FOLLOWING DISTANCE • by John Meyers

So in addition to my job as helpdesk technician I also do video security for The Company. I’m responsible for monitoring the security cameras, which is a pretty easy job since it’s rare that anything happens in our suite. If something does happen, I go to the console and search for a particular video snippet based on whatever is requested. Usually I’m looking for someone who left a door propped open or I’m trying to locate a missing FedEx package.

Sometimes after I do one of these searches I sit and stare at the monitor, watching people move throughout the suite on the different cameras. It’s amazing to watch life go by this way, people are like rats in cages really, they do the same stuff every day, they go to the bathroom at the same time every day, they stop off at the front desk for candy at the same time every day. The way they casually go about their business, I have to believe most of them have no idea there are cameras all over the suite.

Recently during one of my viewing sessions I became interested in a guy who works for accounting and just started with The Company last month. He’s a fairly innocent-looking guy, he wears a suit and tie every day and seems very friendly. As I watched him move around the suite, I also noticed a girl from HR in the same places at the same times. I began to watch the guy from accounting more closely and it became apparent he was following the girl from HR throughout the day. When he wasn’t following her, he was lying in wait, apparently relying on his knowledge of her daily schedule. For example, he was quite good at timing his arrival in the breakroom and you could see on the camera that he was a pro at faking surprise when she came into the room.

If I’m honest, I spend more time in front of the video console than I should. This is mainly because I watch the girl from HR too. I have to admit that it made me feel a bit weird when I realized I have done some of the same things the guy from accounting has done in order to get a chance to talk to her. I have hung out in the break room and waited. I have timed my departure from the office at night so I can casually run into her on the way out. These may seem like things a stalker would do, but I promise you I am not a stalker. I get along really well with the girl from HR and I’m trying to find the right moment to ask her out. I feel that looking at the video and learning her schedule increases my chances of finding that moment.

The more time I spent watching the video, the more I became convinced that the guy from accounting was up to no good. I decided to cast a wider net and asked the head of security if I could check his video feed, which covers a lot of area outside the building. Not surprisingly, when I looked at his footage I saw the guy from accounting following the girl from HR after work. He tailed her to the parking garage elevator and acted like he was just about to miss the elevator door, after which she held it and let him in. He did not do this every day, which I guess added to the faux legitimacy of his behavior.

The issue I’m dealing with now is that once the elevator door closes, the surveillance stops. The head of security — who is semi-retired and kind of lazy — had the old cameras ripped out awhile ago but still has not installed the new ones. If I have to guess at what happens when the elevator door closes, I assume it’s similar to what I see on the videos — the guy is very chatty and the girl is happy to listen to him talk.

The whole situation is making me nervous. I’m thinking of creating a drawing that shows how the girl from HR and the guy from accounting move around the suite and outside the building. In my mind I see two colored lines (green for her, red for him) tracking in parallel throughout the day. With all this information represented on the drawing the person viewing it would be able to figure out pretty quickly that one person is following another person. I could give the drawing to the head of security and see what he wants to do.

The more I think about it, the more I think this is a good idea. I say this because the guy from accounting approached me the other day in the lobby and asked if I thought the bosses would allow us to watch college football games on the big screen in the conference room. I said they might as long as we didn’t get too rowdy. He laughed and said: “With all the security cameras around here, we definitely couldn’t bring in any beer.” Then he walked away. I don’t know if he knows I’m the one monitoring the security video, but I’m starting to think he knows there are no cameras in the parking garage elevators.

I’ve decided I need to act soon, because if something bad happens to the girl from HR, the police are going to want to look at surveillance video. If they spend enough time looking at The Company’s video feed, they are bound to see me following the girl from HR as well. I’m prepared for this. It might be awkward, but I can just explain to the police my reasons for watching her and I’m sure they’ll understand. In the end, the most important thing is that I let someone know about the guy from accounting, because he is clearly a stalker.


John Meyers’ stories have appeared most recently in Spartan, SmokeLong Quarterly and Threadcount Magazine. John has work forthcoming in The Laurel Review and Moonpark Review and is online at hammeredinmetal.com. John was a 2018 Best Small Fictions nominee.


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