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There are still conflicting reports regarding what exactly happened the morning of February first, 2009 in the tiny Californian community of Actis and what took place over the course of the next several months. When asked, only a few neighbors admitted to knowing anything about the resident of the house that came into question and only a teenage boy out jogging and an elderly woman walking her dog recall the sight of a stout little man with a long beard approaching the place.
A pounding came on the door in the little community that dreary morning. It took several minutes for anyone to answer, the home's owner no doubt unused to company, particularly so early in the morning. The home's owner was a woman in her late thirties, wearing a worn flannel and a pair of sweatpants, scratching at her eyes.
“Can I help you?” She asked, her tongue swirling in her mouth, trying to wipe away all the bile. She was not used to being awake so early, not anymore at least.
“Mrs... Walsh, is it?” the knocker asked.
“Not since the divorce,” she said sarcastically. “Miss Walsh.”
“Ah yes yes, Miss Cassandra Walsh. I am here on behalf of-”
“Can I get my contacts in?” She interrupted impatiently, “I can't even see you.”
“Oh of course. I will be right here.”
Cassandra left for a few minutes, walking into the bathroom just down the hall and again scratching her eyes when she walked out, only to be taken aback when she saw the man who had approached her house, muttering, “Jesus” under her breath as she did.
He was ugly. There is no way around it, he was ugly. Standing only barely over five feet, balding, a nose like a hog's and two eyebrows like giant, fuzzy caterpillars devouring his upper face.
“Did you say something?” He asked.
“No... No. What did you need now?”
“May I come in?” He asked gingerly.
“I don't mean to offend you sir,” she said under her breath, “But I'm a former cop. Excuse me if I have a bit of a problem with strange men approaching houses at weird times of day. Now cut to the chase.”
“Very well, very well,” the man said calmly. “My name is Bertram. I work for a little company called 'A Vision of Tomorrow', you filled out a survey for us on the internet last year.”
“I did?” Cassandra asked. “What was it regarding?”
“We are a firm of optometrists Miss Walsh. We deal with sight and were looking for subjects to participate in a study involving a new pair of glasses.”
“I prefer contacts, as we've already established,” she muttered.
“Oh but these are not normal glasses,” he replied. “They are an experimental set of corrective vision lenses.”
Cassandra raised an eyebrow, “Corrective vision?”
“Yes, you wear them and, over time, they repair your vision. We're very close to perfecting them and just need a few more subjects, and you did sign up last year.”
“I still don't remember that, but I guess it was a while ago,” she said. “Just what's the catch here?”
“No catch,” Bertram assured. “We just need a few more case studies to put these on the market officially. And of course you'll be paid a large sum of cash for your services to us.”
Cassandra gave the man a last long look before asking, “Is there a contract I have to sign?”
Bertram smiled at her and reached into the briefcase he had at his side. Miss Walsh examined the thing in passing, noting only the bare minimum of its information before exclaiming, “Ten thousand dollars a month?! You want to pay me ten thousand dollars a month?!”
“Visions of Tomorrow is a very wealthy little side project of some very powerful investors,” Bertram replied. “If we get these corrective lenses correct, we can revolutionize the world of optometry! And we're asking you and a select few others to help us perfect the product. What do you say?”
Miss Walsh's corrective lenses arrived in the mail not quite two weeks later, including with it an official set of documents and a journal to record the going-ons of her days. Shaking her head at the concept of how easy her next few paychecks would be, Cassandra Walsh slipped the glasses on, frowning shortly thereafter. They did not appear to do anything. Was she to call the distributor? Raise a fuss? She reexamined the documents and noted they would take some getting used to. Shrugging to herself a little, Cassandra Welsh went about her day with the glasses on. She read through the job openings, knowing she'd need hiring again sooner or later, read through The Kitchen God's Wife, a favorite book of hers, and lazily watched the news, the glasses still not seeming to offer her anything.
As she continued to note the ineffectiveness of the glasses, the day finally came, about five days in, when things began to appear pristine. Cassandra Walsh was taken aback by the suddenly clearer world around her. Her jaw laid slack as she effortlessly read the paper and her books with the utmost ease. For the first time since leaving the force, Miss Walsh found something enjoyable in her days.
