Fiction

Offworld Optician

5th January 2020 — 5

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Fiction

Offworld Optician

5th January 2020 — 5

It’s a new year and my first stab at a 2020 writing prompt is courtesy of Peter Wyn Mosey. Nice to get back to some writing after a couple of weeks of excess. I went with the 3rd writing prompt “You have beautiful eyes, it’s a shame”. Sounded like a bit of fun. This take is a bit of a tangent to my epically floundering WIP (1000 words).

“You have beautiful eyes, it’s a shame.”

“A shame?”

“Yes,” he said, shaking his head. “A shame you can’t keep them.”

He turned the light off.

“I’ll get them back?” she asked, her green eyes dilated as the seat returned to the upright position. Her sunglasses tumbled into her lap, she hooked them back into her pocket.

“If you want them,” said the optician checking the datapad. He handed it to her, pointed to where she’d need to sign. “Most people don’t bother.”

She glanced anxiously at the far wall. The wall stared back. Hundreds of pairs of brown and blue eyes, each in their own perspex box. She tried to put the gruesome sight out of mind, pressed her thumb to the pad. “Will it hurt?”

“I won’t lie, it will sting, briefly.”

A grimace flashed across her face. “I’m guessing you’ve done a few of these?”

“Just a few,” he smiled, taking the pad back. “There’s quite a turnover. I guess it’s not a life for everyone.”

“Don’t they get their eyes back?”

“Sometimes. Augments, however, are better,” he said, picking up a couple of metallic spheres and handing them to her. “Not to mention, easier to upgrade.”

He busied himself in preparation for the procedure.

She rolled the orbs around in her hand, the only blemish on their perfect mirrors was a small hole in each, the interface for the optic nerve. She was having second thoughts. She’d come so far, so very far, too far to be getting cold feet. After all, it wasn’t like she had a choice, it was part of the contractual terms and she needed this job. She shook her head. “Do you have them in green?”

“I’m afraid not,” he said, turning with a tray of instruments. “Don’t worry though I’ll take care of those for you. I don’t have any green ones.”

She tried to smile as the seat reclined.

“Try to relax,” he suggested as he swung the bright light back into position.

She watched as he lowered a large device on to her eyes. She felt a slight suction, it was not painful, but it was uncomfortable.

“Now this might sting.”

Before she could react, there was a slick of razor-sharp metal and her world went black. Her only companion in the darkness was the searing pain behind her eyes. It faded slowly. She had bit her lip, could taste the blood.

“Very good,” the optician comforted her. “Just another minute and we’ll have you back in the world of the seeing.”

It seemed to take an eternity. When finally she felt the metal orbs plop into her sockets she winced. “They’re cold.”

“Sorry about that. They’ll warm-up. Hold still now, this is the tricky bit.”

She could feel the orbs rotating, felt a tug followed by another stab of pain. She could almost see her agony.

“All done. It’ll take a moment to calibrate. Hang in there.”

She tried to slow her racing heart. It seemed to be taking too long, she was getting nervous. Had something gone wrong? “I can’t see!“

“Don’t worry, it takes a minute. The interface needs to mesh at the biological level. You’ll start seeing stars when it’s done.“

As he said it there was a pinprick flash in the darkness. Had she imagined it? No, there was another and another. Within seconds her vision was a growing universe of colour and light. She let out a breath.

“There you go. You’ll see some patterns shortly. Don’t worry it’s just part of the interfacing.”

Stars turned into lines, lines into shapes, shapes into complex fractal patterns. It reminded her of the kaleidoscope she’d been given as a child. Out of the riot of shapes and colour, an image started to form, the friendly face of the optician beamed down at her.

She smiled back.

“There you go. One more minute.”

The seat moved back upright while the optician worked the datapad and tidied away his tools. On the table, she could see a perspex box a familiar pair of green eyes stared back at her, accusingly. She couldn’t help but feel a pang of guilt.

“I’ll pop these over here,” he said, placing her old eyes, pride of place in his wall.

He turned to face her and held out a hand to help her up. “Everything okay?”

She nodded, climbing to her feet. “I think so.”

“It’ll take a few days. They may ache a bit. Any problems don’t hesitate to return, and be sure to read the manual to unlock all the features,” he said, leading her across the office. “Now, are you ready?”

She looked at him confused. He activated the window blind, it slid up slowly. She didn’t need to shield her eyes anymore. She could see across the mining colony, could see the binary suns, the largest a full third of the horizon. It was as beautiful as everyone had said it would be. The interplay of rainbow colours between the blue/green giant and the smaller red dwarf was like nothing she had ever seen. Nothing she could ever have seen. Tears flowed from her new eyes.

“Still takes my breath away,” the optician said, letting go of her hand. “Tears are normal, it’ll take a few days for your face to adapt.”

He picked up a mirror from the counter and handed it to her. “Here, take a look.”

She hesitated. Closed her eyes. Her eyelids felt odd against the still cold orbs. Holding the mirror to her face, she opened her eyes and gasped. Her green eyes were gone, in their place fiery multi-coloured new eyes shone in the reflected sunlight of a new world. “Thank you.”

“You’re welcome. Don’t forget if you want your old eyes back you know where they are.”

She dropped her sunglasses in the large bin at the door, she would not be needing them.

Cover image courtesy of Arteum.ro

5 comments

    • Chris

      5th January 2020 at 8:37 pm

      I might need the procedure if these TV’s get any more hi fidelity. If only to get my money’s worth.

      Reply

  • Violet Lentz

    11th January 2020 at 1:00 am

    This was excellent, Chris. I had saved it and finally read it today. Brilliant writing. I could use a new pair of eyes myself!

    Reply

  • Aspasía S. Bissas

    12th January 2020 at 6:14 pm

    Creepy, but I’m not sure I’d say no if given the option.

    Reply

    • Chris

      12th January 2020 at 8:17 pm

      I guess you’d have to see 😉

      Reply

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