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Eyes Are The Windows

If you look too closely, you might not like what you see.

By Donna ReneePublished 8 months ago Updated 8 months ago 10 min read
Top Story - September 2023
Eyes Are The Windows
Photo by Yan Berthemy on Unsplash

November 1st, 2088

2:00 pm

Psychiatric Medicine Convention

Conference Room 205

“Colleagues, I am honored to be here today to present the results of our decades long study into the depths of the human mind. Before I walk you through the study methodology, I need to set the scene,” the scientist said in a dramatic stage voice.

A few audience members groaned and rolled their eyes. Theatrics were unnecessary. They preferred the dry presentation style more common in academia.

“I want you to look back on your lives and try to remember,” he continued, “Have you ever woken up from a dream that was so vivid, so real that it haunts you to this day? Have you ever been very ill and had a bit too much cold medicine, and hallucinated another life?”

Crickets from the audience…so he tried again. “Or perhaps you were just, ‘under the influence’ of something else, and felt like you’d completely lost yourself?”

More crickets. This was harder than he had anticipated. The after lunch presentation slot was a difficult one. He scanned the audience. Fortunately, no one was asleep yet.

“Ever experienced a horrific trauma and had an out-of-body experience?”

Someone yawned. Undeterred, he soldiered on, faster now. Perhaps some lighter examples would be better.

“Ever tried a new sport and felt certain that you’d played it before? Read a book and known how it would end? Seen a movie for the first time and predicted the unpredictable twist? Read about a child prodigy who plays the piano like they’ve been doing it for a lifetime? Met a child who seems like such an old soul, or who talks about their spouse and their own children? Creepy little shits sometimes, right?”

Finally a few audience members chuckled. Good, the scientist thought, he had a few of them biting now, so he set his hook.

“Ever sat with someone as they died and counted the number of souls?”

January 9th, 2028

9:27 am

Mercy Methodist Hospital

Room 904

Twelve year old Evan sat in the stiff vinyl chair in the cold hospital room, waiting at his grandfather's bedside. He watched heavy hearted as the withered old man he had loved for his entire life faded even further away. He was breathing so slowly that Evan had been sure he was dead three times already that morning. The twinkling blue eyes that had captivated Evan as a little boy were closed as Papap slept, but occasionally they fluttered open and cast about the room in confusion. There, they were doing it again now!

Evan sucked in a breath. He was disturbed to see that they had changed. The deep azure wells were now more like sunken, stagnant, murky pools of evaporating rainwater. The spark within had very nearly gone out. It wouldn't be long now. At least, that's what he had heard the doctors whisper to his father as they gathered outside of the hospital room door. Evan closed his own blue eyes and sighed.

"Son? Is that you?" a voice croaked beside him.

"Papap, I'm here. It's me, Evan!" Evan couldn't believe it. Papap hadn't spoken in days but his voice was clear, although apparently he was confusing Evan for his father.

"Evan? Who is Evan? Where is Jacob?" the old man blinked rapidly as if coming back into his body after a long dream. His eyes scanned the room, and then closed again.

Evan didn’t know who Jacob was but he decided that it didn’t matter at the moment.

"Let me get Dad and the doctors. I'll be right back, Papap!" Evan pulled his legs away from the sticky vinyl with a squelching sound and stood.

Suddenly, Papap sat bolt upright in his bed. His eyes flew open and darted back and forth, flashing like knives in the sun, catching the slim rays of sunlight scattered about the room. His eyes locked onto Evan with fear, confusion, and rage. No, Evan noticed with sickening realization, those were not his Papap’s eyes...

"Where am I? Who are you? Where's Vanessa!?"

"Um, Vanessa?"

"My wife! Where is she?” the man shouted at him. “She was right beside me, we were driving back from the party and…there were lights and it was so cold. I just don’t… I can't remember!"

"Nana's name was Marie, Papap... who is Vanessa?" Evan felt a chill dance along his spine as he slowly backed away from the bed, eyes locked in the angry gaze of the skeletal man in the bed.

Papap was delusional, and he was shockingly angry. Evan had never seen him like this before! The dementia must be progressing, he thought, or maybe Papap was due for more medication? He needed to get the doctors. He turned to hurry out the door but just as quickly as the agitation had begun, it was over. He heard a heavy sigh, like a soul leaving a body, and looked back at his grandfather’s face. The old man’s eyes misted over and he sank back against the pillows, his rapid breathing once again slowing to the glacial pace of before.

He died within the hour, never again regaining consciousness.

Evan’s nightmares of his grandfather’s disturbing last moments haunted him throughout his teen years. “Just the dementia, hallucinations are quite common, nothing to worry about, probably side effects of the medications” and such well intentioned empty platitudes did nothing to calm the sickening, churning feeling that Evan experienced whenever he remembered Papap’s eyes.

