. .

The Rhythm of Nature

by Swapnil Bhartiya Arnie

Jason Lee slid the curtain aside and felt a mild gust of fresh breeze fill his lungs. He stared out the window. Far across the patchless landscape, behind the hedges over steep mountain cliffs the sun was rising with the promises of another warm day. He took a deep breath and turned.

Sarah was still in bed. She stretched her body, sliding the sheet off her face. How beautiful she is. He sighed. Sarah yawned and opened her eyes.

„Morning!’ Jason said.

‘Hot coffee,’ she replied, and rolled back in the sheet. Whilst he made it, she got up, kissed him, and went into the bathroom.

‘Good,’ Sarah said, sipping her coffee. She sat beside Jason, resting her head on his shoulder. Jason smelled her hair.

‘I love you, honey,’ he said.

Sarah looked at him, passionately. ‘I love you, too.’

Having finished her coffee, she rose from the couch. ‘I must take a shower,’

‘Shower? Now?’

‘Yeah, I have got so much to do before three, and I don’t want to spend half of my day in these dirty clothes and this smelly body – especially when most of the smell is yours,’ she sniffed her arm, and grimaced. ‘Yuck! You smell so bad.’

Jason smiled, and drank his coffee, watching her disappearing behind the door. When she returned, Jason was taking out vegetables from the refrigerator. She walked past him permeating an intoxicating fragrance from her body, water still oozing down her long blonde hair, drenching her robe. Jason found a wicked thought striking his mind. He grinned and brushed it aside, bringing his attention back to the unprepared breakfast. We are going to get a full week of it.

By now, Sarah had dried her hair. She came in to take over from Jason. ‘Honey, you must leave or you’ll be late,’ she said. Jason glanced at his watch, she was right. He wiped his hands on the kitchen towel and sneaked for a bath.

***

‘Do you remember last time, when we were at Marshall?’ Jason said as he took the last bite of his bacon.

‘Yeah, you participated in the Fire Ant Festival .You were bitten by fire ants so many times, but you still didn’t win,’ Sarah teased. ‘You were bitten and beaten.’

‘This time I won’t,’ Jason rose from the table, picked up his car keys, then bent over to kiss her. ‘Bye, honey,’ he said, and left the room.

‘Bye, take care,’ Sarah said from behind, receding in memories, day dreaming about Marshall

***

Sarah had been working for nearly four hours. At three Jason will be back then we can leave for Marshall. She put the folded clothes in the closet and pushed it closed. That was the moment when she heard a bang.

She paused. Suddenly, the earth began to tremble.

Earthquake!

Sarah felt a wave of fear running through her body. Frantically, she jumped off the bed and ran, as fast as she could, threading her way through the furniture, towards the door. Her heart was thumping, she wanted only to get out of here – and one more room was still up ahead. She passed the door, and had just reached the living room when her body was badly shuddered by a fierce sound. What was that?

Then it recurred.

She clearly saw things shaking, falling from their places – falling all around her. She didn’t have much time to think. Just one more door and I’ll be out of here. She opened the door and nearly collapsed in the lawn.

Everything was quiet, except the sound of her breathing and heart pounding. She got to her feet. Across the boundary of their lawn, she could see people rushing out of their houses – surprised, perplexed and horrified. Suddenly, from nowhere came a shrill cry. ‘Look at that,’ Sarah didn’t know to where the voice indicated. She turned around to scrutinize.

She saw it.

Chapter 2

A huge ball of smoke, creating a mushroom cloud was rising in the sky. The first though of its origin filled her heart with fear: storage… Jason! She flung open the door and ran across the road for a better view.

Situated a few miles in the distance, the entire storage building was engulfed in dust and smoke. Everyone started to run towards it. No one thought that it could be dangerous to go so close to it; their own dear ones were in there. Suddenly, the atmosphere echoed in a familiar wail. Five fire trucks rolled over the road, blowing their sirens in the air.

When she reached the storage plant, the fire fighters had deployed their hosepipes, and were striving hard to suppress the raging fire. Everyone was shouting, they were forced to do nothing but watch the huge building being devoured by fire – with more than two hundred people still trapped inside.

Some fortunate workers, including guards of the main gate had somehow escaped this catastrophe, but they were seriously injured and desperately needed medical support. Within several minutes four ambulances and teams of paramedics had arrived there. The injured were sent to hospital immediately. But the real part of their work had not begun yet. They had to wait until the firefighters cleared the area to get inside.

Finally, the moment arrived when the first victim was brought out. It was a lady, unconscious. Her body was soaked in blood, wounds bleeding, fragments of glass and concrete dug in her flesh deeply. She was taken to an ambulance. The next one was a man, dead.

The victims were being taken out, one after another. Most were killed, the remaining were seriously hurt. Paramedics were rushing from one patient to other– providing CPR here, giving injections there. And between all this mishap, turmoil and fear Sarah’s heart was sinking down. Every time rescuers brought out a victim, she ran to see if it was Jason. They hadn’t found him yet. What are they doing? Why aren’t they working faster?

Then there he was. Carrying him on stretcher, two paramedics rushed towards an ambulance. He had been wrapped in a blanket, his head was bleeding freely, and he was unconscious. Sarah was only a little relieved on learning that he was alive, as they had told her Jason was still in danger. Paramedics had to provide first aid before boarding him on the ambulance. They unrolled the blanket…

All the noises turned silent, things got slower and slower. Sarah was paralyzed, watching her whole world collapsing. A sharp pain rose in her gut, wringing every muscle of her belly. She felt her lungs failing, chest contracting. Suddenly, she found herself struggling to breathe. And then, with a deep sob, she burst in tears.

From the torn sleeves of the jacket right at the shoulder, hung a loose lump of flesh– bones peeping out, blood still flowing. The left arm had been blown away.

Jason’s left arm was gone.

Chapter 3 

This is quite startling, sir,’ David Ross said, as he passed the letter to Professor Andrew Robert.

Robert peeped over his spectacles. ‘It must be, this is what makes our living,’ he said with a grin and took the letter.

‘Uh-huh,’ Ross took his attention back to the packet, which had come along with the letter. He tore it open. It was a video cassette. ‘Wow!’ He glanced at Robert who was still engrossed in the letter.

‘The same old story,’ Robert said, putting the letter down. ‘But the only thing that is surprising me is the place,’ he paused for a moment, then continued, ‘I have never heard of a State Hospital getting involved in such matters – its intriguing! Anyway, do you have the cassette?’

‘Yes, sir, shall I run it?’

‘Of course,’

***

The tape was being run for the fourth time, and they were still struggling to assimilate all that they had been watching for last two hours.

‘This is completely impossible,’ Ross eventually broke the long silence. Without lifting his eyes off the screen he added. ‘What shall we do now, sir?’

Robert took a deep breath, removed his spectacles, and rubbed his eyes gently. Then reclining in his chair he said. ‘We are going to work on this case. Tell them we are in.’

