Editor note: This short story was originally written and published many years ago. Its original publisher no longer exists, so enjoy this dark treat to get you into spooky season.
Nervous, the patient fidgeted in her chair as she waited to be called in. The room was white, and almost entirely blank of thought. Nevertheless, through her blurry eyes she struggled at the brightness as the sunlight shone strongly through the upper floor window.
Her name was Laura. She tapped her fingers nervously on the fabric arm of the chair and the clock ticked above her, almost twelve o’clock.
In front of her, a large desk where a pale receptionist worked behind fresh flowers – lilies and orchids – her thick black glasses a contrast to the white. Laura was thankful for that.
She told herself it wouldn’t be long now. It wouldn’t be long until she could see clearly – for that is all she ever wanted.
It wasn’t a hard concept; glasses weighed her down, made her avoid the glances from passers-by, making her feel ugly and somehow wrong, like a fish out of water.
Contact lenses were too difficult, after all, she was delicate, and could not bring herself to lift her eyelids so very high before touching the smooth, jelly-like texture of her eye. Could not, would not, touch it.
But there was something else too, something that stopped her from wearing the heavy glasses, or from bearing the awful lenses to close to her eyes.
No, this was the only choice.
“Laura Millburn?” The receptionist called.
Laura turned away from the window at the sound of her name.
“Doctor Carion will see you now,” the receptionist gestured to the door ahead of her. It was a white door.
Soon she found herself sitting in another large chair, in another bright room devoid of colour. The doctor with the piercing blue eyes droned ahead of her, and she nodded again and again to the questions, always the questions.
Her eyes wandered, settling on nothing; his words jumbled together, as all had been explained many times before. And after all that, she wanted to see clearly.
Sooner than expected, she found herself awaiting the procedure. Reclining now, she faced the laser with a tightening grip on the chair.
It wouldn’t be long now.
Doctors, experts busy around her, she watched the ceiling as thoughts filled her mind. Soon now, it would be over.
For all she could see would be fixed, and she would never have to see them again. Not the corner of the eye flashes, nor the glimpse in the mirror, the doubts of what was right before her eyes. They would be gone forever, and she would be like any other, carefree in her existence and new to the beautiful sights and faces around her. It would all be shiny and bright and new – nothing dark, no imaginery cloud could creep into those sights. It would be all hers and hers alone.
Her eyes focused and adjusted to the bright lights, and she felt the needle; first like a bee’s sting, and then numb. She was numb. She was strong too; she could cope with the needle – but what if she’d been wrong all along?
Almost as if to confirm it, a dark shadow crossed the corner between all the white and out of her vision. Suddenly confusion and doubt clouded her thoughts.
But it was too late. And, after all, she’d wanted to see clearly. Then she saw nothing at all, as white blurred into an endless recession of colourless light. Soon it will be over.
The next morning she awoke with the bright sun warm on her face. It was all over. With a sigh of sudden realisation and relief, she cautiously felt the mask over her eyes with her fingers. It was time.
Her eyes felt numb. That was good, hadn’t she been told to expect as much?
Slowly, carefully she sat up and began to feel away the mask. Steadily, the covering came free from her eyes and she could feel the air on her eyelids, light and fresh. It was time to see.
It took her a second to open her eyes, and slowly she blinked through heavy lids. At first a blur, a lot of blinking, her vision would come. It was dark. But it didn’t feel dark. It shouldn’t be dark.
Gradually her eyes came into focus, and they were all around her now. The old dread returned, but now tenfold. They loomed above her, ahead of her, the dark shapes and grinning monsters, the dragon, the stitch man, the cloud, and many more that she didn’t recognise.
Grinning, cruel wicked smiles she could see them all – and they could see her. She wasn’t in her room anymore. She wasn’t anywhere she recognised, but instead surrounded by harsh darkness and swirls of smoke.
They were coming for her, their dark glistening eyes shining red as she knew deep down they would. And she prepared herself for the agony; for she was exposed to them now and she knew now what fate had in store – hadn’t she always known?
Soon she would feel the bloodlust, the pain; the thirst for her soul that she had always told herself was pure imagination. But she’d felt it then, and she could see it now.
Stitch man, the thing in the mirror that she’d never really forgotten since she was a child in the bathroom mirror. He would be the first, the stitches over his eyes, down his face, his inhuman misshaped grey body suddenly there in front of her, calling to her with his rasping breath.
She couldn’t run, was paralysed to the spot as his bony, broken fingers stretched out for her throat, and she knew then that nothing could save her.
She could not see the people who heard her scream.