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michaelcthompson
January 29th, 2011, 05:14 AM
DISCLAIMER: This story may (will eventually) contain strong language and descriptions of violence. This is not intended for immature readers.

I started a new story tonight, called "Cerebra." A doctor examines a psychotic subject created as a result of his cerebral experiments. As a result, the two halves of the brain in the subject's head have rebelled, and the chaotic left-half has temporarily won out. Dr. Randall observes this side of the brain as it controls the body of his subject.

COPYRIGHT 2011 MICHAEL C. THOMPSON. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.


"Cerebra"

I
Dimorphic abomination.


Two minds stare at me through a single set of eyes, the left orb filled with burst blood vessels, a milky crimson, it’s icy blue counterpart on the right simply filled with the hopeless terror of it’s master, a marooned prisoner inside of the subject‘s skull. The subject himself has hair that is thick, black and wild, gnarled like his own mind, and his once handsome face, although only twenty-six years old, has been aged at least two decades through the stress of the ongoing war inside of his head. His body is encased in the yellowed skin of a very unhealthy soul, the blood vessels having inexplicably weakened with the heightening of the symptoms that split this mind in two in the first place.

Through the subject’s bloody left lens, a left-brain consciousness personified observes me, it’s nature to create chaos of order, to lead institution to entropy. Daniel, he calls himself - the darker half. His counterpart, a right-brain mind, gazes at me with the inscrutable eye of an analyst from the right-side of the subject’s face. His name, Austin, the lighter half. Fully compromised, Austin Daniel Parker is the legal title of this entity. It’s been over a decade since both halves worked in harmony, however.

“I’ll kill both of us,” Daniel informs me threateningly, his voice sly, calm, and referring to the personality imprisoned in the opposite half of his brain. He’s in control now, maybe for good, and I haven‘t heard a word from Austin in weeks. He’s gone, sedated, somehow, by the firing charges in his brain, or at least the half of it in which his personality resides. His blackened brother in consciousness, Daniel, is the killer. And killing himself seems like something he’s quite capable of, given the right opportunity. Immediately, however, this darker half is incapable of doing anything. He’s tied into a chair, in the routine garb of all hyper-cerebral psych subjects - black sweats, a black t-shirt, and heavy-duty metal restraints. He stares out at me from his one bloody eye, the other side of his face having gone slack and his counterpart gazing stupidly outward, not even in the same direction, making him look strangely cross-eyed.

“You can’t kill yourself,” I tell Daniel, and he looks up at me with a grin on the right half of his face that says that he knows otherwise.

“I shut the brat up, didn’t I?” he questions, referring to Austin, the presently dormant left side of his brain - the analytical, logical half. The original personality that owned the body now inhabited by this strange, other-worldly sadist. I feel that it is useless to even converse with Daniel, the “artistic” side, as some may call it. There is no art in the chaos he has wrought on the world, or on my own life. Having him here is only settling in the fact that I know I am safe from him when I am away from this place. But our little game continues, and I persevere with our meaningless dialogue, knowing that he’s not even trying to remember what I say, if he’s listening to it at all.

“You’re restrained far beyond any hope of escaping,” I tell him. “There are also guards posted everywhere, and they are not equipped with anything that would kill you. You might be in a coma for awhile, but we can still observe what’s happening in your brain without your tiresome charades.”

“Austin hasn’t talked for awhile… you think he might be dead?” questions the mad Daniel.

“Our sensors show that your better half is very much alive. The left half of your body wouldn’t move at all without his help. Amongst a myriad of other extremely insolvable problems which I’m sure you aren’t intelligent enough to conceive of.”

“That’s not true… I figured out how to re-wire things. I can make the left work as well as the right…” he rambles, remarkably less delirious than he usually is.

“It’s too bad for you that the nature of your existence confines you to stupidity,” I tell the personality bluntly - not even thinking of it as human. “If the left half of your brain had died, or been permanently blacked out, as you suggest, then you would no longer be able to form words, or to even comprehend anything about my existence but the mere shapes, colors and sounds that make up the texture of your present environment. You would have no idea what’s going on, why it’s going on, or even whom you might be. So your lies are not as clever as you hope. Unfortunately for our dear Austin, I believe he’s still trapped in there with you, likely permanently.”

