An Average Specimen

I needed a little extra money, and the doctor was looking for research volunteers. It seemed simple enough.

We met in his lab. I answered dozens of questions about my habits, relationships, hopes and fears. He kept mumbling, “Very average …” but in a way that made me feel proud, like it was the right answer. He gave me a beaker of clear fluid and I drank it in one gulp.

I woke up three days later in the county hospital ER with a splitting headache, my scalp shaved and bandaged.

Weeks of examinations followed. It turned out the doctor was some kind of mad genius of a brain surgeon. He’d implanted impulses from murderers, torturers, abusers, terrorists, splicing in the darkest thoughts and worst desires a human could have.

No one could touch anything he’d put inside my head, the experts said. I would just have to learn to live with it.

So I’ve waited for years to see how I would become different. But the thing that wakes me up terrified in the middle of the night is this: I still feel exactly the same.

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