The Wandering Eye
There is a strong possibility that I will not finish this account in time, but I will not allow that to dissuade me from attempting to detail fully this wretched chain of events. If this is to be the last thing I do, then I shall do it well.
I will tell the story as I understand it, which means starting late and ending early, but for your own sake I urge you not to seek any resolution elsewhere.
One of the mysteries that permeate the seas and streets of Kingsport, the ill-fated homecoming of the ship known only as the Alhazred is the most prolific. A vessel of mysteries, from the origins of its name to its unknown contents, most information of the ship was lost after its wreckage on the last winter solstice of the nineteenth century. 
The historic consensus is that this privately funded vessel was filled with treasures that promised not riches, but esoteric knowledge. As would come apparent years after the fact, this knowledge would come with a cost.
After the ship’s wreckage, the denizens of Kingsport would take great pleasure in combing the shores in search of the secrets the tide might offer. Over the next century, it would not be uncommon to walk the shores and discover an artefact resting incongruously on the seafront.
Each discovery of the enigmatic flotsam would reignite speculation into the purpose of this ship. Each piece made its way through the local university, being studied and catalogued before making its ultimate resting place at the decrepit Kingsport History museum.
It was during the study and documentation of one such discovery that this perversion was pieced together. Zoe Tyler was a post graduate working on the restoration and cataloguing of the latest expedition to the ship’s seabed carcass. By all accounts, Zoe loved this process and would put in long hours and late shifts to complete the work. Her supervisor stressed that there was no imposition of urgency on the work, but Zoe would maintain the long stretches for as long as she would live.
The instigator of this strain of chaos was a single artefact, one that Zoe found within a chest with an East-Asian design. For reasons that will become apparent, the stone had been broken into pieces long before the ship’s wreckage. 
According to the detailed notes she made that night, Zoe was able to use the specialist technology available at the university to develop a 3D model of the tablet, providing a blueprint to re-assemble the pieces. Intrigued by the strange markings this revealed, Zoe took a photo of the tablet and sent it to her housemate - an ancient language scholar - to see what she made of it. 
Within two weeks, their bodies were both discovered at home, their eyes were missing.
Kingsport and its surrounding towns have for years been plagued by unconfirmed rumours and urban legends regarding a killer (or in some accounts, killers) with a fixation on removing the eyeballs of their victims. However, those deaths differ substantially from these incidents in that there was no sign of mutilation or forced removal - the eyeballs were simply absent, leaving two cavernous sockets in their place.
I have found myself wondering how many other communities must differentiate between two unsolved cases of eye removal?
Thus, a flood of death surged across the city. Men and women would be found in identical circumstances, their bodies still and unseeing. Friends and loved ones of the deceased would report that in the lead up to their deaths, the victims had been complaining of pains in their eyes.
The spike in deaths, with such a bizarre pattern, caused Kingsport to receive an influx of media attention with journalists and camera crews coming down from the capital to report on proceedings. Ultimately, though, the lack of any resolution or answers to this mystery caused interest to drift upwards across the country, and the reporters set off in search of the next  macabre headline.
Keenly held, however, was the attention of  Jacob Creevy - a self-described independent investigator. Having been acquainted with him over many years I knew him better as a podcast host and cleaning contractor, but regardless I always enjoyed his company. 
After each death, Creevy would diligently research each victim, creating a profile of the deceased with details of their lives as well as circumstances of their deaths. 
Being the only friend who had patience for Creevy’s mysteries, I was used to waking to several messages from him, outlining his latest revelation or conspiracy. But those were messages I could read or ignore at my leisure, so I was surprised when I was dragged out of my restful slumber by a phone call not long after midnight.
His voice was dry and fearful as he complained of a pain in his eye and he begged my presence urgently. I was out the door before the call had ended. 
Jacob’s eyes were raw and still. They were red-sore and the skin around them was aggravated like torn newspaper. Usually in conversation, his eyes would dart about,  and his pupils would dilate, or even begin to water. That dark early morning, Jacob’s gaze faced straight ahead, not really seeing me as he opened the door. When he would blink, the action was strained and forced.
I went to inspect his eyes, but Creevy batted my hands away and gestured inside where a glass of bourbon awaited each of us at the table. Taking a seat, Creevy quickly finished what was left of his and poured himself another. The bottle was nearly empty.
“I need someone I trust.” He drew a breath, as I looked into his dry, unfocused eyes. “and I wish it wasn’t you.” He slid the manila folder across the table. The words Lost Eyes were scrawled on it in black marker. I caught his hand as he moved. Creevy receded instantly, startled, but relaxed and I rested my hand on his for a long moment. 
“I’m sorry.” He repeated, throat cracking. Pulling his hand back, he shook his head and pointed to the file. “Read.”
The document was thorough and for the first time I uncovered a linear narrative that made sense of these seemingly random deaths. Investigations had searched for a link between victims, regarding social circles, political motivations, and romantic interests. As there was nothing of the sort, none were found.
The link was far more subtle and far more deadly.
As I outlined, the first to die were Zoe Tyler and her housemate, the first to see the assembled tablet. In the two weeks that led up to their deaths, each victim could be placed in the vicinity of the tablet. Academics, delivery drivers, cleaners.
I looked up at Creevy.
“I saw it.” He said, voice wobbling. “We were working in there, and it was right in front of me.” Creevy placed his head in his hands. “I thought it was so beautiful.”
