After a world war that saw widespread chemical combat, many of the survivors have lost one or more of their senses. At an Asylum for the blind, volunteers and staff work to ease the suffering of patients by sharing with them what they see and imagine.
the diary of Jourdain St Gelais, May 30 11AF
I experienced my first day at an Asylum today, confronted with a never-ending line of patients. Some are old, some young. They came in a full spectrum of skin tones, and identify with countless other names that we assign ourselves. But they are all in the Asylum, together.
And they are all blind.
Each one has been afflicted by the chemicals and bio-weapons unleashed in the war, savage sicknesses and diseases that had ripped through enemy and ally alike without discretion. People still point fingers, but in truth no-one is guiltless. In the aftermath, the world finally found some sort of peace; though with the population decimated it was one of the easier things to find amid the rubble.
That was eleven years ago, as our current calendar reflects: 11AF, eleven years after fall-out. Sometime during the war time had been forgotten, alongside respect, compassion, and mercy. Battered, they’ve been picked up and pieced together, much like the people in the Asylum.
I am one of the lucky ones, one of the True Survivors; I have all my senses still. Sight isn't the only thing some people lost; others left behind hearing, taste, or touch in the wake of the war. Some of these people can still operate in society, their disability not debilitating. But with such a flux of infirm our already crippled society can’t cope, so they are sent to vast Asylums where they can be looked after.
And now I help with the looking after of these people, most particularly those who are blind. There are many people like me, people who work in these Asylums with the blind. We tell them stories, lend them our eyes, and recreate the world for them. Sometimes we’ll recount the world as it once was: the bustling cities and economies alive with the spirit of metropolitan connoisseurship. Other times we’ll describe the world as it is, bleak and desolate with hot winds and burning dust. And if we are inspired, if we see that spark of something unimagined, then we’ll weave false worlds of fantasy, reaching into the depths of a future not yet realised.
I am now charged with recreating our destroyed landscape through the conversations I have with the blind, tricking them into believing everything in my imagination. I have joined the ranks of the World Builders.