This story will be published in three to five parts (I'm not sure yet as they're not written yet). Toward the end it will get extremely graphic. Most people will find some passages difficult to read. Some will stop reading altogether.
If such content will bother or offend you, please do not read 'Light'.
If such content will bother or offend you, please do not read 'Light'.
I'm recovering from surgery. Brain surgery. No. I'm not stupid. They didn't cut out a huge chunk. Just a tiny chunk. About the size of an eraser on the end of a pencil. But. The good news. They replaced that chunk. With a tiny sliver of a rat's brain. A sliver taken from a part of the brain, the rat's brain, responsible for controlling motor function. I forget the name. And, that gets me to my problem, my sickness. The reason I needed surgery. I had epileptic seizures. Bad ones. Really bad. The docs said I'd likely die from one within a few years. Great.
They procedure is experimental. They really didn't know what would happen. But, hey. If you're slated to die 'within a few years', why not. What they do is insert a catheter through a small hole they drill in the skull, guide the tube using realtime PET imaging (or, it might be CT, I forget that too). They worm the catheter around until the end in near the spot to be excised. Then, they snake an optical filament through the tube and fire up an RF (radio frequency) emitter on the end of the filament and ablate the offending tissue. Then, they vacuum up the goo with a really tiny hose, and insert the afore mentioned rat brain tissue, bathe it in anti-rejection and AP (assimilation promotion) drugs, and sew you up. Badda-bing, badda-boom.
Simple. Hell, I could have done it if I had good instructions.
So, here I am, the first human, the first girl (I'm twenty-six if you're interested. My name is Chloe.), to have this done. I feel fine. At my first scheduled post-surgical examination everybody was real cheerful, but it was a kinda forced. You could tell they all had their fingers crossed. But, the next day, I hadn't had a seizure, and when I went down to the fifth floor for another exam everybody had big beautiful smiles. They watched me walk across the room like I was a rock star, or something. One and a half days, no seizure. They liked that. Liked it a lot.
A couple weeks go by, still no seizures. I moved out of the hospital to my apartment. Well, it's not mine. It's provided and paid for by the university medical center -- that's where the protocol is being conducted. EP-TI-4755-001. Experimental Protocol, Tissue Implant 4755. I'm 001. (You can write your own 007 joke). Anyway, since it's a federally subsidized protocol, all the participants get a free ride -- everything is paid for. It's the law. And, as the protocol calls for the subject (me) to live very close to medical personnel and facilities, I get an apartment on campus rent free. Cable, wifi, even a stipend for food and expenses. I even get to use one of the university's cars.
What the hell. I should get that stuff paid for. Had to quit my job for this. That's another thing. I can't work for twelve months after the surgery. To keep environmental factors, like stress, and thinking a lot, to a minimum. So, In my downtime I surf the web, or watch blu-ray movies on my killer fifty-two inch plasma TV (that your tax dollars bought). Sometimes, I'll do the History Channel thing, or watch that channel that only runs biographies -- what's that called? Every now and then I'll watch a game or something. I can watch football for maybe ten minutes before I zone out. Sometimes, I read. I got a stack of books (yeah, your taxes bought those too).
That's my life. I take it easy. And, why not enjoy myself? I asked one of the nurses how much a study like this cost. She said 'millions', even 'tens of millions'. Okay. It's their dime. They dick around with my brain, I watch TV, read the latest bestsellers, eat gourmet ice cream. In exchange for all that sumptuous living, I show up for my check ups, AP injection, PET scan, almost every day. Sometimes, up to four or five hours a day. Other days, it's just a blood draw or something simple. I forget the last time I had a whole day to myself without having to go to the clinic or hospital. Whatever. It's worth it.
Being seizure-free is fucking great. I'm loving it. I don't have to worry about having a spill, that's what I call them, in the middle of the mall, or wherever. One time, I was picking up some dry cleaning and fell to the floor doubled up, making these weird moaning sounds. The Korean woman behind the counter screams, eyes bulging. She called 911. By the time the EMTs got there it had passed. I was sitting against the giant plate glass window sipping Oolong and explaining to the Korean woman what had happened. She said, with a silly laugh, that in the old country (she's a transplant) an attack like that might be taken as a sign of demonic possession. Sheesh. How 'old country' can you get.
One seizure was so bad. One of my incisors got stuck on the inside the lower teeth and, when my jaw snapped to the side, the tooth was knocked right out. Okay, I was a kid and it was a loose baby tooth, but still. It hurt. I was at school at the time and the other kids thought it was cool. 'Chloe, that was so cool!', they'd say. I even earned cred with the boys. Not bad. They quit making fun of me for a while.
So. A couple months went by. After the surgery, I mean. Not one episode. The docs are talking 'preliminary success'. They're happy. Can't blame them. If this works they'll be famous. Millions would benefit. It would be a landmark event. Look good on the resume. I guess I'd be happy, too.
Anyway, one night I load up the new 'Alien' blu-ray box set. Anthology... Watch the first few minutes to see how much better the picture is. Wow. What a difference. Didn't know movies could look that good. And, the sound. So clear. Makes the movie much creepier. Didn't know sound could do that. I pause it and go to the fridge. No ice cream. Could. Not. Believe. It. I was out for a couple hours getting stocked up for tonight. That's a bad thing. You're not supposed to be out of 'the subject's assigned living quarters' for that long. In case they need to reach you, don't you know. Going out of town? Forget it. It's all in the stack of stuff you have to sign before you can take part in the...you get the picture.
I had gone to the bookstore for the latest translated Euro murder thriller. I love those. I stopped for a three-dollar latte and some people watching. (Anything to avoid going back to the apartment). Then, I swung over to the electronics store for a flash drive and the 'Alien' Anthology. Then, the grocery store for some frozen dinners (yes, I do those). Figured I had everything you need for several hours of horror movie watching. Forgot the damn ice cream. Have a frozen pizza, you say. Don't want one. Want sugar.
Back to the grocery store. Jump back in the university's car (with the dorky U logo on the side). I'm in the ice cream aisle. Butter pecan or peach? Which is right for the monster-growing-inside-you genre? I grab butter pecan and head for the check out. Then, I see her. This lady, maybe sixty, a little stooped, silver curls, but sharp eyes. I look at her as she examines an apple. When she glances at me, she smiles. I smile too, but it fades when I see the spot of light in the middle of her forehead. The tiniest red dot. I mean, it's teeny, but it glows really strong. A deep, brilliant red. She goes back to her apples. I'm still looking back at her, and almost run into a stack of bananas. Did I? No. No way. Girl, go home and watch horror movies -- you're in the mood for it. Seeing things.
It's late. There's nobody in line. I set my purchase on the belt, get my card (well, the university's card). 'How you doing?' the girl says.
I swipe my card, 'Fine, thanks.'
'Four fifty. You want a bag?'
I punch the PIN number. 'No,' I say, looking at her for the first time. There it was. Right between her eyes. A teeny tiny red dot. Glowing, with sort of a fog around it. Until she looks at me. The fog disappears and the light becomes pure, bright, shining right into my eyes, first the left, then the right.
'You said you didn't need a bag, right?' she says.
I'm slack-jawed. 'No...yes, I said that.'
She glances at the ice cream sitting there in front of me. 'Did you want something else?'
I pick it up. The cold brings me back to reality. 'Sorry,' I manage. 'Tired.'
She grins. 'That's okay. I get that way.' The light grows brighter with her emotion, hitting my eyes in quick succession. Left, right, left, right. Then, it settles, seeming to shine into the middle of my own forehead. 'Have a good night.'
'You too,' I say out of reflex, and leave.
The next chapter will be posted soon.