Friday, August 19, 2016

The Eyes Have It

eye-1030541_640-alexas_fotos-pd.jpg
Eye - public domain image by Alexas fotos

*** START OF THIS PROJECT GUTENBERG EBOOK THE EYES HAVE IT ***

Produced by Greg Weeks, Barbara Tozier and the Online
Distributed Proofreading Team at http://www.pgdp.net

This etext was produced from “Science Fiction Stories” 1953.
Extensive research did not uncover any evidence that the U.S.
copyright on this publication was renewed.

“A little whimsy, now and then, makes for good balance.
Theoretically, you could find this type of humor anywhere. But
only a topflight science-fictionist, we thought, could have
written this story, in just this way….”

———–

“The Eyes Have It”

by PHILIP K. DICK

It was quite by accident I discovered this incredible invasion of
Earth by lifeforms from another planet. As yet, I haven’t done
anything about it; I can’t think of anything to do. I wrote to the
Government, and they sent back a pamphlet on the repair and
maintenance of frame houses. Anyhow, the whole thing is known; I’m not
the first to discover it. Maybe it’s even under control.

I was sitting in my easy-chair, idly turning the pages of a
paperbacked book someone had left on the bus, when I came across the
reference that first put me on the trail. For a moment I didn’t
respond. It took some time for the full import to sink in. After I’d
comprehended, it seemed odd I hadn’t noticed it right away.

The reference was clearly to a nonhuman species of incredible
properties, not indigenous to Earth. A species, I hasten to point out,
customarily masquerading as ordinary human beings. Their disguise,
however, became transparent in the face of the following observations
by the author. It was at once obvious the author knew everything. Knew
everything–and was taking it in his stride. The line (and I tremble
remembering it even now) read:

“… his eyes slowly roved about the room.”

Vague chills assailed me. I tried to picture the eyes. Did they roll
like dimes? The passage indicated not; they seemed to move through the
air, not over the surface. Rather rapidly, apparently. No one in the
story was surprised. That’s what tipped me off. No sign of amazement
at such an outrageous thing. Later the matter was amplified.

“… his eyes moved from person to person.”

There it was in a nutshell. The eyes had clearly come apart from the
rest of him and were on their own. My heart pounded and my breath
choked in my windpipe. I had stumbled on an accidental mention of a
totally unfamiliar race. Obviously non-Terrestrial. Yet, to the
characters in the book, it was perfectly natural–which suggested they
belonged to the same species.

And the author? A slow suspicion burned in my mind. The author was
taking it rather “too easily” in his stride. Evidently, he felt this
was quite a usual thing. He made absolutely no attempt to conceal this
knowledge. The story continued:

“… presently his eyes fastened on Julia.”

Julia, being a lady, had at least the breeding to feel indignant. She
is described as blushing and knitting her brows angrily. At this, I
sighed with relief. They weren’t “all” non-Terrestrials. The narrative
continues:

“… slowly, calmly, his eyes examined every inch of her.”

Great Scott! But here the girl turned and stomped off and the matter
ended. I lay back in my chair gasping with horror. My wife and family
regarded me in wonder.

“What’s wrong, dear?” my wife asked.

I couldn’t tell her. Knowledge like this was too much for the ordinary
run-of-the-mill person. I had to keep it to myself. “Nothing,” I
gasped. I leaped up, snatched the book, and hurried out of the room.

* * * * *

In the garage, I continued reading. There was more. Trembling, I read
the next revealing passage:

“… he put his arm around Julia. Presently she asked him if
he would remove his arm. He immediately did so, with a smile.”

It’s not said what was done with the arm after the fellow had removed
it. Maybe it was left standing upright in the corner. Maybe it was
thrown away. I don’t care. In any case, the full meaning was there,
staring me right in the face.

Here was a race of creatures capable of removing portions of their
anatomy at will. Eyes, arms–and maybe more. Without batting an
eyelash. My knowledge of biology came in handy, at this point.
Obviously they were simple beings, uni-cellular, some sort of
primitive single-celled things. Beings no more developed than
starfish. Starfish can do the same thing, you know.

I read on. And came to this incredible revelation, tossed off coolly
by the author without the faintest tremor:

“… outside the movie theater we split up. Part of us went
inside, part over to the cafe for dinner.”

Binary fission, obviously. Splitting in half and forming two entities.
Probably each lower half went to the cafe, it being farther, and the
upper halves to the movies. I read on, hands shaking. I had really
stumbled onto something here. My mind reeled as I made out this
passage:

“… I’m afraid there’s no doubt about it. Poor Bibney has
lost his head again.”

Which was followed by:

“… and Bob says he has utterly no guts.”

Yet Bibney got around as well as the next person. The next person,
however, was just as strange. He was soon described as:

“… totally lacking in brains.”

* * * * *

There was no doubt of the thing in the next passage. Julia, whom I had
thought to be the one normal person, reveals herself as also being an
alien life form, similar to the rest:

“… quite deliberately, Julia had given her heart to the
young man.”

It didn’t relate what the final disposition of the organ was, but I
didn’t really care. It was evident Julia had gone right on living in
her usual manner, like all the others in the book. Without heart,
arms, eyes, brains, viscera, dividing up in two when the occasion
demanded. Without a qualm.

“… thereupon she gave him her hand.”

I sickened. The rascal now had her hand, as well as her heart. I
shudder to think what he’s done with them, by this time.

“… he took her arm.”

Not content to wait, he had to start dismantling her on his own.
Flushing crimson, I slammed the book shut and leaped to my feet. But
not in time to escape one last reference to those carefree bits of
anatomy whose travels had originally thrown me on the track:

“… her eyes followed him all the way down the road and
across the meadow.”

I rushed from the garage and back inside the warm house, as if the
accursed things were following me. My wife and children were playing
Monopoly in the kitchen. I joined them and played with frantic fervor,
brow feverish, teeth chattering.

I had had enough of the thing. I want to hear no more about it. Let
them come on. Let them invade Earth. I don’t want to get mixed up in
it.

I have absolutely no stomach for it.

———–

End of the Project Gutenberg EBook of The Eyes Have It, by Philip Kindred Dick

*** END OF THIS PROJECT GUTENBERG EBOOK THE EYES HAVE IT ***

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