Ross turned towards him. ‘Sir, it’s too-’

Robert gazed at him. ‘Right away.’

***

A young doctor led the two paranormal investigators to a stenciled door reading SUPERINTENDENT. He tapped on the door.

‘Come in,’ a soft gentle voice responded from behind the door. He pushed the door open.

‘Sir.’

Dr Jonathan Pierce rose to greet his guests. ‘Good morning, professor, how are you?’

‘Fine, thank you,’ Robert said with a warm smile, as he shook hands with Dr Jonathan. ‘Meet my assistant, Dr David Ross.’

‘Oh! Glad to meet you, Dr Ross,’ Jonathan extended his arm toward David. ‘So you are a doctor who doesn’t scare people with his bills.’ David hadn’t expected this, a small grin appeared on his face.

‘Sort of,’

Having taken their seats, Jonathan began, ‘I am grateful to you, professor, that you decided to come.’

‘Oh! It’s our pleasure to work with you,’ Robert said. ‘We were taken aback by your video,’

‘Think of us,’ Jonathan said solemnly, ‘when everything is happening here, right in front of our eyes.’

Robert nodded his head in accordance. ‘By the way, where is your patient?’

‘Well,’ Jonathan said, ‘let me check if he is awake,’ He picked the intercom and pushed a button. ‘Miss Martha-’

When he put it down, there was a smirk on his face.

Chapter 4

‘Besides this,’ Jonathan continued, as he walked down the corridor along with Robert and Ross. ‘This is a very typical case, and very sorrowful, too. This poor man has lost his eyesight, he is temporarily deaf, and doesn’t have one arm,’ Jonathan took a deep breath. ‘He was in a coma for two months, and only a week ago did he regain consciousness. Try to imagine…try to imagine the condition of a man, who can’t see, who can’t hear…what must life be like for him?’

Neither paranormal investigator spoke. They walked down the corridor silently. Eventually Ross said, ‘How did it happen?’

‘Well,’ Jonathan paused for an instant, ‘have you heard of that rocket fuel storage unit accident?’

‘Oh, that was dreadful.’

‘He worked there –’

***

‘This way,’ Jonathan ushered them to another corridor. Halfway down there was a glass partition with a caution in big block letters STAFF ONLY. The guard seated at the door rose from his chair and opened the door for them.

‘Good morning, sir,’ the guard saluted.

‘Morning Norman,’ Jonathan replied with a smile, and led his guests in.

Inside, walking past a series of windows and doors, Jonathan finally came to a halt

‘Here,’ Jonathan said, raising his eyebrows.

At first Robert couldn’t understand what Jonathan intended to say, and the very next moment he felt a chill. He moved closer to the window, and peeped in. All he saw was a man lying in a bed and a woman sitting beside him, her eyes were closed. She was probably sleeping.

‘Professor, shall go in?’ Jonathan interrupted his viewing.

‘Sure.’ Robert said, nodding his head, and then walked behind Jonathan. Ross showed only a little interest and followed them indifferently. By now, Jonathan had reached the door. He cranked the knob, opened the door, and moved in.

‘Good morning,’ he said with delight. ‘How are you, Sarah?’

***

Sarah opened her eyes reluctantly and looked in the direction of the voice.

‘Oh! Doc, morning,’ She had a restless, sleepless night and all she wanted right now was an undisturbed sleep, but she seemed genuinely pleased to see Jonathan there. ‘How are you, doc–’ Sarah left her sentence incomplete as she saw two strangers coming in after the doctor. One was a balding man, sixty something. The other was a young man in his late twenties. She rose to her feet, throwing a skeptical glance at Jonathan.

‘Well, let me introduce you to our guests,’ Jonathan said. ‘Meet Professor Andrew Robert and Dr David Ross…you remember?’

‘Of course, I do,’ she replied in exultant voice. ‘I am glad to see you here, professor,’ she hunched forward to shake hands with them. ‘Please, have a seat,’ Sarah said.

‘We will,’ Jonathan said, overlooking at the bed. ‘How is he?’

Sarah turned. Jason was lying in his bed, oblivious of their presence. His opaque eyes were staring at the ceiling lifelessly. There were no expressions of hope or life on his blank face. The cheerfulness, the glow and the shine, which used to be the traits of his personality, had all gone; left behind was a fearsome bleakness and emptiness. Sarah sighed. Jonathan clearly saw her face contorting – despair replacing the faint delight; mist clouding the momentary sparkle of her eyes. She clenched her lips, and then whispered, ‘He is fine. He is just fine.’

Jonathan gently squeezed her shoulder. ‘We are trying, aren’t we?’ he said, ‘You just need to be calm, just keep your faith in God,’ then he turned. ‘Gentlemen, please sit down.’

Suddenly, Robert started to feel a tension in the air. He now doubted that this was going to be just a case of paranormal activity; it would be about psychology, too. And he never liked that. He hated people’s grievances and wails. According to him – the body decays, you feel it through pain, that was all. It was the process of life – why cry over it? He walked over to the other side of the bed, where two empty chairs were placed. He took one; Ross occupied the other. Robert scanned the room then centered his full attention on Jason.

***

Robert had chosen paranormal studies as his subject, not because he believed in it, but because he didn’t. He wanted to prove that there wasn’t any such thing as the paranormal. And, fortunately, he had been successful in doing so. Although the video of Jason was quite extraordinary and he had no doubts on the credibility of this hospital. He believed that this case, too, would end up as some crude physical phenomenon, or just a fluke. Anyway, he was there – ready to wait and confront what was up next.

‘Would you like to have coffee?’ Sarah said.

‘That would be good,’ Jonathan said cheerfully, accepting the offer.

Sarah poured coffee into some cups and passed them over to Robert, Ross and Jonathan. She then leaned over to Jason and patted him on the chest gently. Jason moved his head, muttering something. Sarah put her forefinger on his lower lip and tapped twice.

‘Ya,’ Jason said with a mild smile. Robert was watching everything very carefully. Probably they had developed some signs for talking- if not precisely talk, Sarah was at least able to understand and fulfill Jason’s needs.

Jason had sat up. Sarah took his right hand and helped him hold the cup.

‘-hank yo-’

Sarah tousled his hair and turned back to get some coffee for herself.

‘-t’s hot,’ Jason complained, as he took the first sip. Sarah glanced at him, keeping her attention to the coffee machine.

But Robert could clearly see that Jason was having some difficulty holding the cup. His fingers appeared to be losing their grip. Slowly, very slowly it was slipping down. And suddenly, before Robert could do anything, the cup slipped from Jason’s hand.

Robert quickly scurried backward to escape the spilling coffee. But nothing happened. Not a single drop fell on his light colored Armani suit. He lifted his eyes up, astonished.

Jason’s face was as bleak as before. He was puffing his somewhat burnt fingers. And few inches off his face the cup was still there in mid air…

Held by nothing.