“Do you like talking to me, Dr. Randall?” he asks, suddenly shifting the conversation, as he is wont to do. Daniel is not good at focusing - it is antithetical to his nature. He doesn’t know much, as Austin’s half of the brain retains memory in large part, but he knows how to upset me. I hate when he refers to me by name. The idea that boundaries exist is foreign to this other-worldly invader, dark Daniel. He can’t imagine lines, even when he’s seeing them clearly. When Daniel’s in control, the subject exhibits severe psychological delusions, not even observing reality in any way imaginable to someone thinking with both halves of their brain. I wish, for a moment, that I could see through his eye. But perhaps it would drive me as mad as he is.

“I hate you,” I tell Daniel, sounding calm and relaxed while doing so. “You know that. If I could, I would have you executed. So would any sane society. Unfortunately for both of us, my employer has decided that your misery is profitable, both intellectually and financially.”

My employer, as Daniel always forgets, is the only hyper-cerebral psychiatric research firm currently legally allowed to exist in the USA. Officially, we are referred to as the Cerebra Corporation, and it’s likely that you’ve never heard of us. In fact, it’s likely that you’ve never heard of hyper-cerebral psychiatry at all, much less of a law that would restrict it. There’s a good reason for that. The more that HCP (as I shall refer to it henceforth) flourishes, the more Daniels’ this world will end up with. My job is to prevent that from happening. To save others the torment that has been visited upon me.

To atone for my sins.

mytalkingbird
January 29th, 2011, 06:05 AM
Michael,

This was entertaining to read, never strayed off except when my phone buzzed with a text; it took me a minute even then to pull my eyes off the screen. I love these types of stories and they are dear to my heart, bonus if I can find one that’s well written. Which this one seems to be, I seen a few minor things here and there, but otherwise I thought it was constructed beautifully.

I do, however, have a question. Will Austin ever appear, or will Daniel remain in control? It would be interesting to see the doctor converse with both sides of the brain, especially if you plan to weave this ‘entity’ through the novel. Maybe its your focal point, maybe we’ll never see it again.

I would love to read more when/if you have it, very interesting! Good job, man.

michaelcthompson
January 29th, 2011, 10:46 AM
I'm planning on keeping this one to around 10,000 words, as has been my trend with short stories lately. This one will be more slow-paced and less grandiose than my usual works, so that leaves me room for about four or five chapters. I plan on having one chapter devoted to a conversation with Austin, one to Daniel, one exploring the reality of hyper-cerebral psychiatry (likely the one you have started to read), one explaining what Daniel did to Dr. Randall, and then the conclusion, which has not yet come to me. Thanks so much for your interest! Can you please tell me what your problems with the story are? I tend to have ADD and so I can miss out on little things... I am trying to make my craft better, so any criticism you have of it would be greatly appreciated.

mytalkingbird
January 30th, 2011, 03:25 AM
Michael,

I think you have a very interesting concept, and I can’t wait to keep reading on this. I like how you present Daniel, in some way you have us hating him and in others you have us curious as to what exactly he may be. If that makes any sense? Be careful when explaining the hyper-cerebral psychiatry, sometimes stories can drop off during these types of scene; I’m sure, however, you can carry it without a hitch!

The only real problem I seen with your writing was the use of ‘orb’ and a few over-used commas, but either problem is a preference rather than a problem. Comb it over and either you’ll see some changes or you’ll just say I’m off my rocker about it. Either way, keep writing because you’re ideas are interesting and catch the reader perfectly.

I myself haven’t written for a while, just lately. I posted my short Painting 470 (which, when I say short, I mean really short!) on here not too long ago, if you’d swing by and give me a comment that would be lovely. I can relate on wanting to perfect your talents, I feel the same way, and I’d be happy to comment on anything else you write in the future!

michaelcthompson
January 30th, 2011, 04:41 AM
Chapter 1 Continued:

COPYRIGHT 2011 MICHAEL C. THOMPSON. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

“So you think you’re smarter than me?” he questions. I ignore him, watching the monitors which observe his heart-beat and brain-wave functions. He’s been in the alpha state for over forty-eight hours now, not sleeping for even a moment. He knows that I’m listening to him, in spite of my body language. “But I’ve gotten away with so much… and I’m here, alive, and you have to bite your tongue… but you’re smarter than I am. Right?” I squeeze my fists together, the knuckles popping. I want to strangle him. To pull his eyes out. To punish him for what he’s taken from me. My obligation to keep him alive, to Cerebra, has broken me.

