The Eyes Have It

Reads: 512  | Likes: 0  | Shelves: 0  | Comments: 1

More Details
Status: Finished  |  Genre: Science Fiction  |  House: Booksie Classic
In the near future, a war has led to a new power structure and a new era of human oppression. In fear of losing its control, the new government forces all citizens to stand for evaluation to determine their fate.

Submitted: January 17, 2010

A A A | A A A

Submitted: January 17, 2010

A A A

A A A


“Hello there friend. How’re you holding up,” a small mouse of a man asked. “My name is Sam.”

Sam stuck out his boney hand in a friendly gesture towards the bald man who stood in line behind him. Sam was met with a silent glare, but the bald man reluctantly returned the gesture and they shook hands.

“First time,” Sam asked. “In line for evaluation, is it your first time?”

Sam was a nervous, twitchy sort of a man. Unable to remain still for long, Sam used his natural talent for talking to help ease his nerves.

“I’ve been here three times now,” Sam elaborated. “First two times I lost my nerve and snuck out of line. Not this time, though. Not this time.”

The line was long, coiling and twisting around the vast building. Thin blue lasers shone up through slots in the white floor like ethereal razors, demarcating a path by which the citizens followed. Two lines of the laser light ran parallel a mere 24 inches apart and guided the citizens along an intricately complex path, designed for maximize efficiently of space.

“Next in line,” commanded an iVal Guard with a stern voice that echoed throughout the wide-open building.

The line inched forward sluggishly.

The iVal Guards, dressed in black and red uniforms with gold buttons and official flair, showed no vested interest in their duties as a sense of calling. Their loyalty began and ended with their paychecks. Standing guard and directing the endless line of citizens was the dullest, most unsatisfying job within the corporate security forces. It didn’t pay terribly well, but did at least offer a certain level of job security.

If a guard could avoid being attacked by mob of angry citizens, he could expect a long and relatively stress-free career. While most days would pass without incident, there was the occasional unstable citizen who had no chance of passing evaluation; or, the citizens so paranoid they eventually suffered complete nervous breakdowns, right there where they stood. This could lead to unintended riots, if the chemistry was just right.

The endless line progressed a little more than usual.

“Hey, what do you know,” Sam observed. “We gained a whole three steps that time. That’s unusual.”

A citizen’s individual wait could last for days, or even a week during maximum capacity. Citizens were commonly seen with flat-packs on their backs or carrying collapsible pocket chairs. The pocket chairs were handy and portable pieces of technology, but were rarely deployed. The iVal Guards typically confiscated any chairs seen deployed for fear of riots fueled by greed.

Sam pulled his fluid dispenser from the holster slung across his shoulder, removed the lid and took a swig. This was followed by a sigh of refreshment.

“Hey buddy,” Sam advised. “You better be sure to keep hydrated. Believe it or not, standing in this line takes a lot out of you.”

Every citizen was issued a fluid dispenser upon entering the line. For lack of less graphic methods of description, these fluid dispensers served as nutritional hydrators as well as waste receptacles. About 18 inches in length, these cylindrical devices held up to one gallon of fluid at a time. A highly sophisticated filtration system was built into the dispenser that recycled the citizens’ waste into reusable fluid. The technology was kept under tight wraps, as was all intellectual property owned by the corporate government, which in fact included all intellectual property.

Something about how the contents worked in sync with the filtration technology allowed for an entirely fluid diet, completely bypassing the need for solid excrement. Despite the complete lack of any flavor at all, the technology worked, keeping the citizens energized enough to complete the long and tedious walk towards evaluation. The best thing a citizen could do while waiting in line for evaluation was to patiently keep to their self, blend in and not create a scene.

“There’s a story of an old woman, too near death to even bother being evaluated,” Sam began, “but waited in line like everyone else. She sat in this old rusty wheelchair.”

The bald man rubbed his brow, wondering how much longer Sam would continue talking and whether he would be able to continue resisting the urge to shut him up.

