in a forest.
I close my eyes and let a warm breeze brush through my hair.
“Think, damn it,” I breathe at last. “How did you get here?”
My clothes are damp and feature spots of mud, but nothing is torn. Stranger still, my body aches, but my skin shows no signs of cuts or even bruising. It’s like I just up and decided to spend a night in the woods—but forgot the tent and sleeping bag. Was I drunk? I can’t remember anything about last night.
Frantically, I search my pockets. No wallet, no keys, no cell phone… only thing in there is a crumpled-up brochure.
“You have to be kidding me,” I groan, tossing it on the grass.
I snap up the ball of paper, carefully unfurl it. Emblazoned across the top are miracle words: National Park Visitor’s Map. Better, someone’s drawn two circles with a marker—one around the end marker of a trail and the other around a station labeled MONORAIL. I must have used the map to get here. But why?
Sitting isn’t doing me any good, and the headache’s starting to subside, anyway. I’m sure things will come together as soon as I get home—if I can find it.
Shut up, you couldn’t have honestly forgotten—
No, I didn’t forget. I couldn’t have. I’m just disoriented still. This is what happens when you sleep outside on the grass all night. I don’t know what hallucinogen I did last night before coming here, but I’m never doing it again.
Okay, so where’s the trail?
I stare into the wilderness. Could I actually have taken a trail to get here? Was I too wasted to remember anything, but sober enough to stick to a path?
Wait. Is that—?
The tree on the other end of the clearing—something’s scratched into its trunk. I stagger to my feet and limp the rest of the way. My socks squish.
Graffiti—some idiot decided to take a pocketknife and carve the numeral 7. The whole thing is senseless and illogical, but it confirms civilization is nearby. I squint into the vegetation and pan slowly, left to right. My eyes land on a path—overgrown with weeds, but a path nonetheless.
The density of green is overwhelming. And the birds—the damn birds are everywhere, all singing for mates. Too bad I’m not here on a hiking trip.
What the hell is wrong with me? I’m lost in the woods, don’t have the slightest idea why, and what do I do? Make jokes! Make stupid jokes! If I’d just focus, I might be out of this mess already.
A new sound: trickling water. I dash for the source and almost run right through a stream. Splashing and guzzling ensues.
The ripples fade. I don’t recognize the youthful eyes staring back at me, but a touch confirms the gaping mouth and patchy beard are my own.
The bushes on the other side of the stream rustle and snap, and two large deer tiptoe out into the open. They stare at me, bodies frozen stiff. I take one more hit of the cool liquid and rise to my feet. “Enjoy,” I say with a wave toward the water. The doe, apparently alarmed by my suggestion, turns around and bolts back into the shrubbery. The buck continues to stare.
I force a grin. He runs after her.
Oh God—now I’m talking to animals. If I don’t find humans soon I’m probably going to end up completely insane. But all I can see is the green and all I can hear are the birds. Who’s to say I actually woke up in the place circled on the map? I could be anywhere. Is this really even a trail?
Shut up. Keep going. Follow the trail.
Winged insects hiss in my ear and bite my arms and face, apparently attracted to my sweat and extreme body odor. The further into the vegetation I push, the more the bugs seem to attack, the more they foil my pitiable attempts to distract myself from the present.
This is insane. I don’t know where I am, I don’t know how I got here… I don’t even recognize my own face!
I can’t afford to rest, though. I have to keep going until I find somewhere I can get help and sort things out. I’ll be okay if I just keep moving.
Maybe I shouldn’t have got going so fast—should’ve looked around where I woke a few minutes more. I might have found some answers right there. God, why didn’t I think of that? Maybe I should turn back.
No, right now, all that’s important is survival. I should probably call it a miracle I woke up at all. I might have been on the brink of death. And if that’s true, I’m not going to waste a second chance at life scrounging around for hints to my past. That’s like—I don’t know—selfish or something. Screw that.
This is way too much like a dream. Why can’t I just open my eyes?
My eyes lift to the horizon and swerve nearly 90 degrees with the path. It turns away from a strange blue patch of light—a surreal end of the forest. Curious, I drift off the beaten trail and through the thin layer of trees.
The cliff drops more feet than I have time to estimate, but below and far beyond is a shore-side metropolis. The skyscrapers and white-speckled ocean are as familiar as déjà vu, but I can’t attach a name to the picture. My eyes ride an ivory-toned structure from the city edge back to a large, tin-roofed building about a mile below.
