Rose-coloured glasses

VR glasses

Kids are interested in evident things. Things adults don’t think much about anymore. Kids ask questions, lots of them, and often the simplest ones are the hardest to answer.

Dan was a seven year old boy with a heap of messy blond hair on his little head, and he clearly enjoyed his very first train trip. Everything trivial to his parents seemed new and exciting to the boy. Questions upon questions upon questions crowded in his head fighting a mighty battle for the right to be asked first. Finally, the winner announced itself and the others followed:

“Mom, dad!” Dan jumped. “Why do we always have to wear the glasses? Why do all people wear them? Why are the glasses always rose-coloured? Why?”

His parents exchanged glances and kept silent for a while. These were clearly not the questions they anticipated at the moment. But the boy waited, determined and stubborn. The father said:

“It’s a long story, Dan… You see, many years ago there were no humans on this planet. Then they came here in their ships and settled, and…”
“I know!” said Dan, clearly proud of himself.
“Okay… So, kiddo, we’re kind of alien here and this world is not very well suited for us. It’s so much different from our own world we need these glasses to stay safe. Some people who had broken their glasses by accident went mad. I heard it had something to do with local light. The glasses keep it away.”

Dan lowered his head, thinking, then turned to the window again. Behind the glass, the golden sunlit meadows were passing by while the mountain ridge crowned with snow stood motionless on the horizon. The sky was perfectly blue.

Dan touched the glasses. They didn’t even budge, securely attached to his skin by a special glue instead of old fashioned ties and belts his grandma still used. He was safe while he had his glasses on. Dan found this thought disturbing for some reason. He was still wrestling with the strange feeling when he heard a crash.

A moment later he felt the impact, so strong it threw him from his seat, over the table, and smashed him into a wall. Hitting the wall was the last thing Dan remembered before his world went dark.

It was a terrible accident. Two trains crashed into each other head to head. The first thing the rescuers saw when they arrived at the scene were glittery little pools of blood everywhere around the wreckage. It was hard to believe there could be any survivors.

Dan didn’t quite understand what had happened. He felt no pain yet due to the shock. Something wet and sticky was on his face, trying to get into his eyes. Upon trying to wipe it with his hand he realized it was blood. Then it hit him: he didn’t have his glasses on! They were torn away from his face.

The boy crawled up from under the heap of luggage that must’ve saved his life and… hadn’t recognized his own world…

The first thing he saw was the sun. It hung low above the horizon, a bubbling ball of lava spitting out long swirly jets of flame and colouring the sky purple.

What looked like a golden meadow through the glasses turned out to be a pale, pock-marked landscape similar to that of the Earth’s Moon in texture and to a dead flesh in colour. Far away, another train was passing by: a shining silvery centipede with a lithe chitinous body, every segment of which was a passenger carriage. The train Dan travelled by was a centipede too, now crushed and dead, sprawled on the ground inside an old crater. Its belly, torn and motionless, was spreading a greenish ooze around, but its head still lived, its mandibles twitching in agony, its eyes bulging.

There were humanoid creatures around the centipede, but they didn’t look like humans to Dan. The closest thing he could compare them to was a zombie from a video game, their skin greenish and patchy, their clothes ragged, their gaping mouths having too many teeth… And every single one of these monsters had her or his glasses on. Rose-coloured glasses.

They saw Dan and ran to him, screaming. That moment the barrier that kept the boy’s fear and pain away gave in and he fainted.

“A serious psychological trauma,” the fat doctor smacked his lips and nodded at the bandaged child who huddled himself in a corner refusing to interact with anyone. “I’m afraid your son had been exposed to the local light for too long. We can heal him, I believe, but that will cost you.”
“Anything, doctor!” Dan’s mother cried out.
“Anything!” Dan’s father echoed her.
“All right,” said the doctor. “I happen to know a good specialist. I know him well, he was my therapist a few years ago. I’d lost my glasses too, you know. Oh, the hallucinations were horrible, I must tell you. Undead people, all sorts of monsters, hellish landscapes… ugh. We must make your son forget all this so he could have a normal life again.” He gave Dan’s parents his usual broad, plastic smile that never touched his eyes. “As soon as you’ve written out a check, my dears, I’ll give my friend a call.”

(August, 29, 2003)

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English is not my native language.
If you see an error or a typo, please, tell me. I will fix it.