“As the story goes,” Sam continued. “Some half-cocked lunatic asshole decided he’d waited too long and this crippled old woman didn’t deserve to sit in comfort. So, he lifted the little old woman right up out of her wheelchair, tossed her to the floor and eased himself into his newly acquired mobile throne, grinning from ear to ear. Can you believe that? The nerve of some people!”

The line shifted a step and a half forward.

“If it hadn’t been for the poor old ladies’ body causing disorganization in the line when he tossed her on the floor,” Sam went on “he just may have gotten away with it.”

The bald man had taken to observing his surroundings. He noticed all the people and their differences. They all shared one thing in common; fear. Not all of them showed the fear on the surface, such as Sam, while others wore it on their sleeves. These were the citizens who stood the highest likelihood of cracking under the pressure.

“His comfort didn’t last long, Sam continued. “Two of the iVal Guards appeared out of nowhere. One of them swung for the fences with the butt of his rifle and the ball was the back of the schmuck’s skull. As the shock set in, he shot up out of the wheelchair and met with the debilitating current of the other guard’s stun gun.”

Sam chuckled.

“He fell forward and collapsed onto the floor like someone just flipped his power switch off,” Sam recalled. “The guards carried him off and no one ever saw or heard from him again.”

“Everyone’s in the same boat,” Sam added. “No one gets special treatment.”

Unlike the years before the war, wealth and connections provided no influence over the system and its procedures. Bottom line, all citizens standing in line for evaluation were deemed equal, without only basic human rights. Wealth had meaning only if seated in a position of corporate power. If a leader was usurped, he was replaced and sent to stand in waiting for evaluation. It was the unforgiving way of the new world.

“Sir,” one of the iVal Guards barked at a middle-aged man, “You need to stay within the guide lines of the path. Do not deviate from the flow of traffic!”

The middle-aged man appeared tired and weak. His clothes were old and wrinkled. He had dark circles around his eyes and appeared to be one of the unfortunates.

Thousands of men and women had found themselves destitute after the war ended. It was a short-lived war between two distinct sectors of society; the wealthy corporate barons had overstepped their boundaries too many times and the masses of middle-class workers took up arms and rebelled, backed by the increasingly powerless elected government.

The wealth and resources of the corporations easily vanquished the uprising, allowing them to establish a new structure of power, placing themselves as heads of state. Ironically, the corporate war actually produced minimal casualties compared to past wars. Much of the secret new technology owned by the corporations included alternative weapons. Realizing that a devastating death toll would cripple future efforts for expanding production, the corporations employed a mostly non-lethal arsenal of light and sound weapons. As a result, vast numbers of citizens fighting the war were left blind, deaf or both. The corporate philosophy was that a sensory impaired worker is logically more useful than a dead worker.

The line of citizens marched forward another two feet.

The days of organized state-sanctioned military had long since passed, replaced by corporate security forces interested only in upholding the national corporate policy.

Millions of workers were allowed to live in relative comfort, so long as obedience was maintained. No one starved or went without basic medical care, but freedoms were limited by the lack of access to the arts and history. The Internet was banned. Citizens no longer had any rights to own personal property. Room and board was provided for the workers, but expenses were taken out of their wages for life. Avenues for recreation had been completely outlawed. The pursuit of personal growth had been halted by a redirection of capitol into the new corporate governmental structure, not of elected officials but of CEOs and billionaire tycoons.

The tired man struggled to focus his dwindling energy on remaining upright. His body swayed back and forth, occasionally catching himself and lunging slightly in the opposite direction to correct his posture. The tired man’s eyes could barely stay open, allowing only the thinnest sliver of space between his darkened eyelids.

Another wave of people inching forward, one shuffling step at a time, rippled through the organized mass and reached the tired man off guard. His body lurched forward, the result of an unassuming catalyst of momentum. The tired man lumbered into the citizen standing before him like freshly cut timber falling to the forest floor.

“What the Hell,” the man in front of him exclaimed as he turned abruptly to catch the tired man while bracing himself.

“My God,” the woman standing behind the tired man asked in shock, “Are you alright? Someone call a doctor!”

Two iVal Guards approached like a finely choreographed routine performed daily. One of them stood back a few feet; keeping watch over the masses while the other guard stepped up to engage the involved parties.

