If you don’t know Josh Malerman’s Bird Box, you’re missing out. It’s a post-apocalyptic story about a world terrified by creatures that no one can stand to look at. When you see them, you go crazy and seek your own death by the quickest route possible. Therefore the best way to avoid the creatures is simply to close your eyes. It’s an incredible novel; it does sensory deprivation so well, and it is so tense.
And if you don’t know Alien, then… wait, nobody doesn’t know Alien.
When I saw Deadman’s Tome’s open call for Final Contact asking for claustrophobic sci-fi horror I immediately thought of the way that Ridley Scott made the ship’s corridors and quarters seem so enclosed and oppressive. What could make that worse? Having to navigate that space without your vision.
I have to say, sci-fi isn’t my usual genre when it comes to short fiction, but I enjoyed the challenge of creating a believable premise. In a society obsessed by observation, it made sense that in the future we’d be filming directly through the eyes. However, if someone could tap into that feed, someone hostile, someone that could use that information to locate you, and then kill you, the only option you would have is to shut down that function. Hence, most of the story takes place in the body of a character with their eyes closed.
How could I make this even more unsettling for the reader? While some readers find it off-putting, I’m a fan of using a second-person narrative. I’ve done it before in ‘Aren’t You Danny Mann?’ which was published in The Manchester Review, and one of the first stories I ever had published in Skive, ‘So What Then?’ (which, unfortunately, is no longer available online). In ‘They See Through Your Eyes’, I thought it was a perfect fit.
Check it out and see if you agree. It’s available here.