LCA: In the conference room of the lab where Dr. Amanda Chase was
introduced to Director Earl Roland her eyes kept drifting to what she
thought were two detailed models of human brains cast in white plastic,
sitting in the center of the long table. “May I have a closer look?”
LCB: “Most certainly,” said Roland, grinning, as he pushed both of
them closer to her side of the table.
Examining both of them quite thoroughly, she said, “They are both
remarkably accurate, except for this structure at the back. I fail to
see the point of making that.”
LCC: Roland’s grin became an full smile after that remark. “Ah, you
must think these are sculptures of some sort, or perhaps casts made
in plastic of a mold taken after the demise of a living person. But
what you have in your hands are actual relics, Dr. Chase.”
LCD: Amanda eyed both Roland and Dr. Trochmann with a quick flash of
indignation, which they fully expected. She said, “The color is all
wrong, no matter what solution you used to preserve them. Brains of
this age would be an unsightly dark yellowish-brown. And softer.”
LCE: Trochmann said, “Dr. Chase, do you see the pins inside the cup
of bone shaped like the letter ‘D’?”
She looked closely, but shook her head. “I see none.”
“Oh, you must be looking at Gabriel Shybear,” said Roland. “The other
one belonged to Kimberly Shybear.
LCF: That one still has the pins.”
Amanda looked at the other relic and saw rings of black pins arranged
with geometric precision. It was the precision which spurred her
“The pins you see would grow back if they were broken off, at least
they would in a living subject.
LCG: There was a subject named Rebekah Redstar who was also afflicted
with this change. She held Gabriel’s brain in her hands even as you
are holding Kim’s in your own, and sabotaged it. She broke off all
the pins. So we learned they do not grow in a subject who is dead.”
LCH: She said, “Even healthy living things do not develop with such
mechanical precision, yet you say this is a disease? Or perhaps a
mutation? So much the worse for your claim.”
Roland said, “If you look more closely, you will see where we cut
tissue strips as samples.
LCI: We have examined these samples under extreme magnification, and
there is always more detail. But it is the nature of the detail
which is most interesting. How did Director Tolson put it, Ian?”
Trochmann remembered well. “He compared it to a bridge across a
LCJ: He said that nature, with all the time in the world, still only
made bridges by mindlessly rolling boulders into a rough line, or
maybe having a log drift downstream and get caught by boulders, and
that is what we see with how evolution made our nervous system.
LCK: But this is like someone poured concrete over the boulders, then
cut up the log for timber to build a functional and efficient truss.”
“So you think this is artificial,” mused Amanda.
Roland said, “That is something I’d like to find out. And if so, who
did it, and why.”
LCJ: Dr. Trochmann asked a question. “Dr. Chase, in your professional
opinion, what is the mechanism by which human beings store long-term
She thought about that for a moment, then said, “Even now, we only
have a variety of competing models, all in a state of flux.
LCK: And when you talk about them, you have to specify what level
you’re referring to. For instance, I am of the opinion that what we
call autobiographical memory is stored, at the highest level, in the
dream format. But you may be asking about the lowest, physical level.”
LCL: Trochmann nodded his head, so she continued.
“The brain has layers upon layers of neurons arranged in networks
that are connected more or less randomly, but order can be imposed on
them in much the same way you can tread through a field of grass and
LCM: So every time you get behind the wheel of a car, your movements
seem almost automatic. You call it ‘muscle memory’ but it’s really
your mind rehearsing some well-worn paths in the grass. But other
paths double back around and make loops. These are nagging memories.
LCN: You might find yourself rehearsing something you did in the past
that was very stupid, something that nobody else in the world but you
remembers, yet you process them with emotions of regret, or shame.
Those are the loops. But they’re important in making you who you are.”
LCO: “Thank you, Dr. Chase. And would you find it safe to say that
three years after death, a human brain could not, by any means, still
retain memories in any meaningful way?”
“Not even three minutes after death,” said Amanda. “It begins to turn
to slurry almost immediately.”
LCP: “And yet Deputy Director Tolson reported that a woman named
Rebekah Redstar, who exhibited the same D-shaped cup at the back of
her head, was able to connect herself to the brain of Gabriel Shybear
with a cable prepared specifically for that purpose.
LCQ: Director Tolson reported that this Rebekah, after making
contact with Gabriel’s brain, knew about and reacted to actions and
conversations that only he, Gabriel Shybear, and Director Roland had
witnessed, words and events which had been conveyed to no others.
LCR: Amanda shifted her glance to Earl Roland, as though seeking
confirmation, which he provided simply by not objecting to what Dr.
Trochmann continued. “We have concluded that that these brains are
preserved in both the external and internal sense.”
LCS: Amanda chewed on that, then said, “Do we all agree these are not
Trochmann and Roland both made affirmation of that.
“And you told me these pins at the back, if they were damaged, would
grow back, but only if the subject was still alive.”
Both men agreed.
LCT: “In that event, gentlemen, I fail to see how these relics can be,
as you claimed, preserved in an internal sense. It takes a great
deal of energy for neurons to propagate information. The brain alone
consumes fully a fifth of all the energy used by a human body.”
LCU: “Science has advanced quite rapidly over the last thirty-five
years,” said Trochmann, “but we knew, even in the beginning, the
dynamics of this change. It moved from neuron to neuron and retained
all the pathways, but the ion channels were replaced with something else.
LCV: Instead of atoms of potassium and chlorine and sodium being pumped
in and out of cell walls to make a wave, like letters moving on a
marquee, you have long gadgets with sliding rods. It’s mechanical
now, not electrical. Memories are stored in the position of the rods.
LCW: That, at least, is what we discovered when we put samples of
these relics under an electron microscope, and if you care to take
your own samples, Dr. Chase, and have a look for yourself, it is most
certain you will find that to be true as well.”
LCX: Amanda removed her glasses to rub her eyes as she shook her head.
Director Roland interpreted this as an expression of exasperation.
He said, “Dr. Chase, we are pleased that you have joined our project,
and it is my sincere hope that you will help us finally crack this nut.”
LCY: “But if you believe we are executing a complicated ruse for
some obscure but nefarious purpose, we are ready to let you take all
the time you need to investigate all the evidence for yourself, with
any apparatus you require and under any conditions you name yourself.”
LCZ: “There is no need,” said Amanda. “I know how important you are,
Director, and I cannot imagine why you would spend decades carrying out
an elaborate practical joke. Besides, considering what you now have
planned, certainly I will see the transformation myself, first-hand.”