“Is there a problem here,” the guard inquired.

The tired man’s body was limp within the grasp of the other man’s arms. The woman standing behind him in line pleaded to the guard to call for medical assistance.

“This man is clearly ill, or exhausted,” the woman inferred, “He can’t even stand on his own. It’s one thing to herd us like cattle through this line, but at least give this man the human dignity of medical attention.”

The superior guard stood tall before the woman, arms crossed. He stared into her frustrated face for a moment then turned to his subordinate guard keeping watch.

“Come take this citizen for evaluation,” he ordered. “If he passes, he’ll get the medical attention he needs.”

The subordinate guard immediately followed orders, slinging his rifle across his back and dragged the man backwards through the tangled line towards the evaluation point. The superior guard returned his focus to the woman.

“I would advise you to silence your opinions, ma’am” the guard offered in a threatening tone.

The woman shrunk back into line and remained quiet.

It had been eight years since the war ended. Those who went deaf or suffered complete loss of vision were immediately placed into the work force. Citizens lucky enough to have maintained all or most of their sensory functions were selected for special assignments immediately following the government’s reformation.

In recent months, the corporate leadership had discovered an alarming rate of decline in sensory faculty among the remaining sighted population. The exponential growth of rapidly deteriorating vision was threatening the corporate government’s stability. The affliction had begun spreading into their ranks. A leadership rendered physically blind would become vulnerable. In an effort to stave off the growing threat, a mandate was been placed on all citizens to undergo visual evaluation to determine focal health. Any citizen found to have been immune to the affliction was processed as a biological asset to the corporate government. It was deemed a matter of national security.

Those citizens were forced against their will to donate their eyes to the greater good of society, ensuring the leadership maintained their vision in which to rule the masses. It was nothing more than propaganda disguised as a call for patriotism.

Rumors had spread of small bands of citizens forming to renew efforts of rebellion against the corporate government, but given the result of the first war, revolutionaries found recruitment difficult. Some had even told stories of mysterious freedom fighters that had harnessed the government’s own weapon technology. They were affectionately called the Warriors of Light. Most citizens wrote the stories off as urban legends and exaggerations to conjure up sentiment for recruitment.

“Next in line,” commanded the iVal Guard stationed at the evaluation point.

An older, short and wiry man stepped back as the previous citizen was forcibly carried away, kicking and screaming down a guarded corridor. Approximately twenty yards from this corridor was a turnstile gateway leading outdoors. Those citizens deemed afflicted were marked with a laser insignia crudely resembling the shape of the human eye, a circle within an ellipse, with a vertical line thru the pupil. They were then sent through the turnstile gateway to re-enter the work force.

The older man, a bio-medical scientist called Dr. Harrington, looked towards the next citizen in line through his laser-enhanced spectacles. Sam was next in line. He froze where he stood. This had been the first time the bald man had seen Sam so silent.

“Please step forward for evaluation,” Dr. Harrington politely requested.

Sam had suddenly lost his nerve and bolted in fear. He didn’t get far. One of the iVal Guards took one shot and placed a round in the back of his neck, severing his spinal column. Sam’s body collapsed in mid-stride. The guards were strictly forbidden from shooting citizens in the head, which could potentially damage their precious eyes.

Two guards went to retrieve Sam’s body while the other guards heightened their focus on the nearby citizens in line, ensuring order was maintained.

“Pity,” mumbled Dr. Harrington.

“Next in line,” a guard commanded.

The bald man calmly stepped up to the bold red square painted on the white floor, indicating where citizens were expected to stand during evaluation. The bald man looked down at the red square and confidently stepped into the space. His vision focused straight ahead, the bald man stood up straight and strong.

“What is your identification number,” a guard requested.

“My name is Roderick Holmes,” the bald man replied, without hesitation.

Roderick’s gaze remained forward, seemingly fixated on a single random point of focus. Dr. Harrington approached Roderick from an angle as he continued to stare at the same focal point without flinching.

“Thank you for introducing yourself,” Dr. Harrington acknowledged “but it’s really not necessary. Have you forgotten your assigned identification number?”