***

‘Look at that,’ Ross said softly. ‘Look at that cup.’ His mouth was wide open, and his eyes were about to fall out. They were all staring at the ghostly cup, hanging in mid air, right in front of their eyes. Suddenly, the cup moved, reaching for Jason’s lips. And Jason, unaware of what was happening around him, sipped the coffee.

Everyone sat transfixed, watching the remarkable, awesome display of unknown phenomenon. The room went into perfect silence. The only audible sounds echoing in there were the sips that Jason was making. No one else moved, or spoke a word until the emptied cup returned safely into the hands of Sarah.

‘Now,’ Jonathan’s voice tore the long stretched silence. ‘What have you got to say, professor?’

Robert was speechless. He looked at Jonathan in horror. ‘Well,’ he cleared his throat, trying to show himself as calm and easy, whereas a storm was growing within. He had expected something to happen here, but he had not known that it would be so fascinating; so frightening. And it was no illusion; it was real. It was cold in there, yet Robert felt he was perspiring – he touched his forehead. No, he was not. What’s happening? He rose to his feet, looking tentatively at Jason and Sarah.

‘Shall we go to your office?’ he asked Jonathan.

‘Oh, sure,’ Jonathan replied, Please come.’

Chapter 5

By now, Robert had recovered from the shock. Though Ross was still struggling.

‘So, professor, have you any explanation?’ Jonathan repeated his question.

‘I can’t say anything right now,’ Robert replied, ‘I need to talk to him, you said he was temporarily deaf?’

‘Yes, I did, he needs surgery,’ Jonathan said.

‘And how soon could you do that?’

‘He needs fifteen days for recovery, at least.’

‘Okay, we will wait,’ Robert nodded. ‘Could I have more details about his life?’

‘What ever we’ve got is yours,’ Jonathan said.

‘One more thing,’ Robert continued, ‘I need to talk to his girlfriend,’

***

‘I have no idea,’ Sarah was saying, lost ‘It’s like some forces controlling things around him.’

Every word coming out of her mouth was making Robert more and more uncomfortable. As a paranormal investigator he had worked on hundred of such cases – ghosts, alien abductions, paranormal activities and many more. Most of them were faked; the rest were just results of physical phenomena. The most common among them was high electromagnetic fields, stimulating the brains of people living in places with dense electrical circuits or high voltage lines. Physicists had proved that electromagnetic fields could affect the brains, temporal lobes, creating illusions like aliens, ghosts and other indescribable hallucinations.

But this was far different, inexplicable. Robert had witnessed everything with his own unaided eyes.

‘Do you feel anything strange…well, all that’s happening here is strange,’ Robert laughed at himself. ‘I mean apart from that. Any strange feelings: nightmares, headaches or illusions. Something supernatural…?’

‘No,’ she said, shaking her head, ‘never,’

Robert gazed at her suspiciously. ‘Look, Sarah,’ he said, leaning forward. ‘We need help. We really need help because we want to help Jason, because we want to make his life – your life – normal, easy and more comfortable. But all that we know is not sufficient, and I feel there are lot more facts not known to us,’ he paused, then added quietly, ‘You know any?’

There was a pregnant silence, and then her lips moved. ‘I can feel it,’

‘Feel what?’

Sarah swallowed, ‘His hand.’

***

The silence was chilling.

‘Hand!’

‘What?’

‘Hand!’

‘Yes, fingers, wrists… everything – warm and alive.’ Sarah said.

Robert found his bowels tightened, he gasped the next breath, ‘Since when?’

‘Ever since he got his consciousness back,’ she admitted.

‘You never told us about that?’ Jonathan frowned.

‘No, I feared that no one would believe me.’

‘Are you sure?’ Robert could hear his heart beat.

Sarah exhaled, ‘Dead sure.’

***

Once again the silence grew loud. Robert slouched back in his chair, finding himself trapped in quicksand with no help nearby. And the more he was trying to get out, the deeper he was sinking. Despite all that he had learnt till now, he found no explanation to elucidate Sarah’s experience, no reasons to defy her conviction. He turned to Jonathan

‘Here, now. We need him to be operated on, as soon as possible,’

‘Operated!’ Sarah said, frightened.

‘There is good news for you, Sarah,’ Jonathan told. ‘Soon, Jason will hear your voice again.’

Chapter 6

‘How is your hearing, Jason?’ Jonathan asked as he sat beside Jason’s bed.

‘Thank you so much, doctor,’ Jason said, ‘I can’t explain the hell I was in.’

‘Thank you,’ Jonathan turned his head to see Sarah’s hand on his shoulder. Her eyes were moist and face was soaked in thankfulness. Jonathan took her hand and just pressed it lightly.

‘Jason, how are you feeling now?’ Jonathan asked.

A mild smile appeared on Jason’s face, ‘Quite well, miles (?) better.’

‘Well, then we have some guests for you, Jason,’ Jonathan said. He rose from his chair, indicating to Robert to take his place. Robert moved ahead and pulled a chair near Jason’s bed. Ross followed him. Jonathan and Sarah left the room immediately. Once the door was closed, Robert hunched at Jason.

‘Hello, Mr. Lee, I am Professor Andrew Robert. How are you?’

‘Hello, professor, I am fine, thank you,’

‘I am really very sorry for this, Jason,’ Robert said. ‘But how do you really feel?’

Jason readjusted himself in the bed. ‘You know, professor, what I would like to do most now?’ He said, blinking his eyes. ‘Sleep. When I sleep I see dreams. I see light, all the colors; and Sarah.’ A soft, sweet smile appeared on his face; and vanished immediately. ‘But you know what?’ Jason continued, ‘Now her image has begun to fade. My only memory of her is getting dimmer and dimmer, and before long I will even forget what she looks like,’ his eyes moistened. ‘Gradually, all the brightness is turning dull, and I fear one day my dreams will become as dark as my reality is.’

Robert was shocked. It was a horrible experience for him– unprecedented. He looked up at Ross who did nothing but purse his lips. After a short pause, Robert cleared his throat. ‘Any other strange experiences. Howabout your body?’ he asked.

‘Yeah, an acute pain in my eyes and a little headache It’s there all the time. And sometimes in my back, too.’ Jason said.

‘Anything else?’

‘Nothing peculiar,’

‘What about your hands?’ Robert said.

‘No, definitely not,’

‘What do you have to say about your left arm? Do you feel anything strange?’

‘In my left arm?’ Jason seemed confused, ‘No Long before but not now,’

‘Long before?’ Robert felt a knit in his brow.

‘Yeah,’ Jason said. ‘When I was a teen, I suffered from epilepsy. I had to have brain surgery. The disease went but I got a new disorder. Many times my left hand would get out of my control and would do things I had no wish to do; even against my will. But gradually everything became normal. It was really frightening.’

