ALISON AND RICK (yes, them again!)
Under the cover of darkness, two figures pulled themselves over a high wall around the back of the deserted warehouse, and sprinted across the vast grounds. "How do we get inside?" the girl hissed as they came to a halt at the door and tried to open it. Locked tight.
The man took several paces back from the building and glanced up to the next floor. "There's a window open there," he observed. "We can probably shimmy up that waterpipe - it looks pretty secure, it's not likely to give way under our weight - and get into the building that way."
The girl smiled. "Sounds good to me. Let's do it."
She insisted on going first, high on adrenalin and excitement, and dying to get on with their "mission". She pulled herself up the pipe, wishing it wasn't raining so hard, and when she got level with the window, she grabbed the window sill and used the strength in her arms to push her legs up onto the sill too. Then she carefully slid through the window.
The room was occupied by a man and woman in their mid twenties. Both were dark haired, attractive and fast asleep. The girl wore thick goggle-like glasses attached firmly to her face (that had to be one of the processes, the girl surmised as she peered at them through the darkness), and the guy wore comparatively thin lensed, regular wire-rim glasses of around -4 or -5, although he probably didn't actually need to wear them in bed. The girl smiled knowingly and pushed her own glasses up on her nose. She could understand that feeling, all too well.
The man joined her in the room, dropping silently onto the carpet beside her. She raised a finger to her lips to prevent him talking, nodding at the sleeping couple to indicate why silence was a necessity. She stealthily crossed the room to the door, yanked it open and crept outside into the darkened corridor, motioning for her partner to follow.
"What way now?" she asked. "Downstairs, right?"
"Yeah," he nodded. "I'm pretty sure that's where the stuff will be."
"Do we have any idea if there's a lot of security around here or not?" the girl questioned him. He shrugged.
"I'm guessing no. No alarms went off when we came in. They probably don't think anyone would TRY to break in here. Also, the security at the front of the gates seems to be pretty tight, I guess they think they cut off any unwanted guests before they can even get into the grounds."
"That's what they think," the girl snorted, carefully pushing a door open. It was marked with a sign that said "No Entry".
"This will be where they keep the equipment," the man guessed. He pushed back his hood and turned to smile at his girlfriend, his dark eyes gleaming behind his extraordinarily strong plus glasses. "Allison, why don't you check in that room, and I'll check in here?"
Equally magnified green eyes glittered back at him. "Definitely," she purred. She pushed this door. It didn't give. She swore under her breath, withdrew a credit card from her pocket and used it to open the door. She'd never done it before but instinct seemed to take over. This was obviously meant to be. She turned to him before she went inside. "Rick, do you need this?" she asked, holding up the credit card.
He shook his head, holding up a matching card. "Got my own," he grinned. "Good luck Ally."
"I won't need it," she smiled, slipping inside and closing the door silently behind her. The room was empty apart from row upon row of drawers set into the wall. She moved over to the nearest one and slid it open.
"Goggles," she murmured, staring at a row of goggles housing various thick lenses. Goggles like the girl in that room had been sporting. -6, these particular goggles were labelled. She slipped two pairs into the bag she'd brought especially, and opened the next drawer. -8 goggles. She bypassed them until she reached -12, pocketed a couple of pairs of them. Then -16, -20 and -25. Now she had 10 pairs of goggles, with varied strength ranging from -6 to -20. But where were the plus goggles?
The next set of drawers, she discovered. Gleefully she stocked up on +8, +12, +16, +18 and +20s. She looked at the +16s, thinking that she and Rick could wean their prescription up another two dioptres using those goggles. Eyeing the padlock on them reminded her of being tied in the opticians chair in her dream that first time. It was going to be so exciting!
Her bag was already getting a little full. She moved over to the next set of drawers, and opened them. Row upon row of lenses. What kind of lenses? she wondered, gazing at them. The door swung open then and she jumped in fright, but it was just Rick.
"All I found in the other room were the slides and the distorting specs," he reported. "I took some, but I don't know how much use they'll be. I've heard there's some kind of chemical eye drop - that's something we really need to get out hands on. What's so fascinating over there?"