“I know you don’t deserve this, Austin,” I tell the subject, ignoring Daniel. You came to me looking for help. And look what I’ve done to you. I don’t want to kill you,” I lie, choking back laughter at the very notion, “I want to save you.”

“Save me?” he asks. “I like what you’ve done to me. To us - the brat and I.”

“I’m not talking to you, cretin,” I snap. “I’m talking to Austin.” I’m really talking to myself, knowing that Daniel, fascinated by my own speech, will finally shut up and listen, although he will forget quickly thereafter. The lessening of Austin’s control over the subject’s body, the more easily overwhelmed Daniel is by flashing lights, sounds and colors. Sedation is less necessary than when he was finally captured and returned to my hospice.

“You came to me looking for a last resort cure to intractable epilepsy. Or rather, your mother did. Do you remember your mother? Are you in there, Austin? Her name was Gloria. She loved you very much, before Daniel killed her. Can you hear me?” I ask. I walk over to Daniel, looking into his bloody eye. The eye that belongs to Austin still rolls around loosely. I close it with my fingers, Daniel not even flinching. It doesn’t re-open. Somehow, this comforts me.

“Brain surgery was out of the question, Gloria wouldn’t have it. But although I couldn’t help you initially, your mother was very lonely, and so was I. And we came to love one another, and eventually, I came to love you, and you called me father. Can you hear me, Austin?” No response from Daniel, who only stares up at me, fascinated. “I grew to think of your life as my responsibility to your mother. I suggested brain surgery three times, all three times resulting in an awful fight, two of those times right in front of you. I’m sure you remember that, Austin.” I keep repeating his name, hoping to spark him back to life through the use of these memories - knowing, however, that it’s unlikely. Although the language version of these memories are stored in his hemisphere, the audial, visual and sensory portions of those memories belong to Daniel. Although he’s accessing Austin’s half of the brain in order to communicate and maintain a fundamental understanding of the world around him, it seems clear to me that he has no memory of what I’m talking about. Austin is too far gone to let him know.

“You nearly choked to death when you were sixteen, and that’s when your mother had a nervous breakdown. I was desperate to fix you. I did what I had to do. Do you remember taking those pills, Austin?” Nothing. “You got better, for awhile. And then your mother got better. And then I realized you weren’t Austin anymore, at least not all the time.” This time the left-half of the subject’s face smiles, Daniel finally remember something - his birth.

I glance at the brainwave monitors. There is still a very low amount of activity in the left-hemisphere, much to my dismay. I glance back down at Daniel. “I didn’t believe you existed, at first. I thought that Austin was just… changing. Getting older, and different because of the alleviation of his symptoms. But it was you. Taking over.” The left-side of the subject’s mouth grins wide, bearing teeth. The right side is flat, emotionless. He remembers fully, now.

“I didn’t believe what was happening until you killed Gloria. And I should have killed you then. But because Cerebra provided the treatments which led to your mutation,” I say, spitting the word at the body snatcher inside of the vessel of my adopted son, “and my employ, Cerebra and the U.S. government thought would prove more valuable as a subject of study for the refinement of the treatment that I ruined you with. Austin had no idea what was happening, when you let him take over, his dead mother lying before him. You’re hideous. An abomination of nature. I don’t know what you are, Daniel, but it isn’t human.”

“I’m a mistake,” he says with startling clarity. “Something that should have never been. But here I am.”

“Yes,” I tell him. “Here you are.”

His grotesque half-smile resumes and I back away from him, disgusted. “Do you like observing your mind deteriorate to the point of non-existence?” I ask him. “Do you like feeling yourself blow away like dust in the wind?”

“It’s quite charming,” he says. “It feels lovely.”

“If you ever do succeed in killing Austin, or if you continue to diminish his existence as you have been for months now, you will never be able to have conversations with me. You will never be able to conjure sentences like that, or place any of your thoughts in any context whatsoever. You will rapidly dissipate. Is that what you want? You have to let…” I stop, knowing it’s futile to even continue.