Soon she seemed to nearly look forward to sliding the glasses on every day, knowing she would soon see better as a result. She would write every day for the next two weeks that the glasses seemed to be serving her very well. Everything looked so clear, everything felt so comforting.
One night, after a long day of rushing from government building to government building, finalizing odds and ends leftover from her divorce, Miss Walsh pulled into a nearby McDonald's and ordered a quarter pounder with cheese, tired from all the driving and annoying governmental personnel, looking forward the simply pleasure of the sandwich.
She double took when she saw her meal. She never noticed how oily the cheese looked as it seemed to seep off the top of the patty, which itself looked misshapen and as if it had been a rotten hunk of meat pounded into submission. The mess soaked into the bun, rendering the whole thing a disgusting looking mess. Cassandra Walsh in a rage drove up and demanded to know what she was being served, only for the surely acne ridden teenager inside to cut her off shouting, “We're a McDonald's! The fuck did you expect?”
As the third week of the test began Cassandra found herself trying to rub off headaches more and more. She was beginning to wonder if there could really be negative sides to the glasses- the sun looked too red, the light bulbs looked too yellow, she just wasn't used to it. But with no other stream of steady income, she continued to wear them, recording her thoughts on the process every day. Slowly and steadily, she noted she was indeed seeing a little better before putting the glasses on. Success seemed inevitable, though what cost would accompany it she did not know.
At a month into the project Miss Walsh received an unexpected visit from her parents. The three had been close since her childhood and she was elated to have someone else around her lonely little home.
And yet something was just... Different about Miss Walsh's mother. She couldn't put her finger on it, but something was wrong...
Cassandra Walsh had nightmares that night. She saw a woman-like creature with a tongue nearly down to her knees, drool dripping down her lips, her entire upper body composed of deep colored, half rotten breasts, swinging around as she startled what appeared to be a stalagmite embedded in the ground. Cassandra Walsh awoke with a shock, sweat dripping down her forehead, nearly unable to breath.
She knew it. The thing bore the face of her mother.
The mother she knew, as a child, she had seen with other men while her father was away on business trips... Why was she remembering this now, she wondered? It didn't make any sense... What was she thinking? What was she seeing?
The testing with the glasses continued and Cassandra Walsh only continued to find herself disillusioned. The streets looked dirtier, the fumes flying out the back of her car looked darker and more malevolent, what was it that was happening to the world? Fast food looked like nothing but slop, people on the streets looked mean spirited, ugly.
It couldn't have anything to do with her glasses... With this experiment... Could it?
As she sat with these thoughts, she jumped at the screech of her phone. Swallowing, she answered it.
“Hello there Miss Walsh, how are you doing this evening?”
“Is... Is this Bertram?” She asked carefully.
“I am pleased you remember me,” the voice said as if it was smiling. “Yes, I'm calling from Visions of the Future, how are you doing this evening?”
“I'm... I'm fine,” she assured him.
“Good, good,” Bertram said. “The tests are about at their halfway point now and I wanted to ask you a few questions about those glasses.”
“Su... Sure,” Cassandra Walsh hesitated. It had been days since she had left the house and days since she had worn the glasses. Her vision was better, indeed, but the world still just seemed all the more hellish.
“Have you worn them as instructed?”
“Are you keeping up with the journals alright?”
“Yes sir I am.”
“Have you attempted to go without the glasses at all?”
“Didn't you say you were from “Visions of Tomorrow?” when we first met?” There was a silence as the words slipped past Cassandra Walsh's mouth, her heart racing as she said it, anger building up in her. “Hello?! Just who the hell is this?!”
“You're quite astute Miss Walsh,” Bertram said. “Quite astute indeed.”
“Who the hell are you?! What the fuck did any of this mean? Just who is it you're working for and... And just what the fuck is going on?”
“We're a more... Independent business than we built up,” Bertram said. “I need to give you credit Miss Walsh, the other subjects cracked well before now, you're fairing very well.”
“Other- subjects?!” She was letting out horrified screams now. “What... What the fuck does any of that mean?! Who are you people?”
“That is none of your concern,” Bertram remarked.
