Watch and Learn

Bill is a creator.

He and a certain generation call memes, micro blogs, podcasts and nonsensical snippets modern forms of expression; new age art, if you must. The idea to target the wants of instant validation that caters short attention spans brought upon a thirst worse than a recovering alcoholic’s temptations to delve into the digital world that millennials thrive on. Like most ideas, it appeared fantastic on paper and he’s an observational learner, after all. Bill thought he’d make a name for himself by now and the spark of inspirational flames would ignite his muse like an unstoppable chimney fire fed by a trickle of jet fuel.

But Bill has failed to produce substantial work, and his wife is right there to remind him whenever she can.

“Are you going to just sit there all night?”

Sally stood in the doorway of Bill’s office with her head cocked to the side and teeth sucking with an insufferable tsk-tsk. Her eyes pierced between his monitors and cut like a jagged edge, merciless and deep with a sawing gnaw.

“Actually, no,” Bill said. “Not tonight. I think I broke onto something and I need to go out and reference my progress.”

“Like what, getting a job? It’ll be better than having you in that damn chair staring at those stupid screens night after night.”

“I need you to trust me, Sally.”

“That’s what you say every day. Does our landlord understand this? Or the electric company? We’re almost out of money for food!

Her tenacity is ferocious, much like a starved Pitbull that has latched on to what could be a scrap of a meal. She strides the short distance from door to desk and around to Bill’s chair with a stride hastened by fury.

“Unbelievable. I am such a fool to think you’ll ever change,” Sally sighed with an annoyed moan at the video playing on the monitor. “Is this loser going to grant you the skills to pay rent or write anything beyond tasteless one liners that only a brainless-stoner population understands?”

“You’ll see soon enough, dear,” Bill powers down his computer, grabs a beige folder off his desk and leans in to kiss Sally on the check. “I promised to take care of us, right?”

Insults trail Bill as he descends the staircase and lash with verbal claws as he enters the kitchen. Slamming doors and nonessential stomps call to him as he pockets his keys. Her shadow echoes from the second-floor window, threatening her last words with desperate gestures that sway back and forth with anger.

“You wouldn’t dare to leave me after I show you what I can do.”

He references the directions in the beige folder one last time before driving off into the night.


*                                             *                                             *

This is it Bill thinks to himself as he conceals his Malibu in the darkness beyond the gated drive’s entrance. He reaches back to retrieve his duffle bag and locks the car.

Just like in the videos. I’ll have to remember to thank him for making this easy.

Bill hoists himself up and over the stone wall, slipping with ease between rusted metal spikes and he dropped his bag below. He follows, landing with a crouch and pauses so that his eyes adjust. The layout is known and Bill hesitates not, sprinting the distance without attracting attention like a lion’s burst through the tall Savanah, inches from the unsuspected. His momentum carries shoulder into the wooden basement door and it thrusts inwards with a crack.

He blends with the darkness and is ready to pounce.

“What the hell was that sound?” a voice said. “Is someone in here? Hello?”

Ceiling lights flick alive. Footfalls advance and the owner of the mansion struts without caution to his surroundings. The door is noticed and the man diverts his attention to his cellphone.

Bill seizes his moment and slips behind the man.

“It is so nice to finally meet you,” he says.

The homeowner drops the phone and Bill devours his prey with a tight choke, bringing them both to the ground until consciousness flees.

And Bill gets to work.


                                       *                                             *                                             *

Frigid water splashes the man’s head, jolting him awake with a gasp and he attempts to sit.

“What is this?”

His head shifts with frantic pivots and eyes scan the coarse rope restraining naked limbs and torso to the table.

Bill turns and smiles.

“I just want to say that I really love your videos. I also liked how you filmed everything in and around your home. Man… this is a really nice recording room. I’ll have to take notes when I construct mine,” Bill torches the wick and glides like a stalking phantom to the man’s side. “Thank you for making this easy on me. I wouldn’t have been able to get in if you didn’t record some of your content outside.”

What do you want? I have money, cars, drugs—I can get you whatever you want. Tell me, please. I won’t call the cops, I swear—just tell me what you want.”

“Oh, you’ll be giving me what I want soon enough.”

The ornate knife is revealed from within Bill’s ebony robe; blade darker than blood and handle bleached bone. Bill sets it atop the man’s stomach and returns to the far table where the rest of his tools await.

“You and I have something in common: we’re both observational learns and I thought to have absorbed everything that your videos and podcasts taught about being successful with content creation. My wife, Sally, reminded me day after day—week after week—that I was wasting my time. Would you ever guess that she was right?”

Deep sobs and pleas of forgiveness answer Bill as he returns with tomb and chalice.

“Well, she was. But to find out I was just… I was just doing it wrong. I never knew this until I linked up with an occultist group. I thought it was a load of mumbo-jumbo—you know, the whole sell your soul and worship the dark eternal lords for amazing powers, blah-blah-blah. But it’s all true. I watched, and I learned. When I witnessed my first human sacrifice and saw that the results were more real than anything your videos could teach, well, I was impressed and knew that I had to come over and try it out for myself.”

