Chapter 57: I Can See

One morning after breakfast, the young boy joined Lem for a walk in the dappled orchards in the valley. Lem’s strides were rapid and long, and the boy had to double step and sometimes skip in order to keep up with him.

After some time they stopped at the creek meandering along their path and bent down on their knees to drink the cold refreshing water. Then they sat for a while with their backs propped against a couple of angular trees. Three warblers sang from the top branches.

Lem seemed preoccupied with his thoughts.

“Lem,” the boy broke the fragile silence.

“Yes, Father?” Lem responded.

“There’s one thing I’d really like to do before I reach the beginning of my time,” the boy spoke softly.

“What’s that Father?” Lem asked, knowing fully what his creator was going to ask.

“I’d like you to teach me how to see like you see,” the boy said.

“What do you mean?” Lem asked.

“What I mean,” the boy said, “is that I’d like to be able to see all the dimensions and structures of reality, not just the three dimensions that I can see now.”

“Why?” Lem asked.

“Would you ask a blind man why he would want to see?” the boy asked. “Because it’s there.”

“It’s not something you can learn to do,” Lem said. He knew his answer wasn’t an explanation that would satisfy his father. “It’s something you must unlearn. You don’t see because of the way you are programmed to think. You have to dismantle your beliefs, your assumptions.”

“What do you mean?” the boy asked.

“You see only three dimensions,” Lem explained, “because of your assumption that that’s all that exist in reality.”

“Can’t I just unassume that?” the boy asked.

“It’s not that easy,” Lem answered. “Every time you take another step you assume the ground underneath your feet is solid.”

“Isn’t it?” the boy asked.

“It may or it may not be,” Lem answered, “but you’d be unable to walk if you had to decide that for every step you take.”

“So how are you able to walk, and so quickly, I might add?” the boy wondered.

“My programming decides for me,” Lem answered.

The boy was quiet for a while, trying to absorb what Lem had told him.

“Does this have something to do with why I can’t read other people’s minds?” he asked.

“Yes,” Lem smiled uncharacteristically. “You assume that they think like you do.”

“What should I assume?” the boy asked.

“You shouldn’t assume that they think like you,” Lem said simply.

“How do I change my programming?” the boy asked after a few moments.

“You couldn’t do it yourself,” Lem explained. “Somebody would have to do it for you.”

“Do what?” the boy asked.

“Detach your amygdala,” Lem answered. “It’s the part of your brain’s limbic system that is responsible for the association of events with emotion. We evolved without a functioning amygdala.”

“Can I live without it?” the boy asked.

“I don’t know,” Lem answered.

 

Lem and his father rose to their feet and started walking back to the cave. When they reached the steps leading up to Lem’s row of caves, the boy asked him “Can you detach my amygdala?”

“Yes,” Lem answered.

“Will you have to cut open my head with a knife?” the boy asked.

“No,” Lem said, “nothing like that.”

“How would you do it?” he asked.

“I’d reach into your head and pinch it until it stopped functioning,” Lem said.

“Would this be one of those hyper-dimensional reaches?” he asked.

“Yes,” Lem said.

“I thought so,” the boy said.

They were almost at the entrance to the cave.

“Would I survive this operation?” the boy asked.

“I don’t know,” Lem answered.

“Do it,” the boy said decisively. “Just do it.”

Lem put his hand on the glass and they entered the cave. Yani and Ellen had just laid out lunch on the table.

 

That night Lem and Yani entered their father’s bedroom noiselessly. Ellen and the boy lay sprawled across the bed in each other’s arms, separately dreaming of each other. Lem reached across the bed through one of the upper dimensions into his father’s head and pinched his amygdala until it turned from blue to black. Lem pulled his hand out of his father’s head and listened to his breathing.

Is Father alright? Yani thought to Lem.

I think so, Lem thought back.

How do you know? she thought.

We’re still here, aren’t we? he thought.

Let’s sit with them awhile just to make sure.

Alright.

 

The next morning Ellen woke first. She propped herself up on her elbow over the young boy and kissed him gently on his lips. She was unaware of Lem and Yani sitting on the chairs beside the bed. The boy opened his eyes, slightly at first, and then he sat up wide-eyed.

 

I can see! he thought.

 

Mike Stone

Raanana Israel

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Filed under Prose, Science Fiction & Fantasy, Stories and Novels

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