I didn’t know what to say. I picked up the bottle and poured us both a last drink. Creevy sat up suddenly.
“Did you turn off the lights?” He asked, urgently.
The room was dull and dismal, but certainly lit. Creevy shook his head.
“It’s dark, you turned off the lights.” He said and began grasping across the table, knocking his glass on to the floor. I went up to him, grabbing the sides of his face, getting him to look at me. His eyes were glassy and unseeing, and his eyes hung open far longer than I could ever keep mine unblinking. I told him I was right in front of him, and he reached out softly to touch my face, mouth hanging ajar.
“What’s happening?” He asked me, his voice dry and wobbly. He rested his forehead against mine and let out a long, resigned sigh, as if he could exorcise the grief and regret in a single breath.
Then, with a cry, he flung himself backwards, bringing his hands up to his eyes. He landed on the floor and began rocking on his back, screaming and scratching at his face.
I wish I had looked away. In that moment I wished I had not been burdened with sight, that indiscriminate sense that takes in everything in front of you. Eyes are the windows to the souls and by witnessing this, I knew my own was damned.
With a gasp for air that was cut short, Creevy’s arms dropped from his face and fell limp by the side of his body which began violently shaking. 
He faced upwards, mouth open wide and as I moved closer, I saw his eyes darting about in their sockets, rapid and independent of each other, each eyeball searching for its own purpose. Creevy gurgled through his dry throat, a rasping sigh as his body convulsed for the last time and laid still - eyes wide open and staring into the void above.
I was grateful, at least, for the small mercy that his pain was at least brief and ultimately over. Those two eyes were reddened with irritation, the skin under his brow dry and flaky. I reached out, with the intention to pull his eyelids closed, kiss his forehead and let him rest, when his left eye swivelled to fix me with a stare that was manic and unrelenting. A moment later, his other eye began rolling wildly in its socket.
With a crumble of pink vitreous dust, the red veins that reached towards the iris tore open, cracking like mud under a desert sun. 
I fell backwards, hands covering my own eyes, as if they could meet the same fate through osmosis, but I was relieved to feel abundant tears streaming down my face. 
Through the tears, I looked to the profile of my departed friend. Slowly, impossibly, a red, fleshy tendril reached out of the far eye socket and floundered until it found a grip on his brow. A second tendril then sprouted out, arching from the socket to his cheek. 
My heart grew heavy as the two tendrils strained to lift the eyeball, their nucleus, upwards and out of Creevy’s body. As his other eye repeated the process, more tendrils developed from the first, one reaching out after another until eight of the dreaded things were flailing. I’m loath to assign ration or intelligence to these abominations, but I could swear that the green pupil of the first creature dilated, as if in recognition as its companion lifted itself upwards. They thrashed blindly and their tendrils met for a fraction of a second. The two orbs stared at each other for a long moment. Were they communicating, whispering? Then, their dire exchange complete, the two eyes dropped back and rolled across the floor together.
I don’t know how long I stayed, sitting down on the floor after the creatures left. It was winter and the nights were long, and by the time I had left the house the sun was creeping into the sky.
I closed the door behind me as I left, leaving Creevy’s eyeless body to wait for someone to claim it and add him to the list of the strange deaths. I set off towards the university, purpose clear in mind.
It was easy enough to find the tablet. It was in the lab, a centrepiece for the academics and intellectuals who came to examine it, unknowingly damning themselves in the process. 
The markings on the tablet were intricate and elaborate, not resembling any style of letters but representing a valley of symbols and shapes, each cut on the stone infused with forbidden meaning. I thought back to my programming days and understood what it reminded me of - it was code.  
As I took in the engravings, I felt a calming head rush spread over my brain, bringing with it a sudden wave of tiredness. I shut my eyes and saw the strange shapes burnt through the kaleidoscope of colours in my eyelids. This was my brain, my DNA being re-written. 
From this point to the moment of my death, my body would attack and rebuild itself to the specifications of this new design and give way to two unbearable atrocities. The only consolation was that I would be the last person to see this tablet, though it was a struggle to feel grateful for the privilege.
I won’t detail the method I used to destroy it, for it is possible that it might be used to locate the remains. I will say that I was thorough in my actions and resolute in my conviction that in doing so I would be saving lives. My last few days have seen me putting my affairs to rest and ensuring my transition to the next life will be as seamless and quick as possible - I’ve identified a suitable method that I believe will preclude the birth of the creatures. My eyes are sore now, and they itch like fire. I strain to see the words I write. Occasionally the pain will flare white hot and I get up to find something to carve out my own eyes just for the relief.
The strange spawn? Where they headed to, after their birth? That’s not for man to know. Those of us who died in the course of this incident were part of an ancient life cycle that rendered us humans mere incubators for the next life.
However, there are facts I cannot ignore. I am troubled by reports of bodies found with a similar absence of eyes coming from different countries, across the seas. These reports seem disparate and unconnected, even more so than the cases here had once been. It leads me to the only conclusion possible, which suggests the curse has become much more viral than either Creevy or I could have ever feared.
When Zoe Tyler took a photo to send to her linguistics house mate, she preserved the tablet in the form of an image, forging the cursed markings in digital data. If the image escaped, or was found, it is out there now, making its way across a network that’s growing far beyond comprehension and spreading faster than any one person or organisation could act. 
Don’t go looking for it. If you see it, it’ll be too late.

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