He knew, absolutely, no doubt… those were NOT his Papap’s eyes.

March 3rd, 2086

8:58 pm

West Virginia University

Dr. Hawkins Lab

The man came running into the lab, a living stereotype of an aging scientist with his white coat flapping, pens in every pocket, an untidy stack of notes clutched in his hands, wild graying hair, and thick glasses perched on his nose.

“Oh my god, Andrea, I just finished the analysis using the new protocols,” he paused and locked eyes with his young protégé, “There were eighteen.”

“That’s impossible, the most we’ve seen is four, and one of those was only present for a second.”

“I ran the analysis three times, check my work if you want but I’m telling you, the last subject had eighteen unique patterns.”

“But he was only thirty years old… the youngest subject yet, by decades!”

“I don’t know what to tell you, Andrea, check the damn data and then argue with me, ok?”

The petite brunette took the proffered stack of papers that Evan Hawkins was shaking in her face but did not examine them.

“You’re sure?”

“As sure as I’ve been of anything.”

“We need to reanalyze the data from the other subjects.”

“Already have it running.”

The older researcher sat down with a huff, missing his chair completely in his distraction. He didn’t even bother to get up from the floor. He just kept staring at Andrea, his mind clearly running away with the implications of the discovery. She studied his face… was it excitement? Or were his eyes dilated for another reason?

“Oh my god, Evan what did you do?”

“Andrea, I also think we should–”

“No! Absolutely not.”

“I already took the serum.”

“Fuck it all, Evan, why would you do that?”

“I NEED to know, Andrea.”

“But the effects on someone healthy like you could be dangerous, hell, they could be deadly! I’m calling the medics, you absolute shit. Participation in the study is restricted to the terminally ill for a fucking reason! Repressing your consciousness to allow the others to surface could have unimaginable effects!”

Evan just nodded. He had expected her reaction.

“Well, can you at least record the waves for me once I lose consciousness? Please, Andrea? We shouldn’t waste the data.”

Andrea glared at him but nodded. She grabbed him by the elbow and hauled him to his feet. The drug cocktail was hitting faster than he had expected but he knew that she would make sure he made it to the machine to record the data. He’d known she wouldn’t pass up an opportunity like this, even if it was against the research guidelines and rules of the lab as well. After all, she was a scientist too.

March 4rd, 2086

10:35 am

West Virginia University

Dr. Hawkins Lab

Andrea patted Evan’s hand lightly. His eyes fluttered open and he took a ragged breath.

“How many?” he croaked.

“Twenty six. Now, you need to rest, we can talk about it later.”

“Twenty six patterns or…?” his question trailed off.

Andrea sighed. She knew resting was out of the question for her mentor.

“Twenty six distinct patterns were recorded. Of those though, nine distinct personalities emerged long enough for me to get any specifics.”

“And?” he prompted, his voice still weak.

She sighed, “They were confused, they were scared, and they had no idea where they were or why. And no, they didn’t know that they were dead.”


“For most of them, and even some basic demographics. Several languages were recorded as well, I haven’t had time to run the translations yet.”

“Good. We can find out who they were then, and how and when they died. I’d bet my life that they all died unexpectedly, unprepared.”

Andrea was silent, her face ashen, she was clearly shaken from her encounter with the partially departed souls.

“Something else, Andrea?” Evan asked, gently.

“There were…I’m not sure, but there were…others.”

“What? Other souls?”

“Oh my god, Evan, I think they were children, maybe even infants,” she whispered in horror.

“That’s not unexpected, Andrea. We discussed that possibility,” he stated firmly but not without compassion.

“I know that,” she snapped, “Obviously, I KNOW that babies have souls too and that those souls aren’t mature enough to understand or be “prepared” for death but… it was so horrible, Evan. The tears, the crying out for their Mamas… we should have just left them alone. This isn’t right! I’m going to be sick.”

Andrea ran from the room, covering her mouth, tears streaming down her cheeks.

November 1st, 2088

3:05 pm

Psychiatric Medicine Convention

Conference Room 205

No one was yawning now and there was a low buzz of muted conversation in the conference room. No one even cared that the presenter had gone over his allotted time. Several hands were already thrust into the air for follow-up questions.

“So, as you can imagine, the ethical considerations of continuing this line of research are immense. The paper that my associate and I will be publishing is sure to spark many other areas of research and also to ignite many debates. Repressing the primary consciousness of an individual in order to communicate with the other inhabitants is not something to be done lightly but it is something that we believe may have great significance in the areas of psychology, law enforcement, history, and religion as well. The International Ethics Committee is currently debating this but I have no doubts that my life’s work is about to be shelved, at least for some time. However, I have no regrets, as I finally have the answer to the question of what happened to my grandfather as he lay dying. So, in conclusion, thank you very much, and as people have said for centuries… Eyes truly are the windows… the windows to the souls.

