Science fiction story: "The last pair of eyes"
It’s too late now.
I can’t just go and tell them, “you know something, my eyes are made from human tissue. I just never got round to replacing them”.
They’ll just ask me why I didn’t go earlier.
And how am I supposed to answer that? Am I to tell them that I liked it that way? That I could see well with my real eyes and I didn’t see the point in going to have them removed.
They’ll just say, “Everyone else saw the point, so how come you didn’t see it?”
They’ll be right. What am I say to them?
They’ll just say, “You do realise that you’re the only one with real eyes still.”
So, I am alone.
Out of stupidity, out of arrogance.
I kept thinking to myself, I have time left. All because I could see well with my real eyes.
I obeyed all their orders and replaced everything else. But I said to myself, I should keep my eyes. Out of vanity. Because they were beautiful. Of course, that was before the problems began.
It was around the time replacement parts had just come on the market.
There was a lot of fuss around that time. It was still the beginning and people were hesitant, afraid of innovations. Then they gradually started, slowly but surely.
First came the sick. Those on their deathbed replaced damaged organs and found themselves revitalised. Then came the disabled who acquired new, fully functional arms and legs.
That was followed by wild propaganda. You’d see our politicians and leading figures in general posing at the entrance of the State Replacement Parts Building shortly before going into have their organs out, and a short while thereafter posing again when they came out hale and hearty, full of joy.
We all drew courage from that. In the end, there was no one left who hadn’t swapped his real organs for immortal, artificial ones.
We were changed from head to toe.
It was the right measure, I’m not arguing.
The people’s health comes first. How can an artificial stomach go bad, for example? And, in the final analysis, let it break down. The State’s work crews operate round the clock. They’d just replace a faulty stomach with a new one and that would be that.
So we replaced everything and found peace. It is true that our lives improved greatly.
However, we keep on dying. Our scientist’s still aren’t able to eliminate that phenomenon. Our body just sort of blacks out suddenly and stops working. Well, at least we are no longer disabled and miserable; that is really important.
But I had kept my own eyes.
Out of vanity, what else! I just thought that when the time came, I’d go and replace them. I never imagined I’d be the last one left.
“What are you doing here now?” they’d tell me at the State Replacement Parts Service. “Why didn’t you come when we summoned the last lot for their replacements, to complete our People’s Replacement Parts Policy? Its too late now,” they’d tell me, “Operations on adults to replace their real organs have been done away with now”.
Quite clearly it was vanity. What else could it be?
Then there’s also this to consider. They say that artificial eyes are superior to real ones, and why shouldn’t I believe them. Real eyes have inherent weaknesses: they grow blurry, they age; they allow you to go blind. They even shed tears.
Artificial ones don’t. They are robust and certain. Unwavering. They don’t suffer from hallucinations. They don’t see visions. They record only what comes within your field of vision. A top quality cinematographic camera in other words.
Thing is, I’ve started to grow old. Well not me exactly, it’s my eyes that are growing old and various things are happening to me that never used to happen in the past. I mean I’m seeing things that others can’t see and that certainly means that the hallucinations and visions have started, and I am finding it very difficult to live with those images.
As time goes by, my days are becoming increasingly nightmarish.
I wake up with the same sense of fear every morning.
What will I see today again? What wild images will afflict my real, aged eyes? How will I stand those images amid all this loneliness? How can I keep myself from screaming out and giving myself away? How can I behave as normally as possible? How can I walk along the streets calmly like everyone else does? How can I greet my neighbours, smile at sales men as they are serving me? How can I drink my coffee in the square and gaze at the passers-by? How can I show myself to be a calm, ordinary person while my eyes collect images of horror and terror and send them directly to my artificial brain? Since it’s built to other specifications, my brain is incapable of organising them with its in-built logic, and so it lays them out without order, in a confused way that fills me with fear.
It’s at times like that that I want to scream, to call out to the others, to warn them about the risk that is standing right next to them.
And yet I say nothing.
I just sit frozen in my chair and watch the destruction. Only I can see it, the others can’t. So it’s me who has the problem, and the real eyes I didn’t replace out of sheer vanity are now sending me images of death; visions; things that are non-existent for the others.
Exhausted, I return to my small apartment, and there I can be myself. It is then that I break down into tears about what I have seen and about what is happening to me. I cry amid the endless solitude I have condemned myself to and about my great mistake. I shouldn’t have kept my real eyes. I am isolated now, cut off. There is no one else like me.
Recently my situation has grown even worse.
How long can two real eyes last, anyway? They are starting to grow blurred and are constantly shedding tears. That’s why I avoid going outside as much as I can. I sit at home, flicking through old, ancient books. I write stories. I know that I will soon go blind and that will be the end of me.
I think to myself that before I die I should jot down my visions. I don’t know what meaning an act like that might have but I simply think to myself that I shouldn’t let those visions be lost in oblivion.
In any event, I no longer feel safe moving around out there.