This was new information for Robert. ‘And what do you feel now?’ He probed.

‘Nothing,’ Jason said, then added with a grin, ‘Now it’s very obedient.’

‘Obedient?’ Robert frowned, ‘But you don’t have your left arm, it’s gone,’

‘This is ridiculous, professor, I am sorry, but are you out of your mind?’

‘I am totally sane, Mr. Lee, but you have no idea what has happened to you.’ Robert was feeling uncomfortable over the content of this conversation.

‘You know something, professor? I don’t have a head either.’

‘What?’ Robert was shocked.

Jason sneered. ‘Should I believe if you tell me I don’t have one?’ Jason said, ‘No, because I know I have. Give me your hand,’ He raised his right hand in air. Robert slipped his hand in it.

Robert felt a chill passing his throat.

Some invisible fingers were gripping his hand.

***

‘It was warm and alive,’ Robert was shaking his head nervously. Sarah, Ross and Jonathan were all staring at him. ‘It was unbelievable, supernatural. I have never been through such an experience in my whole life. It’s – it’s unique in paranormal science. I need to discuss this with my counterparts, I need to take this to world–’

‘I am sorry.’ All heads turned toward Jonathan.

‘What?’ Robert said, surprised.

‘I am sorry, we can’t allow you to do this,’ Jonathan replied.

‘Why?’ Robert was puzzled.

‘Because,’ Jonathan said, ‘we don’t want any negative publicity, we don’t want physicists running in our compounds, setting their devices, messing up our business. Here we treat people; we give them health, peace and comfort. And we make no compromises with it.’

‘I understand,’ Robert nodded his head. ‘But this is a major breakthrough in the history of science: the first evidential incident. We can’t just let it go away like this.’

‘I don’t want to let it go either. That’s why you are here.’

‘Okay, here’s the deal. I will not disclose this matter unless it is solved. Is that okay?’

‘All right,’ Jonathan conceded. ‘But no publicity,’

‘As you wish, doctor, this is going to be a revolution.’

Jonathan took a deep breath. ‘I only hope so.’

Chapter 7

Robert spent the next few days gathering Jason’s medical history. Ross consulted doctors, interviewed surgeons and discussed the case with the psychologist who had treated Jason earlier. Now Robert had enough strands to weave Jason’s story together.

Jason had suffered from epilepsy since his childhood. At the age of 21, his parents took him to California for a split-brain operation, known as a California Series Operation. He had to undergo a procedure – commissurotomy – in which a surgeon would snip through the corpus callosum, severing the two hemispheres of the brain. The operation had succeeded and Jason got rid of his epileptic seizures. He lived a normal life for nearly a year. But sixteen months after the operation, he began to feel strange changes in his personality. Many times he had caught his left hand doing things he had no intention of doing. And it could be anything from grabbing stuff to suddenly unbuttoning clothes. However, he had not realized the seriousness of the situation, until that night when he woke up suffocating.

His own hand was clutching his throat.

Doctors already had a name for it: Alien Hand Syndrome – a disorder commonly seen in the patients of split brain surgery.

***

‘In general,’ continued Dr Edgar Shawn, a veteran of split brain surgery, ‘we know that the left hemisphere of the brain intercepts the information and controls actions of the right side of the body, whereas the right hemisphere does the same job for the left side of the body. When the connection between the two hemispheres is severed, sensory information cannot pass to the correct region of brain and corresponding response is not made. Gradually these hemispheres try to compensate by gaining ipsilateral control, which gives an illusive, individual and independent identity to the body parts– especially the hands.

‘There are evidential cases: On one occasion a man, in the middle of an argument with his wife, attacked her with his left hand while simultaneously his right hand tried to save her. In another case, a man found his hands struggling when he was wearing his pants. While the right hand tried to pull them up, the left hand was trying to pull them down.

‘The dominating hemisphere may have some suppressed thoughts, traits, which are later expressed through the actions of affected parts. As every patient has admitted, his hand has become disobedient. One even stated that he felt as if his hand had eyes of its own.’ Dr Edgar paused. ‘It is very strange, but gradually this new identity fades, and patients start living normal lives.’

‘And could that identity return, after ten or twenty years?’ Ross asked, looking more anxious.

‘I haven’t heard of any,’ Dr Edgar shrugged. ‘Have you?’

‘No,’ Ross said immediately, ‘never.’

***

‘Many such cases come to us,’ Dr Alex Nolte admitted ‘where a patient feels sensation or even pain in body parts; for example in his wrists or fingers, when his arm has been amputated from the elbow. It’s unthinkable.’

‘How could that be possible?’ Ross said.

‘Because somewhere deep inside his mind, the belief is still alive that he still has his hand. It seems strange but it happens, and we treat such patients psychologically to remove the illusion.’

‘Illusion.’ Ross said, then added tentatively, ‘Have you ever come across any patient whose amputated hand still works?’

‘What?’ Dr Nolte looked puzzled, ‘No, don’t scare me, doctor,’ He sneered.

‘I didn’t want to,’ Ross said. ‘Is it scary?’

‘Jesus Christ! It is.’

Chapter 8

‘The dinner was great,’ Robert complemented, as he took the drink from Jonathan’s wife Martha.

‘You’re welcome, Robert,’ Martha replied, and handed a drink to Jonathan.

‘Would you like to have a walk, doctor?’ Robert offered, having finished his drink.

‘Sure. Honey, would you come?’ Jonathan asked Martha.

‘No, some other time,’ Martha said, collecting the glasses from the dining table.

‘Okay, just the two of us Let’s go, professor,’ Jonathan said.

***

Outside, the sky had grown dark. In the east, the moon was rising like a giant ball.

‘I have always wanted to live in a place like this – away from the city. There we don’t even know from where the moon rises and where it sets,’ Robert said, watching the brightest object shining in the sky. They had come over to the road. The wind had become cold. The trees were shivering, shedding the droplets of water they had collected on their leaves from the mist.

‘You see these trees, swinging in a rhythm,’ Robert said. ‘That is the rhythm of nature, the dance of unknown forces, unseen phenomena – quite distinct from our well defined world.’ He paused and looked up. ‘It seems winter will come a little sooner this year.’

‘I have never been a big admirer of nature,’ Jonathan said. ‘I never see it like that. The only thing I see is that many times it becomes very cruel, many times we find ourselves so helpless in front of it, many times it becomes too difficult to forget an eight year old child – cancerous cells eating his delicate body. When he has all those loving friends around to play and he doesn’t want to leave, his eyes are brutally closed by death. Phenomena!’ Jonathan exhaled.

‘It’s a process of life,’ Robert remonstrated. ‘Everything happens for some good, if not for that individual then for society, if not for society then for mankind. It’s a big picture,’ Robert said in a philosophical tone. ‚What do you think about our lives, our existence; its purpose?’

Jonathan lifted his eyes off the moon, and stared at Robert. ‘Are you all right?’

