Saturday, 8 August 2020

The Dusk Walkers



by Henry Lewi

Goldwasser on ice



 Did you notice sometimes out of the corner of your eye, sometimes in the shadows, the number of people who were out in the early hours of the morning, usually alone very occasionally in pairs? They kept to the shadows, silent and watching. Both Men and Women any age, all with bright shining eyes. If you approach them, they’ll quickly and silently walk away, their only distinguishing feature are their eyes. Who are they? What are they watching? What do they want? and what do they do?

It all began during the Virus lockdown in 2020, I had returned to help out at the local hospital where I’d worked as a surgeon for the previous twenty-five years. Although retired I responded to the request for retirees to volunteer to help out. My role was simple: it was to check on patients who’d been discharged from hospital or those who’d reported mild symptoms of the viral disease to their GPs. After contacting many patients, I became aware that some were reporting severe symptoms of recurrent persistent eye pain and a hypersensitivity to light or as we medics like to call it - photophobia. I dully filled in the contact forms highlighting the symptoms described but during the height of the epidemic everyone was far too busy to comment.

 After working in the hospital for about a month I tested positive for the Virus but had no symptoms. However, a couple of weeks later started to experience severe eye pain, and sensitivity to light. The pain was so severe I couldn’t sleep but wasn’t tired despite preferring the night hours to sit outside in the garden, doing little more than listen to audio-books or the news.
  Over the next few weeks the pain became less but the light sensitivity remained, interestingly my night vision improved so much that it seemed on many an occasion night became day.  I found it difficult to go out in the bright daylight without sunglasses and my vision became clearer and crisper so much so that I had to discard my glasses that I always wore full time.  The only problem was that I seemed to have a number of floaters in both my eyes.
  As lockdown was eased, I managed to get an appointment at my Optician’s who confirmed that my vision was now perfect,  the shortsightedness and severe astigmatism had completely reversed, but he was troubled by the changes in the eye which he jokingly stated – “If I didn’t know better I’d say that you’ve got gold flakes in your eyes, which is why they look bright and shiny – I’ve never seen that before! Look I’ll arrange for you to see one of the guys at Moorfields Eye Hospital – I’m sure there’s nothing to worry about at least you don’t have to buy any glasses!”
 At Moorfields the consultant was puzzled and called in one of his colleagues to have a look, then another, and another and finally the Professor was asked to have a look. Nobody came up with an answer, so I was asked to stay in “for a number of tests” as they put it.  I was given a nice private room and was subjected to a whole battery of “tests” including scans, bloods, numerous eye examinations, and visits by numerous ophthalmic surgeons, neurologists and a couple of doctors who introduced themselves as metabolic specialists. I must have given a pint and a half of blood and the conclusion at the end of this? Yup I had deposits of gold flakes in my eyes – why? It must be a consequence of the Virus infection they said – How? Well here’s the outline as I can remember – There’s a series of enzymes in the body classified as Cytochrome P450 that has a huge range of functions which include binding heavy metals to form what’s called a metallo-enzyme. We all have a bit of gold in our bodies notably around the heart, in the joints and in our nerves. Somehow the Viral infection subtly altered the function of the Cytochrome P450 which allowed it to leach out the gold from its normal sites and for some reason deposited it in the eyes.  Jokingly they said that maybe this was the basis of the Goose that Laid the Golden Egg story? Really! So, what next? I asked – Well – pause- We don’t really know, but yours is not the first – we’ve now heard of many similar cases throughout the country and from all over Europe – someone has even coined the name – “Goldeneye Syndrome”. What next – we don’t know, but it would seem that the condition should, emphasizing the SHOULD, stabilize, as there is only a small amount of gold in the body that can be deposited. Stay out of the sun, wear sunglasses, eat a healthy diet, and we’ll keep a regular and close eye on you. 
 So it was, the days turned into weeks, I avoided the daylight hours and lived my life in the dusk and night and on occasion I would meet someone in the shadows with the same problem, you can identify us by the fact that we wear sunglasses at night or by our shining metallic eyes.
  It was all going OK till the news broke on TV with the exclusive, titled – “They Carry A Fortune in Their Eyes”.
Now I hear that people with Goldeneye, or even anyone wearing sunglasses are being hunted for their eyes, and I can’t go out anymore.
There are no more Dusk Walkers around.
Where have they all gone?
Where can I go?

About the author

 Henry has retired from the NHS. He occasionally writes short stories. He is a member of the Canvey Writers’ Group.

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