It was September the Twenty-First, Twenty-Twenty at Oh-Six Hundred Hours, English time, that the Eyes began their conquest. Of course, at that point they didn’t resemble eyes in the slightest. When the Eyes first appeared in the early hours of a cold, English morning, they appeared to be little more than large grey growths. The only thing that was considered to be especially remarkable about them at the time was the swiftness with which they had appeared. I believe that in some regions of the country you can still find a dwindling internet connection and, if that should ever happen, you will find thousands of short clips online from bemused citizens all over the world after the initial appearance of these growths. Overnight, they seemed to be everywhere. No surface was immune to their touch. Roads, walls, trees, hills, bedrooms, bathrooms, wood, brick, glass, metal. Everywhere that there was a surface, you could find one of the growths. It really was crazy, at the time. It certainly frightened many people. Though, the real terror had yet to begin.
Of course, scientists across the world were quick to respond and, for once, they had all the support they could possibly ask for from their respective governments. The politicians were keen to placate the rising tide of fear. The growths, however, proved to be entirely resistant to any attempt at empirical investigation. Although the grey flesh of the growths were soft and warm to the touch of a human finger, needles and scalpels dissolved on impact. They were also immune to any attempts by the government to bleach or dye them with chemical concoctions. Thus, it became impossible to identify the origin of these growths.
After two months of confusion, alarmist headlines and general apprehension, people did what people back then always managed to do when something unpleasant was forcibly injected into their everyday life without their permission. They adjusted. Incredible as it might seem to your generation, forced to exist in a state of permanent vigilance and suspicion against rival tribes and the predators of the wild, people back in those days were far more malleable. Whether it was war, taxes or some sort of epidemic or pestilence, most societies revolved around an unspoken consensus of passive acceptance. And so, although investigations into the growths persisted worldwide, the ordinary denizens of the world simply resumed the regular mundane patterns of their lives and ignored the growths as best they could. The growths were ugly but harmless. That became the generally accepted opinion. And they were ugly. I remember one growth that poked its bulbous head out from the top left corner of my old classroom, which always made the process of marking homework a thoroughly jarring experience.
Of course, the real trouble had yet to begin.
Three months after the first appearance of the growths, something even more shocking occurred. The growths opened. They unfurled in two halves and retracted back into themselves, revealing the most beautiful eyes conceivable, peering out from between the grey ravines of their eyelids.
As I said, the Eyes that the growths revealed to us were the most beautiful organs that
you could possibly envision. It might make you grimace to hear that that’s how they were perceived but it’s the truth. Although they were more spherical in shape, their resemblance to the pupil of a human was uncanny and somehow managed to draw in these who might meet their gaze like quicksand. They sparkled with all the known colours of the rainbow. They were without blemishes or blood vessels or any discernable sign of age of wariness. Indeed, they were quite perfect.
And they never blinked. Never.
Now, this was where the seeds were sewn for our destruction. It was somewhat easy for the world to ignore the presence of the growths but the Eyes were not so easy to shake off. The perpetual stare of such beautiful eyes haunted us. In fact, there was one famous psychologist at the time who coined the expression “The Burden of Purity”, to describe how individuals grew increasingly apprehensive about committing their usual vile acts within the gaze of one of the Eyes. The psychologist claimed that the Eyes represented our guilt and bolstered feelings of shame by acting as a physical witness to our most private transgressions, thus, compelling the subject to repress their darker impulses and endure the “Burden of Purity”. I am no psychologist so for all I know he could have been talking complete and utter rubbish. Still, what he proposed seemed to correlate with the facts.
Whatever it was that culminated in the reluctance of the world’s population to transgress before the bewitching stare of the Eyes, the end result was a drastic decrease in crime worldwide. In particular, crimes involving domestic violence and sexual deviancy. If any records of the national crime rates still exist anywhere, you will see that violent crime in this country was reduced by sixty-five to seventy-five percent within the first year of the Eyes appearance. Eventually, international organized crime shuddered to a halt. Even war, the oldest of all human acts, faltered in the wake of the Eyes all-powerful stare.