‘Just think about Jason,’ Robert said, persistently. ‘An ordinary man, who can’t even see, but has the power to control things.’ His whole body was shaking in excitement. ‘Just…just try to see that–’

‘I can’t see anything, we don’t even know how is it happening.’

‘But at least we can try,’

‘How would you try?’

‘Collect the pieces,’ Robert said. ‘I have been thinking this over since I saw the interview of Dr Nolte. I think I have the answers to some of our questions,’

‘I accept your speculations,’ Jonathan said submissively. ‘That, as he had been in a coma for two months and in this period his wounds healed completely, the pain of the amputated arm had gone before he regained consciousness. And when he woke, he couldn’t see, he couldn’t hear, so there was literally nothing to tell Jason what had happened to him. Yes. It’s a probable speculation̶the so-called power of illusion. But what do you want to prove?’

‘Only this, that somehow his mind, which was responsible for the alien hand syndrome that gave his hand a new identity of its own, got stimulated again. Only this time it has become so powerful that it has started to affect and control external things. I just want you to see beyond the brain – at that unknown called the mind and its powers.’ Robert said in a single breath.

‘Today, modern science, too, believes in the mind, but there are no such powers in it,’ Jonathan retorted, ‘we haven’t found any yet.’

‘But how could you turn yourself away from reality?’ Robert said. ‘Why do you want to close your eyes?’

‘I don’t want to close my eyes, but I don’t see any goddamn reason not to.’

‘That’s why I’m telling you we must–’

‘No,’ Jonathan protested. ‘The Board at the hospital will never permit us to take this matter out, I have talked to them; I don’t want to lose my job.’

‘We will get him out of here, and then we could –’

‘How many such cases succeed?’ Jonathan asked. ‘None. If some one asks you “have you seen an alien?” Say no, then no more questions will be asked, and everyone will trust you. But if you say yes, thousands of questions will be asked; and no one will trust you. Instead, you would be called a fraud, insane or even mentally challenged, and your life would become hell,’ Jonathan said furiously. Robert was surprised to see Jonathan this annoyed.

Jonathan continued, ‘Look, he has been through a horrendous experience and now he is blind. I am a doctor and I just want my patients to live a comfortable life. If you take him out into the world, his life would become worse than hell. Trust me.’

‘What kind of person are you?’ Robert said, frowning. ‘You care for only one person’s comfort, what about finding out how this phenomenon works? It will change the entire course of human history?’

‘I don’t want to change history,’ Jonathan said softly, ‘because I know I can’t. It would only ruin the life of an innocent person; I want to make it better.’

Robert sensed sadness in Jonathan’s voice. He looked at him and for the first time saw a flat despondency behind his confident face; a gloomy insipidity in his sparkling eyes. He stopped walking.

‘What’s the matter, doctor? I feel, there is something buried inside, what is it?’ Robert asked earnestly.

‘Nothing,’ Jonathan shook his head, staring down at the road.

‘Share it, it will reduce the pain,’ Robert squeezed his shoulder ‘Tell me.’

There was an empty bench so Robert ushered Jonathan towards it. After a little silence, Jonathan began.

‘I was in the middle of my medical studies when we learned that our eight year old son was suffering from cancer. He regularly needed blood transfusion. He was showing improvements and he coped for a year. But medical reports told us that he didn’t have much time left. At the time there were few treatments for cancer. Surgeons and doctors were still learning, and they tried everything on him. Everyday a new group of doctors would come to visit him–to give some more tests, collect more information. I, as a medical student, wanted to help science… I wanted to help my child,’ he paused for a moment. ‘In ICU, his arms were punctured with needles, tubes running in his mouth and nose. He was in so much pain. I still remember that last night, when he said, “Dad, all this stuff hurts, yet I want to stay with you…I want to go home with you…I don’t want to die.’ Then he looked at me with his striking blue eyes, and said, ‘Dad, if I die…will we ever meet again?’ I had no answer. I knew he would not survive. And I also knew that once he was gone, we would never meet again – never and nowhere. But I did nothing. The next day he died. I still remember his blue eyes – but they were shut and wet with tears. His face was silent, but not calm – it was shrunken. You know what? He died in pain. And I did nothing. At least I could have made his death peaceful; easier,’ Jonathan said, looking at the empty road, running down in fog and darkness. ‘But I did nothing.’

‘I’m sorry,’ Robert managed to say. Jonathan didn’t make any remarks. He got up and walked away silently.

Robert had no idea how long he had been sitting there. When he left the bench, the moon had ascended higher against the background of graciously shining stars, with a faint river flowing through them from one end of the horizon to the other. The wind had stopped, trees stood still, silent. Robert took a deep breath. He felt peace in his heart.

Two hours later, at 5am, he rang Jonathan. ‘Doctor,’ he said, ‘I think we can make his life better.’

Chapter 9

‘I don’t get it, what’s your point? How can one shot kill three?’ Jonathan asked in his chamber.

Robert, standing by the glass window, stared out. From that height, he could see the life of the city – far below, running with its usual speed. He began to speak.

‘I have no idea if it will succeed or not, but we should at least try.’

Jonathan glanced outside. ‘What do you want to say?’

‘How would you like to make his life better?’ Robert said.

Jonathan looked at him with a little surprise. Robert didn’t say anything. He just stared at Jonathan, blinking his eyes nonchalantly.

Jonathan shrugged. ‘By retrieving his eyesight, and solving the puzzle of his hand, without this he could never live a normal life.’ Jonathan said.

‘And how would you do this?’ Robert demanded.

‘Well –’ Jonathan was speechless.

‘I have the answer,’ Robert said, turning back toward the window. ‘This man has gained the ability to control things by his imaginary hand, because he believes that he has it. So all we have to do is to make him believe.’

‘Believe in what?’

Robert turned. ‘That he has eyes.’

‘What?’

‘All you have to do is perform a fake operation on his eyes, and tell him that he will see again.’

‘This is stupidity,’ Jonathan retorted, annoyed. ‘That man can never see again. You don’t know all the complexities of his condition. He has optic atrophy, his retina is detached and he has corneal ulcer. You can’t make him see; you can’t make his mind make him see. He doesn’t have anything in his eyes to see–’

‘He doesn’t have a hand either. Does he?’ Robert snapped sharply. ‘And I need not tell you what his mind can do. Do I?’

Jonathan sighed.

‘Look,’ Robert said, ‘here we are dealing with a highly stimulated brain, which somehow possesses the power to control physical things around him with only his thoughts. That man doesn’t have an arm, and yet he could handle things with it. How? We don’t know. But we do know that he still believes that he has an arm, just because he believes. I want to take advantage of this power, I want to do a fake operation on his eyes, and convince him that he will see again as he can hear now.’ Robert paused for a moment, ‘If he can use an amputated arm, then he must also be able to see through blind eyes.’

‘And you think that it’s possible.’

