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6/04/2005

I Think, Therefore


Do you remember the first moment of your life?

I do, but then most people suffer from the inherent deficits of infancy when they're born, whereas I had the special indignity and privilege of being thirty-six years old at the time.

I admit that I did soil myself. In this respect I am on par with a lot of other people, though my insides were not stuffed with healthy black meconium but rather the still spicy remains of a sumptuous meal enjoyed shortly before the beginning of my life.

And to be entirely truthful the first first moment is hazy. I was lost in a world of synesthetic fire, pawing out at the incoherent jangle of sudden perceptive barf that stabbed in at the amorphous horror that was quickly coalescing into my sense of self.

I was released into a blazing light, and then I fell down.

It was bliss. There was a world of smooth coolness firmly beneath me and a world of warm, blurry fog above me. I felt very peaceful. I could have lived a life splayed out like that, seeing nothing and understanding none of what I heard -- currents of air, chirping birds, approaching footfalls, shouts of alarm. It was all a wondrous symphony of inexplicable and awesome stimuli, now that I'd managed to throttle the input a little by lying face down.

That's when the apes came. They rolled me over and wiggled their lips at me while they grunted. I thought it was beautiful and magical, but weird.

With the benefit of hindsight I recognize now that they were people, just like me. They were my fellow travellers. They had rushed over because I had collapsed as soon as I stepped out of the gate. What they wanted to know was, "Are you okay?"

In reply I smiled serenely, and reached out to touch their sparkly, wet-looking eyes. Funny monkeys!

"I think he shat himself," concluded somebody.

There I was, not two minutes old, lying on the polished floor of the travel terminal, a crowd of cooing strangers gathering around me, their periphery being pushed aside by concerned authorities and their minions. I was the subject of some excitement. That much was clear even to me as I drooled and hummed, dazzled by the sun.

An auspicious start, wouldn't you say?

That was five weeks ago now. This morning the nurses brought me a cupcake with five little candles jammed into it, and sang me a silly song. "Happy Birthday, Simon!" they cheered. "You're five weeks old!"

I blew out the candles with all the aplomb and dignity the situation warranted. "And yet I don't feel a day over a month," I said. "The secret is eating your greens."

We all had a good chuckle. They're an easy laugh, at the hospital. Nice people.

Doctor Pent strode in after them, and made a bit of show of thumbing through my chart and nodding to himself. Then he sat down on the end of my bed and put his hands in the pockets of his labcoat. He made small-talk for a few minutes and then slipped out this diary. "Simon, I'd like you to start keeping a journal."

"Oh?"

"I think it might help your memory."

"You mean I might remember everything again?"

"Well, I think it might address some of the issues we're still seeing with your short term retention. You've suffered a very unique kind of brain damage, Simon, and the entire structure of your memory has been rattled. It's not just the big picture, it's the details."

"I see," I said. "So this journal is to be a new facet of my treatment?"

"Not precisely," said Dr. Pent, shifting in his seat. "Frankly, we've done just about all we can do for you here. As soon as you feel up to it you're to be released. We've arranged transport back to your home where your family will meet you."

"Is that expensive?"

"Your insurance company is taking care of it."

"Ah."

After a moment he touched my sleeve. "Simon?"

I was staring out the windows across from the row of beds, watching birds flicker and twitter across the branches of a budding tree. "You must understand I have mixed feelings about all this," I said, chewing the inside of my lip thoughtfully. "This ward is all I've ever known. My family are strangers from my point of view." I turned to him. "Isn't there some way I could recover my memory before meeting them?"

Dr. Pent sighed. "Simon, we've been over this. This isn't a matter of recovering your long term memories -- they simply aren't there. I can't explain what happened to you when you crossed that gate, but I do know how to interpret crystal-clear brain tomography. As far as long term memory is concerned, you have the mind of a baby."

"Yet I recovered my speech!" I pointed out. "And I know things -- like what flowers are, and that you need to water them. I didn't learn that here. Doesn't that mean there's something there?"

"And yet you had to re-learn how to voluntarily control your bladder," said Dr. Pent heavily. "Five thousand years of medical science and the human brain continues to surprise us."

"Great," I grunted. "Do it up as a paper and transmit it to the journals."

He put his hand on my shoulder. "I know this is all very hard, Simon. But you have to trust me. There are people that care about you. They'll help you re-learn your life."

I snorted. "Makes you think, though."

"What's that?"

"Is it really my life?"

Dr. Pent stood up slowly, and patted the diary on the bed. "Put it in the journal, Simon. Take the time you need to figure out what you must -- but don't make them wait forever."

I nodded. He gave me a tight little smile and walked out. I turned the diary over in my hands.

Hello, my name is Simon. Or so they tell me. I've lived my whole charmed life in a friendly ward in a white hospital by the delta. I don't know anything about anything, but everyone here is very understanding and the food is amazing. I'm talking to a blue plastic diary sitting in the palm of my hand, charged with the task of coming to terms with leaving this place to travel lightyears across space to assume a life I've never known.

How am I beholden to the man who lived that life?

Am I not a sovereign human being, capable of making my own decisions? I may be only five weeks old, but I'm an adult. I seldom wet my pants anymore, and with the help of the nurses I've learned to recognize the boundaries of personal space. To whom does my destiny belong, if not me?

Furthermore, this journal is stupid. Forget it.

19 Comments:

Anonymous Chris decreed...

I was introduced to your work half way through The Darth Side. I was surprised that people would get so giddy about being the first to post after a new entry. I suppose I'll be the first poster for this new venture. Lucky me. Best of luck to you. I hope it is as good as your prior work.

