By John Shirley

“No one may leave here,” said the Leader. “We must commune with the great Cosmic Eye. And after–”

“And after,” interrupted Smythe, who had  catalyzed this rebellion against the Leader  of the Sect of the Cosmic Eye, “there will be  more of the same. You will interpret the Eye’s signals in a way convenient to you–as ever!”

There was a murmur of agreement from the sect’s assemblage in the great hall they’d built in the forest. “Wait!” called Luella Fiske, known for her flares of inspiration. “Yes, our leader got lost in vanity and fell into darkness! Let us pray to the Eye and ask if the leader gives us light—or darkness!”

Even as she said it the Eye at the Center of the Cosmos sent its reply: Though bright with noon light, in the next moment the room was plunged into unbroken darkness; an obscurity deeper than eclipse enwrapped them. The Leader yelped in fear,  ran gibbering out of the building—and was blinded by the sunshine when he passed out of the pool of black the Eye had imposed.

The others chose to stay in complete darkness, until the Eye should lift the shadow on its own. As the days and nights passed, their other senses became more acute, as if the darkness forced them to subtler feelings, an exquisite sensitivity that slowly allowed them to see again using a light conducted from within, so that the pool of darkness slowly dissolved, and they saw the world once more. Then they went their own way, none of them ever needing a Leader to tell them about the great Eye again, since they each  looked on the world with the eye of the Eye…


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