“What do I have to do, father?” he asks me, taunting with his every syllable, knowing exactly what I’m going to say and purposely no longer referring to me as Dr. Randall.

“Let Austin out,” I tell him, practically pleading. “Let me talk to him.” I miss him dearly, my only connection to Gloria - and knowing what a freak of nature that Daniel is, knowing exactly what happened to my ex-lover at his hands, I can’t blame Austin at all. He is just as much a victim of this dimorphic abomination as she was, as I am.

“You’ll never talk to Austin again,” he says to me coldly. “I told you, I’ll kill both of us,” he says. “I’ll shut him down and blow away in the wind, just as you beautifully suggested. A slow death sounds like ecstasy. Like going out with a long moan.”

“Years,” I tell him, starting to sound anxious and not meaning to. “That’s how long you’ll be waiting. Decades to die.”

“Good,” he says. “As long as I outlive you.”

I stare down at him, wanting to lobotomize him, to scramble the alien right half of his brain. To free Austin. In my mind, I do it savagely, and not for the first time, wondering if I can hold the manifestation of this thought at bay.

It would be so easy.

(END CHAPTER 1)

Ilasir Maroa
January 30th, 2011, 08:29 AM
Michael, I have two suggestions for you:

1. You don't need to have the copyright notice there. By even writing this down, you have implicit copyright. By publishing it to an public section of a website, you have an even stronger implicit claim.

2. It might be better to wait until you've gotten more comments before putting up new material. Ten thousand words is quite long, and a lot of the comments for the first part will likely apply to the second.



I find the idea of each half of the brain having a separate personality a bit odd. Functions in the brain are organized assymetrically. For instance, language use is mainly held in the left half of the brain, but there are some important aspects of language processing on the right. There are also cross-brain interactions. I see you make some note of this in the story. While it's certainly possible to divide up the personalities alone analytic/chaotic lines, the association of this with the two physical sides of the brain doesn't quite work for me.

mytalkingbird
January 31st, 2011, 02:41 AM
I have to disagree, Ilasir Moroa, about the brain. It is true that they do have cross communication and such, but if something so severe as hyper-cerebral psychiatry happened to the brain it could easily split. How do people in reality split up their own brains in personality disorders, schizophrenia, etc.? Austin is not dead, nor is he disconnected completely from the way Michael is explaining, so I believe that his half of the brain could be connected with; Daniel could easily be using that side of the brain for motor skills, talking, thought, etc. The Austin half of the brain might be more submissive and gives into the Daniel half of the brain.

That’s my opinion about it!

I love the story, Michael, please continue with it.

Ilasir Maroa
January 31st, 2011, 03:38 AM
Really, could you cite me some sources? I'd love to see a study on the effects of hyper-cerebral psychiatry on the brain.

(I'm not saying he can't do it, just that it jumps out to me as something that people might find odd.)

michaelcthompson
February 1st, 2011, 07:29 PM
There are no studies about hyper-cerebral psychiatry because I made it up as a plot device. Thank you for your suggestions, Ilacir, I have just come to the conclusion yesterday that I really don't know enough about the brain. I plan on studying this and rebooting the story. I also don't like the way the second half of the first chapter turned out, and I find the idea that Dr. Randall and Daniel/Austin have known each other outside of the examination room for years to be a bit unlikely.

The condition that Daniel/Austin has in this story does not exist, but it is an exaggeration of a real condition where the nerves connecting the two halves of the brain are severed. I read a case about a woman whose right hand would light a cigarette, and when she wasn't looking, her left hand would put it out. Everything her right hand was doing, her left hand was doing the opposite of, except she was constantly aware of the motor of her right hand and the right side of her body, while she had no idea what was happening on the left. The two halves of her brain were fighting for control over her body. It is a real story, and there are many others like it. The syndrome is vastly documented, it's called split-brain syndrome. This is what inspired me. I was wondering what would happen if we could see into that other mind that split-brain patients don't experience, the creative right-half of the brain, as an actual consciousness, and obviously to write the story, that consciousness must be able to speak, so he has basically taken control over various systems run by the left side of the brain, i.e. language and motor skills. However, I've recently learned that motor skills are coordinated not in the two sides of the brain, but in the cortex, and that one side can operate both halves of the body very easily. So, I need to do a lot more research. I think this one might need to continue cooking for awhile...