This engineered period of peace was declared a new “Golden Age” by just about every major media outlet on the planet, which inevitably sparked thousands of debates, hypotheses and conspiracy theories regarding the purpose of the Eyes and what the policy of the governments of the world should be towards them. Some postulated that the Eyes were the first wave of an alien invasion. Many more were inclined to believe that this was all part of some plot by the Globalists, devised to deceive and enslave the working class. One small faction even created a religion centred around worshipping the Eyes, which they preached were divine agents sent by God to restore peace and justice on Earth. It was this faction whom lead the charge against government officials when, seven months into this Golden Age, the military undertook a brief campaign to purge the Eyes from our country. Of course, they needn’t have bothered. No human weapon could so much as scratch the Eyes.
By the conclusion of the second year of the Golden Age, the general opinion of the Eyes was roughly divided into two extremely vocal camps. The first group, which consisted overwhelmingly of the young, the religious, the marginalised and the middle class, celebrated their arrival. Some praised them as holy agents, others simply found them mesmerising in their beauty whilst the majority very logically pointed out that, since the Eyes had been revealed, the world had become a far safer place and that this new era of peace was certainly worth the relatively miniscule personal discomfort of the Eyes, with their penetrating and ceaseless gaze.
I found myself associated with the side of the debate that opposed the rule of the Eyes. I will be the first to admit that there were many within my own camp who simply longed for a return to the days when they were free to carry out their depravity in blessed privacy. I was not a member of this crowd and I despised how that crowd masked their perverse desires beneath a thin veil of concern for our privacy. I had little concern for security or privacy. My objection to the Eyes was based entirely on their mystery.
In fact, their mystery petrified me. I was horrified by their uncanny pupils, their endless gaze, there eternal stare. Whenever I was in my old classroom, I found my own eyes crawling to the unholy monitor squatting on the ceiling. Questions plagued me even as my students revelled in this age of peace. Why are you watching us? I screamed to the Eyes. What do you want from us?
When the Eyes deigned to reply, the answer was more atrocious than I could have imagined. By August of the third year since the appearance of the Eyes, humanity once again managed to do what it always did and adjusted. Slowly, at first, and then with rather alarming speed the crime rate surged upwards. The millions throughout the world who had repressed their darker urges had concluded that the Eyes, though unnerving, were essentially as harmless as the growths had been and resumed their perverse behaviour. Worse still, the Eye-Worshippers attempted to act as vigilantes on behalf of their watchful masters, which only contributed to the bloodshed. On my cycling route to the school, it was not uncommon to see the victims of these vigilante gangs hanging by their necks, brandished with slurs such as: Thief and Pervert. Looking back, I am positive that the Eyes were meticulous in cataloguing such brutal occurrences. They may even have perceived the fury of the zealots as a template for the boundless slaughter of the fourth year. The year that marked the dawning of what is now referred to as the Blind Age. The period that we are now forced to inhabit.
In order to provide you children with the most concise yet informative timeline of what happened during the genocidal transition from the so-called “Golden Age” to the wreckage that has become our day-to-day lives, forced to hunt for food and scavenge for materials amongst the emaciated shells of cities such as London, where the fighters of our tribe are most at peril from the Northerners, I have combed libraries and bookshops for months on end. I believe that I have been able to salvage the first recorded incident of the paranormal event that I will refer to as “Eye Vision”. It occurred in a small town in the American state of Louisiana. June Kirk, a forty-five year old Chef and mother of three, stabbed her husband of eighteen years to death on Monday the Second of February, Twenty-Twenty Four.
Evidently, Mrs Kirk called the police and immediately confessed to the crime. She was crying so badly that her confession was almost impossible to decipher, at least according to the testimony of the recipient of her call. She claimed that when she came downstairs with the intention of driving her eldest daughter to a friend’s birthday party she was overcome by a most reprehensible vision, just was she brushed past the Eye that had taken up residence between her first and second floor. The vision, the “Eye Vision”, was of her husband having sexual intercourse with a Mrs Martha Figg, a woman who lived just a few blocks away. The vision was from an outsider’s perspective and apparently revealed the whole sordid affair with a sort of greyish filter however there was no mistaking her husband. The detail was better than high definition television. Mrs Kirk even claimed that the vision was so clear, she could count each individual stubble contained within her late husband’s five ‘o clock shadow, brief though the hallucination was.
