I glanced to the left to access the help manual and moved my eyes up and down to scroll through all of the options, searching for instructions on how to connect with social media. I couldn’t wait to show my friends that I was in the cool kids club. Finally, I found the link and blinked once to access it. Seconds later, a video began to play.
The woman in the video was hotter than I’d ever seen, but there was no sound. How did the sound work again? It had to be something in the lens. My friends had never mentioned ear buds or headphones or anything like that. I closed my eyes to let the system reboot again. Maybe I hadn’t kept them shut long enough the first time. I squeezed my eyes tight. So tight my eyelids pressed my eyeballs into my skull. So tight, I saw red at the edges of my vision. I held my breath and counted to thirty.
When the pain came, it wasn’t just a pinch and it wasn’t just the corner of my eye. Searing pain erupted from my eyeballs, sweeping like flame across my face. It felt like something was clawing at my eyeballs, digging through them and into my skull. My eyes shot open and liquid rushed down my face. At first, I thought that they were tears, but when I looked in the mirror and saw the red lines tracing down my face, I realized it was blood.
Panicking, I grabbed at my eyeballs, trying to swipe the lens out, but they wouldn’t budge. Instead, they burrowed deeper, moving towards my skull. I clawed in desperation, trying to stop it anyway I could. In seconds, I felt the digging sensation inside my skull. The pain was so excruciating, I collapsed to the floor.
I rolled over on my back and that was all the movement I could manage. Anything more sent jagged, knife-like pain flashing through my body. I was helpless; there was no way that I could stop the burrowing. These lenses were killing me and all I could think was why didn’t my friends tell me.
“Rex. Rex.” It took me a minute to realize that the voice wasn’t a figment of my imagination. It took me another second to realize that it was my friend Seth and it was coming from inside my head.
“Is that you?” I asked the question aloud.
“It’s me. We’re all here.”
“Why?” I didn’t even have to say the whole thing.
“We wanted you to be with us.” When he said it, it was like a curtain went up and I could hear and see them all. Not just Seth. Not just the other guys, but thousands and thousands of others. People I didn’t know. Their voices were all there and, somehow, their voices were all one. Behind them was something larger and different. It wasn’t human and it held them all together. Not held, bound.
“Was any of it true?”
“All that we told you and more. Just rest. It will be over soon.”
Everything went dark.