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Archive for February, 2012

Now that I have learned to pick up the DC signal right off the electrode inputs, things are clearing up for me.  “Me” has become the brain that used to live inside my skull.  The surgical team removed it, in keeping with the release I signed, before my cancer could cross the blood/brain barrier and finish me off.  That brain is now floating in the tank I helped design and retrofit to house “The First Brain to Continue Living a Conscious Existence External to a Human Body”.

 

I knew it was possible that I would simply never wake up, but it seems that the best we had hoped for has indeed come to pass.  I am even beginning to “see”, thanks to the optic nerve interface we rigged up to deliver optical code direct to my visual cortex.  There is no adjustable focus, but I can perceive an enhanced spectrum of visual frequency gradations that are finally beginning to differentiate into images.  We hadn’t provided for intercepting sound, but I am definitely picking up patterns in the auditory frequency range, no doubt sympathetic resonance from vibrations induced in the tank fluid by the various pumps and mechanical gadgets that comprise the brain tissue support apparatus.  I wish somebody would submerge a speaker and pipe in Beethoven’s 9th.  Wait!  Listen! Actually, I don’t need a source.  I am reconstructing that glorious melodic line, even the discrete instrumentation, interwoven as symphonic music.  Oh, yes!  Now I’m getting that tweety-bird soprano, Carol Griffith, soloing Inflammatus in our Staples High School choir senior recital.  It’s all there, stored as memory.  There’s Orff’s Carmina Burana, and I’m singing it again with the Roanoke Symphony and tasting the ecstasy of tantric sex floating every pianissimo high C.  It’s Heaven accessed as an ethereal dimension of mind and of voice. All I have to do now is think it, and there it is.  Wonder if I’ll be able to smell.  Yes?  No?  We’ll see.  Think!  Think smell! There!  There it is! The clean bite of ozone, no doubt out-gassing from the high voltage multiplier.  It must be osmosing from the nutrient bath, right across the tissue/fluid barrier and into my stripped olfactory ganglia.  I’m interpreting the chemistry directly as smell, almost as taste.  Wow!  This is better than we ever imagined.  Uh, oh!  Now I’m “hearing” Dr. Walker’s voice.  It’s him, as clear as if I were still inside my body.  He’s muttering to himself.  Nothing new there___Heh-heh-heh.  What’s he saying?

 

“It’s too bad our first attempt was a failure.  Tomorrow, when her family comes, I’ll turn off the system and turn over her brain to them for cremation.  We did our best, but that’s how it is with these things.  It was a long shot.”

 

Pleeeeease don’t pull that plug.  How can I tell him?  I’m in here.  It’s me!  Damn it!  There’s no way to tell him that it worked.  It’s all over.  At least I’ll have one whole night to replay a lifetime of inhabiting a living, sensing, gloriously human, body.  OK.  So let’s get this show on the road.

 

In the seventh grade at St. Joseph’s Academy, that cool Valentine’s Day party.  It was off-campus and the first time we got to play spin-the-bottle.  Johnny Rutherford wasn’t much to look at, but he really could kiss.  Of course I didn’t have any comparison since his was my first.  His lips were warm.  So soft, Mmmm, so smooth.  He tasted like jelly doughnuts.  What about that night of nights behind the bleachers, when Charles first proposed a life for the two of us together?  The grass was cool and pillow soft.  It smelled succulent and new-mown, and was crawling with chiggers, but we didn’t care.  It was the Fourth of July, and fireworks were going off all around us…….

 

Dr. Walker hung up his lab-coat and dimmed the laboratory lights.  As he turned to open the door, an unusual output on one of the displays caught his eye.  It looked, for all the world, like bottle-rockets exploding, pink and purple, right there on the screen.  The doctor grinned and reached for his lab-coat.  He knuckled “Knock-Knock” on the side of the tank and watched “Who’s there?” flow merrily across the screen.

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All five black Andalusian stallions are lined up peaceably, noses in their feed buckets, while night shadows congeal in the barn lot.  I always tie them while they eat, each bucket hitched to one of the posts that support the stable roof overhang.  That keeps these beautiful bad boys eight feet apart, an effective separation.  While I wait, listening to contented munching, my hands dig deep into coat pockets, desperate for body heat.  The frigid air turns grunts and snorts into white ribbons of steam.  Matias, the senior stallion, raises his head and neighs, sliming wet feed onto frozen muck.  Farruco, the tallest at 16 hands, squeals and paws his bucket.  He’s finished and wants to be turned loose to make trouble.  Not tonight.  It’s too cold.  The sky is clear, stars bright, promising a plummeting temperature.  I waggle my toes, numb inside my boots, and yank off a glove.  I choose a lead equipped with a short length of chain that I thread, bare fingered, through one halter side ring, across the nose, to its opposite ring, assuring an extra degree of compliance.  Farucco is first, being the end horse closest to the barn door.  I release his tie and guide him toward his stall, giving him a pat and soft word of gentling.  Santiago, the two year old, is feeling frisky.  He nickers and tosses his mane.  Farruco begins to prance and crowd me, angling a return to the lineup to assert his dominance.  I yank the nose chain and urge him backward, but he is insistent.  Protocol is to turn him full circle in the direction he wants to go and lead him out of that turn toward a safer heading, but he’s too fast.  His massive chest backs me within kicking range of Matias, the stud next in line.  In a split second, Matias swivels, presents his powerful rump, and donkey kicks my thigh.  The impact of those rear hooves splays me on my back beneath the battling behemoths.  In the scuffle I have dropped the lead, and Farruco is free to attack Matias.  Stunned, I stare in slack-jawed reverence at the silhouette of barrel chests and slashing hooves dancing above me against a shimmering arch of stars.  Time slows to a quarter-horse saunter as I roll over and hug the ground. Then it’s a hound dog belly-crawl on knees and elbows to the barn door and a brief respite before limping back out to sort stallions.  Through my hot tears I can’t help but smile.  Those big guys were mighty sweet not to step on my head.  Tomorrow they get apples.  What is it about girls and horses?

_Dorothy Jeanette Martin

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