The monorail station. The map was right.
I return to the trail, trot along it with renewed energy. The path slopes down the mountainside. I glance up at the sun to get an idea of the time, but dark clouds have invaded the sky.
My mind replays the awakening, the futile scan for meaning. I scream wildly. A bird returns the cry.
Calm down, damn it. Take things one step at a time. Just make it to the city and the haze will clear. You’re hungry and aching—of course you can’t think straight. Of course you can’t—
My surroundings snap me back into the present like a well-timed slap to the face. The path has opened up into a field—no, a cemetery. Cold fog seethes around the graves and down my spine. The stones all have the same stark contour, but they’ve chipped individually with age. A granite soldier watches over them, a menacing hawk perched on one outstretched arm. Below his boots are words: These soldiers gave their lives for Unity. They will be remembered for Heroism in a time of Great Civil Strife.
I glance upwards, freeze under the hawk’s icy stare.
The train station can’t be far. This is a graveyard; there’s got to be at least a parking lot nearby. If I can find that, I can find the train.
I pick a random direction and move on. Every advance through the white curtain reveals another hundred tombstones, and the taste of stale death comes with each breath. It’s irritatingly quiet—even the birds have shut up. I need to get out of here.
I’m running. My ankle screams, the world blurs, and I’m face-first in the dirt, caught in death’s shadow. Something cold licks my neck—my eyes bolt skyward and watch several hundred liquid daggers scream into my face. I scramble to my feet and sprint through another marble row.
The storm grows torrential, and the rain’s static drone amplifies my lungs’ wheezing. My legs give out just as I reach a crumbling flight of stairs and a war-torn chapel—shelter. I keel over and spit thick yellow mucus into the grass.
The chapel’s rotten doors are two times my height and at least ten times my age. I push hard and tumble through. The fall sets fire to my arms and legs, pierces them with jagged shards of red and yellow. The windows blew out long ago—all the color’s dropped to the rock floor. I clench my teeth and tug at the glass.
The old church smells of mildew and I can see why: without glass, the rain comes through the windows in buckets. I lumber down an aisle that zigzags between twenty-or-so off-kilter pews, and find a seat somewhere the middle that’s as far from the water as I can get.
God—what happened to this place?
I pull out the map and trace my path to the cemetery with a spare finger. The monorail isn’t far. As I figured, there’s a parking lot nearby, and the train station looks like a quick jaunt from there.
The glossy paper reflects a blinding lightning flash into my eyes. Stupid storm. Why did this have to happen now? Dramatic effect?
Suddenly, my right sock is wet and sticky.
Oh, my ankle’s bleeding. Great. Must have cut it when I fell down. Probably aren’t any tissues in here.
I bend over, use my hand to press my pant leg against the wound. Hope this helps.
It doesn’t make sense. None of this makes sense.
I tug at the map and scan it for any additional information about my whereabouts. But there’s nothing—just a big forest called National Park.
My stomach rumbles. When was the last time I ate? The pain seems to intensify the more I focus on it, and the more I ache, the more attention I seem to allow. I can feel acid in the back of my throat, demanding.
“You know what?” I say aloud for whatever reason. The train station is probably sheltered, too. There’s no point wasting more time here. Anyway, I’m already wet and gross. I’ll get myself cleaned up when I make it to the city.
A peculiar quiet takes hold of the church the second I stand up. I glance up at the window. The storm is over—or at least slowing down for the time being.
“Please, don’t start up again,” I pray as I reach the stairs back into the graveyard. There’s still a sprinkle, but it’s a vast improvement from five minutes ago.
My ankle burns with every step, but I grit my teeth and limp through the graves like a zombie. Several hundred tombstones later, I find more cracked marble steps. They descend into a parking lot.
I scratch at a red mosquito bite. Too bad I didn’t wake up next to a can of repellant.
The lot is empty, but a large yellow sign with the word MONORAIL and an arrow gives me direction. One marker leads to another. This one’s vandalized with the word SUCKS, sprayed in red over a crossed-out RAIL. Once I get over the cleverness of it all, I continue on through a giant, grass-covered metal pipe. I plod into the dark and dank passageway; it twists a few times before finally opening into light.