“My name is Roderick Holmes,” the bald man repeated.

Dr. Harrington took his wrinkled left hand and passed it slowly before Roderick’s face, interrupting his line of sight. Roderick did not falter from his focal point. Dr. Harrington removed a small laser instrument from his shirt pocket and switched it on. It emitted a brilliant blue light. Dr. Harrington pointed the blue light of the instrument in one pupil, then the other, repeated the action and then pocketed the instrument.

Roderick remained still with his sight focused on the same point. Dr. Harrington turned away to signal one of the guards to accompany him at his side. The guard approached and Dr. Harrington leaned in to whisper something to the guard.

“This man appears to be blind,” Dr Harrington informed the guard. “His body language exhibits the typical signs, but there’s something strange about his pupils. Stay close in case this man attempts to resist.”

Dr. Harrington returned his attention to Roderick, retrieving another instrument from another pocket. He held this instrument that resembled an elaborate magnifying glass in place in front of Roderick’s eyes for a number of seconds. The device beeped and Dr. Harrington analyzed the results of the test.

“Young man,” Dr. Harrington concluded, “you are certainly blind. No doubt about that. However, what concerns me is by what means you’ve lost your sight?”

Roderick did not answer.

“Tell me,” Dr. Harrington continued. “Have you done something to intentionally sabotage your own eyes?”

Again, Roderick stood in silence.

Dr. Harrington stepped out in front of Roderick and starred him right in his eyes.

“I demand that you answer me,” Dr. Harrington insisted loudly in frustration. The guard next to him, as well as two others nearby, readied their weapons.

“My name is Roderick Holmes,” the bald man repeated. “I am here to deliver your judgment.”

Roderick’s eyes began to glow an eerie iridescent color, like a lamp eased on with a dimmer switch, then suddenly exploded with light shining directly forward in a narrow cone radius of exposure. Dr. Harrington’s face was awash with bright light against his age-textured skin. He collapsed to his knees, eyes wide open and paralyzed from the shock of the sudden attack.

The three guards immediately engaged their weapons, concentrating them on Roderick. Before they could open fire, the range of the light emitted from Roderick’s eyes expanded to encompass all three guards. Each of them stopped in their tracks. They dropped their weapons and fell to their knees.

“I… I can’t see,” Dr. Harrington stuttered to speak.

Other guards began to rush towards Roderick. The eyes of random citizens peppered throughout the immense waiting line began to emulate the same glowing characteristics of Roderick’s eyes. One by one, pairs of these eyes appeared. As the scattered guards rushed towards Roderick, these citizens with glowing eyes stepped out of line and focused their blinding light on the guards, picking them off one by one with uncanny accuracy, avoiding collateral damage to the innocent citizens surrounding them.

As the guards were taken out of commission amidst the frenzy of chaos and disorder that had erupted, Roderick stepped forward to confront Dr. Harrington. He positioned himself behind the old scientist, lifted him to his feet facing forward and embraced his head within his arms.

“Are you repentant for your acts of evil and indignity against mankind,” Roderick asked of the frightened old man in a serene voice.

“I don’t understand,” said the old man. “How is this possible?”

“Are you repentant,” Roderick asked again.

Dr. Harrington held his hands out in front of his body, desperately trying to see something but found only darkness. The expression on his face was one of both horror and realization that this was eventually to be expected.

“The stories were true,” Dr. Harrington acknowledged.

“You must state your final position,” Roderick informed the old scientist without ant emotion in his voice. “Are you repentant?”

“Yes. I suppose I am,” Dr. Harrington stated, now calm and resigned to his fate.

The moment Dr. Harrington answered, Roderick snapped his frail neck and eased his body to the floor. With the guards having all met the same fate, Roderick stood to address the citizens before him.

“A revolution is upon us. A final and resolute offensive against your oppressors is underway in every pocket of civilization,” Roderick revealed to the citizens as they listened intently. “You are free to rebuild your lives. We will protect you.”


© Copyright 2019 RKDN78. All rights reserved.

Add Your Comments:

Comments

avatar

Author
Reply

More Science Fiction Short Stories