The Beholder's Eye | Verso.ink

The Beholder's Eye

By Austen Miller Aceituna

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Near Future

To say the events of the last year have been a shock to many would be an understatement for the ages. What has happened has changed not only our bodies but our minds. Every facet of society is different than it once was. Though more than a few would rather these events be forgotten, a record of the Great Change and its consequences must be created. It may pain some to see such recent hardships published in this way, but the further we wait the further these events fall into obscurity.

On March 21, 20XX at 15:47 (GMT) the body of every individual human was permanently changed. Many theories abound for the cause of this alteration, but the effects appear to be quite obvious. Our bodies all now appear to very exactly fit the specific aesthetic and sexual tastes of some other unknown person.

Many, perhaps even most, would have welcomed such a change beforehand. A handful argues its benefits even now. They are typically those fortunate enough to have suffered little. The rest of us now live transformed by shallow lust. Our bodies morphed into whatever ridiculous shapes someone else thought delightful. Our bitterness is matched only by our shame.

The most popular theories at the moment tend to center on the… magical. Though essentially unprovable, the “soul-mate” theory has virtually universal acceptance due to the… specificity of the changes. The entire scientific community has been flummoxed by the Great Change to the point that hundreds of years of theory about empiricism and objectivity have been called into question. Why would the bodies of 7 billion humans go through metamorphosis all at the same time? Why did the process and the results vary so wildly? Why were no other species affected? Neither biology nor physics has anything but wild speculation to offer. The proliferation of the somewhat comical theory of an adolescent boy’s last wish from a genie for us all to “everyone to be perfect for each other” is, to be quite frank, as good as any other and better than most.

The pain of that transformation is still far too fresh for many people. Most bodies were forced to burn the equivalent of tens of thousands of calories in a matter of minutes. For a few, it was a bit slower though no less unpleasant as they were mindlessly compelled to binge eat kilo upon kilo of whatever was at hand until they reached some specific weight. As waists and biceps narrowed or bulged, bones broke themselves and reformed. Jaws fractured to become square or more delicate. Teeth ripped their gums apart and aligned into perfect rows. Fingers elongated and the unseemly arches of feet cracked themselves into conformity.

A global disruption such as our entire civilization going into convulsions, panic, and pain all at once was thankfully less catastrophic than might have been expected. The death toll, however, still numbers in the thousands from car and plane crashes alone. Some call this the true impact of the event and our changed appearances mere insult to injury. I remain thankful that a nuclear war was not triggered by any hysterical military leaders separated, possibly for hours, from their entire chain of command.

With such dramatic and personally painful changes, the less profound alterations have gone somewhat unnoticed. The widespread changes to eye, skin, and hair color. The disappearance of scars, moles, pimples, warts, and every other kind of skin blemish. The growth of new hair or sudden ejection of old (typically on the head and body respectively).

These “lesser” changes, though certainly less traumatic, are likely to have incredibly far-reaching consequences. The grief of families who can no longer recognize one another is only the beginning. The demographics of almost every nation have irrevocably changed. Unconscious preferences have been laid painfully bare. World-wide a massive increase in light-colored eyes and fair complexions has been observed, with the ironic exception of the countries where those phenotypes were already the case and the opposite has been observed. Prejudices spread by a global media, once theorized, are now a contentious reality, though thankfully not one any groups can act on as the very idea of “race” has been turned into something of a bad joke.

Those differences that all of us have had to go through pale in comparison to that poor minority who have been cruelly dubbed “the fetished”. These people have been dealt a harsher hand than most, having been permanently altered in such severe ways that many have shut themselves away. Limbs lost or added, various body parts shrunken and enlarged, and far far worse for many. I will not go into further detail here so as not to further mock and stereotype a group that has been through quite enough. You know who they are and they deserve some empathy. Suffice it to say that the extreme nature of these alterations has given the rhetoric of anti-pornography movements more than a little fuel.

It is hard to argue, however, that the most unfortunate among us are any but those in romantic relationships at the time of the change. How horrifying to be content with your significant other at one moment only for both to change. For two intimately familiar faces to fracture into something ghastly in the other’s eyes and thus prove to them both that there is someone who they are meant to be with and that their lover is not that person. Those poor souls have nothing but my sympathy. My utter jealousy is reserved, however, for those surprisingly few who found their significant others to in fact truly be their other halves. What petty irritation they might have towards each other over the change’s pain cannot compare to the hell the rest of us have been put through.

Despite the apparent horrors of the Great Change, there have been some real benefits, though they are few. Maladies of every type have vanished. Incurable illnesses such as cancer, STDs, parasites, and even missing limbs have been remedied. This apparent miracle is a bit mitigated by the recent studies showing what most of us already suspected. The Great Change having been a one-time occurrence only “fixed” our bodies at that moment. Maladies like cancer are not gone forever as their root causes are not gone. As with all else, only the superficial has changed.

Prior to the Great Change, one might have naively thought that one of the greatest results would be the collective mass discovery of our intended partners. The world now has made the true result incredibly obvious. Even ignoring the near statistical impossibility of finding that one person out of billions, few are interested in looking (and those mostly for revenge). Every human alive now has a deep bitterness at whoever has caused them such pain and misery. This bitterness is matched only by the shame of knowing that our own selfish lust has caused similar pain to that person. In the end, the Great Change has turned out to have been the most perfect method of keeping us all well and truly separated.

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