‘No, I don’t,’ Robert said contemptuously. ‘Having seen so much here, I now have no concept of what is possible I now think only of what is impossible.’

Once again, Jonathan was disarmed. He conceded. ‘Okay, as you wish, but this can’t be just a fake operation. He has a corneal ulcer, and it’s painful. Secondly, his corneas have become opaque, which looks scary. So for these reasons we have to remove his corneas surgically, and replace them with a transparent membrane.’

‘You mean, an eye transplant?’

‘A corneal transplant,’ Jonathan corrected. ‘No, since his retina and optic nerve are irretrievably damaged, we won’t waste good corneas. We can implant a transparent membrane, which is used for cosmetic surgery–to give a normal look to patients with corneal opacity. This membrane does the physical work of cornea, which is to protect the iris and eyes, but it doesn’t help in its optical activities. It’s only a patch-up. Like, if you broke the lens of your camera and fixed it with a transparent plastic disc, it would protect the interior of your camera and make it look fine, but it wouldn’t get you pictures. Similarly, this membrane will make eyes look all right, no one could detect any abnormality in a glance, but this man won’t have any corneas.’

‘Awesome!’ Robert said in an exuberant tone. ‘Excellent, that’s what we want – to make our every move legitimate. Now I am getting a little impatient,’ he giggled. ‘How long would it take to heal?’

‘A few weeks, approximately,’ Jonathan told. ‘By the way, professor, you said it was one shot to kill three, what did that mean?’

‘Quite clear,’ Robert smirked. ‘If we succeed, and I am sure we will. Firstly, we would discover the unknown phenomenon working behind these activities. Secondly, which would please you a lot, he will be able to see again. And thirdly, which has been haunting me from the very first moment I thought of it is that, what would happen,’ Robert stared at Jonathan. ‘When he sees that he has no arm?’

***

‘Jason, there is some good news and some not so good news,’ Sarah said. ‘Which would you like to hear first?’

‘Either,’ Jason said despairingly. ‘Good or bad, it doesn’t make much difference to me now.’

Sarah waited for a moment then said, ‘You have to have one more operation.’

Jason closed his eyes, ‘Why me? What sin did I commit? Now this is my life, with pain, suffering and infinite darkness, and no escape.’ He winced and twisted his head towards her. ‘I am sorry… I am sorry…you’ve been cheated . I promised to give you a happy life, but all those promises are broken,’ his eyes became misty, causing pain in his corneal ulcer. ‘I broke them all.’

‘No, Jason, no,’ Sarah said, stroking his hair. ‘This is only a trial, and soon it will be over. And I have not cheated. I am blessed to be loved by you.’ She kissed him on his forehead. ‘You forgot, I have good news, too.’

‘What could possible be good news for me?’ Jason said with a small faded grin.

Sarah felt a gush of tears, as she said, ‘You are going to see me again.’

Chapter 10

Robert entered the room to find everything nearly ready. Jason was seated in a wheel chair, with bandage wrapped around his head, and his eyes. A green apron was tied down below his neck, covering his upper body. Sarah, sitting at his side, was talking quietly.

Ross was assisting Jonathan in setting the projector in the right place. The screen had already been fitted on the opposite wall. Everything was done as Robert had planned. He looked down, as the door opened and a nurse came in carrying some medication. She greeted Robert, and moved over to put the medicines in a trolley, and then she walked over to stand right behind Jason as Jonathan told her to.

‘Professor,’ Robert turned on his heel. Jonathan and Ross had set the projector. Jonathan gave him a slight nod. Robert nodded back, took a long deep breath, and pulled a chair next to Sarah. Suddenly, he began to feel his heart beat rising.

Robert had been waiting for this moment impatiently. All his arguments, explanations and hypotheses were about to be tested. A few minutes later he would know how close he had come, or how far he had gone. He was aware that this endeavor was not going to give him any answers. Rather it would raise more questions; demand new explanations. However, he was excited to know whether Jason would see again or not.

‘Jason,’ He heard Jonathan’s voice. ‘Now we are removing your bandages, but don’t open your eyes unless you are told to.’

Jason shook his head, licking his lips nervously. The nurse began to unroll the bandage. Now only two plasters were remaining on his eyes. Suddenly the lights went out and the room turned completely dark. The nurse removed the plasters. ‘It’s done, sir.’ she said.

‘Okay, Jason, we have turned all the lights off. Since your eyes have remained closed for such a long time, we will have to stimulate them to retrieve your eyesight. Thus, when you open your eyes you will be looking at perfect darkness.’ Jonathan’s voice was echoing in the pitch-black room.‘ Now, gradually open your eyes.’

‘I have… but there isn’t any difference. It’s just like before’ Jason sounded pretty jittery.

‘Don’t worry, Jason, just listen to what I say,’ Jonathan hesitated for a while, before saying, ‘when I click the projector on, you will see a white spot appearing in the darkness.’ Jonathan clicked the button that he was holding in his hand. The projector sprang to life, and a streak of light emerged from its lenses piercing the darkness, creating a small white spot on the screen. Jonathan looked at the spot. ‘You see it?’ he asked, holding his breath tightly.

Jason didn’t reply.

***

What am I doing? I am asking a man to see; whose optic nerves are severed, whose retina is detached, and who doesn’t even have corneas? Jonathan said to himself. We need organs for perception –controlling objects is fine, there might be some organs transmitting waves to do so, but vision is entirely different. You need optical organs and this man doesn’t have any. You can’t expect his brain to see. And if you do wish it to, then first remove the skull and all the flesh from around it, so that light could reach it. Jonathan smiled inwardly. But the next moment, he felt guilty. This was not a matter of who won and who lost, it was about the life of this man who may have to spend rest of his life in darkness, and Jonathan couldn’t help him, as he couldn’t help his son…

‘Jason?’ Robert said in the darkness, ‘Did you see it?’

There wasn’t any reply. The room was silent and dark.

Then, somewhere amid the silence and darkness, Jonathan heard a whisper.

It was Jason.

‘Yes.’

***

‘Yes, I can see it.’

Jonathan paused. He can’t see.

He heard again.

‘A white spot, it’s dull but getting clear.’

Jonathan turned his head around in all directions, but he saw nothing, except the white spot hanging on the screen. Beads of sweat ran down his forehead. He swallowed.

‘Dr Jonathan-’ Robert’s voice came, tearing the darkness, pulling him out of near hysteria. Jonathan took some long breaths to make himself calm, and then said, ‘Jason, now you will see it splitting into two.’ He clicked the button.

‘Yes, it has.’

‘Now there will be three.’

‘Yeah, there are.’

Now Jason was speaking by himself. ‘Yes, they are red, yellow and green…it’s a circle…a ball…a flower…’ And then he fell silent. Jonathan looked up. Sarah‘s face was glowing on the screen.

‘Sarah.’ Jason said softly. ‘Oh my God! I can’t believe. I can see again.’