Those sobs transform into an abhorrent cry that summons the immediate release of the man’s bodily fluids. Bill hushes consolingly like a parent’s reassurance that nightmares are far from real; it’s alright little one, go back to sleep. Tomb opens, chalice ready and the blade sinks into the man’s chest and Bill looks down with unflinching care before the incantation begins.

“I meant when I said that I liked your videos and rest assured that I will put your abilities to good use with my own content,” he cleared his throat. “Boy I can’t wait for Sally to see what I create next.”

© Copyright John Potts Jr 2016 – 2017. All rights reserved.

Here, have an after thought….

I am certainly an ‘Observational Learner’.

I can also say that I have never sacrificed anyone or anything (yet) for personal gain. 

And you know what, I do enjoy the cultural variable I have that allows me to sit and watch someone do something better than I can. Is it awkward or weird? Maybe. Depends on the context and topic.

Let’s take Video Games for example. I spend time everyday watching streamers play games that I know I can be better at. It’s easy to watch. It’s easy to learn. I am not a streamer or pro gamer (but holy shit would that be an awesome gig), and I have been playing games for almost 30 years now. So watching someone play a video game on Twitch is good-old-fashioned-educational-viewing. I can see games that I have never played, revel in a console throwback, or brush up my skills at games I currently enjoy. 

I make this next statement as a joke, but know that there are many truths within:

Reddit, Youtube, Google, Wikipedia: The greatest educators of our era. 

Wrong! Obviously, come on now. 

But think of the things you can learn. Think of the knowledge obtained by watching someone do something with actions, images, and words. Wanna learn another language? Shit, just hop online! Want to cook like a boss? I am sure there is a video for that. 

There really is no way to Watch and Learn for immediate success. Maybe there is an occultist out there that can prove me wrong–and if so, I want to see this so I can tweak this story with accurate details–but all in all, hard work and persistence pays off much sooner than sitting and watching. 

Bill believes with sound conviction (as I once did in my drinking years) that you can and will become successful by watching someone do something better. He realizes that he ‘was doing it wrong’ after meeting some Satanist. And hey, it works out for him in the end.Sally too, even though she had reservations to his constant watching and learning. 

Whatever floats your boat, Bill. Happy wife, happy life, right? 

Right Bill?!

Anyways, I hope you enjoyed. And if not, buzz off and read something else.

I scoff at your scoffing. 


John Potts Jr.

P.S.: I am probably going to add an after thought after each posting from now on. Look soon for my “back logs” of these thoughts for previously published stories. I am probably just going to release a full entry that hits them all, then going forward, repeat the same process as seen here. 

Author: John Potts Jr

I write horror and dark humor... and that's about it. Come on over and give a read sometime! Thanks! K bye!

6 thoughts on “Watch and Learn”

  1. Great story. I had a question that is more blog related than story specific. Do you have lots of stories on your blog or do you update/take stuff down put new stuff up regularly? I only saw a handful of stories but that could mean this is a new site and I havent checked out Ghoul Flash Fiction yet and maybe all of your stories are over there. Anyway, I’m always trying to learn more about this blogging stuff and you and I have similar sites and content and I like your site. Hope you don’t mind me asking. I’m just curious how you are handling your content on a long term basis.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks for reading! Glad you enjoyed the story.

      I am very new to blogging. I think I have been doing this for less than three months now. I told myself that I wasn’t really “blogging”, more of storytelling. In the end, I would say they’re roughly the same, give or take a few circumstances and variables.

      This site is where Ghoul Flash Fiction really started, and I wanted to give them both a unique and separate platform. Ghoul is more humor horror, where I wanted Collection to be focused on my serious approach to horror. I wrote a lot for Ghoul, a little too fast, and honestly, I am a little burnt out. Just a little.

      I am slowing down on Ghoul — and Collection — to a hopeful schedule of one or two (maybe more!) posts a week so I can further my time
      writing substantial short stories — between 4,000 to 10,000 words – – that I aim to utilize for publishing or self-publishing my own anthology as an eBook. This site was mainly for that purpose to begin with: promoting an ebook series that I self-published of short stories. That became old fast, and I had more fun just giving out free work that was separate from my in progress stories for publishing. I originally posted some of my thoughts on horror, my process– things like that. That also got old fast, so I decided to incorporate ( as of my last post) a little blurb of “why I wrote this, and why it’s important to me” The touchy-feely stuff that came from me.

      Going forward… Hrmmm? I would like to post more, and in the future, I wouldn’t mind opening this up for others to share their stories. The name just fits that platform.

      Anyways, I hope that answers the question.


  2. I really enjoyed this story. It went somewhere that I never would’ve expected and I totally agree with your after thought. Those videos should be used for advice you should consider, not live by. You should always try to make your own way through hard work and dedication. That’s the best way to learn.
    Awesome job!

    Liked by 1 person

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