I got a random idea based on an episode of Family Guy. It turned into this, ‘Floorwatch’.
They call him Benjamin the Bear. If you ask the little kids, or even your average suburban parent, he is cute and cuddly. They aren’t there when Benjamin gets talking. They don’t see anything but a big old teddy bear. That is exactly how they get you, they seem innocent until it is too late, and then everyone has to ask themselves how they got into this situation in the first place.
I don’t trust Benjamin, which is why I keep him in my sights. I watch over all of them, make sure our children are safe, and our neighborhoods won’t be overrun. It isn’t an easy job, stressful, pay is shit, but if no one else kept watch we would all be in danger.
They lay there together most of the day, and I look on from above. Row after row of sheet metal carts filled to the top with Benjamin the Bear. They each stay slack, while my watchful eye is looking on. Some are turned face down, others watch the room with black glass eyes. Every Benjamin is worker approved to have that same ribbon sewn to his chest, and a pair of blue and yellow tennis shoes for feet.
The shoes are what you have to watch for. If you look for movement in the brown, your eyes go fuzzy, and all you get for your trouble is frustration.
There are others. Spittles the Giraffe, twice as tall, a goofy red tongue hanging from his mouth. Bonbon Bear, with a pink bow and pleated skirt. Not as numerous, not as threatening. It is rare for a Bonbon to move at all, and I think Spittles waits for Benjamin’s signal.
It doesn’t matter. If any of them move, I drop them where they stand. They don’t have organs, bullets only work if you destroy enough of the body. Plus, the boss has trouble explaining bullet holes to the workers in the morning. Instead he gave me a taser. If they don’t drop right away, they usually catch fire. I can clean that mess up myself, and no one is the wiser.
Because no one can know. That’s what keeps me up at night, and it has broken men before me. Everyone else sees a toy for little Johnny’s birthday, but I know the truth. At any point before they leave here, they can show their true malice, wake up and try to escape. Some are smart enough to stay still here on the factory floor, but most are too ambitious, and they try to flee before they can be packaged and mailed to some small family in Utah.
It sickens me to think of some kid opening a Benjamin the Bear, and that creature making the kid as a mark. They hear a creak in the night, thing it is the boogie man, but have no idea that a real horror is making its move. That’s why I catch every one I can.
There was a pling in the low light, and I turn to try to catch the noise. Sound echoes in the factory, all tall ceilings and steel pipes. I look to the Spittles, then to the Bonbons, no sign of movement. Did a Benjamin escape? I knew I was getting tired, but if I let one get out, that would be the end for me.
I moved down the catwalk, keeping an eye on the aisles between the carts of toys, watching for any moving shadows. I don’t want to let panic take over, that will get me hurt. All I need to do is get to the floor as fast as possible. The sound of my feet on the stairs are covering the sound of him moving, I know that. Those little shoes barely make a squeak.
By the time I stop on the cement floor, the sound has stopped. I look one way, then the other, but there is nothing to see. I pull out my flashlight, click it on, and long shadows stretch up the walls as I peek behind the equipment.
There is a soft pitter patter. My light turns and the sound slows. I have to be close. I creep along, low to the ground, looking beneath the equipment now in hopes of seeing something more than dust and discarded fluff.
The jiggling of the floor room doors sends a chill up my spine. I’m too late, he already made it to the exit, there is no way I can cross that far in time to stop him from getting out.
A light floods into the room.
“Mack!” Shouts supervisor Smith.
I turn my light up, and see him standing in the doorway. I drop the flashlight as he squints against the brightness, then stand straight.
“What did I tell you about coming down from the catwalk?” Smith snaps, “What are you doing, chasing rats? Get back up there.”
I smile, “Yes sir, sorry.”
The frown beneath his mustache is obvious. He scans the room real quick, and then goes closes the door.
I wait for his footsteps to fade away, and then listen to make sure the room is silent.
For now, he is in hiding. I start back up the steps, I’ll be able to see him make a break for it from my post.
Smith doesn’t know. I don’t just report to him. More is at stake here.