The yellow, brown and green of her eyes blended into a sparkling hazel iris surrounding a perfect black set pupil. She stood on the edge of an aged grey brick bridge, one foot resting on a small wall which was the only barrier between her and the deep lake below. As she stood in the warm sun on this spring day, she took a creased and worn photograph out of her jeans pocket. The picture comprised a family portrait. A pretty, smiling mother pushing a small girl in a pram. The child’s eyes were closed as if asleep but she was laughing. A proud father, handsome in his work uniform, held a baby boy in his arms who was crying the natural tears of a hungry new-born. The young woman with the hazel eyes took the step up onto the short wall of the bridge and, as she did so, the photograph slipped from her hand into the water. Her eyes followed the path of the photograph as it landed and was washed away under the bridge. She turned her head up to the sky and felt the sun on her face.
Hazel Day, so called because of the colour of her eyes, was born without any optical implements at all, no eyeballs, no optical nerve, not even a connection to the brain. Everything else about Hazel was perfect. She was in the top percent of her university classes, she enjoyed sport and found playing the flute soothing. Hazel was not alone with this disability.
No one could not work out what was happening when children all over the world, from families of all ethnicities and backgrounds were born without eyes. At first, it was thought a freak occurrence or genetic mutation but, as the numbers grew, the worry increased exponentially. One ingenious man found what he though was the answer. Optical implants, which looked exactly like eyes, were attached to the brain in a new and innovative way. The collaboration between scientists, engineers and surgeons was world renowned. But for a few mishaps, almost every child who had the implant had survived, none had lived extraordinarily long lives but the quality of life was greatly improved for those who could not see. The optical implants gave instant 20/20 vision, which over time did fade but not much quicker than eyesight would fade as you or I grow older. Of course, spectacles were useless with these artificial eyes but eventually a solution to the error of longevity was found. Optical implants were implanted into every single child born without eyes until the children began to suffer with head-splitting migraines. Eventually, every child in the first cohort of experimental patients ended their lives screaming with the pain of white-hot headaches every day. Doctors could not work out what went wrong, and, if the scientists and engineers knew, they did not say.
The implant programme was pulled from all over the world. The doctors, scientists and engineers were left disgraced and with no hope of gaining funding to find a solution. They all disappeared without a trace, as did the remaining miracle implant children.
These miraculous scientific advances sealed the fate of each and every one of the young people trapped in this idyllic university setting with Hazel. The university was built so that the optical implants were protected from the harmful UV light of the real sun by a shield. This was the real engineering and scientific miracle. However, no engineer or scientist could take the credit because this university was built for children who were taken. The children were drugged to loose all memory of their previous life, given new names and a new identity and they lived like this, being looked after kindly by the people who had shattered their lives in the first place. They lived well and studied so that most aided the scientific advancement of the world, their world, around them oblivious to the outside world.
Detective Inspector Brown sat in his car, his right eye twitched but he ignored it. He had everything he needed to prove that this is where the children were being taken, but he didn’t understand why no one else see could see it. It didn’t take a lot to work out the connection. Missing scientists and missing children. Find one and you’ve got the other.
His phone began to ring, it was Bradley, his youngest. Damn. He answered but kept his eyes on the scene in front of him. When was Daddy coming home? Soon son, soon. Just after I’ve finished this assignment. Can Daddy speak to Mummy? OK. Your son misses you. You have a family here. Where are you? When will you be home? I don’t want to lose a husband as well as a daughter. Please… He was sorry but he had to go and he hung up the phone. He knew it all anyway. But he also knew that she was in there.
Something caught DI Brown’s attention and he picked up the binoculars on the seat next to him and gazed with a steely eye. There was a building in front of him, a large warehouse with big grey doors. Another blacked out van arrived at the doors. Another delivery he presumed. He noted this down in his notebook. As he watched the doors closing, his eye began to twitch again.
Hazel Day stood next to the crumbling bridge. She took a creased and worn photograph out of her jeans pocket which was comprised of a family portrait. Hazel looked blankly at the picture and the forbidden memories flooded back into her mind. The tears that could not flow prickled at the back of her eyes and, as Hazel took the step up onto the wall, she threw the photograph into the water. Her dim, stoic gaze followed the path of the photograph as it descended and eventually disappeared. Then Hazel turned her head to the artificial sky, closed her eyes and jumped.
Again, for THIS.