Short, interrelated sequence of fictions centered around the Third Eye.
The frequency of the three-eyed humans seems to vary inversely with the rate of our development. There is a saying that need is the mother of invention. Not always: the third eye is the real gateway to innovation, for it frees our shackled thoughts. How ironic it is, that even though we have come closest to our goal to achieve a perfect, harmonious society at the zenith of civilization, unlocking the wondrous mysteries of the universe and allowing the flowers of our intellect to blossom at their full height, at the same moment that vision eludes us? How come it is that the most evolved form of democracy leads to the most insidious oppression, the Power of the Majority, the Spear of the General Public? No longer do the people see the spirits in the stars; no longer do they hear the voices and the vitality within the streams. No, they hush themselves and others, attach themselves to machines and sing odes praising the great memorization, just because someone they worship proved that Earth happens to be a spheroid and light happens to have wave-particle duality, for the heralds of discovery have once again become its oppressors, as in the days when Earth was a disk and the sky spun around it. With their third eye skewered by fear of being inaccurate or inappropriate, everyone becomes inured to information, merely siphoning it like vacuum cleaners instead of digesting it and fashioning their bodies with it like living organisms should. Every day is a struggle, with the dying world bereft of color as we walk our cycles like wanton automatons, not knowing the universe beyond our own spheres of darkest night that encase and constrain our mind. We have to shatter our own shells like the god Abraxas hatching out of its egg and look closely at the early morning leaves, revel in both its perfect representation of refreshing greenness and its tantalizing asymmetry that our enemies call imperfect. The motif maliciously misnamed imperfection nests within every single one of us, and it always will be inseparable from all matter, for it is in truth not a disfigurement but a vital essence that endows us with diversity. This idea is what rewards us with the constant renewal that is evolution. Evolution always contains the threat of demise, thus sometimes we have to dare death and endure hardship to be free, as through our fears we become trapped by mere mirages of hypothetical cliffs, binding ourselves with our own ropes. No one stops us anymore but us, for we have managed to shed all other shackles with our third eye. We destroyed feudalism and the caste systems. We shattered the hold of religion on free expression. We fought with fascism and rose up through the flames. We even ended the most insidious attempts of censorship, all the sinister surveillance, sophistry, shady deals, and schemes under the very guise of a lawful government that those of influence formulated to make our freedom a mere fade and tear us apart to fight one another. All of them have been vanquished, and this is the final frontier. So, my fellow humans, my message is simple. In case you understood my message, please open the third eye that you have kept hidden for so long! Don't let your community cover it and snap your wings!
In this psychic ward are patients. They are deluded and highly dangerous. If any of them get out into society, they will disrupt the fabric of the orderly, rational world and perhaps even destroy it entirely. But rest assured. Our triensoculoectomy procedure called "l’école" has a near-100% success rate, if applied from early childhood. After all, we have evolved enough, and we are no longer children of the forest. No one needs the aid of these so-called "imagination" or "curiosity" anymore in the idealized structure at equilibrium. The outdated terms are just made-up words embodying the quest and need for us to sophisticate our knowledge. Now that it has been established in full, with all the lingering darkness purged, stepping out of its boundaries would lead to chaos, confusion, fear, and destruction. Everyone just needs to understand the well-planned out "codes of life" and live according to them. Curiosity has always killed the cat, and as in the case of Salvador Dali, imagination warps our world out of shape and is only a sliver away from madness. Why give yourself migraines as you think politics, philosophy, and other jargon or mystery that takes away your time and effort just like filling up a sieve with sand? Guy Montag tried that several times already, and he failed, quite miserably, driving dear Beatty mad and killing him in the process. Why have your muscles tear and regenerate each day just like the Promethean liver as you put it to strain in countless exercises when you can just inject a serum to get the desired tissue formation? Why choose such masochistic methods of development, when we can shelter our bodies and minds in comfort zones so no one would need to get hurt any longer? In fact, we no longer even need centralized control or workforce; we already have the power to upload our conscious, leaving our shells of organic matter as fuel for the machines and use high-tech in-vitro fertilization and gene therapy to maintain a healthy species that is highly advanced, specialized yet simultaneously adaptive. The young can provide maintenance for the quantum computers until they mature, after which they can make a choice of joining the Conscious Web or form unit families, though if they remain corporeal they will need routine cell exosome content inspection to detect and cure deleterious diseases as well as run probability algorithms on each of their action's safety due to the inevitable innate imperfections within biochemistry and the material realm. Of course, nothing is incalculable or unsolvable at this point, except the persistent self-proclaimed rebels of the Third Eye that are still boldly and foolishly waging war against us in the desolate rye fields, but it's just a pain to deal with all the troubles of the flesh when all good things from dazzling adventures and gourmet meals to fulfilling hobbies and life-long occupations could already be tailored effortlessly for everyone's pleasure in much higher resolution in the digital domain, not to mention being able to join and access an indestructible Cloud of shared intellect. That's all for just the little price of having to think less, which is really more of a gift. So, what is your take? Is a mere vestigial remnant of a mindset worth abandoning this perfectly picturesque paradigm of paradise!?