Sun Jun 05, 12:03:00 AM EDT  
Anonymous Anne Arkham decreed...

How kind you are to link me again, and how happy I am to read the beginning of your next adventure!

I had the pleasure of meeting Neil Gaiman last year. I told him that he made me happy both as a reader of stories and as a collector of books. He replied that it was nice to write books, but much more important to tell stories. (Which was, of course easy for him to say. He's made a fortune off his books.)

You, Cheeseburger, sure as hell have the storytelling down. I'm looking forward to collecting your books, too.

Sun Jun 05, 12:23:00 AM EDT  
Anonymous Jorg Sacul decreed...

I love this concept! A man is made an alien to his entire world, and we get to see it from day one. This will be a Must Follow storyline! (so far, it beats the hell out of anything on TV for the last couple of decades!)

Sun Jun 05, 03:22:00 AM EDT  
Anonymous Mostly Harmless decreed...

Damnit CBB, you're determined to ensure I always have something to procrastinate doing real work with, aren't you? You bastard....

Sun Jun 05, 04:34:00 AM EDT  
Blogger Nightshade decreed...

I love your work and this is another interesting start. I Look forward to further posts, and hope that this is as good as the other one.

Regards,
Nightshade

Sun Jun 05, 05:15:00 AM EDT  
Blogger #3tiYo>B_shyo> decreed...

hey, amazin....its good to read some more amazin stuff after darthside....keep it comin man!

Sun Jun 05, 07:40:00 AM EDT  
Anonymous emily decreed...

i enjoy reading your stories, n darthside was a blast. all the best with this one!

Sun Jun 05, 01:13:00 PM EDT  
Anonymous Madrigan decreed...

Cheeseburger,

Not posted before, but a big fan. I wanted to thank you for the Darthside blog and for this. I look forward to watching your story unfold.

Sun Jun 05, 02:59:00 PM EDT  
Blogger Frankenhammer decreed...

I'm excited to hear more.

Have fun.

-dave

Sun Jun 05, 03:03:00 PM EDT  
Blogger Token Something decreed...

Oh my, but now I am absolutely fascinated.

Sun Jun 05, 11:33:00 PM EDT  
Blogger Cheeseburger Brown decreed...

Hello, hello.

Thanks for tuning in.

I'm excited. There's nothing like improvisation to limber up the muses, shake 'em up and force them to get sweaty.

I have only the vaguest designs to the destiny of the plot seeds being planted here, but I hope you'll all enjoy the journey.

All entries are being posted as they're written, so you'll be getting it hot and steamy. All type-o corrections are welcome and appreciated.

For those of you who might feel I'm playing the sci- end of sci-fi quietly, don't worry: just wait til we get rolling. There's a whole galaxy to explore.

Love,

CheeseburgerBrown

PostScript for MostlyHarmless: Yes. Yes I am. Muo-hoo-ha-hua!

PostScript for Anne: No worries. If you enjoy what unfolds here please considering blogging it sometime.

PostScript for Jorg: TV is stale because it is processed like twice-ground pepperoni. I tried to get a funny TV show made once. A less than fun experience, in which different commitees of people worked to prune away anything funny, and then complain that the tattered remains weren't proactive enough or something. In contrast, this story comes hot off the grill.

PostScript for Chris: Hey, you got First Post of First Post. If this thing ends up half-decent your comment may be seen by a lot of people. Next time you should link to your homepage or something. It's just friendly social spam, after all.

PostScript for Those Without A PostScript: Technically, I'm already supposed to be sleeping. I have to get up at toddler o'clock tomorrow.

MFDHakaCBB

Sun Jun 05, 11:37:00 PM EDT  
Anonymous anne arkham decreed...

(1) You think I wouldn't? I owe you so many favors I'm gonna start lying awake at night, hoping you're never in charge of planning any bachelor parties.

My posts are done a couple days in advance, and it's a bitch to change the order. Yours goes up tomorrow.

(2) Any plans to illustrate this thing? Not that you need more work.....but I really love your illustrations in 17 Drawings, and I'm selfish enough to request more.

Mon Jun 06, 12:47:00 PM EDT  
Anonymous Simon decreed...

First posts are great so far, MFDH.

Loved the Darth Side Memoirs and was happy to jump all over this link when I saw it there.

Of course I love the title. If your protagonist turns out to be a left-handed Canadian from Edmonton, I'll be really freaked out.

Mon Jun 06, 01:12:00 PM EDT  
Blogger Rheader decreed...

hm... your style here kinda reminds me of Nick Bantock... but then again this is no literary critic talking... i'm just a fan. http://nickbantock.com

Wed Jun 08, 01:36:00 AM EDT  
Blogger Nonsensical_Flounderings decreed...

Awesome so far and off to read your other entries. I will add you to our Blogroll for regular reading.

M

Sun Jun 12, 03:31:00 PM EDT  
Blogger Jill decreed...

Am really enjoying this latest serial...keep up the good work!

Tue Jun 21, 10:16:00 AM EDT  
Blogger Jill decreed...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

Tue Jun 21, 10:17:00 AM EDT  
Blogger NYPinTA decreed...

Hooray! Something else for me to do to avoid work!!
And it starts of with a bang! Well... sorta.

Fri Jun 24, 02:55:00 PM EDT  
Anonymous Darnell Clayton decreed...

Very impressed! I've only read this chapter thus far, but so far I think I like it more than Darth Vader. Wish you the best of luck on your publication!

Sun Jan 08, 03:39:00 PM EST  

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