"I'm trying to figure out if these are regular lenses, or ones like the ones you use in your store," Allison said, picking one up and turning it over in her hand. "What do you think?"
He took it from her and held it up to the light. After a moment, he turned to her, smiling excitedly. "This is the exact type I use in my store," he said. "Exactly the same, Allison. And in a minus version too. You know what this means?"
Allison smiled slowly. "We can treat the myopes to strong glasses too, if we feel like it. Right?" He nodded. It wasn't as exciting to either of them as strong plus glasses, but it would be nice to put the myopes through the torture of being tied in a chair and forced to adjust to glasses too strong for them. They never tired of the expression of horror on a new "client's" face as they realised they were trapped and that the optician and his assistant were clearly prescribing them glasses way too strong.
They had received an invitation. Of course they had. They probably had the biggest glasses fetishes in the country, the world maybe! But they had known more about what was going on in the old warehouse than anyone else had (Rick had a lot of contacts in the business who had fed him snippets of information about the processes and experiments going on there) and they knew that, if they wanted stronger glasses, they didn't want their eyesight to be worsened by some stranger. That was something they liked to do to one another!
But they did want to get a closer look at what went on inside, unhindered by any of the employees. And perhaps get a hold of some of the lenses and tools. As well as look at what was rumoured to be one of the largest supplies of glasses in the world.
Rick quickly unloaded a large pile of strong minus lenses from the drawer and slipped them into his rucksack. He added some plus lenses too for good measure. "In case we ever run low," he said with a grin. His optician friend was still supplying him with the lenses on a monthly basis, but he was always worried that he would run out one day. Or that his friend might disappear and leave him in the lurch.
He opened the next drawer. "Bingo!" he exclaimed. Nestled inside were millions of little bottles of eyedrops. "This is what I'm looking for."
The idea, he'd told Allison, was that he could use these in any case where he didn't feel safe using the tying up in the chair method. Occasionally such a situation just wasn't safe. Maybe there was a slight chance that the patient's mother or father might walk in mid-exam. Or the rare case that the patient themselves might tell someone what happened later on. "Most do walk out and don't actually want to tell anyone what happened," he's said. "After all, some of them really enjoyed it. But a minority do feel like they should tell someone. The chances are they won't be believed, but I can't really afford to take that risk. In that case the eye drops will be fantastic. I can pretend I need to use them as part of the process, tell them they'll have to return in a couple of days . . . and then they'll be short-sighted or long-sighted enough to need glasses, or thicker glasses. It's ideal."
As he loaded bottles into his bag, the door flew open, banging against the wall. Two burly security men stood there, glaring at them from behind thick minus lenses. Allison gasped and Rick quickly passed his rucksack to her. "Say nothing," he hissed. "And, when I give you the signal, go! There's a window in the other room - I left the door unlocked."
"Who are you and what are you doing here?" one of the intimidating men demanded.
"Sorry, we're a bit lost." Rick paced over to the other side of the room, and the men followed his progress, momentarily distracted from Allison. Rick glanced quickly at Allison and signalled with his eyes towards the door. She bolted, out of the room before the men could register she'd even moved. She got across to the other room, slid the window open and jumped out onto the ground, grateful she was on the ground floor and didn't have to drop far.
But what was going to happen to Rick? she wondered, extremely worried. She hoped nothing bad would happen.She headed back through the grounds to the wall they had originally scaled, deciding to wait for him there.
When the guards gave chase to Allison, Rick took his opportunity to escape, darting back along the corridor as the guards followed Allison into the other room, forgetting him for a moment. He ran across the reception area and flung open another door.
He was in the optical area. Arena would be a more appropriate word actually, he thought in awe. Quickly he crept behind a shelf so that if the guards came in he wouldn't be seen. And he hurriedly examined the frames in front of him. Wow, so many to choose from. And that was just one shelf. He slipped a couple of interesting looking pairs into his pocket, peered around the shelf to see if the security guards had found him yet, and sneaked over to another shelf. He wished he still had his rucksack so he could carry more, but he'd had to give Allison the bag to ensure that they got all the stuff they'd stolen out of the building. At that point, he hadn't been sure whether or not he would be able to escape when Allison ran for it.