It goes without saying that there was a second Eye growing in the Kirk household, opposite the sagging blue couch Mr Kirk penetrated his lover. It was much later, too much later, that people like me realised that it was the Eyes who had relayed the vision to the scorned Chef. It seemed that the Eyes were bonded via some sort of psychic connection. One Eye was able to record the depravity of Mr Kirk and the second Eye, once the wife within a certain radius, released the information in one cruel telepathic jab.
The case of Mrs and Mr Kirk marked the beginning of the Blind Age. The “Eye Vision” proved to be a most catastrophic tool. Our own innate impulses became their weapon against us. It was their weapon that they obscured beneath their enigmatic beauty. All of the world’s stockpiled secrets were revealed to the most sensitive parties that the Eyes could find, first as a trickle and then as a flood. Within a month the majority of the world’s democratically elected leaders had been dethroned. Within two, the murder rate had increased by three hundred percent. Within three there were too few of us left to bother recording such information.
You can call accuse me of being overly optimistic if you want but despite the horrors of the Blind Age I sincerely believed that the nation would be able to retain its statehood. I believed that all it would take was a few months of riots and pandemonium and eventually the various communities that formed Great Britain would once again come together to unite against this unprecedented and insidious assault on our minds. Yet, five years following the very first appearance of the Eyes and one year into this contemporary Dark Age I witnessed with my very own eyes the bombing of the Houses of Parliament. Less than a week later, I watched the mobs of Eye Zealots string up both the Prime Minister and the Foreign Minister.#
I think that is probably the best place to conclude today’s lecture. Did you manage to get all of that down? Tomorrow, I will cover the formation of the Nine tribes and the subsequent division of land following the collapse of the government. I understand that many of you will struggle to attend tomorrow’s lesson due to the monthly water search so I am going to need several volunteers to make spare notes for your classmates. Please sign the piece of paper here at my desk if you feel like doing me a favour.
Now, I notice that some of you have struggled to pay attention during my lecture. Whether it is due to the dryness of my voice or down to the presence of the Eye staring down at us from the ceiling of this classroom, I will say this: if my voice is the problem then I’m afraid that there is not much I can do about that. I have taught history for thirty- three years so forgive me for sounding a bit dead on my feet. As for the Eye, I want you to consider the following: why do I choose to teach in this room when just next door is an equally spacious room, bereft of the most formidable enemy our species has ever encountered?
I choose this room because, seven years after their appearance, the power of the Eyes has been broken and it is only through constant, unashamed exposure to their stare that we can keep it that way. The Eyes spent five years planning our extinction and they intended to use our own shame and anger to do so yet, even as they unveiled the finale stage to their genocidal scheme, they were thwarted by the innate stubborn streak embedded within every man, woman and child. The stubborn streak that has enabled our species to adjust to and overcome every injustice and inconvenience. Though our once great country has been fragmented and reduced to poverty and tribal warfare, we have survived and it is my sincere belief that one day the Nine tribes will reunite stronger than ever before. And that strength, children, stems from the fact that we have managed to conquer our shame.
The Eyes, by destroying the barriers to privacy, have broken their sinister hold over our individual minds. Though the people of this land might bicker over scarce resources and territory, the metaphysical divisions of religion, sexuality and psychological unease have been alleviated. Lies are now largely considered a thing of the past. Oh, for sure, once in a while the occasional weed of dishonesty crops up amongst our little community and the Elders are forced to intervene however the “Eye Vision” more often than not reveals the truth to the injured party in question and the guilty individuals are forced to atone before any unnecessary blood is spilled. But this is a rare occurance. For the most part, unlike the inhabitants of the so-called Golden Age, we at least trust our fellow tribesmen and women.
The Eyes power over us stemmed from our dishonesty and so, perpetual truthfulness is our greatest weapon against them. I choose to teach here, next to the greatest enemy our species has ever faced to better immunize you children against dishonesty. It will be your generation, totally free as you are from deception, that will rebuild this nation. And I hope you are successful.
Because that dream, I do believe, wounds the Eyes in ways that guns and knives never could.