Of course, I’ve been practising and can replicate that glazed over look the others all have; I can keep my eyelids steady even though it’s painful and I’ve managed to learn not to blink.
Sometimes I risk giving myself away because I shed tears.
I shed tears and the option of putting on glasses simply doesn’t exist. They were done away with years ago and at times like that I have to go and hide somewhere immediately and wipe my eyes.
Once some people saw me doing it and stared at me strangely.
“It’s a small fault,” I confessed, “I need to drop by the repair crew”.
I don’t want to become a target.
There’s also the other thing.
I keep thinking to myself that perhaps what I call visions aren’t in fact visions.
Artificial eyes can certainly see things. The question is what do they see. They may well see the roads and the buildings, the traffic lights, the cars, the shops with crystal clarity, but they cannot see what is diffused throughout the atmosphere.
That black thing that's out there, that takes on a different shape each time It attacks.
We all live inside that black thing; that thing that swallows up one person or the other depending on Its appetite. It has passed right beside me on countless occasions and I’ve been paralysed by the fear. I say to myself, this is my last moment alive. But It passes me by and attacks someone else further on.
I’ve been living with that fear for years now.
And I have no one to share it with.
So, I’m thinking that what I’m seeing may not in fact be visions. Who can prove that? How can I be so certain that I am seeing things wrongly and they are seeing them correctly?
I’m not certain about anything anymore.
I say that because It looked me directly in the eyes today. Today, as I carefully ventured out to the mini market on the corner, It came right up to me. I thought to myself, my end is nigh, and I stopped short, somewhat dizzy, like chickens do when the fox is glaring down at them. But It didn't attack me. It looked me straight in the eyes with a bottomless sense of irony and moved on past me.
It may be real, I now think to myself. And if It is real, I know why It isn’t finishing me off.
When all the eyes were replaced and people began to see the world through artificial eyes, that thing surfaced from its hidden world. It thought that no one could see It any more. It spread arrogantly, filling the space around us. Voracious and greedy, It sucks up our lives without circumspection. And we provide It with an endless supply of the pleasure It derives from death.
The others with their artificial eyes simply cannot see It.
However, I’ve been seeing that black thing for years now; seeing just how much pleasure It derives from attacking us and swallowing us up, taking on a different shape each time. It’s been years now that I know that we are living in an immense farm and we are rambling around like unsuspecting chickens.
It is always out there, watching us, planning Its new attack every time. It has imagination and inventiveness and fears nothing.
Sometimes I wanted to shout out, to warn the unsuspecting passer-by that It was next to him. It had already opened Its terrible jaws and was ready to devour him; but at the last minute I chickened out. I was afraid that the same fate would be reserved for me and I left, ran far away.
I’ve seen many of my fellow men torn to pieces; bits and pieces of them scattered on the streets, the blood sucked out of them. Then I hear the official explanations given by the media and I feel choked that I cannot speak out.
That’s because the others with their artificial eyes have their own explanations for such things. They talk about randomness or about the wrong handling of situations, about natural and human laws, about probabilities, possibilities, fatal convergences and coincidences. People get scared for a little while then forget the whole thing and go back to their day-to-day lives.
I, however, know that things are not that way. I know that that black thing has attacked again.
Today It stared me in the eyes with the deep sense of irony that the powerful look at the weak with.
I now understand why It doesn’t kill me.
Since It realises that I can see It, and It relishes in my fear. Since I cannot speak out and It holds me as an accomplice in Its pleasure. It likes that I look at It as It swallows up the others; the totally changed. It really enjoys having a spectator for Its atrocious acts. That is all part of the pleasure It receives.
It is certainly a very sweet sensation for someone to know just how powerful they are, and how you quake in their presence.
So now I don’t know what to do.
Should I go and tell them what I see? There’d be no sense in that. No one would believe me anyhow. They’d say I’d gone mad. That anyone who doesn’t fully comply with the People’s Replacement Parts Policy ends up like that. In short, that I’m a maladjusted individual.
I can’t even change my eyes now even if I wanted to.
“At this stage of the game,” they’d tell me, “it’s altogether too late now. Such operations are no longer carried out today. If you were an infant we’d send you to the Children’s Replacement Parts Service, but now that you are middle-aged, keep your real eyes until you go blind”.
In the end, it is a solution now that I come to think about it.
I remember an ancient myth where a tragic king plucked out his own eyes so as not to see the horrible game fate had decreed he should play.
It is a solution.
At least that way I wouldn’t be allowing It to draw pleasure from my fear.
I could wander blindly here and there around the chicken farm challenging It to attack me. Without eyes, what purpose would it have for me? I’d be useless. It would attack me. It wouldn’t just pass me by the next time.
Only It doesn’t know that I have put all this down on paper … at least I hope It doesn’t know. I have all these manuscripts safely tucked away at home.
Perhaps one day someone will read them and believe what I’ve been seeing all these years.
Though, I don’t know what good might come of that now that everyone’s changed.
From the collection : "Οι πόρτες" (The doors).
"Iolkos" editions, 2010.