The room was filled with cheers and shouts. Jonathan waited for the voices to fade, once they did, he said. ‘Jason, close your eyes again. Now we will expose your eyes to natural light. Open them only on my word, and remember that under no circumstances will you move any of your body parts. Is that clear?’

‘Yes, doctor.’

‘Okay, then close your eyes.’

‘I have.’

The lights came back. Jonathan closed his eyes to protect them from the immediate glare. When he opened them again he felt as if waking from a dream. He looked around. Sarah was the most excited person in the room. The nurse had a usual look on her face–satisfaction. Robert was staring at him, filled with awe. Ross was standing by the switchboard, from where he had operated the lights. His finger was still on the switch, and his mouth was open. And, sitting in his chair, with his eyes closed, Jason was smiling.

Jonathan told Sarah to get up and stand in front of Jason. He glanced at Robert.

‘Jason, open your eyes, and remember, don’t move,’ Jonathan said, feeling his heartbeat rising again.

Silently, Jason opened his eyes. They blinked, and rolled, and then stopped. ‘Sarah.’

There was a smile on everyone’s faces. Sarah wanted only to run and take Jason in her arms, but she had been asked to stay right there. It was very hard for her and also for Jason. She smiled at him with misty eyes.

‘Jason, we have something more for you,’ Jason heard a familiar voice. A man came into view.

‘Dr Jonathan–’

‘Yes, Jason.’

‘Thank you, doctor …thank you so much,’ Jason said, filled with gratitude. ‘I could never thank you enough, doctor.’

‘I don’t deserve to be,’ Jonathan said, looking over at Robert. ‘Jason, listen to me very carefully, this may be a little hard on you but you have to face it,’ Jonathan nodded at the nurse, she came forward, slowly undid the apron, and took it off.

Jason looked down…

He stopped breathing, his eyes widened with panic and fear. A loose lump of muscle was hanging down from his left shoulder.

‘Where is my hand?’ His jaw fell slack. Suddenly, he felt a tearing pain in his shoulder, and he screamed. Ross and Robert ran to control his horrendously writhing body. ‘Drugs!’ Jonathan yelled. The nurse rushed back with a syringe, she shot a dose in his right arm and after a few seconds Jason went calm.

‘It will keep him asleep for an hour.’ Jonathan said, breathing heavily, ‘What do you think,’ he asked Robert as they shifted Jason in his bed, ‘what will happen when he regains consciousness?’

‘It’s too hard to say. The illusion is broken, now let’s see if the power sustains and he sees or-’

‘Or?’

‘I have no idea, ‘ Robert said. ‘We have to wait.’

An hour later, Jason was coming to. He groaned and quietly opened his eyes. Every heart in that room fell silent. Jason licked his lips, then looked at Sarah, ‘Water.’

Chapter 11

‘How are you feeling now?’ Jonathan asked.

‘A little pain in my shoulder, everything else is fine,’ Jason responded/ replied. ‘But, I can’t understand, doctor, I felt …I felt as if I had it.’

‘It happens,’ Robert intervened. ‘It was just a psychological illusion-’

‘It was no illusion,’ Jason protested. ‘I have felt it, I have held things with it.’

‘No, you didn’t,’ Robert said firmly. ‘You remember Alien Hand Syndrome? It was only a stroke of it. You were doing every thing with your right hand, but your split brain was not able to differentiate, and it often made you feel as if you were doing it with your left hand.’

‘But, I have talked to Sarah, and with you, too…you yourself accepted that you felt it.’

‘No, I didn’t, neither did Sarah,’ Robert replied calmly, ‘we said so only to not make you feel uncomfortable.’

Sarah shook her head, following her instructions. Jason was completely lost.

‘How could it–’

‘Jason,’ Robert said. ‘Do you remember those tests you took when you had AHS? You never were able to tell the objects given in your left hand, while your eyes were kept closed. Every time you gave a wrong answer.’

‘Yeah, but that was-’

‘Yes, Jason, and here is the answer. As you know that the right hemisphere of our brain controls the left side of the body and vice versa. Since your hemispheres had been disconnected with each other in split-brain surgery, the transfer of information and messages from one hemisphere to other stopped. During, and, after your accident, the right hemisphere didn’t receive any information – no pain, nothing – that your left arm was blown away, and it just kept getting confused, creating illusions about the left arm, and so you thought you had it.’

Jason stared at him helplessly.

‘Take it easy, Jason, it was only a little complexity of the brain. But a far more important thing is that you have gotten a new life, enjoy it instead of dwelling on a scary past.’

‘You are right,’ Jason said thoughtfully, then he smiled, ‘thank you, indeed.’

‘That’s okay,’ Robert patted him on the shoulder, ‘that’s okay.’

***

Everyone had left the room, leaving Sarah and Jason alone. Sarah sat next to him, ‘See, I told you those were just trials, and it’s over now,’ she said, ‘soon we will go home and start our life again.’

‘Yes, we will,’ Jason said, and extended his arms to take her in them, ‘but see,’ he said wanly, ‘Now, I can’t even hug you properly.’

‘Not by yourself,’ Sarah wrapped her arms around him, ‘but together we can.’ She closed her eyes, as she rested her head on his shoulder.

Two days later, Jason was signing the forms discharging him from the hospital, when he was taken aback by a proposal from Jonathan.

‘You need my brain?’ Jason said with surprise. ‘Why?’

Jonathan leaned forward on the desk. ‘We, the medical sciences, still don’t know much about the human body .We were able to help you in this case because we had learned about AHS from the brains donated by some patients. However, we need to know more. We need such patients who could donate their brains for further, deeper studies. But–but it’s entirely your choice.’

Jason looked at Sarah, who seemed uncertain. After a few minutes he said, ‘I hope you will not take it out while I am alive.’ He smiled.

‘No, absolutely not,’ Jonathan laughed.

‘So be it. ’ Jason said.

Sarah gazed at him mockingly. ‘Are you sure, honey?’

‘Sure what?’

‘That you have one!’

Chapter 12

 At night, Jonathan and Robert were once again out, walking in the street, ‘It was incredible,’ Jonathan was saying, ‘I still can’t believe that it really happened.’

‘Yes,’ Robert shook his head. ‘Something that could have given a lot more for the betterment of society.’

Jonathan sensed what Robert intended to say. ‘We have already discussed a lot, and we both agreed. Now, we should not get ourselves involved in the same long arguments. However, someday when we open his brain, we could still learn and tell the world about this phenomenon.’

‘But don’t you think that eventually everything ended up in futility? It wasn’t worth it.’

‘No,’ Jonathan said. ‘I agree, that our efforts have not made any difference in the course of human history. But they have undoubtedly made a big change in a human being’s life…they have made it better. And, my friend, that was worth it.’

Robert looked at Jonathan, and smiled. ‘You are right. It really was.’

And like good friends, they kept walking down the street.

