Aphelion Issue 293, Volume 28
September 2023
 
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The Eyes

by David Flynn




Tommy noticed The Eyes the first time when he drove to work. Stuck in traffic, as happened often, he sighed and there in front of him appeared two eyes. There was no face, just the eyes.

He of course thought he was hallucinating. They weren’t two vague eyes, or two eyes in a fog. They were sharp, and they stared. Hazel like his, male.

“Who are you?” he asked out loud. But there was no answer. There was no mouth.

When the traffic let up and he moved, The Eyes disappeared.

He needed sleep, sure. He needed a vacation, sure. But that was weird, he thought.

Later at his desk The Eyes reappeared. They stared. He was working on a report. He looked at the computer to work but had to glance up because there they were. Two hazel eyes. They were real, not imagination. Two real eyes staring at him.

He had trouble finishing the report but did. It was sloppy, not his usual precise work, but he submitted it to his supervisor on the computer. He looked up. The Eyes had disappeared.

Tommy worried about himself on the drive home. He constantly looked for The Eyes. But nothing.

Then...

That night he ate leftover lasagna, frozen originally. Tommy lived alone. He was in his 40s, married once, divorced. He hadn’t even had a date in three years. Instead, he watched porn. Online dating was a possibility, but he hadn’t started yet. He was alone, very much alone. His parents were both dead, two cancers. He didn’t have friends as such. He didn’t do much, no bars, no hobbies, no trips. He just existed.

The Eyes appeared as he sat on the sofa after the lasagna watching the news. The news was depressing, of course. Politicians. War. Floods. An old rock star who had died.

“Who the hell are you?” he said out loud at The Eyes.

They blinked. He hadn’t noticed that before. But there was no reply. Just The Eyes floating in the air in front of him, maybe five feet away, slightly higher than his head. The Eyes. Not bloodshot. The whites were white. No eyebrows. No wrinkles. Just The Eyes.

Who or what was seeing through The Eyes? Maybe nobody or no thing. Then why?

Tommy was haunted. A good deal of his day was without The Eyes, but he kept looking for them. It was like they were there even though they weren’t. They appeared without explanation, at his work, in his house, in his car. They stayed from a few seconds to about an hour. No explanation. No communication. Nothing.

One day he was sitting at his dining table, alone, eating slices of pizza, pepperoni, and a salad from a bag. The Eyes appeared before him. He hardly reacted anymore. At first, he thought he might tell somebody, but decided he had to keep The Eyes to himself. Ultimately, he thought they were produced by his own brain, hallucinations. He didn’t know anybody else who had ever been plagued by The Eyes, but they had no real effect on him. He wasn’t in danger, or so he thought. He wasn’t in communication with the spiritual world. Nothing. Just unease and a feeling that he had no privacy. If he had a family, a lover, a life with friends, they would make a big difference, but he didn’t. He was alone.

The Eyes watched him eat, which he did as usual. A slice of pizza, previously frozen, in his hand, he ignored The Eyes. Then they shut.

He gasped. They still hovered there but shut. The lids were like all eye lids. This was a change. It took a few minutes for him to recover, but he continued to eat his dinner. When he was finished, The Eyes disappeared, still shut.

A month later. A year later. A decade later. Would The Eyes still be there? He almost laughed. Tommy had a bleak future, he thought. Same old job he found uninteresting, same old lack of a romantic life, same old lack of family and friends. Maybe The Eyes would be all he had.

He hoped that a face would appear one day and talk, but that didn’t happen. A new normal. He got used to The Eyes. They were kind of boring. They didn’t do anything. He just continued his life.

“It is time for you to die,” a voice spoke from the air. Tommy sat on his sofa, drinking a glass of box Chardonnay. He wanted to get drunk and to drink himself into bed and sleep. Another nothing day. Another day of possibilities in life that he didn’t try to make happen, love, achievement, promotion, learning, anything. He just sat with the glass in his hand. The Eyes didn’t appear. Just The Voice.

“Who are you?” he demanded. He had asked The Eyes this many times with no reply.

“Truth,” the voice said. Male, demanding, like a supervisor, slightly rasping.

“I don’t want to die,” Tommy said.

The air was silent. He waited. He waited a long time.

“I don’t want to die,” he repeated.

The air was silent. And The Eyes never appeared again. Tommy wanted to fight, something. He wanted to live even though that meant boredom. Dammit.

“I don’t want to die,” he said again.

And he didn’t. He lived, such as he was. He felt special. He had been targeted twice, The Eyes and The Voice. Nobody else had those things. He took a drink of the bitter wine and smiled. Something cared about him enough to send a ghost, or whatever. Somehow, he was One. Among all the humans on Earth. He was One.

“It is time for you to die,” the Voice said the next night. Same sofa, same glass of cheap white wine.

“You are funny,” Tommy said. He laughed.

Silence. He drank the glass and refilled it to the brim with wine.

“You will not die. Now,” the voice insisted.

“O.K.,” Tommy said. “Thanks.”

In the car on his way to work the next day, stuck in traffic as always, appeared The Ears. Floating above the dashboard. Separated like on a head. White.

“Just checking in, I guess,” Tommy said. What was next? The Hair? What had been ghastly at first was now ordinary, a joke. He smiled. “Say hello to The Brain. I appreciate the attention.”


THE END


2024 David Flynn

Bio: David Flynn was born in 1948 in the textile mill company town of Bemis, TN. His jobs have included newspaper reporter, magazine editor and university teacher. He has five degrees and is both a Fulbright Senior Scholar and a Fulbright Senior Specialist. His literary publications total more than two hundred and sixty. Among the eight writing residencies he has been awarded are five at the Wurlitzer Foundation in Taos, NM, and stays in Ireland and Israel. He spent a year in Japan as a member of the Japan Exchange and Teaching program. For three years he was president of the Music City Blues Society. He is married and has one daughter, one granddaughter and one grandson.

E-mail: David Flynn

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