The Teenage Girl
It all started out as a normal day unlike any other. The sky had a poignantly soft blue hue, and I was walking steadily along a strangely deserted road. Suddenly, I saw the massive eye suspended in the sky. Its iris was sapphire, flickering like flames in a bizarre imitation of a corona eclipse. Strangely, I felt... curious, as I saw it hovering motionless above me. There was an eerie moment of silence, as I stood still in queer anticipation. Then, a sleek, obsidian needle shot out from within the pupil, shattering the perfect, round surface of the eye and penetrating my forehead. There was an explosion of colors quickly fading into monochrome white, followed by an enveloping blanket of blackness.
I woke up, lying in the middle of a crossroad. I was stunned, afraid and insecure, like a chick that just hatched out of an egg without its mother's warmth, but as usual, the world was oblivious to my changes, so I was able to keep being a reticent teenage girl, hidden once more in the indifferent crowd.
Then, I saw the first "visage" of the world. I was walking to school silently, hidden in a long coat as usual, when a woman slithered past me as if she was made of latex. I looked ahead, instinctively, to see an aggregation of writhing humans forming a translucent jelly-like mass as if they were amoeboid cells forming the stalk of a slime mold. As I walked closer, the faces of my father and Mr. Kaufmann, his coworker, became clear to me from within the amalgamation. Their skins were pale and their eyes stared into nothing, even as their claylike bodies contorted and mingled in the most bizarre and violent manner I had ever seen. They were shouting a unintelligible message in a cacophonous voice. I was struck with an innate sense of horror, but a macabre fascination incited me to keep on approaching. When I did, I heard thousands of mouths chanting continuously in unison as I shrank in terror: "Ode to the corporation! Ode to Das Kapital! Death to all those who oppose our might! Ode -"
The last thing I saw before I lost consciousness was a satanic anthropomorphic form with five red bulbs for eyes and a gigantic vermiform proboscis protruding from its cavernous mouth. From the corner of my eye, I saw something separate from the wriggling mass and run towards me, but I couldn't tell. After what seemed like ages immersed senselessly in an abyss of denial, I woke up in a hospital wing under a pale, white light synonymous to my state of mind. My father was standing next to me, concerned, and broke out in a warm smile after seeing I was alright. He told me that just as he was going into his firm, he saw my fallen body in the middle of the road. To think of the horror he had resisted to be here, and has to go back to for my sake! Ah, how I would like to reciprocate his love! How I wish it had all been only a violent nightmare! How I desperately yearn to forget what my dad has become a part of in order to fend for me!
No, I now had the third eye, and it could not be closed. In the mirror I saw it wide open, no matter how many times I washed my face and tried to wake up from the nightmare. As the boys advanced towards me I ran away, seeing in their places rutting stallions serving the god Priapus. In a vast space of gathering lived a gigantic raven for us all to behold, perched on the podium and screeching about sugar candy as I saw the duplicates of the hellish screaming figure from Munch's The Scream beside me pouring out their anguish and vices in the form of fat, oozing leeches from their mouths. In the news I saw a killer with a swastika on his arm and a crescent moon on his shirt salivating as he strapped bombs on kids (to cook them raw, not send them to the purported Valhalla "where the maidens await") being narrated by a woman with a falsely expressionless mask that was artificially colored red as she showed another picture of bleating Goldstein with the face of a lamb. Mr. Smith from The Matrix watched over every street, arm in arm with Mr. Sengupta from Chupwala, filling the dimensions like the faceless clones in Magritte's L'Assassin Menacé, set to capture only Magwitch and never Sir Compeyson. Men and women wore elegant white smiling masks on their faces to hide their teeth gnashing incessantly with hatred, fighting over paper with the insignia of the Illuminati as they spoke a language of ether and vapor. A green Gollum prowled in the dark corners, lurking in the shadows to lust, steal and kill. Lady Death, so serene and beautiful, whispered about life's dark ironies as she crushed a human-sized cockroach that strangely reminded me of Mr. Gregor Samsa, a gentle but skinny and tired-looking man who had lived next door to me but mysteriously vanished about six weeks ago. A centipede with the face of a kind lady told her daughter, the Siren, to woo men then drop them from a cliff so that she could step over their carcasses and seize the nonexistent throne with her claws. But the worst of all the demons I saw were the towering manifestations that formed whenever humans bonded together. They took all kinds of forms, from Association, a monstrous colossus with five red impersonal eyes and a sickly, hideous proboscis to Deceptions, colorful yet diabolical hummingbirds with human bodies in suits skewering those entranced with their sharp beaks, Malice, jet black orbs with innumerable sharp red spikes as tongues, Fears, icy blue balls of fire shrieking ominously in the dusk, emanating a trail of darkness in their path, and Hysteria, a gigantic, emaciated slit-mouthed woman on all fours crawling blindly in a mad frenzy while screaming continuously and shedding bloodred tears, all of them ruthlessly absorbing or ripping to shreds the small, innumerable monstrosities crawling upon the surface of the earth charred black by the interminable cycle of life's bitter war.
