The Eye of the Beholder
by K. Kylyra Ameringer
"You don't really need to know," the woman replied. "Just remember the name. If anyone asks you a question, the answer is Tycizosolene. If anyone wants to talk to you, talk about Tycizosolene. Got it?"
"Just Tycizosolene?" Cameron asked. "What exactly should I say?"
"Well...you know," the woman said, fumbling a little, "Tycizosolene is great. Tycizosolene will change the world. Tycizosolene will make a better life for you and me. That sort of thing," she told Cameron.
"Yeah...okay," Cameron said slowly. "Tycizosolene. Got it."
"Great!" the woman said. She gave Cameron a smile again. "We're ready to go!" Cameron was placed in a secured and locked Agency vehicle for transport. She had two Agency escorts with her.
Throughout the evening Cameron was surrounded by a sea of people. They endlessly milled around the room in no discernable pattern. Some avoided the bright bursts of light from the sides of the room, others seemed to seek it out. Cameron ignored the bursts of light. After all, that's what the optic conditioning had been for.
As the night droned on many people stopped briefly to speak to Cameron. Whenever an opportunity arose, she mentioned Tycizosolene. No matter what the polite comments were that had sparked the brief encounter, Cameron dutifully followed up with Tycizosolene. No one seemed to find this strange. Cameron slowly circled the large room, concentrating on keeping her balance and moving the way the Director had instructed her. Between that and the occasional Tycizosolene episode, as she came to think of her brief conversations with others, she was kept completely occupied.
She returned to the Agency grounds in the Agency vehicle with her Agency escorts. The Admin woman was waiting at the entrance for her. "Welcome back, welcome back," the woman said pleasantly with a smile on her face. "You did well this evening."
"I did?" Cameron asked.
"Yes, yes," the Admin woman said. "All my reports show that you did just enough. A fine job."
"I felt foolish," Cameron said.
"Nonsense," the Admin woman said. "You did very well for the Agency tonight. Very well. Now, off to the sleeping room with you. You'll be excused from your morning schedule so you can get your rest."
Cameron moved slowly up the stairs to retire for the remainder of the night. A brief respite from the morning activities would be a welcome change, but soon enough she'd be back to the normal routine. She was familiar with the workings of the Agency. She knew it would never be any different.
"Oooooh, look!" squealed the young adolescent girl to her friend. The two were standing at a newsstand, looking over the glossy covered magazines.
"Look, it's that new model," said the chubby one, pulling a thick magazine towards her. "It's Cameron what's-her-name."
"Oh, yes!" said the other girl, her face covered with acne. "She's beautiful. Really beautiful."
"Yes, she is," the chubby one agreed. "How lucky she is! I'd give anything to look like her, and wear those great clothes and makeup, and go to all those parties!"
"I know," said the pimple-faced one. "A model's life. What a dream!" The girls paid for the magazine.
"Look here!" said the chubby one as they began to walk away. "It says here that Cameron uses Tycizosolene."
"What's Tycizosolene?" the pimply-faced one asked.
"Who cares?" the chubby one replied. "If it can make me look like her I'll use it!" Her pimply-faced friend nodded in agreement. "Wouldn't it be great?" the chubby one asked. Their voices were fading away down the street. "I could finally be beautiful. Just like Cameron...what is her name?"
The Eye of the Beholder by K. Kylyra Ameringer