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I wanted to alert the Acme community to some events which recently transpired. I know this site is supposed to be a place for funny short stories, so I hope you will forgive me, because this is not very amusing, nor is it particularly short. In fact, some may find it disturbing; I know I did. I was having lunch with my wife at a restaurant this past Tuesday. At a table across the room I noticed a strange-looking woman out of the corner of my eye. But before I even had a chance to look and see what she looked like, I felt a wave of mild – and, strangely, not unpleasant – nausea hit me. This was accompanied by a graying of my vision and a foggy feeling in my head. I turned to look at the woman and the feeling intensified. She was not unattractive I guess, with pale skin and flush cheeks. She looked like she was part Asian, but her hair was blond and did not seem to be dyed. It was braided into pigtails, which gave her a youthful appearance, though she was maybe 45 years old, I guessed. As I gazed at her across the room, the nausea increased but not so much that I felt I would be sick. It was more like I felt week and wanted to slump over. My grayed-out vision grew more so and shortly all the periphery was dazzled by specks of silver that seemed to jump before me. The only clear area of my sight was centered on this woman’s face. “Anyway, Brenda says that she’s not going to support his decision, which means that Sue’s going into that meeting blind…” My wife was eating her salad and telling her story and it didn’t seem she had noticed my new state. I avoided looking at the woman for the rest of the meal. As we were paying the check I glanced back at the table where the strange woman was sitting. For the first time, I noticed that there was a young man sitting across from her. I observed him while being careful not to look at the woman directly. Even so, she was in the corner of my vision and I again felt the beginnings of the sensation I described earlier. The man with her was swaying in his seat and looked as if he might fall out. Was he experiencing the same sensation? If so, how could he endure a meal with this woman and why would he try? Curious, I stared at the woman again. Immediately I was overcome by the dizzy feeling and the kaleidoscope of silver shimmers around the periphery of my vision. As I let my eyes linger on her bright red lips and icy blue eyes a sickly euphoria overcame me. I closed my eyes and turned away. The sensation faded. “What’s with you today?” My wife put on her coat, kissed me goodbye and left for some meeting she was apparently late for. As I stood to leave, I noticed the woman getting up from the table. Strangely, watching her from behind did not cause the sensation. I noticed her companion was holding his head as he stood up, and then turned away from her as if to catch his breath. I followed them outside and as the door closed behind me she turned and stood immediately before me. At this distance her pale face and blond pigtails filled my entire field of vision. The sensation I felt before returned with overwhelming force and I fell to my knees on the sidewalk, still unable to take my eyes off her as brilliant silver specks swirled around her face. I’m not sure how long she stood there. Perhaps it was only a few seconds, but it seemed much longer. My brain hummed and my fingers went numb. The trance was only ended when her companion came out and stood between us, blocking the effect. I later learned that her face just by coincidence is an optical illusion. When light from her face falls on your retina the pattern causes the signal in your optical nerve to have a particular type of interference. This interference causes a chain reaction in your cerebral cortex which leads to an altered state similar to that associated with LSD-25. So be alert. If you see this woman, avert your gaze and use caution.

Date Written: April 15, 2007
Author: Ewan Snow
Average Vote: 3

04/16/2007 qualcomm: gee, i hate to be negative, but i feel that the length is unnecessary and counterproductive. you coulda easily gotten the same shit across in a third the time. as it is, one spends the entire short thinking, 'all right, all right, what's the payoff gonna be?' then it keeps going, and one's all, 'ok, ok, this payoff better be fucking good.' and then the payoff lets one down. one thinks the idea of a person's face being an optical illusion has comic potential, but maybe it'd be better "front-loaded" in the short, with the comedy coming from exploring the consequences thereof, or just through the narrator's attitude thereto.
04/16/2007 Litcube (3): I was under the impression I was going to be grossed out or shocked somewhere near the end. Something was making me cringe as I was reading it, but I kept going [rubber necking w/ road accident], but as qualcomm implies, the only reaction I had upon reaching the finish line was a raised eyebrow. I was entertained, though.
04/16/2007 anonymous: Thanks all for the excellent comments. As I mentioned in the beginning of the post, this story is neither very amusing nor short. I posted it here to keep the community abreast of some of the challenging faces available to the public these days, and to offer coping strategies such as averting your gaze.
04/16/2007 qualcomm: i would open this short with, "Jenni Su Chingchong had an optical illusion for a face."
04/17/2007 Plumster: It gave me a feeling that I had just jumped off a round-a-bout. However, I think I must be missing something, perhaps the keys fell out of my pocket.