My own body was a swirling mixture of alternating arctic and black, except for my pale face and jet-black hair. I had six very thin, feathery white wings. I flew over the carnage, a silent seraph, uncertain of my fate and mind except that I wished to dissociate myself from the inferno. Strange, I said to myself, strange that the world below is so insane, yet so normal; all the man-made safety restraints still exist, yet in front of my eyes the agonized demons in hordes swarm. Perspectives sure matter, don't they? It is a bright sunny burning hellish day. Sugar is sweet, yet it can spontaneously combust in the right environments; fire that helps you devour others can also devour you; clowns are so enjoyable one moment but oddly seem pedophilic in another; cyanide smells like almond one second yet stops your heart in the next. Am I the screaming woman running away from intangible shadows in the deserted street, will this make them sane? But why is the road deserted? What happened to the humane world they chant about? Who are "they?" Who am I? Am I even sixteen, or a thousand years old? Am I merely a figment of a sadistic god's imagination? Are we all marionettes in an autonomous play, acting out our parts in the inescapable setting of disorder? Is the Third Eye the chancellor of corruption, or the herald of Truth? But what is "truth?" Can there be one? Don't our soldiers also kill? Isn't a nightshade as deadly as it is beautiful? All that said, a tainted being myself, could I accept and even love the hellish world below? Can I really fit myself into the oppressive order of society?
Thus I, now a restless wraith, flew over the dismal world. Finally, I could not bear it any longer. I reached higher, where the stars seemed to await me...
I collided hard with an invisible wall and almost knocked myself out. Looking around frantically, I could make out the shimmering, transparent surface of a spherical force field stretching past into the horizon and trapping us within the Earth. Oh, the magnificent illusion of the sky!
Then, I felt a jarring stab in the back and plummeted back to earth. An inverted jellyfish formed from my schoolmates watched as an inactive, translucent mass facing the sky, while a few of them stretched and morphed into towering poison barbs attacking everything outside of them. So I could not stay above, after all. The world, itself hideous, could not accept my heathen form. I was broken, black blood dripping from my partially crushed body and disintegrating wings that were alien to myself and abominable to all others. I laughed and cried with bittersweet joy, stabbed by the pangs of torment and abandonment but feeling the end of my nightmare was near. But is not life itself a long dream, after all. I longed to return to the age of innocence, when the strangers were kind. But is innocence not a synonym of ignorance? How are you so sure that the stranger wasn't a predator? When there were kindred spirits hiding inside every single corner. You really thought Santa was real? What about the flying spaghetti monster? When our country was just. That was what people thought too when Stalin was in charge. When winning was pure and sweet. Don't deceive yourself; it was schadenfreude. When peace was real. Peace is the silence in the jungle after the antelope has submitted and the jaguar has feasted. When everything was a new adventure! Yeah, life was far better when the Earth was flat. When my parents only smiled and comforted each other! Well, right after they checked you were asleep, they went right back to bickering about finances, which somehow led to them enjoying the primal, all-powerful rituals of the sex, like all other irrational entities. Come on, don't you yourself feel the urge of lust?
"Nooooo!" I shrieked, unable to tolerate myself any longer. Then everything turned into a swirl. The peals of laughter from my classmates surrounding me right now, the delicious veal steak which its mother cried over for three days, all the beautiful, bizarre paintings, songs, and bedtime stories... spiraling down into my subconscious. Darkness descended, with its cold but deceptively soothing wings...
Out of the void I saw a hand. I reached out and held it, instinctively. It was warm. I looked up... to see a boy just like me, six wings of white, body holding a swirl of grey and black, silver hair, slender face, and the Third Eye.
I stared at him, into his olive eyes that seemed to hold the essence of life within its depth, locked in a warm, gentle gaze that cradled my ragged, wounded body bloodied and curled up into a fetal position. He helped me up and embraced me gingerly. Suddenly, I felt my wounds closing with a sweet, tingling sensation in their place. The ground felt surprisingly firm.
And we danced together in a silent, subdued tango, the solemn Dance of Life. It was a bond without words. I leaned against him, and him to me. I understood then. He, too, was awake and lonely in the cold, barren earth. We clasped hands, and soared together into the black, indifferent sky. Closing our eyes, we shattered the glass wall of normality. We did not care that the stars were actually angler fishes. What mattered was that we were not one of them, or at least we thought we weren't. What mattered was that we were together, free from the Tyranny of the Majority. I was his newfound best friend in a world we created from our incomplete halves, wherein infinite possibilities lay.