The monorail station stabs through the pastoral beauty of the land. Only the unkempt ivy twisting over its dark metal surface keep the structure rooted in the forest. Jet black stairs climb from the earth into the blue sky just beyond, but their entrance is gated and watched by a blank-faced man standing erect in navy blue uniform.
“Good afternoon,” he greets. “Put your arms in the air.”
I follow his advice and he starts patting down my shirt.
“You don’t look well. Why are your clothes torn?”
“I tripped, fell through some bushes.”
“You’re early. The train won’t be here for another two hours.”
“I didn’t have a choice.”
He stares me cold in the eyes, calculating. Then with a quick turn he pulls open the gate.
The steps clank under my feet and the wind whistles loud in my ears. A whirring camera attached to the overhang meets me at the top and then swivels away. The station is as empty as the parking lot. The only sign of life comes from some stenciled graffiti on the wall, an eerily realistic jet black silhouette of a man with fiery red eyes.
I slump against the wall and gaze vacantly at a tight entanglement of trees just beyond the tracks. I’m awake.
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Break through the government propaganda and avoid surveillance cameras in WE, THE WATCHED. Told from the unique first-person perspective of an amnesiac, this acclaimed dystopian novel places the reader in the shoes of Seven as he struggles to go unnoticed in a surveillance society and discover his true identity.
Seven enters a dystopia where the government conducts mass surveillance and keeps a Watched list of its own citizens. The Church has become as powerful as the State, and people who resist are called Heretics and face execution. Seven’s amnesia gives him a blank-slate perspective that helps him see through the propaganda, and he soon gets involved with a group of rebels called the Underground. But this same perceptive power could get him into a lot of trouble with the government police force known as the Guard.
The debut novel by Adam Bender exposes a current political issue in an exciting science fiction adventure, carrying on the tradition of dystopian classics 1984 by George Orwell and Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury, as well as more recent blockbuster novels like The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins.
Novels by Adam Bender
Struggling to conform in a surveillance society?
An amnesiac struggles to conform in a nation that administers a Watched List of its own citizens. He meets people who accept invasive surveillance by the government and forced uniformity by the church as necessary safeguards for protecting national security. But will the fresh perspective from his rebirth be a blessing or a curse?
The war has come home. The mission has failed. Eve just wants Jon back. Agent Eve Parker refuses to accept Jon’s change of heart when becomes a revolutionary. But when Eve learns more about the President’s plan to broaden citizen surveillance, she begins to question what she’s always believed to be right.
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About the Author
Adam Bender is an award-winning journalist and author of speculative fiction that explores modern-day fears with a balance of action and romance.
Adam has written two dystopian sci-fi novels about government surveillance: WE, THE WATCHED and DIVIDED WE FALL. He will soon release an epic new western about gun issues, THE WANDERER AND THE NEW WEST. In addition, Adam has adapted We, The Watched into a screenplay.
As a journalist, Adam has reported extensively on technology and the international debate between personal privacy and national security. He was a senior journalist for Computerworld, Techworld and CIO in Sydney, Australia, and covered US politics on Capitol Hill for the esteemed Washington trade journal, Communications Daily. Adam has won awards for his articles from the Society of Professional Journalists and the Specialized Information Publishers Association.
Despite how this all might appear, Adam is generally a rather modest and amiable fellow. Please [+ subscribe to Adam’s newsletter+] for updates on his creative writings.
For years, underground street artist Ignatius has dodged surveillance cameras to spray-paint a dissident symbol: a dark visage with fiery eyes. Dissatisfied with his impact on the totalitarian country he calls home, Iggy sets his sights on tagging the most important government building in the nation. But will the soldiers of the Guard let him get away with it? "Fire Eyes" takes place in a dystopia where the government conducts mass surveillance and keeps a Watched list of its own citizens. The Church has become as powerful as the State, and people who resist are called Heretics and face execution. As a short story set before the events of the novels We, The Watched and Divided We Fall, "Fire Eyes" both makes a great entry point for new readers and provides new perspective to fans of Adam Bender's acclaimed books. Like his novels, this short story by Adam Bender exposes a current political issue in an exciting speculative fiction adventure, carrying on the tradition of dystopian classics 1984 by George Orwell and Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury, as well as more recent blockbuster novels like The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins. This eBook includes a free sample of We, The Watched, the celebrated debut novel by Adam Bender.