He wears sunglasses at all times, even at night, because other people don't like his eyes.

People have never liked his eyes.

When he was younger and prone to forgetting his sunglasses, people would stare. Cashiers at grocery stores, at coffee shops, at movie rental places, and even at the one Chinese food takeout joint he went to on Tuesdays, would stammer and look away, or they would stare, gray-faced, with their mouths hanging open until he politely coughed and asked for the total. From the time he was very young, people- his parents included- hated his eyes, and never looked into them for long. When he was in school- elementary, middle, and high- both students and teachers avoided him. He was never picked on, but neither did he have friends. His eyes drove them away.

He doesn't understand what's wrong with his eyes. When he looks in the mirror, they look like perfectly normal eyes. They are wide, but not unusually so. They have sclera, they have pupils, and they have irises. The irises are both gray-blue.

Now he keeps his head down. His bosses at work permit him to wear the sunglasses, though no one else is allowed to. He works at an office building for a large corporation. He has no idea what the company does, really. Nor did he apply for the job. A black van had pulled up against the side of the road as he was heading home, and a man had stepped out. The man had worn a suit and approached him, asking to see his eyes. He had no idea how the man knew about him or his eyes, but he obliged anyway without asking for details. The man looked for almost a minute- the longest anyone had ever voluntarily looked at them before- and then, apparently satisfied, gave him a folder filled with the appropriate employment paperwork. He'd started the Monday after. That was almost a year ago.

His job consists mostly of sitting quietly in the cubicle assigned to him, in a room in the back, away from other cubicles. Sometimes they forget to turn the lights on in his back room, or someone will forget he's there and will turn the lights off, and he will be left in the dark. He doesn't mind that, and uses the time to catch up on sleep. When he sleeps at home, he has terrible nightmares about shadowed figures in a black, dead world, but in the office he doesn't dream at all. When he first started, he felt guilty about sleeping on the job until the man who'd hired him- his supervisor, now- told him it was alright. He was, and is, very grateful.

Occasionally, someone in a suit from the Top Floor will come into the room, and ask him to come upstairs. The person, the obviously Important Person, will usually be accompanied by two large men he takes to be bodyguards. Sometimes the Important Person is his supervisor. A lot of the time, it is not. And they don't go all the way upstairs; only executives and other such important people are allowed up there, but they go a few floors up and into a blank, white room.

The only furniture in the room is a table and two chairs seated on either side of the table. They will sit him down on one side and sit another person, a person whose loyalty to the company is in question, down across from him. Then, the Important Person will ask him to remove his sunglasses. He always does.

Reactions from the potentially disloyal employees vary. Sometimes their eyes will widen and the blood will drain from their face. Sometimes they scream, or squeal, or make stifled choking noises. Often times they curse, or shout out the names of religious figures. If they look away, the Important Person will have the men with large muscles force the employee's head still, so that they are forced to look at his eyes.

He is usually embarrassed by this point, and would gladly close his eyes, or put his glasses back on, or even better, leave, but this is what the company is paying him to do, and it's hard for him to find work. He does not want to lose this job, so he continues staring levelly at the employee, and will continue to do so until they faint, or start to scream, or attack the men holding them. Often, they cry before that point.

He hates seeing people cry.

Eventually, they'll confess to whatever crime, real or imaginary, that the company has accused them of, and they are led, weeping, away. Sometimes they have to be carried out by the muscled men. The Important Person will follow them out.

Nobody looks at him, even after he's put his glasses back on. Nobody escorts him out, but that's alright; he knows how to get back downstairs. He'll return to his cubicle and sleep. He never dreams in his cubicle, and for that, he is very thankful.


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