The Hunt For Owl Eyes
The first time I looked into an infrared camera, it changed how I perceived the world.
We live in a world surrounded by a labyrinth of electromagnetic waves. From gamma rays to long infrared, we swim in them, but can only see the small spectrum we see as visible light. I have always wondered what it would be like to see beyond our visible spectrum. Would it be a blessing or drive us crazy?
The first infrared camera I experienced was in the 1980s. It was crude, operated in a field of nitrogen and cost over $100,000. But even then, I could sit beside a river in the dead of night and see a muskrat glowing at 50 yards. Today my FLIR T400 far exceeds the capabilities of the earlier model at less than one quarter of the price. It can sense temperature differences to a level of 1/10 of a degree, and can detect things as small as reduced blood circulation to an extremity.
The use of infrared in warfare has been used for years. From heat seeking missiles to surveillance drones, it is an integral part of today’s battlefield. Today, even in recreational sporting goods, night vision goggles are available. Although people refer to them incorrectly as infrared, they are not. They are light amplifiers, and can only amplify what light is already there. True infrared operates in total darkness with no presence of visible light.
The intriguing notion that you could take a pill and see in total darkness has fascinated me. For those of us who survived the 60s where mind-altering drugs were everywhere, to the Native American nations that practiced rituals with the hallucinogenic properties of peyote, cultures have flirted with the world outside our normal visual spectrum. But what if a pill could break that barrier and we could see who is carrying a gun under their shirt, where the booby traps are hidden, or the skin cancer that is undetected to the normal eye?
Brian Miller stepped outside the lab; the air was cool and clear. He peered into the bag, took a pill and swallowed it. He staggered to the edge of the barnyard and watched his world dissolve into a churning fluorescent sea of radiant heat. He couldn’t make it stop. He prayed for it to stop. When his girlfriend walked into the lab in search of her brother with a lighted cigarette, the explosion leveled the lab and shook the earth. Brian took off on the run totally unaware the drug research was funded by a terrorist group that wanted the drug so their armies could see in the night. With Brian holding the only evidence of years of research, they wanted it back and the hunt was on for Owl Eyes, the one who can see in the night.