Chapter 13

 It was a beautiful morning, but seventy year old Jonathan didn’t have much to do except spend it with his wife.

‘Jon, you have a call from Boston.’ Martha came into the room to hand him the phone.

‘Boston?’ He didn’t remember if he knew anyone in Boston. ‘Hello, I am Dr Jonathan Pierce –’ he said as he cleared his throat. A few hours later, he was onboard a flight to Boston.

When he arrived, the funeral had finished and people were leaving. He had not expected to see very many familiar faces here, but he did want to see one.

‘Doctor Jonathan–’

He turned to find an elderly woman looking at him. Her hair had turned white and her face had become slaked and wrinkled, but he could still recognized her.

‘Sarah.’

‘I am glad to see you again, doctor,’ Sarah said. ‘I was afraid to call you this morning; I haven’t been in touch for years.’

‘More than thirty years,’ he said. ‘I hope he lived a happy life.’

‘Yes, he did, and he was always grateful to you for giving him that life. And so am I,’ she said. They remained silent until she spoke again. ‘This morning his body was taken to hospital to remove his brain and eyes.’

Jonathan froze. ‘Eyes?

‘Yes,’ Sarah said slowly. ‘He had been through the pain of being blind. It affected him a lot. A few years after we moved here in Boston, he donated his eyes, and kept encouraging others also to donate–’

‘Which hospital?’ Jonathan was sweating.

***

The taxi left him at the entrance of the hospital. He paid the driver, and rushed to the receptionist.

‘I am the ex-superintendent of the State Hospital, Dallas. This morning your hospital received a brain and eye donation. I need to see their details,’ he said.

‘Sure, could I have some information about the donor, sir?’ the receptionist said.

‘His name was Jason Lee, does that help?’

‘Please wait, sir.’ She replied and picked a phone. Having made a call she led him to see the CMO office.

‘The report will be here in a minute.’ The CMO said, asking him to sit. After a few minutes an intern arrived with the report. Jonathan’s heart began to palpitate. He watched the CMO read the report, and then slid it towards him on the table, he picked it with trembling fingers.

‘This can’t be true,’ Jonathan murmured. He was looking at the report, shaking his head in disbelief. ‘It’s impossible.’

‘Is there anything wrong, sir?’ The CMO asked, worried.

‘Yes,’ Jonathan looked up, tense. ‘Under no circumstances could corneas be removed from his eyes. There has to be some mistake…some confusion with donor’s name. You must check your records again.’

‘What?’ The CMO was startled. ‘I have no idea what you are talking about. And I don’t need to check the records – here we don’t receive enough donations to get us confused with names, today we have got only this one. And you, too, know there is big demand for corneas, so they were immediately sent to two hospitals for transplantation. Now, what is your problem?’

Jonathan blinked. ‘You mean…. You have removed corneas from his eyes and have sent them for transplantation?’

‘Exactly, they were delivered to the hospitals hours ago.’

Jonathan stared across the table in horror. This is impossible.

‘Are you sure?’

‘Of course, anything worrying you, sir?’

Jonathan was paralyzed. ‘No, nothing,’ he said oddly, lost. He then rose from the chair, leaving the CMO in dismay, and went out of the room. Deep in thought, he threaded his way through people and came out on to the road. He decided to take a taxi and return to Dallas – the brain had been sent to the State Hospital and he could no longer wait to see it. He would call Sarah later on the phone. He knew that the CMO would never believe what he would say; there was no point in arguing with him.

Unconsciously, he began to walk.

But how could that be possible? Robert said to himself. Jason didn’t have corneas in his eyes for the past thirty years. How could they remove something that didn’t even exist anymore? And if they had extracted them, as the report said, then where did those corneas come from, which were removed from Jason’s eyes this morning…from where?

Suddenly he stopped.

From…

He heard his heart pounding.

It was the mind.

***

It was Jason’s mind, which developed those corneas in his eyes. Because it believed; because it was made to believe some thirty years ago that everything in his eyes was all right. And it made every thing all right. Perhaps it had repaired the optic nerve and retina, too. But above all it made the corneas. This was the only explanation Jonathan could figure out right now.

He looked around at the people walking past him – unaware and ignorant of the incredible power; phenomenon he had just witnessed. He looked up. The brightness of the sky was fading. The hot red sun was still clinging to the horizon, trying to fight till its last breath before dying.

Awestruck, Jonathan started walking again.

***

He had devoted his whole life to understanding the human body; saving lives. But now he felt that, despite this, he had never known it well. He had always believed in science–that it had all the answers, all the explanations, all the reasons and all the causes; that it could explain everything; anything. But he had been wrong throughout his life. He had always boastedof scientific developments–that they werethe development of the human race. But now he realized that they, humans, had in fact developed, only the world around them and themselves had stayed right there – or may be a few steps backwards – where they were left by nature. They had never tried to see the gifts they were endowed with, and had always searched outward, collecting resources to make life easier, faster. They had always wished to know outer space – to see beyond it, but seldom went out of their way to explore the inner space – the universe within themselves. And they often felt gratitude for being alive, on being here experiencing the pleasures and adventures of life. But seldom got the time to see the purpose behind life, to feel the need for being alive.

Jonathan had left the main road far behind, and had come along a slip road. There were only a few houses around and the road was nearly empty. He felt as if he had been walking for hours. He was tired He sat down on a nearby bench that was empty.

It was a new beginning, a new expedition. But he had to begin it alone. Robert had died years ago and Ross was in India, working on some ‘tantrik vidya’, and he had not contacted him for a long time. Suddenly, Jonathan found himself all alone, he had no one to share what he had found –what they had discovered – the unimaginable power of the mind; belief.

But was it only Jason’s mind, which become so powerful that it developed corneas in his eyes, or was that awesome power sleeping in every mind, somewhere deep inside the brain, still waiting to be awakened?

***

The sun had sunk in the west, and the moon was trying hard to rise in the east. The stars seemed to be shivering, as the mist was veiling the remnants of the afternoon warmth. The wind had started to blow, and it was getting cold.

Tip!

With a little plink a tiny drop fell on Jonathan’s hand. He looked up. The tree was shivering, shedding the small droplets of water it had just collected from the mist. Jonathan smiled, recalling his old friend.

‘It seems winter will come a little earlier this year,’ he whispered, then rose slowly to his feet, feeling a soft gust of breeze filling his lungs. He took a deep breath, and set out in the fog, back towards the city, under the trees swinging silently in a rhythm…

…The rhythm of nature.

Copyright © 2012 by Swapnil Bhartya Arnie

Swapnil Bhartiya Arnie is an American science fiction writer and an open open source/Linux journalist and editor. Swapnil is a Free Software advocate and endorses use of Linux and free software technologies. He is heading Muktware.com, a Linux and open source web magazine. He is married to Jen Bhartiya and lives in Brussels, Belgium.

 

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