He managed to store about fifteen frames about his person, and then he crept back to the door, wondering how he could get back out. He couldn't get out the same way as Allison, the security guards were sure to be lurking. He remembered the couple's bedroom window they'd originally entered through. It would have to be back out the way they'd came in.
Thankfully the door opened. He pressed his way along the wall, listening carefully to the even breathing coming from the bed. It was with great relief that he got onto the window sill, grabbed onto the pipe and slid painfully down it, trying not to break any frames as he did so.
When he reached the back end of the grounds, there was no sign of Allison, although both their bags were placed carefully against the fence, partly concealed by some long weeds. He guessed she'd come back to look for him. But he had better wait here, otherwise they might be trying to locate each other all night. She just hoped she was okay.
Allison wished she hadn't returned to look for Rick now. Why hadn't she just stayed put? She cowered as a figure loomed over the optician's chair, evil eyes glaring at her.
"What did you think you were doing?" the woman asked. "Stealing our property? Why?"
"We wanted to make people more myopic and hyperopic," she murmured weakly, tugging at the handcuffs which held her hand and feet to the chair. This was feeling a little TOO familiar.
The woman glared at her for a while longer. Silently. Allison felt extremely uncomfortable.
"Well, let's see how you feel when we give you a taste of your own medicine," she said menacingly. Allison closed her eyes in terror as the woman removed Allison's glasses and prepared to give out her punishment.
It was three hours before Rick spotted a figure crawling towards him, feeling blindly for the ground. "Allison!" he gasped, running towards her. Allison looked up at him, clearly not seeing a thing. Little wonder. Gone were her glasses, to be replaced by a pair of those hideous goggles. The lenses inside them were such strong minus lenses that she clearly couldn't see a thing, especially considering the strength of her own plus prescription. She was basically blind - it was incredible that she'd made it as far as she had.
"Came back to find you!" Allison gasped through her tears. "Security guards caught me. Then this woman came and stuck me in a chair. Took my glasses, replaced them with these, and dumped me outside the door. I can't see anything, Rick!" she cried hysterically. "Get them off me, PLEASE!"
Rick struggled with the padlock, but it was so hard to see that he couldn't work out a way to unlock it. "Allison, I can't fix it right now," he told her. "We'll have to wait till we get back." Quickly he began to work out how he was going to get Allison back over the high wall in her state.
Back at his flat, he had to fiddle with the padlock for about an hour before he finally managed to free Allison from the prison. By this time, Allison's eyes were completely bloodshot, and she had massive circles surrounding her eyes due to the suction created by the goggles. Rick located her spare pair of +14 glasses and slipped them onto her nose, and she gasped. "Rick, these are too strong for me," she whispered.
He shook his head in wonder. "God, those goggles really are strong," he said. "I guess we at least know that those lenses work the way they're supposed to. What is your vision like without them?"
"Not very good," she admitted, sliding the glasses down her nose. "I can see more than I've been able to see without correction for a long time though."
Rick tried a couple of different lenses in front of her eyes and discovered she'd regressed to +6. "You don't want to stay that way, do you?" he asked.
"No way!" she grabbed for the +14s again. "I want to be back to normal again," she grinned. "And normal for me is as longsighted as possible."As she slid those glasses back on, she already felt much happier. "You know something though?" she said seriously. "That woman was really evil. I mean, I could tell she wasn't just punishing me because I'd trespassed and stolen and stuff. I think there's something else going on in that warehouse. Something sinister."
"Maybe," Rick said thoughtfully. "After all, why would they be offering these people all these processes - for free? I know it's supposedly because they're trying out new experiments, but I feel like there's got to be something else going on too. But what?"
"I don't know," Allison shrugged, blinking and eager for her eyes to readjust to the +14s. "But I'm glad I'm not in there. I feel sorry for the people who are staying there right now. The place is basically a timebomb waiting to explode."