Short StorySci FiPsychologicalHorrorCONTENT WARNING

About the Creator

Donna Renee

Hi! Thanks for reading! My hobbies include making coffee, drinking coffee, and starting to write a story and then rage-deleting it when I get the slightest bit frustrated.

Work in Progress: WOWH, cozy mystery (paranormal elements)


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Excellent work. Looking forward to reading more!

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  1. Excellent storytelling

    Original narrative & well developed characters

  2. Easy to read and follow

    Well-structured & engaging content

  3. Eye opening

    Niche topic & fresh perspectives

  1. Heartfelt and relatable

    The story invoked strong personal emotions

  2. Masterful proofreading

    Zero grammar & spelling mistakes

  3. Compelling and original writing

    Creative use of language & vocab

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    Writing reflected the title & theme

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Comments (42)

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  • Donna Fox (HKB)7 months ago

    Donna, have you ever seen Maniac? (It’s on Netflix and stars Jonah Hill and Emma Stone.) The intro of this story immediately brought that show to mind for me! But that is where the similarities end and your very unique story begins! I love that the is set in the not so distant future and I love how realistic it feels too! I like the way you have the narrative jump through time, giving us snippets of a much bigger story and allowing us to have insights on what built the foundation of Evan’s story! This was so engaging and captivating!! throughly enjoyed it!! Great work Donna!!

  • L.C. Schäfer7 months ago

    Got properly sucked in to this one 😁

  • Lena Folkert7 months ago

    This was truly original and thought provoking. I loved the peek inside your mind through their peek inside the babies minds. If that makes sense. Anyway. This was stunningly clever and sad. Beautiful job!

  • Veronica Coldiron7 months ago

    What a unique look at this not being all there is! I LOVE this concept.

  • S. A. Crawford7 months ago

    This is such an interesting concept and you pulled it off so well. Also as an academic, I got a chuckle out of the opening scene; those conferences are tough as hell.

  • Syeda Razi Fatima7 months ago

    you deserve to join the Vocal Awards

  • Phil Flannery7 months ago

    I love the concept and the execution. Not much more to say other than, well done and thanks for the great read

  • AL. K.7 months ago

    That’s fantastic, eyes really are like windows, I remember the saying! 😊👍🏻

  • Novel Allen7 months ago

    What an interesting concept. Pretty scary area of study. A new chilling aspect of multiple personalities and lives. interesting indeed. Congrats on TS and Leaderboard.

  • Congratulations 🎉 LeaderBoard🎉

  • Tiffany Gordon 8 months ago

    Fabulous work Donna! Congrats on your Top Story!

  • Congratulations 🎉 🎉🎉🎉🎉🎉🎉🎉🎉

  • Judey Kalchik 8 months ago

    Well done, and you stopped at the perfect place for the reader to instinctively cry out for more!

  • Ahna Lewis8 months ago

    Commenting again to say congrats on your Top Story!!

  • Rob Angeli8 months ago

    Concept is wonderful, you made a really great narrative out of this, pretty chilling. Congrats on Top Story!

  • This was so well done, congrats on the top story Donna

  • Kristen Balyeat8 months ago

    Ohhhhhhh, Donna, I had goosebumps through this entire piece! What a brilliant story line, and as always, you wrote it so beautifully! I sat with my grandmother over 14 days as she slowly died, refusing all medication. Toward the end she said/saw things that boggled my mind. I still see it all very vividly, and your opener reminded me of that time– not at all in a negative way, but a beautiful one. Fantastic piece, Donna!!! Love your writing! 💞💫💞

  • Cathy holmes8 months ago

    This is fascinating. Would make a great movie, or series. Well done, my friend. Congrats on the TS.

  • Back to say congratulations! ✨✨✨✨✨✨✨✨✨

  • Jazzy 8 months ago

    I’m so glad this got Top Story!

  • Hannah Moore8 months ago

    Great story, well done.

  • Whoaaaa! I think my favourite part were the babies crying for their moms. I'm sorry, in my defense, I'm a psychopath 🤣 This story was so creative and I love the concept of consciousness and the sudden death. Brilliant job. Congratulations on your Top Story!

  • Wow that was compelling, I keep thinking of possibilities for where the story could go… One of those souls coming back to take over now that they have been awoken! Exceptionally well done Donna!

  • Rachel Deeming8 months ago

    Great story. I have had a few moments of déjà vu in my lifetime and they always get me speculating about reincarnation or who I really am. Found this very interesting. Congrats on a well deserved TS.

  • Addison M8 months ago

    Neat concept and captivating format. Kept it interesting all the way through. Good work and congrats on the top story. Well earned I'd say.

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