“Bullshit! Just what is-”
“It is us who know you Miss Walsh,” the increasingly threatening but ever calm voice said. “We selected you for our tests because... Well, you're just so well grounded. Comfortable Atheist since high school, divorced your husband because you didn't want children... You even got kicked off the force because you liked to watch criminals writhe... You don't let anyone else's rules apply to you Miss Walsh, and that's a very... Logical way to live. And we've been looking for a very logical young woman like yourself.”
“Would you... Would you stop talking like that you fucking piece of shit?!” She screamed. “I'm not some subject of yours! How... How do you even know all those things?! Who are you people?!”
“Good bye Miss Walsh,” Bertram said. “I have much work left to do. I hope all is well with you these days, have a good night.”
“Wait!” She yelled. “Wait, please take these glasses back! I- I don't want them anymore!”
“You're only saying that because they managed to do their job,” Bertram said. “Have a good night Miss Walsh.”
Day after day did Miss Walsh remain in her house. She had thrown out the glasses but was now too terrified of what Bertram had said. What if her sight had been corrected? She couldn't go out, there was no way she just kept telling herself.
But she could only wait so long. She ripped open a bag of Doritos in her cupboard only to see tiny bits of green seemingly gnawing at the chips. In a grotesque stupor, she checking the expiration date- there were still weeks remaining, they were still good.
Knowing she couldn't keep forever, Cassandra Walsh searched the house for a pair of sunglasses and found some old black paint, using it to completely cover the lenses. Out into the night she walked. She knew a way to a little store on the corner by heart. She could get some resources, fresh ones exclusively, and keep herself alive until she could figure out something to do. She would walk, unable to be around the grunge of her car.
She was about halfway to the store when a beat up old BMW pulled by, a number of twenty-something year olds yelling out at her.
“Yo milf!” One of them yelled. “You headed anywhere in a hurry?” She ignored him.
“Hey lady, your husband said my dick is bigger than his, you wanna find out?” She began to move faster.
“Oooh, you hurrying now? Wait up chica, I like to take it slow!”
She was at a full run, but the car of laughing delinquents pulled forward and cut her off by pulling into an empty parking lot. She tried to run but the men were far too quick for her. She was out of shape, only managing to pepper spray one, crippling him quickly but the other two managed to beat her toward their car. She opened her mouth to scream but she could hear the sound of an opening switchblade and feel its cold steel pressing against her neck.
“Calm down crazy lady and climb in the car... We gonna go for a ride.”
They must have driven for an hour or so before they ripped the glasses off of her. Cassandra Walsh, bound to the ground, unable to move an inch could not stop screaming. Before her were what appeared to be three demons. Their tongues hung out and low, they all seemed to have hundreds of eyes covering their burning red bodies, all looking down at her. Their nails and teeth were all razor sharp and between all of their legs was another face, a roarful expression on across its lips as its tongue licked at the tears on her face.
“Relax there baby!” One of the beasts said. “We gonna be gentle... Real gentle, all over, all at once!”
There are still conflicting reports regarding what exactly happened the morning of April, 2009 in the tiny Californian community of Actis. When asked, only a few neighbors admitted to knowing anything about the resident of the house that came into question and only the paper boy recalled the sight of a stout little man with a long beard approaching the place surrounded by police and medical personnel.
Past various people arguing and sobbing he walked, no one seeming to give him any mind, as if he was not there at all. He slipped past all the yellow tape and made his way into the house, collecting a pair of spectacles out of a trash can and sliding them on as he examined the place. There was a trail of dirt left by the police and concerned relatives that led all around the house, but this man instinctively knew exactly where to go.
He found all he was looking for in the upstairs bathroom. He looked down at the ground, glasses on, and remarked to himself, “So beautiful it is... Truly so lovely, whatever anyone else says.”
There are no words for just what he saw with those glasses on, it was a sight simply of too much awe and wonder.
Though grimaced a tad at the misshapen, bloody metal tool lying next to it. Long, almost wire like.
He then glanced up and saw the room's mirror shattered into a million pieces, shaking his head a little, noting to the bloody handprints that seemed to cover the sink. He turned then to the other side of the room, noting a figure suspended by a rope, its head looking downward, its hands covered in blood.
“It is only a shame a thing of such beauty must share its space... With this worthless piece of hanging meat.”