The Eyepatch

by MW Cook

This is something I wrote in response to a writing exercise once.  It’s been sitting on my hard drive for a while.  I thought I’d share it with you. 
            The package came earlier than I had expected.  There was no return address, but the Eagle seal confirmed what it was.  I took it from the Deliverer and walked back into the den.  The Deliverer stayed in the open doorway, watching me, its video cameras sending my reaction to whoever was watching.  I tried to smile as I opened the package, though my hands trembled.
            A note lay inside, its Eagle crest gleaming and shining up at me, a beacon of a hope and a freedom defined by other men.  It read:
Valued citizen,
            Our records show that your Media Inlet Device (MID) has been misplaced and/or destroyed.  This is your replacement.  You will be pleased to know that it is an upgraded version and has already been calibrated to your unique Citizen Code Number.  For your own safety, peace and protection, be sure to inform the Deliverer of your intention to wear the MID and, as soon as possible, follow through with that intention.  If you happen to lose your MID again we will authorize you for a Secure MID (SMID) which will be irremovable.
                                    Peace and Safety,
                        The Ministry of Homeland Security and Entertainment
            I looked up through the doorless entrance to my apartment and forced a smile at the Deliverer.  Its mechanical eyes focused on me, reading my expression and probably registering my stress levels and temperature and the like.
            “Oh good,” I said.  “It’s finally here.”  I looked down at the box again and pulled the packing insulation aside.  And there it lay.  That thing.  The fact that it looked just like an old pirate-style eye patch struck me as tragically ironic.  It conjured up images of swashbuckling adventurers, leaping from plank to plank in glorious freedom, willing to risk an eye for that that freedom.  But as the eye patch was a symbol of the price to be paid for freedom, so the MID, made in its image, was a symbol of the price to be paid for…for what?  Safety?  A type of peace?
            The Deliverer twitched, mimicking impatience.
            “I’m putting it on now.”  I told it, picking it up.  It had no strap and felt like cheap cloth.  Without daring to hesitate I placed it over my right eye and felt the familiar vacuum seal as it attached itself to my face.
            It was stupid, what I had done.  I realized that even as I did it.  Completely illogical, really.  But I think it had to be done anyway.  We’re not defined only by reason and logic like the Deliverers are.  It’s our ability to work contrary to and even above our reason that makes us truly human.  I think I’ve written about that in the past, before privately run publishing companies were banned.  So I had done the stupid thing.  I had thrown away my MID.  I could hardly sleep the night after I had done it.  I was so used to the damned programming that I couldn’t relax without it.  The very fact that I had depth perception again was almost nauseating.  A sign of the growing dependency on dependency, I suppose.
            The programming began almost immediately, after a brief flicker and a security check.  The MID sent the images directly into the retina of my right eye.  I saw The Man again, with his plastic grin.  I cried out, in spite of myself.
            “You missed me?”  The Man asked.
            “Yes,” I sniffed.
            “Be sure not to lose your MID again,” he warned.  “Some might think you did it on purpose, that perhaps you are not completely loyal to the cause of liberty.”
            “It won’t happen again,” I said.
            “I’m sure it won’t.  Now, how about some News?”
            “That would be nice.”
            The Man faded away, replaced by the government-appointed newscasters, telling me glorious things about the War on Terror, the economic boom and the utopian society we lived in.  Things were back to normal, I realized.  A very comfortable, safe and lifeless normal.
            The Deliverer rolled away.  I stood and watched it go down the hall.  It faded into the distance, rolling past open doorway after open doorway.  I sat down and wept.  The newscaster tried to cheer me up by telling me about the thousands of people killed that day who were somehow different from me.
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